Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Y Tweet? Read Here

April 16, 2010

The social media world changed yesterday. Well mine did. In a post about digital footprints and tips for managing same I struck a chord with people. How do I know? I gained 14 followers on Twitter. Ok so the number isn’t that big compared to Ashton and Ellen but hey, for a small island girl like me – it was big. And then I asked – why is Twitter so powerful?

Because it connects us to what we’re interested in. Facebook is your whole life – Twitter is just what you’re thinking/reading/ doing RIGHT NOW. For PR professionals, Twitter is a gold mine of research, opinions, links to articles and schools and classes and events…I dare say you can learn as much from tweeting as you can in one month of PR 101. How?

Its all in who you follow. While who follows you is good for the ego and for killing the need for a personal PR rep, who you follow is genuinely good for you. Examples?

  • By following IABC I found out about a student conference and referred it to a young PR professional that was following me (connection).
  • By following TriniGuardian I was among the first to learn the date of the next national election.
  • By following Steverubel (SVP/Director of Insights for Edelman Digital, AdAge and Forbes columnist and avid sports fan) I learned how big Twitter is (180 million unique visitors to  and that Nielsen Online found that 73 percent engaged in social media at least once per week.
  • By following Googletech (which happened when I started this blog) I learned there are others that believe (as I do) that internet is more important than TV in daily life. I retweeted (RT) that to all my followers

So why did I grow? Well, I RT the articles and information that was interesting and people RT my link to this blog. People clicked on either the blog link or my twitter name @danijones98 and found me interesting – then they added me. Ok so 14 isn’t a big number – but of the 14 only 2 are from Trinidad – so there! My social media world expanded, I have Tweeps in other parts of the world. Ok…sooo?!

SOOOO! I have a global audience thanks to Twitter. A Global audience I probably will never meet face to face but will connect with daily and learn from. How’s that for a change you can believe in. Let me be among the first to say “Twitterversity” may soon be as important as university…though, in the Caribbean we still have a way to go.

So tell me – why do YOU Tweet?


Communication Sancoche? Yes – You need a mix

February 4, 2010

Social media in the workplace gained a new, powerful ally yesterday. The Harvard Business Review sent a Management Tip of the Day  with the title “Encourage the Use of Social Media At Work”. Great. Facebook and LinkedIn for all now right? Wrong. When it comes to communication at work, your organization needs a Communication Sancoche (Caribbean Soup with Split Peas Base traditionally made of a variety of left over meats and provisions) – not just a the entree of Social Media which can, be as bland if not seasoned right.

Just as the flavour of Sancoche varies from household to household, so should the ingredients in your communication mix. The exact ingredients will vary based on the communication appetite of your audience as well. Social media is not a panacea. Its not a band-aid either. To quote a colleague, “Know your people. know your people. Know them some more”. How do you do this….Old fashioned Communication and modern communication approaches. Introducing the standard week one communication sancoche recipe:

