Digital

commsbingo600

#commsbingo – Conference Edition

It’s comms conference season, and that means the internet will be abuzz with 140 character insights from a range of events.

There are exciting – and challenging – emerging trends and new insights. We will see that in abundance at the excellent #IABC16 this week as the worlds leading communication membership association gathers around the theme of innovating global communication.

When you have been fortunate to have attended, chaired, co-curated and presented at a fair range of communication conferences and events*, you do start to see patterns in terms of insights and learnings. These recurring insights form a kind of communicators BINGO!

commsbingo600

#commsbingo

If we are to judge the progress of our profession by the wisdom shared on twitter from many comms events, then it seems we are caught in a loop. Yes, communication events do attract emerging practitioners. But seeing foundation knowledge shared as revelations does raise some questions about how effectively we are preparing communicators for professional practice.

If we are to continue to develop, to grow our collective commons and body of knowledge, we need to keep pushing for deeper insights, evolve our discussions and move beyond the foundations through research, education and creating connection.

Oh, and if you have any other #commsbingo insights, please tweet them so we can collate the common knowledge.

Share well!

*I have been a past chair and co-curator of Melcrum Strategic Communication & Digital Communication Summits in Asia Pacific, presented at the 2014 IABC WC in Toronto, and have been involved in communication professional development since before twitter was invented. Learn more about the Shorter COMMS Plan in this free webinar.

Engage employees with better communication choice

Technology has changed the way we consume information outside organisations, and it is natural that we want the same choices within. Companies that incorporate channel choice in their communication mix will win the war for engagement.

Find out the seven ways you can improve the choices for employee communication channels in this presentation.

For more information, see the article Changing channels: why employees demand freedom of information choice on LinkedIn Pulse.

When the Kotter change model creates a disconnect for mid-size change

Applying the Kotter eight-step model indiscriminately to project-level initiatives and operational change leads to challenges.

Generating a ‘sense of urgency’ for mid-level changes creates unnecessary competition for share of mind.

In a typical large organisation undergoing transformation, there are likely to be dozens of project-level initiatives and concurrent operational change.

The paradox of change urgency (1)There is a paradox. Urgency at an organisational, strategic level provides momentum for the projects and initiatives that are necessary at the deeper levels of the structure. However, at an operational level, the sense of urgency translates into confusion and an inability to absorb the change impacts.

The underlying need for change at the project or operational level needs to be rolled up to the overall strategic imperative. Creating urgency around the detail of the change creates noise. This manifests itself as an increased request for project branding, change-specific communication channels.

Solutions include:

  • Ensure that the narrative of urgency remains at the enterprise level
  • ‘Bundle’ change impacts across programs
  • Implement at an operational or individual level as rapidly as possible based on the capacity for change

Institute change by designing for action

Consider the broader world beyond organisational life. As citizens and consumers, we conduct all kinds of complex behaviours and transactions ‘online’. The online environment changes constantly. Yet there is no change management plan for ‘the internet.’ Methodologies such at UX and User-Centered Design ensure that (successful) apps or sites or technologies are intuitive and based on making action easy to complete.

These disciplines do not apply only to online and technological change. The ability to design the ‘pointy end’ of change within organisations in a way that enables action at the right time without requiring substantial training or commitment becomes an opportunity for making continual concurrent change something that is easy to digest.

As Bill Quirke writes in Making the Connections, “Organisations are short changing themselves by not seeing communication through to the end – converting awareness into action. The real value of internal communication is to help business ends by enabling employees to turn strategy into action” (Quirke, 2008).

This is an excerpt from my chapter Kotter in context: is the classic change model damaging your mid-size change? in A Communicator’s Guide to Successful Change Management, edited by Craig Pearce.

So much information, so little time

Remember a little while back when you couldn’t go to a workshop or a conference on change, leadership, strategy, innovation or communication without the keynote quoting the Shift Happens/Did You Know? research?

