Tag Archives: PR

What would… The Perfect Work Outfit Look Like?

What Would...


Thinking about what to wear to work five days a week can feel like a job itself. Here are my top 5 perfect looks and outfit ideas without all the fuss.

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1) The CLASSIC – regardless of your job, the easiest outfit to pull off any day of the week is The Classic (trousers or a pencil skirt, a crisp button-up shirt and a pair of pointed toe stilettos). ONE TIP: accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! Of course – in moderation! But give your go-to classic outfit a break by opting for a statement necklace or a fun scarf.

2) The EDGY – this style is appropriate for those who work in the creative field whether you’re in Advertising or PR, among other industries. With a less strict office attire guideline, you can add your own flare and style into any of your outfits (red lips, leather skirt or trousers, boots). ONE TIP: remember you’re still going to work, so mix and match statement and simple.

3) The GLAMOUR – bring out your inner blogger or fashion editor by coming in to work with your sky-high heels, silky blouses, massive bags, pencil skirts, and rich fabrics. This style is a few notches up the fashion scale from the Classic – but comes down to the fabrics. This look will easily take you from 9 am to dinner cocktails with colleagues or clients any day of the week! ONE TIP: own this style and demand your presence.

4) The CASUAL – or in some cases, casual Fridays. Depending on your work environment, wearing jeans to work can be acceptable if done correctly and in a professional manner. ONE TIP: always wear polished heels or boots with your jeans, add a blazer on top of your blouse or structured top, and you’re ready to go.

5) The STREET STYLE – looking carelessly chic is an art form on its own. This style will give you an effortless look but shows that you’re up to date with trends. Mix feminine and masculine silhouettes and play with different shapes and patterns. ONE TIP: Wear heels with this look – as trendy as culottes or wide leg trousers are, you don’t want to walk in to work looking like you’re drowning in your own outfit.

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A Journalist Knows a Good Communications Plan When They See One – Here Are the Signs that You Don’t Have One

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By: Jina You

In my previous life as a TV news reporter, I interviewed thousands of people in all walks of life, including many corporations and businesses. I was always struck by the discrepancy between a company that seemed to be “on the ball” with its communications plan, and one that presented itself as disorganized and bureaucratic.

A company with the right communications strategy should have the right people in place to quickly and confidently respond to media requests. I’ve called businesses for either background information or an interview, and in some cases, waited many hours for a call back while the staff seemingly struggled with the request or couldn’t be bothered.

Every call from the media is a chance to connect with customers or stakeholders on some level and brand your business, whether it’s being asked to lend an industry perspective, speak about company developments or even respond in the face of negative publicity.

Another sign of a business that doesn’t seem to invest in media training or a proper communications plan: a PR executive who accompanies a CEO or spokesperson on an interview and hovers nervously in the background, making journalists think the person being interviewed has to have his/her hand held. All that’s going through the journalist’s mind is ,”Why is this person incapable of speaking on their own? Are they inexperienced in dealing with the media?”, “Do they not know what to say without being prompted?”.

Blanket emails on topics that don’t seem relevant to the media outlet is another annoyance that gets journalists to automatically hit delete when the latest press release arrives. I’ve gotten many a press release that began “Hi Jina!” and then went into a topic irrelevant to my news organization. Someone did take the time to find my email and send the release out – wasted effort that could have been better strategizing on the correct target audience. 

I’m always impressed when a well-crafted press release arrives that has a great news “hook”, written by someone who knows the secret of tailoring the pitch to intended audiences and piquing interest.

Maybe you’re at the stage when you realize your corporate communications strategy has gotten off-course. Many businesses and corporations get so busy chasing the next opportunity, they lose focus on their communications plan.

It’s crucial to find expertise on orchestrating and executing a communications plan that clearly outlines objectives, target audiences, tactical activities and ideally media training for senior executives.

Here’s a take-away point for you: take time to plan and regularly review where your company is going with its communications strategy.  It’s always easier than playing catch-up later.

