Business-savvy communications strategist | Independent Thinking author | former IABC/Washington president | runner | Nationals fan.
I might argue that these companies (e.g., NordicTrack) are actually better at crisis communications than they are at customer service.
There are a few companies I do business with because I know they have great online customer service (notably on Twitter) -- and that social media is the easiest way to reach them and get good support. But, agree with you @ClayMorgan, it shouldn't require Twitter expertise and a modicum of "clout" to get someone to help.
5 months, 3 weeks ago on Is Social Customer Service the Only Way?
Woohoo! Congratulations, @ginidietrich. As soon as my replacement Kindle Fire arrives (can you believe my Kindle is glitchy), Spin Sucks will be my first purchase.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on Spin Sucks (the Book) is Here!
Love the "moderate, don't dominate" phrase. I think one key takeaway is that running a vibrant community is hard work. Much easier to just build it and ignore it and let the self-promoters do their thing. I was looking at some "recommended" Google+ communities yesterday, many with large numbers of members but what struck me was the lack of conversation. Giant. Red. Flag.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on How to build and grow a private Facebook group
@RobBiesenbach @JRHalloran @ginidietrich @dariasteigman Agree: a lot of it is about conflict avoidance (though, seriously, do they really think I'm going to flip out because they don't want to work with me?)
The black hole is the worst. I wrote a blog post a few years ago called "The Importance of Saying No." One of the things I said was that you can say NO. What you can’t do (or shouldn't do) is ignore people, devalue their effort, and treat them as disposable, unworthy of common courtesy.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on Kelly Blazek Proves Communicators Have One Chance to Get it Right
I actually think in some of these cases (probably many of them), the real tragedy is that the unfiltered person is who they really are -- versus the sugar & spice sanitized version some want to portray. So they get in trouble not so much because they said something horrid but because they meant the ugly things they said.
Agree, @ginidietrich: Don't put anything in writing you don't want to see in the public sphere. But sometimes knowing who someone is turns out to be useful for the rest of us (as in, glad I'm not doing business with him/her).I try really hard to answer emails (except perhaps a portion of the stupid, unsolicited pitches) and talk to vendors (even the ones who have no idea what my business really does). It takes almost no time to send a quick email and just a minute to politely tell someone you're not a fit and wish them well. I just wrote a LinkedIn recommendation for someone and one of the things I said is that he understands that "sharing knowledge and being helpful is a unique selling point in its own right."
So now I know what you were doing while I was driving through North Carolina desperately scanning the dials for news of the U.S.-Canada hockey game.
I'm glad we were at last sitting at the same end of the table; it was good to talk for more than 2 minutes and finally get to know you a little better. This is conference is definitely made more awesome by the community (and people) behind and a part of Solo PR.
9 months, 4 weeks ago on The 7 commandments of the Solo PR Summit
This is brilliant.
I'm totally going to "steal" the blogging one. Really smart way to get a little more thought leadership in front of people.
I recently uploaded a new preso as well and realized I need to do that more often too. I read a terrific book on LinkedIn a few months ago that talked a lot about beefing up your professional gallery -- and, yes, I need to pay attention to that. :)
Thanks for sharing. Look forward to seeing you in Atlanta.
11 months, 1 week ago on How to: Optimize your LinkedIn profile (using some new LinkedIn features)
I think there are really two issues that often get put together: (1) bullying and (2) amplification. Online clearly offers a new place for bullies to hang out and online bullying is a tough issue to tackle -- no more so than when it comes to children. But the other issue that too often gets lumped in is amplification. Much as email amplifies everything, so does any written remark devoid of context. And we used to think email was shorthanded... I think too often what people mean to say comes across incorrectly and in a manner that has nothing to do with intent; the more we separate that from true bullying, the better we will be at tackling these different challenges.
Of course, a third issue is immediacy -- how easy it is to just "share" your first impressions with the world. You see this a lot in the sports and politics arena -- and not always for the better.
1 year, 4 months ago on Online Bullies – Are They Really That Different From Regular Bullies?
Perfectly timed post ... Just checked out Tagboard and love the ability to look across multiple platforms. Thanks for the heads up!
1 year, 6 months ago on Three Cool and Inexpensive Tools to Track Twitter Hashtags
I'm not sure I would have removed the review. I think there's something akin to emotional blackmail when a business owner calls and asks a customer to remove a review -- and I think it would irk me. It's a bit like the (apparent) trend of late to tell customers to give 5 star survey results or else don't fill it out. It's not accurate, and if it ruins your business then your business has real issues.
