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Employee Communications Work Inside Out

If your employees do not believe in the company what chance is there that outsiders will?
If your employees do not believe in the company what chance is there that outsiders will?

Employee Communications Work Inside Out.

There are no “silver bullets” when it comes to motivating and engaging employees. But there are things any business of any size can do to connect with their workers. Here are a few specifics. When I worked with employee communications and external positioning I found the best strategy was to make the people who worked at our site, in our business or even across continents at big companies the primary audience. As within so without.

Use Employees For Branding

Build a brand identity with employees. Recognize that employees deliver the identity of the company when they leave the site. Their collective experiences as employees are communicated to friends, neighbors, family members and acquaintances everywhere they go. They communicate about the company at the PTA, at the ball game and when they go to church. Nurturing them while they are “behind the fence” at work is critical to success with customers, recruiting new employees and retaining existing ones. Word of mouth is a very persuasive method of communications. It is more credible and memorable than any ad or article. You certainly do not want employees who are discouraged by a lack of timely or accurate communications talking to customers. I’ve literally taken press releases and changed the headings and sent them to the Intranet editor first. Re-purposing external announcements for internal audiences cuts down on writing, approvals and expenses with vendors.

Emotionally Connect

Making an emotional connection with employees will have further benefits for external positioning and contribute positive business results. This is a powerful communications asset that too few companies utilize. Employees hate hearing news about the company second hand, like reading about it in the newspaper, hearing it on the radio or from a friend or relative. Respect and value your employees enough to make them your most important target audience.

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When Writing Successful Strategies Consider Outcomes First

When Writing Successful Strategies Consider Outcomes First. I recently wrote a proposal to draft a strategy for a company that sells and installs spas. It is a little cool out (even here in Texas) for me to think about contact with water of any kind or temperature in the out of doors, but that’s just me.


Start at the end and work backwards.
Determine what success looks like first and work backwards.

Here is what I suggested.

Start at the end. Define what success looks like and in what period of time. If you want to sell and install 500 spas in 12 months, what has to happen to achieve that goal? Find out the following:

– How many prospects does it take to convert a paying customer? If you need 4 prospects before you make a sale, then you need 2,000 prospects.

– Where will your prospective customers come from? How much money does a household typically need before they can afford a spa? How old are they? Do they have children and if so how many and what ages? Are they professional people or do they work for someone else? Once you know the background of a typical prospect it is a lot easier to send them messages about why they need a spa and why they should buy one from you.

– If you are going to recruit those 2,000 prospects how many messages will it take to cause them to take action? What is the best way to reach them? Is it newspaper ads, radio, TV, direct mail, direct e-mail, or social media? Is it one or all or some of each?

Writing and executing a successful strategy starts with knowing what you want and by when. If you have that, then rest is easier than it is if you do not.

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Managing Public Relations For Frackers

Managing Public Opinion For Frackers.

Frackers face far more obstacles to public acceptance than most industries.
Frackers face far more obstacles to public acceptance than most industries.

Natural gas fracturing, or fracking as it is known, can help make the U.S. energy independent and a net exporter of energy within five years. Unfortunately, public opinion outside of the industry is very negative when it comes to the practice of freeing natural gas from rocks. Popular films, news coverage, and posturing by environmental groups have stacked the deck against the industry for certain. But all is not lost. Here are some steps for overcoming the concerns of the public about fracking:

1. Be local. When or if possible, use spokespersons and company representatives who live in the area where your company will be working. No one will trust an out of towner. Worse, the lack of a local presence will be used against you.

2. Rely on facts and data, but only up to a point. People who are worried about the potential for some danger introduced to them via popular media are emotional, not rational. Thus, you should not be surprised when they behave and react in irrational ways. People are more emotional beings than they are logical.

3. Big business has a sketchy reputation. Business is not trusted and energy and petrochemical companies less. You are a strike or two down before you ever arrive on the scene. Manage your and your colleagues/client expectations. Not everyone is going to be persuaded by you or your messages. Be prepared to spend the time needed to get your message across.

4. Rely on local media, but make communications two way. There was never a better time to leverage inbound marketing techniques (landing pages with information offered freely and regularly) with your stakeholder audience. Press coverage is a way to introduce yourself and company to an audience but take the time and trouble to make information available to anyone who wants it.

