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.”

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?

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.

8.5 Creative Ways to Grab People’s Attention

New research finds that we have just under 9 seconds—8.5 to be precise—to get someone’s attention. Our attention spans have decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.5 seconds this year. No surprise here, but the culprit is external communication.

Video, of course, is the hot commodity these days. And short videos are ideal. This graph reminds us about the importance of snippets:










Based on our limited ability to focus, here are 8.5 things communicators, PR pros and entrepreneurs can do to grab—and hopefully keep—someone’s attention. Whether you’re trying to reach a reporter, your target audience or a social media connection, short form content reigns supreme.

  1. Record a Twitter video. To truly connect with your followers on Twitter, put in some extra (video) effort and you’ll both be amazed. True to his style of recording quick videos on the fly, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, aka @GaryVee, takes us along on a cab ride in New York and shows how easy it is to use Twitter video. A 10 second clip can truly differentiate you from others, and if you’re pitching tech reporters, this will be impressive.
  2. Nail your headlines and email subject lines. No one will read your content unless the headline or subject line is so brief yet compelling that they simply can’t resist. Choose each word carefully with a focus on a benefit for the reader. Put yourself on the receiving end and be relevant. BuzzSumo can help.
  3. Use Periscope in the morning. Interact with your morning news anchors with Periscope. The early morning news is a fabulous time to use this technology because most people are half asleep and the news anchors are more apt to interact with the few who are engaging and interested in their programs. You’ll feel like old friends in no time.
  4. Read a journalist’s last five posts. Before you pitch a new contact or reporter, read —don’t skim—their last five posts or articles. When crafting your pitch, mention specifics from their previous work. We all appreciate when our efforts are recognized by others. Let reporters know you’re paying attention.
  5. Keep an eye on trending topics and hashtags. These hints can help dictate your content. Run with it while your competition is distracted with other external noise and nonsense.
  6. Incorporate easy tools that help with micro content. Less is more in our attention-starved world. Use memes, Inline Tweet Sharer, Canva and Facebook videos to keep things brief and interesting.
  7. Consider Snapchat. According to Social Media Examiner, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks, with more than 100 million daily active users. Some 70 percent of Snapchat’s U.S. users are between the ages of 18 and 34. With Snapchat, you can create a video narrative with filters, emojis, music and text that will pique the attention of your audience. You can promote a contest or offer a glimpse behind the scenes of an event or conference.
  8. Look at new ways to encourage engagement with millennials. Are you familiar with Comment Bubble? It’s a free tool that allows people to react to videos. You can specify the type of feedback you would like to receive—text, audio, video, or by clicking instant feedback buttons. Here’s an example from SocialMediaSlant.com:










8.5. Repurpose longer content into micro content on Pinterest. If you have a tip sheet-style press release or valuable piece of advice, create a visually appealing image with one or two quick tips. Post it to Pinterest, with a link to the longer content. Many businesses generate a significant amount of revenue from Pinterest. Don’t miss this easy opportunity.

The bottom line: Be brief.









Why We Need Chief Digital Officers

2 reframe picturesWhat do Gannett, New York City and Columbia University have in common?

Each were early adopters when they created the role of Chief Digital Officer. The CDOs bring together strategic business practices, technology, skilled leadership and internal and external communications. Most Chief Digital Officers can be found inside of media companies, sitting just a seat or two away from the CEO.

A recent post on emarketer.com says CDOs are most common in these five sectors:

  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Nonprofit
  • Retail

In 2010, there were lively conversations that CDOs were those who didn’t get the coveted title of President. Others maintained organizations that supported the CDO position were advocating for silos, the curse in marketing and communications.

Today, demand for CDOs is outpacing supply.

A report from The CDO Club released last month finds the estimated number of CDOs worldwide would double between 2014 and 2015, to 2,000. That’s an 800 percent growth from 2012, when there were some 200 CDOs.

The CDO Club, a community of executive digital leaders comprised of 1,000 members, has just named Starbucks CDO Adam Brotman as its 2015 U.S. Chief Digital Officer of the Year.

A complex blend of talent and leadership

Chief Digital Officers are not self-described social media gurus or community managers. CDOs have competencies in the convergence of technology, business, boards and organizational development.

