One Story, Two Impacts

A friend of mine was heading to work by train yesterday. She was outraged to witness five young students sitting comfortably while an older woman was standing in the crowded carriage. After a few minutes, she was unable to contain herself and suggested that one of the students stand up to give the lady their seat. Mission accomplished. The student stood up and the older lady got to sit.

Coincidently, that same day an older woman shared a story of her taking a tram into the city where a younger person stood the moment she saw her, giving up her seat. This older woman was perturbed that all of a sudden she was relegated into the category of an “older woman needing a seat”.

While there is a humorous side to this story, there is a strong message we can all learn from it.

We all interpret situations differently.

When you craft the messages and stories for your business, they will be construed differently by different audiences.

Have you ever responded to an email at work with good intention only to discover you have offended the recipient?

We often read about companies having to go into crisis mode when they develop a media or advertising campaign they thought was funny, yet ended up causing controversy and damaging the brand.

One of my favourite sayings is by Frank Luntz “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear”.

While you can’t please all of the people all of the time, it is important that you, as custodian

of your company’s messages evaluate how they may be perceived in the market place prior to hitting the send button.

A Small Act that will have a Major Impact is to test your messages and campaigns with a diverse range of people before going to market. Often your peers think too much like you. Take the testing further.

Crafting messages is the most important clothing for your business, whether it’s an internal email or a campaign to the masses.

What Small Acts have you got in place to mitigate the risk of having a negative Impact?