Tag Archives: Public Relations

Life in PR: Practicing Mindfulness in the Workplace

Welcome 2015 – a New Year invites us to set new intentions, navigate a new course and improve the way we manage our personal and professional lives.  I recently saw a segment on 60 Minutes where Anderson Cooper attends a workshop on how to practice mindfulness (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mindfulness-anderson-cooper-60-minutes), a concept less about spirituality and more about concentration: the ability to quiet your mind, focus your attention on the present, and dismiss any distractions that come your way.

mindfulness

As explained in The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/opinion/sunday/the-power-of-concentration.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) the formulation dates from the work of the psychologist Ellen Langer, who demonstrated in the 1970s that mindful thought could lead to improvements on measures of cognitive function and even vital functions in older adults.

I have enjoyed learning more about this practice, but how does one actually put it to work? For my professional life in a boutique PR firm, I would embrace the ability to occasionally quiet my mind and focus my attention on the present – and it would be amazing to improve my cognitive function – all of this would certainly benefit my clients and my business.

It would be great to occasionally quiet the mind.
With all this going on it may be a challenge to quiet the mind.

 

So after a great deal of thought on the subject, here are a few ways I am going to practice mindfulness in 2015.

 

1. Forget about multi-tasking.

After years of feeling fully confident that I can do 10 things at once — talk on the phone, email, and write my to-do list, I am saying goodbye to multi-tasking.  Let’s see what happens when I focus on one project until it comes to a natural stopping point before starting the next one. Granted there may be situations that arise somewhat suddenly, but I am going to do my best to complete one thing at a time. I will get back to you to let you know how this worked out.

2. Remember to breathe.

Even the most basic yoga classes remind you that “it’s all in the breath,” and I am going to try to take that to heart – or lungs in this case.  Would it be so crazy to stop in the middle of a late breaking news release to reflect and take a breath?  I think not – on the contrary, a moment’s pause might even improve the writing. It might offer a chance to think of a few more points to add to that media response, or to provide a client with calm advice in a crisis. Yes, you have permission to breathe.

3. Do something you love…every day.

You know the old adage about putting the oxygen mask on before you try and help someone else?  I am going to try and listen to it and to do the things that give me oxygen.  Reading, yoga and running are three activities that pump me up for the day, wake up my mind and body and improve my mood and alertness.  And talking to my long distance children by phone or Facetime simply gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling.  So instead of putting those things off due to meetings, deadlines and lack of time – I am going to try and do MORE of those things.

Watch for my upcoming blog, "Chasing Success" about Running and Business.
Running makes my life better!

I can already hear my inner Puritan sternly commanding that I steer away from this nonsense and get back to work.  But if all the experts are right, shouldn’t these steps lead to a more fulfilling, productive professional (and personal) life?  And won’t all this help me to become an even more focused and effective PR professional? There’s only one way to find out!

What are you going to do to improve your work life in 2015?

Etiquette and Protocal: How social media has turned into C3PO

By: Kate Walter

There has been a lot of talk lately on public relations forums about the etiquette of social media. Most recently, I read an article by Kevin Allen on PR Daily News. Although I agree with his main points about maintaining professionalism on LinkedIn, there were a few interesting comments he made that garnered my interest. Most notably, when he stated, “It sounds ridiculous, but people can really lose respect for you if you post things that are generally reserved for more informal social media outlets. Although we’re all saddened by the tragic events that took place in (insert location here), LinkedIn just isn’t the forum for sending your thoughts and prayers their way. Those expressions, however benevolent, should stay on Facebook or Twitter.”

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I admit, that my opinion on this issue may have something to do with the fact that I was one of the early adopters of Facebook back in 2004 and remember how the social media site used to function. Yes, I remember the days when you had to have a college email address to sign up. Back when your aunt, your Mom, your neighbors and every business owner in the world weren’t able to look at your posts and tagged photos from last night’s Frat party. Social media was safe. You existed in a cocoon of your peers. You were surrounded by like-minded individuals who weren’t judging you on your level of professionalism or whether they might potentially hire you. Things have changed.

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To get back to Mr. Allen’s comment, it’s interesting how he differentiates LinkedIn as being strictly professional and says that on Facebook and Twitter you are allowed to be more open, more empathetic and more ‘you’. I agree that LinkedIn is considered more of a professional social media site and there are different rules. However, I would argue that even Facebook and Twitter have become forums where self-expression is stifled, as one must consciously be aware of who is viewing your content. Yes, some of this depends on who you’re ‘friends’ with or who ‘follows’ you. Some of this depends on the nature of your job. Another part of this comes down to your settings and what you allow others to see on your social media page and what content you choose to share. But in truth, despite Facebook and Twitter being more accepting of creative posts, personal opinion and benevolent expressions, these social media sites aren’t the same entities they were when they first launched.

