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Marketing is like God and First Aid Kits

July 3rd, 2018

Marketing and communications tactics are like God and first aid kits. No one thinks they’re important until something bad happens.

Once the bottom line of a company isn’t looking good, a crisis arises or a competitive advantage is no longer prevailing, companies begin to think, “Huh. We really should’ve invested in marketing or a communications strategy before now.”

In today’s multi-tasking world, speed is everything and employees have more on their plates than they can easily navigate, making survival the priority. While solely focusing on important day-to-day tasks may keep heads above water – all other efforts that fall into the category of “optional” or ‘side of the desk activities’ are generally passed over. Survival mode does the opposite of fostering growth, too. Without resources to spare, whether human or financial, survival mode can become normal without the investment required for forward-moving progress.

It’s common for organizations to realize their need for marketing or a communications strategy and to even have a strategy only to come to realize that they don’t have the resources needed to execute it. But therein lies the question – do they not have the resources or are they simply allocating them to something more “black and white” instead of efforts that may be effective but more complicated to measure?

What if you had purchased a first aid kit before that skiing accident? Timing is everything. It’s never too late to reap the benefits of a newly executed marketing or communications strategy; having a plan in place prior to a product or new business launch is considerably more effective than trying to backtrack and add in a piecemeal strategy.

 We recommend you buy the first aid kit.

Crisis Social Media – One Piece of a Complicated Puzzle

June 20th, 2018

Social media has introduced an interesting component to crisis communications. Not only does social media play a role in communicating important messages during a crisis, but it can also be an emergency instigator in itself. While social media is a buzzword for many, failing to communicate information to stakeholders through other traditional channels, while focusing on social media solely, can worsen any crisis situation.

As a channel of communication that allows users to be co-content-creators, social media can lead to gray areas between facts and fiction. Strive to communicate sensitive information using a variety of channels to ensure your message is received clearly.

One irritator that makes social media crisis communication especially challenging is the wide gap that often exists between the person managing an organization’s social media, and the decision makers who ultimately determine what should be relayed to the public in uncertain situations. As organizations continue to tap into a newer, technology-savvy generation for social media management, there is a barrier of understanding between executives and those who are tactically making social media decisions.

It’s challenging to make judgements without knowing the full intensity of a potential crisis situation. For example, a customer is upset about the way they were treated at a retail store; this could have the potential to blow up and become viral, making you wish you had taken the issue to your company’s leadership earlier or you may have two unhappy customers every single day, and you’re not going to continuously bother your company’s busy leadership just to have a discussion about Patty’s bad experience in the grocery store. So how do you determine what is worth the time investment and what is not?

In crisis conditions, information typically comes more slowly than we wish it would, and we’re left to piece together what we know quickly while remaining transparent and credible. It’s essential to have a crisis communication plan already in place prior to an issue arising. From social media to traditional media relations, having a step by step plan on hand that details actions for all communication channels will guide tough decisions that are necessary under tight time constraints.

There’s also an infection going around right now called “Oh yes social media is so important.” That’s what executives say when they give you advice on how to handle the social media crisis at hand and then you learn that they thought Twitter was a type of bird and they haven’t logged into their LinkedIn for two years. And you think wow, no wonder they just gave me really bad advice. During times such as those, a level of autonomy must be taken by the social media manager, using an understanding of the industry’s key components while still respecting the wishes of a company’s senior leadership. While this is a hard line to ride, it is critical and the sign of a social media pro. It’s also important to emphasize to executives that regardless of the social media response, integrated efforts across all communication channels should still be prioritized to successfully navigate any crisis situation.

The Amusement Park of Life

June 6th, 2018

Let’s say you’re at Disney World waiting to ride your favorite attraction. You see a sign that the wait is 2-hours long. You hesitate but know that you’ll regret it if you leave without riding the one thing you came to Disney for. More important than the 2-hour wait are the people who stand beside you. Who are you waiting with? If you’re with the right people, those that inspire you and make the mundane more interesting, then the time lapsed won’t seem like waiting, instead it will be an extension of the overall experience. On the other hand, if you’re with people who make a living off of complaining, then that would suck.

In life, waiting is inevitable. We wait for red lights, for restaurants to seat us. We wait for more education or experience. We wait to find partners or start families. If you’re not careful your whole life will simply be a waiting game. Waiting is a necessity, but if you’re waiting with the wrong people, you’re wasting precious time.

