Tag Archives: how’s it going?

Storytelling, Corporate Communications and Brand

16 Jul

There’s a funny dynamic in my business these days. I’m starting to see it as a push and pull between my business as “communications consulting” and “writing”.

In my mind, I’ve always seen it as the same thing. A consultant is inherently a communicator — a writer — who must advocate his own ideas, analysis and strategy, and outfit the client do the same.

And a writer is a consultant. To do more than skim the surface of business story, you need to bring more than simply curiosity and a way with words.  You need an ability to recognize both what makes a good story, and what that story has to do for the organization — the goals the story has to support for the organization to be successful.

There’s a reason that I (and others) use ‘storytelling’ to describe the heart my business.  First, I like the word. It evokes something basic and simple that hearkens back to childhood – sitting in the circle listening to lessons and fables and stories of enchanted kingdoms and plucky young Jacks and princes and foxes and rabbits.  And storytelling perfectly encapsulates the art and action of communications – the creation of ‘story’ – or message or brand – and the ‘telling’ of it – the strategic and pragmatic task of finding people who want to hear a story and pass it on to their friends.

On the other hand, these days we like to say that brands don’t “tell” their audience anything – they have conversations. They listen and they communicate and they respond and they act.

Sure. But a brand isn’t simply the creation of the crowd, or even its customers.

And have you ever heard a good storyteller? I mean a really good one. The kind that holds the rapt attention of a gaggle of unruly kids? The kind that hears the unscripted shout from kid in the the back with glasses and the attitude and makes him part of the narrative? The sort that listens to the beat of story as it is spoken and can quickly take up new rhythms from the night and the audience as inspiration and slip them into the story as casual as you would in your backyard lawn chair over lemonade and beer?

That’s the dynamic I see in corporate communications and marketing today: You want to create a space where you can sit in the center of the circle with the people inside and outside the organization who make it go.  Telling, asserting, advocating — expressing your vision – and listening, adapting, and moving.  And setting them free to tell the story to their circles – letting it grow stronger in each retelling.

Advertisements

The State of My Economy (or, “How It’s Going, 2009”)

19 Mar

We’re three months into 2009 and it feels like I’m working at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee and gazing out at the backyard and there’s a koala up in the elm tree, staring back at me.   

“That’s odd,” I say to myself.  

It’s been an odd start to 2009, and this is a good thing.   Since the beginning of the year, I have (in no particular order),  

* reconnected with my big clients from last year, and, beyond new projects, had discussions about PR, marketing and corporate communications we’d not had in some time.  

* been found on Facebook by a high school friend living in South Africa who I haven’t seen in 20 years, a unexpected surprise that may also turn into business.

* created and conducted my first new media training session in many years, and developed a “PR 101” session for a client.

* begun to work with an former client at a new company. This isn’t unusual except that we reconnected at a networking event, and I usually say that I don’t like networking events…but there I went and look what happened.

* reconnected with the marketing entrepreneur I advised last year whose startup didn’t quite make it, but whose new start up is already off the ground and making money.   And this one may well stick.   

And I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about the economy, and come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t spend so much time thinking about the economy.  It feels better to think about family. And friends. And clients. And business.

Because nothing has changed.  For us to succeed, we need sharp messages. We need clear brands. We need smart strategy.  We don’t just need be in front of customers — we need to be there with them, delivering what they want and what they need in ways no one else can. 

It’s shaping up to be an odd and memorable year.  I think I’m going to enjoy this.

Hey Freelance PR Consultant: How’s it Going?

10 Jun

I ran into a some of my old clients at the coffee shop today.  Like many others who haven’t seen me in some time, they asked me “How’s it going?” A loaded question — when you’re running your own business, you want to answer that question with what can be an elusive combination of confidence, competence and openness to new opportunities.

It also struck me that there’s no reason why the blog can’t answer the “how’s it going” question for me once in awhile.  And so, with your indulgence, a bit about me today.  Here’s how it’s going:

I started Kadet Communications in September 2007.  Since then, I’ve engaged with a diverse set of clients:  a systems integrator, a private school, a large technology company, a local restaurant run by a ‘star chef’, an industry association, and an Internet startup.

When I started out, most of my business came from contracting back with my old employer.  That business has been completely replaced.  Looking ahead, I’d love to add one or two good client relationships to the mix.

Projects have included:

  • Designing and executing a research-based brand re-positioning program to help a company better describe itself in marketing and sales.  Based on the new positioning, rewrote advertising and marketing copy, and developed a new navigation strategy for their website re-design.
  • Coaching an organization in how to overcome negative internal  perceptions, creating strategies, messages and vehicles for presenting positive stories about the organization’s future; and placed a positive story in the local daily newspaper.
  • Writing new brand guidelines to express an established company’s new, more focused marketing strategies.
  • During a time when public opinion has begun to align against them, counseling an industry association on communications strategy and set up meetings with media opinion leaders.
  • Playing a key role in a start-up venture’s efforts to define a new brand, describe a complex business model and develop a successful communications and marketing strategy.

My work has, amazingly, been just the type of work I wanted when I went on my own:  Helping clients with complex stories to tell those stories better. Delivering them solid, workable, creative and effective communications, branding and social media strategies.  And doing more storytelling — both for clients and here on this blog.

I’ve benefited from the kind referrals of friends, family and colleagues.  I’m having fun, meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends and colleagues.  What more can you ask for out of work?

Comments, referrals, questions and advice are most welcome!

%d bloggers like this: