Communication is the Pulse of Life!

Posts tagged “PR

Do You Want to Hear a Story?

 

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People in general have an insatiable appetite, craving a tender story to sink their teeth into. Commercials or Ads, laden with emotions can invoke a plethora of feelings within a person. Once upon a time, advertisers were fixated on hard-selling a product’s prime assets. Today, they prefer to tell a “story” to sell. The story, though, must resonate with you, the prospect, and appeal to your emotions. After all, when it comes to making buying decisions, it’s all about what stirs your emotion.

Thanks to premium memberships and exclusive privileges, skipping an Ad is literally a click away. While it’s impossible to rewind the effects of technological advancement, it’s plausible for consumers to press play the next time they chance upon YOUR commercial or Ad.

There’s no running away from storytelling in today’s marketing environment.  It’s an essential component of any marketing and advertising campaign strategy. Brand storytelling works when yours rises over the white noise to rein in your prospects and win their trust, only then will they become vested in your business. Here are some tips we’d like to share with you.

1.  Stand out from the rest

To be memorable, you must be unforgettable. A conventional plot won’t exactly scream your brand name. Advertisers need to pull out a fishing rod to hook users with a direct connection to a powerful story, to automatically assimilate the business-to-consumer bond.

To stand out, you don’t necessarily have to be tall. Volkswagen’s Think Small campaign swiftly shifts the focus of spacious American cars to small German automobiles. Instead of short-changing consumers with empty promises of roomier cars, they choose honesty as the route forward – telling it like it is!

Think about what makes your product a rose among the thorns, and figure out ways to weave a story from that. Where carbonated beverages are aplenty, Coca-Cola’s personalised bottles, are a rare, novel invention. The Share a Coke campaign allows users to purchase a can of Coke with their personal name printed against the famous red backdrop. For unconventional names and nicknames, Coca-Cola will even customise the bottle. Consumers feel a sense of ownership, or better yet – it spurs them on to share a Coke with someone by that name. It may be simple, but a name can share a thousand stories.

2.  The emotional touch

Luke Sullivan, author and copywriter of Fallon McElligott advertising agency, shares how people talk in stories. We must do the same. The brand itself tells a story, and narratives give human experience depth. Take for instance, a savvy gadget like FitBit – we know what it is and how it works. The Ad uses an emotional pull factor as it follows an impressionable young girl while she narrates her mother’s fitness journey, all from her eagle-eyed lenses. It tugs at your heartstrings and holds your attention on pause. What’s more, it makes consumers believe that FitBit is indeed a gadget for everyone. You wouldn’t be as interested if the Ad boasted a chunk of statistics, right?

3.  Be real, give details

You may think that to reach the masses, a carbon copy of a tried-and-tested idea would suffice. But does a “recycled” idea makes you jump out of your seat? If you want to be heard, then include details, details, details. This makes the storyline genuine and relatable, and is sure to go out with a bang.

Observe your surroundings and hear what isn’t being said. Starhub Singapore’s campaign is peppered with nostalgic heartland moments to alter people’s hushed perception of Singapore as THE unhappiest country. The story resonates close to home and includes visuals of precious, authentic moments that locals cordially share.

4. Relate and resonate

Step into the shoes of a reader and ask yourself, “Can I relate?” Think of the struggles your community faces, and how others feel about a certain topic. For instance, in the age of female empowerment, the Think Like A Girl campaign by Always, nips the social stigma of playing sports like a girl, in the bud. The takeaway is that girls are as fit and adept as boys – a message that runs deep for many independent women out there.

5.  Close your eyes

Many will skip advertisements at the first second. If you can make a person forget, even momentarily, that they’re watching an Ad, you’ll garner two thumbs up (and a ‘like’). As Jon Hamm wittingly said in Mad Men, “I wanted people to say “What’s happening in the story right now? Oh! It’s an advertisement!” That will clue you in if you have an Emmy-winning Ad or not.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) shares stories of supportive mothers to superstar athletes, and how unwavering courage leads to the success of their children. The commercial is almost a film, taking viewers on a journey before reaching that paramount moment, all under 3 minutes.

Hope these tips help you to think outside the box. The next time you’re in a brainstorming session, remember: Honest, relatable and authentic storylines – That’s where the gold is.

Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia

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PR and the Media: Stop Killing Everything in a 1000 Mile Radius!

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No relationship is perfect. Even Disney acclaims to this fact when ‘Frozen’ female-lead Anna, ends up with Kristoff, rather than ‘pretty boy’ Prince Hans.

At the end of the film, Anna, Princess of Arendelle eventually ends up falling for Kristoff, a true outdoorsman with a penchant for ‘eating boogers because every guy does it’, living and eating carrots with his mangy reindeer and taking an occasional bath here and there, seems like a MIS-MATCH made in heaven. He is a bit of a ‘Fixer-Upper’ anyway.

But no, we won’t be reviewing the dynamics of an animated couple’s relationship today but rather, the fact that every relationship seems to have its own quirks now and again. This holds true for corporate relationships as well, and more importantly, the one that we’re going to address in this post: The relationship between a PR firm and its corresponding media counterparts, AKA journalists and reporters.

While journalism and mass communication is thought to include broadcasting, print, advertising and public relations, the relationships between journalists and public relations have a tendency to be viewed as strained in the communication world. The question is, is this only a perceived problem or is there actual animosity between journalists and public relations professionals?

The first part of this post is to address how the media can piss off a PR firm. And before critics come barging through our office door with accusations of biasness and defamatory remarks, I will also address the flip side of the coin, how a PR firm can piss off the media. In the end, what this post aims to achieve is a simple list of what and what not to do when you are in these industries, so that we can all strive towards a common goal; to tell compelling stories, provide client satisfactions and getting the job done.

Things Media do to PR firms.

Rude Jude

Manners cost nothing and politeness is the new virtue. Journalists are tight for time, we get that. Sometimes PR firms may call in at an exceptionally bad time (or perhaps these journalists were just having a bad day) but that is no excuse for being rude. Even if you are simply not interested in our pitches, a simple ‘thanks but no thanks’ would indicate that we ought to hit our pitches right out of your ballpark. PR Pros do not set out to be pests; we are just real people trying to do our jobs.

Story Goes Livewire, but Gets Short-Circuited.

A journalist has posted a story, that’s great news, but how is the PR team supposed to promote it if they were not notified about it in the first place? As tempting as it is to Facebook/Google/Twitter/Internet stalk journalists, PR Pros can’t be on someone’s tail 24 hours at a time.

Going ‘Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride’ On PR Pros

Getting an elusive top-tiered business media interview is sort of like getting invited to the Olympics. If an article comes out from that, it’s like winning the gold medal as well. So when PR Pros secure an interview, we run back to our clients, getting them all excited and prepped. However, a few short hours before the actual interview, we realised that the journalist has ‘bumped’ our story, simply because he decided that our client was not up his alleyway. Do you want us to get a heart attack? Because that is how we get a heart attack.

Things PR firms do to the media.

Skydiving Into a Pitch Without a Parachute

This is a no-brainer because marketing and public relations rides well on personalization. There is nothing more distasteful to a journalist than receiving pitches from PR flacks that don’t do a smattering of research.

Google exists for a reason and a good one at that, for people to use it. PR Pros who take the time to really understand a particular journalist’s tastes, themes and interests afford them the attention that their pitch needs. Additionally, it would be viable for PR Pros to learn and understand exactly what they are pitching. Being able to answer basic questions about a client’s business proves that they have done their homework.

The Clingy Girlfriend Calling

Most people would agree that having one clingy girlfriend is more than enough. PR firms who continuously (and repeatedly) make cold calls to journalists are egging them in the wrong direction. Following up multiple times with a telegram, fax or pigeon carrier is not going to break through the clutter either.

Journalist or not, writing is an arduous task. It is difficult to remain focused if the lines are going off the hook every 5 minutes and from a PR firm no less (probably to call if you have received our pitch/release in the last minute). At the very least, the journalist will begin to see red.

Social Media Outreach

Our world is way too connected, and this is burning us out. A work/life balance is becoming increasingly challenging and everyone (PR Pros and Journalists alike) are making efforts to separate our personal and professional lives. Studies have shown that reporters who were pitched through social media were less likely to respond to such pitches. No surprise there, most people do employ their Facebook and Twitter accounts as a platform for entertainment and leisure. How would you like if a sales rep was selling a product through your Facebook account? To play it safe, just stick with emailing them.

No amount of good practice from either side of the industry will placate the other at a 100% and turn them into best friends. But that’s okay. Journalists and PR Pros alike exist to satisfy clients (and readers). Our job as a PR firm is to advise our clients on how best to ride these media rapids while a journalist’s aim is to report on events in a balanced fashion. Like it or not, both industries have a symbiotic relationship with one another. If PRs and journalists can accept that we need each other and move forward with mutual respect and understanding, then both of our jobs will become ultimately more satisfying.

Posted by Stacey Choo, PR Executive, CorpMedia


Personal Branding for Introverts

I had just finished a talk at a leading technology company when an engineer approached me. “I liked your ideas about personal branding, and I can see how they’d work,” he told me. “But most of them aren’t for me — I’m an introvert. Is there anything I can do?” What he didn’t realize is that (like an estimated one-third to one-half of the population) I’m one, too.