Facebook-logo-1817834

Also, when you consider that most individuals connect with the same people across all three of these social media platforms, this differentiation between the social media sites becomes even more blurred. Despite LinkedIn having the pretense of being more professional, if you have access to the content of a persons’ Twitter, Facebook as well, you’re still going to see the professional and ‘unprofessional’ content. And, therefore, your overall view and opinion of this person will still be affected.

It’s a definite conundrum and one that continues to grow as social media continues to grow and change. In addition to Mr. Allen’s tips about using proper etiquette on LinkedIn, I suppose my two cents of advice would be to use the same etiquette on Facebook and Twitter. Or learn how to change your privacy settings.

The PR Life: One Perfect Work Day

Under the category “better late than never,” I decided to spend one whole work day following the rules I have been reading about for years.  And you know what?  This stuff really works – I had a delightfully fulfilling and creative day.  And all it took was listening to expert advice and acting accordingly!  Here’s what I did: Continue reading The PR Life: One Perfect Work Day

From the PR Perspective: 5 Highlights of the Perfect Relationship

If you are in the business of marketing and/or public relations, you understand the value of building and nurturing relationships.

For most of us, five to seven years is the average longevity of the client/PR practitioner engagement — businesses change and grow, people move on and circumstances change. It’s always a little sad, but new opportunities come along and we begin anew.  For my practice, the best example is a client whom I have worked with for more than 11 years…a PR “love story” of sorts that started before the company’s birth and ends now more than a decade later as the company finalizes its sale to a larger corporate entity.

Continue reading From the PR Perspective: 5 Highlights of the Perfect Relationship

Networking + Networking = Relationship Building

By: Kate Walter

 

For the past year, the Public Relations Society of America has been engaged in an effort to modernize the definition of public relations. Through opinion polls and other research the organization officially updated the definition to read, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Although building and facilitating long-term relationships is the ultimate goal for a business to achieve their bottom line interests, many organizations ask, “How do I accomplish this?”

There are numerous strategies and tactics for relationship building – one of the mostwidespread and effective is networking. Despite the importance of social media, advertising, branding, etc. there is still the underlying, old school method of face time. If someone likes your business outlook or your personality, then most often they will want to know more about your product or service. Of course, the next question becomes, “How do I network effectively?” Although there are many schools of thought on this, I believe individuals should take their cue from public relations and consider the PRSA definition of mutually beneficial relationships. Therefore, the core foundation of effective networking should focus more on relationship building than on networking for networking sake.

 


For example, we have all been to those after hour meetings where you enter a room of 200 people and are immediately accosted by someone who flings their business card at you, tells you briefly about what they do and then saunters off after their next victim. This person is on a mission. They feel that they must hand out as many business cards as possible, because quantity over quality is what counts. However, if you were on the receiving end of this onslaught, most likely you will never remember this person and/or will never use their product or service.
There are always exceptions, but taking the time to talk to someone, to truly listen and engage in conversation is invaluable. Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus on one or two people at each meeting whom you have not spoken to before. You will be remembered and others will talk about how you took the time to get to know them and word will spread. The person you speak with may become a client. He may refer business to you. She may serve as your word-of-mouth marketing team. He or she might become one of your closest friends. Leave yourself open to possibilities and don’t focus solely on your destination. Focus instead on building lasting and rewarding relationships.

Father’s Day from a PR Perspective: Four Things I Learned from my Dad

Although my earliest career goals included teacher, veterinarian and newspaper reporter (like Lois Lane), looking back on it now, I was surely in training to be a Public Relations professional.  Some of that training included learning how to speak like an adult from the time I was very small, introducing people to each other when I thought it would be mutually beneficial, and finding the positive side of almost every situation.  With Father’s Day approaching,  I have to thank my Dad for teaching me four very important things that have remained essential to my professional life – I hope these nuggets will help you in yours!

 


 


1. Read, read, read!  I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of the bedtime story from day one.  That led to early reading and a never-ending reading list provided by both my parents .  They had an excellent repertoire that included the classics, great literature, history, current events and popular culture.  I followed their  lead, and still do, reading anything I can get my eyes on.  Of course, this has helped in my career- not only reading public relations-related books and journals, but extending to novels and poetry that inspire creativity. You never know what you will pick up while you are reading.

