Sometimes we get so caught up in explaining ourselves that we don’t realize nobody understands a word we’re saying.
This is especially true with companies. I’ve seen it with former employers and clients alike. The tendency is to say what they want to say and not necessarily what the [insert target audience] wants to hear. We get all “jargony” and self-aggrandizing, anchored in our own perspective rather than that of the [again, insert target audience].
To manage this, I’ve learned to ask:
“Explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old.”
I’ve heard writing children’s books is tough to master. How do you explain concepts like “sharing” or “responsibility” in words and images tiny people will grasp? I used to be amazed at how deep some of my kids’ books actually were. That takes skill.
So, I figure if you can distill down whatever you’re trying to say into simple, clear language a four-year-old would get, we can work through communicating with anyone.
Companies desperately need this kind of clarity right now. As they wade through messaging in a world of COVID-19 and demands that they step up for racial justice, they’ve got to be crystal clear about who they are, where they stand, and how they’re rising to meet the challenges.
Communications pros should be owning and leading this process companywide. We should be engaging staff across multiple departments using a structured framework that leaves no stone unturned. It should address who the company is, what it does, who it serves, why it’s unique and why anyone should care – all supported with tangible evidence of corporate policies, practices, products and services that the responses are, in fact, true.
And this is important: We should be consistently rolling all this up to corporate goals. Otherwise, what’s the point? This is how we demonstrate our value to senior leaders and make a bigger impact with our work.
Owning and leading this process takes an extra dose of boldness and specific training. It’s okay if you don’t have either. That’s where I come in. 🙂
I teach experienced PR and marketing professionals how to successfully get leadership buy-in, prepare for and lead cross-departmental messaging sessions — all in a matter of weeks. You’ll grow professionally, earn greater respect, and command higher fees.
Reach out if you’d like to chat about how I can help.
Jennifer R. Hudson
ThinkBeyond Public Relations