thoughts on viral vs brand extension.

I've in the middle of an extended thought-experiment in relation to building a brand in performing arts, in this case music.  It brought to mind an important division in building engagement and a following, that between what is marketing, and what is brand extension.

The example that first comes to mind is the one most often used here - that of the ARG for NIN's Year Zero.  It was marketing in the sense that it attracted attention, created buzz, and built anticipation.  But foremost, what made it special is it had no relation to sales in terms of content.  The Year Zero ARG was a world-expanding exercise - to the extent where understanding of the record was lessened without an understanding of the backstory.

This is what I'm interested in.  Building a backstory, a world, a datashadow, whatever you want to call it, around a creative product.  Not because it build interest, but because it builds context.  Context naturally creates points of association.  That builds discussion, without it being destroyed by too much meddling.

You aren't creating a brand, or a product, anymore.  You're creating a world, and experience, and you need to understand that products will be dragged into this space whether or not you plan on it.  You are sharing your idea with the world.  It would be nice if we were all kind enough to share instructions to go with the idea, a mindset that people can explore to give them the best view of what you are striving for with your creative product.

So, I guess I'm inherently against the idea of intentionally trying to 'go viral' with an ad, despite the vast number of excellent examples that have worked well for brands.  I'm not interested in short term asides that attract the partial attention that online advertising is settling for.  I realize it isn't plausible in every industry, but I want brand building to be inextricably tied to world building.

If what you create, whether it be art, object or solution, can't be explored on a deeper level than what it is, surrounded by intriguing content that doesn't add anything, I have trouble thinking of how you can build a community around it.

And if you can't build a community, I have trouble thinking of a situation in which you are at all secure.


muxtape (curation).

As you well know, the entire internet is a-twitter over Justin Ouellette's Muxtape, a frankly brilliant and wonderfully simple social music site, that encourages users to make mixtapes, share the url with friends, and generally learn about new bands.

I'm not going to talk about how perfect the interface is, or how great the UX is, or how much I appreciate the singular focus of the site in a world where most services are incomprehensibly complex, for no reason.

Instead, I'm going to talk about what Muxtape is really about, in my eyes.  Not to point to my own writing too often, but I think the value of the service is one of microcuration.

In the post linked above, I talk about the internet as a taste economy, and the value of curation in sites like blogs, to learn more about the creator, and in creating an audience.  I also mention the ability to curate in smaller worlds, thereby justifying smaller audiences.  Muxtape takes this to another level, because it's curation for a select group, by an individual, and nothing else.

If you check out my Muxtape, you get a pretty clear view of my taste in music.  More importantly, you get a great view of how I want my taste in music to be perceived.  Curation is a two way street in this sense, and a muxtape has the benefit (unintentionally, and as a side effect of it's glorious focus on usability) of offering no distractions.  Everything there is an element of the creator's taste, and there's no space to editorialize and obfuscate the information offered by the selections with rationalizations.

Curation is the greatest thing the social web has to offer, and it's often confused with customization or personalization.  The value isn't in creating exactly what you want.  It's in creating something that gives off the cues, and the impression, that the creator desires.

Which is why I opened with CRS' us placers (heavily sampling Thom Yorke's Eraser), and closed with Thom Yorke doing an acoustic version of 'videotape'.  Given no space to create a narrative, I still can't abandon my inner english major, and the need for literary devices.  And having to do it without words, in some way, makes it clearer.


social media relations (practice)

Social Media Relations is, first and foremost, not about you, or your brand, or what you have decided is cool, or what you offer. It’s about learning from, and fostering relationships with, communities that already have an interest in your product. It’s about connecting with communities that already have an interest in what you do, and using that interest to build a kind of partnership.

SMR reps in online communities would exist as a resource. They would offer ‘insider’ information to the interested, clear up misconceptions, and generally only speak when spoken to. They offer support when acceptable, but do not attempt to take control.

Most important, they observe, learn, and explain. Observe how each community works. Learn what they think. Explain to brands and corporations what the people they should be focusing on think, want, and how they interact with the product in question. This is mutually beneficial, and gives a utility to a role that would otherwise be too easily subverted into an attempt at control.

This isn’t about sponsorship. It’s an idea based around the idea that adding value to a community is worth more than owning the community. It’s about allowing the people who are most engaged, who matter most, to interact with an offshoot of a brand they care for. This means providing information, and content, that they can interact with and remix. I’m not talking about crowd sourcing – this isn’t an attempt to farm out content creation to generate authenticity. The only benefit that the brand should want out of this is a happy, engaged community, and the opportunity to understand the core consumer base.

