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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Marketing: What's the Law Got To Do With It?

Marketing. We see it around us everyday. Professionals charge for it. Many wonder why pay a professional when it looks easy on Yahoo, blog on Google, Facebook page, brochures at Kinko's.  Some business owners think they can handle marketing themselves until one innocent mistake lands the company in a legal mess.

What's law got to do with it? Everything. And a marketing professional knows how to protect businesses from needless litigation.

Every company no matter how small or large must follow simple rules when marketing itself. One false step could mean the end not only to the marketing campaign but the business.

Photos & Videos - Every company needs to obtain permission from every person whose image appears on their website, Facebook page, brochures, presentations, etc. The same goes for logos or identifying marks of other companies or their products.  This permission needs to be in writing and give the company all rights to use the image. Once an image appears online, assume its out there forever even if you try to remove it.  If you or your employee posted it, your company is responsible for the image being online.

Testimonials - Recommendations of customers are powerful.  Before posting a sentence of praise from that thank you letter on your website, the author of the letter must be notified and approve of this usage.  While they may be thankful for the wonderful job you did for them, they may not want others to know that they used your services or be associated with your company going forward.  Its their name and they have control over how its used.  And don't think about posting that testimonial without identifying who said it. That hot water can really burn you in the public eye.

Claims - We want to let everyone know how wonderful our company, product or service is and how it will change their lives. We are utimately selling a product afteralll. In marketing we talk about the attributes and benefits of a product but should not make a claim.  A new drink may have less in calories but it won't make you thinner.  Think about the old fashioned "snake oil" salesmen.  They claimed that their products would cure every ailment under the sun but rarely did.  Many who dip their toe into marketing make the mistake of claiming that their product will perform a miracle and when it doesn't....they hear from customers and the attorneys.

Don't end up in a legal mess from an innocent marketing mistake.  Consult a marketing professional and ask for guidance before its too late. While we may not have gone to law school, we've worked with plenty of those suits and know how to protect you and your company.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Asking for Advice. Making the Decision. Moving Forward.

Advice. Information. Direction.  We all need need to ask others for advice from time to time.  The art lies in whose advice to you take and when.

I've always said that the key to being a success in business is building a support team of experts, knowing when to listen to them and being able to make the tough decisions.  I learned this at an early age overhearing conversations between my uncle who owned and operated three grocery stores and his trusted accountant - Sybil.  She was a hero.  (I can hear pulling down the lever on the adding machine now.)

While my uncle made the tough decisions and lead the team, it was Sybil's advice and updates on financial matters that enabled him to know when to buy the new fangled scanning cash registers or embark on that crazy marketing scheme my cousin was pitching.  Sybil didn't know a thing about merchandising, store design or management and didn't claim to either. She knew about the cash flow and how fund the needs of the stores that were laid out by my uncle. They didn't always agree

We all are accustomed to turning to lawyers, accountants, insurance brokers, etc. for professional services.  We make the decision to ask for their advice and make another decision on how to proceed. The same theory applies to marketing, human resources, sales, bookkeeping, and even ordering office supplies.  There are people who are experts in those areas but it all boils down to the decision-maker, CEO, President or entrepreneur to make the decision...the decision to ask for their advice and the final decision on what the company will do.

Certified Professional Coach & CEO of Life Touch Coaching, Cindy Gardner, suggests a bit of research combined with a measured amount of input from trusted advisors and colleagues.

“Make both an informed and empowered decision. Step up as a leader and discard the notion that others are more qualified to make your decisions for you. In fact, one of the key factors that separates those who succeed from those who don’t is empowerment – having the confidence to make the decisions that must be made.” Gardner also reminds us that trying to keep-up with the flood of information available today is like trying to catch water from a fire hose. “You don’t have to know it all (nor could you possibly); you really do know enough to make the decisions that need to be made.”

Who is helping you make your decisions? Are you seeking advice from qualified experts in the areas you need help with or are you asking a doctor for plumbing advice. A gastroenterologist works on a different set of plumbing if you know what I mean. It's your decision of whom to turn to and what to do.

