Tips for Type A Personalities to Bring Life Into Balance

July 30th, 2014
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Tips Type A Personalities Life Balance Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Lynn Ingrid Nelson Lin PR Media Relations

Lynn Ingrid Nelson at PRSA Midwest Conference. Photo by Tressa Robbins

Many of us in the communications fields refer to ourselves as being “Type A” or having “Type A” personalities. The term has become a catchphrase for those of us who tend to be high-energy, driven, ambitious, goal-oriented, competitive perfectionists with a sense of urgency in nearly everything we do.

HISTORY: The term “Type A” originated in the 1950s when Drs. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman observed that those most likely to suffer a cardiac event also tended to have more driven, impatient, high-stress personalities, and the term propagated after their 1974 best-selling book, Type A Behavior And Your Heart, was published.

At the recent PRSA Midwest District Conference, one of the sessions I attended was with Lynn Ingrid Nelson, principal at Lin PR, and author of the book Getting Your Life into Balance. She talked about PR pros often running around with their “hair on fire” due to the urgent nature of our work, and that learning ways to handle this constant state of urgency improves our well-being and our effectiveness. In public relations specifically, our stressors tend to be clients, bosses, continual deadlines, round-the-clock demands, cranky journalists, and constant multitasking. This session was interesting to me as I have been the epitome of “work hard, play hard” most of my adult life, but in recent years found it not working quite so well for me anymore.

Not sure if you need to bring your life into balance? Nelson suggests you begin with asking yourself these questions:

  • Does anxiety, workaholism and/or a sense of over-responsibility get in the way of getting what you want out of your life?
  • Do you stay busy to appease your restlessness?
  • Are you obsessive compulsive about work and other areas of your life?
  • Do you do more than your fair share at home, at work, in volunteer activities?

Still not sure? Check out this Huffington Post article, 16 Signs You’re A Little (Or A Lot) Type A.

If you answered yes to many but aren’t sure just WHY you should focus on life balance, Nelson suggests you’ll have more compassion and better understanding of others, more energy for activities (less drudgery), more creativity/play, more intimacy, possibly better health, and more overall satisfaction.

Nelson suggests creating a sort of journal she called an “intentional time diet” where you record how you spend your time now (anyone who’s worked in a PR agency should be familiar with this drill), and then distinguish between discretionary and required time.

She spoke about clarifying your intentions by asking yourself things like: what are your three most important goals, what do you want to do less/more of, and are you willing to make the changes that would be required to meet those goals. Estimate much time are you willing to spend on what. Then, determine what you can do now to shift toward better balance. “Find your own shade of gray,” Nelson challenged.

Through her own struggle, she shared many things she’s learned. A few of the ones that really resonated with me were:

1. Going out of your way for everyone does not lead to good balance.

2. There is little upside to being the most responsible person in the group.

3. “Muscling” through tough situations is less of an option as we age. Intentional is a much better solution.

While I already had some things set in motion to simplify my life and make me more productive and less stressed, this session validated that I’m moving in the right direction.

What are you doing to find your shade of gray?

 

Mia Moo Fund: A Media Relations Dynasty

July 28th, 2014
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MIa Moo Fund Media Dynasty Johna Burke Duck Dynasty BurrellesLuce Media Relations PR

L to R: U.S. Rep Trent Franks, Mia Robertson, Reed Robertson, Missy Robertson, Jase Robertson. Photo by Johna Burke

A couple of weeks ago I attended the press conference and media event with U.S. Rep Trent Franks and Mia Robertson and her parents (part of the Duck Dynasty family) for the Mia Moo Fund. My niece, who also attended, was born with a cleft lip and palate, so the Robertsons’ admirable charity and the congressman’s invitation for Mia to speak was particularly meaningful. Amidst all of the Duck Dynasty fanfare I was most impressed by the master spokespeople, Mia’s parents, Missy and Jase Robertson.

The Scene: Your beloved daughter was born with a cleft palate and wants to help other kids with the condition, so you help her start a foundation. A congressman born with the same condition helps raise awareness of the condition’s struggles and provides leadership support to the many children affected. Your daughter writes a speech for the event and you take your family to Washington, D.C. The media interviews begin and you are asked about abstinence before marriage and your family patriarch’s controversial remarks. This IS media relations.

