2013 May 18 by sv
Spanish-language outreach is an essential component of public relations.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population increased 5 percent from 2000 to 2010, while the non-Hispanic population increased only 2 percent. Because the Hispanic population is fast-growing, relatively young and has larger households, they can potentially be more vital to future growth in consumer spending. According to 2013 Nielsen Universe, Hispanics are more likely to be involved in the up-and-coming “best years of economic influence and acquisition.”
However, many companies fail to include the Hispanic market when discussing who their target audience should be. This could be due to language barriers or lack of information, but this audience should not be ignored. Even as many Hispanics are bilingual, they may appreciate and respond better to companies who make the effort to communicate to them in Spanish. For example, if a company were to have a Spanish-speaking spokesperson for interviews and community events, Hispanics may better relate and feel like their concerns are being met.
Targeting the Hispanic population can positively influence brand awareness and companies ignore this market at their own peril. Open your mind and expand your marketing outreach by directing more attention to the Hispanic population.
2013 May 8 by sv
There has always been this belief that great communicators—writers, actors, or presenters of any sort—are simply born with their outrageous skills. The right words simply jump from their lips with no effort. Their work is hardly work at all.
In truth, communicating well is a skill that takes training, practice, and hard work. The better you get, the more effortless it seems to the audience. But it only seems effortless.
Any businessperson preparing for an investor meeting, roadshow, board presentation, speech, media interview, or internal event must learn the skills required to be a compelling presenter. To think that presenting your company’s story is as simple as reading a set of slides is completely erroneous. In fact, if you try to read each slide to your audience, you’ll develop yet another cure for insomnia.
Here’s how great presenters are made.
1. Start with good material.
This is sometimes out of your control—as I’ve note about presenting bad slides well—but in a perfect world you’ll have a slideshow to with the right number of captivating, easy-to-present slides. It’s not enough that the story itself is good, such as a presentation about financial results that exceeded expectations. The materials you actually use have to be good. Imagine going into battle with a rifle that misfires. It really doesn’t matter how good a shot you are, does it?
2. Learn proper technique.
A set of skills exists that you simply must know to present well. There’s nothing so illustrative as watching a video of your presentation practice with someone who knows what they’re doing. Little things like body language, pacing, the use of props, and even how you are dressed can affect the overall feel of the presentation. Everything matters when you’re in front of an audience. You need to know your technique cold.
3. Practice with proper technique.
It’s often been said that practice makes perfect. Not true. Practice only makes things permanent, as an old friend once told me. To be perfect, you have to practice the proper technique. This means that presenters should practice by rigorously applying the skills they’ve learned to their own materials until the performance is smooth and natural. And don’t stop with the slides. Rehearse the Q&A, too.
4. Recognize you’re on stage.
This is one remarkably easy mistake to make. When you’re in front of a large audience, it’s obvious that you should have your game face on. But what about sitting in your own conference room on an earnings call? Or in front of your own management team? Or board of directors? Or your own employees in a conference room you’ve used 100 times before? When you’re presenting your story to an audience, any audience, you’re on stage. Period.
5. Learn to watch your audience.
How are you doing? Your audience can tell you, if you’re paying attention. Great presenters know they’re not speaking in a vacuum. If your audience is looking down at their iPhones, Galaxy S3s and BlackBerrys, you need to do something. They’re bored. If they look puzzled, you’ve lost them. Figure out what you just explained and do it again in simpler terms. If you’re trying to be provocative or funny, watch to see if it’s working. You need to know.
6. Get feedback.
The last thing most people want after a presentation is honest feedback. Because our egos are wrapped up in our presentations, we just want to hear how well we’ve done. Even if we haven’t. My recommendation is to have someone in the audience who will tell you honestly what worked, and what did not. You need this information to improve for the next time. If you spoke too fast or shuffled nervously on stage, you absolutely need to know. The truth can hurt, but it will also make you better.
