Community Strategy Insights

The latest insights on community strategy, technology, and value by FeverBee’s founder, Richard Millington

CIPR and Communicating With Members

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

This e-mail from CIPR Conversations is similar to many terrible e-mails sent out to community members.


“Hi Richard


As a valued contributor to the CIPR Conversation we wanted to keep you updated with some changes that we’re making to the site which will improve the browsing, contributing and social experience for all of our users.


What will be different?

The big news – The Conversation is moving over to a new site! It will be powered by a completely new content management system which will optimise the experience for you on your mobile, on your tablet and at your desk. We’ll also be making it easier for you to share your favourite posts through new social-sharing features and we’ll facilitate greater discussion through new comment threads.


On top of this, we’ll improve how it displays and aggregates all of this great content. The Conversation will now have ‘Public relations’, ‘Public affairs’, ‘Internal Comms’, ‘Digital’, ‘Tech’, ‘Marketing’ and ‘Advertising’ hubs that will pull together the best blogs and original content from these areas into their own specialist hubs. As editors, we’ll also continue to pick the very best of this content, promote it to The Conversation homepage and share with the world through the social web.


How will it affect you?

On Wednesday 1 May 2013 the current site will be closed down and a brand new CIPR Conversation site will be launched at the same address ( the following week.


Once the new site is launched you’ll be able to register for a new account through Twitter or Facebook (as well as via your email if you like the old way!) and you’ll be ready to contribute!


Unfortunately, if you were using The Conversation as a place to write and keep your own blog, all of this content will be deleted in the change to a new CMS. Before the site closes, we’d advise you to save your old posts in hard copy and port them over to one of the great free blogging tools like WordPress – and once the new site is up and running, it will be simple for you to syndicate the RSS feed from that blog so that you can easily sync all your past posts on your user page.


We will still make it possible for any individual or company to sign up and syndicate their existing blog to The Conversation via RSS. Plus, if you don’t already have your own external blog we will continue to make it possible for you to contribute through The Conversation’s very own native blogging platform.


Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll let you know when the new site is launched.


We hope you’ll continue to contribute to the success of The Conversation, we’ll be up and running very soon.


If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.”


Formatting issues aside, there is plenty wrong here

A few thoughts:

1) Members don’t care about platform changes or most of what’s highlighted above (at least not until they’ve been made). Sending e-mails to tell members about a new platform, especially without adding anything substantive, you gaurantee your future e-mails will be ignored. Members only care about awesome things that are happening in the community. Talking about the community platform is the equivalent to talking about the changes to the local community hall (“We now serve tea AND biscuits!”). 

2) If you’re going to make a big platform change, then ensure there is something remarkable happening within the community at the same time. People will associate that great, remarkable, thing with the platform change. Organize a terrific live event, or highlight the top 5 discussions of all time, or the mose useful piece of advice ever posted.

3) Avoid deleting content members have contributed to the community at all costs. If you are going to delete members’ content, don’t bury the story in the 6th paragraph. Instead highlight the change and offer to port across the blogs of the top 20 contributors. For the rest, you’ve created a simple, step-by-step, guide to doing this.

4) Words are incredibly valuable. The more of them you use, the less members will read. Don’t send updates to members which are longer than a 2 – 3 paragraphs. Cut out every piece of fluff. People can always click for more information.

5) Send personal e-mails to your top contributors. Especially when all their content might be removed within the next 5 days. p.s. Also give members more than 5 days (over a weekend) to save their material.

6) Split the announcements. The announcement with the platform change should not be included with the announcement about members losing all their content.

How can you approach this?

We would suggest splitting this into two e-mails.

E-mail 1) The big exciting event e-mail

Hi Richard,

We have something big coming up.

We have Mr. VIP joining us on May 1st for an exclusive live Q&A session about how to be terrific at {topic}. 

For the first time, Mr. VIP will be sharing how he did….

Mr. VIP’s visit will mark the launch of your new platform. You’ll see the changes for yourself in a few days. Broadly, it’s going to make the user experience, especially on mobile, much better.

If you want to learn how to do x, y, and z, then sign up for the event here. 


E-mail 2) The losing content e-mail

Hi Richard,

Don’t skip this e-mail.

Despite our best efforts, it’s not going to be possible to move all your old content to the new platform. 

However, we don’t want to lose your content. We have a cunning plan.

We’re going to move your content to blogs that you control and then important the content back in via RSS. If you don’t have the time to do this yourself then  let me know and we’ll set it up for you.

If you want to do it yourself, here is a step by step guide we have created:

These 2 e-mails means that 1) you need to have something exciting happening in the community platform and 2) you need to set aside the time to help people move the content over and create that guide.

Sounds a lot like serving the community doesn’t it?

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