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I’ve always been fascinated by the Warner Brothers Road Runner cartoons. The eternally hungry Wile E. Coyote pursues the roadrunner using a range of elaborate traps. Although getting painfully close every time, some element of his plan fails and he inevitably ends up at the bottom of the canyon. The Roadrunner disappears off into the distance with a jubilant “Meep Meep!” and the whole process begins again next time.

What interests me is why the coyote only tries each scheme once when the idea is often great!

So, I sometimes think about the old coyote when confronted by communicators who are scratching their heads trying to think about new ways of communicating. Trying something once or twice then abandoning it all too quickly, usually blaming the tactic not the content, and dismissing it as old news: “We did our induction training and on-boarding, we sent the introductory leaflets but they didn’t work., so we won’t use them again.”

Particularly in the current climate, there are rarely budgets that allow for continual reinvention. What little resource companies have should be allocated to careful planning, innovation and impact that hits the employee with what they really want in the way they need to receive it. When planning a piece of communication and before sending your budget up in smoke, ask yourself:

How will we follow up sufficiently? Is the timing right? Does it feel like part of a cohesive strategy? Are we making the most of the opportunity this piece of communication presents? Will they understand it? Is it delivered in a way that the employee really wants?

Well thought-out, carefully positioned messages designed with the employee in mind are likely to resonate with your audience, so persevere.

Too many times this crucial point is missed and with it the chance to deliver critical messages. If you have expended time, effort and budget on getting employee’s attention, make the most of it with some really targeted company messaging that relates to the project’s objectives and that sit well with your overall vision and strategy.

Chuck Jones, the creator of Wile E. Coyote, used philosopher George Santayana’s definition to describe him: “A fanatic […] who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” Instead of obsessively ‘tactic hopping’ for the sake of it, hoping for a ‘fix-all’ solution to reach their workforce, organisations could benefit more from refocusing their message squarely on the employee and refining their communications around that.

Incidentally, some would ask why the coyote doesn’t simply use the money to buy food instead of endless Acme contraptions, but that wouldn’t be as much fun would it…?