Tag Archives: Morningstar Communications

← Older posts

Work Hard, Stress Less

Posted in Best Practices, Laura's Posts, Tips and Tricks

Work hard, stress less. The phrase sounds like an oxymoron, especially to those of us in the public relations and marketing industry. According to a recent international poll conducted by Monster.com, stress is prevalent in the workplace. Monster.com asked its site visitors, “Has stress from work has ever driven you to switch jobs?” According to the poll, 42 percent of U.S. respondents have purposely switched jobs due to a stressful work environment, while 35 percent said they thought about it. The same poll found that workplace stress has caused illness for 61 percent of U.S. respondents.

How would you answer this question? Before you switch jobs or consider it based on your current work stress level, try out some of these helpful tips:

1. Sit up straight. Our posture has an affect on our mood and stress level. If you sit in a confined position or are constantly hunched over your desk, chances are you will feel more stressed. Get up, walk around, and stretch every hour during your workday to ward off those stressful feelings.

2. Breathe in, and out! Make a conscious effort to take deep breaths on a regular basis throughout your day. Controlled breathing keeps the mind and body functioning at their best and it promotes calmness and relaxation. Check out these simple breathing techniques.

3. Prioritize your to-do list. This may seem like a no brainer, but constant additions of new projects and client emergencies often make it a difficult task. As PR and marketing professionals, we face many competing deadlines and our priorities change on a daily basis. Manage your daily to-do list by focusing on the projects that best align with your role and do not be afraid to ask for help. As Eric Morgenstern likes to say, “None of us are as smart as all of us.” This concept also applies to managing workloads!

By managing your stress in a healthy way, it is possible to work hard and stress less. What other tips do you have for combating workplace stress? Share them with us on our Facebook page!

bigstock Crossing Out Stress And Writin 5705302
Photo courtesy of www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com
Tagged , , ,
Leave a comment Posted on by Laura Jung

Rules of Office Kitchen Etiquette

Posted in Admin, Best Practices, Suchitra's Posts, Tips and Tricks

An office kitchen is a privilege and a responsibility, and we all need to do our part to ensure we treat it that way. 

Kitchen etiquette should be established with a set of easy, sharable rules to follow that can help eliminate any frustrating and unsanitary situations. Although every office is different, these basic kitchen rules should help keep the kitchen clean, neat and comfortable:

Label food: If the food in the fridge is yours, be sure to put your name on it. If you brought it to share, label it accordingly so everyone is aware.

Rinse and soak soiled dishes: Rinse the dishes you used shortly after using them. If the dish you used is heavily soiled, make sure to rinse it well and/or soak the dish with water to help remove stuck food before placing it in the dishwasher. Do not leave dishes to soak for more than a couple of hours. It is your responsibility to scrub and load the dish into the dishwasher after you left it for soaking.

Clean spills immediately: If you spill something on the floor or the countertop, it only takes a few seconds or minutes of your time to take a napkin and wipe it down. Don't leave it for later as floor spills can cause someone to slip and fall.

Respect lunch times: Many employees have a limited amount of time for lunch including prep and eating. Don't put food in the microwave and walk away. Wait for it to finish cooking and remove immediately so someone else can use it after you.

Cover up in the microwave: Use a cover when microwaving anything that could splatter. If you don't have a cover, use a paper towel or plastic wrap. If you find that food splattered despite your best attempts, please wipe it clean immediately before it hardens and makes it more difficult to scrub.

Replace Items: If you use up the last of something in the kitchen, either replace it immediately or notify the correct person so they can replace it on the next grocery trip.

Throw away rotten and moldy food: If you see something in the fridge that is rotten or moldy, throw it away even if it is not yours. Just let the person know what you have done or leave them a note.

No matter the office size, it is all of our responsibilities to respect kitchen rules and clean up after ourselves. If you have any additional office kitchen etiquette rules, please feel free to share via the comments section or let us know on Facebook.

Tagged , ,
Leave a comment Posted on by Suchitra Kamath

You Do NOT Own Your Brand

Posted in Eric's Posts, Executive Insights
Overhead restaurant pic
How was the service?
Two co-workers go to the same nice restaurant on the same evening. They order the same meal from the same waiter. All identical, except their perceptions. When asked, "How was the service?" Mary replied: "I felt like a queen. The service was exceptional. They whisked my salad plate away when I didn't even notice, and refilled my water glass all of the time. She even refolded my napkin when I got up to use the restroom!"   

Now, listen to Sally: "The service was oppressive. I barely finished my salad when they rushed the plate away. They had the audacity to refill my water glass while I was still holding it. And frankly, I don't want anyone else touching my napkin after I begin to use it."

Who's right? Obviously, they both are. We don't own our brands: our brands are "owned" by the people who matter most to us. Perception is reality. If "they" think you provided excellent service, you did. If "they" think it's over-the-top and way too much, well, then you're not really providing excellent service to that person.