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Richard Branson: A bad reputation is bad business

Today on Canadian Business, Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, writes about the importance of having a stand out business out but remembering to maintain a respectable and respectful reputation.

And you’d better give a damn

by Richard Branson

What’s your most valuable possession? When people ask me that, they often expect me to name some expensive artifact. However, my most valuable possession is also my most valued one. It costs nothing, and everyone has one: my reputation. “I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation!” Joan Jett sang in her classic hit single. It’s a great song, but I disagree.

For entrepreneurs, a bad personal reputation will extend to your brand’s reputation as well. If you do anything to damage either your own reputation or your company’s, you could destroy your business. While a good reputation precedes you, a bad reputation will follow you for a long time.

When we started our brand, the Virgin name was perceived as so risqué that we weren’t allowed to register it with the British Patent Office for three years, because the officials there thought it was rude. My personal reputation for standing out from the crowd of ordinary, stuffy businessmen helped set Virgin apart from its competitors too.

Soon, our move from punk rock to aviation—Virgin Music to Virgin Atlantic—enhanced our reputation as risk-takers and innovators, giving us a competitive advantage over other companies. This came in handy: Virgin became known as the brand that could go into sectors with troublesome reputations and shake them up by applying our values.

When we bought our first plane, air travel was considered very expensive, extremely frustrating and awfully dull; more recently, the banking sector has been held responsible for the financial crisis and global recession, so we used our reputation to instil some trust and, as Virgin Money’s slogan says, “Make everyone better off.”

These days the Virgin brand is trusted globally, so if we set up a venture in a new country, progress is swifter than in the days when we had to win over customers one transaction at a time. But improved communications also mean that any negative story about a Virgin company anywhere can become a global event with the click of a mouse.

As an entrepreneur, you need to keep a close eye on all the chatter about your business on social-media channels and online—Twitter, Facebook, and all their competitors. To build your company’s reputation online, you need to hire people you can trust not only to excel in their day-to-day jobs, but to be the public faces of your business.

Everyone makes mistakes. If you or someone in your company does, it is important to own up to it and move on. Sometimes the CEO must step in personally. For example, when a marketing agency hired by an American company Virgin is associated with went too far recently in an ad, I took to Twitter and my blog to apologize for any offence this caused.

In terms of their personal conduct, some entrepreneurs launching their first startups may try to mimic the stereotype of the tough businessman and bully who gets his way. I don’t think that this leads to lasting success. You need to treat people as you would wish to be treated in order to gain their respect. If you develop a company culture based on mutual understanding and respect, your employees are more likely to enjoy their jobs and become ambassadors for your brand and reputation. Likewise, customers will put their trust in your company and purchase more of your products; investors and potential partners will consider your proposals seriously; and vendors will want your business.

One of my overall points in writing this column is that building a business is not rocket science; it’s about having an idea and seeing it through with integrity. This basic formula means that as an entrepreneur or business leader, you can’t compromise on your principles when dealing with your staff, your customers, your suppliers, or anyone else connected with your business. If you treat people fairly and well, they will reward you with loyalty and dedication. If you fail to do so, the repercussions will follow—and eventually harm your bottom line.

Richard Branson is a philanthropist, adventurer, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group of companies

Read original post here.

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Caught in a PR Storm – Crisis Management

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– By Hanah Van Borek

On April 6, 2013, news broke out that RBC had replaced 45 of its own Canadian IT workers with temporary foreign employees from a company called iGate. These outsourced employees were in fact trained by the same employees that they would soon replace. Hours after the story was released, Canada’s largest financial institution was facing a storm of criticism from all corners, brands and types of media. The story, broken by CBC’s Kathy Tomlinson, received the largest recorded number of comments ever on their site. It was the most popular trending Canadian topic on Twitter. There was even a Facebook page dedicated to calling out the bank. Talk about a crisis management nightmare.

As not only a key financial player but also one of the biggest companies in Canada in terms of revenue, the spotlight is very hot for RBC. With its public image so heavily scrutinized, RBC’s PR strategy in handling the crisis went consequently as well.

