Tag Archive: Securities Exchange Commission


“After taking your PR classes for the past three years, I feel confident to go out into the world of PR communications professionals. I will miss your enthusiasm in the classroom every day, and writing your two-page executive memos! I can’t thank you enough.” – Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

“I have learned more from your classes than all the other classes I’ve taken combined, and that’s not just including lessons having to do with school. You taught me to take pride in my work, and to put in the effort to do my best. I honestly do not know if I would be where I am today, or have the future that I see myself having if it weren’t for you.” – Another Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

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Trust me when I say not all student reviews are so positive.

When they are, you treasure each and every one.

Most of all you don’t take them for granted because there is always another opinion.

What we call the “Rule of One.” There is always at least one student, who quite frankly hates your guts and even loathes the very ground you walk on. Sigh.

And then there is the student, who can quote back what you said.

In this world of texting, Snapchatting, mobile devices and old-fashioned laptops, breaking through and instilling even ein bisschen wisdom seems almost miraculous.

A professor can prepare. She or he can spend hours researching. And devote even more time to tinkering with PowerPoints and video. Finally, the time comes to deliver the lecture, coax questions and then ask two key rhetorical questions:

  1. Was anyone listening?
  2. Does anyone care what you have to say?

One of my students provided me with a thank you card with valuable “Kevin Quotes” including a smiley face.graduation2016

Here they are with an Almost DailyBrett commentary under each one. They are offered in the exact order chosen by the student writer:

  • “Buy on rumor; sell on news” Almost DailyBrett: This ubiquitous expression in the late 1990s directly led to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) promulgating Reg. FD (Fair Disclosure). Corporate chieftains could no longer “whisper” meaningful tidbits to favored financial analysts (e.g., Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Fidelity, Morgan Stanley) allowing their clients to buy on the whispered rumor and then sell on the actual news.
  • “Your Brand Is In Play 24/7/365” Almost DailyBrett: Donald Trump in particular should pay close attention to this axiom. With instantaneous global communication through a few key strokes, digital communication can advance a personal or corporate with lightning speed, and destroy it just as quick.
  • “Digital Is Eternal” Almost DailyBrett: The complement to your brand being in play 24/7/365 is that all digital communications are permanent, enduring and can be resurrected by hiring managers, plaintiff attorneys and others who can hurt your reputation and/or career.justinesacco
  • “The Long and Short Program” Almost DailyBrett: The Olympics figure skating competition metaphor pertains to 10-K annual report letters and 10-Q quarterly earnings reports respectively. The former has more flexibility, while the latter must give precedence to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and include revenues, gross margin percentage, net income, EPS, cash-on-hand and dividends (if applicable).
  • “Don’t Be a Google Glasshole” Almost DailyBrett: Guess, I really did say that …
  • “Buy Low; Sell High” Almost DailyBrett. Every one of our corporate communications/investor relations classes began with this chant. One must understand profit margins.
  • “Do Not Buy Stock in Enron” Almost DailyBrett: Don’t buy a stock just because it is going up. You need to understand a company’s raison d’ etat before you commit funds. There is a real difference between investing and gambling. Those who gambled on Enron lost everything.
  • “How Does a Company Make Money?” Almost DailyBrett: Bethany McLean of Fortune asked this basic question to Jeffrey Skilling, now imprisoned former Enron president. The Harvard-trained chief executive needed an accountant to answer this most basic of questions. McLean smelled a rat.
  • “Stocks Are Forward-Looking Indicators” Almost DailyBrett: As Wall Street wild man Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money fame always states” “I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.”edwards1
  • “Tell the Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast. Move On” Almost DailyBrett: These 11 words are the crux of effective crisis communications. Disclosure is inevitable. You can manage or be managed. Former presidential candidate John Edwards is the poster child for failing to follow this advice.
  • “Corporate America Needs Better PR” Almost DailyBrett: Amen

Appreciate the nice words. Even more: Thanks for listening and learning.

https://www.snapchat.com/

https://www.sec.gov/answers/regfd.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-internet-where-fools-go-to-feel-important/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/the-mother-of-all-weak-arguments/

 

 

Let’s ask the question another way: Should left-brain quantitative types be teaching communications to right-brain qualitative types or at least overseeing their academic progress?