Despite the common misperception that all introverts are shy, and vice versa, they’re two very different phenomena. (Author and introversion expert Susan Cain defines shyness as “the fear of negative judgment,” while introversion is “a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.”) I actually like giving talks to large groups (that day, there were 180 people in the room and another 325 watching online). I’m happy to mingle and answer questions afterward. But at a certain point, I’ve learned through experience, I have to get away and go somewhere by myself.

Conference organizers and attendees will often ask you to join them for dinner the evening before, or cocktails afterward. Rationally, it’s a win-win: they perceive more value because they get to interact with you personally, and you can make interesting business connections and learn tidbits about attendees that allow you to personalize your talk. For those good reasons, I’ll often say yes, but I’ve had to learn my limits: if I’ve been traveling too much, or had a frenzied schedule that day, or my social chops are hampered by lack of sleep, it’s far better to refuse. Like a car that requires periodic oil changes, I have to recharge with quiet, alone time.

It’s true that many of the best ways to establish your brand in the professional world are still weighted toward extroverts: taking leadership positions in professional associations, starting your own conference or networking group, or — indeed — embracing public speaking (all of which frequently entail extended social contact).

Over time, I’ve learned “when to say when” and graciously call it an evening. But for many introverts, it’s a tough balance. One executive at a large consulting firm once asked me how she could be truly authentic in her dealings with others, given how uncomfortable she was when it came to networking; she worried she’d have to put on a smiley, hypersocial façade. Yet I’m convinced it’s possible to be real about building connections and developing our personal brands, while still respecting our natural tendencies.

First, social media may actually be an area where introverts, who thrive on quiet contemplation, have an advantage. With a blog — one of the best techniques for demonstrating thought leadership — you can take your time, formulate your thoughts, and engage in real dialogue with others. Indeed, while extroverts desperate for their next fix are trading business cards at cocktail parties, you can build a global brand on the strength of your ideas.

Next, with a little strategy and effort, you can become a connector one person at a time. A friend of mine used to work at a large research hospital; it was a sprawling institution with countless divisions and initiatives. She made a simple commitment: each week, she’d ask a person from a different office or department to lunch. Often, she’d meet them initially at company meetings or through project work; if the suggestion to have lunch together didn’t arise naturally, she’d tell them about her project, and they were almost always intrigued enough to join her.

Within a few months, she had begun to build a robust network inside her organization — on her own, quiet terms (Susan Cain herself told HBR that we ought to “be figuring out ways where people can kind of pick and choose their environments, and then be at their best.”) My friend’s “lunch initiative” exemplifies the research of Ronald Burt at the University of Chicago, who urges workers to “bridge structural gaps” in their organizations. In other words, you can make yourself professionally indispensable if you develop connections that enable you to break through silos, and identify and surmount knowledge gaps.

Introverts can also use subtle cues to establish their personal brand. As well-known psychologist Robert Cialdini told me during an interview for my book Reinventing You, simply placing diplomas or awards on your office walls can help reinforce your expertise to others. (Cialdini saw this powerful effect in action at an Arizona hospital he advised; exercise compliance increased 32% almost immediately after the physical therapy unit started displaying their staff’s credentials.)

Finally, use your downtime strategically. You’re likely to need more “thinking time,” as introvert and former Campbell Soup Company CEO Doug Conant advised in an HBR post. So while the extroverts may be schmoozing with colleagues after work, you can ensure you’re being productive while you recharge by reading industry journals or thinking creatively about your company and your career. (Introverts often do their best thinking on their own, as Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino suggests, rather than amidst the scrum of an office brainstorming session.)

In popular imagination, personal branding is often equated with high-octane, flesh-pressing showmanship. But there are other, sometimes better, ways you can define yourself and your reputation. Taking the time to reflect and be thoughtful about how you’d like to be seen and then living that out through your writing and your interpersonal relationships (and even your décor) is a powerful way to ensure you’re seen as the leader you are.

Guest Post by Dorie Clark for Harvard Business Review


Follow That Bird!

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News, blogs, opinions – Twitter is one of the most popular social networks for spreading ideas. It has revolutionized the way millions of people consume news. With 288 million active users, Twitter is the world’s fourth-largest social network, as it gets ready for its IPO offering.

Twitter has proven its worth as the platform for breaking news. Tweets, i.e. the 140-character messages that make up the global Twitter dialogue, have become the preferred medium of communication for executives, celebrities, athletes and everyday people. Whether it’s President Barack Obama touting healthcare reform or Jennifer Aniston walking the red carpet, Twitter consistently trumps rival media platforms by breaking news, generating controversy and provoking debate in real time. If it doesn’t matter on Twitter, it simply doesn’t matter.