5. Be transparent. My experience in business is that it is considered career suicide to publicly admit a mistake. Maybe. But think big picture and tell the truth no matter how distasteful it might be. You might suffer criticism for a time inside the office, but long term you will be scene as a visionary for being the guy/gal willing to be tell the whole truth. It’s part of number 6!

6. Respect the audience. I never allowed co-workers to refer to residents or other stakeholder members as “Joe Six Pack” or other unflattering characterizations and neither should you. These people are or could potentially be your neighbors. Show some respect and remember that if you are not sincere, people will see through you.


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Poo-Pourri’s Television Commercial On You Tube Is Genius

Click Here To Watch The Video and Be Prepared to Laugh. 

The You Tube ad for Poo Pourri is entertaining and informative, the mark of any good ad.
The You Tube ad for Poo Pourri is entertaining and informative, the mark of any good ad.

I hate watching commercials. I can endure a few but more often than not they are played end to end for way to kong. But, Poo-Pourri’s Television Commercial On You Tube Is Genius. If all commercials were as well made as this one not only would I watch them, I’d write about them here.

Skip The Commercials

Like most television watchers with the means and/or challenging schedule, I record shows for viewing later when I have time to watch and enjoy them. Known as “time shifting”, we can watch when there is time and we can use the fast forward button to skip through commercials (we call this “boofing” as in “can you boof through the commercial”). This is especially handy for watching NFL and NCAA Football. Where strings of ads play after every punt, quarter change, halftime, kickoff and let’s not forget the long breaks where plays are reviewed. A sixty minute game can and will stretch to four hours with all of the ads, and unfunny blather from Howie and Terry, but I digress.

Television Ads Are Reborn

Now, the television or video commercial is reborn on You Tube with this ad for Poo-Pourri, a spray that covers the smell of public pooping. Who hasn’t not wanted to poop at a party, friends house, airliner, etc.? Poo-Pourri not only makes it O.K. but is incredibly entertaining. If you have not seen the ad, picture the Orbit chewing gum model of “dirty mouth” fame, talking about taking a big old, stinky dump and you have the picture.

This ad works because it is relatable, informative and entertaining if not downright funny. It also asks for the order in that the charming, British pooper-actress on screen tells you how and where to buy it.

Watch for yourself. This ad is genius.

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Bad Public Relations People Are Bad For Our Profession

Bad Public Relations People Are Bad For Our Profession.

In a story where a reporter is denied access to an interview, it’s bad news. And in case you missed it, ID PR’s Bryna Rifkin, a publicist for stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Michelle Rodriguez, among others, at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. As she accompanied Oscar winner Marion Cotillard down the red carpet, French-Canadian reporter Catherine Beauchamp asked for a quick interview with the actress.  This was reported in PR Daily.  Follow this link to watch the cringe-worthy exchange:

Bryna Rifkin makes the job of other public relations people more difficult with her outburst which was recorded for the world to see.
Bryna Rifkin makes the job of other public relations people more difficult with her outburst which was recorded for the world to see.

Who has more of a love hate thing going than reporters and public relations people? Who will always win in a dispute? If you said the people with the microphones, you were right.

Reporters Have Jobs To Do

Can reporters be a pain? Sometimes. But remember that like you, they have a job to do. There are fewer members of the working press than ever. If you persuaded one to cover your event, it likely means that they had to justify it to an editor who had to then decide what was not going to be covered instead. So, the reporter has to come back with a story or do a lot of explaining to their editor.  No one likes to do a lot of explaining.

Make Reporters Lives Easier

Public relations people should be there to help make the reporters’ job easier. In doing so, it is far more likely that the client will see, hear, or read the story they want and expect. The reporter wins and your client does as well. Win-Win!

As a lifetime public relations person, I always accompany my clients on interviews for their protection against being misquoted or saying something they may not mean or fully understand. It never occurred to me that a fellow practitioner would be the one who needed protecting.

Your Client Is The Story

As a publicist, you are not the story. Your client is the story. Denying access to a reporter (who is standing right there for gawd’s sake) does the client a disservice. People who might not otherwise know about whatever movie, book, new product or whatever and gone and spent money on it, are denied the opportunity because  you are having a bad day. Keep your emotions in check. Revel in the knowledge that in spite of it all, you delivered a good value for the client, then go home and enjoy your affluent lifestyle. Good living is always the best revenge.

