Tony Blair, love him or loathe him, you’ve got to give it to him that he’s still the slickest media operator in modern politics. I’d rate him higher than Barack Obama (who practically walked on water during his campaign) and even higher than David Cameron, who despite a good start is failing to find the balance between serious prime minister in waiting and head of the new fluffy Conservatives.
But what makes Blair such a smooth operator? It’s not that he’s natural at this, his manner, tone, measure and gesture have all been practised until they’ve become second nature. The key to his success has always been this ‘natural’ charm, his relaxed facial features allow him to form words in a clear pattern, his slight wry smile and flash of pearly whites gives him that cheeky trust, and most importantly his ability to mix Prime Minister (and now Statesman) with bloke-you’d-not-mind-sharing-a-pint-with.
The ability to communicate a message isn’t just for politicians, and good media training shouldn’t just be for the most pressured CEOs. It should be a fixture of any part of a business that faces the public or the press. The difference in style – regardless of whether it’s facing you directly or talking to you the customer through the press – is often stark.
An organisation that you feel is genuinely upset at itself because its service toward you has been unsatisfactory, but recognises that it is at fault and, most importantly, takes steps to rectify the situation versus a company that shoves you an unpersonalised note apologising for any inconvenience is huge.
Done well, a message communicated in a genuine fashion will console you and consolidate your faith in a brand. Done badly and it will damage the trust and credibility of the brand every time.
The bottom line in business or politics means that you often can’t take the views of every single customer into hand, and you’re never going to keep every single person happy, but it’s the tone and style of your message to them that counts. So work with your communications people to ensure that what you’re saying not only sounds genuine, but actually carries through to authentic business improvement. Your business will benefit, your brand will benefit and most importantly you’ll build customer trust.