Communication is the Pulse of Life!

Posts tagged “communication

The Russians are Coming!

fake news

Between fake news, fake apps, and “alternative” facts, there seems to be no let-up in the barrage of misleading and outright false messaging. Fake news is not new, but its amplification through social media gives it a new dimension, causing it to become more pervasive. Unlike the PR spin, fake news is completely and intentionally made up. And because of the false narrative, a slight blend of truth to a story can make it difficult to discern the accuracy of its claims. Not surprisingly, this has created an opportunity to influence and exploit for political or personal gains.

Social media has rapidly become an integral part of all of our lives – it is the primary source for news and updates. The epidemic of fake news and alternative facts spread quickly like wildfire on social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter – reaching tens of millions of people in milliseconds!  If you use any social media platform (duh!), you’ve probably been hit by some of these. Information doesn’t need to be true or funny to go viral – it can be a half-truth or even an outright lie.

Sometimes it may be something that fits a certain narrative that we have in our mind about a person or organization and we want so much for it to be true that we fall for it. On the other hand, a story is so outrageous that it’s easy to spot. No more was this more evident than during the 2016 US elections. Let’s see – “Hillary Clinton has brain Damage!”; “Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump!”; “Democrats to impose Sharia Law in Florida!”

Algorithms are part of what spreads fake news – because false stories which become popular can be pushed out by the software that runs social networks. But some programmers think computer code could also be part of the solution.

Google and Facebook have announced measures to combat fake viral stories online. Google has added a new feature, i.e. Fact Check (https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/07/fact-check-the-world-is-flat/) to Search and News to identify news reports as having been fact-checked by other news publishers and fact-checking organizations. Facebook is testing a new tool, located at the top of the News Feed to users in 14 countries (http://www.ubergizmo.com/2017/04/facebook-creates-new-tool-to-combat-fake-news/).  It is an educational project intended to help people spot and stop fake news from going viral.

Advertisers can help to solve this issue by paying closer attention to where their ads run and the environment in which their brand messages appear. For publications and news outlets – once the financial incentives for running click-bait, fake headlines disappear – the number of false news stories will decline.

What Can We Do?

  1. Beware the click bait: One way that fake news gets amplified or sensationalized is because busy readers may not look past the headline before they decide to share an article. Go through the whole article – you may find that it actually has nothing to do with the headline!
  2. Check out the news outlet: To trust or not to trust? Again, go beyond the pop-ups and loud ads. Google a site’s name and check out similar articles on various sites to determine if it’s trustworthy. Pay close attention to URL names of pages that look suspect to make sure that it’s not a spam site pretending to be a trusted source.
  3. Who’s the author: Looking at the writer of an article can reveal a lot of information about the news source. Searching through the author’s previous articles can show whether they are a legitimate journalist or have a history of “misleading and false” articles.
  4. Know your source: A lack of links or sources for claims in an article is an obvious red flag that the post may be false. Fake sites also provide numerous links to sites that appear to back up their claims, but are themselves spreading misinformation.
  5. Photos or photo-shopped: It’s common to take a photo from one event and say it is from another. Images can also be altered for a certain story. Reverse image searches on Google, Facebook, and TinEye can help you find where an image originated.
  6. Fact-check and verify: People are often drawn to stories that reinforce the way they see the world and how they feel about certain issues. It’s important to check that news stories are based on fact, rather than sharing them because they support one side of an argument to bolster belief or support.

Can We Ever Escape Fake News?

Unfortunately, there’s no one simple solution but we can start by not sharing stories just because they make us mad or tug at our heartstrings. News rightly gets an emotional rise out of us when a story is true, but when it’s false, that emotion can give power to baseless accusations and sow seeds of doubt. We can probably never escape it all together. But it’s up to each of us to use our intellect and common sense.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia

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Seriously….. Are you listening?

listening-cartoon

Social. Okay, social media, got it.

Listening. Hmm… so it’s okay to just sit and listen?

