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Is PR talk value? At a recent professional development event I attended, the speaker continually referred to talk value as PR. The first couple of times, it was okay. By the seventh or so reference, I started to cringe each time the phrase was used.
What is it about this reference which grates on my ears?
Perhaps it is the dismissive tone that seems to accompany the statement.
It might be the propensity for this phrase to be one of dozens of cliches used by PR practitioners to justify tactics. Some others that are popular right now include buzz and viral. As in, “Let’s create some buzz with this new widget” or “how about if we make a viral video.”
Most likely, what troubles me about the reference is the complete lack of finality. That buzz or talk value is good enough goes completely against the relationship building that is and should be at the heart of every public relations practitioners’ sense and sensibility.
Hanging your hat on talk value completely eliminates a vital component of public relations: effecting attitude or behavior change.
What are your thoughts on talk value? Love it? Hate it? Please comment here.
I attended the “Rockstars vs. Roadies, Who Makes a Better Employee?” session at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival last month.
This session was a real stretch for me because I am a one person shop, so I don’t hire people, at least not right now. A thread which emerged during the session about interview questions got me thinking about interviews today and how the whole structure of interviewing for jobs has radically changed.
The panelists confirmed the continuation of a trend related to interviews and hiring. That the bizarre, unusual and off-the-wall interview structure is here to stay.
Don’t think this applies to you? Here are the panelists’ favorite screening questions and observations.
Do I want to grab a beer with this person?
Would I want to spend an hour stuck in the airport with this person?
What’s the biggest deal you ever did that fell through and why did it fall through?
They also suggested asking former employers if they would rehire the candidate and measure the time between question and answer. If the former employer hesitates, that indicates a “no” answer regardless of what they actually say.
PR Practitioners who are preparing for interviews need to think and prepare differently. Here are a few resources for prepping for your next job interview.
A recent Forbes article shared what top executive recruiters felt were the top three interview questions.
The Monster Job site offers a very long list of the most used interview questions. Fairly predictable.
It may be more useful to prepare for your next job interview by reviewing some of the weirdest interview questions in this Huffington Post article.
Or have a look at what Toilet Paper Entrepreneur has collected as the best job interview questions.
If you’ve read this far and have clicked through some of the resources, you’ll notice that the traditional questions are nowhere to be found. So, if you’re preparing for a job interview, you might want to prepare to answer some of these:
- If you were an ingredient in your kitchen, what would you be and why? What about breakfast cereal? Hit song?
- What color are you?
- If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you see yourself doing?
If you’d like to listen to the entire podcast of the session, go here.
What interview questions have you been asked lately? Share some here so we’re all better prepared for our next interview.
During a recent Twitter chat with solo PR practitioners, the subject of recovering from the loss of a client became a hot topic. As the chat progressed, the group serendipitously compiled a list of signs that all, in hindsight, recognized were signs that a client was about to change their mind about the relationship.
Change in Reporting Order
What does this mean? Your contact changes or the client’s team makes changes. Always a sign of a company on the move and maybe your services will be part of that change. Karen D. Swim, a Michigan-based Solo PR practitioner (@karenswim) recommends watching for red flags. Olga Orda, based in Vancouver (@olgaorda) suggested early detection could help prevent a meltdown.
Clogs in the Pipeline
Has the workflow suddenly changed? Extreme acceleration or slowdown may be a sign that the client has other plans.
This is a sad fact for Solo PR practitioners but sometimes it’s the first sign of trouble. Mary Deming Barber (@mdbarber), a seasoned PR practitioner in Anchorage, Alaska, offers a suggestion for lessening the impact of unpaid bills. “Always keep eggs in lots of baskets.” Paula Johns’ advice (@PaulaJohns) includes building a broad base to lessen the impact of a lost client.
The key to surviving a sudden client loss?
Perspective, according to Daria Steigman (@dariasteigman), from Washington DC. She once lost a client during a company sale, but her clients lost their jobs.
Kate Robins (@katerobins), a Connecticut practitioner, believes you should have a magic number of clients. With six clients, you can lose two and still recover. That’s when it’s important to leverage the relationships in your current network.
Are you a solo PR practitioner? Then join the group! Organized by Kellye Crane (@kellyecrane, @solopr), an international group assembles each Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. EST to chat on Twitter, using the hashtag #solopr.
Many thanks to the collective intelligence of the group for making this blog post happen.
What signs have you seen that a client is about to bolt?
