Vision and Execution


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I was on vacation last week, blissfully sitting on a beach. It was calm and peaceful. Hours from anything, I was able to recharge.

But getting to that nirvana took a ton of planning. In addition to just booking the trip, we had to pack, get in the car and drive, get on the ferry, get off the ferry, stop for lunch, roll into town, meet the owners of the rental house, move in, unpack, tow all our stuff to the beach, set up our chairs and slather on sunblock. A lot of work to get to that finish line.

A good PR campaign is like that: it takes a ton of smart planning, mixed with some research and due diligence, to be able to execute a strategy that achieves the results you want.

In this world of instant gratification, where we push a button and something comes out the other end of our friends’ phones that can be loosely termed “impact,” we can’t lose sight of the benefits of proper planning and preparation for the things that truly move a needle.

I’m reminded of that time I helped move a Space Shuttle. It took weeks to invent, plan and arrange all manner of media coverage opportunities – and then assemble a good team and a clear set of instructions to execute for maximum impact.

Nothing good comes from something easy. Plan, execute and repeat. Then sit back and watch the coverage roll in like waves on a beach.

 

 

 

 

How to Do it Wrong


Head in Hands

When you’re chasing success, there are a few things you can’t afford to do.

These are seven of them:

  1. Stay detached. Hire a consultant, put your feet up and expect the results to come rolling in. Why should you have to work? That’s why you hired someone!
  2. Don’t read. Newspapers are for losers. Get all your info on facebook and twitter. If it’s on the Internet it’s got to be real.
  3. Keep everyone at arm’s length. You’re a member of the C-suite and too busy to attend meetings or relay information. Employees can get what they need from the Intranet and company newsletter anyway, right?
  4. Forego networking. Those business breakfasts are for suckers. Luncheons are for old ladies. And you never come across new business opportunities or meet new people at those things.
  5. Go completely off the grid on vacation or business travel. Seriously, this is only the fourth week-long trip you’ve taken this year. You deserve a little downtime – and the company can run on auto-pilot. Besides, there’s no time in between connecting flights or at the hotel to check in with the office or return emails. You’re traveling!
  6. Make all your social media accounts private. You only want to connect with people you know IRL and you don’t want new people to see those selfies and food shots.
  7. Hire people who aren’t as smart as you are. You can’t afford someone showing you up around the office. They might run your company one day.

Got an addition to the list? Message me on twitter @jodyfisher.

Keeping Things Fresh


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Remember when you first started that new job or project? Remember how excited you were? The ideas flowed! The adrenaline pumped through your veins! You skipped lunch because there were meetings to be had, phone calls to return, emails to write! Things were happening!

Fast forward to six months or a year later. You’re settled in and comfortable. Things have become more routine. You might even have those days when you don’t feel as motivated. Projects get done slower – things that don’t have urgency may even get set aside in favor of something more immediate. Like lunch.

How do you keep things as fresh as they were that first week? Here are three ways I do it:

  1. Mix things up: Routine is the nemesis of creativity, and so I do little things like entering my office through a different door (we have three separate entrances) or work in a conference room instead of my desk. Changing your physical environment can have an effect on your perspective and lead to new ideas.
  2. Join a group: We may be massively creative and talented, but no one has all the answers. Check out local professional groups meeting in your area; Meetup is a great source, but so are local business and trade journals for your industry. New people bring new perspectives – and even new business opportunities!
  3. Detach: I know this sounds counterproductive, but every now and then we need some unscheduled downtime. I’m not talking about pulling the curtains and bingeing on Netflix, but rather, pouring our energy into something not work-related. Since I’m a busybody, I always have little house projects and other things I can accomplish at home that make me feel like I’ve achieved something tangible. Then I can channel that energy back into work the next day.

What are your favorite ways to keep your work fresh? Let me know on twitter @jodyfisher.

Lists, Lists, Lists!


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I’m mildly OCD. I say this with no disrespect to people who struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder every day; folks who can’t leave the house without performing a ritual or those who get stuck in a cycle of arranging their pencils on their desks.

