GlobalTech Strategic Communications Plan

GlobalTech[1] Strategic Communications Plan

Stacy Cacciatore

Queens University

March 7, 2014

Executive Summary

This strategic communication plan outlines the approach for generating awareness and understanding among GlobalTech employees on the cultural shift that is occurring within the organization. The goal of this communications plan is to provide clear and consistent communications that resonate with the right audience, through the right channel and the right time. The communication strategies recommended in this plan will not only engage employees, but it will enhance collaboration and positive interactions. This plan includes the following components:

Purpose

The purpose of this strategic communications plan is to generate awareness and ensure employees understand the context of change for the new framework that GlobalTech is implementing. This change will require a cultural shift in the organization therefore a variety of communication tactics will be used to connect employees, both laterally and with senior leadership. I will apply Goffman’s (1959) impression management theory, framing, footing and face to enable the organization to strengthen relationships and drive the culture shift.

 

Challenge and Opportunity

 

I will evaluate both the challenges and opportunities that GlobalTech faces. Currently the GlobalTech organization does not have a process for prioritizing or sequencing the work, which results in employee dissatisfaction. Employees feel as if they have too many competing priorities, that they’re overworked and don’t have an understanding of the overarching vision of the organization. This has created a negative image of the organization among employees. Additionally, many employees work virtually and don’t have an opportunity to connect face-to-face with each other, or the Executive Leadership Team.

Analysis

Thorough the analysis of the business objectives, I’ve found the key concepts of Erving Goffman’s (1959) impression management theory particularly relevant. Goffman (1959) provides a theoretical framework that includes impression management, framing, footing and face (Johansson, 2009)[2]

Market Segmentation

The employees in the GlobalTech organization are the key audience for this communications plan. Within this audience there is segmentation and customization of messaging and socialization.

Suggested Strategies

The suggested strategies in this plan will address the core business objectives and the challenges GlobalTech faces, using guidance Goffman’s (1959) theory of impression management. I developed the following communication objectives to address the core issues.

Conclusion

The conclusion for the plan provides a recommendation for next steps, sustainment and evaluating success.

Works Cited

This works cited provides all references used in the creation of this plan.

 

 

Purpose

The purpose of this strategic communications plan is to generate awareness and ensure employees understand the context of change for the new framework that GlobalTech is implementing. This change will require a cultural shift in the organization therefore a variety of communication tactics will be used to connect employees, both laterally and with senior leadership. I apply Goffman’s (1959) impression management theory, framing, footing and face to enable the organization to strengthen relationships and shift from a negative to positive face. This plan will outline engagement of the executive leadership, management and employees, which will not only help employees understand how they personally fit into the overarching vision, but will reinforce the leadership commitment.

 

 

 

 

Challenge and Opportunity

The GlobalTech organization is a technology organization made up of employees who work virtually in a highly matrixed environment across the globe. The organization is made up of technology professionals who have been in the organization for many years. Currently the GlobalTech organization does not have a process for prioritizing or sequencing the work, which results in employee dissatisfaction. Employees feel as if they have too many competing priorities, don’t understand how they fit into the company’s vision and that the Executive Leadership Team dictates action. This has created a negative image of the organization, both among employees and with clients. In evaluating the challenges, opportunities have also been identified:

 

Challenge Opportunity
Historically, GlobalTech has managed using negative face, exerting power and authority to drive action. GlobalTech needs to embrace a positive face to motivate employees to perform.
Employees don’t have an opportunity to meet face-to-face because they work virtually. Provide an opportunity for employees to connect.
Many of the employees are resistant to change and feel as if “this is how we’ve always done it”.  Encourage employees to share their experience, lessons learned and best practices to develop a solution they feel a part of building, rather than pushing a pre-determined solution upon them.
Employees don’t understand the overarching vision or how they fit into the strategy. Conduct a series of townhalls for the senior leadership team to travel to each core location to engage face-to-face with employees and help them understand the overall strategy, as well as how they fit into the bigger picture.
Employees don’t feel as if the Executive Leadership Team is approachable. Establish “open-door sessions” between employees and the Senior Leadership Team to encourage open dialogue.
On the most recent employee satisfaction survey employees rated “The way work is organized” unfavorably.  Develop key messages for the communications that reinforce how this new process is being implemented to address the employee feedback.
Employees don’t understand the reason for the change. Using Goffman’s (Johansson, 2009)[3] “frame” help employees understand the background and context for the change.

