One of the ways strategic communicators create value is mastering the tension between consistency and innovation.
When you’re consistent, your stakeholders know who you are and what to expect from you, day in and day out. We disappoint people when we don’t do what they’re expecting. So consistency is important to keeping people happy. But your future state depends on innovation to meet the expectations of people before they even know they have them.
Consistency is meeting expectations in the present. Innovation is meeting expectations in the future. Innovations tend to break consistent patterns.
What do consistency and innovation mean for a strategic communicator facing a crisis?
Well, what does your leadership team expect from you? They expect us to show up as a steady hand who can take on the most difficult challenges. Every time, we deliver a really thoughtful, smart, well-reasoned, multi-variant, multi-stakeholder perspective. That’s consistency.
But with so many dynamic changes around us moving so quickly, we also have to be innovative. We also have to find new ways of communicating to break through new challenges like social media tsunamis and an ever shortening news cycle. New ways of communicating can break consistency. This time, we show up to a crisis differently than before.
Innovating to Be Consistent
Some of our tactics are consistent from crisis to crisis, like apologizing and getting back to business. In an ever-changing landscape, we have to be innovative in the ways we tell our story and the channels we use.
When it comes to risk, we need to be innovative while consistently assessing and mitigating it. Can we bring an innovative approach to thinking about risk well in advance of even needing to be consistent? Can we think about an innovative way of bringing new spokespeople to the fore?
So, as strategic communicators, we sit in a circle of consistency and innovation and consistency and innovation. We really need to constantly hold that tension between both of those things. Be a consistent, confident counselor who takes on difficult issues and offers sage advice. And be the innovator new ways to communicate your story or mitigate the risks that impact your organization.