Public Relations Podcasts

Our public relations podcasts in “The Strategic Minute” series help business leaders improve communications strategies and functions by sharing insights on specific topics within our firm’s areas of expertise: Public Relations, Media Relations, Employee Communications and Community Relations.

You can also subscribe to the Strategic Minute in iTunes. Just search for “Strategic Communications” or “Strategic Minute” under Podcasts.

What You Don’t Say is as Important as What You Do Say

Hey, do you know what time it is?

If you just looked at a clock and were prepared to tell me “It’s 8:30” or “It’s noon” or some other time, you’re probably just trying to be helpful. But that’s not always the best communications strategy.

When communicating in business situations – especially when what you’re saying is representing the entire organization – we must practice the following 3-step process: first, really listen to the question that’s being asked; next, answer ONLY the question that is asked; and then, stop talking.

So, the answer to my first question would be either: yes, or no. What I asked was “Do you know what time it is?” Even though you can probably safely assume that what I really want to know is the actual time, for many reasons, making me ask the follow up question “Ok, so what time is it?” can be beneficial for you.

This creates a dialogue. The person asking you the questions may have a brief reaction of frustration after that first response, but by the end of the conversation, they will notice how many of their questions you answered – because you gave them the opportunity to ask more questions.

If your response makes an assumption about what their question really means, or anticipates what other questions they might ask, then you take away their ability to feel like they were able to ask all their questions. And when they do think of other questions, you have no other information left to share.

In sensitive or crisis situations, this discipline is critical to managing your message and reputation, and keeping audiences calm, informed and supportive.

We also use this strategy with good news. Even if we know all the details of a “good news” story, we may not want to give everything away all at once. This allows you to create a steady drip of continued positive stories and engagement that will last far longer than if we shared all the good news details at one time.

There’s another risk to oversharing, as well: By providing more than what their question is asking, you may also be giving away information for which they didn’t even think ask. The danger here is probably obvious for a crisis or sensitive situation. But why would this be a bad thing if you’re sharing good news? By sharing more than you’ve been asked (and more than you planned to share), you are robbing yourself of future news to share with your audiences and cutting short the potential longevity of your story.

The next time you are preparing for an all-hands forum with employees, a media interview, or a town hall meeting with community members, remember to really listen to the questions that are being asked, answer ONLY the question that is asked, and then stop talking. What you don’t say can be as important as what you do say.

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Think Before You Speak

I’d rather miss the opportunity to say something because I took too long to speak up, than regret saying something before thinking about it. A lesson I’ve learned the hard way. Over and over again. Less frequently as I continue to practice this important discipline, but it still happens – to all of us.

We live in a society that moves so quickly, that has become increasingly “me” focused, and that has everyone so stressed, many of us “don’t have the time” (read: don’t TAKE the time) to be thoughtful about what we say, the context of our conversations, the perspectives of the other people involved, or the consequences.

My team and I teach the importance of taking the “Critical 10″ in media training… but this, and many other aspects of our media training, are equally as important to apply in every other part of our lives. Maybe even more so.

So, take a beat and think before you speak; in a professional setting, or socially; whether reacting, or simply blurting out whatever’s on your mind. Make this a New Year’s resolution. In fact, don’t wait until January 1st. Try this now, when work might get stressful or during the chaos (I mean fun…) of the holidays.

I promise it will make you a more effective communicator, a better leader, a more respected friend, and a happier person.

Crystal’s Life Principle #2: “The only thing we know for certain is that we don’t know everything.”


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Public Relations Means Showing Up

I attend a lot of events for our public relations clients. Sure, I attend when necessary to perform specific tasks related to my work on their behalf, such as for press events and media coverage. But I also try to attend our client’s annual celebrations, and events where they are recognized.

Clients have always verbalized their appreciation when I attend these events. But recently, one person asked me: “Why did you come to this? I know how busy you are.”

To answer my client’s question, I shared with him a story from many years ago. When I was a teenager, I taught a dance class for younger kids. It was my first time as an instructor at the studio. When it came time for the kids’ recital, I was told: “Nah, you don’t need to be there.” So I did not attend the event. But the following Monday, I heard that my young students were devastated that I wasn’t there.

Did I need to be there? No. Should I have been there? Absolutely. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way once. And I never made that mistake again.

Every time I have an event that I don’t “need” to attend, but I am choosing to attend – whether it’s for a client, a family member, a colleague or friend – I always think about my experience with those young dancers, which reminds me why I’m going to each of these events.

How can we as public relations professionals, and business leaders in general, expect to relate to our stakeholders if we’re not there? One of the most important and impactful parts of a successful business, successful public relations, and successful relationships, is showing up.


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