Is Your Workplace Hungry? Find Out With this Basic Communication Sancoche Recipe

  1. Face to Face Meetings: “OMG, who has the time these days?” Make time. The exact quantity of this KEY ingredient to making your Communication Sancoche depends on the organization size. The more workers you have, the more face to face you need. YOU (yes you well dressed Communication Exec) needs to walk the oil rigs, visit the lunch rooms, talk to staff in kitchens AND YES, pull them aside at the watercooler or bathroom sink and TALK. Not from a script or with a survey, just talk and gain the pulse/ feeling/ sense of the average employee.
  2. Surveys: D’ (the) Boss man likes numbers. Give him/ her some. Communication survey samples should be no less than the average size YOUR BOSS thinks is sufficient. IE, don’t say “This is a survey sample of 10% which scholar xyz says is sufficient”. Instead, find out (via ingredient #1) what survey size he/she is comfortable with AND EXCEED IT. What to ask? What do you want to know more about? What communication channel/ method would you like to receive most of your information from? Etc. And guess what, dstribute the survey via various channels. Remember, not everyone loves Survey Monkey as much as you do….
  3. Recognition: Um, is this communication? How would your recognize excellent performance without communication? Thus, find a way to include it in various communication channels. Think of this as the SALT in your recipe. You need it, even though you don’t always think you do. Is it a small section in your employee magazine? Is this a weekly “Kudos Korner” on your Intranet? The ways you highlight this will vary on the results from ingredients #1 and #2. But don’t skip it, because you Communication Sancoche will be bland without it.
  4. Memos, Letters and Handbooks: Soooo two thousand and late right? Well if you want your communication sancoche to give your audience that “Boom Boom Pow” feeling, you still need  these old fashioned channels as much as the Black Eyed Peas need that heavy baseline to make their songs ROCK. Yep. Nothing beats a memo (hardcopy or not) to drive home the “Official Nature” of a major policy change, important happening OR to recognize employees (scroll up amigo!). Again, like too much of any ingredient will kill the flavour of your Communication Sancoche – you need to balance the memos with informal communication events
  5. Events: What? Spend money to wine and dine? Yes – without employee events the ingredients 1-4 won’t gel. People need to commune to feel part of a common group/ shared vision/ family (yes, I said it). You can work with your Executives to squeeze out every ounce of ROI from your employee event. Example: ensure they network, ensure best performers are highlighted and help your boss remember key achievements/ names (FYI – you are the person that gets them this info and reminds them of it through the event.

Is there more? Yes. Your staff will tell you what else is needed. See ingredients 1-3.

Are you engaging employees? If Not, reach for your lipstick!

February 2, 2010

Anything you say these days can and will be held against you. No comment is safe. Ask Steve Jobs. On February 1, 2010 Mashable’s Stan Schoeder wrote: “What a time we’re living in. You can’t even make fun of your competitors at your own company meeting without your words leaking out to the Internet” – could not agree more. But what does this mean for employers in the Caribbean and how can we work with “management” to show them that it no longer matters who you are talking to – everyone is powerful and they know it. They (we know)”My MEDIA” will change you and if you don’t I’ll make an example of you – no manager wants that!

Arguably, social media has given the “worker” more power than we had since the words “strike” and “union” first became meaningful to business owners. At the click of a button, conversations, off key comments and (yikes!) opinions can go global. Managers, be afraid – be very afraid (crap – self included!) and thinking of firing someone if they do this? There are tips on how NOT to get fired because of social media!

So what can we do? Some (as I have) try the SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. Reality? They fail – ask the Associated Press, Ministry of Defense or Steve Jobs that now has an enemy in Google because he did what all leaders inevitably do – talk ‘not so nicely’ about competition – except this time, the WORLD knows about it.

Today, bosses are being managed and their policies fail.

Why do the policies fail? Why is trust in the workplace now so low?  In today’s world where opinion is king, telling any digital native they “can’t” or “should” or worse yet “MUST” comply means one thing. They won’t and YOU WILL suffer for attempting to do same. Possible Solution= Assume the position and give trust first.

WHAT? Trust those 18-35 year olds that are wasting time on social networks? Yes. Consider it new wave employee engagement. Court your employees and, as in the first phases of a relationship assume trust or risk losing what could be a good thing. Seriously. What female/ male would “stick around” if on day one you presented them with a list of relationship don’ts? Its the same with today’s employees. Try guiding us. Tell us about what the company stands for and walk the talk. Don’t just SAY “the company” is better than the rest – show us how and inspire us to be as well – by being ourselves. Scary concept – you bet! Guess what, like the social media policy, this won’t always work either – but guess what, its less likely to fail miserably – chances are, they’ll at least consider moving towards engagement if the trust package and what you have to offer looks good.

