How to get yourself noticed in today’s crazy online world

The ability to stand out from the crowd has always been a big part of success.

The world’s most accomplished business leaders, professionals, politicians, academics, social activists, and celebrities know how to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

But standing out from the crowd has taken on new meaning – and requires a new set of skills – in today’s digital world.

The digital and social media arenas are overrun with endless streams of information and postings from every conceivable source.

Getting Noticed Requires a New Set of Online Skills

With so much of the world clamouring to be seen and heard online, a new state of nonstop noise has been generated along with ridiculously stiff competition for audience attention.

The noise is so loud that entire industries have developed around the concept of inbound marketing and the creation of content so compelling it can grab attention in the crowded online universe.

But creating fascinating content that cuts through today’s digital landscape is no easy feat.

Here are 10 ways successful communicators get noticed in today’s crowded online world:

1, Be Ruthlessly Succinct

Less is more; this has always been the bedrock of effective communicating.

With attention spans at all-time lows, brevity has never been more crucial to engaging any online audience.

In terms of online postings, the key is to develop what you want to say and then be ruthless about editing it down to its bare minimum – and then editing it down again.

Putting no more than three lines in a paragraph makes your copy pleasing to the online eye and easy for audiences to scan.

You want your audience to get the gist of what you are communicating quickly and easily without having to wade through a complex web of material.

2, Know What your Audience Wants

Knowing your audience is the price of admission for any successful online communication initiative.

Understanding their demographics and characteristics determines what kind of information they are interested in receiving.

It also determines how they like to receive information and which channels and platforms – both online and off – they are likely to turn to for content.

3, Master the Art of Compelling Online Headlines

Your audience needs to be irresistibly drawn into your postings when they have so many other things to click on and look at.

You could have amazing content, but without the right grabber your audience will probably never see it.

With so much information being cascaded online, grabbing attention is not easy.

Providing compelling headlines and titles that are newsworthy, unusual and even shocking encourages audiences to dig deeper into what you have to say.

4, Communicate in Threes

One of the tactics used by leading communicators is to express content in threes; this is a particularly powerful communication approach.

It means deciding on three core messages or ideas you want an audience to take away from your postings.

Three is generally a digestible amount of information for the human mind to absorb and remember.

Less than three main ideas tends to be seen as too sparse to be considered substantial content; more than three broad ideas can overwhelm short attention spans and leave a blurry perception of your overall message.

5, Use Fascinating Facts

We are living in the era of data and big data.

With so much information available at our finger tips, audiences today crave new and fresh facts.

Fascinating facts that are not widely known can add a great deal of punch to online postings and keep an audience engaged.

6, Tell a Story

While fascinating facts matter, people ultimately respond to and remember stories, not simply stand-alone data.

While it’s important to have compelling facts, the body of what you are communicating should tell a story that your online audience finds intriguing, entertaining and memorable.

7, Leverage your Expertise

Create online postings around topics you know.

People who are online today crave specialized knowledge, wisdom and thought leadership.

By zeroing in on the topics you are intimate with, you can develop postings that provide audiences with the sense they are getting wisdom and knowledge from a subject-matter expert.

This becomes self-perpetuating value because the more you communicate within you knowledge zone, the more you shore up individual credibility and position yourself as a leader in your field.

8, Include Compelling Visuals

We are entrenched in the visual era.

Whether in the form of pictures, graphics or videos, visuals bring content to life.

The key is to embrace the adage that a picture paints a thousand words by taking the time to curate or create arresting visuals.

The best visuals draw audiences into your content. Vibrant colours, unusual shapes, and anything depicting motion are generally arresting to the human eye.

But like copy, visuals should be simple for an audience to absorb.

The audience should understand in a matter of seconds what the visual is communicating and how it fits with your overall message.

Despite the appeal of bright colours, black and white visuals can also punctuate content, particularly if the images are sharp and distinct.

Videos, of course, have become part of the standard content mix. But they too should be well thought out, to the point and should illuminate, not take over, the core message of your postings.

9, Pull on the Heartstrings

The right dose of emotion is almost a guaranteed way to make an online posting compelling.

Infusing content with references that are amusing, sentimental, and even frightening can go a long way to engaging an audience.

For instance visuals of animals almost always tap audience emotions in a big way.

10, Tap into Topics of the Moment

We are living in the trending era.

Audiences are captivated by world trends that shift daily and sometimes hourly.

Tapping into these topics by linking your postings to what’s going on in the world gives your communication a relevancy that attracts attention.

Beyond this, taking a stand on trending topics can trigger significant interest and even dialogue about your postings.

This increases the likelihood of your content being widely shared across diverse online channels.

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Fasten your seat belts for these big social media trends

Social media is the most influential communication tool of the modern era; it has fundamentally changed how we interact with the world and each other.

Like any global innovation, social media is constantly evolving.

Here are eight big and emerging social media trends racing quickly down the tracks that every communication leader should know about.

1, More CEOs will use Social Media

There was a time when it was considered too risking for chief executives and presidents of major corporations to engage directly on social media on behalf of their organizations.

The fear has traditionally been that these top corporate leaders could become unintended targets for a range of issues online.

While this concern still exists in many organizations, things are changing at the smartest corporations.

As a new generation of younger, more digitally savvy CEOs takes over, the positioning of the CEO as a social media ambassador is seen as too valuable a communication opportunity to ignore.

When CEOs join the big, mainstream social media networks as an authentic voice they can attract a lot of followers from inside and outside their companies because they are seen as authorities and big influencers.

Many of the new-generation CEOs are already there, ahead of the pack.

The upshot is more CEOs are expected to join social networks as a credible voice for their organizations over the next three years.

The three popular social networks for these CEO ambassadors will likely be Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

However, the best CEO engagement on social media will be governed by sage and strategic advice and guidance from their top communication advisors.

2, Employee Advocacy Becoming a Competitive Edge

Smart companies are realizing that in a crowded communication environment their best ambassadors are their employees.

In an age where trust is a rare commodity, particularly in the business world, rank and file employees are considered some of the most trusted spokespeople.

In this environment, employee advocacy is emerging as a powerful strategy where employees promote or communicate on behalf of their companies on their social networks.

It involves equipping employees at all levels with the messages, tools and empowerment to be authentic ambassadors for their companies, all within a strategic and approved framework. However, the key is it cannot be a free for all.

This can be a particularly effective enhancement to communication in large organizations with thousands of employees who become brand ambassadors for their companies.

It’s estimated that a growing number of businesses will invest in employee advocacy over the next few years to boost their brand awareness and reputations.

Employee ambassadors give external publics the comfort level they are interacting with real, authentic people rather than a canned corporate voice.

3, Retaliation Against Fake News will Spread

It’s estimated that an astonishing 90 percent of social media users use social media to access news.

Over the past year there has been an explosion in so called “fake news” as a growing number of websites use shocking and false information and headlines to drive traffic.

These sites often aggressively use social media to promote their false or misleading information.

This is an enormously dangerous phenomenon as people often believe what they read online.

Facebook is already said to be taking steps to crackdown on the posting of fake information.

Other social media sites are expected to follow suit by becoming more sensitive to the type of information posted on their platforms in an effort to put a lid on fake stories.

4, Private Social Messaging will Grow Rapidly

Private messaging over social media sites is a huge trend which will grow dramatically over the next year.

Facebook Messenger, for instance, already has more than a billion monthly users.

This growth in private messaging as an alternative to simply posting public messages on social media sites is seen as a positive trend since private messaging allows deeper, two-way conversations online.

The growth in private messaging is also seen as a healthy reaction to the spam and one-way sales messages that permeate public social media sites.

5, Augmented Reality is the New Cool Thing

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a users view of the real world. In a nutshell, it enhances what we see before us.

During the summer of 2016 the location-based mobile game, Pokemon Go, was launched across the world beginning in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The game lets users interact with virtual characters in real-world locations, and it quickly became a global phenomenon with more than 500 million downloads.

As a result, augmented reality is becoming part of our mainstream vocabulary. For instance, Facebook is already said to be experimenting with augmented reality.

Augmented reality will increasingly be viewed as a fresh way for brands to engage with their audiences on social media by sharing experiences rather than just information.

6, Live Video Taking Off, Big Time

Live, unfiltered video is changing social media.

A growing number of big social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have launched their own live video streaming platforms.

These services are proving popular in an age where social media users crave real time, authentic and breaking content.

Live video streaming became popular when Twitter launched Periscope in 2015, followed by the more recent launch of Facebook Live.

Facebook Live is becoming so popular that some news outlets are already referencing it as a source for breaking stories.

7, Instagram will Grow Exponentially

In an age where a picture paints a thousand words it’s not surprising that Instagram is popular.

But the growth of this social media platform is nothing short of astounding when you look at the data.

Instagram is less than seven years old yet already has more than 700 million users; its participants have posted more than 40 billion photos since the site was launched.

In a world that is moving at a hyper-drive speed, images will continue to drive social media engagement.

Instagram will continue to overtake other social media sites in popularity, particularly with users under 35 years of age.

8, Businesses Not Investing in Social Media Training

Research suggests close to 90 percent of businesses do not have employees with the sophisticated and strategic social media skills to use social media as an effective business tool.

It seems much of the issue is that businesses aren’t investing in advanced social media training for their employees.

While social media is being taught in some of the leading public relations programs at major colleges and universities, this skill set has not yet penetrated the business community in a significant way.

Engaging publics strategically on social media in a fundamentally two-way manner in order to grow online communities and build powerful, sustaining relationships is not happening in a big way in the business world.

This is probably the biggest opportunity in the corporate world and social media ecosystem where top public relations professionals – not marketers – need to take the helm.

Most businesses are missing the point by using social media as a one-way selling tool rather than a two-way communication mechanism to tell their stories, build their brands and develop sustainable connections with their customers and strategic publics.

The Bottom Line

Social media engagement is no longer optional for connected organizations and individuals – it is a necessity.

What will separate the winners from the also rans will be how effectively they stay on top of – and ahead of – the latest social media trends and forces of change.

Sources: Online research including BuildFire and Forbes

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Why the C-suite is your most important audience

Knowing who your audiences are is one of the keys to unlocking success across most professions and fields of work. This is particularly true in the communications industry.

In an age where the communications landscape is constantly shifting, there is ongoing discussion about target audiences, audience segmentation, and the need to tailor content to the needs of unique publics and demographics.

All too often, however, the most crucial audience of all – the C-suite – is overlooked.

A C-suite is the group of highest-ranking executives in any organization. The letter C stands for chief.

Understanding the C-suite

Executives who hold C-suite positions are generally the most powerful and influential members of any organization, whether it is a corporation, government body, not-for-profit organization or consulting firm.

They set the organization’s strategy, make high-stakes decisions, ensure day-to-day execution of operations, and establish and control budgets.

Typical examples of C-suite positions include: chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief human resources officer (CHRO), chief marketing officer (CMO), chief information officer (CIO), chief legal officer (CLO), and chief communications officer (CCO).

Having spent a large part of my career inside the C-suite and having worked closely with the C-suites of many diverse organizations, I can attest to the importance of this audience for any communications professional.

Here is why the C-suite is the most important audience for every communications practitioner long before you begin to analyze and determine your external audiences:

1, The C-suite Determines the Money

To be effective in helping any organization achieve its strategic objectives, the communications function needs money to execute strategies, implement tactics, and ultimately get things done.

Being directly connected to the CEO and the C-suite helps ensure there is adequate budget allocated for a robust communications strategy.

2, The C-suite Determines Staffing

Similar to budgets, effective communication requires staffing.

Depending on the needs of the organization, headcount should be allocated to such specialized functions as media relations, government relations, social media management, employee communications and corporate social responsibility.

3, The C-suite Needs to Understand the Enormity of Social Media

The power of social media to the future of strategic communications cannot be overstated.

Social media is the most influential communications tool of the modern era, and it is crucial that the C-suite understands the workings of social media and the priority it should be given in the organization.

Being connected to the C-suite allows communications professionals to demystify social media to the leaders of the organization and ensure it is a top priority for both outbound and inbound engagement with key publics.

4, The C-suite Decides How Crisis is Responded to

A slowly or poorly handled crisis can severely damage an organization’s reputation.

The C-suite ultimately decides how effectively the communications function can be leveraged internally and externally during a serious crisis situation.

When a serious issue or crisis emerges, there is no time to wade through layers of hierarchy, executives and approvals.

The communications professional needs an unfettered connection to the CEO and the C-suite in these situations.

The Bottom Line

Failure to adequately and directly engage the C-suite is a chronic issue across much of the communications industry.

The top communications leaders of today and tomorrow are taking steps to ensure their C-suites are their first and most important audiences.

Powerful Communication Strategies are Aligned with the C-Suite

The corporations and organizations with the most effective communication strategies usually have a chief communications officer who is an integral part and key member of their C-suites.

In the best of all possible worlds, the communications function should report directly to the CEO or at the very least be connected closely to the C-suite.

Strong Communication can Solve the Toughest Business Challenges

This positioning frees the function up to be leveraged strategically across the entire organization toward bottom-line objectives like generating sales, improving employee morale and productivity, and building a strong reputation for the organization.

It gives the communications function a company-wide perspective and authority to help solve an organization’s big challenges and move the organization forward.

The moment the communications function in an organization becomes disconnected from the C-suite there are usually significant limitations.

It is hard for communication to reach its maximum potential if it is not closely aligned with the top.

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Seven social media habits that damage careers & friendships

The more we engage on social media the more we develop a social media reputation unique to each one of us.

Our behaviour on social media platforms becomes part of our personal brand and can impact – both positively and negatively – careers, relationships and the ability to influence.

With so much day-to-day communication happening online, we almost need a book of etiquette to guide our social media lives.

With this in mind, here are “seven deadly sins” to be avoided on social media:

1, Don’t Express Anger

With so much bold opinion rebounding across the social media ecosystem, it’s easy to become enflamed and angered by some of the comments we see.

But expressing anger across social media channels transmits low social media maturity, a thin skin, and a lack of open-mindedness to your followers.

On the other hand, expressing strong, measured and informed opinions can build trust, influence and a sense of authority online.

As a wise person once said: “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”

2, Don’t be a Bully

Online bullying has resulted in tragedy; it has actually led to teen suicides.

Expressing opinions is one thing – bullying or ganging up on someone on a digital platform is something else.

Don’t do it, period.

3, Don’t be a Stalker

Social media is an excellent tool for research and listening. However, it is ultimately designed for two-way engagement.

Stalking someone online or lurking about can make participants uncomfortable and encourage them to block you from following them.

This is akin to having a social media restraining order issued against you.

Be visible and engage openly in conversations on the platforms where you regularly hang out.

4, Don’t Type Before you Think

What you say on social media stays there forever.

Think before you type or text because what and how you communicate online may come back to haunt you.

5, Don’t be Fake About your Identity

Transparency is the price of admission to the communication arena today; this is particularly true on social media.

Be honest, open and transparent about who you are and what you bring to the social media table and conversation.

6, Don’t Treat Social Media as a One-Way Street

There is an enormous amount of one-way communication happening across social media platforms as sellers try to bombard social media with their services and products.

While constantly publishing compelling content is a great approach, it needs to be balanced with listening and responding to your followers.

The best way to engage any social media audience is to treat social media as a 24/7 conversation, not simply a one-way marketing mechanism.

Listening and responding is just as important as developing great content on social media.

7, Don’t Rush on to Every Social Media Platform

There are hundreds of social media sites in use today.

With so many emerging platforms to communicate your messages, there is a strong temptation to rush on to every platform to ensure you have a pervasive social media presence.

This can be a mistake.

Different social media sites are designed for distinct audiences and particular types of content.

It is much more effective to take the time to study and master each platform, determine the type of content that works, and then become active on those sites.

The Golden Rule of Social Media

Ultimately, as in life in general, when you are on social media you should treat others as you wish to be treated.

Tweeting others as you wish to be tweeted is a great starting point.

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Ten secrets of the rich and powerful

Success is a subjective word.

It has as many meanings as there are people on the planet.

Depending on who you ask, success can mean having a long and happy marriage, healthy children, robust physical health, academic achievement, overcoming a life obstacle, reaching a mountain peak, or possessing basic personal contentment.

But for those who define success, at least partly, as having a thriving and rewarding career, this article is for you.

The Success Formula

Almost every extremely successful leader, executive and professional I know practices this 10-step formula for building outstanding careers:

1, Get a Mentor

Securing a mentor who becomes your compass and coach – beyond your regular boss – is crucial to building a thriving career.

A strong mentor holds different skills and experiences than you and is seasoned enough to provide ongoing, unbiased and valuable insights toward your professional growth as a leader.

2, Decide How Far You Want to Go

Knowing how ambitious you are at the outset is key.

For instance, if you want to reach the top of the corporate world at the VP, SVP, EVP or even the CEO level, you have targeted what could be a hugely rewarding career.

However, to reach these heights you must be prepared to unleash dedication, passion, hard work, often extremely long hours, continuous improvement and compelling creativity. You need to be a pioneer.

3, Show Up

The most successful people understand how important it is to show up – not just online – but in person, whether at meetings, events or other commitments and make their presence known.

The moment we get too selective about what is worthy of our time we limit our possibilities, our networking potential and our learning opportunities, particularly in the early phases of a career.

4, Be Different

Competition has always been fierce, a fact unlikely to change with the times.

The key is to know how to stand apart from the crowd by knowing and communicating what makes you distinct.

Draft a UVP statement for yourself (Unique Value Proposition) and make it an integral part of your narrative.

Constantly evolve and fine tune this crisp statement to define the rare value you bring to the table.

5, Know When to Turn Your Phone Off

Yes, we are living in the digital world, and yes, we are spending gigantic portions of our lives on our mobile devices.

However, there is still nothing more compelling than someone who is an engaging face-to-face individual who can be personable, completely in-the-moment, attentive, and even charming.

When you are in the presence of people, especially those you need to engage and impress, be in-the-moment and turn your phone off.

6, Strive For Influence, Not Authority

The ability to influence people across organizations and industries, regardless of your position or title, is crucial in today’s world.

Traditional hierarchies are giving way to blurrier work structures and team accountabilities.

This makes it necessary to motivate and influence those above you, below you, and the peers who work across from you, to get things done.

Authority comes and goes in today’s fluid world, but influence lasts. You can take finely honed influence skills with you wherever you go.

7, Be Creative

Being readily equipped to devise fresh, innovative ideas and approaches that help organizations achieve their strategic objectives is at the heart of most high-level career success.

You need to know how to regularly tap into your creative juices and become a go-to professional for ideas that solve problems and move organizations, businesses and initiatives forward.

8, Listen

Have you ever noticed that the brightest person in the room is often the one who talks the least? This is because they are too busy listening.

Most of us like communicating and being heard.

However, excellent communication is by definition a two-way street. Actively listening is usually the first step to interacting successfully with anyone.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth.

9, Be Ethical

Honesty and transparency have never been more critical, particularly in today’s digital and global world.

Beyond the obvious premise of ‘doing the right thing,’ a sound reputation for ethical behaviour can distinguish brands, organizations and individuals in the marketplace.

An unwavering commitment to ethics should be the starting point for all ambitions and career goals, period.

The business and political worlds are littered with fallen leaders who fell short on ethics, and their careers usually paid a heavy price.

10, Believe in Yourself

Throughout every career journey one will encounter helpers and detractors.

Surround yourself with helpers and disengage the detractors who provide no constructive purpose.

In a competitive environment there will occasionally emerge those who seek to knock you off your game and your goals for their own agendas.

Don’t let this happen, and above all, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your goals with the right approach.

Believe in yourself and your objectives.

This article by Andrew Pelletier was also published in the Chicago-based PR blog, Spin Sucks.

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How to transform yourself into a person of influence

What does it take to become extremely successful?

This big question has challenged most people at some point in their lives.

Whether you are looking to bolster your career, become a highly regarded expert at the top of your profession, or simply lead a personal life that you define as successful on your own terms, the prerequisites for success is a pivotal issue.

Influence is the Key to Success

While numerous factors shape achievement, much of success comes down to one crucial factor – the ability to influence.

But influence is often a nebulous and elusive concept. What does it mean and ultimately require to be a person of influence?

In a nutshell, there are three essential elements to being a person of influence: persistence, likeability, and win-wins.

1, Persistence

Few things in life fall neatly into place the very first time.

Unless you have a concept or value proposition that is overtly brilliant, success generally does not come overnight.

Usually a lot of patient persistence and even initial failures are required.

Influence involves convincing and motivating.

The patience and determination to be persistent is what matters.

For instance, in many situations a response of “no” to a person or a proposal, often doesn’t mean “no” forever.

It often simply means “no” for right now. People of influence understand this.

Those who believe in the intrinsic value of themselves and what they are pitching know how to come back and try again and again.

2, Likeability

Not everyone can, or even wants to, master the art of popularity.

In order to influence, however, you generally need to transmit a basic likeability.

No one wants to spend time listening to, or being influenced by, someone who appears arrogant, abrasive, self-absorbed, who doesn’t know how to listen, and who doesn’t appear to have a humble bone in their body.

No where is this more apparent than in the high-stakes world of politics and political campaigning.

Being self aware enough to know how your personality transmits to those you seek to influence, and the ability to make pleasant adjustments when necessary, is the key to coming across as likeable to those you want to convince and motivate.

3, Win-Wins

It can never be “all about you” or your ideas if you want to influence someone.

The ability to influence means understanding the basics of quid pro quo which translates as “something for something.”

If you are trying to influence people you are in effect asking them for something.

The issue is that the influence equation doesn’t work unless you are bringing something to the table that is fundamentally helpful to them.

The healthy habit of putting yourself in the shoes of those you want to convince and motivate is vital to success.

Only then do you realize it ultimately needs to be “all about them” as the starting point for any influential communication or dialogue.

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Three ways to ensure you and your stories aren’t boring

Being boring is the kiss of death to engaging audiences.

This fact is truer today than ever in an age where we interact online and can easily ignore boring content by quickly moving on to something more compelling with a single click.

In an era of nonstop information, providing your audience with gripping content that breaks through is crucial to any business or communication strategy.

Whether your audience is external or internal, broad or narrow, you have a few seconds to grab their attention before they move on to something else.

How to Avoid the Boring Trap

There are three pivotal techniques that will help any story or communication initiative sidestep the trap of being boring: finding a human angle; avoiding complex data; and being relatable.

1, Find the Human Angle

One of the most crucial – and often overlooked – requirements to telling a compelling story involves highlighting the human angle.

A human angle taps into the emotions of the people you are trying to engage and can bring even the most dry content to life.

This is why stories involving animals and children are often universally embraced.

Human stories that involve humour, fear, anger, pain, happiness, and overcoming big obstacles, can light a fire under any information and pull your audience into your content.

This holds true whether you are posting a blog, running a broad-based social media campaign, participating in an interview or panel discussion, or delivering a crucial speech or presentation.

2, Avoid Complex Data

Facts matter, particularly in an age where false or questionable information can be created and pushed out across the digital world by anyone.

But in an age when we have access to so much data from a multitude of online and offline sources, it can be tempting to dominate communication with complicated numbers and technical information.

This is a sure way to fall into the boring trap.

Audiences want stories, not simply data, because stories make them feel something which can be inspiring and highly motivating.

And audiences usually don’t remember the numbers or technical jargon, they remember how you made them feel, how you shaped their moods.

Some numbers can be interesting and an important addition to any story, but complex data on its own generally doesn’t inspire and can easily transform any type of communicating into a boring affair.

3, Be Relatable in Basic Terms

We all relate to the world, and to communication in general, in terms of how it impacts us personally.

With this in mind, communication must be simple and relatable.

Information and stories that people can easily sink their teeth into – and see themselves in – is a way to ensure your content is not boring.

A narrative that appears to be divorced from your audience’s reality will seem like a waste of time for people to embrace and care about.

Excellent Communicating Literally Put a Man on the Moon

The triple crown of a human angle, avoiding complex data, and being highly relatable can bring any story to life.

An excellent and historical case in point involved the U.S. space program of the 1960s.

In the early 1960s, U.S. President John F. Kennedy decided he wanted to put a man on the moon.

This wildly ambitious goal was seen as outrageous to many.

Gaining Public Support

For the moon mission to succeed it required extremely broad public support and enormous funding from Congress.

To build this critical backing, the U.S. government and NASA did not fall into the trap of telling a boring story of the complex science and physics behind sending their first spaceship to the moon.

The Complex Data Dilemma

While the science behind the moon endeavour was undoubtedly extensive, it was a complex and unrelatable narrative.

Instead, the U.S. administration astutely zeroed in on telling the human story of the astronauts involved in the space program, their backgrounds, their families, and their personal narratives.

A Human Approach Never Fails to Engage

This human approach to communication transformed the astronauts into national heroes long before the spaceship left the ground.

This clever communication strategy made the space program a widely relatable endeavour and ultimately built wide public and congressional support for the groundbreaking initiative.

The Bottom Line

Your audience will remember how you made them feel.

After every communication initiative, speech, social media post, article, news story, movie, or play, audiences remember how their moods were triggered, not the data that was thrown their way.

Emotion Trumps Data

Audiences remember what intrigued and surprised them, what made them laugh or cry, and even what made them angry. They don’t remember the facts nearly as well.

Excellent communication can move mountains. It can drive business growth, transform critics into advocates, and elevate people into figures of great influence.

But for communication to be excellent, it needs to be human, simple and relatable.

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Words that will give you clout on social media

It’s not easy to get noticed in today’s crowded social media universe.

