Archive for the ‘Corporate Communications’ Category
OK. This is a Friday AM vent.
How much time in any given marketing group is wasted executing knee-jerk tactics, just because the client demands it?
How many high performing, exquisite campaigns with measurable metrics have a strategic communication plan?
All of them.
I heard the phrase “tactics in search of a strategy” at a recent IABC Heritage Region conference where we all had an emotional group hug, because it is a common frustration in any communications group.
Whew. I feel better. Onward and upward.
Lee Hamilton, director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and former U. S. Representative wrote:
“Compromise is not easy, especially in today’s contentious atmosphere….Compromise…requires values that are hard to find these days: respect for one’s idealogical opponents, a willingness to listen hard and to understand what they have to say, and recognition that no one has a monopoly on what is right.”
To my way of thinking, this is the essence of human communication and often the missing element, not only in politics, but in the communication arts as well. I have looked at a great deal of advertising in recent months where Hamilton’s three key points are conspicuously missing:
- Respect for one’s idealogical opponents – or-competing departments defending their turf
- Listening hard for what others have to say
- Recognition that no one has a monopoly on what is right
In communications, we are overwhelmed with technology, channels, strategies and competing interests for time, political positioning and budgets. Communications cannot be integrated without compromise. Effective IMC cannot take place without respect for the organization and the firm resolution to continuously seek to develop the best possible outcomes for the organization as a whole, or it is not integrated.
Getting it right to me is including all competing interests into a communications plan that promotes the organization as a cohesive whole. This requires both creative thinking and compromise, particularly in a highly fragmented media environment.
What does getting it right mean to you?
 Hamilton, Lee (22 May 2011) “Embrace comprise, don’t insult it.” The Meadville Tribune: Meadville, PA. A4.
Three things resonated with me in the current issue of Communications World, Changing Course because I’ve learned from practical experience that how we communicate change has everything to do with successful execution and audience engagement. Building bridges from emotion to logic (Nicholson), King III Communication management principles in South Africa (deBeer & Rensburg), and internal communication to deliver brand promises (Munslow) are the articles that I bookmarked, no matter how much change you have endured or championed, there is always something new to learn and consider.
Executive Editor Natasha Nicholson states it best: “Your story, rich with purposeful thinking, unfolds with the potential that this change will bring. It shows what possibilities lie ahead if an obsolete approach is replaced by fresh ideas and innovative thinking. So your story forms a bridge from emotion to logic. It’s only in respecting emotion as we present logic that we can blend these two powerful forces to meet the demands of a new world.”
In “Playing the Rules”, Estelle deBeer and Ronel Rensburgh, PhD describe South Africa’s King Code III which must be observed in principle by companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange: “Corporate governance is concerned with holding the balance between economic and social goals and between individual and communal goals…the aim is to align as nearly as possible the interests of individuals, corporations and society [Cadbury].” The authors hold up this model of 6 guiding principles as a guide for global adaptation. In view of the political situation currently in play in the Middle East and the role of social media in the unrest, these principles bear further examination.
An interview Daniel Munslow, Chief Communication Officer at Talk2Us in South Africa was a great read on internal communications, but this quote really resonated with me as an IMC person: “Ultimately, public relations, marketing and advertising serve as tools to raise awareness and create an expectation in the minds of consumers. It is the vital role of internal communications, irrespective of where the function sits in the business, to engage employees to deliver the promises of the brand.”
Both personally and professionally I have experienced a great deal of change in the past 10 years and learning how to respond and adapt graciously and efficiently is my idea of cogent change – what’s yours?
 Nicholson, Natasha (March-April 2011) from the editor; Change for the better. Communications World, 28(2), 3.
 deBeer, Estelle and Ronel Rensburg, PhD. (March-April 2011) Playing the Rules. Communications World, 28(2), 32-35.
 Munslow, Daniel (March – April 2011) Go from Good to Great. Communications World, 28(2), 36-39.
I spent my teen years working for my father, an entrepreneur who owned the Commercial Business Agency (get the joke?) whose product mix included telephone answering service, collection agency, Western Union, printing/direct mail business, temporary office personnel and any other business he could think of where we could make a few extra bucks. One day, before I could buy my first legal drink, he told me to go over to the local industrial furnace manufacturer to work as a fill-in for a two week vacation. A month later they called me back with a job offer.
Fast forward to 30 years later, as I prepare to leave the same company, I can’t help but think about what smart and interesting people engineers are to work with. Mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers, male and female, some practical and methodical, others visionary and creative, but without them, manufacturing as we know it, could not exist. The visionaries typically are in sales or work in R & D, and the pragmatists do all of the heavy lifting, getting things built and making them work.
