Using Context to Supercharge your Communication

Using Context to Supercharge your Communication

Imagine waking up in the morning, having received a blank email from your boss with the subject line, “I need it before the ETA we gave the Client.” Don’t worry. Anyone’s heart would drop. If you’re a human being, your mind will start racing and looking for clues, 

What do you need to give? Who do you need it for? When do you need to provide it? Because your mind is aching for context! You cannot act on the “information” you’ve been given although you might understand that something is being asked. When you communicate with context, you are not only giving the message but how to use that information. 

Contextualizing this Context  

Although Constellation is a Marketing Technology company, automating content creation at the enterprise level to scale content creation for Brands, I have the privilege of being on the Operation team. Our product is the Swiss Army Knife of content creation in heavily regulated sectors, so we are the multi-tool for the multi-tool. 

For me, in Quality Control, the work means finding errors and communicating them to relevant parties; this could be the Creative Team, Customer Success, or our Growth team. The same message could mean vastly different things to each team. 

“Seeing any error on the copy for the car ad.” 

Not very helpful. This is the point where you might be asking yourself, how is this different from being a bad communicator? I would say, it isn’t! 

Context By Medium – Assumed vs. Constructed

In marketing, the context is always based on where you see it. There is an assumed context for communication-based on the medium. 

  • Product Placement 
    • Contextualizes your product around a character or in a specific situation.
    • Films are understood to be fiction. A product can be part of that fiction and add to it. 
  • Social
    • Contextualizing the product (or service) as something that could be of interest. “This could be of interest”
  • Classic Print (and all the previous ones mentioned)
    • Contextualizing your product with everyday life: reminding people of what they forgot at the store or of a vacation destination when they are in the thick of life. 

Using the same message on these three mediums would likely lead to vastly different results. The billboard or newspaper spread, wouldn’t work in a user’s social fee. A social post in the middle of your film would break the movie and the ad, the message would become wrong.

For context in work, we luckily don’t have to assume anything. In a workplace, the context is constructed and communicated to all. There is an understood goal with an ask, deliverables, and processes in place. The guesswork is taken out and your brain can connect the dots to find the meaning. 

Acronyms are thrown around to shorten and optimize communication. Processes can be grouped or altered without years of planning. A shared context allows for a message to be altered without being lost. 

Context Enables Your Team and Your Audience

By capitalizing on the assumed contexts of a particular medium, or the constructed context of an audience, you empower your message to reach who it needs so they may instantly act on it. The CTA in advertising immediately enables your audience to act on the message communicated, making it clear what their action is doing and why they should click. 

In the context of my work and Constellation, I have the privilege of working with amazing professionals; all I have to do is state the error and the CTA is clear: solve the problem. Context isn’t a plus for your communication. Context decides what a message means for the audience and why they should listen. Don’t forget context or the people you’re speaking to may forget what you’re trying to say. Thanks for reading.