 

 

 


 

Analysis

GlobalTech is driving out a new framework to sequence, organize and prioritize work to address employee concerns. While this new framework will provide many benefits, there is a challenge in changing the culture to drive forward this paradigm shift in the organization. The framework will require a new way of working for employees, as they will have to register their work efforts rather than quickly implementing a solution. As part of this culture shift, not only is the manner is which work is organized changing, but the approach will change from dictating change to motivating change through positive engagement. Employees have expressed a desire to understand how they fit into the overall vision for the organization, but they don’t feel as if the Executive Leadership Team is approachable.

 

A key component of building a strategic communications plan is to understand both the business objectives, which I’ve outlined.

 

Business Objectives

  • Ensure all initiatives coming out of GlobalTech organization are properly sequenced, funded and prioritized
  • Create a comprehensive list of active and future work efforts, inclusive of initiative, business-as-usual and mandated activities
  • Connect employees across the organization to enhance collaboration
  • Ensure all employees register work efforts with a completed business case prior to beginning any initiative that ay affect any line of business
  • Enable employees to better manage and prioritize their workload
  • Alter the manner in which work is managed, shifting from mandates to encouragement

 

 

Thorough the analysis of the business objectives, I’ve found the key concepts of Erving Goffman’s (1959) impression management theory particularly relevant. Goffman (1959) provides a theoretical framework that includes impression management, framing, footing and face (Johansson, 2009).[4] Goffman (1959) focuses on interpersonal relationships, and particularly how identity and personal relationships are constructed through face-to-face interaction. There are a few key components of Goffman’s that are particularly relevant, such as framing. Goffman (1959) explains framing as the relation of meaning. A frame is how other can understand the background information that’s pertinent to the conversation to help them understand the context for what is going on (Johansson, 2009)[5]. Frames can also help set the expectation of events and they form perception.

Another one of Goffman’s (1959) key principles is face. The face is the “public self-image” that a company desires. This plan will explore how Goffman’s framing and face play into the recommendation of the communication strategy. The issue of “face” is critical in conducting the analysis for GlobalTech. Historically, the organization consistently used negative face to get their way. They asserted their power, dominance and aggressive tactics to get others to comply. However, given the culture shift that is taking place in the organization, there is a need build positive face to build relationships and motivate others.

 

The leadership team will promote how employees should build key relationships, leverage partnerships and enable others to succeed, rather than issuing mandates that work must get done. The Executive Leadership Team needs to lead by example and embody the new culture, share their vision and help employees understand how they fit into this picture.

 

 


 

 

Market Segmentation

The employees in the GlobalTech organization are the key audience for this communications plan. Within this audience there is segmentation and customization of messaging and socialization.

 

Audience Description Values Decisions Media
Executive Leadership Team The Executive Leadership Team is made up of the Chief Executive Officer and his direct leadership team. Drive forward vision with engaged workforce. Collaboration among peers – Key decision makers Executive briefing via Leadership Meetings
Managers The managers in the organization are defined as any employee with one or more direct reports. Lead effectively and drive change without losing productivity or key talent With guidance from managers – medium ability to make independent decisions about how work is managed. Provide Manager Toolkit via Email
Employees The employees in the organization consist of both management and individual contributors. Career advancement and increased pay achieved through taking advantage of opportunities to network and to execute against priorities while exceeding performance expectations. With guidance from managers – limited ability to make independent decisions about how work is managed. Face-to-Face Meetings (Townhalls, One-on-One Meetings) 

Email

Intranet

Suggested Strategies

The suggested strategies in this plan address the core business objectives and the challenges GlobalTech faces, using guidance Goffman’s (1959) theory of impression management. I developed the following communication objectives to address the core issues:

 

Communication Objectives

  • Ensure employees are aware, engaged and supportive of the new process for registering their work effort
  • Provide clear, consistent and integrated messaging that is relevant and easy to understand
  • Drive awareness among employees that their voice is being addressed
  • Integrate messaging with employee satisfaction efforts, tying messaging back to the results in which employees rated “the way work is organized” as unfavorable
  • Create the opportunity for employees to engage and ask questions of leadership

 

 

Townhall Meetings

 

Business Insider listed communications as one of the top key drivers for transforming the business culture (Shedd, 2011)[6]. As part of this, Shedd emphasized that communicating in a variety of forums, including large settings, small groups, and one-on-one sessions (2011). Using a variety of channels communication forums is key to engage a diverse audience. The employees in GlobalTech are spread across the globe and many work virtually. Therefore, I recommend that the Executive Leadership Team member will travel to the core locations across the organization to conduct Townhall meetings. This will also address what Goffman (1959) emphasizes, which is building interpersonal relationships through face-to-face interaction. The Townhall meetings will allow an opportunity for employees to have face time with the Executive Leadership Team and each other to build a sense of community and make connections.

 

Listening Sessions

Forbes asked the CEOS of the top corporations on the 2013 FORBES America’s Best Small Companies list what they do to motivate their employees. The resounding theme was communication. When asked how he motivated his employees Don Bailey, CEO of Questor Pharmaceuticals, responded “Listen to them” (Casserly, 2013)[7]. Therefore, one of the suggested strategies in this plan is to create “Listening Sessions” with the Executive Leadership Team. Employees currently feel as if the Executive Leadership Team is not accessible and they have a strong desire to understand not only the vision of the organization, but also how they personally fit into the plan. Therefore, each Executive Leadership Team member will rotate holding an open “Listening Session”. Each Friday from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EST. a Executive Leadership Team member will open a conference line and encourage employees to dial-in and ask questions. This will ensure that the leadership team is fostering open, honest and candid dialogue. Additionally, previously this organization led and drove change by using hierarchical power rather than engagement of employees. Goffman describes this as negative face. Goffman (1959) describes negative face as using threats and warnings to get the addressee to do something (Johansson, 2009)[8].. For the organization to make this cultural shift, they will need to use positive face, which is encouraging others to want to perform an action. In this case, GlobalTech can use positive face to motivate others to want to follow and adapt.

 

Create Key Messages

One of the most important components of this communication plan is to drive clear and consistent messaging to employees about the change. The development of key messages will help provide the elevator message for GlobalTech employees to tell the story. Goffman (1959) points out that framing is an important concept in impression management. Framing helps set the context, background and setting, which is important (Johansson, 2009)[9].. Employees will want to understand why the organization is moving to a new framework and the right framing will help them understand the context for the change. The development of key messages and talking points will help the manager’s at GlobalTech communicate the change and frame the conversation correctly. Additionally, the key messages tie into what Goffman (1959) calls the Backstage (Johansson, 2009)[10]... Since employees won’t see these, they are transparent backstage content that will drive the conversations.

 

Key Messages and Talking Points

  • This new framework is a direct result of employee feedback, asking for improved processes
  • The implementation of this framework will allow the organization to have more insight into projects coming down the pipeline, thereby reducing “firedrills” and last minute urgent requests
  • This will enable teams to more effectively manage time and improve relationships with key partners
  • This effort also creates a framework for employees to contextualize initiatives
  • The new framework strengthens global engagement and balances strong risk management with the client experience
  • A cornerstone for employee success is building relationships with peer and the Executive Leadership Team which will require face-to-face interaction
  • Employees should make an effort to have face-to-face interactions with their teams by attending meetings in person rather than virtually

 

