have something to say

In my job as a church communications director, I get a lot of requests for flyers. And brochures. And emails to send. My first response is always to ask, “What do you need to say?” Most of the time we talk through the objective and find the information and values we want to communicate. But occasionally, I’ll find there really isn’t any compelling objective. We discover the requester doesn’t really have anything to say, they just want to say something.

Which has become my first rule of communicating:

Have something to say, vs. having to say something.

Particularly in all of today’s new media and social networking there can be a pressing desire just to say anything to get something out there. But this just adds to the bombardment of visual noise we experience every day. And, it’s really a form of “crying ‘wolf,'” as your audience begins to believe your messages aren’t generally of any real value to them.

So, 1) have something specific and important that you need to say, then 2) choose the right medium to convey it (blog post, brochure, email, text, twitter).

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