My compulsion is that need to feel organizedFew work tasks exist that I can accomplish without first putting it on a list or recording it in some way. Since my job involves lots of contact information (emails, phone numbers, social media handles, you get it) and perhaps the last communication I sent to someone, I need to transcribe all that, too.

I can spend the better part of a morning just updating excel spreadsheets, reminders and notes, before actually getting down to business. That can kill my productivity and eat the hours in my day. The key is to make it part of my ongoing routine.

Here are three ways I keep myself organized:

  1. Google Docs – For any PR person, a good list is priceless. But lists only get good through curation, and so I make sure that I keep everything current on a daily basis. Every scrap of info goes in there – email addresses, mobile numbers, twitter feeds, birthdays, you name it. When I need to reach out to someone, it’s there – and if it’s not, I hunt it down and record it. (I also put all this into my address book, which I update relentlessly.)  I recently made the jump from Excel to Sheets, which makes it easy to also share information with co-workers and family members. And it keeps everything updated from wherever you are, and easier than keeping something in Dropbox, which I still love for photos and media.
  2. Apple Reminders – Ever since I saw that episode of Modern Family shot entirely on Apple devices and watched Julie Bowen’s character put things into her reminder list as she screamed at her family, I have been hooked on the app. I update it CONSTANTLY and make sure it’s dinging away at me at all hours to get me motivated and see things through to completion. There’s nothing more satisfying than clicking that little “done” button!
  3. Evernote – I have all but stopped taking handwritten notes in journals. My hands don’t write as fast or as neatly as I can type, it’s too easy to give up in the middle of a written idea or scribble out something that doesn’t look right on the page. Besides, all those notes still need to be transcribed into the computer to be acted upon. (I know I can take a photo of it and import it, but who has that kind of time?) At every meeting, I apologize for opening my computer and then do so and happily click to open a new note. I haven’t had any complaints. I also make sure to make eye contact repeatedly throughout the meeting and engage with thoughtful questions, to make sure people know I am not just surfing Facebook. So far, so good.

Honorable mention: Grammarly, the spell checking app. If you write for a living and don’t know what it is, just get it. Amazing tool.

What are your favorite organizational tools? Leave a comment below.

Satisfaction


There are lots of opinions about life and how long – or not so long – it is.

Days can sometimes feel like weeks, and years can go by in a flash.

Along the way, we struggle, sometimes an awful lot. Some of those struggles are big, some are small. Some are for trivial things, others are for literal life and death.

We lose a bit. We win a bit. Hopefully, we give back more than we take.

Every once in a while, things just go right. When they do, I believe we have the people who surround us to thank.

I’ve been riding a bit of a positivity wave lately, with more than the usual share of things going right for me (Maybe that means I’m due for a loss, but I’ll take that as it comes).

So I feel obligated to let out a big THANK YOU to the people in my life who have helped me. Not in a laundry list type of way – more of a “you know who you are” kind of thing. But if you’re reading this, and you and I have crossed paths in the last few weeks, please know that you have contributed to my personal and professional happiness in ways that I am forever grateful. Never hesitate to knock on my door – because I’d love to return the favor.

Blown Away


The new iOS10 has some great new features. But the best one is a secret, personalized for every user, and yours can only be found by you. Here’s how I found mine.

I’m a geek. If you read this blog, you know I love tech, gadgets and toys. I get my greasy, adolescent-fantasy hands on anything I can play with. If it’s new or different, I am magnetically attracted to it. An eternal kid.

After updating to iOS10, I saw the iPhoto app enhancements almost immediately, as everyone did. A few hours after updating, my phone had magically arranged some of my pictures of my children into an album, with a title based on the geo-tagged information, and set to music. The new gallery called to me to tap and open.

Over the next several days, the number of  those albums grew. Titled “York 2016,” and “Best of August,” they popped up like diamond-encrusted nuggets for my viewing pleasure, presenting familiar and forgotten images, stitched together with slick transitions and set to music. “A fun new way to see old things,” I thought, “How clever.”

