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.


Building Employee Confidence

Communicating with employees and building a culture with the right balance of employee satisfaction and strong work ethic isn’t easy. And there’s no single formula or trick for this. But there is one strategy that continues to be preached and implemented successfully: include your employees in conversations about your business.

This doesn’t mean telling your employees what’s happening with your business once decisions have been made. This only works if you engage them before, during and after decisions and news about your organization (and then repeat that cycle).

Include them in planning for new products or services. Every one of your employees has a different view of your business. Their perspectives and insights could mean the difference between a new product or service that succeeds, and one that fails. This is also why you should include them in evaluating what’s working and what’s not.

Remember, we must strike a balance here in order to achieve that culture of satisfaction + work ethic. So, there needs to be a formal structure for gathering insights from employees, clear expectations set for if/how the information they share will be used, and an understanding that they may not get to weigh in on every decision or aspect of the business.

To help keep the two-way dialogue flowing in between the times when you ask for their insights, be sure to constantly share good news and positive feedback with your team, as well as any recognition that your organization receives.

And probably one of the easiest things to do – which so many organizations overlook – is talk to employees first, before they hear news about your organization from anyone else.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes before a news story is published, an e-blast is sent to external audiences, or any other announcement is made. This accomplishes several things. First, it demonstrates your commitment to communicating with them. Second, it shows them that you are being transparent about what’s happening with the organization. And, it equips them with YOUR message, so that they can answer questions and provide accurate information if/when the subject comes up in conversations with them – either at work or in a social setting.

These are just a few tips to help build employee confidence. If implemented properly, you will quickly glean even more insights into how to build your employees’ confidence and their support for your organization.

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Using a Holiday as Your News Hook

Lots of people in many organizations across the world try to find some connection between their organization and a holiday in order to get news coverage for their company, products or services.

The problem is, most of those people don’t dig deep to figure out a very specific, unique, interesting, valuable and – most of all – newsworthy angle for their “story.”

Just because it’s National Smile Day and you’re a dentist, that doesn’t mean you are automatically newsworthy all month – or at any point during the month. Just because it’s National Reading Week and you’re a bookstore… it’s America Saves Week and you’re a financial institution… it’s Black Friday and you’re a store or mall… You get the idea.

You need to dig deep, talk to a lot of people – inside and out of the organization – ask a lot of questions, and play Devil’s advocate for every story you think might be a good idea. That’s one of the main reasons why you should be thinking about spring and summer holidays in January, and winter holidays by June. (The other reason is that a lot of media plan their stories for big holidays and days of recognition well in advance – so you’ll need to pitch them early, too.)

Take American Heart Month, for example. Heart Month begins February 1st. We worked with one of the top 15 cardiovascular hospitals in the country four months in advance of Heart Month to go through process we described above. After a lot of ideas were cut from the list, we landed on something that would: (1) connect real people to something immediately actionable that would help them achieve better heart health, (2) in a way that only a hospital/doctor could advise, (3) that partnered with – and benefitted – a local non-profit to solve an additional community need beyond heart health, and (4) would definitely be of interest to the news.

We suggested that the hospital cover the adoption fees for all dogs at local animal shelters to encourage people to adopt a dog and get more active for better heart health, and the hospital’s cardiovascular doctors served as our spokespeople on-location at the shelters.

Not only did every local media outlet cover this story, but it was picked up by the Associated Press news team and covered all over the country. We then garnered even more news coverage later in the month when we provided updates on how many dogs had been adopted and shared the stories of people who adopted some of those dogs after seeing the first round of news stories.

It takes time. It takes effort. And it won’t be a home run every time. But just because a holiday sounds like it fits with your organization, doesn’t automatically make you newsworthy on that day. So take the time. Put in the effort. Because it WILL be worth it every time.

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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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