I am NOT talking about “Obamacare” or anything related to recent issues in health care. I am talking about students from HOSA, the Health Occupation Students of America. They are our future health care providers and my recent experience with them made me so relieved for the future of health care in our country.
Recently, I was asked to be a judge at the state of Texas HOSA Leadership Conference. This conference, held in San Antonio last week, included thousands of students from across the state, competing in many areas of health care debate and service, including prepared and extemporaneous speaking, extemporaneous writing, biomedical debate, skills testing and service projects, to name a few.
The category I participated in was public service announcements. Students had to create a 30 second PSA around the theme “Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet.” In teams of 3-6, they had to conceptualize, research, plan, shoot, edit and show a PSA around this theme. They were required to do target audience research, defend their cinematic approach to the problem AND they had 4 minutes to present it me and my co-judge, Monica Faulkenbery, APR, the assistant communications director for the Northside Independent School District.
Over a four hour period, we watched, listened to and scored 26 student teams from around the state.
Their work was amazing.
These students used sophisticated video techniques, including stop motion, white boards, jump action and Claymation. That’s right, Claymation. One group even used visuals crafted from a complex grid of color-coded sticky notes and, with stop motion camera work created animated visuals. Others used sepia frames or black and white to enhance the drama of their piece.
That’s not even the best part.
The best part is that they thoroughly understood their subject matter and why it’s important to clean out your medicine cabinets. Here’s why:
- Accidental overdoses by young people or old people
- Medicines are dangerous when they lose their shelf life
They also explained, comically and in great detail, how to safely dispose of medicines.
By the 5th presentation, I put a date on my electronic calendar for cleaning out my own medicine cabinet.
What was most impressive to me about this event?
Their professional demeanor. They thanked us for taking the time to judge the event. Each team had clear definition of roles and responsibilities in their presentation. And, with the exception of two college teams, they are all in high school.
If this is the next generation of health care professionals, we will all benefit from their obvious dedication to health and well-being.
The future of health care is bright and it has nothing to do with politics.
Happy birthday Girl Scouts!
Today this venerable organization for girls turns 100. I attribute my success in my life and my career to a great Girl Scouting experience. The motto “Be Prepared” has served me well in public relations and in my family life.
I was a Girl Scout for the ten best years of my life and couldn’t let this occasion go by without looking back at what Girl Scouting did for me.
As a Brownie, I learned about the importance of friends, and helping others. I went to day camp at Strawberry Lane and made a sit upon, which I used to sit on the floor of the Royalview Elementary School gym in Willowick, Ohio. My dad and I attended our first (and only) father/daughter cookout, an event he raved about until I was an adult. We had cute brown beanies and little brown dresses.
I moved up to Junior Scouts and met Mrs. Bosu, our leader for Troop 501 of the Lake Erie Girl Scout Council. That woman knew every song every written and should have been an opera singer. She was fearless at everything she did. We camped in the pouring rain and jumped in the hay of an old barn. We learned about service to the community when we went Christmas caroling at an old folks home. We went roller skating, which was huge in the late 1960s. Somehow my grandma became a cookie selling machine and my mom’s sewing machine was pressed into service for all kinds of troop projects. I wrote my first column called “Ask Fran” and published a newspaper for the troop using a mimeograph machine.
For some reason, I didn’t quit in junior high when the ranks begin to thin. As a Cadet scout, I explored career possibilities by completing numerous badges. By this time, service to the community was second nature. One of my fondest memories was an all-day cleanup to cull out the lily pads which were choking out the ducks at the pond – just around the corner from Strawberry Lane where I first went to day camp.
By the time I was in high school, there was no way I would drop out. Our Senior Leader, Mrs. Hodina, was an amazing role model. She could wear a dress, she could drive us to camp in her giant truck, and she understood teenagers, adapting our meeting schedule to meet the needs of 10 very busy high school girls. We couldn’t wait until our winter campout at Camp Hilaka, where we took over the leaders’ house, built fires and went sledding. We continued to serve, organizing a Field Day each spring to teach camp skills to the younger girls.
I sold cookies out of my locker.
One summer, I got to go to sailing camp, achieving a childhood dream. The following year, I qualified for a Wider Opportunity. Traveling to Wisconsin, I met girls from all over the world, bounced on a bog, met Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers and learned that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.
While many of my memories are about fun, what Girl Scouting taught me is that service to others is the greatest gift you can give your community. It also taught me to understand things and people that are different from me, and that friendships are everlasting.
So, to Juliet Low, Girl Scout founder, thank you for being our pioneer. Here’s to a hundred more years of empowering girls.