Amid all the social media chatter today, with 500 million daily messages sent on Twitter alone, people are undoubtedly engaging in conversations related to your brand. Are you listening, and if so, how are you responding?

Social media has provided people with the ability to voice their opinion on companies, brands, people – in short, anything and anyone. What people say can be good or bad, but that alone doesn’t determine your social media success. The way your company listens and engages with these social media posts is what dictates how those opinions influence your online presence and brand sentiment.

Social media listening goes beyond ‘listening’ – it’s really about monitoring and managing a brand. Every company strategizes to create content that is engaging, well-written and unique but if you’re not listening to the social conversations happening around it, then you might as well bury your head in the sand!

You may think that you know what your audience is saying and are willing to spend thousands of dollars researching on what you think your audience wants to hear. But, finding the conversations around what you think is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And if you can’t track the buzz, where does your brand go next? Listening, on the other hand, does the research for you.

I’ve finally heard what they’ve got to say.

So I’ll just fix it or respond.

 Whatever you hear doesn’t always warrant an immediate response. Social media listening allows you to hear what’s going on and gives you time to strategize before responding in a timely manner. It’s good practice to anticipate things that could relate to or affect your brand.

And conversations don’t always have to be bad ones; it could direct you to do something you weren’t thinking about. So if there’s an event happening which your brand should be a part of, jump at the opportunity. Start with an event hashtag or by simply retweeting relevant content. At the end of the day, it’s all about reputation management and playing your cards right.

 Ah..I think I finally get it!

Now how do I actually ‘listen socially’?

 There’s no scientific way to tackle social media listening –but there are tools you can use (look out for Part 2 of our blog on Social Media Listening).

When it comes to social media listening, every company will have to adapt and learn.  However, before you embark on your journey to becoming the Social Media Whisperer,  you’ll first have to ask  yourself these 5 important questions:

     1. What is your brand reputation?

Find out what defines your brand and how you want it to be defined. Monitor the names of your company, CEO, and product(s).

     2. What is the reputation of your competitors?

Monitoring your competitors’ conversations with their own communities will help you understand their positioning, and give you insight into their marketing strategy.

     3. Who’s talking, how are they saying it (outlet of communication) and who is leading the conversation?

Get a feel of who’s talking about you and discover the format of communication and style of content being shared. This will help shape your social channel strategy and help you craft channel-specific content that works. Also pick out the conversations that matter.

     4. How should you strategize?

Since you now know what’s going around, write custom content that resonates in the hearts of your followers and your to-be followers. Develop important relationships and act as a catalyst to connect to each other. Add links and other measurables.

     5. Which conversions matter?

Use free and freemium (or perhaps even paid) social listening tools out there that deliver both comprehensive data and insights associated with that data. If your strategy isn’t working, find out why and rework it.

Remember, social conversations depend on social networks. It’s hard to have eyes and ears everywhere, and it’s overwhelming to be listening and monitoring 24/7. While listening, don’t discount anything. If something seems overwhelmingly popular but irrelevant to a brand, monitor it. Find out why before you look the other way.

Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate, PR, CorpMedia


IN CONVERSATION WITH SEAN WORRALL

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CIO Irene Gomez speaks with Sean Worrall, Managing Director of content.sg

Consumers today are shutting off the traditional world of marketing. They rely on their DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and now have become so adept at online “surfing” that they can take in online information without a care for banners or buttons (making them irrelevant).

Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way.

Enter Content Marketing!

Q:  How would you define content marketing?

I don’t want to define it because I don’t see it as something new or special. Marketing is a business discipline that includes communication, but it’s also a strategic and financial role. What interests me is the evolution of communication media, and changing consumption habits. And what we currently find at the intersection of those two lines are opportunities to lower costs and raise revenue. The opportunities are new, but the principals of communication are not. Brands have been doing content marketing for a long time.