MIa Moo Fund Media Dynasty Johna Burke Duck Dynasty BurrellesLuce Media Relations PR Trent Franks

Rosie Fox (front), U.S. Rep Franks, and the Robertson family. Photo by Johna Burke

While it’s always imperative to prep answers to easy questions before a media interview, this event reminded me about the importance and potential perils in lack of preparation on the really tough questions. Mia, Missy and Jase all have strong conviction for their subject matter and their passion resonates in every syllable. That kind of conviction isn’t as easy for the average spokesperson, so in lieu of family conviction and faith, make sure your spokesperson is mindful of these quick tips:

Relevant news topics: If anything is trending in the news even tangentially related to your industry make sure to address the affects to your organization’s mission.

Key messages: All messaging related to the topic and also key messages as they relate to other potential topics that could arise during an interview. Always have strong sound bites.

Importance of rapport: Being relaxed is the goal, but looking relaxed is essential. Body language on camera can indicate when a spokesperson isn’t prepared. While you can’t avoid the tough questions your spokesperson’s ability to build rapport will translate into a more confidence which translates to their ability to control the interview.

A stand-out moment from the interviews was when Mia was asked “What is the coolest part of having a new lip or new palate for you?” Eleven year old Mia responded “I don’t know” and the reporter followed up with “So, no comment. But you’re much happier now.”

No, she didn’t say “no comment,” she answered a bad question honestly. Based on her initial interviews I have no doubt Mia will be bridging and saving reporters from their own bad questions in no time.

The Mia Moo Fund tagline is “Every kid deserves a smile,” and this event gave a proud aunt and PR person a lot of reasons to smile too. Thank you.

How PR and Marketing Work Together to Drive Growth

July 24th, 2014
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PR Marketing Work Together Growth Hinge Marketing BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR

flickr user Flazingo Photos under CC BY license

by Chris Ourand*

In one corner, your marketing team is doing their darnedest to drive conversions and generate leads. And in the other corner, the PR people are working to generate awareness and tell a compelling story about your firm. This is historically how these two disciplines have been handled and understandably so, to an extent.

But in our increasingly digital world, firms that continue to treat public relations and marketing like separate entities might miss out on opportunities for significant growth. In reality, these disciplines can empower each other—the marketing team helping to create awareness, and the PR team contributing to lead generation and conversions. Here are a few ways to help get the most out of both.

Produce compelling, quality content for prospects. Changes in SEO and analytics have made it necessary to produce plenty of high quality, unique content. PR professionals are expert at making organizational and industry news into compelling content. Your in-house team understands how industry trends impact your firm and clients and can tell these stories in ways that engage prospects and generate interest in your firm.

Integrate news into marketing content. Take news packages (videos, press releases, articles, interviews, etc.) and work them into your content marketing. Integrate these items into your blog, email marketing campaigns, newsletters, guides, whitepapers, and e-books. Find ways of providing this type of content to different audiences. Your PR people will know the best angles for the stories and your marketing folks will know the best time and way to reach the appropriate prospects. Marketing’s ability to monitor and measure your channels will help you know how and when your re-purposed news items are striking a chord.

 Strategize your big picture and the details. Regardless of the particulars of your PR and marketing content, you’ll need a specific strategy. You can start with broad goals (like convey expertise in new market, or grow influencer audience), but the more specific you get, the more likely you’ll generate results and be able to track them. Having a clear idea of your firm’s overall strategy helps the two arms of your visibility/conversion team to work together. Your marketing folks can tailor websites, emails, etc. to combine expertly with your public relations department’s case studies, press releases, speaking opportunities and so forth.

 Connect with customers. Your marketing team is expert at talking to your audience … from a distance. Creating PR events and opportunities outside marketing’s normal comfort zone is a great way to build audience loyalty and get face-to-face feedback on your products, services, and initiatives. It never hurts to remind prospects that you’re part of their community. Nourish these connections and you’ll create brand ambassadors who will promote, support, and recommend you.

 Stick with your story. Sure, taglines are great and can make you quickly memorable. But the story of your organization needs to be told, not replaced by a bumper sticker’s worth of copy. You know why your firm is remarkable. There will be times to be brief, but make sure your combined PR and marketing efforts tell a consistent, compelling story. Include calls-to-action where appropriate and your narrative will drive conversions.

