The shift in reading and the ways we consume content will only accelerate. We need to adapt our approach to reflect the changing media habits and behaviours of wider society; why should those behaviours and habits change from home to office?
For many of us the summer months mean holidays, the joys of travelling and long journeys, a quieter commute to work, or simply longer sun-kissed evenings enjoying the delights of home and hearth. It’s also the time of year where the gift of more time allows the opportunity to read the latest blockbuster novel, catch-up on what’s new and innovative in management thinking or what’s hot or not in current affairs and politics.
My own thoughts recently have turned to how we read, where we do it and how it all relates to the world of corporate communications. I recently came across some interesting research from The Economist on how their readers consume content which resonated with my own thinking on how we consume information.
‘Lean back media’ is how The Economist wraps up the changes in reading behaviour and the technology being used, all of which is significantly impacting their title and the publishing industry in general. It’s a neat and succinct way (as you’d expect from The Economist) of encapsulating some fundamental shifts taking place in where we choose to read, when we do it and the environment we want to do it in. Where once we would lay back on our favourite easy chair to read the latest John Grisham in hardback, now we’re more likely to be holding a Kindle, iPad or any number of e-readers or tablets. More importantly, many of us are reconnecting with the actual act of reading in-depth, going beyond simply skimming texts, emails and headline details on a website. Through new innovations in technology, we are experiencing reading in a different way. We can zoom in on a picture, share our opinion on the author and the content with friends and family through social networks, order similar titles when we’ve downloaded the original and contribute feedback on the author’s blog.
In essence what we are experiencing is the rebirth of reading.
So how does this shift impact the world of corporate communications and employee engagement? For a start, there is a lag between what is happening in the consumer space and the corporate world. In our leisure time we’re rediscovering the joys of consuming a variety of content in much more enriching and engaging way, but when it comes to consuming corporate information, the experience tends to be markedly different. This provides an opportunity for the writers, publishers, and creators of corporate communications to connect with their audiences in a totally different way. The new technology platforms allows a multitude of opportunities to create, share, debate and interrogate complex and detailed information in a way unimaginable a decade ago (tablets and e-readers have only been around for five years). You could take your latest field reports or research papers, put them in a downloadable and embed with hyperlinks to other empirical studies. Why not take your annual employee engagement survey results, make them viewable in an iPad and embed links to chart source data, videos of staff charity days. Wouldn’t that be more enriching and engaging than an email of the top-line results read on a two-inch pda screen?
So, nothing has changed and everything has changed. We have a renewed hunger and desire to read, consume and enjoy stories and news; we’re just changing how and where we do it. The challenge facing those responsible for creating and producing corporate communications is working out how to optimise the new mediums available for sharing and disseminating key information and what opportunities they afford to create a more rewarding and engaging experience.