Is Blogging Worth the Pain?

A friend of mine recently started a blog, and she wants to make it grow. This got me nibbling my mind. What are the indicators of succesful blogging? How do you measure it? Why blog? How do you make your blog stand out amidst the clog of online content? Undoubtedly, blogging has revolutionised the concept of freedom of expression but what’s the point of expressing yourself freely when no-one is paying attention. Or when attention spans are as short as a rabbit’s yawn. Granted, self-expression is good food for the individual soul. But, question mark, is blogging worth the pain?

First things first, blogging is an overrated fad, with some analysts suggesting that it’s dead. There is a general belief that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have accelerated the demise of blogging. Many people prefer the ubiquitous and transient nature of exchanges on Facebook and Twitter while blogs are regarded as static, and somewhat, convoluted.

It may be good at this point to revisit the definition of blog: according to Wikipedia, a blog (a contraction of the term “web log“) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Continue reading

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Strategic Communication for Health in a New Age

To respond effectively to the growing epidemics of AIDS and TB around the world, a strategy for communicating messages that influence change of individual behavior, community attitudes and socio-political dynamics is absolutely critical.

In order to make communication effective, there is a need to fully and rigorously understand the audiences, including contextual factors (political, cultural, economic, gender etc.) that determine the health choices people make.

The underlying factor is that communication does not occur within a vacuum, and thus it is essential to be aware of elements that may deter effective communication in the design, distribution and measurement of AIDS or TB messages.

Communication that saves people’s lives, improves health and enhances well being is about ideas, creativity, research, knowledge and money. Given the fact that resources are finite, strategic communication needs to consciously build upon existent social capital to ensure sustainability of processes.

Strategic communication can help to shape context and build relationships that enhance the achievement of objectives to respond effectively to AIDS and TB.

To be effective, strategic communicators must understand attitudes and cultures, respect the importance of ideas, adopt advanced information technologies, and employ sophisticated communication skills and strategies. To be persuasive, they must be credible.

More importantly, strategic communication for better health appreciates what works scientifically combined with flexibility to adapt it to specific cultural contexts.

As already stated, it should go beyond simply addressing individual behaviour to structural and institutional realities that are largely responsible for driving diseases and epidemics. In many ways, public policies tend to be responsible for social and health inequalities and cannot be ignored in the communication process.

Therefore, an effective communication strategy puts people and structural realities at its heart in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of messages.

In essence, strategic communication for better health needs to be informed by a process that identifies behaviours and attitudes, identifies policy priorities, and embarks on a process to influence a broad section of society through appropriate themes and messages.

In that respect, communication is not an end goal, but rather a means to influence dialogue and engagement through relevant mediums.

Barnlund Communication Model

Labouring over which medium to choose when targeting a specific audience is a critical component in the communication for health process. In many ways, the medium defines the message in as much as does the target audience. A chosen medium has its limitations, and key messages and themes have to be aligned to the limitations of the medium to ensure effective message delivery. Obviously, the research-based needs of a target audience determine what delivery mechanisms to utilize.

It is important to know at the outset what goal seeks to be achieved with the particular choice of a medium so that the measurements of success or failure are specified.

Events, activities, messages, and materials must be designed with your objectives, audiences, partnerships and resources clearly in place. Building a communication strategy is about directing and focusing evidence-based messages and themes according to clearly defined pathways to achieve intended objectives.

The process of strategically positioning communication needs to ensure the participation of intended beneficiaries in the designing of messages, no matter what the level of focus.

Strategic communications shifts away from communicating to, and instead focuses on communicating with target groups in order to establish solutions., with emphasis being on how to build a relationship that allows for communication to take place so that appropriate action is taken. In that sense it is a significant shift from the magic bullet theory of communication which treats audiences as inactive recipients of messages.

Fact-based communication research is necessary for demonstrating and validating the need for resources required to increase the impact of communication. It is also essential that message platform for key initiatives are identified through the research process.

According to Wikipedia, “strategic communication provides a conceptual umbrella that enables organizations to integrate their disparate messaging efforts”. In other words, it enables organizations to “create and distribute communications that, while different in style and purpose, have an inner coherence”.

New media offers a significant opportunity to unify organizational health communications in order to achieve that inner coherence which is often times based on the vision, mission, goals and values of the organization.

New media offer an opportunity to encourage conversation and promote collaboration in creating appropriate messages. It is essential to integrate social media into the communication infrastructure and tap into its potential to create dialogue and reach a wide audience. New media make it easier and faster to communicate and collaborate, and essential element to public health communications.

The ability of new information tools to alter the way we communicate needs to be tapped into but as with any component of the health communication process the focus must be on people and not just the technology.

