We all think that in the world today we are more connected than at ever before and to some extent that is true. It is easy now to share information and updates across the world at the touch of a button. Technology and social media has given us the opportunity to speak to more people than at any time in the past. But amid this fog of conversation are we missing out on the most critical communication.
As professional communicators, we pride ourselves on having the latest data and information about the business or organisation we work for so that we can use it to target activity. We need to know all about the products and services that we are working to support. Sat in our offices at head office we are confident that we know everything and can provide the required activity to build the reputation.
In this fast-paced world we can be missing out on one of the most important things to do to support communication and PR work, and that is to listen to those buying the goods and services.
It is a long story that I will gloss over now, but I have had the opportunity to go out and discuss policing with members of the public across Greater Manchester. There is so much that can be gathered about views of the organisation and they are more real because they come from direct conversations with people. It is a rich source of honest views that can be of more value than spreadsheets full of statistics.
All heads of communication and PR leads should spend time meeting those that are buying the product or using the services. It gives you a clear view of what is working and what isn’t. It can show you what matters to people and how the business can support them. It reminds you what is important and why. Yet, so many communication bosses talk about how busy they are and what they have to do and never give a second thought to reaching out directly to people they need to listen to.
I have found it a stressful and pressured experience but more importantly it has been rewarding, insightful and heart-warming. The people have been friendly and honest with a willingness to get involved in how to improve the services provided. The undertaking continues to be a big time pressure on me but I wouldn’t miss it because I have learnt so much.
If you are the communication lead in an organisation ask yourself when was the last time you came face-to-face with a customer or service user? Be brave and commit to meeting them, listening and learning.