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Hack-A-Comm: “Fast Hacks” Providing Essential Tips for PR and Communication Industry Leaders

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Photo Courtesy of PRSA

By: Pam Golden, President, GLA Communications*

The title was intriguing and two of the three presenters are Counselor’s Academy members, so of course I had to attend. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this session, however, I walked away with three really great ideas to take back to my team.

Sean Williams Photo Courtesy of PRSA

Relevant for internal comms teams and agencies alike, Sean Williams, Vice President with True Digital

Communications shared his hack for creating a communications plan that can be used with various company stakeholders.  He calls it AMMO: Audiences/ Messages/ Methods/Objectives.

Audience: The people you need to reach; who needs to hear, be heard, who do we have to help?
Messages: What do we have to say, show or demonstrate to attain our objectives?
Methods: How do we need to deliver those messages? What are the tactics?
Objectives: The actions you want people to take, what do you need your audience to think, feel do?

So basic, but so smart.

Elizabeth Edwards, President, Volume PR and a CAPRSA member, infuses behavioral science insights into communications strategies, messages and tactics. Elizabeth’s hack was to using psychology to get results.

She offered up how to get more from people using reasoning and validation to get positive responses.

As she explained, the word “because” helps answer the why question and gives people the reason for a yes response. Elizabeth shared how the law of reciprocity can be used to our benefit. After all, we tend to want to help those who have helped us.  And, they will be more likely to want to work with people who like and respect us.

Another great tip was to leverage rejection. If we ask for more –

John Deveney and Elizabeth Edwards Photo Courtesy of PRSA

whether it be more projects or higher fees, then when the answer is no, we have the flexibility to reduce the ask.

John Deveney, President of Deveney, an engagement agency and also a CAPRSA member, presented on how to identify, vet and get the most out of online influencers. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the influencer program must ladder up to the business goals. We need to evaluate goals, resources and needs and determine:

  • Why do you want the influencer?
  • What do you want them to say?
  • Who is their audience?
  • How do you want them to talk about your brand?
  • Where are these online conversations taking place?

Tips from John:

How to find influencers?

  • Use award programs, tap into influencer networks, form your own network, conduct internet searches and leverage database software.
  • Use several of these to identify the right influencers for your program.

How to vet influencers?

  • Look for ones who have industry standing and strong relationships.
  • Look at their engagement rate not the number of likes.
  • Does the personality fit your brand and look at the quality of results and the content.

How to get the most out of influencers?

  • Allow them to deliver the message in their own voice and give them time to get results.
  • Discuss metrics – do you need to drive sales? If so, build a way to track sales from the influencer impact.
  • Play by the rules – have them agree to the FTC guidelines

Big shout out to Johna Burke and BurrellesLuce for sponsoring this session.

*Pam Golden is president of GLA Communications which she founded in 1986.  Her expertise has helped fuel many successful communications campaigns including the launch of home satellite TV, DVD and HDTV. Pam provides high-level strategic and tactical counsel to GLA’s clients, bringing the benefit of more than 30 years of experience in creating and executing effective campaigns that deliver results. Pam is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and serves on the executive committee for its Counselors Academy sector, where she is also chair of the programming committee. In April 2017, Pam was named as a finalist in the Leading Women Entrepreneurs “Brand Builders” category, which celebrates communications professionals who excel in brand innovation.

Leading Through Change: A Roadmap for Navigating Uncertainty

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

*By Pam Golden, President, GLA Communications

In life and in business, we often focus too much on the destination – where we are going – and forget to take the time to enjoy the journey. Elise Mitchell, Chairman of Mitchell Communications Group and CEO of Dentsu Aegis PR Network and author of Leading Through the Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance shared with attendees at the 2017 PRSA International Conference how she changed her approach to life and work and realized that the journey matters as much as the destination.

Photo Courtesy of PRSA

The first time I heard Elise talk about her journey was at a PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference and I came away inspired and motivated. This time was no different as there are few people I have met in business who are as willing to share as much as Elise.

A few years back, Elise asked herself: Is this all there is? She felt like something was missing and wondered if the destination was not worth reaching, what was she striving for? In pursuit of the destination, could she find the journey? For Elise, it was a motorcycle trip with her husband that helped her find her way and even inspired the title of her book.

One piece of advice that Elise offered was to “scrap the maps and go with the detours of life.” By doing so, you will find yourself in amazing destinations that can create new opportunities.  And of course, the journey can take different turns. In 2012, Elise sold her firm to Dentsu Aegis Network, which took her and her team on a different journey that included two restructurings in two years. As we all are aware, success is not promised. We have to work for it and have to stay the course.

Whether we are leaders of an agency, a company, a department or a team, the question Elise says we should be asking ourselves is:  “what matters most as a leader? What do I want to be known for?”  And the road is not always easy, so when the storm moves in, this is the most important time to take the helm.

