Let's Get Engaged

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Stakeholder engagement allows you to gather input to inform major project, program, or policy decisions.  Your stakeholders include customers, employees, investors, donors, contractors, volunteers, businesses and public officials. When you engage your stakeholders in the decision-making process, you can build trust, transparency and confidence in key business decisions.  

Bill

#FreeAdviceFriday

HAVE A ROADMAP

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Have you ever sat through a presentation and wondered where the speaker was going? Chances are high the speaker was off topic and no longer sticking to their message. If you are presenting to an audience, it is your job to guide them through your speech. You need to have a clear, succinct message and stick to it. For example, if you are presenting on programs to increase employee engagement, your speech shouldn’t include information on growing profits. Establish your message and build your presentation around it. If information, stories or anecdotes don’t support your message, remove them from your presentation. Focusing on one clear message will give your audience a roadmap and make it easier for you to guide them through your presentation.     

 

-Natalie

#FreeAdviceFriday

 

 

Why Matters

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Many companies and organizations have difficulty articulating the “why" when communicating with internal and external audiences.  Your stakeholders are frequently told how and what you do. The most effective strategies come to life when the why is clearly defined and communicated. Employees and external audiences are motivated and find ownership in the why.  The ability to capture the why is one of communications professionals’ most powerful tools.

Bill

#FreeAdviceFriday

Stay Focused

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There is a lot of white noise in today’s world and different priorities competing for your attention. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in all of the distractions. But when you’re representing a company, it is your job to stay focused on the task at hand. As opportunities or challenges arise, you have to decide how to respond and what really deserves your attention. As you determine what to do next, always go back to the goals of your organization. Opportunities are only beneficial if they help you reach your ultimate objective. And while challenges always need to be addressed, look at them through the lens of your larger strategy. How much damage could it cause, how many resources should you divert and can you leverage this to your advantage? Sometimes our instincts kick in and tell us to act but, before you do, take a moment to focus and get your head back in the game. 

 

-Natalie

#FreeAdviceFriday

Get help

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Building strong coalitions to create widespread support for issues or shape public policy can be essential to your business plan. Working with an external strategic communications agency can help focus your efforts and keep you on target. Hiring a talented and experienced agency can increase your bandwidth, leverage an external perspective and bring your team effective and creative solutions. A good agency will be an extension of your team and will work diligently to ensure your goals are achieved. Next time you need extra help, consider looking outside your team.

Bill

#FreeAdviceFriday

STOP SELLING

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A wise friend once gave good advice to me: people work with you because they like you, and they keep working with you because you do good work. When a business applies this thinking to their marketing or communication efforts it boils down to one thing: be relatable. Stop selling. Tell a story that draws people to you and makes them like you. Once you capture their attention and they feel like they understand, know and like you—that’s when you’ll keep them.

-Amanda

#FreeAdviceFriday

OWN IT

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In today’s communication landscape, people are looking for reliable sources of information more than ever. If your organization is a thought leader in a certain space, don’t be afraid to carry your messages yourself rather than relying on traditional media to tell your story for you. While a certain credibility can be gained by having a third party tell your story, you lose control of the narrative. For complex, detailed or nuanced topics, consider telling the story on your terms and on your channels. Build dynamic platforms like blogs and videos that you can manage internally to promote your messages and maintain control of your story.

-Amanda

#FreeAdviceFriday

There is no crystal ball

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If you ever hear a question that starts with “what if” or “if this happened then…”during an interview, it should raise several red flags. These are speculative questions and nine times out of 10 the people asking them are trying to find the worst-case scenario. Always stick with the facts. If you get a speculative question, simply say “I don’t want to speculate but what I can tell you is….” This will help keep you from providing information you don’t know or that could be damaging for your business. 

-Natalie

#FreeAdviceFriday

Get a plan, reach your goals

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Communications plans should support your business goals and objectives. You can’t start a communications plan without first identifying the end goal of your organization. Once you know your goal, you need to research, identify your target audiences, determine your tactics and timeline, and set the metrics to gauge the success of your plan. Communications planning and execution requires collaboration with your management team if you are successfully going to move a company forward. 

 

Bill

#FreeAdviceFriday

IGNORE OR IGNITE

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Sometimes in the effort to do what is right and provide background or education on your issue to the masses, you may unknowingly provide resources to groups mobilizing against your cause. Consider this: does everyone need to know all the details of your project or will they eventually use that information against you to harm you? Consider starting your campaign out with highly targeted communications and build a strong, resilient base before publicly deploying your message where it is most vulnerable. That way, by the time the public receives it, it has been tested, tried, poked and likely reshaped enough that it can stand up to the opposition. 

