The Development of Forms of Communication and the Emergence of Social Media
There is no question that significant technical advancements have occurred, which have fundamentally altered the ways in which information is acquired and conveyed on both a micro and a macro scale. The method in which we communicate has been fundamentally altered as a direct result of the proliferation of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest, among many others.
In the public sector, social media unquestionably plays an essential part in the manner in which communications are conveyed; nevertheless, the message must be correct, unambiguous, and consistent across the whole organization.
The society in which we live operates round the clock, all year round. It’s true that the quicker, the better, right? It is safe to assume that anything you read on the internet is accurate. Is it true that any information is preferable to having no knowledge at all? In the event of an emergency, it is imperative that the message be sent as rapidly as humanly feasible; time is key.
How often do you find yourself reading articles on the internet that have grammatical or factual errors? In order to avoid being unproductive, ineffective, possibly destructive, and, in extreme circumstances, capable of inducing public uncertainty, fear, and suspicion, the use of social media must be properly planned and strategically executed organization-wide. The purpose(s) for which it is meant
It used to be that you should think before you speak, say what you mean, and mean what you say. These days, however, it’s more like read and reread, don’t act in haste, and read and reread once more before you send.
Although the development of communication has made it possible to rapidly disseminate information and messages to a huge number of people, making it a potent instrument, immediate disinformation cannot and should not replace correct information. It is essential that the time, amount, and quality of the information and message all be appropriately balanced with one another.
This evolution of high-tech communication is also somewhat of a paradox in that the speed at which a message can be communicated to a number of people at the same time should invoke pause and encourage public sector employees to be deliberate in what is said and how it may be interpreted.
This is because the more people a message can be communicated to at the same time, the more people it can potentially reach. Keep in mind that this is not Las Vegas; everything you say or do, especially in a public setting or forum, has the potential to be assessed and examined by a wide audience in the same amount of time that it takes to send a tweet, publish an image, or upload a video to the internet.
Text Conversations or In-Person Get-Togethers?
Which one do you like better? The Statesman and former military commander, Colin Powell, made the following statement: “The moment troops stop coming to you with their concerns is the moment you have lost control of them as a leader.” They have either stopped believing that you are able to assist them or have come to the conclusion that you do not care about them. In either scenario, there is a lack of effective leadership. In my opinion, it is impossible to overestimate the significance of in-person interactions, one-on-one contact, or conventional public venues, nor is it possible to understate the benefits associated with any of these.
I like to refer to the phenomenon that occurs in the public sector as the “Fishbowl Effect.” The “Fishbowl Effect” may be summarized as follows: if you work in the public sector, you should be held to a higher standard than if you did not. This effect is a result of politics, the media, public scrutiny, transparency, and accountability. The things you do speak louder than the things you say, because perception is reality. Why?
Because working in the public sector involves a strong dedication to helping and engaging individuals within the community you are a part of while concurrently acting as an advocate, self-reflection and individual predispositions are key aspects to take into consideration.
Employees in the public sector are entrusted with a significant amount of responsibility since they act as fiduciaries of public funds. In that regard alone, employees of the public sector have an obligation to sit down with individuals, whether residents, business owners, or other stakeholders, and talk to them about what their concerns are. In addition, public-sector employees have an obligation to actively listen to and engage these individuals during the planning process, budget hearing, or other form of public business.
Phone calls are wonderful, and I do my best to keep to a 24-hour guideline when it comes to returning a call, if only to let the person know that I have gotten their message and that I will get back to them by a certain date with an answer. Texting and emailing are perfectly fine forms of communication, but, in my opinion, they should only be used to enhance phone conversations and in-person meetings rather than take their place entirely.
Since I am an employee in the public sector, it is my responsibility to ensure that opportunities for face-to-face meetings and one-on-one communication are made available. I am a firm believer and supporter of the idea that the only way to build genuine trust and confidence is through direct interaction with another person.
Maintaining Clarity and Consistency in Your Communications
In a publication from 1942 of his weekly newsletter, In Fact, Inc., titled “The Facts Are…”: A Guide to Falsehood and Propaganda in the Press and Radio, George Seldes discussed the power and corruption of the press, primarily as a result of its close association with special interests. The title of Seldes’ article was “The Facts Are…”: A Guide to Falsehood and Propaganda in the Press and Radio.”
