Are you aware of this post?

First, a mea culpa. I am guilty of the very sin I am railing against in this post. Like Rush Limbaugh preaching against drug use, this is as much a condemnation of myself as it is one of anyone else.

Whew, I feel better already.

Alright, loyal readers, raise your hand if you’ve ever listed “raising awareness” as an objective in a comm plan, or sold it as a benefit for a campaign you were pitching to a client. Now, since I haven’t quite finished my spy cam network yet, I’ll have to assume several of you have raised your hands. I can tell you my hand is up (and it’s making it hard to type so I think I’ll lower it now).

Here’s the thing: “Raising awareness” is a meaningless faux-goal, something we have convinced ourselves is a real target. It even (kind of) meets that pesky ‘measurable’ requirement for a good comm plan objective. 10,000 people visited that nifty micro-site? We raised awareness! Placed an ad in a newspaper with a circulation of one million? BAM! Awareness achieved!

But where’s the value in that awareness? Did the 10,000 web visitors respond to your call to action? Or did they think “wow, what a shitty website!” and move on to read the latest Pooch Cafe┬ástrip? (FYI – Pooch Cafe is awesome).

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things I am aware of:

  • Paris Hilton’s feature film “The Hottie and the Nottie”
  • The health risks associated with red meat consumption
  • K-Pax
  • The post-Family-Matters career of Jaleel White

Want to know something else those things have in common? None of them have ever factored into any decision I’ve made ever (with the glaring exception of the decision to include them in this list. And the decision to write this paranthetical disclaimer).

Raising awareness isn’t a goal, it’s a by-product of any decent communications campaign. Unless you really suck at your job, raising awareness is inevitable. The real challenge is raising the right kind of awareness. Then getting people to act on that awareness in some meaningful, measurable way.


  1. Today I will edit all my past and current comms plans’ objectives to say “To raise the right kind of awareness of…”.

    Now I’m an awesome communicator, right?!

  2. Nicely said. And yes my hand was up. Too often we fall into the trap of measuring something that does not actually help us achieve our goal. You have to start with a clear objective and the acid test for that is to ask “Why?”

    Our goal is to raise awarness. Why?

    So that more people know who we are. Why?

    So that they will visit our website. Why?

    To buy our stuff. ah… conversion is the objective! So measure that.

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