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Archive for the ‘Messaging’ Category

Ryan Lochte Flunks Crisis Communications 101. Now What?

Ryan Lochte Flunks Crisis Communications 101. Now What?

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Ryan Lochte swimmingRyan Lochte’s right. He was robbed in Rio. But he lost something far more valuable than the wallet he claimed was taken. And he did it to himself.

Remember playing Clue when you were a kid and the crime was committed by Mr. Green in the Library with the lead pipe, Miss Scarlett in the Conservatory with the rope or . . .? You know how it goes.

In this case, Mr. Lochte did it in the media with his own words.

He probably robbed himself of millions in endorsements. He robbed himself of his good reputation as one of the world’s great swimmers who also has a lot of charisma. And he may have robbed himself of the opportunity to compete for a while — taking away some of his remaining opportunities to compete and earn money through endorsements.

And so far he’s done a lousy job of repairing the damage. Where’s his public relations support? He needs a crash course in Crisis Communications 101.

Nothing Lochte does at this point will undo all the damage. But here are some things he can do that would help:

  • Lochte used his celebrity to deliver a highly visible insult to Brazilians. He also drew attention to an already sensitive issue in Brazil — street crime against visitors. Lochte needs to offer a sincere, unequivocal apology to the people of Brazil. Not one of those non-apology apologies. But a real apology: “I insulted you and your nation. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again.” And then he should make a meaningful contribution to an important cause (in the eyes of Brazilians) that will benefit Brazilians.
  • The negative publicity also delivered a black eye to the Olympics. Lochte needs to apologize to both the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. They’re downplaying the incident in public to minimize damage to their own reputations. But the U.S. committee felt compelled to issue an apology on behalf of Lochte and his fellow swimmers. And despite their public stance downplaying the incident, Olympics officials don’t take insults or embarrassments lightly. They’re likely to exact retribution. Lochte needs to show sincere contrition and humility during whatever disciplinary review IOC and USOC do. And he needs to convince them he’ll never embarrass them again. They may still suspend him for a while or punish him in some other way. But this is his best chance to minimize the damage to his ability to compete.
  • He needs to apologize to the American people. Lochte’s escapade hurt Brazil and Olympics officials. It also damaged his image here at home. That will reduce his ability to earn money from endorsements. Restoring his reputation with the American public is essential to restoring the value of his endorsements. His earning power depends on it.

Lochte has come across during this incident as an arrogant product of a privileged life. He’ll have change that image if he wants to restore his reputation and earning power.

We all mess up sometimes. The next time you mess up, don’t be a Ryan Lochte.

We all have stories to tell. Need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: Plan Well. Then Rinse and Repeat.

Storytelling Tip: Plan Well. Then Rinse and Repeat.

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Plan Well. Then Rinse and Repeat.If I offered you one minute to tell your story right now on national television, would you see that as a major opportunity? It might not be.

What would you say? And how much impact would it have on your business?

Advertisers spend millions of dollars every day to tell you their stories in a minute — or less. And the successful ones reap huge benefits as a result.

But those advertisers don’t run to get in front of the cameras right now. They know it’s not enough to simply get in front of the camera and start talking.

They spend a lot of time first figuring out exactly what to say (their message). Why they’re saying it (their objective). And who they want to say it to (their audience).

They also spend a lot of time figuring out when and where to deliver that message to maximize the chances of reaching their desired audience.

But I frequently see companies jumping in front of the camera, at least figuratively, by skipping the important step of identifying their objective, audience and message. And they often don’t have a strategy for reaching the right audience with their message.

One problem with my offer is that it’s a one-time deal. Even my one-time offer should have some positive impact — if you’re prepared enough to know what to say to reach the audience(s) important to you with a message that will get them to do something you want them to do. Buy what you’re selling, for example.

But, as successful advertisers know, once isn’t enough. They tell their story over and over and over. Follow their example.

I didn’t specify what I meant by “national television.” Was I offering you time on one or more of the major networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and/or NBC? A cable news network like CNN, Fox News or MS/NBC? An appearance on one of the food networks or a shopping channel? Don’t assume that any one of those is automatically the best. The best opportunity for you is whatever reaches your audience.

And “right now” could mean nine in the morning, nine at night — or whenever. When and where you tell your story is important. Telling your story is wasted effort if it doesn’t reach an audience you care about — and that cares about you.

So, if anyone ever offers you a minute to tell your story on national television, take advantage of it. But don’t assume you’re done telling your story. Because you won’t be. Once isn’t enough — even if your message is perfect and you deliver it perfectly to the perfect audience at the perfect time. And it’ll be wasted effort if you don’t reach your audience with a message that persuades them to do what you want.

We all have stories to tell. Need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: What do you want to be known for?

Storytelling Tip: What do you want to be known for?

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: What do you want to be known forWhat do you want to be known for? And who do you want to be known by?

That’s a good place start when figuring out what you want your brand to be.

It’s also a good place to start any time you tell your story.

