Table for One. Or a Hundred.
The quality and calibre of the content at the 2013 Solo PR Summit - Second. To. None.
One standout for this event for me was relevance: this wasn’t pie-in-the-sky luxury available only to global brands, these concepts are scalable to many of the small and medium businesses we advise. Even more, much of what was presented – the need to be nimble, flexible, adaptable; the focus and human touch - cuts both ways.
Wish You Had Been There
After fearless leader Kellye Crane kicked things off, we got two days of smart, insightful and best of all, take-this-home-and-actually-USE-it! presentations.
- Professional means just that. Think professional – doesn’t mean boring, stuck-in-the-mud stiff! – headshot, social profiles, brand image.
- Website, blogs and branded, professional business email address.
- ” Waiting to build your personal brand until you need it is like waiting until you’re cold to build a fire.” – Kevin Dugan
- It’s not about traditional vs. digital; it’s about how those can layer, build and support each other – creating value.
- Solve clients biggest problem: no time to keep up. Be resource, share info.
- “Don’t tell, beg, or ask people to follow you/engage with your content, show them why they should.” – Lucas Miller
Proposal Secrets: Revealed. Love when I get a chance to know people better, this time it was Natalie Ghidotti. Key takeaways:
- Creativity Works. It’s not about the boilerplate and formula; use visuals, match presentation and format to the client.
- Start at the right place by asking the right questions – H/T to Mary Barber for great list of questions – in order to give them what they need (not just want they want).
- I need to start watching Mad Men DVDs.
Learning from Biggest, Brightest, Bestest. Jeremy Porter, Definition 6/Journalistics; Aimee Ertley, Sage North America; Ashley Callahan, Coca-Cola; Candace McCaffery, Independent Consultant. Key takeaways:
- Interesting case studies on the use of social, the rethinking of web, traditional and new media, convergence of content, CRM and more.
- Solo or Independent isn’t limiting; much of this is scaleable, adaptable at the SMB level.
- Think Different. There’s more than one way to tackle issue or position a client. “Any business can be interesting.” – Aimee Ertley
And that was just a half-day! So much was shared, this barely scratched the surface.. and one of the days I’ll get a handle on embedding these awesome tweets.
For a first-of-its-kind event, the Solo PR Summit really hit a home run. Big time all caps bold KUDOS to Kellye Crane for making this happen. Look for Solo PR Summit Day 2: Electric Boogaloo next week when we do the Harlem Shake and expose someone as a cheap hooker. Stay tuned.
What did you think of Day 1? Please share.
When Ms. Antoinette was getting mouthy and losing her head, she forgot to empathize and relate to her audience. Maybe she had bad PR advice?
Rant Alert: somewhere in the neighborhood of a Code Yellow on the Dammit! Jack Bauer scale.
So Carnival is in a PR and social pickle (again). This time it’s the Triumph (I’ve known people who’ve sailed and enjoyed that ship) losing power and having to be towed back to Mobile. This isn’t the first time a ship has lost power due to fire, and it’s not a problem exclusive to Carnival.
Now I’m sure the apologies will come fast and furious. Reports already indicate guests will get a full refund and a credit for future cruises, if they want to take their chances again. Emergencies will happen, especially in a business that operates practically 24/7, 365. Put that operation on water, you better believe the contingency plans get complicated.
USA Today ran a short piece with industry experts doing a Q&A on the Triumph fire. At the end there’s some good advice from a VP at a ‘strategic communications firm’ in which he talks about damage control, crisis communications and being proactive with updates with passengers.
Now I’d go much further, also include their families, the media, target social networks. Make every effort to keep people in touch, waive cellular fees, help with travel arrangements and expenses, even for those sans insurance. Mixed in with all the apologies, assurances to figure this out, take better steps to prevent this from happening again. But that’s neither here nor there.
Here’s the line that’s got my knickers in a twist:
“they understand what happened, provided they’re being communicated with and given food and water. Maybe (management) should break out the band.”
Seriously?! That’s the recommended message? “We’re still feeding you and hey, MUSIC?!!” Next thing you know, someone’s gonna want their life back.
“Break out the band” is dreadful advice, an even worse attitude for damage control.
Of course the crew shouldn’t overreact and cause additional panic; and yes they need to do make steps to comfort guests, help passengers pass the time.
But going on as if nothing’s happening? Making it a party? I don’t think I’d be in the mood for a limbo if I hadn’t showered for two days. There are times levity can ease tension, calm the storm — but adrift at sea with limited resources and terrible conditions isn’t one of them.
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill, or is this not exactly the best crisis PR advice?
“Do not wait for others to open the right doors for you.”
Not much of a fortune – don’t ya hate that?! – but certainty good advice, even if from a cookie.
Yes there are nice, courteous people everywhere but one thing I’ve always loved about The South, the manners. More than a few times a nice gentleman has waited – a long bit – for me to get to a door so he can hold it open for me. If only everything was like that.
If you want to open some doors, here’s what you do:
- Stop waiting.
- Develop a plan for success.
- Work hard, find your right doors.
- Open the doors your damn self.
That’s what good public relations and content marketing and social media are about. It’s why the myths about blogging are b.s.
YOU have to do it.
