If the Shoe Fits

Splitshire

“Sometimes the best part of my job is that the chair swivels.” – Anon

Where do you want to work? What direction do you want your career to go in? What kind of office is the best fit for you? These questions can be difficult ones to answer, particularly for a new communications grad!

Working in an office for a large corporation would have some benefits: you could meet lots of new people in your office, each day will be different than the last, and you might get a chance to work on a variety of projects.  Also, there is less expectation to work over time.  This is good because people would like to have a better work life balance, which results in a healthier life, more happiness, and greater productivity.

On the other hand, it might be challenging to work in a large corporation  because you might be having to work around silos or office politics.  Things would happen more slowly because large ships take a long time to steer in a different direction.  You would also have to really be in line with the corporate identity and stakeholder vision.   If a highly visible corporation makes a mistake, it will show up in the media and your job might be to deal with it well, or get fired!

This is in contrast with  smaller agency, where you might enjoy more creativity in your daily work life, or at least a different kind of creativity.  The pace of change would be faster since small agencies  are able to be more agile.  A small public relations or marketing boutique might be a good place to learn a lot of new things in a short period of time while working closer with team mates and feeding on each others energy.   There is probably an element of team work and working with like minded people that you might not get in a corporate environment. However, sometimes people in agencies don’t have a great work life balance, which can be unhealthy and stressful.

A non profit organization might be a smaller environment than a corporate office. I think it would be another good example of a good place to learn a variety of new things at a fast pace.  Non profits cannot afford to hire a lot of employees with specialized skills, so employees wear a lot of different hats.  A non profit would be an excellent place to begin your career and get the skills you need to progress in your career because you have to enjoy being a jack of all trades to succeed in a non profit position.  Employees of a non profit might have the privilege of feeling good about giving back to the community in their career.  It would be very rewarding if it was a good fit.

I hope to work in a place with nice people, and where the work is creative and challenging.  I want to learn as many things as possible, and of course I want to please my boss by being a good employee!  Increasingly, people are wanting a good work life balance for their career so that they can be happy, and perform at optimal levels.

Where is your dream job?

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The Death of a Salesman

“You’re gonna like the way you look.  I guarantee it.”

Everyone knows that line. It’s George Zimmer, founder of Men’s Warehouse, a North American men’s suiting retailer.  George has been saying that line in every Men’s Warehouse commercial since the beginning, and it has become a bit of a  catch phrase. George opened his store in 1973, but was terminated in 2013 from his position as CEO.  His own board of directors decided to fire him!  To the public, based on statements released by both parties, it would appear that there were unknown internal conflicts or creative differences that led to this outcome.  What is interesting is how the parties on both sides of the conflict handled things, from a public relations perspective.  We will never know which side was ‘right’, but I think that George  won over the public’s perception at least.

The board of Directors fired Zimmer using a press release, without telling him first.  The statements they released thereafter, were emotionally charged and seemed passive aggressive.  Employees were not told that Zimmer would be fired, and were confused when they heard the news because they felt left out.  Customers and the public also seemed confused, and mostly sided with Zimmer.

After hearing the news of being fired, George released a letter citing his voluntary resignation from his position.  The letter was gracious and appeared as if he was choosing to take the high road.  I think this was an excellent public relations decision on his part because of the way the public responded favorably to it.

In his letter, George stated that “The Board’s decision however, cannot dampen my enthusiasm for all that has been accomplished since 1973….I still care deeply about the company and its future.”

In contrast,  Zimmer’s board released reactionary statements such as: “Mr Zimmer would not accept anything other than full control over the company…”

At the present day, George Zimmer is the Chairman and Founder of zTailors, a custom tailoring service for men and women. I think that Men’s Warehouse as a brand is different now, because George Zimmer was such a huge part the brand identity and image. That might have been why the public sympathized with him more than the board of directors who fired him.  People were used to hearing George’s calming and reassuring voice, telling them that they will definitely like the way that they look.  He was telling people that anyone could look their best, which is an attainable and comforting message.

Men’s Warehouse is also alive and well, and has re-branded itself to appeal to a younger and more fashion conscious audience.  Here are some instructions on how to tie a tie, courtesy of Men’s Warehouse:

In Sickness or In Health?