Manager Toolkit

In an effort to ensure that the leaders across the organization are clearly articulating the same key messages, I recommend creating a manager toolkit. Business Insider found that clearly defining the culture and leading by example are important factors in driving forward culture change (Shedd, 2011)[11]. This toolkit will accomplish that goal by including:

 

  • Overview of the manager’s role and expectations
    • The manager’s role is to conduct team meetings to reinforce the messaging on the new framework. This document will outline the expectation and timing for when those meetings should take place.
  • Key Messages and talking points for the manger’s to use in their team meetings
    • See above
  • Roadmap
    • The roadmap will articulate the overall vision and goals so employees have the context behind the change.
  • PowerPoint outlining how the new framework will work
    • The PowerPoint slides will outline the new framework and changes required of employees. Process flows will diagram the new way to engage and how teams will work together. There will also be a slide with roles and responsibilities, links to key documentation and a roadmap for the change.

 

 

Suggested Strategy  Alignment to Goffman Theory Benefits Timeframe Resources Budget Metrics
Talking Points Framing – Will provide context for change 

Backstage – The talking points are the backstage/behind the scenes content. Employees won’t see these, therefore they aren’t a frontstage product

Drives clear and consistent messaging  Week of March 10 Communications – Develop content  Resource time Implement post-event survey to gather feedback and include a specific question around the content.
Townhall Meetings  Framing – Will provide context for change 

Face – Enables opportunity to reinforce positive face

 

Footing – The Executive Leadership Team member will be delivering the message (animator) and the driving force behind the change (principal), while communications will write the talking points (author).

 

Frontstage – The Executive delivering the message will be on the frontstage of engaging with the audience.

Allows time for face-to-face interaction 

Drives clear and consistent messaging

 

Enables employees to hear about the overarching vision

 

Provides context for change

Late March Executive Leadership Team – Conduct Sessions 

Communications – Develop content

 

Administrative Assistant – Logistics

 

Technology – Support A/V day of event

 

$10,000 to allow for travel, food at the event and materials Implement post-event survey to gather feedback.
Listening Sessions  Face – Enables opportunity to reinforce positive face 

Frontstage/Backstage – Since employees will be engaging informally with the Executive Leadership Team, they will feel that they have more of a “backstage” experience.

Allows employees the opportunity to ask questions of the Executive Leadership Team April -June Executive Leadership Team – Conduct Sessions 

Communications – Develop content and communicate open sessions

 

Administrative Assistant – Executive Calendar Management

 

Resource time Ask employees for real-time feedback
Manager Toolkit  Framing – Will provide context for change 

Face – Enables opportunity to reinforce positive face

 

Footing – The direct management team will be delivering the message (animator), The Executive Leadership Team is the driving force behind the change (principal), while communications will write the talking points (author).

 

Frontstage – The manager delivering the message will be on the frontstage of engaging with the audience.

Allows time for face-to-face interaction with direct management 

Drives clear and consistent messaging

 

Enables employees to hear about the overarching vision

 

Provides context for change

April – June Communications – Develop content and communicate open sessions 

Managers – Deliver message

 

Employees – Receive message

Resource time Conduct 360 performance reviews to gather feedback from employees on how the manager articulated the vision and engaged them in the change

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, the strategic communications plan is designed to provide clear and consistent communications that will drive the cultural shift for GlobalTech. As they implement a new framework for managing their work, they will require engagement at all levels in the organization, including the Executive Leadership Team, managers and employees. I applied Goffman’s (1959) impression management theory, specifically around the concepts of framing, footing and face to enable, the organization to strengthen relationships and shift employee perception. This plan outlined the engagement of the executive leadership, management and employees that helped employees understand how they personally fit into the overarching vision and reinforced the leadership commitment.

 

To take the level of engagement further, GlobalTech should explore their sustainment plan. This communications plan is focused on the first level of communications to drive forward the culture change, but additional tactics should be considered to continue to foster the environment. Potentially there can be a tool in which employees can submit ideas for future improvements so they feel as part of building the new culture. Another possibility is introducing an internal social media tool, in which employees can share best practices, collaborate and engage with each other. Since I focused on Goffman’s face-to-face interaction component, sustainment of this plan can include Townhall meetings on a recurring monthly basis. Also, the organization can evaluate making the space that employees work in pleasurable, such as adding a ping-pong table or creating open common spaces. This will further facilitate interactions among employees and create a culture of collaboration.

