After over 20 years in advertising, mostly based in Australia, I made the transition to Strategic Public Relations two years ago, on returning to India. My mandate is Strategic Communications Planning with a creative focus. The transition has been exciting and not without its challenges. But that’s change for you. What took me by surprise though, is that the Basics don’t change. They are Basics for a reason. It is important to remind oneself of them now and then – transitioning or not. Here are some that I try to live by and like all good mantras, it’s not always easy.
- Culture comes first.
In an organisation that has a strong focus on culture, things somehow fall into place better. One of the simplest definitions of culture I’ve come across is ‘the way we go about things around here’. Once that is known by all within the organisation, people tend to bond together better, be more open to learning, more encouraging of others and more forgiving of genuine mistakes. Everyone has a role to play in building a solid culture: in understanding, learning, sharing and living by that culture. Do your part and be a good citizen.
- Good clients don’t respect ‘Yes’ Men (or Women).
Clients are important to our business and we must respect them. But invariably, the good clients don’t value you if all you do is what they ask you to do. They have hired you for your professional talents and understand it would be foolish on their part not to take your advice. This is the most challenging client to have. It is also the most rewarding. If you are lucky enough to have one, work hard to live up to the challenge.
- Communication is a two-way street.
We’re in the business of Strategic Communications. If we are going to make a connect and if we are going to engage with people, no matter where they sit in the pecking order of stakeholders, we really need to plan our communications as conversations. It’s like when you strike up a conversation with a stranger (never mind what your mother told you – the most interesting conversations are often with strangers). Sometimes it strikes a chord and sometimes it flags. Think about the ones that have worked. Most likely it’s because you’ve found a common cause, interest or shared passion. That’s when both have something to contribute to sustain a robust conversation.
- Get out and Get in.
Get out of your work space – both real and virtual. Get in to the shoes of someone you are trying to connect with. Find out what’s going on in their lives – not just how it relates to your product or service but even beyond that. What are they excited about? What are they stressed about? This is the first act of creativity in communications planning: understand your audience. By the way, this works equally well on clients themselves or the media – anyone you need to build a relationship with.
- Be Curious.
We live in a time of supercharged change. Make time to live it, love it, share it, exhilarate in it. An open mind cannot but be filled with new and amazing insights, viewpoints and thoughts – all of which will come to your aid when you least expect it. Thankfully.
Understanding or recalling some of the basics of communications planning, whichever discipline you operate in, is critical to making a success of it.
If you have other basics you live by, do share them. I’m curious.