Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

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.

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.









7 Everyday Tasks PR Pros Had To Do Without Technology

PRPros_Beforetechnology_edited1At the risk of sounding like I live in the Smithsonian, please allow me to reflect on how times have changed. Modern day public relations preceded the Web by decades, and many working in the profession may not realize how archaic—and different—our daily work really was. Mind you, I began working in PR 15 years ago, but the points I mention below also apply to my first 15 years out of the gate—in a broadcast newsroom as a news director and anchor. Sure, Mad Men shows us advertising execs who were smoking cigarettes and drinking hard liquor as part of their daily routines. However, in the real world of PR and news, what was happening before Google, YouTube and satellite media tours? In 1947, the Public Relations Society of America was formed. In the 1950s, PR executive Dan Edelman, founder of the global agency bearing his name, created the first media tour. Fast forward to the 1990s or so, and the work of PR pros had evolved, but was markedly different than how we roll today. Every day, we depended on:

  1. Rolodexes, not databases. Without Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and other repositories to connect reporters with sources, offices and desks were decorated with tattered overstuffed rolodexes. They were bursting with weathered business cards and scribbled tabs with coveted names, home phone numbers and private extensions of elected officials, civic leaders and community movers and shakers. Oh, to clarify, the word “community” meant neighborhood or geographic area.
  2. Press releases, not direct message pitches. These documents were often typed on Olivetti or IBM Selectric typewriters. PR budgets included white out, corrector ribbons and paper that wasn’t recycled. Envelopes and postage stamps, too.
  3. File cabinets, not online archives. These ugly metal storage boxes contained news clips, magazine articles, and other placements you secured with blood, sweat and tears.
  4. Research, not Google Alerts. This depended on previous projects, microfiche records and speeches recorded on cassettes and videotapes. Trips to the local library were frequent, and lengthy. World Book Encyclopedias were also part of the PR practitioner’s toolbox.
  5. Telephones, not smartphones. With phones hard-wired to the wall and no voice mail, if you weren’t at your desk when someone returned your call, oh well. Some really important people had electronic pagers. When their “beepers” went off, they found the nearest pay phone and dialed. Callers never had to worry if a live person would pick up. What other options were there?
  6. Press conferences, not Satellite Media Tours. These events were scheduled. And people actually came to them, especially if there was food.
  7. Press kits, not infographics. Overpriced and glossy is how I remember them. Documents contained in these folders took weeks to write and edit. The design, off-site printing and subsequent stuffing gives a new meaning to collaboration. The cost of mailing five of these packets was equivalent to a catered office lunch for 12 executives.

You may want to hold onto this post and re-read in five weeks, five months or five years. If you’re a digital native, you’ll likely be able to write your own version. Addingmachine_PR

5 Ways to Effectively Use Native Advertising

Riverwalk water shadows sept 2012Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Alicia Lawrence.

The phrase native advertising (NA) has been buzzing around ad agencies since 2012 but only a few communicators have truly grasped its benefits. It’s time to demystify NA.

Native advertising refers to the placement of ads that seamlessly blend in with the format and style of whatever platform they are on. Hence, the term “native” as it appears to originate from the site and not a third party.

What Makes NA So Popular Now?

If you’ve kept your eye on the effectiveness of online ads, you’ve seen it drop from 9 percent in 2000 to only .2 percent in 2012. People have developed ‘selective seeing.’ This is why 2012 experienced a spike of interest in NA. Native advertising became a viable option to solve the online ad problem.

Native advertising is focused around the user experience. Since it’s seamlessly woven into consumer content, it forces the eyes onto the brand. You’re not trying to put a mask on the ad so people read it. Instead, it’s about appealing to the needs of a particular audience.

It puts the consumer first by offering relevant content.

 5 Types of NA

-Social NA: Social media platforms have caught on to the effectiveness of NA. Facebook created their promoted stories. Unlike many forms of native advertising, social NA is very affordable.

-Branded Images: Creative original content is another form of NA when combined with a brand. For instance, Porsche sponsored an image-heavy post on The Atlantic that went viral. And there are branded web graphics like this one from Clarity Way.

-Sponsored Videos: Native video ads in particular have become increasingly popular on the web. While they may cost a pretty penny to create, the ROI companies are seeing from NA continues to make it an attractive choice. Native advertising is also a trendy pick for video games.

-Promoted Posts: Public relations professionals have created this form of NA for years. They write and pitch relevant articles that their audience would find educational and enjoyable. The only connection back to the business is a brief mention in a bio line at the end of the post. SEOs have recently picked up the power of promoted posts to further their cause of link building. The article is usually not marked as advertising and most times the owner of the blog has no idea it’s even taking place. How can that be? The anchor text and brand is seamlessly woven into the content.

