An Emotionless Plan for an Emotional Response

By | March 20, 2017

posttruth2In the last post, we discussed the false choice of “standing up” versus “laying low” in a post-truth era, specifically how a perceived need to be aggressive or avoid the limelight can lead us to abandon sober judgment.

This notion of emotional decision making – something we’ve assigned to our audiences and customers for good reason – is something we all know we need to actively avoid as communicators. But taking a step back, when we’re inevitability presented with a golden opportunity or serious risk, how we’ve planned often has as much of an impact on the outcome as the choices we make.

As an example, a few years ago, many in the industry were captivated with “real-time marketing” – effectively, piggybacking on cultural phenomena or events as they were happening to become part of the story and earn attention, often through wit and being culturally attuned. But what folks missed in the celebration of speed and instincts – which got a little carried away as brands jumped on the bandwagon – was the remarkable amount of collaboration and planning that went into successfully executing on real-time marketing efforts. Oreo’s successful efforts tied to the blackout at the Super Bowl wasn’t the work of a single clever digital account manager – it was the culmination of weeks of preparation by an integrated marketing team focused on finding creative ways to become part of the conversation.

The lesson? Like most things in life, those who are operating in more deliberative, planned ways are more likely to experience success than those working from their gut. The same goes for “standing up” versus “laying low.” The point isn’t that you should decline a great idea or opportunity that drops in your lap because you haven’t planned for it – it’s simply pointing out that planning lets you move with greater speed, precision, and execute on more thoughtful (rather than exclusively spontaneous) creative ideas.

Although perhaps counterintuitive to emotionlessly plan for an emotional response, part of the new reality of a post-truth era is a decreased margin of error. Responses need to be fast, culturally attuned, and in line both with your organizational goals and your customers’ values.

But not all planning is the same. Notably, planning for opportunities and risk in a post-truth era, has some different characteristics than a traditional crisis planning process. We’ll dive into this further in my next post. Until then, I’d be interested to know how your organizations are attacking this: have you started planning for the random tweets or pop culture shout-outs that might end up at your doorstep?

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