CREATE: Communications Themes

The first step in maximizing communications success often is to create a compelling, concise “theme” that defines your initiative. From this theme, all subsequent communications will flow, thus helping to ensure consistency and clarity in communications.

To us, a theme is much more than simply a slogan or a tagline. A well-designed theme functions as the foundation for messaging and materials. In only a few words it conveys the essence of the client’s goals and objectives.

Here are some examples of themes we have created for clients.


challenge #8

The developer’s vision is for waterfront living that is luxurious but surprisingly affordable — in condos along a lovely river in an historic village.
The problem is that likely buyers are located elsewhere (as far as 500 miles away). Tom Goodwin encouraged the developers to stop their scattershot marketing approach in favor of a integrated and targeted public relations/marketing communications/ sales outreach test, in a single market. Tom created a theme and messaging for the development, and developed advertising copy, and coordinated with the listing agent on ad outreach. He wrote an article for publication in newspapers in the target market, aimed at obtaining ‘earned’ media coverage.


challenge #46

When you use your iPhone, do you ever think about the tiny accelerometer device that enables the screen to flip when you turn the iPod to one side or the other?
Of course not. But the technology is essential to the operation of the device. An R&D client develops similar chip-scale technologies that are essential to the performance of networks and systems but that typically are not self-evident because they are embedded within the system itself.


We created the theme, “Building the Future from the Inside Out,” to demonstrate the importance of what often goes unseen.


The client uses this theme to promote itself as being “at the center” of the field of Microsystems technology R&D, and used it as the title of a national scientific symposium on Microsystems technologies.


challenge #61

The client creates exciting new medical technologies, such as life-saving surgical tools, that often are considered too costly.
Yet, the savings achieved through shorter hospital stays and improved health care outcomes actually make these technologies and devices more cost-effective than traditional methods and tools.


Our theme, “Innovation Today for Better Health Care Tomorrow” conveys the idea that there is more to technological innovation than simply price.


The client uses this theme as its on letterhead and the website.


challenge #5

How can you get your engineer spokesperson to get-to-the-point?


Engineers justifiably and necessarily pride themselves on their attention to detail. An essential attribute — except when it comes to delivering a speech!

Tom Goodwin was retained, over a three-year period, to work individually with over 100 government scientists and engineers to help them prepare for speeches to a series of national conferences. The clients were well accustomed to providing highly technical, heavily detailed briefings to small groups; however almost none of them had ever faced the prospect of giving a “30,000-foot level” scientific overview to audiences of 2,000 or more!

Tom taught the scientists and engineers to stop thinking linearly when thinking about communications. He helped them understand that in order to gain and hold the attention of their very large conference audiences they must present the “punch line” of their work at or near the beginning of the remarks — and not bury it near the end, as is their habit.

Tom also helped the engineers punch up their presentation styles with a variety of proven effective techniques.


challenge #59

The members of a health care professional society desire improvements in both the workplace and in matters of public policy.
The society’s members require the cooperation of others to achieve both goals because the professional is not politically powerful on its own to achieve its objectives.


We created “Together We Make a Great Team” to turn this necessary reliance on others into a positive statement of strength.


The client adopted this theme as its tagline, appearing on the website and on letterhead.


challenge #73

An R&D client pursues fundamental scientific principles to produce breakthrough technologies for our armed forces.
Instead of relying on current state-of-the-art theories and principles, the client often turns to the most basic underpinnings of chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. For example, one neuroscience R&D program challenges the long-held assumptions that artificial intelligence can be created by mimicking the human brain with digital computer technology when, in fact, the brain does not function like a computer at all.


We created “The Power of Science” to create a connection between the client’s work and the military.


The client uses this theme to describe its approach to defense technology R&D.


challenge #25

What do you do when your “regular guy” spokesman turns out to be a fabulous messenger — except that he doesn’t believe it?


Tom Goodwin’s client was a leading expert in his field; now retired, the gentleman wanted to advocate on behalf of a little-known cause. When Tom first met “Roy,” he was blown away at how calmly and modestly articulate he was — any coach’s dream of a spokesman!

Rather than try to convince Roy that he was “good” when the man himself obviously did not believe it, Tom decided gently to critique Roy’s appearance — his choice of tie, his posture, the color of his suit. Roy allowed as how he was not entirely happy with his clothing and said he had not realized his posture was an issue (which it largely was not). Tom and Roy halted the session and agreed to meet again the next day. Roy showed up to the second session in different clothing, which he said he liked, and he and Tom practiced his posture while rehearsing his presentation.