Category Archives: Presentation

Lift Your Public Persona

By MICHAEL MINK Posted 12/20/2010 04:53 PM ET

When the publicity spotlight finds your company, your skills can maximize a good situation or salvage a bad one. Here’s how:

Be prepared. Before facing the media and public, know exactly what you want to say by crafting your message in detail. This includes anticipating questions. Ask yourself: How do we want our customers or stakeholders to see us?

“It’s too easy for anyone in the C-suite or for a spokesperson to say the wrong thing publicly, and the damage can be significant,” Jeff Ansell, co-author of “When the Headline Is You,” told IBD.

“When John Walter was named CEO of AT&T (T) (in 1996), a reporter at the news conference asked who his service provider is. Walter didn’t know and within four hours of that exchange, AT&T’s market cap plummeted $4 billion. And that was supposed to be a good news story,” Ansell said.

How to avoid that? “Don’t say or write anything you wouldn’t want to see out there publicly,” said Frances Cole Jones, founder of Cole Media Management.

Practice messages. Do this out loud and get feedback. Rehearse answers and ways to move the conversation to the points you want to convey. “Recognize that the first words out of your mouth form the first draft of the story,” Ansell said.

Jones suggests practicing in front of a mirror, especially when doing telephone interviews. “This will remind you to smile and your voice will follow, making you much more interesting to listen to,” she said.

Another benefit: If someone asks you about something that makes you feel tense, “you’re going to see your face tense up, and that’s going to remind you to take a breath and then speak,” she said.

Be accessible. This is especially true when a crisis emerges.

“Not engaging media only leaves your critics with an open field, allowing them to hammer home their messages while you’re hiding behind the door,” Ansell said.

In good times, Jones says, no media opportunity or event is too small. Consider doing all you can.

Follow social media. Dedicate corporate resources to monitor the Web, Ansell said, and respond accordingly: “See what people are saying, and more often than not engage bloggers in conversation. Like Mark Twain said, ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.'”

Jones said, “Tweet wisely or forever hold your peace. Consumers have the power to talk back, and companies need to realize that.”

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Wow of the Week: Play it Up

We all know the phrase, “play it down,” for making less of an emotion or situation than we might otherwise be feeling. And I think this can be a useful reminder to ourselves when considering how much time and energy we want to devote to a feeling or person or circumstance.

That said, there is a lot to be said, both personally and professionally for “playing it up.” For making more of an occurrence than we might originally have thought, or been hardwired to do; and for quickly acknowledging our participation in a “no-fault” situation.

Let me give you an example: Recently, I had an exchange with a conference coordinator with whom I was working on an event. When I arrived at the venue, I discovered she had not ordered me a lavalier microphone—my sole choice was the mic attached to the podium. “Well,” she said, “We’ll just have to make the best of it.”

We? The last time I checked she wasn’t the one who was going to be trapped behind a hunk of fake wood for an hour while trying to wow.

Now I understand her thinking—and the thinking of many peoplewhen a dropped ball results in an inconvenience/mistake/accident: their idea is that their minimizing it will lead to others minimizing it.

What I’ve discovered, however, is that you will get a lot further if you play it up, rather than playing it down. In this instance, I would have been far more impressed had she said, “I am so sorry—this is my fault. Unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done about the technology now, but is there anything I can do with the room set up, or the book signing area, that will make you more comfortable?”

Within the corporate world, I always recommend customer service departments play it up, rather than down—overcompensating for even the smallest complaints. Why? Because while most departments respond quickly to high stakes situations, many respond poorly, or not at all, to circumstances that are less than dire. The trouble with this choice is that these disgruntled customers can now take their grievances to the virtual streets, setting up URL’s such as  www.paypalsucks.com or creating a music video about poor luggage handling along the lines of  a musical review over a broken guitar that has received over 500,000 hits on YouTube, and reversed United Airlines’ position on baggage handling. Or, speaking from my own experience, blasting out to their 3,000 Twitter follows when the customer service rep at their local big box store greets their tale of a broken appliance with, “Whatever…”

So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you’ve dropped the ball, and/or there’s no clear right or wrong, step up: play it up—meet, and perhaps even exceed—the person’s level of concern. I guarantee you’ll both move on more quickly.

Frances Cole Jones

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How to Wow With Your Voicemail Video

 

Best Formula for Selling Yourself

By Frances Cole Jones for 

Framing your job pitch with the right words may give you a better chance of success.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we’re selling our ideas, sometimes we’re selling our products and, these days, many of us are selling ourselves as the best candidate for the job.

With this in mind, here’s the proven formula for selling your best self to anybody, anywhere, any time.

First: Yale University did a study of the 12 most persuasive words in the English language. They discovered that the most persuasive word in the English language is “you.” Consequently, I recommend throwing it around a lot: “As I’m sure you know,” “As I’m sure you’ve heard,” “I wanted to talk to you today,” etc.

Second: California-based social psychologist Ellen Langer says one word in the English language increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94 percent. No, that is not a typo. I will repeat: 60 to 94 percent. This word is “because.”

Lastly: The Duncan Hines Cake Mix Marketing Theory. When Duncan Hines began making cake mix, the decision to have cooks at home add the egg was made in the marketing department. Why is this effective? Because they realized that when we add the egg, we feel proud because we contributed; we can say, “I baked!”

Following, then, are three ways you can apply this formula for success:

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