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Recognizing the Best in Communications

Posted in Community Leadership

As communicators, we know the importance of sharing messages in multiple channels with the goal of reaching people in ways that’s convenient for them. It’s an integral part of being recipient-oriented (one of the three key factors of effective key messages, with the other two being simple and easy to articulate).

A piece of my role here at Morningstar Communications is involvement in professional organizations. It gives me the opportunity to connect with other communicators to share ideas and gather best practices. The way I chose to be active is through a leadership role on the Board of KC/IABC where I’m planning the Bronze Quill Awards.

The Bronze Quills recognize excellence in communication. I encourage you to enter your best work from last year and strive for a Bronze Quill to place on your desk. Not only will it recognize your hard work, it also increases your credibility as a communicator. Winning a Bronze Quill is recognition you completed some of the best in business communications in the city.

So the reason I’m using my blog post to share this information is using another channel to spread the word about the 2011 Bronze Quill Awards and encourage people to participate. The online entry system is ready to accept your entry.

The award ceremony is May 6 at the Clubhouse on Baltimore and is a great place to network and see what others in the industry are have been up to. Hope to see you there.

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Comments Off Posted on by Rachel Spear

The More You Listen, The More You Learn

Posted in Morningstar Communications Updates, Online Marketing, Social Media

Listen attentively. You will come out ahead. “To listen is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is essential to all true conversation.” –Chinese Proverb

Sending messages is only half the process of communicating. To be a truly accomplished communicator, you must also cultivate the art of listening. Some experts claim that professionals earn between 40% and 80% of their pay by listening.  Yet, most of us retain only 25% of what we hear.

Listening is different from hearing. Being a good listener helps you not only solve many problems at work or home, but also to see the world through the eyes of others, thereby opening your understanding and enhancing your capacity for empathy. You learn a lot from listening.

The power of listening in social media is something few marketers spend time on. Often times, companies are so eager to add to the cacophony that they forget to take the time necessary to interpret it. Listening to social networks before deciding whether or not to invest in them is very important to successful outcomes. Companies often get pressured into it developing Facebook and Twitter accounts because of all the buzz they get, but it actually may not be necessary or beneficial.

Before you decide that you or your client should be on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network, take some time and do a little research to make sure it will be worth the huge investment you’re about to make. And if your company is currently engaged in social media, listening and responding to your customers’ feedback is a great way to improve your business.

So if you can increase your retention and your comprehension, you can increase your effectiveness in the 21st century’s Age of Information. Listening may just be the key to your social media efforts.

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Comments Off Posted on by Meg Schulte

Spring Cleaning is not just for your house.

Posted in Admin, Best Practices

People have had it with the cold and snow. It’s been a crazy winter. Too many snow days for the kids and too many treacherous commutes to the office. Our cars are so dirty we don’t even remember what color they are. At least we know spring is coming and the sun will return.

Spring is a time for change; a time to clean your home and your life. Spring-cleaning even has its own Wiki page. You can find tips, tricks, lists and suggestions on how to make the most of your spring-cleaning on numerous websites. You may even have family traditions you follow every year.

I‘m going to try something new this year. I’m going to spring clean my mind and body.

Letting go of energy drains (baggage) and emotionally charged items can bring light into your life. Get rid of cards, letters, or things from the past that carry negative energy. Clean out numbers from your cell phone you don’t need or want anymore. Create a closure list by writing down anything you need to make yourself feel better. Find peace and move forward.

Try making new friends and new connections. Find people with shared values and interests. Don’t forget to make time to nourish your friendships. It takes effort to stay connected. Keep your relationships moving forward. Keep things light and fun.

Exercise is a great way to clear your mind and get your endorphins going. Use that time for yourself. An hour a day walking, working out or keeping active can help you both physically and emotionally.

Companies should review their websites. Allmedia, has a great perspective on sprucing up your website. Keep your site clean and fresh. It may be the first impression for a potential client.

Also, don’t forget to wash your car!

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Comments Off Posted on by Andy Woodward

Capturing your Creativity

Posted in Best Practices, Creativity and Design

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You know the funny YouTube videos your coworkers circulate throughout the office every now and then? Did you know that those can actually help boost your creativity? According to Time, if you are in a happy mood you are more likely to think creatively, even if that happy mood springs simply from watching a funny YouTube video.