Not owning or sponsoring these communities is key, because the second money enters the equation, brands start to silence criticism and dissent. That only has two outcomes; either the community is destroyed, or the brand throws away opportunities to learn and innovate. Dealing positively with criticism is proof that you ACTUALLY value your consumers, instead of just valuing the free PR, and the brand evangelism. It’s essential that it isn’t your garden, or the temptation to wall it off will be overwhelming.

Bounce ideas of your community. Run concept sketches by them. Don’t give them decision-making power (that feels, and is, gimmicky), but use the resource they provide to make better decisions yourself. Link them from the official site, but only if they want that.

This isn’t about preaching to the converted. It’s about welcoming them into the fold without trying to change them. It’s about elevating the status of the converted in terms of the brand / consumer relationship.

And it should be happening on every platform that has an engaged community that cares about what you offer. Because you shouldn’t care about anything more than understanding who you are dealing with, and who you are creating for.

This post is a continuation of Social Media Relations (Rationale)

social media relations (rationale)

I’ve mentioned recently that public relations is an industry in flux. PR is in large part based on the dominance of the current media paradigm, and the core strategies are nearly completely top-down in focus. We (the royal we) don’t have a standard for approaching social media, and online communities. It shows.

While systems like the Facebook beacon are interesting, they are also inherently invasive, and create notable discomfort within a community. This is because, at core, we don’t have a model for participation in these communities. Instead, we have systems for exploitation, and colonization.

The average participant in an online community, whether it be a message board, virtual world, chat room or social network, is able to spot the difference between a participant and an interloper. The problem is, media still have it in their head that influence is created by brute force. This is one of the first mistakes I discussed on this blog – signal as noise – the way everyone with a message thinks getting louder is the key to being heard.

Social media is built on participation by equals, and the promise of meritocracy. The standard plan thus far has been to use real-world money and influence to buy a position that a user would have to earn, or could not attain, in a virtual world. Our problem is that we either take too much of a role in these communities, and attempt to shape them, or take too little of a role, for fear of causing a revolt. There has to be a middle ground, building on the tradition of information facilitation, and building relationships.

I’ve described public relations as getting someone you trust to tell you something we’d like you to hear. This is traditionally done by building media interest, and piggybacking on that inherent trust – a newspaper has built in credibility, and built in trust – to ensure that the information you receive has been vetted by professionals. The issue is that people are increasingly aware that professionals are not all that difficult to influence.

The difference between what I see, and what I’m suggesting is the separation between colonization and diplomacy. Take second life for an example – IBM, American Apparel, etc. talked to Linden, built custom store fronts that offered little to no utility, and basically received the online version of anti-gentrification response. This was inarguably an invasion – regardless of brand messages or reputation, this was the real world saying ‘You’ve created a new market, we don’t understand it, but we want it.’

The opposite approach, in my mind, is the Second Life Sketches that Warren Ellis writes for Reuters. This was something that isn’t about Ellis, or Reuters. It was about SL, and examining what made it special, and what made it worthwhile. It creates, I’d argue, a positive relationship between SL and Reuters. It’s not a one sided attempt to capitalize on what people do in world, everyone benefits.

Diplomacy is about envoys, understanding, and (despite modern real world happenings) shouldn’t involve strong-arming anyone. Brand or Personality envoys should be clearly identified, at be at a level that doesn’t give them special benefit over regular participants in an online community. This is the one thing Facebook has done beautifully with Fan Pages – an opt in system that offers brands a place to connect that is separate, and less full featured, than a personal profile. Brands are not part of the Community. The Community is paramount.

If brands want inroads into a community, I’d suggest they approach from this angle. Have people tasked to work in online communities, clearly labeled as representatives of the brand, and clearly identified as real people. No special treatment, no arguing, no misinformation. Just offer facts, links to useful information, and when suitable, special offers, benefits, etc.

Sponsorship is all well and good, and creates positive associations. But I’d imagine better ones come together when influencers are left to their own devices, and representatives come in when they can offer something useful. (Swag, information, access to that which is normally not available)

The most important advice I can offer is that, in an online community, it’s never about the brands involved, never about the sponsor, never about the platform. It’s about the community. If you can’t provide value to that community, you are an interloper. Your actions will be deemed disruptive, and the community will associate that action with the people and things you represent.

