One of my favourite stories of last week was the story of disability advocate Sam Connor’s revamp of a website that was sorely in need of help.
According to SBS online, when Connor “first saw the official website for The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, she noticed a glaring issue — it wasn’t designed well for the very people it was built to help … The site was quite difficult for many people with disabilities to understand and use. So Sam stayed up all night… and launched a new website herself.”
It’s a really inspiring tale and I admire Connor for her thoughtfulness and the time she put into the project.
In a lot of ways, I think I know how she feels – not when it comes to website accessibility, but when it comes to corporate and government communication. I often see enewsletters, web pages, social media posts and flyers which are poorly written, and I’d love to get stuck into them and make improvements.
It’s not that they’re full of grammatical or spelling errors. In fact, their grammar and spelling is usually flawless. It’s just that they’re so DULL and obviously produced to a content schedule that’s all about ticking ‘stakeholder management’ or ‘community engagement’ boxes.
If readers won’t push past the first paragraph, what’s the point?
I don’t like to point fingers (and send a dagger through the heart of a fellow comms professional), but this post clearly needs a quick example, right? So here’s a redacted version of the lead article in a state government newsletter, alongside my notes:
(If you are the author of this, PLEASE don’t take it as a personal attack. I’ve produced enough of this type of material in my time to know that it’s often the only way to meet employer/client demands).
Let’s look at an example of better communication.
PIRSA produces PestFacts. It’s an example of content which meets the needs of its audiences. It doesn’t muck around with a “welcome to the latest edition” message or flowery language (pardon the pun). It gets straight to the facts (and shares where it’s gained its information, too). Its audience can quickly scan the content, rather than battling through fluffy intro sentences first.
Feel free to share more examples in the Comments section (but please be diplomatic).