Dress up pension communications for better impact

I recently flew to Los Angeles to visit my sister, and right before the standard safety video, the onboard screens showed an appealing commercial for a beach resort in a gorgeous tropical location.

The ad featured glamorous-looking people doing fun and relaxing activities, such as floating in a pool of crystal-clear water, dancing in a nightclub and dining by candlelight near the ocean. It was impossible to watch it without experiencing pangs of travel envy.

Read: Alberta pension plan wins communications award for approachable, original website

Compare this with how we usually communicate pension information. How often do people get excited about a pension newsletter? Admittedly, it’s easier to sell a vacation than a pension plan, but the industry can still take a page from the marketing books and make pension communications more attractive. Here are a few suggestions on how we can achieve this:

Invest in good design. When it comes to communicating pensions, it’s easy to focus only on the required disclosures, but that’s not all that matters. It goes without saying that the content has to be compliant and technically accurate. But if plan sponsors aren’t communicating information in a visually appealing way, no one’s going to read it.

Taking the time and effort to ensure pension communications have a professional, polished look aligned with the organization or plan branding sends an important message. It shows the employer values the pension plan — and members should too.

Read: Important considerations in DB pension communications

Use more visuals. We all process information differently, and the visual learners will struggle with large blocks of heavy text, particularly if it’s full of pension jargon.

Incorporating elements like pictures, charts and infographics can make the information easier to understand, especially for those less financially savvy. It also helps address the needs of a diverse and multilingual workforce.

Try different media. While pension communications often focus on the written word, through statements and annual reports, there are other ways to talk about pensions.

Video, for instance, can be a useful tool to distill complicated pension concepts into a more accessible format. We watch videos all the time in our daily lives to learn how to cook a new recipe, help fix something around the house or educate ourselves on a topic of interest.

Creating short videos on pension topics to explain how the plan works, teach members about basic investment concepts or inform them about an upcoming change to the plan provisions, for example, can help get key messages across in an engaging way.

Read: How to avoid three common mistakes around pension, benefits communication

The bottom line is that pension communications have to be accurate, but they don’t have to be boring. Making them more interesting increases the likelihood plan members will engage with them. After all, isn’t that the whole point of the message?