SOCKOs® are Strategic Overriding Communications and Knowledge Objectives. We invented this acronym because terms such as ace, press line, key message, or even mission, vision and value statements don’t convey what works in a message. Qs & As, are not message driven, take too much time, and sometimes the question reveal confidential information.

We want your statements to have impact with reporters, estimates committees, regulatory bodies, and in the courts. The term SOCKO® captures the idea of impact.

The term is also an acronym with each word having special meaning.

S- Strategic because you thought about it, practiced it, rehearsed it and gave sincere consideration to whether this particular message will achieve a measurable result in a given forum.

O- Overriding reminds speakers that they need to be giving out the most important piece of information they can at all times.

C- Communication stands for the difference between oral and written messages. Oral communication features repetition, imagery, simplicity, brevity and clarity.

K- Knowledge means facts, figures, history, and dates.

O-Objective means a measurable, behavioural objective such as a headline in the newspaper, clip on a newscast, regulatory approval, or a court ruling in your favour.

How We Make SOCKOs®

We make SOCKOs® quickly and well – mainly because we invented the concept. We’ve worked on short deadlines for high need clients in world capitals on five continents—governments, international NGOs, and multi-national companies. We’re used to reading quickly through stacks of papers, reports, tables, etc. to identify the essential information, even when it’s hidden by political spin, distorted by propaganda, or buried in stodgy prose.

Phase 1

We start with a diagnosis. We’ll take information from your web page, annual reports, speeches, briefing notes, or whatever you have.

Usually this information needs to be sorted and simplified. Most organizational messages are written by different people for different purposes, months or years apart.

 We start with a template—categories of messages, and a first stab at what to say about each. In industry, categories might include health, safety, the environment, compliance, training, and so on. In government, the categories might be benefits, cost, jobs, and more.

This first phase is like an audit in accounting. Are your trace documents in the files? Are there two signatures on purchase orders over a certain amount? Have the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles been followed? Organizations are complex and people are busy. Our ‘audit’ determines what messages are being delivered, whether they have impact and consistency.

Phase 2

Usually there are gaps. That’s when we need to work with your subject matter experts. We get information the way journalists, scientists, lawyers, legislators, regulators, and academics do—by asking questions. We then codify in your SOCKOs® the information we obtained from your experts.

Phase 3

There’s sometimes a third phase. If there are new areas of the law, science or business practices that you need to address in your SOCKOs®, we’ll do the research and draft positions for your approval or modification.

We can get through your material in a few days. Then we can show you a draft of the SOCKO® format that will work for you. The same is true of the interviews with experts. That material forms a second, more substantial draft, which will get you through many tough situations. The research on new positions features searches of academic, legal, and journalistic databases.

Finished Product

When your SOCKOs® are done, they’ll start working for you. Spokespeople need to be using these messages regularly. SOCKOs® are speech modules, orientation documents for new employees, messages for reporters, and so on. They should be a living document, modified as new situations dictate.

In order to make everyone in your organization familiar with the official SOCKOs®, we need to be creative. We’ve used SOCKOs® on screen savers with a different one popping up weekly. We’ve used 800 numbers with recorded messages, mass voice mail, mass email, hyperlinks, audio newsletters, and home delivery to employees and their families.

We’re ready to begin. With your active participation, we’ll have you reading a first or second draft in two weeks. In a crisis, you’ll be rehearsing with your first draft in hours.

More information

For more information about SOCKOs® you can:

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