Tag Archives: communications

Exploring the Convergence of Marketing and Communications

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Business Development Institute and PR Newswire co-hosted the final communications roundtable of 2013 featuring Bloomberg’s Head of Marketing Communications, Deirdre Bigley, as the guest of honor. Moderated by PR Newswire’s CEO, Ninan Chacko, the conversation explored how blurred lines between PR and marketing are impacting communications and what it means for the future of business. Ms. Bigley shared some of the ways that Bloomberg has sustained a successful brand by embracing the current convergence.

PR, marketing, and social media work together as a team

Bloomberg’s marketing department has existed for only four years, but quickly adapted to the new era of communications. Instead of differentiating between departments, PR, marketing, and social media have formed a committee that focuses on building an infrastructure for lesser-known Bloomberg subsidiaries. While the desire to take ownership of a campaign’s success can be a challenge, it is ultimately understood that overlapping expertise between units is the committee’s greatest strength.

View content from a journalist’s perspective

The Bloomberg communications committee has taken a unique approach to content by viewing themselves as publishers instead of marketers. To enhance this method, the committee enlists the expertise of freelance reporters to help create focused content. “You’re not producing content for all the same audience,” says Ms. Bigley, “it’s important to understand your segment and who wants to follow you on this topic.” Journalists can apply their deep understanding of industry topics to find storytelling opportunities for the brand.

Use analytics to support a content strategy

Ms. Bigley acknowledges that analytics is a coveted skillset at Bloomberg because it plays a key role in helping content stand out amongst the crowd. Monitoring the type of media coverage a major story has earned as well as the influencers sharing it on social channels are some of the metrics used to develop their communications strategy.  The goal of using analytics is to identify patterns among segmented groups and discover niche markets to inspire new and relevant content.

Engage with social audiences

When social networking emerged there was an initial resistance at Bloomberg to actively engage.  It wasn’t until popular demand urged Bloomberg to combine their Twitter feed with their traditional news feed that the company realized the potential of social media.  According to Ms. Bigley, Bloomberg’s social audience viewing videos online is three times larger than its television audience. This astonishing figure is influencing the company’s future communications plans, with Ms. Bigley declaring that “The future of Bloomberg is video.”

The convergence of PR and marketing has shifted the traditional talent structure of organizations from one that differentiates skill sets, to another that unifies them. The new wave of collaborative communications leverages the strengths of both PR and marketing to develop inventive strategies for reaching target audiences. Future communicators should focus on building skills such as analytics, marketing automation, and producing multimedia to further develop the PR and marketing relationship.

To learn more about the convergence of marketing and communications, you can access our free, on-demand webinar “Alignment for Engagement: Unifying Marketing and PR Departments for Content Marketing Success.”

Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter: @sramloch

The Q&A Team: A Google Helpout Primer

Dear Q&A Team,

My marketing team wants to learn more about Google Helpouts. We want to get a better understanding of this service as well as how we can use it to promote any of our products and/or services. We also want to know whether we should charge for Helpouts, and if there are any legal issues we should take into consideration.

Help Me Out

_____________________

Dear Help Me Out,

It is always exciting to see whether you can integrate a new service into your marketing efforts. Here are four ProfNet experts who answer all your questions about Helpouts:

Explanation of Helpouts

Andy Abramson, CEO of Comunicano, says, “When someone needs help or assistance with a specific question or situation, they can now turn to Google Helpouts, a free or pay-as-you-go video help line where experts are available, or can be reserved, to assist with questions or needs by providing real-time advisory services face-to-face.”

The experts can provide advice on the following subjects: art/music, computers/electronics, cooking, educations/careers, fashion/beauty, fitness/nutrition, health, home/garden, adds Melanie Trudeau, digital strategist at Jaffe PR.

Sarah Hill, digital storyteller at Veterans United Home Loans, also explains that Helpouts are really Google+ Hangouts plus services plus financial transactions.

Hill says, “Helpouts are a new layer of e-commerce, ‘See-Commerce’ if you will. The difference between Helpouts and traditional Hangouts is there is a Google Wallet integration and customers have the ability now to pay for a service from within that Helpout.”

Marketing Using Helpouts

“Whether a marketing department should use Helpouts depends on the nature of the company’s core business. Marketing departments should ask themselves: What service about my product or business could I offer to the rest of the nation,” suggests Hill.

Trudeau thinks that marketing professionals need to look at Helpouts as another “channel” to reach their target audience. They first need to determine whether Helpouts will reach their intended audience, and then decide how they will “package” and price their offering.

