When it comes to communication, technology and marketing inherently sit on opposite ends of the room. Oftentimes, because of this inherent disconnect, we miss opportunities for inter-organizational collaboration or worse--solving problems that may be core to our business.
Ahhh, but if only there were a way to speak each other's native business tongues...
If you're a communications exec, marketer, or PR pro, fret not. Below are six tips for strategically communicating with tech-driven teams.
Let's knock down some silos. Here is your guide to speaking geek:
1. Rework abstract ideas into bullet-pointed lists.
Sometimes communicators have the tendency to, ah-hem, over-communicate. Instead of bombarding tech folks with figurative ideas and anecdotes, pinpoint and share three to five key questions at a time. Think about how many statistics you can swallow in one sitting, then use the same kind of consideration for those who may not think in the same way that you do. A little empathy when it comes to learning styles goes a long way.
2. Back it all up with data.
When you have data to support your talking points (whether it's user research, competitor statistics, or interesting social media metrics), use it! Distribute it on a printed handout or turn it into an engaging visual so that your left-brained counterparts have something solid to latch onto. They'll respect your preparedness and connect more readily with numbers than intangibles.
3. Foster an open-door policy.
This may seem intuitive, but it's amazing how quickly companies settle into silos and revert to communicating only within delineated departments. Even if this "natural separation" occurs, establish your own personal open-door policy. Make friends with an engineer, learn about what they do, and be big enough to invite constructive criticism. Before you know it, you'll be exchanging ideas, innovating, and leading others by example.
4. Invest in your own "data literacy" education.
It's a Catch-22: You have to understand how to work with data to be able to work successfully with those who own data. Commit to reading an article a week about a technology topic you enjoy, enroll in a Google Analytics Academy course, or take a basic coding class at Kahn Academy. You'll never regret investing in your own professional development, especially when it comes to learning about technology.
5. Commit to a weekly standing date with your technology team.
Bring pizza. Bring chips--whatever it is that floats your snack boat. The idea is to get marketing/PR and engineering/IT teams in the same room so that you can exchange insights, analyze data (together), and volunteer interesting information that may lead to innovation. Have everyone share one idea or interesting data point. At my company, we have a monthly "Knowledge Transfer" meeting (always accompanied by food!) that facilitates this cross-sharing. Fresh ideas reveal themselves once people are given a safe space to open up.
Off to the communication races...
Once you implement some of these strategies, you'll begin unearthing pivotal information to which marketers and PR professionals do not typically have access. The results will be clear:
- More data-backed decision making
- Fewer missed opportunities
- Greater productivity
Now, go on and get your geek on.