Are your company communications firing on all cylinders?

Give your communications a full service to assess what works well and what may need repairing, replacing, adding to – or simply an oil change
The Comms Mechanic can help drive your comms vehicle by delivering business-critical communications


Benefits

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Why you should work with me

Are you a business owner or in charge of communications and marketing?

Do you feel that your business communications need a bit more oooomph?

Perhaps you’re:

  • Short of time
  • Going through a change – or thinking of making one
  • Keen to improve effectiveness and impact
  • Seeking fresh insights
  • In need of an extra pair of hands to deal with a project or issue

The comms mechanic can help.

You’ll gain fresh insights  – sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees

You’ll improve your effectiveness

You’ll have a clear direction – with a straightforward analysis outlining the way forward

You’ll communicate in a way that will be welcomed by the people you need to influence, inform or persuade

Your communications – whether digital, paper-based, or face-to-face – will have a clear focus, aim and tone of voice



Services

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Stop tinkering – see how I can help


Review your communications – what you produce and what impact it has


Assess the effectiveness and capability of your communications operation


Research or survey your key audiences to gain insights into your reputation


Make recommendations to enhance your communications with your customers or other audiences



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Help to develop your communications strategy and plan


Produce and deliver effective communications


Support your external communications with customers, the media and other audiences, or internal comms with staff


Support your content marketing and digital communications



About

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I’m an experienced consultant

The Comms Mechanic has

  • Extensive experience in corporate, marketing, PR, internal and change communications
  • Led high achieving in-house teams
  • Worked for ten years as an independent consultant advising on and delivering quality communications in the private, public and voluntary sectors


Testimonials

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Don’t just take my word for it

“…a thorough professional, combining business awareness with energy and style.  I have yet to see a situation that he cannot handle well.”  Jerry Jarvis, former Managing Director, Edexcel (Pearson UK)

“…a consummate professional… I would not hesitate to recommend him.” Deborah Hart, Director of Policy & Communications, Royal College of Psychiatrists

“…a senior communications pro who delivers great work on time, every time.” Ed Gyde, CEO, Audience Communications Ltd (M&C Saatchi)

“I’ve always welcomed his insights and advice – our communications have improved massively as a result.” Mark Napier, Managing Director, Centre for Public Innovation

For support you can trust, call the comms mechanic



Blog

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Thoughts, insights and opinions
  • Computer says no – if your systems don’t help customers, change your systems


    There’s a famous sketch in the UK comedy show, Little Britain, in which every request made to a bank clerk meets with the same response: “computer says no”.

    Attitudes like that can leave you feeling frustrated to say the least – and maybe even motivated to flame the offending company in online forums, on Twitter and wherever else you can find an outlet to vent about how bad they are.

    I’ve had a few ‘computer says no’ moments recently. Trying to get a refund from a large retailer, I was told ‘it’s not our department’ and ‘you’ll need to call back on Monday’. This was from a ‘customer service representative’.

    The issue wasn’t whether or not I was eligible for a refund – that was accepted. It was just that the staff dealing with customer calls and emails didn’t have the authority to override a process that worked in the interests of the company, not the customer.

    When I did call back I was told that my refund had become ‘stuck in the system’ and it would take several days to free it.

    Now, I don’t believe the customer is always right. But faced with intransigence and poor service like this, most customers will simply walk away. Once the money – my money – is safely returned to my bank account, I’ll never darken their doorstep again.

    Empower your staff

    What are the business communication lessons from this?

    Firstly, if you have customer service staff, cut them some slack so they don’t just read from a script and stick to a rigid process that will ultimately harm your reputation. Empower them to make decisions in the interests of your customers.

    That doesn’t mean allowing staff to do anything, but it means enabling them to have a bit of flexibility, so they can apply some common sense according to the circumstances.

    Secondly, customers couldn’t care less about the internal workings of any company, they simply want whatever it is they bought to work and be delivered on time. If there are problems, they want them sorted out quickly and efficiently.

    Communicating a message such as ‘it’s not my department’ or ‘that’s not how our process works’ or blaming ‘system problems’ simply doesn’t cut it.

    Speak like a human being and take some responsibility. You won’t make everybody happy, but you’ll gain more respect, which in the long run is worth a lot.

  • When specialist language becomes jargon


    Specialist language has a place in any business. Among scientists, not using generally accepted terms would be crazy, and during a meeting with colleagues, your own pet terms, ‘in’ phrases and abbreviations are generally accepted and widely used.

    But problems arise when this terminology spills into dealings with the public or clients and customers who don’t use the same language in their day-to-day lives. This is when specialist language becomes jargon, which acts as a barrier to understanding and may prevent an important message getting across or a sale being made.

    Sometimes it’s just lazy, with no consideration for how a prospective customer or someone you’re trying to influence will receive the message.