In addition, “Helpouts are searchable, meaning, when you type in a search query in Google, you could see results pointing to Helpout sessions. My guess is that Google’s review ratings will play a strong role in ranking Helpout sessions in search results, i.e., the sessions with better reviews will raise to the top of search results. This is important for marketers,” says Trudeau.

Abramson believes that marketers can use Helpouts for remote pre-sales consultations and walk-throughs that can be conducted with groups where apps and services are shown off. It can bring the actual product owners closer to the potential users to gain real-time feedback and interaction.

He adds, “Helpouts are ideal for new product introductions as they allow prospects to discover more about the product or service in more complete ways. Prospects can ask questions, and the Helpouts can be recorded so others can view it later.”

“In admissions at Colgate, we are planning on using Helpouts to help parents and students understand the application process. Last year we did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about the admission’s process. This year, we plan to use Helpouts to help people in the same way,” says Matt Hames, manager of media communications at Colgate University.

To Charge or Not to Charge

Trudeau explains that a marketing department has three basic models to consider, they can: offer their expertise and charge for their services; offer free or paid support for their products; offer free information and advice that highlight their product(s).

If marketing decides to go with the first option, then they need to keep in mind that Google keeps 20 percent of their fees. Trudeau thinks that participants will be willing to pay for one-on-one attention to address their specific questions. But with free content readily available online, time will tell if personalized attention will command fee-based advice online.

If marketing goes with the second option, then people may be more inclined to purchase products knowing that they can get individualized support via Helpouts. Communicating this support option at purchase decision time will be crucial, warns Trudeau.

Last but not least, if marketing goes with the third option, it may give them the opportunity to connect with an audience that may seek out their product(s) and make a purchase after the Helpout.

Hill has another thing for marketers to consider. She says, “Offering your service for free can bombard your inbox with individuals wanting your service, so as a matter of supply and demand, you should seriously consider the consequences of offering a free Helpout as those sessions are indeed demands on your time. However, if your marketing department’s intent is simply to get individuals in the funnel and not as a money making endeavor, then a free Helpout is a great option.”

Abramson thinks, “Marketers should not charge for remote pre-sales consultations and walk-throughs. The idea is to service and support customers or prospective customers by being informational and demonstrative. Of course once it takes off, there can be a value added service offering based upon the same premise for more advanced discussions.”

Hames says, “We will never charge for Helpouts. Reddit, Hangouts and live chats are free, always will be.”

Legal Concerns

“Marketing should always be aware of legal and regulatory concerns as they always should avoid making false claims or misleading statements. The rule of thumb should be to never say or present anything that could come back to hurt you,” says Abramson.

Trudeau adds: “Certain professional services representatives may be excluded from using Helpouts due to state and federal laws. For instance, if lawyers want to charge for online advice, they must first contractually establish an attorney-client relationship, which would be impossible in Helpouts. If attorneys were to offer free advice online, they would need a fairly hefty disclaimer as dictated by the rules of their state bar. From a marketing standpoint, this may create a barrier to entry.”

“You must own the rights to the photos and videos used in the Helpout or the video trailer promoting your Helpout,” cautions Hill. “You have an option to decide whether to let your client record the Helpout. Both you and the client must agree to that recording and both of you get a copy of the video.”

Here are additional Terms of Service for Helpouts: bit.ly/18l0GoV

Have fun exploring Helpouts! Good luck!

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

image via Flickr user emiliarossijewellery

3 Reasons Why Active Workforce Engagement is Good for Business

internal commsGallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study finds that 70% of American employees are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work, costing the US $450-550 billion dollars annually. On the other hand, organizations in the top 25% of Gallup’s employee engagement database report significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, than those in the bottom 25%. These startling results show that organizations need to improve the emotional connection between employees and their workplace through interactive communication.

Business Development Institute’s recent event “The Future of Internal Collaborations and Communications Summit” featured senior-level communications leaders who are challenging workforce disengagement. Their presentations offered creative, technology- driven solutions that enhance collaborative efforts among employees and improve business outcomes.

Active engagement enables collaboration around the globe

Trevor Loe, VP of compliance and investor services at Vintage Filings, explored the use of webcasting to communicate with internal stakeholders.  The ability to reach hundreds of employees anywhere in the world creates limitless possibilities for engagement. Webcasting can be especially effective for executive speeches with staff, employee training, and crisis management.