Recently, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) asked corporate executives if the Whartons, Haas’, Tucks, Kelloggs and oodles of other prestigious business schools should be teaching public relations to MBA candidates. The answer was overwhelming and loud and clear…”Yes!” wharton

Today, Almost DailyBrett is posing a different question:

Should the entire undergraduate and graduate sequences for the instruction of public relations and advertising (a logical extension) be taught by business schools?

This suggestion has been brought to my repeated attention by people who know both sides of the reporter/flack divide.

The thinking, which is credible, is that PR and advertising build, support and extend corporate brands. In most cases, brand is associated with a privately held or publicly traded company/corporation, directly flowing from a business strategy. Doesn’t it make sense for future PR and advertising professionals to be taught by MBAs and others holding advanced business degrees?

Strategic Business/Financial Communications

In creating an upper division college course as my master’s degree project, I was immediately struck by the opening of University of North Carolina Professor Chris Roush’s book, Show me the money: Writing business and economics stories for mass communication.

Roush recounted the story of the reporter interviewing the CEO of Humana Corporation. The CEO made several references to the regulatory SEC. The reporter asked: “Excuse me, but what does the Southeastern Conference have to do with your business?

How many students, majoring in public relations and advertising, do not know the difference between the Securities Exchange Commission and the Southeastern Conference?

showmethemoney How many more cannot explain the difference between revenues and net income?

Is gross margin increasing/decreasing or expanding/contracting?

And what constitutes accretive as opposed to dilutive when it comes to EPS?

Asking for a show of hands, there are always more than a few honest souls who openly admit they are majoring in public relations or advertising because they are not on friendly terms with numbers.

As a green public relations director back in the 1990s/2000s Silicon Valley, the author of Almost DailyBrett was asked to produce quarterly earnings releases (10-Q), the CEO letter for the annual report (10-K) and oodles of unplanned disclosures, including material  top-line or bottom-line misses, mergers and acquisitions and restructurings (8-K).

Help!

Why was I not taught how to read an income statement, a balance sheet, a cash-flow statement or how to track a stock back in college? The reason was simple: I went to journalism school.

The Five W’s, One H, The Inverted Pyramid and Who the Hell Cares?

Having acknowledged the lack of quantitative skills for the vast majority of journalism graduates, and this number definitely includes those majoring in public relations and advertising, there is still a compelling need for these students to learn journalism.

Some may differ because those who employ earned media (public relations) and paid media (advertising) are not objective. They have a point of view. PR and advertising pros want the public to do something that directly benefits their client or clients. True, enough.

Regardless, these practitioners still have an obligation to get the story right. They need to understand if a story is newsworthy or not for the intended audience(s). They need to pose the story in the inverted pyramid-style with the all-important what, when, where, who, why, how and who cares questions being answered in a concise and compelling manner.

invertedpyramid Are business schools equipped to teach journalism to PR and advertising majors? Do they want to teach journalism? Would they just outsource this responsibility to the journalism schools? They would still have ultimate oversight for these PR and advertising students.

Before these questions are all answered, let’s address another assumption, and a wrong contention as well. We are assuming that all public relations and advertising majors will be working for the greater glory and good of privately held (e.g., Dell, Subway) and publicly traded companies (e.g., Google, Amazon).

What about those who want to work in the public sector, politics, non-profits or NGOs? Yes, there are still bottom lines for all of these entities because they all have to stay in business. (Okay, the $18 trillion in cumulative debt federal government is an exception, but let’s avoid that subject for now).

Can business schools effectively teach issues management? Can they teach community relations? Can they really convey corporate social responsibility as opposed to fiduciary responsibility? Or will all of these subjects be taught by journalism schools? Do they want to teach these subjects and more? If not, why move public relations and advertising students to business schools?

The End of Journalism Schools?

If public relations and advertising students are transferred to business schools, what happens to journalism/communications schools?

First, the demographic makeup of business schools becomes more XX-chromosomes by means of the influx or public relations and advertising students, and the percentage of XY-chromosome journalism student bodies increases. Whether these results are demographically important or not, Almost DailyBrett will leave that analysis to those with higher pay grades.

Second, one must ask whether the tasks for already hard-pressed journalism school development (e.g., fundraising) professionals will become next to impossible if they lose students and graduates from two highly compensated professions?

Third, university and college politics are thorny enough without posing this transfer public relations/advertising students from J-schools to Biz schools. Is this a fight that anyone really wants to undertake? Would one jump into a venomous snake pit, if it was not necessary?

Maybe the answer lies with a hybrid approach? Keep public relations and advertising students under the J-school/Communications-school tent, but require them to take essential strategic business classes, particularly those that focus on brand management, reading income statements and balance sheets.