Just like the complainers in the line at Disney World, there are people in life who have grown so tired of their own waiting games and ordinary routines that they focus their time on finding new things to complain about and new people to critique. They’re never satisfied because they’re doing nothing to improve their own lives, they’re only looking for ways to grumble about their current situations. It’s easy to become that complainer when you’ve been standing in a Disney World line for 2-hours, it’s 100 degrees out and there are screaming children surrounding you.

But in that moment, that’s when you’ll realize if you’re actually waiting with the right people. Can they make light of the uncomfortable situation? Will they stay positive in the face of heatstroke? Are they distracting you from how much your feet hurt because of how entertaining their stories are? These are the people you want to hold on to.

In the waiting game of life, there will be countless unpleasant moments. Surrounding yourself with the right people will turn any amusement park day of misery into a good memory in the years to come. When you’re truly living life to the fullest, you’ll make it to the front of the line without even realizing how long it took because you were enjoying your time in every queue.

Paving the Way for Women’s Opportunity

May 23rd, 2018

“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.” – Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony fought hard for women’s suffrage. She died 14 years before women were ultimately granted the right to vote, but she was a pioneer in the progress that was made. What seemed like such an unavoidable convention at the time, to inhibit women from having the same rights as men, is now seen as a historical misfortune by most. Granted there are numerous areas in today’s world where women still fall silent to the systematic inequality that has been deeply seeded in so many.

As a woman, reflecting on this quote of Anthony’s is humbling. To know that women today have been given the right and freedom to be who they want to be, which was once only a dream for countless others. To be considered complete and sufficient on one’s own, without the guidance, support or security of a man, is indeed a privilege.

But that’s not every woman’s goal in life, some women are deeply passionate about raising their children and making a home (as are some men). That’s great; there is value in their efforts. The issue becomes present when those very women forget that their right to have a say, and their liberty to choose between life’s opportunities was also fought for by many. Just because they’ve chosen a life path with less resistance and more broadly accepted convention, doesn’t mean they aren’t benefiting from what has been fought for on their behalf.

Unfortunately, these days it seems that women are pitted against one another. The stay-at-home moms of the world feel threatened by those who are balancing their careers and their families; those who spend their time in a board room feel judged by the women who stay busy caring for their children. And all of this contention for what? Neither of these lifestyles are better than the other. They’re both noble. The issue arises when people are so defensive that they’re unable to respect the preferences and sacrifices of another.

3 Types of People to Avoid in Organizational Politics

May 9th, 2018

Stick around any organization long enough and you’ll hear a recurring conversation begin to emerge. Regardless of the type of organization––nonprofit, corporation or an interest-based club, where people are, organizational politics will be also. Whether the desire is to grow, build organizational awareness, or create more effective goals, there are a few types of people or stances that will most likely make themselves known. You’ve probably run into one or more of these people a time or two:

  1. The “Millennials-Are-Everything” Person

We get it. Millennials are important. They’re significant to organizations as they become more influential in society, but every group has to analyze its goals, mission, and target audiences uniquely to determine if initiatives angled toward a younger audience would be beneficial to its overall growth efforts. Jumping on the millennial bandwagon just because everyone else is may not benefit your association in the long run and encouraging those that are pushing the pro-millennial bill too fiercely, could aggressively hinder your working relationships with other key audiences and stakeholders.

  1. The “Traditional Roots-Always-Win” Person

While millennials aren’t everything, doing nothing to encourage innovation in a changing society, will also leave an organization with less-than impressive outcomes. There will always be members of the “old regime” and they’ll attempt to stand their ground to see that no changes or advancements find their way in, but this has to be avoided. An organization that never innovates will become irrelevant regardless of how well a tactic worked 30 years ago. 

  1. The “Our-Leadership-Sucks” Person

This can be a legitimate claim and if so there will be more than one person saying it, but steer clear of the people who continuously blame the leadership and never do anything to make the organization better. These are the people who secretly enjoy blaming something or someone that they “can’t control” because it makes it seem as if their hands are tied. While in reality, they’re happy with the way things are because if they changed, they’d actually have to put forth effort.

The moral of the story is that it’s easy to talk about changes that need to be made, but when looking for great people to be part of an organization, look for the “do-ers” not just the talkers. People that are willing to put sweat equity in, will always bring more to the table than those who have lofty ideas but lack the work ethic to employ them.