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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Owning the Room: Take Ownership of Yourself First

Changes at work we recognize:

·     You have been promoted to a position of authority after years as a behind-the-scenes worker bee

·     You have switched jobs as a manager at a non-profit with a laid back atmosphere to a leadership role at a fast-paced corporation

·     Your boss – who usually runs staff meetings and makes decisions – is absent and for the first time and has tapped you to take his or her place in charge

How well you handle such changes requires changing how you are perceived by others. Being smart and competent is one thing; projecting leadership and authority is another, especially when, as a recent Wall Street Journal feature story reported, colleagues have you pigeon-holed in an old, more subservient and less visible role.
 
As communications consultants and coaches, we at CommCore recognize that self-awareness is as important an ingredient to changing how you are perceived as any communications coaching and training you may receive. Conveying leadership qualities is not just about knowing your audience and delivering your message clearly and in a compelling manner, crucial as both are. It's also about owning how you project your persona in a meeting, briefing or media interview, and taking the time in advance to practice, get critiqued, and prepare:

·    Have a clear agenda, messages, and desired outcome

·    Make eye contact and speak clearly, briefly and with confidence

·    Listen, and acknowledge others’ valid points without getting sidetracked

·    Wrap up a meeting on time and with clear action items

·    Look the part in appropriate dress and style

·    Rehearse with colleagues or a coach

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Crisis Preparedness Is A Small Investment

In the first half of 2013, according to Swiss Re, natural catastrophes and man-made disasters caused insured losses of $20 billion. Including non-insured losses the January-June total was $56 billion of total economic losses. This is down from 2012’s $77 billion in insured losses and total economic losses of $186 billion. Given the numbers, Crisis Preparedness (Planning, Auditing, and Training) is a small investment.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Part 2 of 2: Crisis and Social Media Insights Q&A by Melissa Agnes

CommCore has asked top Communication Experts on their insights on Crisis and Social Media. Below you will find our first guest post by Melissa Agnes. If you would like to be considered to share your insight on future posts, please let us know.


Q: What are the top 3 social media communications skills you value internally or - aim to have your clients enhance?
A: I actually have 10, which I call “the 10 new rules of crisis communications”. However, if I had to choose 3 I’d say:

1.   Learning to make all communications two-way and what that really means.  
2.   Real-time communications. Organizations have 15-60 minutes to respond to a crisis these days - and that counter begins not when the organization becomes aware of the crisis, but from the moment the crisis originates.
3.   Being human, compassionate, informative and sincere. These are all musts for crisis communications these days.
  
As Twitter is the leading social media platform when it comes to the dissemination of news, information and communications in a crisis, I created the guide, “Leveraging and Managing Twitter in a Crisis”,  to help organizations understand how to do exactly that - leverage and manage Twitter in a crisis. There are a ton of great tools, tricks and need-to-know crisis communications strategies within this corporate guide.

Q: How necessary of a role in crisis prevention do you think crisis simulations are today?
A: Crisis simulations are an excellent tool when it comes to, not just crisis prevention, but crisis management as well. Practice makes perfect but, obviously, nobody really wants to practice a crisis! However, there are some really awesome tools out there that allow you to simulate a crisis or potentially viral issue, allowing your team to practice their resolution in a controlled and safe environment. This does wonders for a crisis team’s crisis management and communications confidence and skills - not to mention, simulations are a lot of fun to do!


Bio:

Melissa Agnes specializes in crisis response, prevention, planning and training for the digital age. Working with national organizations and global enterprises, Melissa offers a variety of specialized services that help today's biggest and brightest brands prepare for, prevent and overcome any type of crisis situation. Connect with Melissa on Twitter and Linkedin.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Part 1 of 2: Crisis and Social Media Insights Q&A by Melissa Agnes

CommCore has asked top Communication Experts on their insights on Crisis and Social Media. Below you will find a guest post by Melissa Agnes. If you would like to be considered to share your insight on future posts, please let us know. 

Q: In your industry/with your clients, how have you seen social media escalate a crisis and how have you handled it?
A:  No matter where a crisis originates these days, one thing’s for sure: it will find its way to social media - fast! Social media brings a  whole new set of risks to the table when it comes to crises as it can quickly help amplify the crisis and its potentially to go viral. No longer is the reach solely local for a crisis that would have otherwise remained so. The risk, and the reach, is now always global.

However, by understanding and implementing the new rules of crisis communications, as well as understanding the expectations of your audience and market, organizations don’t need to fear social media as it pertains to crisis management and crisis communications.

That said, when a client calls me in the midst of a crisis, the first thing I do is scope out the situation and set up my monitoring posts. From there, I help them develop their key message points and communicate them accordingly across the many channels that are awaiting a response. This alone can help quiet the noise. From there, it’s about doing what needs to be done, behind the scenes, to manage the crisis, while always continuing to communicate with the organization’s stakeholders.

Listening is a crisis communications skill that absolutely needs to be acquired these days. And by listening I don’t just mean monitoring. I mean actually listening. What questions are being posed? What concerns are being expressed? What is the ratio of negative, positive and neutral sentiment and what’s needed to turn the negative into neutral or, better yet, positive?

From there, it’s about communicating the right messages and information and focusing on continuing to build or strengthen the relationships that the brand shares with its stakeholders.