“Business strategies now must be seamlessly interwoven with ever-expanding digital strategies that address not only the web but also mobile, social, local and whatever innovation there may be around the corner,” write Rhys Grossman and Jana Rich of Russell Reynolds Associates, a global executive search firm. In their article titled, The Rise of the Chief Digital Officer, Grossman and Rich state: “To help meet these challenges, companies are increasingly looking for a Chief Digital Officer who can oversee the full range of digital strategies and drive change across the organization.”

To lead a business through a technological transformation is no easy task. CDOs are innovators despite internal skeptics who whisper and rant about the pitfalls of social media.

According to emarketer.com, a 2015 study from Accenture asked executives worldwide about their progress in leveraging digital governance and decision-making. The results: Eighty percent of those surveyed say they had a CDO or comparable role to oversee the use of digital technologies.

CDOs must have the following five competencies: 

  1. They must be comfortable as a possible successor to the CEO. CDOs have to lead a global culture and drive an online presence. He or she must have experience in business operations, management and recruiting and retaining top talent. A CDO is a visionary, especially in our technology-based world.
  2. They must act as agents of changeand grasp the underlying psychology of consensus-building and conflict resolution.
  3. They must have Board experience and solid communication skills. This is imperative, as the CDO is the conduit between stakeholders and senior executive leadership.
  4. They must know how to set—and implement—sound business strategies. An assembled team of seasoned project managers to implement strategies must be a priority.
  5. They must possess deep knowledge of technology, e-commerce, consumer behavior, and social media. This is especially important for media organizations, as the industry’s entire business model continues to transform.

Where is this person?

You may be wondering: Does such a person exist? Where do organizations find one individual who encompasses this blend of intellect and talent?

And if you work in PR, marketing or communications, you may be curious if you have what it takes to be a Chief Digital Officer.

Grossman and Rich maintain that people considering CDO positions “may be reluctant to join established organizations, viewing them as old fashioned.” The co-authors note that many CDO candidates come from cutting-edge, entrepreneurial organizations.

Here’s another noteworthy point from Grossman and Rich. “Companies… have to move very quickly when they find and meet talent that has potential. The current state of supply and demand almost guarantees that other opportunities will be available to talented candidates.”

The bottom line about the evolving role of CDOs brings us to the real bottom line in business. Chief Digital Officers are leading new revenue streams through digital channels that can leave many people and employees feeling uneasy.

If the CDO is unable to succeed in brand management, e-commerce, transactions and customer engagement efforts, his or her organization can soon face financial disaster.



5 Things Communicators Must Know About Social Media Marketing

Austin hiway rampsI think it’s safe to say we’re well past debating the relevance of fresh content, online etiquette, and building an engaged community. Would you agree?

Let’s take things to the next level. Here are critical areas communicators must grasp, and be able to apply in everyday business:

1. Understand social sales. Short sales are the name of the game in social media. Inbound marketing, calls to action, memberships and affiliate marketing should be part of your mix. Think: Multiple revenue streams.

The Science of Social Selling: 5 Studies that Prove the Power of Social

How to Find the Value of a Lead

12 Proven Ways Your Copy Can Get More Conversions

2. Start spreading the news. Frank Sinatra sang New York, New York decades before anyone muttered the word “Internet.” Today, we must all cross promote and use numerous platforms to spread content and news about our brands, products and services.

Infographic: 25 Tweaks to Capture Attention in Social Networks

14 Podcasts to Make You a Better Social Marketer in 2015

How to Choose the Right Social Media Networks for Your B2B Marketing

3. Think in images. Research has proven that the human brain thinks in pictures, not words. We are visual junkies craving something to look at. Straight text is dull and leaves readers wanting more. Give them more.

Infographic: 8 Ways to Use Instagram for Business

Visuals, Schmisuals: Here’s What Your Business Really Needs to Pop

Grab Consumer Attention with the Power of Images

Flipboard: The Next Big Thing in Public Relations

4. Include podcasting. Podcasts are easy to produce and are powerful because they can be used virtually anywhere. Unlike video, slide decks, or blogs, people can listen to podcasts while driving, exercising, doing chores and flying in an airplane. As a former radio news anchor and news director, podcasting resonates with me. Basic audio, an engaging conversation with a credible guest and a relevant topic are all you need. Use your voice!