In the Caribbean, we are not by nature trusting people. We have, will and do OPENLY and EARLY share rules and regulations as if we all comply with same – then work towards breaking every rule and taking the “do what I say” approach to management. Those days are as over as the days of one dimensional TV will be soon (3-D is coming and coming fast!). The reality is, “MY MEDIA” with “MY FRIENDS” will change how you manage and how you act – if you don’t believe me folks, dare yell or be rude at an employee with a cell phone…touch up your makeup first though because you’ll be youtube bound before you know it. Guess what, its legal too and the advice is online! Or worse yet, they’ll use xtravideo and turn you into a cartoon (note this link contains coarse language)

Did You say Thanks?

October 19, 2009

Do you express gratitude? One of the most powerful phrases  in human relations is “Thank You”. However, few seem to do it well. Media relations for example cannot be built on one or two “media appreciation” parties a year. You staff won’t be a team if you simply wait until end of year reviews to say well done.

This week take up the challenge to actually make eye to eye contact  with some one and give a heartfelt thank you. Went to a great lecture or read a good article – write a testimonial to the author/ editor. Or, rediscover the dying art of handwriting – write a thank you note and shock the hell out of someone – mail it! Effort should always be appreciated and in this world of “fast” and “digital” – a good old fashioned thank you is still appreciated.

Remember, no one HAS to do ANYTHING for you so anything someone does that makes your day/ week/ life/ career a bit more pleasurable should be appreciated.

Are you Effective if the Media Coverage is Bad?

October 14, 2009

We’ve all been there. Hard work, improved media relations and significant employee communication make us seem like veritable “must haves” at an organization…then the winds of change blow and BOOM all the talk is negative. I’m no stranger to this. 8 days into my last job, I was thrust before a schlew of cameras to brief the media on a pretty big accident on a construction site. The job before that, I worked at a hospital (you class=”mceItemHidden”> do the math on the publicity good and bad). Inevitably in these negative times, someone will say – what’s the point of a Communications Unit if the media coverage is bad? That’s your time to shine. It’s time to prove your value.

Communicators, let’s be real. Everyone thinks our job is easy. Dress nice. Take some pics. Be nice to the media to get coverage and you’re in. The reality is few people even on your Executive team (if you’re lucky enough to be in the room with them) understand or REALLY care about your work. They care about what you bring to the table and since it ain’t revenue, you gotta prove yourself. So, when the coverage is bad, here are some tips to help ensure the Company values your energy and, more importantly, the real story gets covered.

  1. Get the Facts out to Your Staff: Fact: lawyers shut up communicators. Fact: Saying nothing can lead you to a lawsuit. Fact: Saying the wrong thing can lead you down the same path. So, what do you do? There is ALWAYS something you CAN SAY. You may be unable to place your statements in writing/ email but then hold a meeting with your staff (at  the very least your top management) to share the facts and at least 3 talking points;
  2. Get Feedback & Build Talking Points: Ok, they heard the basics – what do your staff think? If you CAN answer their questions , it will prepare you for public discussions (which, guess what? They’ll start anyway!) so – use their feedback to craft 1-3 core messages on the topic. Ensure they receive this info and have it ready AT ALL TIMES to answer in response to queries;
  3. Talk to Your Key Media  People: If you have earned the media’s respect, at the very least, you’ll get a call letting you know there’ll be a story and requesting a quote. If you can’t give one on the record, there are still ways you can help. Now, this depends on your relationship with the reporters – talking off the record is not for the weak hearted or inexperienced – note, you CANNOT share anything you are not authorized too but perhaps there are tips, angles approaches you can suggest that can help the media get the “right story” without compromising yourself. Have your CEO/ Company head sanction these approaches before hand – don’t move by the “seat of your pants or you’ll get up tomorrow without a pair!
  4. Talk to With Your Staff (Wait – is this a repeated point?): Your staff are your KEY COMMUNICATORS! Guaranteed if the media can’t get a story out of you, they’ll call your company a few times to try to shake facts out of your junior people. I know. I worked for a media house once (super briefly). Sooooo – have them track enquiries on the issue at hand OR better yet, do spot “walk bys” or discussions to get their sense on how the issue is being handled, how they feel and their suggestions on containing same.

