Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Message is More than the Medium

When Marshall Mcluhan wrote the "medium is the message" nearly four decades ago, he was presaging a world he certainly couldn't imagine: one with so many media options that it can be mind-boggling. Very few of us really understand the implications of the multi-media world we live in today and what is to come.

More than most, Seth Godin is quite rare in his ability to "grok" the implications of all these media. (For those of you who are interested, Seth has always had that ability, dating as far back as being the producer of the first -- or nearly the first, I'm not sure -- Interactive Novel using computers).

It is noteworthy that Seth, with all of his nuanced understanding of this complex world in which we live, believes in the combination of clever use of media and a "remarkable" message. This is as opposed to so many people today who think that simply by using a new medium, they are doing something different. In fact, as we have said before in this blog, in a world where communications transparency is easy, knowing who you are and communicating effectively are even more important than ever before.

Therefore, I beg to differ with Mr. McLuhan: the message is more than the medium.

What does this mean for a start up? We see so many young companies that:
  • Speak in mumbo-jumbo about what they do; and/or
  • Think a better mousetrap will be sufficient to win the ballgame; and/or
  • Think "hype" will replace thoughtful approaches to communications; and/or
  • Think that just putting any old words out there is sufficient (or you might call this the "quantity vs. quality approach").
We believe in the current communications environment a simple prescription is appropriate for start ups:

  1. Develop a clear, straightforward message that reflects who you are now and who you want to be;
  2. Use multiple media. Use press releases *and* blogs *and* other media to communicate;
  3. Communicate your message consistently throughout your media;
  4. Neither hype nor assume a better mousetrap will do the trick. Be modest, thoughtful, educational, and a leader;
  5. Take a long-term view of communicating: Very few organizations get their point across without consistent repetition;
  6. Listen to the market: While remaining true to your goals, refine your messages *and* your media as you get feedback.

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Anonymous Amanda Chapel said...

All messages are transported via a common form. Without that, there is no COM-munication.

Marshall was absolutely right Abigail. Actually, by extension... with the rapid disintegration of form, we are seeing a dramatic rise in uncommon babble.

Kind regards,

Amanda Chapel
Managing Editor

7:13 PM  

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