Path to implosion: Heading to the podium without a solid messaging strategy and platform

By Brad Dodge on August 22nd, 2011

I’ve been watching the coverage of the interviews with former Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell this week with great curiosity and amazement. The buzz started when she walked out of the interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan when—apparently—she’d had enough of his questions that weren’t what she wanted to talk about. After that, Morgan talked with Anderson Cooper, and both agreed that the interview questions were fair game because they addressed topics discussed in the book and in other public forums. I thought that might be the end of the discussion. Then, to my surprise, she appeared on the Today Show to explain why she walked off the set at CNN. “We were late for another interview” was the main point she tried to put forth. Let’s have a show of hands who believes that excuse. No one? C’mon, she and her advisors must have thought SOMEone would believe that. I mean, forget the fact that she spent the first 8 minutes of the interview criticizing Morgan’s approach as creepy, and alleging he used such tactics because he was desperate for ratings. “I was late” was the main point.

I believe that these interviews illustrate why any person, company or other organization needs to have a clear messaging strategy and platform before venturing out onto the world’s stage. Any communications strategist could have predicted what Morgan’s line of questioning would have been, and she admitted on the Today Show that she didn’t even want to do the CNN interview because of Morgan’s style. (She also admitted she didn’t want to do the “I am not a witch” ad but the experts convinced her that it was a good idea. And she lamented that it’s a sexist thing, observing that no one continues to ask President Clinton about his Lewinksy escapades.)Could you sit through an interview with Piers Morgan? Can you think what he’d ask? Are you prepared with solid messaging that clearly and forcefully articulates your position and advances your message? Do you know how to segue from a question about one topic to an answer about another?Watching the political process is one of the most fascinating forms of messaging. How many times has President Obama said “millionaires and billionaires?” Do you think he and his minions are speaking off the cuff? Or are they using carefully crafted messaging points that are designed to resonate with the voting public. It’s an integrated communication strategy with a solid messaging platform. It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree. Top tier politicians are heavily coached on communications strategy.Every healthcare, technology and life sciences company needs to be prepared with an integrated communication strategy and a solid messaging platform. It’s the vital foundation you need to promote and build your brand in a tough environment.Sure, most healthcare companies will never sit down with a tough interviewer looking to exploit scandal. Most healthcare media are hard working folks trying to do a good job and deliver compelling news to their readers, visitors and followers. But if your messages aren’t clear in your interviews, on your blog and on your web content, you run the risk of missing opportunities to advance your message and build your company. You lose the momentum that could be seized by your competitors.The scariest thing of all is that O’Donnell has worked as a PR and marketing consultant in the past. Unbelievable.