Of course, if you’d like to know more about my journey with Richard, you can email either of us at Deirdre@PurePerformanceComm.com or RichardTBistrong@gmail.com.
Of course, if you’d like to know more about my journey with Richard, you can email either of us at Deirdre@PurePerformanceComm.com or RichardTBistrong@gmail.com.
I know a lot of professionals who are storytellers. But, here’s a little profile test to see if you’re a modern communicator who shares stories that resonate and create impact with your audiences.
First, if you consider yourself a modern communicator, then you’re ready to (1) navigate media and build relationships through new channels, (2) you understand the shifts in consumer preferences and behavior by analyzing data, and (3) you’re continuously evolving with technology. In addition, your approach to storytelling is flexible and you easily adapt to a global communications landscape.
But, let’s take the profile of the modern communicator a step further … most of all you’re trained to THINK AHEAD. Do you?
The approach is simple. First, you need mastery of the “THINK” part, and then the proficiency of the “AHEAD” steps to create communication that connects, resonates and helps you to grow your relationships with customers and your loyal advocates.
Here’s how the THINK AHEAD approach breaks down, so you’re a storyteller with purpose, who stands out and builds stronger relationships in a fast-paced, ever-evolving and very noisy media landscape.
Start with THINK:
“T” is Timing. Modern communicators know how to attach their stories to the timely and relevant news. The more you can be a part of an unfolding story and you can add value and context to a meaningful conversation (whether it’s local, regional or national) the more you’ll be recognized for what you have to say.
“H” is Heart. You must have a heart or empathy for those who are on the receiving end of your communication. This takes tremendous discipline and a great deal of EQ (Emotional Quotient) to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes. You’re able to show compassion and empathy, especially when passionate voices collide, opinions vary and yes, tempers flare.
“I” is Independent. When there is a lot of noisy communication and you see parties taking respective sides, you have to trust your gut and go with your instincts. Sometimes the communities and groups that generally share your opinions may not be upholding your values. Don’t jump on the bandwagon and don’t be a part of “group think.” Remain independent when you have to and always be true to your own brand.
“N” is New Navigation. You have to be ready to step out of your comfort zone and to navigate in new and exciting ways. This means embracing new channels and methods to reach people that don’t always feel comfortable and familiar. Modern Communicators can never be too complacent. When complacency sets in, you may also be missing opportunities to grow relationships and meet people in places where they prefer to congregate. Operate in your “uncomfortable” zone for maximum growth potential.
“K” is Knowledge. Modern communicators always have to be learning and growing. Professional development will keep you 10-steps ahead of your customers, and other important stakeholders. If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re hanging out with the wrong people. You should always be challenging yourself with new opportunities to learn.
When you can master the THINK part, then you’re ready for the AHEAD steps, which break down as follows:
“A” is Anticipate. Modern communicators know the facts, understand a situation thoroughly, before they communicate and learn as much as they can about the people or groups with whom they want to connect.
“H” is Head Off. When you head off any issues or concerns, as a modern communicator you can neutralize potential adverse situations before they bubble up, from small molehills into massive mountains. Heading off the negative also means acknowledging what’s occurring, and letting people know you’re aware, accountable and getting more information.
“E” is Evaluate. Make it your job to evaluate situations by gathering input from all parties involved. You can’t get part of the story to solve a problem or to stop an existing condition from getting worse. When you can evaluate and speak with everyone involved, you’ll have a much better handle on the situation so you can move toward action and resolution.
“A” is Action. In a dynamic, real-time communications landscape, you have to act quickly. You can’t just say what you’re going to do, you have to show it and mean it. Saying “sorry” is always a good start. A good heartfelt, “Mea Culpa” will get the ball rolling. But, then you have to take additional steps to make sure you’re demonstrating you’re sorry and making good on your promises moving forward.
“D” is Determine Success. Modern communicators are always learning from past missteps or the successful ways they’re able to THINK AHEAD. When you can take the time to see what’s worked in your communication and what hasn’t, you’re ready to make your engagement stronger and create better relationships that lead to loyalty and advocacy.
When modern communicators can THINK AHEAD, the success of the approach shows in all of their communications and resulting relationships. Modern communicators are known for their ability to raise the bar on storytelling and for their strong bonds. They’re respected, trusted and connected in their communities.
Do you match the profile of the modern communicator because you THINK AHEAD? If you want to learn more about modern communicators, building relationships, navigating new media and how to be more effective in your business communications, then check out my book, Answers for Modern Communicators.
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Happy New Year friends! I’m looking forward to a year that pushes me out of my comfort zone … not just in PR and marketing but in my business too. What are your goals for 2018 and what tools, skills and roadmap will get you there?
