I had a blast on Thursday chairing the Melcrum Strategic Communication Management Summit in Sydney.
Across two days of presentations and activities, there were some common themes that stood out for me as representative of the things that are helping communicators navigate the ‘new landscape’ (post/mid GFC, social media, changing industries, post-spin). They are not new themes, but regardless of what changes occur in the corporate or public sector landscape, these themes hold true.
1. It’s about stories. For most communicators reading this, I am preaching to the choir. Stories are how we make sense of the world. We can transmit information in a lot of different ways, but the context, the character, and the connections are brought to life through story.
2. Authenticity is the secret ingredient. One compelling theme was the genuine change, engagement and commitment that comes with authentic communication. There were great examples: the CEO of an organisation in crisis, speaking openly to employees in very plain terms about not only what was happening, but how it was affecting the workforce, customers, and him (in that order); the power of simply saying ‘sorry’ (and meaning it); the companies tapping into those parts of their workforce who are already communicating openly and authentically in the social media sphere. There was great authenticity too from those communication professionals and allied disciplines including change and leadership who generously shared all aspects of their stories – the good, the bad and the ugly.
3. Involve/Get involved. It’s not up to communicators to do it alone. We have to partner with the right collaborators – inside and outside organisations. Although Social networking and web 2.0 tools can help us connect, share information, get feedback, value and rate, it’s not about the technology. It is about the mindset to reach out and involve. The types of scarcity thinking that drives silo mentality in organisations will not support the new social economy. We need to enable and entrust people to participate in the organisational dialogue.
I can’t do justice to the stories that people shared in a few short blog paragraphs. But I can say ‘thank you’ to the communicators who demonstrated these ideas so evocatively.
And a big thanks to Melcrum for asking me to be a part.