As one of my favorite authors, Lewis Carroll, once said, “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.”
I love this quote because while it’s so applicable to all aspects of life, it particularly relates to the public relations world. Those who put their clients’ needs first and foremost are those who thrive and succeed in the PR industry.
At Morningstar Communications we focus on providing exceptional client service through several proven account management techniques. And over the years, we’ve become known for these methods as our clients regularly voice their appreciation. Want to enhance your client service and become known as a client champion? Take these tips into consideration:
Hold regular meetings. With numerous deadlines and hectic work travel schedules, it can be difficult to carve out time for a meeting to touch base with clients on weekly needs. At Morningstar Communications, we schedule regular meetings with each of our clients for the entire year (i.e. the first Wednesday of every month). This helps keep our team and clients organized, focused on overarching goals and accountable for deliverables despite crazy time restraints.
Provide meeting recaps. After every client meeting we compile a recap email listing action items for our team and our client. We organize action items in order of importance to help team members and clients prioritize their workloads. In addition, we also send out a separate internal email outlining which team member will take point on each action item. This strategy allows us to communicate what needs to be done in an effective and efficient manner with everyone involved on an account.
Schedule mid- and end-year review sessions. Halfway through each year and at the end of each year, we schedule time with each of our clients to discuss what’s worked, what hasn’t worked and what should be added to enhance our relationship. This allows us to highlight our successes and provide our best recommendations for the following year.
I encourage you to implement these methods into your account management services and share the feedback you receive from clients and your team members with us on Facebook.
Tagged client service, Laura Jung, Morningstar Communications
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 our 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 fora 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!
Employee engagement is designed to ensure employees are committed to the goals of their organization and motivated to contribute to the organizations' success while enhancing their own sense of well being. It is important for employers to make a priority of getting to know their employees so they can meet their needs and enable employees to fully engage in work.
Most businesses spend a lot of time and money finding and training good team members, but make the colossal mistake of not showing their appreciation often enough. According to the US Department of Labor, “lack of appreciation" is the number one reason employees leave their jobs. Clearly benefits, bonus programs and salaries are no longer the only factors employees use to measure job satisfaction.
Employers must recognize and understand the emotional needs of employees to feel appreciation, acknowledgment and empowerment by management and colleagues. This basic human need has an enormous impact on individual performance, productivity and consequently the financial health of the company.
Here are some tips for effective employee engagement:
Establish clear expectations of responsibilities and goals: It is important employees clearly understand what is expected of them, and that they’re allowed to play an active role in setting their performance goals. It is also necessary to tailor these goals according to each employee’s talents and expertise; not a “one size fits all” concept.
Recognize and reward performance and effort: Give employees a sense of support and the feeling of a job well done by marking both individual and group performance with recognition and celebration. Rewarding an employee or group for a job well done is the icing on the cake. Rewards can be as simple as a day off work or tickets to a baseball game, or a gift card to a popular, upscale restaurant.
Have an effective feedback mechanism: It is important to provide regular, timely and constructive feedback, and the mechanism should work both ways. Employees should expect regular feedback from management and colleagues to provide an understanding of strengths and opportunities for development. At the same time, employers should ask employees how they are doing as an employer. Ask your employees what you should do differently and what you might be able to do to make their job easier. Accept the feedback graciously and implement actions discussed if appropriate.
Make sure employees have all the resources they need: Equip employees with all the tools and systems they need to do their job. This way you will help them invest their energy in doing great work instead of wasting precious time.
Encourage learning: Challenge and support employees in learning and developing their skills. This not only motivates and increases productivity levels, but also increases employee happiness and engagement.
Empower your employees: When you empower an employee, you give him or her the responsibility to make decisions about a project and decide how the project will be done. By assigning responsibility, you demonstrate trust and help in their development of new skills. Make sure when you delegate responsibility you don't throw employees in the deep end. Instead, provide them with the necessary information and support to do the job the right way.
I had the privilege of attending the KC/IABC’s monthly breakfast this August. The topic, Rebrand for Success, is one every communicator can learn from, despite career stage.
