That burning feeling

It has been there for a while, but I've chosen to ignore it. That nagging voice in the back of my mind, reminding me I'm not where I want to be.

I started this blog as a freelance digital communications expert in search of new business. There are many stories I can tell, but the ones that really burnt to get out had nothing to do with communications at all.

I write. For a long time, I've struggled how to bring this into my other work. Can I? Should I? Another blog perhaps? The answer came just a week ago, while attending Crimefest, an international crime fiction convention. After sharing a few resources with one of the bloggers, she asked: "Why don't you just blog about that?"

Indeed, why not. Thank you, Lulu. Sometimes, only a stranger can put things into perspective. So, here I am, following that burning feeling that has driven me to write ever since I was a kid. Are you are interested in writing, crime and good stories? Then you're welcome to join for the ride.

What you want

After a few years of writing, rewriting, editing, some more rewriting and drinking copious amounts of tea,  it's finally out. My first novel: A perfect flaw was one of those stories that will taunt you until you tell them. So I did. A story about friendship, fear and changing the world is now freed.

I always imagined writing a book would be as easy as writing anything else. It wasn't. It taught me how to wait, how to love early mornings and how to claim the computer back from the cats.

It also taught me that chasing your dreams is a bunch of hard work and compromises. But if that's what you want, there's no other way.

Here's to new stories.

3 common words that might be failing your marketing

If you're serious about marketing, then you don't need these three one-way words: push, promote, spread the message. They assume your audience is a passive vessel that can be brainwashed into liking your product/idea. 

If your communication or marketing plans are about pushing out messages, then you've taken your audience out of the equation. Nobody wants to be trapped in an elevator with someone who's going to spend all the time talking about themselves.

Marketing is all about building relationships. It needs to go both ways.

Pushing out messages will fail you. Instead, get to know your partners in dialogue and listen to what they have to say. It will make all the difference.

The myth of the general public

The general public migh have won the battle in statistics but lost the war in communications.

How can you talk to teenagers, single fathers, sports enthusiasts, working class, the seniors and musicians at the same time and still stay relevant?

The truth is, you can't. General public is like a cloak hiding everything that makes a person unique and different.

Talking to everyone is like throwing a few thousand messages off the plane, hoping some will catch. It's vague, impersonal and easy to ignore.

People don't want thousands of messages that are made for anyone. They want just one made for them.

Who needs facts?

Almost all of the important decision I've ever made were based on my gut feeling. And it seems I'm not alone in this eather. Whether we like it or not, emotions drive our decisions.

In fact as it turns out the use of facts (e.g. debunking myths) will produce the opposite effect and reaffirm people's existing belief instead of swaying them the other way.

Time after time we learn that facts don't work. So why use them?

Maybe a better question to ask is when (not) to use them. If communication works on an emotional level, then facts are a great second step to support your approach.

On the other hand, if you start with facts, you will never touch people's hearts.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

― Simon Sinek

When the curtain is down

We're led to believe that what matters most is getting under the spotlights.

Those few moments on the stage when all eyes are on us and we're ready to shine.

Except that our audiences decide who we are when the curtain is down.

What matters is what we do when we think no one is looking. Do we put our values to action or are we preparing for those 5 minutes under the spotlights?

Cases like Nestle using child slavery to make their products or Volkswagen cheating on emission tests show how important it is for brands to walk the talk. Managing reputation is always more about doing that it is about saying.

So how does your brand look when the curtain is down?

Faster is not better

Sometimes the shortest way to good results is taking the time without looking for the shortcuts.

This might seem counter-intuitive in the world of constant hacking and it's easy to feel pressured.

After all, how can you tell you'll get something equally valuable in return as a result?

You can't. There's no guarantee and it's only natural to feel anxious. It's possible to recover the lost money but lost time is something you can never get back.

And that's exactly why it matters. Taking the time is possibly one of more honest ways of showing you care.

It doesn't take a lot, to make a difference. But it does take time.

3 Common myths about social media engagement

Social media engagement is much like teenage sex. Everyone is talking about it yet only  a few are really doing it.

Last week I've come across an interesting tip by Jeff Bulas, shared by many social media influencers. 

One rule of thumb is 80% of your updates should be about engagement. 20% are posts that are selling.

A great tip that depends on how you define engagement. I decided to ask and got no answer. Which brings me to myth number one.

1. Social media engagement equals including others in your posts.

It takes two to tango. If the interest is only on one side, you can still dance, but it won't be tango. 

Real engagement on social is based on conversations and those are based on relationship. And for the relationships, I guess we all know how they do and don't work.  Listening and responding are key.

If all you do is tag people while pushing your messages, then you probably won't get very far. And you definitely won't do any real engagement.

2. Social media engagement is all about online.

Though online is a very important part, real engagement happens when you connect online with offline. This depends on your target audience, but no real influence can be built just by sending out tweets. 

Social media can play a great role in supporting you with your outreach, but it can't replace face to face conversations, networking efforts and real life help. 

3. The success of your social media engagement should be measured in the number of RT's, mentions etc.

Your social media strategy needs to be driven by a purpose deeper than getting a certain number of followers, RT's and mentioned by influencers. For the purpose of it is not to stand alone but to help you reach your goals.

Did social help get you closer to what you want? 

If your only ROI is a number of RT's and mentions, then it's maybe time to reconsider your strategy so that brings more tangible results.

Corporate comms: where will we go?

What's more likely - that you will send a letter of a complaint via snail mail or that you'll use online lingo in real life?

Digital has radically changed how we communicate. It has given more power and visibility to the individual but at the same time also made people more vulnerable. It's slightly different on the corporate site.

Digital provided companies with access to valuable customer data and many useful tools to that can help increase the visibility of their brands. At the same time, it has created internal division between online and offline communications. Companies often struggle to see and measure the value that digital communications bring to their business.

So how to we move on from here?

1. Companies will change the way they perceive internal communications.

Instead of top-down information sharing, smart business will invest their people and build strong internal ambassadorship. The discussion will shift away from newsletters and online communities to increasing employee ownership and their identification with the company's values and way of work. This requires a shift in thinking and management.

Brands live and die with their reputation and nothing promotes a brand better than enthusiastic employees who are proud about what they do and want to share it with others. Leaving Amazon's ethical challenges aside, it was an employee Nick Ciubotariu, who rescued company's salvaged reputation after the exposure in NYT.

2. The way we tell stories will change and become more audience focused.

Not only is this the best way to build strong presence and influence online and offline. It's a necessary step to move forward from broadcasting messages to creating meaningful experiences for the customers.

To do so, storytelling needs to shift from treating the customers as end goals and instead include them in all steps of the storytelling. User generated content will become even more prominent.

Companies will invest more resources in monitoring and share interactive stories that travel across different channels and devices.

3. Boundaries between digital and analogue will become even more blurred.

The truth is, digital can help bring corporate communications to the next level, as long as its part of integrated communications. As much as some would like to bury offline communications, they're still an essential part of any good communication strategy.

It might even be that old fashioned communication tools will help bring back some of the charm that was lost with the wave of online communities. After all, how long has it been since you've received a friendly personal letter (not a promo commercial) from your favourite restaurant?

What do you think will drive the future of corporate communications?