Especially now, humility is something all executives need – and an extra large helping at that.
Look at the news these days. So many stories focus on individuals who believe rules aren’t for them and they can do no wrong. Have they never heard of servant leadership?
At Morningstar Communications, we frequently help executives “craft and deliver” persuasive presentations. Some of these presentations are for sales opportunities, while others target internal or industry audiences.
These presentations share common ground by emphasizing that each leader has a story to tell. The goal of each presentation is to make sure recipients think what the leader wants them to think, and do what the leader wants them to do.
Each executive I have the pleasure of coaching is terrific. You don’t become a C-level executive without both the skill and will for excellence. However, very few top executives have received coaching on the fundamentals of how to create and deliver persuasive presentations. They know their stuff, but they don’t all know how to tell their story for maximum impact.
And even fewer embrace the power of humility.
Bob Marcusse, President and CEO at the Kansas City Area Development Council, gets it. Bob’s team at KCADC, one of our long-term clients, is responsible for the regional economic development activities for Kansas City. They build and promote its regional brand, as well as put a spotlight on talent recruitment and targeted industry clusters in order to help businesses move here or expand. Kansas City is characterized by the “aw shucks” Midwestern spirit. No one summarizes this sentiment better than Bob. He once said, “If Kansas City was on the shores of Lake Superior, we’d probably rebrand it as ‘Lake Pretty Good.’”
I find the most confident C-level executives get this. Big time. They know they’ve got the goods and they’re self-confident enough not to let their ego get in their way.
These executives understand the “mirror vs. window” metaphor as it relates to praise or criticism and continuously incorporate it into their work.
Nobody likes an egomaniac. Nobody goes the extra mile for a person they don’t like or respect. Competency and leadership skills are now simply "entry fees" to become a great executive. In order to win the hearts and minds of the people who matter most, the very best executives incorporate authentic humility within their presentations. We all relate better to someone who is “like us” and humility helps bridge the chasm that often exists between top execs and the rest of the team.
There are proven presentation techniques to incorporate within persuasive presentations, including an appropriate use of self-effacing humor, acknowledging current events and particular body language and movements. As always, the key to effectively utilizing humility is authenticity: People will see right through a smokescreen, especially if it’s gratuitous or superficial.
But for those confident executives, embrace humility and you’ll get others to move mountains for you.
Onward and upward!
“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point-of-view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
This statement has become a cornerstone of our approach to strategic integrated communications. Philosophers, theologians, and deep thinkers often believe there are absolute truths. I’m not so certain.
Over the years I’ve learned that the “truth” often depends on your point-of-view. This is why Morningstar Communications is so insistent on creating customized recipient-oriented communications for our clients.
It comes down to one very simple fact: It’s not what you want to say. It’s what they need to hear. Always.
In most things in life, the idea that one-size fits all is rarely true. We all know this intuitively. One area this is painstakingly true is communications. If you’re talking about the ABC thing, how an employee, a customer, or an investor sees that same thing will color their unique point-of-view.
As you can see, what’s viewed as good news to some may be viewed as bad news by others. So, that ABC thing always remains the very same thing… or does it?
The key to crafting solid communications is really this simple: identify the best way for the recipient to receive the information, not the best way to send it.
It’s football season and my KC Chiefs are off to an amazing start. So, it’s time for a gridiron analogy: Are your communication passes complete or incomplete?
The best way to assess the effectiveness of your communications: did the recipient catch the message. Your message was received or it wasn’t – incomplete or complete, the prettiness of the pass really doesn’t matter. Customize your communications based on the receiver / recipients EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Whether you believe in the force or not, Obi-Wan is spot on regarding recipient-oriented communications. Embrace this concept or accept that a lot of your passes will fall incomplete.
Onward and upward. Oh, and may the force be with you.Tagged best practices, Eric Morgenstern, Morningstar Communications, recipient-oriented messages
At a recent conference in Kansas City, I connected with a Forbes contributor about the value of reaching out to industry influencers via social media and the best ways to position your clients so you’re being strategic rather than pushy. With a genuine approach, the idea is that you’ll see a better return on your time and strategic investment. You’ll also build substantial relationships with key influencers and industry reporters, which is the goal we all strive for in public relations.