How does this prove value?  Ever saw the movie Doubt? When the priest compared gossip to goose feathers being scattered in the air  and showcases the difficulty in retrieving same?  Its the same with Communication – you send those messages out to your staff and work with them – constantly asking for feedback and no matter what, the “feathers” of the “right messages” will be disseminated. The doubters may not see the goose – but they’ll remember the feathers and in the end, the feathers offer more comfort and ultimately more value.

If that analogy soared over your head – have no fear. You can also simply track the media stories that include even a snippet of the “right” information from your ONE media release or talking points. Keep a diary of your media discussions and, yes, share same upon request. Nothing shows an accountant value more than a chart with some numbers and basic info!


Got Media? How to Appease the ‘Media Wanters’ & the Media

October 13, 2009

So you want media coverage of your next activity. You’ve heard it – “get the media to cover this”- uttered of course by, not usually the CEO, but usually the event coordinator, Marketing Department or worse, individual who has done ONE PR course and now TOTALLY gets the power of media. Newsflash – media don’t just “show up” to any and all events. There has to be NEWS there.

News? What’s that? Well, a loose Communications Questions definition is “information or activity being shared for the first time or in a way never seen before” – GET IT? News is not the same people, speaking in the SAME venue with the SAME info time and time again. Ever had a “press conference” (BTW wrong term – it should be MEDIA Conference – most papers don’t even use the “press” any more) and the media don’t show up or WORSE, leave! Well, if you have, its because you did not follow the ABC of media coverage.

A: ASK, Advise, Advocate

  • Ask: Do not confuse this A with “Assume”. In fact, its the opposite. ASK yourself & your fellow “media wanters” the 5 ws and 1 h. Answer from both YOUR perspective AND that of the media – why should they turn up and what’s in it for the media/ their audience. If there is advance time, ask a few editors/ reporters how you can make the event/ activity of interest to them – what would they like to know/ hear/ do that would make the 454th media conference/ event/ speech/ dinner they attend on that day most interesting to them? Note: Food and drinks are nice but do not entice assignment editors – DON”T confuse a “lime” with WORK! Once you answer the 5ws and 1 h, turn them into an ADVISORY;
  • Advise: Ahh…. All hail the Communicator who knows the difference between an ADVISORY and a RELEASE (both preceded by the word MEDIA not PRESS). For the rest of you a MEDIA ADVISORY is sent out IN ADVANCE Of the activity/ event/ activity. It is sent in a such a time frame to adequately allow the assignment editor to ADVISE his team of reporters and…GUESS WHAT…possibly even allow for MEDIA REGISTRATION…shock of shocks…this way you CAN know exactly which  reporters AND photographers are assigned to cover your event. Imagine that power – to text them an “on the day reminder” and send them a follow up thank you – all because you followed this step – TO ADVISE. (Note, implied in this step is follow up beyond media advisory dispatch – as in a PHONE CALL and taking of names of those who received. Labour intensive? Please! Followup is some of the best way to use pre-activity time. It makes a difference! Trust me! Oh, fyi – a media release is different to a media advisory because its sent out at or after the event/ activity. In some cases however, they may be despatched before and “embargoed” until a certain times.

Note, also advise  the feature speaker of which reporters and media houses have indicated they will be present. You       never know if the presentations can be tweaked slightly to cater to some reporters (usually only senior one’s) needs/ interests/ advance questions.

  • ADVOCATE: Not just for your company in your follow up pitch calls to the media the day before and on event day

B: Be – polite, timely, beautiful & ready

  • Be Polite: You have your key officials greet the specially invited guests and SO OFTEN I see events with no one assigned to meet/ greet the media. HELLO! WTF – didn’t you “need them there”?  I don’t know them all but I generally know the names and media houses of the more senior reporters on my beat . Note though that in today’s media houses, this can change rapidly…guess who’s job it is to know the changes….(scroll up to the ask and advise section – the suggestions here can help you with this.
  • Be Beautiful & Ready: Have your media release and agenda ready for them as they walk in. Take a moment (if possible) to discuss with each media house present. Suggest best locations (or prearranged location) for cameras. Tell them your feature speakers “best side”. Give them the heads up on whether questions will be entertained after the main event. Put yourself in the shoes of a reporter – wouldn’t all that info up front make your job a little easier on the day. Have the $? Prepare a digital media release – or you can do my secret and….wait a minute, if I reveal EVERYTHING next thing you know I am unemployed! Find your own signature – better yet, scroll up to the ASK section and find ideas on how you can put your own signature on your media relations.

