Simplifying Public Relations

The Salvation Army Knows How to Relate On All Fronts - That's Good PR. Flickr credit: Tojosan

Yesterday I was interviewed by at third-year college student for an assignment in one of her public relations classes.  I do about a dozen of these a year for various students and I love how each one is always different. This particular student wanted me to define what public relations is…and so I threw it back in her court to answer first. She gave a very intelligent long answer about like its caring for a brand and communicating messages effectively through the use of journalists. But I told her my answer was in the title. Public Relations is just that. Public – Relations.

KEEP PR SIMPLE

It’s all about how you relate to the public, the media, colleagues, companies…public relations is about relating in any form or fashion.  It’s really that simple.

Public relations professionals are only as good as their contacts and as good as their strategies for spreading a message.  And that’s why social media is the perfect complement to public relations. Success on that platform deals with how well a person can provide engaging content.

Sometimes when looking for an answer, its right in front of your face. PR people often forget that at the end of day that it is how well we are able to communicate to others how they should write about whatever we are representing.  Therefore, for anyone starting out in the PR field or for those who are responsible for that area in their job, they should heed these simple suggestions.

TIPS FOR PR SUCCESS

(1). Don’t ever assume people will write about your product. Great content will get covered if its story is told interestingly for coverage.

(2.) A press release on its own is never a good strategy for pick up. Distributing press releases over a wire will not garner top-notch results, because you need to send it to a targeted list of people whom you know that cover that sort of product. It’s a left-right punch.

(3.) Relationships are the key to any business. Therefore, build up your followers and fans so that when you need some help in starting a movement, you have a terrific base to start from and grow upon. Keep meeting people online and in person – every connection made does present some opportunity.

Yep, it’s that simple. If you know how to relate to others, then you are on your way being a success in public relations. That’s my PR tip for the day.

Cindy Keeps It Simple

Cindy Ronzoni is a public relations veteran who has been building media relationships her entire career. She often speaks to college students and provides seminars to train small business professionals. In all her efforts, she exhorts simplicity in all that she does.

 

How Not Improving Can Help Your Business

Why Mess With a Greatness

Did you happen to catch today’s Wall Street Journal front page feature on paper clips? Yes, I just wrote paper clips.

At first I thought this was an odd, boring choice for a story selection, and I pondered why this premier publication would devote prime real estate to such an ordinary product.  It didn’t take me long, a couple of sentences, to get its point.  I learned that a paper clip is rare because it has withstood its classic design for over 100 years. How many things can you say that about?

This thought led me to further thought about whether we should keep certain things that work well alone and stop slapping “new improved” stickers on just about everything that gets sold or consumed.

DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE NEW AND IMPROVED?

I mean we’ve all heard this statement before, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it.

I don’t like that statement – but, in this case it certainly applies. Paper clips are still as relevant today as they were the day they were introduced into the marketplace in 1903. Sure, you can add colors to them or designs or coat them in plastic. But at the end of the day is there any better tool to fix papers without leaving a mark, to un-clog glue bottles or clean under your finger nails in a pinch?

With that being said, are there things about your business or the work that you do that you shouldn’t improve upon because they work well?

A CLASSIC BUSINESS PLAN

Here’s what I would say about my PR business. No matter what new whiz-bang social media tool that comes out, I don’t want to lose personal connection and phone calls. My business success lies in having connections with real people, journalists, and I’ve built up those relationships through the years by having conversations with them over the phone or in-person. That’s really my business secret, my paper clip, if you will and one that I hope to never change.

 

Best Customer Service Practices Include the Human Touch

Clever Way for A Customer to Make A Point!

Are businesses ever allowed to provide mediocre customer service? Is it okay to leave customers hanging on a phone tree for more than five minutes? Are there industries that should provide excellent service more so than others?

The answer to all three questions above is a resounding NO-at least that’s my $0.02 worth. But, unfortunately, we all experience poor service on a daily basis as customers even from blue-chip enterprises to boot.