Reading has helped me to learn about myself as a professional and to take greater leaps with my brand. Out of the 25+ books that I’ve read in 2017, there were four that stand out in my mind. These action-oriented books are the kind that makes you go Hmmm. For those of you who remember, in 1990, the C+C Music Factory released a song called “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm,” and yes, I danced along to the lyrics, many times, with friends. When a book makes you go Hmmm, it means you realize that (1) you have learned new and valuable information, (2) you need to make some changes and move out of your comfort zone and (3) it’s time to rearrange your pattern of thinking.
The four books that made me go Hmmm and will make you do the same in 2018 are: The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin, The Agony of Decision by Hello Fred Garcia, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
I want to thank Corina Manea, founder of NutsPR and Chief Community Officer at Spin Sucks, for recommending The Miracle Morning and the Power of Habit. I also want to thank Fred Garcia for sending me a copy of his book, and my husband, Mark, for insisting that The Opposable Mind should be on my list even though it was the last book I read in 2017. In this case, I saved one of the best for last.
Here’s why these books will make you stop in your tracks and make you go Hmmm.
The Opposable Mind: I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with this book. Just by the title, I knew that The Opposable Mind would give me a different perspective (a push and pull tension in my thinking). Little did I know it would not only challenge the way I think but also how I go about problem solving. The central premise of the book is that many leaders focus on the either / or model of thinking. You’re predisposed to do “this” or do “that” when there are so many other approaches and models that you can construct to get to an ideal resolution.
In The Opposable Mind, you’ll learn how to be more salient, asking different questions and getting more data to eventually reach your conclusions. Greater salience is the first step in a model that also moves you through different ways to look at causality, your problem-solving architecture and how you reach your resolution. The interviews with business leaders are eye-opening. I was fascinated with the story about Issy Sharp and how he was able to take a different approach expanding the Four Seasons Hotel internationally. Then, there’s A.G. Lafley, who served as President and CEO of Proctor & Gamble. The author discusses how he reignited P&G and made products that were more innovative than the competition.
Both examples show you how to use different models, challenge conventional thinking and take risks that make sense because you have comprehensive data and you can be more salient in your approach. I highly recommend this book if you want to challenge you own approach, try different models of reasoning and really take mastery and originality to new levels.
The Agony of Decision: I had the pleasure of reading Fred Garcia’s earlier book, The Power of Communication and was blown away. I gave this book two thumbs up in a review in December 2012. Fred does it again with The Agony of Decision. Whether you’re in crisis management or not, this book is about making tough decisions that may have severe consequences and how you can have “mental readiness” as a leader, especially when a crisis is unfolding. I loved the three dimensions of mental readiness model, which include Emotional Discipline, Deep Knowledge, and Intellectual Rigor.
Each area made me stop, pause and think about my own decision-making process.
In the book, the case studies highlight leaders who have exhibited mental readiness and, as a result, moved forward in a more positive direction. In other cases, some leaders learned valuable lessons from challenging experiences. The Agony of Decision is a book that helps with decision making and getting you mentally prepared for 2018.
The Power of Habit: Here’s a book that had me at “Hello.” I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. The first story and then every additional story highlighted patterns of thinking and how you can work to change your habits. The author breaks down the cues that can trigger a routine, which leads you to the reward you seek. However, are all of your habits good? This book helped me to change one of my bad habits … my incessant need to check political headlines (far too many times in a day) after the inauguration of President Trump. The routine led to a reward, which I thought was knowledge, but was actually stress in disguise.
The book is divided into three sections to help you personally and in business:
Part I: “The Habits of Individuals” which can help you break personal habits.
Part II: “The Habits of Successful Organizations,” will enlighten your thinking on how your business can change to create a better working environment or to make a more significant impact using good habits.
Part III: “The Habits of Societies” and what makes a movement happen in a society and how it can take root quickly.
The Power of Habit will challenge your everyday activities, how you create momentum in your business, and why you may or may not choose to be a part of a broader cultural initiative. If you want to change some habits, then read this book.
The Miracle Morning. This book is a life changer. I can’t exactly say I’m a morning person, but the use of the morning hours has changed my daily outlook for the positive. Every morning (no matter how busy the day ahead), I’m finding time for reading, meditating, stretching, journaling, etc. which is extremely liberating. The author lays out a plan called S.A.V.E.R.S., which stands for:
S = Silence / Mediation
A = Affirmations
V = Visualization
E = Exercise
S = Scribing / Journaling
If you’re struggling to find your true purpose, lacking energy, or you feel like you’re not reaching your full potential, then SAVERS and all of the advice in The Miracle Morning is a way to unlock your passion and transform your life. I feel so much more clarity as a result, and I’m a lot happier, even on the most hectic days.
