Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Skip this post if you communicate better than Bono.

"We sent out the release, we tweeted a link
to the release and posted it on Facebook
and still no pickup. I think it's time
we turn it up to 11." 
As we recently reported, U2 apologized to the world for shoving their latest album down every iTunes-owner’s throat, explaining that they were afraid their album “mightn’t be heard" because "there's a lot of noise out there.”
And while Bono and the lads are trying dynamic, innovative and breathtakingly stupid tactics to be heard through the noise, you're still sending out press releases. Granted, you did tweet a link to that release with this grabber: "Check out our latest press release by clicking here," but you're still not getting the attention you used to get back in the good ol' days.
You're not alone. According to the 2014 Associations Communications Benchmark Report, "associations of all sizes, industries and operating budgets are communicating ... even less effectively with members than they were as recently as three years ago."
The solution is simple, really. Rather than attempt to cut through the noise by outshouting your competition, why not create content that your audiences want to hear and let them find you instead?
This is the secret behind the success we're having with our Be Heard Formula, a process we developed to help our clients get their stories heard through all the noise.
At the heart of the process is the principle of “giving away your best stuff,” which is what this post is all about. Right here, you'll find a short video that explains exactly what we do to help our clients break through the noise. Check it out when you have a moment (even if it’s just to see me stuck on the side of the road in Bethesda MD waiting for a truck to haul my motorcycle back to the shop).
We got these results in two hours using one of our Be Heard Formula tactics.
We got these results in just two hours using one of our Be Heard Formula tactics.
And after you watch the video, give us some feedback. Was this information helpful? Are there particular challenges that you’d like help with? And how about the video ... did you like it? Go ahead. We'll all be glad you did.
See you on the other side.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Keep your chin up, Ukraine.

That wasn't you, Putin? WTF?
Lots of people around the world and in the States are pulling for you. Give us a call if there's something we help you with.

And Putin, seriously, WTF, those tiny giraffes weren't enough for you.




That wasn't you? Really? He looked just like you. He even had all of the ass-pects of your personality, so to speak.

Friday, November 7, 2014

You really do need to be heard, if you know what I'm saying.

The hours were irregular but it paid well.
Hey kids,

In my day job, I teach people how to be heard in the Interactive Age. I used to be a corporate flack defending the right of every American to eat junk food without being taxed or scolded. But I actually got tired of arguing and decided to teach other people how to argue ... or at least how to be heard.

So if you want to learn how to be heard through all of the noise on the Internet, check out this video and learn from the best. Especially, you kids in Ukraine. You guys still have a LOT of persuading to do.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Weight, weight! Don't tell me! Why willful ignorance will put Weight Watchers out of business

"Pay no heed to that 'wireless' warning. It is my fundamental belief that tools alone will never reach the levels of success that are possible when they are combined with human engagement.”
"Pay no heed to that 'wireless' warning. It is my fundamental belief that tools alone will never reach the levels of success that are possible when they are combined with human engagement.”
It looks like apps are going to be the death of Weight Watchers. Not appetizers—software applications, specifically free online fitness apps. These apps that “suggest diets, count calories, and track progress” are carving heaping helpings from their profitability, according to a recent Washington Post article.
To be fair, competition from apps is not necessarily a death sentence. A lot of companies have survived technological disruptions by adapting to the new environment. But it looks like Weight Watchers is not going to be one of them, if recent comments by WW’s CEO Jim Chambers are any indication.
On an analyst call last year Chambers said, “We do not believe that free apps will solve the obesity epidemic. [But] I see now that the situation we are facing as a business and organization is more difficult than it originally appeared.” An honest admission and a good base to build on.
But then, during an analyst call this past July, Chambers said something that only Captain Edward “Those Icebergs Ain’t So Big” Smith could appreciate. “It is our fundamental belief,” he said, “that tools alone, technology alone, food programming alone will never reach the levels of success that are possible when they are combined with human engagement. … The strength of the Weight Watchers brand is and always will be in the human connections that make a weight-loss journey more successful.”
Unfortunately for Weight Watchers stock holders, Chambers is dead wrong about the technology. Apps don’t operate in a vacuum. The folks who share their app-derived weight-loss data on Facebook and other social media platforms enjoy the same support and encouragement as those who hop on a scale in a church basement, only on a much wider … uh, scale. The same goes for recipe-sharing, step-counting, and tearful binge-eating-confessions.
Chambers isn’t alone. History’s highway is littered with the wreckage of blue chippers who ignored the "paradigm shift ahead" signs posted whenever a game-changing technology alters the landscape.
How about you? Is some new technology willful blindness threatening to make your organization obsolete? How about your industry? Especially you, my association associates, is there a valuable service you provide that could be replaced by technology? Are there any services that can’t be?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Everything you need to know about communicating in the Interactive Age (part 4)

