Tag Archives: Sheri Johnson

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Moving from exposure to engagement

Posted in Integrated Marketing (IMC)

In the public relations area, measuring success always seems a bit nebulous. How do you ascertain the power of a news story? How do you demonstrate an article prompted a purchase? For years, the amount of output, and resulting pickup, served as the main measurement guide. Slowly, assessment of key messaging inclusion, branding elements and other components of the story worked their way into the measurement metrics.

But now output doesn’t cut it, regardless of your methodology. Today’s world requires outcomes. Exposure alone, in a world of email newsletters, banner ads and RSS feeds, simply doesn’t create results. The average consumer is exposed to 247 advertising messages each day. Hard to believe any of them really work.

Measuring outcomes rather than outputs provides a better way to understand engagement. And engaged people – whether employees or consumers – are happier, healthier and more positive in general.

While plenty of information is out there touting how employee engagement will help your workforce, and truly, employee engagement is the first step, imagine how extrapolating the concept to your customers and prospects might work.

Start with the basics. Do you receive comments on your blogposts, do your key customers or prospects follow you on Twitter or “Like” your business on Facebook? Does your participation in LinkedIn groups foster robust conversations? If your organization can move beyond outputs and truly measure how engaged your stakeholders are, you will surely uncover ways to move the needle.

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Gaining buy-in for business strategy

Posted in Executive Insights, Social Media

As the nation slowly lumbers out of the “great recession,” smart businesses are re-evaluating their strategies for advancing their growth.

Ensuring those among the ranks understand and embrace these new strategies will be critical to making them work. Yet, we regularly see companies overlook their own employees in their eagerness to reach the market. Surprising, since study after study ties employee engagement to improved productivity and performance. In fact, on the other end of the spectrum, Gallup recently found the cost in lost productivity from disengaged employees amounts to $300 billion.

So, how do you encourage engagement?

Demonstrate leadership. Studies show that employees turn first to their direct managers and then to senior leadership for information on where the organization is going and how what they are doing ties to that vision. Make sure to communicate your strategy effectively to middle management, as they will be a key resource to which others in the organization will turn.

Create conversation. Encouraging feedback and giving associates the opportunity to comment, question and share provides a powerful means to achieve engagement. And, with today’s social media tools, finding the right option for your employees to collaborate together is easier than ever. Be prepared for questions, comments and concerns, and respond quickly when they arise.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. There’s an old saying that in the absence of information, people assume the worst. In this fast-paced age focused on transparency and authenticity, keeping your employees updated on how your new strategy moves the organization forward helps to ensure they will internalize and take action to drive your strategies.

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Disney and social media

Posted in Executive Insights, Integrated Marketing (IMC), Social Media

The recent Wall Street Journal story on “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney’s new traditionally animated film, brought to mind parallels with our marketing industry. In an age when social media is becoming the hottest trend around – everyone is talking about it and focusing on it, much like computer animated films in 2003 – there is still a place for using traditional channels.
Much as Disney’s all-computer animated, all the time dodged consistent success, using social media for every message, every time seems like a mistake as well.  Successful marketing communications programs transcend the medium and start with the business and the people who matter most in its success. At a minimum, developing a strategic program requires:
1.    Knowing your audience and understanding what resonates with them
2.    Uncovering how they like to receive information, very likely you’ll find they turn to a variety of mediums
3.    Crafting messages that underscore the benefits you bring to the table
4.    Integrating your messages into every “touchpoint,” from tried and true channels like collateral materials to social media platforms such as LinkedIn
5.    Building in metrics up front so you can ensure your marketing efforts are supporting business goals.

Social media continues to evolve and will play some role in any marketing mix. However, I have no doubt that completely scrapping traditional marketing channels will require you to change course later. Something to think about if you plan to go see “The Princess and the Frog.”

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Making Your Voice Heard

Posted in Executive Insights, Illumination Sessions, Integrated Marketing (IMC)

Neil Dhillon, managing director of our MS&L Washington D.C. office brought up an interesting perspective when he convened with executives here in Kansas City. Every company has legislative issues, they just may not know it yet.

This fall promises to be a very busy one on Capital Hill, with several key priorities making their way through Congress. From health care and financial services reform to distributing stimulus funds before the upcoming deadline, virtually every industry will feel the impact and many will find new opportunities.