If you are a small business owner you are probably cringing at this thought because YOU know that your success lies in the quality of your customer service. So then why do we allow large conglomerates to do that to us all the time? Why do we still give these companies our precious dollars, especially when we expect more out of own business services?

Today I experienced such an experience. Unfortunately, I am dealing with medical issues associated with a loved one. As such, I had to wait for four hours in a hospital lobby while a family member had tests conducted. Since I was just sitting there I had hoped that I could log on to the Internet and quietly get some work completed. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had a daily wi-fi access code, however, I soon found out that the system does not allow access to Apple devices only PCs. Say WHAT???

PHONE TREES DRIVE YOU UP A TREE!

I think I'll Skip This Place.

This wasn’t a life-threatening situation and I could do other work offline, but this example just got me thinking about all the other times that I’ve been frustrated by poor customer service. I attend dozens of small business connector meetings and each always stresses the importance of guest relations. So why is excellent customer service applicable to small owners and not large conglomerates?

A HUMAN VOICE GOES A LONG WAY IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

I would rather do anything than call my satellite provider, healthcare company or phone service. I know that when I call them I’ll be sitting there for a while. Phone trees that put you in sequence are annoying as are the companies that don’t provide any voice connection like Facebook. Most tech companies now provide email customer service and hide their main phone numbers. I don’t care how great you are in answering email support questions, yes I’m including Google, in this rant as well. There are times when a human voice is the best possible service a company can provide.

What companies drive you crazy with poor support and what companies do you think deserve some applause. Do tell.

HOW TO SET UP A TWITTER ACCOUNT

Twitter was one of the most valuable sources of communication immediately after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan recently. Those affected by the quake and tsunami were able to send out tweets even though they were not able to make cell phone calls.  These tweets meant the world to their loved ones for they could physically see that their family member was alive and/or needed rescuing.  Twitter literally saved lives.

TWITTER TO THE RESCUE

With that being the case, I recently wrote about the importance of having a Twitter account in the case of emergency.  You don’t have to use it, but you should understand how to when needed.  To help show you how easy it is to set up an account I’ve produced this brief screen cast.

If you have any further questions, please just let me know. Enjoy and be sure to set up that account! You mean too much to me not to have one at your finger tips!

5 Online Must Have’s – My Valentine For You

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I wish I could personally give you, my kind readers, each a box of delicious chocolates. Since I’m not able to do that, I thought the best way I could show you my “appreciation” and “love” is by letting you in on some of my favorite social media secrets and tips. Thereby, this post is my Valentine for you.

MY FIVE ONLINE FAVES

Last Pass is the last Password You'll Ever Need to Remember

1. My number tool that literally changed by life is the free password manager LastPass.com. With this product you never have to worry about forgetting your passwords again.  When my Facebook and other online accounts were hacked into last spring, it was a nightmare untangling all of my passwords.  Every online account that I had ever set up in my online life had to be changed for they were compromised. Now, I just need to remember the main login password to Last Pass and that’s is. It remembers the rest. Last Pass remembers all of the accounts that require passwords and even generates passwords for you. It’s easy to use and works well for both Macs and PCs. This application has made my life so much easier. I highly recommend it for you as well.

Hootsuite has a scheduled tweet function

2. HootsuiteHootsuite is a twitter application that allows you to post tweets to multiple twitter handles and follow streams. The best reason I like this app over some of the other twitter programs like Tweet Deck is the fact that it allows you to schedule tweets. I love that I don’t have to be in front of my computer to send tweets.  This tool too has been a life-saver.  There is a free version and a paid premium service associated with this product.

3.  Social Media Examiner – I am often asked where I learn most of my social media ninja tricks.  I often

A Great Resource for Social Media Instruction

check in on the blog posts by Social Media Examiner and I purchase their webinars on Facebook and blogging. I find the information presented by this online resource as being top-notch, ahead of the curve and extremely practical. Michael Stelzner has put together a terrific educational resource.

