Camera Ready for a Job Interview

Not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of a camera and/or a reporter, shocking I know. This is usually a good thing as far as I’m concerned because it means less competition for my job. There are times when those camera-shy folks need to act as spokespersons. When those times arise, some sort of “media training” is necessary. Given my comfort and experience in this aspect of public relations, I enjoy providing this training. My goal is to help the individual feel confident, which will resonate with the reporter, the camera and the audience.

During my recent time between professional stops, I’ve had the chance to interview many times for potential opportunities. I soon began to recognize the similarities between media interviews and job interviews. During the latter, my message is myself and it is my job to deliver the important key points about that message. Reflecting on some of the main tips and techniques I usually cover in media training, I have been able to go into these interviews with a strategy and more confidence.Continue reading

Perfect in that Moment

1,206 out of 1,265 free throws made in one hour. Seventeen free throws made in two minutes – blindfolded. These are world records set by Ed Palubinskas. On his way to becoming an All-SEC basketball player, two-time Olympian and professional basketball draftee, Ed developed a name for himself as a sharpshooter on the court. Even when injuries cut short his playing career, he continued practicing and refining his free throw shooting stroke. So much so, that he’d go on to be a sought after coach, demonstrator, and teacher of the skill. He was about the closest thing to a perfect shooter as you could find. And along the way, he gave a lot of thought to the idea of “perfection.”

I had the privilege to meet Palubinskas when I was a kid. He was a friend of my father’s from back when he showed up on the campus of Louisiana State University as one of the first Australian-born basketball players to suit up in the purple and gold. After his playing days, he stuck around and made his life.

By the time I knew him, he was a decorated former basketball player, coach, talented graphic artist, author, and motivational speaker. I was able to hear him speak on several occasions and one of his themes always stuck with me.Continue reading

Friday Fun: Move! Get Out the Way!

I’ve spoken with members of the media on countless occasions discussing the importance of railroad safety. But I have to give kudos to CW39 in Houston, Texas. Pairing my safety message with the rap stylings of none other than Ludacris? Genius!

Sometimes you just need to be direct.

Using Swords as Plowshares and Plowshares as Swords

A previous post discussed the virtues of flexibility and adaptability in the professional world, hearkening to the idea of swords becoming plowshares. The post also referenced Alton Brown’s disdain for “unitaskers” in his kitchen, or gadgets that serve one purpose. We can apply this thinking to some of the tools and techniques we use in the public relations and communications world. Learning how to use and apply these tools in different settings and at different times will help expand our toolboxes, allow us to be more nimble, and to develop new strategies.

“Turning swords into plowshares” conjures the image of taking an item of battle and converting it to a device useful in peacetime. In the professional communications world, we could allude that we “battle” when we are in crisis mode, or on the defensive against negativity, or fighting for an advantage for your cause/organization. For us, “peacetime” can refer to times when we use our PR skills to build goodwill, expand our following, establish brand awareness and loyalty, or position ourselves as leaders in the industry.

We should not get complacent in thinking that our tools and techniques are limited to either battle OR peacetime. If you become adept at using your swords as plowshares and your plowshares as swords, you will be that much more prepared and valuable.Continue reading

Swords into Plowshares

“…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” — Isaiah 2:4.

The writers of the Old Testament provided us with the image of a peaceful time when we would not need swords for fighting and could convert them to plowshares for tilling of the earth. This is a hopeful and worthy aspiration. But rather than focus on this phrase in its religious or political context, I like to think of it in a utilitarian way: expanding the usefulness of something beyond its original design.

When I think about it like this, I hearken to the words of the great Alton Brown who always explains that there is only one “uni-tasker” in his kitchen, and that’s the fire extinguisher. Beyond that, any gadget with one sole purpose has no place cluttering his work environment.

Essentially, I’m referring to adaptability and flexibility. These are attributes found in gadgets, tools, techniques, and individuals. While I will explore this concept when it comes to tools and techniques in a later post, developing adaptability as a personal trait can lead to many accomplishments in the professional world.Continue reading

Back In My Day

I had an interesting conversation with my soon to be high school graduate of a son as he prepared his final presentation for his AP Capstone project. His project centered on his research into the use of social media by large corporations to interact with their customers. As we discussed his work, I offered some quality anecdotes that mostly began with “back in my day…” Excessive eye rolling ensued.

His main response, though, was to share how he’d “always known social media.” The various apps, the comfort with sharing the important and the inane via electronic means, the concept that interaction can take both physical and digital forms, those were all a part of daily existence by the time he reached an age to begin exploring the world and forming his personality. He didn’t know a time before, he only knew this time.Continue reading

A Look Into The Future

“Out of the mouths of babes” – “and a child shall lead them” – “I believe that children are the future”

Whatever your preferred colloquialism, we should all recognize that the leaders of tomorrow are the youth of today.

Recently, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the preparation those future leaders are going through, and I was impressed.

NOTE: this post isn’t a blatant brag about my son, as his fellow classmates were all equally impressive.

My son graduates high school next week, and for the last two years he’s pursued the Advanced Placement Capstone designation. Students receive the designation if they graduate having completed at least four advanced placement courses and the AP Seminar and AP Research classes. The AP Research class consists of a two-semester research project, of their choosing, culminating in a written paper and public presentation. Essentially, they are high school seniors preparing and defending a thesis.Continue reading

Ok, So Now What?

On March 2, I completed my first ever marathon. It was the culmination of over 270 miles of training runs during the first 2 months of 2019; runs during the pre-dawn hours, in the evenings and on the weekends. It was the completion of a goal I’d set that helped maintain my focus and give me the inspiration to get out in the frigid temps or sweltering heat (both possible in Houston during January and February!) When I crossed the finish line that Saturday morning, I achieved a major physical and mental milestone.

Then, on March 3, I faced a question that hits many of us in varying pursuits: now what?Continue reading

It’s Lenten Season

Yesterday, my homeland of Louisiana celebrated the highest of holy days: Mardi Gras. “Fat Tuesday” is the culmination of a season of parties and parades that help bridge the gap between the New Year and spring. Tradition says that the parties of the Mardi Gras Season are a chance to revel in excessiveness before entering the 40 days of the Lenten Season, a time of sacrifice in preparation of a proper Easter celebration. As common as the parades of Mardi Gras are the attempts at self-denial during Lent. The goal is to select something meaningful to “give up” for 40 days to gain humility and appreciation.

Though the origins of Mardi Gras and Lent are religious and spiritual in nature, they have become quite a fixture in the secular world. Here, I’d like to tie them to the professional world as well.Continue reading