Archive for the ‘Traditional Media’ Category

Who are you talking to?

April 6, 2011

Effective Presentations Are About the Audience - NOT The Presenter

We’ve all been there. Presentations FILLED with information that is probably important. The presentation seems so boring though you can’t focus beyond the introduction and spend most of the time checking out the presenter’s clothes, teeth, eyes, underwear etc rather than focusing on the content of the presentation. To those presenters who have suffered the audience XRAY (where the audience literally looks at you with more detail than even an x ray scanner), I suggest you ask yourself just ONE question before you prepare your next presentation – WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO? Oh and one more question – WHY SHOULD THEY CARE?

Far too often presentations are developed focused solely on the importance of the content to be conveyed. While this approach may seem prudent, and YES much detail should be focused on accuracy and presentation style, such an approach is less the effective. Why? Today, tomorrow and forever audience really care about the W.I.I.F.M. – What’s In It For Me. Thus, unless you take significant time to to analyze your audience considering who they are, what they care about and why they should care about they content your are presenting and THEN tweak your presentation to suit that audience, chances are they’ll just be focused on YOU and miss all the important stuff you over populated those power point slides with.

Basic pre-presentation questions (beyond the alleged one I said presenters should ask themselves):

  • Who is in the audience?
  • What are their main concerns/ interests/ hobbies?
  • Why should they care about what I am going to say?
  • What examples of interest to THEM can I draw upon to help make my points more clear?
  • What doubts are they likely to have about y subject matter?
  • What about me/ in the room is likely to distract the audience?
  • What statements will be most interesting to them?
  • What should I NOT say as it is likely to offend them?

These are just a few. Master presenters cater their ENTIRE presentation to the needs/wants/ desires to their audience. Be a master presenter. Start by just answering – WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?

Go be better communicators



Does Print Media Still Play a Role?

December 4, 2010

I have long been an avid believer that digital media would eventually consume traditional media. I believed wholeheartedly that already, as the digital native graduates from high school, generation X and the baby boomers are forever seeing the last days of the power of the print media and the fall of television to YouTube, Hulu and others. I have admonished advertising campaigns spouting the quotations of Social Media Guru Eric Qualman “Only 14% believe advertising”….”word of mouth is now world of mouth”….then reality struck. In the Caribbean, traditional media still plays a major role.

How did reality strike? Less than two months after some volunteer pr strategy work with YUMA to launch their Facebook page (well documented in the blog) led to international recognition of the entity and over 7,000 Facebook fans, a family owned business used a similar Facebook strategy + radio advertising + print media coverage. Surprise! Customers walking into the store CAME through the doors WITH the articles on the store in hand…more people told the store staff (I DON’T work there – I have a full time job that DID sanction my involvement in opening the business) they heard about the business on the radio than on Facebook! People opening their wallets were also GASP – more interested in hearing about future specials by text rather than email! It was an Oprah – esque AH HAH moment…or in more Caribbean terms it was an “Oh Gyad Oy” moment… Could it be the marketing teams who have tightly hugged the low internet penetration statistics in the Caribbean as the reason why they could never enter into anything more than a beach fling with social media….could it be these people, MBAs in hand and supported by research that goes against my gut instinct that the days of the power of press as we once know it be over….could all those folks that frown on my social media training session as frivilous….SIGH are they right? Are we in the Caribbean still hooked on print?

The answer – yes….and not really. Print media used to play the leading role in mechanisms by which the public could be accessed by Communicators/ advertisers….now…the role is important….but a new star has been born. Already, entities like the Guardian Media Group are opening embracing social media and, those with Caribbean roots can read the Advocate, Guardian, Express, Gleaner and others online AND leave comments, tweet and cite the stories on Facebok, Twitter and, for the savvy and adventurous (no examples yet)- Tumblr.

