Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Good Hustle Teach…

Posted: March 23, 2011 in Family, Life, Personal, Rants

Why would a teacher announce grades to the entire class along with why that grade was given?

I spent my fair share of time in school and not once do I remember a teacher telling the entire class my grade and why he/she gave that grade to me. Good thing because I am sure some of it (all of it) would have been rather interesting.

With that being said, I was amazed today when my son was explaining to my wife what other kids grades were. Some were because of poor comprehension, math, etc… The best part is that he did not know this because the other kids told him, nope. He knows this because his teacher told the entire class. Now my son got all A’s except for a B in math (Great Job Little Man!!!) and yup, his teacher told the class why he got a B in math.

Why on earth would this be an acceptable practice for a 2nd grade class, or any class? The point to me is that these are 8 year old kids who are vulnerable and need more reinforcing than breaking down. By saying “Billy got a D because he has poor comprehension skills and does not understand math” does nothing but destroy a young girl or boys self-esteem.

I will also be the first to say it is good to be hard on kids. The difference is that I will have a “hard” talk with my children one on one. Of course if you have kids you know the other wants to see what is happening as bad as that guy in front of you checking out the broken down car on the side of the road in rush our traffic (you know who you are). The reason we separate one from other if they are in trouble is quite honestly because it is none of the other ones business what is going on.

I see grades as the same thing, it is not Billy or Johnny or Jessica’s business, so why on earth would a teacher announce grades to the entire class along with why that grade was given?

I wonder what his teacher would think if his next evaluation was in front of all his peers?

This morning PRSA NCC and Marketwire hosted an event focused on Facebook for Government, Business, Associations, and Non-Profits. As always PRSA NCC pulled in some industry leading social media practitioners to talk about how their organizations are leveraging this evolving communications tool.

Speakers:
Read Holman, New Media Strategist, US Department of Health and Human Services – @Readg
Steve Wymer, president, Senate Press Secretaries Association, communications director to Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NEB) — @stevewymer
Amy Ganderson, associate director of digital marketing, The Nature Conservancy – @amyganderson
Laura Hubbard, International CES, Consumer Electronics Association – @laurahubbard
John Wolf, senior director, public relations, Marriott International – @Marriottintl

We all know that Facebook is not just for your Kids anymore and businesses are looking to take advantage of this new opportunity to interact with their customers, clients, prospects, proponents, opponents, etc…

Steve Wymer kicked off the event talking about the use of FB in Government, let’s just say there is not a lot of use by Politicians. A couple good examples he gave for politicians using Facebook were John McCain and Claire McCaskill. Steve brought up a good point that “Social Media wants people to be authentic, but then you get in trouble for being real.” Steve also talked about how to deal with “negative” comments or discussions going down a slippery slope on Facebook and crossed over into Twitter as well. Essentially if a conversation begins to go down the wrong path try to jump in and moderate to get the conversation back on topic. If people are saying negative things on a consistent basis you should also use that material to put out a factual statement/post to help educate your fans. Another solution is to simply launch an all out assault of positive comments to drown out the negative. Now this is obviously not something that every organization should be doing, but in the Government space you can probably do it more frequently.

John Wolf followed Steve and gave one of the better lines I have heard in regard to not being in Social Media. He said “You are conspicuous by your absence in Social Media”. John also mentioned something I constantly bring up to clients/prospects in meetings about Social Media, he said “Social Media is a wonderful tool if it allows us to achieve our objectives”. While Social Media or Facebook to be more specific is a fantastic communications tool, it will be worthless if you do not have clear objectives/goals for why you want to be there. John mentioned that for every 10 messages/posts they get 9 of them are positive, now that is impressive and shows that Marriott knows what they are doing. The point was also made that your Social Media and Traditional Media should be integrated to form a cohesive communications plan. Overall I was very impressed with just about everything John said and it is very evident that he knows his stuff, which is why Marriott has had such Social Media success.

Amy Ganderson from The Nature Conservancy brought up some great points about how a large association can assist local offices who are looking to create Facebook Pages.

– Create approaches noting guidelines and best practices
– Start communication with Enthusiast, connect monthly to open dialogue
– Sync efforts, push top promotions/campaigns across all pages, not just the local page.
– Highlight successes of local offices

She also mentioned that you need to create custom landing pages on your Facebook page, don’t simply rely on the “Wall”. Your Facebook page should be treated just like your website in regard to separate landing pages. A huge tip she gave is that Facebook is Visual and that photo content always ranks high. Continuing this conversation the panel also mentioned that photos should be included in all blog posts (uh o, I better find a photo), pages, etc… The reason is that when you link that page to your Facebook page the photo will come through and people are more apt to click on a link with a photo and a clear explanation of what the link is. Also, if you are linking to external sites you need to be very clear about that or you will create a hesitation to clicking on your links. After all, I do not want to be directed to some random page after clicking on a link I thought would take me to your homepage, you would lose me instantly.

