Communications





As communicators, we are tuned into several areas of communication. There is written, verbal, non-verbal (body language, what is left unsaid, etc.) and there is silence.



Today, I am going to talk about silence. There are many aspects of it in our world. There is the “in-person” silence – where the person doesn’t respond. This can happen in a meeting, in a brief exchange in the elevator, and while a broadcast journalist is interviewing you. Doing this during an interview is a great way to get people to blurt something; just look at them and don’t say anything. Most people will feel uncomfortable and try to fill the space. And then there is the phone call or email silence – which, I have to admit, is a personal pet peeve of mine.



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I have to admit, I had to laugh when I read this post on Ragan.com about all the ways that we now have to be contacted. Back in the day, there were just a few ways to connect. This communicator counted 10 platforms that he now uses – and funnily enough, in person is the last on his list.

What about you? How many platforms do you use for communication?

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At AHA, we work on a range of communication or public relations initiatives with clients. No matter what the campaign, project or idea, it is always tied to measurement and results – business results.

Connecting communication or public relations initiatives to business results doesn’t always directly mean sales or revenue. It can also be raising awareness of an organization or campaign. It can mean informing and educating a specific stakeholder group or creating an action or response. It can mean building loyalty. Or it can mean driving sales. It is important when building the strategy for the initiative that you clearly identify what your objectives are, what results you want to achieve, and how you will measure success.

We recently worked with a client to develop an internal communications initiative that was created with the objective of building staff morale. This organization has gone through a great deal of change over the past 24 months under the leadership of a new, proactive president. There have been many successes that have been overshadowed by an organizational restructuring and a strategic planning process that uncovered some challenges and the need to evolve and change some business practices and processes. We wanted to focus on what has been accomplished, to spotlight some of the staff members who have stepped up and gone the extra mile to make things happen, who have shown leadership and who have supported colleagues during this transition period. I am happy to share the tactics we used with you, if you are interested. Just send me an email. But, in order to keep this blog post a reasonable length, I will skip to how we are going to tie this initiative back to business results.

Our first measurement focus will be on participation – how many staff members actively participate by attending specific events or visiting the website page, where this information will be showcased. Next will be to reach out and ask for feedback on the campaign from staff members. And, over a longer period of time (this campaign is set to run for 9 to 12 months), we will monitor changes in attitude and approach. (Are more staff members actively participating in organizational initiatives? Has engagement in town hall meetings increased?) Some of the measurement will be softer (attitude), others will have harder statistics to review. On a monthly basis, we will be reviewing how this campaign positively impacts this organization’s business – which, in this case, is the morale of staff. Without great staff who care about their work, you don’t really have much.

I came across an interesting article on Ragan.com that talks about how to connect communications initiatives to business results. It’s worth a read.

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A new year is always good to review what you, as an organization and as individuals, did well the year before and what you could improve upon. Here at the AHA office, we’ve been doing a pretty strong inventory of 2009. We turn seven in 2010 and while it might not be a typical “milestone” number, we’re quite excited about our upcoming anniversary on April 1. (We know, April Fools Day!)

During our period of “taking stock,” I was also given the task of writing a proposal for a potential new client. I love writing proposals and plans, learning about a new organization and, sometimes, a new field. I found myself thinking about some of the key learnings we have taken away from last year as I wrote the proposal.

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