He claimed that “Who or what is the most influential group in the United States today?” The general populace is the answer. What factors influence the public’s opinion? The press may be considered the primary driving factor. Does this continue to be the case in modern times?
I would say that the importance of public opinion is comparable to, if not greater than, what it was in 1942. Our culture is constantly being inundated with information, messages, and editorials from a variety of sources, including “the press,” other media outlets, and online trolls. As a result, it is very necessary, especially in the public sector, that these information transmittals be understandable, delivered at the appropriate time, accurate, and offer a message that is consistent.
The general public has always been the target of the media’s transmission of news, events, and many other types of information. This has been the case throughout history up to the present day, and it will continue to be the case regardless of the medium used.
Even if the method of communication has changed from oral tradition to written word transmitted by the Pony Express, the power of the media and the influence of public opinion have stayed the same and are always there. This is true over telegraph lines as well as fiber-optic networks. The only notable distinction is the rate at which messages are sent and received.
Consider the prominent figures throughout history who have shown the most progressive attitude toward the media and who have made the best use of this institution as a resource. Many are also considered to be some of the most charismatic people in the annals of history.
The following comes to mind first: President Abraham Lincoln, President James A. Garfield, who revolutionized “front porch campaigning,” and President Theodore Roosevelt, who was effective at engaging the media positively but also learned “muckraking,” (a negative metaphor for what is now commonly referred to as investigative journalism), the power the media had in exposing corporate corruption and social ills, were among the presidents who served during this time period.
Franklin D. Roosevelt used frequent radio broadcasts that became affectionately known as “Fireside Chats” to enter into homes across the country and communicate messages in a manner that captured the attention of the American public and elicited public trust and confidence in him. These broadcasts were frequently referred to as “Fireside Chats.”
The Influence of Language
Words, whether spoken, written, texted, or tweeted, are powerful and must be chosen wisely, especially during stressful times and while dealing with challenging situations. I think the following historical public leaders were successful in communicating information to large populations by making efficient use of the media:
Consider some of the most influential speeches that have ever been delivered, when they took place, and the reasons why these speeches may be or were necessary to be some of the most impactful of all time or at pivotal or watershed periods in the history of our country. The following comes to mind first:
The Gettysburg Address, President Roosevelt’s address to Congress following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and President George W. Bush’s address to the nation on September 11, 2001 are all considered to be among the greatest presidential addresses of all time. All of this took place over the course of 138 years, each time in front of different audiences of differing proportions, each with its own unique duration and media, but all of it needed exact delivery and well-picked words.
The words that President Roosevelt chose to use in his speech to Congress in the aftermath of the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor were extremely carefully considered by Roosevelt. He initiated hostilities against Japan but not against Germany. After three days, Germany officially declared war on the United States of America. During a period in the history of the United States that was exceedingly chaotic, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech with remarkable passion in front of a large public audience during an iconic public exhibition.
Although it was generally recognized at the time, the oration and particularly the words “I have a dream” have remained ingrained in our brains. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush spoke to the American people through a television camera while sitting at a desk. Each word he used was carefully chosen, spoken, and delivered in a manner that mandated as our country’s leader, confidence be instilled in citizens during an extremely tense and vulnerable moment in the 21st century. He did this in order to instill confidence in citizens during an extremely tense and vulnerable moment in the 21st century.
I strongly suggest that you read or listen to any of the aforementioned speeches, and that you pay special attention to the selection of words, the manner in which they were delivered, and the presence that was commanded by the four orators. There are a great number of additional instances that are deserving of our consideration, and each of these examples offers a look into why it is so crucial to communicate in a way that is both clear and consistent.
It is important to keep in mind that while each of these addresses was crafted with a particular audience in mind, they were almost certainly going to be read, seen, or heard by far broader and more varied groups of people.
What would have happened if either President Roosevelt or President Bush had not addressed the public after the tragic events that took place in 1941 or 2001, respectively? What would happen, in particular in our culture that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if President Bush delayed the delivery of a message by one or two days? It seems likely that the message would have been sent to the public more than once by a diverse range of organizations and people.
If so, what effect do you think this would have had on the population of the United States or other countries? Imagine for a moment that none of the public addresses listed above actually took place.
It is imperative that we regard communication as one of our most valuable resources because it is. In the continuous lifestyles that we lead 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we need to make sure that we are always aware of what is going on around us, on the internet, and on our phones, but most importantly, with one another. Because time never pauses nor slackens its pace, we have no choice but to keep up with it.