You could have inspiring content, but without the ability to capture the attention of a sizeable social media audience your compelling posts will remain largely overlooked.

The most influential social media users today know how to distinguish themselves by continuously grabbing audience attention.

With attention spans at all-time lows, information shared on social media needs to be succinct and crisp enough to grab attention in a matter of seconds.

Here are eight attention-grabbing phrases and headers that produce high returns for getting content noticed on social media:

1, A Major Breakthrough

2, Now for the First Time

3, A Sneak Preview

4, The First and Only

5, Good News

6, Something to Cheer About

7, At Last

8, By Popular Demand

9, Take a Giant Step

10, Do Something Extraordinary

11, Be a Winner

12, Cross the Threshold

13, Let Your Imagination Soar

14, Join This Small Handful of People

15, This is a Best-Kept Secret

16, Announcing the First

17, Everything you Always Wanted to Know About

18, Break Away From the Pack

19, Finally There’s a Better Way

20, The Formula for Success

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The mind-blowing power of including lists in your storytelling

There are many elements that make online content compelling – or not.

From images, videos, and well-written copy to fascinating topics and attention-grabbing headlines, the formula for building riveting narratives is vast.

But one of the most influential elements to getting your content seen and shared today hinges on the power of lists.

The Unique Influence of Lists

Some would argue that in today’s online environment, if you can’t transform your content into some sort of list, many people simply won’t take the time to read it.

Lists have become something of a silver bullet that is often missing from otherwise fascinating content in a time-pressed world.

Why Lists Work  

Early in life we are programmed to embrace lists of every kind, from our everyday ‘to do’ lists, our grocery shopping lists, and the lists of ever-expanding skills and achievements we incorporate into resumes, career bios and LinkedIn profiles.

Lists are everywhere. Just take a look at some of the most popular lists in the world, many of which constantly grow their viewership:

  • The 10 Commandments
  • The Fortune 500 Largest Companies
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 Public Companies
  • Ranking of the Best Colleges and Universities
  • Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People
  • The World’s Richest Celebrities
  • The New York Times Best Seller List
  • The 25 Greatest Athletes of All Time
  • The Top Box Office Films of All Time
  • The 25 Worst Aviation Disasters in History

It seems one could spend a lifetime collecting all the lists that are regularly compiled in the world.

Seven Ways a List can Bring Content to Life

Here are seven reasons (in list form of course!) why today’s influential communicators incorporate lists into their content, or better yet, transform their overall content into some sort of list:

1, Lists are Fast

It’s estimated 80 percent of web users scan content rather than reading it.

In today’s ridiculously fast world, we usually don’t read online content the way we read books. We scan things quickly to pick up the most relevant information as quickly as possible and then google our way over to the next web site.

Lists give the short-attention-span reader the biggest bang of information in the least amount of time.

2, Lists Help Audiences Organize Their Thoughts

Most people have a lot going on in their lives and in their heads. The list format helps the brain easily organize the thought process.

This is particularly evident when delivering a speech to an audience on a big, broad topic.

As someone who gives many speeches and presentations, I know first-hand how audiences respond to lists.

In the midst of a presentation, the moment I start to communicate a list of takeaways, learnings or recommendations, audience members are fully engaged and grab their pens or key boards to take notes.

3, Lists are Smartphone Friendly

Today’s consumers of information often access data on-the-go while glancing at their smartphones rather than sitting down at a computer and absorbing content deeply.

Lists feed the smartphone reader’s desire for easy-to-embrace, high-level information that can be digested at a glance.

4, Lists are Succinct

Lists satisfy our need for succinctness and brevity in a crowded-content universe.

With so much information coming at us over the course of a day, solid lists provide valuable information in the briefest format possible.

5, Good Lists Provide Substantial Information

While satisfying audience desire for succinctness, good lists also provide substantial information.

A strong list will include considerable information below each heading for the reader who wants to delve deeper into the content beyond simply scanning key points of the list.

Just banging out a list with no underlying content is usually a missed opportunity. The best lists provide a wealth of information to accompany each listed item or topic.

6, Lists Make it Easy to Write a Compelling Headline

You may have amazing content, but without the ability to instantly draw your audience in you can easily be ignored.

Lists provide the ability to create an attention-grabber that can easily capture audience attention.

For example the list-driven headline, “Five ways to look good in a fast world,” has a significantly better chance of getting clicked on than the headline, “Why looking good is a challenge in a fast world.”

7, Lists Provide a Visual Break for the Human Eye

Lists provide a welcome visual break for the eye and the brain in an age where people spend so much of their lives absorbing busy, online information.

Many readers will tune out the moment they encounter content with too many lines of unbroken copy because it appears complex and time consuming to digest.

They will simply – and often instantly – move on to something that looks easier to get their head around.

Bottom Line

There is no single element that can guarantee audience engagement.

But the unique power of lists can go a long way in bringing even the most ordinary content and information to life.

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The “brilliant phrase” list every communicator should tape to their wall

In today’s rapidly changing world we are conditioned to keep moving and to always look forward.

But for today’s most successful communicators, reaching back into history provides powerful wisdom that serves as a framework for excellence in the modern world of engagement.

Here are 10 famously brilliant statements from the past that every top communicator should commit to memory:

1,  Wise men speak because they have something to say;  fools because they have to say something.  (Plato)

2,  Communication must be HOT.  Honest, open and two-way.  (Dan Oswald)

3,  Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.  (Rudyard Kipling)

4,  Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.  (Unknown)

5,  Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it, it dies. (Tony Gaskins)

6,  If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself. (Albert Einstein)

7,  Speak when you’re angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.  (Dr. Laurence J. Peter)

 8,  A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.  (Winston Churchill)

 9,   Audiences forget facts but they remember stories.  (Ian Griffin)

10,  If you don’t give people information, they’ll make up something to fill the void.  (Carla O’Dell)

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The secret power of communicating in threes

Being a persuasive communicator or marketer involves many elements.

The most influential communicators usually have a wealth of experience and skills at their disposal.

But there is one fundamental and crucial element to great communication that is often ignored.

It is something anyone can adopt in order to dramatically improve their influence: communicating in threes.

Why Three is so Important

Three is a magic number when trying to engage any audience, online or in person.

The human brain is wired to remember and be inspired by certain amounts of information and patterns. Too much information can disengage the brain; not enough information can seem insignificant.

When you communicate in threes you simplify your messaging, provide balance, and keep people engaged.

Three Key Things is an Easy Formula for Audiences to Remember

We find things easier to follow when we can break them down and remember three key things.

When it comes to actually communicating something, incorporating more than three main points into your communication is often too much information for an audience to digest and easily remember. Including less than three points can make what you are communicating seem sparse and unsubstantial.

It’s Astounding how the Number Three Improves Communication

From the time we are children, our brains are conditioned to remember things in threes. Here are some universally relatable examples:

  • Three Blind Mice
  • The Three Little Pigs
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • As children we are taught A, B, C and 1, 2, 3.
  • Olympic medals are awarded in gold, silver and bronze.
  • Most of us have played the game rock, paper, scissors.

The number three pervades our lives whether we realize it or not. The world’s most influential communicators and marketers understand this power of three and incorporate it into their interactions.

1, Sentences

A sentence that includes three points provides brevity, a rhythm and a pattern that the brain absorbs and responds to.

2, Speeches

Any great speech usually leaves the audience inspired, motivated and informed.

And while great speeches can include many interesting elements and stories, the best ones break the main takeaways down into three parts.

Many famous speeches in history have used this technique and have managed to become cemented in their audience’s memories.

3, Images and Graphics

Any powerful image, logo or business card usually incorporates no more than key three elements. Any more than three fonts, colours or graphic elements can make the image blurry, busy to the human eye, and less distinct than it could be.

4, Websites, Social Media and Digital Posts

The power of three is particularly valuable when communicating online where people tend to scan information quickly, looking for the key takeaways of any post or article.

5, Team Building

When coaching or motivating any team, declaring three main goals for the team allows members to easily embrace key priorities and a call to action that brings them together as a group.

Bottom Line

By incorporating the power of three into as much of your communicating as possible you will achieve three important things: your audience will remember what you communicated, they will feel you have been succinct, and they will feel you have been substantial.

The world’s most influential communicators fall in love with the number three and remain in a life-long love affair with this powerful number when interacting with their diverse publics.

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Seven ways to tremendously boost your self-confidence

Self-confidence is a powerful thing.

The most successful people I know across every profession generally have a healthy dose of it.

But while a certain degree of healthy confidence is key to success, in today’s intensely connected world most people are surrounded by messages and signals that seem almost designed to undermine strong self-esteem.

Here are seven actions that will make you realize you are better than you think you are.

1,  Get Rid of your Conventional Ideas of What Good Looking is

It sounds like a cliché, but beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder.

This is easy to forget when we are bombarded with online images of what beauty is supposed to look like, whether you are a girl or a guy.

It doesn’t help that we are firmly entrenched in the era of “look at me and how great I am” social media which has been accelerated by hugely popular channels like Instagram and Facebook which dominate digital interactions.

A very wise person once said “I may not be perfect but parts of me are excellent.”

Identify what you love about your body. Is it your eyes, your nose, your mouth, your hair, your skin, your height, your feet?

No one in the world is aesthetically perfect. But I guarantee there are parts of you that are excellent.

2,  Understand your Age Makes you Awesome

We can’t control how old we are chronologically; but we have complete control over how old, or young, we think.

If you are older, know that you possess a lifetime, and usually a career-time, of remarkable wisdom and invaluable lessons for success and happiness.

If you are young and just starting out, know that you have the energy, imagination and runway ahead of you to learn amazing things and conquer much of what comes your way.

3,  Get Some Exercise

Physical activity can be a magic potion.

It is absolutely astounding what a little bit of exercise can do for your attitude and self-esteem.

Our bodies were engineered to move, not to be sedentary.

Happy, successful people usually incorporate exercise into their lives. It could be as rigorous as regular trips to the gym or long-distance running, or as simple as a daily walk, some simple yoga, or a team sport you love.

Exercise releases endorphins which trigger positive thoughts in your brain. This can have the effect of resetting your perspective and reminding you of the good things about you and your life.

4,  Replace your “To Do” List with a “Done” List

Most of us can agonize over all the things we didn’t manage to get done in the course of a week or month. It’s not hard given the busy lives most people lead.

While “to do” lists are useful and I am personally a fan of them, it also helps to have a “done” list which reminds you of all the things you have accomplished, personally or professionally, over a year or two or even five. 

When you start to list everything on your “done” list that you have actually achieved, you often become energized by just how far you have come.

5,  Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Making someone else, and their world, a focal point of your thoughts is pointless, irrelevant, and a drain on your positive energy.

Focus on your own achievements.

If there is someone in your orbit who you aspire to be like, then figure out how to get there and write up some goals, but don’t go down the rabbit hole of convincing yourself you are inferior because you are not where they are.

Having idols and people you want to emulate is not a bad thing and can actually help solidify some of your goals.

But you must remember this.

The bottom line is that you are indeed in a life-long competition. But that competition is with no one but yourself.

6,  Identify What you Love About your Personality

People with healthy confidence not only know what they like about themselves physically, they know what they like about themselves inside.

Is it your determination, your sense of humour, your resilience, your spontaneity, your inner-strength, your individuality?

Whatever it is, it can be leveraged as one of your unique competitive advantages to help propel you to reaching your goals.

Everyone has leverageable personality traits, which are sometimes hidden, which can be unlocked and maximized. Figure out what yours are.

7,  Hang with Positive Folks; Disconnect from the Negatives

The world is full of people who can either help you or throw you off your game.

Smart people surround themselves with positive, warm bodies. These are the people who push you forward and provide constructive advice and even critiques. In fact, I advise everyone to identify positive mentors in their lives.

But the moment someone tells you that you can’t do something or that you can’t achieve your goal, remove them from your thoughts and do not let them influence you in a negative way.

A key to success and happiness is the ability to believe in yourself. Surround yourself with people who support that process in a meaningful way.

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Five terrible communication mistakes we make every day

Strong communication skills have always been at the heart of achieving great success in the world.

One can look back at history and see that the most accomplished professionals, business leaders, politicians, and celebrities usually succeeded at least in part because they knew how to communicate effectively.

Effective Communication is Essential to Success Today

But in today’s world it can be argued that effective communication skills are no longer simply an asset, but essential to success in almost any field.

This is because our world is now shaped by almost constant communicating both online and off.

There are few moments in the course of a regular day when most people are not engaged in some form of communication.

Despite the importance of effective communication, there are five extremely common mistakes people repeatedly make that limit their ability to be influential communicators.

1, Not Listening

Many people assume the first step to being a good communicator is knowing how to write well, speak persuasively, or understanding a lot about a specific topic. This is wrong.

The first step to any form of effective communicating is always listening. Communication is a two-way process, and if you aren’t paying attention to what people in your midst are saying or thinking, you can’t respond or participate effectively.

Active listening is a skill mastered by the best communicators in the world. They understand their audiences, big or small, and build powerful relationships by doing as much listening as they do expressing themselves.

By always listening, the best communicators are also always learning.

2, Not Being Succinct Enough

In today’s short-attention span world, getting to the point is crucial. Without the ability to be brief, your audience will move on to something else.

For any kind of effective storytelling, online or in-person, the key is to develop what you want to say and then be ruthless about editing it down to its bare minimum – and then editing it down again.

You want your audience to get the gist of what you are communicating quickly and easily without having to digest complexity or distracting details.

The best communicators are constantly reminding themselves that less is more.

3, Being a Know it all

Whether online or off, many people feel compelled to participate aggressively in every interaction by commenting on almost everything. This is usually a mistake unless you are tasked with leading a forum or discussion.

People want specialized knowledge and insights, but they don’t want verbal diarrhea.

The best communicators know when to pull back. Even if they know every answer or have an interesting perspective on every subject, they pick their moments sparingly based on when they have something particularly valuable to contribute.

4, Not Being Prepared

To communicate effectively you need to know what you are talking about.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is communicating before they are prepared.

Even if asking a question, you should be thoughtful before words start flying out of your mouth or off of your keyboard.

Speaking, writing, or posting about a topic before you know what you are really talking about is a big mistake in an age when audiences crave specialized knowledge, wisdom and thought leadership.

Knowing your subject well makes it easier to communicate your ideas to others. By zeroing in on the topics you are intimate with you can develop content, ideas and opinions that provide value to your audiences.

The more you communicate from a knowledge zone, the more you shore up credibility and position yourself as a valuable source of information and perspectives.

5, Speaking and Typing Before Thinking

Our world is diverse and fast. We are surrounded by people of different opinions, backgrounds and cultures.

With the speed of online and offline communication, it is easy to rush to communicate without understanding the implications of what you are expressing.

This can lead to offending or angering audiences which can generate conflict instead of engagement.

By speaking or typing too quickly without thinking, you can easily communicate something you’ll regret later because you worded it poorly or didn’t consider its implications.

Pausing, taking a breath, and then intentionally deciding what you want to say is the best method of communicating.

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Six guaranteed ways to kill your first impression

We are living in an age of sound bites, 140 character limits and probably the shortest attention spans in history.

As the speed of information continues to accelerate in our daily lives, creating positive first impressions – quickly – has never been more important.

Whether we are interacting in person or online, we have a few brief seconds to create a positive first impression of who we are.

First Impressions are Cemented in a Matter of Seconds

The new speed of first impressions affects everything in our lives from business meetings, first dates, social interactions, interviews, and online connections.

Despite the importance of creating instantly positive first impressions in today’s ridiculously fast world, many people make a series of fatal mistakes when meeting people for the first time.

Six Impression Killers

Here are some of the most common mistakes that can destroy the chances of making a positive first impression:

1, Interrupting

In a fast and highly competitive world there can be a temptation to try and prove your value and point of view so quickly that you end up interrupting the person you are interacting with.

Interrupting is one of the biggest turn offs in the world of communication. When people are expressing themselves they want to be actively listened to. Failing to do so by cutting them off mid-sentence is a death knell to appearing likeable and respectful.

By interrupting you create the impression you are more interested in your own thoughts and opinions than in the person you are interacting with. This also sends a loud signal that you simply don’t know how to listen.

2, Overdoing Eye Contact

Eye contact is extremely important to making a solid first impression. It demonstrates you are engaged and confident.

The problem is some people take it too far and replace healthy eye contact with aggressive staring, which can seem intimidating and unnatural. It can also put the other party on the defensive.

Soft, friendly eye contact coupled with the occasional thoughtful glance away while you are speaking and thinking can create a relaxed and warm impression.

3, Trying too Hard to Impress

When meeting people for the first time there is often a tendency to rush into showcasing how impressive you are.

This leads some to rapidly communicate their background and credentials in an effort to demonstrate how great they are before the relationship has even been established.

While it is good to have a clear sense of your value and accomplishments, rushing to tell how great you are can be a huge turn off and make you look either arrogant or insecure.

A solid rule for first meetings: A bit of humility can go a long way in making you likeable and engaging.

4, Rushing to Fill the Silence

It is easy to be uncomfortable with silence when meeting someone for the first time.

While it may seem a bit awkward, some silent space is normal and even relaxing.

Don’t feel compelled to fill every silent moment with what can end up being meaningless and distracting comments.

5, Being Nosey

One of the by-products of the new, hyper-fast information age is that privacy has taken on increased value in most people’s lives.

People generally take their privacy seriously and don’t like to disclose things about themselves until they feel comfortable.

As a result, people tend to react negatively to questions that can seem intrusive.

Do not ask overly personal questions in a first meeting. This is where a little bit of small talk about the weather or other ordinary topics can be valuable in establishing initial rapport.

6, Missing the Big Picture

Knowing a lot about a particular topic can be a blessing and a curse when creating a first impression.

The last thing most people want in a first meeting – unless it is an in-depth job interview where specific details are requested – is a bunch of granular details that weigh down a conversation and the relationship-building process.

Big picture ideas and thinking are usually what inspires people in a first meeting.  After the big picture discussions are done there is usually lots of time to later delve into details.

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Ten actions to make you more successful at social media

As with most endeavours, when it comes to social media there are winners and those who struggle to reach their goals.

Those who use social media successfully to hit their short and long-term objectives usually follow 10 rules to drive their progress.

Here are 10 key questions the most influential social media users are constantly asking themselves to drive their ongoing success:

1,  Am I Being Strategic?

There is no question that social media is a remarkably powerful communication tool if used effectively. But rushing to communicate without a strategy is usually not a great idea.

If not strategically thought out, social media usage can ultimately be a waste of time providing no tangible return.

Without knowing where you want to go and how you plan to get there, social media can become an endless process of busy activity and tactics with no real benefit to reaching your objectives.

2,  Am I Reaching a Broad Audience?

Social media enables astoundingly broad reach, facilitating connections with potentially millions of people worldwide.

Staying aware of how your audience is growing or shrinking is key. Making adjustments to your content, distribution channels and timing to drive continuous audience expansion is critical for ongoing success.

3,  Am I Targeting Specific Groups of People and Platforms?

Beyond the ability to reach extremely broad publics, one of the often overlooked aspects of social media is the ability to target specific groups of people.

Taking the time to understand precisely who you are trying to appeal to with your social media content is crucial.

The second step is discovering where your target audience is congregating. Whether they are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Instagram, YouTube, etc, or a combination of diverse platforms, you need to know where your audience is hanging out.

4,  Am I Being Two-Way with my Communication?

The true power of social media comes from communicating and listening, something many social media users ignore.

The most influential players in the social media world spend as much time listening and responding to the social media content of others as they spend disseminating their own messages.

In the process they build powerful relationships online that drive deeper engagement than users who simply blast out endless streams of one-way information.

5,  Am I Interacting One-on-One with Individual Users? 

Social media is much more than a way to reach large volumes of people. It can be a particularly effective form of communication to interact one-on-one with members of your audience when it makes sense to pursue deeper discussions.

Social media influencers communicate one on one, on a personal basis, with specific users through direct messaging when it provides value to reaching their goals.

6,  Am I Being Fast?

The speed of social media is a remarkable advantage when communicating in today’s turbo-charged world of change and information.

The smartest social media users leverage social media when they need to quickly distribute a piece of information to many people simultaneously or respond to breaking news or trends across multiple geographic jurisdictions.

7,  Am I Prepared to Respond to Negativity?

Diving into the social media world can pay large dividends in reaching and engaging your audiences. But social media communication is not all a guaranteed bed of roses.

As an open forum of information, social media communication can lead to the rapid spread of incorrect or negative information and allows the posting of negative feedback to your content.

The most successful social media users are ready to respond constructively to both positive and negative reactions to their shared content.

8,  Am I Sure I’m not Spamming?

One of the biggest danger zones when it comes to social media communication is the sense that you are spamming your audience.

The perception that you are continuously cascading unwanted one-way messages can lead to negative audience feedback and can disengage the very people you are trying to appeal to.

Knowing the type of content your audience wants and how they want to receive it is what keeps your public engaged and growing.

9,  Am I Accessing all the Platforms Relevant to my Needs?

There are hundreds of broad and niche-oriented social media platforms in wide use across the digital world. Influencers who thrive in the social media world take the time to research all the available platforms to determine which are relevant to their goals.

While it is usually not a good idea to jump onto every available platform without understanding its strategic value to your needs, staying on top of the many social media channels opens up new possibilities for reaching your audiences.

10,  Am I Leveraging the Cost-Effectiveness of Social Media?

Finally, not using social media is a huge missed opportunity.

No matter what you are trying to communicate, social media is a remarkably cost effective tool. Most existing and emerging social media sites are free to use and leverage to reach your overall communication goals.

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Twenty rules for success from famously brilliant people

Colleagues, students and friends often ask me to describe the roadmap and actions required to achieve great success in today’s world.

With this in mind, below is a list of 20 of the most compelling quotes and lessons from successful leaders, past and present.

In today’s rapidly changing world, there is something enormously appealing about the succinctness of quotes from famous people.

It probably has something to do with our diminished attention spans and that we crave both wisdom and wit in the briefest forms possible.

Timeless Rules for Success From the Famously Brilliant

1,  “If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” – John D. Rockefeller Junior

2,  “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Ziz Ziglar

3,  “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”– Walt Disney

4,  “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

5,  “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”- Confucius

6,  “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

7,  “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey

8,  “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” – Colin Powell

9,  “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

10,  “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

11,  “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

12,  “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

13,  “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” – Christopher Reeve

14,  “Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

15,  “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

16,  “When you cease to dream you cease to live.” – Malcolm Forbes

17,  “The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra

18,  “A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.” – Richard Nixon

19,  “I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.” – Neil Armstrong

20,  “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

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Four secrets to becoming a better communicator

Being a strong communicator is one of the most powerful skills anyone can hold.

The ability to influence thoughts, actions and reputations through effective communicating almost always separates the winners from the rest of the pack in the modern world.

Just look at any accomplished business leader, professional, student, politician or celebrity, and you will find that strong communication skills are fundamental to their success.

The Rush to Succeed Without a Strategy

The communication toolbox has never been broader or expanding faster with an almost daily emergence of new social media tools and mobile technologies.

But with so many fascinating new tools at our disposal, it’s easy to become enamoured with the latest technologies a bit too quickly.

There’s a tendency to rush to embrace them before we know exactly what to do with them or how they will help reach our goals.

Strong Communicators Know Exactly What They are Trying to Achieve

One of the most common roadblocks to being an effective communicator is the tendency to jump right into the process of communicating without a strategy or roadmap to steer you toward your goals.

The R.A.C.E Formula

This is where the R.A.C.E. formula comes into play; it stands for research, analysis, communication and evaluation.

The R.A.C.E. formula is the essential blueprint for all successful communicating.

1,  Research

Every communication initiative, big or small, should begin with some form of research.

You can’t know how to reach your destination if you don’t know what your starting point is.

Research can take many forms and does not need to be complex or expensive; it can be informal or formal.

Informal research can be as simple as reviewing existing data and research, gaining insights through your own personal contacts with your target audience, or attending community forums or events popular with your unique publics.

Formal research on the other hand can include public opinion polls to measure broad audience sentiment, or focus groups which can provide a deeper understanding of your target public’s attitudes.

2,  Analysis

Analysis is really the planning stage of any communication initiative.

This is the activity of conducting a thorough review of your research findings, figuring out what they mean, and then determining what strategy and tactics should be employed to reach and communicate with your target audience.

3,  Communication

The communication phase is the doing part of any communication initiative.

This is where you activate the tactics you decided upon during the analysis phase.

The tactics you decide to employ to reach your target audience can be vast or narrow, ranging from social media engagement, traditional media relations, special events, internal communication tools, government outreach initiatives, investor relations tools, fundraising tactics or face-to-face conversations.

4,  Evaluation

Measurement is crucial to any initiative; without it you don’t know what you have achieved.

This is the phase where you examine the performance of your communication tactics to determine what is working and what is lagging expectations.

It’s an opportunity to fine tune your tactics by expanding on the ones that are working well, improving those that are under performing, and discarding the ones that are just not working.

The Bottom Line

By embracing the R.A.C.E. formula, communicating can rise from being a process-driven collection of tactics without clear direction to a cohesive strategy that visibly achieves your short and long-term objectives.

This is the path to successful communicating in all its forms.

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World’s top 25 nations that use social media the most

It’s estimated that more than 32 percent of the world’s population uses social media on a regular basis.

Beyond this, there is a steady steam of statistics on social media usage around the world.

For instance, Facebook is easily the most popular social media site in the world today, and Instagram is clearly one of the fastest growing.

Where is the World’s Social Media Usage Coming From?

What is less known, however, is where all of this social media usage is coming from geographically around the world.

