It’s Not Manipulation, It’s Strategic Communication: Keisha Brewer (Transcript)

Full transcript of Strategic Communications professional Keisha Brewer’s talk: It’s Not Manipulation, It’s Strategic Communication at TEDxGeorgetown.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Keisha Brewer – CEO of the PR Alliance LLC

Good morning; good morning. I’m excited to be your first speaker of today.

By a show of hands, how many of you have heard of the phrase: it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.

Do you remember the person who told that to you? Tell them they lied. Repeat after me:

What you say is just as important as how you say it.

Your turn.

What you say is just as important as how you say it. And that is called Strategic Communications.

And strategic communications is probably the very thing you’ve been needing this entire time to help you get what you need out of life.

See, most people stop going after the bigger things that they want in life simply, because well they’re just not getting it.

But what they don’t realize is that they’re causing some sort of resistance in the way that they’re communicating, that’s helping them not get what they want out of life.

How many of you have been in the situation where no matter how much you talk and talk and tell someone your viewpoint they’re just not getting it, right?

No matter how much you change your approach and your delivery, they’re just not understanding your viewpoint, whether that’s to a family member, whether that’s to your spouse, whether that’s to your boss, they’re just not getting it. I think we’ve all experienced that type of frustration.

Today I’m going to give you the tools to strategically communicate through all of those issues and combat that resistance. And I’m going to do that first by taking you through two parallel situations, very real situations to me; one personal and one professional, starting with professional.

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So I started my career in communications a few years ago, starting with news writing and reporting; then going on to advertising specialist, then landing a job as a communications specialist.

In my communications specialist role, I was able to do things such as email marketing, mission-driven partnerships, writing speeches for the CEO, things of that nature.

On the first day of my communication specialist role, my boss said, ‘I know this is a lot, it’s your first day you’re supposed to be doing paperwork things of that nature, but do you mind if you reach out to Google and see if they can land a partnership with our next event next month?’

And I’m like you’re right, that’s a very big ask for the first day. I am supposed to be doing paperwork, we’re at HR.

So either way it’s my job, right, it’s the first day, you want to make a big impression, I shoot my shot; that’s millennial talk for just get it done.

And so I look up Google’s mission, I figure out what they’re interested in, the type of partnerships that they’re interested in, then I think about my company’s mission, what type of partnerships are we interested in, what is our mission, what are we trying to convey?

I wrap that up into an email, I send it to their communications department, I express the need, send it on its way.

Transition into my personal life. I get home and I’m scrolling on Instagram like us millennials do, and I get a DM from my friend Jessica, and she’s like, oh my gosh, Keisha, the guy I like just DMed me.

I’m like okay.

She’s like and he liked my picture on Instagram.

Okay. So what do you want to do now?

She’s like, well you’re a communication specialist now; teach me how to communicate with him. As if that’s what we do right.

So I’m like okay, well I’ll go with it. What’s the goal? What do you want him to do? What do you want to get out of the conversation?

She says well I want him to be my boyfriend.

Again it was a like on Instagram right how far are we going to take this?

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But I let her keep going and I’m like, okay so what do you know about this man?

She’s like well I know that our values, they pretty much go together because on his Instagram, I see that he posts music and I like music and he likes food and I like food and he likes his mom, I like my mom.

And I’m like okay, sure fine okay.

And I’m like out of all the people on Instagram that he’s engaging with, why you?

And she goes on to tell me about how she thinks their missions of being successful in the entertainment industry will align.

All right.

So here’s what I tell her to do. Slide into his DM, that’s millennial talk for send a private message, and just organically have a conversation like you normally would, allow him to organically express his values, allow him to organically express his interest and then you express yours and see how they mutually align. At the end of it see if you guys can go out, hang out, grab a drink or something.


Long story short, six months later, here they are. I played matchmaker, kudos to me.

Moving on into my professional life, I go back to work the next day and my boss is like Keisha, remember how I told you to email Google about that partnership.

Yeah less than 12 hours ago.

She’s like well they emailed us this morning and they said they actually want to partner on the event.

And it was at that very moment that I realized, I need a raise. But it was also at that moment that I realized I just strategically communicated into very different scenarios using the same exact method, and that method is what I’m going to share with you today.

Now let’s take a step back.

What does strategic communications really mean? How many of you have taken a strategic communications class or communications course by a show of hands?

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Great. So what you probably learned is something along the lines of strategic communications is communicating the best message through the right channels, measured against well considered organizational communication specific goals. Great, right.

But through my two scenarios which you can probably see is that strategic communications is simply communicating with purpose, while showcasing value in order to achieve a goal.

And at the heart of it all, strategic communications helps you evoke specific responses out of your target audience, whether that be a spouse, a love interest, your boss. And in those responses it helps you get what you want out of the situation as well.

Now you can also be thinking is she teaching us how to manipulate people, maybe, but not really because strategic communications creates mutually beneficial situations. Strategic communications allows both parties to feel like they’re getting what they want out of the deal, okay.

So if you were paying attention, here’s what I did in both scenarios to help them get what they want out of the situation.

Number one: I identified the goal. In the professional situation the goal was to land the partnership with Google. In the personal situation the goal was to land the boyfriend.

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