For more information on Cindy and Life Touch visit

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Changing Face of Marketing know it when you see it - or maybe not.  Marketing is changing and evidence of this evolution is everywhere you look. 

Yesterday I noticed live Tweeting from the local American Marketing Association meeting. (I was shocked because usually I'm one of the few people tweeting from traditional marketing events.) The tweeter posted "Marketing has shifted from persuasion to authenticity." I retweeted "That's called PR folks."  For us marketing pros who have concentrated in the public relations arena we haven't shifted - its that the rest of the marketing team is finally getting on board the PR train.

For those lay persons who aren't familiar with the different functions, tools and theories in marketing I'll explain the differences in easy to understand terms.

Persuasion marketing - Hey customers you need what I've got.
Authenticity marketing - Hey customers we are what you need.

You can think of these differences in marketing like one of America's most contrasting tourist destinations - Las Vegas. Consider the neon Las Vegas Strip with man made bright lights and physical and mental excess.  Then consider Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area outside Las Vegas.  They both draw tourists to the area, just different kinds. Take your pick...which Las Vegas do you want.

Evidence of this "shift" can be found right here on the internet.  Yes folks that Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, blog, and even that funny viral video is all a function of public relations.  The rest of the marketing team is trying to steal our "tools" but the honest truth is that they don't know how to use them. They recognize that they are powerful but they have to turn to PR to learn authenticity.

Smoke and mirrors don't work with social media. Angry customers fight back and call you out.  What are you going to do sue them? You want to calm them down, win them over, use their remarks for the greater good and showcase the best about your company. In short - you want PR.

Companies who were raking in the bucks for years have now been called out by Congress and the public for their unethical behaviors.  These companies have had to turn to their PR team to refocus their image away from the jet-set lifestyles that were called out by the press. Their marketing strategy has had to follow PR.

After years of running up credit card bills with a consumer lifestyle that I call a "neon" lifestyle, America is ready to dim the lights on the strip and see companies as they really are.  They want to know who they are doing business with and why. They want to look you in the eye and know they can trust you. In short, they are ready to climb the Red Rocks after too much of the lifestyle of the Strip.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Are Your Marketing Messages Like Stale Bread?

Stale still looks great on the table but the minute you touch it you know you don't want to eat it. The same thing applies to stale messages.  They look good when leaving the C-Suite or marketing office but they lack the relevance to really grab attention. The messages are hard, tasteless, crumbly and make a huge mess.

Recently its been brought to my attention that over what I'm calling the "economic break" (like Spring Break but not as much fun) that many organizations had shifted into neutral and have suddenly found themselves with a boring or stale message.  Unfortunately they discover this after numerous failed communication attempts with low response from their target market.

I'm asking all of my clients, friends and even family to step back from their current marketing messaging and reevaluate what they are saying and how they are communicating with their customers. People, the game has changed, the world has changed...for the good I believe. Time for you to change with it.

Since I work primarily with entrepreneurs, they are eager to make the sale and don't want to spend a year revamping the entire marketing program.  Recently a few clients have listened to me and have taken steps to find out how the world has changed for their organization.

A few steps you might consider:

Customer Survey - Go ahead and ask your customers what they think, what they want, what has changed. They will appreciate you asking them. It will also remind them that you are around and ready to work with them.

I helped a client write the questions and she had her team administer the survey.  We've tweaked her messages (and product offerings) accordingly.

Purge - Cleaning the house is never fun but it is always rewarding in the long run.  Gather your team together including marketing, PR, sales, customer support, etc. and have them review your current message bank.  Openly discuss what your clients have been reacting to the past six months and what messages have been just dying and wasting everyone's time.  Get everyone on the same track communicating the same messages.

Recently a client did this and easily revamped their sales collateral to become more relevant for their customers. The phones started ringing again.