THE WORLD IS ONLY A CLICK AWAY

There's Always Something Interesting Going on at Meetup.com

4. Meetup – If you want to find a group that meets together regarding one of your passions and/or hobbies, I highly recommend you check out Meetup.com.  There are dozens of groups gathering near you that discuss interesting subjects or provide fun activities. I belong to several. My favorites are my weekly social media club and my monthly WordPress group. These meetups for me are like going to school. It’s free education. They are a great networking resource and they help me get out of the house and mingle with others.

5. Seth Godin – You are what you read, I always say. And one person who truly inspires me with every thought he

Seth Godin is a Must Read Everyday

writes is Seth Godin. I have written about him before and my admiration still remains the same.  This dear, wise, intelligent marketer and seer of life imparts common sense ideas toward how we view every day business.  He is a prolific writer who often posts thoughts more than once a day. I promise that once you review his work, you’ll continue to come back for more.  He makes the world a better place.

And while we’re talking about people making a difference in the world, I would be remiss not to include you in that category as well.  Never forget that you make a difference in my life. You cause me to remain honest and true. And to share my thoughts and move forward. You cheer me on. Provide valuable feedback and encouragement when I need it the most.

Thank you all for being my Valentine.

Hugs,

Cindy

Joy to the Media

Jobless since June, Brian and Salena Smith currently live in the garage of Salena's mother with their two children, Isabella, 4, and Nathaniel, 2, and what possessions they could fit. Photo Credit: Dan MacMedan USA Today

As a member of the media, I’m often having to defend its merits and at times, it is a bit hard to do so when sensationalism runs rampant and ethics are called into check.  But, last week, I got a great personal Christmas present – all due to the goodness of the media.  This post is for everyone out there who is a bit jaded about the goodwill of media. It’s for those who have turned off their evening newscasts and stopped reading the newspapers because they are sick and tired of hearing about horrendous acts of violence.  This is a story that you will love — so sit back and enjoy this delicious cup of egg nog.

PR GOODWILL TOWARD ALL MEN

A couple of weeks ago I was able to help Cathy Lynn Grossman, a reporter at USA Today, find interview subjects for a cover story she was writing about joblessness at Christmas time. She was specifically requesting to talk to a husband and wife who both had lost their jobs. She also wanted to speak to church pastor who is involved in helping those unemployed.  I was thankful that she called me for I was able to connect her with my church, Whittier Area Community Church and also with Tim Tyrell-Smith, a national career development expert. From there, she was able to create her piece about being without work during the holidays.

THE POWER OF THE PRESS

The cover story ran Wednesday, December 22 and you can read it here, however, this post is not about the article… it is about the power of the press. For you see, from that article, the featured couple, Brian and Salena Smith, were rewarded for sharing their story with the world.  Within hours of that paper’s delivery, calls were received at both the church and USA Today’s offices from compassionate readers who wanted to financially help the couple.  People specifically contacted these organizations and made personal donations to this weary family.  When I heard this news the following day – I cried tears of joy for I had forgotten how much good can come out of what we do. I think I too had become jaded for most of my past PR experiences have been centered on raising ratings for television shows.  I had never experienced helping to raise the spirits of those less fortunate.  How incredibly wonderful that some concerned citizens in states outside of California shared their wealth with this family of four during the holiday season.  All because of a newspaper article. How wonderful is that! These simple acts of kindness restored my media soul.

I needed this good news about the “news” and perhaps you do too.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to ALL,

Cindy

Foursquare Needs Some PR and PC Cleaning

Foursquare is getting a potty mouth

How were you punished when your mom caught you saying a “not so nice” word? Did she make you wash your mouth out with soap? Did you get sent to your room or were you grounded for a week?

