Yesterday I downloaded yet another book on my iPad and posted on Twitter that I may never buy another bound book again. Don't get me wrong - I love books, love bookstores (my office is two blocks from the famous Powells [www.powells.com] in Portland which is a daily temptation) and I have a constant battle with overstuffed bookshelves at home and my office.
The book I downloaded was on Web content strategy, Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson, http://www.contentstrategy.com/ and it seemed only appropriate to get this title as a digital book. Within this e-book are links to useful additional resources. With a printed book, I would need both my laptop and the book to fully get the benefit of all this great content. No longer. This book will always be fresh because the links can be updated without buying another copy. Brilliant.
Books will always have the power to take us to new places. Books on my iPad can do so much more.
I recently started paddling on a dragon-boat team here in Portland. Being non-competitive by nature, I joined a team of people who are in it as much for the joy of being on the water as for winning. I’m the youngest member of the team and reasonably in shape, so I was doing a wonderful job keeping up with the tempo and duration of our practices. I even got a little over-confident, thinking how lucky this team was to have me.
One particularly rainy, cold day without many teammates at practice, the coach set me straight. She watched me for a few minutes and then proceeded to tell me my stroke needed tweaking. “You’re not doing it right” were her exact words. “You’re young and strong, so you can get away with it, but you’re using twice the energy necessary.” She then walked back to where I sat (not a common or particularly safe practice on these boats) and fixed my posture. I immediately felt the difference.
The point? Businesses do this all the time. Especially the successful ones. Just because you’re lucky and skilled enough to be the best at some particular aspect of your business doesn’t mean you should stop searching for ways to do it better. Complacency is a dangerous habit. Blackberry comes immediately to mind, but there are scores of others examples. Examine how, why and what you’re doing on a regular basis. Perhaps most importantly, keep people around who will tell you when there’s a better way to do things. After all, when the coach fixed my posture, that same amount of energy did twice the work.
The Five-Paragraph-Essay Resurfaces
When learning how to write a five-paragraph-essay in school, we were taught to say what you’re going to say, say it, and then recap what you just said. It sounded redundant. It sounded simplistic. Why spell it out?
Yet these simple rules still hold true in communications.
For clients, tell them what your plan is, deliver it, and recap what the results were. It may be redundant. It may be over communicating. But PR may be just one element your clients are thinking about, and you never want to leave room for them to question what you’re working on. Tell them what you’re gonna do. Do it. Them tell them what you’ve done. There are no surprises. Everyone appreciates knowing what’s going on.
For reporters, tell them what your news or your pitch is, explain why it’s relevant, then follow up and tell them again. It’s harder to be heard these days because there are so many people to listen to. How do you get through?
I try to pre-brief reporters to give them the benefit of time. Then I tell them why my story is interesting, relevant, and timely. Following up is usually part of the equation. For every 20 “not interested” there is a “yes.” And the “not interested” this time around could be a “yes” next time.
And in these hard-to-be-heard times, is it really possible to over-communicate?
An acquaintance contacted me a few weeks ago, anxious to get together. The urgency for the meeting seemed odd. We have many connections in common and these related folks urged us to meet, so we did.
This person – accomplished and very lovely – wanted to know if I was aware of issues related to her business. She wanted to know if I was watching her channel.
Maybe she was relieved when I told her that I was not aware of the issues she mentioned. We had a nice chat and that was that. When I left our meeting, I could not help but wonder why she thought her firm’s channel was on my radar. If I am in a position of influence, then her firm had done nothing to get me to tune into their message – or listen to her channel.
Too many companies assume that customers, prospects and influencers are watching their channel. Identifying the right audience – through extensive market research – and fine-tuning the message so that it will create market leadership is what gets people to pay attention to your channel. Most importantly, it takes diligence and consistency to create a channel worth watching.
We get bombarded with invitations to watch far too many channels. Audience targeting, focused messaging, and diligence is the key factor in getting the right audience for your channel.
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