Eight Ideas to Unlearn this Summer: A Communicator’s Checklist

sand-between-my-toesSand between your tanned toes and the relaxing sound of waves hitting the shore. Happy hour that begins at 4pm (it’s 5’oclock somewhere). Visiting new places. Dealing with crowds (literally, being able to deal with crowds). Such are the joys of summer. It’s enough to make you forget what’s going on back at the office. It’s also a good time to unlearn bad habits. Re-energized from your vacation, you might be ready to wash away these misconceptions that have become woven into the communications fabric:

The customer is always right: Sometimes a customer is just plain wrong and it would be irresponsible to oblige when it goes against the essence of your brand, reputation and ethics. That said, treating the customer with respect is always the right thing to do, as is finding a way to resolve a simmering problem.

Reporters want free stuff: A free lunch, tickets to a Yankee game, a gift card – you might as well attach strings to these gifts. Reporters see through your actions. The best way to a reporter’s heart (and into their coverage) is to give them information they can use.

Internal communications is not PR: What’s internal is external. Whether it’s good news or bad news within your organization, how you handle it with employees – what you say, how you say it – is as good as saying it to a stranger a thousand miles away. Word spreads quickly through email and social media. Your employees are your brand ambassadors and are part of the Public in Public Relations.

Meetings are necessary: Not always. If you can avoid another hour-long meeting with staff or clients, you are doing them a big favor. Some issues are better handled with a quick phone call or email exchange. We spend too many hours in group meetings where the vocal minority rule the hour and most of the attendees are distracted and unengaged. Some meetings are necessary. If you’re holding a meeting, keep it Short and Small: less than an hour and with a small group.

Clients want the agency's senior execs to represent them: Rampant in PR is the perception of bait and switch among PR agencies. The GM or account supervisor sells you and then the account rep serves you. While experience and expertise matter when choosing an agency, don’t always assume that the junior agency pro won’t do a fantastic job for you and bring fresh thinking to the campaign.

Millennials are strange: Every generation is filled with people who demand things the last generation wouldn’t dare expect. So it goes with Millennials. If you’re a Millennial reading this blog, then you know what I mean. If you’re not a Millennial, don’t stereotype the 18-34 age group of 75 million (just in North America).

Working 60 hours a week is good for your career: Those who work too many hours are probably working hard but not working smart. Set an example for your team and go home at a normal time and don’t admire or reward long hours.

Social media is a strategy. It’s a sharp, important tool for all communicators. But your strategic thinking should not start with Social nor should it end with Social.

What else should we unlearn? Please chime in – after your vacation!

Diane Schwartz

On Twitter: @dianeschwartz