Media Relations – your key to passing crisis 101

February 10, 2014

imageCrisis 101. Regrettably that’s as far as even the most advanced communications professional in the Caribbean gets. Possibly it can be considered fortunate to learn about crisis management only in the classroom but that fortune quickly runs out when your company is thrown under public scrutiny for an accident or incident.

Two years post the Ca Read the rest of this entry »

Do you need to respond?

August 29, 2013

I get about 100 odd email messages a day. That number is per email inbox. I have 4.

I am not alone. Email, with its fast bad self, is way too easy for even the half witted among us to create. Some even consider hitting send on a half finished email communication. #guiltyascharged. Or, better yet, they communicate verbally and then send an email confirming they spoke. #gross

I have had enough but luckily, as my inboxes burgeoned, my capacity to figure out what email messages require responses grew too. Here are my tips:

If your boss writes you, RESPOND. Duh!
Ok so maybe your boss writes a lot of email. You despise them secretly. Poor you. Hah! No one above you in your organization (the flat organization is NOT reality kids) thinks that so stop being not so smart and respond to their email queries or at least acknowledge what has been sent. Why is this important? 4 reasons: Bosses are busier than you are. They pay your salary. They do your performance reviews. Responding strokes their ego and any boss who claims that is not important did not work their way up an organization. It’s not about sucking up – responding to email from superiors is also a way of showing R E S P E C T.

Family first. Kinda.
Ok so your aunt Edith forwards you jokes. Ignore. But if your husband writes you or your kids, find time to respond. Hey, being a great parent these days includes digitally being there. Don’t slip on the close family email and hey, once in a while, send aunt Edith a hello too.

Respond to potential mentors
You want to work your way up. You are hoping to get noticed. Then you get copied on a mail from someone important and you don’t respond. #stopthemadness! Hit reply, change the subject and send a short note. Getting noticed can be hard but reaching out digitally can help you network. Remember though, important people get busy – don’t expect a response back. Chances are they are a boss (see point one) but they will read it eventually or at least remember that the young bright one from department x wrote them a note offering help as needed. Hello “new go to person”.

Get off mailing lists
I still have my first email account. I subscribed to school enewsletters and, when the Internet was young, I willingly shared my email address in the hope that irrelevant, never to be revisited store/ website x,y AND z would “add me to their important mailing list”. That’s where the 100 email messages to my personal accounts were born.

Be smarter than I was then. NEVER subscribe. Or do what I do now, unsubscribe to any mailing list email you have not read (and can recall) the last four messages from.

Oh yeah and silly rabbits out there – don’t give your work email to mailing lists! You want to be a boss one day – all those email messages should be from people that need you – not Victorias Secret. (I still subscribe to them though – hello Jammie’s!)

Oh yeah and last tip – add aunt Edith to my blogs subscription. After these tips I may lose some of you. :)

Hugs

What’s in a Name?

August 22, 2013

So you are opening a company. Congratulations – you are doing what just about every person under 25 is doing these days. As Generation Y and Z become increasingly disenchanted with the hum drum of the multigenerational workplace, they are opening their own businesses. First stop? Choosing a name for their new “start up”.

And that’s where the landscape has changed. Where as companies of the 2000s (ie: the first decade of this century) got away with calling their companies all sorts of odd names (Yahoo much???), today’s world is a bit more simple. Few are the company names that evolve into verbs like Google. Also gone are the names of the 1950s too -” Sanford and sons” type names are now non existent. Why?

Enter the importance of a front page Google result (or Bing if you dare).

As businesses fight for search engine optimized space, as tags and meta tags continue to dominate how businesses are found in search engine results, business owners are becoming (and rightfully so) more savvy in the names they select for their companies. Think Jones Communication Consulting instead of Joneacorp.

The public is more impatient than ever. We don’t want to wait for you to explain what we do. We want info as quickly as Search engines can find it. So the choice of a name is important and choosing a straight forward business name is smarter than an artsy fartsy name.

Be straight forward in your brand name and you’ll win every time.

Hugs

Thinking of Social Media brand management D.I.Y.?