A SWOT Analysis, often used by businesses in strategic planning, is a great way to determine your next career step. By now, you’ve created a SWOT Analysis with your “trusted advisors,” so it’s time to look at it and analyze your results.
Reflect on Results
Put all the Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities |Threats together into one chart. How does it look? Did more than one person identify a similar trait? Perhaps those observations should be weighted more heavily. Are your results contradictory? This could mean that each of your trusted advisors knows you a little differently.
Take some time to reflect on your results –usually a couple of weeks. Pull the chart out frequently and think about what it might be telling you. Now you’re ready for the next step.
Ask More Questions
Go back to your trusted advisors and ask additional questions or get clarification, if needed. If your results already make sense, then go to the next step.
Consider Your Plan
Where you go next is up to you….and taking a new step is never easy. Your results might indicate you need further professional development or education. Or it might indicate that a sideways move or industry change is right for you. Perhaps your results indicate that you are right where you need to be and change is farther off on the horizon. Either way, it’s time to start sketching out some plans.
No matter where you are, get some help! If books are your thing and you are ready to jump into the job market, What Color is Your Parachute? Is a perennial favorite and is updated annually.
Join a discussion group on LinkedIn to see what’s happening in your professional area or in your city.
You might consider a career coach. They are different than a job placement service and can help you further explore your future possibilities and plug you into networking opportunities you might not otherwise hear about. My career coach was instrumental in helping me decide when the time was right to start my own public relations practice.
One step at a time. If you have made it through all these steps, then it’s time to map out your next move. And those trusted advisors who helped you with the SWOT Analysis? They can help keep you on track as you chart your course to the next step in your career.
Related Posts: Don’t Be Surprised by This Year’s Annual Review.
Related Posts: Thinking about a Career Change? Think SWOT.
No doubt you’ve made some resolutions about your career after your annual review. If it’s time to evaluate your career path, why not start with a SWOT?
A SWOT Analysis is an acronym for a business analysis in which you evaluate Strengths –Weaknesses –Opportunities – Threats. The concept is often credited to Albert Humphrey, who piloted a project at Stanford University in the 1960s with Fortune 500 companies to manage change. However, according to a U.K.-based website called Marketing Teacher, the concept may have been introduced as early as the 1950s and have an entirely different author.
Traditionally, Strengths and Weaknesses refer to a company’s position or an internal analysis. Threats and Opportunities refer to market conditions or external factors. The analysis is often done in chart form, with one square for each category. It is considered a first step in a company planning its future.
This process is completely adaptable for personal professional growth. That is, with some trusted professional friends. Here’s how.
Start by thinking of your support network. Who do you turn to when you have a professional dilemma or need to seek counsel on an ethical matter? Who has watched and supported your career? Think above and below where you sit on the career ladder. Anyone who has mentored you would be good, but so might those you have mentored or have worked alongside.
Use only your most trusted professional friends and then ask them privately to share what they believe to be 2-3 items in each category. You will obviously want to preface the request with some language to talk about how you are evaluating your career and considering future changes. You might even supply a chart or use an online form builder like Wufoo to put together your responses.
Once you have gathered your responses, read each one and take some time to evaluate them. It may be helpful to put them into one chart and see if some items appear more than once. Do you see trends in your career?
When I was considering a career change some time ago, I used this strategy to consider my options. I asked four professionals for feedback. While many of their observations were not a complete surprise, it is very beneficial to see how others see YOU. There were some pleasant surprises. Two participants saw a future opportunity for me in a college classroom, a step I have since taken. Another pointed out that my current position was a threat to my future health, something I knew but was choosing to ignore at the time.
I didn’t use every piece of information I received right away, but over time, I have returned to these evaluations for guidance and direction. Whether you are considering a career change, or need strategies for growth in your current position, a SWOT Analysis offers an outside-in look.
Next week, how to put the SWOT Analysis results to work for you.
Related Posts: Don’t Be Surprised by This Year’s Annual Review.
Related Posts: How to Put Your SWOT Analysis to Work for You.
I was certain I would get a phone call last month to say that I had won the contest. Not just any contest, but the Williams-Sonoma, Real Simple Holiday Sweepstakes Extravaganza or something like that.
The prize was awesome. A $5000 gift card to shop at Williams-Sonoma. There were so many things I needed for my kitchen, I was a sure winner. (After nearly 20 years of marriage, the pots and pans are sad looking and not all our dishes match anymore. And the towels….don’t get me started!)
