“It’s just too complicated and difficult.” So began a conversation with a frustrated colleague, struggling to keep tabs on the myriad communication vehicles sprouting like mushrooms in a damp glade. I asked, “What’s complicated about having so many choices? Choices are good, right?” He didn’t think so.
I have to admit, our profession was a little easier to execute back at the beginning of my communication career. As an internal communications specialist, we had a print newsletter that represented 90 percent of our communication activity, followed by VHS videos and a mainframe email bulletin board that no one really used. Oh, and we got faxes from Corporate, copied them and walked the tower delivering the latest announcements.
Externally, we did news releases and media advisories, called reporters and tried to get a haystack full of clips to demonstrate our superior abilities. Once in a while, we’d do a news conference. Yes, this was before the Dawn of Time Itself.
These days, you hear someone talking about “The New Twitter Whatever,” and the first thing that comes to my mind is, “Twitter? Is it passè already? Where exactly will this new method of communication fall alongside Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, De.lic.ious, Posterus, Amplify, Yelp, Yammer, YouTube, Wikipedia, MySpace, YourSpace, HisSpace, HerSpace GLBTSpace, and all the other stuff?
The answer (write this down now) is: Use the method that fits the objectives for your audience.
Think about the end result — the objectives of your communication — and walk through the strengths and weaknesses of these different methods.
- Outcome – Increased enrollment in 401(k) plan
- Method – Newsletter article, intranet quiz, reprint of magazine piece, video explanation from CEO, in-person meeting with representative
In the scenario above, which method is likely to work best? You may choose more than one, but if you could only choose one, which would it be?
- Outcome – More qualified prospects
- Method – TV news piece, trade publication story, customer referral request, Twitter campaign, CEO blog
I’m oversimplifying the issue. There are a number of intermediate steps between more generalized communication activities and the outcome we see here.
There is no doubt that the ever-increasing modes of communication are making PR people’s lives more challenging. But the thought process, considering each method through the prism of the desired outcome is the path to choosing well.