10 Things PR People Should Do Every Workday

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In keeping with the spirit of the New Year/new leaf theme for January,
we’ve been trying to harness the burst of resolution motivation to establish
habits that lead to better efficiency, productivity and effectiveness, both
personally and collectively, this year. And one source of inspiration was J.T.
O’Donnell’s article on LinkedIn about her approach to the “how do I get it
all done” conundrum.

As the time-pressed CEO of Careerealism Media, O’Donnell suggests that we limit our daily to-do list to 10 things, which includes a mix of job tasks, social chores and developmental goals. Now, before you ask – yes, she does more than these 10 items every day, but these, she says, are the 10 she chooses to do with consistency because they’ve proven the best way for her to grow her career and business over the years.

This, of course got us thinking, “What would the list look like for PR professionals?” Again, these aren’t the only things we think you should be doing each day, but rather a list of suggestions to help promote growth over the next 12 months. So see below for our ideas, and feel free to add your own two cents in the comments!

1. Scan the news. Take 10-15 minutes every morning to do this — and not only the top national news, but also the news in your company’s or clients’ industries. It’s a good way to stay on top of industry and competitive developments, not to mention it’s a necessity for identifying news jacking opportunities.

2. Make a to-do list. As every PR pro knows, ours is a reactive business, which means planned activities can get pushed aside easily. Stay organized and on track with daily task lists that keep you accountable to the proactive and maintenance items that often get overlooked in the heat of the (inevitable) times of crisis.

3. Contribute to the conversation. We’re talkin’ social media here, but the key is to keep it meaningful – not mindless. Find a handful of valuable articles, blog posts, infographics, etc. that pertain to your clients and their industries, the PR profession, or even just business in general, and share with your network.

4. Learn about a new tool or technology. This means not only familiarizing yourself with your clients’ products and services, but their competitors, as well. Got an interest in a particular area? Bone up on a new site, app, tool or technique, and teach your colleague so you can all be knowledgeable about what’s out there.

5. Connect…offline. Step away from the computer. Yes, cut the digital umbilical cord, and go grab a cup of coffee with a client, invite a reporter to happy hour, attend a local conference or try out a new network event. After all, business is about relationships, and you can’t keep connections as strong behind a keyboard.

6. Write. It’s probably the task that gets pushed off to the last minute because there are emails to answer, calls to make, and just about any other task seems more appealing than staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor. But flex the writing muscle, and it WILL get stronger.

7. Get momentum with media. Keep goals focused, actionable and realistic – then chip away at them each day. Start with a short list of six to eight media outlets that are a good match for your client, research contacts, get to know them, read their content, get creative with your pitches and connect with them accordingly.

8. Engage your clients. Ask questions that will help you understand their situation better. Make time to regularly check in with them to get to know how they think and feel, and encourage them to share observations regarding the progress of the project and your performance so you can course correct before it’s too late.

9. Make it measurable. Force yourself to develop and adhere to a method for tracking metrics. Not only does it allow you to create a benchmark for progress, but it also provides a means with which you can communicate those intangible successes to your clients. Just keep the process seamless, simple and straightforward.

10. Do stuff that inspires you. It sounds fluffy, but it’s arguably the most important: Allow yourself the space to get creative, let your mind wander and explore your imagination. It feels contrary to marching toward those business objectives, but granting yourself permission to dream is really when the best work happens.

 

Photo/Image by David Carpenter

Changing it up for 2014: Get Agile with New Year’s “Revolutions”

Well, we’re halfway through January (seriously, where did the time go?!), so there’s no better time to do a quick check in with yourself to see how those New Year’s resolutions are panning out. Have you been able to make any new habits stick, or are you still feeling like you’re stuck in the same rut from 2013?

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When we asked our staff the same question (for those of us who actually buy into the whole resolution thing), it became clear that being successful with these desired changes means less about going cold turkey, and more about committing to an ongoing process of overriding old habits and rewiring them with new patterns of behavior until something clicks.