I certainly used those numbers on more than one occasion with leaders trying to understand the shifting nature of communication in the social era, and the #futureofwork in a post-global economy. The 2015 version from Erik Qualman has updated references to social marketing and we see the exponential scale of social shift.

But if you want to immerse yourself in the real-time version of this, then interetlivestats.com is your go-to resource.

Watch this number rise for each social platform, realtime.

Watch this number rise for each social platform, realtime.

Here you can watch the sheer overwhelming volume of online activity tick over.

With so much data being created, accrued, shared and stored, it prompts a few questions:

  • how do we focus on the most useful things instead of getting carried with the current?
  • how do we add value to the volume, through interpretation and insight?
  • how do we maintain a voice while recognising ours is one of billions?
  • how do we make sure we are not just adding noise?

These aren’t questions just for communication professionals. They are core questions for us as people in the age of mass data.

Social Media Club Fail and the perils of scheduled tweets #SMClub

Update: Following the publication of my article, there was formal contact from Social Media Club apologising for the post and acknowledging that appropriate action would be taken, and the original post by Audrey Rochas has been removed from their site

12 hours after the original contact, Social Media Club have apologised and removed the original post by Audrey Rochas

12 hours after the original contact, Social Media Club have apologised and removed the original post by Audrey Rochas

 

Earlier today, the scheduled tweets of the Social Media Club, a loosely organised social media promotion organisation, posted the following tweet:

The offending tweet from @socialmediaclub

The offending tweet from @socialmediaclub

As a communicator, I am interested in community management, effective use of social tools such as Twitter to build awareness and drive engagement.

As a human, I am also interested in social good, including mental health. I have family members who have experienced a range of long and short term mental illnesses, have lost extended family and friends to suicide and my partner works in mental health education. It’s kind of a vested interest, and as such I care about representations of mental illness online, in the arts and in the workplace.

So my ire was already rising when I clicked through to the article, which perpetuates the ‘mutiple personality’ myth of schizophenia throughout. Most offensive however, was the accompanying image of the ‘angel and demon’.

The offending imagery attached to Social Media Club post

The offending imagery attached to Social Media Club post

There is a long history of equating mad with bad, which goes a long way to contributing to the lack of awareness of mental illness, the perpetuation of outdated knowledge and stereotypes.

Am I overreacting? Considering Social Media Club positions itself as an organisation that promotes good online practices, and has over 150,000 followers on Twitter, and 42000 likes on Facebook, it has a substantial potential reach. As people working in communication, marketing and social media, there is a responsibility to perpetuate constructive and factual information.

If there was an editorial process for inclusion of material on the blog, it has clearly failed to pick up the tone and issues relating to the post.

Comparing to 'normal' people is only one of many issues with this post.

Comparing to ‘normal’ people is only one of many issues with this post.

 

If substantially more established communication organisations like Edelman can make errors of judgement when it comes to discussing mental illness and mental health online, it is understandable that a content engine like Social Media Club is going to struggle from time to time.

Particularly frustrating is the Social Media Club’s inability or choice not to respond effectively to the criticism. As their twitter account clearly consists of scheduled tweets, with no editorial owner, the inappropriate link is being repeatedly tweeted with slightly amended wording at regular intervals. (An earlier tip from #SMClub points out that twitter is cracking down on identically worded scheduled tweets, so they are at least following practice here.) Despite multiple attempts to contact members via twitter, the link keeps coming…

Scheduled tweets mean an inability to rectify a problem

Scheduled tweets mean an inability to rectify a problem

 

Resources for mental health awareness

For information on effective social media practices relating to mental health and mental illness, here are a range of resources that will help social media professionals and community managers.

Useful Twitter Tags for mental health resources online

http://reports.youngandwellcrc.org.au/a-better-practice-guide-for-services/appendix/twitter-mental-health-hashtags/

Mindframe Media

An Australian initiative to support positive communication of mental health and illness in media, the arts and online.

http://www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/community-media-and-arts-program/social-media-and-suicide-prevention

US National Institute of Mental Health

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/index.shtml

Mind Charity UK

http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/minds-media-office/

Sane Australia (including Stigma Watch)

http://www.sane.org/stigmawatch

This is only a small selection; there are extensive resources available.