Review the Tool Box - The communication tool box has gained a few new tools over the past couple of years. You've received friend requests on Facebook, you're "Linked" to your associates and you might feel like saying "Well, Tweet This" to your communications team.

It goes back to the same sales theory as has always existed....get in front of your customer, pitch your wares and ask for the sale. Don't look at social media or direct email marketing as something that totally replaces your previous marketing tool box. Consider the addition of electronic communications to your marketing and sales mix where it makes sense.  Companies no longer can afford to pay a sales person to knock on every door but they need to communicate to their customers.  Tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also a wonderful way to listen to your customers and gain intelligence on the competition.

A client recently wanted to test a new sales idea. I developed an email blast to their target audience which was well received.  Now the company is putting more energy behind sales to a new group of clients that they hadn't considered previously.

For another client I learned that a hot prospect would be at a fundraising event that we were attending.  The client was able to prepare to give a soft pitch at the event and further develop an important relationship.

Folks the time has come to go back into the kitchen, bake some fresh bread and maybe add some raisins to those scones.  (I prefer golden raisins.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big Blue Marble Day - Marketing Ploy or Celebration?

Today is Earth Day.  I'm glad there is a day designated to the Earth, trees, wind, rain, water, rivers, mountains, snow, sun, flowers, grass..all the things I love.

I often wonder why our holidays are primarily about our country and religion.  Yes there are things like Mother's Day and Father's Day.  Groundhog Day is great except for that whole pulling the groundhog out of the ground and scaring him to death thing.

I love the Earth and I'm glad there's a Day...but how do you celebrate it? Is it just a giant marketing gimmick or is it a day that makes people really think about Mother Earth?

People often ask if I'm green. (I reply that I'm a dark beige with some spots of taupe and chocolate brown spattered around.)     Yes, I guess compared to some I'm green.  I was brought up that way and remember the day when in a church vacation bible school class the correlation between religion and the environment was introduced to my tiny 5-year-old mind.  I've hung on tight to that ever since.  It makes me whole.

Then why do I feel so conflicted today?  I'm at my desk trying to choose between four different lunchtime "celebrations" and don't feel that any of them are genuine. They are all peddling something...a company, product, etc.  Being in marketing, I should be comfortable with that but I'm not.

The public relations professional side of my brain tells me that even if these folks are peddling their wares that it is a good thing to introduce the concept of caring for the earth to people. Many public awareness campaigns I've worked on started this way.  Someone has to pay for all these good messages to make sure they get out to those who need it.

I just want to get out on the river and paddle. If I do that I'll just see the plastic bottles floating about and get sad.  (BTW a client's product that collects those bottles made it to the CBS Early Show today)  .

For Earth Day I'm writing this blog. I'm asking you to stop and think about Earth Day and what it means to you - if anything.  All the bright shiny objects that are being dangled in front of you today. Are they worth the trade off to get just one more person recycling, composting or driving less?

In the long run the concerts, Facebook posts, lunches, and dog and pony shows are worth it to me.  Some people weren't fortunate enough to be in that VBS class at Brookhaven Christian Church in 1971 and they didn't have a garden in the back yard.  We've got to dangle something in front of them just to get their attention.

What's your opinion?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Reenergizing Biz by Taking Care of ME

Okay I'll admit it...I lost my groove a few weeks ago. No blogging. Less Tweets. My right arm feels like it has carpal tunnel from just having my hand on the mouse instead of the keyboard.

Like many small business owners do from time to time I had fallen into a daze and stopped moving forward.  Granted it was somewhat warranted with a parent having a heart attack, my kid struggling in a few classes, being sick a few weeks,  the horrible extended winter in Atlanta and the fact that some of my clients were struggling too.  I'm sure you can relate.

No matter what the situation a business owner just can't ignore their business or it will fall apart. I knew this and was desperate to get back in the groove. So I tried the usual stuff for me -

I tried writing.
I tried blasting loud music.
I tried networking.
I tried making lists.
I tried reading motivational and inspirational literature.
....and more.