Case in point:
-”My resolution is to be as organized and productive in my personal life as I am at work. I can’t say I’m knocking it out of the park, but I’m making progress. Although the fact the Patriots have been in the playoffs isn’t helping my cause at all since my husband’s participation is required to finish some of my home projects!”
-”This year I wanted to keep it simple, so my resolution was to walk the dogs each evening before dinner. Not only would it be good for all of us to get some fresh air, but it forces me step away from the computer for a few minutes. Our new routine lasted all of a few days, but at least we are getting out more often when we can.”
-”I resoluted to slow down and play with my kids more. It was going well until they got back to school, I went back to work, and they started all their activities. I need to have some sort of reminder to stay on track better.”

See a common theme here?

So did we, which got us thinking about our clients, particularly the Agile software development methods they use (for both product development and team management) and how much more fluid an iterative and incremental approach can be when it comes to making significant, sustained progress. As you know, Agile is a solution-oriented process that relies on adaptive planning and evolutionary processes, along with rapid and flexible response to change…so if it’s been proven successful in our business lives, it only makes sense that we could apply the same techniques in our personal lives, as well.

Enter what we like to call our New Year’s “Revolutions” for 2014.

Sure, we still need to keep an eye on the bigger picture (such as losing 10 pounds or seeing X increase in revenue), but you’ll get there more quickly if you create a list of actionable steps for the short-term, adjusting as you go along. Is something working – like a pitch that strikes a nerve with reporters, or a new way to remind yourself to stop and smell the roses with your kiddos? Then double down on those efforts to see bigger gains. Or is something not working – like an old press release format that’s lost traction, or dog leashes strewn about the house, so it takes you 15 minutes to find them before you lose all momentum to get outside? Then it’s time to switch things up, and try something new that removes the friction that’s preventing you from moving forward.

Respond to change – both positive and negative – and you’ll see results more quickly. See results, and you’ll no doubt be inspired to do more. The cycle slowly snowballs, and before you know it, you’ve got some major momentum to keep you going toward – and achieving – all of those goals.

Have you successfully added agility to your personal life? We’d love to hear more in the comments!

Our Favorite Things…for the Multi-Tasker

If you work in PR, chances are good that you’re a master multi-tasker. But even the best juggler needs a helping hand from time to time. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite apps, gadgets and websites to help you streamline your act and even add to it without dropping a single ball.

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  • Mynd – it’s a calendar app, but breaks a very busy day down visually into very simple to consume blocks. So you know what’s next, who you’re meeting with and what tasks you have to get done. It can also sync with Waze so if you are traveling to a meeting it will tell you ahead of time if there is heavy traffic and you need to leave early.

 

  • I’m going “old school” with this one and recommending the original Amazon Kindle (at a very palatable $70). If you’re anything like me and amass a ridiculous amount of books on your “to-read” list, but never have enough time to get to them, the Kindle is your answer. Whether you’re in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, mid-commute or simply find yourself with a few minutes to spare, you can download all your books to one compact device & carry them with you to start chipping away at the pile. Get through your must-reads before they collect any more dust on those bookshelves!

 

  • Check app – I have it on my iPad and I can check my bank accounts balances for payments and deposits and I can also check on how my mutual funds and stocks are doing…all in one place with one touch.

 

  • iPad – or any good tablet that supports the same capabilities. I can access my email, view documents, update and monitor my social profiles, read books via Kindle or Nook apps, browse the web, manage my banking needs, shop, entertain my kids in line at the grocery store watching Paw Patrol (again), and countless other tasks and activities all in one place. It’s brilliant.

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  • I covet Yipit this time of year – it’s an aggregator for all the social selling apps, but in one place, so when online shopping, instead of scouring Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. for deals, Yipit sends me a daily list of all deals in one spot (they tweet them, too). Extremely helpful – I think it’s the best kept secret!

 

We know these are very few of the many time saving and time enriching tools out there. So, please share your favorites in the comments. The more we share, the more we all benefit. And this is the giving season after all.

 

Cheers!

A Few Of Our Favorite Things For The Holiday Time-Pressed

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or so the song goes. But for many of us, juggling the additional commitments the season brings makes us feel a bit…grinchy.

kittyWe may not be able to offer you raindrop-laden roses and bewhiskered kittens to brighten your mood, but we can share a few of our favorite things to lighten your load.

