Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Communication Today

11 years, 5 months ago


Christian Krpoun believes that by following the example of great artists from the past we can devise more effective and better-integrated communications solutions.

Art and communication are as close as apples and pears. Mainly because good communication is high art, and artists like Michelangelo or Da Vinci are role models for generalist (communicative) thinking and acting.

The first: a painter, sculptor, architect and poet. The latter: an exceptionally gifted artist, a brilliant scientist, natural philosopher, inventor and engineer. They have one thing in common. Namely the commitment to let specialist knowledge grow to something new and big by looking over their garden fence towards new horizons.

One thing must be said in advance. Generalist thinking and acting is an attitude. An attitude based on sound knowledge and mainly emotional understanding. An attitude that will impact on the communication sector of the future. An attitude where no-one even asks whether he deals with a specialist agency or an agency with a generalist approach. It is that simple.

“Well roared, lion!” sympathetic readers will think at this point. “Nonsense” and “not reality-oriented” readers who are less understanding may think. “An appeal against classic advertising agencies and in favour of non-classic vendor’s tray agencies (that know a little bit of everything)”, will cry out naïve people. Wide of the mark! And above all not generalist in terms of mental approach, I would say at this point.

That is because in reality it is not primarily the agency model that stands behind a generalist communication approach. But rather consultancy and hence the actual main actors in the play. The people …

A people business

Communication is ‘people business’. And in both directions, to be precise. Every PR and media consultant, client service, art or creative director is a consumer of communications at the same time. And consumers of communication are somehow increasingly becoming their own PR and media consultants, client service, art or creative directors. Web 2.0, the speed and short-lived nature of our communication world, the densification of our channels, the increase of user-generated tools, the globalisation factor – it is not just communication undergoing rapid change, but also the people who are subject to this change and development.

Therefore clients feel the increasing desire for overall consultancy support and for consultants who have not only their own special field in focus. Will my corporate blog have an impact on the TV spot? Which considerations of media planning counteract my PR strategy? Or don’t they?

The traditional client meeting where all specialists sit around a table, discuss the above questions jointly and provide customer support to the point of dizziness are legendary. While they are not modern, they are a reality.

Customers, as they are humans as well, are longing to find consultants who simply understand their problem and are capable of looking at the theme in a holistic manner and developing a solution in a few concise sentences. A solution that emerges against the background of a holistic understanding of communications and emotional core competence.

Specialised generalist

Leonardo was not a physician. Nevertheless his studies of anatomy – and his resulting drawings – gave him and many generations of physicians insights into and understanding of the human body. Findings that can be considered scientific milestones. Leonardo was not a physicist. Nevertheless he discovered water’s surface tension. Not to mention Mona Lisa, submarines and similar creations. Leonardo was a botanist, mathematician, geologist, painter and God knows what else. Leonardo was a specialised generalist.

The less sympathetic readers we mentioned above will cry out loud at this point that today it is impossible to find staff with the described wide range of communication know-how. How impudent to try to compare the genius of a Leonardo or Michelangelo with a communications consultant, naïve people will say.

Wide of the mark! Because it is neither impossible nor impudent when communications consultants don’t just aim at their very own special discipline. But simply have some understanding of communications rather than being driven by the permanent turnover pressure to sell if possible everything they can implement themselves.

Broad know-how

PR consultants are believed to always be abreast of developments. Because they are seen on the market as those who come closest to being communication pros with a wide communications know-how. That’s why PR is largely termed the ‘driver’ in the communication sphere and its importance in the communication mix is increasing. Rightfully so, I believe.

However, looking more closely at PR consultants, one might conclude that their reputation is often better than reality. How many PR consultants actually know the difference between GRP and OTS. Is there one who knows? And how relevant is this question for a consultant? What do you think? And what does that mean?

Well, I am convinced that the key to generalists are the people themselves. Today it is more important than ever to obtain specialist skills and know everything about one’s specialist field.

At the same time, agency owners and managers in all disciplines are called upon to identify the significance of a ‘generalist approach’, promote it, live and breathe it. To look towards new horizons and question what one has learned. To be fearless and have the courage to consider also unconventional solutions – even if in some cases that could mean losing part of one’s turnover because the solution from another discipline is simply the better one.

To mention Leonardo, Michelangelo and communications consultants in the same breath is not presumptuous but a vision. Because the high art of communication requires true artists of your, and particularly of all disciplines.


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The Author

Christian Krpoun

Christian Krpoun is co-founder and managing partner of currycom communications, which is based in Vienna, Austria. Apart from his agency work he has been working as an independent trainer in communication themes since 1995. Currycom was established in 2003 and currently has some 30 employees, who, for the most part, are equally competent in the areas of Public Relations, Live Communications and Advertising.

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