Always Do the Right Thing
There is a scene in Spike Lee’s movie, Do the Right Thing, that I often cite when I’m talking about communications strategy, or really life in general.
Spike Lee’s character, Mookie, is walking down the street delivering a pizza. A character called The Mayor calls him over to impart some sage advice. Mookie reluctantly stops to listen even though he’s in a hurry.
The Mayor looks at him and says, “Always do the right thing.”
Mookie: “That’s it?”
The Mayor: “That’s it.”
Mookie: “I got it. I’m gone.”
Simple as that. In that one exchange the Mayor captures what should be driving all of us day to day. And in terms of communications strategy, this idea should be the “true north” for everything we do.
When an organization commits to “doing the right thing” it allows for authenticity and transparency. It also generates goodwill. If you’re genuinely trying to do things for the right reason, people will notice and they will be more forgiving if and when you make a mistake or something goes wrong.
Throughout my career the projects I’ve been most proud of were opportunities to help organizations focus on doing the right thing for their company, their brand, or for the community at large. Doing the right thing doesn’t always have to be altruistic. It just means delivering on your promises. That can mean serving the community or it can mean serving your customers.
In my agency days, I did work for a higher-end frozen pizza brand. In this case doing the right thing meant delivering on the promise of a high-quality product. We enlisted the help of renowned chefs from around the country to collaborate on reformulating the pizzas and developing new recipes. It worked was because it was authentic. We didn’t just use the names of these chefs as endorsers. To their credit, the company actually used the chefs’ input to improve the pizzas. This was the right thing to do, and it helped us tell a great story about the brand.
I’ve been lucky enough to work for a variety of clients who have “done the right thing.” Whether it’s grassroots organizing to prevent gun violence or it’s helping make Black Friday shopping a more enjoyable experience. The only common denominator in these stories is that the organizations opened themselves up to figuring out the “right thing” to do. Then they did it.
“I got it. I’m gone.”
It might seem simple, but it makes all the difference.