Comms: It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it

The Wisdom of Crowds has always been a concept that concerned me.  The behavior and knowledge of “crowds” too often resembles the Stupidity of the Flock. image There are often benefits to the Crowd, but in a connected world, this groupthink often results in the mass adoption of falsehoods with no basis in fact. There’s a lot of this behavior in discussions about communications. Let’s take email as an example.  I was at an event where the ‘wisdom of the crowd” was that email was at best dying and at worst dead.  However, some precision questioning on this topic found that email was still the most used way to communicate.  People proclaiming the death of email didn’t actually measure whether it was working or not.  It was a hunch – at best. Now don’t worry I’m not going to try and mount a defense of email.
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Great communications requires great measurement…

I recently attended an internal communications event. I always enjoy getting the opportunity to meet and hear from other communicators. You’ll always pick something up. This particular event included a panel with four internal communications practitioners.  They each covered a range of topics from what was working best for their organizations, to using social channels with internal audiences. The moderator’s last question addressed that most notorious of topics for communicators everywhere – measurement.  Here were the responses… Panelist 1 (PR agency): “Well with our client <name redacted> we’re buying access to employees on Facebook.” My take: OK.  That’s a tactic and many companies are investing in Facebook to engage their employees.  But it’s not really measurement…. Panelist 2 (In-house private mid-sized company): “Our company is just too small to measure communications.” My take: Eh.  Your company is too small to measure communications but
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If you say it’s dead, it’s probably not.

As Jim Diamond sang in the 80s, I should have known better.  And I did.  When I heard about Robert Phillips’ plans for a book titled: Trust Me, PR is Dead, I knew I’d disagree with the central premise.  Social media’s overuse of the word ‘dead’ to describe a profession or service has always annoyed me.  It betrays poor judgment and a lack of realism. The reality is never that simple.  Not in the real world. However, I also believe that a healthy mind, is a challenged mind, and perhaps Mr. Phillips would impart some radically new thinking that would make me question my beliefs. So, not only did I buy his book, I supported the fund raising* for it and signed up months before the book was even finished. I was planning to review the book here.  (30,000 foot summary: there’s some
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PSA: Objectives, Strategies & Tactics…

There’s a surprising amount of confusion out there about the differences between an objective, a strategy and a tactic. I’m amazed how often I see tactics confused with strategies in plans and proposals. As part of my on boarding process when I started my first PR job back in the early 1990s, they provided a simple but effective way of remembering the differences: Objective – a description of the end result:
  • I want to go to Ireland for a vacation starting on Monday
Strategy – how the objective will be achieved:
  • I’m going to travel by plane – it’s faster than going by sea
Tactics – specific actions to be taken:
  • Check for the best flight prices
  • Book a room in the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin
  • Hire a car for the trip from Avis

Helping yourself get productive

This time of year – in between all the festivities – is a great time for taking stock personally and professionally. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some random productivity tips I find useful.  My experience is that productivity is a very personal thing.  Rather than one solution that works for everyone, you have to tailor it for your own needs and preferences. This isn’t rocket science but hopefully it’s useful. Having said that, I’ll begin with one that is universal. You are responsible for your work life balance…  that’s it.  It’s as simple as that. Don’t make up excuses, take ownership and make the changes you need to get your life in balance.  I know you’re busy, we all are.  But if you don’t take ownership of your world life balance then you’re life will pass you by. Get clear on your priorities… It’s easy to waste valuable time on things that don’t matter.  So be smart and get really clear on what’s important in your professional and personal life.  This is the perfect time of the year to step back write them down, and make a commitment to review them regularly. Simple eh?

The truth teller

If you follow social media – and this probably relates more to blogs and Twitter than the other channels – you know there’s a lot of opinions on marketing and PR out there. 

Now, on the whole, this is a good thing, but at the same time, there’s often a lack of good, honest discussion of some of these opinions and memes.

So when someone provides a contrarian view on one of the sacred cows, it’s always worth a listen.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister addresses the question of “storytelling”…

You are not a storyteller – Stefan Sagmeister @ FITC from FITC on Vimeo.

Source: Darren Barefoot.