We Need to be EVERYWHERE!!


We Need to be Everywhere

I really don’t like this phrase.

In my experience, it’s usually uttered by people who – despite sometimes being very smart – have a confused impression of how to effectively get their message out to the world.

Savvy PR strategists know that, rather than be “everywhere,” organizations seeking attention need to be where their market is, connecting with the people who will actually act on the information they deliver.

It’s great to grow your following. But reaching new audiences doesn’t reap the same reward as preaching to your choir: those people who come out to support you time and again and want to see you succeed, or have an interest in what you are doing and want to take part. Because when you don’t deliver to that audience, or show up somewhere those people expect you to be, the fallout is far worse, and those fans and supporters can (and likely will) drift away from you.

To steal a phrase, you need to fish where the fish are – where your fish are – not just cast your net wide and hope something shiny and new swims into it.

For me, a couple of core rules always apply:

1. Do your research: Know your audience and prep your message. Make sure there’s a clear actionable and a reward for doing so. Make it easy.

2. Don’t move so fast: Yes, we need to keep pace with the way the world turns, but don’t artificially accelerate your timeline because you’re imagining some deadline. The water’s going to boil when it’s hot, and that’s when you know it’s ready. And since speed exacerbates mistakes, slow down and get it right when you do go public.

3. Make short term sacrifices for long term gains: Do what you have to do now, to make your thing a success later. Everyone soft launches something sometimes, even offering deals for early adopters in order to gain acceptance and a following. Build your audience slowly and with care. The people who recognize your value will be more loyal in the long run and help spread your message. They will also defend you if that day ever comes. And it will.

4. Shut out the noise: Eliminate all distractions. Ban the bugaboos; those things that keep you awake at night because they “might happen.” It’s either gonna happen or it’s not, so visualize your goal, stop worrying and get to it.

Are you everywhere?

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Pick Three Things (And Stick With ‘Em)


Pick Three Things

“Pick three ideas and convey them frequently.”

It’s advice we give to clients in the PR world, especially when we train them to speak with media or engage with public audiences of any kind.

Our strange cultural fascination with the number “3” aside, there is wisdom in the root of this concept. Studies show the human brain can’t retain more than three bits of information at a time, at least not in a meaningful way. And even though you can train your brain to do more, the truth is, most people don’t.

Just as the parable advises on how to eat an elephant, we should not endeavor to jump to the final step from the first. Nor should we try to accomplish everything simultaneously. At best, we will fail. At worst, we will implode.

Three things. Pick ’em and stick with ’em. Only once they are done (one way or another) should you decide to move on.

No Surprises


surprise

Surprises are bad.

No, I’m not talking about surprise birthday parties, or a 50% off sale at your favorite store.

I mean business surprises. The things that sneak up on you and throw you off your game, sucking time and energy out of your day that should be spent on accomplishing the things you and your team have planned and committed to. And they are – for the most part – completely avoidable.

Surprises happen because of a lack of communication. In the case of a surprise party, that is intentional.

But in the work environment, people who are supposed to be collaborating can often surprise each other, and sometimes with disastrous results.

Not communicating leaves other people standing around waiting, or getting caught flat-footed when you need to call on them for assistance and support.

Team members can stumble to get up to speed, casting aside other projects because yours is “on fire” and needs immediate attention. Obviously, that’s not the path to success. And it can even make happy clients, well, not happy.

Like I said, it’s completely avoidable.

Institute a “no surprises” policy on your team.

Overexposed


Overexposed

There’s such a thing as doing too much. And we know it when we see it.

We live in a hectic world, always running somewhere: running to catch a flight, running home to have dinner, running to meet a client or a deadline.

So much of our life can be spent running. Chasing something. Sometimes we don’t even know after what.

We need to slow down.

Not “take a vacation” slow down (although right now on this flight home from San Antonio, a vacation sounds awfully good), I mean slow down in our every day lives.

Moving too fast is an invitation for stupid mistakes. It drains the meaningful out of what we do, and inflates the trivial. It makes mediocrity feel like a win.

