In Communications, you often have to say no

Picture of Agencia comma

Communication agencies cannot always say yes to everything. Sometimes companies come up with some very innovative ideas, which cannot be communicated, or nonsense they want to tell the whole world, and it falls to the Communications employee to inject a bit of sanity into the nonsense that arises in companies.

The majority of people think that knowledge of Communications is simply to apply common sense. I defend the minority, because communication is much more than just common sense. One has to know about the media outlets, how to work with each one, their formats, be up to date on communication strategies, in a state of permanent learning and adapting according to the company you work for.

On this fine morning, perhaps alarmed by how precarious this work world continues to be, there are many agencies and communications experts that fall into the trap of being a ‘good-doer’ and thus, complete submission.

Recently, I have come across a number of examples that clearly illustrate the need to say a resounding NO at the risk of losing a client or having to say goodbye to free will. I am one of those who think that there is more value in a job that is decent, creative and challenging than submitting to decisions you know are not coherent or ethical and actually not going to be successful.

Everyone towards digitalization

The rise and takeoff of social networks in small and medium sized companies has contributed considerably to some of these companies going online. They want to form part of the new digital panorama but don´t know why and more importantly, for what reason. They only want to get as many fans and followers as they can without stopping to think why.

For this simple purpose, they embark on the journey of hiring someone to guide them in a fictional manner through the world of Social Media that they are not familiar with. I say ´fictional´ because the company itself decides when to start the journey, with a schedule of approving social media content weeks in advance and without generating any original content of its own.

Here is a clear example of when to say NO, because these ladies and gentlemen have no idea what is going on. Social networks are windows into the world in which we share exciting content (both our own and others’), to participate in conversations, become a part of and create communities around common likes and interests, to intervene, collaborate and cooperate…all of these and of course, let’s not forget the need of  a brand strategy.

Strategy is necessary

Another example is the client who makes you go through hell, won’t tell you which other agencies you’re competing against, and makes you create a new proposal for each round of the competition, six of them in total, etcetera -only for you to start working for them and find out all they want is a press release to communicate the launch of a product that looks exactly like another eight on the market. This is another scenario in which you should say NO.

Experts in communications are those, who are in charge of evaluating what is and is not appropriate to communicate, which strategy is the best one to follow and of course, what is the best form and moment in time to do so. It is true that the strategy needs to be aligned with the direction of the business but perhaps  there is no need to communicate it this way, perhaps  it isn’t the right moment, or, above all, this action ought to follow the general communications strategy of the company.

I could mention other examples of this kind of nonsense regarding communications but there are communications experts, who have to make it clear and not allow the ‘others’ to decide how to communicate something, because in the long run this client is doomed.  It may be a while before either of the two feels comfortable, especially the communications person, but in the end the relationship will not be satisfactory.

We are the ones who have to understand the value of communications and to try to convince our clients with sound arguments that we must be careful with how we communicate news and which is the most acceptable way of doing so. That is to say, to learn to say no, but that is another thing.

The following saying illustrates my point perfectly – ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ What do you think, do you agree?

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