Anyone for acronyms?
Yesterday – or as some would have it: B.I.T.D (that’s back in the day for the uninitiated) I joined the A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A. (I might have missed out an A or two) – which is, of course:
The Agency Against Acronyms And Appellations that Avoid Actually Affecting Anyone At All.
If you are a communications professional, or someone touched by communications generated by communications professionals (which, I suspect, is almost all of us) I don’t doubt that you are more than aware of the rise of baffling acronyms and convoluted descriptors that underpin the rarefied science of communications – a highly refined pursuit that, if left to mere mortals, will blind, boggle and befuddle.
Of course, there are UX and UI initiatives. There are Digi and Social manifestations. There are Interventions, Installations, Activations and Procrastinations (actually, that last one isn’t a thing. But perhaps it should be.)
There’s messaging that’s B2B, B2C and Experiential.
Ah. EXPERIENTIAL. As I’ve mentioned it, this is a good example of the kind of descriptor that prompted me to join the A.A.A.A.A.etc.
First, why bother creating a weird-word that – by adding a few extra letters to the end of an existing word singularly fails to adds anything to our language? I mean, what’s wrong with the word: Experience? And – furthermore – surely ALL communication should be Experiential - an Experience? If we don’t Experience a communication that has been aimed at us, then that communication isn’t working.
OK. You get my point.
Communication that engages us is always AN EXPERIENCE. I think the annoying word Experiential has been opined because one day, (B.I.T.D), someone decided that perfectly serviceable words like: LIVE, CONFERENCE, THEATRICAL, FACE-TO-FACE, were not ‘Cool’ or ‘obscure’ enough for the gurus of Corporate Communications to utter with sufficient self-importance. And this is just one example. Corporate Communication has increasingly been re-packaged in hermetically-sealed, disconnected channels that are: Integrated and Non-Integrated; Uni-or-Multi-Platform; Linear or Non-Linear or... Enough.
The thing is, in the rush to turn the act of communication into a set of poorly defined but seemingly scientifically-appointed processes, that can only be developed and delivered by white-coated specialists, who operate in isolated laboratories dedicated exclusively to UI or UX, or DIGI, or SOCIAL or… ETC, we are in great danger of forgetting one vitally important thing. When it works at its best, Communication is a CREATIVE act of connecting human beings. And human beings instinctively want to be part of an inclusive conversation. It matters less to us the platform through which we are drawn into that conversation – and much more, the simple idea that has drawn together in the first place.
Simply ‘owning’ a Social Media Channel - for example - and investing in a SOCIAL-Comms-Specialist… does not ensure that people will pay any attention or invest emotionally in the channel. Social-Comms-Gurus might know everything there is to know about the functional versatility of the platform, the typical dwell-time of potential users and the ways in which user behaviour can be measured and interrogated… but, FIRST, there has to be an idea that is creative, witty, clever and compelling, in order to ensure that the platform attracts a willing and committed audience at the outset.
It strikes me that, in an age of multiple-touch-points - be they digital, physical, visual, audio, individual and collective – we have focussed more and more on the potential power of Technology and less and less on the greater and more certain power of the Imagination.
To communicate effectively, we should not consider the tool first and then limit our communications initiatives to ‘fit’ the processes and platforms… but rather, empower clever, creative communicators to imagine engagement narratives, campaigns and possibilities that our tools and technologies have been designed to serve.
Great, effective and informed communications ideas have the capacity to bridge platforms, techniques and environment – and great ideas are not exclusively supplied by narrow-focused specialists. Great, innovative and affecting ideas come from those of us who spend our time imagining how to tell a story, or deliver a message in a way that will speak to the hearts and minds of an intended audience. No acronyms. No pigeon holing. No silly, pseudo-science. Just clever, creative and SIMPLE communication – powered by the imagination - which, according to Einstein, has the power to take us anywhere.
Science meanwhile, in his estimation, can only get us from A to B.
Which means that if we have something important we want to say, but aren’t sure how, where or when to say it, we should work with people who – at the outset - fire our imaginations and see beyond the limitations of specific and particular technologies, innovating ways to combine each channel’s potential, creating communications that are compelling and persuasive and inspire people to share the EXPERIENCE.
T.T.F.N. (For those who don’t get this acronym, ask someone born before the year 2000)