Presented by branding expert, Clifton Alexander of REACTOR Design Studio, the presentation provided me with a better and deeper understanding of the rebranding process. Here are a few key takeaways:
Have a key tip or best practice regarding rebranding or a successful rebrand story? Share it with us on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!Tagged KC/IABC, Laura Jung, Morningstar Communications, REACTOR Design Studio, Rebrand for success
This week, one of my favorite sites, Mashable, published a blog that bears repeating on our own blog: “What Are the Best-Kept Secrets for Career Success?”
The article pulls the question from Quora, a site that enables people to ask questions and get answers from people with first-hand experience.
A reader asked: “What are the best-kept secrets of successful business people? Not only the feel-good, socially acceptable secrets, but the ‘dark-side’ secrets as well.” Dolly Singh, acting head of talent at Oculus VR provided a response.
Singh addressed the query by diving into the age-old question about luck versus preparedness. She wrote that despite your lot in life, readers can follow five basics to achieve success. By following the ‘Principles of Courtship,’ Singh noted you can succeed by equally applying the principles to success in your personal and professional undertakings.
Since it’s a rather long post, I’ve paraphrased:
1. The Principle: The Art of Pursuit (Observe, assess and calibrate)
The gist: Before you can accomplish your dreams, you must identify them and prepare. So, do your homework first!
2. The Principle: The Impact of Energy (Confidence is the closest thing to magic. Unconscious attitudes of the human mind impact all social interactions).
The gist: Your unconscious mind makes decisions based on your energy and interpretations. Unconscious signals impact others. You decide the subconscious impressions you give off. Despite the situation, choose confidence.
3. The Principle: The Wisdom of Surrender (Zero tolerance for anything that doesn’t add positive value to your life)
The gist: The article states, “In order to have the greatest impact on the world, we must guard our energy, keeping on eye on how it is spent and how it is replenished.” Be aware of red flags and do not ignore your gut feelings. Your time, energy and your emotions are some of your most important (READ: limited) resources – don’t waste them! Your relationships and commitments should lend themselves positively to your life. They should never deplete you of your positives.
4. The Principle: Drive Your Success (Challenges impact everyone; it is how you respond that matters).
The gist: Acknowledge that you lead your life, despite challenges and circumstances. Make the decision to move forward, unlocking your potential. No one else can do this for you. Relate back to the first principal: identify what it is you want, and then let nothing stop you in your pursuit!
5. The Principle: Get What You Give (Consistently create value for others and receive the most opportunities).
The gist: Look for ways to provide value and goodwill to others daily. Actions become behaviors, the foundation you create today will define your lot in life tomorrow. Be positive, honest, respectful and responsible in your personal, work and public lives.
At Morningstar Communications, by focusing on clarity, connecting with people and changing attitudes and behaviors, we help our clients look to the future by solidifying their strengths and growth strategies. What other advice do you have to drive your our own successes forward both personally and professionally? Share with us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/morningstarcommunications
The age-old sentiment, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” makes it easy to understand why Snapchat, a messaging application allowing users to share timed pictures or videos for up to 10 seconds, has become so popular.
According to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegal, more than 700 million snapchats are sent daily.
As an avid Snapchatter myself, curiosity got the better of me when I was introduced to Snapchat’s newest feature “Our Story” during the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. Our Story presents Snapchatters with a curated stream of pictures and videos from users at large events. After clicking “Brazil Final Live,” I began watching several minutes of user-submitted content from the World Cup.
This new feature, which went live for all users this weekend, created an entirely unique experience. The story came from the community perspective, not the individual. Passion and excitement colored the snaps of the World Cup attendees, and no translation was needed to convey the emotion brought on by the event. The Our Story feature allowed me to supplement traditional coverage with pictures and videos from different cultural perspectives, creating a truly integrated experience.
While many traditional communication methods remain steadfast, it’s important to recognize new trends. Snapchat capitalizes on the changing landscape of communication in three ways to effectively engage users and create new content experiences:
1. Visual Communication
According to Hubspot, 80 percent of people remember what they see and do before they remember what they hear and read. Furthermore, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. With seemingly endless content, people are more inclined to interact with what is easiest to process – pictures and videos.
