Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

5 Common Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Looking for PR

Baseball_glove“If you want PR, think like a reporter.”

It’s something many entrepreneurs and business marketers who want publicity must learn. But what does it mean? How do reporters think? And why do you need to be privy to this information?

You can’t effectively pitch stories to anyone in traditional or social media if you don’t understand how their minds operate.

How do journalists, bloggers and podcasters decide what is newsworthy and what gets tossed?

I was a news reporter. Please, allow me to share these five common rookie mistakes small business owners should avoid when looking for PR and publicity:

Rookie Mistake #1. I can sell my products and services with an article, post or interview. It’s all about me! When pitching a self-serving story that fails to connect with a specific audience, you’re missing an opportunity to become a trusted and credible resource.

If you want to sell something, pay for an ad and call the sales department.

An article or interview that conveys a compelling story that’s relevant and timely to an audience will build your credibility and visibility. It will likely take time, but it could bring new clients.

When you set aside the mindset “it’s all about me” and flip your pitch to help a targeted demographic solve their challenge (it’s all about them), reporters will be more likely to consider your pitch.

Rookie Mistake #2. Reporters and bloggers will jump at the chance to read my pitch and will follow-up so they can learn all about my business. Most people working in busy newsrooms think of PR pitches as “interruptions.” Journalists are typically overworked, underpaid and…well, yes…grumpy. It’s an incredibly competitive field. They are besieged with dozens of pitches that are irrelevant.

It’s our job as marketers to communicate a concise and meaningful message, especially in the subject line and headline. We must pique their interest and curiosity with just a few words, so they will continue reading.

If you can capture the essence of your story in a punchy subject line, a reporter is more apt to follow-up.

Rookie Mistake #3. Any reporter will do. When crafting your email pitch or press release, keep the reporter’s audience, demographic and “beat” front of mind.

To prepare, peruse an archive of the writer’s last 20 stories or posts. Read their bio page to see which specialty area they cover. For example, don’t send an environmental reporter a pitch about back-to-school vaccinations. It’s unlikely they will send it to the correct person.

Do your homework and show them you respect their time and understand their target audience.

Rookie Mistake #4. My story is relevant to the public. A good reporter will ask the question, “What’s new here? Has something happened that we haven’t covered yet?” Look for new statistics, updates or a fresh angle.

Within the word “news” is the word “new.” Regurgitating old information will diminish your credibility. Show reporters why your pitch is relevant to their readers or listeners. Most decision-makers will shoot down your ideas in a split second. Can you bounce back four or five times to show them why they should listen to your pitch?

Rookie Mistake #5.  My writing doesn’t matter; they’ll fix it.  You must be able to write and communicate your pitch with clarity. This shows the reader (reporter or blogger) that you have a thorough understanding of your pitch and how it relates to them.

Journalists won’t read beyond the first few words to decipher your pitch. It will quickly be deleted. Be sure the sentence that captures the essence of your pitch is at the top. If it’s buried seven lines down, the journalist will never see it.

Take time to make the reporter or blogger feel special. Do your homework, know what they cover and what they’ve written about in the past.

If you’re interested in learning how to generate compelling content in your own business, I’ve created a free cheat sheet to help you with this: “4 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Create Content.”

13 Communication Tips to Help You Survive Thanksgiving

I usually blog about business communication but since most of us won’t be working on Thanksgiving, we’ll have to communicate with relatives and/or friends. It may be easier to go to work!

Here are 13 quick communication tips to help make your day festive and enjoyable. Bookmark this post, as it will come in handy for the entire holiday season!

1. Forget previous holidays, discussions, disagreements and conversations. Go in with a clean slate and an open mind that you will have a fabulous and relaxing day.

2. Have a drink. I didn’t say get drunk because things could turn ugly. One drink can help you relax and take the edge off.

3. Remember that not every comment or statement requires an answer. Silence and a smile can be very powerful. In other words, bite your tongue.

4. Use the phrase, “Isn’t that interesting?”  If Uncle Grouch starts in at the table with off-color remarks, recite these three magical words.  “Isn’t that interesting?” neutralizes virtually every situation. This phrase leads to a verbal dead-end. Then smile politely.