In return, business students should learn effective writing, grammar and persuasion skills offered by J-schools. The result may be more students, hailing from business and journalism schools, who are qualitatively and quantitatively equipped to serve as corporate public relations and investor relations technicians, managers, directors or vice presidents.

Heck, they will at least know the difference between the top-line and the bottom-line.

One can always dream. Right?

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/mba-admissions-strictly-business/2011/12/16/why-b-schools-need-to-teach-pr

http://www.socialbusinessnews.com/should-public-relations-be-taught-in-business-school/

http://www.businessweek.com/business-schools/public-relations-coming-to-a-bschool-near-you-12072011.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/are-public-relations-pros-journalists/

“Sometimes the most obvious question is the question. In Enron’s case: How do you make money?” — Fortune Magazine Reporter Bethany McLean.

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The simple answer was Enron wasn’t making money; the company was losing money hand-over-fist.

Enron was hiding these massive losses from regulators, investors, suppliers, partners and most of all, its own massively investing-in-Enron-stock employees.

Still investors poured billions into Enron simply because the stock was going up big time. The majority had no idea about how Enron made money in its energy, bandwidth and weather (go figure) trading schemes and didn’t seem to care because the stock was skyrocketing. As Martha would say: “It (was) a good thing.” Yep, a good thing until the house of cards came tumbling down in a 2001 bankruptcy filing, crashing and burning.

What was that about how does a company makes money?

As we head into the next round of hysteria as yet a third social media provider goes IPO (Initial Public Offering), this one, Twitter, under the ticker, TWTR, one needs to contemplate Bethany McLean’s most obvious of all questions.

twitterjackdorsey

How does Twitter make money?

How does LinkedIn make money?

How does Facebook make money?

How does J.C. Penne’ make money? Hint: It doesn’t.

This simple question needs to be posed to and answered by all publicly traded companies, whether they play in the new economy or the old economy.

The need to quickly, credibility and confidently answer this question, preferably in a brief elevator pitch, solidifies the need for well-trained and highly skilled corporate public relations, investor relations, crisis communications, brand and reputation management practitioners.

Teaching upper-division public relations courses, I would flash images of corporate logos up on the screen and ask students how Company A or Company B makes money.

In our quick media world — whether by conventional or digital means — the millennial digital native generation, more than any other that preceded it, has been bombarded incessantly on all sides by brands.

After initial hesitations, the students were quickly and enthusiastically recalling what the brand means in term of how a company makes money, and even “positioning” companies in their respective market spaces (e.g., BMW vs. VW: Nordstrom vs. Macy’s; Southwest vs. United). Starbucks and McDonald’s both sell upscale coffee. They now both offer drive-through windows. They are the same. Right? Wrong.

As mentioned before in Almost DailyBrett, LinkedIn and Facebook are both social media outlets. To Wall Street they couldn’t be more different.

LinkedIn debuted at $45 in 2011 and now trades at $245.13.linkedin_logo_11

Facebook went public at $38 in 2012 and now trades at $51.01.

zuckerberg

LinkedIn has been able to easily answer the how it makes money question (e.g., monetizes social media) by pointing to “connections,” premium services, advertising and the fact that LinkedIn is the choice for recruiters, job hunters, network builders and those seeking business leads.

Facebook is finally starting to gain traction in the market after its disastrous NASDAQ IPO. The company has been plagued by how do “friends” correlate with the legal tender?

Will 140-character per tweet Twitter be the next LinkedIn, the next Facebook or just maybe the first Twitter in the eyes of Wall Street investors?

A CNBC report this week pointed to Twitter’s relationship with the hard-to-get National Football League and CBS in which video supplied by both will be available for tweets. Wall Street may very well see a ka-ching correlation with this deal.

The deal and others, plus the recently announced Twitter S-1 (e.g., company prospectus) may have a direct bearing on what will be the pricing and Wall Street response to the much-anticipated IPO.

As more companies pursue the IPO route, minus the ones that opt to rebuild in privacy (e.g., Dell), that means even more opportunities for skilled-and-trained corporate public relations, investor relations, crisis communications, brand-and-management protection pros.

Conservatively, there are more than 5,100 publicly traded companies on the two major exchanges, the NYSE Euronext and NASDAQ. There are thousands more on overseas exchange, such as Japan’s Nikkei, Hong Kong’s Hang Sang, Britain’s “Footsie” or FTSE, France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX.