2. Concise Content
The information cycle today is continuous. Content becomes irrelevant at a quicker pace than it did 10 years ago. Snapchat’s 10-second limit on each message encourages users to internalize messages quickly and efficiently before they are gone. The key is to create simple, engaging and concise content – a regular practice at Morningstar Communications.
People desire constant connectivity. Whether it is informal communication, like Snapchat, or traditional media, consumers want to be involved in the communication loop every waking second.
Be visual. Be concise. Be connected. Snapchat thrives on these principles. Although not every communication effort will follow this construct, these guidelines will help you share the right information in the right way. At Morningstar Communications we strive to excel in these three areas in each piece of work we do. Whether we are writing for the web, pitching or creating blog posts, our end goal is the same: provide excellent work for each of our clients.Tagged Morningstar Communications, Our Story, Snapchat, World Cup
Website redesign - alongside technology advancements - are all the rage these days. As an integrated marketing communications firm, at Morningstar Communications, we help clients hone their key messages. A website redesign includes much more than stronger look and feel. While an engaging design will catch the eye, a solid message will capture the mind. That's where we come in.
We're often brought in to website projects on both a strategic and tactical level. We help clients strategically determine what information should be conveyed on the website then narrow down to web copy creation.
As we help our clients create captivating web copy, and work on our own, we use the following tactical tips that help guide our counsel and strategy:
Use traditional headers.
Web writing - just like any other - needs to be concise. However, marketers and other businesspeople sometimes try so hard to get straight to the points that instead of using attention-grabbing headers, each web page has a one- to three-word label.
Similar to any other article or marketing piece, a website should tell a story. A headline that reads, "Morningstar Communications clarifies, connects and changes," fares much better and entices users to keep reading compared to something like, "Morningstar Communications' Strategy."
Write for scannability.
We're busy bees who prefer the "USA Today" versions, as Eric Morgenstern says. We want to know what we need to now. The average web user spends approximately 60 seconds maximum on one webpage, so it's best to lead with the most important information first.
Like we do in news writing, embrace the inverted pyramid structure by moving a conclusion summing up your article to the very top - now acting as your intro and telling your busy audience all it needs to know. Write it in a way that will encourage your readers to learn more.
Other excellent tips for readability:
Tell a story.
Encourage your readers to learn more, and always provide a call to action. Again, be concise. Being concise is different from being too brief and inauthentic. On the other hand, don't overload your readers with more information than they need, and don't use jargon. Embrace recipient-oriented communication and be "human" while telling your audience what it needs to hear.
And don't let the bulleted lists and shorter paragraphs limit your ability to tell a story. You can still exercise creativity and demonstrate your company's personality.
If you embrace the above tips, your website will come together and provide value for your business in no time. What tips would you add? Leave your thoughts in the comments section or write to us on Facebook.Tagged Hannah Babcock, Morningstar Communications, website redesign, website writing
With technological advancements it’s possible for us to access our work from almost any place at any time. This allows many of us to bring our work home. While access to technology allows us to spend more time at home and meet our business commitments, it is still very important to draw a distinct line between work and life.
People who are constantly on the job can be susceptible to stress and burnout and are known to be at a greater risk for health issues. Both productivity and performance levels can fall below par when an employee doesn’t plan time to relax and decompress on a regular basis.
Balance is vital to success both in and out of the workplace. Here are six ways to achieve a work/life balance that will benefit you and your employer.
Flexible work schedules
Allowing employees the flexibility to choose their arrival and departure times, without changing their expected weekly work hours helps foster a company culture that promotes happy and fulfilled employees. This not only enables them to be in charge of arranging their own schedules, but it also helps them be more dedicated to their work each day.
Limit PTO carry over into another year
Paid time off is part of the benefits package at most companies to encourage employees to do just that - take time off. Limiting the number of hours an employee can carry over to the next year will persuade them to plan vacations in a timely manner. This allows them to rejuvenate and be more productive during working hours. Companies should implement a "use by" date to encourage employees to take time off.