Am I saddened? Nope. I am heartened, should social media already be the star of Caribbean communication with such low penetration rates and use admittedly beyond the immediate means of those below the (as much as I hate stratification) lower middle class, it would mean we as a multiethnic and increasingly literate population are too easily swayed. Possibly our Caribbean need to balance the words of the web with the reality of a human edited and printed report shows that we believe news need come from a multiplicity of sources for, even in the first days of Caribbean produced and created media, it took us quite a few years to trust our own media houses enough to report news that occured just down the street from us. Those of my Grandfather’s generation remember feeling the pride of touching our first newspapers but still waiting anxiously for the paper from England to arrive, SAVING UP to but same as it was considered an indulgence AND THEN comparing the reports (if any) to confirm news reports. Possibly, we take longer to abandon traditions and possibly, our trust levels for accuracy are lower than those that live where corner houses were not the original news editors. I mean not to be disparaging in the least. As avaricious as my appetite is for social media, I too often verify Twitter feeds, Facebook messages about “news” by waiting to read/hear/see same from our official news media channels. For this, I must answer my own communication question today – does print media still play a role with a resounding yes…I will thus, though with a knowing smirk, bow to the Marketing professionals who has asked me to temper my statistically unsound passion for social media as “THE WAY” to get messages out and agree, if only for now, that social media must be balanced with traditional media for true effective Corporate Communication plans….As I sign off, I’ll reach for my morning sorrel  and  read the articles in the Trinidad Express, Guardian and Newsday by getting my moist fingertips dirty as they touch the print in what has become a family Sunday Ritual.

What are your views on social media vs. traditional media?


Anniversary and Music

September 30, 2010

Break out the bubbly - its my anniversary!

A year ago (yesterday) I started this blog. It has neither been consistent nor awe inspiring, but for me, it has offered an amazing opportunity for reflection on what it means to be a modern communication professional. I thank you, my readers for tolerating my bits of nonsense for so long!

Today’s post though is dedicated to the communicative power of music. Whether it is J-I-L-L-S-C-O-T-T that represents the definition of lovely in your music or Axel Rose or Machel Montano, without question, music communicates with more than the mind – it moves the soul. What is the rhythm of your soul? What moves you?

These questions are ones we all in a way, ask as “Pr Peeps”. We have to find a way to communicate with even the most savage of society. With our own rhythm and rhyme, we must work our magic in the ways Quincy Jones, Michael (Jackson – not Bolton) and for me, J-I-L-L-S-C-O-T-T, magically work over the souls of their audiences. Our clients expect us to “fix” all their communication problems by somehow hitting the right key. Don’t you wish we could tell them it’s as easy as hitting those notes Mariah does in “Vision of Love” (see the live 1991 Grammy Performance below)?

To once again compare our work to music, when faced with the challenges of our profession, the more hardy among us know, the only way to achieve results sometimes is to move between the standard beats – to create our own musical genres. We are the musical radicals – like Beethoven did, we must challenge traditions and at times move to our own beat to inspire a multigenerational, picky and fickle audience to want to listen and want to be moulded into the shapes outlined in our PR plans (musical scores for the purpose of this analogy).

Is it easy? Nope! Do our performances always inspire applause? Nope. But play on PR professionals. Play on.

Today’s post brought to you following a wonderful evening of Itunes. Oh modern music world, how I love thee!


Beyond “Getting the Media Here”

September 29, 2010

One of the biggest mistakes companies desiroud of PR make is the mistake of simply “”getting the media” to attend an event. By “getting the media” the persons issuing such ‘commands’ do not mean “invite”. No no –  in that instance the media is, in there minds, to be present, pen in hand ready to accurately capture there every orchestrated word and deed. Newsflash – media relations is a sybiotic relationship. Newsflash to PR folks – its your job to ensure both sides understand that.

Think such an important lesson is well intertwined in the detailed preparation all head honchos at companies MUST go through prior to receiving their first hefty pay check? Think again. I once heard an Exec say “Marketing and Communications classes were an irritant to my MBA pursuit.” I realised then and there this is how we are viewed – as irritants and get this, PR/ Communications folks may be irritants but media are seen as even more lowly to some of these decision makers. This makes our work hard.

