Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finding stability in a sea of communication change

If you are involved in any kind of communications endeavor, whether it be marketing, corporate communications, public relations, getting the word out about your church, or doing the newsletter for your Scout troop, the ever-growing list of digital communications tools can be overwhelming.

Almost daily, with breathless abandon, communication prognosticators tout “new” techno tools that we all must master to succeed. Twitter, Ning, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Blogger, and on and on.

Journal articles declare that print is dying and “new forms of communication are continually emerging.” To survive, it is imperative to change the way we do what we do.

Of course, many cool new tools may come along, but like periodic a cicada emergence, after a lot of noise, not all remain. Or, of those that do survive, not all remain relevant.

Think Google Wave and MySpace.

Old basics perennially new

However, as we bob and weave our way through the various new media toys and trends, there are aspects of excellent communication that do endure.

These are qualities or characteristics that really must be mastered and imbue all we do, whether we are preparing a news release, creating ad copy, posting to a blog, writing a speech, or Tweeting from an event.
  • Truth - As consultant Bruce Hennes would say, tell the truth, tell it all, and tell it first. Hennes applies this to crisis situations, but I’m sure he would agree its application is broader. When all we do is embedded in truth, most crises will be averted, or at least much more easily managed.
     
  • Integrity - Closely allied with truth, integrity involves honesty in word and deed, accepting responsibility, and always acting ethically. Integrity eschews spin and weasel words, instead laying out the truth in plain language and a straight-forward manner.
     
  • Quality - Creating a quality communication piece doesn’t mean it has to be gold-plated. Rather, it’s doing the very best within the boundaries of budget and resources, and producing value that reflects truth and integrity.

The bottom line

Tools don’t motivate employees, don’t engage customers, don’t connect with constituents.

The value of communication resides in the messages we craft that deliver meaning, value, and knowledge to our audiences.

My point is simply this: The modes and means of communication may shift endlessly, but these three characteristics, and perhaps others, must remain impermeable to the whims of what’s cool and new and now.

Superman saves the world from the forces of evil under the motto of “Truth, justice, and the American way.”

As super communicators, doing our work from a firm foundation of truth, integrity, and quality provides us a base of stability allowing us to remain balanced and focused.

From this position of strength we can craft messages that can reach the heart faster than a speeding bullet, connect with audiences in powerful ways, and enlighten minds in a single bound.


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As Spiderman learned, “With great power comes great responsibility.” How does this apply to your role as communicator?

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