Monday, August 22, 2011

Sing Out Loud - Finding Your Voice

Recently I had a communications professional tell me that she had nothing to say that anyone wanted to hear.  I was shocked hearing that from a young hip-looking comms pro.  I chalked it up to low self-esteem.  But maybe I'm wrong.

I began thinking about the businesses who have told me the same thing.  Award-winning ground-breaking innovating businesses who are successful say the same thing as this young woman.  They have products and services that people want, so someone obviously is interested in what they have to say.

Its the job of a public relations professional to help businesses find their voice.  I'm a strong believer that that everyone has something interesting and important to say, but that you might just need a little help saying it. Here's a few tips that might help you find your voice:

  • Look in the Mirror.  What makes you stand out? If you don't know ask a friend. You don't need a long list of differentiators, just a couple of things will do.  It doesn't have to be hot and sexy to hang your hat on it either.  What may seem mundane to you is interesting to others.
  • Make it Authentic - I know you are tired of hearing this word but there are times when it just works.  You need to make sure your messages are true to who you are.  That makes it easier to come up with ideas and you don't run the risk of losing someone's trust if they find out that you really weren't Miss America 2007.
  • Claim It - Don't be afraid to plant the flag and claim your territory.  I've worked with companies that never claim their position and regret it later.  Staking a claim tells your potential customer what to expect. Companies who wait to stake a claim often find out that ideal potential customers can't find them or that a competitor has claimed their ground.
  • Define a Purpose - Your communication needs a purpose whether its sales collateral, a website, social media or even a simple blog.  The purpose of my blog is to help potential clients as well we those who are considering public relations know how I think and what they can expect from working with me.  
  • Do It - This is the most difficult step. So many people are afraid to try to communicate. So much has changed in the past 10 years. Communication has turned into two-way street where you communicate directly with customers and influencers. Your customers expect to hear from you. Take an hour and write a blog post, a few minutes to answer questions on LinkedIn,  a few seconds to compose a Tweet. 
  • And Always Be Yourself - The most important part of communication. Don't get bogged down with the details and making every stroke and phrase perfect.  Its okay to let people know you and your company.  If you are being authentic, then what you write will be well received. 
Okay, now you've decided to communicate and need to know how.  I'll follow this blog up with Using Your Voice next week.  In the meantime, I'll catch you on Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger,, Facebook......and maybe in person if we are lucky.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I thought it was punctuation..but it was dirt on the screen.

Life is best lived with a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself. 

My glasses & computer
Today I was writing and noticed a period or comma or some sort of unidentifiable punctuation in my document.  I hit backspace and it was still there.  I highlighted the area and hit delete.  It was still there. 

About the time I began cursing my computer, I committed a major sin and actually touched the screen. I gently touched the screen.
Magically the punctuation was gone.  I think it was dirt on the screen....maybe some black-eyed pea hummus even.

If I hadn't been wearing my "readers" or I would have totally missed this speck of dirt punctuation.

The last few years I've had some problems with incredible shrinking font sizes.  They get so small that I can't see them at all. Then my eye doctor told me it wasn't the rest of the world who had decided to write really small but that I needed reading glasses. This is on top of my contacts that I wear 24/7.

I must be blind or well, just maybe, middle-aged.  Welcome to Mid Life !

This blog is dedicated to my clients and colleagues who have been catching my mistakes lately.....

I'm afraid that that missing semi-colon was a bit of parsley on my screen,
And there was a fly where that bullet should have been.

I'm doing my best, but my eyes need a rest.

So the next time you paruse a document I've sent to youse.

Please squint a little and tilt your head,
And it just might help if you read it while breaking bread. (with wine of course)

~ Cheers

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Silver Bullet

The Lone Ranger was one of those classic television programs that my brother and I loved to watch with our parents while they reminisced about their childhood. I loved the thought of being smart and strong enough to live alone on the range while making it safe for settlers.

We all have days where we feel like the Lone Ranger at work.  Colleagues aren't pulling their weight. Customers are complaining. The computer keeps crashing.  Its all on you to solve the issue of the day.  Yes, we've all been there.

You are riding high on your horse and can see the problem at hand. As you wind through the canyon, you reach for the "Silver Bullet" ....the one tool that has always worked.  It the the ultimate solution that always reaches its target.  You load your weapon. (Sorry I don't like guns either but it works here folks.) But the target has moved. The target will not stop moving. You only have that one silver bullet, that one opportunity to change the chance to stop those bandits who are going to hop the train and rob it.   If only the Lone Ranger had other options than the Silver Bullet.  One bullet, one chance is not enough. Oh the drama of it all.

As I take a look at some marketing programs I realize that many companies that are still banking on that Silver Bullet to work. In the past they utilized one or two methods of communication to reach their audience.  They now realize that they've lost market share and turn to me to find out why and to regain their footing.

The simple answer is that they were too busy polishing their bullets to anticipate change.  While they were writing their newsletter and placing ads in trade publications, the competition was reaching customers in a more innovative and organic manner.  They are using social media, advertising, direct mail, media relations, face-to-face marketing, and much more.

Its understandable that you might not be convinced that tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook (and others) are the "Silver Bullet" for your marketing program. Folks, there is no silver bullet. Your customers are out there communicating in a variety of methods just like you.  If you want to reach them you must incorporate a variety of communication tools into your communications plan.

