Digital First, but not Digital Only

Published August 19, 2020

TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLE

CommunicationLeading Others

Hey there leader, how are you doing?

If you’re like many other leaders right now, you’re worn down from months of leading through change and digital pivoting during the global pandemic and a variety of other events in the anxious media storm that is 2020.

Every organization has become a media distribution company overnight, and you’re probably also being reminded now more than ever, that communication is the number one responsibility of a leader.

My encouragement to you as you carry this huge responsibility: Keep communicating first on your digital platforms, but not only on your digital platforms.

Digital tools have been the saving grace of these months of work from home, remote teams and relationships at a distance. Even just a decade ago, a global shut down would have looked entirely different and much more challenging to get projects accomplished. We’re grateful for the likes of Zoom, iPhones and Instagram. They’re keeping us connected and keeping us communicating with our teams, customers and loved ones.

Every organization has become a media distribution company overnight, and you’re probably also being reminded now more than ever, that communication is the number one responsibility of a leader.

Digital platforms are, and should continue to be, the place your team prioritizes for all communication. It’s efficient, low cost and high speed.

If you advertise in a newspaper, measuring its impact is challenging. Advertising on Facebook allows you to get hour by hour data on views and engagements.

If you find a spelling error on a printed memo, it’s too late. You have to pay to reprint. If you find an error on a webpage, it can be edited within minutes.

A list of To Do’s on a whiteboard are not as helpful to your team as when they’re in a digital tool for project management.

All of your most important content should be communicated and easily accessible through digital platforms. Digital communication is not just necessary for remote workers but is the expected standard of customers in the Digital Age. I should be able to know your accurate operating hours from your website or social media, without having to come up to read a sign on the front door of your business. I expect to be able to register for an activity through a digital form that I can access from my phone, not have to print something out and use a pen. I do not have a printer. I cannot find my pen.

Digital first. But, not digital only.

We need to prioritize all forms of digital communication, but that does not mean we should abandon other forms of communication. As a strategic complement to digital, other media become powerful, memorable tools to impact our team and our customers.

Digital communication tends to lean on two of our senses; sight and sound, and because of that is a powerful tool for capturing our message. But I encourage you to think of ways to incorporate touch, taste and smell as secondary tools in your communication toolbelt.

I encourage you to think of ways to incorporate touch, taste and smell as secondary tools in your communication toolbelt.

If you want to promote a new product or service, a printed card in the hands of a customer can add validation and act as a reminder. The printed card should keep content to a minimum, pointing the person to the digital platforms for all the details and most up to date information. Giving someone something they have to touch before they throw away increases the engagement, compared to an ad they can scroll by.

When was the last time you wrote a thank you note, by hand, to one of your team members? Leaders can build this into their weekly routine, writing a few quick notes and mailing them each week. Everyone loves receiving cards in the mail, and the personal touch goes a long way compared to a text message or email thank you.

Use chalk to communicate messages on the sidewalk leading to your entrance. Ship an unexpected gift to loyal customers. Invite your team to have a socially-distanced picnic to gather for the first time in months. Send a paper invitation to reinforce a digital invitation to your upcoming event.

Consider tactile ways to engage your people, who are as worn down as you are from all of our hours on digital platforms. In doing so, your digital communication will not only be reinforced, but you will rise above the noise to create memorable experiences for your clients or team.

Communication is your number one responsibility as a leader, so consider how every analog and digital tool available to you can help make your message be heard, loud and clear.

Digital first, but not digital only.

About the Author
Joanna la Fleur

Joanna la Fleur

Communication Consultant

Word Made Digital Podcast

Joanna la Fleur is a speaker, podcast host, TV host and communications consultant. For more than 15 years, she’s been helping leaders communicate the best news to their networks and the world. You can catch her interviews with creatives and communicators on the Word Made Digital Podcast, as well as her daily communications tips on the Future Church Podcast. She can also be discovered teaching on the national TV show, See Hear Love. Additionally, Joanna is grateful to partner with Danielle Strickland on initiatives like Infinitum Life: Spiritual Practices for the Digital Age.

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