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Your Audience: Why Should They Care?

November 12, 2015  |  Jason Wright
Thanks for coming back to read Public Information. This month, we’re going to wrap up our discussion about customer-focused information techniques by asking perhaps the most important question in all of content creation: Why should they care?

It sounds so simple. And yet the vast majority of content created is built to satisfy a company quota or give an employee something to do that day. I don’t want to pick on anyone in particular, but do me a favor and look through PR Newswire to see the glut of content thrown at newsmakers, bloggers and consumers every day.

Now, obviously this is a clearinghouse for everything, so it’s going to be overwhelming. But it serves an important purpose: These are just press releases sent today. Think about your average government “customer,” the taxpayer. Every day he or she is hit with an onslaught of information, not to mention work, family responsibilities, community or volunteer needs, and any number of other pieces of information vying for precious mental space.

So if, for example, a department director thinks it’s vitally important for the city to issue a press release congratulating an employee for receiving his soil erosion and water inspection certification, you might want to put on the brakes.  Because frankly, while we’re all proud of that employee, I seriously doubt anyone else is going to care one iota.

Here’s the thing: Don’t ever be afraid to ask, “Who cares?” Who cares if an elected official received a certificate of completion from a conference? Who cares if some random blog ranked you statistically a budget-friendly city? Who cares? Put your time and effort into content and a medium that connects with a specified customer, with specified needs, in a way built to satisfy those needs, in a manner the customer will care about.

At least this way, if you’re overruled into sending local media something about the high-achieving soil erosion and water inspector, it will at least be presented in a way that reflects well on the organization. 

Maybe something like:
  • Head: City saves taxpayer dollars by moving inspections in-house
  • Subhead: Businesses, homeowners to see faster permits, 20% decrease in cost
  • Lede: Anytown, USA now has the authority to review erosion control plans and issue permits for land disturbance without concurrent approval from the state – meaning faster permit times and cost savings of nearly 20 percent.
Same information, just focused on a customer instead of the department.

And by the way … yes, it works.

That’s it for this month. See you in 30. 
Jason Wright is Communications Manager for the Georgia Tech Research Library. Up until November 2015, he was the Director of Innovation and Engagement for the City of Milton where he oversaw all aspects of the city's branding and communications efforts, including transparency, automation, design, photography, printing, web services and social media and public outreach.

Prior to Milton, Wright spent seven years working in the magazine and newspaper business. Most recently he was editor of both the Milton Herald and Alpharetta–Roswell Revue and News, where he wrote, edited, photographed for and oversaw design of the weekly papers. Prior to that, he worked as a writer, editor, designer and photographer for local, regional and national publication.