The Response:

At first the bank was determined to explain the situation and clear up any bad air. RBC claimed that it had not outsourced to replace its existing employees, putting the blame on its suppliers who were working to compliment the company’s operations. RBC pointed to the government’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program as the route of the cause, and pointed to countless other companies who are engaged in the same hiring strategy. The bank also ensured that it was working to help those affected by the situation in their transition.

The Apology:

Days later the company issued an apology statement that was featured in full-page ads in the Globe and Mail and National Post. Titled, “An Open Letter to Canadians”, the piece explained that IT employees who were terminated would receive other positions within the company. The bank also announced a new youth employment initiative aimed at helping young people get their first work experience through the bank.

What can we learn from RBC?

Problems like this happen. That’s why crisis management exists. But the best defence is a good offence. Keeping on top of public opinion is key. Smart companies who use outsourcing will look at the public outcry and prepare their own messaging around their policies; they may even look into adjusting their policies if they see fit. What should also be taken away is the fact that, if it hasn’t already sunk in, social media is a force to be reckoned with. It’s another space to examine public opinion and it can be done in real time, just as the RBC crisis spread rapidly in real time. Getting the apology right is also very important. When “sorry” needs to be said, it needs to be done with both humility and dignity. While some argued that RBC was late in delivering, it was no doubt a well-orchestrated apology, ensuring the public that the company was owning up to its mistakes.

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The FireFox and the PR Hound

– By Alyssa Sy de Jesus

As a wise man (Sean Tyson, Director of Strategy at Invoke Media) once told my BUS450 class at SFU: “Social media is like teenage sex. Everybody wants to do it, but not everybody knows how.”

Running on the theme of effective social media use and age, my colleague Nicole Freeston wrote about why it IS okay to trust a 23 year old with your business’ Social Media. But for this week, I’d like to build on that by discussing why it might be a good idea to trust public relations in particular with your social media.

Most businesses and organizations look to social media to grow their reach and reputation by means of positive interaction with the right audience. In this sense, using social media successfully for business is about public relations.

Now I know that “Firefox” is a browser and that some would not consider it a “social media”. However what I’m really getting at here is a beautiful friendship between two seemingly opposite but in actuality, complimentary forces between the free-flow interactive technology of the Internet and the specificity of communication in public relations. Also, I’m Disney fan.

The way I see it, social media is the fast and free fox that moves about in the vast and rampant terrain of technological information and interaction. And as for the PR Hound? Under the Magnolia Tree, we define the PR Hound as somebody who loves to go for the focused and targeted chase of communicating good stories and making great connections. The fox may run wildly and the hound may hunt sharply, but instead of chasing after each other’s tails, I believe that the targeted PR Hound can use its senses to help to strengthen and focus the agile fox in the wild terrain. The fox on the other hand, can lead the PR Hound into new territory.

Here are two reasons as to why I think that the FireFox and the PR Hound can be good friends and why using social media for business is something that comes naturally to PR:

1. Understanding the “Media” in “Social Media”

While I am admittedly a social media enthusiast, I do not see it as the Holy Grail with the Midas PR/marketing touch. So first thing’s first: social media is a media outlet. This means that it’s all about figuring out how to best use it according to one’s specific needs and goals. Using social media effectively is a lot about customization and who better to intuitively figure that out through skill, expertise, and experience like a PR Hound? PR is about identifying a business’ or organization’s story and finding the best way and avenue to tell it from. Along with picking the right outlet, a PR Hound can figure out how a great story can be told through both a 14 page print feature or in 140 characters or less.

2.   Understanding the “Social” in “Social Media”

Social media echoes of and adds to the immediacy and fluidity of conversations between people. But besides being able to feel people out and discover the stories that resonate with them, PR Hounds are also great at immediately responding to and making the best out of a situation. In short, PR Hounds can keep up with the pace of social media interaction because of their improvisation skills. Magnolia team member, Hanah Van Borek, wrote about the importance of improvisation in PR and the same tips on “agreeing, contributing, and making statements” go for social media. However, improvisation in social media and PR is not just about building on connections but creating something positive out of the negative as well. As Kristina Lee’s  post on how people have forgotten the letter and taken to Twitter points out, social media is now an active place for customer feedback. A PR Hound would immediately know what it takes to handle negative customer feedback on social media, where interaction happens at the speed of light, and improvise based on their people and business know-how.

