Category Archives: Tips
It’s been a long 17 months since we’ve seen our friends at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. We’re back in 1966 and SCDP is still trying to nail new business they desperately need. As we found out at the end of season four, Don has convinced Heinz to give them small piece of their business – the beans division – with the hopes of bringing attention to this often overlooked sub-brand (behind Ketchup). Thus, we find Peggy in the pitch room trying to sell in their first campaign idea to the client.
In the creative presentation, Peggy presents the team’s best campaign idea for the beans – a Bean Ballet. The client is not immediately thrilled (as Peggy expected), instead asking for something more conservative. Don joins the room and Peggy expects him to come to her rescue as her so often does when clients aren’t buying more provocative ideas. Surprisingly, Don simply agrees to come back to the client with something different and more in line with his desires. Peggy leaves feeling deflated from rejection, but that’s because she wasn’t working with the client’s vision.
If we were SCDP’s counsel on pitching new business, we would have made four recommendations to Peggy:
- Get the brief right. Briefs are critical to success. They allow clients to share their desires and visions from the outset, while helping to set expectations. When written properly, they are an important tool for both teams to stay on the same page and avoid disconnects along the way.
- Understand the way your client thinks, and tailor your pitch accordingly. If you know you have a conservative client that won’t be open to pushing the envelope, present your more conservative ideas first. Over time you can earn your client’s trust for more boundary-pushing ideas. If you can anticipate your client’s reaction, you will have a leg up for how to present your ideas, and how to work with them over time to take more risks.
- Communicate with your client. If there is a disconnect between the client and the agency, the work will suffer. Consequently, the relationship will suffer too. Make sure there is an open dialogue between you and your client…not just with your day-to-day client, but with the key decision makers. This will get you one step closer to success.
- Learn when to hold ‘em, learn when to fold ‘em. Sometimes (most of the time), a client wants what a client wants. Understanding when it’s appropriate to push for your own ideas, and when it’s appropriate to back down, is an art form, not something that’s learned from one meeting. Sometimes conceding your own ideas in the interim will allow your client to trust you later on.
We’re sure Peggy and the creative team will come back with a winning idea next week. Stay tuned!
Good advice isn’t always easy to find. But sometimes there are people you work with, at industry associations, in books, or even family that can dish out advice when you need it most and leave a lasting impression in the process. These words of wisdom can often be the driving force behind bigger business philosophies and life lessons that encourage individuals to find new ways to achieve success.
In a recent article from Business Insider, the world’s most recognizable executives shared the best career advice that they’ve received over the years. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the best advice he ever received was to say “yes” to things. Maureen Chiquet, global CEO of Chanel quoted Mickey Drexler, CEO of Gap, who said “you’ve gotta learn to listen.”
No matter what—or who—is your source of inspiration, everyone has that one memorable motto that helps them get out of bed in the morning and attack the work-day. Here are few gems from the DGC team:
- “A handshake says everything about a person – make it firm.”
- “Never hear the first ‘no.’”
- “Just because we work nine-hour days doesn’t mean you have a full nine hours to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Plan for interruptions.”
- “Asking questions does not make you stupid—it makes you inquisitive and thorough.”
- “Hire people who are smarter than you.”
- “Get on the board of a powerful women’s organization.”
- “Make sure that every time you make a mistake you know what you’ve learned and you try your best to apply the learnings next time.”
- “The day you stop learning is the day you should quit.”
Whether you’re fine-tuning your first-impression methods or extending your education, the key to a successful career is growth. Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group said it best: “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing.”
What’s the best work advice you live by?
Wednesday was another big day for Facebook. In addition to hosting its first ever Marketing Conference, which viewers could watch via live stream on the Facebook site, Facebook also launched its Timeline pages for brands. New features include an updated layout with a cover photo, the ability to edit content without having to open separate pages, and opportunities to add content that spans the course of the brand’s lifetime to date.
But how will consumers respond to this new brand page format?
Before Facebook launched brand Timeline pages, it launched personal Timeline profiles. Similar to the brand Timeline pages, users can upload cover photos, edit content in one place and add information to past years to create a more robust illustration of the entirety of their lives to date. Some people have jumped at the opportunity to update their profiles, while others have found the format to be confusing, overwhelming and miscommunicated.
“I’m not really using it,” says DGC’s Kendra Peavy. “Every now and then I take a peek, but I think more time needs to pass.”
DGC’s Erin Donahue feels similarly: “I still have no idea what Facebook Timeline really is. I don’t think it was communicated to users properly. Now one person’s page looks different from the next. I like that Facebook is evolving to meet the needs of consumers, but I wish it was easier to comprehend, and I wish there was some sort of guide for how Timeline works.”
Facebook’s mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” From the beginning, it has achieved this through constant growth, innovation and adaptability. In the grand scheme of things, Timeline is just one of many changes experienced by the Facebook community over the past eight years. So will people get used to these changes as they have in the past? Share your thoughts on Facebook Timeline for brands and people in the comments section below.