But just today, a set of images popped up titled “Portraits 2006-2016.” They were pictures featuring images of my wife, Katie, over the 15 years we have (so far) spent together. Photos of us in the first years we met dissolved into our wedding day; then the arrival of our two children; then rewinding backwards to vacations and holidays with our extended family; and sprinkled over with memories of back to school and birthdays, new homes and old neighborhoods, soccer matches and baseball games.

As the photos danced across my screen, chronologically out of order but still thematically linked, I watched Katie’s face closely. First she was younger, then older; first a girlfriend, then a bride, then a mother; first on a beach then on a delivery room operating table; first hugging me, then clinging tight to our children, who gripped her in loving return.

In every image, her smile never waned, but over time, an evolving feminine wisdom spread across her face, the kind that only comes attached to those life-altering experiences one never expects or plans. In those images, a family began to gather around her and the dynamic shifted. Her presence became larger and grounded each passing photo, altering the hierarchy of those memories in an instant. She became the foundation of everything I saw. What had once been defined by an occasion or location dissolved entirely; replaced by the presence and power of this wonderful woman who was now the center of my narrative.

That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

In our frenetic day-to-day existence, I might not have been confronted with such visceral evidence of how strong and beautiful and essential a gift my wife is to me and my children, and what a dramatically irreplaceable role she has played in defining our very existence. We all play a unique role in each other’s lives, but none so much as the partners who choose to love us. As my photos morphed, one into the next, it became wonderfully clear that none of us – me, our children, or our extended family – would exist as we do without her.

Don’t mistake me – I love and value Katie every day. I miss no opportunity to say “I love you,” and to teach our children then same. Honor, respect and gratitude are themes which hang (literally) on the wall of our home. We know how important- and how important letting her know how important – she is.

But those images, stitched together by a phone, an inert object, in a completely random way and over the most generic of music beds, was an electro-magnetic pulse that cascaded over my brain. Stopped in my tracks, I could only stare and smile, as a tear formed in the corner of my eye. This was my whole universe, in a 60-second movie, auto-generated by an app, and more mind-blowing and joyful than any physical photo album I had ever held in my hands.

That is the power of the best of technology, which goes beyond digital code to reach out and touch us;  technology that speaks to our hearts and to our souls; technology that brings us together in unanticipated and surprising ways that have lasting impact.

Thanks, iOS10 and its creators, for uniquely remindimg me what an amazing person I found, married, and with whom I created a family, a life and an identity. I’m looking forward to what “Memories 2016-2026” will be. Now I’m headed to buy some flowers.

New Beginnings


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The start of a new school year has had our house buzzing, stocking up on classroom supplies and snacks. As I desperately cling to summer, the rhythm of our weekly routine has changed. Time is moving us – like it or not – into the next season. I choose to embrace it.

With that progression comes a new perspective on everything around us. And so I thought it was as good an excuse as as any for restarting this blog. I’ve missed writing for myself the way I used to here. Spilling my daily thoughts onto the page is cathartic and therapeutic – and can deliver some unexpected goodness along the way.

I’ve logged a lot of miles (literally and figuratively) since my last blog post, which, even though a click away is some two years (or more?) in the rear view mirror. In that time, I’ve made new friends and had new experiences. I’m sure you have too. So why not tell some of those stories and embrace the new ones on the horizon?

Sine nothing good in life happens by itself, I’ll need your help. As I begin to share the fun and important things in my life again – family, friends, work experiences and extra curricular activities – I want to also hear from you about what’s happening in your world. A shared experience is always the best experience, I say.

So let’s start this new journey together.

Here we go.

The Price of Social Media Incivility


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The cruelty of the Internet can be shocking.

