4 communications lessons from former U.S. Presidents

February 11, 2016
by Admin

By Kate Connors
For many working professionals, President’s Day weekend can be a time to catch up on sleep or binge-watch the latest Netflix series. However, it also presents a chance to learn from our country’s former leaders and their words of wisdom. The Metis team is constantly reading about perspectives that can help our clients disrupt industries, and this week, we’re also taking note of historically significant advice.
As President Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “The more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.” Keeping those words of wisdom in mind, following are some examples of counsel from past presidents of the United States. Whether you apply these tips to your upcoming long weekend or your marketing and communications program, you’ll know in any case that a former president has your back:
“Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.” - President George Washington
Washington understood the importance of knowing his competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This same strategy applies to public relations. It is important for PR pros to understand the messaging and strategies for the brands they represent and their competitors.
Analyst relationship building plays a huge part in evaluating any industry’s competitive landscape. By working with industry experts, you can help your team secure market validation and gain exposure with potential customers. Analysts and other influencers are also a great resource for education and insight about trends in your market, which is why it’s valuable to maintain strong, ongoing relationships with the innovators in your space.
"It is not strange […] to mistake change for progress."  - President Millard Fillmore
Although modern historians consistently rank Fillmore at the bottom of popularity charts, he was spot on with the idea that change is something to be embraced, not feared. The difficulty for many companies is showcasing change positively, which is where a strong public relations campaign can be valuable.
A communications campaign isn’t just about media hits; it’s about enhancing a client’s overall business plan and amplifying its message in the best possible way. PR can help boost sales, attract new investors, recruit new employees and position executives as industry authorities through speaking opportunities, awards, thought leadership and more.
"You ain't learnin' nothin' when you're talkin'." – President Lyndon B. Johnson
Johnson is well known for his “Great Society” programs, which tackled issues such as civil rights and welfare. But he’s also the leader who taught us the importance of listening. Whether you are speaking with a media pro, an analyst or another influencer, it’s important to get your brand’s message across while listening and reacting to the other person’s input. By actively hearing and adapting to others’ preferences, PR pros help their clients become valuable, trusted sources.
“Don't try to fine-tune somebody else's view." – President George H.W. Bush
Individuality is important for leaders and companies alike. We work with many startups growing their brands in long-established industries. In order for those companies to gain influence, they need to deliver a unique message that resonates with customers. PR and communications pros help such brands crystallize voice and individuality by analyzing statistical data, collecting customer feedback and closely aligning marketing tactics with strategic business goals.
What history lessons have you applied to communications? Share them on Twitter with @MetisComm.

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