Don’t “Message” Me

Remember the time when the standard response to any media question was to repeat essentially the same line over and over again?

I certainly do – I spent several years working in government communications, where Q&As essentially parroted the same answer back (yes, “parrot” is a verb for the duration of this post), largely regardless of the question.

It irritated me at the time and seeing it now annoys me even more.

Nowadays, more and more people are realizing that, especially on TV, repeating the same thing doesn’t make you look smart or informed. It makes you look rude and disconnected. Yes, you may get that soundbite, but if you’re live on air, you’re more likely to look like a tool.

The same thing goes for online outreach. Throwing out company messages and stilted corporate wording simply doesn’t work. Social media is all about people. If you can’t be a person, don’t expect people to react well to you.

This doesn’t mean you should just go around damaging your company’s brand by spouting-off about everything. Choose where you engage, address the issue in question and answer questions thoughtfully, while advocating your point of view as best you can. It also doesn’t mean you should go into interviews or onto websites unprepared for questions, but that preparation might be better as a series of general bullets around which you can frame your answers, rather than speaking points you regurjitate verbatim.

Don’t “message” people; talk to them.

What do you think?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.