No News is NOT Good News

Do you notice how often we love to respond to situations with “No news is good news”?

Discontinue a product, turn over a creative brief, launch a new product, write a press release. Then, after talking to your sales force or customer service folks, you find out you really haven’t received any feedback, and, more times than not, we’ll respond with “No news is good news.”

Then we’ll move on to the next thing, assuming all is well, sticking to the time-tested, age-old adage that no feedback is the same as good feedback. I mean, only the complainers give you feedback; those pleased with what you’ve done live on in silent bliss, right?


No news is never good news. Especially in today’s culture. Especially with blogs, youtube, myspace and all the other Web 2.0 stuff that’s enhancing business.

Here’s how I’ve seen it work (a.k.a. the mistakes I’ve made):

You’re a designer. Your client/boss gives you direction. You run with it, and like your idea so much that you don’t touch base with client, mainly because you really want to see this one fleshed out all the way, and really wow them on presentation day. Only problem is you will inevitably miss something big (or at least misinterpret direction), and the price for not touching base along the way will now become a huge issue.

You’re a manager. You turn over a project to a direct report, directing them to ask for help if they need. Otherwise, you look forward to a good job done on the deadline. You hear nothing, so you assume all is well (“no news is good news, right?). Then when the project is turned over, you find out your employee was either too scared or too inexperienced or too proud or too lazy to ask for help before, and now you’re stuck with what’s close to exactly what you did not ask for. Mainly because you did not inspect what you expect.

You’re a preacher. You give a sermon, and no one responds with comments as they’re leaving the church. You don’t get any nasty “I don’t agree with that doctrine” phone calls during the week. So you assume that no news is good news. Is it?

You’re a marketer. You launch a new product or service, and at the same time discontinue another product. You have your direct mail, your word-of-mouth, your brochures, everything lined up. You get decent sales to start, but no feedback. Customer Service isn’t getting any angry calls. So you assume that no news is good news. Is it?

You’re a blogger. You write, and read, and comment, and do everything a good blogger is supposed to do. You get some good traffic, but not too many comments. But that’s OK, cuz traffic = readers, right?

Here’s the bottom line: If what you’re doing doesn’t have people talking, then it’s not worth talking about. And no one sets out to create something not worth talking about. And if you’re not getting feedback, that is NEVER a good thing. In today’s society, there is a conversation going on about you and/or your product and/or your company. Just because they’re not telling you doesn’t mean it’s not happening. So we can’t stick our heads in the sand. We can’t lean on the assumption that “No news is good news.”

We have to find the conversations, and ultimately, partake in them. We have to offer something worth talking about. We have to facilitate the feedback.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves; no news is never, never, never good news.


3 responses to “No News is NOT Good News

  1. brett

    you obviously don’t understand today’s corporate environment. I think your meeting with the Bob’s has already started, quit playing tetris.

    peter man

  2. CWD: Excellent comment. Thank you for sparing us.

    Moth: It’s not tetris – it’s brickbreaker on my blackberry.

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