Elise also reminds us that it is important to enjoy the ride – so we should find the off switch and live a whole life. She encouraged us to invest in ourselves because if you don’t there won’t be anything for anyone else and because it is the people who matter most since relationships are the greatest gifts we have.

*Pam Golden is president of GLA Communications which she founded in 1986.  Her expertise has helped fuel many successful communications campaigns including the launch of home satellite TV, DVD and HDTV. Pam provides high-level strategic and tactical counsel to GLA’s clients, bringing the benefit of more than 30 years of experience in creating and executing effective campaigns that deliver results. Pam is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and serves on the executive committee for its Counselors Academy sector, where she is also chair of the programming committee. In April 2017, Pam was named as a finalist in the Leading Women Entrepreneurs “Brand Builders” category, which celebrates communications professionals who excel in brand innovation.

Using Measurement and Evaluation to Take Business to Next Level

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

By: Pam Golden, President, GLA Communications*

Photo courtesy of PRSA

If you ask most PR professionals, measurement and evaluation is an area we struggle with whether you work for an agency or in-house. Johna Burke, Chief Marketing Officer for BurrellesLuce, one of the industry’s most respected experts on measurement, presented “Use Measurement and Evaluation to Take Business to the Next Level,” at the 2017 PRSA International Conference. No matter how many presentations and webinars I attend on this topic, there is always so much more to learn and Johna shared concepts I hadn’t considered.

Of course, intellectually we know we should tie our communications objectives to an organization’s business goals, but do we always? With PR fighting for share of wallet and marketing budget, it is more important than ever to have clear and measurable objectives. Johna calls them SMARTER objectives:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
  • Ethical
  • Revolutionizing

Together, these seven objectives can ensure that our programs and campaigns tie back to the business as well as demonstrate value, which is an overarching goal for all of us.

So, just how do you demonstrate value?  Johna shared four areas for us to consider:

  • Increase revenue, profit, growth, value, retention, ROI or ROA, efficiency, visibility
  • Reduce costs, time/effort, complaints, risk, turnover, conflict, paperwork
  • Improve productivity, processes, service, information, morale, reputation, skills, loyalty, quality
  • Create strategy, systems, processes, business, products, services, brand

According to Johna, we must make sure data and information are relevant for the audience; therefore  it is critical to understand where you are and where your audience is in the ecosystem. PR professionals need to think like analysts, which means we should be looking beyond the numbers and putting them into context and perspective for our audiences. That includes challenging what the numbers mean to show correlation to outputs and outcomes because without qualitative information the data is meaningless.

Johna pointed to the Integrated Evaluation Framework from AMEC – the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication as a great tool that was developed to help standardize evaluation and provide tools based on best practices. It is set up in seven sections designed to obtain qualitative information, not just quantitative data:

Objectives, inputs, activities, outputs, out-takes, outcomes, and impact

This interactive framework can be accessed here.

And, of course, none of this is really achievable without critical thinking, which is an essential skill, and Johna’s acronym – RED – says it all:

  • Recognize Assumptions
  • Evaluate Arguments
  • Draw conclusions

None of this is complicated, but it requires consistent commitment from everyone on our teams to ensure success.

*Pam Golden is president of GLA Communications which she founded in 1986.  Her expertise has helped fuel many successful communications campaigns including the launch of home satellite TV, DVD and HDTV. Pam provides high-level strategic and tactical counsel to GLA’s clients, bringing the benefit of more than 30 years of experience in creating and executing effective campaigns that deliver results. Pam is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and serves on the executive committee for its Counselors Academy sector, where she is also chair of the programming committee. In April 2017, Pam was named as a finalist in the Leading Women Entrepreneurs “Brand Builders” category, which celebrates communications professionals who excel in brand innovation.

Ignite Brilliance in Your Leadership

Friday, October 20th, 2017

By: Pam Golden, President, GLA Communications*

In many companies, the typical path to leadership is to do outstanding work and perform well at your current job, so you are promoted to the next level. And, you succeed at that level, so you are promoted and it continues. Eventually, you are managing a team, which is exciting and challenging. But, leading is far different than doing and requires a different skillset. Critical to leadership success is learning how to motivate and guide your team to achieve the best results.

Photo Courtesy of PRSA.org

AmyK Hutchens, a respected business strategist and dynamic speaker, kicked off Day 2 of the 2017 PRSA International Conference with an engaging and inspiring keynote, sharing thought-provoking insights on how to “Ignite Brilliance in Your Leadership.”

So how do you ignite brilliance in your leadership? There is no magic bullet, but two key takeaways that resonated with me are: raising the quality of critical thinking and setting your team up for success.

