I have to begin by saying that in no way do I consider myself an expert in coffee. Nor am I what some would refer to as a coffee snob. Though I have been blessed to work in an office, and a city, that just does coffee really well. I am literally surrounded by it. I drink it and my friends are borderline obsessed.
For those of you that share this same appreciation, you probably have felt the pain I am about to share with you. Recently my work in communications has had me travelling more than normal. This has meant that my usual quality coffee has not been as readily accessible. Yes I have been stuck with that stuff they serve in economy class. Still not sure if it is actually coffee. Though it is not airplane coffee that I want to talk about. It is instead that compact machine that adorns many offices and homes around the world. In America, it is the Keurig, though for this piece I will just refer to it as pod coffee. That simple automatic machine that by simply popping a pod into it and pressing a button you are set. You have coffee.
So what on earth does this have to do with communications?
On these same trips, amongst others, I have been training and consulting in communications, specifically through the digital space. While this isn’t exclusive to something like social media I have been fascinated by that thing in us that desires an instant and easy result. It is what draws us to that blog post with 5 tips promising our video to go viral. I am no different. It is honestly one of the main discussion points that keeps getting brought up.
For some reason we want the pod coffee version of communications. Where can I buy something cheap that will take a usually complex process, make it simple, speed it up, and ultimately spit out a result. Though let’s think about that result for a second. Now I mean no offense to coffee pod drinkers, I often partake myself, though the honest truth is that it is a horrible result. It is horrible coffee.
So what then makes for a good result?
Go and watch a good barista at a local cafe. Yes there are machines involved. But I want to point out two important factors. Firstly the machines they use are top of the line and are very expensive. Most of a cafe’s up front capital actually goes into financing that very machine. Then finally, and this is the main point I want to highlight, the barista is intricately involved in every step of the process. Did you know that the exact date the beans were roasted and the bag is first opened matters? They do. Did you know that the humidity and time of day affects how the coffee should be ground? They do. That’s not even getting into the weight of the grounds, timing of the shot, the temperature of the water or milk. Though these are just a few of the things they care about and handle with precision.
It is hard work, it takes time, and the end result is incredible.
Now I think we can learn a lot from our baristas. Not only in communications but in many things we are doing. Simply put; the result we get out of our communications will often be the product of what we put in. Are we willing to dive into every detail of our processes, from start to finish? Can we risk mistakes along the way and ultimately get our hands dirty? This could relate to our desire to automate things like social media instead of getting hands-on with a platform. In a way that connects with the audience and really teaches us about the medium. Try learning to use SnapChat and you will quickly discover what I mean.
Now if you are happy with a pod coffee result in the work you are doing that is ok. By all means, automate away.
Though if you are serious about having a quality result, one that you and others will keep coming back to, get in there and learn what it means to pull that perfect shot.