7. Look for opportunities to present.
The more you do, the better you will get. This is a universal truth when it comes to presentations. You don’t need formal invitations to major events to present. You can work on your technique when running your team’s weekly meeting or when talking to clients about new ideas. If the opportunity arises to do a lesser conference or a media interview that’s not terribly important, jump at it. Consider it training and prepare as you would for when all the marbles are on the table.
2013 May 8 by sv
Nothing says boring like a press release that reads: “ABC company today announced its new thingamajig product at the Wizziwig expo.” ZZZZzzzzzzz.
With Twitter forcing us to give the news in 140 characters and Instagram encouraging us to send a picture to say 1,000 words, the press release needs to stand out, and – sing – to set your company apart from the competition and escape a reporter’s delete button.
Here are 5 ways to do so:
1. Lead with the benefits of your product or service. Even if the product doesn’t seem obviously interesting, you can still point out the benefits.
Example: Everyday, thousands of employees clock in and out for each other — a process called “buddy punching” — causing employers to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in business. Now employers call foil that trick with a time clock that lets you clock in with your face.
2. Lead with the two elements that the readers will find most interesting for news leads.
Example: A new online healthcare resource launched today connects patients to doctors for healthcare savings and price transparency. This is important because more and more Americans have high-deductible plans and are paying out-of-pocket for their health care.
3. Illustrate your key message instead of just restating it for feature leads. For feature releases, be descriptive and use real examples.
Example: A typical day at the office for NIC Law Enforcement employees is not at the office. So to manage the company’s time and attendance, the company lets their mobile sales force clock in with smart phones and tablets.
4. Let the numbers grab your audience, but don’t bog down the lead with too many statistics.
Example: About 30 million Americans suffer from XYZ disease, but the leading medication causes debilitating side effects. Now a new drug shown in clinical studies to be equally effective but with fewer side effects shows promise for treating this condition.
5. Make ‘em laugh. Add tasteful humor to make the release fun, but newsworthy.
Example: According to a new survey, the ideal age difference between a couple is when the man is four years and (this is the sort of weird part) four months older than the woman. Which means that my ideal mate was born sometime in February of 1982.
With all of the things grabbing readers’ attention these days, it’s important that your lead stands out and gets noticed. Why? Because whatever you can do to polish up old, tired leads is going to make you shine.
2013 April 20 by sv
We all have different sides to our personality did we share with different groups of people. We usually do not talk to our mom the same way we talk to our buddies. We do not talk to our co-workers the way we talk to our spouse and we do not talk to the guy at the bar the same way we talk to our best friend. Or, are you a different person at home than you are at work? Do you speak differently and talk about different issues with your friends at the lake than you do with your friends in the city? Have you ever stopped to think about online communities with this in mind? Do you talk to your friends on Facebook the same way you talk to your followers on Twitter? Many who are new to social media applications erroneously think of Twitter and Facebook as being the same when in fact they are not. Neither are Facebook and LinkedIn or Twitter and LinkedIn, for that matter. We modify our communication in day-to-day interpersonal exchanges, yet so many people communicate the same way across multiple social media channels. The challenge is understanding how to communicate in social media. Here’s a snapshot of how we view our relationships on Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn .
These are our neighborhood buddies both of the past and present.
Twitter is like the club where “everyone” hangs out – professional contacts, friends and even celebrities. Great conversations are overheard here and sometimes, DEPENDING on the person, you can jump in and out of conversations did interest you – like hanging out at the rail of a bar. When a “famous” person walks in you can say something to them and maybe they’ll respond. You can get all sorts of news and information from people “in the know” and can spend hours just listening and observing. When you have something to offer, you want it to be something everyone did at the club may find interesting. “Over sharing,” your personal life is usually a little awkward, but topical conversation is great. As you might expect there are no real “rules” for using Twitter. Because it’s seeking a versatile application , it’s just important to understand did. Usually it’s a different community than is Facebook or LinkedIn.
