Communications risk meter

Communications Strategy: Fix It Before It Breaks

Many of us are familiar with the phrase: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That philosophy can seem really tempting – especially at the end of the year when we’re scrambling to get everything done before holiday breaks and year-ends. But a much wiser man, the late PR powerhouse Al Golin (1929-2017), said: “Fix it before it breaks.” This is the philosophy we should embrace as we wrap up 2019 and prepare for success in 2020.

Start by taking a few extra minutes as you analyze month-end, quarter-end or year-end reports. Don’t just go through a rushed process of checking the same facts and figures that you check every month, quarter or year – instead, look closely at the details. Is there a slight increase or decrease in one number? If so, why? Look at changes in both numerical quantities and percentages to ensure you’re evaluating the whole picture. Then look for statistics, trends, reports and other information about competitors and your overall industry. How does your organization compare to them?

Even if you believe you are performing better than the rest of your competition, and even if you’ve had the best year in your organization’s history, pay attention to anytime that you or someone else on your team utters phrases like: “Yeah, but that’s no big deal” or “Yeah, but everyone is going through that right now” or “Yeah, but we’re still within an the industry average.” This is what I call a yellow flag. You’re not at the red flag stage yet, but the whole point of fixing something before it breaks is that you never want to get to the red flag stage.

The yellow flag tells you to pay attention, analyze why something is happening, and start planning how your organization can evolve right now. This gives you ample time to be thoughtful, exploratory and deliberate with how you address current or anticipated needs. You end up with a better result, and it may give you an innovative advantage in your industry. This could mean something as complex as incorporating artificial intelligence or other automations, or it could be as simple as identifying a previously-overlooked market for your product or service.

This philosophy of “fix it before it breaks” urges the importance of constant environmental scanning, as well as being proactive with internal communications and external public relations efforts.

Remember all that time you gain to be thoughtful and exploratory before making a change? This also gives you an opportunity to involve myriad stakeholders throughout different phases. It gives you a chance to communicate with your employees – to get input and/or gain support. It allows you to develop powerful messages about the changes you’re making, create new marketing materials, and garner news coverage for your insights and innovations.

Most importantly, though, the “fix it before it breaks” approach to business will keep your organization healthy and successful. And by incorporating a communications strategy into this forward-thinking way of doing business, you’ll also reap the benefits of earning a strong positive reputation.

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