Who has power?
Information is a powerful tool. With information people can make better decisions, which can include anything from voting an elected official into office, to choosing which hand soap is less likely to dry out their skin. When I was in high school I became interested in journalism because I saw sharing information with others as a service. I wanted to empower people to make better decisions; at the time however, I never expected access to information to proliferate to the level of saturation.
To change something or help someone, information and how it is communicated will always be critical; and while information can still be used to hold power over others, today channels for communication have expanded so that everyone can have some of that power. When I went into journalism school in 1998 major media outlets owned and controlled most of the ways information flowed, i.e. television, newspapers and magazines. While I do believe that journalism is still an important profession that adds value to society, I would argue the old ways of media owning the channels and information flow did not serve us well. As a society we function better when power is shared among us, even if some people do not use that power for good.
Of course with a distribution of that power has also come saturation of information. What can be accessed, and in seconds, is enormous amounts of information that no one person can possibly consume. However, having professional communicators is still valuable for organizations, not because information gives someone power, but because the need for accurate information to help people make informed decisions has never been more crucial.
With the influx of voices being heard over the world-wide web, informed and engaging writing is powerful tool to help organizations bridge message and mission. To say an organization is mission driven, or has a vision is not a complex idea. As people, we are also mission driven, whether that mission is providing for family, making millions of dollars or helping those less fortunate; we are beings on mission. But how we communicate that mission or vision is where the complexity lies, and organizations that communicate well hold more power.
Organizations sometimes make assumptions that an audience understands its mission or vision at face value. Making assumptions can lead to miscommunication that can range from the aggravation of being misunderstood, to not achieving a goal because an organization lacks message clarity. Miscommunication can be synonymous with giving up your power. It can lead to losing funding, volunteers, or staff and can hurt an organizations reputation.
How we communicate matters, especially today with so many platforms to tell a story (i.e. social media, traditional media, blogs etc.). Clear communication is the key to being heard above the cacophony of noise that surrounds our daily lives. An organization that places value on communication and marketing is going to further its goals by expanding its audience, making more money or gaining more donor dollars. Organizations need people who are passionate about its mission, as well as have the expertise necessary to communicate effectively. Having strong communicators gives an organization power. So while the power of access to communication has been dispersed don’t confuse access with quality. To further a mission the message must be expertly crafted.