Your CEO on Social

Recently, Weber Shandwick released their Socializing Your CEO report which audits the online presence of CEOs globally. The audit found that CEOs are starting to engage and feel comfortable on social media.

Your CEO can be a powerful addition to your social media strategy. The key is to integrate your executive’s social media presence within the overall brand’s social media strategy. By doing so, it will help prevent one from overpowering the other.

Even though your CEO might be an established brand within his industry offline, social media will potentially reach a much wider segment of your audience globally, therefore, you’ll need to start building your CEO’s credibility out of the gate.

One approach I have used is to create a dedicated CEO account on Twitter as the channel of choice for their voice. The dedicated account is used to express personal opinions, theories and expertise to lead and guide the social discussion within the brand’s issue area.

Crossover with the brand would occur with the sharing of content on the organization’s Facebook page and Twitter account during high visibility events, news or project/product launches.

To start engaging and leading the discussion from the dedicated account, consider the following tactics:

  • sharing organization research, news, updates and new projects;
  • speaking at a conference: share salient talking points, impressions, and highlights;
  • participating in a panel discussion: engage with other members pre and post panel, sharing thoughts and insights;
  • curating other research, news or statements from organizations in the same industry, and
  • starting the discussion by asking direct questions of other leaders/organizations on trending topic areas.

Ideally your approach will be a mix of the above. As you and your CEO get more comfortable, the more you can curate content and start to push discussion on issues or issue areas that may not have entered into the social conversation.

By pushing the envelope and being seen as an initiator and innovator of content and discussion, you will attract more followers and will increase your overall social media engagement over time.

6 Tips for Leading and Motivating Teams

So how’s your team? Are they motivated, engaged and able to excel?

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to lead teams from 30 globally to 15 domestically, the majority virtual. Each team has been very different in terms of function, collaboration and motivation.

Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years on how to lead and motivate teams:

Coach individually. Make sure you have one-to-one time with each team member on a regular basis. This will enable you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each employee, how they are evolving and how their job aligns with their future career goals. If virtual, use Skype video, nothing replaces face-to-face interaction.

Provide opportunities for motivation. Find out what their long-term career goals are and make sure that some aspect – if not the majority – aligns with those goals. You’ll have a happier, more engaged and motivated staff member if you do. If they do not align, challenge the employee to develop a project that aligns with their goals and also the company’s goals.

Be accessible. And mean it. If global, some portion of your workday should overlap with members of your team and all team members should feel comfortable contacting you directly. Keep your virtual door open and your office door open. Be willing to stop what you are doing to address their concerns with an open and positive attitude.

Be transparent. One habit that many new managers have is to keep information confidential – often as a way to demonstrate power – some more seasoned managers may do this out of fear. There is no better way to alienate your team. Be transparent in your communication, your plans and with the direction of your division and company.

Have clear expectations. And communicate these often and well. Ensure each team member understands the expectations of their role, their interaction with the overall team and the company. Encourage them to improve and expand upon those expectations and provide the support needed to do so.

Be prepared to adapt. Your leadership style will evolve with your team and should meet each employee where they are. Translation: adapt your leadership style for each team member. Each individual is different and will require a different approach from you over time. A one-size fits all approach to leadership will definitely leave you lonely at the top without many followers.

For those of you leading large teams, the tips above would apply to your direct reports; however, make sure you have an opportunity to engage with the full team on a regular basis – either formally or informally.

The Secret PR Tool: Mat Releases

Never heard of a mat release? You are not alone. It’s one of the lesser-known tools of the public relations trade.

Once referred to as matte, they have been in existence pre-internet and were once used to provide content filler to local newspaper across the country. They are still in use today, and more so now that news bureaus have downsized and the need for new and relevant content – referred to as evergreen content – increases with the 24/7 demand for news.

A mat release is a consumer-focused feature article, fully formatted with camera-ready artwork that can be lifted straight by reporters and editors as fillers for daily news editions, digital and print. For public relations professionals, mat releases provide a great opportunity to increase publicity for a brand and to carry messages to the consumer public.