5. Mingle with the kids. This can bring levity to the day.

6. Take a walk. Invite someone special, or the entire group, to take a walk around the corner. The dynamics will shift, the conversations will lighten up and the fresh air will be rejuvenating.


7. Keep a few friendly and neutral small-talk starters or stories in mind. Be ready to drop one in if things get awkward or tense.

8. Pass on being a “topper.” When Cousin Fred is bragging about his week in Florida, let him have his moment. Don’t chime in that you just returned from a free month in Bermuda because you were the No. 1 sales rep.

9. Be nice. Gossip often rules at family gatherings. Steer clear of pettiness. Don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face.

10. Avoid touchy subjects. There’s a lot of angst out there with politics, money and everyday life. You don’t know everything that goes on in other homes, marriages or relationships. Focus on positive topics and stay away from turning your feast into a “pity party.”

11.  Cite three good qualities of someone who is with you that you dislike. Think of these qualities before you join the crowd so you can get rid of “old baggage.” Plan to relax and have a good day!

12. Offer to help. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with family and friends have taken place while we’re clearing dishes, taking out the garbage or loading the dishwasher.

13. Communicate your gratitude. Regardless of how happy or unhappy you were during your visit, tell your host that you appreciate their efforts and invitation.

If you’re hoping for a stress-free Thanksgiving, just think about the hardships the Pilgrims had to endure.

You’re good.

3 Quick Ways to Create Powerful Health-Related Content

106511385There’s a growing pressure in PR and marketing for drumming up fresh story ideas. Writers and content marketers who work in health care can use the following tactics to generate new material for blogs, videos, e-newsletters and more.

1. Sit down. Schedule brief exploratory sessions with your colleagues, providers, physicians or clients. Be respectful of their time but let them know you want to learn more about their hobbies, interests, lives, intriguing patients, experiences, etc. Frame it as a casual conversation. Brainstorm. Quality questions will bring quality information and compelling stories.

One of my early “search” expeditions involved a physical therapist at a rehab hospital. I merely asked him what he had done over the past weekend. He said he was a volunteer fireman and just one day earlier, he rescued two kids from a house fire. He never mentioned this to his co-workers, who typically—and hurriedly—had asked if his weekend was enjoyable. The man’s humility nearly buried a fabulous story.

2. Pay attention. Want to know the hot trends and challenges facing your specialty or industry? Poke around online and see what topics speakers and subject matter experts are covering at upcoming conferences. Connect the dots right back to your clinicians, services and patients.

3. Look elsewhere. Search newspaper articles and posts from health care pros in different parts of the U.S. What kinds activities, PR and news coverage are they getting? Who are their community partners? What do they post on Instagram? What topics and approaches do they take in their videos? If you’re in a suburb of Connecticut, look to St. Louis, Des Moines or Tampa. Can you emulate part of someone else’s success? Can you tweak something to fit your practitioners and community? It may be as simple as a #TBT on a hospital Facebook page.

The bottom line: Get the creative juices flowing.


The Future of Health Care Content Marketing

img_20160803_095134694_hdr1There are trends content creators in health care must pay attention to in 2017. Let’s take a look at what matters for writers, marketing and PR communicators working in the industry. Will you include any or all of these content creation tactics in your strategic plan for the new year?

1. What matters is a new level of storytelling. It’s time to deepen the basic brand journalism model that focuses on connecting emotionally with prospects and customers. 2017 is an opportunity to have your community share the experiences they have with your health care organization. Author Seth Godin said: “People don’t buy products and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.” Can you clearly identify the experience your hospital, services and staff bring to each and every patient? Marketing blogger Susanna Gebauer advises that communicators “give a voice to happy customers in your storytelling.” Building influence takes time but telling the right stories can tremendously help it, Gebauer says.

2. What matters is the explosive use of personalized video. The hottest marketing trends are personalization and video. Combine the two and your open rates and engagement will likely be impressive. Michael Litt, CEO of Vidyard, a video marketing company, says health care and other marketing pros can promote products, services and events with personalized video invitations, exclusive discounts and more. Of course, it seems there are also new features coming weekly on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and other platforms.

