Tag Archives: communication

Dancing on the Sharp Edge of the Knife

Marketing/Communications people are the Brand Champions in the organization.

Working in Marketing and Communications means that you are serving two masters (actually there are a few more than two, but we’ll ignore them for now, even if that may not be so easy to do).

One master is your client/Brand.

The other master is the consumer, your end-user.

And you are walking the tightrope between them.

Yes, your salary gets paid, directly or indirectly, by your Brand/client, but unless you understand and adequately meet the needs of the ultimate client – the person who actually uses and pays for the product or service you represent – there won’t be any money to pay anyone.

A responsible Communications pro/Marketer understands that there are two opposing yet complementary sides to the coin.  Without the brand there is nothing for the consumer, if the people suing/consuming are not happy/satisfied, there is not brand. the And they actively search for ways to keep both sides satisfied.

When interests are common, this is easy, when they are not, it is a challenging balancing act.

The Brand Champion represents both the Brand, and the ultimate user/consumer.

While acting as the Brand/client ambassador, you represent the Brand, your client to the internal organization, external suppliers, the public, the media, the consumers themselves and are responsible for the messages, communications, image and identity.

As the main spokesperson for the Brand/client within the organization, you are accountable for representing the wants and needs of the customer, and for delivering against the promise of the brand or service.  Everything you do must be for the good of the ultimate consumer.  Everything you do must also support the goals and objectives of your company/Brand.

So if there is a problem or a mistake, you are responsible for creating the action plan and brokering the solution that fixes the issue and ensures transparency with the consumer so they don’t feel you’re trying to put one over on them.  The how you do it serves the interests of your company/Brand to maintain your status and performance in the marketplace.

Not an easy task, but one that provides a great sense of accomplishment when you get it right.

Know your user/purchaser/client.

Keep faith with the ultimate user, make sure you have their best interests at heart.  The more you know about, and can identify with them, the easier it is to understand how to communicate with them.  Represent your consumer franchise well and make sure you educate all of the stakeholders at your company so they are very knowledgeable about the end customer.  It helps to ensure the agendas dovetail (and makes your job easier).

It’s in your best interest.

Originally posted September 21, 2011  on mononews.

Communication Is Two-Way

photo credit: bengrey via photopin cc

photo credit: bengrey via photopin cc

Communicating is more than just “telling”.                

Sometimes I get discouraged because I believe that people tend to think that their responsibility for communication is solely in the dissemination or, “telling” part of the communication.

I am discouraged because there are so many more vehicles than ever to use for delivering information; as a result the problem becomes exponential in size.
This is probably reinforced by having a communications industry that is closely linked to media, which helps make “broadcast” the most logical synonym for “communication” in the public mind.

You are 100% responsible for communication.
I recall a time when management at the company where I worked was fond of telling us that “each of us was 100% responsible for communication”.  I had a sense of confusion and frustration thinking that if I had 100 %, therefore total, responsibility for communicating, then what responsibility did the other party or parties have?  Zero?  It just didn’t make sense to me.
(I admit that yes, maybe I think too much, but words and concepts are important to me.  Besides, if I didn’t have this predilection, what would I write about?)
After many years of pondering, lots more business experience, working in Marketing where it is an important requirement to identify with the consumer and champion their needs within the organization, and working in Public Relations where you work to be heard, here is my 100% rule.

Your responsibility: 50% telling and 50% making sure you are heard.
You have 100% responsibility for communication.  50% of that responsibility is  for telling, and 50% of that for ensuring that it is heard.

The telling part is pretty easy.  Just fire off the e-mail, communiqué, press release, blog post, tweet, make your presentation or say your piece.  There’s 50% of your responsibility discharged!

But how can you be responsible for ensuring that what you have to tell is heard?   This is the challenging part of the 50%.  Challenging, but very do-able.

You need to present the information in a way that helps make sure the audience wants/needs to hear it.

Know your audience.  Understand who you are addressing with your communication.  The better you can answer this question, the higher the success rate in ensuring they hear your message.

Make it relevant.  By knowing who you are talking to, you can tailor the information so that it meets their informational needs. Use a tone that resonates with them.  Make sure the words you use are in their vocabulary.

Make it interesting – entertaining even.  I have noticed a lot of articles recently about “story-telling” and “storyfying”.  The point is to provide information as a story or within a story; to use a traditional beginning, middle and end format along with “conflict” to add interest.  Telling a story about your product/service, or using your product/service in a story helps convey news in an appealing manner.

Make it valuable.  People appreciate learning something, receiving new information or getting information that specifically relates to them or to their own particular needs.  When you know your audience, your consumer or consumer, you understand what will be helpful to them or how to convey information in a helpful manner.

Engage.  Communication should be engaging.  It should get people interested, curious, motivate them to reply, to share, to act.  Engineer your communication so that it is oriented to doing something.  Ask a question, highlight an issue, suggest an action.

Suggested guidelines:

– Take the information or news that you want to convey.  Ask yourself the following questions:

– Who are my customers/consumers/clients?

– What about this information is most important/relevant to my customers/consumers/clients?

– Why would my customers/consumers/clients find this important?

– How can I make this information most interesting/relevant to my customers/consumers/clients?

– Put yourself in the role of the recipient of the communication.  What would you want to hear?

– Why?  How could the information be conveyed to best engage ?

– What questions might this information provoke? What are the answers?

– What environment might be most conducive to ensuring my message is heard/appreciated?

By doing this, you are assuming the 50% responsibility for guaranteeing your message gets heard.
Now having 100% responsibility for communication makes sense to me.


Originally published August 8, 2012 on mononews.