So bring your PR and marketing teams out of their respective corners. Meet in the middle of the room. PR and marketing are different in some very basic ways, but combining them will generate buzz through social media, connect you to the media and other influencers, and create actionable visibility that will result in growth.

 

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Chris Ourand is an Account Director at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Chris can be reached at courand@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.

 

How – and Why – to Fact Check Your PR Writing

July 23rd, 2014
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How – and Why – to Fact Check Your PR Writing Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations Media MonitoringAs the tragic story about MH17 broke last week, broadcast news networks (especially those of the 24-hour variety) scrambled for any scoop they could find. In the mad dash to find an eye witness, MSNBC got pranked pretty good when a caller who said he was a sergeant stationed at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine claimed he’d seen a missile hit the plane.

He then made a lewd reference and cursed at the host, Krystal Ball, who didn’t pick up on the rather obvious fact that he was pranking her. Both MSNBC and Krystal Ball come away looking rather poorly; someone manning the phones at MSNBC obviously didn’t bother to verify the man’s story – a simple Internet search would have shown that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is stationed in Kiev, which is more than 200 miles from Hrabrove, the site of the crash. At that distance, he wouldn’t have seen a thing.

Put that whole story next to the study released this week, which shows that journalists live tweeting during the 2012 election acted more as stenographers than reporters, as 60 percent of them just repeated what the candidates said, instead of fact-checking such claims for veracity.

As more and more marketing and public relations professionals are themselves becoming content creators in addition to their long-established role in working with journalists, it’s important to remember that with your organization’s reputation on the line, fact-checking is something we all need to do – not just journalists.

This doesn’t mean you need to employ a fact-checking machine a la The New Yorker, but it does mean that taking a little extra time to double-check that everything is in order can save you or your organization from making a silly but meaningful blunder.

Things that always need to be fact-checked:

  • Names, dates, locations, job titles
  • Quotes – always check that you have not only the words right, but the context as well
  • Numbers and statistics
  • Basic facts – because “facts” aren’t always completely factual

Google is a useful fact-checking tool, but if you’re Googling to find out whether a statistic is correct, make sure that the sites you’re using for verification are themselves reputable, and that you can find the same statistic in more than one place. While Wikipedia can also be useful, keep in mind that pages can be and are frequently changed and updated, so it should not be your independent source of information, especially if you’re doing an online-only fact check.

Email and the telephone are also great tools – if you need to make sure someone actually said what they said, just call. In journalism, fact-checkers won’t read a quote back to the speaker, but in public relations and marketing, there is no such restriction, so if there’s an error, it’s easy to re-work a quote.

Chances are that you won’t be live-tweeting election debates and that your account won’t be held up to as much public scrutiny as a journalist’s, but even if you’re at a conference and life-tweeting a presentation, keep in mind that if the speaker makes an assertion, you tweet it out, and that assertion later turns out to be incorrect, you could come away with a negative perception. You never know when what you tweet will come back to haunt you – just ask Justine Sacco.

Here’s the Media Monitoring Checklist That Will Enhance or Replace RFPs

July 21st, 2014
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PR RFP Checklist Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations Media MonitoringThe formal RFP process is time- and resource-intensive for both the requestor and the requestee, and in the search for the right media monitoring and analysis package, more public relations professionals and organizations either don’t have the resources, or are choosing to allocate them elsewhere, therefore making final decisions based on partial data.

To strengthen the ability to make a quick, at-a-glance comparison of media monitoring and analysis services, BurrellesLuce has created this free RFP resource, which consolidates the most important and frequently-asked questions that arise during the search process. This includes checklists for print monitoring, online monitoring, broadcast coverage, self-guided search, software, automated analysis, custom qualitative and custom quantitative analysis, services, and rates.

To help you make an informed decision that fits your needs, there are columns to compare media monitoring and analysis services and what they offer.

And because all good measurement strategies start with measurable goals, the first section is designed to help you outline your measurable goals, your audience, and your needs.

This media relations and PR RFP resource is designed to make the lives of public relations and media relations professionals easier, so click here to download this free resource.