Vianovo celebrated its 18th anniversary this year, and we recently marked the milestone by sharing 18 lessons we’ve learned along the way. Thank you to our clients and friends who have made it all possible. We are grateful.
- Brands are candidates and everyday is Election Day. Vianovo partner Mike Shannon says we built the firm on this principle. 18 years later, it’s truer than ever. Consumers, policymakers, shareholders, and the public are voting on your brand every day.
- Know where you stand and where your stakeholders stand. Vianovo partner Billy Moore says companies need to know what they stand for. And know where their stakeholders stand. You don’t want those two things to get out of alignment.
- Pick up the phone. Vianovo partner Blaine Bull says email and text are efficient. But you can learn so much more in a simple phone call. This is true for client questions, media inquiries, colleague relationships, and life.
- Long crisis plans don't survive first contact. Vianovo partner Matt Hirsch says our firm has counseled scores of high-profile organizations through intense public crises. We’ve found that long communications plans are quickly discarded. Keep them simple and short (10 pages max). Refresh them often.
- Doing good work is the best business development. Vianovo partner Rob Norcross says when you do good work for your clients, they refer you to new ones.
- Say it. Say it again. Say it some more. Vianovo Vice President Julie Hillrichs says repetition is key for effective CEO leadership, policy campaigns, and crisis communications. Be ruthlessly disciplined in your message. When you’re tired of saying it, you’re just getting started.
- Mission first, then method. Vianovo partner Tucker Eskew says mission and strategy should drive methods and tactics. Not vice versa. Start there. Always.
- Doing nothing is a decision. It's often the best - and hardest - decision. Vianovo Senior Strategist MC Andrews says a demand to “do something” – especially in a crisis – can lead to counterproductive actions. Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing. Or as Eisenshower remarked, “Don't just do something, stand there.”
- A crisis is a problem problem, not a communications problem. Vianovo partner Mike Shannon says communication is at the mouth of the crisis river, not the head. Effective crisis response deals with upstream issues and actions.
- A story beats a statistic every time. Vianovo partner Katherine Nash Goehring says we agree with Andy Goodman, who said “Numbers numb, jargon jars, and nobody ever marched on Washington because of a pie chart. As Ira Glass said, “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.”
- Sometimes the obvious becomes apparent. Vianovo partner Tucker Eskew says in our line of work, we have found that complexity can obscure the obvious, and we simply need to step back for the fog to clear.
- Ask for advice. People are willing to help. Vianovo partner Matt Hirsch says it’s amazing what others will do when you ask them for advice. They’ll give you a solution. Open a door. Offer a reference.
- Listen to your clients. They know a lot. Vianovo partner Billy Moore says after more than 200 client engagements, we’ve learned we don't have all the answers and shouldn’t pretend to. Some of our best work has come from helping clients articulate and bring their own ideas to life.
- Make your case in the court of public opinion. Vianovo partner Hector Valle says the days of fighting out litigation within the confines of the courtroom protected from the public are long gone--you need to be prepared to win in the court of public opinion. We agree with Abraham Lincoln, who said, “In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed.”
- Have fun. Vianovo partner Rob Norcross say our clients work hard. We work hard. It’s important. But life's short. Laugh.
- A second language es may valuable. Vianovo partner James Taylor says speaking someone’s native language creates an instant connection. Our team is bicultural and bilingual and it’s amazing the trust it builds when doing business in Mexico and Latin America.
- Stop digging. Vianovo partner Eddie Reeves says when you find yourself in a hole that you can’t get out of, sometimes it’s better to just stop digging. Doing so can help provide clarity and allow you to reassess the situation.
- Good clients and good colleagues are like rocket fuel. Vianovo partner Blaine Bull says we’re grateful for our clients. And each other. We’ve worked with so many brilliant, fun, compassionate people on things that matter. Thank you.
See the full “18 X 18” campaign on LinkedIn.