August 19, 2013

ImageYou’ve heard all the success stories. Start ups and entrepreneurs that build amazing brand awareness and business by promoting via social media. So now, when those businesses are now going multi-platform (i.e.: expanding beyond one social media site) you are thinking of taking your “Facebook Plan” to the next level by going beyond your friend base – ALL BY YOURSELF.

Wake up and smell the multi-platform reality.

Social media D.I.Y. (do it yourself) brand building was successful for entrepreneurs 3-5 years ago because it was new. Growth was easier back then. Audiences were pretty much captive to one site and EVERYTHING was cool. 

Back then, social media was like the world to a toddler. Everything your social circle did online was awesome and you HAD to try it out. It was “rad”/ “killer”/ “fresh” or basically any cliche social statement of youth that is now totally passe. Social media has grown up

Need another example? Ok. 

Back then social users said things like: “Oooh my BFF just liked (insert cool boutique name). They MUST be cool. Let me like it too by clicking my mouse.”

ImageToday social users are less wowed by the same activity saying: “OMG my Facebook friend just checked in at (insert boutique name). How lame that store’s not even on Instagram. I just un-followed my BFF bc their check ins are TOTALLY killing my smartphone battery.” 

If you don’t get the difference. Let me spell it out. The social media audience is no longer captive or easily wowed. We can’t stand “social spam” and chances are, we’re checking sites via our smart phone where battery life is king and frequent is less appealing than newsworthy. Social recommendations (recommendations by friends via social media) need to be AUTHENTIC and not business generated to be meaningful. 

Re-enter the PR profession. 

Around the world PR company CEO’s (likely all now under 50 with the older generation being kicked out in favor of those who understood this ‘digital age’), are breathing sighs of relief. The more savvy among them are saying “I told you so”. Why? History gives us a good reason to know why ITUSO (I told u so) can so easily be “what’sapp”ed throughout the PR world. 

Social media evolved as advertising did initially (somewhat so anyway).

Before the rise of the newspaper, stores advertised with simple signage. They depended on word of mouth from customers and good signage to make their business grow. Then billboards, radio and newspapers entered as ways to reach the public and more focus was put on them to help grow business. Word of mouth always remained important but the media by which to capture attention of the public became more complex. Expertise was needed. The PR agency was born. Today PR is reborn because the varying ways to reach audiences online have evolved WAY beyond business posting signs in their online business window. 

In addition to there being more channels – there are simply more social media users. Those store window signs just don’t cut it anymore. Businesses need help. 

So is social media D.I.Y. impossible for businesses? Not impossible BUT then again, its not impossible to solve a Rubik’s cube on the first try either (of course, you can Google ways to do that too!). So how do you grow your digital brand in today’s social media landscape? 

Hire a digital media consultant. There are a few of us out here with actual social media track records. DO NOT JUST HIRE AN INTERN (glad I got that off my chest)! Whether you hire someone certified in social media with a track record of growing a variety of business social media presence or a large scale agency,  digital media consultants work with various budgets.

To reminders here

1. Don’t be cheap – you get what you pay for. 

2. Empower yourself with enough education to at least have a sense of what the consultant is doing. (Stay tuned – I’ll have an offer to help you with this in the coming weeks). 

As you educated yourself, keep in mind that savvy social media management is not “a post here” and “a post there” – its a STRATEGY with set targets, goals and measurable milestones. Where to start?

Think about why your existing channels (ok we know its totally ONLY Facebook for 99.9% of you out there) have likely plateaued in growth or engagement. How? Look at your content and ask – what’s new here that will make customers/ fans/ friends come back.  

Get that answer then find a partner in a specialist. Tell them your vision. Agree on clear objectives. You focus on growing your business and let them work for you to help grow your digital brand. 

Hugs! 

 

About those Photos….

March 1, 2013

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Don’t look now – you’ve been tagged! Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2013 is over. The glitter is finally out of your hair. The suntans are beginning to fade and the good times are now memories…or are they?

Enter the embarrassing social media picture.  Exit your reputation (potentially anyway).

