10 Years: The More Things Change, The More They’ve Stayed the Same

For the past several months, I’ve been reviewing business goals and retooling my business. I’ve closed the separate sites for Food PR & Communications, returning to the umbrella organization, The Barber Group. I continue to love working with food groups but wanted to be able to offer more services yet under a single tent. Check out my new site where you’ll see my focus on strategy and messaging, food and beverage public communications, and supporting career growth.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of my first blog post so I thought I’d offer ten observations about communications during the past ten years and where we are today.

  1. People have become even less trusting

  2. Many people are getting angrier than ever before

  3. Along with the anger comes a mean streak that seems to be aided by the ability to hide behind the “cloak” of social media

  4. Collaboration is a unique gift

  5. Hearing another viewpoint is challenging for most, on a good day

  6. The world needs another Walter Cronkite -- the most trusted man in America

  7. Professional journalists are valued professionals

  8. Finding the good in a situation puts one in a unique position as it seems easier to find the negative

  9. Strategic counsel is even more important for communications counselors to understand and provide

  10. Quick solutions might provide quick results but aren’t necessarily long-term solutions.

Trust Remains Critical – Maybe More So

Companies need to work hard this year, and every year, to gain consumer trust. Without it, they will fail. With it they stand a chance. Jeff Bullas wrote a post recently about five trust indicators every online business needs today. It’s a really interesting piece every business needs to take to heart.

Journalists Are Valued Professionals

When I was young, we read the local newspaper, listened to the radio news or watched one of three television network news programs. At our house, public radio was an early fixture too. What I’m trying to say is we got our news from professionals. We got it from individuals committed to telling us the facts about a situation they had researched. And we believed them. We listened, discussed and then agreed on a position based on what we had learned. Over the years more people are becoming self-proclaimed journalists yet they don’t have the training to be professional journalists. Instead, they often have a slanted perspective, a limited factual viewpoint and don’t subscribe to a code of ethics.

Research and Understanding are Critical

I believe you have to understand where you’re going and why before you can get there. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you possibly know when you get there? As a communicator, I also need to understand the audience since we’re all so different. Communicating to a Baby Boomer is decidedly different than talking with someone in Generation Alpha. In fact, using the wrong tools can be disastrous these days…and likely plays out rather publicly.

Continuing Education is Paramount

As technology and our habits change it’s even more important to maintain awareness and knowledge of the various opportunities. While I don’t pretend to understand every tool in the toolbox, I am aware of their existence…and where I can gain more experience or find a friend who’s an expert. Gone are the days where a four-year degree turned into a 40-year career. But it’s exciting too because each day presents a new challenge.

Get the Facts

As the world continues to move at this extra ordinarily fast pace, knowing the facts is more important than ever. Having resources available to verify facts is critical. Making sure you are stating facts is paramount. Taking the time to verify sources and factual content is something we just must do. Some resources:

Trust your gut – if it just doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. Don’t share it.

Be Kind

I’ll conclude today with the simplest advice but also the most important: Be Kind. My elders always said if I didn’t have anything nice to say to please just say nothing at all. It is my fervent wish that more and more of us will be kind to each other and try our best to not say mean things.

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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