Social Confusion

January 27, 2016

by Roger Pynn

As social media companies struggle to figure out a sustainable business model, this word from Fast Company that Twitter may be treating its “most valuable” users to an ad-free environment adds to the perception that media companies are wandering in search of a “promised land” rather than sticking to their knitting.

How do you explain to me, as an advertiser, that the people you say are really important are off limits to my paid messaging?  Has it struck Jack Dorsey that exposure to those eyeballs is perhaps the most important asset he can sell?

Are online giants like Twitter going the way of newspapers … chasing their tails to attract new members to their tribe and abandoning the most loyal warriors?  Newspapers long ago tossed their print subscribers to the side of the road.  Will Twitter be next?


Who Writes the Headline?

January 20, 2016

by Roger Pynn

As part of our Message Matrix® training program, we often tell clients who are preparing for media interviews to try to “write the headline.”

In other words, imagine what you would like – in your fondest dreams – to be the headline of a story about you or your organization or product, and then speak in terms of that dream.

I’ll give Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller a bit of the benefit of the language barrier, but I’m sure the last headline he wanted to see was “We are not a criminal brand” as appeared in USA Today after he appeared at an event in Detroit in conjunction with the Detroit Auto Show.

Here’s a tip:  assume that the meatiest thing you say will make the best headline and make sure it is well done.  If it is blood-dripping rare, you’ll hate the headline.


Winning

January 12, 2016

by Roger Pynn

Throughout 2015 our team at Curley & Pynn took pride in celebrating our 30th anniversary.

That’s a long time considering that so many small businesses fail in their first year.  But we were blessed and we won.  Why?  Largely because our people are so committed to the concept that our job is to help our clients win.

And so at the end of our year of celebration, VP and Partner Kim Stangle set out on a mission to create a digital magazine in tribute to what we’ve learned over the past three decades.  And in a brainstorming session she asked, of course, “What should we call it?”

You can imagine that we played with all kinds of names relative to our 30-year history … “30,” “Thirty,” “Decades,” etc.  But when Associate Strategist Vianka McConville said “FTW,” everyone got it … the popular term that stands for “For The Win.”

So, here’s our magazine and a collection of thoughts from our entire team on what it takes to maintain a winning attitude.


Giving

December 28, 2015

by Roger Pynn

By the nature of our business we are often involved in helping clients create meaningful strategies for charitable giving, community involvement, sponsorships and the like, so it was no surprise to see the 2015 Community Involvement Study from the Corporate Citizenship Center at Boston College report that more companies are focused on enlightened self-interest.

The thirst for corporate support – whether in the form of philanthropy or sponsorship – has never been greater.  And regardless of a company’s status (public or privately held), sales volume or size of employment base, there has never been a time when its community involvement will contribute more to its bottom line.

Nowhere else on earth is philanthropy (personal and corporate) so important.  In other countries, social support is far more likely to come from government than from the generosity of individuals, families and companies.

Having a clear and well-communicated strategy for your giving as a company is critical for a number of reasons, but two stand out:

  1. Because it will attract opportunities to give, rather than a constant flow of requests unaligned with your business objectives; and,
  2. Because even those you cannot help will become aware of your good work and more likely to share your story.

The Boston College study notes that “community involvement contributes to key business goals including improved reputation and the attraction and retention of employees.”  I can’t think of two more important reasons than to make a commitment to a clear strategy for corporate involvement a major New Year’s resolution.


Who Knew?

November 3, 2015

by Roger Pynn

We often advise clients to forego asking for a retraction when something untrue has been published about them.  Why?  Primarily because we believe that in publishing the apology the media outlet will very likely expose people who never saw the error to the subject … and it will only arouse their curiosity.  In other words, “Why regurgitate the error?”

I couldn’t help but think of that when I received this email from a small restaurant we frequent occasionally.

“Hi everyone, I just wanted to let everyone know, how sorry I am about tonights (sic) Pot Roast special. It wasn’t up to our standards in quality of meat. When it was brought to my attention, I discovered that our vendor had switched products without telling us. I assure you the next time we have the Pot Roast special, it will be as delicious as it has been in the past.  
Thank you”

When I say “small,” we’re talking a total of about 40 seats … and they are rarely full.  In fact, this pub serves only the residents of a specific gated community.  You have to live there to eat there … almost a private club.

Now how many folks do you think ordered this awful pot roast?  Not many, I’m sure.  But the email list serves 1,200 property owners … all of whom are now likely wary of what their next meal will taste like.

So, the next time you are tempted to ask for a correction, think about pot roast.


The Brand Thing

October 7, 2015

by Roger Pynn

Raise your hand if you are getting tired of everyone trying to tell you what makes a brand successful.

Isn’t that like telling you what it takes to earn a paycheck?

Another one from Advertising Age online caught my eye today because of the headline:  “In Today’s Disruptive World, Brand Heritage Isn’t What It Used to Be.”  But what Nick Clark (executive creative director at The Partners, New York) was really doing was ranting about the Apple Watch in a partnership with Hermes.

Brands are not born out of creativity.  They are born out of the same thing that earns a paycheck … hard work.  Hard work to understand your consumers and what they want.  Hard work to satisfy them.  Hard work to retain them by keeping abreast of what they want.

I agree with Clark that there’s no need for a Hermes Apple Watch, much less the watch itself.  After all, Apple’s iPhone and smartphones in general created a generation that all but abandoned the wrist watch because their phone keeps better time and is tied to their entire existence.  But I won’t abandon my passion for Apple products just because they introduced something I don’t need … and I don’t care that they tried to make their watch sexier in a deal with Hermes (a brand that does nothing for me).

I am loyal to Apple because 99 times out of one hundred they have thought ahead for me and figured out what I need … and they deliver on that promise.  And they give fantastic customer service.  And they have the most helpful people on the planet in their stores.

They work hard at that.  That’s their heritage.


Just One Bite.

September 4, 2015

by Roger Pynn

No.  This isn’t a diet tip.

It just struck me today while scanning one of the many sources I read for thoughts on communication, business and leadership that hardly a day goes by that I don’t get at least one bite from the magazines, newspapers, aggregators and blogs I follow … and that single morsel makes the investment of time worthwhile.

The folks who work in our firm – and most others like us, I imagine – probably often feel the pressure to “be billable” … to make sure they are doing productive client work.  And, yes, we want them to do that both because our clients expect it and that is how we remain profitable.

But they are also more valuable to our clients and to us as they grow from experience and from the accumulation of knowledge.  A Harvard Business Review item passed on by the Public Relations Society of America caught my eye with the headline “6 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Presenting.”  I found my bite for the day in four-time New York Times best-selling author Joseph Grenny’s  second step:  “Rehearse, but don’t obsess.”

I present a lot these days and I’ve found myself over-rehearsing instead of, as he suggests, rehearsing just three times:  once when he finishes preparing the talk, then the day before he is scheduled and, finally, a few hours before going “on.”  I like that cadence.

We live in an age of lifelong learning and thankfully technology surrounds us with a classroom without walls.  You don’t need to be a full-time, Web-surfing student at the expense of achieving your assigned responsibilities, but your boss will benefit when you take time to look for an intellectual snack each day.


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