In 1891 Dr. August Oetker, a German pharmacist, developed a baking powder which he branded as Backin. Baking powder had been around for nearly 50 years before that point, but Oetker’s formula had a USP – a long shelf life that made it a more cost effective purchase than other baking powders. Naturally, he patented his formula to get a defensible competitive advantage. But he wasn’t content to simply offer a superior product. He thought long and hard about how he could get housewives to use more of his product. His solution was to pakage it in individual sachets – one sachet activated 500g of flour – and he printed recipe ideas on each one. Sales skyrocketed and he made a fortune (and, incidentally the Oetker-Gruppe is still around today with annual revenues of 11 billion euros).

I love this story because it very neatly encapsulates what I consider to be great content: it is helpful, actionable, strategic, and profit focused. Certainly he built brand loyalty and boosted sales, but he didn’t ostensibly achieve it by shouting about himself and his clever formula. He helped his target audience to fix a personal pain point – “What on earth will I cook for dinner tonight?”

Q:  How is content marketing different from other forms of marketing?

It’s not different. A good salesman will share a lot of information about himself, his company, and his product. His aim is to make sure that you feel totally at ease with your decision to buy, and that you will come back and buy from him again. Changes in technology, media, and consumption now make it possible to have that kind of dialogue with all your customers, regardless of the business sector you operate in.

Q:  Why is it important to businesses, big or small?

It’s a productivity thing. It offers the potential to reduce the cost of sales line in the P&L. Every business leader wants to raise marginal revenue and reduce marginal costs. Effective content marketing differentiates you from your competitors at the discovery phase, and drives your prospects more quickly down the purchase pathway. It’s a cost effective way to sell with confidence, and respect for your audience.

Q:  What do you think is the biggest content marketing mistake?

Have you ever read or viewed branded content that makes you go: “So what?”

That’s the biggest mistake that some players are making today. Content should be relevant, sincere, and useful. I have no problem with content that is fun or quirky, but it has to be anchored to the goals of customer acquisition and retention. If your aim is to build brand affinity, then help me to understand what is distinctive and helpful about your brand. Pictures of cute kids and cats interacting with your logo don’t say anything useful. I’m exaggerating for effect there, but the key message is: don’t conflate the idea of content marketing with social media  – one is a discipline, the other is a channel.

I think some B2B marketers are managing content very well, and they are getting better all the time. I feel that this is because they have a better foundation to build on. They already understand the complex jigsaw puzzle of information flow that’s needed to win a major client for (say) a multi-million dollar enterprise technology investment. B2C players can learn a lot from B2B.

Q:  Creating and maintaining a successful content marketing strategy is hard work. Can you share some tips on creating an effective strategy?

I’m glad you acknowledged that it is hard work. My top tip would be to recognise that, and not to be tempted to simply throw money at the problem. It needs a collaborative commitment of time.

Next, draw a visual map of your customer’s journey and try to capture his state of mind at each step along the way. I find it helpful to do this as a role-play exercise because, if you verbalise the questions and answers, your content will be more specific and helpful. By comparison if you simply write down a generic topic like “trust”, you won’t get very far. If you’re an investment manager, I want to know how you think, and you’ll be around for the long term. If you’re selling curry puffs, I don’t care much about that – I want to know that your kitchen is clean and you use good ingredients!

Finally, encourage open collaboration from all around the organisation, and create a mechanism for people to submit suggestions. With my own clients, I’m evangelical about this. What I love most is when I get an email from a staff member I haven’t met before (e.g. from the customer call centre) and they say something like: “This could be stupid, but I’ve had an idea. I don’t know if you can use it, but…”, and they typically go on to describe a very interesting insight or experience. It is never stupid or a waste of time because that process often leads to great pieces of content.

Q:  How do you see content marketing changing over the next 5 years?

Change is constant but I don’t think the next 5 years will be quite as disruptive as the previous 10 years. That’s not to say that there won’t be winners and losers – there will be. There are still agencies and clients who haven’t fully gotten to grips with digital media, and traditional media owners who haven’t figured out their response. But it’s not the same existential crisis as before.