Many assume developed nations like the United States rank at the top of lists for social media usage, but they would be wrong.

Developing Nations Lead in Social Media Usage

In fact, many of the world’s largest social media users by country are developing nations where social media has become firmly entrenched in how daily communication is conducted.

Here is a ranking of the world’s top social media users by country. It is based on the number of hours the populations of each country spend on social media each day.

1,  Philippines

2,  Brazil

3,  Mexico

4,  Argentina

5,  UAE

6,  Malaysia

7,  Saudi Arabia

8,  Thailand

9,  Indonesia

10,  South Africa

11,  Turkey

12,  Vietnam

13,  India

14,  Italy

15,  Russia

16,  United States

17,  Singapore

18,  Spain

19,  Hong Kong

20,  United Kingdom

21,  China

22,  Canada

23,  Poland

24,  France

25,  Australia

Source: Statista

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Six secrets to telling a compelling story

We are living in the age of data.

In fact, it’s hard not to stumble across articles about big data, and how the massive amounts of facts, figures and statistics within reach today can be translated into a powerful force.

Without question, data and information can and should be the great informer.

If analyzed and used effectively, data, statistics and patterns can lead to solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Data Doesn’t Inspire

But when it comes to communicating, data is not what inspires people.

Being able to tell a compelling story is what captivates audiences, whether online or in person.

There are six elements to telling a compelling story that will engage an audience, no matter how large:

1, Intimacy

The key is to forget you are communicating with hundreds or thousands of people.

Talk as if you are speaking one-on-one, to your best friend.

People want to feel you are speaking directly and exclusively with them, not to a massive and impersonal crowd.

This ability to be intimate and familiar is a skill mastered by the world’s greatest communicators.

2, Appearance of Spontaneity

One of the big conundrums of giving a great speech is that preparation, on the one hand, and appearing spontaneous, on the other, are equally crucial.

The moment an audience feels you are simply reading a teleprompter or focused solely on handheld notes, you have forfeited a major part of their engagement.

The key is to do so much preparation and to become so comfortable with your topic that once you take the stage, whether you are using a teleprompter or not, you appear to be focused on your audience, not on reading a set of pre-packaged words.

3, A Human Edge

What resonates with people are simple, universal concepts that every human being can relate to; ideas that cut across cultural, lifestyle and economic divisions.

Tales of love, fear, embarrassment and even failure tend to be universally embraced by audiences and can be great equalizers when communicating to a large crowd.

One rule many great communicators follow is this: The bigger your audience, the smaller and more personal you should go in telling your story.

4, Humour

We love humour.

Funny stories lighten even the most serious topics and events, providing temporary relief to the busy, pressure-filled and serious lives being led by most audiences.

The key to using humour effectively is not to make jokes at someone else’s expense.

On the other hand, using humour at your own expense can be very humanizing and endearing for any speaker.

5, Humility

While arrogance has sometimes been used as a technique to entertain a crowd, it is almost always unappealing in the long term.

Arrogance can prove lethal to engaging and winning over a mass audience of new people who don’t already know and embrace you.

But being somewhat self-deprecating, as well as humble and honest, brings the speaker down to earth and almost always captivates and wins over an audience long term.

6, Relatable

People usually don’t remember too many of the details of what you said.

What they remember is how you made them feel.

Engaging an audience means establishing a rapport with them.

This can’t happen unless what you say and how you say it are simple, understandable, digestible and something people can relate to.

Without the ability to speak in relatable, non-technical terms, you may as well be speaking a foreign language to your audience.

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How strong is your personal brand? Take the brand test

Every one of us has a personal brand.

It is our identity, or more specifically, the perception people hold about us in their heads and hearts.

The Accidental Brand

Unfortunately, most people fall into the category of the “accidental brand.”

This happens when you stand back and don’t define and express who you are to your professional and personal audiences.

As a result, the way others perceive and talk about you becomes your personal brand, and in the process you become an accidental brand.

Brand Equity

On the other hand, when someone creates a defined and positive impression about who they are, they establish their own brand equity which is the cornerstone of owning a successful personal brand.

There are eight major requirements to earning and building a successful personal brand:

1, Do you Communicate your Uniqueness?

Everyone has unique characteristics and talents.

The most successful people know how to leverage and express these qualities as part of who they are.

Knowing what you want to be famous for is an excellent starting point to making your uniqueness stand out.

A unique value proposition statement, or UVP, is an effective mechanism for this.

It is an actual written statement that explains how you are unique, compelling, and the distinct value you possess.

2, Do you Know When and How to Look Professional?

While most of us would argue that beauty and good looks are in the eye of the beholder, appearing professional has universal appeal.

Everyone can look professional, which is actually more important in building a strong personal brand than being particularly good looking.

Knowing when and how to dress professionally and be groomed neatly can go a long way in establishing a sense of confidence and authority, which are universal aspects of a strong personal brand.

3, Do you Know who your Audiences are?

Understanding the people around you and how your behaviour, body language, and communication style impacts them is crucial to having a strong personal brand.

This means being extremely self aware and adjusting your communication style to the needs of your audience.

How you behave and communicate often has a profound effect on the people in your orbit, something successful leaders understand in motivating their teams.

4, Do you Appear Passionate About What you do?

Enthusiasm is contagious.

It transmits positive vibes and makes people want to be around you.

People with successful personal brands tend to convey optimism and determination, even in the face of significant challenges.

5, Are you Consistent?

In a world shaped by rapid change, we tend to gravitate to the safe haven of people who have the stabilizing force of practicing what they preach.

People who are seen as reliable and who deliver on their commitments occupy strong personal branding.

6, Are you Firmly Committed to Continuous Improvement?

Striving for excellence and constantly reinventing oneself to stay ahead of the curve are characteristics of people with strong identities.

Having a long-range vision, and being seen as flexible, nimble, and creative in reaching for that vision, is a key to possessing a strong personal brand in today’s hyper-competitive landscape.

7, Are you Exposing Yourself?

While you don’t need to be an extrovert to have a strong identity, you can’t build a compelling personal brand in complete isolation.

The ability to connect with your unique audiences through multiple channels, digitally and in person, is a trait of people with strong personal brands.

8, Are you Building a Compelling Online Presence?

The digital universe, and particularly social media, has become less a place we visit and more a place we exist.

In fact some would argue that we are living much of our lives online.

A strong online and social media presence is a requirement to building any strong identity today.

But rather than trying to be everywhere online all at once, the strongest personal brands are strategic.

They focus on the social media platforms that can showcase their best qualities and where their unique audiences are congregating.

What and how you communicate online shapes your personal brand in rapid motion.

Participating effectively on social media requires both communicating and listening.

Social media is ultimately a two-way street, something people with strong personal brands understand and master.

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Viral 101: What your story needs to get shared on social media

Breaking through on social media is not easy.

Getting a story to actually go viral in a positive way is the new jackpot in the modern era of communications.

Here are seven characteristics that can make a story go viral in the crowded social media universe:

1, Visual

Social media has become a visual arena. The growth of Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, not to mention the vast popularity of long-established platforms like YouTube, speaks to this prevailing trend.

To go viral today you need a story with a compelling visual component.

2, Newness

There is a craving for newness and uniqueness in today’s world. Stories that are fresh, heart-warming, bold or delightfully quirky tend to grab attention.

3, Humour

It seems we are reminded almost every day of the violence and suffering in the world as harsh stories are cascaded to us across traditional and social media outlets.

In a dangerous, serious world, people are in constant need of comic relief. Humorous stories are a great counterpoint and unifier to all the bad news in the world.

4, Controversy

Controversy sells and spreads.

If one is willing to take a stand or make a comment on a high-profile, highly debated issue, this can easily fuel a posting to race like wildfire across the digital universe.

5, Topical

Tapping into the issues of the day is valuable.

This gives a story a sense of currency and newsworthiness that makes it instantly relevant, timely and of interest to a range of publics.

6, Simple

Attention spans are at all-time lows. A story needs to be crisp, brief and instantly understandable.

7, Global

A story that is universal and relatable across cultural boundaries is powerful.

There are few things everyone can agree on in today’s diverse world, but stories about natural topics like animals and children usually have universal appeal.

One of the unique powers of social media is that it is a borderless medium that can easily travel across country borders.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, people want stories they can share with friends, family and colleagues.

They crave compelling stories that will engage the people in their orbits.

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Fifteen expressions you should erase from your vocabulary

We are living in an age that requires short and sweet communication.

With attention spans at all-time lows and digital and social media dominating how information is received, being brief and to the point is crucial to getting you and your story seen and heard.

The Power of Succinctness

Knowing how to be succinct can exponentially increase your success in engaging your audiences.

Below are 15 very common wordy expressions followed by their succinct alternatives.

By eliminating these wordy expressions you can make your stories and messages much easier to digest amidst today’s rapid pace of information flow.

1,  With reference to

Succinct alternative:  About

2,  With the exception of

Succinct alternative:  Except

3,  Pertaining to

Succinct alternative:  About

4,  A number of

Succinct alternative:  Many

5,  At the present time

Succinct alternative:  Now

6,  Due to the fact that

Succinct alternative:  Because

7,  Has a requirement to be

Succinct alternative:  Needs

8,  Have an adverse effect on

Succinct alternative:  Hurt

9, In close proximity to

Succinct alternative:  Near

10,  In regard to

Succinct alternative:  About

11,  In view of  

Succinct alternative:  Since

12,  It is requested that you

Succinct alternative:  Please

13,  In the event that you

Succinct alternative:  If

14,  In relation to

Succinct alternative:  About

15,  In the near future

Succinct alternative:  Soon

 

The Succinctness Quiz

Below is a passage of wordy copy. A good communicator can eliminate at least 42 words from this passage by avoiding overly wordy expressions. See if you can do it.

The succinct version of the same passage is included below.

Wordy Version of Copy 

This passage is with reference to succinctness on social media.  

With the exception of detailed articles pertaining to complex topics, social media copy should be brief.

A number of people at the present time use social media due to the fact that it is a powerful communication tool.  

Successful social media activity has a requirement to be succinct.

Not being succinct will have an adverse effect on the amount of engagement you receive.

It is helpful to stay in close proximity to social media experts in regard to effective copy.  

In view of the fact that social media is an important communication tool in the event you want to drive engagement in relation to your messages, it is requested that you develop a social media strategy in the near future.

Succinct Version of Same Copy – 42 Fewer Words

This passage is about succinctness on social media.  

Except detailed articles about complex topics, social media copy should be brief.

Many people now use social media because it is a powerful communication tool. 

Successful social media activity needs to be succinct.

Not being succinct will hurt the amount of engagement you receive.

It is helpful to stay near social media experts regarding effective copy.  

Since social media is an important communication tool if you want to drive engagement for your messages, please develop a social media strategy soon.

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How to look confident when you are really, really nervous

Appearing confident is a powerful, almost magical, thing.

In fact, the ability to look confident is one of the most effective communication tools in the world.

People who appear confident tend to get the best jobs, command the attention of the biggest and most influential audiences, and attract people into their orbits.

Confidence is Universally Appealing

There is something universally appealing about confidence.

We tend to gravitate to confident people whether in professional or social situations

People who appear confident are the ones we find reassuring, attractive and even sexy. They are the figures we turn to for advice, expertise and authority.

Confidence can be Lacking in Even the Most Accomplished People

But the reality of life is that every one of us has insecurities. We will all occasionally find ourselves in situations where our confidence seems to be missing in action.

Whether delivering a major presentation, participating in a key job interview, going on a first date, or giving a media interview, confidence can sometimes be elusive for even the most accomplished people.

We all get Nervous Rushes

I have worked in the communications field for decades at very senior levels and in a range of diverse and high-profile arenas.

And while I like to think I have accrued a degree of healthy confidence over the years, I admit there are times when I still get a rush of nervousness in certain situations.

You Don’t Need to Feel Confident to Look Confident

The great news is that you don’t have to actually feel confident to appear confident.

Here are eight techniques that will help you appear confident even when you feel really nervous:

1, Speak Slowly

Whenever I coach someone about giving a major speech or interview, the first thing I advise is to dramatically slow down their speaking pace.

When people get nervous they often speak rapidly.

This makes them difficult to understand, blurs the crispness of their messages, and makes them look unsure of themselves.

When you feel a rapid speaking style taking over, stop, and speak almost as if you are in slow motion.

As odd as this may feel, it will make you look calm, sure of yourself, and will simmer down your nervous energy.

2, Breath Deeply

Another symptom of nervousness is a rapid and shallow breathing pattern.

Take slow, deep breaths, and you will be amazed at how this calms you down and gives the impression of being on top of yourself and the situation you are in.

It also gives the impression you are a good listener.

3, Make Eye Contact

Failing to look people in the eye gives the impression of untrustworthiness and nervousness.

Look people square in the eye when they are speaking to you and when you are speaking to them.

Eye contact makes you seem friendly, focused and fully engaged.

4, Allow Silences

Don’t be afraid of silence.

When people are nervous they often impulsively feel the need to fill any silence with words.

This can lead to clumsy and superfluous comments, and it conveys a lack of confidence and a need to rush things along.

Don’t be afraid to let there be a few silences. This gives your audience a chance to absorb what you are saying and makes you look like you are in control.

5, Get out of Your Head

Overthinking can be a death knell to confidence.

If you anticipate situations too intensely, a degree of self-doubt often takes over.

People sometimes confuse preparation with overthinking.

As a general rule, prepare, prepare and prepare for important communication situations so that you intimately know your stuff; but don’t over think upcoming situations.

There is a difference between being prepared and knowing your stuff on the one hand, and getting yourself tied up in emotional knots over nervous anticipation on the other.

6, Keep Your Palms Open

Open palms convey as sense of openness and honesty; clenched fists make you look tight and nervous.

Keep your hands open when you gesture, but gesture sparingly.

Constantly using your hands when you speak can make you look jumpy and unsure of the messages you are trying to convey.

7, Don’t Slouch

We often underestimate the importance of good posture.

Just ask any successful model who spends his or her professional life walking the fashion catwalks of the world, and they will tell you how critical posture is.

Head up, shoulders back, and no slouching conveys an immediate sense of confidence and authority, before you even open your mouth.

8, Shake Hands Firmly

A firm handshake speaks volumes about a person’s confidence.

Politicians, whose bread and butter is public engagement, understand this point intimately.

Whenever I meet someone for the first time, socially or professionally, I am immediately drawn to those who grasp my hand firmly and look me in the eye.

I immediately want to know who this person of apparent authority is and what they have to say.

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Phrases we always use that make us look really dumb

How we say things can make us look smart or stupid.

As communication and digital interaction continue to evolve, one thing will never change: Words are powerful.

But to a large extent we have fallen into a world infected with a seemingly endless volume of buzz phrases.

I am just as guilty as anyone of using these common phrases, a symptom of spending more than 25 years as a corporate executive.

Buzz Phrases can be Vague and Annoying

While buzz phrases can make us feel smart and sophisticated, in reality they often come across as vague, annoying and nothing more than corporate speak.

The irony surrounding the popularity of buzz phrases is that simple, crisp, straightforward language is generally what makes people look smart, not trendy jargon.

Here are 10 hugely overused buzz phrases followed by their clearer alternatives.

How often do you use these buzz phrases, and can you get through a whole week without using them?

1,  Let’s get the ball rolling.

Clearer translation: Let’s start.

2,  Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Clearer translation: Don’t duplicate.

3,  It’s a no brainer.

Clearer translation: It’s easy.

4,  There’s an elephant in the room.

Clearer translation: There’s a problem not being addressed.

5,  Hit the ground running.

Clearer translation: Be ready to work immediately.

6,  Let’s touch base.

Clearer translation: Let’s communicate.

7,  Low-hanging fruit.

Clearer translation: Easy achievements.

8,  All hands on deck

Clearer translation: Everyone is needed.

9,  Think outside the box.

Clearer translation: Think differently.

10, I have a lot on my plate.

Clearer translation: I am busy.

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Ten fascinating facts about podcasting

The human voice is said to be one of the world’s most persuasive communication tools.

Perhaps this is why many people believe we are in the midst of a podcast revolution.

Podcasting is essentially audio broadcasting on the internet via audio files.

Podcasts are similar to radio programs but because they are audio files listeners can play them at their convenience.

You can listen to podcasts on your computer, smartphone, tablet or other portable device, and you can subscribe to podcasts much like you subscribe to blogs.

Podcasts can Benefit Both Listeners and Hosts 

Podcasts have become a useful source of specialized information on numerous categories, and podcast hosts can position themselves as subject-matter experts.

The popularity of podcasting has surged in recent years according to most estimates.

Interesting Podcasting Facts

Here are 10 things to know about this growing communication tool and the influence it will likely enjoy in the future:

1, While audio files have been around for decades, the first actual podcast is said to have debuted in 2003.

2, The term “podcasting” was introduced in 2004 by The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.

3, George W. Bush was the first US president to deliver his weekly address as a podcast in 2005.

4, Podcast listenership has grown an estimated 23 percent over the past year.

5, An estimated 57 million Americans listen to podcasts every month.

6, Today there are more than 115,000 English-language podcasts available on the internet with some estimates as high as 180,000 podcasts.

7, The most popular podcast categories are: religion, music, comedy, TV & film, literature, and news & politics.

8, The average podcast is 22 minutes in length and provides a new episode once a week.

9, 64 percent of podcasts are listened to on a smartphone, tablet or other portable device, rather than a computer.

10, Podcasts attract a young audience; the median age of a podcast listener is 30.

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Source: CopyBlogger

How listening can be your competitive edge

Have you ever noticed that the brightest person in the room is often the one who talks the least?

That’s because they are too busy listening to what’s going on around them and absorbing the spectrum of information, data and opinions in the room.

For communicators – whether social media experts, public relations advisors, marketers or advertisers – the inclination is often to communicate first by talking, writing, illustrating and disseminating messages and stories to audiences.

The Problem With Rushing to Communicate

Communicators by definition like expressing themselves, articulating ideas and generally being seen and heard.

But here is the fundamental problem with the “communicate first” approach:

1, Two-way Communication is the Essence of Success

Any form of effective communication is – by definition – a two-way equation: disseminating and receiving.

This is a hard fact that often seems forgotten in the rush to cut through the increasingly cluttered and noisy world of messages, channels, apps and digital platforms that make up today’s communication landscape.

2, Some Form of Research Should Always Come First

Regardless of the communication initiative at hand, the first step should always be some sort of listening in the form of research.

Whether it is quantitative research in the form of polling or surveys, or qualitative research in the form of individual interviews, reviews of existing information or conducting focus groups, some form of research is key.

That is why the “RACE Formula” forms the basis for all excellent communicating and is based on Research, Analysis, Communication and Evaluation – in that order.

3, Listening Should be Ongoing

Listening should never end.

Whether as part of an ongoing relationship between two parties, or during a sophisticated communications campaign, ongoing listening and evaluation ensures adjustments can be made as needed to tactics and changing audience needs.

Active listening – whether in the moment or part a longer-range research exercise – is the essential first step of any strategic communication initiative, without exception.

The world’s most successful communicators have an innate ability to remind themselves that as human beings we have a simple but profound truth that should never be overlooked: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

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Thirty words we get wrong on social media

Words are the universal instrument of every communicator.

The most influential communicators in the world know how to use words in an almost magical way to bring their stories and messages to life.

This ability is critically important to engaging audiences in the digital age.

Even as the world becomes increasingly visual in how communication is conducted, precision in the use of words will always be critically important.

But the English language is filled with many deceptive words that can trip up unsuspecting communicators, particularly when communicating quickly across social media channels.

Here are 30 confusing words commonly misused on social media that communicators should focus on getting right:

Accept – To receive

Except – Excluding

Adapt – To adjust to

Adopt – To accept or take as one’s own

Affect – To influence

Effect – Result

Aid – Help

Aide – Staff member

All ready – Prepared

Already – Previously

Complement – Complete

Compliment – Praise

Council – A group

Counsel – Advice, to advise

Eminent – Prominent

Imminent – In the immediate future

It’s – It is

Its – Belonging to, associated with

Loose – Unattached

Lose – To suffer loss

Principal – Chief

Principle – Rule

Sight – Something seen

Site – Place

Stationary – Fixed

Stationery – Writing supplies

Who’s – Who is

Whose – Belonging to, associated with

You’re – You are

Your – Belonging to, associated with

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How to become a world-class blogger by doing 10 things

Blogs are one of the most effective communication tools for driving personal, professional and organizational influence.

Many of the world’s most successful professionals, consultants and business leaders take full advantage of blogging to drive and enhance their brands and reputations.

The Blogosphere is a Crowded Place

There are an estimated 170 million active blogs across the internet spanning every imaginable topic; but most of these blogs fail to attract a wide audience.

The successful bloggers are the powerful exception. They know how to stay way ahead of the pack by using their blogs to actively shape online conversations, build strong relationships, and drive powerful influence.

Breaking Through is Crucial

The market and appetite for highly useful online information is gigantic and growing every day.

Successful bloggers know how important it is to break through and distinguish their content in today’s insanely crowded online world.

Social Media Accounts Aren’t Enough Anymore

Successful bloggers understand that social media accounts aren’t enough anymore, in and of themselves, to drive a highly influential online presence.

A quality blog provides ownership of an online hub for meaty content that goes beyond the boundaries of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Quality Blogs are Increasingly Distinguished From all the Others

There is now a big distinction between quality blogs and the millions of also-ran blogs.

There are even websites which list the “best” blogs in various fields and industries.

The 10 Actions of Successful Bloggers

In this competitive environment a new breed of “power bloggers” has emerged. They are the big online influencers who stay ahead of the pack by practicing these 10 actions – continuously:

1, They are Extremely Disciplined

No matter how busy they are, power bloggers post fresh, interesting content continuously – every single day if possible.

They are always on the lookout for something new to write about, report on, or post in order to entice their audiences.

2, They Remain Subject-Matter Experts

Power bloggers know their subject areas and their blogging niches intimately.

They are specialists in their fields, and they never stop building on their expertise.

They stay on top of what other bloggers in their niches are posting, and they strive to be pioneers and innovators in terms of the content, ideas and opinions they post.

3, They Promote, Promote and Promote Their Content

Power bloggers spend more time promoting their blog content than actually creating the content itself.

They understand that creating and posting quality content is just the beginning.

They continuously grow their social media communities as important audiences for their content, and they leverage innovative online platforms like Viral Content Bee and StumbleUpon to get their posts shared widely across the internet.

4, They Hate Boring Headlines

Power bloggers know how to create irresistible headlines that capture the attention of online audiences.

In fact power bloggers devote a great deal of time to crafting the type of power headlines that will grab the eyes of online viewers and draw them into their content.

5, They are Ruthlessly Succinct

Power bloggers understand the ridiculously short attention spans of today’s online audiences.

They create meaty, compelling content but are always ruthlessly succinct in what they post.

They know the easiest way to lose an online audience is by expecting them to wade through mazes of wordy copy and complex graphics that are hard to understand.

6, They Source and Create Arresting Visuals

Power bloggers understand how visual the online world has become.

They devote as much time to sourcing and creating compelling photos, images and videos to accompany their copy, as they do to writing their words.

7, They Guest Blog

There are vast numbers of blogs online that welcome posts from guest bloggers.

Power bloggers take full advantage of this because it not only builds up their thought leadership, but it allows them to introduce viewers of other popular blogs to their own blog and gain some of that audience share.

8, They Recycle Their Content Strategically

The days of publishing something once and hoping for a large audience are over.

With the speed of the internet, in order for content to be seen, it needs to be posted several times on different social media platforms.

Power bloggers understand this and will often repost and redistribute their previous content from months and even years ago if it is still useful and relevant to their audiences.

9, They are Obsessive About Adopting Best Practices

Power bloggers understand that they are never done and that a strong blog should be dynamic and constantly improving.

They are always exploring other blogs online to see what works and what doesn’t.

When they find a new format or topic area that is wildly popular, they will figure out how to integrate it as best practices into their own blog.

10, They Provide Unwavering Value to Their Viewers

Above all, power bloggers understand what their end-game is: to provide high value to their viewers online.

The most popular blogs are those that provide endless posts of useful information that teaches, informs, and inspires.

Power bloggers make their visitors feel that time looking at their blog is time very well spent.

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The power and danger of text messages

It is an exciting time to be a communicator. Today we have access to more tools for digital and traditional communication than ever.

Within the modern ecosystem of emerging tools, it is important to carefully determine which modes of communication are most effective for reaching and engaging our particular publics.

One potentially powerful tool which has emerged over the past decade is text messaging and text marketing.

Our Smartphones are Almost a New Body Part

The growth of text messaging has been driven by the fact that our smartphones are such an integral part of our daily lives that they have almost become a new body part.

With this in mind, it makes sense for corporations, not-for-profits, political organizations and individuals to consider texting as a way to reach audiences on their smartphones.

Texting can Become a Communication Blunder

While it can be a powerful mode of communication, text marketing can easily backfire if not used effectively.

It is important to consider the pros and cons of text marketing when determining if this tool should be incorporated into a particular communication strategy.

Advantages of Text Marketing

There are many advantages to sending texts to your audience:

1, Cost Effective

Text marketing is generally free or very cost effective to utilize, which is an important consideration for cost-focused organizations and campaigns.

2, Instant Communication

In our 24/7 universe where timing is almost everything, text marketing is one of the fastest ways to reach a targeted audience with instant messaging.

3, Engagement

People tend to monitor and read their text messages closely.

Disadvantages of Text Marketing

There are also various danger zones to sending texts:

1, Must be Succinct

Text messages need to be extremely brief as people see their smartphones as a forum for succinct messages to be read on tiny screens often when in transit.