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According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke foundation, most Canadians spend the last ten years of their life in sickness instead of in health.  If you knew that making healthier life style choices in your youth would help you to live better in your golden years, would you do take action?

“Will you grow old with vitality? Or will you grow old with disease?”

The PSA above takes the viewer though a moving story line.  It uses imagery to take you though one person’s last ten years of life and portrays two possibilities: sickness or health.  For example, during your last ten years will you be putting on running shoes or hospital slippers? Will you be riding a bike outside or riding a wheel chair in a hospital?  Will you be strong enough for a game of tag with your grandchild?   Will you be tightening your tie and getting ready to attend a family gathering, or adjusting a breathing tube instead? Will you be surrounded by a happy family at a  holiday diner table, or dying in a hospital with a devastated spouse looking on?

The call to action for this campaign is that you can change your future by  flowing the link to the Heart and Stroke website and finding out how to stay healthy and active early on, or at any age.

Something about this campaign is very persuasive to me.  People  already know that it is important to make healthy choices in life, but this PSA makes it more visceral and real because it focuses on the day to day consequences of letting your health slip.  The Heart and Stroke Campaign was able to effectively use their authority as a leading health organization to be more persuasive.  The viewer was given a link at the end of the PSA to access information about how to be healthier.  These things give the campaign more legitimacy, and the viewer is encouraged participate by taking action.

Furthermore, the campaign appears to people’s sense of self interest.  Everyone wants to be healthy and happy, enjoying the good times in life such as time enjoying hobbies, family, and friends.  People want to feel as if they tried to live happy and meaningful lives.  The message here is presented with a real sense of  clarity because it tells you the truth, then asks you to take action or face the potential consequences of your inaction.

Once you get to the Canadian Heart and Stroke foundation website, they give you a collection of tools with which to take control of your health and your future.  The message for this campaign is to avoid stealing from your future, by taking care of yourself in the present.

What will your last ten years look like? 

A Cultivation of Comments

” These are very good examples of creativity! I love when things are done unconventionally.   Pinterest began as a tool to collect recipes and craft ideas, but now it is a place to collect ideas.  I like it!” (In response to an article by Hannah Clark from Hootsuite entitled Off the Beaten Path: Six Unusual ways to use Pinterest.  August 7,2015)

“I don’t know that asking someone why you shouldn’t hire them is really productive. Instead, it’s just confusing. I think that there are more straight forward questions that would reveal the integrity of the interviewee and whether or not they fit with the company culture. It’s important not to baffle your interviewee with weird questions because then it makes them think that you aren’t good at managing people or that maybe the office culture isn’t good. I don’t really think that asking questions designed to catch people off guard is really the same thing as asking them questions that effectively gauge their integrity as a person. ” (In response to an article by Lydia Dishman entitled One Interview Question that will Help you Make the Best Hire.  August 7, 2015)

“I agree, having a clear, authentic story is essential if you want to reach your audience. I also like your suggestion to make a clear step to the next page. I think that people like activities that don’t have many barriers to action.” (In response to an article from Kyla Roma’s Blog entitled:Think your Business Needs More Traffic? )

“The suggestion about improv to improve public speaking really makes sense to me. It would make you less prone to nervousness because you would get opportunities for pubic speaking during improv classes. Also, you would see that potentially embarrassing yourself in front of a group of people isn’t the end of the world. It would be good for your self esteem and problem solving skills.” (In response to an article by Phillip Pape from Ragan.com, entitled: Four Steps to Conquering Your Dread of Public Speaking.)

“I definitely want to try this out now. I  thought you had to have advanced graphic design skills to create an infographic. Now I can add this to my list of resources.”  (In response to and article from Ragan’s PR Daily entitled: 5 Infographic Tool for PR and Marketing Pros, July 22, 2015.)

“Some good suggestions: try something new every week, get the most stressful thing out of the way first, being positive, exercising, listen to music, let things marinate, zoom in and then zoom out, take a break, automate repetitive tasks to leave room for creativity, focus, break things down, use strategy… all good suggestions!
I’m particularly interested in finding more ways to automate repetitive tasks. I feel like if I did that more often, I would be able to think more creatively without being distracted by too many details.”  (In response to and article from Fastcodesign, entitled:  32 Productivity tips from the Worlds top Designers, July 5, 2015.)