There’s now a whole generation of tech-savvy marketers moving into senior positions, and many of the old old-timers have shifted up the learning curve too. There’s a foundation of knowledge and experience now, and that makes life-long learning and adaptation easier.

On the client side I think we’ll see some reconfiguring of marketing departments. We’ll obviously see a bigger role for writers, and there will be more in-house writers than we’ve seen before. But I tend to think they will come from the journalistic tradition, rather than the creative agency copywriting one: business-literate researchers, who know how to tell a story. PR and strategic comms people already have those skills, so I think they will take more of a leadership role. And we’ll see more B2B marketers crossing over into B2C (but I feel that will be a one-way street).

Overall, I think we’ll start to see brands communicating with more substance, and less fluff: a more sincere dialogue with customers that will redefine our notions of ‘image’.

Sean Worrall is a corporate storyteller and the founder of content.sg, a marketing services firm with a focus on customer purchase and retention pathways. A former business consultant and trainer, Sean was the MD of an international advertising agency before establishing his own practice. He is a naturalised Singapore citizen and has an MBA from Warwick Business School.


When Your Communication Styles Don’t Match

Why do people who consider themselves good communicators often fail to actually hear each other? Often it’s due to a mismatch of styles: To someone who prefers to vent, someone who prefers to explain seems patronizing; explainers experience venters as volatile.

This is why so many of us see our conversational counterparts as lecturing, belaboring, talking down to us, or even shaming us (if we are venters and they are explainers) or as invasive, out of control, and overly emotional (if we’re an explainer and they’re a venter).

Facing this kind of mismatch, what do you think the chances are for either person actually listening with an open mind?

My answer is… very low.

It is tempting to say, “zero,” but since it’s not possible (or even desirable) to work only with people who match your communication style, you need to develop the skill to try to listen around their communication style.

Listening around that style, however, can be incredibly effortful.  When someone is either venting/screaming or explaining/belaboring it triggers a part of your middle emotional brain called the amygdala, which desperately wants to hijack your attentive listening and instead react reflexively with whatever your hardwired reactions are.  And resisting that amygdala hijack is exhausting.

What do to with a venter/screamer

If your conversational counterpart is a venter/screamer, your hardwired survival coping skill might be to tell them to calm down (which will only make them more upset), to shut down and get silent (which will only make them yell longer, because they’ll think you’re not listening), or to try to point out how irrational venting is (which, as noted above, they will perceive as patronizing and belaboring).

Instead, say to yourself, “Okay, here comes another temper tantrum.  Just let them blow.  Try not to take it between the eyes and imagine you’re looking into the calm eye of a hurricane and the storm is going over your shoulder.”

To do this, focus on their left eye. The left eye is connected to the right brain — the emotional brain.  Let them finish. Then say, “I can see you’re really frustrated. To make sure I don’t add to that,  and to make sure I don’t miss something, what was the most important thing I need to do in the long term, what’s the critical thing I need to do in the short term, and what do I need to get done ASAP?” Reframing the conversation this way, after they’ve finished venting, will make sure that your “explainer” self knows what to do – instead of ignoring the venting as another random outburst from “Conan the Barbarian” or “the Wicked Witch of the West.” Chances are – they do have something important they’re trying to tell you – even though they’re not communicating it very well.

After they respond, say to them, “What you just said is way too important for me to have misunderstood a word, so I’m going to say it back to you to make sure I am on the same page with you. Here’s what I heard.” Then repeat exactly, word for word, what they said to you.  After you finish, say to them, “Did I get that right and if not, what did I miss?” Forcing them to listen to what you said they said, “because it was important,” will slow them down, will help you stay centered and in control, and will earn you their and your own respect.

