Consistent or Excellent Communications – Which is More Important?

consistancy vs excellence

One of the keys to growing your communications audience is consistency.

Imagine what would happen if your newspaper was delivered at a different time every day and some days not at all. You’d probably read it less often, right? Or imagine your favorite TV show was broadcast at a different day and time every week. You’re viewing would be hit or miss.

This is why communications consultants advocate creating an editorial calendar (aka a schedule) for all your communications, including e-newsletters, blogs, and social media. If you post/send at the same day(s)/time(s) every week, people will come to expect your communication and make a habit of reading it.

But what do you do if your editorial calendar says it’s time to post/send, and you don’t have any riveting news or content to ship?

Is it better to post/send something for the sake of consistency? Or is it better to miss a post/issue/episode?

For a long time, I thought consistency was most important. After all, even if I threw something together last minute it would still be pretty good. Not every post can be a home run anyway, right? And aren’t most newsletters a collection of news that’s already been published in another format?

But, I’ve changed my mind. Here’s why…

Most of us are drinking from a fire hose of information. We get far more emails, blog posts, and social media updates than we can possibly read. So, either intentionally or otherwise, we filter what we read.

We look at our inbox and we read the messages that seem most important and leave others unread.

After a while we may start to see a pattern – we’re not reading these emails, so why let them clutter our inbox.

Click. Unsubscribe.

If you use Gmail, after you leave several emails from a sender unread, Google automatically starts to put email from that sender into the “promotions” folder.

As content creators, we can’t afford to be mediocre or hit and miss.  Our content has to be excellent every time!

It needs to be valuable, unique and engaging.

Last week, I had a deadline to publish our monthly “Webmaster Newsletter” which goes out to the thousands of organizations whose websites we host at OurChurch.Com. I made a list of all the content I could include. I had some of our usual features – a summary of search engine marketing news, a client spotlight, a funny video. All things we shared earlier in the month. But no breaking news. Nothing else I thought our clients would respond by thinking, “Wow, I’m glad a read that!”

So, I didn’t publish the newsletter.

Was it the right decision?

I think so, but I’d be curious to hear what you think? Or if you’ve done something similar.

Ideally though, we should never put ourselves in a position where we have to choose between consistency and excellence. But it takes intentionality – planning, creativity and starting early enough – to create content that is consistent AND excellent.

What do you think?

Is excellence in communications more important than consistency?  What if anything do you do to try to make your communications consistent and excellent?

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.

8 Responses to “Consistent or Excellent Communications – Which is More Important?”

  1. Excellent viewpoint – too often people post just for the sake of posting, and it all tends to get lost in all the noise.

    • Not just lost in all the noise, but it is noise and adds to the overall noise level.

  2. Well thought out. Value for the reader is of utmost importance.

  3. higheredinnovation Apr 29, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Brevity and Quality Content goes a long way!

  4. Yup. We get so much info, we don't remember when what was posted last time, and don't notice if it wasn't posted this time. We just read what sounds interesting when it comes in. Some consistency is good, but content is King!

  5. I do agree with your conclusion but I also worry about the negative effect of failing to publish when expected. I tend to fail a bit too often, not so much because I don't have anything good enough to publish, though I'm not always sure about that, but because life gets in the way and I simply have to attend meetings some distance away, take my wife to the hospital or, or, or so many things. I don't suppose I'm alone in that?

    • PaulSteinbrueck May 2, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Hey Tony, that's a good point. I think the solution to "life gets in the way" is preparation – planning and writing content ahead of time. The challenge I run into with that is I have a tendency to give myself permission to not do that because it's not urgent.