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Many times when something happens that needs to be communicated there are basically two camps of communication thought:
- Discuss and communicate now!
- Let’s slow down, take a breath and communicate when the time is right. (That usually ends up being days or weeks or months later.)
In theory there are good reasons for both and keep in mind that true black or white options hardly ever work 100 percent of the time. We live in a world of grey situations. So there can be reasons for both or a mix.
But many times the right time to communicate is NOW.
For a number of reasons:
- There’s never a perfect time – like for anything really. (I’ll have kids later, start a business later, etc. etc. There’s no such thing as perfectly planned timing.)
- Delaying communication actually erodes credibility when people already know.
- Information leaks out and people know already! (Not even a political statement today!)
We likely have been in situations – at work or elsewhere – where something happened, it wasn’t officially shared but just about everyone knows in a few days.
Then comes the carefully and vague official announcement and everyone is like: “Old news!”
“Any questions?” offers the official announcer person.
And everyone in their heads “nope, because we got them answered days ago when we found out.” Or worse: “we made up our own answers already.”
The communication team will celebrate a successful implementation.
“There were no questions. We were clear!”
Doh! Um no!
Related read: Silence does not equal agreement
In today’s fast moving world now beats later most of the time. And you don’t lose control of the flow if you do it now.
By way, of example:
I once left a highly visible role for another highly visible role and executed the Now Communication Plan.
- 1:30 – decision made
- 2 – discussion with current C-suite
- 2:30 – team notified
- 4 – company notified
- Next morning – board of directors notified
- Mid-day – public announcement on digital channels
- Done ✅
I owned the process and message. There was no before-the-official-announcement guessing or talking.
Here are the facts now.
What are your questions?
The fast pace outweighed any potential (real and imagined) negative.
Sometimes executives tell me that the message can be controlled by waiting. That’s not actually the case. We lose control because others are just blabbing about it anyway.
The other reason I usually advocate for now over later has to do with authentic storytelling. Once we get into the habit of sharing our stories now we can make authentic storytelling content marketing work. If we always wait, the push to publish becomes harder and harder.
Quick communications doesn’t mean we should think about our story, opinion, framing, etc. We should do that. Just do it quicker.
One thing that helps is to set the expectations. In the timeline mentioned above, I basically said: Here’s the plan! Any changes and why?
One piece was actually pushed a couple of hours because of a good reason. Two hours! Not two weeks!
Plus, the longer we wait we might forget about the whole thing or the most important details. I’ve seen it happen in big and important announcements. The executives were so close to the project they forget that others knew nothing due to the delayed communication. And after all, letting stories or important pieces of stories die isn’t what authentic storytelling is about after all.
Share what needs to be shared quickly. Sounds simple enough. ??