 3. What matters are simplicity and value. Marketing and PR pros are discovering that a focus on value can simplify sophisticated scientific and medical issues. The approach also resonates nicely with patients. Medical mumbo jumbo has no place in today’s consumer-based marketing. Confused patients, family members and people in your community won’t stick around and try to decipher your message. As communicators, we must translate highly complex verbiage into clear, concise, compelling—and jargon-free—words and images. Within the process, we often forget the “V” word: value. Savvy marketing and PR pros are focusing on value when creating videos, blog posts and campaigns.

4. What matters is energizing stale topics. Repurposing content has been popular this year. Over the years, it’s been a useful practice for me. However, let’s try a new approach in which communicators tap the sales and customer service departments for information. Folks who are on the front lines with prospects and customers are likely to hear firsthand about challenges and trends. There’s a terrific post on ContentMarketingInstitute.com that has tips on how to collaborate with your colleagues. You can create an FAQ section, so your website becomes a trusted resource. Also, use lead generation in case studies, which can be distilled into short blog posts or slide decks.

5. What matters is connecting data mining and marketing. Content marketers shouldn’t be intimidated by statistics and numbers. After all, stakeholders expect communicators to connect metrics with business outcomes. Can you formulate a hypothesis about content performance and compile an easy-to-read pie chart or graphic that provides highlights, supporting data and next steps? John Santaferraro is the chief analytics officer at Educational Measures, a company that measures real-time audience engagement. He says it’s essential to translate “the fire hose of data into actionable reports and interactive dashboards.”

6. What matters is a customer-centric approach. Are they patients or customers? Some hospitals are stepping up their customer-centric approach, others are in denial, says a report from Kaufman Hall and Cadent Consulting Group. The State of Consumerism in Healthcare study concluded “a growing number of health care professionals understand that a wave of consumerism is taking hold of the industry.” However, few have strategic insights about their patients. Those that do have a plethora of story possibilities, brand ambassadors and testimonials at their fingertips. According to MedCityNews.com, two-thirds of respondents believe that insight into patient behaviors and expectations is crucial. Still, the post says fewer than one-quarter of health care organizations have the resources to gather and analyze significant patient data. It seems like a simple semantics game, recharacterizing patients as consumers, says the Med City News post. With a growing number of people taking control of their health care decisions—and health care reform laws—hospitals and providers must adapt to keep patients. How are you doing in this area?

7. What matters are internal brand ambassadors. Employees are the voice of your content. If you’re looking to (easily) create content that’s “on-brand” and bolster employee engagement, consider what IBM, Humana and MasterCard are doing. Corporate marketers are transforming colleagues into social media advocates. Employees post brand-minded news and other content across personal social channels. Humana’s effort began this year with 500 people and has grown to 2,900. Jason Spencer, Humana’s social media community manager, says: “Focusing on content style and giving employees ‘an expert voice’ on how to handle Twitter and Facebook posts are keys to success.”

Are you prepared for the coming year? What matters to your organization and professional development?



The Main Reason to Ignore your Target Audience

danny-nov-2015If you’re a PR, marketing or branding professional—or you work in sales—you probably spend an inordinate amount of resources trying to “get a handle on your target audience.” It’s time to dump the demographics and toss the generational preferences pie chart.

You must drill deeper than demographics. These days, you must market—with clarity—to one person. It’s essential to create a buyer persona and profile of your ideal client. Note that “client” is singular, not a community or demographic. One human being.

A profile or avatar will provide you with a deep understanding of your prospect.

Think about it. Consumers are craving—no they are demanding—personized attention and nurturing. They want to know that brands—and the people behind them—have invested the time and energy to get more than just acquainted. For this reason, you mustn’t communicate with a mass group such as millennial women or Baby Boomers.

What can you do without a demographic? Focus on one person. Create an avatar as you have done for your own business or personal social media accounts. For example:

Who is your ideal audience? To reach young men ages 18 to 25, how would you create a social media profile for someone in this group? Take the time and energy to brainstorm and create this one avatar.

