communications Archives — Carrington Malin

December 3, 2020
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You may have worked long and hard on your marketing plan, but how well does it support ongoing communication with your internal stakeholders?

The phrase ‘hearts and minds’ was first used by a French general during the French Indochina-Chinese border rebellion in the 19th century. It’s been used as a military strategy ever since, making emotional or intellectual appeals to the other side, in recognition of the fact that military superiority does not always provide the best or the swiftest victory in armed conflict. And, like many other military concepts, the ‘hearts and minds’ strategy was appropriated by marketing and communications strategists long ago!

However, marketing is by no means alone in borrowing from military strategy. Human resources has proved to be another big user of ‘hearts and minds’ and there are good reasons for this: budget and organisational dynamics. HR never receives the budget that it feels it deserves and so is forced to choose its battles carefully. Meanwhile, communications that put forth company ambitions, messages and cultural achievements simply fall flat if they are widely disputed in hushed tones around the water cooler. If internal stakeholders don’t believe and feel emotionally involved in plans, policies and practices, they’re far less likely to unite behind your cause.

And so it is with the internal communications from any department, marketing included.

Much of marketing’s internal communications routinely focuses on approvals and successes – i.e. the milestones at the beginning and at the end of any marketing campaign. Once the big bang of the final presentation is over and approvals are secured, participation of other stakeholders can fade away rapidly. Marketing plans, strategies and budgets are rightly presented as business cases for the careful consideration of decision makers. Far less effort tends to be invested in making sure that plans are easy to understand, highly useable and appeal to the ‘hearts and minds’ of other departments.

‘People just don’t understand marketing’

A common complaint of marketing heads the world over is that their work is so little understood by the rest of the organisation. There is scarce appreciation for all the work that goes into research, product positioning, creative concepts, or running effective campaigns. As a result, marketing successes are not always met with the thunderous applause that the marketing team believes is due! However, if your full year of internal communications consists of approvals and successes, then surely this is to be expected?

Accelerated by digital transformation and the breaking down of information silos, marketing and communications today not only maps to almost every part of the organisation, but also now shares data with it. All the more reason to have key internal stakeholders not only invested in approval and success milestones, but also emotionally and intellectually invested in the strategy and marketing activities themselves.

So then, am I trying to tell you that everyone in your organisation should be constantly referring to your marketing plan? No, but I am saying that your marketing plan should be a thoughtfully crafted communications tool that informs and supports marketing’s internal narrative throughout the year.

It should be something that helps frame marketing leadership’s communications with senior management, department heads, internal stakeholders, business partners and agencies. For this, your plan should be structured in a way that makes it easy-to-use, a valuable reference, useful to abstract from, and relevant to your wider audience of stakeholders.

Review your plan like it’s ‘external’

Ideally, your marketing plan will be pyramidal in structure – or a pyramid of pyramids – that presents key goals, findings and strategies towards the start and cascades more detail afterward. Ideally too, those top-level goals and strategies will be written in a self-explanatory way that is easily understandable by non-marketing professionals. If you strive to make your goals and strategies memorable and to clearly show relevance to the other functions in the organisation, so much the better. Anything that helps promote greater understanding of your goals, challenges and strategies has got to be a good thing, right?

A useful way to review your marketing plan is to imagine that you’ve written it for an external audience. Marketing content for external audiences normally goes through a very different process to internal communications. There tends to be a great deal of scrutiny of key messages and what perceptions will be formed by customers, partners, the media and other key audiences. The form, style, colour and simplicity of external communications are brainstormed, ideated, iterated, tested and optimised. In contrast, internal communications are often deemed as good enough if they are honest, free of typos and don’t over-commit!

Your annual marketing plan is a core document for marketing planning, budgeting and approvals. However, it’s a valuable communications exercise, helping to frame marketing’s internal messaging for the year. The more effectively your plan communicates your goals, plans and strategies, the more key points both marketing and non-marketing stakeholders are going to understand, retain and refer to later. Beyond the simple benefit of ensuring that everyone’s reading from the same manual, you may find that focusing a little more on ‘hearts and minds’ could even turn your internal critics into advocates. And wouldn’t that be something?

This article was first posted on Linkedin.

Also read: Is your marketing plan presentation the best it can be?


August 11, 2020
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Will AI replace human creativity? Or help them take creativity to the next level? It could simply depend on how we choose to use it.