From a PR perspective, social media is all about figuring out how to effectively use the technology according to the ways in which people interact and connect on it. Social media provides a range of information and potential for PR outreach and storytelling. PR can help to strategize a productive and efficient direction for your social media trail to take. Together, the FireFox and the PR Hound can really go places.

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Face-to-Face Business: More Effective or Unnecessary?

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– By Nicole Freeston

This debate never gets old. In terms of building relationships with family, friends and new acquaintances, we continue to receive flak for maintaining these relationships virtually via technology, opting to text, snap chat, or skype instead of meeting physically. As part of Generation Y, I see this in myself, my peers, and those younger than me. You can miss out on genuine interactions through digital connections, but can we say the same for business?

Even with advancements in technology, it’s still common for sales reps especially to spend days or more travelling, simply for short one hour meetings, as well as in-person seminars, shows, or presentations. However, with the ongoing trends of international business including clients within different locations and time zones, we are seeing an increase in webinars, virtual trade shows and conference calls. Products such as GoToMeeting, Google Hangout and On24 allow companies from all over the world to participate in webinars and virtual tradeshows while also enabling meetings between business partners who are geographically separated.

These mediums can prove useful and reliable especially when that is the only form of communication available when face-to-face interactions are not possible. However, even if in-person meetings are an option, we are seeing many companies leaning towards the virtual option anyway. Perhaps it saves time and money and goes along with where the industry is going. It would be interesting to see the results when comparing face-to-face interactions in the business world against virtual ones. Would the results really differ that much? Should we still value face-to-face meetings and the more genuine connections that can come from them?

I’m a sucker for the good ol’ face-to-face thing. Though I appreciate a good webinar or something visual, I think it’s important to place value on traditional interactions with clients, business partners, and potential customers. Even in a job interview, Skype interviews are pretty common but I’m assuming an employer is more likely to hire someone who they met with in person rather than via telephone or video chat. Time Management Ninja agrees with me, saying that distance should not be an excuse for not meeting face-to-face, and that even video chat is much better than a phone call.

Here are 5 reasons that Time Management Ninja offers in defence of face-to-face meetings

  1. Body Langauge is Communication – We tend to forget that body langauge plays a major part in our communication. It is not just how you said something, but also your facial expressions and body posture. This is lost in a phone conversation.

  2. Ensures Engagement – Who knows what people are doing while on conference calls. (You might not want to know.) However, face-to-face leads to engagement. It ensure that people are “in the conversation.” I was on a video call with an executive one day, when I suddenly stopped the call. The VP had leaned over and was having a separate conversation with his assistant. When he turned around, he apologized, “Oh, I guess you could see that.”

  3. Clarifies Meaning – Conference calls can lead to misunderstandings either due to lack of communication (See #1) or simply because the medium is not conducive to individuals asking for better meaning. It’s much harder to raise your hand on a call than it is in person.

  4. Drives Participation –  When you are all in the same room, it encourages people to participate. You can’t just go sit in the corner and turn your back to the meeting. Yet, this is exactly what many people do on conference calls.

  5. More Efficient –  Face-to-face meetings tend to be shorter than conference calls. On the phone, everyone sits around on mute waiting for the discussion to end. Yes, this can happen in a meeting room. However, in face-to-face situations there is a greater pressure to get to the point.

Whatever your preference, the presence of face-to-face meetings may decrease more, but maybe there is a time and a place for both online and offline interactions, depending on what will produce the best results.

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Things I Carry: Post-its, iPhone, Tact

– By Kristina Lee

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One of the great things about LinkedIn is the direct news feed – updates that I can get on my iPhone, anytime, anywhere. These feeds are tailored to my online profile. Most tend to be hits or misses. I really think LinkedIn needs a better way of filtering based on profile keywords. I’m noticing way too many self-help articles that tell me how to be a good sales and marketer blah blah blah…but I’m happy to report that most of the time, a good article catches my eye.

