1 min Read
July 21, 2009

Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is

Years ago, everyone came to meetings wearing suits, met in conference rooms, and worried that if they revealed too much of themselves at work they’d be seen as less professional or credible. These days, it just ain’t so: the more you’re authentic and transparent, the more people seem to trust you… it most contexts, that is.

Kivi Leroux-Miller has some useful insights on this topic in her blog entry on Mixing Your Work and Personal Life Online.

One interesting by-product of this movement toward the more personal is the rise of slang in professional contexts and other forms of colloquial communications. Instead of gently asking Americans to become video volunteers, for example, All for Good created the “The World Sucks: Help it Suck Less” video which pokes fun at nerdy, agoraphobic YouTube nerds in an effort to boost volunteerism.

And who can forget the Sarah Silverman “Great Schlep” video which encouraged young Jews to vote Obama during last year’s campaign season?

These two videos have more than a few things in common. First, they both speak the language of their target audiences, not that the organizations behind them. They’re casual, funny, and perhaps offensive, depending on your point of view. They’re not afraid to push the envelope. They have relatively low production value. Instead, the energy behind these projects went into developing a great creative concept. Lastly, they don’t try to appeal to everyone: they focus their efforts on a select group and work hard to get them to take action.

Next time you’re developing an outreach campaign, consider speaking to your target audience in their own language- even if it’s more casual, caustic or silly than you’re used to. Try it with a focused campaign and monitor the results. You might be surprised by the results.