communications: WD40 for organisations.

by Darren Caveney

So, spring well and truly sprang over this weekend.

Temperatures soared to a balmy 17 degrees in my back garden, inspiring me to dig out the trusty old lawnmower from the back of the garden shed.

An old petrol model, battered and bruised from some less than gentle handling, it’s now rusty with age.  But it can still be relied upon to tame my urban jungle of a lawn.

With the sun out, it was time for the first cut of the year.  Four hours preparation, clipping hedges and edges and weeding borders then the main event.  The glory job.  Can you imagine the sense of anti-climax when the thing wouldn’t start?

After 15 minutes of moaning, groaning and tutting  (and at least one well-placed kick).  I took a seat and tried to work through the problem.  How to fire up the old girl.  So far my approach had been badly thought through, rushed, I’d blamed everyone but myself and most importantly I’d been unsuccessful.

Time to work through the problem calmly and logically.  Think…

Then, inspiration hit.  WD40!

And off I rush back to the shed to dig out my trusty blue, red and yellow magic can of wonder potion.

Did it work? You know it did.

And half an hour later the shabby back garden was transformed to a pretty average but nicely cut football, cricket and cartwheeling surface for the kids (and me).

And whilst cutting the grass, with more than a tiny sense of self satisfaction, I realised that what I’d just done is what us comms folk are asked to do every day at work. Help make things look better, fix things up, patch them like they are good as new, solve problems and keep the machinery ticking over.  

It’s not always strategic, it’s not always fun and sometimes it’s not actually the right thing to do but we make do and mend, we grease the wheels, we fix things.

And that was what first attracted me to comms and marketing, back in the day.

You’ll be able to think of countless examples of you fixing and polishing.  Any of these sound familiar?

“We need a comms plan...” (because we’ve got a problem looming and we’re not sure how we’re going to manage it when it hits the media)

“We’ve arranged this event for tomorrow…” (and we’ve forgotten to tell anyone)

“The inspectors are in and we need your help…” (to impress them and present ourselves well)

“Will you help us with an awards entry” (because we’re got a really good service but we can’t help but talk in jargon)

“This report of ours doesn’t make sense…” (could you re-write it so that it’s easy to understand)?

“We’re launching a new service next week, can you help us promote it?” (or else no-one will know anything about it)

Yes, we do the strategic planning.  Yes we create, launch and evaluate campaigns. Yes we manage brands and corporate identities, protecting them through difficult days and choppy waters. And, yes, we communicate and manage change. Big change.

But sometimes our role is simply that of ‘fixer’.

And we’re good at it. It’s an important role and there usually isn’t anyone better placed to pull it off than us.

And so we should celebrate and shout about this more often. Even if it’s just amongst ourselves.

Communications: WD40 for organisations.

photo credit