Lucky me! Two organizations I work with are beginning strategic planning at the start of this new year. It gets a little confusing, bouncing back and forth, but what I learn in sessions from one, I’m able to apply to the other, so I figure that’s a win.
What has worried me in past strategy sessions is the possibility that the plan will sit on a shelf and not get put into action. I bet you’ve seen that in your work place or volunteer efforts. To combat that, we like to recommend a specific structure for follow up, either quarterly or every six months.
When it comes to strategic communications, the follow up and structure for implementation need to be waaaay tighter. Our clients benefit from a weekly structure, where those responsible for outreach and engagement truly have a DAILY checklist of tasks related to the strategic goals. Maybe that sounds like a lot, but when small steps are taken, great leaps can be made toward big goals.
We’re gearing up for an upcoming workshop for small businesses and nonprofits to help smaller teams or individual team members responsible for communications get a good structure set up so the rest of the year will run smoothly, and make real progress toward goals. More soon!
I visibly cringe when someone invites me to something called a networking group. I’ve been to these gatherings, where there’s one representative of each kind of industry, where you’re expected to share your “elevator speech” and share leads. It’s formulaic, and it might very well work for those who rely on cold calls to build business when all other efforts fail, but it’s really not my style.
What I find much more valuable, is attending events that interest me, and that attract like-minded people. The people I have met at nonprofit events, or through volunteering in my community, or at educational opportunities like lectures, films, and panel discussions are far more interesting and likely to result in real work relationships than those brought together in a manufactured networking environment.
I know it’s hard for those just starting out to dive into unknown groups and start introducing themselves. But if you’re there for a mission, or to listen and learn, with the opportunity to share ideas afterward, it’s a much more authentic relationship-building experience that results.
If you’re looking for a networking alternative, feel free to ask me what I’m attending next.
It’s not often I’m on the other end of the work that I do, playing the role of community member and answering questions posed by another PR firm about their client, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing this morning.
It’s a great experience to have, a reminder of what it feels like to be the call recipient, the survey-taker, or the person who is forming an opinion about the client in question. This is how firms like mine determine the reputation of a client: is it good? Is it bad? What IS the reputation, and how did it get that way?
Here’s How a Reputation is Formed
- Hearsay. Someone you know works at the company, or knows someone who does and you know from what they say how the company is as an employer, and may even know a little bit about what they do, professionally. Sometimes people call this word-of-mouth.
- Advertising. Have you seen an ad somewhere? Where? And what did it say?
- Strategic relationships. In my community, I know what companies have been openly, visibly supportive of certain nonprofit organizations. I can tell from that affiliation, something about their core values. So whether your company has no visible affiliation of that kind, or one I can’t identify, or one that’s very clear and obvious makes a difference. I know a little something about electronics retailer Crutchfield, based in Charlottesville, Va. and that they welcome pets into their company headquarters and that the company leadership if fond of animals, and, as a result is a long time, big supporter of the local SPCA. That information helps formulate the reputation of the organization through that relationship.
- Search Engine Optimization. This one takes work on the company’s part, and on the part of their public relations partner. What SEO means, is what you find when you google a company. What shows up on their online presence, the part they manage, including their website and social media channels, but also what’s been published about them, in the form of reviews, of news stories, and of other content outside of their control. Go deeper than that and look up the employees of the organization. The reputation of a company is only as strong as its members and if you find that there are people with really bad reputations collecting a paycheck from the company in question, that’s going to flavor your perception of the company’s reputation.
- Personal experience. It’s not easy to change a person’s perception of a company once they’ve had their own experience of it. Whether you’re a former employee, a disgruntled or even enthusiastic customer, or a vendor, that interaction creates a long-term imprint and puts you in the role of influencing others (see #1 above) through hearsay or word-of-mouth.
Those of us in the PR and reputation management business need first to understand the reputation of our client, and how that reputation has been formed, to begin the work of shaping it for the future.
A conversation on Twitter evolved, in which someone expressed a wish not to see certain people suggested to them as possible connections on LinkedIn. It was merely a matter of a person having former colleagues she loathed, but it brought up an interesting idea.
Can you block people on LinkedIn? And if so, how?
You certainly can block people! If you are connected to them, you will disconnect and they will no longer be able to see your profile or updates nor you theirs. It’s like you’ve ceased to exist for them! Unless, you know, you run into them on the street or in a coffeeshop. I can’t help you with that.
But I can help you escape them on your social network for business. Here’s how:
- Navigate to the person’s profile. If you don’t want them to see that you have looked at their profile, first go to Settings –> Privacy –> then scroll down to How Others See Your LinkedIn activity and change Profile Viewing Options to Private Mode for the rest of this activity.
- When you’re on the person’s profile, click the More… box to the right of the Message box.
- Scroll down to select Report or Block and then a box will open, asking you what you want to do. Here’s where you can select Block, if that’s the most appropriate response.
Congratulations! You are now more free of that person than you were previously. Enjoy replacing them with a better, more worthy business connection.