I have long been a fan of the seamless ability of personal and professional worlds to collide in a rather unique fashion via social media, so I was intrigued when this topic came into discussion. The idea of gaining some insight on how a journalist himself wanted to engage with PR people via social media was exciting and encouraging! Having recently employed these tactics and successfully secured client coverage via Twitter, the following are best practices I’ve learned along the way and from those my new Forbes acquaintance shared with me:
You are a brand, and at all times, you are an extension of your brand. Not only are you a brand for yourself, but you also represent the brand reputation of your company and your clients. That’s a lot to take in, but as a professional in the always evolving and incredibly active world of PR, communications, marketing and advertising – we know this fact to be true. What you do, say, post, wear, etc., speaks for more than just you.
Heavy stuff, isn’t it? But, if we already know this, why blog on the topic? Because time-after-time I witness painful personal fails as people get a little too comfortable or have a little too much fun, seemingly not aware that they still represent their team, their company and their clients after 5:00 p.m.
We’re fortunate to work amongst exciting, innovative industries – industries that allow us to step away from our desks to attend networking events, client happy hours and trade shows and events in great locations. We work in a fun industry, so by no means should you eliminate fun from this job – it’s one of the best parts. In fact, our clients often like working with us because we’re an enjoyable group.
It’s important to simply balance having fun and enjoying yourself with the knowledge that you’re representing your company and clients at all times. Remember: you are always on, and people associate multiple brand reputations with you as a person whether you’re at your desk or not.
So, what can we do to ensure we’re on top of our game as professionals while still enjoying the perks of the industry?
Act with tact: Just as your mother told you: be tactful, considerate, perceptive, polite and responsible. Easy enough, right? Keep in mind that your actions and your words both speak loudly. Keep simple courtesies in mind when networking, when engaging on social media sites and especially when sharing opinions or advice. Keep it clean and don’t be sloppy. Ensure your behavior matches the image your company and clients want portray.
Don’t get too comfortable: Whether you’re with colleagues, clients or other contacts, it’s typically a good move to leave the dire personal stories and experiences to yourself. In short, be friendly, but don’t be too friendly. It’s wonderful to love your clients and associates, but lines can be crossed. Don’t let what you intend to be a private joke or silly, personal story turn into a nightmare after the fact. Word gets around, and you want to come off as professional, even after hours. Don’t permit your actions one night to jeopardize the respect you’ve earned over time. Although you feel comfortable in good company, be careful not to release private information that was intended to be strictly between you and a client. Don’t give your associates and clients a reason to think you’re anything less than fabulous all around. A drink or two might be a great bonding experience, and silly stories can be fun for all – but just keep them clean and appropriate.
Prep as much as possible: It’s fair to say that in this industry, things come up. On any given day you might rush out of the office to assist a client with an interview or meet up with a journalist at an after hours event. So be prepared. Before you leave, take time to think about why you are going, and keep those goals in mind. Pack your business cards, brush up on recent articles, trends and general news that pertain to the industry and your client. Being perceptive and tactful comes in here once again – but so does being fun. You want people to want to work with you. So, before you run out the door in a hurry, take two minutes to think about with whom you’re going to spend time. Maybe you’ll find a funny meme on their Twitter account you can bond over. Who knows? Little things like this make you memorable and enjoyable. You’re more likely to get somewhere with a journalist or a business partner who knows you’re not only intelligent and poised, but also generally informed and fun to be around.
Attitude is everything: For the most part, we’re a bunch of Type A people in this industry. Type A to a T. Don’t be a wallflower when there is fun and networking opportunities to be had. Ask questions; compliment someone on their fun shoe selection, whatever it takes to strike up a conversation. Smile, talk about your company, your agency, your client, the news, the latest autotuned news piece – establish relationships, that’s the kicker. You might be at a party, but you’re there for your company or client. Word will get around that you’re the person always sitting in the corner or that you’re the person everyone wants to talk to.
Know your limits: In this industry, you may find yourself at a good party from time to time. Alcohol is typically present, and often free flowing. At these events, you are often, “Mrs. Smith representing (insert fabulous client name here).” Mind your P’s and Q’s and know your limits. Don’t be the person your client mentions Monday morning while discussing people who went too far at the party, and certainly don’t be the person your associates have to carry out.Tagged best practices, brand, brand recognition, Marketing, Morningstar Communications, Networking, preparation, professionalism, public relations, Susan Hinds, tips and tricks
One of the most important aspects of social media and public relations is measurement. Our business mindsets want to make direct correlations between our activities and a sale or change in behavior. However, there is not always a direct correlation with PR and social media. It’s rare a sale can be attributed directly to a like on a Facebook page. The value sometimes comes from choosing preferences, building awareness and seeing behavioral change over time, but less directly. There are many ways to directly impact change through these media, but direct measurement is sometimes a challenge.
