If You’re a Modern Communicator, Then You THINK AHEAD

I know a lot of professionals who are storytellers. But, here’s a little profile test to see if you’re a modern communicator who shares stories that resonate and create impact with your audiences.

Deirdre Breakenridge, NBC CT News InterviewFirst, if you consider yourself a modern communicator, then you’re ready to (1) navigate media and build relationships through new channels, (2) you understand the shifts in consumer preferences and behavior by analyzing data, and (3) you’re continuously evolving with technology. In addition, your approach to storytelling is flexible and you easily adapt to a global communications landscape.

But, let’s take the profile of the modern communicator a step further … most of all you’re trained to THINK AHEAD. Do you?

The approach is simple. First, you need mastery of the “THINK” part, and then the proficiency of the “AHEAD” steps to create communication that connects, resonates and helps you to grow your relationships with customers and your loyal advocates.

Here’s how the THINK AHEAD approach breaks down, so you’re a storyteller with purpose, who stands out and builds stronger relationships in a fast-paced, ever-evolving and very noisy media landscape.

Start with THINK:

“T” is Timing. Modern communicators know how to attach their stories to the timely and relevant news. The more you can be a part of an unfolding story and you can add value and context to a meaningful conversation (whether it’s local, regional or national) the more you’ll be recognized for what you have to say.

“H” is Heart. You must have a heart or empathy for those who are on the receiving end of your communication. This takes tremendous discipline and a great deal of EQ (Emotional Quotient) to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes. You’re able to show compassion and empathy, especially when passionate voices collide, opinions vary and yes, tempers flare.

“I” is Independent. When there is a lot of noisy communication and you see parties taking respective sides, you have to trust your gut and go with your instincts. Sometimes the communities and groups that generally share your opinions may not be upholding your values. Don’t jump on the bandwagon and don’t be a part of “group think.” Remain independent when you have to and always be true to your own brand.

“N” is New Navigation. You have to be ready to step out of your comfort zone and to navigate in new and exciting ways. This means embracing new channels and methods to reach people that don’t always feel comfortable and familiar. Modern Communicators can never be too complacent. When complacency sets in, you may also be missing opportunities to grow relationships and meet people in places where they prefer to congregate. Operate in your “uncomfortable” zone for maximum growth potential.

“K” is Knowledge. Modern communicators always have to be learning and growing. Professional development will keep you 10-steps ahead of your customers, and other important stakeholders. If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re hanging out with the wrong people. You should always be challenging yourself with new opportunities to learn.

When you can master the THINK part, then you’re ready for the AHEAD steps, which break down as follows:

“A” is Anticipate. Modern communicators know the facts, understand a situation thoroughly, before they communicate and learn as much as they can about the people or groups with whom they want to connect.

“H” is Head Off. When you head off any issues or concerns, as a modern communicator you can neutralize potential adverse situations before they bubble up, from small molehills into massive mountains. Heading off the negative also means acknowledging what’s occurring, and letting people know you’re aware, accountable and getting more information.

“E” is Evaluate. Make it your job to evaluate situations by gathering input from all parties involved. You can’t get part of the story to solve a problem or to stop an existing condition from getting worse. When you can evaluate and speak with everyone involved, you’ll have a much better handle on the situation so you can move toward action and resolution.

“A” is Action. In a dynamic, real-time communications landscape, you have to act quickly. You can’t just say what you’re going to do, you have to show it and mean it. Saying “sorry” is always a good start. A good heartfelt, “Mea Culpa” will get the ball rolling. But, then you have to take additional steps to make sure you’re demonstrating you’re sorry and making good on your promises moving forward.

“D” is Determine Success. Modern communicators are always learning from past missteps or the successful ways they’re able to THINK AHEAD. When you can take the time to see what’s worked in your communication and what hasn’t, you’re ready to make your engagement stronger and create better relationships that lead to loyalty and advocacy.

When modern communicators can THINK AHEAD, the success of the approach shows in all of their communications and resulting relationships. Modern communicators are known for their ability to raise the bar on storytelling and for their strong bonds. They’re respected, trusted and connected in their communities.

Do you match the profile of the modern communicator because you THINK AHEAD? If you want to learn more about modern communicators, building relationships, navigating new media and how to be more effective in your business communications, then check out my book, Answers for Modern Communicators.