Read Holman had a lot of great points, but I think the major take away was that “having a presence on Facebook may be more important than having a page”. It makes perfect sense depending on what you are looking to accomplish after all, we all know conversations are happening regardless of the medium used. The page is not the final result Read said, sharing your information is more important. Making your site shareable and every post, page, etc… must have the ability to share and again, don’t forget to include your photo.

Laura Hubbard brought up some good food for thought as the conversation turned to pushing out content. Using Facebook insights you can tell who has hidden your posts. The last thing you want to do is push out so much content that your “Fans” start to turn you off. You have to walk the line and make sure you are getting out relevant content, not just pushing to push. CEA also allows others to tag so exhibitors can push out their info.

Overall I think the main point of today was that there is no one size fits all approach to Social Media, Facebook, etc… What works in Government may not work for Businesses, but lessons can be learned from each and put into a plan of attack. Remember when you are in Social Media there is no such thing as Failing, only Trial and Error!!!

If you would like to see more information check out the PRSA NCC site for the full presentation and podcast. You can also go to Twitter and search the hashtag #PRSA_NCC for tweets from today’s event (some examples below).

Podcast now available on the PRSA NCC site — http://www.prsa-ncc.org/blogcategory/new_media_downloads/

Thank you again to PRSA NCC and all the panelist for today’s event, it was fantastic!!!

So by now you have all probably heard about what Kenneth Cole said via Twitter in regard to the current situation in Cairo. Just in case, here is a snap shot to remind you.

I would also recommend checking out Todd Defren’s post — “In Social Media, Everyone Can Hear You Fart”.

After reading Todd’s post I wanted to see exactly what people were saying and how much conversation has been sparked. Let’s just say there are some pretty interesting posts out there. I took a quick look across Blogs, Social Media, Forums, Traditional News, etc… using MAP by Sysomos a Marketwire company. Take a look below at the “Activity Summary” pulled from mentions of “Kenneth Cole” for the past 6 months. I left out “Cairo” for this search to show the spike that this one tweet caused simply based on the brand name.

See that spike on the right, that was the Stupid Tweet. Now, does this fall under any publicity is good publicity, I think not. However, if Kenneth Cole the man and the brand begin to take action immediately they will be able to lessen the blow to their image, but time is precious and costly so get moving!

I am pretty sure that his PR folks would rather have the spike be for some great plan they executed, unfortunately it was because of an extremely insensitive comment that brings nothing but negativity. I am sure his PR team is now checking their Crisis Communications plan to get a game plan together, but if not Nancy Myrland gave some great advice in her recent post about this situation – “Kenneth Cole & Every CEO: This Is Your Social Media Wake Up Call”.

Take a look at just how big of a jump in mentions one tweet can cause and think about your next tweet. The below chart shows the number of mentions of “Kenneth Cole” (#1 — 2/3 – 2/4) and “Kenneth Cole” (#2 — 2/1 – 2/2) across Blogs, News Sites, Forums and Twitter. Yes, it would be awesome to have that spike, but not at the cost of your brands reputation.

Share of voice between 2 days prior to Kenneth Cole twitter comment and since (10,593 vs. 663)

I am sure that Kenneth Cole would rather the conversation be about clothes, watches, cologne, etc…

Hopefully Kenneth Cole takes advantage of this situation and puts out a great message and solid plan to correct the public image of the brand. At this point in time you have a lot of attention, try to turn the situation around and explain the steps you will be taking to correct the issue publicly. We all mess up and everyone is aware of that, but own up to it and go beyond what you think or obviously thought with the first apology.

I would check out the Kenneth Cole Facebook page, under the discussions tab to find their apology. I did not include the screen shot as there is a good amount of colorful commentary on the page.

Creating value for your clients is easily the most important factor for any vendor (DUH!), but how do you create value and separate yourself from the pack? I am going to tell you some of things that I feel are important for all sales people/vendors to remember in your day to day activities. Remember, value is something that you have to bring all the time; you can not just wow them once then get comfortable.

Take a look at the Communications Industry where there are several Press Release Distribution Services (Marketwire, PRN, BW, PRWeb, GN, etc…), Social Media Monitoring Tools (Sysomos, Radian6, Hootsuite, Brandwatch, etc..), Media Databases (Mediahub, Cision, Vocus, etc…) to help clients with their day to day activities. These tools range from free to several thousand dollars a year so how do you differentiate yourself enough to show the value that you, your company, your team, your product, etc…bring to the table? Disclaimer: I work for Marketwire/Sysomos, one of the industries leading news wire services, monitoring, and media database tools. With so much competition in the this space, how do I show the value that myself and my company bring to the table?

