RonAmok! » Budget for Content not Distribution

The end of the year offers a time of reflection. It’s also the time to start planning next year’s budget. If you’re an executive who is responsible for corporate communications, consider looking at the process through a different lens. Should you fund messaging through third parties, or communicating through your own channels? No need to be draconian about it–what if you did both, shifting significant money from messaging to communicating?

Now THIS is an interesting article. I’ve argued this in the past, advocating for directly messaging your audience as opposed to utilizing middlemen (read: the media), and the author here does similarly.

He draws a distinction between distribution and messaging. He says we carve our messaging budgets into two broad areas: development and distribution. Development is either done externally or internally, with internal development of content usually being the cheaper way (read: government) because existing staff craft the message. Distribution, however is almost always done externally. We send messages to the media who pass that message along to the public we hope to reach.

The author argues that the messaging budget is written with too much focus on distribution (consider spokesperson training, press release development, etc.). He says that we should pull money from that side and reinvest it in the development side of things. My preference would be to plow it back into communication and education staff, but I can see the desire to up the budget for contracted out development. Either way, the message should get better, as opposed to the pipe that it flows through.

I argue this is better in the long run. The media, as we’ve seen, can be fickle and twist–or worse, ignore–our messaging. If we make messages that resonate with our publics, we won’t ever run into that problem again. The message will burble up through the publics and either affect the change we need, or–even better–force the media to take note.