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.