You may:

  1. Assign him an age.
  2. Determine his level of education.
  3. Think about the region and country where he resides. Does he live with others or alone? Does he own or rent? Is he a college student?
  4. Identify your person’s likes and dislikes. What does your buyer enjoy on Netflix or iTunes? Which social media channels does he prefer? Does he loathe or love tattoos and piercings? Consider his friendships, online games, favorite sports teams and foods, hobbies, clothing and political affiliations.
  5. Understand how he consumes information and communicates. Does your buyer prefer BuzzFeed, The Wall Street Journal or Inc.com? Does he favor online tutorials, podcasts, YouTube or written blog posts?
  6. Consider how he spends his time. Does your person enjoy the outdoors or a gym membership? Does he stay up late?
  7. Think about those closest to him. Is he family-minded, close with his parents, siblings and extended family? Does he have a significant other or partner? Does he have pets? Does he have a lot of friends?
  8. Get a clear understanding of your person’s aspirations. Does he work (or plan to work) in a corporate setting, remote job or part of the gig economy? Is he a spender or a saver? Is he a risk-taker?
  9. List his social values. Is he an animal lover, an Eagle Scout, a volunteer at the local food pantry, or an annual participant in a 5K race for breast cancer awareness? Does he litter? Does he vote?
  10. Focus on your person’s concerns and challenges. What keeps him up at night? What worries him? What scares him?

The next step is to give your person a first name. It’s probably Hunter, Tanner, Matthew or Quinn. (If you’ve named your avatar George or Robert, you may need to rethink some of this.)

The final step is to find a picture (an avatar!) of your person. He may be a face in the LL Bean catalog or on the Best Buy website. You may find him in your local newspaper circular. Clip the picture to the responses you’ve written above. Meet your buyer. Keep him front and center in every aspect of your marketing, PR and branding brainstorms. Think: What would Tanner do?

The real application

Now, market and communicate with this individual. You have taken the time to get more than just acquainted with your prospect. You’ve gone beyond a crowd of young males ages 18 to 25. You’ve paid attention. How can you show your buyer he’s special?

  • Market to his needs.
  • Communicate in the language, phrases and buzzwords that will resonate with him.
  • Choose images, memes and graphics with care.
  • Customize Snapchat stories and Instagram accounts.
  • Invite user-generated content from events that he can relate to, and share with his friends.
  • Use list-building and auto-responders tactics to share free content in the format HE prefers.
  • Follow him on different social media accounts and share his content when appropriate.

Compare this approach to reading one of your favorite books. If you’re like me, an author who can make the reader feel as though they are speaking directly and only to him is magical. Millions of copies of the book may have been sold but it was written in such a personal style that readers feel an emotional connectedness to the author. It’s memorable.

Is your marketing memorable?

Even Mother Teresa Can Be Newsjacked

Mother_teresa_newsjackedMother Teresa is now a saint.

Please step back with me in time to reflect on the so-called “saint of the gutters.”

Some 30 years ago, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey delivered the commencement address at Montclair State University. I attended the ceremony because as a radio news reporter, I wanted access to Bradley, whom I had interviewed many times.

My plan was to conduct a quick interview with the Senator on a variety of timely topics that I could use during the slow summer news cycle. I brought my clunky Marantz tape recorder and reporter’s notebook. I came in search of sound bites. I drove to—what was then—Montclair State College.

To my surprise, it was Sen. Bradley’s formal remarks—and an informal conversation I overheard afterward—that has remained with me all this time.

In his address, Bradley spoke of Mother Teresa and all the good she had done in the world. The charity, the love, the benevolence, the impact, the caring.

He urged the graduates to follow Mother Teresa’s example and find meaningful work that contributes to the community-at-large.

The real lesson

Following the speech, I waited on the sidelines as Bradley greeted a few students. One young lady dressed in her cap and gown approached with a look of despair scrawled across her face. She politely confided to Bradley that she couldn’t fathom being like Mother Teresa. The graduate said the world is so big and I am so small. “What am I supposed to do when I leave here; what do I do tomorrow?” she wondered aloud. “I don’t know where to begin,” she admitted.

Gently, Bradley responded: “I don’t expect you to be Mother Teresa. Nobody does. You can volunteer at a local food pantry. You can be a scout leader or soccer coach. Maybe you can mentor a freshman. Maybe you would be great at organizing a fundraiser in your community or office. The point is: Find your own Calcutta.” The student’s relief was evident as her face relaxed and a slight smile pursed her lips.

Bradley used his address at Montclair State University as his own Calcutta. Today, this post is my Calcutta.

