I am always in tune to comments that leaders make about communication and its importance. As you can imagine my interest was piqued when President Barack Obama broached the subject with CBS News earlier this month.
I read about the President’s comments in professional communicator Robert J. Holland’s recent blog post, “Storyteller-in-Chief.” And just as Mr. Holland states in his post, I must stress this is NOT a commentary on politics. Asked to name the biggest successes and mistakes of his presidency to date, President Obama cited a failure “to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”
Regardless of what you think of the President’s remarks or his time in office, there is a point that we all can take away from this. It is about the value of communication and perception.
I have seen this notion in the corporate world many times. There is always a need to highlight progress and achievements to superiors and investors, to illustrate for them how you have delivered on what you promised. There is always a need to help employees understand business objectives and the role they play in reaching them. And there is always a need to show customers the value your products and services provide. In other words, what does it all mean and why does it matter?
Stories give us this context. Using them to present your work in way that is meaningful and relevant to your constituents is essential.
Journalists and good PR people have known this for a long time. We do it well.
Thanks for the endorsement, Mr. President.