In the fall semester 2021, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Professor Jason Mollica’s Strategic Communications class at American University. The FEEL model and FEEL First test online became a part of their semester-long project.
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It’s time to unveil our 2nd PR Expanded video contest winner. A big congratulations goes to Nicole Morin, a UMASS at Amherst student, for creating her video on “Why PR Professionals Should Practice Strategic Communications.”
By way of contest background, After reading my latest book, “Answers for Modern Communicators,” Professor Jennie Donohue tasked her Introduction to Public Relations class with creating a short educational video sharing tips and insights based on one of three communication practices. The areas of practice included media relations, strategic communication/integrated marketing communication, and employee communication – that all related to the class content.
Nicole, our 2nd winner, is a junior who is pursuing a communication and journalism double major at UMass Amherst. Last semester, Nicole took the introductory public relations course where she learned about the industry, important practices, and skills, as well as the importance of maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. As she continues her undergraduate degree, Nicole is focusing on potential careers in public relations, sports or entertainment broadcasting, as well as media relations and content creation.
Take a look at Nicole’s winning video and also give her a congratulatory shout out on social media!
Every year, I hold one or two writing contests for students and I announce the winners on my blog, PR Expanded. This semester, I’ve teamed up with Professor Priya Doshi, who is teaching a Writing for Strategic Communication course.
Here’s my video with information about the latest blog contest with Professor Doshi’s graduate students who are a part of American University’s Strategic Communication Master’s program.
Stay tuned for the three winners in the upcoming weeks!
Here’s a simple test for you to take, and it all comes down to a series of questions about how you FEEL before you communicate. When you FEEL this means you’re able to Face Fears, communicate with Empathy, use Ethics and good judgment and discover how much you Love your mission.
Modern Communicators are navigating a new communications landscape. But, now matter where they share stories, they learn to consider their audience’s situation, timing of their news, the appropriate channels to deliver valuable information, how to segment messaging, and measure on different platforms to demonstrate success. But, when you add the FEEL model to your planing approach, you’ll take your communication, in all settings, to new levels.
Here’s how it works … if you can FEEL, which ultimately makes you more human, open and credible in your interactions, then all of your stakeholders from your employees and partners, to the media and your customers will trust you more. FEEL starts with you but it’s really about the people you want to reach and the strong connections you want to build.
With conversations surfacing around executives and senior leadership being more compassionate and having emotional intelligence, it’s time to add the FEEL model to this discussion. Leaders can be strong and have incredible vision, but it’s their ability to FEEL that will interest constituents and drive their vision and passion.
In this short video, you can evaluate how much you FEEL, before you share your tweets and Facebook posts, speak at your team meetings or give those media interviews on TV or on Skype. In an age when connections look like instant friendship, through any number of social media channels, the truly beneficial relationships will require you to FEEL first!
One of the best ways to kick off the New Year is with a good book that offers great guidance and takes a deep dive into being more strategic with your storytelling. Social Media for Strategic Communication by Author, Consultant and Professor Karen Freberg is a book that’s jam-packed with strategy, creative techniques and communication tactics. There are so many reasons why I like this book and would recommend it to students, professors and professionals.
Thank you, Karen, for writing another book for the classroom and for business pros that gets two thumbs up (and a big high five from me). Once again, you’ve published a resource that will guide many in their communication in 2019 and beyond!
You can check out my video review to learn why you need to pick up a copy.
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.
- Emotional Discipline is very hard. You may think that you are acknowledging reality, but in essence, you have to be forthright and clear on exactly what is happening. You’re remaining calm and not letting your emotions get the best of you. At the same time, you’re balancing out the fierce and bold actions that you may need to take. Note: Emotional discipline today means not firing off too quickly on social media (especially Twitter) and not letting impulses get the best of you.
- The second area is Deep Knowledge; an area where you can’t pretend you have knowledge, not just with respect to a crisis but with any pressing situation as a leader. As pointed out in the book, “good judgment is often the result of experience and experience is often the result of poor judgment.” If you have deep knowledge from years of experience, then you know what works and what doesn’t, and you can apply what you’ve learned from situations and their positive outcomes. If you don’t have the deep knowledge then it’s best to surround yourself with people who do tap into their deeper understanding of a situation.