As the capabilities of AI continue to grow, the creative process may look less and less like the process of old. However, whether this process remains human-centric, is going to depend on how we frame AI’s future role. If AI is to super-charge human creativity, it’s up to creative professionals to take firm hold of the controls and remain at the very centre of the creative process.

Continue reading this story on Linkedin

Read the Arabic language version here: نظرة على مستقبل الإبداع


March 6, 2020
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If there isn’t now an element of uncertainty in your business, then you are either the exception to the rule, or you’re simply in denial. Against the backdrop of economic instability, daily coronavirus news coverage and public fears over safety, many businesses are trying to figure out how the global crisis affects them and what, if anything, they can do about it.

Here are six communications tips for the coronavirus crisis to help you ensure that your business doesn’t say all the wrong things to the people that it cares the most about.

Continue reading this story on SME10x.com


February 19, 2020
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Whether you’re starting to market your first venture or are helping someone else promote theirs, you’re probably already making use of talent platforms to help you get things done by online freelancers at a cheaper price point.

If you’ve been doing this for a while, then you may also have already found out that remote freelancers are often great for solving short term needs ‘in the moment’, but their work isn’t always that useful for the longer term. You may even write-off disappointing projects as learning experiments or fast fails that help you set direction. Although, the honest truth is that the online freelancers used have probably have not had enough direction to begin with and more time invested at the outset would have helped you achieve a better result.

Continue reading this story on SME10x.com.


January 6, 2020
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Now that the New Year has arrived, I’m not about to tell you how to develop your 2020 marketing plan. I’m guessing that this is, at least, completed in draft and perhaps already approved and has been used for other 2020 briefing and planning. However, could you improve your marketing plan’s presentation?

Although you may well have worked long and hard on your marketing plan, you may still be in the process of improving it before sharing a final version with your wider internal audience. Perhaps you intended to add a few tweaks over the holidays, or maybe you’re creating a shorter version of your plan in slide format to help communicate your plan internally. Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to have a marketing plan ready that is easy to understand for internal stakeholders across your organisation. We’re all ‘in marketing’ these days, so making the effort to improve your marketing plan presentation is time well spent!

Continue reading this story on Linkedin.


November 2, 2019
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Do brands need AI avatars of themselves? Last week at London’s One Young World Summit, Biz Stone co-founder of Twitter and Lars Buttler, CEO of San Francisco-based The AI Foundation, announced a new concept they called ‘personal media’ and claimed that artificial intelligence is the future of social change. The Foundation is working on new technology that Buttler says will allow anyone to create an AI avatar of themselves, which would look like them, talk like them and act like them. Empowered by AI avatars, people will then be able to, potentially, have billions of conversations at the same time.

So, what does this new kind of AI communications mean for brands?

Continue reading this story on Linkedin


September 25, 2019
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Despite the proclamations of enhanced customer experience, much of the interest and deployment of chatbots today is driven by cost savings. Customer service departments and the CFOs that approve their budgets have an opportunity to significantly reduce HR costs and add a new service that also has the prospect of being a revenue generator.

However, there are good reasons why large companies replacing human customer service with an automated customer service agent should consider chatbot projects as brand and customer experience initiatives first, and not simply a software roll-out.

Continue reading this story on Linkedin.


September 10, 2019
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More than half of employers don’t have a written policy on the ethical use of AI or bots, whilst AI chatbots and how they interact with customers play a growing role in shaping brand perceptions.

If you’ve implemented a new AI chatbot platform, then your brand’s chatbot can be made available to customers 24/7, respond instantly to queries and resolve up to 80 percent of questions without the need to involve a human customer service agent. However, customer service agents are generally bound by contracts, employee codes of conduct and operating procedures. Do the same rules apply for your chatbot?

Continue reading this story on Linkedin


October 23, 2017
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Agencies are used to getting last minute briefs. The urgent email or phone call wanting help with a campaign to start ‘immediately’. The pitch brief with the imminent deadline insisting that the successful agency must be ready to begin within days of a tight deadline (by the way, all agencies have a room full of highly-qualified people kicking back, playing pool and watching TV, just waiting for these occasions!).

Sadly, the growing popularity of digital communications seems to only encourage last minute briefs. Many clients now have some knowledge of digital advertising and marketing tools and have perhaps already have experience of placing social media advertising themselves. Everyone knows that you can upload an advert and start a campaign on Facebook in minutes, so what’s the problem?

Continue reading this story on the Spot On blog.