Communicating the co-op difference: Key tips from Singapore

'We work on creating content that aligns with common values to better connect with audiences who are not within the co-op movement'

We speak to Ler Jun Sng, executive, marketing communications and partnerships at the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), an apex set up in 1980 which represents 99% of the country’s 1.4 million co-operative members.

SNCF uses a range of social media channels to engage with members and non-members, in addition to trying to secure coverage in local and national media. 

How are you communicating your co-operative difference?

SNCF shares [news] about the Singaporean co-operative movement and stories on our co-operatives/co-operators, both internally within the co-operative network and externally, with the general public, through media features in traditional print media and broadcast media, content on our website and social media channels, and events.

SNCF seeks to help co-operatives to strengthen their co-ops to better serve their members, the broader community and in turn transform the national economy. Beyond offering a suite of programmes and services to our co-operatives, we also do the bridging role to connect co-operatives with one another to explore partnership opportunities to further amplify and extend the reach of their work. 

How does the language you use change depending on your target audience?

At SNCF, a huge part of what we want to do is to engage the general public, especially the youth, on the co-operative movement through our social media channels. To cater to the younger demographics who use social media extensively as part and parcel of their lives, as well as those who may not be familiar with the co-op movement, we use simpler terms to explain technical jargons and definitions, choose content that appeals to the youth, engage with trending topics/conversations, and partner with public personalities to further extend our reach to bigger and new audiences. The communication style is primarily informative through the use of bite-sized content and adopts a fun and less formal tone. We sometimes incorporate light-hearted humour through the use of memes.

In addition to communicating to your members, how are you trying to reach out to those outside the movement?

We work on creating content that aligns with common values to better connect with audiences who are not within the co-op movement. With growing interest and more conversations on inclusivity and sustainability, we also curate content on these topics as we want to get them to engage in social conversations or act on it (e.g. doing their part to save the environment). We also partner with personalities who fit the themes we have identified and work with them to feature their stories on social media. At times, we also leverage social media channels of key stakeholders and co-operatives to further broadcast the stories to their followers.

What media channels do you use?

For social media we use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. In terms of traditional media, we use print, online, and broadcast channels (radio, TV).

How do you engage with journalists/media professionals?

Our team comprises members who have handled media relations or worked closely with media professionals previously. Typically we will craft the media angle and narrative, prepare the media release or fact sheet as well as preparing the spokespersons/profiles for interviews, before pitching a story to the editors/reporters, and work with the reporters closely on queries they may have. We also pitch stories to vernacular media to cover reach to different audiences.

What challenges have you faced when doing so? How much do journalists know about co-ops?

Journalists often do their due diligence as part of their research work to find out and understand what a co-op is and how the co-op model works. We try to make it easier for them to educate the public or their audience to digest the co-op model by furnishing them with additional information which may comprise sound bites, quotes or sharing of case studies.

What are your tips for other co-ops?

Take the time to plan your content calendar; we suggest doing it quarterly and reviewing from time to time. Figure out which personalities (including co-operators, public figures, opinion leaders or advocates championing social causes) may resonate with the co-op brand and are suitable for content collaboration and feature. It is useful to also engage with the youths, who are avid social media users, for content ideas and suggestions.

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