Meet the new Kashoo iPhone app: making small business accounting more anywhere-ier and more anytime-ier.
When Client’s News They Swear is News Isn’t News—And What to Do About It
Client Person: “We’ve got some big news. We’ve got to get it covered.”
Communications Person: “OK. Let’s hear it.”
Client Person: “Our CEO’s dog has been named the mascot of the local fire department!”
The above is a completely fictional conversation—and frankly, it’s a little extreme. But it’s to set a scenario; a scenario that actually happens a lot in the communications advisory relationship. Usually on the weekly update call, the communications person will probe for any client news items that might be worth acting on. Sometimes that probe yields goodness and sometimes it yields “Our CEO’s dog has been named the mascot of the local fire department!” non-news.
But it’s not so easy to simply say, “Nope. That’s not news.” This is especially true in the early stages of a relationship. So let’s continue the conversation to see what might be the right way to navigate and advise…
Communications Person: “OK. While that’s fun, I’m going to put my editor’s hat on here and ask,’What’s the news and how does it relate to and impact the company?’”
Client Person: “Well… It’s our CEO. Let’s pitch it to the people that have interviewed him before.”
Communications Person: “If we look back at our previous coverage and interviews, they always had a newsworthy element that related to either the company or the industry. Editors and writers need a news hook; a reason to write that, ultimately benefit their readers. So let’s ask ourselves: is this ‘news’ of value to the audiences we’re trying to reach?”
Client Person: “Probably not. You’re right. But it’s our CEO. This is something s/he really cares about.”
Communications Person: “Totally understandable. So let’s think on a few places where this ‘news’ can live. We do have a section on the company blog that features lighter, team news posts. Look at our last one about the company retreat. The local business reporter would never have covered that. But since it’s part of our company culture and we work to promote that, we posted it to the blog. The blog might be a great home for the dog news. What do you think?”
Client Person: “I like it. Can you tell our CEO why this approach makes the most sense and then draft the blog post?”
As mentioned, the dog news is an extreme example. This gets tougher when the “news” could be news, but really isn’t going to gain any traction. For example, say the client company is sponsoring a conference. It’s easy to think that that sponsorship is newsworthy. But it’s not. A journalist isn’t going to be wowed by a company throwing some cash at an event. However, as in the example above, a good communications pro is going to suggest alternative ideas rather than simply saying no. In addition to a company blog, a few alternative ideas might include…
- A guest column, byline article or op-ed. If the non-news does have a sliver of relevance and there’s someone on the client side eager to pen some thoughts around that relevance, a good comms person can find a home for it. The key here though is that what gets written can’t be promotional. It can’t be salesy. No contributions editor is going to publish a commercial.
- Have an email newsletter? “Not-quite-news” makes for good fodder there. Just make sure it’s relevant to the community or recipients. They gave you their email address on the promise of receiving interesting, relevant content. Keep that promise.
- Social channels are good places for almost-news too. The key though is variety. Your social feeds can’t be boring sludge rivers of non-news. Publish real news there. Engage with your communities. Keep things varied.
Because how could we not share a news story about the science of bacon?
A Little Experience Goes a Long Way
This post is from our ace content developer and researcher, Kelsey Warren. She recently graduated from Villanova University and is awesome.
When I first started out as an intern, I expected to be doing the usual interny things: coffee, copies, trying to be as invisible as possible. Having worked at AuthenticMatters for around six months now, I’m happy to report that that hasn’t been the case. I’ve had the opportunity to do some pretty cool stuff—and I’ve learned a lot along the way…
- You can still be professional and have a personality. From both what I’ve learned in the classroom and the corporate communications experience I’ve had through other internships, it’s been drilled into my head that being professional is synonymous with being boring. But through my experience here at AuthenticMatters, I’ve learned that doesn’t have be so. Particularly in emails and writing, it’s better to be a little bold. Typical business correspondence is dull and forgettable (which makes sense, because everyone else is doing it too). If you want to be remembered or get someone’s attention, be different and create context. Business communication needs to be a blend of art and science.
- The worst thing that can possibly happen is that someone says no—and let them be the one to do it. There’s no point in saying no to yourself before you even give something a shot. So reach out to someone, tweet at them, whatever. Who knows? Maybe you or your client are exactly what they’re looking for. Even if nothing becomes of it, at least you took a shot and got your name in their inbox. There’s no use in boxing yourself in from fear of a less-than-ideal outcome.
- Finally, what I’ve learned in school has created a strong foundation on top of which I am building real world experience. And it’s that real world experience that is real education. One of the most important things I’ve learned at AuthenticMatters is communication context. Since every communication situation—from an email to Dave to a phone call with a client—is pursuing a unique outcome, you have to adapt and modify your communication to achieve its specific purpose. One situation might call for buttoned up formalities because that’s what will elicit the right response. For another, it might be totally appropriate to be entirely casual. Even school has a context (and it’s very different than the real world). Like I said, the classroom laid the foundation, but the real world is where you get the education. And what I’ve learned about communication context is going to be pretty useful.
Cystic Fibrosis is Dumb
The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has this campaign called Philadelphia’s Finest. Basically, a handful of young professionals are charged with raising cash, securing some auction items, and getting folks to turn out to the dinner / silent auction at the end of the campaign (June 5).
And now for the shameless pitch…
The dinner / silent auction needs sponsors. Here’s how you can help:
- Own your own business? Great. You’re the decision maker.
- Work for a small company? Just as good. Hopefully your leader is accessible and believes in doing good while doing well. Go talk to him or her about this.
- Work at a huge company where you have to wear a suit every day? No problem. It might be a little tougher to find the decision-maker with these sorts of things, but you can do it. Just ask people. Use LinkedIn. Hell, be bold and email the CEO you’ve never even seen.
How much are we talking here? Any amount, really. $250 is technically the low end. $10,000 is the high end, but we’re sure the CF Foundation wouldn’t say no to $10,001. Point is, anything helps. View the sponsorship deck here.
Here’s the kicker: unlike the majority of disease-fighting orgs (all of which are well intentioned), the CF Foundation puts nine out of every 10 dollars towards actual scientific research. YOU’RE FUNDING SCIENCE NOT BUREAUCRACY!
So hop to it. Get in touch with us or go straight to the CF source: Jessica Quilter (Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org, (610) 325-6001).
The best ‘PR people’ aren’t ‘PR people.’ Publicly, they are unseen and unheard.
Rough morning in Old City. 2-Alarm blaze at Suit Corner (SW corner of 3rd and Market).