Conference Content: Striking a Balance Between the Science and the Art of Communications

This year marked my second opportunity to attend the IABC Heritage Region Conference. The first was as a speaker and a representative of Melcrum, now a CEB Company, back in 2014, and this year it was both as an independent consultant and a sincerely grateful scholarship recipient.

Thanks in part to my tenure as a best practices advisor, and in part to a healthy and overactive left brain, I am a communication professional of the most down-to-earth variety and an unabashed believer in the necessity of science and art in the communication field.

That’s why I was particularly pleased to hear so many fellow practitioners and consultants speak at this year’s Heritage Region Conference on the topics of strategic planning, measurement and purpose.

Are you familiar with the phrase, “Spray and pray?” I wish I had come up with it myself, but I admit to borrowing it from a former client to describe the “all messages, all channels, all audiences” approach to broadcast Internal Communication that too many organizations are still struggling to dismantle.

We know it doesn’t work. We know there’s too much noise in the system. But how do we overcome it and where do we start?

So it’s important to hear from peers and experts in our field more—and louder—about targeted audience analysis, personalized digital communications and impact-oriented measurement (as opposed to activity-oriented measurement).

And forget communicating for the sake of communicating! I loved hearing others agree that it doesn’t necessarily matter whether we update the intranet home page every day anymore. Are we adding value to a focused conversation around purpose, or are we getting in our own way?

There’s certainly a balance that we need to strike between the science and the art, so that we don’t diminish our creativity and storytelling abilities, but I welcome a more systematic approach to corporate communication—and especially Internal Communication—and greatly appreciated that so much of the content this year tasted of this flavour.

Jen Shatwell


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