There can’t be many things that have stayed stuck in there from my actual university days (they were ahem, a few years or so ago afterall) but one thing that certainly stayed with me is the inevitability of communication.
The idea that whatever you do and however you say it, you ARE sending a message to customers, suppliers, prospects and other key audiences.
Perhaps it was the absurd analogy of a dead person communicating that they weren’t alive by ‘not breathing’ that made it so memorable.
Whatever, I’m glad it stayed in there.
When you consider this idea, it maybe shifts the focus on ‘whether’ you communicate, onto ‘what’. Many clients now accept the idea that bad news fills a communication vacuum.
It might just be gossip or it might be malicious, but either way, it’s easy to see examples of companies getting a hard time or fending off wild rumours when there’s no official viewpoint to fall back on.
Why some companies take the ‘no comment’ route is always a bit of a mystery as it never seems to do any good. Perhaps they get wrapped up in the sensitivity of certain corporate events or they just don’t like sharing, whatever the reason, it seems an unecessary gamble.
Bernstein summed it up way back in 1984 thus:
“Companies communicate whether they want to or not. Deliberate reticence is itself a message. People may interpret that as ‘quiet assurance’ or ‘they’ve got something to hide’.”
Now in the email, blogging, forum, facebook age, it seems even more absurd to choose the corpse route.
Not only does social networking, pr and online communication make excellent business sense, it also has the potential to protect you from the times when others are trying to be unkind.
Afterall, people are far more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, when they already know about some of the great things you do.
So, with that in mind, it’s not communication that’s the important choice, but editing and publishing. How, when, and where.
Go to it. Spread the news.