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Public Relations Is About Compelling Stories and Content, Not Who You Know

Public relations has evolved from a practice that demands contacts to one that requires interesting content.
Public relations has evolved from a practice that demands contacts to one that requires interesting content.

Public Relations Is About Compelling Stories and Content, Not Who You Know.

When I was first starting in public relations work in the early 1980’s people like me made it a point to get to know reporters and befriend them. I was promoting cars for Ford Motors and got acquainted with people in the area who covered the auto business. I would also arrange for them to test drive cars Ford wanted covered. It worked! Ford got lots of favorable coverage as a result of this. But life and technology and needs of the marketplace evolve.

Media in the form of editors and reporters working the way they did in the time of traditional ink and paper are gone. If you own a computer and connect to the Internet, you can be as influential as the Wall Street Journal once was. For the 21st century public relations person, you need content. Compelling news stories that will make the reader/listener watcher’s lives better and by better I mean easier, less expensive, more convenient.

Today’s public relations writer could learn a lot from inbound marketing gurus like David Meereman Scott. In so many words, Scott says that by making the information on your web site valuable to the reader and offer it for free, you are more likely to draw an audience of people who will want to do business with you. So make the content of your press releases all of the above (newsworthy and better for the lives of readers) and extend the value of that information by including it in direct e-mail, videos, audio/podcasts, and even brochures. It will test your flexibility as a writer, but ultimately draw a bigger audience. And if on line or print publications pick it up and publish it, then so much the better.

Go here to learn more about David Meerman Scott. “The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly”

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General Electric and Agent Smith: Terrible Ad For So Many Reasons

I saw the new General Electric advertisement on Saturday Night Live two nights ago and could not get the words out of my mouth fast enough to describe what was wrong with this ad. Sure, only our dog “Lucky” was there to hear me, but she is an excellent listener.

In case you have not seen the ad, GE is advertising their software for medical machines. Actor Hugo Weaving recreates his Agent Smith character from The Matrix movie series in the full greenish tinted non-reality of The Matrix.

Here are just a few of the problems with this ad:

– The last Matrix installment was years ago and no one saw it except die-hard fans like me. None of the final two movies were as compelling as the original, which was one of the better science fiction movies ever.

– Selling medical machines and their software is a business to business sell. You do not advertise products like these on a program where ads are crafted for consumers. The demographics for SNL skew younger so you can’t say it’s for shareholders or Wall Street.

– Agent Smith is the bad guy in the movies. A world class bad guy who represents the ultimate evil (Satan) opposing Neo (actor Keanu Reeves) who is the savior of mankind.Would you want Darth Vader taking an X-Ray of you? Not bloody likely.

– Agent Smith hates humans and everything about them. In one line he tells Morpheus (actor Lawrence Fishburne) that humans are like a virus that infect the earth. Later he speculates about his disgust with mankind “maybe it’s the smell.” Bed side manner?

– No one watching Saturday Night Live gives a hobos’ crap about medical machines. Wrong media, wrong audience, wrong messages.

– At the end of the ad there are two huge mistakes. Agent Smith answers an old fashioned telephone. Only the good guys in the movies did this as a way to navigate in and out of the Matrix. Agent Smith would not have done this.

– Another huge goof, Smith offers a kid a red or a blue sucker. Morpheus offers Neo a choice of a red pill or a blue pill to see the reality of the Matrix. Smith would not have done this.

What went wrong?

In his book, “Ogilvy On Advertising” author and advertising legend David Ogilvy wrote about a condition he named “art directoritis”. Roughly stated, it’s when art directors forget that their job is to help sell products with messages about how they will deliver value and benefits to the customer. Instead, you get “art” that has little to do with anything useful to customers or potential customers. The art directors at the agency that produced this travesty have too much money and not enough accountability to their client. And what about shareholders? They really got screwed. This ad should have been print and run in business trade magazines. But since those are not “sexy” and will not win Cleo’s you got this expensive train wreck.

From Adweek, Agent Smith makes what are probably pretty good medical machines seem really creep.
From Adweek, Agent Smith makes what are probably pretty good medical machines seem really creepy.