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By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
WOOT! Oh, sorry… that was our excitement sneaking out. I am so pleased to share with you the news from the recent Florida Public Relations Association Southwest Florida Chapter 2013 Image Awards… We won four Awards of Distinction and a Judges’ Award!
This is the sixth year in a row that our firm has been honored for outstanding communications campaigns bringing the award tally to twenty-four. We won Awards of Distinction for the following programs: West Marine’s Fort Myers Flagship store grand opening, Blue Ridge Harley-Davidson’s Grand Reopening in Hickory, North Carolina, international publicity efforts on behalf of Specialists in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery and the company’s second annual food drive benefiting Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI), the CAN IT! Campaign. The Judges’ Award was also given in recognition of the CAN IT! Campaign.
An Award of Distinction highlights an outstanding public relations program while a Judges’ Award signifies maximum client exposure was achieved through the public relations program for the least amount of money.
The Florida Public Relations Association is a statewide organization designed to promote professional and ethical public relations through professional development and community involvement. For more information about the local chapter, please visit fpraswfl.org.
Congrats to all the entrants and all the winners! We were among great company and so proud of all of our fellow chapter members, entrants and winners.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
In this week’s blog I’m going to focus on some internal things we can all do to better our chances of customer/client satisfaction and positive interactions with media – i.e. PR or public relations. In the end, we (businesses and business owners) are only as good as our teams or staff, and that’s in more ways than one.
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” – unknown
Internal Communication & Teamwork
Your staff, or team as we call it, is made up of individuals, each unique in his or her strengths and each playing a vital role in the success of your business. If you have great people then you probably provide excellent service or products for your customers (hopefully), but what are the internal communications like? Are the individuals talking to each other and forming a unit or working independently without knowledge of the others’ efforts?
Internal communication is often overlooked, but is equally important as external communications, or publicity/PR efforts. If your team isn’t on the same page, the message you communicate outwardly most certainly won’t be cohesive either.
Media Relations / Training
Maybe your staff is working together and your internal communications are strong. That’s great! Are they ready to speak about the business before media or other audiences? Media training is important for the spokespeople for the business (CEO, President, board, Executive Director, etc.), but also for staff.
We love journalists, but also know they like to pop up unexpectedly or sometimes go by a business to do an interview without notice. If your staff haven’t been trained on how to answer questions or who to defer media representatives to, you could run into a problem.
Alternatively, who’s responsible for your media relations? Is there a designated person within the company who handle media inquiries, distributing news/news releases, etc.? If not, establish that now (or consider bringing in an outside resource, such as a PR firm) so you’re prepared before something newsworthy comes up or media relations is needed.
Customer service is critical to a business’ success and can set it apart (positively or negatively) from competition. Is your staff living up to your expectations? Do you even know? Even if you’re not in the retail business, don’t assume your staff is adhering to high quality customer service. Know for a fact.
There are many ways to monitor this and to enhance it (even if you are on the ball). Consider doing secret shops, adding customer service surveys to the check out or post service process, ask for feedback and/or reviews. If your staff is doing an great job, reward them and try to develop new goals with incentives for reaching them (i.e. half day off paid if you receive 5 positive comments within a month, etc.). The positive impact outstanding customer service will offer could lead to positive word-of-mouth and possibly new business, so be sure to keep an eye on this and reward those employees who are excelling.
Reputation & Reputation Management
You’ve got a great team, they’re talking to each other and collaborating, they’re ready for media AND they’re providing outstanding customer service. Great job! Now, are you tracking that and your business’ reputation online? Monitoring customer feedback goes beyond asking a customer about their experience or reviewing a comment card. People are sharing their opinions online. If you’re not listening or paying attention to those opinions, you could end up paying for it in the long run.
There are many review sites such as Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Google Places and more that are general, covering all industries, and even more for specific, niche industries such as travel (TripAdvisor) or health (RateMyMD.com). Make sure to claim or set up your business on these sites and monitor what’s being said about your business. Respond to both the positive and negative comments. Learn from them, reward staff based on them, and grow from them. Better yet, get your team involved in asking for reviews on these sites and engage them in the process too.
If you’re interested in setting your team up for success, or just have communications questions, give us a call at (239) 221-2858 or email us at info (at) getpushing.com. We’re happy to help!