What to do with an explainer/belaborer

If your conversational counterpart is an explainer, your hardwired survival coping skill might be to say to yourself,  “Here they go again, make sure you smile politely even if you want to pull your hair out. Try not to let your impatience and annoyance show.” The problem with this is that even though they may be oblivious to others as they go on and on, at some level they may be aware of your underlying impatience and… that might actually make them talk longer. Yikes.

Realize that the reason they explain and belabor things is probably because their experience is that people don’t pay attention to what they say.  They don’t realize that while that may be true of some truly distracted people, for others, the reason they don’t pay attention is that the speaker is belaboring something that the listener already heard — and doesn’t want to hear over and over again.  Another possibility is that these explainers may not be feeling listened to somewhere else in their life (by their spouse, kids, parents, or boss) and is now relieved to have you as a captive audience.

When the explainer goes into his explanation/lecture/filibuster, say to yourself, “Okay, this is going to take a while.”  Put a mental bookmark in whatever you were working on. Then look them in their left eye with a look that says, “Okay, take your time, I’m fully listening.” Instead of feeling frustrated and reacting by become impatient and fidgety, remind yourself, “They need to do this. I can be patient.”

Then when they finish then apply a similar response to the venter/screamer with the following minor edit:

“I can see that you really had a lot that you had to say. To make sure I don’t miss something, what was the most important thing I need to do in the long term, what’s the critical thing I need to do in the short term, and what do I need to get done ASAP?” ”

After they respond to that, say to them, “What you just said is way too important for me to have misunderstood a word, so I’m going to say it back to you to make sure I am on the same page with you. Here’s what I heard.” Then repeat exactly, word for word, what they said to you.  After you finish, say to them, “Did I get that right, and if not, what did I miss?”

Your amygdala is probably saying to you and to me, “I don’t want to do either of those things.  These people are obnoxious and unreasonable. Why should I kowtow to them?”

Here are several reasons:

  1. They aren’t likely to change. These are deeply ingrained personality traits.
  1. Being more open and inviting them to talk rather than closed and resistant will lessen their need to act this way.  Listening patiently hath charm to soothe the savage (or boring) beast.
  1. You will feel more self-respect and self-esteem. The above approaches will enable you to remain cool, calm, collected, centered and communicative in situation that formerly frustrated you and made you react poorly.

Posted by Mark Goulston for Harvard Business Review.


What’s the Point of Creativity?

Creativity and innovation are hot topics these days, and they are being studied more frequently and intensely. Great observations have come of the attention, as Will Burns writes for Forbes: A coffee-shop study from the University of Illinois concluded that moderate levels of noise, as opposed to high or low levels, foster greater creativity. A study from the University of Stuttgart found that low levels of lighting enhance creativity. And then there’s my favorite, another study from the University of Illinois, that concluded that alcohol intoxication improves creative problem solving.

The attention is good, but too often creativity is studied and written about without examining the context. Why would we want to be more creative? Why bother fostering the conditions for creativity? Why dim the lights, adjust the volume, and get drunk? What’s the purpose of it all?

The unspoken assumption is that our goal is to gain competitive advantage, to crush the competition, to win. But I believe that the best creativity comes from a much deeper place than the desire to win. It comes from a desire to contribute to the lives of others, either by introducing something new that improves the quality of their lives or by showing people that something thought to be impossible is in fact possible. When you change people’s perceptions about what can be accomplished or achieved, you contribute to their humanity in the richest possible way. You give them hope for the future — a sense that life is not the demoralizing, unchanging drudgery day after day that the world so often teaches us that it is. When you change the way people think about possibility, it is an existential experience. It makes them feel understood. More than that, it makes them feel loved.

When JetBlue said it was going to bring humanity to its business, it reunited two worlds that had been estranged for decades. When it put those TV sets in the backs of the seats, upholstered the chairs in leather, and gave everyone a little more room, people felt loved. “You know what it’s like to be crammed in one of those tiny seats for five hours going out of your mind with nothing to do! You’re one of us! You understand me!”