I’ve read so many great books, but the books that made me go Hmmm are the four that had the greatest impact on my year. Now it’s 2018, and I’ve got a list of 30+ books to tackle, and I’m ready to, once again, dive in, learn more, try new things, and move out of my comfort zone.
I also know I’ll have to take pause and make sure that I go Hmmm … the more I do, the more I’ll take my professional skills and business to the next level.
A Guest Post By Marlene S. Neill, Assistant Professor at Baylor University
Many young professionals aspire to leadership roles in their organizations, and senior executives advise the way to the top requires a concerted effort to build relationships across an organization over time.
Consistent with this advice Redmond and Trager (1998) wrote, “Doing a good job is not enough. For your career to move forward, you have to be adept at social relationships, building alliances, and building trust among those above and below you in the hierarchy” (p. 154).
My coauthor, Amy Barnes, and I conducted 58 in-depth interviews with senior executives who are members of the PRSA College of Fellows and Arthur W. Page Society in preparation for the book, “Public Relations Ethics: Senior PR Pros Tell Us How to Speak Up and Keep Your Job.”
The senior executives pointed out that building relationships with colleagues inside your company or organization is similar to building friendships. You need to show a genuine interest in your colleagues and in learning about and understanding their role in the organization.
While this requires a huge time investment, many of these relationships can be built while working together on cross-departmental projects for the company or organization. At the same time, a Page Society membership offered this advice, “I think it’s really incumbent upon us to get out there and get out from behind our desks and spend as much time with colleagues and customers and stakeholders as possible,” (Neill & Barnes, 2018, p. 36).
Consistent with this advice, relationship building also requires informal conversations around lunch or coffee or a simple chat in the hallways or offices.
Over time, these relationships help public relations professionals build social capital, which means they are given access to information and meetings that help them become more influential and more effective in their jobs.
Some of these relationships may result in mentors or allies that you can count on when needed. A Page Society member referred to these treasured relationships as sponsors:
It’s an individual or group of individuals who probably most simply stated have a level of relationship with you and think highly enough of you, what you stand for, your position, your point of view, that they will speak up for you, defend you, advocate for you, even when you’re not in the room.
The senior executives we spoke to said they focused on building relationships with colleagues who worked in legal, finance and operations as well as other communication disciplines such as marketing and investor relations.
While relationships are crucial, so are the basics. Young professionals who aspire to leadership roles also must be successful in their jobs, do their homework so they can provide solid counsel and be willing to put forth the extra effort. As a Page Society member said:
It’s amazing how many people want to just get up in the morning, come to work, show up at 8, go home at 5. The best conversations you’re going to have are after 5 o’clock…if you’re not there at 7 in the morning, 7:30, you’re not going to have those private conversations with the CEO… if that’s what you want, you can’t have it (Neill & Barnes, 2018, p. 107).
This is just a brief sample of the exceptional advice provided by the senior executives. We invite you to check out our book for more practical advice on building relationships and how to become more influential.
Marlene Neill, Ph.D., APR, is an assistant professor at Baylor University. She teaches courses in public relations and advertising. She also serves as the faculty adviser for the Baylor PRSSA chapter. Her research interests include public relations management and ethics. She has published research in the following journals: Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Public Relations Review, Journal of Communication Management and Journal of Advertising Education.
Neill is an accredited member of the Central Texas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She served as the chair for the Southwest District of PRSA in 2011. At the national level, Neill served a three-year term on the Universal Accreditation Board, which administers the examination for Accreditation in Public Relations; the Nominating Committee, which selects national board officers in 2012; and was appointed to the Board of Ethics & Professionals Standards in January of 2013.
Redmond, J., and Trager, R. (1998). Balancing on the Wire: The art of managing media organizations. Boulder, CO: Coursewise Publishing.
Deirdre Breakenridge book, Mentoring, PR 2.0, PR 2.0 Technology, Public Relations, Social media Answers Book, Business Communication, Career Advancement, Modern Communicators, public relations, Social media 2
Answers for Modern Communicators, A Guide to Effective Business Communication was published by Routledge and is available online in hard copy, soft cover and digital versions. I’ve been writing this book for years and it’s finally finished. My book offers students and professionals practical answers to important career and communication questions, helping them to communicate successfully in a business setting.
This book would not be possible without the many mentors I’ve relied on over the course of my career in PR and marketing. To all of the marketing experts who participated in this book, I want to thank you for your advice and guidance. I’ve learned so much from all of you.
