8 lessons communicators learned in 2021

The communications industry has fundamentally changed . . . for the better.

Comms lessons from 2021

The value of communications has never been clearer than it has this year. Specifically, leaders relied on their comms pros to move their organizations from a state of constant crisis communications towards more stable, reliable messaging.

Here are eight communications practices that will serve you well in 2022:

1. Collaborate and cooperate.

Stop thinking of HR and Legal as the twin princes of darkness, and make them your partners in effective communications. No department is an island; embrace these colleagues to tell your best stories and deliver consistent messages to internal and external audiences. Move together or you won’t move at all.

2. Adapt or perish.

Whether you launched a new intranet, developed an employer branding campaign or a thought leadership strategy for your CEO, you likely had to change your original blueprint to account for all that has been happening in our world, from COVID-19 and social unrest to hybrid work and “The Great Resignation.” Resiliency at its finest.

3. Data, the new influencer.

Just as our colleagues in IT, marketing and sales are held to their numbers, communicators need a strong measurement plan that delivers metrics for quick decision making. At least if you want to keep your seat at the table.

4. The crap can’t come back,

You can’t go back to the way things were. Or, at least, you shouldn’t. Too much has changed, and your audiences are demanding more targeted, concise and engaging content. Be merciless in cutting what no longer serves the organization.

5. Allyship, the word of the year.

For leaders, the word for 2020 was empathy. This year it’s all about action. With your aid, leaders can better understand their employees, customers and partners. Then they must show up and do the hard work to advocate on their employees’ behalf, transparently and empathetically. If they don’t, you’ll likely to make news – the wrong way.

6. Know your numbers.

Everyone can get better at finance. A strong understanding of the organization’s financial goals will help you go far. Tie your strategic plans and initiatives to the bottom line and use your company’s abundant data to tell your story to all audiences. Did someone say, credibility?

7. Everyone cares about ESG.

Even people who don’t fully understand Environmental, Social and Governance have discovered they really care about it. Employees, customers, communities and media all want to know how your organization is being a good citizen of the world. It’s your job to tell that story a lot better in 2022.

8. Customize your culture.

Where’s your culture? Is it in your office? We hope not, because many of you aren’t there. Creating “on-the-go” cultural moments that all employees can enjoy—near or far—is the future of employee engagement. Break through the busy, noisy world with snackable content. Actual snacks are good, too.

And here’s a lesson we learned at Ragan Consulting in 2021: Virtual consulting works, in training, focus groups and strategic planning. Still, there’s nothing quite like being there and working with our clients face-to-face in their own shops. We may not travel as much in 2022 as we did in 2019, but we’ll be back on the road (and in the air) when it makes sense. Until then, we wish you a happy holiday season and a great New Year. We hope to see you in person next year!

RCG specializes in corporate communications training, consulting and strategic counsel. Schedule a call with Kristin Hart to learn how we can help you improve your communications. Follow RCG on LinkedIn here and subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.


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