Can you name the most successful football player in the world this century? The player who has won World Cups and European Championships, who has won multiple leagues in multiple countries, and who has a sprinkling of Champions League medals to boot – even having scored in a final. Yes, you are thinking of the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, perhaps even Iniesta or Xavi.
You might be surprised…the player is Xabi Alonso. The quiet, gentlemanly, smart, hipsterish guy who looks more like a PR account executive than a world class athlete. But there we are – it is Xabi who has achieved all those things.
What of it you might ask…well, is there something we can learn from this?
We think the answer is yes. By likening corporate communications to a personality type, it seems that all too often companies are tempted to react like the big names in bright lights. They run, nay sprint at a problem – hoping that a few deft step overs, perhaps the odd rabona will distract the audience. They tackle problems head on, pushing forward from the off, with no doubt that their approach is best.
The “Alonso” approach, as we shall call it, to public relations is different. It is about thinking, about positioning and of making the space and time to make the right move. The killer pass on the pitch is the well-crafted narrative. The smart interception is the kind spirited interaction on social media.
To get the right answer, to do the right thing and to ultimately get the response that is needed does not always have to be about sprinting and displaying power and stretching corporate muscles and sinew. It can be about ensuring that everything is done with intelligence and guile. That communications is a discipline that takes discipline, control and restraint.
For large companies with well stocked PR or communications departments then they perhaps unknowingly already have the luxury of space and time. The fact that they have manpower and resources means that they might be able to take a step back, to find the cool headed, correct answer to their problems. Which is all well and good for them, but what about the rest?
For most smaller companies that is far from the truth, and there is probably never the right time to really plan sufficiently. The good times means the emphasis is focused on whatever the company is meant to be doing, and the bad times are a panicked response which tries to justify whatever has happened by pointing out the company was doing what it was meant to be doing.
There is an ignoble struggle to find the companies communication “Alonso” factor. So next time you are thinking about PR, or of what you would do if something bad were to happen – think of Xabi, think of the way in which he patrols the pitch – that could be you imperiously mopping up problems and spotting opportunities.
At McWatt & Jones we specialise in assisting companies with their planning their communications – both in good times and bad, to win business or to protect the company’s reputation. We can turn your comms from shabby to Xabi, so get in touch and let's discuss what we can do for you. Whether it is training, checking through your existing plans or just a chat about the effective planning, we'd love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org