Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Back to Basics

A friend recently ran into me and said he wanted to get together with me soon because I had been right about a number of things he would experience when he launched his company (one outside our area of expertise). And he just wanted to hear a bit more. This prompted me to step back and realize that this might be the right time to share some basics about communications on this blog. (I have avoided this since the goal of "The High Concept" is not to be promotional but provocative or at least thoughtful.) So, here are some basic lessons we have learned about communications after several decades and working with over 80 companies over the years.

  1. Public relations is the most strategic of communications tools for most companies. As such, it is far more powerful to focus PR efforts on establishing leadership, rather than hype or "ink."
  2. Before you say a word publicly, it's important to have a compelling, differentiated message that is clear and explains simply why what you are doing is important to the market. By the way, coming up with this can take time. It's time well spent.
  3. As part of your messaging process, it's valuable to have a communications "architecture" that will form the foundation of what you want to accomplish over the long term. Of course, as you progress, this will be refined, but it's important to have clear goals.
  4. The launch of your communications is just the beginning of your leadership positioning efforts -- not the end in itself. (As a matter of fact, we believe that companies that get too much attention too early often live to regret it because they can't live up to expectations.)
  5. Every communication is a chance to reinforce and build on your leadership. The architecture I talked about above is your foundation.
  6. Continue to keep up a communications momentum. Systematically and regularly provide more reinforcement of your messages. By the way, it often takes three or more exposures to a message for the market to truly begin to understand them.
  7. Keep your messages simple and consistent. As the momentum builds don't water down your messages by lack of consistency. Note, I recently heard Howard Stringer of Sony talk about the fact that one problem his company has is too many brands and messages. And as such, every time they communicate, they are not reinforcing the same key message. It's not just small, burgeoning companies that need to be focused. Large companies need to do so even more.
  8. Good communications take effort. We believe that executives at the highest levels of companies should focus on and be concerned about them.
I think I will stop here and sometime soon go "Back to Basics" again later and discuss some corollaries to the above and second order lessons we have learned over the years.


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