I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend that, when I recounted it in the AHA PR office, sparked a pretty animated discussion. It was about advice that my friend received from some marketing professionals that she happened to meet at a workshop.

The people she met spoke with her for a short amount of time about her work (which is in the not-for-profit arena) and gave her some advice that she got quite excited about. Now, this friend isn’t a marketing person or a professional communicator. So the advice that these good meaning folks gave her sounded really good. Until you put it into context of the budget, resources and current situation of her organization. Then it made no sense at all. It wasn’t strategic; it didn’t have clear objectives. It was advice given with good intentions, but with no basis in the reality my friend lives in.

I have said it before and I will say it again – context matters. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. A while ago, we had the opportunity to develop an app for AHA. We thought about it quite seriously, but then we put ourselves through the same exercise we ask clients to do when it comes to this kind of thing. We asked ourselves what our stakeholder group would get out of this, what we, as a company, would get out of this (besides the fun of having our own app), and what the return-on-investment was for this project – was it financial, raising awareness of AHA and our services, was it providing additional value for our clients? In the end, we realized it wasn’t right for us at the time.

I have been a professional communicator for many years and I have put a great deal of energy into helping to shift the perception of what we do from tactical to strategic. Having random people toss out (in my opinion) unrealistic tactics regarding an organization that they really don’t understand – and not having a clear view of their objectives – pushes us backwards. Don’t be that person. Before you put forward an idea for your organization or your client, think about why you should do it. If you want to do it just because you can – that’s just not good enough.

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