This past summer I worked for maslansky + partners (m+p), a research driven communication strategy firm. Their enterprise is founded on the following principle—“It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear. ®” Specifically focusing on language, m+p works to understand the target audience in order to help companies share their stories and communicate their brand. They approach each client with a clear perspective in order to provide a unique strategy, which is aided by their Instant Response Dial Technology. This technology is utilized within focus groups—participants receive dials, which range from 0 to 100. Dials are initially set at 50; as testing messages are read, participants dial up (100 is highly positive) or down (0 is highly negative) second by second to record their reactions. Look below to see Instant Response Dial Technology in action:
My internship with m+p as a Language Strategy Intern spanned from May till August, and throughout the summer I was able to work with their dial technology for a variety of clients. Some of the clients I had the opportunity to work on projects for included AARP, Bank of America, Axe, Toyota, and the National Pork Board. On a day to day basis, my duties ranged from helping with focus group planning, data analysis, assisting with business proposals and presentations, and researching both current and potential clients.
In my idle time, I was tasked with researching Procter & Gamble in the interest of tracking and analyzing the organization’s language. My goal was to discover what they did well, what they did poorly, how they reacted to events, and how they are changing their language, if at all. All of my conclusions went in a deliverable that was presented to the company at the end of the summer. This long term project was one of the things I most enjoyed working on at m+p—I was able to spend time looking at one company in a very different way—with a language lens. Instead of thinking of message creation, I was able to dissect messages and key in on how specific messages succeeded or failed.
One particular finding I found interesting from my Procter & Gamble (P&G) research was in regards to their product, Tide. In 2011, Women’s Voices (an environmental group) tested a range of cleaning products to learn about their ingredients. Of the tested products, Tide came back positive for a potential carcinogen called 1,4 dioxane. Women’s Voices contacted P&G for a response to the test, yet P&G chose silence as opposed to making a statement. When P&G eventually agreed to reformulate the product line, reactions were already rippling through market channels, especially social media. Even though some consumers seemed lost to the brand, others were willing to give it a second chance. However, if P&G had reacted differently to the testing, fewer consumers may have dropped the brand.
Not only did I thoroughly enjoy my time with m+p, but in addition, my internship opened my mind and changed how I perceived language. Words are no longer just vessels to carry messages. Instead, each specific word has a purpose and provides an audience with a connotation that is either positive or negative. Use the proper words, and you have the dynamic ability to capture the full potential of your message. I know that what I learned with m+p will not only help me with my future job endeavors, but throughout my life as well and that is something I am truly grateful for.
– Kathrin Hashemi