I was invited to speak to local government leaders this week about how to get great media coverage - and I started the session by asking "why?"
I was keen to hear their thoughts on why - in this age of instant and direct communication through a myriad of innovative means - organisations still need to strut their stuff through good old-fasioned mainstream channels like the local paper.
In the past, answers to that question have gone something like this:
- "Because it's free!"
- "Because it reaches a lot of people"..and so forth.
I was pleasantly surprised that this time the responses took a much broader view. There was a genuine appreciation that - even though most council leaders don't trust the media and would prefer to give them a wide berth - organisations simply can't afford not to be proactive in building reputation through various channels. And, even though their presence might be diminishing in some forms, media outlets still make up a significant chunk of the way communities get their local government information.
There was also an acknowledgment that authentic communication means telling the bad as well as the good. The days of government authorities having a practice of "decide and tell" are well and truly over.
It was a refreshing discussion, and I hope those leaders can take that approach back to their own organisations. Building reputation capital through authentic, transparent communication is much more than simply issuing a media release once a decision is made or a project is about to begin.
Communication must be an intrinsic element of every activity - and a big part of everyone's job.