The 3 Cs of Communications
READ TIME: 2:25 (Or less, you speedy reader, you.)
If you've ever done any communications work, you probably quickly learned that it's about more than just sending an email campaign or monthly newsletter. Innate to communications is audience identification, cadence definition, stakeholder engagement, and review cycle management. Then, at its core, is change management. Communications are used for everything from spreading awareness or providing urgent updates, to engaging large amounts of people. All, however, are intended to influence in some way.
Frankly, this blog could cover these topics alone and not run out of elements to discuss. But, taking a deeper look, to be effective, communications---whether internal or external---can be likened to the role of marketing. Like marketing, communications consist of more than a single element, and are reinforced in a few ways.
You Need a Strong Message
The foundation of any communication is its message, or what you're trying to say, get someone to think, do or respond to. In a communicator's world, the message is often referred to as content so it will also be throughout this blog. Your content isn't just words---it's tone, voice, and delivery style. But, more on that later.
Visual Designs Should Support Your Message
There are those who view creative within the confines of marketing. It's easily associated with video and brand materials, but often misused or omitted entirely in standard communications. Those same people are the ones who struggle with open rates and adoption.
You can't underestimate the impact of creative on your audiences. Why? Because, guess what? Everyone is not a reader. Some people are viewers and don't even deal in text (content) if they can avoid it. They are "picture people". Imagine the impact ignoring an entire segment of your audience could have. In reality, it happens all the time---especially if you're not taking advantage of creative in your communications.
Instructional Materials Should Enhance Your Message
Okay, so, in the world of communications, it's generally in the form of training or other documented guidance, but since training doesn't start with "C", well, there ya go. As a long-time coach with a B.A. in all-grade education, I can tell you the approach is similar as it all relates to teaching others.
Coaching or training is where you expand, break down, clarify, repeat or simplify aspects related to your message. It is an impactful combination of message (content), visual design and graphics (creative).
So, you can see how the waters get muddied quickly. Many in the content marketing space would simply call all the above "content". As a creator, I would too, except that it doesn't resonate that way with everyone---particularly those unfamiliar with the responsibilities commonly associated with any of these roles. And that's why I write this blog. It's not that we need to come to a common understanding of communications (we do, but more on that later), it's that, we always, without exception, need to approach communications from the perspective of our audience. When the audience is varied? Well, err on the side of over-simplification.