How to Successfully Launch Your Own Podcast

How to Make a Good Podcast/Radio Show

Infographic: 21 Tips to Maximize Your Podcasting Results  

5. Concentrate on inbound marketing. Chasing money and potential clients is a waste of everyone’s time, energy and resources. Inbound marketing is not disruptive. It allows you to gather quality leads and interact with people who choose to engage with you based on your reputation and content. This means list building, opt-in boxes and segmentation. If your database includes people who never voluntarily signed up for your information, that’s called spam. Seth Godin says that if the receiver thinks it is spam, then it is spam.

3 Steps to Stellar List Building

6 Key Aspects to Inbound Marketing

Rethinking Today’s Inbound Marketing Mix 

Consider bookmarking and sharing this post, as these shortcuts to fresh ideas and resources can help you easily navigate our new world of marketing, sales, and communication.

PS: For hundreds of tips and ideas on social media and business communication, order my  e-book here.

Are You Applying Agility in Sales?

3 Texans Bandera editedOrganizations—not people—have typically been recognized as agile, based on technology and business processes.

However, as communicators and professionals who market and sell, we must focus on human beings and the roles that people play within agile organizations.

At a recent training program I led for an inside sales team in the financial industry, we covered agility. How could the team improve collaboration and competency when working with their business-to-business clients and prospects?

On the Dime

When executives and analysts talk about agility in business, the word pivot is almost always in the conversation.

Being able to pivot means that you can strike the balance between what your plan is/was, AND still assess new opportunities with a high level of flexibility.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Obey the spur of the moment.”

To apply agility to your communication and sales, it’s imperative that you have a 360-degree view of your relationships, partnerships, prospects, clients, products, services, and self.

This is not a one-time analysis or critique that’s done periodically.

Your 360-degree view is ongoing because change is constant. To keep up with the twists, turns, and trends in your industry, you must always be reading, studying, learning…and applying your newly acquired knowledge.

Intensity Counts

Agile professionals are thoughtful, deliberate, and decisive. Their time zone is real-time.

This is what differentiates agile thinkers from the as-soon-as-possible thinkers.

If you want to be the go-to person—the agile professional—you have to:

Immerse yourself in your industry. Your daily formula for success: Study. Simplify. Apply.

Help clients reduce inefficiencies.

Think from the customer’s perspective.

Pay attention in a way that is smart, creative, curious, and proactive.

Contact clients and prospects to share new information, updates, and relevant news. Translation: Don’t check in, follow up, or touch base. Bring value.

Uncover problems BEFORE they occur. Don’t wait for customers to contact you when they have a problem or challenge. That’s too commonplace, and mediocre. Agile communicators and marketing and sales professionals contact their clients FIRST, explaining that a problem is looming and offering a recommendation or insight.

Agile professionals solve problems before they arise, making consistent and invaluable contributions to their client’s success.


The Agony of Delete: 3 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Content

scales of justice edited

Here’s an unscientific poll about content that I want to share with you.

More than 80% of people who write press releases, blog posts, bylined articles, and white papers admit they struggle with how to edit content.

I’m happy to offer a few suggestions on how to approach the editing process:

1. Write the main purpose on the back of a business card. In one or two sentences, summarize the reason you are writing. This brings clarity, which (usually) leads to brevity. If your purpose is too long for the business card, rip it up and start again. It must be clear in your mind before you begin to write.

2. Dissect your words and sentences. Slowly read each sentence, one at a time. Then read the next one. If you removed one of the sentences, would your story change? Each sentence must build off of the previous one, adding value to your story. This practice can significantly shorten your content and change the flow of your message. Translation: Cut the crap.

3. Consider your reader. Your word count will drop when you remove self-serving information that will be irrelevant–or annoying–to your audience. And don’t bother with jargon or rhetoric. Write to offer solutions to your reader’s challenges. Solve, don’t sell.

Finally, the words ‘very’ and ‘that’ should be used sparingly, if at all.