STAT News: Small wearable devices may lead to big health care savings June 13th, 2017Noam Hirsch
Effective cross-cultural communication is crucial for today’s globalized business community. This is especially true in the world of PR, where words can make or break the success of a company’s media outreach efforts. PR is a communication-driven profession that deals with people living in various countries with diverse cultures. It is important that PR professionals have the capacity to deal with their foreign counterparts and be able to implement successful PR campaigns that will appeal to those in their respective countries.
So, how can PR professionals train themselves to be culturally aware?
1. Familiarize Yourself with Other Cultures
Culture is a powerful factor that provides a foundation for which our worldviews are shaped. When people take on the challenge of working across borders, misunderstandings can arise, sometimes without knowing that culture is a central factor. There are six patterns in cultural differences that are important to keep in mind when communicating in PR. These include different communication styles, attitudes towards conflict, approaches to completing tasks, decision-making styles, attitudes towards disclosure, and approaches to knowing (epistemologies). Although all of these can play a factor in PR interactions, differences in communication can be particularly problematic as it is far more complicated than a simple language barrier, as use of phrases, non-verbal communication, norms of assertiveness, and sense of time also need to be taken into consideration.
By analyzing these behaviors we will be able to expect with reasonable accuracy how people will react to us and how we should approach them. Understanding the nuances and intricacies won’t happen overnight, however. After all, think about how long it takes us to be socialized in our own communities to know how to speak and interact with others? People study for years in order to truly understand the intricacies of culture However, the basics can be learned without committing to a PhD in the matter.
Recommendation: Organize a cross-cultural training with your office to teach the basic skills to communicate effectively across cultural barriers.
2. Be Aware of Your Own Culture
According to Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist and author of several international communication studies, culture is essentially hiding in plain site for those immersed in it, resulting in a lack of recognition. This can lead to miscommunication even if you’ve taken the time to study a foreign culture. Self evaluation of your identity is important as it results in increased awareness and flexibility in your interactions. Learning about others’ cultures can highlight the details of your own as well as challenge assumptions and enlighten one to a variety of approaches.
Self-awareness will serve you in every aspect of your life. In order to communicate more effectively, take the time to think about how your approach to others is affected by your cultural norms is and how it might be tricky for others to work with.
According to David Livermore, President at the Cultural Intelligence Center, the key to cross-cultural communication is patience – so simple that some of us tend to forget it. Patience is a lost art in our busy work cultures. In the age of instant gratification and technology, we have been trained to expect a certain pace when dealing with others. Patience is not a trait that has been fostered, and is a truly difficult skill to master, especially when confronted with deadlines and work pressure. Nevertheless, patience is crucial in building business relations.
Recommendation: Take a deep breath and examine the circumstances again. Clear communication, clarification, and a sense of humor are your best friends here. Patience is not something you will learn overnight but rather is something that needs to be worked on. Assume that everyone is trying their best and that frustrations may be from an underlying cultural issue and not a lack of effort.
While there are many more steps required to become culturally aware, I hope this is a good beginning foundation. Of course, it can be dangerous to over-generalize as societies will always be full of exceptions and unique personalities, so consider these tips a helpful guideline rather than rules set in stone.
I would love to hear additional suggestions of what tactics you are trying at your own companies!
We take it for granted that others will see the genius in our creations. Spending whole days designing and workshopping a project, seeing all the great benefits it can have often has us “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Of course people are going to be interested in what we have to offer! How could they not want our product?! We expect a line of customers around the corner, and reporters knocking down our door for the privilege of writing a story…yet this is not realistic.
With such a low barrier to entry, the Internet has created a world where any and every business can enter into marketplace for a relatively low cost. There are more companies creating and innovating within every vertical of the marketplace today than ever before, and the resulting saturation makes attracting coverage that much more difficult.
While we all hope every press release and announcement will be met with great fanfare and receive positive coverage, often times this is not the case (especially for smaller companies). News outlets only have so many journalists, and journalists can handle only so many assignments. With so many potential companies vying for attention, and inboxes overflowing with pitches, journalists must restrict their time to only those they deem the most interesting.
Who Are You?
