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August 10, 2010

We all have priorities. For most of us they shift at multiple points in our life, whether for work or family, health reasons or hobbies, personal choice or necessity. We rarely take the time to write down what our priorities are but hopefully we know them.

A priority list so common it can seem cliché is “God, Family, Country.” I believe in this one, and hope I live up to it, but the reality of life splits our priorities into dozens of different directions outside of these incredibly important areas.

In public affairs and communications we often place our priorities in similarly broad buckets, when the real success is in the details. A common triad is internal communications, external communications and community relations. But listing these as goals or hiring staff or contracts to handle these objectives isn’t enough. Organizations need to really drill down and make their goals specific, if they want to see real success.

Many people come to me wanting social media to be a magic bullet to accomplish all of their communications objectives. They see problems or failures and hope that a social media solution can help to fill the gap. Identifying a problem is a great first step, but you have to drill down into that problem, identifying key communities, stakeholders, and messaging. And depending upon what your problem is and what your priorities are, you might find that it’s not much of a problem at all.

We all have problems, but I think any issue – communications or otherwise – could always use a healthy dose of perspective. Looking at life through the lenses of priorities, taking the time to roadmap them out, and evaluating problems and solutions accordingly will go a long way toward success.

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