Very weird. Newspapers are going out of business. The Boston Globe, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Minneapolis Stare Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Detroit News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Daily News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Stalwarts of local news and views, these trusty sources of information are beginning to die away. I even remember when some big cities could support two newspapers (New York still does in its own way: The New York Post, New York Daily News and THE NEW YORK TIMES, among others…) The information age is taking it’s toll on newsprint. People want their news when they want it. And that means if a story is developing they want to follow the developments, minute by minute. When the plane came down in the Hudson I went online and watched in real time what was happening (courtesy of CNN). Meanwhile, Twitter got the story first—an interesting development for a social media platform. One could probably smell a bit of doom for the papers when their own writers were skipping off to do blogs (just to keep the news fresh, plus REALLY express a thought or opinion). In a time when the world is shifting so dramatically maybe readers want opinions and not just unbiased news. Maybe they want to know what other people are thinking… The rise of the blog would suggest this sentiment.
I’ve always found newspapers unwieldy, dirty hands making and a waste of paper. Not that the information in the pages isn’t important and in fact is one of the best things about a free society. But the actual paper itself is a bit of a pain to deal with. Getting news online is fast and doesn’t kill a tree. BUT, people (myself included) enjoy the prospect of actually having something “in hand.” I’m a sentimentalist by nature. I will almost always default to emotional attachments. So when a paper goes down, no matter how messy or irritating it is to read, I’m going to feel a pang of nostalgia. But time is moving on and things are going to keep changing (and fast!)
I just had a phone call the other day with a friend who is a VP at a big, very successful public relations agency. We met many, many years ago when she was an account executive at a boutique agency in NYC where I worked as a receptionist. We were sharing some stories and we started comparing client campaigns (without proprietary details, mind you, but general concepts around Word of Mouth campaigns and Hollywood promotional partnerships.) Their agency works with some great brands and I told her I had a new business platform I wanted to pitch her. But she interrupted me and said, “don’t tell me your idea, I might steal it.”
Business is competitive. No duh. I really like my friend. She’s super smart and wildly funny, she’d be a great co-worker—she’s incredibly collaborative and really quick
on her feet. I love shooting the breeze with her, but she’s right. You do have to be careful what you share. Especially when you’re in the same biz. And honestly, that’s a bummer. It got me thinking about detritus of competitiveness. Lost allegiances and the like. Being competitive is exciting but it’s always anti-climatic and kind of mean spirited. Someone is always losing. Ok, this is going to sound ridiculous, I know it, but imagine a world where everyone wins. God, who is reading this! Maybe a world where we all can live in peace (ok, now I’m being silly!) But, for just a moment after my convo with my friend I wanted the competitive nature of our industry to disappear. And just for once I wanted every agency that was up for the new, hot cosmetic brand to win the business. What an idea. What a silly, sweet idea.
Ok, in this economy jobs can be hard to come by. So, holding onto your top talent may not be nearly as difficult as it was only a year ago. After all, finding another job is not all that easy right now, especially a good one. The golden handcuff concept is also something to consider when looking to retain top talent. Pay them so well they can’t find another job for that kind of salary. But how much fun is this for you or your employee. In the end, it just starts to feel smarmy.
Here’s what I think works (and it does contain a bit of the above)
- Let them know you care (because if you don’t, why should they care about working for you?)
- Remember, it’s not a lot of fun at the bottom, so be nice, and take some of the junior staff out for lunch every now and then (you can learn ALL kinds of things about what is really going on out there—and a lot of what you learn can help you be a better boss)
- Let your leaders lead (there is nothing as irritating as the micro managing boss- we’ve all had them. They suck)
- Give your people credit for their ideas and hard work, but don’t make everyone else feel like they’re schlumps because they haven’t had a good idea lately.
- DON’T pit people against each other. What a BAD idea.
- DO pay well if you can (everyone needs the money these days)
And yes, DO kiss a little butt if necessary. Good people are hard to come by, even in a tough economy.
This, of course, is the most intuitive statement ever. Duh. But, you would be surprised how many people I’ve met, in biz and otherwise, that don’t subscribe to this basic belief. I’m 46 and for the past few years I’ve embarked on some new “hobbies.” I started playing the piano (reading music is like a new language and an excellent way to get the brain working first thing in the a.m.). I picked up golf (without a doubt my top new obsession). People always ask if golf has been good for my business and I say, no, it’s been good for my spirit. I started toying with taking French (I studied it in college and realized on a recent trip to Paris that I still had a cursory understanding of the language). And this is all great. But, the coolest thing I’ve done recently is to launch a Word of Mouth division—which I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been willing to learn something new.
I remember a meeting I had with one of Hollywood’s hottest talent agencies a few years back. At the time they were trying to help one of the clients find ways to monetize their social media platform. Back then it seemed like a knotty problem. We all remember the discussions around “How the heck is You Tube going to make money?” Social media. It’s been an interesting journey, and it’s really just the beginning. If I hadn’t been willing to learn something new, I wouldn’t have launched our WOM division. I know other agencies that started this division, hit a bump because of the economy and dumped it. Thankfully, we plowed through. We have two campaigns currently running and the numbers/ROI on these programs are staggering.