How will you make a difference? Have you found your own Calcutta? (Note: I didn’t have earbuds at the time and a story and life lesson simply came to me. Wow. )

And, for the record, if you work in PR, branding, marketing, social media, or content creation, you will see I’ve unabashedly newsjacked* Mother Teresa’s sainthood. I believe I have done so with humility. My sole intention in writing this post is to pass along the distilled message Sen. Bradley shared in Montclair, New Jersey. Pay attention. Find your own Calcutta.

*Newsjacking: Author David Meerman Scott coined the phrase “newsjacking” several years ago, but creative journalists on the hunt for a good local story called it “riding the coattails of national news.” This has been a commonplace practice throughout my career in broadcast news, PR and content curation. It required that you pay attention and find an audience-relevant angle or hook to a big news event, localizing it with an expert or connection to your community. Read one of my examples of recent newsjacking with Pokemon Go and the Summer Olympics.


(Image via)


Leaders: Do you know these 4 communication essentials?

18249893-walking-towards-the-business-solution-3d-rendered-illustrationToday’s business professionals must have skills and talents that previous generations didn’t even consider. Each of the items below is not exclusive to people working in marketing, sales, PR or HR. For example, not long ago, storytelling was integral to PR and news stories but not to HR. Now, savvy human resource professionals share employee stories about their corporate culture that is essential in recruiting and retention.

The following elements of communication are for all of us. You can run, but you can’t hide.

  1. Storytelling

Marketers must not only grab people’s attention; they must also be able to hold people’s attention.  (Seinfeld fans will remember when Jerry chastised a rental car agent at an airport for “making the reservation but not holding the reservation.”)











Today, taglines won’t work; storytelling helps consumers take notice of a brand. Greg Satell, a digital strategist, writes, “We need to shift from crafting messages to creating experiences.” Satell says to construct a compelling story that resonates with human emotions, says sales and marketing pros mustn’t get caught up with content. Instead, learn the elements needed for a phenomenal story.

  1. Live Video

By 2019, some 90 percent of web traffic will include video content. Research from Cisco reminds us that consumers enjoy recording spur-of-the-moment snippets. Author Bryan Kramer, a social media marketing pro, says:  “[Video] disrupts traditional forms of pre-planned content that get pushed towards an audience; live-video opens up a conversation and invites consumers to the party.” Think brand ambassadors and fun.

Kramer also addresses the value of B2C engagement:

Live-video invites a two-way exchange between your brand and consumers. Your audience can help you to shape your content, essentially urging a crowd-sourced approach. It’s an adaptive way to market and means that you can change the direction of your video content in response to live interaction with your audience. If something isn’t working, you can bet that your audience will let you know about it.

The spontaneity of your content creation and the rapid-fire response of your audience can help you show off your brand and let people know that you’re not faceless corporate drones. Brands can relax.

  1. Metrics and Business Outcomes

Content marketers shouldn’t be intimidated by statistics and numbers. After all, stakeholders expect leaders to connect metrics with business outcomes. Can you formulate a hypothesis about content performance and compile a report with supporting data and next steps? I’m impressed with Barry Feldman’s infographic that offers 26 ways to use Google Analytics and measure content marketing efforts. There are tips on dashboards, queries, BOT filtering, mobile, KPIs and more.

  1. Customer Service  

A marketing professional in the environmental engineering industry once told me she “doesn’t have anything to do with sales.” Really?! Likewise, if you think your expertise doesn’t involve customer service (brand ambassadors), think again.

Consider this example from event planners who manage large business conferences. Do they understand their responsibilities go beyond a comfortable ballroom and goodies at a networking reception? Kelli White, an event manager, wrote a post that included a few customer service debacles. She reminded readers that reputation management and communication on social media during programs are essential to branding and sales. For example, one conference’s transportation glitches sent attendees right to social media to complain. White says many organizers mistakenly create social media channels without a realistic plan to manage and respond to comments and criticism.

One way for emerging leaders and those new to the workforce to learn organizational cross-functionality may lie in rotational programs. That’s when employees work in at least three different departments at the same company for a designated period. “They provide the opportunity to try on many hats to see which fits best. For example, a participant may spend a year in accounting, a year in finance and a year in marketing,” writes blogger Kaytie Zimmerman on Forbes.com. Rotational programs often help companies improve opportunities for millennials, who crave learning and professional development.

