9 Problems with your Communications Stack

by | Sep 11, 2017 | Internal Communications

questions to ask before you buy an outdoor kiosk


I defined the Communications Stack in my last post and immediately few of you responded with suggestions about what works and what doesn’t. If you are interested in knowing what other organizations just like yours are using as their communications stack, make sure you fill out this 5 minute survey about your organization.

However based on our work with over 4000 organizations worldwide, we already have a good idea about what works and what doesn’t in terms of the communications stack. For example most of our users tell us that most social media channels they rollout get only about 20% of their over all constituency to join and that is the best case.

Below is a list of key challenges communications managers and organization leaders just like you face when managing their communications.

1. Sending out a newsletter is a lot of work:

Alright, I know this is not just a job. You actually love what you do and would not trade this for anything else in the world. But come on, you got to admit you are spending too much time on your newsletters.

There is no doubt that newsletters are a great way to engage your audiences on a medium that they probably use the most, their email. So by no means I am implying that newsletters are a waste of time. However, how much time you spend creating them is a whole another story.

Whether you realize this or not, you are probably taking following painful steps every time you create the newsletter.


a. Identify content for your newsletter:

This could be easily the hardest part of this all. You are scouring the internet for relevant topics, you are begging your colleagues and managers to get you their announcements and scrambling to put together your blog post for the week to get enough content to add to your newsletter. Do you ever feel like this is what you live for? And deep inside you know that a lot of this could be community generated content – Unfortunately you are just not setup for that.


b. Fix the dreaded email template:

Okay, I do admit HTML email template generators have come a long way (Look at this MailChimp Campaign Builder back from 2009). Even with some latest drag and drop email template creators, this could easily be a couple hours worth of mouse pointing and fretting at your screen. Why can’t I just post content I want to send and the thing does its work and makes it look good. (You know where I am going with this: Sorry, my job it’s to plug HootBoard’s automated newsletter feature here

c. Manage the List:

Fortunately this day and age, this is probably the easiest thing to achieve. You can easily manage importing contacts on excel, having them join from your blog or your any application for that matter. Great news.

2. Most are not able to contribute in a newsletter:

This is probably the biggest gripe I have about newsletters in general. More often than not they become a propaganda tool for a few key people in the organization. This is great when you want to tightly control the message, but if you want to go with a recent CIO magazine article that we included in recent newsletter, you want your employees and constituents in general get involved. One way propaganda worked just fine in the last decade. However as millennials form the bulk of your constituency for almost all organizations, you better figure out a way to give them a voice. By the way, all past Communicatons Weekly newsletter articles can be found on our community HootBoard hosted at http://blog.hootboard.com/the-communications-weekly/. Follow the HootBoard to join the discussion.

3. Social media groups only cover a fraction of your constituency:

Okay, even if you have a super active Facebook group, an Instagram page, Twitter or a cool HootBoard, this one does not go away. Based on our user’s feedback, only 20% of your constituents will ever join your social media. One exception is workplace social media where this number is believed to be above 50%. While, this is by no means scientific, this is a good indication of why you can’t rely on Social Media as the sole outlet for your communications.

4. Social Media is Fleeting: I think we all know what this is about. With incessantly updated news feed and a barrage of messages coming through various social media platforms, the fraction of your constituency that is on your social media, actually gets only fraction of your messages. Which means you have to constantly post content to really make a dent, which means you are creating and posting a lot of content only simply because your message is otherwise getting drowned out. That is unfortunately a sad (really sad) reason to post content.

5. No one visits your website:

Is this a surprise to anyone? The reality is unless you are blogging profusely, and/or you have specific reasons for your constituents to visit your website the visits are a trickle. But for most organizations like university departments, real estate buildings, non-profits this is not an option. People are only looking for specific information on your website but their visit is not necessarily about engaging with your mission.

6. Updating digital signage is a also a lot of work:

Over the last 3-4 years, this has become the latest shiny addition to the toolset of a communications manager or a leader at an organization. Digital signage comes in all forms, sizes and price points. But most of your digital signage does not talk to any of the other channels in your communications stack. Which means, you are effectively creating new content for your signage.

7. Digital signage is mostly one way communication:

Deja vu? Yes feels like it for sure. Unfortunately like newsletters and even some social media, it’s super hard for your constituency to actually contribute to your digital singage. Which is a big problem for reasons we already discussed. Long story short, if you want your constituency to be engaged, take steps right away to give them a voice.

8. Information kiosks are great but building applications is expensive:

If you are a university campus, large building or a workplace, you might already have information kiosks that display information. But in most cases, the management and deployment of information tends to be clunky. You are almost always deploying and independent application and have to manage the details of deployment, network management etc.

9. All communications channels quickly get out of sync:

I think this is the mama-bear of all communications challenges above. Unfortunately, this is one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” cases. Most leaders and communications managers don’t even realize that their information and messaging is slowly creeping in different directions or getting out of alignment. While they are spending time creating the next newsletter, their website is already outdated and by the time their website is updated, their social media has taken up a different focus. It’s happening to everyone like it or not.

Time to bring it all together. Well, the world is not gonna get better anytime soon, but I am an eternal optimist and I do believe the future for mankind is brighter. As for your communications, think about using tools that unify your communications. Social media aggregators like HootSuite, Buffer; Tools like IFTTT & Zapier or our very own HootBoard helps unify communications across various channels. You time is important so focus on what matters most – communicating the right things and giving your constituents a voice. Happy Hooting!

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