Posts Tagged ‘Communications’

Say What?


One of the biggest gripes I have with people (myself included) is that we aren’t the best at…well, expressing ourselves clearly.  We’re pretty good at things like naming what TV shows we like, what kind of foods we prefer and what movie may have seen over the weekend. 


But when it comes to telling our own story (especially in business), quite often what comes out is something close to the Charlie Brown teacher…



Just a lot of jibberish that only makes sense to those who are used to the internal shorthand of the team.  With friends, this kind of thing can pass – we all have our own little picadillos and nicknames that only make sense to our individual tribes. 


However, in the business of communications, how can we let this happen?  There are lots of websites, press kits, etc. out there that are about as useful as a floppy disk for an iMac G3 (internal dialogue: ‘NERD’). Like Peppermint Patty, did we fall asleep in the midst of translating the ‘kwaah-kwaah-kwaah’ (Charlie Brown Teacher speak) for the masses?


Quite simply, I believe that we’ve taken for granted that outside audiences will ‘get it’ when they read your materials – be it a website, a company fact sheet, a BIO, whatever.  But unless your external audience is comprised of people from your board room, it is safe to say that no one will ‘get it.’


It is with this in mind that I offer up three tips to keep in mind when helping your audience ‘get it’…


Take a Quick Look: take a look at what you have drafted up (be it copy for your client’s website, a press kit, etc.) and take a quick snapshot of one piece.  Does this one piece look like something that would make sense to your target audience? Is it filled with jargon or industry-speak that can only be understood by 10% of your audience?


Take a Breather: it’s quite easy to get so entrenched with your own work that your fuzzy parts start looking clear.  It’s kind of like working at a chicken farm or at a cattle ranch – pretty soon you forget about ‘the smell’ until some ‘city folk’ come in to remind you of the stench.  You need to give yourself a break to get some outside air and perspective.


Bring In An Outsider: be it someone from your team who’s not involved with the drafting of the ‘working documents,’ a colleague that’s familiar with your particular industry or a family member, give someone else a look-see. Having a fresh point of view on what you already have working almost always leads to improvements.


So, communicators: what do you think?  What other things have you done to help bring some clarity to your client’s materials?  What have you done to help people on the outside ‘get it’ for your clients?


This post was cross-posted on Waxing Unlyrical – a blog that is owned and operated by the wonderfully savvy and smart Shonali Burke.

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Music…Sweet Music.

Whenever I think of chamber music, I think of Haydn, Beethoven or Mozart – beautiful stuff, but something I *really* have to be in the mood for.  Don’t get me wrong – their compositions have everything I look for in music: passion, depth and that element of surprise.  But you’ll be hard-pressed to find me say something like, “Hey, the Dallas Symphony is going to have a chamber music series this year – we should check it out!” It’s just not my vibe.

Nay Nay.

Then I ran across Project Trio.

Three guys from Brooklyn that bill themselves as “passionate, high energy chamber music ensemble.”  Since one of the guys is a Dallas native…AND…since we spent a little over seven years in Cobble Hill (yes, Brooklyn), I thought I’d give em’ a look see.

Aside from the obvious, here’s why I like em’…

  • They’ve taken their music to a whole new type of audience – the kind people that can jam with and appreciate the street musicians in New York City.
  • They’ve introduced chamber music by serving their own brand of jelly to the masses.
  • They look like the blue man group jamming when they play – especially in this video.

Moreover, their music has hit me on a personal level.  And, quite honestly, isn’t that what we want music to do?

Here’s the Thing: Business communications can do just that. Just because you sell supplemental insurance, it doesn’t mean that you have to ‘sell’ supplemental insurance.  Look at what AFLAC has done with that darn duck…what Nike does by just doing it…jeez, looks at what Apple does with……just about everything.

They’ve reached new audiences, introduced new ways of looking at their products and created an identity that is hard to forget…all because they realized that it’s not a product that they’re selling – it’s a brand.  A brand that has a sense of humor, runs, jumps & jives. A brand that represents companies full of humans – not products.

Let’s face it communicators: at the end of the day, we don’t really have to help our clients become an American Idol for the masses.  Our job is to help them deliver a great song for their audiences.

What kind of music are you making today?


This concoction was cross-posted on Waxing Unlyrical – a blog that is owned and operated by the wonderfully savvy & smart Shonali Burke.

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arrogantYesterday, Richard Laermer, CEO of PR agency RLM, wrote up a pointed and critical piece (Who Gives a Hit) about how we, as communicators, may not be the best examples of sharing the wealth when a big hit on someplace like CNN comes in.  As humbling as this may be, the one big image that came to mind as I read Richard’s post was one of the final scenes in the film Wag the Dog


Dustin Hoffman’s character, Stanley, was faced with the idea of receiving payment for his services in the form of things like being granted an ambassadorship, money, etc.  Stanley was insulted, exclaiming, “Money!  You think I did this for money?!  I want credit!”



Granted, Stanley was dealing with a different kind of campaign than most of us are used to; however, it was still the image that came to mind when Richard called the industry out (himself included) on the idea that someone has ‘dibs’ on this high profile contact or that media outlet.   One of the biggest issues with the communications industry (or any other industry for that matter) is that it is filled will human beings that can easily foul up a great idea, like sharing credit for a home run.  This whole concept is easier said than done because EGO is involved.  Like Stanley, we all want credit, praise and validation.


However, striving for true collaboration and equal credit in communications is something worth fighting for.  We just need to check our egos at the door.


Nothing big, right?


It would be sooo worth it.  Checking your ego at the door would support:

  • collaboration – when you’re humble, you’re open to hearing out everyone’s ideas – regardless of what their ‘title’ may be.
  • teamwork – the best work gets accomplished when you have people in a variety of teams and practices helping each other out…all moving towards one common goal.
  • the need for a sense of humor – you don’t take yourself too seriously and realize that you are NOT finding the cure for world famine.  Yes, you are doing something important; but you’re keeping it all in perspective.


And more than that, you’re actually a person that people WANT to work with.

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