    At other times, it may be a lack of skill in crafting a message for a lay person, simply because you have so much knowledge about a specialist area that it’s hard for you to conceive of someone who doesn’t.

    Whatever the reason for the problem, it can be solved by focusing on your audience. So whether it’s a sales pitch face-to-face, a written proposal, an e-mail or text for your website, put yourself in the recipients’ shoes.

    In general, it’s good to use specific language that everyone understands – a screen rather than an interface, or a place rather than a setting, for example, because jargon often seems vague or confusing.

    Sometimes, specialist language can be quite endearing – check out this piece from the BBC about the idiosyncratic language of the police, for example.

    But for most of us, communicating clearly means ditching the jargon and corporate-speak and speaking and writing like a human being.

  • Not sure what content to produce? Ask PAM


    How often does a purposeless, redundant, repetitive or nonsensical communication cross your screen, desk, or life?

    • Email without a subject – delete
    • Direct mail for a service you’ll never use – recycle
    • Web content that doesn’t get to the point – click away now

    Maybe the author should have consulted PAM.

    P is for Purpose – why are you communicating at all?

    A is for Audience – who are you trying to reach?

    M is for Message – what’s your story?

    A few minutes with PAM could save you and your readers, viewers or listeners a whole heap of bother.

    Purpose

    Some things have a very clear purpose – the polished CV to land a new or better job, for example.

    But sometimes that re-hashed article, re-written list or plagiarized opinion just seems to add to the quantity of digital content, because, well, it’s good for SEO, right? But what is it for?

    Depending on what the content is, your purpose could be to inform, persuade, motivate, sell, explain, consult, apologise, instruct, help, provoke or impress.

    If you prepare your content with one primary purpose in mind, it’s more likely to hit the mark and be clearer to the recipient.

    Sometimes you might try to fulfill more than one purpose; a case study aimed at impressing prospects while at the same time offering a sales promotion. Nothing wrong with that, but if your content tries to do too much at once its impact will be diluted.

    The point is, have a point. Don’t promote stuff or send it out with no thought about what it’s really for.

    Audience

    Are you Windows or Mac? BBC Radio 1 or 3? New York Daily News or New York Times?

    So much information comes our way that is irrelevant and unrelated to our interests and needs, or if it is, it simply isn’t pitched right or is in the wrong tone of voice.

    Who do you want to read, see, hear or be told about what you have to say? Smart companies spend a lot of time and effort segmenting their audiences and developing audience personae, but even a tiny company with a tinier budget can’t afford to ignore the needs and desires of its customers, which is another word for audience.

    Whether you’re targeting a local geographical community or a global community with a shared interest or passion, you need to find ways of reaching them and speaking their language.

    Don’t be the spammer offering lazer eye surgery to people with perfect vision or little blue pills to men with perfectly functioning bits.

    The recipient of your content will at some level consider the question “what’s in it for me?” If your communication has zero relevance to the audience, you have failed. But if you think it through, you’ll start to design and prepare your digital content, ad, speech, presentation, or report to take your audience’s needs into account.

    Message

    What’s your story? What do you want to say? How can you say it most effectively?

    When considering the crucial content of your communication, you’ll see that PAM’s separate parts come together as a beautiful whole as you need to ensure that you’re clear on the Purpose and Audience.

    Much will depend on the nature of your business and what you have to say. A single tweet might do the job if it reaches the right people. But whatever your story is, here are a few things to consider when developing a message to communicate with and market to any audience for any purpose.

    Keep it brief – can you summarise your message in one sentence?

    If you can pull that off, subsequent details should fall into place much easier.

    Keep it simple– if you’re an expert this can be tough when you’re trying to convince a non-expert audience about something. Simple doesn’t mean simplistic or dumbed down; it means focusing on the essentials with your audience in mind.

    Consider its nature – sensitive or controversial information needs careful handling.

    Be specific – vague generalities or abstractions don’t cut the mustard; concrete examples and real life stories do – things that appeal to our emotions as well as our minds.

    Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick, is brilliant on this stuff.

    You don’t need to spend all day thinking through every single email or text message. But the crucial activity aimed at promoting your company, service, product or ideas, well, that deserves some time and effort, doesn’t it?

    You can see that PAM is a lovely, inter-related whole, but she has some very good friends.

    In communications as in life, timing is vital. Then there’s the medium or channel you choose and learning lessons from what you do.

    And let’s not forget creativity and skill, which can make the difference between forgettable and memorable content – writing ability, a flair for design, production skills, choosing the right font or paper stock, if it’s offline. The list goes on.

    This is what makes communications and content marketing such an intriguing challenge. But PAM is a very useful sounding board on this quest; she won’t let you down.



Contact Me

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