Thursday, March 23, 2006

Like Ma Bell, I’ve Got the Ill Communication

Bloggers Note: I want to be clear that in no way is this posting meant to blame ANYONE at ANYTIME. This post is not me venting, complaining or yelling. It is simply a fascination that people trained in the art of communication (yes it is an art, or so say my diplomas) continue to provide and receive misinformation.

It baffles me how common it is for “experts” in the field of communication to get/give the wrong message. Today was an example (albeit minor) of confusion between my office and a reporter. Somewhere along the line a national survey was misconstrued as a local survey and exclusivity turned from “give me a head start toward breaking the story” to “you have to hold the news until next week or I’m not running it.”

For those of you who jump to thinking it’s just my communication I would point to the countless maladies that have spawned from miscommunication. The most recent, egregious example of such was the Sago Mine tragedy. To recap, a high-ranking, credible official said that all but one of the 13 miners trapped underground had survived. The report led to joy, unbridled celebrations of friends and family, and evocation of the term miracle. I went to sleep that night knowing that against all odds 12 miners had survived. I woke up the next morning to a stark reality, 12 miners had died.

How does this happen? How does someone, undoubtedly trained in the art of communication, report such horribly inaccurate information? I say undoubtedly trained because anyone from the Governor’s office who was privy to the fate of the miners is someone who has gone through media training at some point in their career.

I’m not playing the all too (in)famous “blame game” that has seemed to pervade politics. I’m simply shocked that this could happen.

How are we as communicators supposed to convince business prospects, colleagues or students of our industry’s worth if we continue to do that which our services are intended to correct…miscommunicate (yes, I am aware that’s not really a word, but it illustrates the point nicely).


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