So what do we do? We plan, prepare and pounce.

  • PLAN: If you can see the event coming (if its a planned event) – plan YOUR media strategy. Know what YOU as a PR professional would like to see as the out comes of said event. How will you measure your success and how can you align these achivements with the success desires of those in charge. Example: You want a print news story in the 1st 15 pages of the next day’s paper with at least 2 verbatim quotations. They want: A big picture with a check and a headline with their name in it…Great! How will you work with the media houses to achieve both the professional PR desired outcome and the outcome the poeple signing your check want? Strategize!
  • PREPARE: If a distinguished member of the media is assigned to your event – they are not coming to hang out and shake hands. PREPARE for THEM! Have a media sign in area – a programme with names and deisgnations. Ensure they are aware of who the dignatories are in the audience (aka: have a conversation that is newsworthy…you know, more than ‘Hi! Thanks for coming – you look nice’ – small talk is not what they came for. Give the media news. Prepare it and show them that. The best way to do this is to have a PREPARED media release as part of the media kit. Now, this is tricky, because quite often head honchos think pre-scripting a post event media release is crazy. “You must attend the event first, hear what everyone has to say and then proceed to write a prolificly detailed message.” Ok, that thinking is as old school as high top fades. Find a nice way to ensure the head honchos learn this. The best way to is advise the prepared release promotes accuracy.
  •  POUNCE:  You probably thought I meant pounce on the media. Negative. Pounce on your Executives pre and post the event. Pre the event force into their heads that there are things they just SHOULD NOT say and SHOULD CONSIDER avoiding. (yeah, note the tone. If you were speaking to a peer or someone that saw you, lowly PR person, as human, you would say – Don’t/Can’t…). Know what they are planning to wear – pounce on the lighting people to make that work so they look their best in photos. All in all – pounce all over that event before, during and after it happens. Pounce so hard after that you be sure to be 1st to submit the actual printed photo and news article to the very execs that wanted them. Don’t expect a reaction though. Consider yourself a Pouncing PR Dragon – you know, a hidden tiger. 🙂

So, to all the hidden tigers out there….Fear not. You can “get the media” – but it would be oh so much better to invite and make them feel appreciated – or at least understood.

Speechwriter? Lowly Servant

July 29, 2010

I once wrote a speech for boss who read the speech before hard and stood at a podium and pronounced the word awry – OR-EE. I chuckled.

I once wrote a speech for a boss who never opened the file I presented. Said boss then stood before an audience, opened said file and commented: “Oh good. The font is nice and big – I will not have to squint.” I shuddered.

As part of my favourite side gig, I wrote a speech for a groom (ghost writing of course) once who took time and care to read, practice and deliver his speech with care. His wife cried tears of joy and love. I teared up too when he called to say thank you.

Following awards (now over a decade old), speeches for managers, CEOs and even Ministers if Government, I still get the same level of respect doled out to those in my field for the craft – little if any. Nevertheless, without sounding acrid or waxing poetic, I share these tips to avoid being yelled at/ disrespected and to garner appreciation (God bless that groom!) for your gift of speech craft:

  • Learn the Phrase: “For the consideration of“. I once entitled a speech “prepared for” prior to the person’s name and title – they launched into a tirade about the fact that “pr people” are always trying to toot their own horn. One needs to realize that indeed, though you ARE writing what they SHOULD say – should is conditional and THEY  have to approve what has been prepared – following intense consideration by the cerebral mind that was too busy/high and mighty/ flacid to prepare same.
  • Avoid Typos: Woe unto those that present a document with a typo, incorrect word choice (there/their) or worse – misspelt designation. Such tasks are unforgivable and forever solidify your position as a lowly speechwriter – you will never have a voice if you just can’t type.
  • Screw the Audience, Focus on the Presenter: So your 7 years of school, 15 years of experience and this great blog “communication questions” tells you to focus on the audience prior to preparing (for consideration of course) any speech…Alas, this advice is greatly misplaced should you be writing for the non-Steve Jobs-esque (sp!) manager. Remember, unfortunately many of those in power in the Caribbean care more about what THEY think than what their audience does. They are more interested in being verbose than being understood..many more have never heard of alliteration  much less understand the reason, rhythm and rhyme similar words said in a line can bring to a verbal presentation. Give in and more placid your journey at work will be as a speechwriter.
  • Fight the Power: Under no circumstances question edits! Fight the power to grow a backbone. By an undershirt that says “I am right”, wear it under all your fancy work suits to prepare yourself for the sinking feeling in your stomach you get when preparing speeches so dull they put your PC to sleep when you type them.

These my friends are tips I wish I could follow – by my passion sends me running blindly into the speechwriting bull ring event after event. Sadly, the pain I feel each time I am impaled by the harsh mispronunciation, edits and gross disrespect my speech writing passion garners is clearly less than the joy I feel knowing I put up a good fight. Next time I will arm myself with a good dictionary and guest list and get the thing right I often say…I’ll be a better proof reader next time….but you know what,  chuck it all for the excitement and the hope tomorrow I’ll get it all right…like I did for that groom who remembered to say thank you.

Amazingly my wedding speeches tend to garner tears and thank you s (one was mouthed from the podium). I think it’s because my heart is in what they say. The real tip of speech writing if to get to know what the person presenting the speech wants to convey and what their audience wants to hear. Find a happy medium and you may actually evoke a tear…from someone other than yourself!

Hug yourself lowly servant! Kidding! Hugs!

Ethics in Journalism? Read Here Caribbean Reporters

May 11, 2010

Following a social media discussion on the recent phenomenon of journalists in the Caribbean appearing to show political bias in their reporting, I thought I’d dig out my old Society of Journalists Code of Ethics. Instead of having to riffle through boxes, I dug with my fingers. A google search and a couple clicks and there they were, the 4 basic principles all reporters should follow.

Now for the Caribbean translation:

Talk Your Talk (Speak the Truth): Unlike the 3 canal song which states “Talk your talk you roarin’ pretender”, journalists, should always report facts – not views and opinions. Indeed, it is this very ethical code that so distinctly allows announcers and talk show hosts to fall OUT of the realm of the journalistic profession (no offense meant and none taken – I once hosted a talk show). The truth, (dare I say) “my dear friends” is not dotted or coloured with the tone of opinion or the potential stench of a personal view. The truth is what is it – facts, supported by research and reported with additional frills of ACCURATE quotations and the image (or two) that support same.

“What happens in the Dark, always Comes to Light” (Act Independently): True journalists “owe” no favours. Acting independently means reporting facts without the influence of an outside entity – whether it be a sponsor or worse, a person offering financial reward for a story slant. As a reporter, your facts should be able to stand up to queries and your dealings should be above board.

Minimize Harm: This one SO important, no colloquial phrase to go with same.  SHOW COMPASSION! Consider the families of the murder victim and how THEY will feel to see the body on the front page of the paper. Consider the harm of publishing the names of two school children found with underage pornography for all to see and read. Consider the impact of a slanted or poorly reported story about race relations in an already race sensitive nation.

Who Doh Hear, Does Feel (Be Accountable): A journalist that does not welcome feedback is not a journalist. Criticism can be hard and corrections can feel worse but the willingness to accept same is what separates the sheep from the goats. Shutting out feedback just makes you, as a friend once told me, a goat (LOL) and while you may not always agree with what your audience says, you always grow from the experience and we need some grown up reporters!

So journalists, budding journalists, rogue announcers and fellow bloggers, spread the Code and more importantly, use it. Would love to say I had a hand in helping the media improve – but even I not so bold!