I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Making a change can attract interest

On my way to Canberra yesterday, I listened to the flight attendant’s safety message.

Aviation fire truck

A fire truck is a not-so-boring safety precaution at airports

Obviously we are meant to do this every time we catch a plane but it isn’t the most interesting speech you’ll ever hear so it is, uh, challenging to stay focussed on it.

On Tuesday, the Qantas staff acknowledged one of the complaints about these safety messages by starting the presentation with

We know you can operate a seat belt, but we want to give you a few tips on using ours today.

A different message

It was a bit more human to acknowledge most people are smart enough to use a plane’s seat belt so it felt friendly and more interesting than ‘here’s how to do your seat belt up’.

However, just the fact that it was different to the usual safety blurb got my attention. And kept me listening to see what other changes they’d made to their message.

Unfortunately, that was the only deviation from the normal approach.

It certainly wasn’t like Air New Zealand’s safety video!

Nor is it now standard at Qantas. My return flight used a video to present the  safety message and it was routine. And I didn’t really pay any attention to it.

When’s the last time you listened to a flight safety message?

When’s the last time you consciously changed something in your business to keep it fresh and attracting attention?

A great idea but poorly implemented

Smiling woman on the phone

great service makes us smile

Let me tell you a story of a great idea from a service provider…

Great service…

Today, I received a SMS from my daughter’s school telling me (and other parents on the list) that the kids  had arrived safely at camp.

I think it’s a great idea to give feedback like that; it builds trust and loyalty, reduces parental concern and therefore probably means fewer calls to the school to check all is good.

Many similar activities could do this same thing quite inexpensively. For me, it’s something like an emailed ‘your annual report has gone to the printer’ or ‘I submitted that guest blog post for you.’

Can you think of a way to use this idea in your business?

but details count.

The problem with today’s message, however, is that my daughter left yesterday so I would have hoped they arrived at camp about 24 hours before I got the safely arrived message.

Yesterday, the SMS was a great idea.

Today, not so much. At best, it makes them look a bit silly or slack. At worst, it worries parents about why it took 24 hours longer than expected to arrive at camp!

As they say in comedy, timing is everything!

* Image courtesy of 123RF

Be creative with your messages

So often business has an image of steady, conservative and boring. And often we present our messages in that way because it’s expected, always been that way and we just don’t think about doing anything different.

Yet there is no reason we can’t add some creativity to how we present our messages.

It make take a little more thought and care to be creative with serious messages and conservative brands, but look beyond the obvious sometimes and add some life to your business materials.

Safety messages

seat belts and pills - two safety items needing clear messages

Seat belts and pills – important safety messages to communicate

Safety messages where you must tell people some rules and expectations is one area many would assume has to be done seriously and without much humour or interest.

But isn’t it better to add some interest to ensure people actually take note of the message?

The perfect example is the safety message given before every commercial flight takes off – you know, this is how to do up your seat belt, your life jacket is here and please attach your own face mask before helping others.

It is important and we should all listen to it. But once you’ve been on a few flights, it gets somewhat repetitive and we tend to tune out during the spiel.

My last few flights with Qantas have included videos with topical sportspeople talking and demonstrating how to do things – Olympians during winter and cricketers more recently. That’s a bit more interesting, especially for sports fans.

And I have seen one flight attendant ham it up so everyone near by watched him for amusement – and thus he got his message across.

Air New Zealand, from the land where Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies have been created, has improved the lot. Their latest safety video is given by people dressed as for Middle Earth, with Gandalf as the pilot, Gollum finding the path of lights and a cloaked Bilbo (well, he was invisible so I’m guessing it was Bilbo!) reading the safety chart.

It gave all the necessary information, in fact it went into more detail than others I’ve seen, and entertained as well. It probably even works as a promotional tool for the movie and New Zealand tourism.

A perfect example of how we can be more creative when giving even boring and routine information.

Can you think of other creative examples of boring messages?


A New Zealand fjord in the rain

Is this New Zealand or Middle Earth?

PS Air New Zealand has an incredible variety of ticket types and a different way of bracing in an accident – in Australia, we’re told to grasp our ankles where they are told to put hands behind their head and elbows beside their knees. I wonder if there’s any significant difference between the two in terms of comfort and protection.