In recent years, usability advancements have helped Twitter to increase their following, and opened up possibilities for companies maximizing Twitter’s functions to achieve business goals. For example, employees of a media agency can share tweets and spread news of digital marketing, SEO and other trends on a selected Twitter stream – a neat twist for mainstream digital communications tools.  For non-business social networking, Twitter can also serve as a communicative and resourceful tool that families and schools can benefit from.

Twitter is also increasing advertising dollars as its empire builds. Social media as an advertising medium is growing, and growing fast.  For small businesses without the resources to explore conventional advertising options, Twitter presents a free and efficient alternative to promote goods and services directly to customers, exploiting the immediacy and intimacy that other channels simply can’t match.

So let’s take a closer look at Twitter and how best you can network and engage with your audiences effectively in order to grow your Twitter following and hopefully your customer base.  By following these simple tips, you can use Twitter to its full potential.

 1.  Keep your tweets short.

Make your tweets clear and uncomplicated, without too much shorthand. If you are including a link, use a URL shortener like Bit.ly or TinyURL. And leave enough room for people to retweet you without having to edit your original tweet.

2.   Be responsive

The easiest and most vital step to grow your audience is to communicate quickly. If someone shows an interest in your company, let them know you’ve heard them. Your Twitter feed may offer the first impression future clients have of your company. You want customers to perceive you as approachable, customer-centric and professional. Answering questions and responding to comments is the best way to do that.

3. Stay positive

The informal nature of Twitter lends itself well to all kinds of tweets.  In Twitter world, your company’s feed becomes a public face, so make a conscious effort to stay positive. While a few off-the-cuff remarks to your followers can make your company seem friendly and outgoing, do watch your tone.

4.  Engage your followers

By engaging your followers, you can forge tighter relations with your customer base. For example, first look for the products or services that you offer and find one that appeals most to your existing followers, and base your promotion around it. Then consider how you execute the promotion. While a simple “retweet to enter!” strategy can be fast-moving and widespread, it won’t convey any useful information to potential customers. Instead, consider asking your followers to tweet about your products using a specialized hashtag for entry.  This gets everyone talking and it will get the word out to a much bigger audience quickly.

5.  Make hashtags a habit

The best way to accomplish this is to create a unique and memorable hashtag and use it often. It should reference either your company name or your most popular and recognizable product, and be short. Hashtags create a page that stores every recent tweet using it; potential customers who click on your company hashtag can be presented with a wealth of information. Be sure to also use situational hashtags, like the hashtag for an event you’re attending. These can pull in new followers who are monitoring those tags or use them regularly.

6.  Ask questions.

Start a dialogue; “crowdsource” an opinion. Asking questions is one of the best ways to attract attention and get your Twitter name retweeted. Instead of posting what you think, ask others for their opinions.

7.  Target influencers

Be sure to tweet at and strike up conversations with influential individuals and companies in your line of business. If you can offer similar type topics or interesting news for their followers, you may just reap a share of the wealth, and capture the he attention of some big names in the process.  It’s a great way to network online and you may find an open doorway that leads to an inner circle of industry experts who could add to your business.

Remember, the sky’s the limit for Twitter as it continues to drive its presence with users and advertisers around the globe. Use it wisely and responsibly – bad news travels fast!

So let your fingers do the walking and keep tweeting – you never know, your company could just become the next big trending topic!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


Coming To You Live!

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In the ruthless digital storm of today, it is no longer “I am blogging this” but “I am blogging this now” that will keep your readers hooked. Live blogging can actually be an extremely valuable resource to your readers if done right. When information is succinct and posts are thoughtful, useful and focused throughout, they may consider your blog the go-to blog for event coverage.

Quintessentially, live blogging is the posting of regular updates to one’s blog as the respective event is taking place, as opposed to blogging after the event itself. It definitely requires preparation, and the number one rule – never run out of power!

The Must-haves

–       the laptop

–       the digital camera

–       the video camera

–       the digital recorder

–       notepad & pens when your wrists need a break

–       miscellaneous – power cords, batteries, charger, sweets (to stay awake)

Ensuring Effectiveness

  1. Find internet access
    Do contact the staff in advance to ask if there will be wireless internet access available in order to stave off disaster. It wouldn’t be a live blog if you’re not blogging live. If disaster strikes, call a friend and have them put up a notice that you are experiencing difficulties on your live blog.
  2. Schedule/Rank most popular events
    Dedicate your time to blog the portions that you know will be popular. Treat the event like a collection of websites, and hone in on the presentations that you have mentally assigned as the highest ranking page.
  3. Use visuals
    Pictures are unquestionably a great adjunct to any live blog. With the popularity of platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, there is no question that visuals appeal to audiences. However, make sure you clear the use of digital cameras and other recording devices with the event staff beforehand – recording live video or audio would be ideal. This acts to complement your live blog, not to substitute your content. You can always go back afterward to cut out the more interesting snippets to post on your website. It will also cement you as a professional in the eyes on those viewing your live blog.
  4. Follow-up
    Remember to refer back to your live blog later and use it as research to piece together more cohesive blog posts for your website.

