Corporate Eye

Corporate Websites and the Opportunity to Educate

A guest contribution provided by Forex Traders

In today’s fast paced electronic age, corporate communications executives have expanded their distribution options immensely, but with broader spheres of influence, the message at times gets diluted, and the intended goals of the message may sometimes miss their mark. Each audience of stakeholders and potential supporters varies from the mean in their requisite ability to both understand and fully comprehend the import of what is being communicated.

The opportunity to influence is fleeting, and care must be given to transmit the three qualities of coherence, clarity, and ethics to each stakeholder. The essential goals of effective corporate communications have been laid down in the literature on the topic as simply:

“The set of activities involved in managing and orchestrating all internal and external communications aimed at creating favorable starting points with stakeholders on which the company depends, consisting of the dissemination of information by a variety of specialists and generalists in an organization, with the common goal of enhancing the organization’s ability to retain its license to operate.”

Simple and straightforward advice, and when this wisdom is combined with the fact that 80% of all communication has been demonstrated to be nonverbal, the need for greater attention paid to the remainder becomes all the more apparent. With social communication, we have eye-to-eye contact and the ability to observe the reactions of our audience, whether good or indifferent, to whatever we deliver. We also have the opportunity to explain further a point that may appear misrepresented or confusing in the words that we have chosen. With written messages, much of this feedback mechanism is nonexistent.

The corporate website is a perfect example of where greater care can be exerted to ensure that all readers that access this valuable tool can leave with a more than favorable experience. However, there is also what is known as the ‘network effect’ that posits that, as the number of people grows in a ‘conversation’, the propensity for miscommunication grows multiples more quickly than the ability to communicate effectively on a direct basis. Webmasters need to think like demanding editors before loading whatever new item comes down the pipe.

The more complex the subject matter, the more attention must be paid. A case in point, is the common ‘Investors’ tab on websites of publicly traded companies. The financial information is often presented as if in compliance with an accounting or legal standard in mind, when the visitor may not be educated in the nuances of financial statement presentations or in the ability to interpret something as simple as a share value chart over time. In the classroom, it is known as a ‘teaching moment’. Elect to educate when the timing is right. For example, if an abbreviation as succinct as “EUR USD” is presented, one must note that the symbols are common substitutes for the Euro and U.S. Dollar from a currency perspective. Not everyone is aware of this subtlety.

Website designers have learned the importance of focusing on the user experience and not letting the design components interfere with that experience. Content must apply to the user’s specific needs, whatever the audience demographics might entail, and allow for feedback to gauge the effectiveness of the message. Keep it clear and simple, and repeat where emphasis seems appropriate. Consistency is the expectation, and timeliness of information impacts credibility. Be sure to review and purge what is no longer topical or on message.

As organizations expand in number of employees, the ability to communicate effectively diminishes proportionately. Website communication standards are key to ensuring that quality is “Job One”.

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