You actually speak Greek

I just got off a phone call that has me rethinking the way we talk to management or clients about our communications strategies.

It was my annual phone call with my accountant to go over all the numbers I sent him. He was asking me questions I didn’t know the answers to so I got my bookkeeper on the line with him.

And then my head exploded. This stuff is super important to me – it’s how much money I have to part with, and how I make sure I follow all the regulations and don’t make some mistake that could result in serious hassle and penalties.

But I had no idea what they were talking about:

“Count the withholdings against distributions, otherwise he’ll have negative equity and that will limit what he can contribute to the defined benefit plan.”

And so on. I mean, that’s probably not even what they said, those are just some of the nouns and verbs I remember.

After they went back and forth for a while, I could tell (but only from the tone of their voices) they were figuring things out and getting where we needed to go. And then he says, “How does that sound to you, Michael?”

I wanted to say, “That sounds like Greek to me.”

And that’s when I realized, “This is what our bosses/clients feel like when we are talking communications strategies.”

I’ve been on calls or in meetings where someone (usually external, trying to show their expertise) says something like:

“Let’s post it first and use micro-influencers to drive engagement so we get some social proof, and then push those metrics out for earned – first top-tier, then trades – and we’ll let the wire release bat clean-up.”

And the non-PR executives don’t know what they’re talking about. But they are ultimately responsible for how the business performs, and for avoiding anything illegal or inappropriate. Like I am responsible when I sign my tax returns.

I know it can be frustrating when leaders seem to be questioning us or not respecting our expertise and role. But just like my little finance team translated their accounting “Greek” into English for me, we need to proactively educate our leadership enough that they feel comfortable delegating most decisions to us.

In most cases, they are just doing their jobs. And we do ours better when we magnify our responsibility as communicators to clearly and patiently make our case to them.

This article was originally published on May 5, 2021

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