This post is continued in Social Media Relations (Practice)


curation, projected identity, and value.

The internet has become a taste economy.

Most of my daily reads are very selected reportings that reflect a view point. Most of this isn't wholly original content, either - it's analysis, or opinion, of news stories, and other creative artifacts. The few items that I encounter that are wholly new creative work, are usually presented without context.

Blogging is about curation, more often than not. Curation is about, at it's core, the idea that some people have superior taste, or at least a greater ability to separate the boring from the not boring. Entire businesses are based on this idea, the blogging just takes it further, because there is no minimum level of 'class' needed to rate an item being selected. This is in opposition to the idea of, say, a gallery or museum, where value (perceived or otherwise) is set rather high.

Like most shifts related to the internet, this is based on the non-rival nature of digital information. A gallery has physical space, and therefore limits. While there are maximum amounts of traffic, or maximum space that a site can take, these limits aren't hard and fast, and are expanded relatively cheaply.

This is a large part of why internet culture is so interesting to me. With the lowered minimum judgment of value, culture incorporates a wider array of objects and ideas into the presiding taste. As well, taste is fractured deeper - I'd argue the larger amount of more specific sub-genres is in large part to the minimum number of interested parties per area being reduced. It's easy to have a community even if no one around you wants to be part of it.

Curation is an interest of mine for a lot of reasons, but foremost because it's a function of persona. Whether the identity of the writer, or the brand identity of the company, website, what have you, curation is an act of forging identity. Attracting readers, interested parties, a group of stakeholders is more or less clear validation of the curator, and therefore the person they have constructed.

In terms of understanding what someone means, and who they are, there are few better tools for analysis than an ever growing selection of what they find interesting, relevant, and worth sharing.

Projected identity, in terms of brands, people, and websites, is the most important differentiator available. Be aware of it.


public relations and the future.

A month and a half ago, someone asked me what I do on this website. I gave him an answer that was accurate, but felt insufficient. Something to the tune of 'I blog about media and strategy, focusing on the stuff that interests me - trends, change, etc', but less articulate.

At this point in my life, PR is what I do. I love parts of it - the writing, discovering a good angle, building relationships and creating strategy. There are parts of it I don't love - the reputation the industry has in some circles, and the grind aspect to some of it. But the only thing that worries me about Public Relations is that it doesn't seem to have much of a plan for the future, and I don't want to end up in another music industry.

PR is heavily reliant on old media. TV, Newspapers, Magazines, Radio. Each and every one of these is in the midst of some kind of decline, weather in earnings, in relevance, or in audience. And most of them have less than no plan for what comes next. TV is still scrambling to understand that it doesn't matter how or where people watch you shows, just that they get watched (advertising strategy should be shaped by viewing patterns, not the other way around). Newspapers are ignoring the one advantage they have (respect for their status) and are hacking away at journalists and fact checkers, and trying to emulate blogging in an attempt to stay relevant. Magazines still have validity, but haven't really defined a new space for themselves - they've just avoided the need to panic quite as totally thus far. Radio is more important as a means of connecting an iPod to a car stereo than it is as a medium. Internet radio is well on it's way to being killed, and that's coming from someone who's hopeful.

All of this means, more or less, that PR needs a redefined role. It isn't just about industry attention or media coverage, but those have been the major doorways to public attention and ubiquity for a long time.

The short version of my point? Most PR firms don't have a solid strategy for social media. This isn't shocking, it's been shown time and again that most advertising firms, and most marketing firms don't either. The difference is, PR is ABOUT social media, in a very inherent way. An advertiser wants you to see things, and develop an interest in them. PR wants your friend to want you to care about the thing they care about at the moment. It's different routes to the same place - PR has the benefit of trust (whether warranted or not) in media outlets.

Old media outlets are losing ground to individuals and new media very quickly.

The core of what I do on brokengent is look at this approaching problem, although I definitely didn't think of it that way when I started. I had no aspirations of being in PR at the time, but I happily stumbled into it. If PR has a future, it's in learning how to deal with social media, as a facilitator, but not as an irritant.

Bloggers hate PR intrusion, usually. I can see why, as much as I dislike the fact. Part of it comes to the same reason people hate Marketers and Ad People. Sometimes we have to represent something that isn't (at least on the surface) what people want. It's easy to generate interest and buzz for something that is desired. At those points, PR is one of the best businesses in the world, because all you do is explain, discuss, and nurture. If someone cares, you give them more information to care about, more context. I love this, PR as a form of cultural curation. It only works with trust.