There was a time in the history of every company when nobody knew who they were; Microsoft didn’t simply open its doors and become a multi-billion dollar enterprise; Apple started as an upstart computer company in a garage. Before consumers can appreciate your company and become customers, they have to know about you. Besides actually using your product, your content is the main way consumers will interact with your company, and you must use this to your advantage. Content is the consumers’ window into your company; it presents a chance to tell your story, what you do, and explain why you and your product are different than your competitors.
For the most part, journalists, and their readers alike, are not interested in stories about companies following the pack; there’s no breaking news in repeating what’s already been said, and unlike mega brands like Microsoft or Apple (who have many reporters assigned specifically to cover their beats) most cannot count on coverage as fait accompli. Your content is an opportunity to show your expertise in the field, and establish yourself as one of the forward thinking minds in the industry even in the absence of mainstream media attention.
Making Your Own News
Sometimes companies need to manufacture their own stories. Just because journalists don’t want to publish what you are saying, does not mean it should go unsaid. Original content is your way of bringing relevant information to the market, and one of your most powerful tools for engaging the consumer base in new and different ways. It’s impossible to predict which blog, social media post, or article will go viral or attract attention and it’s important to give yourself the opportunity to succeed. Who knows you might even get a story out of it…
Ultimately, creating a strong brand is about building positive perception. Your product may be great but this is just one aspect of a business. You cannot begin a new venture and rest on the laurels of your success. Creating new and insightful content and demonstrating the innovation your company offers will create greater interest, leading to bigger opportunities from both consumers and journalists alike.
Ring ring… Hello? Hell-no! While everyone you know probably owns a phone, when’s the last time you used your phone to actually call one of your friends/colleagues/acquaintances? For better or worse, and for reasons that I can’t even really communicate, I’m not the biggest fan of talking on the phone. But, thankfully, unless I’m catching up with my family or friends overseas, I don’t really need to use my phone for actual phone calls (sorry, Alexander Graham Bell). And, I’m also lucky enough to work in a field that may very well have deep roots in its connection to the old landline, but has moved away from the phone as its main mode of communication.
We’ve come a long way from traditional PR. In today’s ‘digital age’, it’s all done online. We are in touch with reporters via email, and aim to get our clients covered in online publications of top tier media outlets (and outlets that don’t even have a print edition) instead of print publications. But, while some (including myself) may breathe a sigh of relief that we no longer have to “smile and dial,” it’s not as easy as it might sound.
Here are a few tips for getting your message across without having to raise your “voice”:
Construct the perfect email subject line
When you call a journalist, you know who you are speaking with and that they are present in the conversation, and you can often get a pretty quick response. However, when you send an email, you don’t even know if they received it, let alone actually opened it. Your perfectly written email could just be floating around in cyberspace. People are bombarded with emails every day, so you have to put some effort into creating a catchy and relevant subject line to get your email opened (and hopefully read). Feel free to get creative, but don’t be deceptive (we all hate click bait) – what’s in the subject should be elaborated on in the email itself.
Keep it short and sweet
People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and, for better or worse, people rarely read an entire email, article or book word for word – we’ve mastered the art of skimming. Journalists don’t have time to read a novel of an email – get to the point, and do it quickly. Hopefully you have piqued their interest, and they will come to you for additional information.
Put social media to use
Many companies start Twitter and Facebook pages just for the sake of having them. However, they do not utilize them to their full potential. Social media creates a two-way communication channel, which, if used properly, can be extremely beneficial. For example, you can reach out to reporters, potential clients and influencers. Social media creates a somewhat informal platform even when dealing with more formal business matters.
While the internet isn’t a new phenomenon, it doesn’t mean that we know all of the ins and outs perfectly. However, the more we know, the more we can use it to our advantage. Like it or not, the phone is dead. It’s time for PR professionals to take their communications online to have the greatest effectiveness.
A high GPA, a fancy degree and lots of titles listed next to your name are the pieces needed to help you land you your dream job—or so was the now-outdated formula our parents’ generation was taught to follow. Struggling to land a job, millennials have learned the hard way that there is no better way to climb the corporate ladder than by having experience.
If what I needed was experience to move ahead with a career in communications, then experience is what I would get. Climbing my way into the “real world”, I found myself an internship and started learning the ins and outs of the PR world, beginning with the basics.
