Put your best face forward

Tripods are sturdy things. Surveyors rely on them to keep instruments level as they take the lay of the land; parents trust them to keep cameras steady so that fleeting moments may become enduring memories.

You can think of your own communications strategy as resting atop a tripod. One leg is your organization's core story that sets you apart and makes you distinct from your competition. One leg is your compelling message that translates and distills your story into the words and ideas that set alight the passion and excitement of your audience. The third leg is your memorable messenger who delivers that message clearly and concisely, and who often becomes the face of your organization.

Who should this messenger be? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. A messenger can be a CEO -- think the late Steve Jobs with Apple -- or a celebrity endorser. It can be an executive director or a person who, thanks to your organization's programs and interventions, now leads a more rewarding life. The messenger doesn't even have to be real: he doesn't sign a check or stock a shelf, but Ronald McDonald certainly helps move hamburgers.

The face of your organization matters, and it is imperative that you put your best face forward. Tripods are sturdy things -- but if one leg buckles, the weight they bear comes crashing down.