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Strategic Communication

Communication is absolutely essential for organizations across every sector that hope to achieve their goals. Effective communication can have a force multiplier effect: It allows you do more, better, faster, and with fewer resources than you otherwise would be able to do. Effective communication builds competitive advantage. But ineffective communication makes it much harder for organizations to reach their goals and can even cause self-inflicted harm.

Crisis Communication

A crisis is not necessarily a disaster but rather a time when an organization is no longer operating as business-as-usual. Crises can lead to significant losses, both tangible and intangible, for an organization. But when managed and communicated effectively, crises can actually become opportunities to gain competitive advantage, increase trust and confidence, and move an organization closer to achieving its overall goals.

Leadership Communication

Leaders are judged on their ability to engage, energize, and inspire. Leaders are charged with communicating directly to stakeholders. And leaders’ reputation often drives the reputation of their organization. So increasingly, a leader’s overall success is based on the ability to engage stakeholders well. Learning how to be a deft communicator is not easy or always natural; it takes hard work and guidance.

Latest Blog

We Simply Do Not Have the Answer: A Case Study in Ineffective Crisis Communication

“We understand that it has been a difficult time for all the families…We find ourselves in a difficult position. I repeat: the question that the families principally want answered, is the question we simply do not have the answer to – namely, where their loved ones are, and where is MH370.” -Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein,

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Why Leaders Should Invest in Strong Communication Skills

This is a video of Katie Garcia, founder and president of Athene Strategies, discussing why it is so important for leaders to develop strong communication skills.

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What is Strategic Communication?

This is a video of Katie Garcia, founder and president of Athene Strategies, discussing what strategic communication is.

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Like 10,000 Other Days Until It Wasn’t: A Case Study in Being Adaptable, Nimble, and Effective When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

“It was a day like literally 10,000 other days—until it wasn’t. I had been flying airplanes for 42 years, and in all that time I never knew when or even if I would be faced with some ultimate challenge.” -Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger[i] Nearly one month ago a movie opened in theaters that is quickly

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Words When Spoken: The Physicality of Audience Engagement

“This guy was a hack… He had an audience and he didn’t know what to do with it.” So exclaimed Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet, fictional President of the United States in The West Wing television series. He was walking through the White House with his wife, Abbey, arguing about the effectiveness of the reverend’s delivery of

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Preparing for The Great Debate on September 26th: A Case Study in the Physicality of Audience Engagement

“At the conclusion of our post-mortem, I recognized the basic mistake I had made. I had concentrated on substance and not enough on appearance. I should have remembered that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’” -President Richard M. Nixon, Six Crises As the United States transitions from the presidential primaries to the general election,

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How the Dance is Performed: The Physicality of Audience Engagement

How can you tell the difference between a dancer and someone who is just dancing? Is it the level of steps that are performed? The difficulty of the tricks? The confidence exuded? The emotion conveyed in the movement? The level of performance added to the movement? You cannot tell the difference between a dancer and

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Committing to the Movement: Following Right Words with Right Action

What is the difference between a good dancer and a great dancer? There are several possible ways to answer that question. A great dancer has more refined technique. There is an aura about him or her, some unquantifiable X factor at play. A great dancer connects to the music, to the story, and/or to the

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What is a Crisis?

This video is of Katie Garcia, Founder and President of Athene Strategies, explaining what a crisis is and how it can actually become an opportunity to build trust and confidence, gain competitive advantage and help an organization achieve its goals.

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We See You; We Stand with You: A Case Study in Connecting with Your Audience on its Terms

“This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy – but we will get there together.” -United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch[i] This statement from US Attorney

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Performing the Dance Clearly and with Inevitability: Learning How to Be Adaptable, Nimble, and Effective When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

“Dance is communication, and so the great challenge is to speak clearly, beautifully, and with inevitability.” -Martha Graham In ballroom dancing, the steps are almost always choreographed before a dance is performed. There is a plan in place. And the dancers’ job is to perform the choreography with the proper technique and embody the story

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The Story Behind the Curtain: A Case Study in Strategically Planning Communication

“Hello. This is John Doe. Interested in data?” -John Doe (as reported in The Washington Post)[i] How would you respond to a message like this? A message like this from someone identifying him or herself as John Doe would probably spark some curiosity, as well as confusion. It certainly peaked the curiosity Bastian Obermayer when

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Filling the Empty Space: Strategically Planning Communication to Achieve Your Goals

“The blank space can be humbling. But I’ve faced it my whole professional life. It’s my job. It’s also my calling. Bottom line: Filling this empty space constitutes my identity. I am a dancer and a choreographer.” -Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life[i] In every type of dancing, movement