FOURSQUARE’S BLUE-NESS

As I was using the geo-tagging, hyper-local service Foursquare today, my eyes stumbled upon names and words that I normally do not like to read – and I was offended.

I know some peeps will call me old-fashioned with this post – and I do understand freedom of speech – but I never expected to see what I read today and the volume.  For you see, I simply wanted to check into my local grocery store this afternoon on Foursquare and in doing so I had to scroll through so many crazy dumb names before I landed on Vons.  Such places were listed like “Whore House,” “Sexy room,” or the “Sex Cave,” etc., etc., etc. I even noticed that someone in my vicinity listed her home as “the town drunk lives here!” What’s wrong with people?

I’ve noticed this happening for some time, but it wasn’t as prevalent as it is now.  Try searching the word “whore” on Foursquare and you’ll be astonished what comes up! You will see what I mean.

There's Always Some Rotten Apples that Taint A Good Thing

With potty mouth taking over this platform, I would like to recommend Foursquare start to enforce some policies where certain terms (i.e., whore) are not appropriate and thus are banned from the service.  Other services do watch what’s posted, like Facebook and myspace. Sometimes we have to police people for themselves.

I do like Foursquare and have enjoyed it, but if it continues to get more and more vulgar, I will stop and recommend others do so as well.  It’s getting quite the potty mouth lately.  Have you noticed it too?

FOURSQUARE MAY NOT BE GOOD FOR BUSINESS

I have a been a giant fan of the application and think it is a tremendous service for businesses. I would hate for it to become a place where childish blue humor hangs out.  I’m all for creativity…but seeing ho and drunk and sex all over the place isn’t good for business. For what business wants to be listed being near “the town drunk?”

Note to Parents: In addition to checking in on your kids Facebook comments, also check about how they have listed your crib on Foursquare.  You may be surprised what they’ve labeled your lovely home as and more specifically, their bedroom.

I wish Foursquare would issue a badge for good behavior on Foursquare! Now that’s an idea I would endorse.

Cindy

A Peek Inside is Good PR

One of my favorite television shows is CBS’ “Undercover Boss.” The main reason why I like the series is that I find it fascinating to have access to an “insider’s” peek into the operations of familiar companies.  One episode that caught my attention was when they profiled “Subway.” I eat there regularly and was astonished to see how fast they make the sandwiches and the precision…I mean they list how many pickles are in each sandwich.  In another episode, I enjoyed seeing how DirecTV’s customer service is handled and another about how “Lucky Strikes” bowling centers came into being.

Need a PR Boost, "Undercover Boss" wil Help

Tonight I got another insider’s look..this time from the award-winning CBS news magazine “60 Minutes.” Reporter Lesley Stahl interviewed Facebook Founder  Mark Zuckerberg, and as such, we got a few shots inside the operations of that company.  And since they did show us how the company is set up, I absolutely loved it. I mean they showed us that Mark sits out in the open in a bull pen of tables.  No corner office for him.  It was pretty cool seeing how massive the company has become and watching how incredibly fast all the coders or “hackers” type.

As a social media consultant, I was thrilled to watch the segment and learn that they are launching a new look tomorrow. Zuckerberg wants Facebook connections to learn more about each friend and thus, has revised the front profile page to include more features.

To learn more about the new features, this “60 Minutes” piece will describe them for you.  To view it, click here.

This “60 Minutes” piece also got me thinking about how brilliant a PR move it was for Facebook to let the public have an inside look into a service which is very personal to its users.  In fact, I would say that every company should allow “Undercover Boss” to feature them in an episode.  Why? Because it’s great PR.  By watching these episodes, I feel like I “know” the company better. Like I’m a former employee. I now feel like I have vested interest and I root for them.

And I must say, with all the problems that Facebook has had of late with privacy issues, this interview that “opened up” the company to the public’s view was brilliant. Kudos to the corporate PR team.  By seeing Mark’s office surroundings, it did help make the company feel a bit more personal and well, human, since there’s no phone number listed for the company.  It’s almost impossible to call Facebook.

