Shakespeare was an inspired artist. He was also a model Comms Pro, with lessons as relevant today as they were 400 years ago!
They say timing is everything. It sets the stage for wars waged, businesses built, love lost and found. Go back a few years and while time was no less significant, it did occupy a different dimension, almost as if it functioned on a slower plane. You’d wait for a cheque to clear, the postman would deliver you mail and a movie would be unveiled at the cinema, rather than streamed online.
For a Comms Pro, time is coded into our genetics. It is a sequence without which we could not operate. It’s not about the deadline so much as the drumbeat that sets a rhythm for our day. There is both craft in the message and its delivery. William Shakespeare knew this too well. He wrote, “we are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone”. It’s a solemn yet impassioned note from one of the greatest Comms Pros. Ironically, within his timeless words of yesteryear, lie many lessons for us today. Here are but four:
1) “Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends”: In ‘this game’, the game of Communications, it’s crucial to remember that it’s not just the opportunity to respond or act that is critical, but to have the time to consider what that action should be! Too often mistakes are made in hast. You need to manage your time, so it doesn’t manage you!
2) “Time is the justice that examines all offenders”: Best practice crisis comms rule number one: be up front. Don’t wait for people to draw their own conclusions about what is going on. The more time your response takes, the more harshly you will be judged!
3) “In time we hate that which we often fear”: While as Comms Pros we often work hard to mitigate risk for our clients or employers, this profession is not one for the risk averse. The thing I look for most in new recruits is someone with a thirst for learning, and you only learn if you are prepared to try something new. You need to keep testing yourself. Go in search of challenges, for fear of irrelevance, otherwise your fears of being out of your comfort zone will in turn cripple you over time.
4) “Time and the hour run through the roughest day”: Comms Pros are sometimes referred to as spin doctors, but a more apt description would be jugglers. When you have so many things up in the air at the same time, it’s important not to dwell on time passed. Whether it’s celebrating a success, or learning from a failure, just like time relentlessly moves on, so must you. Acknowledge that you have rough days on occasion, dust yourself off, and get back on with it!
It’s true – all the world’s a stage, and time is the theatre that frames a Comms Pro’s life.