What’s at the heart of learning something new? Curiosity, definitely. But you know what generally stops people from learning something new? Their ego. Its humbling to admit you don’t know something. When I started taking golf lessons my pro said I was a good pupil. This was an interesting observation because for years I had been a pretty bad pupil. But by that time I had had a few humbling experiences that reminded me that if I wanted to get better at something I’d better listen to the experts.
So, go for it. Chuck the ego, get a little more curious and get ready to learn something new. It just might be great for biz.
I’ve written about this in various incarnations already, but thought it would be worth putting it out there in a more straightforward fashion.
RIDING THE WAVE: How to not lose your mind while staying on top of all the social media trends and toolsSubmitted by Kelly Lynch on Mon, 06/01/2009 - 20:58
Let’s face it, there is not enough time in the day to follow all that is happening in the social media space from tools to apps to syncing to sharing. Feels less like a wave, but more like a Tsunami!
- If social media is your business, make sure you have one dedicated person on your team who is in charge of monitoring, processing and reporting back on trends and tools—we call it “the geek factor” here at BBC. If you are leading the charge you need sound bytes on what is new and emerging in order to make good decisions and update your clients
- Read top social media sites like mashable.com and techcrunch.com for the latest and greatest information. These guys are SUPER SMART in this space and report back what is most relevant to the average cyber Joe or Jane
- Follow top social media/tech tweeters for news and reviews as they happen. I recommend: @ev, @socialmediaweek, @technorati, @crunchgear, @adamostrow, @brett, @mashable, @publicityguru, @xavierv
Last but not least, take a deep breath. If you try to become an expert in every “newest” “hottest” “coolest” thing you are going to find it hard to gain any real traction and momentum. So sit back for a second, do a little reading, feel out the real benefits as they line up to your client’s goals—then, go for it!
Source for the second photo: http://gregverdino.typepad.com
For those who know me my love of golf is legendary. Well, maybe not legendary, but it’s real. There is no mistaking my fascination, from the many hours I spend playing to the many hours I watch The Golf Channel (big old nerd here…). I’ve tried to understand what’s at the heart of this newfound infatuation (I’m 46 and I just started playing a few years ago.). I tend to have an “orderly” view of things (I like lists.) and so I thought it might be that there is something organized about this game that attracts me. Maybe. Here’s what I think as of this a.m., based on a conversation I had with my assistant, Whitney. Golf helps you “just do it” (sorry to borrow from you Nike, but you do back the number one name in golf).
Over the course of a career it is inevitable that the bad meeting is going to happen. Whether you are trying to sell something, defend a position or just share what you think is relevant information, the bad meeting forever looms on the horizon. I had one such “bad meeting” the other day and wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned about how to handle these situations:
- They are bound to happen so don’t be surprised (this takes off the edge, especially in the middle of the bad meeting)
- Whatever you do, have grace for others around you that are part of the bad meeting. They are just as surprised as you are at how things have spiraled to this bad place (yikes, how did THAT just happen?!).
- Try your VERY BEST to hear what the other person or side is saying in the bad meeting. BECAUSE, even if they are attacking you for reasons that seem misplaced (bad morning, hate your cubicle), there is ALWAYS something to glean from the bad meeting. It’s there, just take a deep breath and find it.
- Never lose your cool in the bad meeting. That’s not to say roll over. It’s important to be firm. But there is never a reason to lose it because IT’S JUST A MEETING. You are NOT the leader of the free world. Your decisions will not impact global warming… most likely.
When you put things in perspective you will find that the bad meeting can actually be helpful. Whether you decide this person or group is not a good partner (or, maybe you aren’t, oops!) or perhaps you have forgotten a vital bit of information in your presentation (that they pointed out in not such a nice way but thank goodness they did!) the bad meeting can be used to your advantage.
I know it’s true. I’ve had hundreds of them in my time and survived them all. You can too! Go for it!
When all the news is bad, how do you keep your clients’ brands in a positive spotlight? Keep it real…
I don’t know how it’s going in your neck of the woods, but in the NE corner of the country we are being pollinated. It’s ugly. Really. All I want to do is go to bed early and sleep in late. I’ve sworn off alcohol for a season, but you would think I was out partying hard the way I feel in the morning. What has this got to do with public relations? Focus on the relations part. If I’m feeling like this, chances are everyone else on the team is as well. It’s time to give the peeps a break.
One of the perks of owning your own shop means you can come in later than 9 a.m. if you want to. Granted, I work all weekend, and am up at 5:30AM on my Blackberry, but still, if I’m straggling along I can come in after 9:00 a.m. Not so for the peeps. So when the weather turns, its time for summer hours! Starting Memorial Day weekend it’s half day Fridays! And I came up with another idea – how about letting the VPs work from home one day a week… Why not? They wouldn’t be a VP if they haven’t proven they can make it happen (from a plane a train or a hotel room). So, have at it, if you made it this far you deserve it. Plus, it gives others within the organization something to look forward to, because once you’re on the train there is nowhere to go but up!