2, Intrusive

Text messages, particularly commercial text messages, can be seen as intrusive and almost an invasion of privacy; people tend to consider their smartphones as their personal, private space.

It’s important to know your audience and gauge if text marketing is something they want.

3, Spam

Finally, text messages can be considered spam and quickly discarded by audiences if they are distributed too frequently and too broadly.

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Ouch! How to avoid social media backfire

Getting noticed in a positive way on social media is a goal for most serious communicators today.

Smart corporations, brands, celebrities, politicians, not-for-profits, and everyday social media users have embraced social media to reach their audiences with their stories, messages, calls-to-action and opinions.

But as social media has become a hyper-crowded universe, getting noticed is easier said than done.

The Hashtag Explosion

Hashtags have become one of the most effective, if not essential, tools for getting noticed on social media.

As most social media users know, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a pound sign (#) that is used to identify messages, link conversations and highlight common themes on social media sites.

The growth of hashtags in recent years is astounding. What began on Twitter years ago has now spread to Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and other sites.

It seems there is now a hashtag on almost every imaginable topic, with new ones created every day.

Hashtag Stats are Compelling

A hashtag immediately expands the reach of your social media posts beyond just those who follow you. It enables you to potentially reach anyone interested in that hashtag phrase or keyword.

It is said that on Twitter, tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement and are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted than tweets without hashtags.

And on Instagram, interactions are said to be highest on posts with more than 11 hashtags.

The Emergence of Bashtags

However, as organizations and individuals have rushed to create their own hashtags to promote themselves and their messages, a growing number of cases have emerged where well-intentioned hashtags have turned into bashtags.

A bashtag is a hashtag that backfires and turns into a forum to criticize the organization, user, or topic which the hashtag was intended to promote.

In some cases bashtags have gone viral, doing significant damage to the reputations of the organizations or individuals who were the sources of the original hashtags.

How to Avoid Social Media Backfire and the Dreaded Bashtag

Here are three rules to follow to avoid having your hashtag repurposed into a bashtag:

1, Always Have a Thorough Social Media Strategy

As with any goal, you should always have a well-thought-out strategy for any social media initiative or campaign.

Before taking to the social media air waves and establishing your own hashtag, anticipate audience reaction in advance so you are prepared for the wide range of responses and opinions you and your hashtag may receive.

2, Understand Social Media is a two-way Street

This is the golden rule of effective social media engagement.

If you are using social media simply for the blasting out of one-way messages, you are missing the point and the opportunity to deeply engage your publics.

You also run the risk of turning off audiences who are not interested in having one-way messages constantly blasted at them.

You should be doing at least as much listening as communicating on social media platforms.

3, Be Well Prepared to Respond to Both Fans and Constructive Critics

Just because someone is your critic on social media doesn’t necessarily mean they are your enemy.

The key is to distinguish between constructive critics who have something to contribute and haters who are only interested in being negative and bashing.

Pay close attention to who is responding to your social media posts. Engage with the constructive critics and don’t waste your time on the obnoxious haters.

The Bottom Line

Before you rush to promote your messages via a unique hashtag on social media platforms, make sure you are prepared to engage and converse with your publics.

If you are simply using a hashtag as a one-way trick to get your messages out, it could easily turn into a bashtag of public attack and criticism.

You need to be prepared to engage with the good and the not-so-good online.

Social media is a powerful arena for engaging your publics; but don’t drive one-way on this two-way street.

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Five things most people don’t know about social media

As we spend more of our lives participating in social media, we tend to develop assumptions about the state of this powerful medium.

Here are five surprising facts about social media today that run counter to much of the popular belief:

1, The United States is not one of the World’s top 10 Users of Social Media

The top 10 countries for usage of social media are: Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Indonesia, and South Africa.

2, There are Many Popular Social Media Sites you Don’t Hear About

Here are 10 hugely popular but lesser known social media sites: CouchSurfing (international travel), English, Baby (English as a second language), Academia.edu (academics), aSmallWorld (elite traveling), Ravelry (knitting, crocheting), CafeMom (expectant mothers), LibraryThing (books), Care2 (environment), FuelMyBlog (blogging), Geni.com (genealogy).

3, More Than 80 Million Photos are Uploaded on Instagram Each day

Instagram is only six years old but has already become one of the world’s fastest-growing social media sites. Today there are more than 400 million active monthly users on Instagram.

4, About Three in 10 People use Social Media

Sometimes it seems the entire world is immersed in social media. However, in reality about 32 percent of the world’s population uses social media regularly.

This means that of the total world population of 7.3 billion people, there are 2.3 billion users of social media.

Undoubtedly this is a huge number, particularly given that social media is still a relatively young phenomenon. But it also means that 68 percent of the world, almost 5 billion people, do not use social media regularly.

5, More Than 56 Million Blog Posts are Published Each Month

There has been an absolute explosion of content across the internet over the past decade. Much of this can be attributed to the breathtaking growth of the blogosphere.

Blogs have become one of the most widely used vehicles for distributing online content. Today it seems there is a blog for almost every imaginable topic.

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The power and danger of email marketing

Of the many direct-marketing tools available to communicators today, sending emails to a target audience is a popular option in the digital age.

Not surprisingly, email marketing has grown in popularity over the years and is widely used by organizations across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors.

But before activating email marketing as part of any communication strategy, it is important to weight the pros and cons of this potentially effective tool.

Here are 10 facts that should be considered before employing email marketing:

Advantages of Email Marketing

1,  Inexpensive; no printing or postage required.

2,  Can be activated quickly for urgent communication.

3,  Enables links directly to an organization’s website.

4,  Can be composed in advance and set on a timer for future distribution.

5,  Easily measurable via open and click-through rates.

Disadvantages of Email Marketing

1,  Emails can get buried inside in-boxes with hundreds of other emails.

2,  Can be seen as spam at a time when anti-spam sensitivity runs high.

3,  People tend to only skim-read emails.

4,  Layout of emails can look different on various email systems and mobile devices.

5,  Can seem impersonal compared to other communication methods.

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How to write social media headlines that work

Anyone who has worked in the communications industry knows that strong headlines and titles have always mattered in order to get your stories or opinions noticed.

Strong headlines generally have four essential characteristics: They are seen as unique, specific, urgent and useful.

But today there is so much unprecedented – and almost insane – competition for audience attention across the digital world that without a highly compelling headline your content will go largely unnoticed or ignored.

You could have the most groundbreaking or brilliant article, statistics, opinions, facts or blog post in the world, but without a compelling headline it will probably be invisible to much of the online universe.

The harsh reality of communicating online today is that a boring or luke-warm headline can be a death knell to getting noticed.  In fact, boring headlines can easily kill the success of any social media strategy.

The Power of Strong Headlines

Here are 10 examples of strong headlines and titles that work well on social media (and one’s that don’t) for grabbing attention and drawing audiences into online content:

1, Boring Headline:  “Ten social media tips”

Compelling Headline:  “Ten ways you can multiply your influence across social media”

2,  Boring Headline:  “The benefits of blogging”

Compelling Headline:  “How power blogging can make you a social media leader”

3,  Boring Headline:  “Tips to help your career”

Compelling Headline:  “Three things every super-successful executive does every day”

4,  Boring Headline:  “How to create engaging content on social media”

Compelling Headline:  “Bold tricks to grab attention in the crowded online world”

5,  Boring Headline:  “Mistakes people make on social media”

Compelling Headline:  “Social media taboos that will kill your online influence”

6,  Boring Headline:  “A satisfying recipe for prime rib”

Compelling Headline:  “How to make prime rib like a world-class chef”

7,  Boring Headline:  “How to save money”

Compelling Headline:  “How living below your means can change your life”

8,  Boring Headline:  “How to deliver a strong speech”

Compelling Headline:  “Three things every successful speech does for an audience”

9,  Boring Headline: “How to create an effective blog”

Compelling Headline: “What the world’s most successful blogs have in common”

10,  Boring Headline:  “Unusual facts about social media”

Compelling Headline:  “What you probably don’t know about social media in 2017”

The bottom line is this: Social media is about engaging your audience and building relationships. This happens by creating quality content that is useful and compelling.

But when it comes to capturing audience attention online, taking the time to compose the right headline or title can make or break your success.

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If you don’t know these 10 phrases you’re not on top of social media

As social media has exploded over the past decade, a new type of language has grown along with it. There are words in our everyday vocabulary such as “share,” “like,” and “post,” that have taken on new meaning within the context of social media.

Here are 10 social media terms that are growing in popularity that the most sophisticated social media users should know and understand:

1,   Trendjacking

When someone tries to capitalize on a topic that is trending on social media by injecting their own content into the conversation that has no relevance to the trending discussion. Trendjacking can be annoying to social media audiences and an easy way to disengage online publics.

2,   Triage

A system for prioritizing incoming social media messages to determine their level of urgency and the appropriate response. Having a social media triage system is particularly important for large, high-profile corporations and brands who receive high volumes of inquires and complaints via social media.

The term is derived from hospital emergency rooms where it is vital to quickly determine the urgency of various health situations in order to prioritize patient care.

3,   Vlogging

Vlogging is one of the fastest-growing practices on social media. A vlogger is essentially a blogger who uses video, as opposed to copy, as the main form of content on their blog.

4,   Dark Social

Dark social is the sharing of online content through private digital channels such as email and text messaging as opposed to sharing the content on public social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Dark social is becoming a big focus for social media marketers; it represents a large portion of the sharing of online content but is harder to track and measure than content shared on public social media platforms.

5,   Subtweeting

Subtweeting involves criticizing or disparaging someone on Twitter through a tweet without including them or their Twitter handle in the message. It is a frowned-upon behaviour since it amounts to talking about someone negatively behind their back but doing it publicly on social media.

6,   Like Baiting

Overtly requesting likes or shares of your content on Facebook. Many users participate in like baiting in order to increase their Facebook fan base and grow their online engagement. The problem is that strong social media engagement is based on the sharing of quality content, not on a plea to get others to share content simply for the sake of sharing.

7,   F4F

F4F is social media language meaning “follow for follow.” The term is growing in popularity on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram when users invite people to follow them with the offer that they will follow their followers back.

8,  Creeping

Social media is a fantastic research tool for finding information on almost any topic imaginable. However, it seems there is a fine line between researching and creeping on social media. To creep is to spend a great deal of time, on an ongoing basis, looking through a specific individual’s social media profiles, posts, background and information. It is almost considered a form of online stalking.

9,   Click Baiting

The practice of posting misleading or shocking headlines in order to get readers to click through to content online. The problem with click baiting is that the content often has little to do with the headline, which can disappoint, anger and disengage online audiences.

Click baiting has become common on social media due to the intense competition for audience attention; it is often done simply to generate new page views or advertising revenue.

10,   Verified

A social media account that is verified is one that is specifically tagged as being legitimate and authentic. Verified social media accounts are usually reserved for high-profile figures or brands as a way of protecting the authenticity of the person or company who operates the social media account and distinguishing the account from copycats.

Source: Online research including Hootsuite

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The six things your audience wants from you

For anyone practicing serious communications today, the dominant buzz revolves around endless discussions of the importance of digital technology, social media, big data, and the need to understand business and financial communications.

What is often missing from the contemporary dialogue is the impact that the new era of transparency and public demand for authenticity have on practicing communication effectively in the modern era.

A New Age of Authenticity

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States last year has unleashed what will be years of political analysis about why he won and why Hillary Clinton lost.

As in all political cycles, there are numerous reasons for the election outcome. But many would argue that the Trump phenomenon has a lot to do with a perceived authenticity.

The World is Tired of Pre-Packaged Messaging

President Trump is nothing if not a pretty authentic communicator in an age when the world is fatigued by pre-packaged messaging. He speaks off the cuff, which can trigger controversial comments and explosive news cycles.

But oddly, it also positions him as a kind of anti-politician, a powerful zone to occupy in today’s age of public opinion where audiences crave a sense of authenticity.

In today’s turbo-charged, digital communication age it seems every brand, company, cause, politician and individual is under ridiculous pressure to get their messages seen and heard.

Audiences Want Straight Talk Like Never Before

But in order to engage audiences today, openness, honesty and straight talk are the prices of admission.

The moment someone is labeled a “spin doctor,” people tune out their messages, and the communicator has forfeited much of his or her credibility in the court of public opinion.

Here are the six things that audiences generally crave in today’s fast-paced and transparent world of communication:

1, Practice two-way Social Media

Social media is a forum for two-way communication and relationship building. It is designed as much for listening as for communicating.

Those who use it simply for blasting out a stream of marketing messages are missing the point of this powerful medium.

2, Listen to Your Audiences

Business and political history is littered with stories of unrealized success because the communicators failed to take the time to deeply understand their publics.

All effective communication strategy begins with research and analysis of who your audience is and what their needs are. This will never change no matter how digital or fast the communication world becomes.

3, Don’t be Afraid to not Have the Answer

The pressure to be an authority and to always have the right answer is intense in the fast world of communication.

But it is always better to admit to not knowing an answer than to communicate something you don’t know to be true or accurate.

Pretending to know something you don’t actually know is a glaring sign of lacking authenticity.

4, Own up to Mistakes

Human nature and audiences have a deep capacity for forgiveness.

When a brand, company or public official make mistakes, the best thing to do is to own up to those mistakes, apologize and move on.

Those who dig their heals in publicly, particularly in the face of blatant mistakes or wrongdoing, forfeit their right to audience forgiveness and usually suffer sustained reputation damage.

5, Understand the Power of Humility

A little bit of humility can go a long way in the court of public opinion.

In an era where trust levels are at all-time lows, arrogance is a big turn off. Whether you are a brand, corporation, politician or citizen of the world, public opinion responds well to the humanizing effect of humility.

6, Don’t be Dishonest

Lying or twisting the truth flies in the face of audience demand for transparency and straight talk. And a reputation for dishonesty is an almost impossible bell to un-ring.

Beyond the obvious premise of “doing the right thing,” a sound reputation for honesty is becoming a new distinguisher for successful brands, organizations and individuals in the marketplace.

In the modern age of information, an unwavering commitment to being real and authentic should be the standard operating principle for all communication tactics and strategies, period.

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Eight simple actions that will make you a social media influencer

Being influential on social media means that lots of people are interested in what you post and what you have to say online.

It also means getting lots of positive feedback from other social media users.

That feedback can take various forms including praise for a compelling social media post and spikes in your follower base.

Being highly successful in any profession or aspect of business generally means being influential. And being influential today means knowing how to gain and hold attention across the social media universe.

Here are eight core habits that are practiced regularly by the most influential social media users in the online world. By adopting these actions you can dramatically grow your level of influence across social media:

1,  Post Unusual Stuff

Focus on posting content that always seems fresh, different and even quirky to your social media audiences.

2,  Be Disciplined Everyday 

Try to post something new and interesting every single day.

3,  Research and Understand who you are Really Speaking to

Know exactly who your target audiences are – and are not – on social media.

4,  Know why you are Doing Social Media in the First Place

Have a well-defined mission statement – either written down or in your head – that dictates why you are participating in social media and what you hope to achieve.

5,  Respond as Much as you Distribute Information

Take the time to respond to the compelling posts of other social media users as much as you distribute your own content.

6,  Set Goals

Commit firmly to continuous improvement in growing your follower base on social media as well as growing the level of user engagement in your specific content.

7,  Leverage the Diversity of Social Media Platforms

Communicate with your publics through multiple social media channels, of which they are many.

8,  Be Time Strategic

Be highly strategic about when you post content to ensure maximum exposure and engagement on different social media platforms.

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How to survive and thrive in the era of fake information

Don’t believe everything you hear.

This famous expression could have been written for today’s modern age of communication where “fake news” has become the latest buzz phrase.

It’s not surprising we have found ourselves in a dangerous age of disinformation characterized by the growth of fake news and information.

The 24/7 news cycles, the pervasiveness of digital and social media, and the widespread demand for a never-ending flow of entertaining and shocking stories and information, have all contributed to the fake-news phenomenon.

The Age of Disinformation

But the term “fake news” has become an overused catch-all phrase for various categories of stories, including those intended to be satirical, those that are 90 percent factual but contain small unintended errors, those that are accurate but clearly biased in their point of view, and finally stories that are completely false.

It is this final category of completely false stories and information that is obviously the most dangerous.

Websites Devoted to Fake News and Information

The most serious culprits of fake news are the many websites that deliberately publish hoaxes and disinformation, presenting untruths as if they were real stories. These sites often aggressively use social media to promote their false information.

In this dangerous era of disinformation, it is important to be able to distinguish between the legitimate and the fake.

While there may be no guaranteed way to determine if a story or information is false on its surface, here are three actions that will help you combat being taken in by fake stories:

1,  Check the Source Carefully

First, check the source of articles you see online very carefully. If the website posting the article is questionable or obscure, do some research online to see if the site is listed among the various websites known to traffic in fake news and hoaxes.

2,  Pay Attention to Mainstream News Outlets

Second, pay attention to what the mainstream news media is reporting on.

While mainstream news outlets are far from perfect and have even at times been accused of questionable reporting, they generally don’t deliberately publish completely false stories – except perhaps as the occasional April fools joke.

If an outrageous or shocking story or piece of information that is circulating widely online is getting absolutely no pick up on mainstream news outlets, this could be a sign the story is fake.

3,  Stay Well Informed

Third, stay generally informed about what is really going on in the world around you. It is a good idea to be at least somewhat aware of the top mainstream stories published in a given week about the business, political, international and entertainment arenas.

By being aware of the legitimate breaking news in the world you can filter out a lot of the outrageous stories and information that are false and out-of-kilter with reality.

Actual Fake News Stories

To give you a sense of just how easily fake news and information can spread, here are six fake stories that gained major traction and large audiences online over the past year:

“Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president”

“President Obama confirms he will refuse to leave office if Trump is elected”

“Queen Elizabeth has died”

“Girl infects 586 men with HIV on purpose, plans on infecting 2,000 more”

“Harambe the gorilla gets 15,000 write-in votes for president during US election”

“Obama signs executive order banning the Pledge of Allegiance in schools nationwide”

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Ten actions that will make you a world-class storyteller

Compelling content and stories have never been more important to successful communicating.

This is because there has never been so much competition for the eyes and ears of the world.

The digital and social media arenas have been overrun with endless streams of information from every conceivable source.

Intense Competition for Audience Attention

With so much of the world clamouring to get their messages seen and heard, a new state of nonstop noise has been generated along with ridiculously intense competition for audience attention.

The noise is so loud that entire industries have developed around the concept of inbound marketing and the creation of content so compelling it can grab attention amidst the 24/7 buzz.

But creating fascinating content that cuts through today’s communication landscape is no easy feat.

Here are 10 ways to create the type of enticing content and stories necessary to cut through our boisterous world:

1, Know What Your Audience Wants

Knowing your audience is the starting point for any successful communication.

Understanding their demographics and characteristics determines what kind of information they are interested in receiving.

It also determines how they like to receive information and which channels – both online and off – they are likely to turn to for content.

2, Leverage Your Expertise

Create content around topics you know.

People today crave specialized knowledge, wisdom and thought leadership.

By zeroing in on the topics you are intimate with you can develop content that provides audiences with a sense they are benefiting from the wisdom and knowledge of a subject-matter expert.

This becomes self-perpetuating value because the more you communicate within you knowledge zone, the more you shore up credibility and position yourself as a leader in your field.

3, Be Ruthlessly Succinct

Less is more. This has always been the bedrock of strong content.

With attention spans at all-time lows, brevity has never been more crucial to engaging an audience.

In terms of copy, the key is to develop what you want to say and then be ruthless about editing it down to its bare minimum – and then editing it down again.

Putting no more than three lines in a paragraph makes your copy pleasing to the eye and easy for audiences to scan.

You want your audience to get the gist of what you are communicating quickly and easily without having to wade through a complex web of material.

4, Include Compelling Visuals

We are entrenched in the visual era.

Whether in the form of pictures, graphics or videos, visuals bring content to life.

The key is to embrace the adage that a picture paints a thousand words. Take the time to curate or create arresting visuals.

The best visuals draw audiences into your content. Vibrant colours, unusual shapes, and anything depicting motion are arresting to the human eye.

But like copy, visuals should be simple for an audience to absorb.  The audience should understand in a matter of seconds what the visual is communicating and how it fits with your overall message.

Despite the appeal of bright colours, black and white visuals can also punctuate content particularly if the images are sharp and distinct.

Videos, of course, have become part of the standard content mix. But they too should be well thought out, to the point, and should illuminate, not take over, your overall message.

5, Grab Your Audience With Riveting Headlines and Titles

Your audience needs to be irresistibly drawn into your content when they have so many other things to look at.

You could have amazing content, but without the right grabber your audience may never find it.

With so much information being cascaded across traditional and social media channels, grabbing attention is not easy.

Compelling headlines and titles that are newsworthy, unusual and even shocking make audiences want to look further at what you have to say.

6, Communicate in Threes

One of the tactics used by leading communicators is to express content in threes.

This means deciding on three core messages or ideas you want an audience to take away from your content.

Three is generally a digestible amount of information for the human mind to absorb and remember.

Less than three main ideas tends to be seen as too sparse to be considered substantial content; more than three broad ideas can overwhelm short attention spans and leave a blurry perception of your overall message.

7, Pull on the Heartstrings

Triggering audience emotions is a guaranteed way to make content compelling.

Infusing content with references that are amusing, sentimental, and even frightening can go a long way to engaging an audience.

For instance visuals of adorable animals almost always tap audience emotions.

8, Use Fascinating Facts

We are living in the era of data and big data.

With so much information available at our finger tips, we crave new facts.

Fascinating facts and statistics that are not well known can add a great deal of punch to content and keep an audience engaged.

9, Tap Into Current Topics of the Day

We are living in the trending era.

Audiences are captivated by world trends that shift daily and sometimes hourly.

Tapping into these topics by linking your content to what’s going on in the world around you gives your communication a relevancy that attracts attention.

Beyond this, taking a stand on trending topics triggers interest and even dialogue about your content.

This increases the likelihood of your content being widely shared across diverse channels.

10, Tell a Story

People respond to and remember stories, not stand-alone data.

While it’s important to have compelling facts, the body of what you are communicating should tell a story that your audience finds intriguing, entertaining and relatable.

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Hugely popular social media sites you don’t know about

Most people alive today are – to a greater or lessor degree – part of the social media generation.

Today lives are shaped increasingly by use of mainstream social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest & LinkedIn.

Indeed these platforms have become part of our daily vocabulary.

But there are hundreds of lesser-known social media channels in wide use across the digital universe that are wildly popular. Some are niche-oriented and others have broad-based audiences.

Here are 10 highly popular but lesser-known social media sites in wide use across the digital world. Most of these platforms have millions of users:

CouchSurfing

Connects international travellers worldwide.

English,Baby

Connects students and teachers of English as a second language.

Academia.edu

Connects academics and researchers.

aSmallWorld

Connects elite travellers worldwide, the ‘jet set.’ By invitation only and charges membership fees.

Ravelry

Connects the vast knitting and crocheting community.

CafeMom

Connects moms and moms-to-be.

LibraryThing

Connects book lovers.

Care2

Connects green living enthusiasts and social activists.

FuelMyBlog

Connects the blogging community.

Geni.com

Connects users interested in family histories and genealogy.

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Why you need a mission statement – and how to create one

We live in an era of communication overload.

Most lives today are flooded with nonstop messages in the form of emails, text messages, social media exchanges, 24/7 news cycles and rapid internet search engines.

In this crowded messaging climate you cannot be a successful professional, business, entrepreneur, government, politician or not-for-profit entity without mastering a strong voice that rises above the constant buzz.

You Need a Strong and Consistent Voice

The first and often overlooked step to developing a strong voice in today’s noisy climate is knowing precisely what your personal or professional mission is and how to communicate it.

But what exactly is a mission and how is it translated into an effective mission statement?

Defining Your Mission

In order to define a solid mission for any individual or organization you must answer five key questions:

1, Who are you?  Or who is your organization?

2, What do you do?  Or what does your organization do?

3, Where do you operate?  Or where does your organization operate?

4, How do you achieve your goals?  Or how does your organization achieve its goals?

5, Why does what you do matter?  Why does what your organization does matter?

Crafting Your Mission Statement

Flowing from these five underlying questions, a strong mission statement holds four essential characteristics:

1, A message that is clear and succinct.

2, A message that is understood among your publics.

3, A message that provides the foundation and starting point for all communication planning, whether personal or organizational.

4, A message that is easily disseminated to all internal and external publics.

5, A message that defines and inspires a long-range goal.

Eight Mission Statements That Work

To provide inspiration for developing a strong mission statement for yourself or your organization, here are the mission statements of eight successful, high-profile corporations and not-for-profit entities:

American Express

At American Express we have a mission to be the world’s most respected service brand. To do this, we have established a culture that supports our team members so they can provide exceptional service to our customers.

Harley-Davidson

We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.

Levis Strauss & Co

People love our clothes and trust our company. We will market the most appealing and widely worn casual clothing in the world. We will clothe the world.

Microsoft

At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible.

NIKE

Our mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

The Walt Disney Company

The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.

Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.

World Wildlife Fund

Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by: conserving the world’s biological diversity and ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable.

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How to go from social media user to social media pro

Are you a user or a pro? That’s the question many people ask themselves about their social media activities.

Social media marketing has become one of the most powerful – if not essential – communication tools in today’s digitally driven world.

Successful players in the social media universe understand both the power as well as the danger zones of utilizing this potent tool.

