• Shellene Drakes

Communications is not a magic bullet

Being able to clearly communicate your ideas is an awesome thing. It gets people thinking and, maybe, agreeing with you. Good communications can make people want to read or to listen to what you have to say.

It’s important to your organization’s success.

But—and this is a big ‘but’—it will not create success for your organization. Your social media posts, newsletter, or website are not magic bullets. They may get eyes on what you’re working on, but they won't create support where there is not already support brewing.

What I mean is, communications activities only promote what you’re already doing. Just because you communicate it you aren’t guaranteed success. Period.


For example, during my corporate days, a corporate social responsibility team I was working with ran a really cool contest to raise awareness about the organization’s United Way program. As the communications team, our objective was to make sure that the employee population knew it was happening and how they could get involved, and understood how the contest was connected to supporting our corporate United Way program.

The contest was a success. People across the country participated—and had a blast doing it.

Our communications plan was integral to supporting the contest through intranet posts, emails, poster content, and more…but the reason the contest was successful?

It was based on a good idea. And that idea was well-executed—as was our communications plan.

So if the corporate social responsibility team ran a mediocre contest and we used a similar communications strategy to raise awareness, would the contest have been successful?

Nope. It would not have been.

I have communicated many, many mediocre—or just plain bad—ideas that have been turned into bad programs, activities, websites and more. And through all of that I've learned that a mediocre idea—although well-communicated—is still a mediocre idea.

I'll say it louder for the people in the back: a mediocre idea—although well-communicated—is still a mediocre idea.

Let’s put it on a t-shirt and wear it every time we walk into a meeting.

Communications can’t magically turn a mediocre idea, program, contest into gold just because it’s communicated.

Communications can’t turn nothing into something—or something good.

Communicators are good, but we’re not magicians.




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