Choosing the Right Platform

On the other hand, depending on the scale and type of event and its following, you need to consider first and foremost if live blogging is your best option. The fact is that while live blogging reflects tech savvy, some events just are not suited to it. For example, if an event is very dry, in-depth or complicated in its content, blogging it live may be inappropriate and counter-productive.

This may be especially so as such events that rely on the accuracy and depth of what you are covering. Thus, it would make more sense to draft a proper blog post.

Depending on the demographics of your readers, one could also take a hybrid approach. That is to live blog interesting snippets of the event itself, especially if something unexpected happens. This can then be supplemented with a full-length post that covers the event proper.

Embracing the Times

There is a host of other mediums one can use to reach out for coverage. Social media networks such as Flickr, Ustream.tv, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are just some of this growing number. Live blogging can also be done using WordPress, ScribbleLive, and CoverItLive. The key here is not necessarily to be the best live blogger, because then you are limited to your platform. What is more important here is to be a great communicator. This way, as trends and tools change, your readers will always be loyal to your input and voice.

 A live blog will get more hits the day of the event than any other time. We are a society of instant media gratification junkies and this provides the instant fix we crave. While live blogging may not replace traditional blogging anytime soon (or at all), it may encourage it to become lengthier and meatier than it has been in the past. Instead of offering just the quick breakdown that the live blog offers, bloggers will have to inject more qualified statistics and observations in their post-event content to make people want to read their posts in addition to the live blog coverage.

Posted by Yiwen Ng, PR Executive, Corporate Media


When Your Communication Styles Don’t Match

Why do people who consider themselves good communicators often fail to actually hear each other? Often it’s due to a mismatch of styles: To someone who prefers to vent, someone who prefers to explain seems patronizing; explainers experience venters as volatile.

This is why so many of us see our conversational counterparts as lecturing, belaboring, talking down to us, or even shaming us (if we are venters and they are explainers) or as invasive, out of control, and overly emotional (if we’re an explainer and they’re a venter).

Facing this kind of mismatch, what do you think the chances are for either person actually listening with an open mind?

My answer is… very low.

It is tempting to say, “zero,” but since it’s not possible (or even desirable) to work only with people who match your communication style, you need to develop the skill to try to listen around their communication style.

Listening around that style, however, can be incredibly effortful.  When someone is either venting/screaming or explaining/belaboring it triggers a part of your middle emotional brain called the amygdala, which desperately wants to hijack your attentive listening and instead react reflexively with whatever your hardwired reactions are.  And resisting that amygdala hijack is exhausting.

What do to with a venter/screamer

If your conversational counterpart is a venter/screamer, your hardwired survival coping skill might be to tell them to calm down (which will only make them more upset), to shut down and get silent (which will only make them yell longer, because they’ll think you’re not listening), or to try to point out how irrational venting is (which, as noted above, they will perceive as patronizing and belaboring).

Instead, say to yourself, “Okay, here comes another temper tantrum.  Just let them blow.  Try not to take it between the eyes and imagine you’re looking into the calm eye of a hurricane and the storm is going over your shoulder.”

To do this, focus on their left eye. The left eye is connected to the right brain — the emotional brain.  Let them finish. Then say, “I can see you’re really frustrated. To make sure I don’t add to that,  and to make sure I don’t miss something, what was the most important thing I need to do in the long term, what’s the critical thing I need to do in the short term, and what do I need to get done ASAP?” Reframing the conversation this way, after they’ve finished venting, will make sure that your “explainer” self knows what to do – instead of ignoring the venting as another random outburst from “Conan the Barbarian” or “the Wicked Witch of the West.” Chances are – they do have something important they’re trying to tell you – even though they’re not communicating it very well.

After they respond, say to them, “What you just said is way too important for me to have misunderstood a word, so I’m going to say it back to you to make sure I am on the same page with you. Here’s what I heard.” Then repeat exactly, word for word, what they said to you.  After you finish, say to them, “Did I get that right and if not, what did I miss?” Forcing them to listen to what you said they said, “because it was important,” will slow them down, will help you stay centered and in control, and will earn you their and your own respect.

What to do with an explainer/belaborer

If your conversational counterpart is an explainer, your hardwired survival coping skill might be to say to yourself,  “Here they go again, make sure you smile politely even if you want to pull your hair out. Try not to let your impatience and annoyance show.” The problem with this is that even though they may be oblivious to others as they go on and on, at some level they may be aware of your underlying impatience and… that might actually make them talk longer. Yikes.

