Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Message is More Important than Ever

Unfortunately, this month has brought layoffs of some of the most seasoned journalists in the world. I won't go into the causes, except to say this is one more sign that the media world is going through a wholesale change (a bit of understatement). This will continue to have a major impact on everything from politics and government to companies and their businesses to the lives of each of the people effected.

However, I want to focus on what is means to start-ups. In short, it means the "press" is more scarce than ever and that clear and (as my friend Seth Godin calls it) "remarkable" messaging in everything you do is more important than it has ever been.

To illustrate the scarcity of the press, I will share an anecdote about a friend who is a former CEO turned author whom I recently helped to get word of his latest book out. We worked together to craft his messaging -- creating a high concept that was leverageable in several media. But then, because at Roeder-Johnson we were swamped, my friend did the press outreach himself. He was quite successful but needed to work pretty hard at it. He reached a number of his target journalists who were quite cordial, but for the most part explained that they found the story interesting, but really were very busy and couldn't focus on this story because it "wasn't required reading." Ultimately my friend has been quite successful, given the context of the times. But there's nothing like a little direct experience for him to see clearly the impact of the reduced presence of traditional media: he learned that if you want a presence in the press, your story has to trully rise above all of its competition. That's always been true. But today, the competition for the scarce space is more intense than ever.

But, the good news is that, more than ever, communications are transparent. That is, there are lots of ways of getting your story and message out to interested parties. It's not restricted to the press any more. As we have said before in this blog, that means that your message and its consistency matters more than ever: because anything you say is seen by everyone interested. Therefore, being clear, differentiated, tight, and consistent is critical.

At Roeder-Johnson, that message-clarity is what we have always focused on. This is not a battle of quantity. It's a battle of being "remarkable" and consistent and regularly reinforcing those.

So, even if traditional media isn't as high a priority in the communications mix, it's more important today to focus on the message.

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