Competing for Relevance

By Kelli Newman, APR

Relevance, the persistent scrutiny of an organization’s significance, is a never-ending challenge.  Whether launching a new service, protecting a solid foothold in the marketplace, or refreshing a time-honored brand whose value has come into question, effectively articulating your organization’s relevance is a core function of messaging.

To attract investors and potential customers, companies often focus their messaging on what they do and how it works, particularly in the world of innovative technology. However, the fact that something is possible doesn’t guarantee understanding of its relevance. Messaging must readily connect an organization’s purpose with its why, answering what problem, or problems, it solves and the recognizable benefit it delivers.

Clients we work with soon understand that an organization’s why is where the emotion of its story lives and that emotions have a strong correlation to relevance. In fact, neurological studies have documented the measurable effects of emotion on personal relevance. Your organization’s prominence in the marketplace is influenced by how strongly key audiences associate it as relevant to them. So how is your organization’s purpose connecting with trending topics in the markets you serve, and how is messaging articulating that?

To be recognized as relevant also requires that you relate to clients and customers in their language.  This can be especially challenging for organizations in the innovation sector who represent disruptive technology. While the service or product they are introducing may represent an innovative solution, it will have difficulty gaining traction if the customers they hope to attract don’t understand the message. Remember, what is readily understood by you and your colleagues can be confusing jargon to the people you are trying to reach, so speak their language!

 What about a decades-old organization whose value is being questioned and perceived as outdated? Redefining the focus of a long-standing organization and its impact on current issues may be necessary to restore relevance. This process includes taking a step back to reexamine the purpose of its formation and capitalizing on the unique perspective its accomplishments offer. Ultimately, it requires formulating messaging that reclaims value within the context of today’s needs and issues. 

 Regardless of circumstance, conveying relevance is critical to an organization’s success and may be a need that benefits from the insightful eyes of an outside communications team. Associating purpose with present needs, articulating impact, even convincing risk-adverse clients to embrace the innovative solutions your organization has developed, requires clear characterization of your organization’s value to effectively compete for relevance.

© 2019 Newman & Newman, Inc.