A recent LinkedIn editor, Francesca Levy , has just published a series of “Things I Carry” articles, all based on interviews of entrepreneurs and great influencers of the world who divulge their professional “carry,” essentials or “secret weapons,” that help them sharpen their routine and achieve success.  Some claim to never leave the house without their notebooks, while others carry family habits (Sir Richard Branson claims he can’t do without his assistant). The anecdotes are quick and fun to read.

The articles appeal to me, especially, because I’m finding that at my workplace there are tons of tasks to juggle at the same time, and even sometimes at the speed of light. Without my own go-to list of essentials, I would be a complete mess, and I don’t have to be an entrepreneur or a famous influencer to feel some of these pains. Having the right resources at hand to support a multitude of things that are thrown at me helps make sure my head doesn’t explode or suffer a brain hemorrhage (or contract problems with my thyroid) before I turn 30.

Post-its. Post-its have been one of my essentials for jotting down everything from important to-do’s to a colleague writing some inspirational quotes for me. These include different colors for each task and different shapes for how I’m feeling. There’s something colorful, fast and incredibly easy about writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper that you nimbly stick to your notebook, computer, phone and even forehead so that you can keep it top of mind. Sticking it where it counts is the fun part, including writing a memo to brighten someone’s day after they get out of a long meeting to let them know you’re taking them out for a “just because,” lunch.

iPhone. Like many but not all, I’ve drank the Apple “kool-aid.” I don’t go anywhere without my iPhone. I sleep with it, eat next to it, work with it, and depend on it to keep me connected to my family. It comes full circle with me because it’s the tool that helps me stay connected to my “trinity of happiness”-hobbies, family, work (yes, I admit I have a Bible app). Why am I so brand specific? Because I’m not the nerdy, techy user; nor am I the tech-illiterate bookworm or librarian. Before the Android takeover, the iPhone was the most practical device with an easier learning curve. It was a phone that made me feel the most modern and sophisticated. Working in an industry that is all about building and maintaining brand integrity, I can appreciate Apple’s sleek, lightweight and rounded corner feel which has been maintained ever since they launched their phone. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like a bubbly feel? My phone is my lifeline. What else can help me wake up in the morning with 20+ alarms scheduled at 10 minute intervals, keep track of all my appointments, allow me to work diligently by the poolside or at the desk (to music when I want), and has my family on speed dial, just to say I love them?

Tact. This one is tricky to explain because it’s more figurative. I’ve learned that no matter what situation I’m in, being tactful and maintaining a certain level of thoughtfulness can help make me a smarter and wiser businesswoman. Staying on the calmer side of things and being sensitive helps me attune my thoughts, suggestions and observations to the matter at hand – especially helpful when I’m collaborating with my team and my clients. Working in the PR industry and building relationships in finance and clean technology, B2B sectors conventionally (and arguably) require you to be thick skinned, easy-going and extroverted. I would agree for the most part, but would have to add that being tactful with every conversation and carrying it through to the relationships that we build is not only essential, but powerful. A little diplomacy goes a long way, and something that I like to take so definitely dish out.

I have to squeeze one more literal one in: Vaseline. It’s the elixir to chapped lips and skin. It’s also the best multi-faceted lotion. Try using it on your eye-lids to give an extra shine to brighten your eyes, or even use it to gel down your hair. Trust me, I carry it everywhere.

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Can a $200 Million Marketing Campaign Save Blackberry?

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– By Hanah Van Borek

The big comeback: this has been much anticipated from the company formerly known as RIM. Blackberry, the organization’s new name as part of its branding overhaul, is pulling out the big guns to compete in a market that is widely saturated with Samsungs and iPhones.

Blackberry has injected a whopping $200 million into its recent launch of the Z10, a phone similar in shape to the iPhone 5 with a wide touch screen, high-res camera, video chat, its own custom apps and other standard smartphone features, bringing it finally up to par with the rest of the smartphone market.

Online reviews reveal that the phone itself has been generally well received. It has its appeal as the black, sleek, alternative device. The fact is that Blackberry’s late to the game. The issue for this comeback boils down to this: your cereal just hit the market and basically looks, tastes, and prices the same as Cheerios. How do you convince people to eat your cereal when everybody’s already eating Cheerios?

Watch Blackberry’s Superbowl ad and their strategy will become clear. They emphasize what the Blackberry can’t do, impossible feats, rather than focus on what it can do, which I guess is everything else? Blackberry’s decided to move the focus away from the phone itself and instead put a spotlight on the brand story behind it.

Here’s another way to get them buying your cereal, bring in an artistic icon to promote it, like Alicia Keys. Keys has been brought on as Global Creative Director for Blackberry. Part of her role will be creating original content for the phone. Ironically, her latest album produced the lowest opening sales since she began her musical career. Maybe a music video created with the Z10 will make the difference. Nevertheless, the songstress has strong brand appeal that the company hopes to harness to capture new followers and re-engage old ones.

There are many other components to this marketing marathon including of course the use of social media as well as mobile marketing, online ads and various PR stunts.

You have to appreciate Blackberry’s efforts in this heavy artillery approach but they may have missed the boat with consumers who are likely more interested in what the phone can do. The Z10 isn’t a generic supermarket cereal, it has real potential as its own distinct device. If it had focused more energy on actual features of the phone, Blackberry may have caught attention from more smartphone users than marketing critics.

Their time would be better spent highlighting their unique interface, operating system and apps than on the many different slogans they have developed and repurposed for this campaign. There is Be Bold, Keep Moving, and one that I’m not convinced is a good thing for their brand, We Need Tools Not Toys.

A few years ago when Apple began to really pull the rug up from Blackberry and the former RIM’s shares began to plummet, Apple had the edge because the iPhone is a lifestyle product. Blackberry was pegged as the “work phone”. Now through its various ads with artistic collaborators, Blackberry promises to be the fun device for the creative class but yet they’re emphatic that this phone is not for play. These conflicting messages blur Blackberry’s message, achieving the reverse of its objectives.

Thus far, Blackberry’s marketing initiatives have been a flop. With everything they have invested, one can only hope that their stocks make the much needed comeback when the phone hits the US market on March 22, 2013. Despite being less than impressed with their campaign, I can’t help but root for our Canadian competitor making its brave final stand.

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Stop Getting “Pitch Slapped”

– By Alyssa Sy de Jesus

PitchSlapped

Rejection is a natural part of the PR process, especially when it comes to pitching. I like to call it getting “pitch slapped”. 10 to 20 per cent of the time, you get pitch slapped because the journalist is too busy meeting deadlines and trying to sort through the hundreds of other pitches that they’ve received. But I like to believe that no matter how good your research, story, or angle is, it’s so much more dependent on how you deliver your pitch. 80-90 per cent of the success rate of your pitch and hook is on you. This is why the pitch slapping that I got yesterday is about 80-90 per cent my fault.

Recently, in an attempt to improve upon my pitching, I came across a chapter by Jay S. Conger, a professor of organizational behavior, in the Harvard Business Review’s guide to “Communicating Effectively”. Conger writes the following “straightforward” approach as a “surefire way” for ineffective business communication:

“First, you strongly state your position. Second, you outline the supporting arguments, followed by a highly assertive data-based exposition. Finally, you enter the deal-making stage and work toward a “close”. In other words, you use logic, persistence, and personal enthusiasm to get others to buy a good idea.”

Guilty as charged. I sometimes forget that this “straightforward” approach is what sometimes gets me into a pitch slapping situation. Communication in PR is not a straightforward formula, but a process that takes patience, research, and emotional instinct. I find that Conger’s “Four Essential Steps” for effective communication helps to remind me of what I need to do to ensure that I am not using a straightforward approach to the process of PR:

1. “Establish Credibility”

As Conger terms it, establishing credibility is done with at least one of two things: expertise and relationships. In PR I think that both are essential. You achieve PR credibility by demonstrating your expertise in your own field and being well-researched in your client’s industry. Along with that, you gain credibility by showing the ability to be personable and to positively relate to people.

