7 tips from Richard Branson for effective communications

Aside from possibly being the most successful and innovative entrepreneur the world has seen in a century, Sir Richard Branson is a terrific communicator.  His style – whether in using social media, conducting a meeting, giving an interview or hamming it up for cameras to promote one of his Virgin brand companies – is the antithesis of the worn-out methods of PR.

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson

He is engaging and in tune with his audience.  Whatever he does, it reflects authenticity and originality.  Branson’s style, while certainly that of a showman at times, is brilliant.

A few months ago, Branson shared a handful of tips for communicating in a style that he embraces.  I think we all can learn something from his perspective:

  1. Tell stories.  “People respond to stories, not data or press releases.”
  2. Be creative.  “Experiment with new ways of telling stories and make the most of all the new (communications) tools out there, like Tumblr and Storify.”
  3. Choose the right channel.  “Match your content to different platforms and audiences.”
  4. Be truthful.  “Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not.”
  5. Work together.  “Collaborate with people and organizations who are fighting for the same cause.”
  6. Have fun.  “Work should be fun … and making work fun brings success.”
  7. Do it yourself.  No one speaks for Branson but Branson. Branson carves out time in his intensely busy schedule to handle his own communications and to personally use social media. He has no surrogate, no ghost writer. He knows that communicating the image of his business empire is far too important a job to delegate. Too much is at stake.

Branson maintains his blog himself, writing every word. When you follow Branson on Twitter, it is his voice because he writes the 140-character posts himself. He is his own … and his empire’s …  communications machine.  I should note that he speaks and writes in plain language that appeals to everyone.

On a flight to London from Washington a few years ago, I chatted with Branson and then left him alone as everyone else retired for the overnight flight … and he worked nonstop all night during the flight.  When we landed at Heathrow, he carried his own bag and headed to work.

Writing this, I am reminded of all the CEOs and executives I’ve heard whine over the years about taking time from their so-called busy schedules to spend a few minutes learning how to communicate for the benefit of their organizations. Then again … they are not Richard Branson.