This, in a world in which people so often feel not just that they’re misunderstood but that no one is even bothering to understand them. Have you ever been on hold with customer service and heard a recording that says, “This call may be monitored for quality assurance”? Have you ever once seen evidence of customer quality improving as a result of all of that monitoring?

Increasingly, creativity — and the study of it — is divorced from the real needs of real people. Adding ever more gimmicks to a smartphone in the interest of increasing market share, rather than giving people something revolutionary that will make their lives better, reeks of something other than love and has no power to stir peoples’ enthusiasm.

So the question we have to ask ourselves in business is this: Why create? Are we doing it for the gratuitous sake of creativity itself, without any larger purpose? Are we doing it because Harvard Business Review writes about it all the time? Are we doing it out of fear? To make more money? To get on the cover of Wired? Or are we doing it out of a desire to improve people’s lives and transform their sense of what possibilities life itself has to offer?

I write a lot about philanthropy. Philanthropy means, literally, love of humanity. You don’t have to give a million dollars to charity to be a philanthropist. You simply have to actively demonstrate your love of humanity. Your empathy. If the purpose of our creativity is philanthropy — if it is love for our fellow man, an appreciation that people struggle in their lives, and a desire to somehow lessen that struggle and increase their joy, with a little more leg room or with an iPad — it will change the world. And that is the greatest competitive advantage of all.

Post courtesy of Dan Pallotta for Harvard Business Review


Body Language – Make it Work!

Vocal training can help you succeed in getting more publicity but don’t forget the role body language plays in your delivery.  Body language is the oldest and most trusted language in the world. Research indicates that it accounts for 55% of what we communicate, while the voice accounts for 38% and the words for only 7%.

Before you even open your mouth, people are already making assumptions about you based on your non-verbal cues. Are you to be taken seriously or dismissed? Are you warm and friendly or stiff and distant?  Do you walk with assurance and confidence when you enter a room, or do you slip in, hoping no one will take notice?

Whether intentional movements and expressions or natural reactions and projections, we are constantly communicating with our bodies and physical movements.  These behaviours are picked up by the person we are interacting with and likewise.

Being able to monitor your own body language and read the body language of others, not only offers you great advantages as a communicator but more importantly, it helps you get your message across effectively.

Some tips to prevent you from tripping!

Eye to eye contact

When we speak, we maintain eye contact just 40-60 percent of the time. That’s because we’re busy trying to access information from our brains. Often times, depending on the type of information we’re trying to retrieve, we look up to the left, up to the right, or down. But in the context of a media interview or speech, that lack of eye contact can signal nervousness or evasiveness. You can help maintain better eye contact if you pause briefly before answering a question, which will allow you to access the information you need before you begin speaking.

The right posture

Getting your posture right will automatically make you feel more confident. And when you feel good, other people pick up on that. If you’re feeling a bit down, take a look at how you’re standing or sitting. Chances are you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which in turn can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.

Straight or tilted

When you want to feel confident and self-assured keep your head level both horizontally and vertically. You can also use this straight head position when you want to be authoritative and want what you’re saying to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or the other. You can shift the tilt from left to right at different points in the conversation.

Natural, clear gestures

As PR specialists, whenever we encourage spokespersons to incorporate gestures into their deliveries, we consistently find that their words get better. The physical act of gesturing helps to form clearer thoughts and speak in tighter sentences with more declarative language. So the next time you give a speech or interview, gesture as naturally as you typically would in everyday life. Your words will come to you more easily, and the words you use will be stronger and you will feel a lot more confident.

Armed and aware

Crossing your arms across your chest can be viewed as defensive, expressing opposition or being insecure. If sitting at a table, folding your hands in your lap or having them under the table can be viewed as untrustworthy; wringing your hands can be seen as a sign of nervousness; and when presenting an idea or talking be wary about being too wild in your gestures.  When delivering a speech, if you see your audience exhibiting defensive body language, change tactics, and don’t try to persuade them to your point-of-view until their body language opens up.

