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.

2584411389_d91e092e7c

  • 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.

292792273_2af6da2530

  • 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.

Tips For Working Through The Holiday Blahs

Thanksgiving week not only commemorates the pilgrims’ grateful celebration with their Native American neighbors, it also marks the unofficial start of the winter holiday season in the U.S. (including Hanukkah this year).

In most cases, this is the week when U.S. businesses begin rewarding employees with early release days and extra time off to enjoy the festivities.

Not surprisingly, it’s expected that productivity will suffer a bit over the next 35 or so days. But, we do still have jobs to do and work that must get done. The challenge is finding the energy and drive to work when all you want to do is hit the holiday eggnog and cozy up by a crackling fire.

ToDoAs virtual workers and PR pros to boot, we know a thing or two about working smart, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help you stay productive through the holidays:

  • Just say no to big projects – contrary to popular belief, this is not the best time to start in on a big project, especially one that requires collaboration with your colleagues who may be less present than usual. If you really feel the need to get started, though, focus on getting organized. Identify the people, tools and time you’ll need to deliver the best result. Communicate your needs and deadlines to collaborators as soon as possible and build in extra time to account for the holiday schedule.
  •  Plan for time off – whether it’s your own holiday vacation or your colleagues’, it’s important to communicate and plan for coverage and contingencies (weather delays, sickness, etc.). If you need help with an assignment, give your coworkers plenty of notice and information to accomplish the task in your absence.
  • Focus on work – with retailers’ propensity to pre-announce Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals well in advance of the actual sale dates, it’s easy to get sidetracked at work. But limit holiday shopping to personal time and focus your work hours on work. The days will fly by, and you’ll be showrooming before you know it.
  • Stack small tasks – rather than tackling that big project, now’s a great time to attend to smaller, less time-consuming (yet still important) tasks, such as updating your databases or writing a blog post. Get after that stack of small tasks, and you’ll soon be feeling much more merry and productive.
  • Get organized – As the end of the year approaches, spend some time organizing your workspace for success. Clean out your inbox, organize your files, archive old emails, toss old magazines and unsubscribe from unread or irrelevant newsletters.

Don’t let the glow of the holiday lights lure you to the dark side. Stay focused, and make the most of the season to catch up (and perhaps even get ahead) amidst all the holiday cheer. Then in January, when your colleagues are complaining about how far behind they are, you can relax a bit, knowing you rang in 2014 with a fresh start, a clean slate and a great attitude!

You’ve Been Endorsed! A Wish List for LinkedIn Validations

JerrySeinfeld9Indulge us as we channel Jerry Seinfeld for a moment: What is the deal with LinkedIn endorsements?

First off – they’re everywhere lately. There are days when the bulk of the updates we see consist only of one contact endorsing or being endorsed by another.

  • Adam was endorsed for Social Media
  • Eve was endorsed for Corporate Communications
  • Bob B. endorsed Lisa for Public Relations

Don’t get us wrong. We LOVE getting endorsements! Who wouldn’t appreciate unsolicited compliments from colleagues and associates? True, there is that pesky sense of obligation to return the favor, but that’s a minor inconvenience in return for what amounts to a recommendation, right?

But is it a recommendation? In many cases the skills LinkedIn lists for endorsement are somewhat vague and most definitely impersonal. That said, public relations, social media strategy and press releases are rather critical skills to have – especially in our business. But those are the things we can (and should) include in our profiles; they aren’t particularly unique skills, and with the increase in endorsements lately, their shine and influence has begun to fade.

This got us thinking: What might be more valuable (and loads more fun) would be the option to endorse a person for soft skills, personality traits and unique characteristics – you know, the stuff that really reveals how useful – or liked – he or she may be.

So without further ado, here’s our list of the endorsements we’d love to receive and give on LinkedIn:

  • Being a team player
  • A positive attitude
  • Contributing unsolicited ideas
  • Posting engaging, thought-provoking tweets
  • Learning something new (and sharing it)
  • Being a cheerleader
  • Working like an entrepreneur: doing what it takes to get any job done
  • Leading by example
  • Financial wizardry
  • Creative client concoctions
  • Mind blowing content
  • Happy employees
  • Innovation
  • Being detail-oriented
  • Being trustworthy
  • Walking the talk

Do you think LinkedIn endorsements are useful? And what’s on your endorsements wish list for LinkedIn?

Self-Serving PR is Never Okay: Just Ask Dane Cook

danecookOn May 30, Boston hosted a fundraiser concert for The One Fund to support victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. By all accounts, it was a great success with numerous celebrities, most with Boston ties, contributing their time to help raise $1.5M for the fund.

Unfortunately, the event and the meaning behind it was marred by the decision to halt live web streaming of the event at the request of comedian Dane Cook. As he explained on Twitter, he didn’t want his new material to hit the airwaves yet and sought to minimize that risk by shutting out millions of online viewers.

It’s certainly no surprise that folks in the Boston area have some rather strong opinions about the topic. Some believe he used this charitable event as a promotional opportunity; others believe he was justifiably concerned about protecting his material. Personally, I question the event producers’ decision to go along with this, as catering to celebrity demands seems to go against the overall spirit of the event.

Which got me thinking: Why, in this social media-empowered world, would anyone pull a stunt like this and not expect widespread negative backlash?

Perhaps Cook and his management subscribe to the old school mindset that ‘any press is good press.’ Or perhaps they just didn’t think it through. History is overrun with stories of brands and celebrities using tragic events for personal gain. As PR professionals, we’ve all been in the position where we’ve had to carefully weigh the potential backlash of a disaster-related story and have advised caution versus the risk of appearing insensitive.

This is precisely why I wanted to weigh in on what Cook could have done differently to avoid – or minimize, at the very least – the damage.

  1. Don’t. Just don’t. Charity events are neither the time nor the place to be opportunistic. If leaking information is too large of a concern, use other content – or don’t participate.
  2. Seek feedback outside your immediate circle/company. Cook’s agent or manager has as much stake in his success as he does. Can they truly be impartial? And where, oh where, was his publicist?
  3. Know your audience. Whether you’re delivering a presentation at an industry conference, visiting a partner in a foreign country, celebrating a company milestone with employees, or entertaining the Boston Strong community, it is vitally important to understand what your audience is all about. Know what they care about, learn what to avoid, and customize your actions to best fit their needs.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Yes, social media can be a boon for many, but it also has the potential to be a monster…a living, growing, roiling beast with sharp claws. Don’t ignore it, and never underestimate its potential to both help and harm.
  5. Apologize. A heartfelt apology can go a long way. Sam Fiorella at Sensei Marketing shares some excellent examples of well-executed brand apologies and their PR value.

In the end, Cook’s actions may have been self-serving, but he did fly across the country to take part in an important fundraiser and I suppose he should get some credit for that.

So what if he locked out a couple million viewers (and satellite radio listeners)? Did he really cause any irreparable harm to The One Fund or to those people in attendance at the event? Probably not. Does that make it okay, though? Hell no!

And as this PR firestorm rages on, I’m willing to bet Cook recognizes his colossal misstep for what it is: a big fat PR don’t.