April 9, 2013
Communications, Public Relations, RACE, Uncategorized
48 Laws of Power, Good communications, Graceful People
Two contrasts in communications: you can either Race with Grace or Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew. The latter is a chapter in a book I receively purchased called Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power.
I had to buy this book to see what I’d been missing all these years. The book teaches you how to cheat, dissemble, feign, fight and advance your cause in the modern world. Needless to say, there was not much to learn here about communication. There’s a chapter on “Concealing your Intentions” as a strategy, but most of the chapters dwell on manipulation and scheming.
On the other hand, one of the people I admire most in communications is retiring this year, David Milliken a Senior Vice-President from CNW. Quite the opposite, David showed me how to get what you want, not in a Machiavellian way, but by being honest, humble, customer-serving, responsive, generous, and respectful. If there was one word to describe David, it would be Grace. He has a stature and confidence of a leader, but has the worldliness and humility to treat CEOs and administrative assistants with equal respect. People work with him because they want to work with him, not because they have to. He solves problems, doesn’t create them. He listens and finds ways to mediate so that everyone wins.
So thanks for showing me David, that power without grace, isn’t power at all. Good communications will lead to respect, respect leads to trust.With the trust of your employees or clients you can do anything.
January 15, 2013
Going through my PR notes over the holidays, I encountered an old document about a survey of top 10 concerns of Public Relations professionals. The survey was about 20 years old, but what caught my eye was the # 1 concern: “improved employee communications (and employee loyalty that would result).” Yes, this is an OLD survey, but I wonder if the answer would be any different today. Most PR people are fixated about how to keep up with social media techniques and looking for ways to integrate them into their organizations. I’m okay with that. But social media is only just another tool in order to reach and communicate with people. Not sure anyone would agree that social media is a concern. We’re all looking at social media as an opportunity to better reach and connect with our stakeholders. So I submit, humbly, that improved employee communications would still rank # 1 or #2 on any communicator’s “concern” list, even today. The impact is so great when we do a good job effectively sharing information with employees. More on that later.
August 10, 2012
change communications, communicating, Made to Stick, RACE, storytelling
How fickle and forgetful we all are. Using good research, analysis, and highlighting target audiences are key in good communications. But what if down the road no one remembers the message? That’s where a good story always saves the day. It can save an otherwise “dry” speech, an important presentation to employees, or any type of messaging campaign. In the book “Made to Stick” my favourite authors Chip and Dan Heath devote 35 pages to storytelling from a change communications context. Sometimes a right story can make or break whether or not we “get it,” or just bother to pay attention. One of many great examples is the tale of Jared Fogle of Subway Sandwich fame. His story of how he ate Subway products to lose weight became a national phenomenon and an advertising success. Some of my most interesting friends coincidentially are the best storytellers. Reporters quite often start out a complex article by focusing in on one family with a story that emphasizes the issues from a “human” perspective. The moral of THIS story is to use one in all your communications!
July 11, 2012
Communications Planning, creativity, PR and creativity, Steve Jobs
How we communicate depends hugely on how we are able to interest and captivate our audience. Doing the same things over and over again creates this forcefield of complacency. People want to be excited, to be entertained, to be surprised. They want to deal with what’s new. While at PwC I created a response to this by suggesting a 15-30-10 program called Standout. Groups would be challenged to come up with new ways of marketing their ideas. They’d have 15 days to report back, 30 days to have them approved and 30 days to have them implemented. Steve Jobs led Monday morning meetings for 3 hours focused soley on the future, new products, new ideas. To get through to people, it takes a lot of wow factor. Even a great product needs a creative launch. Jobs understood this with his detail for design, packaging and branding. Being an effective communicator isn’t enough. Adding creativity to communications takes your plan to a whole new level.
May 2, 2012
Communications, External PR, Public Relations, Uncategorized
Every once in a while you read a book that you know is going to leave a lasting impression on you. The book this year for me is Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. Even if you are not a runner, it will excite your passion about this sport. McDougall traces the history of running to our Homo sapien roots when we had to outrun our prey to stay alive. Man was uniquely built not for speed, but for endurance, typically travelling up to 26 miles (marathon length) to wear down faster animals over the course of a day. The author tells the story of a hidden tribe in Mexico, the Tarahumara, who continue to run long distances and a bunch of superathletes from the USA who went down to meet the tribal members and compete in a 50-mile “race.” More than anything, this is a book about why running is important to all of us; we’ve left a part of our history behind by failing to stay active. “Perhaps all our troubles began when we stopped living as Running People. Deny your nature, and it will erupt in some other, uglier way.”
January 28, 2012
Engagement at Work, Motivation, People and Change, PR
I was at a conference last week and enjoyed a great presentation by Louisa Jewell on the Science of Motivation. Interestingly, she broke up her talk into the RACE formula, but a different type of race. She says we are motivated at work by Relativeness, Availability, Competence and Engagement.
With Relativeness, she says, we need to know that people care about us as a person, that they can feel happy and safe. People are hard-wired for social connection and can be de-motivated if we experience social pain (ie bullying).
For Availability, stress and overload causes us to withdraw. Organizations have to support individuals so they have the emotional and physical availability to perform.
Competence relates to self-efficacy–our belief in our ability to succeed in specific situations. Positive feedback is more motivating than negative feedback. It reinforces our strengths so we will do it again. If we build people’s technical abilities and confidence, they are mentally rehearsing to do it again (visualizing).
Finally, Engagement. This connects purpose and meaning–aligning personal values with organizational values. When we engage people about their lives, we get them engaged to perform better at work. A company with high employment turnovers in janitorial staff changed its course by asking their staff what motivated them in their lives. The company then helped them achieve these goals, whether it was financial planning to help send their kids to college, buy a boat,or save for retirement.