How to Create Communications That Change The World


Starting today (this month, this year), I am going to produce a steady stream of relevant communications that will capture and keep the attention of my audience regardless of the circumstances. ~Pretty Much Allofus

Sound familiar? When it comes to communicating the value of our firm consistently and effectively, many of us take and break this same oath over and over again. So the rock we’ve so laboriously pushed up the mountain, comes tumbling back down. So we start over. Until one day, we don’t.

Here’s what we’ve found to be the issue:

The inability to consistently and effectively communicate business value stems from the absence of a sufficiently inspiring vision and an appropriate accompanying mission. ~Helena Bouchez, Principal, Helena B Co.

This is especially true if your current vision and mission statements are solely money-based, meaning your only vision is of an advantageous financial position and your mission is “to grow the bottom line.”

We need to make money from our work, no question. (Preferably a lot of money.) But when your vision and mission are only about filling your own coffers, the only authentic message available to you is “Me, me, me, more about me, and back to me.” Your client work. Your accomplishments. The features and benefits of doing what you do.

There’s only so much people want to hear about you and only so much you can say before you start repeating yourself. Pretty soon you’re that guy at the cocktail party who only talks about himself. After 15 minutes, no one gives a damn about what you think or say, least of all you. And that is why you quit.

To overcome this, you need a different kind of vision, one that’s not just about you. A vision that articulates a paradigm shift you would like to see in your industry, or in the world.

Luckily, as a creative person, you always are imagining the optimal state of things. You just need to bring the best one for your business forward and commit to it.

We eat our own dog food here, and you probably are in need of an example, so here is the current vision for Helena B Co.:

A world full of visionary, mission-driven creative leaders who use design and design principles to solve the world’s problems and improve the experience of life.

Helena B Co’s mission, what it will do to make that vision real, is thus:

To transform the way creative leaders think, see and talk about themselves and their businesses.

There is, however, another facet to all of this that we need to talk about, which is the main reason that so few do it.

Envisioning a big change for the world, and creating and committing to a mission around a big vision, and then going public with it, also creates a certain degree of risk. To move forward, we must transcend our fears and to do that we must tap into one of our highest core values: courage.

Helena B Co: Transforming the way creative leaders think, see and talk about themselves and their businesses — one brave, visionary creative firm at a time.

Ready to dig deep and tap into a rich, sustainable source of energy and enthusiasm for communicating the value of your firm to prospects, clients and influencers? Contact us.

How To Apologize On Purpose

The strange private post that appeared in your mailbox yesterday — it was supposed to be a page. Alas, since I created it as a post, it went out to God and everyone. I apologize for the random interruption. I also realize now that I have hijacked your attention yet again, I really owe you!

In an attempt to pay this debt, l give you Public Words, the website of Dr. Nick Morgan, a Boston-based communications theorist and coach. I got to this site via a post by David Meerman Scott titled How to Deliver a Ted Talk;  Morgan helped Scott prepare his talk, which he gave at TEDx UMass Amherst. A video of David Meerman Scott’s  Ted talk The Need to Explore is posted on YouTube.

Note: Apollo space geeks should watch if only to see Scott’s impressive collection of Apollo artifacts. And, if you are doing public speaking at all, you really should have a Ted style talk that reflects your point of view anchoring your speaking portfolio. (Three fingers pointing back at me — on it.)

By the way, I was compelled to find out more about Nick Morgan because of a habit I developed after having consumed many books and  interviews of  Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer and lecturer. When asked how he acquired such a deep understanding of mythology, Campbell said (paraphrased) when you come across someone with ideas that interest you, find out who influenced that person and read what they wrote, and then keep tracking back in this way until you follow the entire lineage of the idea back to its source.

Tracing the lineage of the idea of giving a great Ted talk presented by David Meerman Scott is how I found Dr. Nick Morgan and why I am able to share him with you now.  So when you read a post, click on the links! Better: Google stalk the idea. Find out its lineage.  It is amazing what you will learn. And how your perceptions will change. If you don’t know Joseph Campbell, here is a good place to start: Excerpts from  “The Power of Myth.”

Anyway, in addition to receiving my own dumb post, I received Dr. Morgan’s latest post, Communications is Different Now — Part 3, the third in a series of three blog posts inspired by Nicco Mele’s new book, The End of Big. (Yes, I’m reading that book now, too. Duh.) Parts 1 and 2 were about connectivity and authenticity. Part 3 is about style.

In an environment of “radical connectivity”  Dr. Nick Morgan says you have to make your communications style quick, ironic, geeky and cheeky. But the fifth one is the most interesting (and affirming) to me as it is a drum I’ve been beating pretty hard for the last few years, which is, to make your communications about saving the world.

Dr. Morgan thinks cause has become a sort of “fashion accessory” that eventually will lose its appeal. Perhaps. But I hope not.

Granted,  there are organizations whose mission or cause is just a thin veneer for their real mission, which is to separate us from our money. But do you think they are really fooling anyone? Probably not. We might put up with it because we want to believe in good or  because  it meets our basic human need to understand and express our own identity and values through affiliation, or because on the most macro level, it provides us with a sense of meaning.

We all are seekers of meaning. The way most of us create meaning is through the alignment with a purpose that matches our values and they way we want to experience life — and ourselves. To compare our experiences of meaning with others, we tell stories, and those stories ultimately define both our worldview and our personal mythology.

So yes, when communicating, make it quick. (Hint: the more clearly you write, the “quicker” the piece will read, which means you can afford to take the reader on a little longer trip and pack in more value.) Make it ironic. (Thanks for the bizarro junk post, Helena.) And geeky. (Joe Campbell. Follow the idea back to its founder. Check.) And definitely make it cheeky. (A priori. Or, Duh.) But also please do make it about saving the world — regardless of whether or not it’s fashionable. At least your little piece of it. The change you are championing doesn’t have to be big.

It just needs to be on purpose.

Related post: How to Create Content That Changes The World

CMxPR Tip Sheet #002

Wow, everyone must be coming up for air at the same time; lots of interesting stuff has come out in the past couple of days. For your edification: A collection of Tweets containing links to useful things as well as Twitter handles of people you might want to follow.

Bake web content into your videos with Popcorn Maker! Mozilla launches Popcorn Maker, video editing popping with web content From Lady Geek TV (ladygeektv):

Fresh presentation approaches from John Jantsch. From Duct Tape Marketing (ducttapemarketing)

For the “Duh” File:  Ads Disguised as Content Mislead, Annoy: Sponsored Stories, Promoted Tweets found misleading by many. From Karel Bourgois (Bourgois):

To Connect With CMOs, Stop Selling And Start Helping – Forbes From the The CMO Club (TheCMOclub):

And finally, some insights into the issues that are keeping the larger agencies from pulling out of the downward spiral, in two parts. From Brian Morrissey (bmorissey)

Part I: Confessions of a Big-Agency Top Digital Exec

Part II: The Sinking Ship of Agencies