The five tips that I outlined below came as a result of paying my dues, starting out at the bottom and working my way up. These lessons weren’t part of my degree (and won’t be part of yours) and won’t be included in school textbooks.
- Your co-workers are your greatest resource, use them: Connect with your co-workers. You will learn more from these people than from anything else. Working as part of a team offers endless opportunities to learn from one another. It could be someone has a great article idea, a neat way of organizing their excel sheets, a great strategy for sifting through news or an eye for proofreading. The best secrets and shortcuts are hidden in those who you share an office with. Unlock them by connecting to those who you work with and ask them for help. Send a coworker a pitch to read over, perhaps a fresh set of eyes will view it in a completely different angle. Share an upcoming release, perhaps they know a journalist in that industry that would be interested as well. Don’t be shy or overly confident – your co-workers need you just as much as you need them. You have access to the best advice at the seat right next to you – make sure you use it!
- Relationships with journalists are key: Getting to know a journalist and the type of news or pitches he or she is interested in can take time to learn. Although many of your pitch emails will be ignored, there are tactics that can help you target your next pitch. Start by looking at topics and stories a journalist has recently covered. This will give you an idea of what type of a pitch will interest this journalist. Building a relationship with a journalist is a two-way street and can be the key to your success. You can start by checking in with a journalist and offering them assistance with any stories they are currently working on. Once they know that you are a resource for them and can offer them something that others cannot, not only will you go to them when you need a story, but they’ll start to come to you.
- Staying on top of the news is part of your job: You must be up-to-date on the news, specifically news that affects your clients. It is part of your job to follow any industry news that can impact your client. Whether the news has an announcement from one of your client’s competitors or will offer your client an opportunity to comment on a current event, it is up to you to ensure that your client is updated on anything that is relevant. Even when you’re not at work, the expectation is for you to keep your eyes and ears out for any relevant news throughout the day and night.
- Your job doesn’t end when you go home: PR is definitely not a 9-5 job that you leave at your desk in the office. There are times, take for example, right before a release is going out, where you can expect to have a few later nights. Although you don’t need to be glued to your phone, there will be instances where a call may be scheduled after work hours or an email must be dealt with immediately and not left until the following day. Many coverage opportunities are time sensitive – miss the rapidly changing news cycle and its too late to add your client’s voice to the story. As time goes on, you will learn what is urgent and what can wait until you are next in the office. What is most important is to let your clients know that you are handling it. Your client must know they can depend on you – and yes, that means showing them that you don’t leave your work at work.
- Public Relations is a multifaceted industry. Public Relations has various components – some of which are relevant for certain clients and some of which are not. The most common component is ensuring your client media coverage through garnering interest from local or international press, about anything from a funding round to a new partnership. Another component is positioning your client as an industry thought leader so that others view them as an expert in their field. Social media offers many platforms for your clients to engage with relevant users and audiences. One of the biggest challenges is aligning expectations with each client as those who have never worked with a PR firm may not be completely familiar with the strategies that can be offered.
PR is more than scheduling an analyst briefing with one of your clients or ensuring their press release gets coverage. We are telling a story. We are helping our clients find their voice and sharing something with the world that otherwise may not be as known. As with many industries, the key to finding success is hard work and increasing your knowledge, skill-set and experience. There are so many different parts of this job that I enjoy (that’s for another blogpost), and two years into my PR career, I can confidently say that while I have learned a tremendous amount, I still have a waaays to go. Come and join me on the journey!
For those who haven’t got the memo, it’s no secret that social media has become quite popular over the last couple of years. Actually, “quite popular” is a biiiit of an understatement. A recent study shows that 97% of online adults aged 16-64 have visited or used a social network within the last month. Almost all of the world’s active Internet users are spending their online surfing time on social media! In this post, I am going to share three (of many) benefits that social media has for startups and why it is more important than ever to be a good “social media citizen.”
Create Brand Awareness
The most important thing that social media can do for your startup is make people aware that you exist. Whether this is done organically or through paid social advertising, social media (along with quality earned media) is one of the most effective ways of getting your name out there. While paid social advertising is the quickest way to grow your social media audience and create brand awareness, there are also things that can, and should, be done to reach this goal organically. Posting content relating to your industry, following and engaging with relevant influencers and jumping in on related conversations will help create brand recognition and increase your audience reach.
