There’s a metaphor here somewhere

By day, I’m a marketing, communications and public relations executive who’s been working mostly with innovative technology and energy organizations over the past 15 years, working everything from smart thermostats to solar technologies to self-driving cars.

In short: I help companies craft their most interesting, compelling story, and bring it to the world.

For part-time novelists like myself, telling company stories is a fascinating intellectual challenge. We dive below the engineer-speak jargon that nobody understands (and tends to flood most companies) and distill the compelling idea at the heart of an organization. Then we make it sticky and mediagenic, with noise-piercing soundbites and inventive storylines, and pitch it to reporters, write up blog posts and newsletters, and get creative about bringing our story in contact with their audiences.

The User Manual draws heavily on lessons I’ve learned over a career in the PR and marketing trenches, re-engineered to focus on addressing the personal relationships that matter most.

  • Involve everyone. Too many times my teams have agonized over writing the perfect press release, only to have an executive throw it out. Why? Usually, because the executive wasn’t involved in cooking up the story, so our work didn’t resonate. Include all the decisionmakers from the start and they’re a lot more likely to go along with it.
  • Work out a structure. The world is chaos. Structure–even a bare bones version–helps you stick to a plan and get ‘er done. I find that structure also imbues the exercise with a sense of confidence and encourages people to give their all.
  • Be strategic–but remember to execute. Make sure what you’re doing gets to the goal–in this case, creating ridiculously amazing relationships. But the magic is in execution. Don’t just talk or think about the User Manual–apply it every day. Save the intellectual blathering for a blog!
  • Do the research. Get smart on the industry conversations–and your story will be a far better match. The User Manual is entirely based on researching your needs–and unpacking those of your partner.
  • The power of punchiness. If people can’t remember your message, they won’t internalize it. Brevity is the soul of wit! And besides, being interesting is way more fun.

The best outcomes in the PR and marketing business are when a client can point to awesome business outcomes that came directly from communications work. (For example, thanks to an interesting profile in the Wall Street Journal, a company won investment.)

The same holds for relationships. The greatest moments are when couples create a euphoric experience (or cut short a catastrophic implosion) thanks to applying the User Manual.

Here’s to creating millions more of those magical moments!