Seattle’s Jeff Bezos recently graced the cover of Fast Company magazine (King Bezos) and was also featured in the New York Times (August 17) after announcing he was purchasing the Washington Post.
Living in Seattle, I am reminded daily of the impact Amazon is having on the area, from multiple construction projects in South Lake Union to the unbelievably long lines of hungry Amazonians at every food truck that finds a place to park.
While details of Amazon’s long-term plans are lacking, Fast Company predicted Bezos was likely to continue his “relentless attacks on the status quo” to reach his goals of delivering products “cheaper and faster.”
While few would question Amazon’s impact on the retail sector, I believe that “being curious about the new” and “attacking the status quo” when it comes to thinking about strategic communication is now required for any organization in any industry.
I doubt many of us head out each morning telling our significant other, “I’ll be a little late, I’m going to attack the status quo today,” but it’s an effort that does need our full attention.
Here are three questions to help you hone your “Challenging the Status Quo” skill when it comes to communication.
1. Does our brand story resonate with customers, employees and community?
Communication professionals can help you fine-tune the wording, images and feel of your brand messaging, but the story has to come from within. How do you really treat employees? Don’t forget to ask them what they think. Do you empower employees to fix problems? What is your attitude about your customers really? Do you respect their time and put their needs first?
Do you ask customers how you are doing and listen to what they say? And if you ask what they think, do you make it easy for them to reply and reward them when they do?
2. Do I understand how my industry is changing?
I’ve heard comments from several industry leaders this summer that clearly showed that they believe the changes roiling retail are not going to impact them. I disagree. Expectations for where and how your services should be delivered, as well as the “cheaper and faster” mantra of Jeff Bezos are universal. If you aren’t challenging the status quo every day and asking how your company can provide more value, and what you can do to make it “cheaper and faster,” you will be left behind. Speaking of Bezos, it was reported today (Sept 3) that he met with the staff of the Washington Post. I doubt they fully comprehend (nor do I) his advice to “put the customer first, invent and be patient” but I’m pretty sure they will be challenging the status quo in newspapers.
3. Do I understand how to protect my brand and reputation in the social media world?
As a communication strategist, I see daily how quickly the channels we use to tell our clients’ stories are evolving. It now takes multiple efforts and approaches to get the word out. Yet I still hear many people proclaiming that the tools of social media just won’t work for them in engaging their audience. Wrong, wrong, wrong. While there are legitimate concerns over controlling the message and protecting yourself from being attacked in social media, not being in the game is just not an option.
Fortunately, finding the right approach does not need to be at a high risk or a high cost endeavor. It simply starts with getting the answers to the questions above, then laying out a strategic approach, developing a communication plan, and finally getting the organization involved with you.
Having that plan already in place, along with a clear brand story and a strong understanding of your industry, are critical when you do face a crisis. That’s when you have to move quickly and boldly. And there will be no time for on the job training.
Once you’ve made an effort to address these three questions the fun part comes – finding the right tools and channels to tell your story, engaging and listening to your employees and customers, and finally, watching your organization grow and thrive as a result.