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Avoid Communication Freak-Outs With One Simple Concept

December 2, 2009

Do you often have clients or senior management running to you completely frantic, eyes wide, hair standing all on end, freaking out about some new crisis – which typically turns out to have a fairly straightforward solution?

Yep, we’ve all been there. (Some of us are there daily.) It seems to me that about 95% of these “oh-my-gosh-how-are-we-ever-going-to-get-this-done-in-time” freak-outs could be avoided with one simple thing: a little planning.

W-w-what? You want me to plan? Ahead of time?!?! I-I-I… You want me to plan?

Yes, that’s exactly what we want you to do!

Just Whip Something Together

I know, I know, when you suggest planning, it’s often met with blank stares or a totally illogical response of, “What’s the big deal? Can’t you just whip something together?” Uh-huh. Sure. Let me just put the other 394,261 can’t-you-just-whip-something-together projects I’m already working on aside and get right on that.

Of course, that’s exactly what any good communication professional will do – and with grace and ease, I might add – but that is soooo not the point. If your writer can whip together an amazing communication piece for you in no-time flat, imagine what he or she could do with a little notice. Say, more than 10 minutes?

But, I don’t have time to plan.

So, let me take a minute to address your clients directly. (Not sure if you’re a client? If you ever rely on a member of the writing staff to help you communicate something – no matter how infrequently, then you fit the bill.)

And, yes, you do have time. Planning doesn’t have to take forever or be cumbersome. It simply requires thinking about the implications of your new product, service, bonus or any other change before the day you implement it.

Let’s say you’re a product manager for a Widget company. The Winky-Wonky Widget is one of your best-selling products, but sales have fallen off a little in the last few months. To address the situation, the product team is including a free Wishy-Washy Wonkadoo with the purchase of each Winky-Wonky Widget. (Such a deal.)

Including this with each sale is easy to implement. You made the decision Monday, and you’ll be ready to roll by the end of the week. So…wait for it…here comes the planning part: Don’t wait until Friday morning to let your communications team know about the change. Instead, shoot them an e-mail, call, text, IM, stop by – whatever method of communication works best for you – to give them the heads-up even if you don’t have all the details worked out yet.

And that’s it. The planning took what, all of five minutes? It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, and you probably just became your writer’s favorite client in the process!

By giving your writers a quick heads-up, they’ll have time to ensure everything ties together beautifully. They’ll begin thinking about how best to communicate this great change, who needs to know about it, the key messaging and when the best time will be to notify everyone of the change. And you won’t have to face nearly as many “oh-my-gosh-how-are-we-ever-going-to-get-this-done-in-time” freak-outs.

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