Realize that the reason they explain and belabor things is probably because their experience is that people don’t pay attention to what they say.  They don’t realize that while that may be true of some truly distracted people, for others, the reason they don’t pay attention is that the speaker is belaboring something that the listener already heard — and doesn’t want to hear over and over again.  Another possibility is that these explainers may not be feeling listened to somewhere else in their life (by their spouse, kids, parents, or boss) and is now relieved to have you as a captive audience.

When the explainer goes into his explanation/lecture/filibuster, say to yourself, “Okay, this is going to take a while.”  Put a mental bookmark in whatever you were working on. Then look them in their left eye with a look that says, “Okay, take your time, I’m fully listening.” Instead of feeling frustrated and reacting by become impatient and fidgety, remind yourself, “They need to do this. I can be patient.”

Then when they finish then apply a similar response to the venter/screamer with the following minor edit:

“I can see that you really had a lot that you had to say. To make sure I don’t miss something, what was the most important thing I need to do in the long term, what’s the critical thing I need to do in the short term, and what do I need to get done ASAP?” ”

After they respond to that, say to them, “What you just said is way too important for me to have misunderstood a word, so I’m going to say it back to you to make sure I am on the same page with you. Here’s what I heard.” Then repeat exactly, word for word, what they said to you.  After you finish, say to them, “Did I get that right, and if not, what did I miss?”

Your amygdala is probably saying to you and to me, “I don’t want to do either of those things.  These people are obnoxious and unreasonable. Why should I kowtow to them?”

Here are several reasons:

  1. They aren’t likely to change. These are deeply ingrained personality traits.
  1. Being more open and inviting them to talk rather than closed and resistant will lessen their need to act this way.  Listening patiently hath charm to soothe the savage (or boring) beast.
  1. You will feel more self-respect and self-esteem. The above approaches will enable you to remain cool, calm, collected, centered and communicative in situation that formerly frustrated you and made you react poorly.

Posted by Mark Goulston for Harvard Business Review.


Twitter Envy: Followship doesn’t mean fellowship

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Twitter’s upcoming I.P.O, valued at USD $10 billion according to analysts, will definitely be another market-shaking event. The IPO market has been relatively quiet since Facebook’s USD $16 billion stock sale last year. This calls for an updated look into how the social network has impacted this digitised world that we live in.

Ever wonder what has become of the long-standing debate between quality and quantity in having more twitter followers?  It seems that the competitive side of social media users rears its ugly head, especially since the number of followers or friends is displayed publicly.

Social media users have probably caught themselves thinking at least once, “I have more followers than you. Ha!”

If we really sat down and thought about it, what exactly have we won? Unless your future job specifically requires you to have substantial following like an advertiser, to the rest of us it is just a number of underwhelming arbitrary value. Would you rather have a Twitter follower who essentially remains just a number, or would you rather have convertible traffic on your own website?

Scarily, many are too caught up in a baffling numbers race. In fact, it is no longer the case that people are unaware of the value of quality relationships. Now, many have consciously decided that superficial temporal popularity is more beneficial.

Celebrity Kim Kardashian doesn’t have the most followers on Twitter, but she once had more traffic referrals from Twitter than anybody else. This comes as a surprise to many when put in comparison with other celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, both of whom have substantially more following. We also do not exactly pin her as the role model type. Her followers (then numbering 5 million) proved to be more than just a number when they clicked on her links more than any other celebrity.

Valuable followship sparks fellowship – or at least some kind of response and action.

The socialite tweets personable, relatable click bait. Fans are alerted about pictures of her European outfits, a contest to attend her birthday party, a breast cancer awareness drive — the kind of content her fans clearly want to see. The rest of her tweets are social. Such a statement seems obvious until you scan other streams that reek of PR and marketing influence, begging followers to buy a product or consume content. Other celebrity streams are almost entirely link-free and designed to facilitate interaction around that individual’s personality rather than create a desired action in the user.

In short, Kardashian’s Twitter stream is optimized to gracefully direct traffic to her website.

It’s far better to attract them through great content, be it educational, entertaining or engaging. This is as opposed to the you-follow-me-I’ll-follow-you approach. This way, you attract people who are following you for a reason. Thousands of additional followers who aren’t listening to what you have to say are not worth much at all. Your value isn’t based on your follower count; it’s based on the value of our interactions, the strength of our relationships, the nature of our reputation, and the integrity with which we use our communications tools.

There is no inherent value in a superficial connection.

Posted by Yiwen Ng, Public Relations Executive, Corporate Media


What’s the Point of Creativity?