Here are 10 questions today’s real social media pros constantly ask themselves about their social media activities. They are the questions that can make or break success on social media and distinguish the users from the pros:

1, Are you Reaching a Wide Audience?

Social media enables broad reach allowing you to connect with millions of people worldwide.

2, Are you Reaching your Target Audience?

Social media gives you the ability to reach the specific demographics important to your objectives by allowing you to target distinct and diverse social media platforms.

3, Are you Leveraging the Cost Effectiveness of Social Media?

This is one of the most powerful aspects of social media. It is extremely cost effective and generally free to utilize unless you are employing paid advertising or some other kind of paid social media service.

4, Are you Building Meaningful Relationships on Social Media?

On social media you can communicate on a personal basis with individuals through direct messaging and recurring social media events like Twitter chats.

5,  Are you Using Social Media to Both Communicate and Listen?

Social media enables — and is designed for — two-way communication with your target audiences. Unfortunately many use social media as a place simply for the blasting out of one-way marketing messages.

6,  Are you Leveraging the Speed of Social Media?

With social media you can quickly disseminate information to many people simultaneously and respond rapidly to users who have reacted to your posts.

7,  Do you Understand how Easy Social Media is to use?

Social media is one of the world’s most accessible methods of communication and doesn’t require high-level skills or complex computer equipment.

8, Do you Have a Strategy?

If not strategically planned out, social media can be a waste of time, providing no measurable return. You need to know what you are trying to achieve by communicating on social media.

9, Are you Prepared to Respond?

You need to be prepared to respond appropriately to user reactions to your social media posts. Negative reaction to your social media posts can lead to the rapid spread of damaging or incorrect information.

Every time you post something on social media you invite possible criticism and negative postings by others in response to your information.

10, Are you Sure you are not Spamming?

You need to avoid falling into the spamming trap. Widely disseminated, strictly one-way information or selling on social media can trigger concerns over spamming or perceived spamming. This can lead to your audiences on social media becoming disengaged from you communication.

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Why there’s so much bad PR in the world today – and how to fix it

I am often asked by people why there is so much bad PR in the world today.

The truth is that the profession of public relations is in an ironic state.

On the one hand, there has never been greater need for corporations, governments, politicians, not-for-profits and celebrities to have senior, creative, strategic, and results-driven public relations and communications programming.

On the other hand, there often remains a chronic misunderstanding of the clear role and fundamental value of public relations to the bottom line.

The Emerging Profession

Much of this irony stems from the fact the PR is still an “emerging profession,” not yet holding the core status of traditional fields like law, medicine, accounting, marketing or engineering.

Another issue is that the term “public relations” is in itself misleading, implying that the field is only equipped to be a conduit of communication to external audiences.

In actuality, a better term would be “publics relations” as a strong case can be marshalled that those trained and experienced in PR are best suited to strategically leverage all external and internal communications, including that aimed at driving employee engagement and productivity.

In theory, public relations is defined as the strategic management of mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its various publics.

PR is About the Bottom Line

But in reality, for public relations to really succeed, it needs to impact the bottom line in a meaningful way and speak the language of the C-suite.

PR, or corporate communications, is not just about communicating. It is about increasing sales, moving product off the shelf, changing government policy, increasing shareholder confidence, increasing workforce productivity, building reputations that enable organizations to grow, and transforming crises into opportunities.

Smart Organizations Understand the Competitive Edge of Good PR

The smartest organizations in today’s high-stakes world of communication understand this bottom-line value and realize public relations is often the competitive edge that separates winners from also rans.

These smart organizations are not only investing heavily in public relations, they are situating the function at the very top of their organizations as an integral and stand-alone member of the C-suite.

Here’s why:

1, Fragile Reputations

Reputations have never been more fragile.

Negative stories about an organization or a public figure can go viral in a heartbeat, fuelled by the 24/7 news cycle, the multitude of social media platforms, and the speed of digital postings.

Public relations, if resourced and situated effectively, is the ultimate protector and builder of reputations in this environment.

2, News Media Hitting Harder Than Ever

Traditional news outlets are trying hard to compete and ultimately survive in the digital revolution.

They are under extraordinary pressure to deliver hard-hitting and even explosive stories to capture the eyes and ears of the world.

Just turn on CNN or any major news outlet to see which items make the breaking-news cut.

As a result, there has never been greater need for seasoned communicators who know how to navigate these treacherous media waters and who have the savvy to be the face and voice in tough interview situations.

3, Earned Communication is the New Credibility

Earned communication (versus paid advertising) has always provided major credibility to the organizations who know how to generate it.

Paid advertising is increasingly tuned out by audiences fatigued by constant selling and who have developed a deep averseness to spam or perceived spam.

This has made earned communication via social and traditional media – which is the stock and trade of public relations –  even more valuable.

4, Crisis Will Come

With the speed of information flow today, a controversy can be extremely crippling if not handled properly.

It’s been said that a negative story can make its way around the world today faster than the truth can get its pants on.

Public relations is the ultimate insurance policy in the face of the inevitable – and rapid – communication crises that will emerge, particularly for large organizations.

5, The Conscience Driver

Public relations, with its ability to span internal and external boundaries and stay connected with the outside world, should be a key part of the conscience and ethical reality check for organizations.

For instance, driving effective CSR programs that benefit communities and ensuring these programs are visible without seeming opportunistic, requires a skilled and often narrowed-edged approach to communications.

6, Millennials Paying Attention

The large and influential millennial generation grew up in the world of digital media and corporate social responsibility.

They expect a lot of organizations, they are connected, and they are paying close attention to reputation.

Understanding this generation, their expectations, and how they communicate, will continue to impact the success of organizations.

The bottom line is this: Good public relations is not just about communicating; it is about impacting the bottom line in a meaningful and positive way.

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Are you trusted? And why you should care

There almost seems to be an epidemic of mistrust in the world today.

Much has been written about trust, and it has become one of the buzz phrases of contemporary communication.

Most people define trust as the ability to be relied on as open and truthful.

In today’s world of nonstop information, a reputation for trust can drive tangible value for corporations, not-for-profits, politicians, celebrities and professionals of all types.

There are several reasons for this.

Why Trust Matters

First, millennials, who represent the most influential generation of the century, place trust and ethics high on their list of priorities in deciding where to work, how to shop, and who to vote for.

Second, the digital world and 24/7 news cycles bombard us with a steady flow of scandals and tales of questionable behaviour. The digital arena can take a juicy story about alleged unethical behaviour and swirl it throughout the world instantly.

Third, social media is a powerful engine that fuels the fire, showing itself to be a medium with a healthy appetite for stories of dubious behaviour.

Trust Seems Rare and Therefore Valuable

All of this has made trust seem like a rare and therefore valuable commodity in the modern world.

Last year’s U.S. political cycle provides the most glaring example of how trust shapes public opinion, not to mention the danger of holding a significant trust deficit.

As poll after poll showed, both candidates for president of the United States from the two main political parties suffered from large trust gaps.

It was so severe that many likely went to the polls last November asking themselves which candidate they mistrusted the least, rather than voting for a leader who inspired broad confidence.

Mistrust is Tough to Shake Off

Trust is a difficult number to move upward, and mistrust is a tough bell to un-ring for those who suffer from it.

Here are five ways to build trust for organizations and individuals:

1, Be Transparent

There was a time when corporations, not-for-profits, celebrities and politicians could be selective about what and how they communicated.

Those days are over.

Today there is a universal demand for transparency in the world.

Trust leaders understand this and engage directly and openly with their publics in two-way conversations through various forums.

They are committed to being as open as they can with their audiences.

2, Don’t Spin

A dangerous by-product of today’s communication age is the endless platforms available on which one can spin – or fabricate – the truth.

As the competition and speed of getting stories to market has accelerated to satisfy instant mindsets and short attention spans, it seems honesty and transparency run the risk of being afterthoughts.

Trust leaders avoid spin and focus on the facts, without colouring them.

3, Own up to Mistakes

The world is littered with high-profile organizations and figures who have weathered unique scandals.

Those who dig their heels in, refusing to apologize, show contrition, or even acknowledge their mistakes, tend to fall deeply and sometimes permanently into a trust deficit.

In contrast, many others have fallen from grace but owned up to their mistakes publicly and with humility.

In the process they have rebuilt their brands and moved on with their reputations and success more-or-less intact.

4, Give Back

One of the most effective ways to earn trust is to be visibly committed to giving of yourself and your resources to help others.

This type of commitment sends a powerful message that your priorities extend beyond your personal well-being and ambitions.

In today’s communication landscape where the plights of the unfortunate versus the excesses of the privileged are on full and daily display, credibility comes with being seen as giving of yourself.

Audiences tend to trust those who show both a desire and the action to help others.

5, Be Authentic, not Perfect

Perfection, or an image of perfection, is not a particularly winning formula.

Today when there is widespread fatigue from endless stories of corruption and a lack of openness, authenticity trumps perfection.

While pure authenticity is hard to define, its absence is easy to detect.

Trust leaders embrace who they are and their originality.

They don’t pretend to be, or appear to be, something they are not.

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How to write good copy: Take the two-minute content quiz

How good a writer are you?

There are 15 major – and very common – word errors in the brief passage below. Can you identify them? Most people cannot spot all 15 errors. The corrected version is included below this passage. See how well you do.

Incorrect Version

To except responsibility for helping people around the world, millionaire businessman John has launched a charity and adapted a series of commitments to provide aide to people in need.

The affect of John’s commitments is all ready seen as complimenting the work being done by others in the charitable field.

John also provides council to people who hold imminent positions in the world and who want to provide charitable assistance of their own.

Its this broad commitment to helping others that satisfies John’s desire to have a positive impact in the world.

For people who loose hope, John’s charity has listed a series of principals that provide clear site into how to improve the stationery practices of charitable support.

If you are someone who’s optimism is decreasing, John’s charity can bring hope to you’re concerns.

Corrected Version

To accept responsibility for helping people around the world, millionaire businessman John has launched a charity and adopted a series of commitments to provide aid to people in need.

The effect of John’s commitments is already seen as complementing the work being done by others in the charitable field.

John also provides counsel to people who hold eminent positions in the world and who want to provide charitable assistance of their own.

It’s this broad commitment to helping others that satisfies John’s desire to have a positive impact in the world.

For people who lose hope, John’s charity has listed a series of principles that provide clear sight into how to improve the stationary practices of charitable support.

If you are someone whose optimism is decreasing, John’s charity can bring hope to your concerns.

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How ethics has become a rare and powerful asset

 

Ethics has been a hot topic of discussion for years across most professions and industry sectors.

The hyper-fast communication era that governs our lives today has cast an even brighter light on the topic.

But exactly what are we talking about – beyond the generalities of “doing the right thing” – when we discuss ethics in today’s communications era?

Honesty and Transparency

Most thought leaders and observers agree there are – at the very least – two non-negotiable points of entry to ethics in today’s communications climate: honesty and transparency.

However, as the speed of getting stories and messages to market has accelerated to satisfy our obsessively instantaneous mindsets, it seems honesty and transparency run the risk of being afterthoughts.

Adding a dose of complexity to this is the new “radical world of transparency” many feel we are now in where public expectations for absolute complete and unfettered details on every and any action has become a new norm.

The other side of this coin is that in today’s communications climate, a reputation for sound and consistent ethics can be a priceless asset able to distinguish brands, corporations, not-for-profits, governments, politicians and individuals. This is because of three prevailing trends:

1, Millennials

Millennials, who represent the most influential generation of the century, place ethics high on their list of priorities in terms of where they choose to work, how they choose to shop, and who they choose to vote for.

In this generational environment, a personal, professional or organizational reputation for questionable ethics can be lethal to success and indeed very difficult to shake off.

2, Social Media Makes Ethics a Constant Dialogue

The digital arena can take a juicy story of perceived unethical practices and swirl it throughout the world instantly. Indeed social media has proven it has an insatiable appetite for stories of dubious behaviour.

This 24/7 online conversation about real or perceived ethical lapses places the topic of ethics squarely and continuously in the public consciousness.

3, Political World has Triggered an Ethical Obsession

It seems almost impossible to access a news outlet today and not be immersed with headlines about potential wrong doing involving politicians and government officials on all sides of the political spectrum.

Some would argue the news media needs this steady stream of real or perceived scandals to sustain their audiences.

To many observers, what passes for news today is less of forum for balanced information and more a diet of non-stop entertainment, with scandalous storylines providing the fuel to keep the engine running.

Whether one feels the media is simply doing their job in unearthing bad behaviour or flagrantly on the hunt for nasty headlines whether the facts warrant them or not, the result is the same: This steady diet of stories about scandal will keep ethics in the forefront as a hot topic, maybe forever.

Powerful Communications Asset

The undercurrent of all this is that a track record and reputation for honesty and transparency has become a highly valuable asset.

Perhaps more than ever before, an unwavering commitment to ethics needs to be the starting point for all communication tactics and strategies.

There is a big lesson in all of this for tomorrow’s businesses leaders, political figures, celebrities and indeed anyone who needs to engage audiences: The smartest of the bunch will treat honesty and transparency not as nice to haves, but as the price of communicating in today’s rapidly changing world.

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The social media quiz: See how much you know

Take this brief quiz to see how much you know about today’s evolving social media landscape. Most people cannot answer all 10 questions correctly. The answer key is included below this post.

1, What is the most popular social media platform in the world today?

A, LinkedIn

B, Instagram

C, Facebook

D, Twitter

 

2, What percent of the world’s population actively uses social media?

A, 13%

B, 32%

C, 54%

D, 83%

 

3, Which country is NOT one of the world’s top 10 users of social media?

A, USA

B, Mexico

C, Philippines

D, Indonesia

 

4, Which of these is a major trend on social media today?

A, Posting visuals

B, Travel blogging

C, All-day Twitter chats

D, Anti-spam protests

 

5, Which of these is one of the world’s fastest-growing social media sites?

A, Google +

B, Instagram

C, YouTube

D, Yammer

 

6, Which of these is considered a major social media taboo to be avoided?

A, Being funny on social media.

B, Expressing a strong opinion on social media.

C, Failing to post photos with your copy.

D, Being fake about your identity on social media.

 

7, Which of these is considered standard social media etiquette?

A, Ignore comments you disagree with.

B, Post only information that will have broad appeal.

C, Never post anything controversial.

D, Follow back the people who follow you.

 

8, Which of these is considered a basic requirement for going viral?

A, Compelling visuals.

B, Lengthy articles.

C, Posts about politics.

D, Posts about Hollywood celebrities.

 

9, Which of these is a benefit of blogging?

A, Triggers online conversations.

B, Builds thought leadership and expertise on a specific topic.

C, Improves writing skills.

D, All of the above.

 

10, Which of these is a way to be strategic with social media?

A, Focus on the social media sites important to your audience.

B, Try to be seen and heard on every platform possible.

C, Post only visuals.

D, Use social media as your only communication tool.

 

Answer Key

1, The most popular social media platform in the world today.

Facebook

2, Percent of the world’s population actively using social media.

32%

3, A country that’s NOT one of the world’s top 10 biggest users of social media.

USA

4, A major trend on social media today.

Posting visuals.

5, One of the fastest-growing social media sites in the world today.

Instagram

6, A social media taboo to be avoided.

Being fake about your identity on social media.

7, Standard social media etiquette.

Follow back the people who follow you.

8, Basic requirement for going viral.

Compelling visuals.

9, Benefit of blogging.

All of the above.

10, Way to be strategic with social media.

Focus on the social media sites important to your audience.

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Seven ways to tell if you’re winning at social media

Social media has dramatically reshaped the world of communication and engagement.

Today close to a third of the world’s population uses social media on a regular basis.

It seems social media users can be categorized into various camps depending on how they use the medium.

Some seek passive information, entertainment and engagement on social media platforms. Others use social media as a tool for research, promotion and making connections.

And finally others could be termed social media leaders: those who use social media as a highly strategic and powerful tool for growing their own broad communities, expanding their sphere of influence, and shaping conversations throughout the online world.

Here are seven signs that you are a social media leader:

1, You are Obsessed with Being Succinct

“Less is more” has always been the bedrock of strong communication. With attention spans at all-time lows, brevity is crucial to engaging social media audiences today.

Social media leaders understand this and appreciate that social media audiences want clear, crisp and quality content that gets to the point quickly. Without succinctness of approach, social media audiences will simply move on to some else’s content, leaving yours to float around in online obscurity.

2, You are Visually Driven

Social media today is entrenched in a new visual era.  Photos, graphics and videos bring online communication to life, and this is increasingly true on social media platforms.

Taking the time to curate or create compelling visual and/or video content is a key to engaging audiences on social media today.

3, You Stay Informed

Social media leaders stay on top of the hot issues of the moment and often link their content to those topics. This gives social media leaders a built-in relevancy to engage and expand their online audiences.

Social media provides a wealth of simple tools to stay on top of what the world is talking about.

On Twitter users can instantly see what’s being talked about – or trending – in any part of the world in real time. Searches can be tailored geographically allowing you to zero in on what’s trending uniquely in different countries and major cities of the world.

Social media users take full advantage of these tools as their lens into where the world stands at a given moment in time.

4, You Listen as Much as you Communicate

By definition, social media is designed to be a forum for two-way communication. At its most effective, social media is a powerful mechanism for building relationships, communities and engagement online.

Unfortunately, more often than not social media is dominated by the blasting out of one-way information and content.

Social media leaders use the many online platforms that social media provides to build relationships by doing at least as much listening and responding to other user’s content as they do distributing their own information and opinions. They understand that there is a reason we were all born with two ears and one mouth.

5, You Think Before you Type

Expressing bold opinions on social media is valuable and can trigger healthy and rigorous debate and dialogue on important topics.

But social media leaders think before they type. They avoid expressing outrage and anger and under no circumstances do they bully people online who they disagree with. They think first and focus on providing thoughtful comments, opinions, information and quality content that online audiences will find useful and insightful.

6, You are Transparent

Transparency is the price of admission to the digital world, and this is particularly true on social media.

Social media leaders are honest, open and transparent about who they are in their online communications. They are clear about what they bring to the table in the online conversations and platforms they participate in.

 7, You Host your own Blog

Amidst the crowded and growing tool box of digital communication vehicles, the blog has emerged as one of the most effective online avenues for driving personal, professional and organizational influence.

The big social media leaders of today and tomorrow are taking full advantage of this potent tool as a hub for their online identities.

Their blogs are leveraged to provide valuable information and content to audiences throughout the social media universe. In the process they position themselves as thought leaders within their own areas of expertise.

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How to do social media the right way

The desire to be popular is ingrained in our psyches from the time we enter grade school.

Whether we are extroverts or introverts, it generally feels good to know people like us.

The social media revolution of the past decade has dramatically altered and expanded the definition of popularity.

Social media has exploded so quickly that it has become less a place we visit and more a place we exist.

As a result, to be popular — and more importantly –- to be influential in today’s communication world requires establishing a constantly growing population of followers across social media.

Here are seven strategies to becoming extremely popular on social media:

1, Start Blogging

We’ve reached the tipping point where an individual or organization cannot be truly influential in the world today without a compelling digital presence.

The blog has emerged as one of the most powerful online vehicles for driving identity as well as personal, professional and organizational influence.

Blogging is one of the greatest connectors to the digital universe. It is easy to set up a blog, and it enables you to have a hub for your online presence.

2, Keep it Simple

A by product of the digital revolution is that our attention spans area at all time lows.

We live in a world of “instant everything” which means we are poorly equipped to absorb complex and lengthy communication.

Keep your social media messages clean and simple.

3, Be Visual

Online communication has become remarkably visual.

The rapid rise of Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat are just the latest evidence of this prevailing trend.

It is almost imperative to incorporate compelling, visually arresting graphics or videos into your online communication.

Take the time to find or create the best visuals to accompany your messages.

4, Be Selective About Your Social Media Platforms

There are more than 100 mainstream social media platforms in use across the digital arena.

Ten have emerged as hugely popular with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube leading the pack.

There is a temptation to jump on to every available platform and start cascading your messages. This can be a mistake.

It’s best to research where your audiences are gathering on social media, concentrate on those channels, and develop content that suits those platforms.

5, Take a Two-Way Approach

Simply blasting content out across social media platforms is not enough and can actually be counterproductive. Being known and liked requires building relationships.

This means responding, participating in online conversations, and listening as much as you are communicating on social media platforms.

6, Post Compelling Content

It’s a harsh truth, but there is an enormous amount of junk being distributed across social media.

To cut through this noise, take the time to develop compelling content that will grab attention and make people want to follow you.

7, Engage During High-Traffic Times

Timing is crucial to achieving success in life, and this holds very true for social media. Different audiences convene at different times on social media platforms.

Generally speaking, after business hours and during weekends in most time zones are great times to reach online publics.

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Why being transparent is the new cool

There was a time when celebrities, politicians and corporations could be fairly selective about what — and how — they communicated.

When a news outlet or member of the public called, the organization or personality in question could decide how and if they wanted to play ball.

Things have changed.

Transparency

We are now living in an era driven by such an intense appetite for transparency that openness has taken on a new kind of value.

Unvarnished authenticity has become not only a competitive advantage but, in many ways, the price of admission to communicating today.

For high-profile organizations and individuals, the rise of social media means people are going to talk about you in real time via their growing array of digital channels whether you participate in the conversation or not.

The smart players were quick to leverage these modern platforms of engagement as unobstructed avenues for reaching their publics directly.

Real Stories, Warts and All

But social media has dramatically enhanced the desire for real stories, warts and all.

Traditional PR strategies that began and ended with a neatly packaged set of key messaging have given way to a demand for authentic, two-way conversations. People today want to be communicated with – not messaged at.

Contributing to the modern era of transparency is a public landscape littered with streams of scandals triggered by celebrities, politicians, and organizations who have seemingly misled their publics or downright lied.

Trust

This has only intensified an already pervasive mistrust for those in high-profile positions and made public demand for authenticity even more intense.

Those who have found themselves at the centre of scandal but who owned up to their mistakes publicly, quickly, and without spin, have usually won back much of their share of public opinion and have been able to move on with their images more-or-less intact.

Authenticity Trumps Perfection

It seems perfection, or an image of perfection, is not an absolute winning formula anymore in the world of communication. Today, authenticity trumps perfection.

While pure authenticity seems hard to define and pin down, its absence seems easier to detect in today’s digital universe.

What we know is that the era of selective communicating is over for the public relations winners.

In the modern communication age you can run but you can’t hide.

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The secret to winning in the communication industry

There’s a lot of communicating going on in today’s world.

The communication toolbox has never been broader or expanding faster with an almost daily emergence of new social media tools and mobile technologies.

A compelling example is the rise of augmented reality and the viral explosion of Pokemon Go across the globe last year.

The Rush to Succeed Without a Strategy

But with so many fascinating new tools coming at us, it’s easy for modern communicators to become enamoured with the latest technologies a bit too quickly.

There’s a tendency to rush to embrace them before we know exactly what to do with them or how they will help reach our strategic objectives.

One of the most common weaknesses in the communication industry is the tendency to jump right into communicating through various tactics without a strategy or roadmap in place of what you are trying to achieve.

The R.A.C.E Formula

This is where the R.A.C.E. formula comes; it stands for research, analysis, communication and evaluation.

For serious communicators, the R.A.C.E. formula is the essential blueprint for all successful communication initiatives.

Research

Every communication program, big or small, should begin with some form of research. You can’t know how to reach your destination if you don’t know what your starting point is.

Research can take many forms and does not necessarily need to be complex or expensive. It can be informal or formal.

Informal research can be as simple as reviewing existing data and research, gaining insights through your own personal contacts with your target audience, or attending community forums or events popular with your unique publics.

Formal research can include public opinion polls conducted by phone, emailed or mailed questionnaires, or focus groups which can provide a deeper understanding of your target public’s attitudes.

Analysis

Analysis is really the planning stage of any communication program.

This is the activity of conducting a thorough review of your research findings, figuring out what they mean, and then determining what strategy and tactics should be employed to reach and communicate with your target audience.

Communication

The communication phase is the doing part of any communication program. This is where you activate your plan with the tactics you decided upon during the analysis phase.

The tactics you decide to employ to reach your target audience can be vast or narrow, ranging from targeted social media engagement, traditional media relations, special events, internal communication tools, government outreach initiatives, investor relations tools or fundraising tactics.

Evaluation

Measurement is crucial to any initiative; without it you don’t know what you have achieved.

This is the phase where you examine the performance of your communication tactics to determine what is working and what is lagging expectations.

It’s an opportunity to fine tune your tools by expanding on the ones that are working well, improving those that are under performing, and discarding the ones that are not working.

The Bottom Line

By employing the R.A.C.E. formula, a communication program can rise from being a process-driven mass of tactics without clear direction to a cohesive strategy that visibly achieves fundamental objectives.

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Run don’t walk to your next Twitter chat

Twitter chats are one of the most effective communication tools in the social media world.  Sadly this potent tool is generally underused.

Twitter chats are timed, recurring events on Twitter, hosted by a conversation leader and operated under a unique hashtag.

There are numerous advantages to Twitter chats as a communication vehicle, particularly if a well-thought-out strategy is employed by the leader of the chat.

The Power of Twitter Chats

They are easy to participate in, can build thought leadership on a specific topic, grow professional and personal networks, trigger bold discussions, and enable participants to hone their online communication skills.

It does not require particular expertise to attend a Twitter chat. It’s as simple as surfing Twitter – or visiting ChatSalad.com which publishes lists and schedules of upcoming chats – and then joining the conversations that interest you.

