Find and Define Your Audiences

There’s an audience for anything and everything. Do you know who your audiences are? How about your most important audiences? There’s a stage in message planning that I like to fondly refer to as audience identification. I don’t know why I like to refer to it as audience identification, because it’s really the definition that’s the most important part. Rather than get caught up in semantics, let’s just focus on the two components of audience identification I find most useful. You should start your audience identification process by grouping your audiences into categories. From there, you can develop some personas that best represent subgroups of these audiences. If you’re fortunate enough to have actual data to play with, you can take things a step further and get really granular with your audience identification. I’ve summarized my perspectives on this approach below for you to think about more. For those of you that actually do audience definition for a living, please jump in and give the readers something more constructive to work with. [Read more…]

How To Create A Message Platform

As promised in my Message Planning post, here is the first post in my series on message planning. If you don’t know how to put together a message platform, this platform will help you understand some of the components most commonly found in them. If you already know how to create a message platform, I hope you’ll pick up a tip or two that you can use the next time you have to put one together – and I hope you’ll chime in with your suggestions for the less-experienced readers of this post. Please keep in mind that there are many different approaches to developing a message platform. Not all platform components outlined in this post are necessary or appropriate for every organization. I’m providing these suggestions as guidance for those going through this process for the first time. It’s up to you to evaluate and decide which components will help you best meet your communication goals.

Rather than drone on about all the reasons why you should create a message platform for your organization, I’m going to assume you have already gone through that process. If you need a reason, I think a message platform is a great way to get everyone in your organization on the same page with who you are, what you do and how you want to communicate all those things in various formats inside and outside of your organization. Let’s get started…. [Read more…]

How Is Social Media Not Journalism?

There’s no denying where most of us get news. Michael Jackson’s death, the Hudson River plane crash, Charlie Sheen finally going off the deep end: all things that I found out about first on Twitter. And with the political unrest spreading throughout the Middle East and Africa, Twitter has  played an integral role in telling those people’s stories when most of the traditional communication methods were blocked. (Now, there’s even a book about it.)

More so than just staying updated on current events, social media is one of the the only ways I — and I’m sure many others — get information about industry happenings. (It’s the only way if you consider Google Reader a part of social media.) Plus, it’s one of the only things that I  — and I’m sure many others — use to spread information. And it’s also one of the fastest-growing ways that companies are communications and interacting with their target audience.

But with big name brand fails happening more often than we social media junkies care to admit — Kenneth Cole uproar being the most recent that sticks out in my mind — it begs to answer one critically important question, one that should have been answered and addressed ages ago: Why isn’t social media a part of journalism?

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When Communicating, Start With ‘Why’

A while ago, my brother gave me the book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. While not a public relations book, I began thinking about its concepts from a public relations perspective. All clients have information and stories they want to share. “Let’s distribute a press release,” they say. Too often though, those press releases begin with the wrong message and clients miss out on opportunities for their audiences to buy-in and support their message. Instead of starting with what is important to their audiences, clients oftentimes want to start with what is important to them. [Read more…]

4 Tips for Creating an Intriguing Elevator Speech

When someone asks what you or your organization does, are you prepared with an on-message, concise explanation? If somebody asked 10 people in your organization what your company does, would they get similar answers? If not, you may be missing countless opportunities to establish and reinforce brand awareness. To maintain consistency of message across all your audiences, I suggest you develop and share an elevator speech with your organization.

Elevator What?

Okay, everyone might now know what an elevator speech is (you can probably figure it out). Simply put, an elevator speech is brief description of your organization—who you are, what you do and why it matters — delivered in the time it would take to move between floors in an elevator (that’s not a long time). [Read more…]

Storytelling is Changing

The technology of storytelling is changing. Why? History shows us shifts in communication technology from hieroglyphs to the oral tradition, from print to digital. At first glance, the shift seems mere happenstance, a matter of scientific discovery coupled with the chicken or the egg quandary. My linguistics professor used to say it isn’t our job to figure out why language and the technology that delivers it changes, we just need to understand that it does and not get upset about it. [Read more…]

Are You Communicating in Real-Time?

Are you communicating in real-time? This question has been on my mind a lot since I heard David Meerman Scott present at the 2010 Vocus User’s Conference. David presented different scenarios where individuals had a choice to make – do something now, do something later, or do nothing. He encouraged us to ask ourselves the question, “what would you do?” Most communicators opt to do something later (or do nothing).

This isn’t exactly how David presented things – it’s my interpretation. So much of our work (and personal) time is filled with talk of things we’re going to do or plan to do, but little talk revolves around what to do right now.There’s a lot of us that would like to operate with more of a real-time mindset. If only we could get away from the endless stream of interruptions that masquerade as work and limit our productivity (i.e. emails, meetings, instant messaging, surfing the Web, and reading rants on blogs like this one). [Read more…]