Your brand truly lives in the six inches between the ears of the people who matter most to you. What they think and say, is, in fact, your actual brand.

I smile when someone describes themselves as THE brand manager for an organization. Nope. Once again, its all about "recipient-oriented communications." Its all about what they think, not just what we want them to think.

An organization's brand is built through the totality of each person's experience. Every "touchpoint" (to cite brand speak) or interaction builds towards an inevitable conclusion: "When I think of ABC, here's what I think."

It's that simple. It's also that hard to "manage."

People vote in America with their feet and their wallets. It's actions -- not talk -- that truly defines us. We may consider ourselves charitable, but when you add it all up, does the reality mesh with your perception? Or, we may think to ourselves that we don't eat out very often, that is until you look back and you had lunch or dinner at a restaurant "only" 17 times last month.

Do you really believe a voice recording that says, "...thanks for continuing to wait for the next available person. Your business is very important to us..."?  Especially when you've been on hold for 10 minutes?

When we think about a company or organization, we recall our own personal experiences to form our opinion. Yes, each one of us has absolute power to define an organization's brand. In addition to all of the best proactive and strategic integrated marketing and communications initiatives, focus on each person's actual experience, and you'll truly become a brand manager.

Onward and upward!

Tagged , , ,
Leave a comment Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

Build Compelling Testimonials

Posted in Best Practices, Tips and Tricks, Tricia's Posts

 A recent survey on B2B content marketing trends found customer testimonials are one of the most effective content marketing tactics, with 89 percent of respondents affirming they lend to enhanced credibility, therefore, enticing customers and clients to buy or hire. So, how do you build compelling testimonials that provoke action?

Start with great work. It should be implied, but you can’t have a great testimonial without happy clients and real results. So, begin with an excellent product or service. This will make the cultivation of transparent and engaging testimonials a lot easier.

• Have a strategy in mind. What is the story or stories you are trying to tell with your testimonials? Do you want to showcase your company’s customer service and employees, highlight products or demonstrate innovations? Knowing your end-in-mind for testimonials will help you develop appropriate questions and target the right customers for consideration.

• Include the “so what.” Compelling testimonials include this important element. Think about what prospects need to hear in order to take action. Use testimonials to showcase your excellence, alleviate concerns, and paint a picture of how the product or relationship will benefit prospects.

• Build testimonials into the sales process. The process of identifying clients, gaining client buy-in, crafting the testimonial and working through approvals can be arduous. Make it easier for your team and the client by building testimonial gathering into the sales process. Consider asking clients for a testimonial as part of a follow-up survey, or at a predetermined time after product installation or service rendered.

By following these four steps and thinking strategically about your testimonial process you’ll be well on your way to increasing action and sales through testimonials.

Tagged , , , ,
Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim

Marketing to Guests – Panama Style

Posted in Laura's Posts, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized

 Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of traveling abroad to Panama City, Panama. Aside from enjoying the sunny, 85-degree weather everyday, I was also fortunate enough to be able to soak in some of the local culture and gain an understanding of their customs. As a public relations and marketing professional, I was on the lookout for ways Panamanians market to foreign visitors. Here are a couple of my key takeaways:

1.) Provide an authentic experience – Panamanians offer their visitors a unique and genuine experience, from dining to dancing, which encourages guests to return time and time again. They pay special attention to their guests and ensure they’re immersed in the culture. For example, during my visit to Emberá Village, located just outside of Panama City, I truly felt like I was part of their family. It is one thing to simply serve your guests food and perform a traditional dance, but it is another to actually invite your guests to dance with you, see how the food is prepared and play with the local kids.

Panama 2
Photo of me at the Emberá Village.

2.) Display strengths – Panama has many unique strengths, and they know how to play them well! Known for its architecturally stunning buildings, breathtaking rainforests and the infamous Panama Canal, Panamanians know how to display their country as the beautiful and unique place it is. My trip through the Panama Canal was not only an experience of a lifetime, especially since this year marks the Canal’s centennial anniversary, it was also an experience in which I had the opportunity to see firsthand how Panamanians proudly showcase and support their country’s strengths. 

Panama 3
Photo of one of the Panama Canal locks.

My takeaways from Panama relate to how we do business at Morningstar Communications. We believe in giving each of our clients to an authentic experience and treating them as part of our Morningstar Communications family. We also believe that in order to best serve our clients and colleagues, we must know and play into our strengths, both individually and as a company. 

Tagged , , ,
Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung

Tips to Keep Your Email Inbox Neat and Organized

Posted in Admin, Best Practices, Suchitra's Posts, Tips and Tricks

Ever get overwhelmed when you open your email inbox in the morning? Do you have hundreds of unread messages staring you in the face? Have you missed out on an important client email because of the clutter in your inbox? 

