Leadership Tag

3 Ways to Prevent PR Disasters

Today’s guest post is written by Jenifer Olson.

I felt kind of sorry for the McDonald’s social media director who unleashed a backlash of negative press with the #McDStories hashtag promotion last month, as shared in this Mashable post. During my more than 20 years in marketing communications and PR, I’ve found experience can be a strong, if harsh, teacher.

That got me thinking about some of my most important communications lessons over the years and these three seem relevant to the McDonald’s issue:

Shared Views: PR, Personal Data & Culture

Southwest VistaThis is the view of San Francisco from the Vista Park just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I took this one at about 6:30 a.m. on my way back home after picking up a friend at the airport.  It’s the only time I’ve pulled into that tourist parking area and I’d have missed this great scene if my friend hadn’t asked to stop. I guess I drive past this view so often that I was forgetting to stop and enjoy what a beautiful place I live in. I’m working on fixing that mistake by paying closer attention to what’s around me.

With that, here are some other views that got my attention this week:

Sometimes noise is just that…

Illustration of NoiseWatching recent Internet backlash and organizations reacting to it is fascinating. The volume is certainly up higher on people’s reaction to your decisions. While that may be a good thing in some ways it can also lead to some big mistakes, like changing an organization’s decision when the one they’ve made is the right one for its future. If you’ve done it right then you should be able to support and stand behind major decisions.

First and foremost, leaders and organizations need to remember that pleasing all the people all the time is neither possible nor a viable goal. There are going to be people who disagree just because disagreeing makes them happy. Stop trying to please everyone and focus on earning support from the people who matter most to your success.

It’s About People!

Audience Listening to Musical ActI detest words like “publics, audiences, markets, influencers and opinion leaders,” and I especially dislike “stakeholders.” We all know what the terms mean, but I worry they make us forget we’re communicating with human beings. Sure, we are talking about groups of people with similar interests and issues, but we’re still talking about people.

Communications is about convincing people who are motivated by the same things that motivate us.

Communicating Layoffs

Organizational ChartWhile the pundits are claiming the economy is getter better, I keep getting questions from a variety of organizations about handling communications for additional rounds of layoffs. Frankly, this is something everyone in communications should be thinking about before it happens.

Going through layoffs is a traumatic event. It is a clear statement that there is a problem; that the organization must change. Making a reorganization work will require support from every level of the organization. If you don’t incorporate building that support into your planning and communications strategy, you’ll create even more problems.

I’ve experienced layoffs from every angle. I’ve been let go, one of the people left behind, the boss who made the decision to let people go and the consultant helping clients go through the process. None of these roles is enjoyable but the two worst were being the boss who had to cut staff and being one of the people left to pick up the pieces. Seriously, I found it harder to be in the organization after the reductions.

Listen & Learn Your Way to Communications Success

Message on Typewriter Paper = Open Your MindCorporate communications is challenging. New issues every day, shifting sentiments and changing media channels mean there is always something to learn. If you want to get ahead as a communicator, you need a curious and open mind.

You also need a curious and open mind if you want to stay on top, no matter how many years of experience you have. The value of your experience begins diminishing the minute you stop learning because you think you know everything.

Rich Becker (@RichBecker) at Copywrite, Ink., got me thinking about all this with his post about Making It Up: Orabrush Marketing. Basically, some smart young marketers realized they didn’t need to reach millions of people to succeed. Instead, they needed to reach a few people at Walmart who could put their product into the hands of millions for them. It was a huge success without wasted effort.