Yeah, we know. You’re probably sick of reading articles on corona (pun not intended). Don’t worry. We promise this one only contains positive things. Okay, “positive things” and “deadly pandemic” aren’t exactly two concepts that go together. However, corona is the ideal case to explain the importance of inclusive communication: in order to fight this pandemic, the entire population needs to be reached. Coincidentally, that’s one of our specialities, next to watching cute cat videos. Let’s look at some tips!
Online only? Hold your horses…
No question: corona meant a boost for online communication. Carrier pigeons are no match for video calls. But it’s not because everyone is stuck at home, that they’re all stuck behind a screen. According to research conducted by Mediawijs in 2019, 10% of Flemish people don’t own a smartphone yet. And according to media professor Lieven Demarez, 50% of seniors are unable to send messages or videochat. So, you can’t sweep other means of communications under the rug just yet. Our rule of thumb? Diversify the communication channels you use to counter barriers within your target audience(s). To reach often ‘forgotten’ target groups, for example, you could go for regular mail, the supermarket or diverse tv and radio channels.
Inclusive language use = clear language use
Belgium’s government is quite notorious for it’s unclear communication – remember the powerpoint presentation of minister Wilmès, anyone? Keep it simple, silly! Luckily, we saw some good practices too. Having Flemish and French Sign Language interpreters at the press conferences of the National Crisis Centre, for example. But also the fact that corona-related information is available in 39 languages and with icons. It’s always a great idea to ask yourself if what you say is clear for everyone. If your answer is ‘uhm’, ‘no’, or ‘maybe’, you need to figure out how to change that.
Specific target audience(s)? Specific approach!
When we’re talking about inclusive communication, we mean we want to reach as many people as possible. Unfortunately, we don’t mean ‘send one message through one channel’. Yeah, that would save us a lot of work, too. There are me target audiences you simply can’t reach through traditional means, and that’s something Marc van Ranst understood well. There’s a reason why we love working with influencers. And there’s a reason why we put so much effort into our research. Our recipe for success? Getting to know each and every target group thoroughly before we start communicating with them.
Check and double check for inclusive communication
You can go a long way with the points we mentioned above, but if you really want to excel you have to make sure there are no stereotypes or prejudices in your communication, you have to be representative, and take into account different ways of life. Applied to corona that means you don’t target certain population groups because of aforementioned stereotypes (‘young people don’t stick to the rules’), and that you put the show as much sympathy towards people who couldn’t celebrate a regular Eid Al Fitr, as to people who can’t celebrate a regular Christmas… or, you could ask us for help, of course.