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Communication

Does the trend to digital mean that traditional communications are effectively… dead?  That all of your traditional communication tools (newsletters, magazines, brochures, booklets, etc) are destined for the trash heap?  One only needs to look at the sorry plight of the newspaper business to see that the future doesn’t look rosy. The world has changed.

Or have we so bought into the inevitability of technology that it has blinded us to what we are giving up?  And have we left many of our key target audiences frustrated, disengaged, or abandoned?  Consider your own behavior:

  • Do you really love receiving email blasts, or are you swimming in email overwhelm and rarely open everything sent to you?
  • Do you always remember the password to every website?  And are you super-enthused about keeping your accounts and profiles up-to-date?
  • Do you really engage in everyone else’s Facebook page, Tweet chats, LinkedIn groups, and other social media efforts, or are you generally indifferent to their efforts to engage you?  (Or maybe you actively choose not to use Facebook or other social media sites, for reasons of privacy.)
  • Do you really love using a mobile event app, or do actually prefer a printed program so you can easily write notes.  (And not worry if your smart phone runs out of power.)
  • And finally, has your vendors and partners rush to digital actually improved your relationship with them?

For many people, the answer to many of these questions, sadly, is no.  Digital is not the solution to every problem, and sometimes it creates completely new issues.

  • In the 1970s, the advent of computers heralded the age of the paperless office.  Today, we have more paper than ever.
  • In the 1980s, the advent of email heralded the end of traditional mail.  Today, 86% of all email traffic is spam (Cisco, 2016.)
  • In the mid-1990s, the advent of social media heralded the age of digital connection and personal empowerment.  Today, many are spooked by their loss of privacy.

Most sophisticated organizations understand it is the synthesis between digital and the real-world that creates connection and opportunity.  And for this reason, any digital initiative needs to be planned not just from an “implementation” perspective, but also a “process integration” perspective as well, with the key audiences at the center of every effort.

While today’s hot topic might be Digital Transformation with a capital D and capital T, some of the heavy lifting is surprisingly easy, and just plain common sense.  Consider the evolution of a simple monthly “print” newsletter or magazine:

  • Stage One – Traditional:  Print version sent via traditional mail.
  • Stage Two – Early Web:  Print version translated into an “e-zine” and blasted to everyone on the list.  (And posted on the website, sometimes as a PDF.)
  • Stage Three – Process Change:  Print version cancelled, and replaced with content delivered as individual blog posts, social links, and an email summary of the month’s posts.
  • Stage Four – Measurement and Awakening:  Hey, not many people are reading this stuff anymore, let alone “engaging” with it.
  • Stage Five – Audience-centered:  Continue as above, but blog posts repurposed into alternative formats.  This may include white papers, books, events, and other digital and non-digital formats.  (And it might also mean a print version sent via traditional mail.)

This week’s action plan:  Has your rush to digital been centered on the desire to reduce internal costs, the desire to be on the tech bandwagon (eg an event app, social media, a shiny new website) or on the requirements of your key audiences?  This week, go back five years, and re-look at the traditional communications that you no longer do.  Has anything been lost? (And if so, welcome to stage four.)

Marketing insights:   Stage Three – Process Change is special because it improves internal efficiency, in this case changing the editorial process from a batch mode to a continuous one.  Stage Four – Measurement and Awakening is important because it speaks to the importance of market research, measurement, and alignment.  Stage Five – Audience-centered is important because it puts the focus on delivering value to key audiences.  Digital Transformation is not about websites, mobile apps, or databases: it is about using these tools to achieve the benefits of Stage Three and Stage Five, with an always-on Stage Four.

 Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site

www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Have you ever seen a mistake in someone else’s blog or social media post?  Or maybe you’ve been a victim of this yourself?  It could be a simple typographical or grammatical error, a case of misattribution, or a more serious case of factual error.

Unfortunately, it happens far too often, for some very obvious reasons:

  1. Some content is dictated and the speech-t0-text software sometimes gets it wrong.
  2. Editing is done in a cursory fashion, or sometimes, not at all.
  3. Fact-checking, a staple of traditional publications, is rarely done for online content.  (And it is rarely done for traditionally published content either.)
  4. A post relies on a third party for facts, when, in fact, the third-party’s content may not be correct, or worse, the third party site may have relied on yet a different non-corroborated third-party source.

A few examples:

  • In a post entitled Six Top Thought Leadership Articles, there was some text that incorrectly said, “Here are sex posts that explore these concepts.”  The feedback was instantaneous (and a bit embarrassing).
  • In a recent Facebook post, I “quoted” the very prolific Albert Einstein, who said “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”  Unfortunately, Einstein actually never said this.  (Hat tip to Larry Goldberg and others who pointed this out.)  In this case, we relied on third-party sites, who relied on other third-party sites within the world web web echo chamber.

Mistake repair strategy:

  1. When quoting a person, whether they are alive or dead, double-check the accuracy beforehand.  www.quoteinvestigator.com is a great place to start.
  2. Edit the post if possible.  If not, add a comment acknowledging the error.
  3. If the post is of lower value, and there are no comments attached to it, delete it entirely.
  4. As a courtesy, circle back to the source of the error and advise them of any necessary changes.

This week’s action plan:  The fact that errors do creep in begs the question of the quality of your content editing and review process.  This week, consider whether any of your errors were random or can be traced back to a systemic issue:  is it time to upgrade your editing process? Or add some fact-checking?

Can you find the error in this post?  Yes, there is an error in this post – did you happen to see it? Look for “speech-t0-text” within the post: the word “to” is spelled with a zero instead of an “o”.

Finally, a hat tip to the talented Daniel Wolgelerenter, a professional editor and copywriter, for going through earlier versions of this post.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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