 

The next steps for this plan are to obtain buy-in and approval from the Executive Leadership Team on the approach. It will then be important to immediately begin planning the logistics for the Townhall, One-on-One Sessions and Manager Huddles. As this plan is rolled out it will be important to continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the communication tactics and adjust as needed. The final metrics for evaluating the success of the plan will be important to analyze to understand lessons learned and best practices to implement for the next change.

 

 

Works Cited

Casserly, M. (2013, October 15). Master Class: America’s Top CEOSs On The Secrets Of Motivating Employees. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/10/15/master-class-americas-top-ceos-on-the-secrets-of-motivating-employees/

 

Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

 

Shedd, D. (2011, April 19). 9 Keys To Driving Cultural Change. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/9-keys-to-driving-cultural-change-2011-4.

[1] The name of the organization has been changed to protect the identity of the company.

[2] Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

 

[3] Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

[4] Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

[5] Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

[6] Shedd, D. (2011, April 19). 9 Keys To Driving Cultural Change. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/9-keys-to-driving-cultural-change-2011-4.

[7] Casserly, M. (2013, October 15). Master Class: America’s Top CEOSs On The Secrets Of Motivating Employees. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/10/15/master-class-americas-top-ceos-on-the-secrets-of-motivating-employees/

 

[8] Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

 

[9] Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

[10] Johansson, C. (2009). Researching Relations with Erving Goffman as Pathfinder. In Ø. Ihlen, B. van Ruler, & M. Fredriksson (Eds.), Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts (pp. 118-139). New York: Routledge.

[11] Shedd, D. (2011, April 19). 9 Keys To Driving Cultural Change. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/9-keys-to-driving-cultural-change-2011-4.

Cacciatore Book Review of Blur by Kovach and Rosenstiel

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel (2010) waste no time placing the reader in the thick of action as they open with the hypothetical scene of a nuclear disaster. Using this dramatic scenario as an example of the communications cascade both prior to and after the communication revolution. At the onset Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) identify “we have been here before.” “Here” being the place of a monumental shift in communications. This was a great way to set the stage that we are not experiencing something unprecedented. The main takeaway from this book for strategic communication professionals is that even though we are currently undergoing a tremendous shift in communications this isn’t the first time we’ve experienced changed, nor will it be the last. This shift in communications doesn’t diminish from traditional news channels, but rather it expands on the importance of news and professionals in the industry. However, this shift will require a move away from the news reporter as an aggregator and segue into “next journalism,” which can best be summarized when Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) state, “journalism is no longer a lecture. It is more of a dialogue – and potentially richer than ever before.

We are taken through a journey of communications, which is reminiscent of Spaceship Earth at Epcot in Walt Disney World. The reader is taken on a journey through time, exploring the evolution of communication from cave drawings to oral communications to the printing press to television to the create of the Internet….demonstrating that communications have evolved over time. Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) frame their argument that the strategic communications professional should shift to “next journalism” by evaluating what worked in the past in comparison to how consumers engage in media today.

What I found most interesting is the increase from 46 percent of Americans using the Internet in 2000 to 74 percent in 2008 (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 22). This book was published in 2010, and the latest year for statistics was 2008. According to a study by Pew Internet (2013), as of May 2013, 85 percent of Americans used the Internet. Out of the 15 percent of American adults who don’t use the Internet, 34 percent state that they don’t believe the Internet is relevant to them (Zickuhr, 2013). According to the Huffington Post, the majority of non-Internet users are 65 and older (The Huffington Post, 2013).

