It's Summer Time -- Should the Communication Be Easy?
It's summertime, and the livin' is easy.... Summer officially arrived over the weekend and we're now firmly into vacation season. Next week, with July 4th landing on Thursday, will be a particularly heavy vacation week. Those of us working will feel the decided slowdown of activity. Less people in the office, commute times shorter and lots of out-of-office messages.
For communications professionals, this time of the year always raises the question of whether to put things on hold for a week to ten days, or to proceed with business as usual? Some advocate for a virtual blackout. By next Monday, even those not taking time off will be on the countdown to July 4th. Many will cut out early on Wednesday, and for those who do work on Friday, they will feel like the survivors on the Walking Dead. Just a handful of dedicated diehards keeping capitalism going until most of us return on Monday the 8th.
So the question becomes what, if any, communications activities should you undertake during July 4th week or any other traditionally busy vacation times? Taking the summertime theme a little further, I would say you shouldn't go for a communications blackout. How about a brownout instead? Pull back a bit, but not completely. Here's why:
- While the U.S. is the third most populated country in the world (346M), it's still only 5% of the world's total population. July 4th is our special day and while what it stands for (the founding of the modern democratic state) has worldwide implications, it is still only our holiday. And remember, although it's summer here, it's the start of winter for the southern hemisphere. There are a lot of people working.
- Search engines don't take vacations. Next week will undoubtedly be a slower week from an announcement standpoint. And while the media's ability to cover news may be a bit thin due to vacations, the press release traffic should be lighter. An announcement may just get better visibility than you think.
- No one really disconnects anymore. More than a decade ago, when the blackberry was dominant, my wife used to get upset about me checking messages while on vacation. She used to say, "I don't see anyone else doing this. Who are you talking to? What is so important that it can't wait till you get back?" Today, everyone is constantly checking in, afraid that they will miss something.
- Social media never rests. In fact some channels -- Facebook/Instagram and Twitter -- may even be busier. In between posting the latest family cookout picture or tweeting about a great meal at a cool restaurant, your social stream, and your customers, will still include business related content.
- "Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive." -- Andy Grove, Intel. I'm not suggesting people shouldn't take time off. I am a firm believer in taking vacations. They renew not only you, but mostly likely your relationships with the most important people in your life. Nevertheless, in this global, 365 day, 24/7 world, you can never completely disengage. Staying connected and communicating consistently are the table stakes for competing today.
- It's a good time to try out new things. My colleague, Gessenia Votta (@GNoelle) just blogged about the recent updates to Facebook and Instagram, including the use of photos as comments, creating 15 second videos and open graph tags for linking content. Take advantage of these slower times to hone your skills and apply the latest social media enhancements.
So if you foresee a slow down next week or plan to take some time off, what is your plan to keep your communications channels open?