- The last area is Intellectual Rigor, which is often not applied during a crisis. “ The rigor begins with clear thinking. The leader, among other things, is a steward of the organization …,” states Fred, in Chapter 1. Clear thinking means accurately naming the problem to be solved. If you get the problem wrong, then you can’t come up with the right solution.
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.
In a recent post, I suggested leveraging Nielsen’s research in order to create data-driven marketing and communications plans. That’s the front-end work every successful campaign entails, but the data cycle doesn’t end there.
Equally as important is analyzing campaign data after it has run its course so that those findings can inform future work i.e., once you’ve garnered media hits, it’s then time to uncover the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the work.
How much of an impact did that feature story in Business Insider make on your business?
Did it drive traffic, engagement, or sales?
This is the challenge my friends at AirPR are solving, one data dashboard at a time. Those guys preach “data-driven PR” so that PR professionals and brand marketers get smarter about how and what they measure when a campaign comes to a close.
I sat down with AirPR Co-founder and CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer to talk shop, now that he and his team have officially announced their Series B funding. This excites me not because they’re awesome and deserve it (though both are true!), but because it means PRTech is getting stronger and what it’s enabling means even happier clients.
Deirdre Breakenridge: A few years ago, your team coined the term “PRTech” and championed the development of its ecosystem. How has the space changed since then?
Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer: Initially, we started referring to “PRTech” because there wasn’t yet a way to bucket what we do. The term started taking off in 2014 when one of our investors, Bryan Stolle, wrote about it in VentureBeat. It’s become accepted terminology for PR-focused, tech-enabled companies since.
The PRTech ecosystem only included a small swarm of companies when we first started AirPR, and now it spans more than 80, including things like corporate newsroom publishing platforms (Pressvine), visual storytelling tools (Canva), and measurement and analytics tools (what we do).
But to answer your question about how the industry has changed since then, I’d say that PR professionals are finally getting the street cred’ they deserve because they’re now able to show quantitative data when reporting, instead of just qualitative. Plus, now there’s a greater understanding of vanity metrics and their irrelevance compared to more value-rich success metrics like share of voice as compared to power of voice, and so forth. Did I answer your question, or walk you down a rabbit hole?
DB: You answered! And I’m glad you mentioned vanity metrics because PRTech is enabling the antithesis of that, which brings me to my next question. Is PRTech finally in the same ballgame as MarTech or AdTech? Is it all one in the same now that marketing and PR are more interwoven?
SFM: Yes, exactly. The fact that marketers and advertisers have long been able to prove their work’s value with heavy-hitting quantitative data, metrics such as direct sales, means that it’s been somewhat easier for them to get a seat at the decision-making table.
The emergence of PRTech and the tools that make up that ecosystem are allowing us to show that public relations also drives sales and other key performance indicators, like marketing and advertising departments have been able to show for a decade.
Five years ago, if you were written about in Fortune, a PR person could explain the benefits of landing that piece by way of readership, impressions, etc. (vanity metrics), but there wasn’t yet a way to show the real impact that piece was having on the business.
More often than not, whether PR was considered valuable at an organization was dependent upon if the CMO or CEO “believed in” PR or not. It was subjective. Turning PR into a measurable science means there is no longer room for personal preference. You can’t argue with the data.
DB: One of your team members wrote about “PR data bias” recently. What is it?
SFM: One of our PR Engineers, Kelly Byrd, wrote about PR data bias, which is essentially the unconscious bias that happens when we view data that does not support what we suspect to be true. For instance, if you work like a horse to land a write-up about your company’s latest product in a major tech publication, but when you view the data about that piece, you see that it didn’t really have a big impact on your business in terms of pushing leads your way, driving traffic or sales, etc. Because of the credibility of that tech publication, you may not accept that data as true.
It’s a little trick we play on ourselves when we want to believe the work we’ve done was worth it. It’s just something for PR professionals to be aware of if they find themselves convincing themselves that the numbers don’t necessarily reflect a fail.
At the same time, the fact that you’ve found out that a publication didn’t really move the needle for you is just as valuable to know as if the article actually contributed towards your goals. Maybe the next time you pitch an exclusive about a new product, you’ll pitch a different publication. There’s value in PR data even if you’re not seeing the numbers you’d hoped for.
