08 Jun Are You Creating Content Or Communication?
by Robert Rose
So, I’m resurrecting my Friday posts on LinkedIn, and I thought this might be a nice one to start with. It seems like every week brings us the news of some brand suffering from botched communication. A common thread runs through these stories: juicy rationalization. Whether implicit or explicit, that rationalization goes something like this: “We didn’t mean to do it. We’re just so big that we can’t help miscommunicating from time to time.”
• One of the biggest airlines in the world lost hundreds of millions of dollars in stock value when they dragged a seated passenger off a plane. They justified their action because the employees were following a policy. Content was in place. Thoughtful communication was missing.
• A hamburger company got caught changing the Wikipedia page for its own product when it tried to have Google Home read that Wikipedia page in its TV commercial. If you’re going to do that, you probably don’t want to use a derivation of the CMO’s name as the username of the Wikipedia editor. Content was in place. Thoughtful communication was missing.
• A leading soft-drink company creates an advertisement that falls flat because the content team put the brand in the spotlight. Content was in place. Thoughtful communication was missing.
The ease with which technology has enabled brands to speak is a double-edged sword. Anyone can now create any amount of content. And so…. we do. From manuals to mission statements, from policy to social posts, and branded content to blogs, businesses are pumping out content faster than ever.
Too often, companies mistake content for communication.
Just because the policy is written, the corporate dictates posted, the rules stated, the blog post published, or the tweet tweeted does not mean that the desired communication has occurred. It’s ironic that so many of us professional communicators are tasked with creating content, not with communicating. The ability to communicate may be the most undervalued skill that a content practitioner must have.
We often talk of the “culture of content” as we design strategic processes for scaling content across the enterprise. We ask ourselves, “How can we say more” without asking “Why are we saying anything at all?”
Instead of cultures of content, companies need cultures of communication. That kind of culture may not prevent all big miscommunications like the ones above, but it may help us catch more miscommunications while they’re small.
Are you creating content or communicating?