It's more complicated than I'm making it seem. Sometimes the wrong person is spoken to about the wrong product, and efforts come across as selfish and lazy. Sometimes efforts are selfish and lazy, based more on a desire to get to as many as fast as possible, rather than helping to build relationships. But personal experience tells me that individuals, especially online, don't really trust the PR person, for any longer than it takes to get the new toy or experience before the regular public.

The problem comes when the pressure from up top, as found in old media orgs, no longer keeps an uneasy truce between both sides. The problem is that not being trusted as a starting point is instant fail in social media in online communities.

I recently updated my little 'about' blurb with the following: 'everyone has a voice, so you need strategy that can anticipate any number of contradictory stakeholders, while maintaining a consistent message and meaning across media.'

PR, as an industry, needs to learn how to be a valuable member in online communities, consistently. We need to serve both clients, and the population. We need to do it in a way consistent with the meaning and values of each community. Anyone who can't or won't do both is going to have a hard time in the coming years, and this applies to Advertising and Marketing as well. PR, more than related industries, is reliant on the current media iteration. And we need to start planning for when it shifts.

So, this is what we do here. Hope that clears things up.


define revolutionary: Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

The best way I can find to explain why Trent Reznor's method of releasing Ghosts I-IV is so important, is to adapt the model to another, related industry.

Imagine if, when Iron Man comes out in May, you could buy it online at midnight. Let's assume that, for the sake of this thought experiment, you get charged the full price of the DVD release for this purchase.

Now imagine that buying the film allowed you to download it in every format you could ever want, ensuring it would play on any PMP, iPod or computer, right away. Imagine that this download came with wallpapers, a soundtrack, production stills, all open for you to play with (but not for monetary reward) and all without intruding watermarks ruining them for use as wallpaper or avatars. Imagine that this purchase came with a ticket to see the movie in theatres, redeemable at any major chain.

And then imagine 2 or 3 months down the road (but preferably as soon as plausible), the DVD would arrive at your door, with special features that make it an entirely new experience.

What the release of Ghosts I-IV did was point out that information wants to be free not in terms of free beer, but in terms of free speech, and more importantly in terms of free from physical restraint. This doesn't even necessarily mean no DRM, even though it should. Purchasing something can't just be about the content anymore, because content is available free of charge via piracy. Trent Reznor realised that his customers are his fans. And what they want is to first enjoy the music as soon as possible, then be given context to engage with, then be rewarded for loyalty (shown by paying) by being given a physical product that expands upon the instant gratification of the download package. Ghosts wasn't sold as an experience that was inferior to that provided by piracy - it was sold as an experience that could not be fully replicated by piracy, or by any traditional retail model. I paid for that experience happily, as did several other people I know who wouldn't buy a CD normally.

If it wasn't for the collapse of the infrastructure supporting this idea, I think more people would have seen it for what it was - a complete acceptance than staggering release, and expecting people to abide by time delays and scarcities that information technology has made irrelevant won't work. The population of consumers is getting smarter about how they interact with media, and the barriers for entry are getting lower.

Nine Inch Nails offered fans, and the curious, a scheme that could not be replicated by a download, while still maintaining the best part of the (admittedly near-perfect) piracy experience. This is how a free market should work. Adapting to the reality of an industry, rather than attempting to legislate that time go backwards.

This idea can be traced back to a conversation with animation wizard Randeep Katari, a good friend of the broken gentleman.


the perils of new media consumption.

Too much of my information comes from the blogosphere. I realised that today when, on three separate occasions, I found a story that I had already been exposed to popped up next on my RSS feed. This doesn't bother me when there is actual commentary, but very often it's something I saw yesterday, with a link to where I saw it yesterday. Often, there's not even a quote for context.

This is an old complaint, that there's very little original content on the blogosphere. And that's true, to a point. But I read blogs not for facts, but for curation, opinion, and analysis. Curation is the hard one, because very often (and I'm guilty of this) bloggers use blogs for inspiration and information.

This is me promising to add, at the very least, commentary, context, or opinion to links posted.


note to publishers.

Okay, when it happened with James Frey, it was an eye opener. It shouldn't have been, but it was. And now this. How much longer can publishers really justify not shelling out a little cash to check the validity of memoirs and 'true stories' published? It has to be cheaper than a recall of a book poised to become a best seller.

