Managing the constant barrage of news, social media updates and other content is a popular topic these days. But what if your job not only is to consume a lot of information about an organization, industry or issue, but to derive smart ideas, strategies and plans from that information? I found myself in this position over the last month as I experienced my first foray into “The Matrix.” It is not the one with Keanu Reeves, but a strategic planning process unique to our agency that takes a deluge of information and translates it into a detailed visual roadmap for strategic communications.
Entering a world of information
In the Matrix process, we assume the information overload on behalf of our clients. One of the most interesting facets involves conducting interviews with not just our clients and their internal stakeholders, but a wide range of external sources including key media members, allied organizations or partners or thought leaders in their industry. These interviews are all encompassing and ask about everything from the macro level “What do you think about what X is doing in this industry/issue area?” to questions specific to the unique perspective of that stakeholder.
We conducted over 30 stakeholder interviews during my first Matrix experience. We analyze the responses not for an individual laundry list of to-do’s, but for commonalities and patterns among the whole. This helps us take this wealth of information and create qualitative and quantitative data points that inform our recommendations. We use other sources such as media analysis, our client’s own strategic plans and research and create a broad view of their landscape.
What do you do with all this data?
What comes next is where it might have a bit more in common with Keanu’s Matrix and that’s where we harness the power of information overload for good. All of this data comes together to create a visual roadmap of a communications program and platform spanning across key audience verticals that drills down into messaging, tactics, objectives, and more.
Creating the Matrix is an intellectually rigorous process, to put it mildly. We brainstorm, debate, agree, delete, debate more, agree again and push ourselves to bring together all of this information in one place. There was a moment in the first of many Matrix sessions where I found myself thinking, “This is why I went into public relations.” There’s a true joy and sense of achievement in conquering information to produce something tangible (and tangible they are- we print the full Matrix and some of them are quite impressive).
Making something out of everything
So maybe we don’t need to go to extremes personally or professionally with blinders on or fully immersed at all times in the pursuit of knowledge and data. I have a note taped to my computer as an information mantra: “Consume selectively and produce quality.” It reminds me that there’s a time and purpose for information and it can be found within the Matrix.