9 Tips for Communicators Who Want to Take a Vacation

communicators vacation‘Tis the season for summer vacations. But as communicators, it can be challenging in our “always on” culture for us to close the laptop, put down the smart phone and take a break.

It was fitting that last night the moderators of both the #ChSocM and #GetRealChat Twitter chats focused on the topic of juggling communications and social media with holidays and vacations. (Way to go Pam and Carolyn on being dialed into the needs of your communities!)

I combined some of the great insight from those chats with some of my own to create a list of…

9 Tips for Communicators Who want to Take a Vacation

1) Vacation is good and necessary – We all need periodic breaks from the daily grind to renew, recharge and reconnect with family and friends.  Vacation is healthy, biblical and necessary for you to do your job well the rest of the year.  Make it a priority!

2) You are not indispensable – Many people feel like they can’t take a vacation because they fear everything would crash and burn if they did.  If the President of the United States can take a vacation and the country still survive, certainly your church, school, ministry or business can survive with you on vacation. If there are important tasks only you know how to do, make it a priority to teach someone else how to do them.  Which leads me to…

3) Build your team – Communications is a team job.  If you’re doing communications for a church or ministry, recruit, train and empower volunteers.  If you’re doing communications for a business, hire or cross-train others in your company.  Even if you’re the only person in your start-up business or ministry, you can hire a part time virtual assistant.  Work and ministry are more fun and fulfilling with a team anyway. :)

4) Create a plan – Figure out well in advance what you want your communications to look like while you’re away.  What is your content schedule? You may decide it’s OK for some communications channels to “go dark” for a week or two while others cannot.  Will you be completely offline the entire time or check messages once or twice a day?  Who is going to do what in your absence? Where do you need out of office messages?

5) Work ahead – If you are going to publish new content during your vacation such as blog posts, devotionals or newsletters, write them ahead of time. You may even be to write a lot of social media content ahead of time as well.

6) Reuse good, timeless content – If you blog or have created videos, vacations are a good time to repost “from the archives.”  You probably have lots of new readers/followers who haven’t seen some of your older content anyway.  Just make sure the content is still relevant.

7) Schedule posts – WordPress enables bloggers to schedule when posts will be published.  There are also tools like Hootsuite that enable you to schedule tweets and Facebook posts.  This was by far the most controversial and hotly debated idea in both chats last night. Some people think scheduling tweets/posts is inauthentic and kills engagement. I’m going to publish an entire post devoted to that topic on Friday. For now I want to encourage you to consider it as an option for at least some of your content.

EDIT July 5: See Scheduling Social Media Posts While on Vacation: Good or Bad?

8) Creatively use your vacation to create content – Communications in general and social media specifically is all about building connections and trust.  Vacations (and even more so missions trips and leadership retreats)  provide an opportunity to sprinkle in some personal content  which helps to strengthen relationships.

One great, quick way to do this is to shoot a 1 minute video “on location” and tie in something about that location or what you’re doing there to communicate a learning point or inspirational thought.  Share the video on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and perhaps embed it in a blog post. Don’t be surprised if something like this gets more engagement from your audience than your “normal” content you spend far more time and effort to create.

Its important, though, to plan this out ahead of time as much as possible. You don’t want your mind constantly drifting to brainstorming for content ideas while on vacation.

9) Follow the plan – As communicators, we love to stay connected and be engaged. So inevitably while on vacation, we’ll be tempted to check email or social media when we should be fully engaged with family and friends.  Resist!  Create the plan (#4), then follow the plan.

Are you planning a vacation, missions trip or other adventure that will take you out of the office for a while?  If so, what’s your plan?  What tips and advice can you share with other readers?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

11 Responses to “9 Tips for Communicators Who Want to Take a Vacation”

  1. Meredith Gould Jul 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Kudos to you for the quick and helpful follow-up to last night's chat(s). It's so…you! Want to add here what I mentioned during the chat, which is that I don't separate work and life — especially in the domain of ministry, so taking a vacation from posting church and faith related stuff doesn't really happen for me.

    Does this make me a workaholic? Some might say so! I prefer to view this has having a more integrated and whole life, something made possible by focusing on God's presence everywhere, in all things, at all times.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jul 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks Meredith. I think it depends on the situation. I wouldn't automatically cut myself off from social media when on vacation, but at the same time I think its important that I give renewal and engaging with the people I'm physically with priority. In other words, I think its best to offload the communication obligations and then give myself the freedom to participate and engage as is convenient.

  2. Of the tips you mention my favorite is to creatively use your vacation to create content. When I travel on vacation I will often look to see what events that interest me are going on in that location (looking on one of the online communities that coordinates group meetings). For me this is often events where groups of technology people (programmers, etc.) meet on various topics. So it is a good way to meet people, make some contacts, and get ideas for content. Of course the options for attending these kinds of things varies greatly on where you are spending your vacation.

  3. Dr. Hansjörg Leichsenring Jul 4, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Your are absolutly right Paul. At least, if (like in my case) you are a i-man-Show, you have to so some work, even in vacation.

    Cheers from Germany

    Hansjörg

  4. thinkertinkertechiespy Jul 5, 2013 at 3:20 am

    These are really good tips, and as someone who is currently on vacation I can attest to either following these or wishing I did.

  5. Troy Mickins Jul 5, 2013 at 6:59 am

    All of these are good tips that I will consider as I continue on the path of becoming a better communicator. I especially liked tips #2 and #3. Thanks Paul for another timely and relevant post.

  6. Thank you so much for this, Paul! I have long been thinking over whether I should take a vacation or not. I mean, I want to but I don't think I have enough time. I don't want to leave for vacation and have to go back to tens of unfinished tasks and hundreds of unread emails, that will just make me even more stressed. But thank you for helping me get over my dilemma and inspiring me to take a break. I need this and I deserve this.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Oct 4, 2013 at 9:43 am

      Glad I could be of help. After you get back from your vacation, stop by and let me know how it was. I'd love to hear about it!

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