What can happen when you have a failure to communicate

Growing up, a poster displaying the following quotation from Nixon adorned my wall because I loved its provocative message:

I know you think you understand what you think I said. I'm not sure you realize, though, that what I said is not what I meant.

Okay, now I don't know if the ex-pres actually said that or not but here's the point I want to make.  Are you finding you need to say that your various communities, be they customers, partners, or employees? 

Is your messaging being misunderstood or corrupted?

If it is, you need to ask yourself a number of questions to determine why.  Among these:

  • Who's influencing your messaging?
    • If it's among folks outside of your company, what are you doing to influence the influencers?
  • Does the market have enough information about your company and products to be informed and enthused?
  • If problems occur, is your company providing timely information to your communities to keep them apprised of how your solving the problems?
  • Do people just not care enough about your company and products?
  • Are your employees the source of the problem?

Years ago, I worked for a large oil company when one of its ships unleashed a huge environmental disaster.  I don't want to name names but if you haven't already figured out who I'm talking about then peek at my background summary

From a technical standpoint, the company jumped to mitigate and minimize the problem.  However, the media and pretty much most folks gave this company scathing reviews on its recovery efforts. 

In my mind the big reason is because of a huge failure to communicate. Not only did the company poorly handle its external media relations, it also bungled its internal ones.  Employees, a rich source of voices to share unofficial information with the public, were as much in the dark as the public about recovery efforts for up to about 7-10 days.

Of course, in those days, blogs and online communities didn't exist but the art of communication still did.

Now, imagine such a disaster today with the speed at which information disseminates.  In today's world, how long do you think it would take for disaster videos to show up on YouTube?  How long before someone started blogging about the disaster?

So the question becomes, are you going to manage your messaging using the full range of media that folks have at their finger tips today?  Are you going to be the prime influencer of your own messaging?

Or are you going to be a Nixon and be misunderstood?

Be your own influencer.  Communication is key.  Find your outlets.