 2. Write it down! My Dad is one of the greatest unknown writers of all time.  No, he hasn’t published the Great American Novel or even the Great American short story, but he has written consistently and well his entire life.  Letters to the editor, letters to his children and grandchildren, articles in his community newspaper — all evoking deep emotions, strong opinions or family stories he prefers to write about rather than share out loud.  Yes, he’s a quiet person – but you can learn a lot from his writings.  So whether it’s a hereditary trait or something learned, writing well has always been a priority in my world.  Even though texting and tweeting are part of our everyday lives, remember to keep writing in full sentences as well.

 

3. Listen! Most of us in the field of public relations love to talk…a lot.  There’s always so much going on, so much to share, it’s hard to contain ourselves.  My Dad has always been very quiet, but a really good listener – I know that because he can repeat conversations we had 30 years ago.  I have learned from him that it’s good to let the other person talk sometimes and to really hear what they are saying.  This is especially important with our clients because we must listen intently to grasp the true meaning of their vision  – and we have to understand that vision in order to communicate it to others.  So this one is really important.

 

 

4. Embrace a strong work ethic! In my Dad’s day he came out of the army and worked for the same company for 45 years, retiring with the gold watch and everything that goes with it.  I have had three positions over the span of my career and I have read that many people can expect to change jobs an estimated seven times. No matter what your tenure is, I have learned from my Dad to perform beyond expectations, to respect deadlines and to follow up and follow through.

 

As you reflect on Father’s Day, I hope you have learned as much from your Dad as I have from mine.  Please write in and let us know what you’ve learned. Happy Father’s Day!

 

PR Reflections: Learn with ardor

Abigail Adams said, “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Even more than 200 years later, her words resonate – especially in today’s world where messages and impressions continuously surge around us but  may never be absorbed nor applied.  From a public relations point of view, real learning takes place when we internalize and process information and then use it to enhance organizations’ relationships and reputations among their publics. There are five specific actions we can easily incorporate into our daily PR lives to ensure that we “learn with ardor”:

Read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That means as much as you can of every genre. For me, the single most important way to learn is to read: newspapers, blogs, lifestyle magazines,  industry journals and novels.  Yes, novels!  (See Anne Kreamer’s Jan. 2012 blog post). You never know where the next creative idea will come from – often a single word or powerful image can open the door to a new way of thinking (if you let it!)

Listen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you ever watch the TV show, “House”?  Just when it seems that all is lost and there will be no diagnosis for the mystery illness, Dr. House grasps on to a nugget of conversation that lights up his synapses and solves the problem — lives are saved! While your results might not be as extraordinary, you can still learn a tremendous amount by truly listening to others around you.  This is your opportunity to garner knowledge from other people’s experiences and expertise, and use it to help yourself and others.

Observe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step away from your desk and look at the world around you.  I just read a NYT article about the lost art of conversation — sad but true.  So often our heads are down, our eyes focused on our little screens, that we can miss both the simplicity of a friendly conversation and the huge, amazing things happening right in front of us. Look around and take it all in – you’ll get more out of life and have more to talk about!

Ask!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even if you’ve taken the time to listen, and lifted your head to observe, there may be still more to learn. Develop your sense of curiosity, that urge to know more, and take it to a higher level.  Ask the questions that come to mind, or look for further details online, or even walk through the doors of a library.  Take ancestry.com, for example – you can learn a great deal about your family history by visiting the website.  Even better is when the featured celebrity on “Who Do You Think You Are”  actually visit a library. That’s when they dig deeper into real documentation, perusing the archived records that bring their pasts alive and make them meaningful.

Connect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Abigail Adams quote, connecting is the key to attending to your learning with diligence.  All those precious morsels you’ve gathered by reading, listening and observing will just float freely through your imagination if you don’t find a way to corral them and use them purposefully.  The best way we can use our information in the field of public relations is to apply our new knowledge to help someone else.  Have you read about a technology advancement that you can pass on to one of your clients to make their business run more smoothly?  Or did you hear someone discussing an upcoming seminar that would help a business associate further his/her career? Perhaps you’ve just met the perfect collaborator for your next venture — and your next learning opportunity.

What have you learned  lately that you would like to share?  We would love to hear about it here!

Looking forward to your comments.

 

Happy learning!

Phyllis

 

 

 

 

As a PR Pro, Do You Have a Seat at the Table?