Challenge to Stay on Time

  • Ensure your presentation/ event/ activity runs on time. If it does and media are in and captured their story in 45 minutes, they’re happy AND most likely to partake in the thousands of dollars spent on food/ drinks/ snacks/ gift items (all icing on the cake). Run late, they not just WANT to leave but HAVE TO! In Trinidad for example, ever notice how many events our print media photographers cover in one night! Jeez! Challenge you speakers and coordinators to stay on time. The media will appreciate and ultimately so will your audience. Guess what? NO ONE likes a lengthy speech – Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech was 17 minutes long. President Barack Obama’s famous “Race Speech” was just over 9 minutes long (notice his abbreviated acknowledgement of protocol – encourage you speakers to as well!). Unless either of your speaker can speak like them – ain’t nothing they can say that will keep attention for more than 9-10 minute max!

With those tips, a well briefed cadre of speakers and yes, an MC or coordinator who understands the importance of timeliness, you’re on your way to at least making the media who attended happy. Last tip – don’t drag out your activities! There are FEW things our media professionals have not seen before and NO ONE wants to see the same thing again and again and again. For example: I had a junior colleague call me to enquire on the best way to ‘handle’ media at a 4 hour tour – HELLO! 4 hours? NOTHING IS INTERESTING FOR 4 Hours…too much action in over 2 hours can kill you too – see Transformers 2…

What comes after? Hopefully coverage, but more than that, with any luck, you earn an iota of respect from the media. Why? They are professionals and you treated them as same. Maybe next time you’re company is on the firing line, they may give you a ring before printing the story? Don’t expect it – WORK TOWARDS that.

That’s it for today (long enough). Go forth and communicate for change!

Is Technology Fostering Unreasonable Communication Expectations?

October 6, 2009

Ever been called a chain caller? Can you admit to sending a text immediately after leaving a voicemail?Left a skype mesage after the skype call was not answered?  Have you checked someone’s FB wall for activity to see how long its been since they communicated…Physcho? Nope – your just a victim of technology.  Gone are the days when we were satisfied a person was just “not home” when no one answered the phone . Now when WE want to communicate – WE EXPECT an answer NOW!!!- if not an instantaneous one,  one within, well at least a “reasonable” time frame. (Reasonable in this instance may well be defined by the number of possible mechanisms on which messages may be left – if you include the social media realm, within 10 odd minutes, a person could have at least 7 messages left for them!)

Have you been a victim of confusion listening to persons younger than you communicate? Do you find yourself suddenly thrusted to the google access nearest you to find the meaning of accronyms? Yep, Tweens (a new term in itself describing 9-13 year older are FOREVER evolving communication) bringing text and social media sites into day to day converation! Enter OMG, TTYL, XOXO, KISSES and even BBM, FB, Tweet etc. These phrases have become universal – eating away at the very cultures the internet so readily allows us to explore. I PERSONALLY have heard OMG SAID in Japan and wondered ‘Which god are they referring to?’

You have two choices “peeps” – roll with the punches or FOREVER (exasperated) sound like your oldest relative as you constantly seek clarification. Here are some basic tips to help you navigate the ever changing world of communication and in keeping yourself sane despite the unreasonable communication expectations of others  (especially the more youthful).

