We are in uncertain times. Your customers, employees, partners, the media and other important constituents are looking to you for helpful information. Unfortunately, a lot of the communication shared in uncertain times ends up confusing and frustrating these groups even more.
As we witness the stock market lows, travel bans, event cancellations and more businesses asking employees to work from home, here are three tips to help guide your communication.
Tip #1: Stick with what you know — be direct and don’t share hunches and guestimates.
Tip #2: Show up with your Emotional Intelligence (EI) so you can respond thoughtfully and not react to challenging communication.
Tip #3: Appreciate the feedback you receive — it’s a gift — even the negative feedback helps you to learn and grow.
Here’s my video discussing these tips in more detail and how they can help you.
It’s time to FEEL First in your communication. I’ve been working on my passion project, the FEEL Model, gathering research about the type of communication that builds relationships and creates stronger bonds. In uncertain times, FEEL (facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, Using Ethics and unleashing Love) can make a difference. As the Coronavirus spreads and new cases are reported in the U.S. and globally, effective, meaningful and valuable communication requires a FEEL First approach.
Check out the tips and please share yours too. Together, we can lead with compassion and understanding, and offer helpful and accurate information to the people who matter the most to us professionally and personally in our lives.
When I teamed up with Professor Jennie Donohue last year, we wanted to create an assignment for her UMASS at Amherst Intro to PR class that was an opportunity for students to create content based on what they learned during the semester. The question quickly became, “should it be another blog post contest?”
In the spirit of students and professionals being PR Tech Testers, we thought it would be a much more interesting assignment for students to create videos based on what they learned in class.
After reading my latest book, “Answers for Modern Communicators,” each student was tasked with creating a short educational video sharing tips and insights based on one of three communication practices – i.e., media relations, strategic communication/integrated marketing communication, or employee communication – that related to class content.
We selected two winners. Winner #1 is (drumroll please) … Wei Cai, who is an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Winner #2 will be announced next week.
Wei’s academic studies are in journalism, consumer technology, and resource economics; he is passionate about the intersections of the fields. If you want to learn more about Wei, you can follow him on Twitter at @weicai_.
Here is Wei’s winning video. Let’s congratulate and support Wei by sharing his video on social media!
Happy 2020, friends! Here’s to a year that’s filled with happiness, good health, and prosperity.
When I look back at 2019, I realize it was an intense year for so many reasons. Every week was one of reflection and new insights with a 52+ week millennial research project.
Today, as a result of this reflection and realizing my research had uncovered a new Mode of Operation or communication model, I’m focusing on a FEEL roadmap in 2020; adding FEEL to all of my communications. At the same time, I’ll be helping other professionals understand why strategic communications can only get you so far in your connections and relationship building. FEEL is the stepping stone to real relationships personally and professionally. How much do you use FEEL in your communication through all of your channels? Now you can find out with the FEEL First Test.
I decided to evaluate myself and my ability to FEEL, by taking the online FEEL First test, which came together as a result of the deep conversations with millennials in 2019.
I was surprised, not so surprised, to learn that I still have some FEEL work to do in the areas of facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, etc. In 2020, I’m on my way to FEEL Mastery, which is the highest range of scores you can achieve. The FEEL First Test not only evaluates your ability to FEEL, in every area of the model, and in different settings, but it also recommends exercises to increase your level of FEEL.
And, so my roadmap begins and yours can too.
A huge thank you to all of those millennials who took the time to interview with me, and who wanted to share the value of communication, what it means to have trust in a real relationship and what they expect from the important people in their lives. You have helped me to get through a difficult time and to turn loss and sadness into purpose and focus.
Here’s my video discussing where my roadmap begins and how professionals and companies would solve a lot of their issues and communication challenges with the FEEL model.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Amit Jain at Unsplash
It’s official … the FEEL First Test is online and ready for you to evaluate how much you FEEL (face Fears, engage with Empathy, use Ethics and good judgment and unleash your Love) in your communication.
I’ve been asked, “Why the launch of the FEEL Model and the FEEL First Test and what will you learn from the data?” The answer is simple … to help business professionals understand the major components that build trust in communication and to move from connections and simple transactions to genuine and meaningful relationships. The data we collect from the survey participants will give us an indication of FEEL by age, generation, and profession.
This test came from a year’s worth of research with millennials. After about 52 weeks and 55+ formal and informal one-on-one interviews, the millennials who participated in my passion project answered pointed questions about their communication; how they wanted to show up, be perceived and what they expected and preferred via different channels from the people around them, especially the Leaders* in their lives.