Having said that, I might be inclined to post a follow-up -- if a business calls me to find out what went wrong, offer an apology (if appropriate), and try to resolve the issue.
And I completely agree: unceasing rave reviews doesn't mean a company is perfect. I'm far more likely to "buy" reviews when I see both the good and the bad. In other words, a more accurate picture.
1 year, 11 months ago on Are We Allowed To Be Constructive Even If That Means Being Negative?
I love your three words, and that they are applicable to both work and life. Just don't censor all the bluntness. I think a combination of bluntness and tact can be a very good thing. (Either that, or I've told myself that over the years...)
Wishing you much comfort and glee in 2012 + 1.
1 year, 11 months ago on My 3 Words for 2013
Welcome to the life of a (former) Redskins fan. After Dan Snyder sued fans who couldn't afford their tickets (after the 2008 economic meltdown), a lot of angry fans -- the ones who still had tickets -- had a lot to say. But not at the stadium, because he had his security people confiscate every sign. Unless it said something nice about him, of course. Or was making him ad dollars.
Cheer up: Synder's Act 2 was to sue a journalist. Hopefully your ownership team isn't this bad.
2 years ago on Chiefs are latest brand to bury head in the sand
Yes, this is aggravating, isn't it? I long ago stopped getting group discussion notifications, even the weekly ones, from most of my groups for this reason. What amazes me more than the "here's my blog post, please read it" stuff is that most people are too lazy to even post a question or start a discussion that might actually pique my interest in clicking through and reading it.
The best discussions are the ones that are intended to spark discussion. Sadly, I think far too many LinkedIn groups are started with a mailing list mentality rather than an engagement one.
2 years ago on Taking Advantage of Invitations to Discuss
I have to agree with @karenswim and others who say that it isn't so black and white.As a rule, I try not to lead with my political perspective (of course I have one). I've worked for clients who share my politics and some who do not -- and some about whom I have no idea their political POV.
There are a lot of people who I like a lot personally (and/or make great clients) that have different political positions. Why lead w/ the things that divide us rather than the ones that forge relationships?
That said, I do break my own rules occasionally (like a few election-night tweets)... But hopefully not in an asshat kind of way.
PS: Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta in February.
2 years, 1 month ago on Should PR folks be sharing their political viewpoints on Facebook?
@Ike , I agree with you. This is a VERY disturbing legal precedent. I'm really not sure how a mention of a historical event in the public sphere could constitute advertising in this case. From @ginidietrich 's post, it sounds like they were referring to the event to create an analogy (something everyone does every day--though I guess I won't use the angry pilot dude to do it), and not intending to sell off his name. Hmm...
2 years, 1 month ago on AT&T Loses Case; News Release Held Under Paid Advertising Laws
@stephsammons I understand the concept behind "thought leaders," but I'm going to have to see how it actually shapes out. A lot of so-called influencers really aren't--and the challenge is to showcase the content of those people who might be relevant to you but whose ideas and smarts you aren't already seeing elsewhere. Otherwise it's going to just be more "stuff."
2 years, 1 month ago on The Nips and Tucks Happening at LinkedIn
I like the face lift analogy. I really dislike the concept of "endorsements." The conundrum right now is that you're either left accepting endorsements (and endorsing your colleagues) or you risk looking like no one really values your expertise. It's a nasty trap and a Klout-lite game. And, i agree with you, it's distracting from doing business on LinkedIn.
For someone who works for myself, I've turned down a lot of work over the years.
My own feeling: if you're not comfortable, just say no. You don't have to give a reason; it's just not right. (I used to tell friends who wanted an excuse not to go somewhere or on a date that "I'm busy" can mean I'm painting my toenails tonight or I want to watch TV.
Here are some reasons to consider the gig:
1) You like the people you would be working with (I've taken work with companies I'm not so crazy about because I liked my client, and they've always worked out okay)
2) You want the cash (nothing wrong with that)
3) You want the consulting quals, and to be able to say "I've consulted for..." (also nothing wrong with that)
Reasons to Say NO (but not the reasons you have to give them for saying NO):
1) You don't think you can help (if you really think the product won't succeed, can you really help them sell it?) -- this is a big red flag, because you don't want to take a gig and then have no success
2) You don't like the people you'd have to work with (why work with people you don't like, especially part time?)
3) This just isn't the right opportunity, and you'd rather be watching Mystery (okay, channeling a friend of mine years ago on a date, but you get the point).
Good luck. Call me if you want to bounce any of this off me. Lots of expertise in picking & turning down consulting gigs.
2 years, 3 months ago on Just Saying 'No' and Still Preserve the Relationship
Congrats, Christina, on the new direction. Looking forward to the results.
