10 basics every communicator needs

I follow a large number of copy editors in my Twitter feed. So, I often see articles about journalism, as a majority (perceived, not actual) of copy editors work in a journalism field. I suppose the definition of journalism is changing, and so the field is also changing. In any event, I ran across this article, “10 basics today’s journalists need,” and found it to apply to most communicators today. Because most communicators publish their communications out on the Internet, it really can apply to more than just journalists.

This article starts with the following graphic image of the 10 basics:

I have mentioned, quite incessantly actually, that communicators must know their audience. Levin presented this list “in no particular order” but I would put “know your audience” right up top. As a matter of fact, I think I will present these 10 basics in the order of importance (all of them are important, don’t forget) that I feel is needed for communicators today. I will make my own comment after the basics.

  1. “Know your audience.” Always, always, always.
  2. “Stay adaptable.” Technology changes every day; you have to be able to keep up!
  3. “Clean your copy.” You can’t be so fast that your content is low-quality; poor quality content will put you out of work.
  4. “Produce content on multiple platforms.” We no longer communicate with just words – our audience wants info-graphics, videos, or info embedded in apps.
  5. “Learn basic coding.” Knowing a little bit of the down and dirty will help you work and play well with others on your team. In the age of mobile apps, your message needs to be part of the app, or needs to take advantage of how it all gets coded to be presented.
  6. “Keep it under 140.” Concise and precise is the mantra here. Blurbs become tweets, and tweets include URLs, so knowing how to summarize your content in fewer than 100 characters (including spaces!) is key these days.
  7. “Engage on social media.” I resisted this for the longest time, but now I love being out on LinkedIn and Twitter, and writing these blog posts to keep me adaptable (see #2) and to keep me involved with other experts in my fields of interest.
  8. “Master math.” Yes, it’s true, we all use math every day. (That’s a quote from a TV show called Numbers.) With big data comes data analysis, or what’s the point of collecting all the data in the first place. Also, the author mentions spreadsheets, and spreadsheets are often all about the math. Make math your friend. (I love spreadsheets, and use them every day in my job.)
  9. “Understand the economics.” To keep your job, and prove your value, you have to understand the business and economics of your company.
  10. “Build your brand.” This is all about “having a following” and bringing traffic to your company. I think this is really just old fashioned networking, and getting your name and your work out there. I put it last because if you do good work and get yourself out there even just a little, your “brand” just happens organically.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I really enjoyed writing it. I took the past few months off (due to a series of summer vacations close together), and I hope to get back into the swing of writing blog posts once a week. I had managed to post twice a week for awhile at the start of the year, but I think I’ll aim for once a week from now on.

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