Creativity and innovation are hot topics these days, and they are being studied more frequently and intensely. Great observations have come of the attention, as Will Burns writes for Forbes: A coffee-shop study from the University of Illinois concluded that moderate levels of noise, as opposed to high or low levels, foster greater creativity. A study from the University of Stuttgart found that low levels of lighting enhance creativity. And then there’s my favorite, another study from the University of Illinois, that concluded that alcohol intoxication improves creative problem solving.

The attention is good, but too often creativity is studied and written about without examining the context. Why would we want to be more creative? Why bother fostering the conditions for creativity? Why dim the lights, adjust the volume, and get drunk? What’s the purpose of it all?

The unspoken assumption is that our goal is to gain competitive advantage, to crush the competition, to win. But I believe that the best creativity comes from a much deeper place than the desire to win. It comes from a desire to contribute to the lives of others, either by introducing something new that improves the quality of their lives or by showing people that something thought to be impossible is in fact possible. When you change people’s perceptions about what can be accomplished or achieved, you contribute to their humanity in the richest possible way. You give them hope for the future — a sense that life is not the demoralizing, unchanging drudgery day after day that the world so often teaches us that it is. When you change the way people think about possibility, it is an existential experience. It makes them feel understood. More than that, it makes them feel loved.

When JetBlue said it was going to bring humanity to its business, it reunited two worlds that had been estranged for decades. When it put those TV sets in the backs of the seats, upholstered the chairs in leather, and gave everyone a little more room, people felt loved. “You know what it’s like to be crammed in one of those tiny seats for five hours going out of your mind with nothing to do! You’re one of us! You understand me!”

This, in a world in which people so often feel not just that they’re misunderstood but that no one is even bothering to understand them. Have you ever been on hold with customer service and heard a recording that says, “This call may be monitored for quality assurance”? Have you ever once seen evidence of customer quality improving as a result of all of that monitoring?

Increasingly, creativity — and the study of it — is divorced from the real needs of real people. Adding ever more gimmicks to a smartphone in the interest of increasing market share, rather than giving people something revolutionary that will make their lives better, reeks of something other than love and has no power to stir peoples’ enthusiasm.

So the question we have to ask ourselves in business is this: Why create? Are we doing it for the gratuitous sake of creativity itself, without any larger purpose? Are we doing it because Harvard Business Review writes about it all the time? Are we doing it out of fear? To make more money? To get on the cover of Wired? Or are we doing it out of a desire to improve people’s lives and transform their sense of what possibilities life itself has to offer?

I write a lot about philanthropy. Philanthropy means, literally, love of humanity. You don’t have to give a million dollars to charity to be a philanthropist. You simply have to actively demonstrate your love of humanity. Your empathy. If the purpose of our creativity is philanthropy — if it is love for our fellow man, an appreciation that people struggle in their lives, and a desire to somehow lessen that struggle and increase their joy, with a little more leg room or with an iPad — it will change the world. And that is the greatest competitive advantage of all.

Post courtesy of Dan Pallotta for Harvard Business Review


Body Language – Make it Work!

Vocal training can help you succeed in getting more publicity but don’t forget the role body language plays in your delivery.  Body language is the oldest and most trusted language in the world. Research indicates that it accounts for 55% of what we communicate, while the voice accounts for 38% and the words for only 7%.

Before you even open your mouth, people are already making assumptions about you based on your non-verbal cues. Are you to be taken seriously or dismissed? Are you warm and friendly or stiff and distant?  Do you walk with assurance and confidence when you enter a room, or do you slip in, hoping no one will take notice?

Whether intentional movements and expressions or natural reactions and projections, we are constantly communicating with our bodies and physical movements.  These behaviours are picked up by the person we are interacting with and likewise.

Being able to monitor your own body language and read the body language of others, not only offers you great advantages as a communicator but more importantly, it helps you get your message across effectively.

Some tips to prevent you from tripping!

Eye to eye contact

When we speak, we maintain eye contact just 40-60 percent of the time. That’s because we’re busy trying to access information from our brains. Often times, depending on the type of information we’re trying to retrieve, we look up to the left, up to the right, or down. But in the context of a media interview or speech, that lack of eye contact can signal nervousness or evasiveness. You can help maintain better eye contact if you pause briefly before answering a question, which will allow you to access the information you need before you begin speaking.

The right posture

Getting your posture right will automatically make you feel more confident. And when you feel good, other people pick up on that. If you’re feeling a bit down, take a look at how you’re standing or sitting. Chances are you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which in turn can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.

Straight or tilted

When you want to feel confident and self-assured keep your head level both horizontally and vertically. You can also use this straight head position when you want to be authoritative and want what you’re saying to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or the other. You can shift the tilt from left to right at different points in the conversation.

