2021 Communications: Back to Basics

Last year left just about every public relations and marketing professional feeling overwhelmed and more than a little stressed out. When COVID-19 struck, all industries, including IoT, AI, mobile, wireless and telecom immediately shifted to a work-from-home environment, trade shows were cancelled, and the way we communicated with media and analysts (as well as employees, partners and customers) shifted as well. Zoom became a verb, much like Google has.

In 2021, we’re better prepared to deal with such dramatic changes in the way we do business. However, as public relations and marketing professionals, the way we communicate with our audiences needs to be even more effective, clear and concise to avoid information overload.

We took a page from Wendy Zajack, a longtime telecom communications professional turned faculty director and assistant professor at the Georgetown University School of Continuing Education, who developed a list for Times Higher Education (THE) on ways faculty members can better communicate with students. These lessons hold true for all public relations and marketing communications professionals as well:

  • Remember your audience. Know specifically to whom you are communicating, where they are when they receive your communications, and how they like to be communicated with. There’s no shame in asking a journalist or analyst if they prefer voice mail, text, email, direct messages on social sites, and so forth. Communicating with these professionals using their preferred method of communication—not yours—is a key step in building a relationship with them.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. Sometimes we’re bored with our own communications and they feel redundant. However, someone in your audience is hearing it for the first time, and they deserve every bit of effort as the first person you reached out to. We are all bombarded with messages, but if what you’re communicating is important, it bears repeating.
  • Keep it simple. Now is not the time to show off your fancy vocabulary—save that for the dinner parties. Good communication from companies is simple communication. Spend some time making your Messages as crisp and concise as possible. Calysto uses a process for Positioning and Messaging that can help you really hone the language you use to describe your company, and then communicate those simply and effectively to your intended audiences, whether they be board members, employees, customers, media and analysts, or anyone else that’s important to your company.
  • Make it easy. In terms of managing stress, make it easy for your audience to understand what you want them to do, and then make it easy for them to do it. For example, in a PR pitch, that means telling the editor or analysts up front what you’re looking for: an interview, a mention in their upcoming coverage, a contributed article, or whatever your goal is.

The calendar page has turned to a new year, but most of the 2020 communications environment remains. It’s time to go back to basics and communicate with your audiences in ways that deliver results for both sides.

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