Until you understand what you want to be known for, you don’t know what to include in your story to convince us to buy what you’re selling.

Do you want to be known as the best? The cheapest? For giving the best service?

Or do you want to be known for all of the above? Careful, if you said yes to this last question. Try being all things to all people and you may end up failing to deliver on any of it.

Are you selling a Honda Civic? Or a BMW Series 7? Honda Civic buyers are looking for different things than someone buying a BMW Series 7. And the sales pitches need to be dramatically different.

The buyers for the Civic and the Series 7 aren’t just looking for different things. They’re different people. Until you understand who you want to be known by, you don’t know who to talk to.

Choose what you want to be known for based on what you do best. Choose who you want to be known by based on who will be interested in what you want to be known for.

And keep the answers to those two questions clearly in mind when telling your story.

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

The Importance of Media Training

The Importance of Media Training

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Media Training 101If your job requires you to talk to reporters, you need media training.

As a former journalist and long-time public relations professional who’s been on both sides of thousands of media interviews, there are no exceptions to that as far as I’m concerned.

Why do I say that? Because media interviews — answering questions from reporters — play an important role in nearly every major news story. And media training is the single most effective thing you can do to improve the success of your interactions with reporters.

Most organizations I’ve worked with over the years are extremely careful when preparing their news releases. They dot every “i,” cross every “t” and parse every comma. The approval process often is extensive and painstaking.

That’s good. But it’s not enough. A news release is like a resume. A resume isn’t designed to get you a job. It’s designed to get you job interviews. If you’re looking for major news coverage, your news releases should be designed to get you news interviews — to create enough interest among reporters that they want to talk to you to learn more about what you have to say.

Unfortunately, many of the same organizations that take so much care in preparing their news releases don’t give much thought to preparing for the interviews that will follow.

That’s dangerous because you’re more likely to make mistakes that lead to negative coverage during an interview than in your news release.

Athletes, musicians, singers, actors, pilots and many other skilled professionals get coached and practice.

Is it important for you and the other the people who speak for your organization to do your best when you talk to reporters? Then get coached and practice. The coaching is called media training.

I’ve conducted media training for several decades, sometimes teaming up with my colleague Jane Dvorak. Like me, Jane is an accredited member (APR) of the Public Relations Society of America. She’s also a PRSA Fellow, a designation achieved by only about three percent of PRSA’s members. And she’s national chair-elect of PRSA.

We’ve found there are two major obstacles that keep people from getting media training — time and money. Media training can be expensive. And it can be hard to get a team of executives together at the same time for the training.

So, Jane and I have teamed up to offer Media Training 101, an affordable and convenient online media training program available through Vimeo’s video-on-demand service. It’s the same training you’d receive if you hired us to do it in person, but less expensive. For $250, you have access to the training for a full week. During that week, you can review it as many times as you like and share it with as many members of your team as you like.

It’s available at www.vimeo.com/ondemand/mediatraining101.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Stop! Don’t Read This!

Stop! Don’t Read This!

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Stop! Don't Read This!Okay. If you insist, you can read it.

Actually, I hope you will. But I wanted to get your interest. And just saying “I hope you’ll read this” didn’t sound compelling.

So, I asked you not to read it. And hoped you’d be curious enough to want to know why.

If you’ve gotten this far, it worked. At least for you.

What’s the point? When putting your story into writing, your headline and lead paragraph have just one purpose: Grab our attention and lure us to keep reading.

After that, you need to make the rest of what you say interesting enough to make the time we’ve spent reading what you wrote worthwhile.

That’s what your nut paragraph is all about. But that’s a story for another day. If you don’t want to wait, drop me a line or give me a call to chat about it.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

If a story is not about the hearer . . .

 

If a story is not about the hearer . . .

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen.“Of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule — a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting – only the deeply personal and familiar.” — John Steinbeck

Who is your story about? You? Or your audience?

If it’s not about them, they won’t hear or remember it.

Yes, but . . . Is that what you’re thinking? Aren’t there exceptions? Those travel articles about faraway, exotic places, for example. Aren’t they about the strange and foreign?

Yes, they are. But we read them to imagine going there. We put ourselves into the story.

Find a way to put your audience into your story. Or they won’t hear you. Or remember.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Writing tip: Cliches can be your friend. Or your enemy.

 

Writing tip: Cliches can be your friend. Or your enemy.

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Inside the boxCliches can be your friend. Or your enemy.

Cliches have a bad reputation. But I’m here to defend them.

We all use them. And certain phrases become cliches because they work. So, they get used. Over. And over. And over.

I didn’t learn to write in school. I learned to write in newsrooms during the 20 years I spent committing journalism. Deadlines looming. And a limited number of words allowed.

Under those circumstances, cliches were often my friend. Why? Because they make a point or paint an image that we all get in just a few words without a lot of explanation needed.

But they don’t always work. If you use cliches to avoid saying anything worth hearing, your audience is likely to get bored and tune you out.