No one else will do it for you. You open the doors by doing the work. You hire the right team, talk to the right experts. You research and plan, you study data and numbers, you find your doors. And find ways to open them.
You open the right doors by doing your homework. Research, targeting, relationships with strategic stakeholders. You know your story better than anyone, what you can do for others; so tell it.
You open those doors by creating content. It takes a team, so you get leaders and management involved to write blogs and post videos, produce content of value that people – your audiences – can actually use.
You open those doors being genuinely social and find the right doors getting out of your own house. And sometimes, out of your own way.
Here’s to not waiting, finding inspiration anywhere, shorter posts (personal victory!). Here’s to doing the WORK and opening doors for ourselves.
Photo courtesy: Humorsharing.com.
Customer. Service. It’s not that hard. Put the two together, snicker at your ‘service the customer’ joke and then get it done.
Mistakes are not the problem. You are.
- You are the problem – if you’re the hotel manager that ignores valid, negative criticism. (And yes, you totally should reply to bad reviews.)
- You are the problem – if you don’t make it right.
- You are the problem – if you run a restaurant and your SM strategy is bashing the competition, fake Yelp reviews and buying Likes.
- You are the problem – if you don’t stop, listen and learn from it.
When picking up one (very pricey) job, I dropped off another quick, easy one. I returned more than a week later to get it and.. she totally forgot. Strike one. She hemmed and hawed, rushed apology.. later today, no maybe tomorrow. Strike Two. When I picked it up the next day, she coupled a mild ‘sorry’ with a grand gesture of $2 off. Strike Three, way outta there.
“I can have another you by tomorrow. So don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.”
You tell ‘em Beyonce.
I didn’t make a big stink but my body language was clear that I was displeased. I don’t think I’ll be back.
The next time I need something hemmed or tweaked, my fingers will do the walking. Right over my keyboard or flip through some apps on my iToys, find a new place. (BTW Fingers already made a stop at Kudzu, to post a this cautionary tale.)
Not only was a stronger apology in order, I don’t think they should have charged. At all. Even better, why not – to show me they can and will keep doing it right - a 20% off coupon for the next time?
My dry cleaner did that; they fixed their mistake with customer service and that made all the difference. Why? Because they know that they may not get three strikes. They know that paying will cost, but not paying will cost more. They know that I can all too easily bring my business elsewhere.
A hotel, a restaurant, or dry cleaner, so many businesses – they are all very replaceable. What’s irreplaceable? Service that’s good for the Customer.
What should they have done for my time and trouble? What does your business do to do right by your customers?
Time IS Money. Period.
You either have one or the other – and if you’re hella lucky, both. The problem is most people – especially small business owners, start-ups trying to launch – have neither.
Something’s Gotta Give
What usually gives for most struggling SMBs: The Plan. It’s why so many never get off the ground.
If you don’t have money, then you have to put in time. I doubt you learned about content marketing, R&D, HR in kindergarten; back to school for you. Get ready to Google, get ready to learn Accounting, sit down and bring a lunch as you learn WordPress and HTML and everything the web can teach you about SEO. You’ll be at the computer for the next year, no bathroom breaks.
Maybe you’ve blown your wad on the lawyer or the accountant or finance guys? That’s important, but not everything. What’s the key part of any business plan? Ask Groupon, Facebook, Twitter – rhymes with ‘the how you’ll make money’ part.
Do It Yourself – NOT Alone
I thought, “wait, people are that dumb?” and then remembered that while I can’t find them, suckers are born every minute. They buy into bullshit all the time.
Luckily this person was able to cancel in time, but what of all those other small business owners out there who get roped into websites and phone book ads and overpaying for business cards (peeve!!) and all the other crap they THINK they need?!
- You need a plan. You need an advisor.
- You need to market yourself, your business, your service.
- You need to see the big picture, know who your customers are (and aren’t) – and what’s in it for them, and how to say reach them.
In order to do that, you need someone who knows how to communicate.
I’m not saying you have to pay someone else to do it all; of course you’ll be doing a ton of work yourself. Look at risk vs. reward, what’s worth your time and what’s worth knowing. Learning SEO and web strategy and CRM can only make you a better business manager, keep you from being sold a case of snake oil. Learning copywriting or how to use Adobe Illustrator, not so much. Find someone who’ll skip the bullshit, stick to the marketing, the business essentials.
Find someone who can help you ask – and answer – the right questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. You’ve got a story to tell. And if you don’t even know what it is or how to say it, then your first move – find someone who can.
Find someone who can explain the difference between a ‘cheap’ website vs. one that’s professional and affordable. Talk with a professional who can help figure out what you should DIY; what you can’t, and what you shouldn’t attempt on your own. (If I had a dollar for every shitacular ad or brochure design made with PowerPoint and stolen web images that I was supposed to use/cleanup, I could by my iPhone 5.)
Take that budget you were going to waste on the world’s worst direct mail list that was a great deal because it was so cheap, or paying some agency to ‘blow up’ your social media web presence with automated crap, and hire a professional. The Pros Knows hows to get you more bang for your buck, spend less to get more, saving both time and money.
What’s in it for you? Doing it yourself, not alone.
Photo caption: how ’bout those LSU Tigers, a DIY R2 D2 beer keg?!