Nothing worked. I finally gave up and gave in.

I left the office early and went for a long long walk by the Chattahoochee River. When I pulled in the parking lot there were ducks swimming in a puddle instead of the river. The water was moving fast from the recent rains. People were happily chatting. I was happy and energized.  I wanted to work.

It occured to me that I simply had forgotten to take care of myself. How could I take care of my business and clients without taking care of myself.  Over the last few weeks I've left the office early on slow days so I could ride my bike on the Greenway. I've ordered great organic foods and tried new receipes. I've also done the most reenergizing thing for me -- started my vegetable garden.

The results of those dinners, rides and digging are new clients, new business leads, open dialogue with clients and a much more clear vision of what I want for my business. 

Today I'd like to encourage YOU to take a walk outside instead of staring at that computer screen. It might just have a huge result on your bottom line.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Create Reality: Business Lessons from a Homeless Man

A few days ago I was downtown Atlanta with a client walking back to his office after lunch. We had stopped on the corner waiting on the light to change when a man approached us and entered our conversation. He had a blank piece of paper and pen in hand. As he talked with us he drew this beautiful picture of a barn. He told us that he was an artist and that he was going to produce a television program and become famous. (Hey crazier things than that have happened on the streets of the ATL. You’ve heard about Tyler Perry.) He asked for a blessing and I gave him what I had - $5.

As I walked to my car I thought about how he might be crazy or he just might be brilliant. It’s a fine line, one that many an entrepreneur walks. He’s stuck in my mind. He was articulate, well groomed and obviously talented. This man was taking what control of life he could, making the best of it and creating his own reality.

As someone who primarily works with mid-sized business owners and entrepreneurs, I’ve found the one thing they all have in common is that they create their own reality and take control of destiny. Successful business owners don’t sit around waiting for someone to find them and their brilliant idea – they hustle much like the man on the street corner.

What traits do the successful entrepreneur, growing business and this guy on the corner share?

Appearance - The guy on the corner looked and acted like someone I’d have over for dinner. He presented himself well. The same goes for a business. To attract customers you have to be attractive to them. Communication messages and tactics should be strategically crafted with the customer in mind and presented to them on a level that will elicit the desired response …. The blessing.

Enterprising Spirit - He didn’t wait for the City of Atlanta to empty the donation for the homeless meters, the guy on the street approached us. He wasn’t threatening or overly aggressive but he demonstrated gumption as my mother would say. The same applies to business. You have to physically reach out to your customer and ask for the sale.

The Goods – Simply put you have to have a product or service that the customer will value. At times you have to create value around your product or service. (That’s marketing) The picture of the barn, conversation, statement of goals and alike all helped to create a product with a perceived value. I treasure that picture now because of the story.

Expertise – People want to do business with people with promise – experts. Our new friend established himself as someone special, an artist, someone with goals through his story and demonstrating his talent in front of us. He was proud and highlighted his best attributes making him more attractive to us. He made himself someone we wanted to know. Businesses need to use the similar communication tools and opportunities to highlight their best attributes and expertise. A client recently spoke about his expertise at a conference and it was mentioned in social media, the presentation was recorded, the slides are going online, and it will be talked out in the customer newsletter. We are establishing him as an expert to his customers who weren't even at the conference.

There’s a lot that can be learned from the guy on the corner if you are willing to follow a homeless man.

The artist's name is Tim Harris and he is apparently touching lives of people here in Atlanta. Here’s another blog posting that mentions his work Keep an eye out for him….I have a feeling you’ll be able to learn more.

And for those who like to Google – Tim Harris is also the name of an advocate for the homeless.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Raising a "green" flag - B2B Greenwashing

B2B Greenwashing....I feel that this subject is of highest urgency in the business community today. This week alone two cases of blatant greenwashing in the B2B community have caught my attention. Both cases involved marketing professionals jumping on the bandwagon and marketing themselves as green/environmentally concerned agencies to businesses and individuals who are naive and unsophisticated in the marketing arena.