Excerpts from my 8/8/11 blog post from Florida Public Relations Association’s 2011 Annual Conference: What CEOs Want and Need from PR – presentation by Angela Buonocore, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, ITT Corporation

 

Monday Speakers (1)
Monday Speakers (8)

Do you have purpose and passion for what you do?  Do you have a seat at the table?  Angela Buonocore has more than 32 years experience in communications for major corporations and is still excited to wake up in the morning and go to work every day.  She says we should all feel that way – the PR profession is extremely exciting and that’s why we’ve chosen it.The lessons Angela shared with us can be applied wherever you are in the organization, although your goal should be to work for the CEO.

She says, “If you’re not working for the CEO now, I hope it is your goal to do that.  I always wanted to sit in the executive suite.”

When she started her career In 1979, that was a pipe dream, but women have come a long way. As communications professionals, we have to strive to sit in the executive offices at the round table.

So how do you earn your seat at that table?

First, Angela shared a bit of history about ITT Corporation and the equity in the brand. She joined in 2007 after her tenure at Pepsi and is thrilled about this job and the diversity of products from pumps to break pads for cars, high-speed trains and more.

In January 2011, ITT announced they are splitting into three.  This has been a most interesting experience and she is proud of how she and her PR team used the history news hook to enhance the story. The firm’s history of splitting businesses and making them work became the story. Other companies have since announced splits, but ITT is mentioned in every story.  Angela is delighted about starting the trend.

Her road to the top provides her with the credibility to tell us about achieving a seat at the table. During the 30+ years, she has been a student of what works – not just when it comes to communications.

Angela’s advice?

If you find something you love, stick with it.

From the beginning, Angela has been a viewer of tables and seating arrangements.  When you join a company, first become a good observer of how things work because they don’t work the same way in any two companies.  Ask questions, interrogate.

Her mother used to say, “Here comes the questioner.”

Once she asks questions to several different parties, she triangulates the information.

As communicators, many of us with journalism backgrounds, we are the best detectives. Understand the who, what, when, why, where – apply what you’ve learned and figure out how you get ahead.

Gather your information but don’t hoard it. She used to love hoarding it because Knowledge is Power.  But it’s important to share what you learn – you get satisfaction, help build teams, and later on you may need help doing something.
If you haven’t been a player on a team, people don’t share with you.

What influences the function’s seat?  How well is the function perceived?  In a company you have to look at where communications sits. It doesn’t always have to report to the CEO, but if it does, you know he/she thinks it’s just as important as accounting, manufacturing, all high levels of the organization.

Understand the responsibilities – how well do we establish vision and direction?  Both in the division in which we work, and in the more elevated version as the lynchpin in developing the company.

How does the CEO tell the same consistent message that will resonate with different constituencies – shareholders and employees alike.  How do you deliver those messages?  ITT’s CEO looks to Angela to do that and we must ask ourselves these questions.

Focus & Results
An important characteristic is the drive for results. Getting the results is critical.

Like Pepsi, you have to be focused on the big win.  How do you get it done?

You must also know what the CEO is thinking when it concerns the big win – he/she is not thinking of the big news release.  The CEO is thinking about the money.  What is the ROI?  If our function is thought of as overhead, we better show results.

Angela always asks her team,  “How are these communications objectives going to drive the business?”  If you can’t answer that, it’s problematic.

A great communicator has to be a great businessperson.  And the very first thing you have to do is learn as much as you can about that business.

Ability to drive changes
We need to look and see what needs to be changed – and what doesn’t.  There is always opportunity for continuous improvement.

For people who drive change, communicators have the skills. Words are very powerful – if they are delivered in the right way, they can inspire, put fear into people,  or incent people to change things.  It’s not just explaining what we have to do, they want to understand why – what is the rationale?

Sometimes people at the top lose touch with the people running the business – meeting with customers, manufacturing.  Angela makes sure she is in the field, on the factory line – always engaging employees and learning about their concerns.

Get out where people make things, sell things. Nothing happens at a company until people sell things.  What are we doing to help sales people and manufacturing people?

Skills of the leader, skills of the team
A head of HR once told Angela,  “You will be judged as to how good of a leader you are – by whom you hire and whom you fire.”

Lots of leaders and managers cannot step up. The most satisfying aspect is to take someone who is not performing and make him or her perform.  But if that’s not possible, you have to be able to make crucial decisions.

How do we earn our seat?  We have our own value systems –we don’t all carry the same set.  You want your individual values to match the corporate values. What does the company value most and does that fit with what I value?