-Creative NA: Due to its very nature, NA harbors the need for creative advertisers to innovate. This form of NA is open for interpretation because that is what makes NA so appealing to the consumer.

The Difficulties and Benefits of NA

Native advertising didn’t come without its challenges, which deter many agencies away. Since NA must match the website’s tone, style, and format in order to be effective, it requires tailored content for each site. The non-scalability of NA is a major turn-off for fast-paced agencies. This also means the creation and placement of NA is typically quite expensive.

Native advertising is still considered a gamble in the advertising world. We have seen great success with promotional stories on Facebook and natural product placement in videos. However, we’ve also seen great failures.

What is your experience with Native Advertising?

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Spin Sucks.


7 reasons to use multimedia when communicating

corner picture at folawnsThese are numbers that PR and marketing professionals simply can’t ignore.

PR Newswire and PR News recently conducted a survey of how companies are usingor not usingmultimedia in press releases and other communication.

The research finds:  

  • 56 percent of PR and marketing executives rarely or sometimes include multimedia in press releases
  • 9 percent of respondents always feature multimedia elements and rich media in their press releases
  • 75 percent of those surveyed plan to increase visual storytelling in 2014


I was invited to discuss these findings on a webinar with Michael Pranikoff, Global Director, Emerging Media at PR Newswire  and Matthew Schwartz, Group Editor at PR News.   

Here are seven takeaways from our conversation:

Matthew: There’s a big appetite out there to include visual elements and rich media in press releases and other communication channels. The survey offers encouragement but there’s still that chasm between the desire among PR and marketing executives to use visuals and the challenges of budgets and resources. It’s really finding the link between what visual storytelling can do to enhance your communication and public relations while making the case to the C-suite for increasing budgets for these kinds of channels.

Michael: PR Newswire has looked at 60,000 pieces of content that’s been syndicated over the past couple of years. You get almost 10 times the amount of views when using multimedia than just doing a plain text news release.

Matthew: You would think right now that the static press release would be antiquated in that you have an oncoming generation of decision makers who have been conditioned to the visual and multimedia elements in a release, in a piece of text, in a brochure, or in an annual report. For those companies who continue to distribute plain text and vanilla press releases, I don’t know how much those companies are on the right side of history.

Susan: Our minds think in pictures, not words. That’s why this is so important. Communicators must convey our messages through a blend of pictures and words, not one or the other.

Michael: Layering video in any kind of media leads to an emotional resonance and component that people are looking for in brands…audiences are craving this and gravitating to visual.

Matthew: PR people should start thinking about their own behavior as it relates to video…They go through their workday and they tend to click on a video that caught their attention. It’s not unlike your customers and prospects. They are doing the same things. It’s really changing a behavior.

Susan: Business communicators must understand how their clients and prospects are consuming information. It’s not about how you want to deliver the content. It’s about how the audience wants to receive it and engage with it.

Matthew also notes that a B2B product or service that may seem bland or dry on paper can come to life with visual elements.

The three of us agreed there are many opportunities to repurpose content that contains visuals.

To listen to the free webinar, visit CommProBiz.

Entrepreneurs: 4 ways to use press releases for publicity

car 003One of the most confusing parts of a small business owner’s marketing plan is the press release. While virtually all entrepreneurs understand that marketing and publicity are essential to business success, how and when to write a press release is baffling.

In the social media landscape, many wonder if press releases are still relevant. As a former radio news reporter and news director, I say, yes they are relevant. But ONLY when used to announce something that’s newsworthy. 

Therein lies the confusion. How do you know what’s newsworthy? What do reporters and bloggers look for and cover?

Here are four press release strategies for small business owners:

1.      Avoid self-promotion. Remember that in the word “newsworthy” is the word “new.” When writing a press release or a pitch, be sure you have a fresh angle on a story, trend, or issue. Your announcement must be timely, relevant, and compelling to the public. It must fit with the reporter’s niche or demographic. Sales pitches are for the advertising department, not the newsroom. Hire a PR coach or read books on how to write and frame your story. Many of my blog posts cover this topic. Discover how you can help reporters and editors. The key is to build relationships and become a trusted resource. Before you begin writing a press release, ask yourself, “Who cares?” If your announcement doesn’t impact the public, you’re on the wrong path.

 2.      Keep your news antennae up. News is about people. People love great stories. You have great stories right under your nose but you’re busy running your graphic design company, staffing firm, or retail shop. And of course you’re consumed with learning social media. Take your ear buds out and pay attention to what’s happening around you.  What trends can you comment on? Is your company celebrating an anniversary? Have you recently expanded or gotten a small business grant? How have you helped a client to succeed? Do you have an interesting hobby or talent that’s out of the ordinary?