Watch those feet

Your feet subconsciously tell you where you want to go. If you find yourself in the middle of a conversation you wish you could exit, just look at your feet. You may be surprised to find that they’re not both pointing directly at the person with whom you’re speaking. The same is true for the other person.  If you’re not sure whether the person you’re speaking with is truly interested in your conversation, just look at his feet.

Flash that smile

We subconsciously imitate the things we see. When I look at someone and smile, they tend to smile. When I look at someone and nod, they tend to nod. Some neuroscientists say that type of mirroring behavior is due to “mirror neurons.” That’s important information, because audiences that are smiling and nodding are more receptive to your ideas. So smile and nod at appropriate moments, and you’ll be that much closer to accomplishing your goals.

Remember, body language can portray up to half of what you are communicating. This is a high amount, so it is important to make sure you use your body to show what you are trying to get across. Your body can be used as a tool.  So use it wisely and make it work in your favour.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media


Communication Blunders – Recipe for Disaster

As humans, we are generally pretty good at creating communication tools. The reality is that we are actually not great communicators. There are two main reasons for this: not sufficiently exercising the will or ability to understand things from the perspective of the person we’re talking to; and making assumptions – assuming we are being understood, or that we understand the other person.

Communication is key in any relationship. But in the workplace, miscommunication can be deadly to a professional relationship — and more so, to an organization overall. Some of these common communication mistakes can lead to bigger issues if not addressed.  All it takes is a few techniques and a little practice. Here are some common communication pitfalls and tips on how to navigate around them in the workplace.

Dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s

Being poorly prepared is a recipe for a career disaster as much as it is for anything in life. Good communication can only be achieved when the material is worthy of communication in the first place. Poorly prepared materials only frustrate and allow greater opportunity for miscommunication. Crafting presentations, reports, arguments or even meetings effectively is the only way to avoid this trap. There are many online tools that offer assistance in crafting the impactful and efficient, for example the Rhetorical Triangle and Monroe’s Motivating Sequence.

Check and check again

Despite being well prepared, mistakes can happen to the best of us. Most definitely, prevention is better than cure. About one-third of all miscommunication that occurs in a corporate setting can be attributed to typos, spelling errors and improper presentation; all of which can be easily avoided with a simple scan through.  Such mistakes often give the impression of being sloppy and careless. It is often difficult for the person completing the task to completely track all his mistakes. Having a friend or colleague proof read your work can help to spot and correct common mistakes and errors.

Take nothing for granted

Considered one of the most common reasons for miscommunication, assuming the audience has understood a message backs 43% of miscommunication at work. It is necessary to follow-up and take the time to ensure that people have understood your message, Simple things like following-up with an email or phone call or a short question and answer session after a meeting goes a long way in avoiding a stressful and frustrating situation.

Short and sweet

Keep messages succinct and coherent weakens the power and impacts the points made. Seventy percent of emails that are more than 250 words long are misinterpreted and that is a startling number! Similarly, meetings that go on for more than half an hour lose 63% of the audience’s attention.

These tips focus on the ‘hard’ skills such as content and delivery.  Yet a significant component of any type of communication involves ‘soft’ skills which contrary to popular belief, can be learnt too. These ‘soft’ skills are extremely important in today’s globalized corporate setting.

Don’t shy away

As the world increasingly gets more connected, we seem to have, ironically, lost the ability to have difficult conversations face to face. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a recent survey said they would prefer to face a sticky conversation via text or email versus in person, and over video or voice call. At some point, you will need to give negative feedback. It is tempting to try to avoid these conversations, but this can cause further problems – in particular, you may let small problems grow into big ones. Role-play is a great way to familiarize yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Again, preparation is key, alongside sensitivity and maturity.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Today’s workplace is a melting pot of ethnicities, religions, ages, sexual orientations, and viewpoints. These differences create a rich and meaningful tapestry of experiences and opinions while being extremely difficult to balance. It can be tempting to stereotype new colleagues or clients, or to make assumptions about them based on little information you have. This is especially true if you have not had much time to get to know them well. Assumptions inhibit open communication, because you don’t consider the other person’s own unique background, personality, and experience. Over time, this can jeopardize your relationship with them.

