Good communication is core to the success of every business. The transferring of information from one source to another keeps everyone working toward the same goal, learning from the available institutional knowledge pool, and operating in sync around core business needs.
The process of sharing information has changed with the technology around us. It used to be enough to make a few calls (phone tree is a painful word from the past), or send an email, or print up a notice and hand it out to the team. Those processes worked because they represented the available communication channels at the time. Luckily, technology trends have led to improvements in the accessibility of both content and our audiences, giving rise to the powerful, multi-channel mass communications industry.
The role of decentralization and content
Mass communications means you’re doing more than just sending a notification – you’re engaging an audience to improve coordination around an event.
One great improvement has come in the form of content decentralization – any person can be the source of information. Want proof that people care about that trend? Look at the number of years it took for each of these communication channels to reach an audience size of 50 million users:
Part of this has to do with the affordability and availability of devices, but another influence is the desire for audiences to have quick access to diverse forms of content. Power to the people. Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the value of a network is a function of the square of the number of nodes it contains, suggests that your organization is significantly more valuable with not only a bigger audience, but an empowered one that can initiate or respond to notifications.
This environmental shift from a single content source and one-to-one communications into an informed, connected community has led to the current state of mass communication.
By all means, find your audience.
Mass communication means you can send a communication to an enormous audience, and the communication will find the recipients wherever they’re connected, over any device and any channel.
How do you like to communicate? Depends, right? Given the message and the participants, sometimes text makes sense, or sometimes the phone, and other times it might be social networks or within mobile applications. The point is that many of us are well-connected, but we’re also opinionated and driven by situational relevance and personal preference. We are also driven by urgency. And during urgent situations, it’s well-known that quick, reliable communications can reduce damages and improve our safety. Think about this: according to a recent IDC Survey, every hour of IT downtime costs over $100k/year. Finding your audience has never been so important.
Know the three faces of mass communication
Mass communication means you can coordinate large audiences around any event deemed important by the organization or the audience.
Like most important business processes, mass communication pervades the entirety of the enterprise because it’s used to bridge audiences to a wide range of events. Historically, the industry thought of mass communication just through the lens of emergencies: inclement weather, office closures, active shooter, systems outages, and other incidents that represent harsh disruptions to normal business operations. Emergency mass notification systems indeed work to mitigate loss in the face of these challenging events.
But mass communication also means coordinating people and processes around any event that impacts the business or the audience. You can improve your business operations via real-time communications around business processes, things like delivery truck arrivals, incoming jobs that need scheduling, and staff management. You can also improve customer, partner, and employee engagement by elevating your business communications policies to include internal and external notifications on any number of matters: live and current events, last-minute changes or news, and service delays.
Feel the need, the need for speed
Mass communications means imparting timely information that enables your audience to act swiftly in the face of an event.
Whether on the heels of an emergency or an operational event, a mass notification needs real-time delivery and interaction to prevent major loss and to improve profitability and business continuity. In the absence of speed and reliability, mass communication just doesn’t work. You might as well be sending handwritten notes via international air.
All channels are not created equally
Mass communication channels are like old-school television stations – some broadcast clearly with high viewership, while others deliver snowy signals to small audiences
What’s in an email? Other than spam and an offer of riches for working from home, your email likely has a range of content that you’ll get to when you have a chance. Prefer catching up on social media? That works for low-priority browsing if you’re lucky enough to have some free time. And while there’s a preference to connecting via a mobile device – heck, 91 percent of adults keep their mobile device at arm’s length (source: Morgan Stanley) – we sometimes find ourselves outside of cell coverage holding onto a device only good for games.
Enhance messages with attachments and customization.
Grab attention through an uncluttered channel.
Tap the power of mobile with location-specific messages.
Deliver a personal touch with a familiar voice.
Find your audience where they spend time.
Leverage your internal communication systems.
Effective mass communication requires a multi-channel approach along with an understanding of your audience, their location, and any preferences and/or challenges that make one channel preferable to another.