What does that mean, anyway? Is it like marketing and PR? Can't I just do my own writing? Why does it matter if I hire someone to help with my business' communications?
All good questions. Let's take them one at a time.
Communications as a specialty is distinct from, though overlaps with, marketing or PR. Communications isn't, per se, about selling. It's about brand. It's about identity. It's about clarity. Sure, all those relate to selling, whether you're selling widgets or time or ideas. But your communications strategy goes more deeply into the why of your business.
Marketing and PR require a specific mindset. Marketing is, in this day and age, an awful lot about visuals. It's eye-catching and to the point. PR is, in its most classic sense, about getting public recognition for your business. It's about getting earned media coverage, and sharing news of your professional and organizational accomplishments.
But how to do achieve either without a clear communications plan? You can't.
Truth and consequences. Wherever you stand on how our government has responded to the evolving Coronavirus threat, there’s, I think, little question that the rhetoric—and the reality—is escalating. A word that only weeks ago we’d never heard before. Now controlling our every move and reaction. Plans postponed or canceled. Debating the merits of keeping schools open, where so many children rely on getting their daily meals, or close them to slow transmission. Travel and tourism in freefall. The economy is sliding at rates that cause us all alarm. Even if you don’t personally have a large stake in investments, that bright red line trending dramatically down is sobering.
What will happen? Humans are nothing if not terrible prognosticators. We can look at the history of things, and try to model and predict based on what came before. But we’re notoriously poor at adapting future behavior based on prior knowledge. Fear, today and likely tomorrow, is governing.
There’s that feeling you get when someone says you to, the self-employed person, gee, it must be so nice getting to be your own boss. And you know, deep in your soul, that the reality is more like having as many bosses as you have clients, except that there’s no connection or coordination among them, and each believes that their needs are at the top of your priority list. And part of you badly wants to accommodate that daydream, artfully sculpting your work day so that every little task is tended to. The further reality is that owning your own company is an exercise in mostly minor-scale crisis management. There is no routine. There are no two days that look like. It is getting the work done nights and weekends because that’s when the emails and meetings subside. It’s never going on vacation without your laptop in tow.
And amid the chaos and the desire to please and the appreciation for solid home wifi, there is the eternal question of how to best support The Difficult Client. You know...
Lately I’ve been finding solace in streaming reruns of The West Wing. I remember watching it sporadically while it was originally airing. I can’t now remember how many times since that I’ve watched the entire series. I’m sure there are those who have watched it more, though recently when my dad—another aficionado—asked me if I recalled the episode in which Bartlet called the Butterball hotline for advice about cooking the stuffing with the turkey, I could say, yes, I did. So I feel good about my credibility as a fan. As a cultural touchpoint, its message and content stand up well.
If you set out to create a platform that would resonate over time, how successful do you think you would be? When the show first aired in 1999, we were pre-9/11. In an episode I watched recently, Josh Lyman, the deputy chief of staff, meets another character inside the bounds of airport security. A currently unrelatable experience. An anachronistic throwback to a time we perceived to be less complicated.
Tis the season for proclamations of gratitude. T’wouldn’t it be even better if we were equally in touch with our thankful sides more frequently during the year? That said, better once than never. And I’m as guilty as anyone.
Yesterday I attended a yin yoga workshop at my preferred local studio and the theme was (not shockingly) gratitude. I arrived at the studio feeling stressed and more than a little on edge. Why? Well, it’s been a consistently on-the-go stretch of weeks. I’ve been easily frazzled by shifting schedules, delays, canceled appointments, last-minute requests of my time, and a range of who knows what else.
As class was getting started, small cards emblazoned with the word ‘gratitude’ were handed out along with pens, and we were entreated to take a moment to write a few thoughts on what we were, in that moment, thankful for. I somewhat abashedly admit, at first I was feeling a little challenged by what to write. My mind was spinning and I was anything but present, feeling o...
Rarely do we long for the logistics of air travel, but if there is anything that can redeem a long plane ride, it’s a long book. Recently, I had a few trips scheduled in short succession, a prime opportunity to get lost in story. Reading has always been a sanctuary for me. The time now is harder to come by, which is why a few contained hours at thirty or forty thousand feet can be welcome.
If you’re like me, which is to say your love of books and stories far outpaces your available time, you have an extensive I’ve-been-meaning-to-read list. Nathan Hill’s acclaimed novel, The Nix, had languished on my bedside table for ages. Finally, I vowed to dive in.
It is, among its many characteristics, a definitively long book, so ideal for my present needs. Closing out at over 700 pages, the story meanders, with a multitude of characters and plot twists. We encounter love, and loss, and complicated family dynamics. So, all very familiar.
Usually, when I finish a book, I like to sit with it for a...
You get it. We’re all busy, on the go, rushing from thing to thing during the day only to crash at night, hope for a semi-balanced meal, and maybe an hour to decompress before sleep and do it all over. And, day to night, we’ve all become reliant on our devices for easy-access, immediate communication. It’s easy to send off a quick text or email in between meetings, waiting for an appointment to start, waiting to pick up the kids from school or a game, or whenever five minutes present.
The consequences of this lifestyle are difficult to avoid, and afflict us all. For one, the over-saturation of information. The messages fly fast and furious. We’ve all had the experience of leaving a meeting and seeing a huge backlog of notifications. And the related expectation that we’ll all respond right away. There’s less and less that qualifies as an excuse worthy of non-responsiveness. Ironically, social media memes tell us to find more experiences that enable us to not look at our phones. Our visio...
My first visit to the Aspen Ideas Festival was as enriching and exhausting as I imagined it could be, filled to the brim and them some with stimulating dialogue, intriguing people, and provocative ideas. It’s enough to make your head spin. The closing session on my last day was a real ringer, featuring first a conversation between Common and Arthur Brooks, and then Cass Sunstein on stage interviewing Mark Zuckerberg.
Let’s just go ahead and call them Cass and Mark, because now I feel like I know them both. Plus, it makes it much easier to relay the substance of what they talked about. Cass pushed Mark on all the topics you’d think he might, all the reasons Facebook has been publicly under fire—privacy, use of data, propagation and facilitation of false information. Mark is clearly a master of the art of the talking point. Not to say, in quite so many words, that he was evasive, but he did have an agenda and a message.
Before the last couple years, was the concept of ‘fake news’ somethi...