Assumptions will kill you
In communications, assumptions are a major cause for mistakes.
In communications, mistakes are often public.
A lesson I’ve learned the hard way is assume nothing. Question everything.
You’ll probably have to learn the hard way too. Hopefully this post can at least save you from a little public embarrassment.
Here’s the problem: assumptions lead to missing information, which leads to confusion—which can lead to decreased trust, fewer sales or diminished credibility. Assumptions lead to incorrect information, which is the same as missing information, only more harmful.
Don’t assume your audience knows what you’re talking about.
Don’t assume the person giving you the information actually gave you all the information.
Don’t assume the person who needs to say something has no agenda.
Don’t assume anyone will care what you’re doing or saying.
Inform your audience.
Question your informants.
Align communications with a business case.
Give your audience a reason to care, a hook, an incentive.
You’ll get pressure from executives about just how urgent this communication is to send out. Remember: you’re a communication partner, not a communication tool.
You’ll get directions from someone who “knows” exactly what they need, and that something is a newsletter. Or a logo. Or an email they’ve already written. “No need to waste time with a meeting.”
Don’t assume it’s wasted time.
Don’t assume you’ll do it just one time to get them off your back.
Don’t assume everything will be all right.
If you’re the one who’s looked to for communications, copywriting or marketing, it’s your job to stop sloppy messaging.
Don’t assume someone else will take the heat on a mistake because they’re pushing so hard on a release.
Don’t assume they know what they’re doing.
You don’t have an excuse for poorly drafted communications.
Missing information isn’t an excuse. Your job is to ask the questions to find the information.
Being new isn’t an excuse. See the point above.
Receiving pressure from a big shot about the urgency isn’t an excuse.
Finally, don’t assume you haven’t assumed anything. It’ll bite you—I assume.