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Get up in that crow’s nest and scan

If you’re giving communications advice that always keeps in mind your organization’s major goals, you’re doing well. And if you’re giving that advice against the context of what’s going on outside your office walls, you’re doing much, much better. Developing skills in public environment analysis, and building knowledge of your own organization’s issue environment, can enhance…

Communications Begins at Home

It often amazes me to see that amid the oceans of material written about strategic communications planning, virtually nothing is said about how communications advisors operate on their ‘home turf’, in relation to senior management and colleagues in program or policy shops. It’s a peculiar omission, because the way in which you approach internal client…

Fish Perceive Water Last

Everyday, you swim in your natural habitat. You see the same people, the same issues and the same old challenges. It can be helpful to pull back from that sameness and ask yourself the question: What am I not seeing? That simple question can trigger a profound shift. It has the power to unlock problem solving,…

Strategic is a State of Mind

You’ve almost certainly received dozens of flyers or emails selling you on books, workshops and webinars on ‘How to Be Strategic’. The word is used so often that we’ve lost track of what it means. You might think it’s nothing but another bit of corporate-speak tossed around to make things sound fancier. But something real…

Raising Expectations: Can You Deliver?

Through several client engagements the last few weeks, I noticed a common trend – the importance of carefully considering how raising audience expectations inadvertently can cause significant damage to your communications efforts. Case in point: A client was working on a survey of its key stakeholders and wanted to explore opinions about several new initiatives…

At a Loss for Words

It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words. But that’s precisely what happened recently during a workshop I was hosting on best practices in strategic communications planning. The theme of my presentation was that as communicators we are being asked to do more with less and that there has never been a more…

Message Architecture

Messaging is the unsung hero of communications. I am struck that with few exceptions, organizations tend to invest relatively significant amounts of time, effort and money on communication vehicles (such as websites, brochures, annual reports and speeches) with relatively little focus on the core product of those vehicles – messages. That strikes me as a…

Talking about… Strategic Communications Planning

Last week, I had the opportunity of participating in an IABC Ottawa podcast on strategic communication planning. Graham Machacek, the host, Marlene Floyd of Earnscliffe and I had a lively chat about all things communications planning . We discovered lots of similarities in each of our perspectives, and had a fun conversation about our mentors…

Kicking Off to a Strong Start

It’s no fun being far out to sea with a hole in your boat. And there are few worse moments in the life of a communicator than realizing that the big communications strategy you’ve been struggling with for weeks is foundering because some basic things weren’t clarified at the start. Part of the team thought…

Thinking about Value

In having the privilege of facilitating hundreds of communications team retreats and workshops, one of the exercises that consistently seems to generate the most powerful results is to lead a group through a Value Proposition exercise. It’s a simple exercise that challenges a group to think about the true, unique value they contribute to their organizations. Often,…