3.      Think multimedia. Reporters expect to see more than words; they want images, action, and video. They want to hear something. Have you considered using a flip cam to record your press release or pitch? These tools allow the reporter to get to know you by hearing you explain your story and watching your body language. Think about how a Pinterest board can visually tell your story. We live in a creative space. Stand out by inviting news decision makers to connect with you on an exciting and deeper level.

4.      Write tip-sheet style releases. To build your credibility, help people solve their problems. Position yourself as the expert in your industry. People have a pain and you have the medicine that will ease their discomfort. The tip-sheet format (like this list) is effective because it’s reader-friendly in our crazy, busy world.  The bullet points allow readers to skim the content and glean nuggets of information. Our cognitive bandwidth is more limited than ever. Brief tips are usually appreciated. 

Once you have a few press releases, think about how you can repurpose them into blog posts, short video clips, and content for e-zines. Minor tweaks to the format can easily create new content and marketing pieces.    

The bottom line: Your presence affects your prosperity. Don’t be the best-kept secret!

PS: If you want lots of tips like the ones above, you’ll want to see this! Hot off the Press: My new Kindle book, The Badass Book of Social Media and Business Communication.  It’s packed with hundreds of pointers and strategies on PR, news interviews, pitches, writing, blogging, and social media.

5 secrets to successfully pitch a Mediabistro editor

Patrick Coffee is the Editor of PRNewser, a daily blog published by Mediabistro.com.  Coffee and his team write about news, trends, and announcements in PR. He is based in New York.

Here are highlights from our recent conversation: 

On contacting him:  I get lots and lots of e-mail pitches every day. They come from most of the major PR firms, especially in New York City. Occasionally I’ll get phone calls, but it’s very rare, and that’s a good thing. I personally want e-mail. The more often someone calls me the less likely I am to run their story.

On subject lines: The most important part of an e-mail pitch is having an effective subject line. It has to get my attention without pandering or telling me, ‘I must read this.’ Writing subject lines is a subtle art form. It’s similar to Twitter, where there’s a limited space to get your message across. In terms of tone, convey to me there’s something interesting for me in the e-mail, without being too pushy about it.

On the e-mail pitch: The message has to be very clear and interesting to me.  Make it clear to me why my readers would be interested in the story, why does it stand out?  E-mail pitches should be personalized, beyond just copying and pasting my name and a greeting. A certain degree of personalization in the first couple of sentences is a very good idea. Tell me why you thought of me for this story and the people who may like this story. What is appealing about it? I always appreciate a quick summary of what the entire story is about in just a couple of sentences.

On building a community through blogging:  A lot of my readers come from my Twitter feed.  I tweet a lot and that attracts readers. For anyone who blogs, there has to be some degree of interaction. Everyone loves when someone responds to something they say. I’m not a big fan of people begging for attention. If you write a blog you’ll take some satisfaction knowing that people are not just looking at what you do, but that they are thinking about it and that they are responding to it in their own way. You can encourage that by retweeting what they have to say and following them back. 

On PR and social media: A lot of people in PR are very familiar and comfortable with social media. One concern is they are too comfortable. When working to promote a client or your own brand, you have to be disciplined in your message. It gets too casual sometimes, like with automated messaging. You want to be sure people know there’s a live person behind your account.

Final thought: Always think multimedia.  

PS: Do you want hundreds of tips on news pitches, PR, blogging, and content development? Get my new book, The Badass Book of Social Media and Business Communication. 

10 PR stars reveal secrets for social media success in 2013

Seats at a tableWant to kick-start your social media optimization in 2013? Of course you do. 

I asked 10 distinguished PR and social media pros to share their views on how it can be done. 

Here are their responses, with my appreciation for their insights!

Margo Mateas, Founder, The PR Trainer:  “PR pros need to remember to take time to become part of the communities they want to reach, and not just engage in ‘driveby’ social media. It only takes a second to ‘Like’ someone else’s post or to leave a supportive comment. This strengthens trust and makes it more likely for them reciprocate the next time you’re promoting something.”

Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO, Pure Performance Communications:  “Take the best of your communications past into 2013; your ethics, accountability, critical thinking and great communications skills. At the same time, be open to different types of engagement through social media, by experimenting and embracing new technology to build stronger relationships with stakeholders. You need to be 10 steps ahead to counsel senior executives about the changing media landscape, and on the same page with savvy, wired consumers to understand their preferences and to better serve their needs.”  

