Inspirational communicators

3 minutes estimated reading time

Wadds asked me on a meme to name three inspirational communicators, as part of a meme, this is how it started:

The idea’s simple. We’re asking you to list the three communicators living or dead who have most influenced your way of thinking professionally and perhaps personally too. Who do you think the real innovators are? Who’s been most responsible for kicking the industry forward? And just who are the communication PRunks?

My thoughts below:

  • Steve Jobs is the master communicator if you look at his whole career, he convinced Steve Wozniak to work engineering miracles that laid the foundation for Apple Computer, sweet-talked John Sculley to leave PepsiCo at a time when technology wasn’t on the radar of career-conscious corporate American executives and the soap opera he has orchestrated since he returned to Apple in 1997.  Jobs knows when to use silence and the void, so when Apple speaks the world listens, you can see a communications strategy being rolled out that owes more to Sun Tzu’s Art of War than a marketing professor. He also realises that every point of customer touch is a communication, not just the press release.
  • Stewart Brand

    My fascination with the history of technology has gone along in step with fascination with counterculture. I finished reading  Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism on a flight over to Hong Kong in January. I had been aware of Brand through Wired articles and was vaguely aware of the Whole Earth Catalog and the Long Now Foundation. Brand has been a communicator at the nexus between the counterculture generation of the 1960s, the computer industry and the the online world we know today. It was his lobbying that was partly responsible for the release of the first picture from space showing the whole of the earth. That picture triggered the modern environmental movement as people realised the fragility of our existence in the vast emptiness of the cosmos. The Whole Earth Catalog that he founded was the Wikipedia of its day, hippy communes found out how to do handy skills and build geodesic domes, he was a founder of The WELL(The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) an online social network that brought together some of the key personalities of the modern ‘net. I also believe that his famous Environmental Heresies essay in the MIT Technology Review will be looked back on as a turning point in green politics. Without Brand there probably wouldn’t be digital marketing based on social principles the way we know it.

  • Micheál O’Hehir,  was dubbed “The Voice of the GAA”, (GAA is the Gaelic Athletics Association).  The excitement and energy of commentaries on RTE radio talking about GAA football and hurling matches fired my imagination as a boy and are still a pleasure to listen to now.  O’Hehir made his commentaries into to stories that conveyed the excitement that he felt about the game, he had what my Mam and Dad would call the ‘gift of the gab‘ – he was the modern day equivalent of the family member or neighbour who would come into a house in the evening and tell stories by the hearth to keep everyone entertained. In a household that disliked sport in general as a waste of time, O’Hehir’s commentary was one of the few sporting relics welcome. As a young boy growing up in an Irish household in the North West of England his commentaries also helped me to identify with who I am and where I came from.

Tagging Rachel Lee, Giles Shorthouse and Jonathan Hopkins.