There are many strong Twitter chats happening online focused on social media and a range of other topics, so the list below is by no means exhaustive.

But here are eight robust Twitter chats I have found useful which social media leaders should make a point of participating in:

1,  #TwitterSmarter takes place Thursdays at 1pm ET. Focuses on leveraging the unique power of Twitter to grow your online community, engagement and influence.

2,  #SproutChat takes place Wednesdays at 2pm CT. Covers various social media topics including the future of social media and how to leverage the latest social media tools to the fullest advantage.

3,  #CMGRHangout takes place the first Friday of each month at 2pm ET. Focuses on topics important to social media community managers.

4,  #MediaChat takes place Thursdays at 10pm ET. Focuses on the media world including apps, online media, marketing and social media influence.

5,  #BlogElevated takes place Mondays at 4pm ET. Focuses on blogging effectiveness, technology and the importance of blogging for social media managers.

 6,  #HootChat takes place Thursdays at 3pm ET. Focuses on social media, content marketing, technology and a spectrum of other topics shaping the digital world. Features a range of guest hosts and experts.

7,  #SemRushChat takes place Wednesdays at 8am PT. Attended by many marketing influencers and covers a range of online topics including content development and SEO.

8  #BufferChat takes place Wednesdays at 9am PT. Covers a broad range of topics for digital marketers.

Take the time to do your own online research and find the chats best suited to your goals and schedule.

Kudos to the Twitter chat leaders, hosts and participants who have long been the pioneers and early adopters of this great vehicle for two-way online engagement.

In many ways we are still just scratching the surface with Twitter chats, which remain one of the best online engagement tools the social media world has to offer.

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Ten rules that trigger success in every profession

 

1,  I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. Stephen Leacock

2,  Forget your opponents: always play against par. Golfer Sam Snead

3,  Never confuse motion for action. Ernest Hemingway

4,  Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. Henry David Thoreau

5,  There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile. Anonymous

6,  The reason people don’t recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work. Thomas Edison

7,  The CEO who misleads others in public may eventually mislead himself in private. Warren Buffet

8,  Try not to become a person of success but rather a person of value. Albert Einstein

9,  There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches, but the wrong comes when riches possess men. Billy Graham

10,  Showing up is eighty percent of life. Woody Allen

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How the world’s top communicators stay ahead of the pack

Today’s communications industry is staffed with a wide range of senior, intermediate and junior professionals working across the corporate, agency, government, academic and not-for-profit sectors.

While there are talented practitioners at all levels, the most accomplished communication pros embrace a framework of habits and behaviours that guides their continued success.

Here are the 10 things the most successful communication pros in the world do to stay on top of their games:

1,  The S.M.A.R.T. Goals

They have clearly defined S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.

2.  The Mission

They thoroughly understand their organization’s (or their client’s) mission and story.

3,  The Numbers

They understand their organization’s financial performance.

4,  The Key Messages

They are always equipped with their organization’s fundamental key messages.

5,  The Story List

They have a robust story list compiled that is comprised of interesting, positive and newsworthy anecdotes about their organization.

6, The Ambassadors

They have media-ready and camera-ready spokespeople and ambassadors ready to tell their organization’s story across both traditional and digital media platforms.

7,  The News Media

They are well prepared to help journalists and bloggers prepare substantial stories about their organization.

8,  The Online Presence

They ensure their organization has a website and/or blog that is clear, compelling, dynamic and always up-to-date.

9,  The Social Media

They are using social media proactively and strategically as a two-way communication channel on behalf of their organization.

10,  The Crisis

They are well prepared for a crisis or issue to emerge at any time.

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Why power blogging is the next big thing

 

Blogs have been around for 20 years.

As the internet exploded in the 1990s, blogs emerged near the end of that decade as an online platform for personal and professional expression.

Today blogs are considered one of the most effective vehicles for driving personal, professional and organizational influence online.

Many of the world’s most successful professionals, consultants and business leaders take full advantage of blogging as a core plank of their communications and marketing strategies.

There are millions of blogs across the internet today spanning almost every imaginable topic. Some sources estimate there close to 170 million blogs in use.

The other interesting fact is that most blogs fail to gain significant traction or attract a growing online audience.

Within this universe of successful and non-successful blogs, a new type of blogger has emerged: the power blogger.

This new breed of blogger is using blogging as a way to stay way ahead of the pack by creating a dynamic digital presence for themselves that gives them enormous online influence.

They are using their blogs to shape online conversations, build powerful relationships, and distinguish their personal and business brands.

Here’s why power blogging is a next big thing:

1, Breaking Through is Crucial

The market and appetite for highly useful online information is gigantic and growing every day, and power bloggers understand this. They know how important it is to break through and distinguish their content in today’s insanely crowded online world.

2, Social Media Accounts Aren’t Enough Anymore

Power bloggers understand that social media accounts aren’t enough anymore, in and of themselves, to drive a highly influential online presence. A quality blog provides ownership of an online hub for meaty content that goes beyond the boundaries of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

3, Quality Blogs are Increasingly Distinguished From all the Others

There is becoming a big distinction online between quality blogs and the millions of also-ran blogs. Lists of what are considered the best blogs in various fields and industries are published and updated online regularly.

The 10 Habits of a Power Blogger

Here are the 10 habits of power bloggers:

1, They are Extremely Disciplined

No matter how busy they are, power bloggers post fresh, interesting content continuously – every single day if possible. They are always on the look out for something new to write about, report on, or post in order to entice their audiences.

2, They are Subject-Matter Experts

Power bloggers know their subject areas and their blogging niches intimately. They are specialists in their fields, and they never stop building on their expertise. They stay on top of what other bloggers in their niches are posting, and they strive to be pioneers and innovators in terms of the content, ideas and opinions they post.

3, They Promote, Promote and Promote Their Content

Power bloggers spend more time promoting their blog content than actually creating the content itself. They understand that creating and posting quality content is just the beginning.

They continuously grow their social media communities as important audiences for their content, and they leverage innovative online platforms like Viral Content Bee to get their posts shared repeatedly throughout the social media world.

4, They Hate Boring Headlines

Power bloggers know how to create irresistible headlines that capture the attention of online audiences. In fact power bloggers devote a great deal of time to crafting the type of power headlines that will grab the eyes of online viewers and draw them into their content.

5, They Are Ruthlessly Succinct

Power bloggers understand the ridiculously short attention spans of today’s online audiences. They create meaty, compelling content but are always ruthlessly succinct in what they post. They know the easiest way to lose an online audience is by expecting them to wade through mazes of wordy copy and complex graphics that are hard to understand.

6, They Source and Create Arresting Visuals

Power bloggers understand how visual the online world has become. They devote as much time to sourcing and creating compelling photos, images and videos to accompany their copy, as they do to writing their words.

7, They Guest Blog

There are vast numbers of blogs online that welcome posts from guest bloggers. Power bloggers take full advantage of this because it not only builds up their thought leadership, but it allows them to introduce viewers of other popular blogs to their own blog and gain some of that audience share.

8, They Recycle Their Content Strategically

The days of publishing something once and hoping for a large audience are over. With the speed of the internet, in order for content to be seen, it needs to be posted several times on different social media platforms. Power bloggers understand this and will often repost and redistribute their previous content from months and even years ago if it is still useful and relevant to their audiences.

9, They Are Obsessive About Adopting Best Practices

Power bloggers understand that they are never done and that a strong blog should be dynamic and constantly improving. They are always exploring other blogs online to see what works and what doesn’t. When they find a new format or topic area that is wildly popular, they will figure out how to integrate it as best practices into their own blog.

10, They Provide Unwavering Value to Their Viewers

Above all, power bloggers understand what their end-game is: to provide high value to their viewers online. The most popular blogs are those that provide endless posts of useful information that teaches, informs, and inspires. Power bloggers make visitors feel that time looking at their blog was time very well spent.

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How to tell if you’ve got a strong personal brand

The term “personal brand” tends to be an overused phrase today.

In fact it’s a term that’s been thrown around for decades across the business world.

But what exactly is a personal brand, and how do you go about having a great one?

The reality is that every one of us has a personal brand, whether we like it or not.

It is our identity, or more specifically, the perception people hold about us in their heads and hearts.

The Accidental Brand

Unfortunately, most people fall into the category of the “accidental brand.”

This happens when you stand back and don’t define and express who you are.

As a result, the way others perceive and talk about you becomes your personal brand, and in the process you become an accidental brand.

Brand Equity

On the other hand, when someone creates a defined and positive impression about who they are, they establish their own brand equity which is the cornerstone of owning a successful personal brand.

There are eight major requirements to earning and building a successful personal brand:

1, Celebrate Your Uniqueness

Everyone has unique characteristics and talents.

The most successful people know how to leverage and express these qualities as part of who they are.

Knowing what you want to be famous for is an excellent starting point to making your uniqueness part of your personal brand.

A unique value proposition, or UVP, is an effective mechanism for this.

It is an actual written statement that explains how you are unique, compelling, and the distinct value you possess.

2, Know When to Look Professional

While most of us would argue that beauty and good looks are in the eye of the beholder, appearing professional has universal appeal.

Everyone can look professional, which is actually more important in building a strong personal brand than being particularly good looking.

Knowing when and how to dress professionally and be groomed neatly can go a long way in establishing a sense of confidence and authority, which are universal aspects of a strong personal brand.

3, Know Your Audiences

Understanding the people around you and how your behaviour, body language, and communication style impacts them is crucial to having a strong personal brand.

This means being extremely self aware and adjusting your communication style to the needs of your audience.

How you behave and communicate often has a profound effect on the people in your orbit, something successful leaders understand in motivating their teams.

4, Be Passionate About What You Do

Enthusiasm is contagious.

It transmits positive vibes and makes people want to be around you.

People with successful personal brands tend to convey optimism and determination, even in the face of hardship and disappointment.

5, Be Consistent

In a world shaped by rapid change, we tend to gravitate to the safe haven of people who have the stabilizing force of practicing what they preach.

People who are seen as reliable and who deliver on their commitments occupy strong personal branding.

6, Commit to Continuous Improvement

Striving for excellence and constantly reinventing oneself to stay ahead of the curve are characteristics of people with strong identities.

Having a long-range vision, and being seen as flexible, nimble, and creative in reaching for that vision is a key to possessing a strong personal brand in today’s hyper-competitive landscape.

7, Expose Yourself

While you don’t need to be an extrovert to have a strong identity, you can’t build a compelling personal brand in complete isolation.

The ability to connect with your unique audiences through multiple channels, digitally and in person, is a trait of people with strong personal brands.

8, Build a Compelling Online Presence

The digital universe, and particularly social media, has become less a place we visit and more a place we exist.

In fact some would argue that we are living our lives online.

A strong online and social media presence is a requirement to building any identity today.

But rather than trying to be everywhere online all at once, the strongest personal brands are strategic.

They focus on the social media platforms that can showcase their best qualities and where their unique audiences are congregating.

Beyond location, what and how you communicate online shapes your personal brand in rapid motion.

Participating effectively on social media requires both communicating and listening.

Social media is ultimately a two-way street, something people with strong personal brands understand and master.

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Why your social media needs SMART goals

Successful people know where they want to go and how they are going to get there.

Whether you are a business leader, professional, celebrity, student or athlete, knowing your goals is critical to achieving success.

Setting the right goals is particularly crucial to the success of any social media strategy.

The irony is that a lack of clear goal setting is one of the biggest reasons many social media initiatives fail.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

This is where S.M.A.R.T. goals come in.

They are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.

By formulating S.M.A.R.T. goals you provide yourself with the framework for successful outcomes.

1,   Specific

The first step is that your goal needs to be ruthlessly specific.

Suppose you represent a company that manufactures toys for children under the age of 10.

Stating that you want to grow your social media following in order to generate attention for your company is not specific enough and could be termed a very ‘un-smart’ goal.

On the other hand, stating that you want to grow your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers by 20 percent with moms between the ages of 25 and 45 in order to grow your company’s sales by 10 percent, would be a very specific goal.

2,   Measurable

The second step is that your goal must be measurable.

You need to know exactly how you will measure your progress.

For instance, stating that you will track your success by using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram analytics and insights to measure your follower demographics, follower growth, and social media impressions would be a healthy measurement.

In addition you could use company sales reports to track product sales during your social media program to draw meaningful correlations.

3,   Achievable

Third, your goals must be reachable.

For instance, if you represent a not-for-profit organization focused on ending cancer, simply stating that you want to find a cure for cancer within three years may not be an achievable goal.

However, stating that you seek to create awareness on social media of the hazards of smoking among at least 50,000 teens in New York City could be very achievable.

4,   Realistic

Fourth, your goals must be realistic in relation to the resources you have.

Quite simply you must determine if you have the time, tools, people and financial capacity to put your plan into action and generate the results you want.

5,   Time Bound

Fifth, your goals must be time specific, not open ended.

For instance, by what date do you want to grow your social media followers by 20 percent and lift your sales by 10 percent?

You need to state a specific date or time frame, such as within 12 months or some other realistic timing, by which you expect to achieve your goal.

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Why influence is better than authority

The most successful people in the world usually have one thing in common: the ability to influence.

Whether in the business world, political arena, entertainment industry, consulting trade, not-for-profit sector, or academic environment, the top leaders usually got where they are partly because they have mastered the art of influence and persuasion.

A strong case can be made that influence is one of the most crucial skills any ambitious professional can have in their tool box today.

Here’s three reasons why the most successful people in the world strive for influence over authority:

1, Influence Gets Things Done in Blury Work Environments

In today’s world, traditional workplace hierarchies are being replaced by modern work structures that are flatter and blurrier than previous frameworks.

Where one job or role ends and the other begins is less defined than in the past. In modern environments an entire team effort is usually needed for organizations to achieve their strategic objectives.

As a result, the ability to influence individuals, teams and ideas – regardless of your position or title – is crucial.

This has given rise to the need for a kind of 360 degree influence. Today it is necessary to motivate and influence the people who work above you, below you, and the peers who work across from you, in order to get things done.

2, No One Can Take Influence Away From You

In today’s highly fluid world and workplaces, authority, positions and titles come and go, sometimes rather quickly.

Influence and the ability to persuade, on the other hand, is completely transportable. You can take it with you wherever you go.

3, Influencers Have Three Crucial Skills

The ability to influence requires three core skills:  first, the ability to be likeable; second, the ability to be persistent; and third, ability to understand quid pro quo and that if you want something from someone you need to provide a value in return.

The ability to be likeable, persistent, and to practice ethical quid pro quo, are not only essential qualities for influencing people, they are also three foundations for success in most aspects of life.

Strive for influence, not authority.

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Five movies with big lessons for communicators

A lot can be learned from Hollywood.

Since movies began being made more than a hundred years ago, the entertainment industry has produced a cascade of classic gems, adequate stories and some disappointing duds.

But at its best, the film industry produces compelling stories that shed light and sharp insight on society at given points in time.

A number of movies over the years have offered compelling and timeless lessons about how – and how not – to practice effective communications.

Here are five movies that offer powerful insights for the modern communications professional:

1,  Network, 1976

A struggling television network cynically and publicly exploits a mentally unbalanced news anchor and his public ravings purely to boost its viewership and profits. The movie depicts just how far a news outlet could go to increase its ratings.

The learning here is how art can so accurately imitate life when it comes to communications.  This movie brilliantly predicted the arrival of the 24/7 news cycle of today and how in many ways the news has become a form of nonstop entertainment.

It shows how the news media has evolved from the sober delivering of information to an arena that craves and conveys a steady dose of shocking stories to grab and hold the attention of the masses.

2,  Sunset Boulevard, 1950

This classic gem is about a faded silent film star and the young screen writer she enlists to aid her comeback. The movies illustrates how many talented movie stars were unable to reinvent themselves and adapt from silent films to the revolution of sound.

The learning here is how important it is for communications professionals to constantly reinvent themselves and adapt to change and emerging technologies.

The communication winners of today are adapting quickly and strategically to the social media revolution and figuring out how to master this influential medium.

Failure to do so can mean being left behind by exclusively resting on the tactics and tools of the past.

3,  The Candidate, 1972

Examines the machinations involved in political campaigns and how an unknown and untested figure was packaged into a viable political candidate. The movie shows how a seasoned public relations advisor built a popular narrative around someone out of almost nothing.

The learning here is how powerful communication can be in building a story out of very little material, and the danger in creating a storyline with little insight, few details, and a one-track drive to succeed.

The final line of the movie says it all when the political candidate unexpectedly wins the race. He turns to his PR advisor who got him elected and asks: “What do we do now?” His PR advisor has no answer.

4,  The Queen, 2006

This movie provides an absorbing view of crisis management and media relations following the sudden death of Princes Diana in 1997. The opposing communication strategies employed by the Queen of England and newly appointed Prime Minister Tony Blair demonstrate how to gain – and lose – widespread public support.

The learning here is how crucial it is to understand your audience. In this case the Queen dramatically misjudged how to respond to the crisis. Rather than engaging the public she chose a passive, hunker-down approach to communications.

In contrast, Prime Minister Tony Blair seemed to have his hand on the pulse of the people and how they needed to be communicated with, consoled and engaged following the sudden death of their beloved princess.

5,  The Ides of March, 2011

A young idealist starts working as the communications director for a promising political candidate running for election. During the campaign, he sees just how nasty things can get with people desperate to shape their public images and achieve political success.

The learning here is how idealism and principles can easily get thrown out the window in order to achieve success, and how, for better or worse, image often becomes reality in today’s high-stakes, fast-paced world of communication.

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How to build a first-class social media strategy

It’s hard to be a communicator today and not be exhilarated by the abundance of digital tools to tell your stories.

There are so many emerging tools that it’s tempting to think you have mastered social media as long as you publish compelling content on various platforms.

This mechanical and strictly tactical approach to social media is one of the biggest lost opportunities to effective communication.

Social media is not simply an end unto itself but a powerful tool for achieving strategic objectives. Without a strategy, social media is like a sports car without a steering wheel.

Here are five steps to being strategic with social media that will help you avoid a digital holding pattern:

1, Objectives

First, social media should be linked to a business, organizational or personal objective. It should support building reputation, creating relationships, moving product, promoting a service, managing or averting a crisis, influencing government policy or motivating employees.

2, Integration

Second, social media should be integrated into a broad communication strategy and leveraged alongside other tools such as traditional media relations, special events, internal communications, investor relations, government affairs, sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

3, Platforms

Third, it’s important to zero in on the platforms that your publics are on. It is usually not constructive to jump on to every social media platform available without knowing where your audiences are gravitating.

4, Content

Fourth, understanding the types of content that are compelling and motivating to your publics is vital.

An important consideration is that social media has become a very visual medium. It is also a medium that requires succinctness. Shakespeare’s famous line that “brevity is the soul of wit” could have been invented for social media.

5, Measurement

Fifth, measuring the effectiveness of your social media activities is key and requires the right tools and mindset. You need to pay close attention to who you are reaching on social media and whether or not your content is engaging your specific audiences.

Above all, it is important to recognize that excellent social media communication is a two-way street.  At its core, social media is a potent tool designed for both transmitting information and receiving feedback.

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Why showing up matters

Woody Allen once famously said: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Whether we agree or not, it seems the reality of our modern, turbo-powered lives makes showing up – in person – a behaviour that is often discarded.

The reasons have a lot to do with our hyper-fast world and the often ridiculously busy lives we lead.

These realities generate a long list of temptations and excuses for not showing up. The fact that we are so connected digitally adds to these reasons.

Without question, there are intense demands on our time today as our world spins faster and demand for “instant everything” rules our lives.

But the most successful people I know understand the importance of showing up in person, whether at meetings, events or other commitments, and making their full presence known and felt.

From a sheer communications standpoint, the advantages of showing up are numerous.

Here are four reasons why it’s important to “be there” – in person:

1, Distinguish Yourself

First, it is a powerful distinguisher in today’s digital world, allowing us to stand out from the competitive crowd.

Showing up creates valuable face time in an era when direct human interaction has been largely replaced by virtual engagement through text messaging, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming and Snapchatting.

2, Establish Your Complete Brand

Second, showing up establishes, builds and reinforces our personal and professional brands.

When we are there in person we can express ourselves completely.

3, Build Deep Relationships

Third, showing up opens new doors of opportunity by establishing fresh and often sustaining relationships, a key to driving influence in today’s world.

4, Unearth new Learnings

Fourth, showing up creates new learning opportunities at a time when continuous improvement and reinvention are crucial to staying on top of any profession or game.

Danger of Being too Selective

The bottom line seems to be this: The moment we get too selective about what is worthy of our in-person time, we limit our possibilities, our networking potential and our learning opportunities.

Showing up remains a core success factor – both despite of and because of – our digitally defined word.

It seems we should strive to be as connected in person as we are across the dynamic digital universe.

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How to master social media succinctness

As we spend bigger portions of our lives in the digital universe, we crave a steady flow of compelling, succinct and clear information.

Whether we like it or not, we are living in an age when attention spans are at all-time lows.

The most successful social media influencers today know how to keep their stories, messages and opinions very clean, crisp and simple.

Here are 10 wordy expressions to be avoided on social media and their clearer, shorter alternatives:

1, Avoid: “at the present time”

Replace it with: “now”

2, Avoid: “as a result of”

Replace it with: “because”

3, Avoid: “inspite of the fact that”

Replace it with: “although”

4, Avoid: “make use of”

Replace it with: “use”

5, Avoid: “it is often the case that”

Replace it with: “often”

6, Avoid: “in the event that”

Replace it with: “if”

7, Avoid: “pertaining to”

Replace it with: “about”

8, Avoid: “come in contact with”

Replace it with: “meet”

9, Avoid: “in close proximity”

Replace it with: “near”

10, Avoid: “reach a conclusion as to”

Replace it with: “decide”

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Are you charming? And why it matters in 2017

Have you ever been engaged in a face-to-face conversation with someone who was subtly – or even overtly – preoccupied with their smartphone or mobile device?

I know I have.

This type of digital distraction is so common today it’s almost become the new normal of social behaviour.

It’s also doing quite a number, it seems, on our ability to engage fully and meaningfully with each other, in person.

Being Personable Matters More Today

Unless we live reclusively or practice a solitary profession that requires no direct human contact, it can be argued that the ability to be personable – and even charming when it matters – is still extremely important today to counteract our digital preoccupations.

Unfortunately, being personable is becoming something of a lost art.

Three trends seem to be putting our ability to charm under threat:

1, Digital Overload

First, we are living so continuously in the digital universe that we seem to be losing the skills – or maybe just the desire – to relate well face-to-face.

The digital-mobile revolution has redefined communication in breathtaking ways, connecting people throughout the world instantaneously.

But the upshot is we are spending more time engaging digitally than interacting fully with each other as human beings.

2, Diminishing Attention Spans

Second, our attention spans have almost disappeared. In today’s era of “instant everything” it seems we’ve lost the patience to listen and participate fully for any length of time in person.

Just look around next time you attend a big speech or presentation; take note of who in the audience is really paying attention versus how many people are glued to their smartphones.

3, Non-Stop Stimulation

Third, the breakneck speed of communication today – and the pace of the world in general – has driven an almost insatiable desire for non-stop stimulation, information flow and forward motion.

It’s as if we are moving so fast to keep up with the world around us that we’ve decided we don’t have much time or interest in unfettered face-to-face interaction.

Tomorrow’s Winners

The influential communicators and business leaders of 2017 and beyond will know how to persuade and motivate within BOTH zones of engagement: digital and human.

Digital-mobile will continue to shape our world in profoundly positive ways.

But for those who seek to lead, basic human relations and in-person interaction will still matter – a lot.

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Ten goofy hashtags that work

Standing out from the crowd has been a human ambition since the beginning of time.

But today we are living in very ironic times. On the one hand, never has it been harder to get noticed due to today’s hyper-crowded digital universe.

At the same time, never have we had access to so many effective tools to actually get noticed.

Power of Hashtags

It seems the Twitter hashtag exists at the intersection of this communication irony. It can be one of the most compelling tools for getting noticed online in an over-crowded digital universe.

Here are 10 hashtags – from the sublime to the ridiculous – found online that are attention grabbing in today’s saturated “look-at-me” environment:

1,   #BareNakedNudist

2,   #101WaysToCrushTheDevil

3,   #EatingInsects

4,   #JointExperts

5,   #CatholicAstrology

6,   #DanceOnCancersGrave

7,   #DirtyFingerNailClub

8,   #WatchCookieShrink

9,   #HairQuake

10,  #YeahDude

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Three big mistakes top communicators won’t make in 2017

Numerous factors contribute to success in any profession.

In today’s communications industry, three common mistakes are made that can dramatically limit the effectiveness and career potential of otherwise highly talented professionals.

1, Failure to Lead a Two-Way Social Media Strategy

Social media has become the great influencer of the 21st century. Successful communicators are grabbing hold of this powerful tool as a two-way communication vehicle to build relationships, drive engagement and establish influence online.

Failure to do so is not only an enormous missed opportunity but a costly error. People will talk about you and your brand via social media whether you inject yourself into the conversation or not.

2, Failure to Engage the C-Suite

The moment the communications function in an organization becomes sublimated under another function it is extremely limited.

The communications function needs to report to the CEO or at the very least be connected directly to the C-Suite. This positioning frees the communications function to be leveraged creatively across the entire organization toward bottom-line strategic objectives.

It gives the communications function a company-wide perspective and authority to help solve an organization’s big challenges. It also impacts how well-resourced the communications function can become because it has an open forum to demonstrate to the C-Suite the deep value of strategic communications.