Each of these companies, most definitely those in America, has reporting requirements on an annualized and quarterly basis. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) mandates 10-Q quarterly earnings reports; 10-K annual reports to shareholders; 8-K unscheduled “material” information disclosure announcements; S-4 additional share purchases, an annual meeting with shareholders, and of course, an S-1 filing of a privately held company prospectus prior to an IPO.

All of these filings require on-target prose, delivered conventionally and digitally, employing text, audio and video. Who are these message builders? Who will train them? And where can they be found?

As long as a publicly traded company is in business, it must report. It must communicate. It has absolutely no choice.

Quite clearly, the demand for these highly skilled corporate PR and investor relations practitioners outstrips the supply. Maybe that’s why they are compensated at a PR segment high average of $117,233 annually.

Sounds like an upwards-to-the-right market for qualitative-and-quantitative PR/IR types.

Full-Disclosure Note: The editor of Almost DailyBrett at various times owned shares of both LinkedIn and Facebook, only to subsequently sell the stocks. He fully anticipates as a mere retail investor being a late arrival to the upcoming Twitter IPO, if only to follow TWTR on a daily basis…Thank God he never bought into Enron.

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131003191330-270738-with-twitter-s-ipo-5-key-things-you-need-to-understand-about-the-social-ad-revolution

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2013/10/03/twitter-reveals-long-awaited-ipo-plans-253m-revenue-in-first-half-of-2013/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/twitter-discloses-its-i-p-o-plans/?_r=0

hamburgerfries

That used to be the punch of the joke about what liberal arts majors will be doing after college? You didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

For those who are the butt of this joke (maybe not English majors), the tide may be turning…or at least there is a glimmer of a real shift in traditional thinking.

According to an Association of American Colleges and Universities survey of chief executives, 74 percent of C-level respondents recommend a 21st-century liberal arts education in order to create the dynamic workers needed for the modern workplace.

This report brought into question why everyone is getting their knickers in a collective twist over STEM skills or the focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Is the proverbial paradigm shifting? Maybe not.

The Economist recently reported that once again the way-too-low U.S. allotment of 85,000 H-1B visas for the best-and-the-brightest technology Wunderkindern from overseas (mostly East Asia and the Subcontinent) were snatched up in the first five days of April. Recognizing this paltry number, some technology trade associations are lobbying to raise the H-1B visa cap back to 195,000 annually, but it is tough sledding in the face of predictable opposition from organized labor.

At the same time, the national unemployment rate (measuring only those who are actually looking for work) remains stubbornly high at 7.7 percent, and it does not include the millions of underemployed Americans.

How many contradictions can you count in these reports?

There is an increased demand for articulate and talented graduates in the written and spoken word. Does that mean that our digitized society should not put so much time, treasure and effort into STEM?

And yet we need to import those particularly adept in science, technology, engineering and math from overseas…because there is a talent shortage in this area.

Let me ask: Where are the Americans?

There are literally 14 million…give or take…who are unemployed and underemployed…and recent reports indicate that only 50 percent of those with college degrees or some degrees are finding work.

And yet there are obvious shortages for STEM-winders and now (gasp) liberal arts graduates…and what seems to be a permanent, unacceptable unemployment rate.

Got that?

At the risk of being completely off base (wouldn’t be the first time), let me offer that education should be seen as the answer, albeit there are no guarantees. At a minimum, a graduate with a bachelor’s degree or better yet, a master’s degree is better positioned to compete in today’s lifelong learning society.

NYSE_Building,jpg

Consider that the venerable New York Stock Exchange has 2,304 listings. The “Big Board’s” edgy competitor, NASDAQ, has 2,784 listings. Together, there are more than 5,000 publicly traded companies in the US alone that are required by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to report quarterly earnings releases, issue annual report letters, hold choreographed shareholder meetings, and send out any “material” news on a crash basis that could influence investor buy, hold or sell decisions.

These mandated disclosures alone are testaments to the need for liberal arts graduates with an understanding of how business works to fulfill these requirements.  These complex announcements about how a company makes money and competes cannot be effectively outsourced. Not only are there thousands of corporate jobs supporting these disclosure mandates; there are thousands more at public relations agencies and trade associations that are related to these activities.

And let’s not forget the public relations/marketing supporting the sale of the products and services these companies create and offer.