"It's simple, Patrick. If you wanna be heard we're gonna need a lot less of you and a whole lot more of me."
"It's simple, Patrick. If you wanna be heard we're gonna need less of you and a whole lot more of me."
As Edward "Smoke 'em if you got 'em, ladies" Bernays said, social media has brought us full circle to “an earlier age [where] a leader was usually known to his followers personally; there was a visual relationship between them. Communication was accomplished principally by personal announcement to an audience.”
It's true. Social media allows us to create millions of self-selected communities comprised of people who have common experiences, common interests, or shared values … and sometimes all three.
Their online conversations are by their very nature “personal announcements to an audience,” (sometimes a bit too personal). More often than not there is a visual relationship between them even if they’re on the other side of the globe. And to the degree that these communities have leaders, they are certainly well known to their followers and—more importantly—they are approachable, unlike the leaders of the 20th century.
These communities are strong and insular. You won’t reach people through advertising. They’re not listening to outsiders anymore.
It's going to take work. You are going to have to find the communities of people who share your values. Then you will have to listen and learn before you speak. And when you do speak, you need to give more than you receive, at least at first. In short, before they're going to want to hear anything you have to say, you have to be welcomed into their community.
So how do you do that? Simple. You have to stop radiating like a star and start absorbing like a quasar.
To be a success in the 20th century was to be a star. Whether a movie star, a rock star, a political star, or an NBA All Star, your job was to shine brightly and be worshiped by “the little people” below you. Interaction with the masses was carefully scripted and strictly limited.
Then the Internet—which prefers dialogues over monologues—gave birth to a new celestial model of success: the quasar.
Unlike a star, which only radiates, a quasar has an enormous black hole at its core that sucks matter and energy in while simultaneously emitting more light than any star in the universe. This two-way flow of energy is the foundation of successful communication in the Interactive Age. Monologues are out; thoughtful and empathetic dialogues are in.
QuASAR also happens to be a handy acronym for the method that will make you a more thoughtful, empathetic, and successful communicator. And it is the QuASAR Method that holds the secret to being heard in the Interactive Age.
Up next: Get to the point already!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Everything you need to know about communicating in the Interactive Age (part 3)

"Lung cancer? Hell, the
fluoride'll get you
long before that."
As scary as social media may sometimes seem, it isn’t forcing us to learn a whole new language or adopt unfamiliar customs. It is actually reintroducing us to the way we humans have communicated for more than 10,000 years.

Successful communication in the 20th century boiled down to this: “The one with the biggest megaphone wins.” But that was an aberration caused by the convergence of two powerful forces—the rise of mass communication and the birth of “public relations.”
Back in the 1920's, Edward Bernays, known as the “father of public relations,” asked in his essay Propaganda, “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it?”
The answer was yes, as he soon proved. Bernays was an expert at manipulating people. That gift was literally in his DNA. His mother was Sigmund Freud’s sister his father's sister married Freud. And Bernays really loved his mom, which bugged Freud no end. ... No, that's not true. I made that up. But the other stuff is true. Can you imagine those family get-togethers?
Bernays also knew that the mass media infrastructure of the 20th century was ideal for the “manipulation and opinions of the masses.”
“The United States,” he said, “has become a small room in which a single whisper is magnified thousands of times.”
The rise of PR coupled with a mass media network never before seen in human history conspired to profoundly change the way we communicated with each other, whom we trusted, and what we valued.
The most obvious effect of “regimenting the masses” was the homogenization of the American way of life.
Our experiences were the same. We lived in identical homes in identical subdivisions. We went to identical schools and sat at identical desks lined up in identical rows. And our parents identical cars to and from work at exactly the same regimented time.
Our interests were the same. We loved baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. We loved blond-haired, blue-eyed baby Jesus, hated commies, and every Sunday night at 7:30, we all sat down in front of the TV to watch The Wonderful World of Disney.
And our values were the same. We were all in pursuit of the American dream, which also meant we had to work hard to earn the money needed to buy the products that would help us keep up with the Joneses.
But this homogenization came at a heavy price.
We were becoming more isolated from each other. Time that was once spent sharing stories was now being squandered watching TV.
And through this isolation, we also lost our sense of community … a community that evolved from genuine interaction with people who shared our unique interests, our unique experiences, and our core values.
But then social media came along and brought us full circle to what Edward Bernays described as “an earlier age [where] a leader was usually known to his followers personally; there was a visual relationship between them. Communication was accomplished principally by personal announcement to an audience.”
Bernays meant that derisively. But it’s actually a very good thing.
Up next: You don’t have to be a star, baby … in fact, you really shouldn’t be if you want to be heard.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Everything you need to know about communicating in the Interactive Age (part 2)

No matter how creative you are, no matter hard you work you will never get more attention than a video of a cat stuck in a hamster ball. Let that one sink in.
No matter how creative you are, no matter hard you work you will never get more attention than a video of a cat stuck in a hamster ball. Let that one sink in.
The exploding cigar moments that signaled the end of the old way of communicating were just one-half of the painful transition for the movers and shakers of the 20th century.
Young people were now using the Internet to rally the masses for causes they cared about. And they weren't running it by legal.
Anthony Hardwick, a part-time cart jockey at a Target store in Omaha, got over 200,000 signatures on his online petition demanding that Target not open their stores on Thanksgiving night just to get a jump on “black Friday.”
And Molly Katchpole—a part-time nanny who launched a petition drive against Bank of America for charging people $5 a month to use their own debit cards—not only got hundreds of thousands of people to support her cause, she got BofA to back down and drop the monthly fee.
These two kids were among thousands of social-media savvy activists, musicians, writers, videographers, artists and muckrakers who are redefining what it means to inspire, to encourage, to lead. In short, they are redefining how we communicate.
Now, as you can imagine, to a lot of people (mostly those over 40) things were changing much too fast.
  • Teenagers are becoming millionaires overnight by selling programs that they don’t even understand.
  • A video of a cat stuck in a hamster ball is getting more views than everything they’ve ever posted—or ever will.
  • Their communication efforts keep getting less and less effective making them feel like strangers in their own land.
These people are struggling to remain firmly rooted in the 20th century where they understand the customs and the language.
But their fears are misplaced. The 20th century wasn’t the norm. It was the anomaly.
Up next: What the hell is he talking about?