We asked our staff to share some of their favorite things for four distinct (but, oh so familiar) personality types. Each week we’ll share our ideas starting this week with the time pressed exec.

So, don’t let the stress of the season rob you of its merriment. Take a gander at our favorite things and try a few for yourself. You may even find a few gift-worthy suggestions to help you finish up your holiday shopping (we aim to serve).

Now, without further ado…

 PPR’s Favorite Things for the Time Pressed Exec (or the average worker bee)

  • Feedly – Yes, I am still a fan of RSS. I like how easy it is to consume multiple industry leading blogs in minutes. The user interface is friendly and intuitive. I can scan through 50 or so blog posts in a matter of minutes, figure out which of those are important and read those. It makes staying on top of industry news much faster.
  • I’ve got to go basic on this one and recommend the Keurig coffee maker (http://www.keurig.com/). When you’ve got an early meeting or are rushing to get out the door, there’s nothing better than to have a freshly-brewed cup of coffee available on demand. The perfect start to a productive day!
  • I am old school in this department. My biggest time saver is my notebook. I sit down every Sunday morning and write 2 lists – one is work-related tasks with deadlines, and the other is personal tasks and my schedule for the week. I keep it handy wherever I go.
  • I use the Wunderlist app for pretty much everything – it’s like a virtual list-maker, file cabinet and personal assistant all in one. 
  • Inc.com – they have tons of helpful snippets, lists, interviews and video on everything from leadership and management to tech gadgets and productivity. It’s consistently interesting content that can be consumed and digested quickly. I’m always in awe of how much quality content they distribute, and I learn something new from it every day.
  • Franklin Covey planner – whether you use the paper-based planner or the software, this is the best system for organizing and prioritizing your tasks and meetings, not to mention tracking important information and helping you stay focused on your goals. To really get the most out of the system, try to participate in a day-long seminar – you’ll be sure to experience at least one eureka moment.

What would you add to our list? Please share in the comments below.

“Effective Executive” Series with Eric Newman, VP Products & Marketing, Digby

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We are pleased to share another insightful ”Effective Executive” interview with Eric Newman, Vice President of Products & Marketing for Digby.  In this role, Eric Newman helps brands leverage the power of Localpoint, a cross channel marketing platform. During his 18-year career, Eric has ridden the cutting edge of a number of online revolutions at a successful startups, including Demand Media’s Pluck, Powered, IBM’s DataBeam, Ask Jeeve’s Direct Hit and Motive Corporation’s Question Technologies. He holds a M.B.A. from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Information Systems and Marketing from the University of Cincinnati.

Eric shared his thoughts on location-based marketing behavior and which loyalty programs top his list.  He also shared his insights with us on why Austin has become such a growing city for tech companies, especially start ups.

What’s the challenge in attaining a location-based marketing strategy?

Using time and place as a real-time trigger for marketing, engagement and customer service in brick and mortar locations adds a whole new dimension to an organization’s marketing and operational thinking – and therein lies the challenge.  It starts with figuring out how you want to react to a consumer’s entry into a store, or presence in a target neighborhood – notifying associates of the consumer’s entry or sending a visit-encouraging message to the consumer as examples.  From there, the retailers we work with are using that real-world event as a key juncture for mapping the consumer’s cross-channel history – understanding that they shopped on the ecommerce site last night and are likely entering the store to put their hands on the product before making the purchase.  That kind of omni-channel use is where location really shines as the link between the on and offline worlds, but it is also the most challenging for an organization to adopt when typically those worlds were organizationally separated in the past.

What have you seen over the last year in terms of measured success of a good location-based marketing strategy?

We have witnessed some amazing results.  While we cannot speak to specific customers’ performance metrics, we can talk about campaigns where 60+% of consumers in neighborhoods near a store opened a location-based announcement with push notification set up by the marketer and then in turn, visited the nearby store to redeem the offer.  We’ve seen social check-in campaigns through the retailer’s app generate astounding redemption rates as consumers walked into the store, received an offer and then shared the offer with their friends.