AmyK’s statement that the job of a leader is to raise the quality of conversations and the quality of thinking inside our companies is spot on. For PR professionals, critical thinking is one of the most important skills, not just in our day-to-day work, but also when managing a team. To raise the quality of thinking among your team, AmyK challenged us to ask bigger, broader and bolder questions and to have problem-solving discussions rather than data dumps.

A challenge facing many leaders is how to get the best results from team members. Even if you have a team of superstars, there are times when people struggle. As AmyK stated, we tend to perpetuate the focus on the problem. Instead, she recommends aligning brilliance by identifying the person’s strengths and what’s working, and then connecting those positives with objectives and payoffs. Of course, this is a continual process and requires ongoing conversations and tweaking, but this concept of using engagement, buy-in and commitment to solve problems is compelling.

As one who has founded and led a PR agency for more than 30 years, I agree with AmyK that our number one job as leaders is to set up our team members for success. This requires a commitment by the organization to expand the skillsets and show the path to growth, as well as providing the tools needed. Her question “what are we doing to develop the leadership pipeline?” is one every company should be focusing on so that we can create outstanding and successful leaders of tomorrow.

*Pam Golden is president of GLA Communications which she founded in 1986.  Her expertise has helped fuel many successful communications campaigns including the launch of home satellite TV, DVD and HDTV. Pam provides high-level strategic and tactical counsel to GLA’s clients, bringing the benefit of more than 30 years of experience in creating and executing effective campaigns that deliver results. Pam is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and serves on the executive committee for its Counselors Academy sector, where she is also chair of the programming committee. In April 2017, Pam was named as a finalist in the Leading Women Entrepreneurs “Brand Builders” category, which celebrates communications professionals who excel in brand innovation.

Stop “raising awareness.” Just…please, stop.

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

By Debra Bethard-Caplick, MBA, APR

 

As a university PR instructor, PRSSA Bateman competition and PRSA Silver Anvil I’m going to let you in on a little secret: “raising awareness” doesn’t do anything for your boss. It’s become a lazy way to write objectives that doesn’t help you demonstrate the success that you know you’ve achieved. It’s what you do with that awareness that matters to your organization. You need to move beyond awareness and into real action – and it’s that difficult. All it takes is a slightly different way of looking at what you’re doing.

Think for a moment about how you craft key messages for your target audiences when you’re preparing a PR campaign. Would you use words and terms they don’t understand? Of course not. So why would you do that when communicating with CEOs and other non-communication executives? You need to treat your colleagues like a target audience, because they are one, and can possible have the biggest impact on whether your campaign will succeed or not. You understand the implications of increased awareness, reach, and impressions, but what about your CEO or CFO? Probably not, so it’s up to you to both educate them, and to use terms they understand, namely, dollars and cents.

What are your organization’s business goals? Sales objectives? New accounts? These are what you should be incorporating into your communication goals, because they are results that non-PR managers understand. They have no clue how awareness impacts on what they’re trying to achieve. In the case of nonprofit organizations, this is measured in terms of overall donations made, new donors, additional donations from existing donors, etc. CEOs of for-profit organizations. You can slice and dice it any way you like, but money is the crucial element for all organizations.

If you remember, a couple of years ago the internet and news media were filled with the Ice Bucket Challenge. Seemingly everyone was doing their best to turn themselves into human Popsicles® and to convince others to do the same. It was fun to watch, it was interesting, and it went viral. Within just a few weeks, it was hard to find someone who hadn’t seen at least one video of someone dousing (or being doused) with ice water, especially as celebrities started joining in and ever more elaborate ways to drop the ice and water were dreamed up. Increased awareness? Absolutely. But awareness without action is an empty objective. The whole world can become aware of your mission, as happened with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but if they didn’t convince people to take action beyond the act of dumping ice water on their heads, they’re no better off than they were before.

Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret: we’re human. I know… big surprise. We’re attracted to the shiny things in PR. Who wants to slog through boring plans, when there’s all kinds of bright, shiny tactics just tantalizingly hovering out there, waiting for us? It’s much more fun to film human Popsicles® than it is to develop donation materials. But those donations are what the people at the ALS Association need in order to fund their mission of finding the cause of and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and to support ALS patients and their families. Building those donation amounts into your objectives gives you something to work toward and measure how effective your tactics are.

By the simple act of building a forfeiture option into the challenge, allowing those challenged by friends to make a donation to the participating ALS organizations instead of being doused, increased awareness was converted into action, as donations poured in. And dollars and cents are easy to count – especially for CEOs. The New York Times reported on July 27th that the Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million for the ALS Association, with $77 million going to research and another $23 million to patient and community services. Even better, the ALS Association just announced that the money raised had funded the discovery of a gene tied to ALS. Those are numbers to make any CEO – and Silver Anvil judge – ecstatic.