Watching this space…

Is my response disproportionate? Perhaps. But this is an opportunity for Social Media Club to demonstrate their degree of thought leadership and practical steps to rectifying issues online when they occur.

What an ironic place the social web can be. Only a few tweets further up their timeline is a post on managing a social media crisis. If expertise is demonstrated by actions rather than rhetoric, it will be interesting to see how Social Media Club addresses this issue.

If you are a member of Social Media Club, I encourage you to contact them through your chapter to raise awareness of this issue.

The contact details for the Board and Volunteers are here:

http://socialmediaclub.org/contact-us

Postscript: As of the time of posting, the offending site appears to be down.

 

We're not in right now...

We’re not in right now…

4 Qualities for The Future of Storytelling

The Future of Storytelling Prize includes four criteria for successful entries. These are helpful guidelines for all creators, writers, producers, and makers of transmedia projects.

1. Interactivity: Quality of user experience

2. Story-Driven Content: Communicates a clear narrative

3. Emotional Resonance: Strikes an affective chord with the user

4. Design Execution: Innovative, original, and beautifully crafted

Full details of the prize here.

The 5P Business Case – Part 2

Video is an important part of the communication channel mix for employees, but building the business case can be a challenge. To build the case for including video as part of your overall communication infrastructure, cover these five points.

  1. Pain. Find the right opportunity that is causing pain: what challenges need attention, what change is under way, what results need to shift? Is the pain at the top, or is it your employees who need help?
  2. Partners. Find internal sponsors: who has the greatest stake in addressing this issue? What will they invest to see the situation change?
  3. Potential benefit. Put a price on success: What is the value of addressing this issue?
  4. Pilot. Before a TV series is made, producers invest in a pilot to test the concept. This is a solid approach for internal video. Start small to test capability, appetite, and audience.
  5. Prove. Measure the impact of the initiative to build momentum

In the last post, we covered Pain and Partners. Now lets look at Potential, Pilot and Prove.

POTENTIAL BENEFIT

What is the current situation costing the business? What will solving the problem contribute to the business?

At an enterprise level, doing anything that improves communication pays dividends. Companies with effective communication financially outperform those with ineffective communication. A long-term study has demonstrated this can mean that over a 5 year period, a company with effective communication would return 1.7 times higher shareholder returns.[1]

The same study showed that 70% of highly effective organisations agree that “The use of internal social business/collaboration tools for work-related purposes has a positive impact on employee productivity at my organisation.

In order to build the case, however, it will be necessary to get specific.

By clearly defining the change in knowledge or behaviour, you can calculate a return.

  • Will sales increase with better training? Will the time to learn new products reduce?
  • Will safety improve? Will incidents reduce? What is the current cost? What would an improvement mean in terms of days lost?
  • What is the current cost of all staff town hall meetings?

Not every initiative will have a definite dollar positive outcome. Other organisational outcomes may be valuable too. However, in seeking investment for an initiative, it can be useful to target opportunities where there are both financial and non-financial benefits to demonstrate the result.

In defining the potential benefits, work with your partners from Finance to ensure your calculations are relevant and acceptable in your business.

PILOT

Based on the problem and the potential benefit, where can you start?

By clearly identifying the business outcome a communication activity is designed to solve, measurement becomes a simpler task. In each of the following examples, identifying the costs of the current state, and quantifying the outcomes provides a simple method of targeting benefits.

Potential Benefits

Potential Benefits

PROVE the case

What just happened? What changed as a result? How did people use the new approach?

Effective measurement is a perennial topic in communication. While top marketers are comfortable with demonstrating traffic, leads and conversions, internal communicators sometimes struggle with clearly demonstrating the return on initiatives.

However, if you have clearly identified the business outcomes, been clear about how video will help contribute to the solution, you are in a strong position to measure the impact.