In the end, effective leaders understand the overlap that we need to compete in business today.


Fox Sports Throws a Curve Ball in #WorldSeries Opener

When the satellite truck lost power and the broadcast went dark, folks on Twitter started lobbing  hardballs about the tech trouble.

The fourth inning in Kansas City turned ugly—and quiet—for Fox Sports.

My Tweetdeck #WorldSeries column went berserk in Game 1 of the World Series when the Fox Sports broadcast went bust. Like so many others, I was tweeting and watching the New York Mets in Kansas City. I was horrified to see a blue screen on my TV.












Naturally, my first thought was: Which brand—if any—is going to jump all over this marketing moment, like Oreo did when the power went out during Super Bowl 48 in New Orleans?

Fox Sports’ broadcasters tried to get a handle on what was unfolding on live television, and tweeted:







When the first of the two outages hit, Peter Shankman, a New Yorker, and the founder of HARO, hit the (Twitter) roof.








When the telecast returned a few minutes later, viewers saw that play had actually been halted at Kauffman Stadium. We watched as Major League Baseball Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre consulted with the umpiring crew and managers. The game resumed a few minutes later when officials agreed to continue without the use of replay, reported USAToday.








During the downtime, Twitter freaked out on #Fox with numerous hashtags and criticism of announcer Joe Buck.











Regardless of who wins the series, Fox Sports is the biggest loser. Can’t wait for Game 2.

As former Mets pitcher Tug McGraw said in the 1973 World Series, “Ya Gotta Believe.”

Me and Tug McGraw 2001








Back to the Future: 10 New Age PR and Marketing Insights

Visitorparking_sky_editedIn our new world of social media, fascinating things happen when Marty McFly meets brand ambassadors, bloggers and connected consumers.

Old school communication has taken the time machine south. You’ve noticed, haven’t you?

Pop culture and movie enthusiasts are marking the release of the 1985 epic movie, “Back to the Future.” The sci-fi trilogy featured a time machine that scientist Doc Brown concocted from a sleek DeLorean. The movies were packed with other gadgets and “stuff” for everyday life that seemed awfully bizarre.

Is social media our bizarre and concocted time machine?

Few of us could have imagined how the tenets and tools of communication have changed these past 25 years. Or, even 10 years.

Thanks to imaginative, edgy communicators with vision, we now have:

  • Smart companies with their own news departments that create credible brand journalism stories daily.
  • Empowered consumers who insist their voices be heard on multiple platforms.
  • Resourceful entrepreneurs who have quickly—and nimbly—built their own media empires.

These 10 quotes help us frame our modern day PR and marketing picture, and make the depiction quite appealing:

  1. “In the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service and 70 percent of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.” ― Jeff Bezos, founder, Amazon.com
  2. Content is an opportunity to do something different. Tone of voice is your most powerful, gutsiest, bravest asset. A braver voice attracts like-minded, and repels the timid.—Ann Handley, author and speaker
  3. “The goal of social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army.” – Jay Baer, founder, Convince and Convert
  4. “What makes Instagram such a special marketing tool is that it allows marketers to bring their companies’ aesthetics to life, visually. All of the work done during branding processes—finding the right color pallet, picking the perfect adjectives to describe a business, selecting images that embody the company’s personality—can be communicated with great detail through regular photo uploads to Instagram.”—Ted Karczewski, managing editor, the Content Standard
  5. “Social media puts the ‘public’ into PR and the ‘market’ into marketing.”—Chris Brogan, blogger
  6. “Remarkable social media content and great sales copy are pretty much the same; plain spoken words designed to focus the needs of reader, listener or viewer.”—Brian Clark, founder, Copyblogger
  7. “The bottom line is that for most companies, customer experience is not truly a priority. They manage it instead of lead it. They scale and optimize their current practices, generally focusing on some technology fixes and doing good marketing. No amount of advertising or marketing can override the effects of a poor experience with your people or products. People will talk and people will listen.” — Brian Solis, analyst, Altimeter Group
  8.  “Today’s marketing success comes from self-publishing web content that people want to share. It’s not about gimmicks. It’s not about paying an agency to interrupt others.”—David Meerman Scott, author
  9. “The New York Times says it prints ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’ but it actually prints what fits, and what fits is what advertisers will support and readers have time to consume. Stories have to fight to get a spot.”—Seth Godin, author and speaker
  10. “A curator is an information chemist. He or she mixes atoms together in a way to build an info-molecule. Then adds value to that molecule.” —Robert Scoble, social media entrepreneur and blogger

Entertainment website IMDB.com describes the first shot of “Back to the Future”:  “The scene opens in Dr. Emmett Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) garage/home laboratory as the camera pans over a large collection of clocks.”

