Insights Blog

Why internal clients think they know as much about communication as you do

June 22, 2015   Category: Planning and strategy

Last week, I facilitated a learning session on how to become a strategic advisor with a group of communicators at a client company.

As a warm-up exercise, I separated the group into teams and asked each team to come up with a list of obstacles to being treated as an advisor.

It should be no surprise that the #1 problem on each team’s list was “internal clients believe they know the best way to communicate.” One team even put it this way: “(Clients) think they know MORE about communication than we do.”

While it’s true that everyone thinks he or she knows a lot about communication, you have the power to change the perception that any random VP knows as much as you do. 

How? By acting like the expert that you are. Here are five ways to do so:

  1. Be an authority on your audience(s). Understand who they are (demographics), what they need and prefer—and, most importantly, what they do with communication.
  2. Focus on objectives. Internal clients are quick to seize upon tactics: “We need a video to communicate X.” By guiding the discussion to desired outcomes, you avoid the tactical trap and give yourself room to offer a more strategic approach.
  3. Ask tough questions. Clients often approach communication in a superficial way: “This press release needs to go out announcing our new service.” You make a contribution by asking questions like: “Why is this important? How is this different? What will customers need to know? Are there any issues that may come up?”
  4. Offer intriguing, unexpected and sometimes unachievable ideas. So much of communication is same stuff, different day. When the answer to every question is “send an email,” it’s no wonder clients believe they can come up with what to do. But when you bring original thinking, you add value. (Even impractical ideas are valid, since they encourage a fresh approach.)
  5. Show results. Quite simply, sharing metrics demonstrate the impact of your work. That builds tremendous credibility.

I just thought of a sixth suggestion: Exude confidence. You’re the professional. You have great experience. And you do know more about communication than your clients. So own your strength

To write compelling headlines, read tabloids

June 11, 2015   Category: clear

A moment, of silence, please, for Vincent Musetto, who died this week. Mr.

Did employees really receive that vital HR information?

May 27, 2015   Category: HR communication

Out of all the dumb assumptions in employee communication, perhaps the most problematic is this: “If we build it (or post it or print it), employees will understand.”

A terrible town hall mistake: too many topics

May 20, 2015   Category: Town halls

I just returned from the PRSA Connect 15 conference, where I spoke about employee town halls. And I wasn’t surprised to learn that one of communicators’ biggest challenges is having to include too many topics.

Why it’s so critical to get town halls right

May 12, 2015   Category: Town halls

The other day, a client called me to tell me about The Town Hall That Fell Flat.

Don’t make this survey question mistake

April 27, 2015   Category: Assessment and measurement

We work on a lot of employee communication surveys here at Davis & Company, so we’re sensitive to the nuances of effective survey design.

Don’t listen to Baby Boomers

April 07, 2015   Category: Audiences

I have a confession to make: I’m a Baby Boomer. And, although I’ve tried to recover, no 12-step program can change the fact that I’ve got all the characteristics of people in my generation (born between 1948 to 1964).

One quick way to improve your publication

April 03, 2015   Category: Vehicles and channels

You know my philosophy: Great ideas for enhancing your employee communication program can be found everywhere you go.

Hungry for ideas for engaging employees? Here are 3 tasty tidbits

March 26, 2015   Category: Inspiration

Pay a visit to our offices in Glen Rock, NJ, and you’ll find that we’re always seeking inspiration—looking for ideas to help us solve our clients’ employee communication challenges.

4 ways to write compelling headlines

March 12, 2015   Category: Writing

You already know this: The headline is, by far, the most important part of any piece of content. How important? Here are two essential facts: