7 Things Playing an Online Word Game Taught Me about Communications

By Christine Sullivan, Creative Considerations

Paillard Bakery Quebec City

©Creative Considerations 2011

Introducing a language lover to a crossword-type game you play with a friend online is like locking a cookie monster overnight in a bakery. Can you spell devour?

A few months since downloading the popular app onto my smartphone, I’ve not only refreshed my knowledge of obscure words like Qi, Xi and Ska, I’ve observed some lessons about creative communications.

In short: 

1. Start with a plan. In word games, you may begin with a focus on scoring big but have you factored in a good defense? In the same way, although communicators are at their best working to advance an organization’s goals proactively, they must also be well prepared for the eventuality of a crisis.

2. Serve audience needs. As you play, you’ll observe that opponents have different styles, which will shape your own game. Similarly, in planning a communications program, the more information you have about your target audience, the more precise your strategy and tactics will be.

3. Value knowledge. In crossword-type games, the more words you know, the better. In the same way, nothing substitutes for thorough and detailed research as the building block for a strong and creative communications program.

4. Anticipate the unexpected. Although you focus on playing your best game, the tiles you land can be random. Creative communicators are flexible, resourceful and open to change. The smartest develop different scenarios in advance to prepare for unwanted surprises.

5. See the possibilities. Even the worst tile rack can offer creative possibilities when you relax and observe the entire board. In communications, taking time to understand how your work fits the organization’s big picture will lead to innovative ideas and  successful approaches.

6. Embrace outliers. In word games, tough letters like “q” can offer great value when you place them on a triple-letter square. In comparison, finding a creative way to overcome a communications challenge and solve a difficult problem results in a strong sense of satisfaction and a win for your organization.

7. Evaluate your plan. Whether you win or lose a round, there is something to be gained — a larger vocabulary, for example, or improved play. In communications, when you measure whether the goals you set were reached and what could be improved, you lay the groundwork for even better results and a happier client. This assessment is an integral part of the communications process.

Do you have a strategy when you play online word games with your friends?

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About creativeconsiderations

Christine Sullivan is a communications strategist with expertise in communications planning, writing and content development, and executive communications. She can be reached at mycreativeconsiderations@gmail.com.
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4 Responses to 7 Things Playing an Online Word Game Taught Me about Communications

  1. lbstrang says:

    The first item — start with a plan — is so important. Surprisingly, some organizations seem to use a “ready, fire, aim” approach to communications.

    • It is surprising when you see the “ready, fire, aim” approach, especially today in the complex environments in which most organizations operate. The plan is definitely the foundation of an effective communications program.

  2. I got a kick out of this article, being addicted to many word based online and phone games myself.

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