Active engagement increases an employee’s sense of worth and contribution

Patrick Durando, Principal at Enterprise Strategies, recognizes that employees are passionate about topics that may not be fitting for casual conversation. Internal company blogs are a valuable platform for expressing personal opinions about industry-related topics.

Nina Kelley-Rumpff, Program Manager and Knowledge Management at SAP, adds that enterprise social networks are a portal to the company’s skills and assets. “People want to be known for their expertise,” she says, “this gives them a vehicle to show what they know.”

Active engagement boosts performance outcomes

Jeff Corbin, Founder and CEO of theEMPLOYEEapp, believes that today’s costly apathy is due to the “struggle to communicate consistently and simultaneously with a workforce that is everywhere,” but the solution sits in the palm of our hand. As mobile engagement continues to rise at an astonishing rate, push notifications on apps cater to today’s on-the-go lifestyle and can reach target audiences at any time. Based on Gallup’s study, organizations that successfully engage employees and customers report a 240% boost in performance related business outcomes compared to organizations that don’t.

The discussions from “The Future of Internal Collaborations and Communications Summit” prove that there is a lot to be gained through active engagement in the workplace, and a lot to lose without it. Using social technology for internal collaboration can still have as much purpose in a professional setting as it does in our personal lives.  By fostering workplace engagement, companies are empowering their employees and creating a healthier work environment while driving business growth.

To learn more about the future of internal collaborations and communications, check out the presentation slides from the event’s remarkable speakers: http://www.cvent.com/events/the-future-of-collaboration-internal-communications-summit/event-summary-ca8eb79a547c42b6ac55955d22133e3f.aspx

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a proud Brooklyn native, a pop culture enthusiast, and a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

The Future of Collaboration and Internal Communications

Technology has drastically improved the way organizations communicate with internal stakeholders. The ability to transcend geographic boundaries through social channels has made collaboration more convenient and efficient than ever before. Business Development Institute’s upcoming event “The Future of Collaboration and Internal Communications  Summit” will explore how large organizations are incorporating technology to improve workforce productivity. Prior to the event, featured speaker Trevor Loe, VP of compliance and investor services at Vintage Filings, discussed the value of using social technology to strengthen internal communications.

Employees can share, receive, and digest information in a variety of ways

“Social channels allow people to pick the medium that works best for them, which is good because we all consume information in different ways,” says Mr. Loe. Webcasting, blogs, and Chatter are just a few of the channels that organizations are using to engage with internal audiences.

Social technologies are cost effective

Companies save substantially on travel costs by live-streaming presentations over the web. Additionally, the ability to share recorded presentations with employees overseas or out-of-office ensures that sensitive information is delivered in a timely manner.

Companies can customize social tools to meet their needs

Tools such as webcasting can be used for communicating new developments in a crisis, town hall meetings, or even continuing education courses. During his presentation, Mr. Loe will offer specific examples of companies that rely on social tools to communicate different messages.

Due to globalization and a rising number of home-based employees, technology has evolved to accommodate an increasingly virtual workforce. Large organizations can empower their employees by using social channels to improve internal communications. The variety of mediums available can be applied toward meeting specific needs such as real-time response to crises or career development. Sparking engagement amongst employees through social channels not only encourages productivity but also strengthens the employer brand.

Join us: 

To learn more about how social technology is improving internal communications, join PR Newswire and Business Development Institute for “The Future of Collaboration and Internal Communications Summit” on Tuesday, November 12th at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Register here: http://www.cvent.com/events/internal-collaboration-social-communications-summit/event-summary-ca8eb79a547c42b6ac55955d22133e3f.aspx

3 Steps to Conquering the Challenges of Mergers and Acquisitions

Richard Funess of Finn Partners

Emerging technology has reinvented the way PR professionals approach visual storytelling, analytics, and events. Considering the rapid evolution of today’s media, Richard Funess, Senior Managing Partner at Finn Partners believes that “PR professionals have become more important to the corporate soul.”  lil tweet

Mr. Funess recently joined PR Newswire, the Business Development Institute, and an exclusive group of senior-level PR authorities for a Communications Roundtable discussion. The conversation focused on the impact of technology on mergers and acquisitions and how to overcome the challenges of a business in transition.