Below are the top 5 things that I believe you can do to show your value:

1) Customer Service — This does not mean smile pretty and act nice when something happens good or bad. This means you need to come down with what I call a Customer Service Disorder or CSD. When an issue happens, take it personally and know that it is your name and face that your client is putting the blame on regardless of if it was your “fault” or not. This is where I personally take things away from my company and put it on my shoulders, because at the end of the day, it is not my company that is interacting, it is me.

2) Sense of Urgency — Sense of Urgency seems like such a simple aspect of providing value, but it seems that so many sales people/vendors forget what it actually means. When you get a request an email or phone call, respond immediately. I hear about it so often that is dumbfounding to me how a client see’s any value in working with someone who does not respond to their inquires in a timely fashion. Maybe it is the fact that I believe in the Golden Rule, you know; treat people the way you want to be treated or maybe it is just that I hate things sitting on a to do list or my proverbial plate. It is pretty simple, when someone calls you, emails you, texts you, FB’s you, DM’s you, whatever, respond to them in a reasonable manor of time (personally that is immediately!!).

3) Your Bells & Whistles Mean Nothing — This one is super duper important and goes back to looking at your selling technique. By that I mean, are you a Feature or Benefit seller? When I say “Your Bells & Whistles Mean Nothing” I mean it. If you have not determined why those Bells & Whistles are important to your client, then they are not a Benefit and you have showed no value. Work on your Investigating Skills (they are on the list) and find out what your client needs first, dig in because what you think is a Benefit may be nothing but smoke on the water to your client.

4) Investigating Skills — Now hopefully you know that you can never stop investigating a client or prospect. Why you ask? Because the job is not over after determining that you are a good fit today. You must never stop Investigating your clients to find out what they are working on, where they are going, etc… so that you can continue to bring value beyond your initial dealings with the client/prospect. Investigating today is so easy so do not make this the reason you lost business. Take a look at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Company Site, etc… to find out what is happening and what they are saying. Depending on the tools you have, use a tool like Sysomos MAP to do some preliminary and ongoing research to stay in-front of issues surrounding your clients/prospects so that you can bring the issue to table showing them true value! Here is the extra mile on that last comment; figure out a possible solution to the problem and you are really starting to show why you are valuable to that client/prospect.

5) Customer Service — I brought it back to Customer Service simply because I think one of the biggest reasons a client/prospect will stay with you and see value is because of YOU! Again, there are so many companies out there competing in the same space with very similar products that a lot of the time it can be YOU that pushes the final decision. After all, if my product is as good as anything else out there if not better, but you see that I offer you more feedback, advice, trends, topics, etc… then you will probably stick with me as long as I continue to provide excellent Customer Service.

There are more ways to show value, but these are the things that I think you can really control and will differentiate you from the pack.

Please let me know what things you all feel show Value to your clients and ways you can create Value for your clients.

Customer Service Disorder

Posted: December 17, 2009 in Business, Life, Personal

I realized at about 3:45am this morning that I in fact have a Customer Service Disorder. While in my opinion this is a good thing as I view customer service as a top priority at all times and do whatever it takes to make sure I provide top notch service. The reason I say that I have customer service disorder or CSD; is simply because I can not ignore an email no matter what time.

It all started at 3:45am this morning when I received an email from a client asking about where their press release could be found as they were not seeing it. It was a very easy fix and one that could have waited until the morning and business hours, but not in my head. I sat lying in bed thinking about this email and being concerned that my client was waiting for a response back immediately. While I know they were not as they are typically out of the country it still drove me crazy. I really tried to fall back asleep and take care of the “issue” in the morning, but just could not. So at 4am I jumped out of bed, raced downstairs like it was Christmas morning and fired up the laptop. Did a quick search for my client, sent an email highlighting hundreds of locations of his release and put the issue to rest, but not myself.

Again, CSD is a good thing as long as the anxiety of the whole issue does not start to drive you crazy!

Anyway, problem averted and the good news is I am awake and working and you know what they say; The early bird gets the worm!!!

I would love to hear other stories of CSD and the odd and crazy things you all have done to make sure your clients needs are met.

Hello,

Glad you could join me to get some of my thoughts and experiences on what is happening in the world today. This blog will have a strong focus on Social Media, SM Monitoring, SEO, Press Releases, generally the Communications Industry, and a little mix of my personal flair.  I work for Marketwire and this blog will in no way represent any views or opinions that Marketwire has, just my own strange thoughts on this wonderful world of ours.

I hope you find some quality information here moving forward and please feel free to help me along the way with ideas.

Cheers,

Colby