DB: What do executive leaders need to understand about the future of PR if they are going to succeed?
SFM: With the proliferation of content marketing (and the publishing and analysis tools that support it), owned media channels have become as important of a PR instrument as traditional media. Comprehensive, data-driven PR and communications strategy must take into account all avenues of consumption, meaning the stories they are telling, the stories reporters are telling, and how all of those stories are being received by the public. Measuring the effectiveness of all of those different channels in conjugation is where you’ll find the data gold.
A Guest Post By Ken Jacobs, Jacobs Executive Coaching and Jacobs Communications Consulting
In my decade as a coach to public relations-communications professionals, both agency and corporate, I’ve come across many who ask me how to know if executive coaching is right for them.
I find it helpful to share with them the kinds of issues I’ve helped empower PR executives to help achieve their desired outcomes.
- You’re Achieving PR-Communications Success, But You Keep Losing Team Members. This is a far-too-common occurrence in our business, particularly on the agency side. I think that’s due to the fact that we have a history of promoting people into leadership slots because they’re good at PR (and these days content, social, digital, etc.) and at satisfying clients and building the business. But that doesn’t mean we have the skills to truly lead people. The reality is, leadership isn’t about the title, the money, or the corner office. It’s about if people choose to follow you. If they’re not choosing to make that choice executive coaching might be right for you.
- Even Though You Lead A Team, or Organization, You Feel Like You’re Rowing a Boat Against The Tide, And Doing It Alone. Your title says you’re the leader, but you don’t feel the team is following your marching orders regarding where they need to be, and in the way you recommend. That’s because you can’t order people to follow you. For that to happen, you must share a vision, and your values for the organization (even if that organization is a department or group within a larger framework). People will follow you if they see the alignment between the organization’s values and their own, and if they see their role in achieving the vision. If that’s not happening yet, executive coaching might be right for you. (I’m not going to keep repeating that line, but you get the idea!)
- Your Time Manages You, Rather Than the Other Way Around. Because our success in this business is in numerous ways dependent on how we manage our time, I’m sometimes surprised that this is an issue for so many. But indeed it is. And I believe what respected time management expert Brian Tracy says about time management: People who value themselves value their time and manage it better. As such, just taking a time management course or using a new productivity tool won’t work, unless we believe in the value of our recommendations. Coaching is a great way to help us believe in our own value. If we don’t, why should anyone else?
- Fear Plays Too Large A Role In Your Life. PR-Communications pros often ask for budgets of $100,000, $250,000, $500,000 or more. But you might be surprised at the level of fear and self-doubt that permeates our industry, even at the highest levels. If you find yourself saying with any kind of frequency, “Oh, I could never ask that of my boss-team-peer-client” fear may be playing too large a role in your life. The reality is you won’t be fired, arrested or executed for asking them for what you want. Indeed, you can ask those people for nearly anything. The worse thing is, they’ll say “No.” And you’ll feel better for having asked.
- You Need To Have A Tough Discussion With Someone, But… In any business or organization, people will disagree. Perhaps it’s our desire to please people, which perhaps can make us a more client service provider, but we hate having difficult discussions. The way many of us deal with disagreement is to roll over the other person, or be rolled over by them. But both those options can lead to resentment down the road: certainly not the way to achieve organizational goals. Executive coaching can empower you to ask for what you need, disagree with respect and most important, go for what we really want: the win/win.
- You’re Just Not Enjoying It Anymore. At some point, even the most successful executive asks “Is that all there is?” Work activities that used to bring pleasure no longer do. The intellectual challenge may be gone…and so, it seems, is the fun. Coaching can help you to determine what you’re really passionate about, what would bring you abundance on multiple levels, and help you create a plan of action to bring back the joy in your work.
Ken Jacobs is the principal of Jacobs Executive Coaching, which helps corporate communications, PR, advertising and marketing executives become achieve and surpass their goals, by becoming more inspired and inspiring leaders. He is also the principal of Jacobs Communications Consulting, which helps PR/comm agencies grow and better manage their business, improve client service and relationships, and enhance team performance, leadership and communications skills. You can find him onTwitter and LinkedIn.