Reflecting upon my years as the Director of Communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association and as the vice chair of its Communication Committee, I distinctly remember our efforts to stimulate more middle-school and high school students, particularly young women, to pursue careers in engineering. That of course meant more math and science. There was no engineering Michael Jordan to serve as a role model.

We obviously have more work to do.

And when it comes to fast food, McDonald’s is offering university-style training for those who want to start flipping burgers and eventually working their way up the corporate ladder to the C-suite. Reportedly, only one out of every 15 applicants is accepted.

Yep, there may be a day when liberal arts graduates are not electing to “receive” when it comes to a javelin throwing competition. The ability to write well, speak well and tell the story well should always be in demand.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100642178

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21575782-how-hurt-economy-needlessly-not-working

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21576656-degree-burgerologyand-job-too-fries

“…If you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.” – President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address

“Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can’t find the work they studied for, or any work at all.” – Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin

Bok

“If you think education is expensive; try the cost of ignorance.” – Former Harvard President Derek Bok

It all seemed so easy.

Go to college. Get your degree. Land that first job. Build a career. Retire happy.

Or at least that was the plan.

It used to be that a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from a reputable university or college was the ticket to at least a middle-class lifestyle. A graduate degree did not lead to an “overqualified” descriptor, but even better employment prospects.

Guess we have to say that the best laid plans of mice and college grads often go astray.

It’s not that Derek Bok is wrong. There is a wide gulf between those with college degrees and those who only graduated from high school, or worse, dropped out of high school.  That divide still exists, but only if you can find a job.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for first time that there are more unemployed Americans who attended at least one year of college (4.7 million) than unemployed Americans who graduated or dropped out of high school (4.3 million). And these figures do not include the 14 million Americans who are underemployed or simply gave up the hunt for a job. Are there more underemployed college attendees than those who graduated or dropped out of high school? I wouldn’t bet against it.

gradsandduck

As a university instructor in public relations, I am deeply troubled that one-half of college graduates are not finding a job, any job. Mom and dad are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars and/or students are going deeply into debt only to face what could be a grim future, saddled with a ton of red ink.

The cumulative numbers are unprecedented and staggering: $16 trillion in national debt; 23 million unemployed or underemployed; a record 46.7 million on food stamps; 14 million underwater on mortgages; 13 million vacant properties; 50 percent of new college graduates can’t find a job.

Does this mean as one of my USC fraternity brothers wrote this morning that a college degree has become the equivalent of a high-school diploma?

Personally, I am optimistic but also realistic. Nearly two-thirds of students are heading off to the promise of post-secondary school. At the same time, the economic funk that has besieged the nation and most of the developed world will not end anytime soon. What should we as educators do to help prepare our students to effectively compete in order to be among the 50 percent that are finding jobs as opposed to the other half that are despondent and frustrated?

● Students will be hired that successfully address the Return on Investment (ROI) question. What’s in it for an employer to hire Student A over Student B? What differentiates Student A from Student B? In a 50 percent world (at least for the time being) the answer does not lie with, “I really work well with people.” Sorry that is a distinction without any difference. The real difference lies not with the degree, but a degree with meaningful experience (e.g., internship).

● We need to think of colleges and universities as professional schools. We should be preparing next generation professionals, not future conservative or liberal activists. Professionals will be hired. Activists will be in the streets, in tents or back at home.

● We need to equip students with the skills of a digital world: computation, science, verbal and written expression in the languages of the 21st Century and the ability to tell the story, and tell it well. Effective persuasion in the Lingua Franca cannot be effectively outsourced. The SEC will not look kindly upon quarterly earnings reports and CEO letters written in the third world.

● We must teach students that competition is permanent. We should also help them to understand that digital is eternal. That embarrassing under-the-influence photo, unrestrained offensive rant or display of inked and/or pierced private body parts via social media may be all the difference between Student A being hired or not being hired. Student B will not shed a tear for the what-were-you-thinking competition.

florida

 

● American Students also need to understand that a degree from a U.S. university or college is not a panacea. Students from all over the globe are rightfully yearning for their piece of the pie. They are competing, sometimes fiercely, and why shouldn’t they?

If a student chooses to pursue a college degree and move on beyond a high school diploma, it should mean something special. This may be controversial, but personally I do not see a college education as a preordained civil right or an entitlement. It must be earned. The same is true for beating the competition, engaging in lifelong learning and ultimately winning in the digital workplace of today and tomorrow.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/most-unemployed-americans-attended-least-college-first-time-152523538.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/24/remarks-president-state-union-address

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/80423.html

http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/college-for-all-obamas-higher-education-agenda-part-3-of-8/31832

http://thinkexist.com/quotation/if_you_think_education_is_expensive-try/188916.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Bok

What is “Communications Choreography?”