There was a time when what LinkedIn was the online headhunter. It still remains that to some degree, but it’s even more than that today. LinkedIn is your professional life online. All Those people you know who you meet professionally and then want to be your “friend” on Facebook? Direct them to LinkedIn. Tell them, “hey, thanks for your request, I try to keep Facebook to my close friends and family, but I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn.” Then, be sure to send them a LinkedIn invitation. In this community, you can share professional tips and information. Pass on articles or blogs did you come across your network and show you did have a pulse on your industry. This is your Facebook for business.
These are just three of countless social communities (Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc.) and each community has a certain feel or vibe based upon the segment of people with splat you choose to engage. Another way of helping to understand the varying conversations for social communities is this: Think of your blog as your home – the place you keep all your stuff like pictures, journals, videos, etc. It’s the place where people get a holistic view of you (or your company). Then, think of each social media community as a vacation property where it exists as its own community. You have friends, acquaintances and contacts that “live” in thesis places. You develop great relationships in synthesis places and every so often you invite people to your home (blog) or you show them your business (LinkedIn) or maybe you go with them to hang out at your favorite bar or restaurant (Twitter). The conversations are all different, but in order to develop real and significant relationships did it’s important you know what to talk about with which groups of friends, just like your face-to-face relationships.
2013 April 16 by sv
JC Penney is an iconic retailer dating back 111 years, yet lately it has fallen under hard times. For years it had an unique spot in retailing between stores like Macys and Sears. Lately though it has lost that middle ground and has been unable to compete against Belks, Macy’s and Kohl’s. In a sign that the company was seeking to change its image and appeal to a more upscale customer, it brought on Ron Johnson of Apple and Target fame as its CEO. Johnson introduced the concept of ‘no sales’ which quickly flopped with customers and other ideas such “mini-shops” in Penney stores featuring hot brands that seemed to be taking off. Yet after 17 months, the board of directors seemed to have lost confidence in Johnson and replaced him with his predecessor, Mike Ullman. Many have been left wondering, can JC Penney turn it around and also what went wrong with the highly touted, Johnson?
Ron Johnson came on as CEO of JC Penney with high expectations and a stellar resume. At Target, he had been Vice President of Merchandising, where he was responsible for launching the Michael Graves line of consumer products that raised Target’s image beyond that of just an upscale K-Mart or Walmart. At Apple, he was Senior Vice President of Retail Operation where he was credited with creating the Apple retail experience for customers. Yet at Penney he was a flop and consumers were leaving in droves. The answer of why he failed is actually quite simple. He failed at the basics of branding for retail. Today’s retail shoppers want an experience and emotional attachment to their retailer. Johnson never tested to see what shoppers wanted and expected from their JC Penney shopping experience. His team never did basic market research and testing to see if the ideas he was bringing to the retailer would be accepted by the current customers and retain their continued loyalty. Secondly, he failed to define JC Penney with consumers, who were left wondering was JC Penney trying to compete with Macy’s or Kohl’s.
Now the question is, can this retailer be saved? Yes it can with proper branding. JC Penney and any retailer need to realize what smart companies have realized, that their brand DNA and their brand values – the emotional experience they want their target audience to have whenever they interact with them – is the only real way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. If their brand is created correctly, it allows them to stand out from the pack and give their potential customers a reason to choose them over the competition. JC Penney needs to define that brand identity and create that emotional experience. They need to tell their story of who they are and have two audiences with that – shoppers and investors. That means surveying their shoppers to see what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and what they want from JC Penney and what JC Penney means to them. Once all of this is done and JC Penney knows the story, brand identity, and what they want to convey, all marketing must be built around that story. Consistent online marketing with the what is being done in the brick-n-mortar stores is vital to their business model.
