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Nothing should come between a great story and the audience that needs to hear it.

That's not our opinion. It's our understanding of the fundamental laws of human interaction.

Which is why something has gone horribly wrong in today's media landscape.

Powerful executives think they can dictate the information people should hear and trust. Tech CEOs pitch investors on the fantasy that they can covertly control human behavior. Ad agencies and PR firms operate in cynical, slavish devotion to data models that create convincing sales presentations but will never, ever tell us how to influence the future.

Meanwhile, the people they think they control gain more power than ever. Power to collaborate, to share, to speak, to influence … and to ignore, mock and punish any brand that doesn't get it.

From attorneys to management consultants to Uncle Rico at Thanksgiving, corporate decision-makers are relentlessly sold a dangerously false idea that communication is a mere commodity, practiced by anyone.

This is the source of very costly mistakes.

We see it every time an election surprises the experts, a minor controversy becomes a major crisis or an important relationship goes from great to gone. It always points back to disconnected, inhuman communication and tactics dictated by rules and textbooks that hold sway over no one’s heart.

At Ackerman McQueen, we practice a different, more human way.

In the influence game, your competitors aren't the brands you compete with for market share. They're the brands you compete with for attention. Start with Disney. Netflix. Amazon. Fox. The New York Times. These are today's titans of storytelling, the brands people flock to, eyes open, guard down, ready and willing to be transported, captivated … persuaded.

Influence will always start with a story that someone wants to hear. And here's the good news: There is a story your brand could tell better than any other storyteller in the world.

But before we can find that narrative, we must first understand people. What they hear from you, and how it makes them feel.

The details of this process may be a little more complicated, but it will never be a formula that only we can execute. We deploy a hybrid of journalism, business strategy and creative expertise to get to something that is unique—but not magic. Our media properties are strategic at the core and built to live for decades, so long as the organization who owns them treats them with the care and craft they demand.