Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Building connections that can weather the storm

In the June issue of PRWeek, Maril MacDonald of Chicago's Gagen MacDonald Communications offers her view on the forces that are reshaping today’s communications landscape — and her position on how our profession must evolve to answer these challenges.

"We’ve all seen, heard, and probably experienced lessons of the last decade. We know that the best honed talking points can’t prevent the reality of a damaging YouTube video," MacDonald wrote. "We know that seamless press conferences can’t prevent a disgruntled former employee’s blog. And we know that no “all employee” email can eliminate the threats of web-spread innuendo or the rants of a cable TV pundit. In essence, we’ve lost a great deal of our ability to control “the message.”

So what can we do?

"We cannot control what our employees and customers hear about us. Each day, they are besieged by dizzying torrents of information. These torrents threaten our reputations and our brands." So MacDonald advises, "In this stormy climate, we need to focus on stimulating durable emotional connections with our key constituents. Emotional connections are forged by experiences — they are visceral, rather than cognitive in nature."

MacDonald concludes, "As Corporate Communications leaders, internal communications practitioners, PR professionals or anywhere in between, our focus needs to be less on what our audiences hear and when they hear it: it needs to be on what defines their experience with us. Future success is not about message dissemination — that market is quickly saturating. Future success is about building connections that can weather the storm. The question can’t just be 'what do we want them to know?' It has to be just as much about what we want them to feel."

We at Stinson Brand Innovation agree — that attitude is an exponential factor in the success of a brand.

(Thanks to John Bock of Gagen MacDonald for sharing this article with us.)

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