Create and Debate: Lessons for brands, courtesy of Dikkenberg and Rusbridger, on communicating credibly, conspicuously and contagiously

I had a rather delightful serendipitous few minutes yesterday when I watched consecutively two videos on YouTube. it occurred to me that between them they rather elegantly describe the formula for communicating your position or point of view in the world right now.

the first was the above video of a speech given by Who&Why Media‘s founder Simon Dikkenberg at the 20th anniversary of Mission Australia’s CYI. Simon (who is awesome) captured more elegantly than I would the point and power of unleasing a creative instinct:

“By becoming conscious of our stories and our ability to shape then, we learn that we can edit and redefine the great changes that impact our lives … what’s exciting is that we now live in era in which the tools to record and share our stories are cheap and easily accessible (most of us carry them on the phones in our pockets) … we all have our own battles and wars but it is the stories we tell ourselves about them that determine the positive or negative impact they have on our lives …”

Simon Dikkenberg (from the above video)

I next watched this video from The Guardian of Editor Alan Rusbridger describing the newspaper’s ‘Open Journalism’ philosophy.

it’s simple, straightforward, and elegant … yet it describes profound changes to how a newspaper goes about doing what it does. changes that by Rusbridger’s own admission are a “big barrier for journalists to get over”.

“Open journalism is about allowing a response … saying to readers ‘we want to hear from you’ … if you can have more than one view you get a better account … once you accept that then you’re into just the questions of the mechanics … we should be able to respond to them too … its being responsive to what comes into the building …
Its no good shoving a newspaper on the web, you have to be part of the web … as a result I think our journalism is much more approachable, much more diverse, much more comprehensive, much more challenge-able (which is a good thing), and just generally better.”

Alan Rusbridger (from the above video)

that second paragraph is of particular relevance and significance to comms planning – swap ‘journalism’ for brand and you get the following advice: ‘its no good shoving a brand on the web, you have to be part of the web … as a result I think [your] brand is much more approachable, much more diverse, much more comprehensive, much more challenge-able … and just generally better’.

I can think of little better advice I’ve ever heard being suggested for brands as they plan in an online, on-demand, fragmented and attention-light world.

perhaps what strikes me most is how the Dikkenberg Rusbridger formula of Create + Debate is so very rarely applied. brands of course create, but very rarely for the specific purpose of instigating debate. and of course brands debate, but often as a response to events or about their products as opposed to the communicates they create around a point of view.

yet when brands do embrace this simple formula, the results are often hugely successful – at the very least from a communications point of view. here are just a few of my favourites:

all these examples are awesome campaigns because they are credible, conspicuous and inherently contagious. and they are all those things, I think, because they followed the Dikkenberg Rusbridger formula: create the stories of your battles and debate with the plurality of views they engender.

the possibilities are staggering, as is the potential positive affect those stories could have on us all.

featured image via here and here

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