In today's economic environment there are some people who will do anything to make a buck. You have to prepare yourself and your business to be able to evaluate who is sincere and who is trying to pull a fast one.

These things should raise a "Green" flag:

- Too much talk. The business talks more about being green, eco, environmental than they talk about their results. Afterall, you want to buy their services to achieve results. Being green doesn't mean that you'll produce. You can't afford to waste money & time these days. When people ask if I have a "green" agency, I tell them I have an agency - which just happens to have extensive experience in the environmental arena.

- Do they walk the walk? This doesn't mean that they have to be wearing Birkenstocks at the meeting. Go to their offices and take a look around. Ask questions. Has the business looked at their own carbon footprint and taken steps to become more environmentally responsible? How long have they been environmentally aware or concerned? Find out about the hobbies and interests of the executives to find out if they are sincere.

- Past, Present & Future...If they are telling you that they can make your company more green or have worked with green companies they should have examples and references readily available. If they don't have a green examples...pass on their services. If they do have examples, don't be afraid to call a client listed on their website or one of their connections from LinkedIN. I have more respect for business owners who do the footwork and check on my services. Those are the people I want to work with.

- Lack of Innovation - They use standard practices as the primary method of demonstrating environmental practices. These are the people who tell you that a website makes your company green. Well, maybe 15 years ago. We now use electronic communication because it is how the world communicates and its less expensive - not an example of being green. A truly green focused company should be bringing new and innovative practices and products to your business. If they aren't doing that, then they are just like everyone else.

- Birds of a Feather Flock Together. Its true you know. Are they members of green or environmental organizations? Do they attend seminars & meetings? Do they have like minded people around them? You can easily find out this information without their knowledge through social media sites like LinkedIN or Facebook.

If you have a tip to spot greenwashing in the B2B community please share with a comment. Afterall, we are all in this thing together.

** My friend Jim Newbury with Tin Roof advertising contributed to this post. Check him out at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's in a Name?

Do we need these names, labels, brands? At lunch today an associate said that he was concerned that the trend of "unbranding" or "private labels" on the grocery store shelves might spill over into other areas of our lives and become a trend. I have to say that a "private label" on the grocery shelf is still a label and extension of a brand created by the store.
I contemplated the possibility of no brands and impact on our daily lives. My thoughts went something like:

"I need a hotel for my next business trip to Wichita. Who do I know who has a relative there who can recommend a clean & safe hotel?"

"Just give me the black tires."

"I remember some strollers were recalled for folding with the kids in them. I hope Johnny isn't sitting in one of those."

"I like beer. It is all is the same."

Okay I might have taken the last one a little far but we can all agree that brands help us be informed and make purchasing decisions. Branding sells stuff.

In America the brand wars between things like soft drinks, computers and cars has gone a little past helping consumers make an informed decision. These brands can define a person, their ideas and their socio-economic circle. We see those people with the little apple stickers on the back of their cars. All the luxury cars are parked by the valet right next to the entrance of the restaurant. Let's not even go towards the Coke/Pepsi debate. I live in Atlanta.

If branding is such an important part of our daily lives then why are there still businesses and organizations who don't take a careful strategic approach to creating their own brand? After all...if the bag just said "chips" on the store shelf you wouldn't know if it was potato chips or wood chips.

Small and mid-sized businesses need careful branding even more than their larger counterparts. Customers (b2b & b2c) rely upon clear concise communication to learn about what you can do for them and why they should invest in your company's products or services. You must communicate and do it well...if not a competitor will and take the sale. There is no better way to deter a potential customer from spending their money with you than by not communicating your brand - virtually hiding and taking your products off the shelf.

I shared this hiding theory with a client recently who told me that they hadn't been hiding from customers...that customers knew where to find them. I had spent months helping to define their brand - creating the logo, website, talking points and position in the marketplace. I'd written press releases and articles on their products. I created videos and took pictures. I wrote strategy. They have the tools and now its time to use them - not wait for them to call you.

