When it comes to owned thought leadership (written content that lives on your website, blog, social media pages, etc.), it’s just as important to express your ideas clearly as it is accurately. This is especially true if you’re trying to convey an idea that’s unusually complex or contrary to common thought processes.
Consider that this Sunday, August 26, is National Dog Day, coincidentally in the dog days of summer. Suppose I wanted to share my dog appreciation with my audience by writing about the etymology of the term “dog days,” and how the rising of Sirius, the “dog star,” in the night sky was associated in ancient times with various calamities such as heatwaves, drought, sickness and mad dogs.
Suppose that throughout my work, I insisted on using the term “xenomorph” to describe my canine companion. To my audience, it might sound like I’m comparing my hellhound to the titular monsters of the “Alien” movies, blurring the line between the occasional gnawing on my arm and accidents in the house to bursting out of my chest and building spawning nests in the basement. In fact, the audience might even begin to think I’m not very fond of my furry friend after all. Perhaps *gasp* I am even a dog hater!
All this because in assuming the audience was familiar with my personal lexicon, I failed to clarify the meaning of “xenomorph.” You see, I was using as my frame of reference an Ars Technica story explaining that the term “xenomorph” is not, in fact, a proper noun for the species of alien from the movies; it’s a combination of “xeno,” meaning “other,” and “morph,” or “form,” creating a fancy word for “lifeforms other than humans.”
To me, it might make perfect sense to call my dog a xenomorph. It’s even technically correct! But if I fail to account for my audience’s own frames of reference, I might wind up making them think I hate my dog.
This scenario happens all too often in the world of public relations. Companies get so focused on their own business that they forget to translate their thought leadership into a clear and accurate message that their audience can understand. At best, potential customers simply skip over the content and move on to a competitor’s message. At worst, they become confused and develop misguided feelings for the author or their organization.
It goes to show the importance of having a public relations partner that understands how to talk to your subject matter experts and translate those thoughts into content that resonates with your audience. It raises the question: Does your agency just run with the ideas that you give them, or do they have dedicated social and content programs that carefully consider the best way to convey the message that you really want to send?
While you think about it, let’s celebrate National Dog Day with some pictures of Tech Image’s cuddliest team members!
Mia, Jeff More
Brody, Anisha Eckert
Yoda, Michael Monahan
Doyle, Mary Beth Nevulis
Moose and Gus, Matt Pera