It’s a refrain I hear frequently…from colleagues, job candidates, friends in the industry: “I want to get more involved in strategy.” As if strategy is a distinct type of work, different from the work they do every day.
But it’s really not. Is it?
Shouldn’t communications professionals be strategic with every recommendation we make, with every program we execute, whether it’s how to launch a product, employ social media, counsel a client on a sensitive issue or measure the success of a campaign? In fact, being strategic is an imperative, not something you need an invitation to do. At organizations around the world – big and small – communications is playing a critical role in shaping company reputation, awareness and even performance. So, shouldn’t all communications be strategic?
There are plenty of examples of “creative” ideas and communications decisions that lacked sound strategy, didn’t go as planned and damaged or embarrassed the brands involved. There was Bank of America’s decision to announce a $5 fee for debit card usage as the Occupy Wall Street movement was gathering steam and Marie Callender’s deceptive frozen meal campaign to woo food bloggers. What about Snapple’s ill-conceived stunt in 2005 to erect the world’s largest popsicle? There are countless others.
The point is, communicators need to be smart and thoughtful (read: strategic) about every decision we make. Before we make any recommendation or decision, we should run it through key filters to determine if it is indeed a sound, strategic approach. Consider:
- Is it brand appropriate?
- How does it support business goals?
- Do the risks outweigh the rewards?
- What contingencies can we put in place to mitigate risk?
Can we measure success?
Those are just a few examples.
We all need to be accountable. I challenge everyone to take charge and be strategic. Don’t wait for the invitation; it’s not the sole domain of senior-level practitioners. It’s everyone’s responsibility to be smart. At least I hope so.
--Marc Berliner, Vice President, @mberliner