Come to think of it, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs all started their tinkering in their garages, too. Hmm.

5 Signs You Know You’re Prepared to Work in PR

IMAG0387Whether you’re gearing up for your coveted “first job in the real world” or you’ve been working in PR for a bit, we know preparation is the key to success. Well, preparation mixed with perseverance, persistence and patience. Caffeine’s good, too.

Adjectives aside, here are five ways to know you’re not only ready to work in public relations, but you’re willing to step up and blow the doors off the hinges.

1. I will always bring (tons of) value. Adding value to client relationships is obsolete. You must consistently add IMMENSE value to clients. This requires that you study, distill, learn, and have a deep understanding of your client’s niche, industry and team. When you know their business inside and out, you can head off problems in advance of disaster. Anticipate their challenges and offer creative solutions BEFORE problems arise. Don’t have panicky clients coming to you about a problem they heard in a webcast. Today’s business climate demands that you share solid and quantifiable information long before the buzz begins. Hint: This strategy goes well beyond reading trade pubs and dropping in on a LinkedIn group every few weeks. You must commit to lifelong learning, and professional and personal development.

2. I will show up big. The most successful people in business are those who focus on what they can give to others, and not what they can get, get, get. High achievers are comfortable in deflecting attention away from themselves. They have absolute faith that by helping others, abundance will find its way into their lives. Individuals with this mindset aren’t in a hurry to get the deal. Instead, their priority is to build relationships and trust. People who show up big, regardless of the scope of the task or the stature of the other person, are also flexible. They are agile workers who can course correct in the midst of a project. As a result of these attributes, they are the “go-to person” who is irreplaceable. Marketing pro Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, talks about how to make yourself indispensable. Hint: Mediocrity is not for you. Become a person of excellence.

3. I will focus intently. Your ability to pay attention will completely change every all of your professional and personal relationships. You must be willing to fight mental distractions and enter into the deep, “in the moment sphere” of listening. This is a rare attribute in today’s world, but it is so desperately needed. Consider the practice of “silent listening.” It requires us to mentally quiet the unrelenting soundtrack that plays in our heads 24/7. Silent listening demands that we give our undivided attention, free of distractions, judgments and response planning. It calls for us to be fully present. Hint: Be patient as focus requires awareness and discipline. Meditation and yoga can help.

4. I will have a curious mind. One of my favorite quotes is from TV journalist Diane Sawyer: “Wake up curious.” Get out of bed each morning with a newfound sense of excitement of what the day will bring. This childlike trait will serve you well. People and stories are not what they appear to be. Your willingness to ask good questions and truly listen to uncover what lies beneath will bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm for your work and life. Hint: Become an emotional archaeologist. Take your shovel to every client meeting and interaction, and dig away.

5. I will commit to communicating in new ways. These days, PR pros are communicating like project managers. You must be prepared to track the minutiae in assignments. Constant communication with team members has to be tempered with independent thinking skills. Whether you’re a newcomer to public relations or a more experienced PR professional, you must know how to use online spreadsheets, dashboards, graphics and images to track progress, next steps and metrics. Data visualization is essential. Executives don’t have time to distill reams of reports and analytics. That’s what you’re here for. Respect your manager’s time and provide easy-to-view pie charts and graphs that highlight only the most relevant business-related outcomes. They will appreciate your efforts. Hint: Communicators must be adept at this thing called communication.

Speaking of success, I invite you to visit CareerTapped.com. The site provides free educational business content to help college students develop workplace skills and connect with employers before graduation. The result is quality mentoring, internships and jobs. CareerTapped.com offers new ways for high achievers to keep up with PR, communication, marketing and business information.