I am sure you have been watching the government shut down play out on the evening news or online over the past few days. I like many of you are frustrated with the situation in Washington, but I think I have been watching the coverage a bit differently.

I have been following the shut down and listening. It’s not hard to see that each “side’s” PR (Public Relations) machines have been running on overdrive. I have been fully intrigued at the spin that each side has put on the information in an attempt to control the message. After all, controlling the message is the whole point.

Removing all political opinions and personal feeling on the situation, these men and women have been impressive! Depending on which media outlet you subscribe to, the entire shut down is made to look like the opposing side’s fault. There is no blame to be found on the side defending their political stance and victory will be claimed regardless of actual outcome. (We will cover what an actual victory looks like on a latter post.)

I was listening to the radio and the moderator said, “The Democrats are working really hard here to control the language. For them it is all about the language. If they control the language they control the message”. Well, THAT’S THE POINT! Perfectly said, and recognized.

Every ad, message, tweet, Facebook post and publication should be about controlling the language. That is the very essence of public relations, marketing and branding. That is the whole kit- & – caboodle in one statement.

To use one example: The “furloughed workers”. When the media started to report how the shutdown would affect government employees, it started out by saying “Essential workers will continue to work, while nonessential employees would be furloughed”. This initially was all fine and dandy until Americans started asking, “If they are non-essential, why do we have those positions?” OOOPS! The PR Machine quickly began to spin and “essential” and “non-essential” workers were replaced with “furloughed” and “non-furloughed” workers.

They changed the language. This changed the message. We all still know they are essential and non- essential workers, but we think of them differently now. We do not think, “ Fine. This is good. Let’s get rid of the unnecessary spending on non-essential workers.” We now think, “Ok good, there is a guard on the wall and the janitor that keeps the marble sparkling is home today.”

How does this lesson apply to your business? Simple, it reminds you to control the language. For example; the common BOGO -Buy One, Get One Free. While that may work as a catchy phrase, it is not the best psychology. Try instead “Free (insert item or service) when you purchase X, Y, or Z”. This the customer ends up with the idea that they want that free item and they were going to purchase that other item so bonus! Verses if they do this, they get that…

When in a public crisis, it is critical to control the language. For example you had a customer upset with service and they have taken to your Facebook page or online review source to vent. Uh oh! Control your response. Do not attack the customer. Do not go into the “deny, deny, deny” mode either. Apologize that they had that experience and invite them to privately share the details so you can fully look into the situation. Let the public know that you will address concerns and act on them appropriately. Also, do not forget a key step in this process. “Publish” the results of your inquiry. If you leave the public hanging, they will assume you indeed made the error and you are ignoring it.

So to sum this all up: Control the Language = Control the Message.

If you need help in choosing the right language, contact us here. We look forward to helping you brand your message and growing your business!