That’s it for now.

See ya on the Book!

Thank Full

Loved Google's doodle today

Happy Thanksgiving to all. During this time of thankfulness, I wanted to pause from my normal PR messages to express my gratitude to all of you who have kindly supported me through my blogging and social media efforts.  I’ve truly come alive since I’ve found my voice on the Internet and greatly appreciate your continued comments, readership and how you’ve shared my work.

Overwhelmed

I have so much to be thankful. I could go on and on.  But, what I am most grateful, and one that I must admit I don’t acknowledge enough is my mom, Carol Ronzoni.  I keep telling people that the older she gets the younger she becomes. She truly is a jewel. She just sparkles and lights up everyone’s lives that she is around.  I’ve never met anyone with more energy and zest for life, even at 82.

Mom Lives A Thankful Life

My mom’s life is full. She wants to go as much as she can until she can’t.  And her schedule proves just that.  She is always helping out someone and her generosity is as big as her giant heart.  If you ever have a down day, it’s my mom whom you should call. She’ll get you feeling better for you can’t help but notice that she just loves people.  She doesn’t judge and treats everyone with equal respect. It’s absolutely beautiful to watch.

Mom loving one of her grandkids with her signature big smile.

I love her for her other wonderful attributes too – there’s nothing that she can’t do.  She is talented in a number of  things (i.e. decorating, sewing, painting) and in her knowledge. She loves sports and follows just about every athletic event and that woman can’t get enough of the news.  She’s never at a loss for interesting things to discuss and often is more on top of things politically than I. She is fun to be around and once you meet her, she’s unforgettable. One thing that you will never forget about her is her love for singing. She sings all the time.

The world truly is a better place because she’s a part of it. I do hope you will get to meet her sometime.

She is absolutely wonderful.  And I am so Thankful.

KTTV’s Mark Thompson-The Dancing Weatherman

This Weatherman Loves to Dance!

Lately, I’ve been closing down my nights by watching Seinfeld from 10-11 pm PT.  And sometimes, I stay awake and watch KCOP’s 11 PM news which is a News Corp. KTTV duopoly (meaning two news stations owned by a company in the same market).  Since this is a new change for me I’ve just now stumbled upon something that has been around for a couple of years.  Sorry that I am so late to the “dance” party.

A MODERN RAIN DANCE

In Los Angeles, we have a dancing weatherman Mark Thompson. I know Southern California weather is pretty boring in the sense we have sunshine on a regular basis.  I guess that’s what prompted the news director of KTTV to do something to jazz up the boring weather. So they’ve added dance music to the weather report and encouraged its weatherman to be a dancing machine.

The video below will give you a good idea about what I’m talking about.

At first I HATED this interpretation of the weather for on most nights the music is so loud it drowns out Mark’s voice which is difficult to do.  For you see, Mark Thompson also twilights as the host or announcer on dozens of FOX television shows. He has been an on-air talent for years for he has been blessed with golden pipes.  I have worked with Mark when I was a FOX employee and he is a wonderful, friendly person.  In addition to his on-air work, I give him loads of credit that he showcases his dancing skills out in the open as part of the local news.

A GREAT PR HOOK FOR LOCAL NEWS

I have to admit that his “awkward” dancing has favorably rubbed off on me. I now look forward to his goofy hoofing. It literally cracks me up. I don’t know if I like it because its so bad its good. But, whatever it is…it is entertaining.  But isn’t the news supposed to be informational?

I must say that from a PR stand-point this unusual take on weather is a great hook for additional attention. Even though it is risky and controversial, it seems to be working for Mark has been at this for years. However, polarizing this stunt is, it definitely catches the eyes of a younger audience.

What are your thoughts about this lean, mean local news dancing machine? I’d love to hear your views.

Until then…

Enjoy another dance with Mark!

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