Welcome to 2008. People WILL find inconsistencies. Crowley's First Rule.

memo to trent reznor (2)

I paid for the 2-disc set. I was happy to do it.

What I'm not happy about is having to try a dozen times to download the file I just paid for. It's still not working, so I've sent an email to the support staff, hopefully they can help me.

What kills me isn't that the download doesn't work. Or even that shipping and handling more than doubled the $10 price for the package. What bothers me is that the idea is so, so much better than anything else that's been tried in music distribution. What bothers me is how desperately I'd love to see it succeed. And how, to be honest, shocking it is that the absurd traffic that is ruining this experiment wasn't planned for - NIN has one of the largest, and most active, fan communities online. Did anyone think this wasn't going to be brutally hard on the infrastructure?

The point I always try to make about music isn't that free is impossible to compete with, but rather that ignoring price, illegal downloads are almost always a superior product. At last check there are nearly 3000 people seeding this album I paid for, and cannot listen to, on bittorrent. 10 dollars is reasonable, assuming the experience exceeds the one available for nothing.

Again, I don't want to crap on this model of distribution. It convinced me to pay, and is, in my opinion, a near-perfect next step from the 'Radiohead' model that had me dancing in the aisles. But if you can't compete on price, you have to compete on experience. The three-plus hours I've spent attempting to pay for, and receive, this album is not a competitive experience.

That said, I'm glad I've paid to support talented artists, an innovative delivery system, and creative commons licensed work.

persona management: wal-mart.

Wal-Mart, to put it bluntly, has an image problem. Sure, they offer great selection, and prices that are difficult to match. But they also exemplify the sheer force that a dominant business model can exert over all related industry. Wal-Mart knows that people think of it as an evil, faceless corporation.

And, because the standard solution to a corporate issue is whatever the big trend was 10 months ago, they have turned to blogging. They've even made the big step, and moved to a more transparent model, because 'The lesson seemed clear: Create an authentic blog or do not create a blog at all.'

Authenticity, in practice, means persona management. But no one wants to admit that, because the whole point is making the enterprise seem guileless.

While Wal-Mart has made the important distinction that some actual transparency has a positive effect on the overall image, what's embarrassing is that the IHT has bought in whole-heartedly. This isn't a daring stunt, or a reversal of corporate policy. This is the same thing as buying a bunch of rainforest and declaring it a reserve, while clear-cutting in B.C.

It looks like a job half done, from my perspective. A better, more curated experiment, would have the bloggers ('authentically', but generally nicely) comment on issues in the Wal-Mart store, and business model. Certain issues could be hilighted, and then the company could take into account employee/blogger input, and make actual changes to the way the business works.

Obviously, the greater model couldn't be changed. And some of the alterations would, of course, be nothing more than lip service. But it would fight allegations of empty talk, and would more or less guarantee a spread of awards and cover stories about Wal-Mart moving beyond market dominance, and now creating a shared culture between the business and the people who make it great, both inside and outside the store.

The glowing coverage, however, is an excellent example of why persona management, or artificial (curated) transparency is a good plan. Social media is unavoidable, if you want a meaningful media strategy. And artfully curated work is substantially more beloved than 'thinly veiled extensions of Wal-Mart's public-relations department'.

Both links are to the International Herald Tribute story mentioned above. This post directly dovetails the artificial persona and transparency: revisited.


memo to trent reznor.

NIN has released a new record online. Ghosts I-IV.

Trent Reznor has done everything right. Free sample, ability to listen, increasing price scale based on how much you are willing to pay, with a physical product thrown in to justify each increasing price point. All of it an excellent deal. All of it profoundly attractive, in a really well designed web package.

But I've been trying to give him my money for 30 minutes, and I can't. I'm actually trying really hard to give him my money, $10, in return for some undoubtedly great music now, and what I expect will be an attractive package later. This will be, to be clear, the first physical CD I buy in about three years. If I can get the page to load. Which I can't.

When it comes down to it, every business model of music is in direct competition with piracy. And now I'm sitting here, actively trying to pay for music, and I can't.

I'm not looking to see if there's a torrent of Ghosts available. Mostly because I actually want the physical product. But I have to admit, I've got my credit card on my lap, and I'm still tempted.

the artifical persona and transparency: revisited

One of my major themes, at the start of this blog, was the importance of persona as a medium, both in day-to-day life, and on a broader scale. What is interesting is, completely independent of this, I have ended up working in Public Relations. I am in the persona business, and I feel I have to explain how I can reconcile that, with the earlier ideas of artificial persona that dominated my writing here.

