The scene is familiar to anyone who has watched cable news: A reporter with a microphone catches a CEO outside of his office and asks about a recent company controversy; the CEO is surprised and annoyed; he shoves his hand in front of the camera and says, “No comment,” before scurrying away.
At Mack Communications, the phrase “no comment” makes us cringe. More often than not, the public assumes guilt when they hear it. “No comment” is now equated to, “Yes, we’re guilty, but we don’t want to admit it,” or “We have something to hide.”
In today’s interconnected world, it’s incredibly easy for companies to communicate with the public. A business can email, Tweet, or send a press release. It’s also very easy for the public to speculate and spread false information through these mediums, fast. Saying “no comment” provides no information, encouraging the media or public to create their own narratives.
Anyone who has spent time in public relations would agree: The industry is built around relationships. Whether it’s with clients, journalists, politicians, you name it-- forming connections is the bedrock of what PR is all about.
Although cell phones and email make it easier than ever to keep in contact with clients, it’s important to remember these strategies should be used to compliment relationship-building efforts, not as a substitute. Overly relying on email or texting also has its hazards.
For example, consider the oft-cited fact from a 1970s study that only about 7 percent of communication is verbal; the rest is from body language and tone. When communicating solely through email, it can be easy for intended message to become misconstrued. Well-intentioned messages can come across as cold and impersonal. If your client seems distant, pick up the phone: Perhaps they have been reading your emails differently than you intended.
Another hazard of email reliance is that a simple task could be stretched out for days. People get countless emails every day: Waiting for email approval on a time-sensitive assignment can cause you to miss deadlines. More often than not, picking up the phone or meeting in person to hash things out is faster and more efficient.
Here at Mack Communications, we strongly believe in taking clients out for lunch or coffee. Taking time out of your day to meet with a client shows them that you think they are important. It’s also simply a good way to get to know someone as a person, and pick up on better ways to approach your work together.
Remember: Clients, journalists, legislators are all people. Give them a ring!
Never underestimate the power of brevity. Keeping your message short and sweet increases the odds your audience will stick around to hear everything you have to say. As demonstrated in this article and others, many readers don’t make it past the headline of an online article-- let alone if they have to scroll down the page.
Offline, too, brevity can grant you an air of confidence and competence-- whether in a presentation, press conference, or interview. The trick is knowing when you do need to go into detail: some complex issues or crisis events may require more than 140 characters on Twitter.
Find the sweet spot between rambling and a paucity of information, and your message will come across loud and clear.
The internet and social media make it easier than ever to spread information (factual or not) like wildfire. If your company or organization has big news to share, choosing to make a big announcement gives you more control over the message and tone of your news (rather than waiting for the media to find out on its own).
Here are three things to consider before making big announcements:
If you're looking for suggestions for a possible press release, predictions are still an option.
It's early enough in the new year to offer your insights about what you think your industry or organization might encounter in the coming year. You can also add your take on the economy and how that could affect your customers over the next several months.
The great thing about predictions is that they offer you a chance to display your expertise and no one really checks to see how accurate you were. No one expects you to offer 100 percent certainty. It's the ideas that count.
Brand journalism is getting more and more attention these days. Companies are moving to find former journalists who can develop stories and other content about the company, their niche or their industry that have the look and feel of real news stories. The question becomes, how do you accomplish this?
Take a look at this video from Ragan Communications for additional insights into how brand journalism differs from traditional marketing messages and how it can help a company or organization engage their audiences and build trust with customers.
The popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS research provides some helpful guidance when it comes to public relations and earned media.
As you probably know, the Challenge is for someone to be videotaped getting doused with a bucket of ice water to generate awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and to raise funds to help find a cure. It's been a dominant theme on conventional and social media in recent weeks, helping to raise more than $40 million.
Why has it worked so well?
Some newsmakers have become popular because they've learned the art of being media friendly. That is, they understand what reporters need and want when it comes to covering their industry or field.
So, are there certain tips or tactics one can use to become more media friendly? Absolutely. We'll outline them over a span of several posts. We suggest you try to put them to use at the next opportunity.
First, we'll look at sound bites.
A media friendly newsmaker has developed the knack of speaking in short, succinct and memorable sound bites. This sounds simple enough, but we can unpack it a bit more.
Are you a professional communicator, someone who communicates for a living?
Actually, as we pointed out at a recent Mack Communications training presentation, it's a trick question. We are all professional communicators because we all need to communicate to do our jobs.
Think about all of the people you have to communicate with on a daily basis: coworkers, supervisors, peers, customers, the public. It can be overwhelming, but it shouldn't be.