-Amanda

STAY IN YOUR LANE

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Occasionally, during media interviews or public presentations, someone may ask you to comment on something outside your area of expertise or even provide insights into how someone else handled a situation. These are questions to avoid. Let them be answered by the experts in those fields or the ones who made the decision. Keep the focus on what you are doing and stay in your lane. 

 

-Natalie

#FreeAdviceFriday

Communicate with your team

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Engaging employees is key to ensuring your internal messages are heard. Most companies still rely on lengthy emails to deliver company news to their employees. Today, many people get their news from video and they expect it in the workplace. Video takes your storytelling to the next level and gives life and personality to your messages. Video is also highly measurable, so you can have data on how employees interact with the information you share. If you haven’t incorporated video in your internal communications strategy, you are missing a critical step in engaging your employees. 

-Bill

#FreeAdviceFriday

GO FOR THE HEART, NOT THE HEAD

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When you’re looking to compel an audience, it’s easy to be enticed by powerful statistics and telling data. Unfortunately for the logical amongst us, it’s the messages that make an audience feel that make a lasting impact— not reason and rationality. Where you can, use real-life examples to help get your point across and back them up with data and facts, not the other way around. Humans are naturally empathetic, and when they can relate to your message through a real person or story, they are more likely to take action. When your audience feels your message, they are much more likely to remember it.  

-Amanda

#FreeAdviceFriday

 

WHERE YOU ARE MATTERS

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Whenever you give an interview, remember you are communicating your message in many different ways – from what you wear to what you say to where you meet with the reporter. It all matters. Your location can send a strong message so make sure it is in line with what you want to convey. You wouldn’t want your CEO to be interviewed in their fancy office if the story is about employee protests over low wages. In the same way, you wouldn’t want someone doing an interview during a crisis to reassure the community everything is under control with dozens of people running around in chaos in the background. Take a moment and make sure your setting matches your message.

-Natalie

#FreeAdviceFriday

USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE

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Your inside voice is just as important as your external voice. Business results are enhanced with an effective internal communications strategy. Employees want to make a difference and need to find ownership in the business plan. Engage your employees by using a strategy that is timely, transparent, interactive, multichannel, and frequent. An effective internal communications strategy leads to financial success as well as employee loyalty and longevity.

-Bill

#FreeAdviceFriday

SAVE GOING LOW FOR THE DANCE FLOOR 

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Many communications campaigns, especially the most audacious and impactful, have opposition. Whether your opposition is organized and well-represented, misinformed and concerned or disorderly and angry, you’ll be the most successful if you remain committed to the strategy you set forth at the outset of your campaign. Stick to the facts and always take the high road. Resist the urge to prod back when your opposition strikes—it only validates them and derails you from achieving your goal.

-Amanda

 

#FreeAdviceFriday

 

IT'S NOT ALWAYS WHAT YOU SAY

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It’s easy to get hung up on what you say. When you have to deliver an important message, you want to make sure all the words come out right. But if you just focus on the words, your message may fall flat. Researchers who study communications found that what you say only makes up 7 percent of total message delivery, while body language and tone make up 55 and 38 percent respectively. If you’re delivering a positive message make sure your tone and body language convey your happiness and excitement. If you are delivering bad news and you are smiling, your audience may question your authenticity. What you say matters but remember how you say it is equally important.

-Natalie 

#FreeAdviceFriday

ARE YOU BEING EFFECTIVE?

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Newsletter management doesn't end when you hit send! In fact, this is when you gain insight into analytics that allow you to measure the overall effectiveness of your message so you can make adjustments to improve your strategy in the future. Monitor click through rates to see what content your audience is interacting with and find ways to prioritize similar material in future communications. Compare analytics from several of your recent newsletters to see if you can identify trends. Periodically, you can even insert surveys into your newsletters to solicit feedback. Newsletters can be time consuming. Use analytics to make sure you are maximizing your return on investment.

-Bill

#FreeAdviceFriday

BEWARE OF SCHEDULING 

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It is not uncommon for organizations to schedule their social media content, but beware of scheduling your content and forgetting about it. Especially in the wake of national tragedy like our country experienced this week, poorly timed or clever content can be received badly. Check your content frequently and be ready to adjust if current events change the tenor or mood of your audience and your content no longer fits.

-Amanda

#FreeAdviceFriday

FIGHT THE URGE TO FILL THE VOID

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In media interviews, public presentations and even in casual conversations, when you’re done answering a question, stop talking. Silence can be awkward and our natural reaction is to fill the void. However, if you keep talking you’re guaranteed to say more than you want and your message may become lost. So, next time you’re faced with silence; smile, ask if there are any other questions and resist the urge to keep talking.

-Natalie

#FreeAdviceFriday