I haven’t been blogging much. How can I write about marketing communications topics when I’m shaking with anger and shame about the political situation in this country?
But marketing communications guru Joe Hage has kept going. He’s been using a weekly email to communicate to his readership (medical device marketers). On Wednesday morning, Joe lowered the boom.
His blunt and courageous email begins:
“I’m angry. I hate him so much. You know who I’m talking about.”
Joe goes on to talk about the flood of information we face every day from highly curated news and marketing streams. We feel as though we’re in a deluge of information that’s deep and fast-running — but it turns out that it’s also deceptively narrow.
As Joe points out, many of us (unless we listen extensively to National Public Radio), have never read or heard about the civil war raging in Nicaragua. Joe didn’t know much about that war, either, until his video editor, who lives in a Nicaraguan city, witnessed a march of soldiers in the street outside her house. They left the dead body of a child in the street as a warning to anyone who might consider opposing them or aiding the opposition.
What does war in Nicaragua mean for someone like me — or you — whose business is all about trying to communicate to readers, donors, or customers? Joe tells his medical device industry colleagues:
“If a civil war in Central America doesn’t even hit our radar, can you imagine how many messages the average citizen is getting per day?”
“Your messaging is not competing with other medical device videos, images, and words. You are competing with every possible stimulus out there.”
In a communications environment like this, Joe asks, “what hope do any of us have in breaking through?”
His answer is that by writing as a real person, he is breaking through. He is engaging. His thousands of readers did read him yesterday morning (even if some of them were hitting “unsubscribe” and grabbing for their blood pressure medication).
My take-away from Joe’s out-of-the-box email? There are a lot of ways to engage people and get them to pay attention.
One of them is to threaten them (dropping dead bodies in the street, for example). Another is to inundate them with the same message, over and over again, drowning out fact and complexity with emotion and oversimplification (our news and marketing feeds). And, yes, a third way is for communicators to be real in their communications. Genuine, heartfelt communication stands out because so few of us do it, or hear it, in our professional roles.
It’s sad that being real, and honest, and thoughtful is “just not done” in the field of business communication. We have tens of thousands of well-dressed, well-educated people marching each day into beautifully decorated, air-conditioned workplaces, attending meetings about product marketing, advertising, and communications strategy, sitting down at their expensive keyboards to devise “messaging” — while inside most of them are all thinking about what’s real: That we live in a country that snatches immigrants out of their homes, separates children from immigrant parents, and puts immigrant families in prisons. Indefinitely.
Now let’s take a look at that PowerPoint, shall we?
(For more information on who Immigration and Customs Enforcement is arresting, why, and how, see this document from the Immigrant Defense Project.)