Communicators vs. Conversationalists

This is a guest post from Ferg Devins, Chief Public Affairs Officer at Molson Coors in Canada.

As public relations professionals, we’re often challenged within our organizations to put together the comprehensive communications plan. Something big is going to happen and we need to prepare the messages, scope out what we think might be key questions, come up with the powerful answers to the questions, draft press releases, draft executive communications, and coach the spokespeople.

In a world of social media, I smile to myself in the face of all of this preparation.

What happens when the conversation on Twitter turns slightly off our “plan?” (It might even explode while you’re putting the final wordsmithing in place!)

In the old days of media training, pros would have been coached and counseled to stick with the message — and not to waiver from the message (that moment will pass — whether reported or not).

Today, we need to be mindful and prepared for the conversations that will unfold. Our message may be challenged, a person may have their own opinion (informed or just speculative), an employee or friend of an employee may offer a comment, someone who likes us might offer up some great stuff, or someone who dislikes us might just pile on.

Convey vs. Converse

The point I’m making here is that we’re not just communicating or “conveying information” — we need to be conversing. No longer is it good enough to be prepared with the message and the corporate answer. We need to be ready with the real-time emotion and straight-talking conversation that might ensue on an issue or opportunity in our businesses. And, we need to be prepared to get into the conversation: work within it, state the facts, stand by your commitments, and the truth will prevail (whether liked or not).

Are you still stuck high fivin’ when your communication plan is complete, or are you prepared for real-time conversations?

Cheers to real-time — and the fun and challenge it brings.


About Ferg Devins

Ferg Devins is Chief Public Affairs Officer at Molson Coors in Canada. He's been in the beer business in Canada for 28 years with a huge passion for the community and all things social. He was an early adopter and advocate for Molson Coors in the social space and can be followed @MolsonFerg.

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  1. Jonathan T

    Great Perspective Ferg. The new reality of todays consumers is that they expect to be directly engaged with the world in which they live and the products they support. They will make choices based not only upon the tangible features and benefits of products and services- but also the Connectivity that the company delivers.
    Great to see Molson Coors is ahead of the curve is this respect. Cheers . JT

  2. Isabelle Corchia

    I think it makes a lof of sense. In today’s world, we need to be reactive but also genuine and realistic. The public appreciates being able to relate to the messages communicated by a company and this is what we have to keep on doing if we want them to stand by us. Let’s keep it up! Cheers!

  3. Ferg Devins

    …thanks…and by no means do i down play or minimize the planning and preparation for communications…we just need a muscle for responsiveness like never before…cheers @molsonferg

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