By: Tiffany Whitaker
Communication Ally, Pushing the Envelope
As the new Communications Ally and team member of Pushing the Envelope, I thought it fitting to write about Communications and its many languages. However, I’m not talking about speaking French, English or sign language; I’m referring to the levels or stages upon which we interact. I’ve recently found myself reading communications blogs of successful women from different walks of life, all of whom shared an interesting, yet entirely different perspective on communicating. Here are a few of my favorites:
Whether intentional movements and expressions or natural reactions and projections, we are constantly communicating with our bodies and physical movements. These behaviors are picked up by the person we are interacting with, and likewise. Take notice of what you are projecting and interpret what the other person is telling you, communicating to you through their body language and gestures.
Language of Listen
You may recall Samantha’s interpretation of communication on this blog recently, The Passive Act of Communication: Listening. She expresses the importance of two-way communication, showing the other person that “their input matters.” Communication involves engaging the person you are interacting with, talking with them instead of at them. Try asking questions, listen to what the other person has to say and truly hear their message.
Beth Comstock, CMO at General Electric, shared a lesson she learned from former GE chairman and CEO Jack Welch after he hung up on her. After spending years in media and network news, she was too abrupt and she had to slow down. He was asking her to take more time to relate to people she was “communicating” with; get to them, where they are coming from, what is important to them. Sometimes we get caught up or distracted, are running through a never-ending list of tasks to complete that we miss out on the “why” we got into communications; the experiences and relationships.
Empathic listening is a mixture of communication skills and awareness to use when you genuinely want to connect. You can use it to applaud someone’s victory or to help uncover what’s really troubling them. If you allow yourself to empathize you can communicate on a whole new level. In her book “It’s All A Gift,” Miriam Adahan describes a friend who’s 8 month old baby was hospitalized with cancer. People kept telling her that everything was going to be okay when what she really needed was so express her feeling and have someone lend an ear and hear what she needed to say. Their forceful and “optimistic” message was actually hurting her more. Allow yourself empathize with a person, their situation, their angle or belief will make you communicate better in a situation.
Whether you’re new to a team (wink, wink), meeting someone new, making a sale, networking or even interacting with a loved one, remember there is more to communication than speaking. Taking note of the many levels or languages of communication can positively effect your life on both professionally and personally. Thanks for reading and if you need assistance with your communications, give us a call at (239) 221-2858 or visit our website.
We’d like to welcome Tiffany Whitaker as our newest team member! Tiffany joins the PTE team as a Communications Ally. She’ll work with clients on public relations projects, reputation management and media relations and her background is predominately in communications in the Southwest Florida.
Tiffany has administrative skills as well as marketing, social media and public relations experience including front-line customer service, public speaking, training and presentations, responding to press inquiries, networking and building strong relationships with partners and vendors.
You can welcome her to the team by emailing her at Tiffany(at)getpushing.com or by calling 239.221.2858.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah AKA Owner
Today is the day of love, Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d write in genre. As we grow up we strive to find something that we love that can provide income and sustainability for ourselves as adults – a job or career. It’s my hope that you (reading this) have found that one thing, industry, topic or passion that you love. It’s more likely if you’re an entrepreneur. Take me for example.
My husband and I started this company 7 years ago because we found that we were both good at marketing. I love the process of communications and relationship creation. On the Myers-Briggs scale I’m an ESTJ. Words are my friends and I’m comfortable with new people. What I don’t like is math and numbers, especially balancing a checkbook and calculus. This is important because I do what I love and good at, and leave the other stuff to those who are good at it. I practice public relations and run Pushing the Envelope, but I leave the bookkeeping up to my accountant.
It’s easy to get caught up in running your business. You’re busy and work hard to meet the demands of your clients or customers and your staff. Maybe you could use a little help and as a result, have stopped or stalled your marketing efforts. Don’t let being busy in “season” (for those of you in Southwest Florida) lead to a lack of business or new clients come summertime.
You are good at what you do. You run a successful business, but if we’re being honest, it could always be better, right? It can be hard to ask for help or even realize there is a need. Chance are, you didn’t go to college for marketing or web development. You know you need both for your business to be successful and grow, but aren’t sure where to start or perhaps, what to do next. Why not let us help?
Our skilled team can be your virtual in-house marketing department, help you get social media going (you know that plan you talked about 6 months ago?) and work on updating your website for increased traffic generation – and ultimately leads.
Do what you are good at. Let us help with the rest. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.221.2858 or email info(at)getpushing.com. We’ll be glad to help you do what you love.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
Did you take a second glance at the subject of this post? I had to think about it for a second when I first came across it in a book by Dr. David Jeremiah. So often we think about communication as the act of telling or informing, not the other side of the equation – or even in the context that it is an equation with two parts.
What is Listening in Communication?
Listening, according to Dictionary.com, is a verb meaning “to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear, to wait attentively for, and/or to pay attention.” If we really want to have good relationships with our friends, significant others – and more importantly from the business perspective – our clients/customers, wouldn’t it seem logical that we actively pursue the act of listening?
The answer is “yes!” but so few companies do it. With the increase of listening and communication tools such as social media or networking sites, Google alerts, etc. there are many ways to make listening feasible – even at an entry level.
As MarketingProfs says “Years of research have revealed that the single most important factor that separates the good companies from the great companies—Adidas from Nike, Kawasaki from Harley-Davidson, Hewlett-Packard from Apple—is the ability to listen to their customers.”
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
So why is it that listening is “the single most important factor” in converting a “good” company to a “great” company? From my perspective, it’s because it shows that the company cares and it shows the personality or humanity of the company. As we tell our clients, at the end of the day, people connect with people. They don’t connect with companies.
By listening to your consumers (and I’ve even venture to add your employees, board, etc.) it’s proving that their input matters. It does matter, you know. They are your business. Without them (your consumers), you have no market share. With no market share, you have no revenue. With no revenue, you have no business. With no business… We don’t need to go on and turn this into a DIRECTV commercial.
Communicating with customers (the two-way kind) doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war for time and attention. The concept is simple – listen to your customers to learn what they like, want, enjoy, etc. and then return their communication with information on you, your company, services, products, etc. that fit into those categories or alleviate their “pain points” or dislikes.
The days of “push” or one-sided communication are gone. Advertising alone isn’t going to build business. You have to hear out your consumer and involve them in the creation of new products/services and in the constant review and upgrading of existing services. A great example of this is Fiskars and their “Fiskateers“. Created and coordinated by Brains on Fire, it’s a perfect example of how listening and engaging your consumers can garner outstanding results.
Where to go from Here
The first step in any marketing or communication effort is do your homework (research) and develop a plan (strategy). What are your goals? Do you want consumer input for R&D or are you looking for general customer service feedback? How will you measure this information? What channels will you use to get the information – social media? If so, which ones? Is the company already on those sites or do you need to create new accounts?
Start asking – and answering – these questions and get a plan in order that includes SMART goals and KPIs. You can do this! Moreover, you should do this! Need help? We’re just an email or a call away.
Virtually everyone has heard the old cliche “you can’t listen when you’re talking” or some variation of it. It’s true and now, more than ever before, businesses need to start LISTENING.
We have tons of communication channels developed to target our core audiences everywhere and every time possible – SMS messaging to cell phones, tweets, promoted posts on Facebook, Yelp reviews feedback, etc., They’re all designed to spread YOUR message. What about your consumers? Are you listening to them?
Not only can you learn A LOT about what your consumers actually want (and will therefore spend money on), but you can improve your services or products and PROVE you care about them and their desires. They are your business after all.
Just a thought.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
Life doesn’t come with a manual, nor do many of our jobs, so here’s my gift to you this holiday season – 3 quick and easy tips to help avoid some unnecessary, potentially embarrassing, definitely unprofessional moments. Consider it an early Christmas present.
I know, that doesn’t sound so hard. If that’s the case, however, why is it that so few businesses have a public relations or marketing plan? Planning involves focus and time, which scares most people away, but it is one of the most important steps in any public relations or marketing effort. Take the time to develop a strategy with SMART goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or milestones. Then, incorporate steps to measure the plan’s outcomes – successes or failures. They’re both learning experiences.
Yes, it’s a bit of pet peeve of mine, but really, if you’re writing for business proofreading should be an integral part of the process! Check your work before it goes out to the media, clients, co-workers, etc. We’ve all seen embarrassing mistakes in copy that could have been avoided. Don’t be “that” person.
Most us have to develop some kind of report at the end of a project. From year end reports to quarterly board meetings, there’s usually some kind of round up done that reports how effective our efforts were, but why wait? Measure your efforts as you go (start with a baseline at the beginning, measure incrementally throughout, then do an end measurement) so there aren’t any surprises at the end! This affords you the opportunity to make adjustments and potentially succeed ultimately even if the campaign starts out a little rocky.
None of these concepts are nouveau or highly technical, but I can virtually guarantee that if you employ them, they can help you avoid errors and potential problems. However, if you still need help, give us a shout. We’re just an email or a phone call away.