For exhausted PR professionals who are only just recovering from the efforts of mining every last news angle around the Super Bowl, this time of year might be the best excuse to step back, stake stock and feed our PR spirits.
Instead of denying yourself something in the hopes of becoming a better person, it might make more sense to do something or consciously give yourself something over the next six weeks that will refresh your thinking and stimulate new ideas. Taking your eye off the ball periodically may be the best way to help you be better at your job.
Here’s what I mean:
1) Go to the cinema. Commit to going to the movies once or twice a week for the next month and a half. Or if that is too expensive and time-consuming, make a commitment to watch these movies online. As PR professionals, we need to keep current with the times and the popular culture. Cinema is an escape and a distraction. It helps keep you current, gets you out of the house and engaged with your significant other or friends, and provides an enjoyable or even thought-provoking experience.
2) Embrace the flesh. Not through gluttony or sloth, but since we’re having an unseasonably mild winter here in the northeast, why not commit to taking the old bicycle out for a spin each time the weather permits? Or go for a hike? Or go ice-skating? Don’t like the outdoors? Splurge on a massage. These are physically exhilarating activities that more often make you feel better than not.
3) Open a book. Reading creates solitude and improves our writing. Select three books you’ve wanted badly to read for a long time, then borrow them from the library or buy them or download them. The topic doesn’t matter. In fact, the more light-hearted the better. It has to be something that once you begin the book, you can’t wait to get back to it.
4) Volunteer. Many companies allow employees to donate a few hours a month during the work week to charitable groups that are only too happy to welcome their efforts. This week, DiGennaro Communications is volunteering for God’s Love We Deliver. But there are myriad ways to donate your individual time too. Just make sure it’s something you do with an open heart and not from a place of obligation.
Helen Gurley Brown, former Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, announced last month that she is donating $30 million to Columbia University and Stanford University in memory of her late husband, David Brown. What do two schools with two of the top ten endowments in the country need this type of money for, you ask? The David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.
According to Columbia and Stanford, the institute “will encourage new media, promote innovation and prototypes, and recognize the increasingly important connection between journalism and technology.” In an industry that continues to evolve in direct correlation with the digital space, this is a huge step forward in educating future media professionals. But what if your university doesn’t have a media institute? Here are DGC’s top three tips for pursuing a career in media/communications…no matter where you go to school:
- Intern. You may learn some of the basic concepts behind media/communications in your Marketing 101 class, but nothing you learn in the classroom will prepare you for your first job. Try to pursue as much internship experience as possible. Not only will it give you better insight into your future career, but it will also help you determine if the field is right for you.
- Read the news. Half the battle of the media/communications industry is keeping up with what’s happening. If you are well-versed on current events, you’ll be setting yourself up to win.
- Network. The job market remains tough to navigate. Make sure you are reaching out to your contacts on a regular basis so you are not missing any opportunities. And this doesn’t just mean via email. Recruiters are finding candidates through all manner of social networks these days, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, and hiring those who show savvy and persistence online.
Are you one of those people who kick-started your career via social media? Tell us how! Are you looking for a job in the communications industry? Reach out to us in the comments section below!
Janice Min, Editorial Director of The Hollywood Reporter, gave a refreshing and candid interview recently in which she talked about the challenges of hiring staff in Los Angeles, her base of operations since 2010. Among the nuggets of wisdom, Min hit on a few keys to being not just a media relations expert, but a journalist’s ally. We live and breathe these every day – but sometimes it never hurts to state and be reminded of the obvious. Again. (And reporters will love us for it).
1) Be the person who solves problems. Not one who only points them out. Whether working with reporters on a story or counseling clients, PR professionals are in charge of delivering news – but sometimes reporters and clients have different ideas of what makes news news. Our job is to find a common understanding. As Min says “Someone is always looking for a problem to be solved, so be the person to solve the problem.” Engage in a dialogue with the media and clients, offer some ideas and alternative angles on what will make their information more newsworthy – then gather the proof points and assets needed to help build the story.
2) Close the loop. Min marveled at job candidates from whom she tried to elicit written critiques of the magazine as part of the interview process. Several never got back to her with ideas or even to let her know that they decided to pass on the project and the position. PR professionals must be cognizant of tying up loose ends with reporters. Let them know what happened with the interview request, scheduling, asset requests, etc. If you’ve promised to deliver someone for comment or to get more information, let them know if you’re not going to be able to get it to them by deadline and why. Preferably let them know before the deadline arrives. Don’t go radio silent. Keep them in the loop and close the loop.
3) Respect the deadline. Min commented that some job candidates, who did offer a critique of the magazine, didn’t send it to her by the agreed deadline. Reporters get fired if they don’t meet deadlines. PR professionals who regularly assist reporters by delivering relevant information and sources by deadline are invaluable. To help ensure deadlines are met, be clear about timing with clients and reporters: when putting a media opportunity in front of a client, always make clear what the reporter’s deadline is for receiving a response and let the client know that missing the deadline could mean missing the opportunity. Transparency and follow-through will go a long way to achieving a beautiful placement.
Do you have other tips for media relations and account management? Don’t be shy. Leave a comment.