The ONE thing communicators need to teach their clients

yearbookWe love lists.

The top ten this. The top 5 that. Three things you need to _____. Six reasons why you’ll never  ______. It’s catchy. It’s memorable. It invites people to read on. I get all that.

As communicators, there are many things we need to do to be effective in our jobs. But there is ONE thing that we need to teach our clients to do — and do well:

THINK. BEFORE. ACTING.

Gawker has an interesting piece today about a Georgia student who might be banned from participating in her graduation next week for fighting on campus
threatening an administrator
cheating on a test
putting something silly in the school yearbook:

Paris Gray, a student at Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County, Ga., used the following quote in her yearbook: “When the going gets tough just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfur, Uranium, Phosphorus.”

For my non-science savvy readers, that translates to “Back that ass up.” For the record, I laughed — and I laughed hard — when I read this. But banishment  from commencement ceremonies (in addition to the already meted out punishment of an in school suspension and not being able to participate in senior walk) is a bit much.

I have little doubt that the administrator (who, in fairness is acting a bit tyrannical) didn’t think their school would end up on the local news for this — let alone be a national headline on a website ranked 207 in America for traffic.***

And that is precisely the problem. Too many people don’t think.

Is it reasonable to assume that if the administrator(s) that handed down this punishment realized it’d go viral, they’d have thought twice?

I believe that it is.

As communicators, we know that occasionally we will have to clean up the mess made by our clients. Teaching them how not to make those mistakes to begin with saves us all time, headaches,  stress and water to put out the inevitable fire.

***I’m not suggesting that people bow to public pressure when making every decision. In the interest of safety, security etc, sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions. For everything else, however…

 

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