So we are heading into 2012 and the TV news reported yesterday (Monday 9 January) was the day that most people gave up their New Year resolutions. Personally, I never make New Year resolutions but instead I do like to look ahead and outline things I want to have achieved during the coming months. I suppose it becomes an appraisal of sorts, a review of where I am and where I might want to be.
In thinking about my personal position it made me wonder whether communication teams and organisations should use the New Year to make their own resolutions? And if they do what might they include. So, as a starting point I have detailed six possible resolutions for 2012.
1. We must invest in communication with our people
We are facing another tough year with reduced budgets and an uncertain time for the workforce. As funds for communication are stretched even further, we should not reduce the focus on sharing messages internally. This is a time when we need to invest in internal communication. Each of the people working within an organisation are potential ambassadors for the company, or they could be organisational terrorists. Staff have a huge amount of power at their fingertips as they can use social networks to spread their views of the company around the world. So in 2012 we must redouble efforts to ensure the workforce feel they have some control by providing them with knowledge about the future.
2. We should add social media into our communication mix
Any organisation that has not yet seen the opportunities that exist in using social networks must make the coming year the time to change. Social media is now almost mainstream as a form of communication. News is being broken on Twitter every day, and Facebook is becoming a place where news, views and updates are shared. I have written many times about the importance of acting now and investing in this aspect of communication. Invest in developing social media now and by the end of 2012 you should be reaping the rewards.
3. We should exploit the opportunities from the use of video and photography
With the growth of social media has come the increased emphasis on visual communication. Video and photography can now say much more than words and they can do it around the world in an instant. More and more people are using tablet computers which allow much easier and quicker access to video and photography. If you want to say something, either to customers or to your workforce, why not do it through a video message. You can show people what they should be doing, or illustrate a new product or initiative making it real for people.
4. We must do things because they add value
Innovation, innovation, innovation. It is what people are striving for every day when they are working in communication roles. And while creativity and new initiatives are important, we must ensure that they are always adding value to achieving the organisations goals. If the activity is not supporting the company’s priorities then we should question why we are investing scarce time and resources into doing it. Of course, this requires an investment in evaluation of communication efforts so that we know what works and why.
5. Our messages should be clear and consistent
It may sound simple as a resolution but it is probably the thing that is challenged the most in communication. The world is moving faster than ever and for communicators that is a huge problem. We often risk losing a clear and consistent message about what the business stands for and is about. We risk losing that clear message both with customers and with our workforce. In 2012, people need a clarity of message and that message should be something that does not change with the seasons.
6. We should take some risks and try new things
In resolution four we talked about doing things because they add value and a priority for trying new things may seem to be at odds with that. It isn’t. The thing that will elevate communication from the pedestrian into the cutting edge, is for communication teams to be given the opportunity and support to try new things and take risks. They need to see opportunities and exploit them without feeling held back by bureaucracy. They need to be liberated from working in the realms of the word factory to be able to take time to do something different. Sometimes things will work and sometimes they may not but the outcome will be improvements in communication as new techniques are tried. We cannot and must not stagnate.
New Year resolutions may be something people break very quickly and this is often because we pay lip service to them. We talk about going to the gym or losing weight but don’t really mean it. When we look at some resolutions for our organisations then they have to be things that we mean, things that we can get behind and really make happen. When we get to the end of 2012 will we be able to look back on our achievements and say we have moved forward and made a difference with our communication?