September 23, 2020
I Know This Much is True may be an Emmy award-winning HBO miniseries that was filmed here in our beloved Hudson Valley but, I probably speak for lots of us when I say I’m totally unsure of exactly WHAT’S coming next. When will the pandemic will be discussed in the past tense, what will happen during the upcoming election and school year and when the economy will stabilize are questions I think all of us are asking ourselves.
While I’m not going to blow glitter in your face, because unrealistic positivity can be toxic, I wanted to offer some perspective on what I DO know and what IS in our control right now.
Inspired by the aforementioned HBO film in which two of our clients were featured (look for Vassar-Warner Home and the former Arthur S. May building, which PAZ Management will soon redevelop) and Oprah’s epic “What I Know for Sure” lists (here are her favorite 20 – take note of how nicely #5 and #20 fit into the current state of the world), here are five of my favorite PR and marketing truths, all of which translate well on the personal side:
Good communication starts close to home. In an effort to share good or bad news, organizations often think about their external image before considering the folks most important to them – their teams. In recent months, I’ve: heard teachers sadly relay how they’ve gotten district news after parents; heard employees rant about discovering company updates for the first time on social media; and seen staff lament about a company crisis they learned about in the media, complete with customers calling them with questions they didn’t see coming.
Ouch, right?! The bottom line is that nobody likes to be blindsided and without great people, there’s no great company. Take this rule and swap out “team” or “staff” with “family” or “friends” and you’ll have a winner, too.
Love sometimes means having to say you’re sorry. If you really love your customers, clients and community – and realizing that no organization or individual is perfect, so you might let someone down at some point – not only will you sometimes have to say sorry, you’ll also have to mean it. If you’ve missed the mark, take a cue from Zoom and its recent mea culpa.
Take full ownership, take it early, be forthright and share what you intend to do to fix it.
This advice also works beautifully in your personal life, even if the hurt feelings or lack of delivery were unintentional.
Brands aren’t built in a day. A steady stream of sharing – imagine a slowly running faucet – is far better than turning on the firehouse and drinking from it once a year. Send out regular updates, press releases, post guest columns and keep your social media accounts humming when things are booming, not just when you’re in need of business or trust. When it comes to reputations, small, steady investments pay huge dividends and can help a company ride out a future upheaval, such as the pandemic we’re all experiencing.
Similarly, personal goals and reputations take consistent effort and small sacrifices, but add up seemingly suddenly.
Outside perspective is invaluable. One of the biggest assets an organization can have is input from someone not directly on the payroll. It’s why companies tap our agency – we can share intel gained from years and years of working with businesses just like theirs, as well as drastically different than them, but we’re also not beholden to saying what the owner expects us to, unlike their staff. It’s also why we always, always welcome ideas, feedback and even a hard truth or two from those we work with or are friends with. Furthermore, this truth is why our favorite person to invite to a brainstorming meeting is the person with the least technical expertise on the matter. These “naïve experts” often have the smartest ideas in the room.
Consider trying this tip in your personal life as well; you’d be amazed what you’ll learn if you listen to people who aren’t trying to please you or whose backgrounds and experiences vary from yours.
Action outruns anxiety. Even in the midst of the toughest times (2020, I’m talking to you!), it’s important to remember that this too shall pass. Our nation has been through depressions, wars, famine and health crises and we’ve overcome. So, while it won’t stop you from feeling the feels, remember that tiny actions taken each day create change.
One positive outreach, one hour of moving forward, one kind act for humanity can make the world better. On the business side, I’ve started with one by sharing this thought leadership piece (ask yourself – have you slacked on marketing and business development lately?); on the personal side, I’ve decided to make our family happier by welcoming a puppy into our home. If seeing Rocky, our new beagle pup, each morning, is any indication, choosing joy helps relieve stress.
What do you know is true in your business? If you need a helping hand, we’re just a phone call, email, or direct message away. We’d love to help.