The new realities of the digital era of communication can sink organizations quickly or can help them to thrive, all depending on what actions they take. Here are some do’s and don’ts to make the best use of digital communications:
- Be active rather than reactive communicators.
- Communicate both bad news and good news about the company openly.
- Aggressively create and share good “content” to tell the company’s story (since the traditional media is a shadow of its former self and can’t be depended on as much as it could in the past to get the story out).
- Engage with the target audience regularly to develop good relationships and credibility. The target audience includes everyone from employees, to individual customers, to community groups, to influencers such as bloggers , journalists and analysts.
- Since people will be talking about your company whether or not you give them information or are there to listen, be there online where they are, to hear what they have to say and to respond if necessary.
- Treat every individual with the greatest respect, since he or she has the power to call global attention to behavior that is disrespectful.
- Learn the new rules and use the new communications tools of the digital era. For example, be aware that the vast majority of consumers now research purchases online even if they buy in stores.
- It’s a given that your website is a crucial tool in winning new customers, but you also have to be aware that consumers trust what others say about your services more than what you say.
- Don’t try to hide negative information – in the digital era, information knows no boundaries. Companies must assume that everything will eventually be made public.
- Don’t be self-serving by only communicating when there’s something to promote. This annoys people to no end and is harmful to an organization’s image.
- Don’t ignore persistent questions being asked online. Companies that do this are met with considerable backlash, and once that starts, it’s very hard to control.
- Don’t assume that what you say in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. It doesn’t. What you say in Las Vegas can be reported online in different languages almost instantly in Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing and Buenos Aires.
- Don’t assume that your brand is safe simply because it’s well-known. You’d better be looking over your shoulder at startups with no-name brands, since the cost of building a famous brand has declined. Even a small startup can use the Internet (and hire a company like mine to build visibility and brand equity at a reasonable price) to compete with you!