Today, those few moments of “wildness” as we say in T&T, can be captured digitally and live on forever. So, what can you do about it? You’re probably not going to love the answer. 

In reality, there is only prescription to prevent your reputation from coming into question as a result of an illicit photo featuring your image – don’t put yourself in compromising positions. Told you that you would not like it. 

I am promulgating that you refrain from the revelry that is T&T carnival? Should you dress less scantily? Where will this nonsense type of advice end you wonder? It stops there – just avoid the compromising positions! 

I’m not saying not to “tief a wine” – I am saying to be smart about it. Be aware that your actions can come back to haunt you so limit the moments. 

Ok so to those of you still reading, the advice gets a little better. Set some standards and make your friends aware of them: 

  1. No photos please! Ever notice how MANY of those illicit photos feature people looking straight on at the camera? There’s a reason for that. Some people like the wildness captured. Fight the power. Stop striking poses and fewer photos will be taken
  2. You better as somebody! Ask your friends, family and partygoers in your circle to refrain from taking pics of you “living it up” in a party/on the road for carnival/ “liming”. Explain that you’re not keen on the photos of your revelry being shared with the world. Identify the consequences for those who violate that up front and ask that they respect your opinion. (Note, piccong will likely will follow. Your friends may tease you a bit, but after a while, they’ll understand). 

  3. To tag or untag? Untag is the answer! While your friends may not take photos of you, the world is now full of photographers. Papparazzi (interpret as other party goers who INSIST on taking photos everywhere they go) need only have a mobile phone to capture a moment. They post. Friends tag you. What do you do? Change your settings to ensure only YOU see tags or, even better, that any tags require your permission. This way, fewer photos you don’t want will be visible on your social media profiles. 

  4. Take it a step further. If you don’t like the photos – write the websites, people who posted them and ask them to be removed. Yeah – I’m serious. I’ve done it and generally people comply. 

So, I’m not suggesting you change your offline life completely to avoid pictures (though some slight tweaks won’t hurt). I am suggesting that you aggressively manage your online profile. Consider starting your own blogs and you tube channels to share the image of yourself you want the world to see. 

That said. Offline ALWAYS meets Online. Ensure your reputation does not “wine to the side” when they meet. 

How to Keep Your Job AND Your Social Media Presence

February 27, 2013

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We reach! People are losing their jobs because of social media. No longer just in the US/ UK – but right here at home. 

Trinidad and Tobago has had various examples in the past year of social media use negatively impacting the real, offline, lives of users. Whether it was that sad video of children being made to fight that made it to Facebook, the erratic tweets of political enthusiasts during the recent elections, or even the reporters that have lost their jobs/ are under investigation for “rants” on social media – FINALLY social media is having an impact on real life in T&T….or is it the other way around? 

Stop the madness people. Your real life IS your social media life. You take time out of your day to read blogs, check your Facebook accounts, follow trends on Twitter and Lord knows, you are viewing videos on YouTube – a site so popular it now impacts what makes it to Billboard’s top charts. 

So, you’re logging on to social media for about 30 minutes. Did not realize more than just your friends are there huh? Your boss is too smarty! According to Facebook research shared by technology trends site Mashable, worldwide, Facebook users spend 10.5 billion minutes each day surfing the site — and that doesn’t even include mobile use. Collectively, that’s nearly 20 years per day that people spend living online instead of offline. Do we REALLY think that this does not have an impact on real life? Guess what, your real life includes a job – and employers are starting to look more closely at what you are doing online and what that could mean for your offline behavior

And keeping your posting settings private…MEH! That’s not going to really help you in the long run. Got friends? The Caribbean is small, T&T is smaller. Someone is going to see that post that reflects your real life. Seen a screen shot posted this week? Yea…I thought so. 

Harlem shaking in your boots about that picture/video/post that you may not want your boss to know about aren’t ya? 