Q: What are the communications-related hot topics in your industry today?
A: I’d say that the use of, and management of, social media as it pertains to crisis and issues management is definitely a hot topic these days.

Stay tuned for Part 2 that will address the top 3 social media communication skills!

Bio:
Melissa Agnes specializes in crisis response, prevention, planning and training for the digital age. Working with national organizations and global enterprises, Melissa offers a variety of specialized services that help today's biggest and brightest brands prepare for, prevent and overcome any type of crisis situation. Connect with Melissa on Twitter and Linkedin.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Don't Tell Jokes


Guest Post by Bill Dunne, Managing Partner for Dunne Communications

This advice goes especially for corporate speechmakers, the men and women in the daily grind of keeping their enterprises up and running, hopefully profitably. They are not, as a rule, stand-up comedians. And yet a good speech, an effective speech, often depends on a dose of humor. So what to do?

The thing to keep in mind is that real humor — the kind that makes you smile or laugh no matter what — pops out naturally from the content of a talk. It draws on the intrinsic mirthfulness of some human experience. It’s a wry remark, a certain expression on your face, or recounting something your little girl said at breakfast one morning. As for the three-guys-walk-into-a-bar joke, forget it. That’s not you if you’re a C-suite executive, and your credibility depends on your being your genuine self.

The fatal flaw in trying to work a canned joke into, say, a keynote speech is that you're putting people on the spot.  Unless you’re Kim Jong-un joshing with your Peoples Chamber of Deputies, your listeners don’t have to laugh.  But they do have to decide whether to fake a laugh or cause you embarrassment by remaining stone-faced.  As any comedian will tell you, you don't want to die up there. 

You most definitely want to tell a story, though. Stories are what make a good speech good. Stories are not jokes. Stories recount real-life personal situations, situations that may have involved you, or people you work with, your kids, your spouse, your crazy uncle. These things are genuinely funny. People remember stories. And they'll remember your all-important "take away" if you wrap it in one.


So tell stories, not jokes. And don’t be impatient if your speechwriter spends a while probing for some misstep, mishap, or tomfoolery in your life, the telling of which can both stir a chuckle and buttress your message.


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Friday, October 4, 2013

In a Crisis, Actions Can Speak Louder than Words

Former Yankee great Don Mattingly was known as "Donnie Baseball" during his career in New York in the 1980s and 90s. His dignified demeanor was as emblematic of the most storied franchise in American sports as his talent.

Yet he never won a World Series. And when he took over as Manager of the famed Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago, the spotlight was on him as brightly as when he played for the pinstripes.

Now he has steered the Dodgers to the playoffs after a terrible start to the season that had him under a microscope and second-guessed at every turn.
 
"It's like a storm for a small period of time, and there’s another story coming," Mattingly told the New York Times. "It'll be something else that happens that everybody wants to jump on. I think you just weather that storm, as far as the mass amount of attention to it. Keep going to work and getting your team ready to play."

At CommCore we remind our clients that an even keel and calm presence can be as powerful a statement to the media in a crisis as memorable sound bites and fiery actions, even in the exciting "win or bust" world of sports and entertainment. The key is having a plan and knowing and staying true to yourself, even when the media is all over you.
 
It's no different outside of sports. In a crisis, follow the plan, get back to the basics, and execute the core competency of the business or organization. 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What Pasta Will You Buy This Week?

Barilla Pasta’s crisis whirlwind started with a comment in Italy (probably in Italian). Within days it became a trending hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, a global electronic boycott, spoof commercial ads on YouTube and Vine, and now Ad wars with competitors like Bertolli being shared on Instagram and across the Internet. Barilla’s travails serve as another example of the power of social media to turn one misstep into a full blown PR crisis. We’ve captured some of the highlights in the Infographic below. Feel free to share.


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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Cure for CEO Social Media-itis

A lot has been said about CEOs and Social Media. But few postings we have seen are as to-the-point and informative as Joshua Steimle's column on Forbes.com, The Anti-Social CEO’s Guide to Social Media.

Steimle reduces his argument to three key elements: Do It, Do It Yourself, and Do It Now. His last point? If as CEO you have to stop and think about it for too long, you won't succeed when you do eventually try social media. As he admonishes, "You and I both know that's code for 'I don’t want to admit to myself that I'm scared to do this, afraid I'll look like an idiot, and so I'm going to use the excuse of being too busy and put it off indefinitely, hopefully forever.'"

Steimle refers procrastinators to social media guru Arik Hanson's well-known 10 Business Cases for CEOs to Use Social Media blog item. A human face, a sense of transparency, staying in touch with the customer without corporate filters, and simple brand extension are among Hanson's most persuasive points for CEO involvement in social media.

At CommCore, we would add another suggestion – find two or three CEOs in your business sector who DO post regularly and follow them for a while. If you find yourself wishing you could engage in the conversation then you're likely ready to initiate your own. A good place to start is LinkedIn's 2013 ranking of the Top 60 CEOs on Social Media

We also tell our C-Suite clients to discuss their potential excursion into online conversations with their communications team, marketing department and legal counsel to make sure they are clear on corporate brand goals and any regulatory restrictions on what can be disclosed to the public. But don't hand off the postings to a surrogate; the world of social media is good at sniffing out phonies, and as CEO you won't learn anything if all that's online is your title and your name.

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