Last week, Weber Shandwick Seattle was happy to welcome back our old friend Hanson Hosein for a quick lunch and learn session. A former NBC News war correspondent, Emmy award winner, filmmaker, director of the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership graduate program, host of the current affairs show Four Peaks and head of the HRH Media Group, Hanson has the sort of resume that if you were saying it out loud, you’d need time to take a few deep breaths before you were able to get to the end. So we were hugely thankful that Hanson could take time out of his very busy schedule to talk to our team.
And as you might expect from that introduction, Hanson had some very interesting insights to share about the importance and value of communications — specifically, that communication is now a 24/7 activity, and that brands must be aware of that and shift strategies accordingly. For many companies, communication must come first. But not just any communication.
You’ve probably heard the saying “content is king.” Hanson disagrees. In this new era of communication, it is the conversation or relationship after the content that is king — and that it is this engagement that can inspire trust and action. But this engagement does not come from the typical communications strategy. Indeed, with the speed of today’s modern world, the “Five Year Plan” of communications strategies past is a relic of a time gone by. New models and new technologies demand that any communications strategy be re-examined every six months or so, so that brands can stay vigilant in engaging with their communities.
Some other interesting takeaways from Hanson’s speech:
- The digital transition: Hanson was among the first to cover the 2003 Iraq war and did so by himself, foregoing the then-traditional six-person news crew to carry around his own—considerably less expensive— video equipment. Not everyone was impressed by this — Hanson showed a picture of him interviewing a very annoyed-looking Hezbollah leader, who had expected a full NBC crew to show up to interview him.
- The value of candor: Hanson stressed the value of openness and facing up to realities, especially to those in the creative sector. Without this candor, no one—and certainly no client—can or should accept you as a trusted advisor. And for brands, this candor is doubly important. If an organization isn’t candid, and its leader is unable to provide this candor to foster engagement or improve the company’s communication (both internal and external), that organization is bound to fail.
- The importance of community: Hanson emphasized the importance of not only strategically thinking about which platform to use to engage with a community, but also being able to identify opportunities and quickly act on them via these social platforms. Instead of seeing social engagement through a one-size-fits-all prism, Hanson advocates for finding the correct platforms to engage your target audience.
Brands that understand the value of strong engagement and effective communications are the brands that will continue to succeed in this already fast-paced Communications Age — an era where the speed of change is only getting faster.
Thank you again to Hanson for coming in to chat with us! We’ll see you next time.