  1. Glance through at least twice a week: With its varied articles on everything social media, Mashable has its pulse on evolving technology and the jargon (read – new phrases) inculcated therein)
  2. Communicate to the preference of your audience: ASK – do you prefer voicemail or text messages? Email or phone calls? Or hell, be even more proactive and SAY “listen, the BEST way to reach me is by (choose one) text/email/voicemail/mobile/office number/ facebook”. This way, your intended audience knows which is the best mechanism from you to look out for feedback;
  3. Disconnect: Check your voicemail no more than twice a day. Don’t reply to every email AS it comes it (set an alarm so email/ phone calls/ text messages from key people like your boss make a different “sound” when they hit your inbox so you don’t miss them. Remember, YOU set the standards as to how people will communicate with you. “Be the change you want to see”;
  4. Learn the lingo: OMG (oh my god/goodness) its 2 easy 2 learn to talk & type in SMS (short message system) format. Have fun with it in casual communication and it can save you time. Leave it OUT of official communication – its not okay to address colleagues in a work email as “peeps” or “u” or to end a work email with TTYL! Be professional – that’s the mark of a true communication prof (joke!).
  5. LOL About it: (Laugh Out Loud) about the way communication has changed and use humour as a way to get your message about being more “sane” when it comes to communication accross to others. For example, I stopped sending email messages at 3am to my team (all equipped with blackberries) after one joked about my “work inspired insomnia”…it was a little office joke – but it got my attention – I have OUTLOOK delay sending messages until 7am now – by 7 they’re usually  at least awake and a bit more receptive to a flashing light on their bberry. Guess what? Since then – lots more smiles in the am

In summary, everyone’s communication style is different. Whether tech savvy or technically challenged, we all need to focus on our listener/ audience before we communicate using ANY mechanism. Be considerate. Be sane and most of all – be reasonable – leaving 5 messages by different channels is just, well, stalker-like!


Beyond the BS – Are Communicators Dedicated to Continuing Education?

October 1, 2009

Yesterday, IABCTT hosted a training event of interest to me. I did not go. Neither did two communication colleagues. Why? Work did not fit the bill. For less than a new pair of shoes/purse/handbag/dinner out – we could have met with communication professionals to discuss the impact of social media. As I awoke this morning to blog I thought – Are we, as professionals, really dedicated to improving our skills and craft?

My answer  – not if doing so is “hard”. At a conference this weekend, Lara Mc Culloch asked approximately 120 Caribbean Event professionals how many were using Twitter and LinkedIn – the number of hand that stayed glued to laps was astounding – almost as astounding as the few Communications Professionals that attended the conference – so few it was shocking.

What’s the link between Twitter and continuing education? Enter,,, or hundred of online access to research, statistics and tips on constantly improving the Corporate Communication toolkit or adapting our craft to an ever focused on ROI world. In fact, honestly, the first time I READ the term Return on Investment, I’m fairly sure it was in an IABC discussion.

So what do we do?

  1. Set up a “Education Savings Acccount” – We’ve heard pay yourself first. Now adapt that to invest in yourself! Each month, save a few hundred dollars in an education account – for yourself! Not just for kids! That way, when your training budget gets declined due to budget cuts (it happens), you will AT LEAST be able to afford local resources
  2. Read & Listen  – Web 2.0 is a financially challenged individuals best resource when it comes to staying on top of news, events and the evolution of our field. Follow fellow communicators like @judettepuglisi, @iabc or even @danijones (ok that’s me) on Twitter to be referred to articles/ blogs and news your peers (or mentors) are reading & read them too. At
  3. Network – If you are missing that cocktail, you are missing an opportunity to learn from peers and do “social research”. Ask CEOS, business professionals and average folks who their Corp Communications person is, what challenges are facing their marketing teams or how they view the Communications field in general. ASk them what would “sell them” on Communication’s worth to their business. See what team building initiatives different companies have. Networking is a GREAT way (if done well) to keep your name and interest out there AND assist you in staying abreast in current if not emerging trends of thought about our field.
  4. Cough It Up – Skip a few dinners and do a few extra classes. We’re paid to be creative thinkers but really we’re paid to strategically map out ways to keep our companies “top of mind” – to do that requires continued inspiration and education. Attend a damn training session.