Treat employees well to serve your shareholders well.  You have to know how to ask those questions.  Big reasons why people fail – usually their values don’t align with where they are working, or they have not aligned other people.

Connection to and understanding of the business.  Surprisingly a lot of people don’t bother to do it – the more you can demonstrate you understand, the more leaders will respect.

Strong communication skills – this is not a throwaway.  Some people, communications professionals, send Angela letters and resumes with mistakes.  Read your work over.

Hardest one to measure – the ability to make magic.  The talent to put all the ingredients together.

What matters the most?
Three things:
*Masters of complexity – deep technical skills. People who can read between the lines, connect the dots – it’s hard to teach people how to do that.

*High impact leadership – sought for advice and counsel. Get out and see who is the natural leader.
Influences other people’s thinking

*Sense of urgency, but not reactionary

*Consistent results – day in, day out, year in, year out
Build a plan, work the plan
People are confident when they give you something to do.

Top three reasons communicators fail to realize their full potential:
*Skills not equivalent with scope of job – if job is too big, they can fail.  Can’t communicate strategy until you know business strategy. Develop relationships with internal customers and peers.
People get defensive and lose confidence
No “fingerprints”

*Good but not great is not good in a high performance company. What happens to people who are good but not great? They get eliminated.
They allow themselves to get in a comfort zone where they have inflated opinion of their work instead of trying to make the work better. Not viewed as a thought leader. Don’t look at big picture. Then tactical will outweigh the strategic – and this is the kiss of death.

*Good year, bad year – too inconsistent. Raise the bar.  Gets comfortable, doesn’t challenge.  Good becomes good enough.

Four ways you can take your seat and keep your seat.
*Gift of feedback
Ask for it – develop five sources for well-rounded picture of what it is you do well (and not so well).  Your boss, internal customers, one of your peers, external source, other team members.  Collect feedback as often as you like and compare. Be specific in how to get feedback.  Ask boss for respect, candor, sincerity, follow up.

*Calling your shot
Shows you are in control
Have risk orientation
Demonstrates self confidence
Requires clarity of purpose
Helps us measure your success
Takes luck out of play

*Break out of the pack
Results are the foundation
Good at everything
Great at something: Be the best at something, shape stories, create engagement, understanding company

You need purpose and you need passion!

Do you have a seat at the table?  And if you do, are you comfortable in it?

Link to PR Week Story to see what the ITT Chairman says about Angela:
http://bit.ly/n2uQ6K

More about Angela A. Buonocore
From the ITT Website (www.itt.com)

Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer
Angela Buonocore is Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for ITT Corporation. In this role, she is a member of the company’s Strategic Council and is responsible for global brand and reputation management, public relations, employee communications, corporate advertising, community relations and corporate philanthropy.

She joined ITT in March 2007 from The Pepsi Bottling Group where she served as Vice President, Corporate Communications since 2001. In this role, she was responsible for the group’s public relations objectives and strategy, communication with the organization’s more than 60,000 employees and charitable initiatives. Prior to her 12-year career in the PepsiCo system, Buonocore spent 11 years with IBM and five years at General Electric Company in various internal and external communications roles.

Buonocore is a trustee of the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations, and a member of the Wisemen and the Seminar, all organizations of senior corporate communications executives. In 2003, she was elected a member of the Accademia Europea per le Relazioni Econimiche e Culturali, a Rome-based organization that honors Italians and Italian-Americans who are leaders in their fields. In 2010, she was honored by the National Organization for Women’s New York City chapter as a Woman of Power and Influence.

Buonocore holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising with High Honors from the University of Florida and was honored as a Distinguished Alumna of the College of Journalism and Communications in May 2007.



Connected to Stay Collected

As I was logging on this morning from my mountain retreat, I was thinking how grateful I am that our house is wired for wireless and how easily I can work from here when I landed on Anne Tergeson’s article in today’s WSJ.com, “When Guests Check In, Their iPhones Check Out.” I stopped what I was doing to read it, and I started thinking… Continue reading Connected to Stay Collected

GUEST BLOG POST: Buying College Textbooks on a College Budget

As an adjunct professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, I have the pleasure of teaching Public Relations Strategy to a fantastic group of motivated, inspiring students who are poised to enter their professional lives.  Their recent blog post assignments reflect a diversity of interests, passions and pastimes and I will be featuring as many of them as possible on my blog over the next few weeks.  Enjoy and feel free to comment! Continue reading GUEST BLOG POST: Buying College Textbooks on a College Budget