This same client told me five minutes later that he had received calls from potential customers immediately following the email blast that I created for them. I count that as a success in my book. They used the tools, communicated their brand, customers understood and wanted their products and responded.

Now its up to them to close the sale.

Are you ready to close a sale?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Do What You Love...And Keep Loving It

Over the past week there has been a constant theme running through my life and work..."Do What You Love."

The problem is that when a person makes the leap to make what they love their life's work that they often are saddled with additional duties that they loathe in order to make doing what they love happen. Stress and stagnation in a business often follows because people have the tendency to avoid certain activities that simply are a necessary part of business. Then the entire house of cards falls because they didn't take care of every aspect of the business.  The business wasn't nutured properly. Can you follow that? Does that sound familiar?

Some people loathe a task so much that they even avoid hiring someone to do it for them. They just ignore it and hopes that it really isn't necessary. This week I've talked with people who are avoiding the following knowing that it will be detrimental to their businesses:

accounting, billing, taxes
sales calls, sales emails, sales letters
collateral materials, website redesign, promotional materials
media relations, social media, blogging, any sort of public mass outreach
networking, connecting with others live and in person
strategic planning, non-strategic planning, keeping a calendar, making any goals at all
....and more.

I understand that in this still recovering economy that people don't have the cash flow, they can't do everything, they have to cut back. Unfortunately some businesses are simply cutting OUT what they should have simply cut back.

These same people are now freaking out because they have a year's worth of accounting, marketing, networking or planning that has been missed and their bottom line is suffering because of it. They are ready to throw their dream of doing what they love away and think it isn't possible.

What I've learned is that you can do what you LOVE but you have to ask for help from people you trust to keep the other areas going. Please don't wait until you have an entire year of receipts, no new business contacts, clients have forgotten about you, or you no longer love what was once your passion.

Just like in a relationship with a human, the relationship with your business needs to be nurtured in order to grow.  You don't have to anything trips to Paris on a private jet. Just make sure you pay attention to the needs of your business so you can stay in love into the golden years.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It Just Takes Time & A Little Effort

Last night after work I stopped by my neighborhood pub for dinner and a drink.  A few minutes after I sat at the bar a former client sat down beside me. 

This gentleman is an accomplished attorney, very intelligent and ambitious.  He also has dedicated his life's work to helping the little guy. (I love those kind of clients). About three years ago he hired me to gain publicity for his clients who had all fallen victim to prescription drug error. 

The budget was small but I was able to secure a couple of interviews for him - one with a local news station and the other with the major daily newspaper.  They both were prime placements and very timely.  His money and time was well spent.

The newspaper placement resulted as a phone call I placed to a reporter immediately after the client walked out of court.   He had worked on a big case with some attorneys from a tony firm who were too busy going on vacation to talk with a reporter.  My client was ambitious, did a terrific interview from his cell phone and secured quotes in the newspaper.

Of course the client wanted more placements but wasn't in a position to pay me to be more aggressive. He wanted to be on 60 Minutes and Dateline as soon as possible. He is passionate about his cause.  I assured him that his story was newsworthy and it would just take time. Still he passed on my services because of financial reasons.  It happens. I understand these things.

It just takes time and money I guess.

Sitting at the bar sipping a beer the former client proceeded to tell me that how from those two placements he is still receiving media calls from reporters looking for experts and cases to profile.  He told me that even though he hadn't been quoted in many articles, that he had offered important information that helped form a story and hopefully saved peoples lives.  (Gosh I love clients who really believe in what they are doing.)

He told me about a recent "situation" with FOX where he had been interviewed, didn't appear in the segment but somehow his exact words came out of the anchor's mouth.  Thankfully he wasn't bitter. He also told me that he was currently working with the producers of a major national nightly newscast on a story.  He was happy and proud - as he should be.

It has taken three years but he's getting where he wanted to be.  I think I could have gotten him there faster by being proactive - but reality faces us all. I'm proud to be part of the story that will potentially save people's lives and maybe change the way an industry operates. 

