To Be Effective, Simplify the Message

You need to tailor your message to your audience.
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After 2 1/2 weeks in Seoul, I’m over the Pacific again, flying the opposite direction. It’s been a refreshing reminder of the relativism of cultures and expectations.

Observing U.S. politics and business from 6,000 miles away permits analysis that is broader, more detached and less impassioned. Distance lets the mind grow keener.

Yes, clients reached out for help. Crises don’t take a holiday. Skype and email are wonderful.

When I wasn’t visiting with my daughter and taking in the sights, sounds and food, I gave two university lectures on Crisis & Reputation Management — one to English-speaking MBA students from many

continents, the other to an undergraduate corporate law class of native Korean-speakers.

The westerners were more engaged, reflecting the Socratic teaching method that emphasizes learning by active discourse. The Koreans were passive, reflecting the Confucian tradition where the teacher imparts knowledge and students quietly absorb it. Age made a difference, too, even though only a few years.

Speaking to students so young and inexperienced forces you to simplify the messages. Such as:

  • It isn’t a matter of whether your clients will confront a crisis. It’s a matter of when.
  • How long do you get to develop a strategy in a crisis? The students suggested 24 hours. That would be a luxury. More likely, you’ll have a few minutes. If you’re lucky, an hour or two.

The basic rules for working with the media also need to be explained even more basically.

Of course, no visit to Seoul would be complete without visiting the kimchi museum and taking in the popular Korean stage show Cookin’ NANTA (think Blue Man Group with large chef’s knives).


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.



2 thoughts on “To Be Effective, Simplify the Message

  1. You’re certainly right that it is a question of “when” they will have a problem, not “if.” Planning ahead is the key, but most people don’t want to buy a fire extinguisher until after they see flames. Therein lies the problem.

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