The FEEL Test scores you on each part of FEEL and lets you know how much you FEEL in your communication (from beginner to FEEL Mastery). From my work and what I’ve uncovered from this passion project is, if you don’t FEEL first, then how do you tap into how someone else feels to build an unbreakable bond?
Along with social media intelligence gathering and analyzing conversations, the FEEL model is an approach that applies all parts of FEEL across communication channels to build genuine and meaningful relationships.
Take a look at the video which offers more details and please take the FEEL First Test. We’ll be gathering and sharing data in this ongoing project that launched after my Millennial stepdaughter, Noelle, passed away last September. It was Noelle who put me on the road to FEEL. I want to share what I’ve learned with you so you can FEEL First to improve your relationships moving forward.
*Leaders were defined as supervisors, managers and/or executives at their companies, business leaders at their favorite brands or brands they followed, and political and religious leaders.
Last September, the World Economic Forum published an article discussing what Millennials really want from businesses. What stood out immediately from the article appeared in the first sentence. “The global business community is being challenged by Millennials who want to change the world — and the results are going to be incredible.”
The article went on to discuss how Millennials want to create change and value takes priority. Financial performance should not be the only measure of success. They are focused on and want to see social change. The organizations that live by their values and bring them to life are the companies that will get Millennial attention, the benefits of their purchasing power, and their employment. As a result, businesses are actively working on becoming more socially conscious by placing organizational purpose over corporate mission and profits.
Although I’ve shared some of the ways leaders are disappointing Millennials in previous posts, here’s the good news … you’re getting a few things right in your communication and it’s appreciated. It’s not all bad for business leaders and brands that want to reach Millennials through their marketing channels or want to recruit and retain them in their companies.
From my research, there are several ways that leaders score positive points and can make a difference. Here’s what Millennials said when I asked, “Please fill in the blank. I LIKE a leader who …”
Speaks up more and shows a lot of corporate activism. Brands are more than their products and services today.
Interacts frequently with followers. The screen doesn’t exist and you can have a conversation.
Convey thoughts properly and effectively.
Takes the time to communicate through videos.
Shares direct and straightforward messages.
Communicates in earnest and follows up with action.
Leads with integrity and leads by example.
Inspires an audience and listens carefully to their thoughts and concerns and fuel the passion further.
Is vulnerable and authentic.
Shares some personal experience and knowledge; a leader who is compassionate and interested.
Basically enjoys helping others to become leaders.
By way of background, I started my research journey to really understand how Millennials show up to their conversations and how they want to be perceived. What surfaced quickly in my one-on-one interviews was what they expected from the leaders in their lives (bosses or managers at their companies, business professionals representing the brands they love and even their religious and political figures too) whether they’ve expressed this publicly or not.
After experiencing personal family trauma, I wanted to also learn why communication doesn’t always show how people feel when they share on social media or during their in-person interactions. That’s why it’s so important to show up to your conversations with a FEEL First approach.
Because, when you FEEL before you communicate, you:
Face Your Fears by you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to be more open to the ideas, feedback, and information that challenges the way that you are programmed to think.
Engage with Empathy by actively listening and you’re able to put your own agenda aside. Taking the time to understand the details of someone’s situation is the first step toward compassion and walking in someone else’s shoes.
Use Ethics and your good judgment by exercising your values and beliefs with every interaction and being true to yourself through your communication.
Unleash the Love of your work, ideas, cause, etc. (you fill in the blank) with contagious passion and the kind of energy that makes people want to not only be around you but also to support your cause and collaborate with you.
If you’re a leader and you FEEL you’re not connecting and advancing your relationships or exciting the people around you (not just Millennials but anyone), then here’s are a few ways to address the “F” in the FEEL model that might help. Embracing open conversations, differing opinions and being open to change means stepping out of your comfort. When you’re more aware of how you show up to your conversations, and when you have an open and inviting approach, different actions will result, from the people around you.
Every relationship is different and precious in its own way. You work so hard to build relationships and when you make that special connection you don’t want to lose it!
Knowing this, how much do you nurture your relationships and how present are you in those interactions? When you want to build an unbreakable bond you have to show up and be vulnerable, transparent, honest, and compassionate, and with all of your passion in tow. That’s why it’s important to FEEL (face Fears, engage with Empathy, use Ethics and unleash the Love) with every encounter.
There are so many reasons why you should FEEL First when it comes to building and maintaining the health of your relationships. When you FEEL, you’ll be more present and open, your understanding and patience will increase, and you’ll be true to yourself and your values (which does not go unnoticed). You’ll also let your passion loose for others to get excited and for them to find synergies with you.