In this age of social media, we’ve become increasingly savvy about measurement, finding new ways to quantify and show value. As someone who is accountable for my client’s growth, I’m always looking for the latest measurement methods and came across this book list by Katie Delahaye Paine. She lists many must-reads to help with your measurement activities. If you haven’t read them they’re worth making the book list. I know they’re now on mine.
What books or resources have you found to be helpful tools for measuring PR and social media programs in your organizations?
Summary: One of the most important aspects of social media and public relations is measurement. Some light reading can help broaden your measurement approach.Tagged Audience Engagement, best practices, book list, books, engagement, Katie Delahaye Paine, measurement, online marketing, PR, PR measurement, public relations, social media, social media measurement, Tricia Jaworski
It only takes a few seconds to form an opinion about someone or something. That’s why we’re often told that we need to present ourselves in the best way we know how – we never know who we’re going to run into. The same standard applies to social media usage. It’s all about that first impression.
If we are going to be assessed based on an initial impression, then we need to work on grooming ourselves. I’m not talking about the physical attributes in a profile picture (although that’s important too). I’m referring to the Twitter handle (@username). Here are a handful of suggestions on how to choose, or modify, your Twitter handle:
1. Be easy to find.
It is frustrating when you are trying to contact someone through Twitter and his or her Twitter handle doesn’t appear right away. Then you have to scroll through numerous accounts until you’re able to land on who you want to talk to. Use your first and last name when signing up for a Twitter account. If you’re worried about privacy settings, make your account private, or simply keep things you wouldn’t want the world to know to yourself.
2. Be unique.
I use the Twitter handle “@hannzbanans” because it is unique and easy to find. One night I responded to my university’s opinion section of the newspaper via Twitter, and my tweet was featured in the paper the following day. There I was: “@hannzbanans thinks fall is the best season of the year, thanks to football.” At first I was embarrassed that my Twitter handle was there for the student body to see. Then my dad told me he thought it was feminine and unique, and there was nothing I should be ashamed of. Why would I be? It’s memorable, therefore I’m likely to receive more mentions. When friends and family members see me, they yell and joke, “Hannzbanans!” It has stuck for good.
3. Be professional.
This may seem exclusive in some ways from tip #2. It depends on what message you’re trying to send. For example, when I graduated from college and started applying for jobs, I wondered if I should change my Twitter handle. I wondered if it didn’t come across as clean and professional. Okay, so it isn’t “@hbabcock” or something along those lines. “@hannzbanans” was the fun, creative twist to my name I came up with. “@hbabcock,” though? Yawn. My last name doesn’t particularly stand out.
“@hannzbanans” may not be the most clean-cut username in the Twittersphere, but at least potential partners know that I have an edge. I know how to cut up, yet I can be serious too, which is portrayed through the variety in my tweets.
And this should go without saying: No profanity. Hopefully you’ll want to be taken seriously, even if you are trying to be a comedian.
4. Only use numbers if you have an attachment to one.
A lot of people tag numbers onto their Twitter handles when their desired username is already taken. Numbers take away from the unique aspect of a username, and can make it harder to find the exact account they’re looking for.
I looked up several professional athletes to see whether or not they used their jersey numbers. Nope, not @kingjames, @drewbrees or @PujolsFive, just to name a few. If you insist on including a number in your username, then aim to have just two digits. Otherwise you could look like a spammer.
5. Keep it short.
Who doesn’t enjoy getting retweeted? You could miss that aspect of Twitter if you have a long username. If other users can’t retweet you without going over 140 characters, there’s a good chance hash tags could get taken out. Or even worse, your username. Then you wouldn’t get the credit you may deserve. A good rule of thumb is to keep your Twitter handle at 15 characters or less.
Pick one or two words that describe you in a nutshell. Hello, Twitter handle. Hello, new followers. First impressions are everything.best practices, Creativity, first impressions, Hannah Babcock, Messaging, social media, Twitter, Twitter handles, unique, usernames