Sweat the small stuff

I first heard “don’t sweat the small stuff” years ago after “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” the book exploded in popularity.  While this is a great read on stress relief, the phrase is all too commonly used nowadays, with people using it as somewhat of an excuse for not “crushing it.”  For those who strive for excellence daily, sweating the small stuff is imperative, especially for professional communicators.  If we don’t sweat the small stuff, we’re useless to our bosses and clients.

While strategic communication is all the rage, strategy without effective tactics is like a vision without a mission and goals.  It’s a pipe dream. Also, most people want communication help largely due to our tactical expertise.  In other words, they hire us to get stuff done.  Now don’t get me wrong, strategy is imperative to implementing successful PR and marketing programs, and pro communicators should always push for strategy before tactics.  However, once the strategy is outlined, the true beauty is found in the complexity of managing details.

Value is found in the daily grind of executing communication plans, social media engagement, developing messages, pitching media, conducting events, training and writing all sorts of copy.  The art of communication is found in a team’s arguing over exact word choices, release timing, message tone, choosing the right visuals and so on. While most people only see the final product and take for granted the effort that led to its existence, it is imperative that those charged to produce that product scrutinize every last detail.  In a sense, the way I see it, communicators are charged to invent on a daily basis.

Those we serve don’t need to experience it with us or even witness it from afar.  They just need to know that in the end they can count on us to get it right.  And getting it right doesn’t happen during the first round.

Think about the iPhone.  I bet if you walked into the backroom of Apple, you’d find hundreds if not thousands of discarded models.  After examining the trashed hardware, you’d look to the right to see hundreds if not thousands of iterations of data display ideas.  Looking to the left, you’d see material samples stacked to the ceiling.  Then you’d hear a voice behind you say, “It took all of that to get to this.”  You’d then turn one-hundred and eighty degrees and a thin man in a black shirt would hand you the first touchscreen mobile device that, as they say, changed everything.

From the space shuttle to the iPhone to branding Geico, the process of invention is long, arduous and painful.  Most people don’t care to know about it, and that’s okay as long as we, the professional communicators, never forget that sweating the small stuff is what makes us excellent and keeps people coming back for more.


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