We are reminded of this every time we read about a teenager who slips through the cracks of society, bullied into a psychological corner by anonymous and hurtful comments on social media. In the worst cases, we discover their torment too late to help.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see Jimmy Kimmel’s skit from the Oscar Red Carpet on Sunday – well before the celebrity selfie and the John Travolta mouth mush meltdown during the broadcast – where he climbed through the TV screen and into a fictitious couple’s living room, comically scolding them for their nasty celebrity-targeted tweets and warning them to be on their best behavior during the telecast. What a great moment, I thought, for someone like Jimmy to champion social media civility in front of a TV audience of millions, worldwide.

The feeling didn’t last long.

The very next day, a post popped up in one of my social media feeds about “The Most Beautiful People at the Oscars with the Ugliest Spouses.” The barbaric writeup (no, I’m not going to link to it; I’m not giving them any more clicks) scolded the chosen celebs on the list for marrying spouses deemed far beneath their own physical beauty, and chided them for not doing better, questioning both their judgement and their eyesight. It was a cheap stunt meant to generate web traffic from gawkers who like to spend their days scrolling through celebrity pictures and from internet trolls who are all too eager to lend to the acerbic stream of comments from the anonymous safety of their computer screens.

Worse, it occurred to me, is that some of the victims targeted for these caustic comments in the article aren’t celebrities themselves: they are regular people with regular jobs, regular co-workers and bosses, who buy their own regular groceries and drive themselves to work in regular cars through regular traffic. And while they probably are used to the nastier side of their better half’s business, I am also betting they didn’t sign up to be targeted in such a personal and mean-spirited way. It must have hurt them greatly, even if just for a moment. And it must have made their Monday unnecessarily sad.

Back in December, I wrote about my “Three Words for 2014” and chose “Community & Kindness” as my first and most important for the next 12 months (alright, they’re two words, but I copped to that in the post).

As PR people, we coach people on how to make positive statements and to approach things from a “half full” perspective. We urge clients to seek deserved publicity for when they do good, and apologize for failure when they do bad. We guide them on decisions, and try to help them forecast the consequences of bad ideas before they become bad actions. As private people, shouldn’t we all walk that same walk? Shouldn’t we all be the Jimmy Kimmels of our social (and social media) circles, and refuse to fan the flames of self-righteous and nasty words and actions? Shouldn’t we even chime in to take people down a peg when they are unfair? Wouldn’t that create a better and more productive community for all of us? Most importantly, wouldn’t that set a great example for our kids, and for young people who see and read what we post? If they are to imitate our behavior, isn’t that what we want them to learn and repeat?

For my part, I’m going to spend some time scrolling through my feeds and delete any comments that fit this definition. I will suspend that rule about “owning everything you put on the internet” in favor of the “Community & Kindness” that I think 2014 needs so desperately.

Momentum


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Momentum can be a powerful ally.

It’s that natural rhythm you build up once you’ve stepped out and started along your path to your goal. Some days, that momentum can be so strong that it seems all you have to do is ride the wave.

I’m reminded of this every time I step onto the treadmill at the gym. Those first few steps can seem so hard (especially at 5 a.m.!), but once I get going, I sometimes feel like I can run forever.

Worse than not getting started is stopping before your reach your destination. Whatever my project is – whether working for a client, saving money for my kids’ college funds, or just getting from one place to another on the subway – I find that the worst thing I can do is stop before I am truly done.

Getting started again can be harder than when I started in the first place. It was just going to be a temporary pause, I told myself at the time. Excuses are rampant and easily justified.

Reminds me of “Standing Still,” which I wrote a couple years back.

Once you get started, don’t stop. You’ll never cross the finish line if you do.

The Difference Between Hearing & Listening


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When you ask a question, are you searching for a person’s knowledge or waiting to hear the answer you want?

There’s a saying about business that goes something like this: “If you look around and find you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Meaning, you’d be wise to surround yourself with people from whom you can learn, as well as teach.

Collaboration is one of the many keys to success. And while we can go into a project or situation with an idea of what we want to accomplish, we should never let that shut down the creativity and ideas we get from the people with whom we interact.

Some of the best ideas can come from the most unanticipated of sources.

I try to be focused on the goal, not the path. Because I’m really not interested in how I get to the end, as long as I make it there.

What are you listening for?