Creative Leadership

Are You Using Media Thinking in Your Organization?

Principles of Media Thinking: These are the guiding principles that Cooke Media Group uses to help message-driven organizations change their thinking and thereby transform how they operate.  The next time you have a company meeting, run this list by your leadership team.  See how many of these points you’re taking seriously:

The clutter context:
The competition for the hearts and minds of customers / donors / audience / congregations is greater than ever before.  No matter how important our message, today, we have to earn the right to be heard.   Are we experts?  Authoritative?  What are our credentials?  Why should they listen?  Can we be trusted?  Who is talking about us?  Do we know our competition?  How can we cut through the clutter?

Building the Brain Trust:
Culture is more important than vision.  Creating the right internal environment for innovation and productivity.  Teams.  Competing voices.  Creativity.  Valuing people.  Listening.  Allowing for creative failure.  Empowering employees.

Visibility is as important as ability:
It’s not just who you are, it’s how you’re perceived.  In an age of instant information (email, text messaging, etc) Perception matters.  What do people think of when they think of you?  Do we know?  What does it mean?  Are we on YouTube, Google?  (Positively or negatively).  Are we paying attention to the criticism?  The age of “findability.”  Our digital, online presence.  Reputation management.  Public relations.

We are “always on:”
Transparency in the digital age.  People expect us to be there.  Information never sleeps.  Are we reachable through multiple platforms?  Phone, mail, email, online, Facebook, etc…

The power of being first:
Being different is everything.  Originality matters.  When messages compete, the unique voices stand out.

Mash up theory:
What is a “mash up?”  No boundaries.  Online “wikis.”  Organic teams.  Do employees have the freedom to team up themselves?  The administrative flow chart is less important today.  The Millennial generation doesn’t care about structure, they care about results.

The brand:
Everything is about a compelling story.  Storytelling is the most popular type of programming.  What is our story?  How are we telling it?  Where are we telling it?  Who are we telling it to?  Is it simple and clear?

The two-way conversation:
The audience wants to be part of the story.  Are we listening and responding?  What are we doing to allow our audience / congregation / donors / influence our organization and projects?

How well do we know our audience / donors / customers?

How do they prefer to communicate with us?   The generational difference is about communication and how people connect.

Does our style reflect our target audience?
Design is the language of this generation.  Remember Wayne Gretsky’s quote that he skates to there the puck is going, not to where it is.  Look where we’re going, not where we’ve been.

The relevance question:
Are we answering questions people are actually asking?  What topics / subjects are we wrestling with?  Are we listening to the culture?

Are we marketing or influencing?
What’s the difference?  The power of buzz.  Are people talking about us?

The niche is the new big:
Stop trying to reach “nations,” and focus on the audience that we could connect with most easily.  Start small and grow from there.  What markets should we really focus on?

Strategy matters:
What is strategy?  In a multi-platform world we can’t be haphazard.  Re-think everything.  There’s a difference between style and strategy.  The same sorry thinking that got us into this mess won’t be the thinking that gets us out.

Embrace culture:
Earlier generations either dismissed culture or ran from it.  The key to our connection with our audience / donors / congregation / customers is popular culture.

If you’re falling short, or have any questions, feel free to give us a call at Cooke Media Group.


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  1. Fantastic client briefing document, this one mate.

    Always the most difficult clients to get on board with the state of play – as outlined here – are the church clients ! I’m hoping a link to this blog post might help crack them though !

    Having said that, their resistance to change can be astonishingly robust ! It can be infuriating when all they want to do is carbon copy the look+feel of the big church in town – which as we know, just makes them invisible. Any advice specifically on how to pull pastoral heads out of the sand ?

    Thanks for sharing your experience Phil.

  2. Great stuff Phil, especially ‘Building the Brain Trust’ – i wish more leaders *really* understood this! If leadership would just get this one under its belt, it would make creating a great product oh so much easier! man! … if not, you will lose a lot of valuable people.

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