the strategic minute

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).

Everyone Needs a Boss

Oct 19, 2015

Everyone needs a boss.

At least that is what my dad used to tell me.

For most of us, the boss is the person we report to at our jobs – the manager, director, vice president, or CEO. Someone who provides guidance, direction, and yes – occasionally reminds us of some key priorities, whether we like it or not. But for the person that starts their own business, who serves that role?

It's 4:15 am and I am having trouble sleeping. Nearly every morning I am scheduled to fly I wake up early, full of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement. It's been that way ever since I began this flight journey a few years ago. I hope the feeling never goes away.

As an older first-time pilot, I sometimes wonder if I'm alone with this ceaseless excitement; however the majority of my pilot and instructor friends tell me that it's nothing more than a sign of the addiction that comes from the passion to be in the sky. And I've got it bad.

Over the last several years, I have facilitated hundreds of groups for multiple reasons – CEOs, board members, consumers, members of the U.S. military, marketing and communications leaders, students, faculty members, and others. The groups have considered how to approach a strategic opportunity, key market decisions, or how to work their way through a difficult and sensitive situation. Sometimes the role of facilitator has been assigned to me - other times it was simply something that seemed to occur.

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.
 

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.