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Who’s First? The Importance of a Communications Cascade

Perhaps one of the worst reputational elements to emerge over the ‘locked down students’, was the fact that many only became aware of the new restrictions when ‘it was on the TV news’.

Time and again, you’ll hear that businesses, organisations and institutions sprint into action with a statement of intent, but that they completely forget to pay attention to who needs to hear their message, in what order.

Can you imagine for a moment, how it might be perceived if a Chief Constable from a county police force issued to the local media the full name, age and details of a deceased man, tragically killed in a car crash on his way to work?

But in doing so, said police force has failed to communicate with this poor chap’s wife, who had waved him off an hour previous and has no idea he’s not on shift, or indeed, his elderly parents, currently residing in New Zealand.

Naturally, we’d all be up in arms at such a terribly neglectful act.

And indeed, the same should apply to any important piece of communication.

Whether you’re a huge global firm, a trade body, an entrepreneur with two part time employees, or a bank with hundreds of thousands of customers, it’s critical that you have a mapped communication cascade, so you’ll always be prompted to give thought to who hears your message first.

In the case of our frustrated Manchester Metropolitan University students, it was inevitable that this tech-savvy social-media loving audience would be staying well abreast of what was being said in the outside world, so for them to discover their own ‘fate’ via an external source, was wholly inappropriate.

Of course, it makes sense that the communications team would have wanted to prepare a statement for the media, but they should also have prioritised that every one of their students and staff should have directly received their update in advance of it becoming the lunchtime news.

We should be mindful of the speed of escalating dissemination of messaging in today’s world.

Never underestimate the speed at which a rumour or indeed, a fact, can spread the world, thanks to the power of twitter and the like.

For that very reason, we should always be one step ahead of knowing who will be affected by the very thing we need to communicate, and where in the pecking order of priorities that audience should sit.

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