 2. “Frame for Common Ground”

This is about being able to communicate “tangible shared benefits” with the other person. It’s not enough to say to a reporter, “You should write about this because it’s big news.” De-abstract that statement and find specific reasons as to why they and their readers will benefit from this type of news.

 3. “Provide Evidence”

Conger is not talking about stats, facts, and numbers alone. Instead, find out what sort of “vivid” and significant story can you put together from your research. This is also where you can test your skills in words and language. I found that I got a more positive response by changing my wording from “local contest” to a warmer sounding and more proactive “community-based competition”.

 4. “Connect Emotionally”

Although emotional connection is key, how much is too much emotion? You have to bear in mind that you still have to remain professional. Conger gives a really great tip in saying that you ought to do “emotional matchmaker” with the other person. Cue in on the amount of emotion that they are giving to the conversation and follow along with that. In PR, this can be a challenge when a media contact expresses exasperation with being overwhelmed with many other pitches. Your job is not to cater to their exasperation and give up on your own pitch. Your job is to take their emotion into consideration and work on a way to reframe your hook in accordance to their interest.

As I continue to develop my pitches for my respective contacts, I find that Conger’s checklist is a great starting point of reference that inspires constant research, processing, practice, and connecting. Although it is a checklist, Conger’s advice is not a formula. Instead, I see it as prompting points for the sort of thorough work and processing that PR requires. It’s tools like Conger’s check list that helps me get back up after a rejected pitch. Because in PR, you shouldn’t get “pitch pounded” or “pitch beat”.  You get pitch SLAPPED because it’s a wake-up call to action and reaction.

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Have you heard yourself lately?

– By Phoebe Yong

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As part of my job, I talk to a lot of people on the phone. Whether it’s conference calls, one on ones sales calls or media pitching, there is a lot of talking going on.

However this past week, I was struck by one resounding theme.  If only people could hear themselves talk – hear their own voice, words, and intonations. I think the impact on our end goal would be quite significant.

Record and Playback

For example, let’s say you’re on the phone with a reporter pitching a story, talking to a potential customer trying to set up an introductory meeting, or on a conference call leading a team of 10 from different regions. Have you ever tried recording the conversation and playing it back to yourself? Try it.

I called up a reporter last week for a pitch and after the call, I realized, if it was possible to play back my call, I would have been able to improve on it. I asked myself, at the start, was my voice confident? Did I word things effectively? Did I ramble? Did I sound sheepish? Considering the reporter did show up for the event I originally had pitched to them, I’d give myself an 8 out of 10.

Another thing that is just as important is how you end the call. When you listen to voicemails, they tend to begin with more energy but often finish off with a soft or awkward “bye”. The point is to be aware of your voice and intonations, all key components of effective communication.

In our media training classes, we encourage people record themselves and listen to it after. One way to do it is to record yourself reading a book out loud, or record yourself on a telephone call between colleagues or associates. This is a great way to assess your strengths and weaknesses. For example, does your voice flow naturally as you deliver the messages or do you sound monotone throughout? For every voicemail you leave behind, it might be beneficial to play it back to yourself first. If you do, you might realize what you need to improve on in order to get the desired response from the recipient.

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What’s your point.

I was on a call with a client once and they were helping me with a story idea. I realized at the end of the call that our client talked way too much and it left me unclear of the point they were trying to make. If I could have recorded that phone call and played it back to them, it would have been eye-opening and also a good reason to sign up for our media training. Our client talked for almost four minutes continuously on a fairly technical discussion. If they played back that conversation, they would have realized just how long they talked for without a break and without a main point.

It’s important to take the time to stop and listen. Silence is golden. In most cases, it’s beneficial to let someone else do the talking and listen. Listen intently, whether you’re listening to others or listening to your recorded self, you could learn a thing or two.

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