Here’s my video announcement discussing why I wrote Answers for Modern Communicators and the importance of professionals always asking and answering questions.
A guest post by Jacqueline Jensen, author of Travel Isn’t the Answer: Live With a Sense of Curiosity, Passion, and Awe Anywhere and Everywhere.
“What is the hardest part about writing a book?”
As I’ve read interviews and talked to writers, their answers range from challenges landing a publishing deal and feeling overwhelmed as a slow writer, to fears around vulnerability and the struggle to shed self-doubt. Will people read the book? Will my ideas resonate with anyone?
Most writers I have come across tell me writing a book is both extremely rewarding and at the same time one of the biggest challenges they have ever taken on.
When I decided to write my first book, I came across an ideation framework that made perfect sense to me as a former venture-backed startup founder. Even better, many of challenges I heard from experienced authors seemed to be helped along with a new approach, too.
The idea is simple, but powerful: Test your idea for a book before investing too much of your time actually writing the book.
In the startup world, we call this The Lean Startup methodology. Tech entrepreneurs around the globe have followed principles introduced by Eric Ries, an entrepreneur and author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business.
Rather than create a product – or write a book – in isolation, Ries says that by getting ideas out into the world as quickly as possible, we rapidly see what works and can discard what doesn’t without too much invested effort.
While it may make sense to some of us to start with an idea for something we think people may want and then spend time building it, there’s a better way. What if we publicly shared the idea in its most basic form to hear what people think? What if we chose to create smarter, not work harder?
This rudimentary form of an idea is called an MVP. In the tech world, a “minimum viable product” is a version of a new product that is used to collect the maximum amount of validated learning with the least effort. In this new world of writing my first book, my book’s MVP would take the form of a 30-day pre-order campaign to gather feedback about the idea.
I connected with the team at Publishizer to get started on creating the campaign. We explored how we could move fast and embrace the idea of failing quickly, which for someone new to publishing like me felt both a little scary and incredibly bold.
“We are a NYC-based startup and crowdfunding platform that has helped hundreds of authors get published,” said Lee Constantine, Head of Growth at Publishizer. “Authors have used Publishizer to earn over $1 million in funds. Our goal is to enable exciting new book ideas and help authors land an advance-paying publisher. We launched in 2014 and graduated from 500 Startups Batch 13 in Mountain View, CA. We pride ourselves on working with world-class thought leaders, speakers, coaches, investors, and people doing interesting things.”
Within weeks, I had a Publishizer campaign page ready for the pre-order launch on September 15, 2017. I filmed a video explaining a bit more about the book idea, worked with a designer to create a book cover, and conducted research on the potential market. I even asked a creative I admire to partner with me. Carl Richards, New York Times Sketch Guy columnist, agreed to write the foreword and produce original sketches for the book!
During this process, I have felt the same fears, doubts, and challenges as the experienced authors I look up to. I realized my initial urge to plan every step before unveiling a finished book was because I was stepping into the unknown. I wanted to avoid failure. However, the secret key to creating something awesome is to get the feedback necessary early on to make it great!
During the creation of the campaign, I reminded myself over and over that the goal wasn’t to create a final product. My focus was to share budding ideas, create a space for feedback, stretch my assumptions, and show up with a learner’s eye. Bringing the “experimentation-first” mindset I cultivated at tech startups has been just what I needed jump start momentum in this new adventure.
How have you tackled new creative projects? What have you learned by sharing ideas before they are fully baked? I’d love to hear from you!
Jacqueline Jensen is a digital nomad, former venture-backed startup founder, speaker, and recognized community builder. Jacqueline’s next ambitious project is publishing her first book. Watch her TEDx talk “Playing nicely with fellow entrepreneurs pays off.” Jacqueline’s interests include travel, yoga, entrepreneurism, startups, and learning to code. You can connect with her at @JackieMJensen or on LinkedIn.
Here’s my video book review of A Roadmap for Teaching Social Media by Dr. Karen Freberg who is an assistant professor teaching Strategic Communications at the University of Louisville. Karen’s book can be described in three words … handy reference guide. Professors who are looking for a framework to approach social media with their students as a community and also to participate together more strategically should read this book. The level of knowledge sharing goes deep and covers a lot of ground, from the chapter that includes all of the elements of a social media campaign to the chapters that define how to brand your class community, maintain your reputation online and shape class etiquette.
Thank you, Karen, for writing a book that professors can use as their roadmap to social media in the classroom (and beyond) and one that is a reminder of how we should all be sharing on a deeper level. From one “forever student” to another, let the learning continue!