About four years ago this summer, Lebron ripped the heart out of Ohio and by "ripped" I mean he crushed Ohio's dream of an NBA title. For various reasons Lebron decided to "take his talents to South Beach (Miami)" and began a four year stint with the Miami Heat. For most sports fans this was tragedy of the upmost regard.
All that changed a week ago when Lebron released a letter on CNNSI telling the world that he was headed back to Cleveland. Now this wasn't just any letter, it was an apology, a declaration and love letter all rolled into one.
When I first read the letter the basketball fan in me jumped for joy, but the more I reflected on it I began to see it for what it was, a lesson in commununication. Here's what you can learn from the letter:
Write with Your Own Voice
Let's be clear here, Lebron didn't write this letter. He probably wrote the initial draft and then handed it off to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. However, this letter feels like Lebron wrote it and that's the most important part. Since it feels like Lebron's voice, it makes the whole letter seem believeable. It doesn't feel like a press release or an article in Sports Illustrated, it feels like a letter that Lebron wrote for Cleveland.
Finding your voice isn't easy. It can take hours of writing until you learn to turn off that internal editor in your head and then write in a way that let's your audience hear the real you. When you write with your voice, it's adds authenticity to what you're saying.
Paint a Picture with Details
I don't know about you, but when I read that letter I could actually picture Lebron growing up and playing in Ohio. I could even feel his dread when making the decision to go to Miami. Lebron takes his audience through the last four years in way that makes you feel what he felt throughout his time away. By the end of the letter you end up cheering for him to go back to Cleveland. The details of this letter give it the emotion that it needs.
Be Direct with Your Audience
Lebron is clear with audience about why he's coming back home. It's not about the coaches or the players, it's about northeast Ohio. It's about bringing his family back home. By being direct with his audience, Lebron squashes most rumors and thereby allows the conversation to revolve around where he's going, not where he's been.
Being direct with your audience is not easy. It requires being precise and leaving little room for interpretation. Once you're direct with your audience, you need to be willing to back up what you say.
Set Clear Expectations
Unlike his previous entry into Miami, Lebron sets clear, realistic expectations. He makes it very clear that this is about bringing one title back to Cleveland. Not eight titles like he promised when he stood on the stage in Miami, but one title. In fact, not only does Lebron state that they might only get one title, he lets the fans know that it could be a long time until they see that title.
So if you're a Cleveland fam, you're being promised a possible run at a title. Not now, but sometime in the future. Ask any basketball analyst and they'll say that that's a fair prediction.
Did this letter work? If you ask most pundits, you'll get a yes. Of course it doesn't wipe away the four years of hurt for Cleveland fans, but it does make for a fantastic story.