The Ethical Gut-Check

August 1, 2014

by Kerry Martin

Almost every industry or profession has a moral standard to which they adhere.  Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath, lawyers have the Bar Association with its Rules of Professional Conduct and the clergy have a pretty big book.  For public relations practitioners, we have a code of ethics – both developed by the Public Relations Society of America and the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA).

Yesterday during a breakfast meeting of the Orlando Area chapter of FPRA, Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC, gave the room of PR professionals a pop quiz on their knowledge of the Code of Ethics.  While no one could recite any of the 14 principles from rote memory, in every business scenario he posed to the group, the audience could point out the ethical dilemmas and what lines were crossed.

Throughout the presentation, I saw PR practitioners studiously reviewing the principles of adhering “to the highest standards of accuracy and truth,” dealing “fairly with the public” and exemplifying “high standards of honesty and integrity.”  But what Roger offered the group was perhaps more helpful than any pneumonic memorization device:  a mirror.

ethics_mirror

Roger’s advice:  If you want to know whether you are doing the right thing, take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.  That’s the ethics gut-check you really need.


Don’t Repeat Negative Language

July 29, 2014

by Dan Ward

One rule of media training that we stress time and again in our Message Matrix® program is “don’t repeat negative language, even to deny it.”

The reason for that rule was illustrated today by President Obama’s answer to a question about our relationship with Russia. When asked “is this a new Cold War?” after announcing new economic sanctions, Obama responded, “No, it’s not a new Cold War. It’s a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to let Ukraine seek its own path.”

So what were the immediate headlines and tweets?

Tweets

When you repeat negative language, you give media the headlines THEY want, rather than headlines that convey a message you want to communicate.

The President had a lot of important things to say today, but many people will only hear two words.


Consistency is Key

July 28, 2014

by Julie Hall

By now, you’ve probably heard the viral recording of a Comcast customer service call that went very badly (to say the least).  Comcast’s senior vice president of customer experience has since issued an apology stating that, “The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.”

However, an internal Comcast memo was leaked this week that paints a slightly different picture.  Dave Watson, Comcast’s chief operating officer, wrote that, “The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him – and thousands of other Retention agents – to do.”

I’m sure Comcast’s PR team helped craft the memo and most of the message points are on target—that the incident is regretful and not representative of the typical Comcast customer service experience.  But just one poorly worded line in an otherwise well-crafted statement can overwhelm the entire message.

In today’s digital world, you must assume that any communication, even if it’s intended to remain internal, will become public.  Maintaining a consistent message across all communications—internal and external—is an inherent part of any sound communications strategy.  If two of your executives are singing an evenly slightly different tune, your whole message is off key.


What Justin Timberlake Can Teach You About Service

July 24, 2014

by Kim Taylor

Typically headlines like that are written just for the click, but stick with me, this one’s for real.

There’s a song on Justin Timberlake’s latest album that has the perfect amount of beats per minute for a run.  I listen to it nearly every time I go out because I loathe running more than root canals and I find myself almost forgetting about how painful it is when this track comes on.

The chorus gets me every time, though, and instead of thinking about music or running, I end up thinking about what constitutes good client/customer service.  The line, which repeats itself five times per chorus (and is also the title of the song), is simple:  Gimme what I don’t know I want.

Simple, yet so poignant.  Think about every situation where you’ve been wowed … every time you’ve been compelled to write a positive review, or send a tweet of praise, or brag to your friends about the fantastic service you received.

Want to boost your client relationships?  Impress your boss?  Next time, think about giving them something they didn’t even know they wanted.


Stand by for Robo News

July 23, 2014

by Roger Pynn

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Associated Press introduces automated news writing.  As if CNN (the Commentator News Network) hadn’t already reduced the business to moronic, now AP – the bastion of hard news – is basically using robot reporters.

You can mark this as the day journalism went to hell in a hand basket.  Said AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara, “What I’m trying to get out of is the data processing business.  I can’t have journalists spending a ton of time data processing stuff.  Instead I need them reporting.”

He can’t be serious.  How can a reporter report if he or she hasn’t first processed data?

Journalism is basically broken into two elements:  news gathering and news writing.  Back before any of us had ever heard the term big data, reporters had been processing data for years … sifting through facts and figures, truths and lies, old stories and new in order to know what they would then write about.

Ferrara has confused writing for reporting.


Anticipation

July 22, 2014

by Roger Pynn

I’ve kept a tiny crystal ball on my desk for 30 years … about the size of a large thimble.  And for all those years we’ve told our team, via Curley & Pynn’s Five Steps to Professional Success, to “Anticipate … Don’t Wait to Be Asked.”

So this LinkedIn post by futurist Daniel Burrus caught my eye today with this headline:  “Forget Lean and Agile – It’s Time to be Anticipatory.”  It is a good read, particularly for anyone who loves research and data.  Burrus talks about the difference between certainty and uncertainty, soft and hard trends … and the ability to know what’s next.

That fourth step in our statement of corporate culture is about the responsibility of our team to keep an eye on the horizon, and to look over it to see what could be coming next that might have an impact on our clients and the programs we develop for them.

Whether you’re concerned with the next big thing in your market or disruptive factors that may change your market altogether, a clear windshield is likely more important than a rear view mirror.

While a crystal ball would be even better, Burrus is spot on.  Monitoring trend data and knowing what you can count on is an essential skill.  As Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie urged us … don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.


Are You a Celebrity? There’s an App for that.

July 21, 2014

by Heather Keroes

With hundreds of friends connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, we may feel like quasi-celebrities at times.  But while our status updates may spark conversations and my mother may continue to “like” every picture I post, the reality is we are still small fish swimming around in our social spheres.

For those of you who actually are celebrities, Facebook has news for you.  Facebook has released Mentions, an app for actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers, so they (or, more likely, their social media teams) can more easily track and join relevant fan conversations, beyond their official Facebook pages.  For example, I might attend a concert and post a photo of it on my personal Facebook page.  If I mention the music artist in my post, there’s now a greater chance they may see it and use it as an opportunity to connect with me.  Can you imagine the sort of impact that might have, having one of my favorite musicians single me out in that way?

According to Facebook, nearly 800 million people are connected to public figures on Facebook.  When you consider that fact, Mentions has some great potential for fostering additional connections.  I’m curious how this will work given privacy settings.  All of my posts on Facebook are set to “private” and can only be read by friends.  That said, I genuinely wouldn’t mind if Adam Levine decided to share his adoration and appreciation of me, on my Facebook page (are you listening, Adam?).


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