By Diane Streleckis - The idea of personas for communication seems simple. You develop a set of profiles, each representing a segment of your audience, then write your materials to the appropriate person. But, of course, the process to create these personae is never simple. And no matter how well you plan, it’s usually full of surprises.
Siemens Energy Senior Communications Manager Carla Guest shared the surprises she encountered as the company set out to develop personae for a crucial audience: their employees.
Get tips from communications leader Carla Guest on how to implement personae for your internal audiences during IABC’s virtual session on December 14, 2023, noon-1 pm ET.
The journey could take longer than you expect
Guest noted that Siemens Energy needed about two years to get through the process. “It’s a significant amount of time,” she said.
Guest knew the effort would be complex, but also worth it. Siemens Energy was in a unique spot when its persona journey began, having spun off from Siemens, one of the largest companies in the world. Although it was a new company, Siemens Energy had more than 96,000 employees who had to be kept up to date on new processes and technologies, all still while juggling legacy systems.
There are many side roads to discover
It’s like being on a road trip, Guest said, where “along the way you see something and think ‘wow, let’s see what’s down this path we didn’t anticipate.’ We had new ideas come up, too.”
“We took everything we learned into account—the stakeholder consultation we did, the input we received—and made modifications along the way,” she said.
Personae for internal and external communication use have a lot in common—and a couple of key differences
One thing in particular applies no matter what audience you’re trying to reach, Guest noted. “You have to meet people where they are,” she said “What’s relevant for them? What channels do they use? Who do they like to hear from? Where do they get their information?”
However, Guest pointed out a larger budget size many organizations put behind external communications over internal ones. “We could have easily had double or triple the eight personae we came up with,” Guest said.
The ability to pinpoint very precise audiences was another difference Guest identified. “The number of personae has to be manageable for us as a small team,” she said.
You’ll engage people in your organization with communication in new ways
Like many organizations, Siemens Energy has an array of self-service communication tools in place.
“Giving people their own tools to personalize their communications is incredibly empowering because they, of course, know their audiences best,” said Guest. “And that’s what personae are all about.”
Don’t miss out on ways to build personae effectively during IABC Philadelphia’s session with Carla Guest on December 14, 2023, noon-1 pm ET.
Diane Streleckis is a writer and content strategist dedicated to using the power of words for good. Understanding what makes people tick and then sharing practical ideas to help support their needs and concerns is Diane’s mission. She’s applied this mission mindset across industries for more than 30 years.