Branding: From the Inside Out

Sage advice is to never be the smartest person in the room. I am proud of the fact that my closest circle of friends validates that saying all the time. Except for some Saturday nights when I’m not sure there is a smartest one in the room, but that’s beside the point. What also makes this a fantastic group is their variety of backgrounds, with the associated diversity in experiences and opinions. Whenever some of us walk into a room, it’s like the opening line to a joke.

I mention this group because a recent conversation amongst them jogged my thinking towards an intersection between the worlds of public relations, communications, management, and organizational leadership. The overarching topic was ethics and the distinction between the organization as a whole and the individuals within the organization. I chimed in that the public perception of the organization as a whole is the essence of branding. And when you discuss how employees view or feel about the effectiveness of the organization and/or its leadership, that’s internal branding.Continue reading

Organizational Cadence

Another interesting moment of clarity descended upon me during a recent morning slog – rather “jog” through a Houston summer morning. I try to vary my listening habits during my workouts so that I don’t completely burn out on any one thing. On this particular morning, I considered the impact of the sounds from my headphones on the quality of my training. And a few miles later, a blog post on management styles, internal communications, and organizational performance was born.Continue reading

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

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

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

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

This Too Shall Pass

While rousing the Sleeping Beauty so she wouldn’t be late for school, I noticed a phrase posted on one of her bulletin boards. It was the common motivational refrain “this too shall pass.” For a 16-year old high school junior, these words help keep her young life in perspective and encourage her to embrace the idea of a non-teen drama filled life to come. As I walked away, I began to frame them in a public relations and professional communications mindset.

We are the gatekeepers for our organizations’ messaging and public perception. It is important that we maintain perspective while working in the present and keeping an eye on the future. Change is constant in the business and professional worlds, regardless of industry. “This too shall pass,” applies to both the good and the bad and we should prepare for such.Continue reading

Under the Radar or Off the Radar?

In a recent consultation with an organization about their public relations goals and strategies, a common point of contention reared its head. A certain faction of the leadership group preferred to remain “under the radar” and saw public relations as simply a reactionary tool for times of crisis. Other members of the team expressed a desire to see more positive and proactive efforts, to educate the public and garner recognition.

I offered that if done properly with appropriate commitment and focus, the latter option can prove beneficial and create value for the organization. Too often, “under the radar” can turn into “off the radar” which may create more problems than you think you are avoiding.Continue reading

In the Spirit of Dr. King

Yesterday our country celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a great thinker, orator, teacher and human being. Social media was flooded with his words on equality, humanity, goodness and progress. While it is unfortunate that we still need to hear many of those words today, we are very fortunate to have them to recall.

In consideration of yesterday’s spirit and theme, it is apropos that I came across another quote this morning. From a more well-known, published and recognized Jeff DeGraff (jeffdegraff.com):

“We exist in relation to other people, and so, if we want a full understanding of how we function in our worlds, we need to learn things about everyone else—from the people we love most to the people we clash with.”

Continue reading