I’ve said it.
Taking liberties with the Hans Christian Andersen emperor story, why do professional communicators continue to worship the message?
Every PR agency offers a messaging workshop.
Every corporate communications type has spent the requisite two agonizing days in a hotel conference room eating bridge mix while debating the merits of “innovate” over “pioneer” as the verb of choice.
All this time and money and bridge mix to create pristine messages that ultimately end up not being used.
Hold on. That’s not fair.
Those messages do sometimes end up in the company boilerplate. As the coach of my nine-year-old nephew’s baseball team would say when the ground ball does NOT go between the legs, “well done.”
I’m all for having a plan.
What impression are we striving to impart to the audience?
This seems like a reasonable question to answer before embarking on a communications campaign, an announcement or even a contributed article.
But the time and energy and – yes – bridge mix should go into developing the story that’s going to cultivate such an impression.
That’s the hard part. How do you craft a narrative with texture, drama, anecdotes, etc. that will spur others to share the story and which ultimately grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck?
I defy you to find one customer – I’m talking one customer in the history of commerce – who has ever uttered the following words:
“Wow! Now, that’s a great message.”
On the other hand, you hear customers and even cynical journalists say all the time, “What a great story.”
Which is why it behooves all of us to focus on what matters.
Side note: I penned a column back in 2008 for VentureBeat with startups in mind titled, “RIP: The Controlled Message.”