Mat releases can be distributed through wire services, including PR Newswire and Business Wire, which acquired the old distribution service, North American Precis Syndicate or NAPS database.

Quick tips:

Keep the release to no more than 700 words with high-quality content. Remember that even though you seek to gain exposure, it is not a commercial for your brand or product.

Ensure the copy will be of interest to the consumer public – provide tips, advice, and guidance. Inform as much as possible.

Follow a feature format and ensure the article will fit in any of the feature sections of daily, local newspapers, from living to health and food sections. Do your research.

Mat releases can be an effective way to gain national exposure for your brand or client without paying for a costly advertising campaign.

Turning Your Employees Into Brand Ambassadors

Employees can be your strongest brand ambassadors. In essence, you have a captured audience that lives your brand and is often just waiting for a chance to effectively communicate their work to their family and friends. But how do you effectively engage that audience to expand your brand awareness?

Here are five steps for engaging employees as brand ambassadors:

Message training. As you develop your key messages for your brand, remember to provide training to all staff so they become comfortable with using them. Ask them to practice using the messages with their families and when out with friends.

Culture matters. Set the tone in internal communications on the importance of brand ambassadors. Encourage employees to become involved in external events to help expand brand awareness and to actively engage as ambassadors.

Provide tools. One way to start to engage employees as ambassadors is to create an intranet that is in effect a social media channel for staff to share their stories, brand ideas, promote events and to update their status on their latest projects and successes. This will help employees to learn the skills of a brand ambassador within the organization before expanding outwards.

Encourage social media engagement. Encourage staff to engage with your organization’s social media channels and to interact by commenting, sharing and re-tweeting information to their followers, friends and circles.

Make being a brand ambassador “cool”. Your employees take pride in what they do – encourage that by instilling the importance of their role as ambassadors of your company’s brand. Encourage leadership to reward those employees who engage and to include it as part of their overall assessment.

Harnessing Your Inner Spokesperson

This article first appeared in the PR Insider @PRNews on April 24th. 

Many of us in the public relations field coach others on how to be effective spokespeople but never have the opportunity to actually be a spokesperson ourselves. And for those of you who are facing the transition, it is not as easy as one would think. Teaching and being are not one in the same.

The following six steps will help you become a point person for the media and will help you make the transition effectively.

Research your industry, company and programs/products. You may have been training others, but now it is your turn to become intimately familiar with the industry, your organization’s subject matter and the latest programs, innovations, and/or products. You should be able to speak to all topics, even if you intend to use internal experts as a secondary source. Most importantly, brush up on all research reports created and/or used by your company.

Practice interviewing. You may either want to hire a coach or have a member of your media team run you through a series of interviews – broadcast, phone interviews, audio – until you are comfortable with the subject matter and are able to deliver the company’s key messages smoothly and professionally.

Cultivate relationships with key journalists. Remember that it is a two-way street. They are looking for a story and you are guiding the story with the intent of conveying your messages to the wider public. Have your talking points prepared and be familiar with the journalist’s story coverage and interests before the interview. Target your messages to address those interests.

Be a source for information. If you are not one, recommend another individual at another organization. Realize that the journalist has an editor and that story will not see the light of day unless the editor approves it. Help them out. You want to see that story get out there just as much as the journalist does. Both of your jobs depend on it.

Ensure they understand your subject area. Reporters are often generalists. You will need to take the time to ensure you provide them with a full understanding of the issues without talking down to them. This may include scheduling internal expert interviews, recommending other experts to interview along with research and reports. And make sure those research and reports are at your fingertips for easy access during the interview and for quick follow-up with the reporter.

If you need time to prepare, ask for that time by scheduling the interview. Always consider what the angle could possibly be and run through those scenarios. Ask the journalist what the angle is and what potential interview questions they may have. Most importantly, make sure your messages are ready and can be conveyed in your responses.