What are some of the best loyalty programs you’ve seen for customers?

As a marketer I really appreciate the Kohl’s cash program.  Giving consumers discounts they can apply against any product in a virtual cash format makes it easy to earn and easy to spend those points, but all within Kohl’s stores.

As a consumer, I like loyalty programs that offer something a little different as a loyalty reward.  Using earned loyalty points at a grocery like Randall’s to get a steep discount on gas at their fueling station is significant enough to actually spur conversation about it at the family dinner table.  Any time you can get someone teaching their children about a loyalty program, that’s longevity.

What’s your dream customer – i.e., who could use some improvement with Digby?

Location context as a trigger to more relevantly market and engage the consumer is not limited to one vertical or most appropriate for just one customer.  We see interest in Digby from brands in many sectors – from hospitality to dining and even sports franchises – anyone who has a physical place of business and would like to better engage their customers.  Interestingly, we learn new use cases for our technology with every potential customer we meet.  One of my favorite unexpected use cases was a convenience store chain that builds 50-100 stores a year.  That’s millions of dollars of real-estate investment where building on the wrong spot can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of missed revenue.  In this case, the retailer wanted to identify locations where they were considering store development, and use the knowledge of how many of their app-holding, loyal customers drive by these various locations as a set of decision input into their real estate evaluation.

What’s the connection with mobile apps to successful in-store service?

There are so many use cases around customer service where awareness that the customer is at the store is so important.  For example, a fast food restaurant wants to allow consumers to order their burgers online for pickup in the restaurant.  Doesn’t sound all that complicated until you realize that a fast food sandwich has about a two minute shelf life under the heat lamps.  Get caught at a red light on the way to the store for pickup, and they have to start the order all over again.  Instead, the restaurant wants to use our Localpoint platform to know when the remote ordering customer has entered the parking lot and place the order into the queue at that moment – ensuring a burger ready to go with minimal waste.

Any predictions for 2014 in terms of marketing behavior, from a B to B or B to C standpoint?

Location is becoming white hot right now as organizations see the relevancy and depth it can add to their customer relationships, and the ROI it can drive in terms of incremental store visits, conversion and cart size growth.  Generally speaking, this technology applies best to the B to C experience, given the nature of shopping behavior where consumers visit malls, stores and other retail locations.

Weigh in on Austin and its growth in the tech world – how would you say Austin has changed over the year climate-wise for tech companies?

Austin is an incredible place for technology and has been for many years.  A startup community increases in velocity as it builds momentum with entrepreneurs at all organizational levels building startups and then facilitating the sale and integration of the startup into larger technology companies.  This creates a powerful secondary effect of drawing larger companies into Austin and then setting up the entrepreneur to make a run at their next big idea.  Austin has been doing this successfully for 20 years and has mature, fertile field of technology companies and startups spanning from the B to C space, like MapMyFitness who recently announced acquisition by UnderArmour, to B to B and even hardware solutions.  The whole city has adopted tech as a mainstay of the economy and culture and the tech companies fit right into the “Keep Austin Weird” message we are known for.

Have you gone to SXSW? What’s your experience or viewpoint on it as a value for organizations or evangelists?

SXSW is an amazing mix of digital technology, media, movies and music.  However, its meteoric growth has moved well beyond its roots as an interactive conference to an expansive showcase.  The biggest challenge is navigating the breadth of things you can do during the show, ranging from actually learning something in session, to hobnobbing with the digital elite, to immersing yourself in the non-stop party swirling around the event.  You need a SXSW plan of action before stepping foot into the show and sign up for the sessions you need as early as possible to ensure attendance.

Top marketing outlets you read?

Being all mobile, all the time, I spend most of my reading budget on sites like Mobile Commerce Daily and the Location Based Marketing Association.  I augment that with industry specific sites like Stores Magazine and Advertising Age.  As a technology product guy, I cannot live without Business Insider or our Forrester relationship, as industry analysts give a deep, cross-vendor view of the world that is hard to find from more traditional industry media publications.