Measles, Schmeasles: What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate.

February 2, 2015 | Comments (0) | | Category: Forward This Marketing with Video

Measles, Schmeasles:  What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate.

Measles, Schmeasles:  What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate.

According to reports this week from two of my most trusted sources, Harvard Business Review (HBR) and National Public Radio, there are more obstacles than you think when it comes to effectively delivering a message.  It’s not just the Crafting of the Message, or the Delivery of the Message.

Many a well-crafted, well-delivered message will fail to persuade, because of WHO is delivering it.

In HBR, author Steve Martin examines the failure-to-communicate syndrome in context of the current measles outbreak that is happening in at least 14 U.S. states.  It stems from one simple problem:  some parents aren’t vaccinating their children against measles, even though the message to vaccinate is out there, loud and clear.  I see the message everywhere, and I’m not even the target audience (since I have older, vaccinated children).  I see the message on billboards, TV PSAs, in news articles.  So why isn’t the target audience listening?

According to Martin, “In today’s information-overloaded world, in which we’re exposed to lots of conflicting messages, people will often act more on the basis of who is communicating the message rather than the actual message itself.”

So how can YOU become an expert and Get Your Message Heard?


Martin says, when delivering a message, make it clear early on that you are an expert.  This doesn’t mean making boastful claims, but instead using “authority cues” that convey your expertise. For example, studies have shown patients were more receptive to medical professionals who prominently displayed medical diplomas on their office walls or wore a stethoscope when delivering a recommendation. (Read the whole HBR article here: How Doctors or anyone can craft a more persuasive message.

So maybe you have ALREADY established that you are the accredited, sanctioned, degreed EXPERT on the subject at hand. There are still two more challenges to meet if you’re going to be a successful communicator.


Become trustworthy by addressing the elephant in the room.  If you are the doctor telling the parent to “GET YOUR KIDS VACCINATED FOR MEASLES FOR GOSH SHAKES,” the elephant is the fact that many parents have been told that measles vaccinations can harm their children.  Martin suggests that you LEAD by addressing the FUD (fear/uncertainty/doubt) in your message, rather than following with it; e.g., make a statement like, “No vaccine in the world is without the occasional adverse event, but this vaccine is extremely safe and has been used to protect millions of children.”


Show some similarity to your audience.  A doctor urging parents to get their kids vaccinated for measles might point out that he or she is a PARENT as well as a DOCTOR.  This particular factor, similarity, has been a deal-breaker in many situations.  Martin uses the example of medical authorities in Africa urging condom use in order to avoid AIDS.  The authorities had little to no commonality with their audience, so they enlisted hairdressers to deliver the message, Get Braids Not Aids.  I’m reminded of the many health- and safety-related messages that are directed at teens, only to fall on deaf young ears, because of the messenger.  Authority figures who don’t remember what it’s like to be enveloped by raging hormones are probably not going to get very far preaching abstinence from drugs, unprotected sex, etc.

On a final and more important note, the 2015 Super Bowl, NPR recently broadcast this little ditty:  a phenomenon known as “oral interference” likely prevented most of you from paying full attention to the Super Bowl commercials this year.  In short, the more food you were chewing, the less you were able to register and/or recall of that oh-so-expensive advertising.  Listen to the story here:  Companies wanting immediate sales should pass on Super Bowl ads.  (Maybe you DVR’d those TV commercials like I did:)

See video of 2015 Super Bowl Commercials: 2015 Super Bowl Commercials


Be sure that your message is heard and do it with video. To learn more about messaging with video, contact us at Robin Bond Media. Follow Robin Bond Media on social media : Facebook,  Twitter  and our YouTube Channel

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Good story. Well told.
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