We’re not supposed to spend our lives putting out fires and fixing mistakes. We’re supposed to avoid the matches in the first place so we never even have to call the fire department.

Some people, some organizations – especially in the public relations world – seem like they are always out there, all the time, hogging the spotlight and yelling above the din. Lesser people would be tempted to match their frequency in a quest for our own feeling of connection and satisfaction. To do as much as they are. We would be wrong.

Fewer, smarter, better campaigns are always preferable to the run-and-gun school of public relations. The news cycle is what it is. And there’s always another one coming.

You’ll get your turn at bat. Make sure you can see the pitch when it comes.

Eliminate the Noise


Noise

Anything that distracts us from our goals can be defined as noise.

It’s all around us, mostly in the form of messages designed to get us to take action, and usually to spend money. It’s siren song lures us into big box stores with promises of zero-percent financing; into restaurants for two-for-one, bottomless drinks and dinners; and into all manner of other entertainment, experiential and consumption opportunities.

But if those opportunities don’t align with our goals, the are distractions. They sap our attention, energy and resources. By that definition, they must be eliminated.

This is not an anti-marketing message; rather, this is a pro-YOU message.

It’s your job to figure out what is noise, for you, your organization and your goals. You need to filter the noise from the essential. One man’s noise can be another man’s nirvana.

It can be daunting, and perhaps not fun. Asking – actually telling – other people that their best and sincerest efforts are not welcome.

But it’s either them or you. You can’t apologize for doing what you do.

Be Here, Now.


You Are Here

I just finished listening to a podcast by the brilliant Chris Brogan, part of his series called The Human Business Way. If you’ve not checked it out, do yourself a favor and click over. I listen on Stitcher, because it’s everywhere with me.

In this particular podcast, Chris is interviewing Marcus Sheridan, “The Sales Lion,” who has a fascinating story of personal success. But it was something else that caught my ear and got me thinking.

At the top of the interview, Marcus thanks Chris for “treating me like I was the only guy in the room” on the occasion when they first met. That’s huge. And it stopped me cold.

How many times have we been at a networking event, nursing our favorite libation, with one eye and ear in the conversation in front of us, while the other eye and ear is scanning the room or checking the door to see who else is worth talking to?

Liar. We’ve all done it. It’s such a huge mistake, because it short changes what you’re doing in that moment. And it’s something I am going to work on changing in myself.

It reminded me of a post I wrote about a year ago on multitasking. At the time, I didn’t include personal relationships in the post, and that was a huge omission on my part.

You see, I believe that when we’re doing something, we’ve got to commit. 100%. We’ve got to be in that moment right then and there, and not have one eye on what might be coming next. Savor what is there in front of you, extract all its value, and give a little back in the process. In other words, “Be Here, Now.”

So the next time we meet in person and I look over your shoulder to scan the room, smack me.

Are you REALLY working in that office?


Office Space

I try to be in the office as little as possible.

It’s not that I don’t want to work, or that I want to always be on a warm, sunny beach with a drink in my hand (ok, that second part is true).

It’s that offices can lull us into a false sense of security about what we are actually accomplishing. There we are, sitting at a desk, surrounded by colleagues that are doing the same. Phones are ringing, emails are being sent, coffee is brewing. But what are we accomplishing?

There are benefits to being in an office: we are around our colleagues, able to collaborate face-to-face. We can focus all our energy on tasks that need completion, without the distractions that are associated with being at home or in a coffee shop. And we have access to resources we might otherwise not have, including documents and computer files (although in our hyper connected world, if you don’t have access to your computer files wherever you are, you are sorely out of touch).

But there are also traps to being ensconced in an office, the worst of which is that being “at work” convinces us that we are actually working.

For those of us in the client service business, that’s a huge lie. And one that can cost us everything we leave our families every day and go to work for.

Let’s be honest: many of us can work from wherever we are in the world, so long as we have a cell signal and/or Wi-Fi. And getting out of the office gets us in front of people: those other humans we need and need to know, who help us collaborate and get things done. People who give us new ideas, force us to challenge our preconceived notions and give us a new appreciation for which way the world is turning.