And why did I include this term on my new business cards?

cho·re·og·ra·phy

n. pl. cho·re·og·ra·phies

1. a. The art of creating and arranging dances or ballets.b. A work created by this art. 2. Something, such as a series of planned situations, likened to dance arrangements.

Are we all on the same page?

Are we all singing out of the same hymnal?

Do we have all of our (Oregon) ducks in a row?

Insert your favorite organizational metaphor here:___________.

My new business cards just arrived. They introduce Kevin M. Brett, Communications Choreography.

More than one person has asked me what is, “Communications Choreography?” Is it similar to the producer or director of A Chorus Line? Yes, there are many more similarities than differences.

chorusline

On Broadway, there are dancers and dances. There are musicians and music. There are singers and songs. They have to be on pitch, in time and the performers need to be where they are supposed to be at exactly the right time…easier said than done.

In football, there is the down, distance, score and time in the game. The ball is spotted. The play clock is running. The play comes down from the offensive coordinator. The play is signaled in from the sideline to the offense. The quarterback comes up to the line and notices the annoying “Mike” linebacker is lined up in the “A” gap.

Time to call an audible at the line of scrimmage as the play clock runs down. The play has changed. The ball is snapped. The guards pull. The tight end and wide receivers throw blocks on their way down the field. The quarterback reads the defensive end, fakes the handoff to the dive back, who plunges into the line drawing faked out defenders. The quarterback pitches the ball to the H-back…

lmj

These two descriptions, A Chorus Line and read-option college football, are the essence of choreography. Now let’s extend this definition to communications.

In communications, it is more than speaking with one voice, although that element is crucial. The first step in communications choreography is always the message. What exactly does your organization want to communicate? Who is the target audience or in many cases, who are the target audiences? Do they all see the world in exactly the same way? In most cases, the answer is a big, fat “no.”

The message must always be truthful, or as Henry Kissinger once said about a given statement, “It has the added advantage of being the truth.”

Who is going to tell this message and to whom? Who are your best messengers and are they ready to deliver the message? Do they need to be trained for the television interview, for the news conference, for the briefing, or how to present at a financial conference?  Do they understand the technique of acknowledging the question and bridging to the answer, which reflects the pre-ordained message?

And what will be the methods of relaying this message? Will the communications choreography program dictate the use conventional means, such as town hall meetings, small group briefings, one-on-one sessions, communicating through newspapers, radio or television? Or will the communication be digital? What role should there be for blogging, social media sites and webcasting just to name a few? Those who thought that social media was a fad better get out-of-the-way of next month’s expected Facebook IPO.

Communications choreography requires skillful planning. When will the message go out? Once we know the given date or even hour (e.g., close of market), then it is time to start marching…backward.  That’s right, you need to build your timeline back to the present and work your way to the future…if you follow me.

Is it good news? A Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Is it bad news, then let’s plan for Friday right before the weekend…even better if it is a holiday weekend.

Is it “material” under the dictates of Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) of the Securities Exchange Commission? If you are planning communications choreography for a publicly traded company, then you have absolutely no choice but to disclose this information once it becomes available…usually right after the close of market or before it opens in the morning…giving investors time to digest the news. To do otherwise runs the risk of selective disclosure of material information or withholding this information from investors, thus inviting a nasty SEC proceeding.

If you are planning a major financial conference that includes a game-changing product launch, then corporate public relations (e.g. “The Forest”), marketing communications (e.g. “The Trees”) and investor relations (e.g. “The Investors”) all have to be on the same page. The “Forest” refers to the company as a whole including the most valuable asset, the employees. The “Trees” refer to the individual products that serve as the revenue stream of the company. All three disciplines need to be in alignment and must follow the predetermined time table…beginning with the news release crossing the wires.

When choreographing a communications campaign, there are many questions that need to be asked and answered. Experience and instinct play a huge role in successful communications choreography. A campaign must reflect not only the culture of an organization, but its look and feel as well. Communications choreography must be consistent with the brand.

If you always think of communications in the same way as a choreographer sees a Broadway dance troop, then there is no excuse for not having your message, messenger and campaign in perfect three-step harmony.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/choreography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Chorus_Line

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