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Not a Lone Voice, But Many: A Case Study in Harnessing the Power of Stories

“I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls. Today, I tell their stories too.” -Malala Yousafzai A young girl, because of the cultural, socioeconomic, and political circumstances in which she lives, is unable to go to school safely. This is a tragically

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Giving the Audience Something that Will Change Them: Harnessing the Power of Stories to Move People

“A dancer, if she is great, can give to the person something that they can carry with them forever. They can never forget it, and it has changed them, though they may never know it.” -Isadora Duncan[i] Great dancing tells a story. Bodies moving together in synchronicity, connecting emotionally to each other and to the

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What Does Marriage Mean to You: A Case Study in the Art and Science of Framing

“Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. In politics our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to

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How We Interpret the Dance: The Art and Science of Framing

How can you tell a waltz from a tango? A rumba from a cha cha? A quickstep from a samba? It’s starts with the music. When the music starts playing, it becomes clear which kind of dance can be performed to it. The music becomes the frame that determines the dance. What does this mean?

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We Rise and Fall Together: A Case Study in Connecting with Your Audience on its Terms

Since the beginning of his term, President Obama spoke about the need to build bridges of understanding with the Islamic community. He voiced repeatedly that Islamic extremists are not representative of Islam or the majority of Muslims in the U.S. and around the world. From his address in Cairo in 2009 to his final State

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Heart to Heart Connection: Connecting with Your Audience on Its Terms

Most of us, at one point or another, have an experience of dancing with someone. Maybe it was very formal, like a big event, or something informal, like dancing with a bunch of friends at a club or party. Did you ever end up dancing with someone you didn’t know and you have no idea

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When Your Brain Moves Slower Than Your Mouth: A Lesson in Communicating with Intention

“My brain was slower than my mouth.”[1] Everyone has moments like this. We say something unfiltered. We speak without thinking. We communicate things without a clear intention. We all fall guilty of this from time to time—after all, we are only human. However, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage’s recent ‘slip up’ was not his first and

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Push and Pull: Communicating with Intention

I am a dancer. But not just any type of dancer—I am a ballroom and Latin dancer. I am trained in dances such the waltz, tango, foxtrot, rumba, cha cha, and salsa. And in the four different styles and sixteen or so dances that I have some level of mastery of, one of the things

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What Can We Learn About Communication from Dancers?

One day I was sitting at my desk, writing a blog about why leaders need to invest in developing their communication skills, when I remembered a quote painted on the wall of my old dance studio. It was a quote from Fred Astaire: “Some people think good dancers are born. But all of the good

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It Takes Work: Lesson in Communication from a Dancer

Dancers are not born; they are made through rigorous training and perseverance. The life of a dancer is not an easy one. Dancers train their bodies to twist and contort in sometimes painful and unnatural ways. Dancers are constantly practicing to keep getting better, to keep getting stronger. Dancers stand on their stage and have

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Why WHY Matters Part 3: How Starting with Why Changed the US

It happened in a moment. With one decision the United States became a more free and equal place. On June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 vote that the right of same-sex couples to marry is guaranteed in the constitution.

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Why WHY Matters Part 2: The Two Things That All Leaders Need

Last week, I wrote about Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk and book, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” and specifically the challenge some nonprofits and NGOs face when balancing the need to properly define the problem and starting with WHY. However, the key focus of Sinek’s book was not organizations, but

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Continuing the War on Bullsh**t: A Case Study in Meeting People Where They Are

The pressure was on for his first show. At 11 pm EST on September 28, 2015, millions tuned in to Comedy Central to see South African comedian Trevor Noah take the helm of The Daily Show. Since the announcement that Noah would be taking over the award-winning show from Jon Stewart, spectators had been wondering

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Why WHY Matters Part 1: Starting with Why Amidst Justifying the What

I recently came across the well-known video of Simon Sinek delivering his Ted Talk in September on 2009, titled, “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” For those have not yet seen this video, I highly recommend it.

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Resisting the Urge to Take the Bait: FIFA Jack Warner and Comedian John Oliver’s Video Showdown

I have spent a great deal of time working with religious leaders of all historic faith traditions from across the globe. One such religious leader—a Unitarian Universalist minister from the United States—often says, “You do not have to enter into every fight to which you are invited.” In other words: Don’t take the bait.

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Why Athene? Athena, also known as Athene, goddess of wisdom, war, and strategy, is known in legend for leading heroes of old to victory. Specifically, the owl-eyed goddess known for divine wisdom would instill courage and wisdom in the hearts of men, provide guidance to heroes, and help lead armies to succeed.