Humor me right

Many individuals deal with awkward situations by peppering them with humor. Humor done right is brilliant; humor done wrong leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. Of executives surveyed, 72% said racially biased comments are a major blunder for men and 70% said the same for women. These remarks easily offend or insult, reflect poor judgment and reveal low emotional intelligence, according to the researchers. This second worst communication mistake is similar to the first. Telling inappropriate jokes makes people uncomfortable, revealing an inability to gauge the environment. On the flip side, 61% of executives believe that being able to sense the mood of others and effectively adjust your language, tone and content is one of the top skills required to advance.

These are not unknown skills and nor are they particularly difficult. Yet, they are often neglected in the hustle and bustle of corporate life. Good communication requires a very attainable combination of ‘hard’ skills and ‘soft’ skills; it is as important to be effective and impactful as it is to be sensitive and appropriate. All this combination requires, is a conscious effort to be aware of what the situation calls for.

Posted by Tara Kishin, PR Executive, Corporate Media


STAYING RELEVANT IN A TIRESOME WORLD

Information overload is the one thing that all of us in media and communications can relate to. Given the evolving nature of the industry these days, we can’t just expect it to stop there though. Enter its successor – audience fatigue. Translation – it quite simply means the audience is getting tired. Tired of what exactly? Being overwhelmed by the plethora of options, being constantly bombarded with Tweets and Facebook postings, emails and the endless news cycles – we can’t seem to catch a break from the media any where we look.

socialfatigue

Don’t blame yourself too much though. With unparalleled diversity, digression and the vast availability of choice, the audience retention rate is naturally harder to maintain.

And so it begins – an endless pursuit to capture (or re-capture) your audience and inherently, a higher probability of inducing audience fatigue. Here are some ways to stay clear of the danger zone.

Shake it up

Despite exciting and original ideas, we often are forced to follow a tried and tested formula. This could be due to a lack of budget, deadlines or insufficient resources. Whatever the case and as hard as it may be, you just have to inject a fresh dose of creativity and get yourself out of that darned rut. While you may want to offer a unified, thematic look in the portrayal of your company, it doesn’t have to mean monotony and dishing out the same things. Don’t be lazy – look at things from a different perspective, get as creative as you can and give yourself a facelift ever so often to stay relevant and enticing.

Spread it out

This is an extension of the previous point. Think about all the options available to you and work them to your advantage. Switch around and meddle with new formats and technologies to see which option provides the best fit. As much as it may seem daunting, strategize wisely and there’s nothing you should be afraid of. A new platform presents a new audience to possibly engage with. In addition, the more places the audience can find your message and you, the higher the chance of response and engagement!

Remembering not to forget

The importance of having an emotional connection with the audience has been emphasized upon more than enough, but we forget them sometimes in our rush to meet deadlines, targets, objectives, quotas and other “more important stuff”. Strike different chords with stories, illustrations, prose, or maybe even with music and motion graphics. Don’t be afraid to try new ways to keep the emotional engagement alive. With every media or communication plan set in place, take a step back and ask yourself if you’d be moved by what has been done. It is important to be honest; otherwise, you’d only be lying to yourself.

Hold up, wait a minute

However, admittedly sometimes taking a break is the best thing that can be done. This is especially true if your company is doing something with scheduled regularity, like a daily or weekly program. Sometimes, being under the radar actually generates buzz so don’t immediately disregard a break. Take time out to regenerate and when you do intend to make a comeback, have something eye popping and wonderful up your sleeves – titillate your audience with your reappearance and win them over once more. And perhaps this time, with more spontaneity and less structure and rigour because most times quality trumps quantity!

All in all, the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that when the audience wants to engage, they are less liable to feel the fatigue.

By Yasmin Md Basir, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services