If your organization seeks to influence change, there are many ways to do it. From meeting with local representatives to lobbying on the hill, to simply issuing media statements on policy to share your view, there are many ways to make your voice heard. We’ll go into more on these topics in our upcoming posts, so stay tuned. And, we hope you’ll share your stories about how you’ve been able to make change happen.

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What’s the Right Way to Network?

Posted in Executive Insights

Several years ago, I attended a Central Exchange conference for career women that included a session on networking. The speaker drove home the fact women network in a completely different way than men. I’m generalizing here, but we tend to work up to the business part of the conversation instead of starting with business first, the way men frequently do.  Because while women are relationship-oriented and more likely to focus on consensus building, men cut to the chase, so to speak.  The seminar leader encouraged women to start networking like men.

Several years ago, I attended a Central Exchange conference for career women that included a session on networking. The speaker drove home the fact women network in a completely different way than men. I’m generalizing here, but we tend to work up to the business part of the conversation instead of starting with business first, the way men frequently do.  Because while women are relationship-oriented and more likely to focus on consensus building, men cut to the chase, so to speak.  The seminar leader encouraged women to start networking like men.

That’s why yesterday’s all-women golf tournament hosted by The Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City proved such a refreshing networking experience. It was golf and networking—women’s style. Indeed women-only networking groups and online social networks proliferate.  But a recent Harvard Business School study even found differences in the way women and men use social networks.

What I found somewhat lacking over the years are written resources (you know, books and offline articles) to help women with networking.  This could be an indicator of our inclination toward relationship building.  We’d rather learn about networking in person. What do you think? Should women network like men, or use our own style to advance in business?
Sheri Golfing

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The New Face of Philanthropy

Posted in Community Leadership, Executive Insights

Recent articles in both Forbes, “Women in Philanthropy” and The New York Times, “The Power of the Purse” demonstrate the great strides women are making as philanthropists. Beyond the financial clout women wield today (according to the Forbes story we control more than half the private wealth in the U.S. and make 80% of the purchases), I was encouraged by the way in which we choose to contribute.

First, women donate more of our wealth than men. And, we choose our gifts differently. Women give regularly to other women in need. In fact, private foundations and public charities focused on helping women and girls have grown at a faster rate than the overall foundation community, according to Forbes.

Recognition ranks low on the priority list for women and we tend to give more as part of drives that include other women. This trend underscores what many high-profile women philanthropists have touted, that empowering women and girls can serve as a means for creating economically successful communities, especially since 70% of those living in poverty today are women and children.

Both stories highlighted Women Moving Millions an organization that reflects this growing movement.  And, here in Kansas City, The Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City raises, invests and grants funds to promote equity and opportunity for women and girls.

Somehow, I am not surprised women understand creating lasting change means working together strategically to make a difference. The “power of the purse” doesn’t just empower women and girls, it helps all future generations.

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Illumination Sessions: Strategic Planning

Posted in Executive Insights, Illumination Sessions

At Morningstar Communications, we provide insight, lead with strategic thought and unite great minds in our industry to create solutions. As part of our commitment to excellence, we regularly bring together the brightest minds in business for Illumination Sessions to discuss challenges and success strategies for today’s businesses.

During our last Illumination Session, our Luminaries shared their thoughts on strategic planning. It’s one of those things we might not think about every day, but requires careful consideration. Our world is changing faster, and the rate of change increases every day. Like Moore’s Law, business ideas and strategies can become outdated as quickly as they came to life.

Strategic plans used to take one-, three- or five-year horizons. An elevator speech was 30 seconds long. Now, we see more and more businesses looking at 12-, 18- or even six-month horizons for their planning. Elevator speeches are a mere seven seconds in length. So with the quickening pace of business, how do business leaders effectively plan for their organization’s success?

We asked our Luminaries to come prepared to talk about effective strategic planning in an era of 90-day scorecards. Our discussion centered around three key points:

1. Find Room to Flex
Good strategic plans are formally grounded in a company’s core competencies and values. However, it’s absolutely necessary that plans be fluid enough to be successful through the many changes an organization inevitably will encounter.2.  Encourage Risk-Taking
Most strategic plans are formed from a list of intentional actions or deliberate strategies. But remember to look for and incorporate natural, existing synergies or emergent strategies into the plan, too.

