I was invited to facililitate a half day session at the Stakeholder Communication and Community Engagement Forum 2012 earlier this year.
There was an impressive line-up of companies attenting the conference on the 24-26th July including :
Chorus, Massey University ,JFC Limited, Ministry for Primary Industries, Auckland Waterfront Development Agency Limited, IAG New Zealand Limited, New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals, BPNZ, The Warehouse Ltd, New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Army, New Zealand Defence Force, Auckland Waterfront Development Agency Limited, Christchurch City Council International Association for Public Participation, Auckland Waterfront Development Agency Limited ,Kate Irvine Consulting Limited, NorthTec ,JFC Limited , Fulton Hogan, Sovereign, Westpac, Origin Energy, New Zealand Vodafone, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand ,New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals, Hawkins, Counties Manukau, District Health Board NZ ,Transport Agency, AUT University, New Zealand Steel.
My topic on the third day at the half day workshop was: Communication Strategies and New Media
What are some essential skills that are necessary for effective stakeholder communication and engagement professionals?
The challenge of communicating clearly is ever present for companies both internally and externally. As individuals are becoming increasingly overwhelmed with information, flexibility and collaboration in communication is required. Social media is already an engagement rather than a broadcasting tool, and an important part of the arsenal for communication, however good old fashioned one to one communication and the power of “traditional media cannot be ignored.
This session covered:
- Selecting and synchronizing appropriate communication tools
- How to effectively utilize and monitor social media
- Why “Traditional media” and one to one communication are still vital
- Effective online communication
- Case studies illustrating the above
My Own Learnings
One of my main learnings in interacting with participants (many of whome were in companies that could potentially become targets online for “issues” and negative opinion and digital chatter) was that many companies, senior and middle management within them are very cautious and were looking for a “safe system” of putting their “toe in the water” without exposing themselves to unneccesary risk. This made sense to me. There are after all ways of reducing risk while engaging online. I did however also gather that they were open to using digital tools to build relationships with stakeholders and also gather a support netowrk of new ones around them. I sensed a genuine willingness to take teh next steps.
As an Aside
I enjoyed my session and it was rated “very good” with scores in either the”Excellent” or “Very Good” categories by the audience in attendance. Claudia Lo from Liquid Learning , who invited me , was professional , very well organised and also recommended me on Linkedin . Thanks Claudia. My only negative comment for the day was that Sky City as a venue was let down by their “Very Poor” internet connection – especially given the topic. Fortunately I had back-up plans but the conference centre let itself down in that respect.