Hiding in an office kills all of that.

I try to get out of the office regularly, to see people for lunch or coffee, to chat over what they’re working on, something interesting I have read or discuss new business or projects. I am lucky to work at a place that encourages that behavior.

Some office cultures despise and actively discourage being out of the office. Those cultures are destined to fail.

Playing to the Stadium


Jam Packed

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In my line of work, many people come to me wanting big publicity. The national kind that comes with millions of eyeballs, massive circulation and thousands of people spreading their message to their friends and family. Publicity that shapes policy, changes lives and has an enduring impact on the world as we know it.

They want the stadium. And our world of pop stars, red carpets and reality shows convince many people that there’s a Honey Boo Boo Child opportunity out there for all of us. They would be wrong.

Despite the most aggressive “overnight successes,” truly earth-shaking campaigns take months and years to build. Lots of them fail. Others do well, but never get to that “Radio GaGa” moment.

So where do you start? A couple thoughts:

1. Why Am I Here? You have to understand what you’re setting out to do and how you’re going to change the world. It needs to be different – preferably unique – and achieve a specific goal. Otherwise you’ll end up spinning your wheels (and maybe burning a lot of cash).

2. Write It Down. Nothing forces us to clarity like putting our thoughts down on paper. It’s why diet gurus and self help coaches tell us to post our goals and progress on the refrigerator: because we have to look at that scrap of paper every day and admit when we’ve fallen down. Writing something down not only provides clarity, it’s also the ultimate bullshit test.

3. Take baby steps. You will NOT change the world in a day. Or a week. Maybe not even in a year. Break your plan into daily, attainable goals that blaze as clear and straight a path to your end product as possible. And be realistic about how long it’s going to take you to get to the end. Don’t stress yourself out along the road, lest you doom yourself to failure.

4. Make friends, eliminate waste. Teaming up can be great, as friends help carry the load and bring you new circles of people to work with and sell to. But not every new addition to your army will be a good one. Don’t get sidetracked by people with their own agendas, or who want to grab your wheel and steer for a while. Cut them loose, politely, without burning bridges.

5. Grab the brass ring when it comes. Never miss an opportunity to do something you know is the right thing. Make short term sacrifices for long term gains. Know the difference.

Only lottery winners and beauty queens wake up the next day with their lives completely changed. The rest of us have to work at it.

Where’d I Put That Idea?


Great Idea

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Ever had one of those moments where you have a great idea, but didn’t write it down? And once you had a free moment to act on it, you forgot key details, or even forgot the whole idea in the first place?

Perhaps it’s a great idea with no one to apply it to. It’s just a “Wouldn’t it be cool if?” kind of moment that you hope and pray you will remember the next time you need it.

Or maybe you have a great idea that’s a perfect fit for a client, and you can see the end product and payoff, but your client is reluctant to take the plunge on it.

We’ve all been stuck at one point or another, trying to fit round pegs in square holes, or trying to find a path an an elusive goal.

I don’t have a magic answer as to how to get to that end point. Every path is different. You have to find yours for yourself.

The important lesson is this: don’t give up. No matter what obstacles are thrown before you, no matter how many times you may fall down or get derailed, no matter how long it takes: something worth doing is worth completing. Otherwise you’ve wasted your time and energy and that of the people you work with.

Maybe that’s the real secret: before starting a project, ask yourself if it’s worth finishing. If it is, there’s no reason not to thrown yourself into it completely. If it isn’t worth finishing, don’t start it in the first place.

Reaching Out.. Touching Me.. Touching You…


Relationships

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@SamanthaYanks: “Relationships are key.”

I read this tweet a few weeks back and it illustrated a key concept we’d all be wise to remember: that relationships make everything we do better.

Relationships – that intimate connection we forge with another human being – create more fulfilling experiences, allow us to find creative solutions to challenges, and sweeten the victories when they inevitably come.

In business, projects move faster and easier, and results come faster and bigger when there is a shared sense of pride in the project.

In life, there’s nothing better than having a partner to high five as you both cross the finish line, knowing you each helped the other make it there.

So team up: it’s good for you!