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PRSA’s Media Training Bible with Brad Phillips

Recently, President of Phillips Media Relations and author of The Media Training Bible, Brad Phillips, joined the Richmond PRSA to instruct PR pros on preparing themselves and their spokespeople for media interviews.  Below I’ve outlined highlights from the class.

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Three is the magic number

Brad recommends that speakers develop three main messages when going into an interview or preparing for a speech. Speakers should either focus on one main theme supported by three ideas, or three main concepts supported by interesting data and examples. There is no perfect answer as to why this is the best strategy, but our brains seem to like organizing information into bits of 3.  For example: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; red, yellow, and green); and small, medium, and large. When an audience is given too many points, they tend to lose interest.  On the flipside, too few points or messages can lead to redundancy.

The three-legged stool of messaging

Keeping the number 3 in mind, when constructing a solid message, a helpful visual is the three-legged support stool.  Imagine a three-legged stool, with each leg representing support for your message: stories, statistics and sound bites.  To put this into action, first, envision your message.  You want to put it into context, so you tell a story.  To support your story, you then cite statistics.  It’s important to keep in mind that numbers tend to not stick with an audience unless they are unexpected or shocking.  Lastly there are sound bites: what key piece of information do you want your audience to take away? Think of superlatives or extremes to give your audience to drive your point home. For example, “This is the biggest technology advancement in 50 years” – using an impressive superlative will keep your audience’s attention and hopefully stick with them after you’re done speaking.

Body Language do’s and don’ts

When giving a speech or being interviewed, it might be easy to focus only on the words you are saying and forget about your motions/actions..  As body language can make or break an interview or speech, Brad provided a few tips for proper body language.  First off, the use of gestures is a good thing.  Some people say the contrary, but as we are naturally expressive to some degree when we speak, we shouldn’t fight it when the spotlight is on us.  Fidgeting and quick movements are distracting, however, and should be avoided. Additionally, gestures actually improve listener comprehension, which many people don’t know.  If sitting while speaking, lean slightly forward to show engagement. This also makes it easier to gesture and be expressive while speaking.  Last, think about hand placement.  It can be easy to fidget and not know where to place your hands when you are nervous.  Get used to either resting your hands in your lap when sitting, or clasped in front of you if standing, or even keeping them by your sides when standing.

The power of tone

Maintaining a proper tone in speech is vital when all eyes are on you.  Though this may be obvious,  it can easily be forgotten when under pressure.  When speaking, think about a topic you are passionate about and speak as if you’re discussing that.  If asked a tough question, never sound defensive.  Instead, say something like, “Thank you for asking that question,” and move on with your point. Maintain an upbeat attitude even when being put on the spot or stumped.  It may be beneficial to practice having someone ask you tough questions and see how you react.

Brad’s tips on preparation for speeches and interviews, in conjunction with his website, http://www.mrmediatraining.com/, provide PR professionals with an arsenal to prepare themselves and their spokespeople for media success.

Wireside and Big Telecom Event Join Forces in Chicago

We’ve got big (telecom) news!  Chicago is already home to deep dish pizza, lake effect snow and the Magnificent Mile, but in 2 weeks it will host telecom industry movers and shakers! Wireside is a media partner of Light Reading’s Big Telecom Event, being held June 17-18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.  The Big Telecom Event (BTE) is an industry-first event designed to bridge the gap in the telecom industry between technology know-how and business acumen.

The BTE will cover some of the industry’s hottest topics, such as NFV, SDN, and the carrier cloud.  The event comprises a best-in-class conference with show floor demonstrations of networking technologies and applications that deliver real insight and tangible value to attendees.

Wireside’s Senior Account Executive, Christine Carlson, will be traveling to Chicago to attend, and our clients NTT America and the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL) will share real-world experience and expertise acquired as leaders in the telecom industry.  NTT America’s CTO Doug Junkins will join the panel Virtualization Innovation: Service Providers in Action (Tuesday, June 17, from 10-11 a.m.), and will also speak on the panel Network Management & Orchestration Challenges for SDN/NFV (Wednesday, June 18, from 3:45-4:45 p.m.).  In addition, Marion Dillon, Home Networking Manager at the UNH-IOL, will be demonstrating her latest study of end-to-end NFV. The full agenda can be viewed here.

ION-Krakow at PLNOG 11: Swords, Knights, Castles, Internet?

This week ION Krakow, co-located with the Polish Network Operators’ Group (PLNOG), took place bringing IT professionals and industry leaders from all over Europe together to discuss emerging technologies including IPv6, DNSSEC, and Routing Resiliency and Security. While getting a large number of professionals in one venue is a major feat in itself—PLNOG is one of the biggest network conferences in Poland—the conference organizers took it one step further with an amazing medieval theme made certain that the event would be pretty memorable.

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Conferences and sword fights do not normally go hand in hand, but between medieval tournaments, and a party in a castle, we love it when a theme is truly carried through.

In addition, PLNOG 11 debuted PLNOG4KIDS – a series of events and meetings organized for 9-12 year old children.

Of course, there was a lot going on behind the scenes to make sure the event would go off without a hitch, not unlike the challenges ION panelists discussed during panels “Slaying the Two-Headed Beast: Challenges and Triumphs of DNSSEC” and “Fortifying the Castle: An Update on Global IPv6 Deployment.” Check out the links to archived webcasts here.