Creativity is incredibly important in the workplace, but it’s not always easy to harness. We all have times when we feel on our game at work, and the creative juices are flowing.  We also have times when it feels like our creativity wells have been sucked dry.  Some of us are the most creative at the beginning of the work day. (I write best in the morning—post coffee of course).  Others are stellar employees post-lunch.  Is it possible to capture creativity on cue?

I was interested in finding out how to harness creativity. I researched a bunch of creativity tips and tricks, many of which suggested moving around, doodling, and listening to music. However, in the midst of all of these tips, I came across a very simple one: slow down.

Our jobs are fast paced, and it oftentimes feels like a race to the finish to keep up with all of the incoming e-mails and our massive to-do lists.  However, Steve Prentice, author of Cool Down: Getting Further by Going Slower, argues that our “addiction to immediacy” leaves little room for creativity. He challenges us to (gasp!) not look at an e-mail right as it comes into our inbox.  Instead, he encourages us to concentrate on our current task at hand with a mindset of quality and creativity.  The “get it out the door as quick as I can” mentality does not give ourselves time to brainstorm creative ideas. Prentice advises scheduling in some free time at work to allow ourselves time for imagination and new ideas.

So slow it down, turn off the electronic distractions for just a little bit, and let your mind wander to new ideas. Also, to see how creativity and success coincide, check out Fast Company’s list of the most innovative companies of 2011.

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Comments Off Posted on by Holly Eckold

Attraction Marketing

Posted in Executive Insights, Integrated Marketing (IMC)

These days, I hear business executives tell me they need more sales, more topline growth. However, for most companies, especially B2B, it is more than a case of adding a few more salespeople, have them make calls and, voila, immediate results.

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In fact, most B2B sales come from picking up the ringing phone to hear from a prospect that already knows about the firm, has a specific need and requires immediate help.

So how do you get the phone to ring? We call it “Attraction Marketing.”

We’ve written, spoken, and shared this concept many times. This week, I’m speaking to the SMPS KC (The Society for Marketing of Professional Services) chapter on this topic.  It’s a timeless approach to generate long-term business growth.

Here’s the essence:

- Be great at what you do.

- Tell your story – clearly and persuasively – utilizing all four media channels, and…

- Respond with enthusiasm and integrity.

This approach works for virtually for all businesses, if they have the patience. Attraction marketing is not a short-term solution, it’s a long-term approach you will need to commit to if you want to see results. You still need to network, schmooze, and “sell,” but those activities should sit on top of an effective and sustained Attraction Marketing strategy.

Reverse engineer (and keep track) of how your firm landed new clients. That’s how we do things here at Morningstar Communications. Since we were founded in 1997, more than 94 percent of all of our revenue stemmed from a call to us (as opposed to us chasing them, or responding to a cold RFP).

As Harvey Mackay taught us years ago, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” We can’t re-write history. So, going forward, perhaps now is the best time to begin implementing your Attraction Marketing strategy.

There’s nothing sweeter than hearing your phone ring.  Well, almost nothing : )

Onward and upward.

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1 Comment Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

Texting as a Marketing Tool

Posted in Internal Communications

According to Forrester Research, 82 percent of U.S. consumers now own a cell phone. And, according to Marketing News, 2011 could be the year mobile marketing goes mainstream in the U.S. While mobile marketing encompasses may different tactics, today I’ll focus on text messaging.

On the consumer side, many companies are already using text to interact with customers. Sunkist and Toys “R” Us both use text campaigns to engage customers and inform them of deals. An article in Marketing News reports that according to Forrester, “57 percent of all U.S. consumers and 85 percent of consumers age 18-30 send or receive text messages and 53 percent receive text alerts.”

Text messaging is also used for internal communications. It’s a quick way to get small bits of information out to employees who are not connected to a computer. Companies with manufacturing lines or a mobile workforce often benefit.

When using text messaging as a marketing or internal communications tool, it’s important to follow a few best practices:

  1. Whether marketing to consumers or texting information to employees ASK FIRST. Always gain permission to send text messages.
  2. Don’t overwhelm recipients with too many texts. Be aware of how many messages you send and text only when you have worthy information. Many suggest only using text in a crisis situation for internal communication.
  3. Keep your texts short and sweet. Remember texting works well for short bits of information not full paragraphs or brochures!
  4. For internal communications, don’t ask employees to bear the expenses of receiving text messages on their personal phones.

For more information, see the resources below.


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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim