1 min Read
September 3, 2009

Don’t get my hopes down

As a native New Yorker and ardent straphanger I’m particularly aware of subway-related communications. Here’s a recent “Subtalk” (a communications outlet for the Metropolitan Transit Authority):

Now, I pride myself on being positive- and particularly strive to be one of those New Yorkers who dispels the myth that New Yorkers are a surly, rude breed in general. But this campaign brings out the crank in me without fail.

While it’s great news that a new subway line is being constructed, why are you telling me about something I can’t benefit from for another 6 years? Secondly, why are you underscoring that it’s ‘overdue’? This piece of bad news seems to only reflect poorly on the author- it doesn’t add anything. Lastly, please don’t tell me how to feel (“excellent news”).

This organization-centric ad was clearly the outgrowth of a staff meeting where nobody stopped to think about how the target audience- regular subway riders like me- might respond. It has no call to action and no immediate benefit or reason to engage me.

So enough of your belly-aching, you say? What’s the point, you say? Ok, fine. The take away is this: next time your organization’s staff discusses sharing news that’s big for you, pause to consider how big it is for your audience. Then think about what you hope they’ll do as the result of hearing this news (Donate? Volunteer? Sign a petition?) and what you might need to communicate in order to get them to take that action.