Develop Thought Leadership
Another advantage of being active on social media is establishing your brand as a thought leader within its industry. One of the best ways to do this is through an active blog on your company’s website, which can then be posted as original content to your social media channels. When writing your blog, there are a couple of important things to remember. You must identify your target audience and tailor the content so that they will find it interesting. Also, it is important that you are offering a unique perspective on the topic being presented. Finally, try to find opportunities to quote and link to other thought leaders in the industry. By associating yourself with an established thought leader in your field, it will give your company blog a bit more credibility as well as an opportunity to form a relationship with this person on social media.
Support Lead Generation
After creating brand awareness and establishing your startup as a thought leader, social media can play a role in supporting lead generation. While your startup may have other means of bringing in leads, using social media marketing for lead generation has been proven to be quite cost effective, with statistics showing that social media marketing can reduce lead generation costs for 45% of businesses. Running a contest, hosting an online event or promoting gated content are all great ways to use social media to aid your startup’s lead generation.
These are just three of the many advantages social media has for your business. So what are you still doing here? Go get posting and promoting!
Clients are the backbone of any thriving customer-service business and the resource upon which the success of a business depends. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we need to make sure our clients are not just satisfied, but also happy.
Below are 5 fundamentals that we incorporate into the relationships with our clients:
1. Set clear expectations: Helping clients understand the PR process as well as setting and outlining realistic expectations can dramatically improve their satisfaction with your services. Take the time to speak with your clients and make sure they have a clear idea of the goals you hope to achieve with them (it may help to show them coverage from similar clients to give them an idea of what’s reasonable).
To make sure everyone is aligned, discuss the media outlets that are important to them and develop a PR strategy that lines up with their goals. Be clear about how you will communicate with your clients and how quickly you will get back to them (within 24 hours is usually ideal, but obviously faster depending on the urgency).
Discuss deadlines and make a list of promises each party will adhere to. When working with the media, reporters are often under strict deadlines and at times need comments right away. Be sure that clients are aware of this. The same goes for events—pitching often needs to be done several weeks in advance so having the necessary materials ahead of time is very important. It’s vital to remember that this is a two-way street and for both parties to be successful, collaboration and accountability are crucial.
2. Honesty is key: No long-term relationship survives if the two parties aren’t honest with each other.
In PR there are no guarantees, and it would be wrong to promise coverage to a client without knowing what can be delivered. While we can do everything in our power to try and sell a story, it’s impossible to predict whether a reporter or a producer will like a pitch or quote a client.
It’s also very important to be honest about the results that are secured. The media may pick up a story about a client that your firm is not responsible for. While coverage is almost always appreciated, don’t add that to your monthly report as something you secured.
In a nutshell– It’s more sensible to under-promise and over deliver and it’ll make your clients that much more excited when they wind up on the home page of TechCrunch due to your hard work!
3. Set measurable goals: It is important to realize the significance of setting goals– and not just in your professional life. Setting goals gives you long -term vision and short-term motivation. Even in my previous line of work, as a third grade teacher, setting goals with my students was one of the most important activities of the year, as it gave them something to strive for, while keeping me accountable for their success.
As a PR professional, I also believe that setting goals with clients is crucial. It allows you to look at the big picture, creating a strategy that can lead towards the ultimate goal, which is to get coverage that will help a business build its brand and inevitably lead to more business opportunities. Refer to shared goals during every conversation to keep momentum and avoid unwanted distractions. One way to do that is through weekly check-ins to discuss progress. Monthly activity reports also allow clients to see the goals that have been achieved over the past month. This provides clients with transparency while also offering the chance to revisit goals for future planning.
4. Pay attention to the details: It can be easy for big picture thinking to keep you from caring about the small stuff. But, as Steve Jobs said, “Details matter. It’s worth waiting to get it right.” The little things can have an enormous impact on your relationships, be it with your clients or your media contacts.
Paying attention to the details is important for avoiding errors, maintaining efficiency and making a good impression—which is what our clients invariably hire us for. So being mindful of emails, news releases, etc. is very important. It’s equally as important to know your clients’ industry inside and out. This is actually a very big detail! Understanding their messaging and their branding, along with their competition is invaluable. Remember, quality should be non-negotiable—and is in fact, a competitive advantage.