The Lone Ranger totally missed the train, the silver bullet didn't work, Silver the horse is going to be put out to pasture. Please don't be the Lone Ranger.  We'd like the train to reach its destination.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Are You Thankful For?


Two years ago I began a project.  It was just after the Presidential election and there was a feeling of hope encompassing the country.  I spent one day going around Atlanta asking random strangers what they were thankful for.  I finally compiled those interviews.  From professionals to the homeless...we all have something to be thankful for.  I feel that right now we need to remember more than ever.

Please pause this week to remember what you are thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

~ Beth

Monday, November 08, 2010

Just Do It with some Entrepreneurial Spirit

That now famous line from the Nike ads, Just Do It, applies to life and business.

People always ask me how I do all that I do.  Granted being a single mom with a small business isn't an easy task but for me  it's simple - I just do it. I get up in the morning work on my business, find another client, send out a press release, update social media, take care of my child and myself....I go go go.   Giving up isn't an option.  But for my friends who live a more traditional life - it's like running the New York Marathon. They could do it but the fear of dying in running shorts keeps them on the sidewalk.

Granddaddy Hawks
drove around the SE before
the interstate system and
sold padlocks
This contrast makes me think about what so many call the "Entrepreneurial Spirit."  Most everyone in my family for generations have had their own business - manufacturing, grocery stores, boat captains, farming.  Those who didn't have their own business were in positions where they controlled their destiny.  We've had quite a few sales persons on my family tree.  Imagine how many pad locks my grandfather had to sell to support his family after the Great Depression.  Now that's an entrepreneurial spirit. 

I think this same drive or spirit is what has help chose my career path.  In PR you can't give up when an editor tells you that your story is just plain stupid. You have to go go go go until you find the one who is interested in the story. I learned this with my first media pitch where the assignment editor told me that a big murder case that had just been solved and that was more important than vacationing in Georgia.  Agreed.

Most of my clients have the entrepreneurial spirit and their own business. I'm often play the role of therapist as they talk about their spouse's concerns over spending their retirement money on a big dream.  It's that dream that keeps the spirit alive and gets people like us out of bed and continuously moving forward.

Having an entrepreneurial spirit doesn't always mean that you have your own business.  For some it means that you do something out of the norm like my grandmother Lottie who left home in 1921 at 16 years old to move into Memphis and learn to be a secretary - a career that served her well her entire life. The entrepreneurial spirit can manifest itself as a person who never gives up on life or has a positive outlook. 

It's my entrepreneurial spirit to fulfill my dream that helps me look into the face of defeat and see opportunity.  It's what makes me know that I can accomplish the nearly impossible.  It's why I commonly hear words from those who don't know me like "I've never seen" or "I can't believe" or "You are so dedicated".  My clients here these same phrases.  We let them roll off our backs because we have a dream to accomplish.

Where did I and so many others get this spirit?  I don't know.  But I can tell you that it is part of our DNA.  It's in us forever. 

What can people who weren't born with the entrepreneurial spirit do to get it?  Maybe they should wake up an hour early, put on some running shorts and Just Do It.  It really isn't that hard.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Defining Moment

We all have moments which define our lives. That split second where you just acted from your gut and let your true self take over.

There was a moment in my life that has defined who I am both personally and professionally.  I don't think of that moment very often but there was a video posted this morning that brought it all back. Some thugs at a political rally were beating up on a woman and it immediately took me back to the school playground in 1973.

I was a second grade little girl with pigtails playing with my friends at Ashford Park Elementary.  I didn't have many friends and I truly cherished those that I did have. I was always running behind my friend Marti. She was beautiful, smart and popular.  This particular day, she tore off for the monkey bars and started going from rung to rung, swinging and laughing.  I never played on the monkey bars because they hurt my arms and I could never be as proficient as Marti. I watched in awe.

Back in those days the school was small and all the kids in the school were on the playground.  While I was watching Marti a big sixth grade boy came up and pulled her off the monkey bars.  He said that he was going to play there with his friends.  Marti started crying. She was scared, small, defenseless....a little girl in the 70s.

Without thinking I confronted the boy - toe to toe.  I got punched in the face. My nose bled. I kept yelling at him until the teacher took me to the school nurse. 

Stop laughing please. This is an important moment I'm sharing.

From that day forward I've decided to stand up to the person with more power.  I've used my voice for people, organizations and causes that couldn't be heard or who others didn't want to hear from. I don't always take the most popular stance at the time. 

I'll never be a doctor that saves lives or a scientist who discovers a cure.  I'm not a rich philanthropist or environmentalist living in the rain forest.  I'll never be a talented artist who presents a new view of the world or an attorney welding the sword of the law. 

I'm a woman who uses her courage to stand up to the bully on the playground and call it like it is.

Yes, I've continued to get punched in the face over the years. But since you all are wearing your seat belts while you drive sober without the Confederate flag waving above and you are educated enough to read this blog.....I'll take it in the nose again. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Power of Video

Video - a powerful communication medium.  There's no argument about it.  And with all the social media tools at our finger tips, video is everywhere. 

Recently CoreComm PR has received requests from clients for short promotional videos. With all the technological advancements of the past few years, video production has become more budget friendly than ever before.

We recently completed a series of videos for The Core, A Pilates Studio in Roswell, GA.  Here's a sample of the type of thing we are doing these days. 

More on video soon.