Analytics packages allow for detailed viewing behaviour to be measured: who watched for how long, where and what did they use to watch, when did their attention shift. These data help shape the approach and provide essential information for looking at the impact of video content. Combined with audience feedback, this information will contribute to the evaluation of a pilot.

 

Prove the impact

Prove the impact

It’s a wrap – for now…

Video is an iterative channel. It grows and evolves with your overall business strategy. Great stories have a way of capturing people’s attention. If you find the right opportunity and take a strategic approach, people will take notice. You can transform a tactic – a broadcast, a leader message, an employee story – into a powerful strategic tool. Taking a planned approach to building the case and demonstrating the outcomes is the first step in making video an integral part of your engagement agenda and delivering valued outcomes to your business.

 

[1] Towers Watson 2013 – 2014 Change and Communication ROI Study Report http://www.towerswatson.com/en/Insights/IC-Types/Survey-Research-Results/2013/12/2013-2014-change-and-communication-roi-study

 

The 5P business case for video

Building a case for using video in your organisation is simpler if you follow the 5 P model.

The 5P Business Case

Click the image to view the short video on Adobe Voice.

To build the case for including video as part of your overall communication infrastructure, cover these five points.

  1. Pain. Find the right opportunity that is causing pain: what challenges need attention, what change is under way, what results need to shift? Is the pain at the top, or is it your employees who need help?
  2. Partners. Find internal sponsors: who has the greatest stake in addressing this issue? What will they invest to see the situation change?
  3. Potential benefit. Put a price on success: What is the value of addressing this issue?
  4. Pilot. Before a TV series is made, producers invest in a pilot to test the concept. This is a solid approach for internal video. Start small to test capability, appetite, and audience.
  5. Prove. Measure the impact of the initiative to build momentum

 PAIN – Find the right opportunity

What are the major business challenges you are seeking to address through your communication strategy?

Don’t limit this to communication challenges. What are the issues that keep the executive team from sleeping well?

The most effective communication strategy is linked directly to business outcomes. As with all forms of communication in organisations, new channels and approaches will only be successful if you define clear outcomes. Some communication challenges benefit from the use of video more than others.

Effective communication, change, training and leadership can contribute directly to:

  • Better customer experience
  • Increased sales
  • Reputation and trust
  • Safety
  • Turnover
  • Productivity and efficiency

Identify the changes in awareness, sentiment or behaviour that are required to support this outcome.

The mix of communication activities will be different based on the goal. The role of video in your strategy will also vary according to the outcome required. Some examples include:

Dispersed workforce creates engagement gap

Face-to-face interaction is an essential component of leadership and engagement. Finding ways to ensure employees hear first hand from leaders and experts is a consistent challenge due to the investment in travel and time.

Quick responses to market changes

Hearing information from customers or the media before hearing it from within the organisation reduces trust and disengages employees. Many organisations struggle with employees feeling that they are kept informed about things that affect them, a key factor in most engagement studies.

 Shifting culture and embedding values

Finding ways to share the stories that reinforce the culture, change agenda, key values or operational excellence is an essential way of embedding change. Video provides a platform for doing this in original and engaging ways, providing an immediacy and richness that engages and connects with audiences in ways that other channels struggle to achieve.

Unlocking employee ideas and innovation

Collaboration is one of the differentiators for organisations in the fight to be responsive and innovative. Information and experience is sometimes trapped in pockets of the organisation. Providing a means to draw out and share this information creates value.

PARTNERS

Who can provide support through resources, funding, or expertise to develop the case?

 Identifying key business issues will mean enlisting partners in the process. Few communicators have deep pockets; most need to find sponsors for new initiatives. In movie-making, a producer is someone with a financial interest in the movie. They are the backer. In corporate communication, whoever stands to gain from the effective use of video as a platform to solve their challenge has the potential to be a ‘producer’ or project sponsor.