5. Communicate effectively—and constantly: That means anticipating your clients needs before they know their own, and constantly updating them along the way. One way to do that is by sending daily updates. Our clients are very busy running their companies and have many different things to keep track of. If meetings are set up for them, send over talking points ahead of time; make sure they know about deadlines, as well as upcoming events or speaking opportunities.
It’s also important to make sure to know the way your client likes to communicate best (is it through email, over the phone, or even possibly through SMS)?
Being a good communicator means listening to your clients needs. Listening and clearly organizing your thoughts before sharing can help you more effectively share ideas or concerns.
Working in any industry, especially PR, involves a lot of moving parts, which is why it’s essential to have a system in place to help manage client relations and expectations. This list aims to help you to strike that delicate balance. And, hopefully word of mouth (from all your happy clients) will travel fast!
Public relations is a results oriented industry, defined largely by a “what have you done for me lately?” approach. At GK, we are squarely focused on achieving the best results we can for our clients. However, we also care deeply about the process that goes into securing those results. As with any other part of life, our jobs are full of quandaries that present us with questions of morals and ethics. Here are two common examples and how we approach them:
Exclusivity and Selling Your “Sole”
When we agree to an exclusive with a reporter, it means we grant that reporter, and solely that reporter, access to details of a story. Only after the journalist publishes her or his story, do we reach out to additional reporters. The terms of an exclusivity agreement and the ethical issues surrounding it can confuse people outside of the industry, mostly because they are unfamiliar with the different methods of pitching an announcement.
We often pitch news under embargo one to two weeks in advance of the announcement date. In this case, we send the story to anyone we think might be interested in it, and everyone agrees not to publish anything until a specific time and date. Alternatively, we can pitch a live story, waiting until the release is live to conduct outreach. Additionally, there is the option of agreeing to an exclusive, wherein only one reporter has the right to publish the story. Only after his or her article is live are we able to reach out to anyone else. If we were to send the announcement to other reporters in the meantime, we would be violating the terms of the agreement, plain and simple. Theoretically, it might be possible to have your cake and eat it too – in other words, agree to an exclusive with one journalist, while also pitching additional journalists under embargo. Doing so might even increase coverage of the announcement, and we have seen it done. Unfortunately, that is also something that clients have asked us to do.
However, not only is this not how we choose to conduct business, but in the longer run, we believe that this type of fast and loose interpretation of classic journalistic practice will end up ruining relationships with journalists and make it difficult to work with them in the future.
Integrity is Integral
As alluded to above, we often work with clients who are not familiar with the processes involved in public relations, and for some we are the first PR firm with whom they have worked. With all of our clients, particularly those who are inexperienced with PR, we try to be as honest, transparent and informative as possible. Just as much as we own our success, we take ownership of our mistakes and correct them. Our goal in this process is to lift any curtain of mystery surrounding the work we are doing. Likewise, we do not promise the moon to our clients or potential clients. We are proud of the results we have achieved and they speak for themselves. But, at the end of the day, PR is earned media, meaning no PR firm can guarantee regular coverage in The New York Times, TechCrunch or any other publication. We can get there, but it is important to set expectations correctly and always aim to under-promise and over-deliver. If someone tells you otherwise, they are likely not telling the truth.
Operating with integrity also means distributing credible stories and information. We conduct our own independent research about our clients and the industries they are in, to ensure that we gain a firsthand understanding of their market and the need that they are fulfilling. Similarly, we ensure that the contributed articles our clients publish are based on accurate, current data. Our press releases and pitches are written with equal sincerity. Although some companies want to position themselves as producers of world-changing technology that will alter the face of an industry, such statements are often divorced from reality. Disseminating information based on false claims would be a disservice to the public, reporters, our clients and us. This approach brings the term “journalistic integrity” to mind. Unlike journalists, we are paid to increase our clients’ exposure. However, like journalists, it is our personal and professional duty to act as a filter for the truth, especially in an era of “fake news.”