Contrary to what I’ve heard in the past, Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) state that news outlets have actually grown and audiences are broader now than ever. In 2007, the top fifty sites actually grew by 27 percent. Kovach and Rosentiel found that as of 2010, 80 percent of the top two hundred news Web sites in America were “legacy” news sources (2010, 174). So what’s the problem? The challenge that isn’t that people are moving away from traditional media venues, the crisis has to do with where the revenue is coming from. Kovach and Rosentiel say that technology has decoupled advertising from news, resulting in advertisers using their own website or product placement.

I would have liked to see Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) explore the rise of advertising on blogs across the Internet. Services, such as Google AdWords, Amazon Affiliates and Affiliate Marketing, amateur bloggers across the Internet are offering advertisers space on their sites for nominal fees. This allows advertisers to obtain coverage across the Internet for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. Consumers are also more likely to trust recommendations made by bloggers whom they frequent than a mass commercial. Bloggers also usually are in a niche market, which allows advertisers to direct their marketing at those who are most likely to use their product. Kovach and Rosentiel don’t fully explain the ramifications of the advertising decouplement and what it means for consumers. I would have liked to see this issue explored further.

Strategic communication professionals need to understand how the decouplement of advertising affects them. In my opinion, more meaningful than the decouplement of advertising is the problem we have which is that amateur bloggers, who are not professional journalists, are accepting free products in exchange for writing. We are seeing a decrease in the quality of journalism because why would a company pay for a professional, quality, researched article when they can simple give a free product in exchange for content? As Carol Tice (2013), an award winning writer, put it, this creates junk-content sites because the advertisers don’t care about the content. The content’s purpose isn’t to educate or entertain; it’s to boost their SEO and ad revenue.  I believe that this is the biggest challenge in “next journalism” and what communication professionals need to be concerned with.

Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) make several assertions describing how the information age has changed, one of which how people get information. There has been a movement from the push to pull environment. Kovach and Rosentiel state that consumers now navigate to the news by using a Web search to find stories of interest. In fact, a study found that 72 percent of adults seek news so they can talk about it with their friends and family (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 150) and only 19 percent follow news for their work. This shift explains why social media channels are so popular. Sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google + allow users to share news stories and provide their comments. Almost all news sites allow for readers to comment and share the information. Kovach and Rosentiel also state that journalism must shift from being a lecture to a public dialogue (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 175). This is important to note because it demonstrates what people want to hear about. Since consumers purchase products, advertisers are going to invest in the channels that have the most viewers; therefore the viewers dictate the type of news that is reported. I’ve never thought about it in this way before, but it’s fascinating.

There are four distinct models: Journalism of Verification, Journalism of Assertion, Journalism of Affirmation and Interest-group Journalism (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 34)[1]. This junk-content I spoke about earlier falls into the category of “interest-group journalism” but the average consumer doesn’t know the difference between interest group journalism and other types. Given the age of information overload, the consumer can’t tell what is relevant from what’s not. Kovach and Rosentiel state that in earlier eras the editors did this for consumers. They selected the top stories that they believed consumers needed to hear about. Earlier eras also had newscasters who consumers trusted, like Walter Cronkite (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 149). The consumer also doesn’t always understand the context. Kovach and Rosentiel say that there is a need for a “smart aggregator”, which goes beyond an algorithm (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 180).

Kovach and Rosentiel explore the issue of true journalism and verification of information. The process of journalism involves asking, several questions regarding the content, information, sources and evidence (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 32). While these questions get to the truth. Kovach and Rosentiel state, “Truth is a statement of what is most probable in proportion to the evidence available at the time”, (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 32). Gone are the days that a journalist could gather all of the facts and have an article ready for the newspaper the next day. The pressure from consumers to have information immediately creates competition among the media outlets to report a story first, which results in stories being reported that don’t have all of the facts. This reminds me of the recent situation with the Boston Marathon bombings. According to USA Today (Rieder, 2013), CNN, the Associated Press, Fox and the Boston Herald, among many others, incorrectly reported that an arrest had been made in the Boston Marathon bombing. All of the media outlets reported using anonymous sources. CNN used three separate sources to confirm their story, even though it turned out to be inaccurate. This demonstrates that the type of source, in addition to the number, is important. The importance of a journalists’ source is more important now than ever.