Pushing Social sounds really interesting, and perhaps it's time to think about getting someone to look at what I'm doing and what I could tweak. (Yeah, video is in there, I know...) Would love to chat with you about your experience if you have a few minutes.
(PS: Yes, I had to delete & repost my comment. Couldn't mis-type your name now, could I?)
2 years, 4 months ago on What's Next for The Content Cocktail
Well, this brings back memories. In the early days of desktop publishing (and my business), clients expected me to do both the writing and the design. And then they expected lots of design elements in everything. One client actually demanded to have bold, ALL CAPS, italic, underlined captions on all their photos. I said, just because you can doesn't mean you should. I lost the argument (and their newsletter looked crappy as a result).
No, I am not a designer either.
I actually think, however, that we benefit from having at least once done stuff that isn't in our wheel house and shouldn't be. Sometimes you have to go through that to really appreciate your core strengths--and other people's--and the value of different kinds of jobs. It definitely helped me at another point when I interviewed for a job as a communications director at a small organization. The description was all over the place, and they told me at the interview that one of the "tasks" would be to take pictures at events. I pointed out that I was not a photographer; this also didn't seem to be an appropriate use of a communication director's time and/or expertise (since they also expected that person to network at those same events--like you'd be taken seriously if you were the "girl" running around taking pictures). Needless to say, I took myself out of contention for the position.
2 years, 5 months ago on P.S. I'm Not a Designer
Your key point is "social currency" It's about being "you" and being generally consistent about what you do and don't share, but it's also (most important) about reputation. If you have a good one, people will think you've either gone off the deep end or have been hacked. Sorry you had to deal with this, but appreciate that you're sharing the lessons learned so quickly. I've gone in and tweaked my security settings (though I still need to do the phone part).
2 years, 5 months ago on Facebook Hacking and the Value of Social Currency
I tried to drill this into the head of my manager when I was president of my condo board. He was telling me that the weekend desk staff was calling him (and interrupting his weekend) to ask questions or get an okay to do something. I keep telling him that he needed to triage the requests and figure out which ones he could--and should--empower the staff to make decisions about on their own.
Sadly, he never quite got it.
One of the reasons I love Whole Foods is that the company empowers its employees to make decisions on the spot. So you rarely (if ever) have to "call a manager."
2 years, 6 months ago on I Want to Speak to Your Manager
I agree with you: why wouldn't you want the information on what piqued a prospect's interest? Seems that would make the sale a lot easier. If you're just going to sell to a generic customer, why bother with the lead gen. activities in the first place?
2 years, 7 months ago on Should Some Things Remain A Mystery For Sales?
Reading through my RSS while waiting to go out to dinner. What a lovely story... Happy Birthday Kelly! I'm sure Gini has a wonderful weekend of celebration planned (aren't Friday birthdays the best?).
2 years, 7 months ago on #FollowFriday: Kelly Dietrich
@C_Pappas @margieclayman I actually think the "how to use Twitter" and "How to generate leads on LinkedIn" posts are a great example. While WE think everyone knows this stuff--I still talk to a lot of people who are looking to understand the basics. Sure there's a library of that stuff out there -- but there's no reason why it can't be in your "library" of resources as well.
2 years, 8 months ago on Maybe It’s Not the Actual Topic of Our Content, But The Perspective Of It
Your post is spot on. I think the problem is that people within the "social media echo chamber" all read the same blogs, are in the same "tribes," and tweet out the same posts (and iterations on those posts) over and over. So it's a bit of blah, blah, blah.
However, most people aren't subscribing to 100+ blogs or reading dozens of marketing, or social media, or small business, or [pick your topic] posts daily or weekly or even monthly. They're maybe reading 1 or 2--and maybe it's yours. Plus if you're picking your own topics wisely, you have a perspective, a POV, based on your experiences and expertise.
There's always something more to be added to a conversation.
I wonder sometimes if people defer to the "adjective soup" because it's easier than actually trying to define what your value proposition really is. As in, what's in it for me? (employee, vendor, customer/member, and so forth.)
Good suggestions here for how to provide a proof of concept for why English not jargon should be your first choice.
I once worked with a law practice that was describing everything in very legal terms. They kept saying that their messaging was fine because they were typically recommended by the general counsels (e.g., more lawyers) at the companies who become their clients. Finally, I asked, Who makes the decision to hire you: the general counsel or the CEO? Then they got it, and stopped resisting my questions about why certain cases were so important, and what the main business value was to their clients from the results they had achieved.