“I agree, generally speaking, it is better to not ‘ghost’. It is rude to leave someone with emotional baggage like that. They wonder where you went, why you didn’t respond….that could be stressful. Also, in my city, it’s a small world. People will remember if you ghost them, and that will follow you around for a long time. Your reputation is at stake. You don’t want other people to see you as a someone who just kind of walks away from problems. It’s better to just take responsibility and formally break off the relationship. It’s also about branding yourself well: You want to be someone with integrity, who is also a good and respectful person.”  (In response to: ‘Ghosting’ from business relationships – and leaving ill will behind’ by Russel Working, published in Ragan’s PR Daily on July 16, 2015.)

Pink Slime, and Other Urgent Matters

What happens when your company or organization falls out of favour in the eyes of your stakeholders? 

gratisography.com

Stakeholders are too important to ignore because stakeholders include the community in which your company does business.  Without their business, making a profit would be impossible.  In fact the Standford Research Institute defines stakeholders as “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist.”

Stakeholders are sometimes well informed, while other times they are reactive.  That’s why it is important to decide on the type of image you want to present to them.  Hopefully this is a transparent image! However, transparency isn’t enough when it comes to communicating ones brand, mission, values, or general opinions.  In addition to building trust with stakeholders using transparency, organizations should avoid association with guilty parties:  Employees and spokespeople must be trained to know about key messaging, mission, values, and so fourth.  We have all heard of brands who have been tarnished by a misspoken word from a spokesperson.

If you encounter a PR disaster, that is when it is most important to stop and think about what to do next before you act.  Try to think of things from the perspective of your stakeholders so that you can craft the right message to send them.  Without this strategy, you might end up like BPI (Beef Products Inc.), who was sued in 2012 due to public backlash regarding their ‘pink slime’ product (lean finely textured beef).  Pink Slime is filler product that is used with inexpensive meat products for use in grocery or fast food chain hamburgers for example.  Pink Slime received some bad PR, and then BPI was sued because it did not effectively address its stakeholders.

Jamie Oliver, who created much of the press surrounding BPI, was much more successful in targeting his stakeholders when he took his position against Pink Slime.  He knows who his audience is, and acted accordingly.

The Lump: Cancer Research UK Campaign 2015

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu, the Art of War.

I searched the depths of the internet for a great public relations campaign, and came up with a public relations stunt that was done in the UK during 2015 for Cancer Research UK.  Here it is below:

Give it a watch! I think that what makes this campaign amazing is that it was done without words.  It is entirely strategy and tactics in action.  In the video, Cancer Research UK staged a public relations stunt.  They found a busy street, and made a slowly growing lump in the pavement.  Surprisingly, people ignored it and did not question it, even when it became a massive bump!  This campaign communicated how  easy it is to ignore your health until it it too late.  It reminds people of the importance of taking care of their health, particularly when it comes to cancer, since some types of cancer are survivable if detected early.

I think that this campaign speaks to the fact that people too often ignore the signs due to fear.  Instead they hope that the bad thing will just go away.  Unfortunately, this sometimes prevents them from getting a troubling lump checked out, or they neglect checking for troubling lumps in the first place, in case one appears.  This campaign communicates the importance of taking care of your health by being aware of the early signs of cancer, even when it is scary.  It also reminds people of the possibility of donating money to cancer research, and brings awareness to their organization as well as the general issue of cancer and cancer research.

How did they do it? Strategies and Tactics!

When public relations professionals create campaigns, they use strategies and tactics.  Strategies are your ‘big ideas’.  A strategy is the  problem that you are trying to solve, or the thing that you are trying to accomplish.   A tactic is a plan for exactly how you are going to carry out your idea, or how you are going to solve your problem.

I think that the strategy for the Cancer Research UK campaign, was to make people more aware of their own organization, to make people more aware of cancer in general, and to remind people to be proactive about checking for early signs of cancer.  I think the campaign succeeded because it made it obvious how easy it is to ignore a lump! The tactic was to communicate this strategy using a public relations stunt.  The professionals behind this campaign created a growing lump in the middle of the pavement on a busy street in the UK to see how people would respond.  Amazingly, people did not notice the lump until it grew into a big bump!

No one likes paying attention to lumps because potentially cancerous lumps are scary, and we would rather pretend that they don’t exist.  Don’t forget to check!

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