The basics of good communication may not change, but that doesn’t mean the way you communicate shouldn’t. Thinking creatively about how you reach the right people and achieve what you want from your communications can be a skill in itself, and should be given appropriate time and effort.
I was impressed by a speaker at the Association for Healthcare Communications and Marketing annual forum at the end of last year. Social media specialist Drew Benvie heads communication agency Battenhall, where one of the basic principles is the ‘20% rule’ – one in five hours is spent on experimentation and innovation.
As the agency says on its website: “We believe deeply that to innovate, you need to work differently and foster different ways of applying ideas and technology. We know this from experience: our own first forays into what is now mainstream digital and social media came from our own personal experiments in new technologies.”
Yes, it can be scary, but it’s also exciting to look beyond tried and tested channels and products. Of course, the bottom line is always whether they are going to meet your specific needs and circumstances – there’s a difference between experimentation and creativity and change just for the sake of it or to be ‘on trend’.
Drew gave an example of thinking differently that stuck with me. Battenhall recruited a 17-year-old intern during the summer who his colleagues quickly realised had a different approach to office communication. He didn’t really read or reply to emails – instant messaging and texting were his ‘default’ means of contacting people and being contacted in return.
Even for experienced digital communications professionals like Battenhall, this was food for thought about what the younger generation expects and feels comfortable with that they’ve taken on board in developing communication approaches for their clients.
Creativity should be part and parcel of communication, but for that to happen you need to nurture it with the proper attention and resources.