Communications 101: If it doesn’t suck, keep going

Return to MightyWriteI recently read that Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren still worries that her work might ‘suck’.

Mirren attributes this to a recurring fear of losing the momentum of the characters she plays when there are delays between projects.

I was shocked due to Mirren’s obvious greatness. But on another level, I could relate.

In communicating our business and services, we all have times when our courage fails us, when we’re not sure of the way ahead and wonder, ‘does anyone really care about this?’ and yes…’Is this going to suck’?

The key is to get started and keep moving forward. Sometimes one step at a time.

If you’re a business leader, you likely have other things to worry about. But think about your internal team that’s working really hard to deliver a project. Communicating recognition of their work and some milestones can help re-energize the team and get their commitment for the long haul. Your customers can similarly benefit from regular, consistent communication about the steps you’re taking to solve their problems.

You have a story to tell. There are some relatively painless ways to get the most out of this sometimes-dreaded part of your business.

  1. Get a good start. Bring your communications team in early on in a project and help them understand the business problem that’s being addressed. Be clear on your priorities and expectations.

  2. Weigh in. The communications strategy that’s developed with your input is the road map that your team is going to follow. Your feedback and approval are key to moving the communication forward. You may be able to check out at some stages of the communications – but not here.

  3. Be open to voicing and listening to concerns. It’s a requirement for communications people to be able to take criticism and feedback of any kind. Don’t hold back. We want to provide value and would rather revise a strategy or article than see it collect dust. It’s also our job to ask questions if feedback isn’t in sync with the strategy or if the reason for a change isn’t clear.

  4. Stay engaged or engage others. “Engagement” is a big word in business and it’s no less important in a communications project. If you are the key business contact, you’ll need to engage at key times or assign someone to do this for you. A breakdown in reviews and approvals is one of the main reasons communications projects lose momentum.

  5. Have some faith. You or someone in your organization put this team together for a reason. Unless some fatal flaws become obvious, it’s likely a good choice. Believe in what you’re doing together and keep moving forward.

  6. Accept help. Many clients like to be part of the creative process, which is great. But you shouldn’t be the process if it’s not your main skill set or priority. If you’ve agreed on the communications strategy, the team you’ve hired should be doing the heavy lifting to keep the project on track. If they aren’t, then you have every right to feel burdened and will need to speak up.

  7. Be open and honest. If something changes that could impact the communications, let the entire team know – even if it’s bad news.

  8. Focus on results. Ensure information is being collected and review the results – conversion rates, sales, increases in audience or traffic, etc.

  9. Ask for a post-mortem. This is the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly. In addition to looking at the measurable results, have everyone on the communications team, including you, provide input as to how the project went overall and suggestions for improvements. This is especially important if you will be working together again.

  10. Keep the momentum going. Look at the business opportunities to carry on the momentum. It may be by adding a new product or service, responding to a new problem or increasing touch points with your audience. Your communications team may have included this in a long-term communications strategy, but it’s good to check in based on the latest results. Watch for new opportunities and be open to change.

After nearly 30 years of doing this, I still have “Mirren” moments where at the start of a project I think, can we do this? Then the communications planning process gets going, the momentum and the relationships build, and together with my clients I know, absolutely we can.

What are some tough moments you’ve experienced in keeping that loving feeling going in a communications project? Does one of the points I’ve shared stand out as something that did or didn’t worked for you? I’d love to hear your comments or email me.

What’s new and the work we do with MighyWrite clients:

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health in the Workplace – Refreshed website, featuring a new interface and updated content to help business owners with the prevention, support and management of workplace mental health issues.

Mindful Employer Canada – Check out the latest blog articles and learn more about becoming a Mindful Manager. The monthly webinar series presents Understanding Mental Illness on Oct. 15.

Innovate Manitoba ­– Check in on the latest news on how Innovate Manitoba is helping to catalyze innovation in Manitoba. The Focus on Innovation article showcases how innovation makes a manitoba-made technology a game changer

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