Only Talk Once You've Walked

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[It is indeed a tough time for most people, both on a personal level and on business wise. Forgive me for focussing on the latter in this blog. This sometimes feels out of place, but we need to realize that this is also very important as we’re talking about people's jobs, talents and therefore a big part of people's lives]

Business down | Creativity up

Business across the planet is collapsing. At the same time creativity is booming. Companies, organizations, brands and their agencies are looking for (new) ways to be relevant; and finding them. It’s incredible to see how resilient we can be. We also see it at our agency and across our own client and partner portfolio.

Waste & Stand Out

Two other challenges you have to deal with are:

1. Over communication – it feels like everyone has decided to work on purpose and meaningfulness, resulting in a lot of messaging that clouds our brain and also includes not so meaningful waste

2. Stand out – There’s a lot of overlap in activity. Of course it’s still fantastic to make disinfectant hand gel, however once you’re the 10th party to do so it will not give you as much attention as being the 1st.

These two challenges are not new obviously, there are always crucial differentiators when it comes to communication. So how do we deal with them?

Tail wagging the dog

For this we have to go back a little bit. In the old days (even before my time) companies and brands did something good, meaningful, relevant – make a great product, put a smile on someone’s face, deliver a breakthrough innovation – and then started communicating about it. This way people recalled what the brand did in the past which built trust or reputation in the now, which in turn led to buying the brand.

Somewhere along the way some of us lost track and decided communication was actually more important than the actual thing we communicate about. That’s where it started to go wrong: the tail started wagging the dog.


This crisis seems to have woken people, brands and agencies up. Where pre-Corona we sometimes had to push back on clients because they had a message that was too commercial for PR, therefore not getting them the earned attention they were looking for, the world is now upside down. Clients are actually briefing us with a statement they don’t want to push into commercial territory, they want to do something real, meaningful, relevant. This is (and always has been) the best way to earn attention, because in fact you deserve instead of buy your way in. Walking the walk and then talking about it.


Take our client Dutch brewery Royal Grolsch for example. They have been financial and moral partners of a platform called #helpdehoreca (#helptheontrade) to help the on trade from a very early stage onwards, and are continuing and deepening their support. For example by organizing micro concerts in empty on trade outlets with famous Dutch singers (Nielson, Miss Montreal, Akwasi, Rob Dekay and Diggy Dex) getting the point that on trade is truly struggling across in a very positive and engaging way. This project has been developed in a seamless working collab together with our client and Fitzroy. The power of this collab has been a daily check in, a shared drive and very open, creative as well as practical minds focused only on how to make this as good, true to the brand and as earned as possible.

Think about what you’re walking about and then decide if it’s meaningful enough to talk about.

Stay healthy, sane and a bit foolish

Wilmar Alex Tax

Head of Strategy & Create at HPB (Het PR Bureau)

HPB is a progressive creative agency for earned first marketing and reputation. We want to create and spread meaningful earned first communication together with our strong long lasting relationships with journalists, media, partners and stakeholders. Let us know in case you have any queries on this blog or otherwise.

More insights from Wilmar? Check out one of his latest Web Summit blogs.

Date 16 April 2020

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Esther ter Braak - Brand Manager

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Alison Bonny - Communicatie Directeur EMEA, Spotify
Zilveren Kruis

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