The purposes of communication in 2012

I wonder if anyone truly realizes the vast amount of information available via the Internet. In my experience, it seems that if a thought, idea, event or reference is conceivable, someone has posted it online. Even with the most esoteric topic, hundreds and even thousands of people have written about it. When wise King Solomon wrote “There is nothing new under the sun,” he must have had the Internet in mind.

If everything has been said that can be said, and it’s all online, then why bother writing more? Why not simply refer to what someone else has already written? In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard encounters an alien race that does just that. Rather than communicating ideas with sentences, they reference events in their history. For example, this race might simply say “Pearl Harbor, 1941” to convey that they had been attacked by surprise, or “O.J. Simpson” to imply that someone was getting off the hook. In a way, we do this with hyperlinks on websites: we refer others to something that’s already taken place—that has already been written.

So is there really a current interest or demand to write about what legions of others have already written? Do we really need another article on the use of “your” vs. “you’re”; another list of the top 10 ways to spice up a white paper, and the benefits of exercise? The bottom line is: it depends. While this kind of communications content may still be new information to some, it may be time to focus communications on internal purposes. For example:

  • Defining an organization’s corporate culture through words and deeds
  • Sharing a company’s or organization’s goals and expectations
  • Private or privileged communications, such as those regarding personnel matters
  • Internal communications that motivate and engage
  • Surveys, questionnaires, assessments for gathering opinions and measuring key variables

These are the kinds of things that one simply can’t tell an employee to Google and leave them to learn on their own. Corporate culture is unique to every company; you’d no sooner tell an employee to search for Pizza Hut’s corporate culture than you would tell the marketing department to go find ExxonMobil’s logo and use it for your company. Similarly, you wouldn’t tell an employee to find a video of a motivational speech by legendary Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson—you’d want to give that talk yourself, or at least search out Phil’s famous Zen wisdom yourself to incorporate into your own pep talk.

What’s the common thread here? Quite simply, there probably isn’t much to be added to that giant encyclopedia known as the Internet in terms of general knowledge. However, there is plenty that needs to be communicated about the unique aspects of your company. No other company is quite like yours, and while you might cast your net into the sea of information that’s out there, you have to cull your catch and tailor it to your own needs and circumstances.

So, unless you really have five never-before-imagined ways to drive traffic to your Facebook page, focus your energy on what others have written and how you can apply it in your company or organization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *