K Street Newsletter :: Directions

September 2018    |    VOLUME 16, ISSUE 9

We're Older Than We've Ever Been

You may not be able to recall September 2002 in much detail, but it was a month of interesting news. Serena Williams won her second US title, beating sister Venus at the US Open. Josh Whedon's Firefly had its debut on Fox. The Bush Administration announced plans to invade Iraq, sparking protests around the world. Switzerland joined the United Nations. And Knowledge Street opened its doors, with an intended focus on Knowledge Management and Communications. Like Serena, we're still here.

Our services have evolved over the years, moving away from formal KM and into general MarCom work. We've largely stepped away from web site building, but still consult on web design and content. We've written video scripts, designed and administered audience surveys, developed messaging plans, produced desktop videos and offered advice on branding. We've handled everything from the smallest copywriting jobs to multi-phased communications programs (covering all the bases from logo design to press releases). It's been a hoot, to be honest. So each September, we like to take a moment to pause, smell the coffee, acknowledge the anniversary, and say thanks. Thanks to our clients, and thanks to all the friends and colleagues who've supported us. And now we’re older still.


Internal Marketing

Back in the first year of Knowledge Street, we always stressed the importance of integrated communications. Lots of companies tend to separate responsibility for internal messaging from messages aimed at customers and the outside world. The danger of that approach is that the internal messages are almost always given less attention. That leads to a world in which employees hear about important changes by reading them in the trade press. Or they learn about a new product launch by seeing it on Facebook. Not good for morale.

This article makes the point that marketing to your internal audience can even be more important than pitching your customers. If you really want your brand to come alive in the hearts and minds of your workers, you have to make the effort to sell it to them. Doing so will help people understand how they fit into the big picture and create a sense of pride in their work. Creativity is an essential element in this process of bringing the brand to life. It's a discipline where a cut-and-paste approach doesn't work. You need to understand your internal audience and truly engage with them in ways they find to be meaningful.


Street Smarts 179: Put down that phone!

We were relatively late to climb on the cell phone bandwagon, so we're still surprised at how many people can't walk along the sidewalk without simultaneously talking or texting. It's not healthy in human terms, since it deprives us of the opportunity for face-to-face contact. It cheapens our lives and make us less human. In fact, a study at the Pew Research Center found that 30% of young adults pretend to be using their phones as a way to avoid social interaction. That's kind of sad, isn't it?

July was actually National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, but it's never too late to step up your mobile etiquette. This article offers tips you can use all year long. Perhaps the most important one is to keep your phone out of sight when you're in a meeting or spending time with family and friends. Don't be one of those folks who puts their phone out on the table, letting everyone else know that you have higher priorities. Remember that cell phone addiction is real, and up to 72% of people never let their phone be more than five feet away. Don't let it happen to you!


Memories of Mistakes Past

Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has found that when people learn a new motor task, they're learning from their mistakes as well as their successes. For a task like opening a door, the brain makes note of small differences in how a person expected the door to move, and how it actually moved. It's a largely unconscious activity, but has been shown to increase the speed of learning. What's more surprising is that it also seems to help people learn faster when similar errors are encountered in entirely different tasks.

It seems the brain generalizes from one task to another by keeping a memory of the errors, and there appear to be two different processes at work. One part of the brain is learning the motor commands involved to complete the activity, and other part is critiquing the learning, like a coach. The "coach" makes note of which errors are most worthy of attention, and that makes the learning go faster. You can read more about it here. It's interesting stuff.


The Value of Visuals

Today, there are so many different modes of communication that the choices can be daunting. Many people are more creative and flexible in their private communications, happy to reply to a message with nothing more than an emoji or two. In business communications we still rely primarily on traditional emails. For a deeper dive or a more complex story, it's the inevitable PowerPoint deck. Things may be changing though, as the options become more accessible and as we all get used to interacting with our colleagues in different ways. There are some real advantages in developing a more "colorful" communications culture, and it's an area where we can learn from the younger generation.

TechSmith, the company behind a number of video tools, has a study that details "The Value of Visuals." Among other things, it found that younger workers are twice as likely to use images and video and also would like to see more visual communications in a business context. Nearly half feel their companies rely too heavily on text, and that makes them statistically the most likely to be de-motivated by an old-fashioned approach to communications. It also found that 67% of employees perform better when communications include a visual component compared to text alone. According to this article, the good news is that moving toward a more visual culture doesn't require a fundamental change in operations. All you need are the right tools, the right leadership and the right kind of support.




Directions is an electronic newsletter about things related to KM & Communications, published on the second Wednesday of each month (check out the current issue above). It’s a double opt-in system, which means you’ll receive an email asking you to confirm that you really want it. Once you click on the link in that mail, you’ll be signed up. You can always unsubscribe using the same link (or by using the link provided in every issue). We will absolutely not give your address to any third parties. What are we, crazy?

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