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Communications

A Reporter’s Advice on Media Relations

By | Communications, Crisis Communications, Media | No Comments

A reporter friend texted me about his frustration with communications professionals who are either hamstrung by their bosses and unable to do their jobs, or who otherwise fail to conduct media relations in a timely manner. The situation doesn’t help anyone, as no one can do their job, and the public doesn’t get the correct, or sometimes, any information. “How do we get you to teach the communications professionals in this town how to communicate?” he said.

I have taught many people how to work with the media, and especially how to communicate in a crisis. I think it’s good to hear directly from the media how they want to receive information from their sources, as a refresher for all of us. Here’s the gist of what my reporter friend wants all people working in communications to know.

  1. It’s important to say something. Saying nothing means information comes from other sources, and the rumor mill is very active.
  2. It is critical to understand how quickly rumors spread and whip people into a frenzy. Social media can make any communicator’s job even harder, as the battle to correct misinformation mounts depending on how long the true story is delayed.
  3. You really can ask for something to be off the record. We understand that there are times you can’t tell us at the time, but you CAN say, “Hey, I can’t tell you much yet, but off-the-record, don’t send everyone home for dinner just yet.”
  4. Stop trying so hard to protect your people or control the narrative. In most cases, your subject matter expert is smart, capable, and willing to answer questions. Let them. You will get grilled less often if there is regular, proactive communication. If you never say anything, it looks like you’re trying to hide something.

I’ll add to this that it is OK, in the case of a crisis to say that you don’t have all the information, while sharing what you do have (stating the facts), and that you will get back to the reporter as soon as you have more to say. If you’re waiting for your client or boss’s approval before sharing information, you can at least let reporter’s know that you’re working on it, rather than leaving them hanging.

Walking Your Talk: Nobody Does it Like The Ritz

By | Communications | No Comments

The Ritz-Carlton has their messaging down pat.

“We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” reads their motto, and I’ve always thought that was just lovely.

Employees of the Ritz carry wallet cards called Credo Cards. On them, the essence of the brand is printed, including the credo, the motto, the three steps of service, the brand’s values, the “sixth Diamond,” and the employee promise. They call all of these elements The Gold Standards and I highly encourage you to go take a look — it is most impressive.

I’ve long used the credo card example to demonstrate to clients what is possible in clarifying what is true about their brand, the promises they make to their audience, and what commitment they make in serving that audience. We work with clients to distill those messages down to a framework not unlike the Ritz’s example. I always think it’s great if we can get an organization to create a credo card of their own.

What’s good about the credo card example?

Consistent messaging throughout an organization means that everyone is on the same page. The experience your customers get is universal. There’s a kind of security in that kind of consistency, and when customers trust your brand, it inspires loyalty.

If you are able to create such strong messages internally, that points to a pretty healthy company with a well-defined set of values and goals.

Does your brand have its messages down pat like this?

I think I need a visit to the Ritz to do more research!

Congratulations! You Have a Transgender Employee

By | Communications | No Comments

Do you know anyone who is transgender or gender nonconforming? I do. And they are some of the bravest, most resilient individuals I have ever met.

Our culture is more supportive and affirming of people who are transgender than ever before. That’s why it’s possible, and even likely that you will work with someone who is gender nonconforming or transgender. More people who are transgender feel comfortable living as their true selves.  Here are three things to know:

  1. As with ALL employees, it’s important to use the right name and pronouns. If you are unsure, ASK what pronouns to use. Say, “My preferred pronouns are (and state yours, which could be he/him, she/hers, or they/them/theirs). What are your preferred pronouns?”
  2. It’s so important to use the correct name. If your employee has transitioned while in your employment, support them by making the name change on your website, order new business cards, name plate or other printed materials to support them in their transition.
  3. Let all employees know that you do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, including gender discrimination. Take a look at the guide produced by the Human Rights Campaign for Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace. How are your HR policies written? Are dress codes gender-neutral? What about restrooms? Take a look, and make changes where needed.

There is an opportunity here, to expand your diversity training to include information on gender identity and expression.

We’re here to help — email me at marijean@jaggerscommunications.com if you want to discuss or learn more.

Without Structure, Strategy Goes Nowhere

By | Communications, Corporate Strategy | No Comments

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!