So many times clients want to rise to fame and notoriety quickly. They become frustrated because it doesn't happen overnight.  I tell them it takes time, a good story and some cash helps.  It does happen for my clients and I'm part of it.

Its not a microwave dinner - its PR folks. Give me some time and I'll produce results.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dogs, Balls & Social Media

While driving to work this morning a client called to share a recent story from the office. Of course there's lesson to be learned and so it is going to be titled "Dogs, Balls & Social Media."

My client was looking to forge a business partnership with a gentlemen in another country whom they had not met. In preparation for the meeting they were searching online for any information on the man outside of his business website. (A practice I encourage by the way.)

They stumbled upon the soon-to-be-associate's personal Facebook page which was not secure and personal. His profile picture was of his dog's balls. And not the kind that you see in this picture.

Everyone in the office immediately pulled up the man's page and began laughing at his sense of humor. While they found out that they in fact had something in common (a warped sense of humor) the question is: Is your dog's genitala the first impression you want to make? In most cases the answer is NO.

This senerio could have easily gone the other way and a prospective business associate could have been turned off and the meeting even cancelled. As it is now - everyone from the accountant to the president of the company will first think about dog's balls when they think of this man instead of the fantastic product that he developed.

The lesson is that nothing online is private or personal. Absolutely everything you post will be seen. Please make sure to cover your balls next time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Put One Foot In Front of Business too

Its one of my favorite songs from holiday cartoons..."Put one foot in front of another and soon you'll be walking out the door" - from Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

We all do it when we learn to walk...put one foot in front of another. We even fall, stumble and tumble down stairs at times. Children learning to walk don't let the unknown, wobbly legs or a few falls keep them from learning to walk because they know they want to go somewhere.

Businesses need to apply this same concept to their marketing strategy. All too often I talk with CEOs who are afraid about the next step. They want to stand in place and look longingly at where they could go - where they should go. Their fear of failure or not meeting expectations holds them back.

I was reminded this week about accounts I've worked on that were just the beginning of what could have been an excellent and successful marketing strategy. Instead of following through with the plan and reaching customers on multiple levels, multiple times with consistant messages to build a relationship - they freeze in place after the first communication.

Do you marry a person on the first date? No, of course not. And neither do customers. Businesses need to court the customer. They will take you home to meet the parents after a little stroll or a dance or two.

Give a marketing plan a chance. See it through.

Walk hand in hand with your marketing professional.

Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year, New Ideas about Your PR/Comms Plan

2010 - The world has changed. Life has changed. Communications has changed. How you keep up with these changes? How do know exactly what you should do to move your business forward or just to catch up?

My favorite quote a professional mentor suggested when I was in my 20s was is that we all have to close our eyes and jump at some point.

2010 - the year when you've got to get back in the game BUT the game as changed while you were gathering the bats & balls on the sidelines. (or sticks & pucks, clubs & tees, etc)

Public Relations, Advertising, Social Media, Online Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Mobile Marketing, Guerilla Marketing, Integrated Strategic Marketing Plan.....heads are spinning by this point. Many who aren't in the communication and marketing game just end up burying their heads in a brochure, updated website and attending a few tradeshows - knowing that the old stuff won't work these days but not knowing what to do.

Businesses jump - They jump into the same pile of leaves that has left them smelly and wet in the past. They are afraid of strapping that parachute on their backs and free falling into the new communications world alone.

Good News...They aren't alone. A brief meeting with the friendly neighborhood communications professional (ME !) can offer insight into new, inexpensive (yes you read that correctly) and effective (gosh, that IS possible) tools and tactics that can get a business on the scoreboard.

Please folks, don't just open a Twitter account, post on it three times and give up. Give me or one of my colleagues a call and find out what's possible. Its painless.

Then maybe we can work together - that new brochure might not be necessary. And you look better when you aren't pulling your hair out anyway.

Happy New Year...Happy 2010.