By: Barbara C. Higgens, PMI CEO/Executive Director
A common question in the course of polite conversation is: “So? What do you do for a living?” The work of an industry trade association is not easy to describe, especially in light of the ever-shrinking attention spans in this world of information overload. “We’re advocates, not plumbers. We work to harmonize product requirements. We represent the voice of plumbing manufacturers on regulatory and legislative issues. We are in the business of information-sharing and serve as an international watchdog working as an ‘early-alert system’ about issues that will impact our industry. We promote the efficient use of water, while maintaining a focus on health and safety. We build coalitions and bring (sometimes seemingly disparate) groups together on a common cause for the greater good. We promote a level playing field for trade issues and advocate for consumer choice….”
(Usually by now I am chasing the person down the hallway with more examples of what we do, and my victim is wondering why he/she bothered to ask! “What! Come back! There’s more!”)
PMI staff has done a fair amount of work during our weekly staff meetings to improve our abilities to run efficient conference calls/meetings and to communicate in a succinct and engaged way. We work to get the message across in an effective, efficient and meaningful way. We’re trying to stomp out the dreaded circular conversation. Rather than repeating and over-explaining our point, we try to check with the listener to ensure the message being sent is received and understood by asking: “Does that make sense?” “Do you agree?” “Do you have any questions?” “Is there anything I’ve missed?” “What would you like to add?” (Ask any PMI staff member about the new “Muskrat” technique we’ve adopted to monitor and curb the habit of rambling on without a breath. We are working to engage the listener and to secure understanding and agreement!)
As we continue to build the efficacy and value of our Advocacy/Outreach efforts, the PMI Board of Directors has defined the need to create an “elevator speech” about our mission and principles. Today’s world communicates in sound bites. Short attention spans and a myriad of competing messages and distractions don’t allow for a thesis on what we stand for. We need to be able to quickly articulate what we are all about generally and specifically when interacting with policy makers who sometimes misunderstand what motivates us.
That said, here’s our first draft of the PMI Elevator Speech! Help us spread the word!