An uncontrolled inbox can feel like a huge hole you will never dig yourself out of, but it doesn't have to stay that way. These few simple tips will help you organize your inbox, take control of your email and rein in that email anxiety.

Don't be afraid to delete
Use your inbox only for what its meant for - new email. Imagine you were still stuck in the snail mail era. If you dump every single piece of mail or package on your desk without throwing away anything, you will have a mess on your hands. Similarly, your inbox works most efficiently if you clear it up. That means should take a few minutes and delete items. Start by deleting emails you don't need to see again that day (daily deals, notifications, etc.) or don't need to save.

Although you may have had good intentions when subscribing to a newsletter or other e-mail lists, these are often the biggest inbox clogger.  This is also true for notifications from social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Unsubscribe from any newsletter or e-mail lists you haven't been reading or using for a while. Disable all notifications about posts made on your wall, new friends and followers, etc. 

Make your inbox do the work for you
If you use Gmail, you likely have seen or used the auto-filters. You can train your Gmail inbox to automatically send your mail to the folder it belongs in and how to label them. Family emails coming in to the office inbox gets auto-moved in to the Personal folder, client emails go to the Client folder, etc. That way, they're easy to find at a later time when you need them. You can have particular emails skip your inbox altogether. 

It's your inbox, not your calendar
Many times someone's inbox is full because they are treating it as a calendar of things they need to do . Do not use your e-mail for this. There's an effective calendar program to keep track of your to-dos and tasks. If you still prefer to keep your to-dos in your inbox, then create a folder and move your "to-do" emails there to tackle at your leisure.

Are you ready to get started? Reserve some of your time this week to clear out your inbox.  It may take you a couple of hours, but every minute spent will be worth it.

Tagged ,
Comments Off Posted on by Suchitra Kamath

Perfect Presentation Prep

Posted in Best Practices, Hannah's Posts

We've all been there. We're put in situations where we need to conduct our best work. Then technology fails us. Technology is the greatest when it works, right? Otherwise... It's all its fault!

The last thing we need to happen in a high-pressure situation like a presentation (sales or otherwise) is a technology glitch. We can avoid these situations. Yes, there will be moments when it's beyond your control and your adaptor decides to die on the spot. However, there are a number of precautions you can take to succeed. 

At least three weeks prior to the presentations...

  • Touch base with the organization's contact person or your own support team to verify: AV/equipment requirements, including any necessary screens, projectors, adaptors, USB or HDMI cables, microphones, etc. 

    Iron out space details as well on this touch base call or email. Do you need a podium? A flip chart?
  • If you're bringing your own adaptors or cables, make sure they're working! You won't want to run all over town to track down what seems like a simple technology tool the night before a big presentation.

Day before...

  • Ensure any relevant equipment is 100 percent charged - including laptop computers, camcorders, etc. Keep it on the charger through the night.
  • Practice using the technology, even if you're an expert who has put it together several times before. Make sure that adaptor I mentioned earlier didn't die. 
  • Upload the presentation deck to your desktop in case you won't have Internet access at the venue. And make sure it's the absolute final deck incorporating all edits!

Day of...

  • Consult your checklist three times or more to make sure you've packed everything you need for the presentation, including back-up technology!
  • Arrive at least 45 minutes before the start of the presentation to help set up and make sure technology is working properly. You should be good to go with your back-up and consistent practice.
  • Don't forget to pack up all important items you brought to the venue so you won't be missing anything come time for the next presentation. This might require exchanges with your contact to be certain you aren't confusing any of his/her equipment with your own.

Make a checklist like the one above, and you're rockin' and rollin' to a logistically sound presentation. It's the first crucial step to connecting to and/or persuading your audience.

Tagged , ,
Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

The Best Advice

Posted in Best Practices, Tips and Tricks, Tricia's Posts

An interesting round-up email came through my inbox this week. LinkedIn’s compilation of “The Best Advice I Ever Got” shared by LinkedIn Influencers, including Deepak Chopra and Suze Orman.

I find these lessons fascinating and beneficial. Below are three lessons from LinkedIn’s series that resonate with me.

Advice: Enjoy the Journey
Chester Elton, Author of "All In"

“So often we forget to take a step back and enjoy the day we’re having, the conversation we are engaged in, the moment we are enjoying with our family or friends. Are we always so busy checking our phones for texts and emails that we forget to appreciate the good things that are happening right in front of us?”

Advice: People Come First, Results Second
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO at Consumer Electronics Association

“Care about the people and the results will follow. This means figuring out people's passions, desires, concerns and fears, and then addressing these needs accordingly. Some people thrive on recognition, others want clear rules, others need incentives, others attention. I tried this. It works.”

