Grubhub's Matt Maloney on eliminating spin and focusing on the long term

"The product that will be the standard in 100 years has not been invented yet," Maloney said at the PRWeek Conference on Thursday.

NEW YORK: Communications strategies that are only focused on the short term are bound for failure, said Grubhub founder and CEO Matt Maloney at PRDecoded.

If companies "machine gun" news to communities without consistency in messaging or fail to tell a three-year story arc demonstrating success, they will fail to obtain coverage, Maloney said at the PRWeek Conference in Chicago on Thursday.

"[If you do that], then nobody cares, because you can just drop press release after press release and it is just this flash in the pan, and over time people will just stop writing about it," he said.

Maloney explained that his team keeps an eye on food industry trends and consumers’ behavioral changes, such as how often they eat at restaurants and what kinds of establishments. That way, Grubhub knows how to evolve.

"The product that will be the standard in 100 years has not been invented, and that is an opportunity for everybody," he said. "We look at our job as: how do we evolve? That is our real goal; it is not about disruption. We now have a line of site to several years in the future, and we have to attack that as fast as we can."

This ties into the longer-term strategic narrative in which a brand can drop message points into market and product launches, as well as partnerships.

"You don’t want to end up with a narrative that says success is over here, and you think success is over there," said Maloney. "Because you’re going to do that and fail no matter what."

He added that it is critical for any communications team to have a bead on the general narrative in the press and with investors and employees. It’s also important for Grubhub’s comms team to understand where the company is going strategically, Maloney noted.

"What I rely on the [comms] team to do is to tell me when I need to reach out and course-correct a narrative," he said. "The team should know the critical rollouts of a product pipeline or when we are going to have announcements and introduce messaging that will help course-correct the narrative to where it should be."

Maloney’s last warning: don’t get caught up in spin. Companies, he said, will do "better work" by truthfully aligning where they are and where they are going by defining the narrative accurately. If a company gets bad news, it is the comms team’s job to land the message in a way that doesn’t cause panic while reconciling that with the longer-term narrative.

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