Catalyst Communications

Is Your Roadmap in Place for 2014?

About 16 years ago I took up a new sport—performance driving with the Audi Club of North America. Like today’s communication it is fast-paced, has some risk and requires total concentration to avoid an “agricultural adventure.”

As I look to the New Year, I’m seeing many correlations between car club events and the practice of good public relations and corporate communications.

1. Total focus—if we are not focused on the desired outcomes of our communication initiatives, we get off track. Effective, measurable communication demands clear objectives that describe the desired behaviors (outcomes) we strive to attain.

When driving at high speed on a road track with a variety of corners and straightaways, a glance away from what is in front can mean an agricultural adventure off the track. Focus is paramount.

2. Ongoing skill development – The speed at which our communication channels are evolving requires the professional communicator to be ever vigilant about polishing, acquiring and using these channels at the right time for the right reasons to obtain the desired outcomes. Not staying with the rapidly changing environment means missing opportunities to engage your prime stakeholders.

Today’s road track changes with temperatures, degrees of wetness and dryness; wear on tires and unexpected obstacles. Expecting the driving experience to be the same all day, every day is fool hearty. A safe run means becoming more skilled and more adaptable.

3. Driving the car you’re in – The safe driver and the excellent communicator both focus on what they can control and anticipate to the best of their abilities the variables surrounding them. Both know that getting too tuned to what someone else may or may not do can cause their concentration to stray resulting in a missed change in conditions. You can’t drive someone else’s communication strategy just as you can’t drive a car if you’re not behind the wheel.

The communicator needs to be concentrating on his/her objectives while continually scanning the environment in order to make necessary changes in strategy. Having a nimble plan is essential to avoiding missed opportunities.

The driver must be looking beyond the bumper in front of him/her to be ready to react to that unexpected change up the road. Being alert to where his/her vehicle is in relation to the road and traffic is critical to arriving safely at the desired destination.

4. GPS = Good Planning—The proficient communicator never launches without a measurable plan that clearly maps where an organization wants to go, how they will get there and how they will know they’ve achieved the desired outcomes.

The efficient driver also has a map. Today’s GPS systems tell us where we want to go, how to get there and how long it will take.

Do you have your map in place for 2014?

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