Pope Benedict XVI used Twitter to unveil the launch of a new Vatican Web site, timed to coincide with this week’s 60th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, while also improving the Vatican’s marketing outreach to its followers.
Pope Benedict tweeted, “Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.” According to a Vatican spokesman, “The pope sent it, but it was prepared for him. The tablet (iPad) was presented to him. He did the click and sent the tweet.” That tweet alone meant that http://twitter.com/news_va_en added some 22,000 new followers.
While the Pope reaching out to his vast audience may come as a surprise to some, the Vatican is in effect conducting a public relations campaign just as countless businesses do day after day. And just like businesses who try to reach out to their audiences and improve their imagery, the Vatican is doing just that in its latest PR push.
During his six-year tenure at the helm of the Vatican, Pope Benedict has witnessed a lack of solid communications when it comes to talking to his audience.
Among the issues that have required noteworthy clarifications or extended discussion time from the Vatican have been things like the never-ending clergy sex abuse scandal, a speech regarding Islam and violence, and the Pope’s take on condoms and HIV.
So if the Vatican and the 84-year-old Pope can effectively communicate with their audiences, what is stopping you and your business from doing the same?
Using an effective PR campaign with both present and potential customers is key to a company’s ability to compete. Not only are you discovering how your customers feel about your products and services, but taken another step, it allows you to form relationships with top customers who are likely to refer you to others. If your budget for PR and marketing is small, you can still craft an effective message.
When looking to effectively communicate with customers, it is important to:
- Understand your customers and their needs. How can you assist them and service them like no one else?
- Utilize online options, but never underestimate the importance of face-to-face contact. Even in today’s technologically driven world, one-on-one personal contact is second to none.
- Provide relevant information to your customers so they better understand your goods and services.
- Be a good listener. When you do all the talking with a customer, you are likely missing out on what their needs are. Zero in on the customer and their concerns, be involved, and react when appropriate to what they’re saying.
- Lastly, keep the customer informed of any developments with products and services that impact them. When customers leave a voice mail or e-mail, respond to it in a timely manner, even if you don’t have the answer they’re looking for.
In your efforts to improve your communications with customers, take a page out of the Vatican’s playbook over time.
According to Pope Benedict, “It is important to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.”
That being said, the possibilities are virtually endless when you make the effort to communicate effectively with your customers.
Photo credit: Getty Images