There are good writers, great writers, and talented writers; then there are excellent communicators whose medium for connecting to the world happens to be writing.
These last folks, if you can find them, are invaluable to the forward movement of any individual action, company change, or global shift. They can articulate things in a way that leaves the rest of us speechless, or in my case, feeling like I should perhaps go back to Creative Writing 101.
Doug Crets is one of these [what I would call] communication intuitives. And yes, I just made up that term. But the point is, I’ve known this guy since he started at Microsoft BizSpark (provides valuable resources to promising startups at no charge) a little over a year ago at a Startup Weekend event. He wrote this post (#BikiniGate) and after reading it I thought: this is the kind of communicator I want to be. Storytelling, insight, reflection, and connecting the dots with a hint of humor.
In one year what he has done at Microsoft is nothing shy of magical. Within the confines of a massive, moving beast of an organization he has put BizSpark on the map and launched a live chat show, Startuplandia, where he interviews some of today’s leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and founders. He provides the all-important human element to these otherwise monotonous tech stories. He fights for the little guy but can spar with the big guys.
Doug sat down with me last week to talk about the future of PR and super connectors, governments and their lack of inspiration, what makes for a great story, why startups fail, and a variety of other things. Anyone in the throes of creating something, anything – a company, a piece of art, a shift in thinking – can learn from his words and take to heart his unique approach to communicating thoughts and ideas.
To whet your palate, here are a few “gems” from his interview:
“If you take the experience out of a story, all you have is whining, or blather. Experience is the tailor to any saggy suit.”
“You know, people cling to media like they cling to flotsam in the ocean.”
“Government often uses [that] sentiment to feed the egos and the agendas of a powerful few.”
“London would not be London if you did not discover something that nobody told you about.”
Rebekah Iliff: What is your definition of PR?
Doug Crets: I think what’s happened is that marketing and PR have been pushed into a new realm of customer communication and interaction.
PR is what I believe community managers and social media people are doing on the web and in mobile from big to small brands. PR responsibilities are still largely managed by PR companies or teams, but it feels to me that in many cases, those duties are locked into a behavior that comes from an older way of managing media sentiment. Today’s PR is more like curating. And discovering. It’s bringing people into your brand to help you mold and shape a voice for the brand and its community.
Brands are communities now, so PR means to me that you are helping the community govern itself and discover its values, so that it can act on them. And the more you empower those people to do that, the more they love the brand.
RI: What do you think BizSpark does right in terms of PR?
DC: What do we NOT do right? I mean, we’re amazing. All kidding aside, we are extremely responsive on social media channels and our team works very well, globally, to develop these relationships at scale. We are not only chatty, but we are inclusive, responsive when we can be, and curious. We function like a series of listening nodes, and we communicate well internally, so that we are as aware as we can be of the needs and moves of the community. We assist, as well as promote our members. (more…)