My FEEL First research and the accompanying model [Note: this is the 2nd iteration of the Infographic] came to life after the tragic loss of a loved one, my stepdaughter. I had to say goodbye to a cherished relationship. For me, relationships will always take center stage. I’m focused on the FEEL First approach to hold dear every relationship I have moving forward.
How much do you FEEL in the relationships you are forging? And, once you’re in a relationship are you still in FEEL mode? Here’s my video with more on FEEL First and how to take this approach to a new level.
A Guest Post by Albane Flamant, Marketing Manager – US, Talkwalker
Once upon a time, brands and agencies relied on human analysts to identify brand mentions and extract insights on their campaigns. Today, because of the sheer online data volume, this approach is no longer sustainable: in the next ten minutes, there will have been over 3 million new tweets posted online, along with hundreds of thousands of Tumblr articles, Instagram posts, YouTube videos and much more. Let’s not even start talking about more traditional online sources like blogs, news sites, and forums.
Because of this new reality, brands can no
longer afford to just monitor text mentions – they also want to know what
happens in all of these images and videos. With the help of machine learning,
social listening platforms are now able to analyze visual content to identify
logos, scenes and objects.
The idea is not only to detect hidden brand mentions (visual posts where the brand is not mentioned explicitly in the companion text), but also to understand the context in which your brand, products and services are being discussed. Use cases go from brand monitoring to event sponsorship ROI, user-generated content identification and product research.
does it work: algorithms are trained to recognize
patterns in images and videos by going through huge data sets (this process is
called machine learning).
Sentiment Analysis – Putting
tweets in context
Sentiment analysis technology used to have a bad rep in the PR industry because guess what? Platforms had trouble understanding all the small nuances of language! This is mainly because the “old” approach was to look at keywords to determine sentiment (whether the post is negative, positive or neutral).
The first reflex of brands and agencies was to turn to human analysts to manually sort through the data and correct sentiment. Yet there were too many inconveniences: sentiment was still subjective based on the analyst, and at the end of the day, there was just too much data to sort through to be able to rely on their work.
Imagine: a brand like Starbucks averages over 63,000 daily mentions! How do you keep up with that? By the time you’d detected a surge in negative sentiment, the crisis would already be well underway.
With the help of machine learning, platforms are now able to look at the full context of a sentence to determine sentiment and start to understand basic irony (again, the trick is to train them with a big enough data set).
Brands and agencies also have the option on
specific social listening platforms to train their own custom models, so the
platform can adjust to the sensitivities of each industry and even understand
which brand is in front of the screen.
Case and point: how would you classify the following tweet if you didn’t know if you were doing it from the point of view of Pepsi or Coca-Cola?
Sure, I like Coke Zero. As in zero cokes. This is Pepsi country.
As previously mentioned in this article,
custom models help brands and agencies get the relevant results to surface.
Let’s imagine you’re a brand marketer for Apple. How do you filter out all the
fruits, Big Apple, apple martinis and other irrelevant junk from your queries.
The answer used to be through sophisticated boolean queries. The problem, however, was
that these queries were complicated to write for the average marketing or PR
professional, and often included or restricted too many results.
Enter custom models, which prompts you to tag
results as relevant or irrelevant without any data training. Once you’ve
provided the tool with a big enough training set, it applies your model to any
future results. Too complicated? Here’s a quick video to sum it up.
AI: Friend or foe?
Artificial intelligence is still perceived by many in the PR & marketing industry as a danger to their job. I’d argue the reality is much different. AI helps us get rid of manual tasks, it allows us to automate processes so we can focus on the more creative aspects of our jobs.
Albane is a marketing manager at Talkwalker, where she coordinates the brand presence’s in the United States, from influencer relationships to content marketing. She lives on Twitter and works with social media experts from all over the world on white papers and webinars about new technologies and digital trends. She always has at least one book in her purse and has lived in 6 different countries over the last 12 years. Feel free to reach out to her on Twitter (@AlbaneFlamant).
I’m on a research journey, because I believe you have to FEEL first to build genuine and caring relationships. When you FEEL (Face Fears, connect with Empathy, focus on Ethics and unleash your Love of the mission) it shows in your communication and you can connect on a deeper level, especially with younger generations.
You can download the Infographic here on my blog, which details a FEEL-First Test with questions to answer before you communicate. Please share this Infographic with any modern communicators or business professionals you know who are trying to reach younger audiences. Why? Because research about Millennials and younger generations reveal eye-opening statistics (you can watch the video below to learn more) and you just don’t know what someone is experiencing by monitoring their social media posts.
Do you really know who you’re trying to reach and engage? Would a FEEL first approach help you to build relationships that are based on care and compassion?
Here’s a little more info in my video detailing the FEEL-First Approach to your communications.