And many of us have our pet peeves when it comes to cliches. At least I do. One of mine: Think outside the box. When I hear someone say that, I know they almost always are not thinking outside the box. They’re using a cliche to make a point about thinking and doing things differently.

In fact, there’s a case to be made for thinking inside the box when telling your story.

What’s the one thing you want the rest of us to hear, understand and remember? In other words, what’s your message?

Make that message the box containing your story. And make everything else you say to tell your story fit inside that box. Your story will be clearer. The way that was explained to me as a young reporter was to write a lead that told readers the guts of what happened. And then use the rest of the story to fill in the details.

So, when should you use cliches? And when should you avoid them?

I think those are the wrong questions. The real questions: Have you told your story in a way that gives the rest of us a reason to care? Have you made it simple to understand? And have you told the truth to the best of your ability?

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: The 30-second story

 

Storytelling Tip: The 30-second story

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: The 30-second storyIf I offered you 30 seconds on national television to tell your story, could you do it?

Or would you need more time?

Thousands of companies bet millions of dollars every day that they can earn a good return on their investments by telling their stories in 30 seconds on television and radio. It’s called advertising.

During last weekend’s Super Bowl, as you probably already know, dozens of companies spent an average of $4.5 million (plus productions costs) for 30 seconds of air time to tell their stories to an audience distracted by a football game, partying with friends and consuming food and alcohol.

It was a good investment for some of them. But not all. How many of those ads do you remember? Did any of them convince you to spend money on what the company was selling?

In business, most of the time we’re telling our stories to lure prospects into buying what we’re selling. Actually, most of the time we’re telling our stories to grab the attention of prospective customers interested enough to ask for more information.

So take 30 seconds – or less – to grab the attention of the folks who are actually interested in hearing what you have to say. Then take as much time as they want to tell them more.

If you can’t grab our attention in 30 seconds or less, most us have already switched our attention to something else.

Those 30-second commercials on TV either hit their mark with you or not. But when was the last time you said to yourself: “I wish that commercial had been longer. I wanted them to say more.” Okay, you may have wanted it to be longer if you needed a bathroom break or wanted to grab a snack or a drink. But you wanted more time to be away from the TV, not more time to listen to the sales pitch.

Your story is just one more of the thousands of marketing messages the rest of us will see or hear on any given day. Get to the point. Make it clear. And keep repeating it. Most of us missed it the first time you said it.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: No Sales Pitch

 

Storytelling Tip: No Sales Pitch

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: No Sales PitchSometimes the best sales pitch is no sales pitch.

We’ve all been subjected to the pressure tactics of a hard sales pitch at some time or another. Most of us have given in at least a time or two and bought what the arm twister was selling. And then regretted our decision.

But most of us are pretty good at turning away high-pressure salespeople. We turn them away because they turn us off.

As someone in the business world, you usually tell your story in hopes the rest of us will buy what you’re selling. Nothing wrong with that. If I’m in the market for what you sell, I want to hear what you have to say — as long as you don’t try too hard to “sell” me.

Several years ago, I was in the market for a new car. I started shopping early, several months before I planned to buy. And I made that clear right up front to all the salespeople I met with.

All but one of them heard me. They told me about the cars they had to offer. Let me test drive them. And said they’d love to hear from me when I was ready to buy. No arm twisting. No pressure. No “sales” pitch. But one guy wouldn’t let go. He made it sound like there wouldn’t be any cars left if I didn’t buy one today. And today’s deal wouldn’t be around if I didn’t drive home today in one of the cars on his lot. I had to make a decision today. Sell. Sell. Sell.

He did get me to make a decision that day: To eliminate him and his dealership from further consideration.

Tell your story. Make it relevant to your audience by telling us what you can do for us, why you have something interesting to say to us.

You want us to buy what you’re selling. That’s okay. Perfectly normal. Sometimes the best way to get us to do that is to skip the sales pitch.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: More than one way to tell your story

Storytelling Tip: More than one way to tell your story

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: More than one way to tell your storyThere’s more than one way to tell your story. Which one’s the best? That depends. And it won’t always be the same.

I’ve watched three movies about Iwo Jima over the past couple weeks — two directed by Clint Eastwood and a 1949 movie starring John Wayne. I enjoyed all three. But they were all quite different.

Eastwood’s two movies tell the story of Iwo Jima from the opposing sides. Letters from Iwo Jima tells the story from the Japanese side. Flags of Our Fathers tells the story from the American side and focuses on the men brought back from Iwo Jima to the United States for a heroes’ tour to sell war bonds. The John Wayne movie, The Sands of Iwo Jima, is about a group of Marines sent to Iwo Jima. But the battle of Iwo Jima is almost incidental to that version.

If you’re like many of us, you have more than one audience for your story. And those audiences may have different reasons for being interested in what you do or sell.

That’s why it’s so important to understand your objective and your audience before telling your story. Because the way you tell it will be different depending on differences in who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

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