2 years, 9 months ago on How Do You Convince Internal Stakeholders That Nobody Understands the Value Proposition?
I agree with @3HatsComm : spare me from phony personalization.
I think, at some (big) level, the collecting/selling data piece has left the station -- and not just with Google, which is pretty upfront about it. All the "free" platforms are doing it, it's just a question of openness and degrees (e.g., Pinterest just got in trouble because it was creating affiliate links from user posts without telling its users). So as a user, it's about understanding this, understanding what data you are providing, and knowing when to hop into incognito mode to execute a search.
As a marketer, @C_Pappas , I think it's still the wild, wild, West. There will be guidelines (rules? not so sure), but we're still figuring them out.
2 years, 10 months ago on I’m Confused. Should We Be Targeting On A Personalized Level or Generically?
Thank you, David Rickey. I'm not a PR person, so I leave others to quarrel over the definitions. But I appreciate that you've laid out the challenge and how PRSA arrived at where it is in this process--and acknowledged that any solution will be at best imperfect.
The first rule in good communications (PR?) is to be honest and acknowledge the good, the bad, and the ugly. So kudos!
2 years, 10 months ago on PRSA Response to PR Definition Criticism
@joey_strawn@Shonali Actually, I was thinking of using a cattle prod to ensure compliance.
2 years, 10 months ago on [SCRIPT] Blog [SCRIPT]
I disconnected the personalized search option in Google (the one that's based on my network and what my network searched for). I'm torn on the broader Q of personalized search, however. On the one hand, it concerns me that our search results are reinforcing echo chambers (if I search for news, for example, I'm far more likely to get MSNBC than FoxNews as a source -- but if I stick with only those sources I will never see another perspective). On the flip side, I like that a search for info on a "Edwin Ja" clues quickly to the pitcher "Edwin Jackson" based on my penchant for looking up sports news. Here, fewer clicks is good.
I think the split statistics from e-Marketer are reflective of that balancing act. A conversation to be continued, to be sure.
Jay-- My condolences to you and your family. It's a terrible way to get a wake-up call, but I'm glad you've found a way to channel this terrible loss into something positive for you and yours. Enjoy life in the (slightly) slower lane.
2 years, 10 months ago on Why I’m Not Writing a Book This Year
Thanks for sharing this story. I think too often people are afraid to say no to business (it's not always fun, especially in lean times)--but I've found I'm always better off long term trusting my instincts. When I don't, I need up pretty miserable. And these are always clients that no one (at least me) can make happy.
Love the charitable use of the word "friend" in describing the start of dealing #2 (or #3?) with this client.
2 years, 10 months ago on How Do You Know When It’s Time to Fire a Client?
You're so right: it's not about the newsletter, it's about nurturing your customers and prospects and staying top-of-mind. I love #8, which is too often ignored in this digital age.
2 years, 11 months ago on Do You Really Need a Customer Newsletter?
Happy Birthday, Christina!
Well, I've found life's a lot more interesting when it doesn't follow a predictable path. And we're usually better off for it. And definitely hold out for Mr. Right. The frogs just aren't worth it.
I hope there's some champagne in your day!
PS: My mom's kind of scary on her birthday too.
3 years ago on Happy Birthday To Me!
Keep up the great walk!
No treadmill desk for me, but I have been trying to incorporate my treadmill into my workday routine. I've gotten pretty good at editing -- but unless I slow down my walking speed my notes look afterwards as though I were a tad tipsy when making them! I think I'm going to start experimenting soon with taking a 10-minute treadmill break every hour (or two) to fit in extra 3-4 miles into my day. And, who knows? Maybe I can use the time to dig into my RSS feed.
3 years, 2 months ago on Treadmill Desk and Multi-tasking
@MackCollier That should be hourly "rates' not "rats." Though I kind of like the "rats" thing...
3 years, 4 months ago on Should Social Media/Marketing Consultants List Their Prices?
@MackCollier If you listed hourly rates, however, would that have made a difference (other than the speaking thing)? It's still going to have some people thinking you're too high. Heck, I have people periodically try to drop my hourly rats by $5-10. (Um... NO. But it does give me fodder for blog posts from time to time.)
I think having a few flat rate services listed is a great idea,. I knew you'd done that, but hadn't really thought through the broader business value until we started talking. I think it gives people a sense that you are pricing for the marketplace -- reasonable but not looking for low-hanging fruit.
I'm going to have to ponder how that might make sense for my business and what services I do that could fit under that rubric.
Thanks for making me think.