Advice: Make a Habit of Something Everyday
Gretchen Rubin, Bestselling author; blogger www.gretchenrubin.com

“If I try to do something four days a week, I spend a lot of time arguing with myself about whether today is the day, or tomorrow, or the next day; did the week start on Sunday or Monday; does today "count," etc. And that’s exhausting. If I do something every day, I fall into a habit.”

The best advice I’ve gotten – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not pushing yourself, taking risks and learning.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Tagged , , , , ,
Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim

Volunteer to Further Your Career

Posted in Laura's Posts, Uncategorized

At Morningstar Communications we know a thing or two about volunteering. From fostering shelter dogs to serving on the board for a charity, every one of my colleagues devotes his or her time to meaningful causes. Of course, volunteering is not limited to personal causes. Many of us at Morningstar Communications also offer our time as volunteers to professional associations and events.

Volunteering personally and professionally provides:

1. An opportunity to strengthen skills

2. A broadening of personal and professional networks

3. A new or enhanced meaning to one’s life and/or career

I recently had the opportunity to add to my volunteer efforts by assisting with the KC/IABC Business Communicators Summit (taking place on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014). I helped compile and create the program prior to the Summit, and will also assist with various activities during the event. Volunteering with a professional association brought new meaning to the words “professional development.” Not only have I made new professional contacts and strengthened my writing skills, but I have also found a deeper connection to my career and have grown professionally.

Tagged , , ,
Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung

Improving Your Persuasive Powers

Posted in Best Practices, Company Updates, Eric's Posts, Tips and Tricks

In Daniel Pink's new book, "To Sell is Human," he explains what he calls "Non-sales selling: persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they've got in exchange for what we've got." The role of today's executive has shifted from order-giver to "mover." Pink explains, "Moving other people to part with resources, whether something tangible like cash or intangible like effort or attention -- so that both get what they want."

I've spent a lifetime helping leaders present information in the most persuasive way. Whether we're developing a strategic messaging platform, orchestrating a four-channel content distribution approach or coaching executives one-on-one...the end-in-mind is almost always to get others to agree with your point-of-view.

After all, isn't that what leaders really do: get others to go along with them? Willingly and enthusiastically, whenever possible!

I'm honored to speak from 4:30 to 6 on Tuesday, February 25, to the Atrium group at the Downtown KC Central Exchange. I'll share a dozen proven strategies to enrich your power of persuasion.

Connecting on philosophical, strategic and tactical levels, these pearls range from How to Harness the Power of Three, the Macro / Micro technique, and my favorite suggestion to demonstrate team alignment when making team presentations -- "Steal the Punchline."

Here is a sneak peak at a couple of persuasive strategies you can begin using today.

Leveraging the Macro / Micro Approach

Macro / Micro is the most persuasive way (from the recipient's point-of-view, always!) to get someone to agree with you. Use this construct to frame your argument at the (macro) 30,000-foot level, then immediately provide one (micro) three-foot level example to ground your suggestion. Restate the macro, followed with, don't you agree?

micro macro 1
Credit: fixingtheeconomists.wordpress.com

So, here's how Macro / Micro plays out in the real world. Let's say you and a few other parents are responsible for finding the end-of-season place to celebrate your kid's soccer team season, and thank the coaches. You want to go to Red Robin. You would say something like, "I suggest we go to a place that doesn't mind if we have a bunch of crazy teenagers, with both alcoholic and fun non-alcoholic drinks for the kids, and that's nearby our final game. How about Red Robin...it has all three. Sound good?"

Some people need the philosophical framing. Some need the specifics. Kind of like the Myers-Briggs test: some are sensors; some are intuition-based. Do both. To get our way, we need to connect with everyone.

Just like sports, improving your persuasive skills requires both practice and patience. But when your plan and your delivery come together, you're going to get your way more often!

Do a Run-Through Before All Major Presentations

Another tip is one that we all already know, but often skip: perform a complete run-through in front of somebody who intimidates you before giving your actual presentation. I find most executives do what I call a "walk-through." They say, I'll start with the story about the three buckets, then I'll do an intro, ask for questions, and then review each slide." Nope. It's imperative that your confidence and enthusiasm be sky-high. Present a full run-through as a practice, complete with the constructive critique from a person whose opinion you greatly respect. This will help you polish your delivery and verify if you have any communication / connection glitches. And importantly, you'll have a feeling of confidence that will exude through your remarks. We all benefit from actually articulating all of the words -- at least one time -- before "showtime."

I have yet to see an executive do a worse job after a full run-through, but I've sure seen my share of stumbles and gaffes for those who just "wing it."

I've been told -- more than once -- that many of these suggestions are just "applied common sense." While that may be true, they work just the same.

Wanna get your way more often? Apply these techniques and the line forms right behind you!

Onward and upward!

Tagged , , ,
Comments Off Posted on by Eric Morgenstern
← Older posts
Morningstar Communications Proudly powered by WordPress