Crystal DeStefano

Host of Strategic Minute; Strategic Communications, LLC

Crystal DeStefano is President and Director of Public Relations at Strategic Communications, LLC in Syracuse, N.Y. and host of The Strategic Minute podcast.

DeStefano brings a blend of traditional and social media expertise to the company. She advises clients on how to integrate public relations and social media tools into their communications efforts, with a focus on sharing proactive stories as well as responding to sensitive situations with employees, customers, local communities and the news media. Through her disciplined use of public relations, DeStefano understands how to maximize the power of the news media to get a message across.

DeStefano earned her Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Finance at the State University New York at Albany and is accredited in public relations by the Universal Accreditation Board. She has public relations experience from agencies in Albany and Syracuse.

Do you know what time it is?

If you just looked at a clock and were prepared to tell me “It's 8:30” or “It's noon” or some other time, you're probably just trying to be helpful. But that's not always the best communications strategy.

When communicating in business situations – especially when what you’re saying is representing the entire organization – we must practice the following 3-step process: first, really listen to the question that’s being asked; next, answer ONLY the question that is asked; and then, stop talking.

Lots of people in many organizations across the world try to find some connection between their organization and a holiday in order to get news coverage for their company, products or services.

The problem is, most of those people don’t dig deep to figure out a very specific, unique, interesting, valuable and - most of all - newsworthy angle for their “story.”

I'd rather miss the opportunity to say something because I took too long to speak up, than regret saying something before thinking about it. A lesson I've learned the hard way. Over and over again. Less frequently as I continue to practice this important discipline, but it still happens – to all of us.

As an executive of an organization, who do you believe your key stakeholders are? Who would be number one on that list?

In any organization, employees should be the number one audience.

The most successful organizations are those with engaged employees who are involved in frequent two-way dialogue with leadership throughout the organization and given the chance to provide their own feedback and ideas.

Good internal communications will not only make your organization stronger, but it will also come in handy if any changes or crises come along.

As a small, local business it’s important to build relationships within the local community. But as a small, local business there isn’t always time to build and nurture individual relationships.

Sending mass emails to the news media, government agencies and community leaders has become the norm – yet it’s the one of the least effective ways to actually get through to real people.

They know when they’re receiving a mass distribution and often ignore it; or maybe they don’t know, because it gets caught in their spam filter and they never even see it.

Today’s technology makes it easy to engage with customers when things are going great. But what about when things aren’t going so well?

How you engage with them during difficult situations can be crucial to your organization’s survival.

It’s important to do three things: respond quickly, address the concerns with empathy, and offer a solution.

(As a quick side note, be sure to also check out our podcast on Managing Expectations before you respond too quickly…)

I attend a lot of events for our clients. Sure, I attend when necessary to perform specific tasks related to my work on their behalf, such as for press events and media coverage. But I also try to attend our client’s annual celebrations, and events where they are recognized.

Clients have always verbalized their appreciation when I attend these events. But recently, one person asked me: “Why did you come to this? I know how busy you are.”

As public relations professionals, a lot of what we do involves managing an organization’s reputation.

For the most part, the more media attention your organization receives, the more your stakeholders will recognize you.

But visibility isn’t enough. It’s the content of news stories that determines whether your audiences will have a favorable impression of you.

So how do you know whether the content was good or bad? And what do you DO with that information?

Communicating with employees and building a culture with the right balance of employee satisfaction and strong work ethic isn’t easy. And there’s no single formula or trick for this. But there is one strategy that continues to be preached and implemented successfully: include your employees in conversations about your business.

This doesn’t mean telling your employees what’s happening with your business once decisions have been made. This only works if you engage them before, during and after decisions and news about your organization (and then repeat that cycle).

Organizations spend a lot of money each year to develop their image, brand reputation and messaging for their key audiences.

But there comes a point when leadership wonders if what they are communicating is actually being received as intended by their audiences.

Achieving success by re-enforcing your brand begins with research.

Too often, organizations are so focused on delivering their messages to the local news, government officials, on social media, in newsletters, and even holding special events – but they step right over their employees in order to get to all of these other channels. Your employees notice this, and they’re likely bitter about it. That is setting yourself up for failure.
 

There are a lot of good things that lots of organizations do or accomplish every day. Some of them are nice internal efforts or achievements, some involve new initiatives for the organization, and some stuff has a real impact on the community that the organization serves.

In times of trouble, or times of transition, we expect the president or CEO to be the delivering the messages. Sure – if the news is big enough. But the CEO doesn’t always  have to be or organization’s spokesperson. In fact, there are several scenarios in which that can hurt your organization.

For the most part, the more media attention your organization receives, the more your stakeholders will recognize you. But visibility isn’t enough. It’s the content of news stories and online posts that determine whether your audiences will have a favorable impression of you.

Crystal describes building relationships with people in the news media for your business or organization.

Crystal shares her thoughts on communication and lack thereof in business, and how it can help you to rise above a tough situations with your audience.

Crystal talks about the loyalty we have to businesses and where others can begin on that same path.