So is it possible to keep your job AND your social media presence? Yes (obviously). How? The advice isn’t too different from advice I shared three years ago:

  1. Don’t list your place of employment on your personal profile. What? Really? Yes. Why? Because this way it becomes a little easier for your company to distance itself from your statements. Before listing your employer you should seek their social media policy on this anyway – to review and be familiar with their tips and guidelines (even though these evolve). Even if you do NOT list your employer – your posts (as are all our offline/ real life actions) are often covered by your employee code of conduct and confidentiality statements. This tip has a downside. It can take away from building your professional brand – particularly if you are a newer job seeker. Consider posting your place of employment only on LinkedIn or professional sites that YOU DO NOT link your Facebook, Twitter or other more personal social media sites to.

  2. Don’t make your personal social media accounts your work accounts. This is a classic mistake. You reply to customer queries on twitter, correct wrong from your personal Facebook account or discuss work in forums with the view of protecting your company’s reputation. Courts in the US are trying to figure out if this is ok. As many view social media as the new water cooler. But in the lovely, breezy Caribbean, there’s no precedent set yet and…um…do you really want to be the guinea pig here? Unless you are authorized to do so or specifically required to via contract, avoid this. Refer queries about your company to your media relations/ customer relations/ PR department. 

  3. Don’t share anything via social media that you would not want your grandmother/ grandfather/ boss to know. Those pics of you taking a belly shot off the stripper at the last bachelor party you attended – maybe not such a good idea tagging yourself in it or worse – posting to TWITTER. Even with the strictest privacy settings, a screen shot can take your reputation down.

In summary? Be smart offline and be even smarter online. You will keep your job and your social media presence – no matter where you work. 

Facebook for Kids? NO

January 31, 2012

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Parents are humans. They make mistakes. Dealing with colds, homework you forgot how to do but have to help your kids with and (gasp) the fact that kids cost a fortune can’t be easy. Thus, I forgive the many misguided parent who says – “my child is on Facebook and I’m worried.” Young grasshopper parent, let me school you.

If your child can still be referred to as a child…they ought not to be on Facebook. Decoded: If your kid is under 13, Facebook is NOT for them. Am I a prude? Sure. Is this a smart suggestion? Double sure. The offline world is barely safe enough for adults – much less the online world for kids. As for Facebook for those under 13? Its akin to letting your child have some wine with dinner – every night…like a bottle…and then wondering 5 years later why the kid grew up to be a future aa attendee (and we don’t mean American Airlines).

Why? Lord knows teens and adults are addicted to what is playfully called “Macobook” in the Caribbean. As February approaches in the Caribbean, the freeness of the carnival season (on Trinidad anyway) gives rise to idle thoughts, party photos and, well, candid shots catching amusing (read as on the boarder of vulgar) moments in parties known here as fetes. You don’t let your child fete so why allow them to watch that FB facilitated live stream of the woman dancing around in a lace top?

Ok exit Carnival as my prude-ness may seem like a cultural snub. Enter the photos of brutal car accidents, sex offenders caught in the act or much more commonly, the “slack talk” that dominates many a status in the hope of installing amusement. You would not expose your child to this day to day so, why let them surf facebook where it can be so prevalent.

I am not stupid. I know the world is changing and even traditional media can bombard people young and old with material heretofore (take that for an old fashioned word) deemed forbidden. My suggestion is not censorship but rather caution. All young ones need conversations about digital footprints, about not talking to strangers (on or off line) and on the new power of photography. these convos need start long before signing on to any social network. Not just this dominant oNe about to be IPO’d for 100 billion.

Before signing on ask your young one some questions?
1. Why do you needed to be on Facebook?
2. What do you understand Facebook to be?
3. Do you understand we will share access to your account and I can cancel it at any time?
4. Before posting any photos or videos, do you understand the need to seek the permission of your parent and anyone else in the video/photo
5. Do you understand that everything you put up there can be potentially viewed by strangers?
6. Do you understand privacy settings?
7. let’s agree on potential consequences for online behavior that does not meet our family’s expectations

It’s not all perfect but hell, it’s a start. Again Facebook under 13 not ok but regardless of age, these 7 questions should form the foundation of a young person’s pre social media life.