According to Mr. Funess, the most successful mergers and acquisitions occur within mid-sized firms whose revenues do not exceed $1 billion dollars. Smaller mergers can be a smoother adjustment for both employees and business development, but there are some inevitable challenges along the way. “The ability to create teams is the toughest part of acquisitions,” says Mr. Funess, “We are interested in the culture of the company we acquire. If they don’t see it in the same way, it is a tough part of a successful acquisition.” Several solutions were offered throughout the discussion to manage the impact of M&As on businesses:

1.       Assess the leadership integration and strength profile across organizations

Mr. Funess advises business leaders to have direct communication with key players of the rebranded organization. Discuss what makes them feel comfortable as employees and how their roles can be expanded. Additionally, arrange one-on-one meetings between employees of the same ranking to gauge what they can learn from each other and how to develop core messages together. Create an understanding that everyone is a vital part of the success of a new company culture.

2.       Bring in talent with skills you don’t have or who can improve the things you don’t do well

“Young people employed at Finn are opportunities to learn new technologies and work with employees to learn emerging parts of the business,” says Mr. Funess. Utilize the influx of advanced technical skills and creativity to bring in more opportunities for business growth.

3.       Build the brand reputation through media stories

Media stories are a legitimate source for communicating the company culture to stakeholders and the public. Mr. Funess strongly recommends participating in industry awards programs to help build the brand reputation. For example, Finn Partners was recently honored by the Holmes Report as the “Best Mid-Sized Agency to Work For,” which serves as a testament to their company values.

Internal and external communications should be repositioned to reflect the new company culture, which validates the role of PR as part of the “corporate soul.” Despite its obvious challenges, mergers and acquisitions are a valuable opportunity for organizations to connect with employees, re-evaluate their strengths, and apply newly acquired capabilities toward improvement.

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a proud Brooklyn native, a pop culture enthusiast, and a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

Data: The New Creative

What do you think of when you think CES? Gadgets, TVs, Cameras? Most of us do, but the panel assembled for the session on Contextual Media & Advertising was here to discuss the “now what?” of technology.

We have all of these screens, devices, and channels but how do we serve up what the audience wants? It became clear that these devices are giving communicators two things: a place to talk to us and a place to learn about us. Where we are, what we are doing, what price point is the threshold for an impulse purchase, what are we doing after we are served relevant content?

Harnessing that data to accurately communicate and serve up relevant and timely content is the holy grail. According to this panel, we are getting there, but haven’t cracked that code. We are no longer looking at the data as “good to know” historical information, but we are looking at that data to assist in more accurately guessing what comes next.

On a panel that was mostly media or media adjacent companies, there was a lone soldier of the “traditional” in Ellis Burgoyne, Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of the United States Postal Service.

It is with Burgoyne that I think the disruptive use of data in a creative way was most exemplified. He spoke of a world where the USPS could tell you what is in your mail box, a world where campaigns are hyper targeted to specific users at specific times in both digital and physical mediums. He also spoke about the ability to have print come to life.

Turns out that the USPS has partnered with Aurasma to create an augmented reality experience for direct mail, a true convergence of traditional and digital. (The video at the top of this post demonstrates some of the other augmented reality experiences Aurasma has developed.)

Burgoyne eloquently painted a picture of a person being alerted to a timely piece of mail that can be scanned to provide additional information revealing a time sensitive offer. Thus engaging with the consumer based on reliable data. The data telling when this person likes to shop, what type of device they use, what action was generated and ultimately how much that person spent. The consumer has a personalized experience and the marketer has a gold mine of information to help them accurately market to that individual.

A little creepy? Maybe, but how many of us get frustrated when we get served up irrelevant ads on our social sites? The only way to get accurate ads is to mine the data that we give when we are online and in store.

The conversation turned toward the success of data mining done by President Obama’s campaign. Joan Hogan Gillman, EVP, Time Warner Cable, Inc. and President, Time Warner Cable Media talked about the level of flexibility and creative pre-planning the campaign did so that they could adjust and adapt as the data streamed in.

Laura Caraccioli, EVP of Advertising at Electus, proposed why not share your data and insights with your creative team? Let them figure out how to design the campaign to adapt to how you want it to ebb and flow.

After sitting in that session it was apparent to me that if we aren’t contextualizing our data to the creative teams we are missing a huge opportunity.

May The Forces Be With You: Collaborative Communications

It’s not uncommon to hear about the difficulties communications silos create for an organization.  However, we don’t hear too much about the benefits derived from a collaborative communications environment. During a session with Nicole Ravlin of PMG Public Relations (@PMGNicole) at this year’s PRSA International Conference,  attendees heard about the importance she places on collaboration.

“It’s not about ownership any more but about collaboration,” she said.  By collaborating, you receive shared outcomes and shared rewards.    If the PR Deparment works with Marketing who works with whomever handles social media for your company, everyone will have a more unified message.  As a result, SEO increases, as does engagement.