Enter daily to win, the online form explained. Excellent. So each morning for nearly 30 days, I would open the bookmarked form and record my entry. There was only one problem with this strategy — every time you entered, you had to fill out an entire entry form. All of it. Name, address, city, state, zip, e-mail, opt-in, submit.
Are you kidding me? That’s a lot of work, but okay, in this case, I persevered.
It was a fun diversion each morning, thinking of how I would spend the gift card. I even went so far as to go onto the Williams-Sonoma web site to look at their dishes and pots and pans.
Can you hear their digital marketing team cheering in the background?
So, congratulations to the Williams-Sonoma marketing team. I was completely sucked in.
Earlier last year, I was equally sucked in to a contest sponsored by Southwest Airlines called Let ‘Em Fly and Win where each day you had one roll of the dice and if you got one of the published Yahtzee dice combos you got a bajillion frequent flyer miles.
“This is fabulous,” I thought. With our son about to go off to college, this would certainly lighten the damage of all those college trips on our pocketbook. Like the Williams-Sonoma contest, you could enter daily to win. So I did. Every day for 30 days. There was one key difference between the two contests. After you entered all your information on the form on the first day, on subsequent days, you only had to enter your email address to roll the dice.
Not once did I get a combination worthy of frequent flier miles, but it certainly got me thinking about what makes a great online contest.
There’s only two things you need to have a great online contest. First, you need a great prize. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the value of a contest prize is determined by the participant. If your fans, friends or network perceive the prize to be of value, then it is. For others, it might be a gift card or an iPad. Frequent flyer miles and kitchen equipment were my motivators — I can confess without blushing that these prizes were sweet enough to motivate me.
The second component of a successful contest – keep it simple. Too many form fields or requirements will drive entries away. If the prize for the kitchen equipment was, say $500, I may not have gone through the trouble each day to fill out the form. Except I REALLY need new dishes.
The Southwest Airlines contest was far easier. And Fun. Like going to Vegas, without the smoke-filled casinos.
Great prize. Simple entry. That’s the key to a good contest.
What types of contest prizes motivate you?
Nonprofits depend on volunteers for all sorts of things. In some organizations, they may answer phones or process donations. In others, they may assist clients or staff. But volunteers also direct strategic campaigns to bring millions of dollars into organizations. And they often govern the very structure of the nonprofit, through board service and operations.
It should be a slam dunk for nonprofits to celebrate their volunteers, right? Not always. I have volunteered for organizations large and small. And I have done everything from simple tasks like showing up and manning a table to more complicated ones, like creating a strategic communication plan. Nowhere have I been treated more graciously than at Guide Dogs of Texas, a San Antonio-based organization which provides guide dogs to visually impaired Texans. I currently serve on their board and as chair of the Communications Committee.
So how does Guide Dogs of Texas create great volunteer relationships? With clear guidelines and expectations for volunteers, a great training program, and an amazing volunteer coordinator. Every organization can treat their volunteers like rock stars. Here are 5 things your organization can do to make your volunteers want to come back and serve another day.
1. Say thank you….a lot! Say it in person, on the phone, and every internal communications channel.
2. Brag about how great your volunteers are. Why not use them in media interviews? It might lead to more volunteers coming forward.
3. Give them a small thank you gift at the end of the year. Or better yet, host a volunteer appreciation event for all your volunteers each year.
4. If their service is sponsored by an employer, tell the employer how that volunteer helps your organization.
5. Feature a volunteer in outward-facing communication– your web site, newsletter, Facebook page or podcast.
The “attitude of gratitude” will pay off in happier volunteers and staff. Not to mention the opportunity to further the mission of your organization.
**It’s Guide Dog Awareness Month and Guide Dogs of Texas is in need of more volunteers. They will no doubt celebrate you every day! Pretty soon they’ll have a new group of puppies – yes, cute fluffy puppies – who will need to be raised and socialized by volunteers before they are accepted into training. If you think you would make a great volunteer, call Susana Dias, the volunteer coordinator, at 210-366-4081 or e-mail her at Susana@guidedogsoftexas.org.
It’s the end of another summer season and tourism destinations are about to ask themselves the hard questions as they start to plan next year.
What worked? What didn’t? What should we change for next year?
It’s hard for some destinations to rise above the well-funded voices of the “biggies” like New York City, Orlando and California.
Here’s one destination who is learning what Keith Bellows of National Geographic Traveler advocates – celebrate your destination, don’t sell it.
Watch this 8 minute long video and tell me that you don’t want to go visit Grand Rapids. I know I do.