Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Communicator of the Week

A classic business management training course is based around the ‘7 c’s of communication’. The aim: to help leaders communicate better. Anyone who has sat through training courses built around theoretical, prescriptive lists such as this will appreciate that sometimes the reality is rather different. The ‘7 c’s’, if anyone is interested, were originally devised in the 1950s by a pair of American pioneers of the public relations industry, and are: credibility, context, content, clarity, consistency, channels and capability of the audience.

If we were marking David Cameron on his performance this week at the EU summit, using this criteria, then how would he have done? For a mark out of 7 I’d probably score him a 5, possible a 6, only dropping marks when it came to the last two on the list. This is actually all a little esoteric and lengthy discussions could be had about first, the channels used by the UK to flag a veto was imminent, and then, the capability of the audience which, in this regard, were very capable of understanding David Cameron’s position but seemingly decided to ignore it.

So, in the academic world, the Prime Minister looks to have done well. In the real world he has, to quote Boris Johnson ‘played a blinder’. The impact of David Cameron’s action looks to be enormous. With brevity and candour he stated his position and left the rest of the EU leaders shocked. The British media couldn’t quite work out how to report the events.

Sometimes a great piece or moment of communication is striking, almost brutal, in bucking the trend of mediocrity. You can imagine the private thoughts of President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel: ‘the much talked about UK veto; surely he is never going to have the guts to use it’. But he did, and in doing so re-cast himself in the tabloid media as a British hero made of the same stuff as Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher. Funny, considering that just days before he was being described as weak and not dissimilar to Neville Chamberlain.

That was the impact of what David Cameron did in Brussels this week and is why he is my Communicator of the Week.

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