Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Importance of Doing SOMETHING

I was a Xerox salesman for six miserable months.  I sold five low-volume copiers in that time and, while there is much I'd like to forget about that period of my professional development, I learned one useful lesson: when in doubt of what to do next, do SOMETHING.  At Xerox, that meant "make calls."

We were given a list of "prospects" (in quotes because the list was more of a phone book that a collection of qualified leads) and told to reach out to a certain number every week.  Anyone who has ever done this sort of thing knows what I'm talking about.  For whatever reason, I was a loser at that particular numbers game, but the lesson shared by my manager has since served me well.

Put another way, a supervisor of mine at Edelman (the same one who taught me that "PR is about what you do and NOT what you say") confided in me that "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission."  Clients, media, supervisors - whomever - will likely be much quicker to forgive what you've done than to grant permission in the first place. 

What does this mean in a communications mindset?  Very often, it's tempting to wait until all storytelling elements are lined up and in tip-top shape.  Media kits, backgrounders, bios, press releases, photos, b-roll, research - you name it - can all stand in the way of getting the job done.

Hogwash, I say.  At some point, you just have to dive in.

The ONLY exception is that of message development.  Everything else can fall into line later.  But right now, the single most important piece of preparation is figuring out what you're going to say and how.  Once you do that, everything else will flow into place.

I guarantee it.

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