Integrate Your Communications
with Andrew Hagen
“Structure. Organization. I like things to have a proper place. Don’t look at my dining room table; it’s a work in progress.” Andrew A. Hagen, CEL integrated communications coordinator, shares that he likes things organized, labeled, and, if possible, color-coded.
“Everyone appreciates structure,” Andrew said, “but when it’s not there, or it’s not right, not everyone knows how or likes to develop that structure. My favorite part is working with clients to ensure their integrated communications structure works for their purposes.”
What exactly is integrated communications?
“At the definition level, integrated communications is making sure communications tie back to the organization’s mission, vision, and goals. But it also means brand consistency across channels. Does your website match your newsletter, which matches your press releases? Does your YouTube channel visually align with your social media? Is everything interconnected so when someone is interacting with your brand, they’re not wondering if they’re on your official page?”
How has the need for integrated communications changed?
“The level of acceptance for change has increased. Even 20 years ago, you sent your kid to the school down the street. Online school wasn’t a thing; finding a private school was word of mouth, not an internet search.
Today people have so much more choice in where they go and who they do business with. It’s easier to find, study, to research. So, an organization that never had to sell itself finds itself suddenly needing to have salespeople, both externally and internally. The saying is, who is on your marketing team? And the answer is—EVERYONE.”
What is the biggest obstacle to structure?
“Ingrained habits. I’m thinking about clients who ask for help but are so internalized to what they are and what they do—so accustomed to what they have done historically. And it’s hard to overcome that to TELL who they are in a way that makes sense to somebody from the outside. Sometimes it takes someone from outside to interact with your organization to help you see what you’re doing well and what you’re missing.”
Andrew shares that the Innovation Adoption Curve cites that 2.5% of people are classified as innovators, and 13.5% are early adopters. “In practice,” said Andrew, “these are the people inside an organization who say ‘let’s jump in and get going. Let’s innovate.’ But you also need people on the other end of the spectrum who say, ‘let’s slow down and think this through.’
“Where do I fit, innovation or slow down?” Andrew laughs. “There are some things that just need to change, and there’s no point in dragging our feet. We can’t keep talking the same way we always used to. People want to know what value you bring. Why should I patronize your business when someone else is closer? Why should I send my child to your school? What does your clinic have to offer me?”
Where is the need for organization and structure most apparent?
“Websites! Everyone has too many words. No consumer has time to read the encyclopedia of your business. Everyone wants the SparkNotes version. If I’m on your school website, I want to know about educational opportunities, culture, and equity, and I want it to be there in a way I can digest in five seconds or less. If I’m a busy parent, I don’t have time to read a paragraph of ‘we value X, Y, Z, and we show it through A, B, C.’”
Andrew shares that marketing and PR pros are not immune to the same problems. “Funny enough, we are resistant to taking our own advice. We are communicators, storytellers, writers, journalists—our inclination is to lead with words. We have to go against that nature to write more more more. You need to have those value propositions up front, easy to find, easy to skim.”
Andrew counsels that you can develop a functional structure for any size organization. “It doesn’t need to be complicated or challenging to maintain. That’s the point. A well-defined, integrated communications structure can ease a lot of stress.
If you’re interested in auditing your integrated communications plan (or color-coding your life), reach out to Andrew for a chat.
Published on: December 9, 2022