The quest to be first to publish is something that has always driven media outlets, but this drive is now being accelerated by the 24/7 news cycle, the thousand channel universe and by social media. And it is not just outlets that have multiplied. With universal access to new media channels offered by social media and mobile technology, a flood of new actors have embarked upon this quest.
Communicators are even facing competition from average citizens who may not have any professional training or education but who have a voice through equal access to the same communication tools. In this context, many of the tried-and-true practices such as checking facts, ensuring accuracy, editing for clarity, offering alternative or complementary view points and proper spelling are falling by the way side and creating a “reader beware” mentality among average citizens, who sometimes find it necessary to check multiple sources.
For better or worse, participants in the sessions are witnessing a clear shift in the practice of communication on several levels. Clarity (clear simple messages) and honesty (as well as sincerity) are the constant and critical attributes when evaluating any communicator or communication. The questions “Was it easy to understand?” and “Do you believe it?” remain the first ones to ask. And, because of the changes to the context in which communicating happens (more noise, less time, more selective hearing), communicators need to remember that brevity is the soul of wit (thank you, William Shakespeare) and pay more attention than ever to the old marketing mantra: “What’s in it for me?”, now applicable to a multiplicity of audiences, each with their own needs and concerns.