This post was prompted by the series Todd Defren, Paul Roberts, Lou Hoffman and Steve Farnsworth are doing about communications issues. On Wednesday each has been posting the answer to a critical question relevant to the communications industry. Today, the last day, the question is, “What are the Top 5 Smart Communications Practices Companies Need to Implement Now?”
Just 5, huh? These may change over time but here are the ones I recommend.
- Try to ask “why” as many times as you can. Often communications programs are driven by someone saying, “we have to” or “we really need to” or “we really should”. Many times I’ll hear people agree for no other reason than agreeing. With so many roads for a communications program to take and, increasingly, few resources, the asking of “why” is imperative. If you can’t give an answer that ties to the organization’s goals, you should focus instead on initiatives that will.
- Value the ability to communicate not just the ability to use the communication tools. I’ve seen many companies put an emphasis on people’s ability to use social media tools over the ability to be able develop compelling messages. The medium is not the message. The message is the message. The medium delivers it. You need to have the right message for the right medium, of course, but figuring out that has always been part of the communication professional’s job.
- Don’t approach social media as something you have to do. Blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking just to have a presence isn’t a strategy. Spend the time to figure out the things you should be doing and do them right.
- Don’t stay static. Relationships are created in a Tweet. Search is now instant. The days of developing a communications strategy for 6 months are over. Know where you are going but communication programs need to adapt and change at 21st century speeds.
- No matter how busy things get devote some time to slow down every once in a while and ask “What if?” Some of the most succesful communications programs have come from meetings where everyone had to throw out a crazy “what if” idea. Devoting time to encouraging creativity and out-of-the-box thinking isn’t done in companies as much as it should be. I used to have meetings where everyone had to be barefoot. Try it. It brings people out of their comfort zone. Comfort zones are nice places to visit, but they can’t, in today’s world of communication, be where you live.