3, Failure to be an Effective Ambassador

Effective communications today is so much more than effective writing, tactics and behind-the-scenes strategy. It means being able to step into the role of public spokesperson and be the “face” of an organization when it makes strategic sense, often on a moment’s notice and under tense circumstances.

This role of public ambassador is a skill set many communication pros are failing to develop and master. Given today’s nonstop 24/7 communications cycle, mastering the role of public ambassador should be a priority for all communication leaders in 2017.

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The era of the “reverse mentor” has arrived

Throughout history, change has been a continuous phenomenon.

Every generation has been confronted with modernization and the choices to evolve and adapt to newness.

Change is Faster Today Than Ever Before

But what’s different today is the sheer speed of change that seems to race through every corner of our lives.

That speed is most glaring across the communications field where how we engage has never been in such constant, rapid motion.

It seems there should be a new brand of dictionary that builds on itself 365 days a year, devoted solely to defining the newest apps, social media platforms and digital terminology.  In so many ways this is fantastic news.

Change Means Opportunity

With change comes opportunity, especially for those innately excited about newness and determined to grab hold of innovation as added fuel for greater success.

There has never been such a wealth of powerful tools inhabiting the modern communication toolbox.

Leveraging New Communication Tools Can Determine Success

But knowing how to use these digital tools strategically to reach long-range objectives will define the communication winners of tomorrow.

There was a time when we said everyone needed an older, mature and seasoned mentor to accelerate their development and success.

This fundamental truth is more critical today then ever; there will always be monumental value in securing a wise mentor and coach. It is indeed priceless.

Era of the “Reverse Mentor” Has Arrived

But today it is equally important to have a reverse mentor; someone who is chronologically young enough to be intrinsically and completely on top of emerging technology, social media, apps and online trends. This provides an invaluable leg up toward staying current.

Digital Change Happens Every Day

Every day a new online platform, social media tool or mobile app is born. Some will be fleeting while others will be here to stay and grow.

The younger someone is, the more their world has been shaped, from the moment they were born, by this accelerated pace of communication change.

Your Reverse Mentor Keeps You on Top of Latest Digital Tools and Trends

Find your reverse mentor. Learn from their digital intuitiveness, and leverage their tactical knowledge base.

In return, pass on to them your worldly wisdom and the crucial value of strategic thinking.

There is actually no need to grow older. The super-successful leaders in the world decided long ago that as time goes by, they were going to devote their lives to growing younger – not older.

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How to avoid “puffspeak”

 

Clear, crisp writing is one of the most powerful – and often overlooked – skills anyone can have in their personal and professional tool boxes.

Whether communicating through digital or social media, written documents or public speeches, avoiding exaggerated, arrogant and blustery language can go a long way toward keeping your messages clean and simple.

This clarity of approach is key to engaging any audience in today’s low-attention span and turbo-charged world of communications.

Here are 10 wildly overused words that amount to “puffspeak” and their clearer alternatives that should be used in their place:

1, Puffspeak = “Macro”  

Translation = “Big”

2, Puffspeak = “Methodology”

Translation = “Rules”

3, Puffspeak = “Module”

Translation = “Unit”

4, Puffspeak = “Networking”

Translation = “Making Connections”

5, Puffspeak = “Optimize”

Translation = “Improve”

6, Puffspeak = “Track Record”

Translation = “Achievements”

7, Puffspeak = “Parameters”

Translation = “Guidelines”

8, Puffspeak = “Overriding”

Translation = “Major”

9, Puffspeak = “Viable”

Translation = “Workable”

10, Puffspeak = “Optimal”

Translation = “Ideal”

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Want to go viral? Learn from these six dynamic campaigns

Getting a positive story to go viral is like hitting the jackpot in today’s digital universe.

It’s an illusive gold star for the communications, public relations, and marketing industries.

But going viral is usually triggered by scandal and controversy.

The landscape is littered with negative stories that spread like wildfire across Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and a network of other channels.

If there is some special formula to making a positive story go viral across the digital world – one that you actually want to get noticed – we can learn a great deal from the charity sector.

Here are six innovative, compelling social media campaigns run by charities that went hugely viral in a positive way. They each generated enormous attention and millions of dollars in positive brand exposure and donations.

1,  The Ice-Bucket Challenge

This off-the-wall campaign encouraged people throughout the world, famous and non-famous, to pour buckets of ice on their heads for ALS research. This struck a loud cord that reverberated across the digital universe as people posted videos and photos of their own ice-bucket moment, encouraging others to do the same. The campaign went viral across the globe and generated more than $100 million for ALS research.

2,  The Dog Selfies Campaign

When the Manchester Dog Shelter in England caught fire leading to the tragic deaths of many dogs, the shelter came up with a lot of creative juice to encourage donations to rebuild the shelter. By asking people to share adorable selfies of their own dogs on social media in the wake of the fire, over a million dollars was raised as the selfies went viral and caught attention throughout the community.

3,  The No Makeup Selfies Campaign

Cancer Research U.K. raised $2 million in just a few days by going viral. To raise money and awareness for cancer research, they asked women to post pictures of themselves on Twitter and Facebook without any makeup on. Thousands of women posted their pictures, pledged donations, and challenged their friends to do the same.

4,  Movember

By encouraging mustache-growing during the month of November, The Movember Foundation has raised close to $700 million since 2003 and generated global awareness for men’s health issues.

By building a global online community based on the shared humour of mustache photos posted on social media, the campaign generated millions of social media mentions last year alone.

5,  Likes Don’t Save Lives Campaign

UNICEF’s goal was to generate funding for children’s vaccinations in the developing world. They built a social media campaign on the theme that “likes” and “tweets” alone are not enough to save children’s lives. To make this point with a social media jolt, they posted a series of YouTube videos that went viral across 195 countries.

6, The Celebrity Silence Campaign

The Keep a Child Alive organization enlisted the support of celebrities in their mission to combat HIV among children in Africa. They convinced Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys to “kill” their digital selves in support of the cause.

The three celebrities agreed to “go silent” on social media until $1 million was raised. This innovate approach caught fire quickly on social media.

Bold Creativity is Key

One crucial component each of these campaigns leveraged was enormous creativity, the pivotal ingredient of any formula for going viral.

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Why blogging should be on your 2017 to do list

The digital revolution has given us an endless assortment of powerful communication vehicles. Every day it seems a new social media channel, digital platform or popular app is born.

One of these vehicles – the blog – has been around for many years and is therefore not always listed among the collection of hot, digital platforms.

There are millions of active blogs across the internet today covering every conceivable topic.

Many take the shape of professional forums, some are entertainment focused, while others are the digital versions of personal diaries. Some are designed exclusively for the internal consumption of an organization’s employees.

Along the road to this blogosphere explosion, the blog has emerged as one of the most powerful vehicles the world has ever had access to for driving personal, professional and organizational influence. The big leaders of today – and tomorrow – are taking full advantage of this potent tool, recognizing its tremendous potential.

1, Create Conversations

First, a content rich and fluid blog has the power to generate and shape digital – and even viral – conversations by triggering robust dialogue and debate. This is how prolific, high-profile bloggers build significant followings and become big influencers across the digital universe.

We’ve reached the tipping point where an individual or organization cannot be truly influential in the world today without a compelling digital presence. Blogging is one of the greatest connectors to the digital universe.

2, Build Relationships

Second, a blog is a dynamic relationship builder. Provocative blog content that is carefully targeted to a specific audience can attract and cultivate sustainable relationships with like-minded professionals and key influencers throughout the world.

3, Distinguish Brands

Third, a blog is a strong platform for developing and showcasing almost any type of brand, both individual and institutional. Through its words and visual content, it can be a strong distinguisher from competitors whether they are personal, professional or organizational.

4, Thought Leadership

Fourth, one of the greatest values of a blog is its ability to establish and build thought leadership and visible expertise within a specific topic or across a broad zone of subject matter. By staying relentlessly current and active, the blog can position itself as a go-to place for the latest and greatest information in a particular subject area.

5, Communication Excellence

Finally, a commitment to regular, compelling blog postings provides an endless outlet for creativity and the honing of exceptional writing skills. A blog can become one of the best mechanisms for continuous improvement in how to communicate.

So a word of advice to those who want to be the big influencers of tomorrow: start blogging – today.

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Six events that rocked our worlds in 2016

Every year has its big moments, but 2016 dealt us a particularly jolting series of surprises. From entertainment to politics to tragedy, here are six of the biggest events that rocked our worlds in 2016.

6, Pokemon Go

On July 6, the location-based mobile game, Pokémon Go, was launched for iOS and Android users in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. The game lets users interact with virtual characters in real-world locations and quickly became a global phenomenon with more than 500 million downloads. As a result, virtual-reality has become part of the world’s new mainstream vocabulary.

5, Brexit

On June 23, the “leave” camp emerged victorious in the UK’s referendum, winning 52 per cent of the vote to initiate the process of the UK leaving the European Union. The result ran contrary to most polls and predictions. Nigel Farage, the leader of the populist United Kingdom Independence Party, told his supporters: “Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.”

4, The Confused Gorilla

There are few things that unite the world more than the humane treatment of animals. This was reinforced in May when a toddler found his way into a gorilla’s area at a zoo in Cincinnati. As the visibly confused gorilla engaged and then pulled the boy through the water, the zoo took the precaution of shooting the animal to protect the child. This triggered immediate and almost universal public outrage questioning if it was necessary to shoot the gorilla.

3, Live Video Streaming of Unfolding Tragedies 

One of the latest communication tools is live video streaming, the ability to shoot video from a computer or mobile device and broadcast it in real time across social media. That’s what happened in July following the shooting of a young man in Minnesota after he was pulled over by police. As the man lay dying in his car, his girlfriend streamed the event live on Facebook. The subsequent massacre of police officers in Dallas was captured on live streaming video by an onlooker and cascaded on social media. Both the Minnesota and Dallas videos ended up on traditional news outlets sparking outrage and protests in cities across the U.S.

2, Orlando Massacre

In June a shooter killed 49 people and wounded 53 others inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in U.S. history. It was also the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11. The tragedy reinforced the pervasiveness of social media in our lives. One victim was videoing on Snapchat from the dance floor of the nightclub as the shots rang out, another posted real-time pleas for help on Twitter, and nightclub managers issued an urgent warning on Facebook as the massacre unfolded.

1, President Trump

Nothing can top the jolt much of the world felt in November as the U.S. election gave history the most widely miscalled political contest in modern memory. While a few high-profile personalities including filmmaker Michael Moore predicted the result, most clearly got it wrong and were deaf to the demand for fundamental change that swept across the U.S. electorate. Many lessons emerged from the election including that the non-urban working class is angry and in pain and that the polling industry is broken.

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The world’s most popular social media sites

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These are the top 10 social media sites in the world as of 2016.

Source: eBizMBA

1, Facebook             1,100,000,000+  monthly users

2, YouTube              1,000,000,000+  monthly users

3, Twitter                310,000,000+  monthly users

4, LinkedIn             255,000,000+  monthly users

5, Pinterest             250,000,000+  monthly users

6, Google Plus+      120,000,000+  monthly users

7, Tumblr               110,000,000+  monthly users

8, Instagram          100,000,000+  monthly users

9, Reddit                85,000,000+  monthly users

10, VK                      80,000,000+  monthly users

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The world’s most generous celebrities

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The term celebrity has taken on broad meaning in today’s world.

This exclusive category of public figures spans the movie, television, music, sports, political and even the corporate sectors.

Many celebrities use their resources and fame to give back to – and cast light on – some of the world’s biggest problems and in-need populations.

Here is a list of 10 world celebrities who have consistently distinguished themselves by using their positions to do enormous good in the world, and some of the causes they have attached themselves to:

1, George Clooney – Humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

2, Angelina Jolie – Refugee struggles, Cambodia, Thailand.

3, Brad Pitt – Global poverty. Rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.

4, Bono – Poverty and AIDS in Africa.

5, Sean Penn – Anti-war activism, Haiti earthquake, gay rights.

6, Michael J. Fox – Parkinson’s Disease research.

7, Willie Nelson – Aid to farmers.

8, Ted Danson – Environmentalism. Preserving the earth’s oceans.

9, Lady Gaga – Gender equality. Gay rights. Immigration rights.

10, Alicia Keys – Children, families struck by AIDS in Africa, India.

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Ten big lessons from the U.S. election

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The endless analyses and Monday-morning quarterbacking has only just begun. The unexpected results of the 2016 U.S. election have given history the most widely miscalled election in modern memory.

While a few high-profile personalities including filmmaker Michael Moore predicted the result, most clearly got it wrong and were deaf to the demand for fundamental change that swept across the electorate.

Here are 10 profound lessons from the 2016 U.S. election:

1, Women don’t automatically vote for women.

2, People don’t vote for a resume, no matter how strong; they vote for a vision.

3, There’s not only deep division in U.S. society, the non-urban working class is angry and in pain.

4, The polling industry is broken.

5, Earned news media and social media can trump paid advertising, big time.

6, A grass roots movement (Trump) trumps a finely honed political machine (Hillary).

7, It’s the economy, stupid: People are willing to overlook explosive rhetoric if the pitch being made to them will bring economic prosperity.

8, When people crave change, they mean it.

9, The stock markets are astoundingly high strung in the modern world of communication and can thrive or dive depending on a single statement, tweet or photo op.

10, The big divide in America today is urban versus rural.  Unlike a country like Canada, the U.S. is not primarily an urban society.

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Why communicators are the new competitive edge

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There has never been a greater need in the world for seasoned communicators.

Today’s smartest organizations understand this.

In the high-stakes business world, savvy communication strategy is often the competitive edge that separates the winners from the also rans.

Communication is About the Bottom Line

But to be effective, communicators need to impact the bottom line and speak the language of the c-suite.

Smart organizations are not only investing heavily in communications and public relations, they are situating the function at the top of their organizations as an integral part of the c-suite.

Here’s why:

1, Fragile Reputations

Reputations have never been more fragile.

Negative stories about an organization or a public figure can go viral in a heartbeat, fuelled by the multitude of social media platforms and the 24/7 news cycle.

Communicators, if resourced and situated effectively inside organizations, are the ultimate protector and builder of reputations in this rapid-fire environment.

2, News Media Hitting Harder Than Ever

Traditional news outlets are trying to compete and ultimately survive in the social media revolution.

They are under extraordinary pressure to deliver hard-hitting stories to capture attention and protect their share of audience.

Just turn on CNN or any major news outlet to see which items make the breaking-news cut.

As a result, there has never been greater need for seasoned communicators who know how to navigate these treacherous media waters and who have the skills and confidence to be the face and voice of organizations in tough interview situations.

3, Earned Communication is the New Super Credibility

Earned communication, versus paid advertising, has always provided special credibility to the organizations who know how to generate it.

Today’s age of digital and social media overload has intensified this fact.

Today more than ever, paid advertising is increasingly tuned out by audiences fatigued by the constant selling machine and who have developed a deep aversion to spam or perceived spam.

This has made earned attention through social and traditional news media channels even more valuable.

4, Like it or Not, Crisis Will Come

With the speed of information flow today across the social media ecosystem, a controversy can be extremely crippling if not handled quickly and intelligently.

It’s been said that a negative story can make its way around the world today faster than the truth can get its pants on.

Smart communicators are the ultimate insurance policy in the face of the inevitable – and rapid – communication crises that will emerge, particularly for large organizations.

5, The Conscience Driver

Communicators, with a skill set designed to span external boundaries and stay connected with the outside world, are equipped to be the conscience and ethical reality check for organizations.

This is particularly true for driving effective CSR programs that benefit communities while ensuring these programs are visible without seeming opportunistic. This balancing act requires a highly skilled approach to communications.

6, Millennials Paying Close Attention

The large and influential millennial generation grew up in the world of social and digital media and corporate social responsibility.

They expect a lot of organizations, they are connected, and they are paying close attention to reputation.

Understanding this generation and their demand for both information and transparency will continue to impact the success of organizations.

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Leaders to Admire: Bill Pristanski

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 Bill Pristanski, Principal, Prospectus Associates,  bill@prospectus.ca

I am often asked by colleagues, students and friends to identify communication professionals who could legitimately be described as world-class leaders.

It’s an important question in today’s hyper-competitive and high-stakes world.

The first thing to consider is that the term ‘leader’ is an often over-used word, particularly across the communications industry.

In reality it is not an easy moniker to define or maintain.

Being a leader today goes far beyond racking up a track record of achievements or embracing the potent intersection between communication, government affairs and social responsibility.

The most effective leaders I know do three things relentlessly well: embrace an innovation mindset; pursue excellence in the face of any challenge; and focus on improving the society around them.

Bill Pristanski is one of these leaders.

Innovation

Bill is the head of Prospectus Associates, a top public affairs agency based in Ottawa, Canada.

He has amassed two-and-a-half decades counselling the C-suites of some of the world’s leading organizations on the building of positive government relationships.

Along the way, his focus on innovation and results have cemented a reputation as one of North America’s most trusted and sought-after strategists.

Excellence

Bill previously spent close to 10 years at the most senior levels of government.

He was executive assistant to the Prime Minister of Canada as well as Chief of Staff to the Ministers of the Environment, Solicitor General and President of the Treasury Board.

He was instrumental in the development of major government policies such as the spearheading of Canada’s National Green Plan and Environmental Assessment Act.

Society

Bill is the chair the board of the Terry Fox Foundation and has personally raised more than half a million dollars for cancer research.

He also serves on the Board of Governors of the University of Waterloo, a global leader in innovation in education and home to the world’s largest post-secondary cooperative education program.

Not surprisingly, he is a sought after mentor and speaker on a range of world and public policy topics.

Bill’s commitment to innovation, excellence and social impact has fuelled a career and professional reputation that has stayed well ahead of the curve for multiple decades.

In the ever-changing world of communications, this is a career that offers valuable lessons for the leaders of tomorrow.

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A formula for going viral on social media

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Getting a positive story to go viral is like hitting the jackpot in today’s digital universe.

It’s an illusive gold star for the public relations, marketing and communications industries.

But going viral is usually triggered by scandal and controversy.

The landscape is littered with negative stories that spread like wildfire across Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and a network of other channels.

If there is some special formula to making a good story go viral across the digital world – one you actually want to get noticed – we can learn a great deal from the charity sector.

Here are six innovative social media campaigns run by charities that went viral in a positive way, generating enormous attention and millions of dollars in donations:

1,  The Ice-Bucket Challenge

This off-the-wall campaign encouraged people throughout the world, famous and non-famous, to pour buckets of ice on their heads for ALS research. This struck a loud cord that reverberated across the digital universe as people posted videos and photos of their own ice-bucket moment, encouraging others to do the same. The campaign went viral across the globe and generated more than $100 million for ALS research.

2,  The Dog Selfies Campaign

When the Manchester Dog Shelter in England caught fire leading to the tragic deaths of many dogs, the shelter came up with a lot of creative juice to encourage donations to rebuild the shelter. By asking people to share adorable selfies of their own dogs on social media in the wake of the fire, over a million dollars was raised as the selfies went viral and caught attention throughout the community.

3,  The No Makeup Selfies Campaign

Cancer Research U.K. raised $2 million in just a few days by going viral. To raise money and awareness for cancer research, they asked women to post pictures of themselves on Twitter and Facebook without any makeup on. Thousands of women posted their pictures, pledged donations, and challenged their friends to do the same.

4,  Movember

By encouraging mustache-growing during the month of November, The Movember Foundation has raised close to $700 million since 2003 and generated global awareness for men’s health issues.

By building a global online community based on the shared humour of mustache photos posted on social media, the campaign generated millions of social media mentions last year alone.

5,  Likes Don’t Save Lives Campaign

UNICEF’s goal was to generate funding for children’s vaccinations in the developing world. They built a social media campaign on the theme that “likes” and “tweets” alone are not enough to save children’s lives. To make this point with a social media jolt, they posted a series of YouTube videos that went viral across 195 countries.

6, The Celebrity Silence Campaign

The Keep a Child Alive organization enlisted the support of celebrities in their mission to combat HIV among children in Africa. They convinced Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys to “kill” their digital selves in support of the cause.

The three celebrities agreed to “go silent” on social media until $1 million was raised. This innovate approach caught fire quickly on social media.

Bold Creativity is Key

One crucial component each of these campaigns leveraged was enormous creativity, the first step in any formula for going viral.

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Where were you on September 11th?

 

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Every generation has their “where were you when” moments.

These are the rare moments in time that shaped history and became cemented in our memories forever.

They are events of such gravity that we remember exactly what we were doing when we heard the news.

There have been many such moments for different generations over the past 100 years:

  • The start of WW II in 1939
  • The assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963
  • The moon landing in 1969
  • The Challenger disaster in 1986
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989

For my generation, the big “where were you when” moment was September 11, 2001.

Forever Fresh Memories

We can remember exactly what were doing when we heard that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York City, sending the world into chaos and the subsequent war on terror.

As we approach the 15th anniversary of September 11, I remember precisely what I was doing that morning as if it was yesterday.

I was walking down a very long hallway toward my office in my company’s large head office with a cup of coffee in my hand just after 9am, bracing myself for a long day of meetings.

I was the head of corporate affairs for one of Canada’s largest corporations, and it was a bright and sunny Tuesday morning.

As I walked down the long hallway I saw something very strange.

A small crowd of about 15 of my colleagues had gathered around my office door.

As I got closer I could see they were watching the TV in my office, one of the few TVs in the building.

My assistant rushed out of the small crowd, looked at me and said “Two planes have just crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York.”

And so the day began.

Communicating During an Unfolding Tragedy

A few years later I met a communications professional who had been the head of communications for New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani during the September 11th attacks.

I asked her what she remembered most from that day and what big lessons she learned as she helped navigate communications for New York as the world looked on at the tragedy playing out.

Lessons From Tragedy

She told me she learned three things:

First, she wished she had not decided to wear extremely high heals that day.

Focus on What’s in Front of You

Second, in the midst of a monumental crisis that is swirling around you in real time, focus like a laser beam on doing the first next thing – getting through each individual task that is right in front of you.

Show Your Heart

Third, it is not only valuable but necessary to show your heart during a crisis of monumental proportions.

At the first news conference that day, Mayor Giuliani was asked to estimate the number of casualties from the terrorist attacks that had just played out.

His answer was as follows:

“The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear.”

It’s a statement that remains an appropriate remembrance of the lives and families that were shattered that unforgettable day, 15 years ago.

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Seven ways to get noticed on social media

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Establishing a compelling online presence is critical to getting noticed in today’s communication landscape.

One of the best ways to do this is to embrace social media as a strategic tool for showcasing your stories and messages.

The emergence of numerous, free social media platforms has made social media one of the most exciting and potentially effective communication tools the world has ever known.

Any effective, long-term social media strategy should be aimed squarely at building a constantly growing population of followers and fans.

But before this can happen, you need to take some basic first steps to get yourself noticed.

Here are seven strategies to getting noticed on social media:

1, Start Blogging

Blogging is one of the most effective ways to connect with – and stay connected to – the digital universe.

Over the years, the blog has emerged as one of the most powerful online vehicles for driving identity as well as personal, professional and organizational influence.

It is easy to set up a blog, and it can serve as an effective hub for your online presence.

2, Keep it Ruthlessly Simple

A by product of the digital revolution is that our attention spans are at all time lows.

We live in a world of “instant everything” which means we are poorly equipped to absorb complex and lengthy communication.

Keep your social media messages relentlessly short and sweet, and clean and simple.

3, Be Visual

Online communication has become remarkably visual.

The rapid rise of Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat are just the latest evidence of this prevailing trend.

It is almost imperative to incorporate compelling, visually arresting graphics into your online communication.

Take the time to find or create the best visuals to accompany your messages.

4, Be Selective About Your Social Media Platforms

There are more than 100 mainstream social media platforms in use across the digital arena.

Ten have emerged as hugely popular with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube leading the pack.

There is a temptation to jump on to every available platform and start cascading your messages. This can be a mistake.

It’s best to research where your audiences are gathering on social media, concentrate on those channels, and develop content that suits those platforms.

5, Take a Two-Way Approach

Simply blasting content out across social media platforms is not enough and can actually be counterproductive. Being known and liked requires building relationships.

This means responding to online users, participating in online conversations, and listening at least as much as you are communicating on social media platforms.

Participating in some of the many Twitter chats that are conducted daily on a wide range of topics is an effective technique for injecting yourself into on-line conversations.

6, Post Compelling Content

It’s a harsh truth but there is an enormous amount of junk being distributed across social media.

To cut through this noise, take the time to develop compelling content that your unique audiences want to receive and that will grab attention and make people want to follow you.

7, Engage During High-Traffic Times

Timing is crucial to achieving success in life and this holds very true for social media.

Different audiences convene at different times on social media platforms.

Generally speaking, after business hours and during weekends in most time zones are great times to reach online publics.

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The big Hillary lesson

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We are finally coming to the close of the seemingly never-ending 2016 U.S. presidential campaigns.

Without question it has been a unique year dominated by the communication campaigns of two highly polarizing candidates.

Many communication professionals, including me, tend to study political campaigns closely to analyze the strategies and tactics employed by the main contenders.

Lessons in Communication

This year’s political cycle in particular offers many lessons in communication strategy:

Donald Trump’s leverage of social and earned media and how he tapped into the anger and frustration of millions of citizens who feel left behind; the Democratic National Convention’s four days of compelling theatre; Bernie Sander’s energizing of the youth movement.

But perhaps the biggest lesson lies elsewhere.

