PR legend Jack Felton died last Saturday at 84. You know what I remember about Felton? Exactly everything he wanted me to take away from our only meeting.
He had a glass of water at the lectern and a piece of litmus paper in his hand.
He dipped the litmus paper into the glass, and as he pulled it out, he said—and these were his exact words—”Communication is the litmus test of management’s decision-making.”
Meaning that, to the extent you have a hard time communicating it, it’s probably a bad decision. And if it’s easy to get across, it’s probably a good decision. So communicators, and management, should use the attempt to conceive the communication of a new policy as a way to evaluate the policy and, if needed, modify it or scrap it altogether.
I accepted that, then and there, as a fundamental truth about our work.
Felton also remarked on parenthetically on the litmus paper gimmick, saying that connecting messages to visual things helped people remember them.
Yeah, I guess so.
You know when that meeting took place? Twenty one years ago. It was put on by an organization I don’t remember, it was held at some hotel reception to which my 23-year-old ass was sent for reasons long lost to me now.
Aside from trying to pretend I was enjoying my first glass of scotch, I remember only what Jack Felton wanted me to remember—and I remember it as warmly as I remember it well.
Thanks, Jack. We’ll take it from here. —DM
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