Apologies if this sounds glaringly obvious, but senior management in any organisation must speak with the same voice, offer the same key messages, convey the same overall picture.
It is astonishing how often those messages either vary in content or tone, or contradict each other entirely.
For example, during media training for a major retailer recently, it became clear there was no agreement on a very basic fact – how many customers do they have? The figures offered varied by several million. And there was no agreement on how to express those figures. Individual shoppers? Or number of visits per week, month or year?
The result was confusion and lack of agreement, offering a blurred picture to readers, listeners and viewers.
It is often basic facts that catch out spokespeople. Another example occurred during a media training session for a major organisation launching a new venture. The opening question was – “What makes this new venture so special?”. The result for a few significant seconds was open-mouthed silence, because there was no agreed company response.
The need for consistency and agreement is so basic that it is often overlooked. Yet failing to sing from the same hymn-sheet will swiftly undermine an important corporate message.