In a few days, 2011 will be half over; and, just as I predicted would happen when I made them six months ago, I’ve completely forgotten my New Year’s resolutions. So in the spirit of refreshing content, I’ve decided to update my resolutions profile with six new commitments for the rest of 2011, pledges that I probably will forget by the time we bash our way into 2012 in a maelstrom of presidential politics, social media IPOs and HTML5 widgets. Until then, however, perhaps these communications goals will help me make it through the rest of this year with less egg on my face and more followers on my Twitter feed:
- I will relentlessly attempt to decipher the “AP Stylebook” guidelines for hyphenating compound modifiers: “When a compound modifier–two or more words that express a single concept—precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in –ly.” That’s an easy rule to apply to a first-quarter touchdown or a well-known man. But does it also mean the proper form is cell-phone call, rocking-chair seat or public-relations program?
- I will engage in social media with more than links to articles and smart-aleck comments on the misfortunes and typos of others. I will increase the original content that I promulgate and actually ask the occasional question to which others may choose to respond. (I began today, with “What was your greatest achievement so far in 2011?” and received only smart-aleck replies, so maybe my strategy needs tweaking.)
- I will attempt to reconcile in my mind how one is able to watch any of 1,938 reality shows online but no virtual shows in real life. Don’t these online programs by definition become virtual showings of simulated reality? What’s real about that?
- I will try to learn more from my communications mistakes than from my communications successes. It’s relatively simple to duplicate a success, but not repeating a mistake can be a difficult proposition. We need to listen more intently, probe more deeply and write more carefully to ensure that we don’t fall right back into the holes that we dug for ourselves in our previous communications. See the comments and backtracks of the political figure of your choice or the occasional local paper that carelessly headlines its corrections column: “OPPS!”
- I will conduct more video meetings with our Microsoft Lync unified communications system, in place of phone calls. I work remotely, and it may be four to six months before one of our agency’s recent hires and I are in the same place on the same day to meet face to face for the first time. With Lync, we can talk face to face anytime. Not long ago I actually videoconferenced with a colleague who was in seat 16 C somewhere over the Rockies, returning home from a West Coast meeting. No man—or jetliner—need be an island anymore.
- When delivering presentations, I will encourage audience members to tweet, like and link themselves in throughout. Rather than viewing such activity as a disturbance, we should realize that this sort of audience engagement is what presentations are all about. Now, instead of converting a speech into a byline article or excerpting it for a customer letter, presenters can get their words, themes, arguments and advice out to broader communities while still speaking. I might even hand out a list of prospective “friends” for audience members to add to their networks to be certain their comments reach my extended target audience.
I’m going outside now to throw glass clippings into the air to celebrate the new half-year. Maybe resolutions will be easier to remember and keep when temperatures are a little bit higher than last January’s snowfall.
— Steve Friedman is the director of marketing communications at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.