Sometimes it is tough to convince management to do this since, they’re so used to traditional models, but taking baby steps may help.  After all, in today’s connected world, one department’s owned media can be the basis for generating another group’s earned media.

Speaking of engagement, Nicole reiterated the importance of all of us being publishers today.   I must agree that publishing intriguing content consistently has become important in today’s world of content marketing.  Nicole also suggested using customer engagement as content.  Consumers love to help in any way they can.  They like to get involved with a cause or watch a business grow.  Ask them what they want.

The bottom line, Nicole advised — listen to your customers and team up your internal resources to increase the effectiveness of your marketing and communications strategy.

Sara Whitner is a business development manager for PR Newswire.

Collaboration is key for modern PR.  What else characterizes our profession today?  Tell us what you think PR is by tweeting with the hashtag “#PRis.”

Dear Gracie: PR Pros on Their Most Important Career Lessons

Each week, Dear Gracie answers questions from ProfNet Connect readers with advice from our network of nearly 50,000 ProfNet experts. Has there been a question burning in your mind lately, something you’ve been wondering that none of your colleagues can answer? Please send it to grace.lavigne@prnewswire.com

Dear Gracie,

I’m a student working at my first PR internship this summer. What’s the best advice a long-time PR professional can give me? What’s the most important lesson they’ve learned throughout their career in this industry?

Advice for an Amateur

*************

Dear Advice for an Amateur:

1. Go the Extra Mile. Film producer Samuel Goldwyn once said: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” That is, the harder you work, the more ideas and chances you make for yourself.

PR is strategic, but it is also about making that extra phone call, sending that extra email or following up that one extra time, says Doug Drotman of Drotman Communications. Expose yourself to opportunities.

2. Set Realistic Expectations. Thomas Lee, founding partner and head of public relations at 451 Marketing, was representing a local radio station that had arranged for the musician Uncle Kracker to perform live. He made a few calls and got every major outlet in the area to guarantee they would cover the event. He told his client “every media outlet will be there,” and of course the client was thrilled.

This is what most seasoned publicists would consider a cardinal sin, says Lee. Because despite guarantees, not a single media outlet showed up to cover the concert. The lesson learned was that, as a publicist, you ultimately can’t control the media. There are so many variables that can keep a media outlet from attending an event, publishing an article or running a broadcast piece — breaking news, traffic, adverse weather, advertisers, editors who need more space, etc. — that nothing is ever a certainty.

“Always under promise and over deliver,” agrees Shannon Blood, account manager at Off Madison Ave.

3. Stay Cool Under Pressure. “Grace under pressure can make all the difference,” says Karyn Martin, vice president of 451 Marketing. “When a situation isn’t going as planned, your reaction can make or break it with your client.” Put others at ease by rising above the situation — and you’ll be at a real advantage in the PR industry.

4. Remember the Details. “My most important PR lesson can be summed up in one word: ‘parking,'” says Zipporah Dvash, assistant vice president of public affairs and development for SUNY Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital. In a dense urban area like New York City, reporters will not only evaluate the merits of your pitch, but also on whether they can get their crew to your location. “Every pitch of mine includes ‘we will arrange parking,'” she says.

5. Always Represent. Tradeshows are frequently in Las Vegas, but remember that you’re there on your client’s dime and always representing them, says Jeremy Pepper, a long-time PR consultant and blogger. “You can go out and drink, but you better be on time for the events and never hungover.

6. Be Proactive. As a journalist, you can only report — you can only be reactive — but as a PR professional, you can make things happen — you can be proactive, explains Dan Collins, senior director of media relations at Mercy Medical Center.

He learned this lesson on his first PR job, when a local musician was brutally mugged and her five-figure violin stolen. Collins set up an effort to offer a reward for the stolen violin, and also to get her medical expenses covered. This attracted press coverage, and in turn, it also attracted the criminals, who came forward to try and claim the reward, and ended up getting caught.

“PR and journalism are truly two sides of the same coin,” says Collins. But the ability to be proactive is the power of PR.

7. Be Sincere. “Be genuine and you will be believable,” says Chris Leogrande, director of media relations at Utica College. “This has served me so well in my relationships with reporters. If I can’t answer their questions, I tell them why I can’t.” For example:

  • Press at this point could endanger our funding.
  • We have a policy not to release personal information on employees.
  • I don’t know the answer to that but I will try to find out.