3. Make it Work
Even the most well-written strategic plan needs a team of cheerleaders and on-the-ground players to put it into action. Buy-in has to come at all levels for a plan to succeed.

We’ll post more on the discussion and each of these three insights in the upcoming days. For now, though, take a look at our panel of strategic planning Luminaries. What a smart group!

Katy Briggs

Katy Briggs
VP, Strategy
Willoughby Design

Reinhard Mabry
Reinhard Mabry
President and CEO
Alphapointe Association for the Blind

Eric's illumination photo
Eric Morgenstern
President and CEO
Morningstar Communications

Vince Sabia
Vincent Sabia
Vice President, Client Services
Right Management Consultants

Mike Saunders
Mike Saunders
Managing Partner
Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP

Todd Stettner

Todd Stettner
Executive Vice President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City

Gary Weinberg

Gary Weinberg
Chief Operating Officer
National Seminars Group

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New media defies age limits

Posted in Best Practices, Online Marketing, Social Media

It seems like everyone these days is talking about social media. From my discussions, I’ve discovered some people don’t know how to use it effectively. Or maybe they don’t have the time or desire. And, when it comes to business, they certainly don’t see the benefit of jumping on the social media bandwagon.

In the past week I’ve read two articles about why using social media is good for teens and Boomers alike.

The first, by Tamar Lewin at the New York Times, cites a study done by the MacArthur Foundation that discovered by participating in social media, kids gain the technology and literacy skills they need for success in today’s world.  The study found teens usually have a full-time, intimate community they communicate with in an “always on” mode. And, this usually leads them to spend more time learning on the Internet—how to use it, how to use applications it offers and how to use social networks, among other things. Skills like these can translate into workplace assets when the “always on” kids hit the business world.

At the other end of the spectrum, my latest issue of Money Magazine highlighted how Boomers should be using new media to stay contemporary in their own workplace. Contributing writer Dan Kadlec addresses how social media like text messages, wikis, Twitter and blogs, can make workers more productive. He provides the basics on how these new tools work and a few tips on using them effectively for business. I thought the information on Twitter was particularly intriguing.

There’s no doubt new media is here to stay. (I wonder when we’ll stop calling it new!) I suggest you climb on board and make it work for you.

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Blog Action Day

Posted in Online Marketing, Social Media

Today is Blog Action Day, an initiative designed to get thousands of bloggers to unite around one topic – poverty. As many of us track the markets ups, and mostly downs, of the last few weeks, the anxiety of watching the fruits of your life’s work diminish is overwhelming. But few of us actually realize what it is like to live in poverty.

I’m fortunate to have participated in the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership program. The organization fosters community leaders and raises awareness about local issues while encouraging civic responsibility. Issues studied range from transportation and healthcare to international trade and the arts. When we studied poverty and homelessness, we participated in a Poverty Simulation. Wow! What an eye-opening experience.

What I like about Blog Action Day is that many of the posts focus on how you can take action and make a difference. Use today as an inspiration to help combat poverty in our nation, whether it’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, giving to your favorite poverty-fighting cause, or providing canned goods to your local food pantry. Sometimes, giving a helping hand puts things back in perspective and makes us thankful for what we do have.

In the Kansas City, here are just a couple of opportunities to fight poverty this week:

  • Donate to Harvesters, which is in need of canned fruit, rice, sugar and jelly.
  • Drop some canned or dry goods by the Hyvee at 6801 West 91st Street this Friday (10/16) between 5 am and 6 pm  and help The Salvation Army food drive

This blog is part of Blog Action Day 08 – Poverty

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Election Coverage Overload

As we all anticipated, election coverage dominates the news these days. The media cover everything from the real issues, to the candidate’s families, friends, backgrounds, religious beliefs…even what they eat! No section of the news lacks some sort of election spin.

And, if we aren’t reading about the candidates, we’re reading about the trouble with voting machines, the voter registration process and the anticipated election turnout.  Staying abreast of it can be all-encompassing.

So, if like me, you are looking for something a little lighter in election-related coverage, check out this quiz on Mental Floss. It may not delve into the issues, but it’s a nice break from the whirlwind.

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