Saturday, October 3, 2015

Communications for the 21st Century

Times have changed. Technology has changed. Communication has changed. And that means a lot to a writer since communication is the focus of any writing business. However, even though writers write to communicate with their readers, some find it hard to know which form of communication to use when communicating with their editors and clients.

For years, the only forms of communication were the telephone and the letter. Both worked well but they had their limitations. Then came fax, which allowed you to send documents and contracts over phone lines.  Businesses embraced fax as a way to send documents instantly.

When Email first appeared along with the Internet, it was basic—used for short messages between researchers. Students embraced Email as a way to exchange cryptic messages. They thought it cool to be able to communicate with one another in a language on they understood. But this wasn’t the way to communicate as a business owner.

Phone communication, while still a talking medium, has now become a text messaging medium. And while you can use this for personal communication with friends and family, you shouldn’t use text messaging for business communications. Cell phones now give you the ability to call anyone from anywhere. They also enable people to call you any time, anywhere. With cell phones dawned the era of instant communication. So how do you take control of phone communications.

Remember, you don’t have to answer the phone just because it rings—no matter how tempting. Voice mail, caller ID, and answering machines allow you to take control of your incoming calls.  In just about any business, Mondays are the busiest days for incoming calls.

Prospective clients shopping for services may choose whomever they reach on the phone, so you might miss an opportunity by not calling back. That thought is brought about by the convenience of a cell phone. You carry your cell phone on your person—it’s instantaneous. And while you may have the urge to answer every call, doing so will seriously eat into your writing productivity.

Also, answering every call no matter where you are at the time will seriously interrupt your life, as well as put you in potential danger if you do it while driving your vehicle.

When you talk to new callers, be sure to get their direct-dial number so you can save time going through the whole series of numbers for different departments—press one for this, press two for that—if you have to call them back.

Your outgoing message on your voice mail or answering machine should be your calling card to everyone who calls you. Make a good impression and elicit important information from your callers with a “power message.” This is a message you script, rehearse, and deliver with enthusiasm. Type up all the messages you use and keep them in a folder in your computer, then they’ll be available whenever you need to record a new message.

Finally, call editors when it’s absolutely necessary. They’re busy people. If you don’t hear from an editor in a reasonable amount of time or if your situation has changed and you can’t get the job done by your deadline, then do call your editor. Don’t send an Email since your editor may not read it in time. Another trick is to call during the lunch hour when your editor may be out. This way you can leave a detailed message that he or she will get when they return but not take up their valuable time.

Next Week: I’ll be taking a look at Email and electronic communications and how they fit into today’s business communications.