Collateral materials are any printed resources that your union uses to educate members and the public about your local services, activities, political action and issues. Brochures, flyers and newsletters are examples of collateral materials.
Why are collateral materials important today?
In this fast-paced world where most of our daily exchanges involve digital, social, and mobile data, print collateral materials can still be an integral part of a strategic communications program and can make a strong, striking and lasting impression.
These printed pieces, when designed, written and executed properly, can be just as effective as some of the more cutting-edge new media tools, depending on the target audience’s needs, habits, and behavior.
When it comes to promoting your local, it’s important to consider what types of collateral material are best suited to your communications objectives. Collateral materials can help explain aspects of the union’s work in a simple and more accessible way.
While there are some promotional items every local should have, like a basic Who We Are brochure, there are also highly specialized forms of material, such as direct mail or door hangers during an election, which can bring your message home.
Another example of the value of printed material is sharing a flyer at an event, which may be the timeliest way to connect with your audience. By providing a tangible piece of material in the hand of someone interested in your topic, you can capture their attention more than by telling them to, “Go to our website,” “send me an email,” or, “you can find us on Facebook.”
What are examples of collateral materials?
A brochure is small booklet that contains information and pictures about your local union and the services it offers. Your local could have two versions of this product, one for your members and another for the general public.
Flyers and leaflets are small handbills advertising an event, product, idea, issue or candidate.
A Fact Sheet has bulleted data and information about a particular issue, emphasizing key points.
Direct mail is a method of sending various printed materials to a target audience through the mail.
Door hangers are cardboard signs that are made to fit around a doorknob, and are used to deliver messages to people in those homes.
A newsletter presents information and news to our targets, whether local members and/or friends whose concerns are of interest to our union
What questions should be asked when creating collaterals?
- Who is the audience?
- What is the objective of the material?
- What is the main message that needs to be communicated?
- How can the message be organized so that it’s easily understood?
- Is the information presented in a simple and concise way?
- Is the information accurate?
- Does the material catch the reader’s attention?
- Does the material reflect the union’s brand?
- Does the material have contact information?
- Does the message have a call to action?
How much impact does design and layout have in communicating a message?
Even the best-written pieces can fall flat because they have been designed so poorly that no one reads the material. A great many IAFF locals don’t take the time necessary to make their materials look professional. A full-page, type-written Word document is not a flyer!
Design and layout play a key role in success of communicating your message and here are a few things you can do to help make them more appealing.
Balance is the way your words, pictures and graphics are placed on the page. Is the design symmetrical? Does it look cluttered? Are the words and pictures evenly aligned? Do the pictures/graphics tell the story without words?
Graphics and charts can provide a great deal of information and help in telling your story. If used, make sure graphics and charts are not too complex.
Photographs and illustrations should be used to tell your story. Remember the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. The right picture can cut down on the words you need to use.
Selecting the right font and font size can make the difference in readability. This means no fancy cursive or miniature wording.
A few final thoughts:
- Your local might want to prepare and use a style guide so that there is consistency across the collateral materials with regard to word usage, font size, bullets, numbering and heading styles.
- Keep it simple. Use commonly used language. Do not use fire-ees, union-ees or legal-ees.
- Always think about what experience your reader is likely to undergo while reading your collateral.
- Do not forget to have someone copy edit all of the material.
- Always check and double check numbers, dates and locations.