“Never, ever lie to a reporter. No matter what,” says Lewis Goldberg in his post “PR Lessons Learned.” “You will be found out and you will personally lose credibility and hurt your client deeply.”

8. Win Trust. “Far too many relationships become ones based on a vendor-supplier dynamic rather than a trusted partner relationship,” says Bill McLaughlin, PR and social media pro with Lois Paul and Partners, in his post “Client-PR Agency Relationships: It’s a Matter of Trust.” Here are some ways to build a relationship with a foundation of trust:

  • Give clients a reality check. It is crucial at the outset that clients understand their assets, strengths and weaknesses, desires and goals, etc.
  • Avoid investment expectations. “The agency needs to deliver results, but the client also needs to pay for the cost of those results.”
  • Provide financial transparency. Once a budget is agreed upon, make sure the client is aware of how activities are tracking to the budget.
  • Nip issues in the bud. Don’t hesitate to talk about expectations or problems. The sooner those conversations take place, the better.

A trusted relationship should also include respect and privacy, adds Brooks. “No matter the context of your work, and no matter what reporters ask or think they know, some conversations and information should be kept out of public view.” Keep your word.

9. Remain Tactful. “Know the right time to speak up and the time to be quiet,” says Rachel Hutman, communications pro with Clearpoint Agency. It’s a fine line, and something you learn as you go, she says.

Additionally, remember that in times of crisis it’s important to say something to the media, says John Brooks, director media relations and news at North Park University in Chicago. “Reporters will find someone who will comment, and you probably won’t like what these ‘spokespersons’ have to say.” Always return phone calls to reporters in a timely fashion and have a written statement to share, even if it contains little information.

10. Pick Your Battles. “The client is always right, even when they aren’t,” says Susan Tellem, partner of Tellem Grody PR. “It’s critical that public relations pros offer their best advice when clients ask and even when they don’t.”

Tell clients what you think and why, Tellem continues. “If the client doesn’t agree for whatever reason, tell them: ‘You’re the client. While I do not agree, I will help you achieve what you want to do to the best of my ability (as long as it is not illegal or immoral).”

11. Collaborate. Work as a true partner with your internal stakeholders or clients, says Rachel DiCaro Metscher, corporate communications director of Hobsons. A good collaborator will clearly identify needs, provide a solution that works, make sure the work gets done and follow up. “The ability to work well with each person is vital to the success of their project and mine,” she says.

“Set goals as a team,” adds McLaughlin. “Begin with realistic goals that include some quick return possibilities so that everyone can see immediate traction for the program.”

12. Beware of the Status Quo. “The status quo is the enemy,” says Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing something the same way because that’s how it’s always been done.” There’s always room for fresh thinking.

13. “Pitch Sensibly. “Send a pitch because it’s the right story for the right media person,” says John Goodman of John Goodman PR. “Dumb pitches to appease a client will come back to bite you with the media.”

14. Read a Lot. “You cannot be well-read enough in the PR business,” says Atlanta publicist Dan Beeson. “Sample as many literary genres as humanly possibly.”

15. Have fun. “While PR is a job, taking the joy of life into your job will make you way more effective,” says Goldberg. “If you just see what we do as a slog to get through, you will not be doing anyone any favors.” Enjoy your life and your job and your work will reflect this.

Gracie

Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Dear Gracie is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Free Speaker Service from Profnet Connects Experts and Events

Did you know that ProfNet has a free service you can use to book speakers or find opportunities for your organization’s experts?

Event organizers can get an early start on finding the speakers you need via Speaker Service .

ProfNet members representing speakers should keep an eye on your query feeds. Any requests for speakers will be included in the regular query emails you already receive.

Using Speaker Service to find talent

Whether you are organizing a webinar, conference, workshop or meeting, ProfNet’s Speaker Service will connect you with keynote speakers, moderators, panelists and other types of presenters.

Submitting a request is easy. Just fill out our easy Speaker Service form with your event info, and we’ll distribute it in our next query feed to our extensive network of experts and speakers.

You don’t have to be a ProfNet or PR Newswire member to submit a request.

When filling out the form, please include as much information about the event as you can, including the event title, host company, when and where it is taking place, and any payment made to speakers. You can also re-send your request closer to the event date should you need additional speakers.

