Beehive Strategic Communication partners with many brands that have built their businesses on complex topics—from healthcare and medical devices to banking and insurance. As our clients’ communication partner, we regularly find ourselves with the important role of digesting, translating and developing content to support some of the most challenging subjects. It can be a daunting task to review material developed by academics, scientists and analysts, but it’s vital to foster an effective partnership with these experts. Through collaboration and co-creation, this material can be crafted into a story that can make an emotional connection with the reader to ultimately sell a service, secure funding or generate awareness. So, where to begin? Let’s get started.
Get to know your audience.
Each situation is unique. Sometimes, we are able to craft very specific messages to reach very specific audiences. Other times, we are developing content to support a complex topic that reaches a very wide range of audiences—from the board room to a bedside caregiver and everyone in between. At a recent International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) event on the topic, a panelist from a local healthcare organization shared their process for evaluating messages. It began with focus groups to determine the appropriate tone and level of detail of their content. The brand was able to identify a recommended reading level that aligned with the focus group feedback and input. Now, all content is analyzed by an online tool to ensure the reading level is consistent across all materials.
Start with the end in mind.
We start with the end in mind by working with our clients to determine the desired outcome. What do we want our audience to think, feel and do? The answers to these simple questions drive the communication strategy and ultimately the final message, tone and delivery mechanism.
Collect the spreadsheets, the presentations, the papers and the media coverage and dive right in. Read it once. Mark it up and pull open your bookmarked Webster.com. Then read it again, and again. Take note of the commonly used language and regularly referenced facts and figures. Review the data trends and results to help craft the story of “why.” Why is it important? Why will our audience care? Then walk away, have lunch, come back and read it all again. What sticks? Your content outline is the perfect point to loop in your subject matter experts. Are you on the right track? Did you pull out the right level of detail? Striking the right balance between detailed data and top-line summary is a determining factor in effectively reaching your audience.
Visualize the information.
Developing visuals to support complex content helps ensure your key messages are kept front and center. Consider how imagery can support the full story you’re crafting, from beginning to end. Infographics are engaging tools to showcase many data points. Perhaps there’s a case study or patient story that helps illustrate your key messages in a simple, emotional way. Want to learn more about how the Beehive team works with complex topics? Take a look at this Coloplast case study.