I have been frustrated and vexed working with engineers both on the operations side (purchasing, expediting, estimating) and on the sales/marketing side of the business, typically with communications and decision-making, but as I sit and reflect on it all, I am very grateful for the experience of working with engineers from all over the world who have enriched my professional life and taught me that everything I touch and use can be traced to its true origin in the mind of an engineer.
Want to know “how it works?” Ask an engineer. I’ve been doing that for 30 years now and never cease to marvel at their response.
I’m a huge fan of Ragan Communication’s PR Daily. This video interview of speech writer Bob Lehrman was quite interesting to me because Bob is a corporate speech writer, but what captured my attention was his mention of using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence for persuasive speeches. So, I started digging and this is what I found:
This is a simple sequence of steps for persuading that John Monroe developed in the 1930s and which was based on John Dewey’s original work.
A simple attention grabber is their name. You can also demonstrate emotion (‘Oh no!’) or physically grab them (if it is socially valid). Longer attention grabbers include jokes and dramatic stories.
Attention can be very brief, so once you have it, you need to move on quickly. Attention-grabbing should also move them towards interest. If you annoy them, then you will have your work cut out to recover the situation.
The next step is to trigger a need that the listener has. There are many of these, although the CIN Needs Model helps simplify this. A stimulated need leads to the person seeking a solution.
This is not about creating satisfaction, but proposing a way in which satisfaction may be gained by meeting the need that you have just stimulated.
Now that you have proposed a solution, the next step is to move the listener to see it as the right answer for them to meet their need. Help them visualize the solution in place, such that it is complete and successful. If it involves them doing something, get them to see themselves in action.
Finally, you need to prompt the person into action, implementing the solution that you both now know is the right thing to do.
Monroe’s Motivating Sequence (n.d.) ChangingMinds.org. Retrieved 3/9/2011 from http://changingminds.org/techniques/general/overall/monroe_sequence.htm
Seeing this video could not have happened at a better time. I have a presentation coming up in June and will see how this model works. Ragan also has an excellent video interview of Kennedy speech writer, Ted Sorensen: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/7496.aspx
You can never learn enough about good writing.
PR Daily: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Home.aspx
Sarah Mitchell really nails it in her post on the Content Marketing Institute’s daily post entitled, “ Produce Local, Distribute Global: 3Keys to your Content Marketing Localization Plan.” In truth, she identified many of my pain points as veteran of these very issues, first as a corporate communicator at the US headquarters, and now as the local communicator with headquarters in Europe.
You need to read her article, but in summary, Sarah’s three keys are:
1. “…establish ownership of the content. When you’re working across markets, and very likely across time zones, it’s imperative the head office takes ownership of the whole project. Without a strong management focus from the originating source, you cannot be sure your message is being delivered at all.”
2. “…Every single market I’ve ever worked in makes purchasing decisions based on business benefit. What is different is how they expect to get their information…Cultural differences abound from country to country. That’s why you can’t conduct a localization project without the input of the local market. What works in the USA, may not work in Italy or Tokyo.”
3. “…allocating budget for localization in any content-producing project up front. A well-planned effort delivers many benefits including buy-in from your foreign distributers and enhanced brand image in the international market. Often these tasks are only considered at the end of a project when everyone is ready to move on and the money is used up.”
I agree with all of this, and I would like to add two more points:
1. A headquarters in transition will be more successful utilizing a Change Management Communications Plan complete with measurement metrics for both internal and external audiences. Global companies need a senior level communicator in order to accomplish this. The end result will be a huge savings in time & financial investment in deliverables. As Sarah points, there’s nothing worse than investing big dollars in print that local offices will not use. Been there, done that.
Good resource: This month’s Communications World
2. The Best Practice of all of the world’s great brands is for the headquarters to develop a useful Style Manual to be used throughout the global organization to maintain consistency in the brand. The graphic design and templates should be sufficiently well designed to be readily localized.
Best example, the highest valued brand in the world, Coca-Cola
So here is my question: In a world where you say aluminium and I say aluminum, and you measure in meters (or should I say metres?)and I measure in feet and inches, how does one localize web copy when the world gravitates to the USA website as the primary English source? If you don’t have the resources of General Electric to produce two to three localized pages in English (USA, UK, Australia), what do you do? Do you think users actually care?
In my work, I generally use British spellings in meta tags and occasionally in body copy, then Americanize print publications. I am very interested in how others approach this problem.
Links in this post:
Content Marketing Institute (CMI), their daily newsletter is a must read for me: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/
Produce Local, Distribute Global: 3 Keys to Your Content Marketing Localization Plan By SARAH MITCHELL | Published: MARCH 2, 2011: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/03/3-keys-to-content-marketing-localization/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ea5a36373b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_source=CMI+Posts+to+Email
Communications World: http://www.iabc.com/cw/