In addition to internal partners, choosing production partners who will make the most of the available budget and resources is an important decision. Even with the advent of cheap cameras, better bandwidth and simple editing tools, there are some risks with a total DIY approach for an initial project. Video is an emotive medium. People will remember what they see and hear, and if it misses the mark, it can leave a lasting impression for the wrong reason.

In the next post, I’ll cover the final 3 Ps in detail.

What’s Your Company Storyworld?

It has been a great few days at the IABC    World Conference, and I’ll be writing up highlights for the blog shortly.

Until then, here is the resource page for my session on Transmedia Storytelling for corporate communicators.

The slides are available on Slideshare.

The subject sparked some great conversations, and I want to keep that going. Leave a comment or get in touch with your thoughts about how you can tell your corporate story in a different way.

What can communication professionals learn from the NYT Innovation report?

Media as an industry has an ability to cannibalise itself. Journalists are by nature inquirers and investigators. They look for the story and have a need to present it. It is not surprising then that a mountain has been written about the NYT internal Innovation Report. The leak of report, along with the executive departure drove a lot of speculation, commentary, opinion, and tweetage.

That a major media organisation would prepare a strategic thought-paper on the future impacts of their market should not be surprising. The Innovation report is a significant thought piece with real lessons for industries well beyond its implications for the paper itself, media and publishing.

Nieman Lab does an excellent job of examining the implications from the media industry perspective.

Beyond the media

There is also some excellent analysis of the content of the report from other commentators, looking at it as a call to action for an organisation needing to reinvent in a changing market.

David Armano’s perspective is a standout, categorising the insights into the four topics of agility, culture, talent and customer-centricity.

David Armano’s dissection of the strategic elements of the NYT Innovation Report

 

Ezra Klein at Vox highlights the report’s excellent explanation of distruption. This diagram explains the three modes of disruption in the clear style you would expect from NYT writers.

NYT Innovation report’s explanation of disruption, via Vox.

Australian workplace and digital analyst Paul Wallbank extracts three lessons for businesses: being digital first, breaking down the silos, and ensuring your business is discoverable.

Six lessons for communicators

The full report is worth the investment of time to read by any communicator, change agent or strategist.

There are a number of change studies that demonstrate that effective context-setting is an important part of enabling employees to sense-make during change. By providing clear background to the market your organisation operates in, you are preparing the field for proactive or reactive initiatives in the future. The NYT Innovation report is an interesting and important model of what that contexualised call to action can be.

There are six themes outlined in the NYT Innovation Report that provide a very simple compass for internal communicators considering how to reach employees who are time poor, information-laden and who have different needs.

1. Discovery

“We need to think more about…packaging our work in more useful ways” With the volume of information growing, reduction and control become limited-success strategies. How do you ensure your content is discoverable, at the right time?

2. Promotion

Ensuring information is promoted means not just ‘publishing’ but by sharing, by amplifying, and by use of peers. There is a fine balance between push and spam. Segmentation becomes critical, as does understanding the needs of the employee to target promotion of relevant, useful content.

3. Connection

Seeking ways to ensure audiences – employees – can participate, comment, create and contribute is an essential component of communication, engagement and change. Whether though user generated content, internal ‘crowdsourcing’, communities, and networks, connection is the the key to relevance and ultimately the path to engagement.

4. Experimentation

Promoting active experimentation, the capacity to fail fast, iterate and learn is a core skill and critical to building the agility of any communication function. Experimentation and connection can work in partnership, through the use of pilot groups, advisory communities and user experience (UX) work.

5. Influencers

In complex environments, the role of the subject matter expert, the thought leader or the process lead extends to filtering and amplifying key information, themes and messages relevant to their specialisation. Collaborative platforms and enterprise social networks enable this.

6. Market context

The competitor cheat sheets in the report are succinct and frank. Do you provide employees with concise information about the others in your market? Is this information purely product and service comparison, or does it go deeper into comparative strengths and weaknesses.

Your view

I’m interested in communicators views on all aspects of the report – the content, the format, the debate and analysis surrounding its leak. Join the conversation by leaving a comment.