Midyear: Building a Communications Plan

By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine

RMag_At_MidYear1Are you a local association looking to create an effective communications plan?  Melynn Sight, president of nSight Marketing who specifically helps associations connect with members, says you have to start by listening.

“We see the world as we are; we don’t see the world as it is,” says Sight. “If we can try to bridge that gap just a little bit, maybe we can solve a couple of the communication problems that drive you crazy.”

Sight offered tips and suggestions to a packed room of real estate professionals at Midyear’s Communications Director Networking session on Tuesday. Listening to your members, she said, will tell you how to best communicate to meet their needs.

Consider conducting a survey, Sight suggested. Then analyze the communications you do have. Score them from one-to-five, one being uncoordinated, to five being regular connections with member feedback. “This does not have to be a long project,” says Sight. “In the end, it will help you figure out what your objectives are.”

Here are 6 tips from Sight for reaching your audience:

  1. Simplify it. “Let your reader breathe,” she says. “How do you do that? White space, graphics, etc.”
  2. Utilize readability statistics in Microsoft Word. Reading ease should never be more than 50, which is the average of sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word. Two sentences per paragraph is a good rule of thumb online, Sight says. Make your sentences shorter and easier to understand.
  3. Standardize it. “You are competing with a lot of different people when your members get your mail,” says Sight. Brand yourself so you can be recognizable to your members; make sure they know it’s from you. It’s not so much about what your logo looks like, but your promise and consistency. They need to know what to expect from you, which will help them pay better attention.
  4. Create a welcoming home page. Do you welcome your audience to your Web site? Or are you just tooting your own horn? Try the WeWe calculator to learn how member-friendly your Web site is.
  5. Don’t forget Young Professionals. “Young professionals are your future leaders and you have to give some focus and attention to them.” Gen Y practitioners tend to “media snack,” Sight says. They’ll find you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, they might visit your Web site. But they probably won’t read your e-mails… but they do like to network in person!
  6. Webify everything. When putting publications and newsletters online, find a good page-turning software.

“Your members want to see different ways of communicating,” Sight says. “But if you don’t have a plan to begin with, you are lost.”

Erica Christoffer

Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at echristoffer@realtors.org.

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  1. Thank you for publishing this! I was watching via webcast the communications meeting yesterday, but I missed a lot of it because of lagging. The focus on changing media habits of the most likely consumer is significant, and not something I’ve paid attention to directly, although I do utilize a lot of social networks.