Kovach and Rosentiel state, we are moving from the “trust me” era of news to “show me”. Even the “me” has changed from “me” being the journalist to the consumer, demonstrating that the gatekeeper role of the journalist no longer exists as consumers retrieve their own news. This is a critical component of Kovach and Rosentiel’s argument.

There has also been a monumental shift in the role consumers’ play in obtaining news. Previously the editor would determine what news should be on the front page, acting as a “gatekeeper” (Kovach and Rosentiel, 2010, 151). Now the consumer pulls news from several different sources, meaning that they determine what they should read. Kovach and Rosentiel state that only seven percent of Americans rely on one medium to obtain their news (2010, 175). News has evolved to a push channel, in which news was aggregated for the consumer to a 24/7 round-the-clock availability in which the consumer has a dizzying array of choices.

Kovach and Rosentiel recommend that consumers “lean forward” in their experience for finding news that is relevant to them, suggesting that consumers look for things they are interested in (2010, 174). I found this advice interesting, especially given Sheryl Sandberg’s (2013) book Lean In. Just as Sandberg recommends that women “lean in” to their careers and face challenges head on, Kovach and Rosentiel recommend that consumers “lean in” to their role in understanding the wealth of information available. The common thread between both of these “lean in” experiences is that we should be actively engaged in the world around us. Whether “leaning in” applies to understanding the world around us, navigating our careers or breaking down information that is relevant, we should take an active role in our lives.

Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) conclude the book by speaking about what the new journalism needs to be, which they call “next journalism”. The journalism of the future involves eight dimensions, including: authenticator, sense maker, investigator, witness bearer, empower, smart aggregator, forum organizer and role model. There are several things that the new newsroom must do, including  provide a higher level of proof, develop more expertise and include more storytelling. All of these new developments will make the role of editor even more important. Kovach and Rosentiel (2010) conclude with a positive prediction that the shift in communications doesn’t diminish from traditional news channels, but rather it expands on the importance of news and professionals in the industry.

Overall, this book is a good resource for communication scholars because it provides a framework for developing compelling content in the age of new media. However, I do feel that the authors glossed over several important points that I think are important for the communication professional to know. As I mentioned earlier, I think that the strategic communications professional should understand how ad revenue plays a role into the journalism industry. While understanding the “next journalism” is important in understanding how consumers want to obtain information, everything is driven by money. If the strategic communications professional doesn’t understand how they play a role in making the news source (whether print or online) and advertiser money, then they won’t be able to successfully create dynamic content that resonates with their audience.

I also felt that Blur had two audiences that were blurred (pun intended). On one hand the authors spoke directly to the consumers and told them the role they played in reading and understanding content. However, another section of the book would speak to the journalist directly. I think that this book could have been more effective if the authors focused on one audience, that being the journalist. The journalist is also a consumer, but the journalist should primarily understand how their customer (the reader) responds to information and not how they should digest information.

What becomes clear in Blur is that journalists must adjust to the changes in how news is consumed. What will not change is that people want to be informed and democracy is dependent upon informed citizens. This is great news for all strategic communication professionals who embark upon a career in journalism.

Have you read the book Blur? What did you think? What do you think is the most important thing that strategic communication professionals need to know?

Visit Amazon to purchase Blur.

Works Cited

Kovach, B. and Rosenstiel, T. (2010). Blur. How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. Bloomsbury USA. New York: NY.

Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

The Huffington Post (2013, September 25). 15 Percent of Americans Still Don’t Use the Internet: Study. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/25/dont-use-the-internet-americans_n_3988954.html

Tice, C. (2013) Why Would Anyone Pay $100 for a Blog Post? Make a Living Writing. Retrieved from: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/pay-100-blog-post/

Rieder, R. (2013, April 19). On Boston Bombing, media are wrong – again. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/rieder/2013/04/18/media-boston-fiasco/2093493/

Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.