Exceptional, edifying communicators are hard to find.
What separates the great from the good, the phenomenal from the pedestrian?
Here are three ways to become more than a replaceable, uninspired, word-slinging copy jockey:
1. Put others before yourself, but don’t be a pushover. “Empathy” is perhaps the hottest workplace topic right now. It’s no wonder why. Empathy is vital to morale and retention, and it’s the lifeblood for a compassionate culture that values and empowers workers.
Empathy for your colleagues should fuel and form your messaging, and their tastes and preferences should shape your overall strategy.
Adopting a more empathetic approach compels you to speak with a broader range of employees, which can provide opinions, suggestions, feedback and insights that pave the way for communication success.
However, empathy does not mean being a pushover. Empathy is not just being friendly, and it’s not merely doing whatever people ask you to do. You can be empathetic and still enforce job request procedures. You can still say no to requests that are either ridiculous or last-minute (or both).
Be empathetic, and endeavor to put others’ preferences before your own, but be firm in protecting your processes. Set firm boundaries, and stick to your guideline guns. Don’t confuse empathy with weakness.
2. Be aggressively inclusive. “Internal communications” is a woefully inadequate description for what you do and what you’re trying to accomplish. How about “inclusive communications?”
Regardless of your job title or responsibilities, use your platform to bring people together in meaningful ways.
Beyond the collaboration, morale and productivity benefits of producing more intentionally inclusive communications, we are in the midst of an alarming loneliness crisis. Communicators are in a unique position to uplift, encourage, include and edify people in the workplace—which seems to be a hotbed of loneliness.
Use communication for connectivity. Reach out especially to loners, outcasts, introverts and forgotten remote workers, and make sure everyone feels like a valued part of the team.
If you get pushback from executives on inclusivity initiatives, remind them of the profound impact that relationships have on staff engagement—which ties directly to the bottom line.
3. Create a calendar, stick to it, and share it widely. Communicators often operate on a cryptic, mercurial timetable known only to them. Sometimes it just seems easier not to have a set schedule or editorial calendar at all—especially if you’re a one-person band who’s constantly bombarded by requests.
This is a missed opportunity. Planning and producing a firm editorial calendar takes more work, but it can help you immensely. It can help your colleagues, too.
If you plot out projects—and share your calendar publicly—you’ll probably get buffeted by fewer requests. At the very least, showing your schedule gives people a better idea of what sorts of content you’re looking for and what your typical timetables look like.
If you’re not sure where to start with crafting an editorial calendar, consider asking these seven questions (posed recently on PR Daily):
- Will you be using it for both traditional activities (press releases, events, TV-news interviews) and for the online content you create (Facebook Live, blog posts, podcasting)?
- Will you need separate content calendars for calls to action, keywords and generating leads?
- Do you prefer a weekly, monthly or quarterly calendar?
- Is the calendar visually appealing and easy to organize and revise?
- Will your team communicate online via Slack, or are you a solopreneur who prefers a paper calendar?
- Do you need a dashboard-style content calendar that has separate fields for deadlines, reviews, sales-campaign collaborations, departmental/client approvals and publishing dates? (Agencies, corporate communicators and larger teams typically use these.)
- Is the calendar simple, realistic and structured for maximum efficiency?
Regardless of how you craft or design your calendar, prioritize shareability. Include and consult other departments to maximize collaboration and project piggybacking. This is an easy way to build trust, gain respect, boost interest in your work and set healthier expectations.