Category Archives: Productivity
Today, companies can be widely dispersed. Employees may live in different cities or countries from where the organizations are centrally located. Younger generations may request working from home or the local coffee shop, saying they feel more comfortable and inspired outside of an office setting. Some companies may not even have an office, but a team of mobile employees collaborating through various new technologies. So what happens when an important discussion needs to take place between members of an organization who are not located in the same area? Well, you have the next best thing: a virtual meeting.
There are MANY services available to conduct virtual meetings; from highly robust and paid services to free and simple ones. Recently updated, the Google+ platform allows for online video conferencing which it calls “Hangouts.” Other major services include GoToMeeting and Cisco’s WebEx. And did you know Facebook also allows for video chats between friends?
Facebook video conferencing is actually powered by one of our favorite services that we highly recommend, Skype. Skype can be used for free video conferencing directly with another Skype user, including online messaging and file sending. We recommend Skype to clients as a way to conduct meetings between organizational employees when not located in close enough proximity. If you haven’t tried it out already and would like to, Skype requires a quick set-up process before online communication can begin. To make it easy for you, we’ve created a How to Set Up Skype video below that will walk you through the process.
What services do you like using for virtual meetings? Please let us know your recommendations in the comments below!
As any marketing firm will tell you, marketing is a never-ending process. Whether it’s attending networking events, connecting with past clients or writing that new blog post, there is always something that can be done. This can get overwhelming and cause one to want to give up. But if you want your company to stand out above the rest, you have to keep going.
Anthony Robles, winner of the 2010-2011 NCAA individual wrestling championship, recently spoke at a local school in Nashville, TN (watch his inspiring speech here). He had some great things to say about not giving up and he should know. Anthony had a hard time getting started in wrestling. He had a losing record his first years in high school. He wasn’t recruited by any colleges. His father left when he was young, leaving his unemployed mother to raise four kids (at one point they were homeless). Oh, and did I mention he only has one leg?
Anthony Robles was born with only one leg but wrestled through his daily challenges to become a champion! He didn’t give up when times got tough and neither should you. Here are some takeaways from Anthony’s speech that you should consider next time you’re ready to quit:
- Focus on what you CAN do in life and not what you CAN’T do. The only thing you have power over is yourself. You can’t control your environment, you can only control how you respond to it.
- The only difference between a champion and an average person is that champions work harder, champions put in more time.
- The prize is in direct proportion to the price, the greater the rewards you seek, the greater the effort must be to achieve them.
In business as in life, passion and hard work pay off and that includes achieving your marketing goals. And this story gives me the inspiration to dig in and find a way to deal with every challenge.
Have you ever faced an enormous marketing challenge and overcome an obstacle to create a success?
By nature and by trade….I am interested in communications.
I had a lot of fun bantering back and forth with Jim Blasingame, well-known Small Business Advocate, on his recent radio show devoted to small business owners. We were discussing male and female managers and, although we were talking in grand generalities and had a lot of laughs, we agreed there are some very basic differences in the way men and women communicate and perform as leaders. It emanates from the fact that, in general, the sexes process information differently.
I was first alerted to the “science” behind those differences when listening to a lecture given by biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher. After much study of the way the sexes think and communicate, Fisher points out some interesting capabilities of most women. In her book, The First Sex, she lists many common characteristics, including:
- a capacity to read postures, gestures, facial expressions and other non verbal cues;
- excellent senses of touch, taste, smell and hearing;
- an ability to do and think several things simultaneously;
- a broad contextual view of any issue (called web thinking);
- an impulse to nurture;
- and a preference for cooperating, reaching consensus and leading via egalitarian teams.
By comparison, and generally speaking, men have their own set of natural talents, that include:
- a superb understanding of spatial relations;
- a talent for solving complex mechanical problems;
- an ability to intensely focus on one thing at a time;
- and a gift for controlling many of their emotions.
According to Fisher and many other experts, these differences play out in the management ranks of the workplace in a number of interesting ways. Women make good strategists because they collect a broad range of information and look at issues or crises from a holistic perspective. They want to gather data, look at all the angles, negotiate consensus, and talk through the options before settling on a position or resolution. Men on the other hand are more reactive, dictatorial and focused on securing a swift and tidy resolution – sometimes with or without “buy-in” from colleagues, employees or associates. Men will occasionally view women as not being focused; women can see men as being narrow-sighted or having “tunnel vision.”