Overall, a strategic communication process needs to be planned, directed, coordinated, funded, measured and conducted in ways that promote the wellbeing of individual in a manner that aligns with organizational values and goals.

How to Shine Up the Career Ladder

In a corporate world that is increasingly over-crowded, highly competitive and ever-changing, getting a promotion can indeed be a hassle.  But, through deliberate, well planned steps, and a willingness to take initiative, you can put yourself at the front of the line for a promotion.  

 

First things first: If you keep yourself sheltered away from the attention of your bosses, you will always miss the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder.  A promotion typically means having more responsibility.

 

So you have to position yourself as a person that has the aptitude, value and capability to meet the requirements of a potential promotion.  

 

Develop career goals. You must be absolutely sure about where you want to go. Start maintaining a career journal where you write down your career goals. It’s important to make sure that the promotion is in alignment with both your credentials and personal goals. Develop long-term, medium-term and short-term goals that will keep you grounded towards a career upgrade. If you find it difficult to envision, consult a career coach to help you develop a clear perspective of what you want to do. A coach will help to expand your vision and push you to function at your peak.   

 

Do your current job well and more. If you want to make it to the top of the corporate ladder, do your current job well. Demonstrate honesty, empathy, trustworthiness and an ability to be a team player. See every challenge and responsibility as an opportunity to shine, and to sell yourself to your organization. Always review what you are currently doing and identify gaps that can allow you to do more. The surest way to get promoted is to do more and better than is expected of you. Show the value in yourself and create a demand for your abilities.   

 

Make a contribution. Start right away to contribute ideas and suggestions to improve processes, practices and profits of your company. To grant you a promotion, your company has to be satisfied with your value. Get all the facts about your ideas. Having more information will increase chances of your ideas and suggestions being accepted, and put you in favor to get promoted.

 

Keep a portfolio of your work. You must maintain a portfolio of work contributions that are directly connected to the position that you seek. Never make an assumption that your bosses know what you’re doing. Without being big-headed about it, let your organization know of your accomplishments. Gain visibility with your current job successes.  

 

Review job descriptions. Be clear about the additional responsibilities involved in the promotion as well as the salary level. In your career journal, keep job advertisements that underline the major duties or responsibilities of the job you want to promote in. Make a note of the qualities, attitudes and outputs required for that upward career opportunity. After you have identified these attributes, the next step is to put them into practice to prepare yourself for a promotion.  

 

Update your resume. Take time to review your current skills and accomplishments, including what you’ve learned in your current position. Update your resume so that it reveals your talents and hidden skills. Make sure your resume is specific to the potential career upgrade. Remember: Highlight unique qualifications and background. A well-written resume can significantly improve your chances to landing a promotion.  

 

Develop your skills. Identify areas that need improvement: don’t just focus on your strengths. In your career journal, make a note of areas of weakness and strive to improve in those areas that are critical to your promotion. In an ever-changing business environment, you must constantly update your skills to enhance your chances to get promoted.  Consult and learn from experts in your field. Find out what they did to succeed, what they would do different, and steps that you can take to improve your chances of a promotion.  

 

Take Courses in Your Field. Many companies require a potential candidate for promotion to have an advanced degree. Like it or not, having an advanced degree exponentially increases your chances to move to the front of the promotion line. Target unique qualifications. Read books, join a professional association, attend seminars and do courses that will build your knowledge, skills and abilities.  

 

Market yourself. Make full use of every opportunity to sell yourself. If you’ve got it, flaunt it and don’t wait quietly for someone to acknowledge you. Make sure that you demonstrate your ability to hold a higher position with flair and confidence. Also, show how your past achievements have contributed to the growth of the organization. When it comes down to the selection process, make sure to put your best foot forward, just like you did when you were first hired.    

 

Get networking right. If you want to fly like an eagle, then you have to stop taking lessons from chickens. Avoid co-workers and people that will pull you down through negative talk, and fill you with frustration over your desire to get a promotion. Associating with winners will fill you with a positive outlook on life and your career opportunities. Surround yourself with people that are success-oriented, and will encourage you to take the big leap forward towards a promotion.   

 

Make yourself outstanding. There’s no doubt that polish and presence are critical ingredients for a promotion. Be open to new inputs and ideas. Become an expert in your field. Write articles or a book. Develop a dress sense that shows you are headed for the top.  

 

Positioning yourself for a promotion at its most fundamental is an inside job. It’s a matter of finding what you want, and expressing that essence and character in everything you do.  

 

With hard work and an effective strategy, you can raise your stakes to get a promotion. 

 

So don’t let anything stop you.