Here are a few examples of recent Speaker Service requests:

Speaker Service: Health Care Marketing. Medical Office Today will host a marketing-focused webinar in mid-September, and we’re looking for experts to speak on the webinar panel. Participating in the webinar requires a fair amount of preparation, including a formal dress rehearsal and the live event. However, it’s a great opportunity to get your name out there with our 38,000 readers. Send us a note with a brief description of your (or your client’s) expertise and why you’d be great addition to our webinar panel. [Contact info]

Speaker Service: Conventions and Expos: Pricing Strategies. I’m seeking a conventions executive who would be interested in joining us as a speaker at the upcoming EXPO Next educational seminar, taking place in Baltimore on June 20. The workshop is as follows: “Pricing Strategies: The Art of Finding the Convergence of Highest Price and Most Attendees.” Pricing a show is a tricky proposition, part art and part science. Starting with the basic calculation, the full-conference prices, you review what the competition is doing, where your early-bird break should go, whether you should have more than one early bird, and if so, how soon before the event and how far apart each break is. A lot of this is knowledge developed from experience, and in this extended session, we offer case studies from several different kinds of shows. For the complete agenda and other details on EXPO Next, please see this show’s website: www.growyourshow.com Please note: All of the speakers will be entitled to attend the complete program, including the lunches and cocktail hour, at no charge. None of the speakers are being compensated. [Contact info]

Speaker Service: Healthcare Reform for Employers. I am looking for a speaker to present an hour-long audio conference on what HR departments and employers need to do to get ready for health care reform. I am willing to consider different angles of this story, including the steps businesses need to take to get ready, specific legal points employers should consider and financial considerations. Our audience is made up of management and HR professionals across the country. The presentation is delivered virtually, so there’s no need to travel. The speaker will be required to submit a PowerPoint presentation that will be sent to the attendees in advance. While speakers will not be compensated for their participation, these audio conferences can provide them with valuable professional exposure, and we encourage speakers to include contact information in our promotions and in their presentation materials. [Contact info]

Speaker Service: Mobile Payments. [Limited to the Northeast] A technology expert is needed for an educational video presentation on the topic of mobile payments, vendor-neutral discussion on technology, types of transactions, security, industry drivers and futures; for WatchIT, an online IT education provider based in New York. The format is either an interview-style or standup presentation. This is good exposure to an audience of IT professionals and business professionals in Fortune 500 companies. The expert can be from the vendor community, a tech consultant, a book author, etc. We’ll share the video clips with the participating individual/organization. There are no fees to participate. [Contact info]

Questions? Please drop us a line at profnet@profnet.com and let us know how we can help you find the speakers you need.

Dear Gracie: 8 Ways to Project Confidence in the Workplace

Each week, Dear Gracie answers questions from ProfNet Connect readers with advice from our network of nearly 50,000 ProfNet experts. Has there been a question burning in your mind lately, something you’ve been wondering that none of your colleagues can answer? Please send it to grace.lavigne@prnewswire.com

Dear Gracie,

I’m about to start a new job, and I want to put my best foot forward. I know I’ll be nervous and insecure about myself for at least the first few weeks. Do you have any tips on how I can seem more confident?

Novel Nerves

*************

Dear Novel Nerves,

Eight ProfNet experts offer up eight tips on projecting confidence at the office:

1. Walk tall

“Do what your mom told you as a kid — stand up straight!” says Stephen Balzac, president of the management consulting firm 7 Steps Ahead, and psychology professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology. “This is the first and most important step in projecting confidence.”

If you improve your posture, you will also increase your confidence; and the more confident you feel, the more confident you will act, he says.

Walk with a long spine and open chest without crossing your arms, adds Sharon Jakubecy, speaker trainer, performance coach and certified Alexander Technique teacher. You’ll seem more open and approachable.

And just before you enter a room or a meeting, let the breath out of your mouth, she suggests. “This releases uncomfortable tension in your neck, shoulders and jaw, which can make you look aggressive and off-putting.”

Don’t stand slumped over, with your hands in your pockets, not making eye contact, stresses Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies, who has a master’s degree in media psychology from Touro University Worldwide.

2. Shake hands like a politician

You’ve heard this one before, but it’s important: Don’t give the “half-hand shake,” says Billy Lowe, celebrity hairstylist. It feels weird, and tells people you’re not fully committed. A good handshake requires three things: full hand, firm grip, solid shake.

3. Look your best, feel your best

Showing up to work in ill-fitting clothing, hair unkempt and a “run out the door” image does nothing for your self-confidence, Lowe says. “If you look great, you feel great.” People will notice and compliment you, which in turn will boost your self-esteem even more.

