Don’t overlook internal communication

If you can’t communicate internally to get everyone on the same page, you can’t effectively communicate with anyone else.

When reviewing your audience segments, do you include your employees as a segment? Your employees are arguably the most important audience, and advocates, that your company has.

Think about communication from their perspectives. Would you want to hear news about your company from an outside source? Probably not.

Internal communication is often overlooked because it’s incredibly simple and many leaders assume that people within the organization already talk to each other. Sure, people talk to each other regularly, but not always in the way you expect.

Clue your employees in and let them know what your organization is doing. (more…)

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Improve Your Communication with Calls to Action

When you think about a Call to Action (CTA), what comes to mind? Perhaps a print or banner ad that says “Click Here”? Or a TV commercial urging you to “Call Now”?

CTAs are often thought of only in relation to sales messages. But incorporating CTAs in each aspect of communication can significantly improve your results. This goes for all external communication, but also for internal and interpersonal communication.

For example, think about the last email you sent (to a colleague, customer, friend, whomever). Did you clearly communicate the response you hoped for or did you just send a message that might leave them wondering how to respond? Even adding a simple, “Let me know your thoughts” to a message can signal that person to act and engage with your communication.

Each piece of communication you use could benefit from a call to action; once you incorporate CTAs into your messages, you’ll likely see better results.


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Learn My Name!

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

78_3294477-HelloThere’s a woman who I know from a local professional organization. We’ve been “formally” introduced multiple times. After the first time we met, I knew her name, her face, we traded cards and connected on LinkedIn.

The next time I saw her, I said “hello” and she introduced herself as if we’d never met. I wasn’t really offended because not everyone has a knack for names and faces. I let her know we’d met before and where.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting emails and LinkedIn messages from her to support her nonprofit organization through monetary donations or volunteering. At least twice a month, I get a message from this woman asking me for something.

The third time we “met” I was a little annoyed at her re-introduction and didn’t spend much time after shaking her hand, because I felt like she would ask me for something again.

Then last week, I was at an event with a colleague and she entered the room and greeted my colleague, who then asked her, “Do you know Rachel?”

She said “No” and tried to introduce herself for a fourth time.

On a personal level, it’s extremely frustrating to seem so forgettable. These four introductions and constant digital “asks” left me screaming internally, “LEARN MY NAME!”

It says a lot about you as a communicator if you can’t actually build a relationship with your audience. If you want something from me, I’m more likely to give it to you if I feel like you know me, you get me and you might have something to offer me in return.

Before you inundate your audience with promotional messages, make sure you know them. Who are they? What problems do they deal with? Can you be a help to them as well or do you just want their dollars? You can’t have a one-sided relationship with anyone. This woman is no longer a part of my professional network because clearly she doesn’t want to be a connection… unless I’m giving her something.

How do you engage with your audiences in a way that builds a relationship rather than tears it down?

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned as an Intern at Sonnhalter

Emily Bessell just wrapped up a summer internship here at Sonnhalter and before she left, she shared some of the things she learned during her time on our team. Here’s what she had to say…

With summer winding down and my senior year at Denison University just around the corner, I’m beginning to reflect on my internship experience here at Sonnhalter.

The first thing that came to mind was,

“Where did the time go? It seems like I just started yesterday!”

But I will save the familiar ‘time is fleeting’ conversation for another day.

The second and third things that popped into my head were more closely related to what I aim to communicate in this post. That is, the three most important things I learned as an intern.

1. Research skills are important.

One of my predominant projects this summer involved heavy research so effective skills were essential. However, I learned that research skills are important for other things too, like preparing for meetings with clients. During my time as an intern, I was included in client meetings and conference calls. While observing these meetings, I wanted to be well informed and if needed, participate in the conversation with confidence. To do this, I engaged in thorough research about the client and company prior to the meeting. With this kind of preparation, I was well informed and ready to learn new things.

2. Always carry a pen and paper.

This might sound obvious, but I learned never to leave my office without my black Sakura Gelly Roll pen and Moleskine notepad (equipment is important too!). These tools came in handy, as I am quite the note taker. Each day is full of new information and writing it down helped me commit it to memory. It is also important to take note of key projects so you can refer back when updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.

3. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As an intern, asking questions is important in learning how to do things the right way the first time. I found that co-workers with experience are excellent resources and are incredibly helpful in answering questions and providing feedback.

I’ve had a productive couple of months at Sonnhalter, in the northern part of Ohio, and while I still have a lot to learn and improve upon, I have gained important lessons and invaluable skills. During my time as an intern, I was able to see how and why the Sonnhalter team is excellent at what they do. It was a pleasure working with them and I am truly thankful for the experience.

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6 Ways to Maximize Your Agency Relationship

Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter, is posting today on how to maximize your relationship with your agency.

One of the most important questions that marketing communication clients should ask themselves is, “Are we making the most out of our relationship and interactions with our agency?” Merely talking about how to maximize synergies and rapport between client and agency versus actually implementing such strategies is an entirely different story.

Here are a few way to get the most out of you client-agency relationships:

Be on the same page.

Fostering shared meaning and mutual understanding is a vital aspect of successful client-agency relationships. It is important to be on the same page. Setting clear expectations with one another enables clients and agencies to better communicate and forecast unexpected issues or changes. Establishing processes and responsibilities early on with an agency will decrease stress from time-crunching deadlines. Also, be sure to clearly define success with one another and develop a measurable method for evaluation. Understanding how agencies function and subsequently knowing how to utilize them can reduce the likelihood of miscommunication.

Be clear.

Efficiency is all about clear communication. To reduce confusion, frustrations and delay, have one main contact for the agency. Likewise, an agency should make sure its client knows with whom to communicate. There is nothing more frustrating than having too many cooks in the kitchen. Facilitating consistent, effective communication will aid in strengthening the bond between the client and agency. Companies are more likely to meet project goals by providing their agency with a concise point-of-view.

Be accessible.

Make sure to invest time in the agency. Frequently engage in face-to-face communication by arranging regular meetings to review and discuss active projects – take a necessary break from the computer and telephone. Being available will create a well-oiled working relationship with an agency and produce quicker results.

Be direct.

Another strategy to ensure a healthy and open client-agency relationship is to address issues promptly and judiciously. Otherwise, molehills can develop into unnecessary mountains. Do not let problems fester, but swiftly find the root of the issue and respond with calm, measured and consistent action. Both client and agency should offer and receive feedback. For example, an agency may ask clients to participate in a customer satisfaction survey.

Be a partner.

Agencies want clients to treat them like a partner rather than a vendor. Involve the agency early on in the process. Offer access and resources to the agency, including resources outside of marketing such as sales or engineering – the more an agency knows about its client’s business the more it can help. Take the time to introduce the agency to fellow employees, so that they feel like a part of the team.   

Be open-minded.

Strive to remain flexible and receptive to new ideas. Be willing to take risks, occasionally calculated ones. Even areas outside of marketing, such as product development, can sometimes benefit from fielding agency advice.

Above all, trust an agency’s judgment, expertise and point-of-view – people would not let their lawyers perform surgery on them, so likewise allow the agency to do what they have been hired to do. And remember, agencies are in the business of communication, so there is no such thing as over communicating with them.

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