Maggie Tilley, CCC, APR

Guest Columnist, G&T Communications,   

Oh, those New Year’s resolutions. Whether or not we follow through on this annual rite of passage or abandon these best intentions when they become inconvenient, they do serve as a compass for our individual journeys.

Too introspective? Maybe. But if we chart our courses now, we can more positively impact the world around us in the days to come.

As co-op communicators (certified, no less), we have a unique challenge to be both creative and productive in a work environment more focused on keeping rates stable than on grabbing members’ attention. With that in mind, here are my top three personal resolutions that will serve as my North Star in 2015:

Strengthen my storytelling skills

Everyone loves a good story. Journey back to prehistoric times, and you’ll find people gathered around a fire listening to the designated keeper of the community’s narrative. Beam into the future, and you’ll discover storytelling festivals across the nation.

For example:

By experiencing others’ storytelling styles, and hearing some good tales spun in the process, we enhance our own ability to write the next newsletter article or draft that video storyboard. Count me in!

Learn how to better motivate people to change behavior

Whether we’re encouraging energy efficiency or asking people to participate in Operation Round Up®, we are asking people to change behavior. That’s no small task. Just ask the global experts in energy efficiency, including the cutting-edge utilities in California, where people have a reputation for experimenting with new behaviors.

In order to motivate human beings most effectively, we need to understand the process of personal decision-making. This draws on psychology and anthropology.

That’s why I’ve added the following to my 2015 reading list, in addition to reviewing some of Margaret Mead’s research. By understanding how people make decisions, we as communicators can more effectively influence those choices.

Sources of this food for thought:

Bring fun and creativity to communication development

One of the key items I’ve been sharing with my team is “Have fun with it. Your work will embody your sense of joy, and readers or viewers will sense it.”

It’s so true. Even though I was brought up in a time when work was supposed to be serious, I’m learning to let go and have some fun with a creative approach to that same old program we need to promote, or that tired topic I need to write about.

Sometimes I’ll search a key term from the project on YouTube, and just see what pops up. Other times, I’ll mentally swing on the monkey bars of a subject for a couple of days and “let it simmer” on my mental back burner.

A walk through a local art gallery or a trip to “the big city” almost always brings a new way of looking at things to mind. And taking risks with new approaches to traditional topics has proved invaluable.

I’m resolving to give myself — and my team members — permission to embrace the creative process and have some fun with it. The vibrant energy that results from that approach communicates at a deeper level than we realize.

As we move through 2015, let’s resolve to try new things, fresh approaches and to find the joy that brought us into this profession to begin with. A year from now, we can reflect on the mental scrapbook of where we were and how far we’ve come … and perhaps, even celebrate a bit.

Maggie is president of G&T Communications, a full-service public relations and advertising firm that specializes in working with electric cooperatives.