Lead by example
If you, as a manager, are responding to emails or calling in on meetings while you are on paid time off, this sends the message to employees that they can do the same. This affects personal choices for work and life. After all, leaders set the standards for the company.
Set up expectations specific to vacations
With employees connected to the office 24 hours a day electronically, a work/life balance is very challenging. It should be clearly specified that when an employee is ready to leave on vacation, it is okay for them to send an email announcing their vacation and that they will have limited access to emails and voicemails. Honor the employee's time off by not contacting them unless it's an emergency. Of course, it is the joint responsibility of both the employee and manager to ensure there is another person who can be a point of contact while they are out of town.
Corporate culture activities
Organizing company culture activities several times throughout the year helps build team spirit and strengthen relationships at work. Activities can be as elaborate as a BBQ party or a bowling night or as simple as a happy hour.
Expect employees to work hard, but not all the time
It's okay to expect employees to work hard, even if that includes long hours or weekends, but it's only acceptable sparingly. Employee burnout and stress are byproducts of working conditions and can have long-term consequences for a business, such as low employee retention or a negative company culture. Exercise moderation when it comes to working hours for employees. When you offer flexibility, employees will be more willing to go the extra mile when needed.
We’ve all heard of the infamous book titled, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” As this book, and countless others point out, men and women have differences in relation to how they think and how they communicate. These differences can be an issue on a personal relationship level, but also on a professional relationship level.
I recently read a Fast Company article that discussed the need for women and men to collaborate in the workplace in order to accomplish the highest success. As a woman in the workplace myself, this caught my attention.
The article introduces an interesting concept called, “complementary collaboration,” which is defined as, “simply recognizing, respecting, and embracing the fact that men and women bring different but often hugely complementary skills to the table that, if nurtured and developed, can be a very powerful and highly successful combination for any business.”
Interested in practicing “complementary collaboration” – assuming you don’t already – in your business? Check out these simple tips from the article:
1. Be authentic
“Women and men often feel they have to act a certain way in the workplace in order to be successful. However, a lack of sincerity can be felt a mile away and only perpetuates the problem, so it’s best to choose the authentic route and just be yourself.”
2. Embrace and play up your strengths
“Most women, irrespective of their position, bring a high level of perceptiveness and emotional IQ that’s critical for leading teams and growing a business. So, rather than worrying about the skills they don’t have, women should recognize their talents and double down on them, while men can help ensure more women are part of the mix from the onset for optimal business success.”
3. Support one another
“Try to make an effort to connect with other women in your company and industry by attending networking and skill development events, or by simply organizing your own casual meetups and be sure to involve men in some of these activities as well.”
4. Introduce and lead change
“Merely complaining about something you could absolutely play a hand in changing, or at least improving, isn’t helpful. Instead, take the bull by the horns and pave the way for change.”
I was excited to share this article with the rest of the Morningstar Communications team because we already practice “complementary collaboration,” by embracing our strengths, supporting one another, serving as leaders in our various areas of expertise, and being authentic.
Tagged Complementary Collaboration, Laura Jung, Men and Women in the Workplace, Morningstar Communications
Does your company practice “complementary collaboration?” Share your thoughts and comments with us on Facebook.
Through August, the final days of summer vacation also bring another intern season to an end. A few days ago someone asked me what my favorite part about my internship was, and without hesitation, I rattled off about six or seven sentences. The truth is, I couldn’t pick my favorite part because everything was my favorite. Working with numerous account teams, my strategic communication skills grew exponentially, and I was truly integrated into the team.
Internships provide real-world education and valuable experiences, and should also be fun and enjoyable – especially if it’s in the field you plan to enter and stick with. With help from a recent U.S. News article and the knowledge I have acquired throughout my time as an intern at Morningstar Communications, I have compiled a list of three insights about joining the workforce, either as an intern or a new employee.
Internships link to your future. Use your time wisely and learn as much as you can. Whether you are finishing up your internship, or just beginning to apply for a position, keep these three things in mind as you transition into the professional world.Tagged Internships, Morningstar Communications, Professional