In terms of which style is more effective and will produce better results, I think the answer is: Both. And that is precisely why it is so important for businesses and organizations to have women and men leaders at the top, working on senior strategy, jointly call the shots during challenging times and bringing complementary approaches to the management of business.
What do you think? Is this all malarkey? Have you had an experience where you noticed such a difference between the styles and strategies of men and women leaders?
I’ve always been an activist – saving animals, conserving natural resources and advocating for the disenfranchised. But recently, I have found myself using my professional communications skills to accomplish my activist goals.
My neighborhood is on the threshold of a significant transformation, but to get there the residents need to work together. So I have decided to rally the troops to form a neighborhood association in my quickly changing, working-class neighborhood. As a whole, the neighborhood has been neglected for some time, but is sitting at the tipping point of a significant transformation. If we combine forces, my neighbors can work together so that tipping point teeters in our favor.
For me, this is a new endeavor and I find myself designing a strategic communications campaign in a whole new environment. It turns out that motivating people around messages and a call to action for a cause bears a strong resemblance to the goals I accomplish for my clients every day.
As I started organizing my thoughts I went back to the basics.
1. Who is my audience?
a. What are the demographics of my audience?
b. What are the psychographics of my audience?
c. What motivates them?
d. What language do they speak?
2. How can I communicate with them?
a. Do they use the internet?
b. Do they engage in social media?
c. Do forms of daily communication do they rely on? (e.g. email, mail, cell phone, etc.)
d. What messages that will strike a chord?
e. Do they feel that their opinions matter and that their voices are being heard?
I wanted to hear that the members of my neighborhood could all be reached via email or social media from the comfort of my chair. Unfortunately, the answers I got sent me in a different strategic direction. Many of my neighbors do not even have computers, much less spend time surfing the web or posting to Facebook. This community still relies on face-to-face contact, phone calls and mail to learn about what is happening in their neighborhood.
This means my work will be a lot harder than I anticipated when I began. But it also means that I am learning to apply my strategic communications skills to accomplish new kinds of goals that have personal meaning for me and my neighbors.
So I hit the pavement. For the past several weeks I have been on the phone and walking the neighborhood and talking to my neighbors. And so far, the results have been wonderful. People are learning about our little organization and we are on the brink of big things.
And the bonus prize for all of this effort is that our neighborhood is becoming more of a community. We aren’t just neighbors…now we are friends.
Thanks to Netflix and my avoidance of winter weather, I’ve been working my way through the list of nominees for 2009 Academy Awards. After spending an evening watching Frost/Nixon about British journalist David Frost’s exclusive interviews with Richard Nixon more than two years after Watergate, I am convinced it must be required “watching” for all media professionals.
To provide a little background, David Frost was considered more of a “TV personality” than journalist until he landed an exclusive interview with Nixon by paying for the opportunity. Nixon accepted the request, presumably because of the money and his overconfidence that Frost would soft-pedal through a fluff piece that would improve his public image after the Watergate scandal.
Much to Frost’s credit he did not let the opportunity to conduct some serious journalism slip past him. Granted, he was a little distracted at first, but you’ll find out more about that when you watch the movie. Ultimately, he and his team of assistants researched, investigated, planned and, most importantly, strategized, about the opportunity.
His team didn’t just refresh their memories about the Watergate scandal, they learned enough about the situation and the parties involved to pin Nixon into a quasi admission of guilt. They never would have gotten the opportunity if they had not strategized about the opportunity first.
As professional strategists, we are charged with thinking through all of the possible scenarios of a situation before acting on them. When we work with members of the media, we strategize first to make sure we accomplish our goals and, equally important, that the reporter gets what he/she needs. We start by asking some of these questions:
- What information is important for the reporter to know even if he/she doesn’t ask?
- How do I provide that information to a reporter?
- Who is the best person to represent or personalize this topic?
- Who will benefit from this interaction?
- Are there topics I cannot discuss, and how do I respond if asked?
Now that you’ve added Frost/Nixon to your Netflix list, tell us how you strategize when contacting media or responding to media queries.