A Powerful Message – Poorly Delivered – Yields Little

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Chances are in the last few days you’ve seen more coverage of Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, than you expected or cared to. This post isn’t focused on the individual, his action or his cause. Rather, it’s about HOW he has chosen to deliver his message.

That being said, let me make a few points to have my opinion on the record:

  • Colin Kaepernick, like ALL Americans, has the 100% right to voice his opinions in any legal manner
  • His message regarding the inequality of treatment towards blacks has a great deal of merit and needs to be addressed
  • There is nothing wrong with someone – anyone – using their fame as leverage to make a statement(s)
  • I admire Kaepernick for taking a stand, even if ironically by taking a seat
  • There’s not one sporting event that I attend at which I don’t see people sitting, talking, drinking, laughing and in general ignoring our national anthem. They’re not making a point, they’re just disinterested.

As I see it, the problem is more with HOW he delivered his message. When he chose to get his message known by sitting during the National Anthem, he put the focus on himself. He put the focus on the flag and on the military who fights for our freedoms. He put the focus on whether or not highly paid sports celebrities should use their access to take stands outside of their profession.

Those are all distractions from the point Kaepernick is passionate about making. That his point has been lost in all of the controversy his action has created, is sad. It also leads to key considerations when communicating.

For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume that you already have the content of your message. I’m going to assume that it’s important to you, that it has merit and that there’s a reason to deliver the content.

When one has a message that they believe is powerful, essential and relevant, it’s as important to consider which communication method will deliver said message with the most impact. That impact has to be focused on the right audience as well. Delivering an effective message is typically  intended to change beliefs, to create awareness and/or spur change.

When messaging – be it your brand, your opinion, your interests – ANY message, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who needs to most hear my message?
  • Where can my message reach them?
  • Are the tactics I plan to use to deliver my message going to distract from the message itself?
  • Is my approach one which has the best chance to be heard by those who I most want and need to reach?
  • Is this plan the best it can be? What else can I do to strengthen the impact of my message?

There are two things I hope result from the Colin Kaepernick episode.

  • First, it’s my wish that his message begins to be the focus of the coverage vs his action because it’s a message that needs to be heard.
  • Secondly, I hope this example of how a powerful message – delivered poorly – diminished the intended result is seen as a lesson in communicating.

There is no doubt in my mind that people will continue to focus on Kaepernick’s actions more so than his message…and that’s sad.


General Personal Branding
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Coach, International Speaker and Thought Partner - Bill’s mission is to add value to the world – one brand at a time. Bill guides individuals and companies alike in building what he refers to as a ‘fearless brand’. This is the process of discovering, embracing and delivering their greatest value – which allows them to realize greater profit. Read More

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