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LeBron James is a Communications All-Star

A communications frame can be loosely defined as the way in which mass opinion is established and reflected through media (both traditional and digital). Before creating a plan that will deliver on your goals, take a moment to assess your communications frame to gain a better understanding of your needs.

Whether launching an innovative new product, expanding on an already successful enterprise or recovering from a crisis situation – needed changes to communications frames usually fall into three categories: creating a frame, strengthening a frame and changing a frame.

In a letter published by Sports Illustrated in July 2014, LeBron James announced he was returning to Cleveland to play basketball, thus completing the communications framing cycle and making him a perfect example for this story.

Creating a Frame: Not many people find themselves in the position of creating a frame where one does not already exist. This is the realm of innovative new ideas, unknown start-ups and first-of-its-kind products, or perhaps a 17 year-old basketball prodigy from Akron, Ohio. Hype is in abundance in sports, but James was positioned as destined superstar and inevitable NBA great – before he even graduated high school.

Strengthening a Frame: If growth is your goal and you generally feel good about your communications approach, strengthening your frame means reaching out to new audiences and re-establishing yourself with existing ones. After four years in Cleveland, LeBron James was anxious to win a championship, so he got a better team and made a national spectacle of the decision. He alienated his base, but gained national attention and won two titles.

Rebuilding a Frame: Whether it’s post-crisis recovery, bringing new life to a lagging brand or a new approach after an unsuccessful marketing campaign, sometimes it’s necessary to make a change to your message, brand and approach. Knowing what to build on and what to leave behind is crucial. Which brings us back to that letter in Sports Illustrated announcing James’ return to Cleveland in a humble and heartfelt way. The media rejoiced at having a story about a benevolent “king” for several days.

We aren’t all superstars. Creating a strategic communications plan that is effective and lasting can often times become overwhelming without the right experience and guidance. Understanding the existing frame and the change that is needed to accomplish your goals will help to guide and inform the planning process.

Published on: August 5, 2014