What you say or don’t say can may make or break your reputation. Today, you may want to fly lay low, and that’s okay. If not, here’s advice to help make sure you’re heard.
TOP 5 WAYS TO ACTUALLY BE HEARD
Advice for those not inclined to fly under the radar at this point
By Michael Wayne
The year 2020 has been _____________ and we are just halfway through. I left the blank space intentionally. Throughout my life, I have had countless lessons pounded into my head—by family, by friends, by teachers, and by uncontrollable events. While the lesson of not making assumptions has been oft reinforced, the past several months have served as a sledgehammer of sorts to signal that, while we share collective experiences at times, an infinite number of unique moments shape our realities. With that understanding stated, I invite you to insert whatever word(s) into that blank space you deem appropriate.
Written records and investigative archeology chronicle numerous civilizations that have risen, only to fall. From the Mayans to the Romans, the Minoans to the ancient Egyptians, we have countless examples. Also, certain factors almost always are involved: overpopulation, disease, weak governments that lead to warfare, economic breakdowns that lead to famine, and natural climate change. IN case you missed it, there’s a “Top 5” buried in that previous sentence.
… the past several months have served as a sledgehammer of sorts to signal that, while we share collective experiences at times, an infinite number of unique moments shape our realities.
To watch or read the news or to digest social media, one may imagine that once more we are on the brink of going the way of the Qin. Others may profess that a cultural shift is taking place that will redefine us, strengthen us, and guide us forward.
Today, what you say—or don’t say, in some instances—may make or break your reputation and your organization. Normally, in a less charged environment, I would argue that there are actually only a few interested parties who want to read what you write, watch your commercial, devour your email, or click on your post. It’s not because they don’t care. It’s because they have a lot of other things going on in their lives.
During the initial months of the COVID-19 outbreak, several organizations I work with personally, despite all evidence to the contrary, made the determination to stay silent. They refrained from marketing because it would “look bad” that they were advertising—which is not the same as marketing—at a time when potential layoffs and furloughs were possible.
The thing about COVID-19 is that it isn’t a movement or an idea that can cancel an organization. Whether you believe it to be fair or unfair, justified or unjustified, beyond the pale or exactly what is needed, the social awakening and unrest gripping our nation will help establish who will and who won’t be part of communities and the future economy. Just like with COVID-19, however, I would caution you not to just say something because you feel like you have to.
You may want to fly under the radar at this point, and I am not going to argue that you shouldn’t. For those of you who want to actually be heard, here are five pieces of advice to make sure you are
Keep your message simple. Stay focused with your words. If you want impact, be concise and deliver them in the easiest-to-understand form possible. Your message is yours, and it should not be left up to interpretation.
Make your message compelling. Unless you are hoping that you won’t be heard, your words have to be impressionable. Choose a tone to convey your message and go for it, but read the room. You can be informative in various ways to be sure. Don’t make the mistake of being funny when you shouldn’t be though. Your audience has to feel something for you to be memorable, and you want to be remembered for the right reasons.
Repeat your message. If you broadcast your message a handful of times, you aren’t really broadcasting it at all. The noise out there is deafening, and people’s time is precious. To truly reach a wide audience, you have to say what you want on multiple occasions and in various ways.
Show, don’t tell. If you have a message that is compelling and memorable, understand that it is also going to be the standard to which you are going to be expected to hold yourself, your organization, and its employees. Simply throwing out a slogan with well wishes and caring and not living up to that standard is a dangerous proposition.
Be real. Stay real. If you are communicating to an audience, you are attempting to build business. That does not happen without gaining trust, and authenticity is key to gaining trust and forming lasting relationships.
Are we in unprecedented times? Businesses and organizations have been created, succeeded, or failed for a long time now because of their reputations—real and concocted. Society’s norms have been defined and redefined in a relatively young nation like the United States of America on several occasions, just as they have been the world over and for eons in nations, kingdoms, and empires that once believed they were the epitome of civilization. We are in unprecedented times from the standpoint that this time, it is us. Seeing the world change, however, is not something that the world hasn’t seen before.
Be true to your values, but make sure those values have their foundations in equity. Have the courage, if not the wisdom, to make necessary changes. Be heard and remembered for what you want to say and not seen as something you aren’t. Respect that yours is not the only messaging, especially when you really are trying to understand someone else’s point. Above all else, be kind.
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.