Do you have the context

January 4, 2012

Who are you talking to and what do they already know, feel or fear? As corporate communicators, it is our job to know the answers to these questions before even lifting a pen or typing the first letter of a comms plan. Even when you get the answers to these questions, without organizational history, understanding and, having worked within the company for more than a few months….your communicating without context is groundwork for project failure.

When starting at a company the best CEOs spend months simply listening and then work with teams to lay out 5 year plans in one year bite sized pieces. Your job is to chew on those pieces and create strategies with fellow employees to make these plans come to life. Don’t make the mistake to ignore historic views as, even the most disgruntled, über busy or apparently apathetic team member likely holds the key to the success of comms plans. Why? Communication without context is like giving a speech on the US national mall to Abe Lincoln’s statue – you’ll be do muni acting for communications sake. You need an audience to be engaged for your project to be successful and that takes time, understanding and a whole lot of time. So the next time you get a bright idea, ask yourself if you have the history, the pulse of a company and the support of those already communicating (or thinking they are) to ensure you have not just objectives and activities, but the context necessary for your comms plan to be a success.

Hugs. (read other posts for that context).

Tech addiction.

January 3, 2012

So you got that device you wanted this holiday season. So did your mother, brother, cousin, aunts and scarily enough your children, nieces, nephews and cousins new burns all seem to have as well. The result? Tech addiction. What are the symptoms?

1. Long periods of silence when two or more are gathered for alleged social activity (offline socializing)

2. Being asked to “hold on one sec” while your companion checks their device – more than three times in an hour.

3. Said device, or worse devices, become your new alarm clock/ sleeping buddy/ last thing you check at night/ note book/ main communication tool. If you find yourself using said device in the bathroom…you may have an advanced case of tech addiction.

Tech addiction can have pronounced negative impacts on life. Indeed a diagnosis for tech addition is usually swiftly accompanied by:

1. The afflicted individual having few healthy off line activities. Activities such as hiking, biking, skiing or…worse…swimming have all ceased to even be considered.

2. Real life relationships have been diminished. Afflicted person blames the world’s lack of understanding of the importance of these tech devices as the reason.

3. Multiple device syndrome…person has more than 3 devices always connected to the web and always within 2 feet of individual. Person may also have financial trouble due to incessant app purchases…

Save yourself now! Pick up a hobby for every device you own…and make it an offline one. Have an offline conversation with those showing signs as soon as possible…sending them a message online may not be as effective as an offline hug…

Save yourselves!

*closes ipad…heads to bathroom to get ready for day…turns on Ihome to accompany getting ready…ensures mobile is charged…*

Don’t Make LinkedIn another Facebook

January 2, 2012

Happy New Year. I’ve bitten the bullet and begun to dig deep into my new year’s resolutions. High on the list was updating my LinkedIn profile – a task I highly recommend to all but rarely get the time to do myself. As I sorted through well over 300 connection requests, I realized how many people miss the importance of LinkedIn. They confuse it with Facebook. They mistake connecting for “friending” and thus potentially derail their professional online presence. Thus, my decision to blog today came naturally. Facebook is about friends. LinkedIn is about work and connections – don’t mix the two.

My inbox was riddled with great requests from colleagues in my field and in fields I interact with. Co-workers with whom I have met and worked with and even the odd consultant with whom I have done business. The decision to connect there was easy. Their networks will likely have future business leads for my consultancy and, chances are, we may have tips and advice we can swap digitally should we never be able to make it to the next “networking” meet up. But to the sad few that sent messages about appearance, who admitted to wanting to connect to get access to my contacts to “promote their business” or “link up for drinks”. Alas, with a furrowed brow, I clicked ignore.

In a world where lines are constantly blurred, the decision to keep your online life “professional” is hard enough. Why dilute the one site that can really help with that (LinkedIn) with watery connections? If you are connected on LinkedIn, see it as a professional link. Not all these folks may be drinking buddies, but chances are, your LinkedIn connections are people you may want to work with again.

Just my two cents. Happy New Year. Look out for more frequent blogs – that too is on the new year’s resolutions list (along with drinking more water and finding a way to be successful without working as hard…wish me luck on that last one!).

Hugs! (Professional ones).


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