Moreover, image conveys volumes about work ethic. “People that are up on their beauty and image routines are usually more polished, together, composed and self-assured,” Lowe continues.

“How you carry yourself and dress in the workplace often gives coworkers tips on your attitude and demeanor,” agrees Nancy A. Shenker, founder and CEO of the marketing company theONswitch and co-author of “Don’t Hook Up With the Dude in the Next Cube: 200+ Secrets for New Grads.”

Furthermore, if you roll your eyes at coworkers’ ideas, pay more attention to your smartphone than your colleagues, or consistently flaunt designer duds and pricey bling; you’re sending out the message: “It’s all about ME!” she says.

4. Speak easy

Practice speaking in an even tone, without unnecessary pauses or hesitations, says Balzac. “We perceive confident speech to be speech without gaps.”

And — believe it or not — it’s actually better to say “um” than to let silence reign, he says.

Don’t speak too fast either, Balzac adds. “Rapid speech makes people feel rushed. Confident speakers know they have the time to deliver their message.” Try recording yourself or practicing in front of someone else to see get feedback.

“Rushing makes you and your body more stressed,” agrees Jakubecy. “Your voice will be higher pitched and strained.”

To relax your voice, hum or sing before you go into work or a meeting, she suggests. “This warms up your voice so you sound like an expert. It gets your body moving too so you walk into work feeling more relaxed and connected to your body and voice.”

5. Put your boxing gloves on

To appear poised, recall a time when you were at your best, and create a buzzword related to that emotional state, says Gregg Steinberg, motivational speaker, professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee and author of “Full Throttle: How to Supercharge Your Performance at Work.”

The buzzword should represent the confidence you felt in that situation, like “bulldog” or “fighter,” for example. Say the word to yourself each time you start a routine, or right before you begin a task.

For instance, say your buzzword every time you have face-to-face meetings. Your confidence will get a boost when you are already in a positive mental place.

(My buzzword? Tiger-claw!)

6. Give credit where credit’s due

When Vicky Oliver — author of five books on career development, including “301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions” and “The Millionaire’s Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire Even if You’re Not” — worked in the advertising industry, she met five people who all claimed to have written the “I Love New York” campaign. “It doesn’t take five people to write five words,” she says.

It takes a confident person to let someone else shine, and doing so will highlight your integrity and assuredness. So if you are the boss or colleague of someone who did something brilliant, bend over backwards to give the person credit, says Oliver.

7. Let others put in their two cents

“A monologue may be fine if you’re a comic, but confidence is demonstrated by your ability to let people in,” says Balzac.

Stay in control of conversations by asking questions, he says. “Ask other people about themselves, what they are doing, what matters to them.”

Be a good listener by trying to find the underlying message in someone’s words, and don’t interrupt, says Oliver. “Conversely, if someone interrupts you, smile at him or her and do your best to tolerate it. You will win more admiration that way.”

8. Always keep it classy

Admit it — we get annoyed with our coworkers sometimes. Whether someone is bragging too much, giving you unwanted advice or gossiping up a storm, always take the high road and people will think you’re trustworthy and dignified.

People who brag are doing it because they want to feel successful, says Jill Spiegel, author of “How to Talk to Anyone About Anything! The Secrets to Connecting.” Trying to “one up” them severs the connection, so instead, celebrate their success. For example, if a coworker says “I noticed on the sales report that I was the top performer again this week.” Respond with: “That’s exciting. I’m impressed!”

Similarly, if someone gives you advice you didn’t ask for or don’t agree with, don’t respond by explaining why their suggestion won’t work; just make them feel helpful through appreciation and diplomacy, she says. If a coworker says “I’m reading a book about decorating the office for more productivity. Your area needs a few plants. You should get some.” Say something in return like: “Thanks for your idea. I’ll give that some thought.”

And if one of your co-workers in the lunchroom makes a gossipy remark like “Julie’s desk is a mess. I happen to know her sister is a hoarder,” just remember that people gossip to feel important, says Spiegel. Even when others chuckle or seem interested in the gossip, everyone else ends up thinking “What will they about me next?”

Create an inclusive atmosphere by responding with something upbeat, and then redirect the conversation, like: “Julie has such a great laugh. Hey, your presentation today was powerful! Have you always enjoyed speaking for groups?”

Employers, clients and colleagues pick up on defensive behavior and lack of positive wording, says Sobel. Speak and act in an empathetic and welcoming way so everyone sees you as part of the team.

Good luck!

Gracie

Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Dear Gracie is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Image courtesy of Flickr user caguard