Adapted from a post I originally wrote in January 2010.
Up is not an easy direction. It defies gravity, both cultural and magnetic.
— Capt. D. Michael Abrashoff, It’s Your Ship
It takes a lot of power to escape the gravitational pull of all the stuff that tries to hold us back.
It takes a lot to break free of the urgent issues that suck all the time and energy from our days and lives.
For marketing types, it takes a lot of effort to push beyond those traditional tactical roles our organizations want us to play in order to move into a position of strategic importance.
It takes velocity to escape the bonds of the urgent and soar to the lofty heights of the important.
It’s hard to help clients rethink their conventional approaches to marketing — to think beyond brochures and websites and press releases, to think in terms of audience and message and outcomes.
It’s tough to say no to people who are used to getting their way.
It’s tough to be both a service provider and a strategic partner within an institution.
It’s hard to set priorities.
These are just a few of the things I think about when I think about the role of a university communications and marketing operation.
These are lessons I thought I’d learned before. But in the busyness of day-to-day work, I sometimes forget them.
So I’m re-learning them. Some days, I re-learn them several times.
If we’re going to move ourselves, our operations and our organizations beyond the tactical to the strategic, then we must learn how to escape the bonds of organizational gravity. We must figure out how to pull away from the inertia that tries to hold us back. We must do the hard stuff, positioning ourselves and our operations into strategic roles, in order to reach that escape velocity needed to soar.