Persona is both the first, and most vital medium we have to express ourselves, our ideologies, and our agendas. It’s also the first medium we learn to manipulate, although many do not see it this way. Persona Management is a skill we all develop to varying degrees. We keep emotions, or opinions, to ourselves. We carefully monitor our expression, actions, tone, and words to make sure we convey only certain information.

In this sense, all persona is artificial.

My commentary on artificial persona, however, was the idea of pushing beyond this, and creating a public persona that was more carefully managed than an actual identity. Monitoring all output, all traceable action, and making all decisions that relate to public information based on maintaining that desired persona. The purpose of this was as a response to the state of privacy in our modern world. Everything is public, and nothing is private, assuming a suitable lack of anonymity.

This approach requires subjugating ‘actual’ identity for ‘projected’ persona, and therefore is entirely unacceptable to the average person. Some would argue that there are examples of fully artificial persona in the celebrity community, and I would have to agree this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. But by and large, all a famous person is doing is the standard practice of projecting a ‘best-of-self’ persona, and ignoring / downplaying negative aspects of one’s identity.

Transparency, in some ways, if the opposite of artificiality. It demands making all information available, in an attempt to earn goodwill – an ‘open’ identity means that negative aspects observed are more likely to be forgiven. The issue here, is that no sane person would want to be completely transparent. Instead we deal with the illusion of transparency, and the hope that it will keep people from digging much deeper.

My current theory is persona management. It’s a selective mix of transparency and artificiality, while operating on what my inner English Major demands I call a thesis. Core truth must be preserved, otherwise the effect will ‘feel’ off. The key to artificiality is that it be a perfect simulacra – this is next to impossible in real life. People notice the cracks. So, the logical choice is to be open about some of the cracks, those that are integral to believability, and to operate on a less transparent basis when those flaws overwhelm the thesis. The core idea behind artificial persona was the creation of a consistent message and whole, one that was reflected by all elements. The creation of that with the inclusion of beneficial truths AND beneficial but true flaws, creates a more believable image.

That believable, positive persona is what matters, and what most communication is an attempt to create. The right field theory on how to do that is, to me, priceless. That, in a nutshell, is why I’m rambling on about it.

Click for other posts on Artificiality, Persona, and Transparency.

compartmentalization as failure.

Until recently, I was a strong advocate of compartmentalization in most communication. Having a separate team work on each of many fronts does, in principle, result in a finished product that has been reviewed by several teams, each one with specific expertise in the area they are responsible for.

I think the new media landscape, especially for corporate communications / PR / advertising / marketing, makes compartmentalization a dangerous, and arguably foolish option.

I’m hereby advocating a completely integrated communication system, one team, involving experience in internal communications, marketing, advertising, and public relations. I think, in the very near future, the amount of crossover necessary to do any of these things well, will make each role complementary, at the least.

Compartmentalization only makes sense if there are multiple, separate aspects to an operation. Communication no longer works that way, thanks in a large part to the massive internet community that is watching for anything suspicious or sinister. Even with the best oversight, multiple companies means multiple messages. Even assuming you manage to create a brief so comprehensive that the actual content is consistent, you will still get McLuhaned.

McLuhaned – When consistent ideas and messaging come across as not-at-all consistent, do to a difference in medium. (A corollary of ‘The Medium is the Message’)

The previous assumption is based on my observation that PR, Marketing, and Advertising each have a different vernacular, with different conventions. They are each functionally a medium, independent of which media they are disseminated through.

Beyond this, internal and external communication need to be in sync. The new reality is that regardless of how many NDA’s you force on your workers, things WILL get leaked, emails WILL get addressed to the wrong people, and the internal and the external WILL get compared. If they don’t line up, you lose trust on every front. Obviously, that’s unacceptable.

I’m hereby claiming this as Crowley’s first rule of modern communication – All that when compared, portrays an entity in a negative light, will eventually be compared. The way the internet works is to guarantee that someone is always watching. Be ready to work with that.

I guess the core point is that transparency is mandatory. And even a transparent company will eventually look as though it’s hiding something if communication is compartmentalized, as (mentioned before) compartmentalization breeds inconsistencies.

Speaking of transparency, I suppose I should finish what I started with ‘Crowley’s first rule’.

I’m Jon Crowley. Nice to meet you.