Brad Phillips, Mr. Media Training, author, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview: “Few public relations professionals can keep up with all of the new social networking sites that seem to pop up on a monthly basis. So as a New Year’s resolution, PR pros should try to familiarize themselves with each of the platforms—and then commit to participating in the one that is most likely to help them reach their audiences and accomplish their goals.” 

Amy D. Howell, CEO, Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC “Our firm will be measuring how the social posts are driving more traffic to client websites and how that is helping their SEO. We have completed upgrades to client websites to include integration of social platforms.”  

Jeff Domansky, The PR Coach & Principal, Peak Communications: “I’m excited about 2013. It will be the year of the ‘visual.’ Whether you’re storytelling, blogging, content marketing, doing media relations or social PR, great pics and video will drive your success. And everything you do better work on mobile, too.”

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs: “Focus less on what you think you ‘have’ to do to maintain a social presence. Focus more on what is meaningful for your brand.”

Stacey Acevero, Social Media Manager, Vocus/PRWeb: “Think about social media as a book, or a timeline of the story of your business. But it’s not storytelling, it’s telling a true story well–so write social media posts that inspire conversation, share thoughts and real outcomes that resonate with your audience. Be less ‘braggy’ and involve the insights of others in your PR story.”

Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound: “Recycle your content, create it in multiple formats, and share it on the social media sites. Example: Take a how-to blog post and turn it into an MP3, and then a video (record yourself offering 3 tips from the article), and then a slideshow for LinkedIn, and then a series of photos for a Pinterest board. Note to self: Do this in 2013 and stop creating content from scratch!”   

Michael Cherenson,  APR, Executive VP, Success Communications Group; 2009, Chair and CEO, PRSA: “Social media is public relations and today’s professionals, to better serve their clients and help advance their own careers, need to invest in training and learn how to re-learn the art of communications. Every public relations professional must become an active participant, native to various social media platforms. And PR pros need to recognize Google’s algorithm is now one of our most important publics; your content needs to entice your audience and Google’s search engine.”

Shonali Burke, Principal, Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc.:  “I see far too many PR pros functioning in a bubble. Offline, they live and work in the bubble of the agency world, and online they don’t interact with people from different industries and walks of life. One of the best things about social media is the way it can connect you with just about anyone else in the world who is using that platform. It’s amazing what we can learn from people so very different from us. So as we embark on 2013, let’s rediscover what makes social media so wonderful-the ability to converse with literally just about anyone.”

Which piece of advice will you be focusing on in 2013?

Communicators: You are in sales







Don’t be shocked, but marketing, PR, and communications pros are in sales.

Think about it.

We are:    

  • Selling messages to clients
  • Selling ourselves to execs in the C-suite
  • Selling (pitching) stories to the media
  • Selling our time
  • Selling our intellectual capital
  • Selling our creativity
  • Selling access to our media and social contacts


To be a holistic business communicator, it’s time to stop selling and start building. Build your listening skills and relationships with prospects, the C-suite, colleagues, and reporters. We must move away from the “What can we get?” attitude to “What can we give?”

The holistic communicator

In a typical day, people are trying to get our e-mail addresses. They are trying to get us to sign-up for something. They are trying to get our hard-earned money. They are trying to get access to our personal information. They are often trying to get over on us. Get, get, get. This approach only brings short-lived success.  

The flip side of get, get, get is give, give, give. 

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. These givers have absolute faith that by being tuned in to others, success will one day come to them. Individuals who live by this mindset aren’t in a hurry to get the deal. Instead, their priority is to build relationships and give value. The givers trust that they will be rewarded with abundance because that’s the way the universe works.

The proof of this is most evident in sales. When people in sales stop chasing money and shift their attention to genuinely helping a prospect, they won’t have to sell anything. Prospects will want to buy from them based on the generosity of the relationship. 

Say what?

Our attention is a hot commodity.

The concept of silent listening is the genesis of holistic business. Silent listening requires us to mentally slow down and quiet the unrelenting soundtrack that plays in our heads 24/7. Silent listening requires our undivided attention, free of distractions, judgments, and response planning. It calls for us to be fully present and in the moment.

How many times have you asked someone a question that you were genuinely interested in and as soon as they responded, your mind was jumping around aimlessly with random thoughts?

These mental interruptions occur in a flash. They pull us away from conversations and leave us at a disadvantage as we miss important information that is essential to connecting with people.

For example, you are meeting with a prospect about doing PR for their credit union. Someone mentions that they have ‘service centers,’ not branches. If you write up a proposal to promote their 18 branches, you lose. A split second distraction becomes a costly lesson. 

Silent listening is an essential business skill. It shows people that you are fully engaged, and care about the message.

Welcome to sales. 

PS: I invite you to take a peek at my new Kindle book, published today!