Natural, clear gestures

As PR specialists, whenever we encourage spokespersons to incorporate gestures into their deliveries, we consistently find that their words get better. The physical act of gesturing helps to form clearer thoughts and speak in tighter sentences with more declarative language. So the next time you give a speech or interview, gesture as naturally as you typically would in everyday life. Your words will come to you more easily, and the words you use will be stronger and you will feel a lot more confident.

Armed and aware

Crossing your arms across your chest can be viewed as defensive, expressing opposition or being insecure. If sitting at a table, folding your hands in your lap or having them under the table can be viewed as untrustworthy; wringing your hands can be seen as a sign of nervousness; and when presenting an idea or talking be wary about being too wild in your gestures.  When delivering a speech, if you see your audience exhibiting defensive body language, change tactics, and don’t try to persuade them to your point-of-view until their body language opens up.

Watch those feet

Your feet subconsciously tell you where you want to go. If you find yourself in the middle of a conversation you wish you could exit, just look at your feet. You may be surprised to find that they’re not both pointing directly at the person with whom you’re speaking. The same is true for the other person.  If you’re not sure whether the person you’re speaking with is truly interested in your conversation, just look at his feet.

Flash that smile

We subconsciously imitate the things we see. When I look at someone and smile, they tend to smile. When I look at someone and nod, they tend to nod. Some neuroscientists say that type of mirroring behavior is due to “mirror neurons.” That’s important information, because audiences that are smiling and nodding are more receptive to your ideas. So smile and nod at appropriate moments, and you’ll be that much closer to accomplishing your goals.

Remember, body language can portray up to half of what you are communicating. This is a high amount, so it is important to make sure you use your body to show what you are trying to get across. Your body can be used as a tool.  So use it wisely and make it work in your favour.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media


Our 3S of Rebranding – Reflections on “Pulling a Miley”

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“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” — Philip Kotler

Pulling a Miley is officially a thing. For those strangely not in the know, the term, coined after Cyrus’ shocking performance at this year’s VMAs refers to a rebranding attempt that has derailed. In light of all the coffee shop talk surrounding this recent publicity stunt, we want to share our two cents on the reality of successful rebranding.

Firstly, Cyrus should not be mistaken as one that doesn’t know the business. The former Disney star was previously a fresh-faced family-friendly role model to global consumers. She made millions off their loyal commercial following for years.

From a PR stance, it is hard to deny the gravity of coverage her performance has brought. It is clear that she intended to stir controversial and crazed reactions. The question here is whether the fruits of that coverage have been a boon or bane to her direction as an artiste.

At one point, her performance sparked a massive 306,100 tweets a minute. The Super Bowl blackout, another Twitter frenzy, had 231,000 tweets per minute at its peak. The US 2012 elections peaked at 327,452 tweets per minute.  Google traffic spiked as well as it registered over 10 million searches for Cyrus that night. The Syrian crisis, on the other hand, registered only 100,000 searches in comparison. This was even in light of an announcement of likely military intervention. The scale of the social media eruption she caused here is clear.

So, how does this translate to you and your business? Can you revitalise, renew, and refresh your business exactly the way you want?

As your personal brand or business grows and develops, it is only natural that it may need certain minor or major facelifts. This is important so that it continues to parallel the direction you are going in. A rebrand is possible without having to alienate, confuse, and stun all your current and potential consumers.

State a plan

Before anything can be done, you need to have a strong, specific, and detailed plan. This may seem self-explanatory, but is often very much undermined. Whether out of recognition of your company’s needs or by sheer epiphany, there is often a tendency to just throw something together and act on impulse. Cyrus desperately wanted to shake off her goody Disney princess shoes. We’ve seen it with others like Lindsay Lohan and Vanessa Hudgens. While that is an understandable right, you need to take a thorough look at your business. Really consider how you want to be perceived not just by potential consumers but also by industry players. Then, predetermine and quantify the elements you are going to change. Some questions to consider for both businesses and individuals alike include:

Where do you want to be two years from now?

What is your USP (unique selling proposition)?

Start small

Start with slow and subtle changes and see if your existing consumers react favourably. This could include introducing new topics on the company blog and tweaking the tone and language a little in company platforms. Then, be very aware of what they respond to and what they don’t. Also, be receptive and responsive to input and feedback that come in. This will be key in consumer retention and engagement.

Stay strong

Decide how badly you want it, and persevere. Most don’t make it past the first year. It takes a lot of work, and maybe even more time. Also, remember that it is impossible to please everyone. There are always going to be people who do not approve or understand, and that is okay. Beware of trying to be all things to all people, that is a recipe for disaster! Partner with others who are passionate about what they do.

By doing your homework and thinking logically and logistically, you’ll soon be able to rebrand with smooth sailing even in rough waters without having to pull a Miley.

Posted by Yiwen Ng, Public Relations Executive, Corporate Media