Honesty is the Best Policy
Ethics aside, an honest method also yields better results. Conducting proper research and pitching stories and articles that are factual helps increase the standing of our clients in the eyes of the journalists we are in contact with, and also allows those journalists to do their jobs more accurately and effectively. This creates a win for everyone involved, which is exactly what we like doing.
Mother always said look both ways when you cross the street – but what about working on both sides of the street? Having had what some (actually, maybe only mother) would call an illustrious career in journalism, I’m now privileged to be working at GK, on the PR side of things, with the folks who help provide the fodder that is the bread and butter of much of tech journalism.
It’s interesting to see now how things work from the “outside,” and to put into context some of the thoughts and feelings I had about PR people when I was a writer. Make no mistake: The relationship is a very symbiotic one. Both PR and press need each other, the former to get the word out to the public about their clients, the latter to reap content and information that goes into news, opinion, and even investigative pieces.
Interestingly, both sides think they know what they want/need from the other, but not all on either side do – or if they do, they don’t know how to supply it/ask for it, whether it’s exclusivity (press), a commitment to write a story (PR), clarifications of information/facts (press), a chance for both sides of the story to be heard when something negative is going to be published (PR), etc.
Often times, both sides look at the other as “an other” – an alien, perhaps even a semi-enemy entity.
That’s a mistake, though. PR people and press should work in harmony – and they can, as long as they remember that their job is to keep the other guy “happy.” By that, I don’t mean that writers should slavishly produce positive content to please a PR firm, or that PR people should go overboard on sucking up to reporters (been there, done that, and it doesn’t work). As a reporter, all I wanted from a PR firm was a fair shake – a straightforward story, quotes I can use, real information, as opposed to a sales pitch about how great their client is. Ultimately, I wanted to work in harmony with PR firms to help produce a story that I could point to with pride when I attached my name to it. I think the same holds true for most journalists writing about technology (and other topics) today.
The corollary goes for the PR side – respect the journalist by pitching real stories that are relevant for their beats, give him/her the information s/he needs to get their work done, care that you are taking their time and understand that they are investing themselves in your client’s story. Being here after being there has made this crystal clear to me: PR and press are in it together.
It’s said that the first hour of the day is the most crucial. In fact, behavioral scientist Dan Ariely says most of us waste the “two most productive hours of the day on things that don’t require high, cognitive capacity” (like Twitter or replying to emails) . When the last hour of the day rolls by, it’s important to leave the office feeling accomplished. So, after you’ve brewed your first espresso (obviously) in the wee hours of the morning, remind yourself of these four tips.
Make a Plan for the Day
Ask yourself what’s priority. Who has an announcement? Is there an event? Go through all of your clients and figure out what needs to get done for the day (or week or month) and how. Of course, everyone has different styles, but here’s what I like to do: take a post-it and write down what needs to get done. Number the tasks in order of priority and give yourself a time limit for each.
Be News Savvy
Twitter and Google Alerts are PR’s best friends. Choose one or two top keywords for each client and check them on Google News or Twitter once or twice a day. Also, scroll through Google News throughout the day and Twitter to keep tabs of what’s happening, industry or not. Some of the best pitches are making connections that journalists would never think of themselves. After all, we do live in an interconnected world and one thing is bound to affect the other.
Help a Reporter Help You
Two musts of a PR professional. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and #journorequest on Twitter. HARO is a tri-daily email blast with requests from various journalists looking for comment on news stories. #journorequest on Twitter is the same thing, but be ready to weed out a lot of junk (such as company blogs, no-name bloggers) from the cohort. Also, your favorite journalist could be in town and needs help on his next story. Choose a few key journalists for clients, follow them on Twitter and check their pages to see what they’re up to. They might need a comment on a story and this could be the next big break for your client.
Proactivity is Productivity
Find one thing that’s out of the box, that’s not ordinarily your responsibility, but would benefit the firm’s clientele. Think about: What are we doing as a whole that could be done better? Who’s out there that could use our help? What events are going on that we should have a presence in? Take this one step further, what type of technology is out there that interests me and who is doing that? Take ownership, and it will not only help the firm, but will make your line of work that much more interesting.
Of course, these tips are prefaced with getting a good night of sleep, exercise, eating well, and for some experts, meditation. After all, getting up on the right side of the bed is a benefit for not just you but for everyone around you. Happy productivity everyone!