Your organization deserves to have its story told, understood and remembered. When you’re under the microscope of the news media (for whatever reason), the ability to tell that story clearly, effectively and memorably becomes critical.
Most organizations regularly engage in a process of strategic planning in search of a vision, a 10-year plan, a re-branding or other goals that will guide the organization to achieve its potential. But many of those same organizations that take a sophisticated approach to their governance and management do not provide their leadership with the training, skills and practice to make sure they are ready to tell the organization’s story. That puts you at a daily disadvantage. Whether you’re in conversation with a government official, a regulator, a potential donor or a customer, whether you’re talking to CBC-TV in the parking lot or presenting at the Chamber of Commerce; making your weekly YouTube video or participating in a radio debate, you need to feel confident about your communications abilities. Regular interview, media and presentation training can help you develop and hone your natural talents and give you the tools you need in even the most challenging circumstances.
We live in a hyper-connected world. One in which, “a lie can travel half way round the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.” Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that during the Second World War and it remains true today. If anything, the speed with which messages travel has increased along with the number of messages competing for our attention. There used to be the luxury of hours in which to prepare your response to a loaded question or unfolding situation. Not anymore. If you don’t respond quickly, someone else will tell your story and no one else will have your organization’s best interests at heart. Kick a dog in an elevator in Vancouver and animal lovers the world over will turn you into a reviled person with an irreparably damaged career in a matter of minutes. Suggest to a reporter that your line of clothing may not flatter women with curvier shapes and watch your stock price plummet precipitously.
Good communications skills and a thoughtful approach to managing your organization’s public profile will pay dividends. It’s like insurance premiums: you invest in communications training, practice those skills regularly and on the rare occasion of disaster, you’re far better prepared and your organization’s reputation will remain intact (or at least be easier to repair).
And no, you don’t have a choice. If a reporter, blogger or just that guy with a Twitter account is interested in your organization, they will do a story with or without your cooperation. Make sure you’re ready to tell your story.