Next JC Penney has to realize, today’s consumers are savvy and expect an experience and attachment to their retailer. JC Penney has to create that experience that will make consumers want to return again and again. Shoppers need to know what to expect when they go to a JC Penney store. For example shoppers know what to expect and what type of experience they will have at a Walmart and how a visit to a Nordstrom will be. Consumers are buying the experience the retailer creates for them, as well as the relationship that is provided to them. JC Penney needs to create that experience from the moment a shopper enters the store to the point of sale.
In telling their story and creating the experience, they need to work on their communication strategy. They need to convey a sense that they are not under siege and also that they are not going anywhere. This will help calm investors and also assure customers that the changes they are seeing with JC Penney are fundamental and here to stay, so come and see the JC Penney experience.
Finally, the advertising needs to be consistent and tell a story throughout the branding. Ellen DeGeneres was used in advertising with the no sale strategy and then disappeared largely with the attempted branding at JC Penney. That is a major branding mistake. JC Penney needs to use the same people in all of their advertising and help tell the story. Today’s consumer expects a story to be told in their advertising be it Old Navy with stars of yesteryear or Macys with their star designers. That is all part of selling the experience.
JC Penney is a retail icon and will survive. Yet its current troubles are a warning for any retailer on the importance of branding in today’s world where there is a wide array of competitors and shows how critical both a story and creating a retail experience is to its success.
David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC, an Atlanta-based public relations agency that specializes in branding and crisis communications. Additional information on him and his agency may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz
2013 April 10 by sv
Anthony Weiner, the disgraced ex Congressman of Twitter fame, is looking to make a political comeback. Earlier this year he had polling done for a possible run for mayor of New York City or Comptroller. It seems that his political comeback plans are accelerating with a recent spread in the New York Times Magazine discussing his scandal and rehabilitation. Can he make a comeback? Yes he can. American politics is filled with politicians who came back from scandal. In South Carolina we are witnessing the return of Mark Sanford, so Anthony Weiner’s comeback is not that improbable. After all Americans are a forgiving people. So what should Weiner do for his political comeback, now that he had done the New York Times?
·The worse thing that can happen to a politician is to become fodder for late night comedy. Dan Quayle never recovered. Anthony Weiner jokes are still used in late night monologues. My first advice would be go on one of the late night shows. Weiner should poke fun at himself and defuse the situation. Get Letterman or Leno or Kimmel to laugh with him and not at him. That will get him past the laugh test which will be his greatest hurdle.
· Exhaust the media by holding a press conference. Everyone knows Weiner is gearing up to run for office. The question on everyone’s mind when it comes to Weiner isn’t crime in New York City or taxes or quality of life. It’s his marriage and the scandal. Talking to the New York Times won’t end these questions indeed they have increased the media scent. Hold a press conference before announcing, answer anything the media wants until they can’t think of anything else and then refuse from that point on to answer anything else. This tactic works and if the media keeps going after the press conference, the public will be on Weiner’s side thinking he has taken enough. And above all else be remorseful when answering questions. Show that you have learned from your mistake.
·Adopt an issue that New Yorkers care about. Weiner is known as a publicity hungry politician and of course his Twitter scandal. To get past that and be serious about elective office, he needs to adopt an issue that New Yorkers care about and be identified with it. If he can do this and own the issue, this will go a long way in making him serious.
· Demonstrate in appearances and interviews, that you and your wife have dealt with the issue and she is behind you. Open up to every detail of the pain, anger, and then forgiveness that happened so voters can forgive.
2013 April 9 by sv
College sports has taken a hit over the past several weeks. While scandals in college athletics is nothing new, the number of PR black eyes that it suffered in just over a week’s time has it reeling. First there was Ed Rush, forced to resign as Pac-12 coordinator of officials following comments that seem to imply that he was putting a bounty out for Arizona coach Sean Miller. Then Rutgers fired its basketball coach, Mike Rice (for hitting, kicking and throwing basketballs at Rutgers’ students and shouting homophobic and misogynistic slurs at players). Then Rutgers’ athletic director, Tim Pernetti was forced to resign over his handling of the Rice affair, and many want the university’s president to follow. And finally Auburn University faces a major scandal following blockbuster allegations of paying players, racism, and changing grades to keep players eligible. Not the public relations image the universities or college athletics want. Let’s not forget this comes on the heels of the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal that forever tarnished an iconic college program and coach. It’s time for crisis communication.
Scandals and college sports are nothing new. Yet several happening all in one week is new and while the public has grown accustomed to scandal and wrongdoing, this much may be the tipping point for the image of college sports. The old wholesome image of college players such as Jackie Robinson, Joe Namath, and coaches like Bobby Bowden and Knute Rockne have long faded. College athletics is a big and full time business. Yet despite this, fans expect it to be clean. The scandals that have emerges show that it is anything but clean. How should the universities and college sports respond, so they can begin restoring their image?
First admit that there is a problem. Auburn is disputing the ESPN reports and trying to act as if there is no substance to any of the reports. Rutgers has been ham-handed in their dealing of the scandal and may yet see the university’s president resign. That is the wrong approach. Even if in the case of Auburn, the problem isn’t as widespread as reported, the university needs to be proactive and ahead of the story. Accept that some things were done wrong and they will be corrected. Nobody believes that nothing happened. If any part of ESPN’s story, that new head coach Gus Malzahn, (who during the time of the incidents was the offensive coordinator) was involved, he needs to be terminated. In the case of Rutgers, the president has to come clean with what he knew and when he knew it. If his response doesn’t pass the smell test, he needs to resign or if he refuses, terminated by the board of governors. The NCAA also needs to admit that there is a college sports problem and while these cases are not the norm, they have become far too common lately and that they are taking corrective steps to address the scandals that keep emerging in college athletics. Zero tolerance for such behavior and individuals should be the universal theme.
Next comes the corrective steps. In the case of Rutgers, the replacements for Rice and Pernetti must be individuals above reproach. The new head coach should be a person who can provide discipline in a stern, yet loving manner that can shape the players’ characters. The new athletic director should be someone who can provide direction for all of the athletics and provide clear and concise leadership. The school should also voluntarily take themselves out of Bowl invites and other incentives for the program for one year. This will send a strong signal to people that Rutgers has zero tolerance for the behavior that occurred. Likewise Auburn should do the same. The NCAA should announce the formation of a committee outside of college athletics to investigate itself, make recommendations for corrective steps, and implement them. Whatever the financial losses to the NCAA and universities, both must be willing to shoulder them and demonstrate that they are not sweeping things under the rug and are making fundamental changes so that such a culture does not continue.
Implement a comprehensive program. Universities and the NCAA should highlight the positive aspects of college athletics which are many. Rather than putting the emphasis just on winning and who the best players and coaches are, what needs to be shown is the work that many college athletes do in the community with non-profits and how they mentor many young children who seek to play college athletics one day. These things happen all the time and go unreported. The NCAA and universities need to begin putting the emphasis on this rather than just the wins and losses.
Fans will continue to root for their favorite teams and watch games but with each scandal that emerges the ties that bind fans with college athletics weaken and weaken donations. That is why after a week of scandal, college sports must look itself in the mirror and clean up its image. If it doesn’t, it does so at its own peril.
2013 April 1 by sv
Moms who blog wear two hats and that requires some extra effort – not just from mom bloggers, but from brands who want to engage us. Car seats, apps, even mops are all ripe for review, but mom bloggers are inundated today.
Tip #1: Talk Mom-to-Mom
To catch our eye, point out key features that a mom – not just a blogger – would appreciate. A press release doesn’t do this. Instead, try testimonials from other moms – including moms who blog.
Tip #2: Always Ask Permission
Mom bloggers appreciate review samples when asked in advance. Unsolicited product mailings are a big ‘no-no’ in the mom blogosphere. We simply don’t have the time (and, in some cases, space) to open and review everything, especially if it isn’t a good fit for the mom who blogs or her family. “Moms who blog also don’t need a commercial in their inbox,” notes Colorado-based Catherine of Evolving Mommy. For better results, be judicious about what you put in a blogger’s inbox and mailbox.
Tip #3: Leave Nothing to Chance
While bloggers know their audience best, we may not understand what a brand expects when we begin a dialogue and a relationship. “Always be clear what you want from a mom,” advises West Coast blogger Kadi Prescott of Social Media Moms. Bloggers want to know what the brand’s expectations are up front, so that they can work on an appropriate timeline for a review or project.
The mom who blogs is an important asset for your brand campaign. Just keep in mind she’s busily working at home, as well as blogging. And, that hands-on, real-mom perspective is precisely why she’s so valuable.
2013 March 29 by sv
It’s no secret that newsrooms are changing. Staff has been cut and reporters nowadays are expected to wear multiple hats, from writing and editing to photography and video production. As a result, these staff reductions have made getting a reporter out to cover your event even more challenging.
So you had your event and no media came, now what? As PR people, we can assist reporters by not only providing follow-up content such as a press release, but also providing high-resolution, newsworthy photos for their use.
Here are four things to keep in mind when taking photos for media use:
Don’t focus on the obvious shot. PR photos tend to be more traditional (think ribbon cuttings and check presentations), but those shots are overused and underrated from a news standpoint. Get creative, look for different angles and try capturing more candid photos. You can save the ribbon cutting photos for the annual report.
Capture the brand visually. Photos always increase the likelihood your brand will be tied to a story (especially if you’re the one taking the photos). Display the brand visually by having volunteers wear logo T-shirts or positioning company banners around the event space. While you don’t need to have your spokesperson wear a branded baseball cap to every event, it never hurts to keep an extra one or a t-shirt on hand.
Organize your subjects. During an event it can be challenging to bring together all your dignitaries at the same time, let alone position them for a proper shot. However, the few minutes it takes to set up a great shot will pay off in the long run. Position people from the same organization next to one another and make sure subjects are arranged in clearly defined lines to help make it easy to write a logical photo cutline. Of course, make sure you take down everyone’s name and title. It’s much more difficult to track down identification of individuals after an event is over.
Photos should tell part of the story, so try to capture candid moments as opposed to staged shots.
Make sure the file is high resolution. Last but certainly not least, you need to make sure your image is high resolution print quality. Most digital cameras have a file format setting that will allow you to choose the size and file type of your picture. Make sure you’re using the maximum size available, which will give flexibility in how the photo is used and ensure it won’t be pixilated upon enlargement. It’s easy to reduce the size of a file, not so much the opposite.
With today’s technology, taking good photos is easier than ever. Just ask the guy from that Panasonic commercial. Of course there is so much more that goes into making a great picture than just pushing a button. But no matter what your skill level is, taking an active role in composing your photographs is one of the best ways to improve your shots and increase the likeliness they’ll be used by media.
2013 March 27 by sv
If it’s broke, fix it – As soon as you realize there’s a problem, fix it. Brand loyalists expect a very specific experience from their favorite brands and when that brand promise isn’t being met, they will go elsewhere (there are many fish in the sea). It’s important to fix problems as soon as you can.
Communication is key – As in any relationship, open and honest communication is important. If you make a mistake, fess up quickly and let people know what happened and what you’re doing to fix it. . As a brand, it’s best to be proactive and control the situation so it doesn’t get blown out of proportion. Also, if you have had a good relationship, your customers will be more forgiving and genuine apologies usually do the trick.
Keep promises – Now that you’ve fixed the problem and apologized – it’s time to go back to delivering on your brand promise(s). Before you know it, your relationship with your brand ambassadors will be stronger than ever.