The Power of Perseverance

Whether one is a fan or a critic of Hillary Clinton, her career has taught the world one of the most profound lessons for success: The astounding power of perseverance.

Few people in public life have weathered the volume of controversies, both professional and personal, of Secretary Clinton.

What distinguishes her is not simply that she is close (it’s not over til it’s over) to making history as the first female president of the United States.

Weathering Setbacks

What really sets her apart has been her uncanny ability throughout her career to keep going in the face of almost any setback.

No matter what happens, she gets up, brushes herself off, and keeps going.

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author Carl Bernstein in his 2007 biography, A Woman in Charge, chronicles this astonishing perseverance.

Confidently Riding the Roller Coaster

As the Governor’s wife in Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, a New York Senator, Secretary of State, and contender for the Democratic nomination in 2008, Hillary Clinton has ridden a roller coaster of successes, setbacks and mistakes.

No matter what happened along the way, she has been a hybrid of the Energizer Bunny and the Timex wrist watch that “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

The Bedrock of Long-Term Success

The art of perseverance is probably the most important prerequisite to success in any field or endeavour.

Most super-successful business leaders, political figures, entertainers, celebrities and athletes experienced more than their share of failure on their road to success.

Transforming Setbacks Into Strength

What distinguished them was how they transformed setbacks into strength and vital learnings, and how absolute determination kept them moving forward.

Few things in life fall neatly into place the very first or even the second time.

Unwavering determination in the face of inevitable and unforeseen obstacles is usually what breeds extreme and long-term success in all its glory.

This is the big Hillary lesson of the 2016 political season.

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Why storytelling trumps data, every time

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We are living in the age of data.

In fact, it’s hard not to stumble across articles about big data, and how the massive amounts of facts, figures and statistics within reach today can be translated into a powerful force.

Without question, data and information can and should be the great informer.

If analyzed and used effectively, data, statistics and patterns can lead to solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Data Doesn’t Inspire

But when it comes to communicating, data is not what inspires people.

This point was driven home last summer at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia when former U.S. President Bill Clinton took the stage.

His objective was clear: put a human face on his wife Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate who had long been one of the highest-profile, most admired, and perpetually controversial figures in the world.

For almost an hour, he spoke to a packed arena of 50,000 people.

Universal Appeal of Storytelling

Drawing on his legendary communication skills, he talked about the life and times of Hillary Clinton and her decades of accomplishments, captivating both the live and television audiences.

But he did not talk about data. Nor did he unleash a steady stream of facts and figures.

He simply told a story.

And by doing so, he illuminated the identity of the person who could have become the first female president of the United States.

There are six elements to telling a compelling story that will captivate an audience, no matter how large:

1, Intimacy

The key is to forget you are talking to hundreds or thousands of people.

Talk as if you are speaking one-on-one, to your best friend.

People want to feel you are speaking directly and exclusively with them, not to a massive and impersonal crowd.

This ability to be intimate and familiar in speech is a skill mastered by the world’s greatest communicators.

2, Appearance of Spontaneity

One of the big conundrums of giving a great speech is that preparation, on the one hand, and appearing spontaneous, on the other, are equally crucial.

The moment an audience feels you are simply reading a teleprompter or focused solely on handheld notes, you have forfeited a major part of their engagement.

The key is to do so much preparation and to become so comfortable with your topic that once you take the stage, whether you are using a teleprompter or not, you appear to be focused on your audience, not on reading a set of prepackaged words.

3, A Human Edge

What resonates with people are simple, universal concepts that every human being can relate to; ideas that cut across cultural, lifestyle and economic divisions.

Tales of love, fear, embarrassment and even failure tend to be universally embraced by audiences and can be great equalizers when communicating to a large crowd.

One rule many great communicators follow is this: The bigger your audience, the smaller and more personal you should go in telling your story.

4, Humour

We love humour.

Funny stories lighten even the most serious topics and events, providing temporary relief to the busy, pressure-filled and serious lives being led by most audiences.

The key to using humour effectively is not to make jokes at someone else’s expense.

On the other hand, using humour at your own expense can be very humanizing and endearing for any speaker.

5, Humility

While arrogance has sometimes been used as a technique to entertain a crowd, it is almost always unappealing in the long term.

Arrogance can prove lethal to engaging and winning over a mass audience of new people who don’t already know and embrace you.

But being somewhat self-deprecating, as well as humble and honest, brings the speaker down to earth and almost always captivates and wins over an audience long term.

6, Relatable

People usually don’t remember too many of the details of what you said.

What they remember is how you made them feel.

Engaging an audience means establishing a rapport with them.

This can’t happen unless what you say and how you say it are simple, understandable, digestible and something people can relate to.

Without the ability to speak in relatable, non-technical terms, you may as well be speaking a foreign language to your audience.

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The quick social media quiz: See how much you know!

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Being a player in any aspect of the communications industry today means being able to use social media strategically.

As we spend bigger portions of our lives online, social media is becoming less a place we visit and more a place we exist.

Take this brief quiz to see how much you know about today’s evolving social media landscape. Most people cannot answer all 10 questions correctly. The answer key is included below this post.

 

1, What is the most popular social media platform in the world today?

A, LinkedIn

B, Instagram

C, Facebook

D, Twitter

 

2, What percent of the world’s population actively uses social media?

A, 13%

B, 32%

C, 54%

D, 83%

 

3, Which country is NOT one of the world’s top 10 users of social media?

A, USA

B, Mexico

C, Philippines

D, Indonesia

 

4, Which of these is a major trend on social media today?

A, Posting visuals

B, Travel blogging

C, All-day Twitter chats

D, Anti-spam protests

 

5, Which of these is one of the world’s fastest-growing social media sites?

A, Google +

B, Instagram

C, YouTube

D, Yammer

 

6, Which of these is considered a major social media taboo to be avoided?

A, Being funny on social media.

B, Expressing a strong opinion on social media.

C, Failing to post photos with your copy.

D, Being fake about your identity on social media.

 

7, Which of these is considered standard social media etiquette?

A, Ignore comments you disagree with.

B, Post only information that will have broad appeal.

C, Never post anything controversial.

D, Follow back the people who follow you.

 

8, Which of these is considered a standard requirement for going viral?

A, Compelling visuals.

B, Lengthy articles.

C, Posts about politics.

D, Posts about Hollywood celebrities.

 

9, Which of these is a benefit of blogging?

A, Triggers online conversations.

B, Builds thought leadership and expertise on a specific topic.

C, Improves writing skills.

D, All of the above.

 

10, Which of these is a way to be strategic with social media?

A, Focus on the social media sites important to your audience.

B, Try to be seen and heard on every platform possible.

C, Post only visuals.

D, Use social media as your only communication tool.

 

Answer Key

1, The most popular social media platform in the world today.

Facebook

2, Percent of the world’s population actively using social media.

32%

3, A country that’s NOT one of the world’s top 10 biggest users of social media.

USA

4, A major trend on social media today.

Posting visuals.

5, One of the fastest-growing social media sites in the world today.

Instagram

6, A social media taboo to be avoided.

Being fake about your identity on social media.

7, Standard social media etiquette.

Follow back the people who follow you.

8, Standard requirement for going viral.

Compelling visuals.

9, Benefit of blogging.

All of the above

10, Way to be highly strategic on social media.

Focus on the social media platforms important to your audience.

 

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The power of getting the details right

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Melania Trump found herself at the centre of a tough lesson: that detail is everything in today’s microscopic world of high-stakes communication.

The wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had an important job to do at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

A Human Approach

She astutely assumed the role of humanizing her larger-than-life husband in a primetime speech designed to draw a broader picture of the man who could be president.

But in what may have been a careless rush to get things done, somehow a few passages strikingly similar to a previous speech delivered by Michelle Obama seemed to make their way into Melania’s address.

For anyone who has worked at very senior levels in communications, it is not hard to understand how this could happen.

Reviewing other speeches for ideas, inspiration and best practices is not only common, it’s smart.

Details, Details, Details

Where things went wrong was that someone forgot to check the details.

What should have happened was a painstakingly detailed review of every word of Melania Trump’s high-profile speech before it was finalized to ensure it was completely original, authentic and pitch-perfect in tone.

Clearly this did not happen.

Transparency and Scrutiny

It’s a costly reminder of the role details play in today’s world of transparency and intense scrutiny, perhaps no where more than in the political arena.

Overlooking the necessary attention to detail can easily happen when people get lost in the multitude of work to get done and become fixated on the big picture.

Details can seem tedious when there is so much at play and a big prize to be focused on.

The Heart of Communication

But in communication and public relations, details are usually at the heart of everything.

You often don’t get proactive credit for details, but they can certainly bring you down when they are not attended to.

The price paid by the Republicans is clear.

Rather than dominating news and social media with an inspiring opening to their convention – which had many compelling moments – their kick off became overshadowed by allegations of plagiarism in a speech.

Make no mistake: details not only matter, they can bite in today’s microscopic world of communication.

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How to build a winning communication strategy

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Strategic communication is one of the world’s most powerful forces; its potential is limitless.

If used effectively, communication can build and sustain a successful business, sell products and services, get someone elected to public office, energize and mobilize employees, influence government policy, turn a crisis into a reputation-building opportunity, or raise millions of dollars for a not-for-profit initiative.

But many communication programs fail because of one basic fact: a lack of solid planning.

Here is the proven eight-step planning formula essential to achieving success for any communication program, from small local initiatives to large-scale national and international campaigns.

The Eight-Step Planning Formula

1, Know Your Audiences

Understanding who your target audiences are and what motivates them is the first crucial step, and it requires research which can be informal or formal.

A, Employ informal research techniques: personal contact, community forums, your personal history with the audience.

B, Employ formal research techniques: opinion polls, mailed or e-mailed questionnaires, focus groups.

2, Know the Results You Want to Achieve

You can’t reach your destination unless you know precisely where you want to go; you need to be crystal clear about your goals.

A, Set clearly defined S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

3, Develop a Clear Message

In today’s crowded communication environment, there is no time for blurry or tentative messaging.

A, Start with a concise, well-stated mission statement for your organization. What does your organization do, and why does it matter?

B, Incorporate campaign-specific or situation-specific messages tailored to your target audiences.

4, Choose Appropriate Media, Both Digital and Traditional

The modern world of traditional and digital media outlets is extensive; the key is zeroing in on the right media to reach your targets. This means identifying the blogs, social media sites and traditional news outlets your audiences are participating in, reading, watching and listening to.

A, Develop a targeted list of traditional media outlets. Include local media which is one of the easiest places to get a story told.

B, Develop a targeted list of social media sites and blogs.

5, Target Specific Individuals in the Media World

It’s not enough to just target a list of media outlets or social media sites.

A, Zero in on specific journalists, bloggers and social media influencers with large followings who cover the specific subject area of your campaign.

B, Develop ongoing relationships with journalists, bloggers and online influencers.

6, Identify the Right Tactics

Knowing which tools to use to reach your targeted media and ultimately your target audiences is critical. It’s wise to develop a specific menu of the tactics you are going to employ to get your message out. Here is a partial menu for consideration:

A, Strategic posts on blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, Snapchat and other social media sites that might make sense for your audience.

B, Attend and host targeted Twitter chats.

C, Traditional media advisory.

D, AFI notice (available for interview.)

E, News release.

F, PSA (public service announcement.)

G, Interview pitch letter.

H, B-roll footage of your organization and its projects.

I, Attend and speak at special events relevant to your target audiences.

J, Place paid advertising in digital, social and traditional media.

7, Develop a Path for Implementing Tactics

It’s important to lay out in detail a communication timeline and designate responsibility for each tactic in your plan.

A, Develop a detailed schedule for implementation of every tactic in your plan.

B, Determine who is responsible for each tactic in your plan.

C, Leave nothing to chance; every tactic should be accounted for.

8, Review, Re-evaluate and Refine the Plan

The most effective communication plans are fluid, flexible and focused on continuous improvement throughout the implementation process.

A, Regularly review the campaign components.

B, Compare your results to date against your stated goals.

C, Identify tactics that are working well and ones that need to be improved upon or discarded.

D, Always be on alert for fresh and creative ideas to reach your target audiences that can be added into your existing program.

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PR Brain Busters: Bold thinking for communicators

PR Brain Busters has a clear mission: To be a compelling online resource for communications professionals and students.

The site provides a continuous flow of articles, tools, opinions and case studies on a broad range of communication topics.

Topics include:

  • Social Media
  • Digital Communications
  • Content Creation
  • Reputation Building & Management
  • Corporate Communications
  • Issues Management
  • Crisis Communications
  • Marketing Communications
  • Political Communications
  • Government Relations
  • Internal & Employee Communications
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Not-for-Profit Communications
  • Sustainability
  • Careers in Communications & Public Relations

The objective of this site is to enable communicators to hone their skills by staying current on the hot issues and topics of the day.

If you are passionate about being a mover and shaker in the communications industry visit this site on a regular basic, and use its content to trigger your own bold thinking and stimulating discussions.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoy PR Brain Busters.

Andrew Pelletier, APR, ABC

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Six electrifying campaigns that went viral

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Getting a positive story to go viral is like hitting the jackpot in today’s digital universe.

It’s an illusive gold star for the public relations, marketing and communications industries.

But going viral is usually triggered by scandal and controversy.

The landscape is littered with negative stories that spread like wildfire across Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and a network of other channels.

If there is some special formula to making a good story go viral across the digital world – one that you actually want to get noticed – we can learn a great deal from the charity sector.

Here are six innovative social media campaigns run by charities that went viral in a positive way, generating enormous attention and millions of dollars in donations.

1,  The Ice-Bucket Challenge

This off-the-wall campaign encouraged people throughout the world, famous and non-famous, to pour buckets of ice on their heads for ALS research. This struck a loud cord that reverberated across the digital universe as people posted videos and photos of their own ice-bucket moment, encouraging others to do the same. The campaign went viral across the globe and generated more than $100 million for ALS research.

2,  The Dog Selfies Campaign

When the Manchester Dog Shelter in England caught fire leading to the tragic deaths of many dogs, the shelter came up with a lot of creative juice to encourage donations to rebuild the shelter. By asking people to share adorable selfies of their own dogs on social media in the wake of the fire, over a million dollars was raised as the selfies went viral and caught attention throughout the community.

3,  The No Makeup Selfies Campaign

Cancer Research U.K. raised $2 million in just a few days by going viral. To raise money and awareness for cancer research, they asked women to post pictures of themselves on Twitter and Facebook without any makeup on. Thousands of women posted their pictures, pledged donations, and challenged their friends to do the same.

4,  Movember

By encouraging mustache-growing during the month of November, The Movember Foundation has raised close to $700 million since 2003 and generated global awareness for men’s health issues.

By building a global online community based on the shared humour of mustache photos posted on social media, the campaign generated millions of social media mentions last year alone.

5,  Likes Don’t Save Lives Campaign

UNICEF’s goal was to generate funding for children’s vaccinations in the developing world. They built a social media campaign on the theme that “likes” and “tweets” alone are not enough to save children’s lives. To make this point with a social media jolt, they posted a series of YouTube videos that went viral across 195 countries.

6, The Celebrity Silence Campaign

The Keep a Child Alive organization enlisted the support of celebrities in their mission to combat HIV among children in Africa. They convinced Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys to “kill” their digital selves in support of the cause.

The three celebrities agreed to “go silent” on social media until $1 million was raised. This innovate approach caught fire quickly on social media.

Bold Creativity is Key

One crucial component each of these campaigns leveraged was enormous creativity, the first step in any formula for going viral.

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Social media hits grim milestone amidst week of horrific shootings

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One of the things that makes social media a nonstop fascination throughout the world is that it is constantly reinventing itself.

It seems every day we are introduced to a new social media channel, digital platform or mobile app through which our varied and unique stories can be told.

There was a time when Facebook, Twitter and YouTube formed the basis for much of the world’s social media activity.

But fast forward to today, and there are hundreds of mainstream social media platforms in use across the internet, with newer tools like Snapchat and Instagram enjoying widespread popularity.

Emergence of Live Video Streaming 

One of the latest tools to emerge in widespread use is live video streaming: the ability to shoot video from a computer or mobile device and broadcast it immediately – in real time – to followers across a social media platform.

That’s what happened this week in Minnesota following the tragic shooting and death of a young man after he was pulled over by police.

Shortly after the man was shot and lay bleeding and dying in his car, his girlfriend began streaming a video live on Facebook from the car’s passenger seat.

Not only did she live stream a video, she was able to narrate the horrific situation in real time as police officers surrounded the car.

Rapid Flow From Social to Traditional Media 

Not surprisingly this startling video made its way throughout the online world and onto traditional news outlets like CNN, sparking outrage and protests in cities across the U.S.

The subsequent massacre of police officers in downtown Dallas by a gunman has left the world shaken once again by another eruption of shocking violence.

Like the Minnesota incident, the shootings in Dallas were captured on live streaming video by an onlooker and cascaded on social media, quickly ending up on traditional news outlets.

These are just the latest examples of the astounding and evolving power of social media.

Era of Instant Everything

Without question we are living in the era of “instant everything” where we expect and demand that all information be transmitted to us without a moment’s delay.

The grim side of this breakthrough is that we can now watch a dying, bleeding man breath his last breath, or the horror of police officers losing their lives in a shootout – all live, in real time.

The sometimes grim power of social media has been highlighted, once again.

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Wanna be a digital powerhouse? Get a reverse mentor ASAP

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Change has been a continuous phenomenon throughout history.

Every generation has been confronted with modernization and the choices and challenges of evolving and adapting to newness.

What’s different today is the sheer speed of change that seems to race through every corner of our lives.

This speed is most glaring across the communications field where how we engage has never been in such constant, rapid motion.

It seems there should be a new brand of dictionary that builds on itself 365 days a year, devoted solely to defining the newest apps, social media platforms and digital terminology.

In so many ways this is fantastic news.

With change comes great opportunity, especially for those innately excited about newness and determined to grab hold of innovation as added fuel for success.

Conventional wisdom has always dictated that success requires having a mature, seasoned mentor to help accelerate a person’s development and achievements.

This remains true today. There is indeed priceless value in securing a wise teacher and coach, whether you are a career beginner or an established leader.

But in the modern age of communication, it is equally important to have a reverse mentor: someone young enough chronologically to be completely on top of newness.

Here’s three reasons why:

1, Keeps You on Top of Emerging Technology

Someone who is chronologically young enough to be intrinsically on top of emerging technology, social media, apps and digital trends, provides an invaluable leg up toward staying current.

There has never been such a wealth of potentially powerful tools inhabiting the modern communication toolbox.

Knowing how to use these tools strategically to reach long-range objectives will define the communication winners of tomorrow.

Every day a new platform, channel or app is born. Some will be fleeting while others are here to stay.

The younger someone is, the more their world has been shaped by this growing powerhouse of emerging tools.

2, Keeps You on Top of the Millennial Mindset

Millennials – generally people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s –  are the largest and most influential generation of the current century.

Whether you are part of the millennial demographic or not, knowing what motivates, inspires and disengages this pivotal cohort is crucial to building trust and influence in the modern age of communication.

A reverse mentor can keep you close to this generation’s needs, desires and trends.

3, Keeps You Humble and Focused on Continuous Improvement

The younger someone is, the more their world has been defined by constant and rapid change from the day they were born.

A reverse mentor can keep you dynamic, averse to the status quo, and focused on continuous improvement in the modern age of constant and turbo-powered change.

The Bottom Line

Find your reverse mentor. Learn from their digital intuitiveness, their newness mentality, and leverage their tactical knowledge base.

In return, pass on to them your worldly wisdom and the crucial value of strategic thinking.

With a reverse mentor, there is actually no need to grow older.

The super-successful players in the world decided long ago that as time goes by they were going to devote their lives to growing younger.

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Eight phrases that supercharge personal and professional brands

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Using digital and social media to enhance professional and personal identities is one of the most effective actions anyone can take in the modern world of communication.

With so many online platforms readily accessible, it’s important to understand the connection between your online messages and how you are presenting your personal and professional brands to your followers.

Here are eight phrases that go a great distance in enhancing online identities, whether personal or professional:

1, “We’ve (I’ve) pledged to work harder than ever before.”

2, “We’re (I’m) familiar with every nuance of _______.”

3, “We (I) meet every challenge.”

4, “Are we (Am I) claiming too much? We (I) don’t think so.”

5, “We (I) demand excellence.”

6, “We (I) offer the added advantage of_______.”

7, “We’re (I’m) dedicated to_______.”

8, “This is our (my) formula for success.”

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How to become very, very popular on social media

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The desire to be popular is ingrained in our psyches from the time we enter grade school.

Whether we are extroverts or introverts, it generally feels good to know people like us.

The social media revolution of the past decade has dramatically altered and expanded the definition of popularity.

Social media has exploded so quickly that it has become less a place we visit and more a place we exist.

As a result, to be popular — and more importantly –- to be influential in today’s communication world requires establishing a constantly growing population of followers across social media.

Here are seven strategies to becoming extremely popular on social media:

1, Start Blogging

We’ve reached the tipping point where an individual or organization cannot be truly influential in the world today without a compelling digital presence.

The blog has emerged as one of the most powerful online vehicles for driving identity as well as personal, professional and organizational influence.

Blogging is one of the greatest connectors to the digital universe. It is easy to set up a blog, and it enables you to have a hub for your online presence.

2, Keep it Simple

A by product of the digital revolution is that our attention spans area at all time lows.

We live in a world of “instant everything” which means we are poorly equipped to absorb complex and lengthy communication.

Keep your social media messages clean and simple.

3, Be Visual

Online communication has become remarkably visual.

The rapid rise of Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat are just the latest evidence of this prevailing trend. I

It is almost imperative to incorporate compelling, visually arresting graphics into your online communication.

Take the time to find or create the best visuals to accompany your messages.

4, Be Selective About Your Social Media Platforms

There are more than 100 mainstream social media platforms in use across the digital arena.

Ten have emerged as hugely popular with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube leading the pack.

There is a temptation to jump on to every available platform and start cascading your messages. This can be a mistake.

It’s best to research where your audiences are gathering on social media, concentrate on those channels, and develop content that suits those platforms.

5, Take a two-way Approach

Simply blasting content out across social media platforms is not enough and can actually be counterproductive. Being known and liked requires building relationships.

This means responding, participating in online conversations, and listening as much as you are communicating on social media platforms.

6, Post Compelling Content

It’s a harsh truth, but there is an enormous amount of junk being distributed across social media.

To cut through this noise, take the time to develop compelling content that will grab attention and make people want to follow you.

7, Engage During High-Traffic Times

Timing is crucial to achieving success in life, and this holds very true for social media. Different audiences convene at different times on social media platforms.

Generally speaking, after business hours and during weekends in most time zones are great times to reach online publics.

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The lost art of humility in the digital age

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That we are living in a hyper-competitive world is both a widely discussed topic and a fundamental fact.

What is less discussed is the new aggressiveness that has risen out of today’s hyper-competitiveness.

This aggressiveness takes many forms across the marketing, communications, branding and public relations landscapes.

Loud Selling

Brands, companies and professionals are playing extremely hard to tell their stories louder and bigger in order to cut through the constant buzz of the 24/7 news and social media cycles.

The ever-expanding toolbox of social and digital platforms has only exacerbated this trend and temptation.

It seems this aggressiveness spills into how we conduct ourselves as individuals and professionals and how we communicate with the individuals in our orbits.

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with aggressiveness or strong selling. Some will argue it is absolutely essential to succeeding in today’s environment.

Forgetting to be Humble

But along the way there’s a danger we may lose sight of a basic requirement for success in most professions: humility.

There are few things more compelling than someone with enormous talent and top-notch credentials who has coupled their impressive chops with a visible dose of humility.

And there are few things more of a turn off than someone who is arrogant, abrasive and seemingly self-absorbed.

Humility is a big turn on – particularly today – for three key reasons:

Combatting Complacency

1, First, people with humility are not complacent.

They are usually focused on continuous improvement and professional development. This helps catapult them – and keep them – on top of their game.

Building a Mature Reputation

2, Second, people with humility are usually pretty realistic about the world around them and tend to radiate a mature aura of having their feet planted firmly on the ground.

In today’s competitive world there will always be people who are greater and lesser.

Those who tend to convey that they are the absolute best and have nothing to learn, period, can come across as delusional and out of touch.

Mastering Two-Way Communication

3, Third, people with humility are usually good listeners and skilled at two-way communication, a crucial approach in today’s rapid-fire era of messaging.

Someone once said: “The humble person makes room for progress. The proud person believes they are already there.”

Words of wisdom for the successful communicator.

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Ten massively overused words that kill strong communication

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Clear, crisp writing is one of the most valuable tools anyone can have in their skill set.

Whether communicating through digital media, written documents or public speeches, avoiding exaggerated, arrogant and blustery language can go a long way toward keeping your messages clean and simple.

This clarity of approach is key to engaging any audience.

Here are ten wildly overused, arrogant words that amount to “puffspeak” and their clearer alternatives:

1, Puffspeak = “Macro”  

Translation = “Big”

2, Puffspeak = “Methodology”

Translation = “Rules”

3, Puffspeak = “Module”

Translation = “Unit”

4, Puffspeak = “Networking”

Translation = “Making Connections”

5, Puffspeak = “Optimize”

Translation = “Improve”

6, Puffspeak = “Track Record”

Translation = “Achievements”

7, Puffspeak = “Parameters”

Translation = “Guidelines”

8, Puffspeak = “Overriding”

Translation = “Major”

9, Puffspeak = “Viable”

Translation = “Workable”

10, Puffspeak = “Optimal”

Translation = “Ideal”

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