Posts Tagged 'communications'

Organizational Storytelling and PR

Quotation text: “I do not consider the machines which bear my name simply as machines … I take them as concrete evidence of the working out of a theory of business–a theory that looks toward making the world a better place in which to live.”
-Henry Ford, 1922

We recently attended a Storytellers session during Chicago Ideas Week, which got us thinking about organizations and their stories. Of course, as attendees we walked away with useful information, as well as pearls of wisdom and inspiration about the process of storytelling; but some of the discussion got us to thinking about organizations and their responsibility to tell their story, and to tell it effectively. In most cases that responsibility falls within the purview of public relations and communications professionals.

Yet, too many organizations, profit and nonprofit alike, still view telling their stories and creating their own narrative as a process to be shared only with selected audiences: shareholders, funders, prospects, current supporters or customers, legislative interests or regulators, etc. They fail to realize the broad social interest, at large, in knowing the motivations, history and experiences that drive our nation’s companies, large and small. In a sense, companies have an obligation to tell their stories and lessons learned factually, with authority, and with humanity, for the greater good.

With that in mind, for marketers and communications pros, we gleaned some ideas, insights and trends from Storytellers, which we thought we’d share here:

  •  “Storytelling is giving information, even when people aren’t asking for it,” Arun Chaudhary, Former Official White House Videographer
Storytellers picture board

Picture board of CIW Storytellers Session

  •  “Brands are leaning to purpose … picking stories that will be their narrative,” Susan Credle, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett USA
  •  “Authenticity  is the key to storytelling; letting people be who they are,” Chaudhary
  •   “Good stories follow curiosity and passion … Emotion drives stories,” Rebecca Skloot, Author
  •  “The heart can make anything important,”  Carol Edgarian, Co-founder, Narrative Magazine
  •  “Transparency is a discipline, and not a home run,” Chaudhary

We really hope your company is in the process of perfecting its own story. If you need help, feel free to contact us at MediaWorks:  OrganizationalPR@aol.com.

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Communications Professionals: Are you on the Sidelines of the Social Revolution?

Make no mistake about it , the Internet and social media have changed the way that we do business. If you’re still limiting your expertise to the traditional models (print, broadcast, and even outdoor), and sitting on the sidelines of the 21stCentury communications revolution, you may soon find that you’re about as relevant to modern life as Stonehenge.
Adam Bain of Twitter discusses the company’s impact and users’ best practices.

When it comes to technology, I’m usually what’s called a “late adopter.” I will spurn new developments until the old technology expires or I am blessed to win something new. So I’m amazed to actually be on the front lines when it comes to understanding the marketing technique and implications of social media. However, true to my nature, taking this deep dive into social media and marketing, I pursued it in the manner I usually do—first through formal study (various seminars and workshops leading to SEMPO, Google Adwords courses for certifications)—then through intense application.

Fortunate for me, according to social & experiential media maven Shannon Downey, and others, I’m making the right moves at the right time. “Like any good revolution,” Downey says, “social media has fundamentally changed how we communicate in a very short period of time.” Even more, she says we are still at the beginning of massive changes. “With emerging technologies focusing on geo-targeting, augmented reality and near field communication, there are countless evolutionary developments in communication headed our way.” It’s thrilling, she adds.

Shannon ought to know. She’s the owner of Pivotal Production, a digital marketing agency serving such clients as Chiquita, Northwest Community Hospital and  Woman Made Gallery. She’s also a digital trainer, adjunct faculty at DePaul University, and a blogger for Crain’s Enterprise. She says there’s been an unequivocal shift in society and today’s media landscape. She spends a good deal of her time, she says, training professionals on how to get on board: “My favorite expression is “Evolve or Die”. Marketers that see the potential and opportunity for innovation and embrace it are, and will continue, to thrive. Those that don’t will die off. Those decisions are being made right now, consciously and unconsciously.”

For other late adopters who don’t quite “get” social media, here’s something to keep in mind: Social media isn’t just a social network. It’s a huge marketplace–and marketplace of ideas–where you can market yourself to both a targeted market and global market, at the same time.

Given all that, what can you do? Here’s a few quick tips on how you might get started:

1)      Be creative. Beyond the everyday uses (updates, personal messages, news and professional networking), think of how you can participate in the seemingly boundless communications arena of digital and social media.

2)      Find a niche.  Think about what you love, and how it impacts others. That’s usually a good place to start. Then think of a platform to best express your passion. (Think Pinterest!)

3)      Get started.  Take the leap! Now that the seed of the idea has been planted, nurture it and watch it grow.

4)      Be active. Commit time everyday to participate and communicate with your audience (remember, participating means reviewing and responding). Like working any job, branding on social media is a dynamic, everyday activity. This is not the time to rest on your laurels. Discover your brand, then work it, every single day.

One Practitioner’s Review of 2011 Public Relations

What can we learn about public relations from the fractious events of 2011? Here are our thoughts on lessons provided by the mistakes and success of others.

Our 2011 Public Relations “Roses” & “Brickbats”

Brickbats            

Jerry Sandusky & Penn State: The biggest PR mistake would be to take on Sandusky as a client. Even as this case wends its ugly course through the criminal justice system and the courts, we know that there are some practitioners just chomping at the bit at the opportunity to sign up this high-profile client. Yes, we know, we’ve heard it all before. “A PR agent is like a defense attorney–every miscreant deserves one.” If you believe that, then you should be barred from PR practice. PR will never maintain professional legitimacy if every alleged social predator and sociopath is able to find a “spin doctor” to plead his or her cause. In PR, as in society, some acts must be indefensible.

Anthony Weiner: Where do we even begin with a public figure who has admitted to the arrogant, half-witted behavior of former Congressman Anthony Weiner? We can all be glad that Weiner has graciously retreated from public life–at least for now–to mend his life, and especially his family life. Amen, and all good wishes to him. Perhaps after some amount of reflection and time away from public life, PR specialists will flock to represent what some–at least in New York, say is a really talented guy. Until then, goodbye and good riddance.

Let’s Wait & See

Netflix: What happens when you do the right thing the wrong way? Faced with an inevitably changing business model, Netflix  moved, apparently too aggressively, to spin-off its declining, old-school DVD mail-delivery service from its growing, and increasingly profitable, video downstreaming service. What CEO wouldn’t? Alas, the devil is in the details. Tone-deaf implementation–in the form on a sudden announcement about two different services provided by two different companies–led to a consumer revolt worthy of the reformulated Coke debacle. What should have  been good management judgement nearly ruined this once-popular company. Within months its stock value dropped by two-thirds. Ham-handed implementation and almost no regard to the convenience and versatility that loyal customers valued in this company nearly led to its downfall. Can good PR save Netflix? The company has clearly learned some valuable lessons about its customers and how to communicate with them. (For now, they’ve continued their existing business model, emphasizing the more profitable downstreaming in their marketing; income has rebounded.) Bet they’ve gotten a better sense for how to handle inevitable price increases!

A Rose

Starbucks: In a year, and possibly an era, when there aren’t a lot of large-scale good-news stories coming out of corporate America, we give Starbucks a rose for its Create Jobs for USA corporate social responsibility program. (We’ll be taking a closer look at this in our next blog.) For us, this program was a game-changer. It changed the quality of the discourse about corporate, political and civic leadership in America during a period that has been particularly bleak, divisive, and some might say de-moralizing. The program’s tackled some tough and touchy subjects today: unemployment, concentration of wealth, corporate mismanagement and executive accountability, civil discourse and public leadership, yet it’s championed a cause we can all believe in. Thanks, Howard!


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