Tricky question indeed. I've come down on side of "no" for my business, because so much depends on the scope of work. I'm pretty upfront with prospects about hourly rates, but I also make clear that they are based on a project. The rate to pick my brain for an hour or a half-day is higher. You can't just brain-suck my intellectual property on the cheap(er).
Another reason: Why self-select clients out? They think you're too pricey upfront; why chase them away before you've had an opportunity to define your value?
I read Marcus' post last night (but was too tired to leave a comment then), and I think there's a big difference between selling a product (I'm presuming that his company has a pretty fixed price for different types/sizes of pools) and a service (which is often fraught with variation). I get why you have a couple of services that have fixed prices, because they're both services where you have a very defined scope and (hopefully) a pretty good sense of how much time they take you.
This should be an interesting discussion...
Ok, this was just begging for a response:
Scenario 1) Coach Gundy is an idiot. It was a baseball jersey--from his own school. Get a grip. What would he have done if the contractor had been wearing a Longhorns cap? Shoot him? I hope Loveland takes him for big bucks.
Scenario 2) Two grown men both behaving badly.
Scenario 3) Coach Walker should be the adult in the conversation. Enough said. (Though I might have suggested you turn your jersey inside out since you wondered about the wisdom of wearing it... Or maybe just said to Coach Walker up front and said, "Sorry coach, but I lost a bet.")
All these guys need to stop taking themselves so seriously and realize they're really lucky to be playing a game for a living.
3 years, 4 months ago on Sports Sunday: Whose fault is it? Coach, media or fans?
This is such a difficult (agonizing) question. I once provoked a personal response from Abbie Hoffman (if you don't know him folks, google his name) over my opposition to his efforts to stop the CIA from recruiting on college campuses. My point: You don't like the CIA, someone else doesn't like the Peace Corps.QBut factually and historically incorrect hate speech is different. All the Holocaust denyers are doing is spreading lies, & counting on the rest of us to allow "free speech" to give them an excuse to do it. Facebook is a private company not a public square. They should shut them up (and off).
3 years, 4 months ago on Should Facebook Remove Holocaust Denial Groups?
@HowieG @Danny Brown @TroyClaus @ginidietrich I'll sign u, but only if you promise to devote appropriate attention to MySpace.
3 years, 5 months ago on Beware the Google+ Experts
@rebeccawoodhead For myself, I don't see this as a question of snarkiness -- but a question of defining value. Could I get an ebook up next week about Google+? Sure. But what's the VALUE, given that the tool's brand new and no one knows whether it's just a shiny toy or someplace our prospects/customers/clients will be hanging out.
@KellyeCrane "Self-promoters selling things of dubious value" are, sadly, part of every business. But that's because, for shame, too many people are looking for shortcuts and external validation.
24 days? OMG, you have such a HUGE advantage on me because I got my invite and signed in almost a week late (gasp!).
Seriously, though, I can't see how anyone can talk about the impact of Google + for business when (1) you're not allowed to have a business profile yet, and (2) the only people really using it are beta tester -- you know, the people like us who kick the tires on the shiny new toys so we can say something intelligent when our clients, friends, or bosses ask us for first impressions. So most people haven't even looked at it, if this "most people" even knows about Google+ or cares.
How insecure must some people be if they can't even trust their own first impressions?
Even when I know you, #1 is irritating for its laziness. If I don't know you, it's likely I'm not going to respond.
Good post. I also really relate to #6, #7, and #10. When people spam me, I've tried to ask them to please take me off that list. One person actually said, “this comes through LI. In order to stop them disconnect me from your list.” I did.
RE #10, I'll never understand why people think their LinkedIn network wants to know about their Foursquare check-ins and nights out at the bar.
3 years, 5 months ago on 12 Most Annoying Things People Do On LinkedIn
@MackCollier "In the end, it might be a question of what works best for ME, your mileage may vary." I think that's the key that everyone has to remember. We're not robots, so how you choose to engage really comes down to what you're trying to accomplish and the best way for YOU (or me) to do that.
It's no different from our offline relationships, so I don't know why so many people (not you) make it so complicated.
3 years, 5 months ago on I am officially a social media packrat
Why do you think this is an either/or equation? I believe that the best networks are both deep and wide--though not always in the same "circle." There are places where we want or need deeper connections: family, friends, trusted colleagues that we count on for smarts, to bounce ideas off, and occasionally to (metaphorically) slap us back to reality. But it's our wide networks that take us out of our echo chambers and can lead to serendipitous connections, challenge our assumptions, and bring new friendships that we would never find if we just hung out with our old pals.
That should be "what a GREAT analogy"... :)
3 years, 5 months ago on 12 Most Glaring Similarities between Running a Business and a Marathon