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(Left to Right: ION-Krakow IPv6 panelists take questions from the audience; ION-Krakow speakers Jan Žorž and Sander Steffann)

Now, onto ION-Toronto!

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Take a Walk on the Wireside: Interop, News, Awards, Trends, Travel, Football!

Newsletter0913We’re excited to announce the inaugural edition of Wireside Communications’ newsletter, including highlights from 2013. The newsletter will be sent quarterly and will contain news about the agency, our clients and industry trends.

Read our full newsletter here.  To stay informed of what’s happening at Wireside Communications, please make sure to sign up to receive our next installment via email.

UNH-IOL Celebrates 25 Years of Education & Innovation

IOLNext week Joya and I will head to Durham, New Hampshire to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL).  Since 2010, we’ve served as the agency of record for this premier independent provider of conformance and interoperability testing services for the networking industry.

Founded in 1988, the UNH-IOL has worked with some of the world’s leading technology companies to introduce new, innovative products and services to market, while preparing the next generation of engineers.  With a unique model of blending industry expertise with an educational mission, the lab employs more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students that gain hands-on experience with developing technologies such as Automotive Ethernet, Home Networking (think “Connected Home”) and the next generation Internet protocol, IPv6.

On Monday, September 16 from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET, Wireside will join industry and community leaders from across New Hampshire, distinguished UNH-IOL alumni, and current staff and students to commemorate the lab’s significant milestone.  The event will feature interactive demonstrations of the latest technical advancements, tours of the UNH-IOL’s 32,000 square-foot facility, and remarks from special guests such senior vice president of engineering for Enterasys Networks, Dave Kjendal; UNH president, Mark Huddleston; and CEO and founder of QA Café, Joe McEachern.  Erica Johnson, director of the UNH-IOL, and Amy Davies, UNH computer science student and UNH-IOL employee, will also address the audience.

If you’re a member of the press or analyst communities and are interested in attending the event to connect with the IT leaders of today and tomorrow, and learn about the UNH-IOL’s involvement with testing various cutting edge technologies, please let us know!

Keeping Organized with Hootsuite

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In my last post on Fireside, I talked about the series I write about the great social media resources available to businesses and ones we use here at Wireside.  In writing the post, I realized that the one tool I use day in and day out had not yet been highlighted in that series on tools we endorse.  It’s the common case of not recognizing what’s right under your nose.  But I’m rectifying that omission today.

Today, I’m writing about the tool I rely on every day to organize our social media output – Hootsuite.  Hootsuite was originally developed as a way to organize tweets.  It has since evolved into a service that helps users manage a number of social media platforms.  The free membership allows a user to set up to 9 streams that display different feeds for each social platform.  Here at Wireside, we monitor Twitter feeds about our clients, trending topics, and any mentions about our own brand.  It’s all in one place, easy to monitor, and keep track of the topics of greatest importance to our company.  We also have our Wireside Facebook and LinkedIn pages integrated with Hootsuite and monitor our wall posts and company updates.

The best feature I’ve found with Hootsuite is the ability to schedule tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts in advance.   It’s a great feature to make sure that relevant content is going out throughout the day and not all at once.

The free version also allows users to generate basic analytic reports that help to determine what is resonating best with their audience.  My favorite analytic report is the Ow.ly Click Summary which shows which links were clicked on most frequently.  It’s quick to generate and easy to understand when distributed throughout the company.

But even for all the wonderful things that Hootsuite does for me, it isn’t without a few quirks.  As it was originally created for use with Twitter, it still works best with that platform.  I still find the need to log in to Facebook directly sometimes because a wall post doesn’t display properly.  I’ve also found the search feature, to search for a person to follow or a hashtag, to be a bit limited and have found myself logging into Twitter directly on occasion when I can’t seem to pull the necessary information.

Yet, these are very minor inconveniences when compared to the amount of time saved with Hootsuite.  If you’re looking to get organized, I highly recommend setting up your Hootsuite account today.

Formulating Your Game Plan: The Keys to Success in Football and PR

Game-plan-2With summer fading, most of my thoughts are focused on two things: the always hectic final quarter of the year and football.  With co-workers, clients and media back in the office after summer vacations and tradeshow after tradeshow, fall is a busy time for most PR professionals.  As the weather cools down and work heats up, I spend my weekdays at the office and weekends (along with the occasional Monday or Thursday night) glued to the TV screen, cheering on my favorite NFL and college teams.  With my mind so focused on this mix of business and pleasure, it’s hard not to notice the parallels that exist between a results-oriented PR campaign and the game plan for a Super Bowl contending team.

Strategy is at the Core

Well before players hit the grid iron, they have a well-thought-out, calculated plan of action in place.  They’ve studied the competition and know what they’re up against; they’re aware of their own strengths and weakness.

Strategy is also the most essential element of a public relations campaign.  Before drafting the headline of a press release or picking up the phone to make the first pitch call, it’s vital to understand the ultimate goal and the most effective avenues that will lead to it.  This requires research on market trends and what the competition is doing, as well as an analysis of the challenges and key differentiators.

Tackling the Tactics

The game clock has started ticking.  The team is on the field, carefully executing the plays they’ve been practicing.  While they’ve worked hard to prepare, they know that the other team has the same goal in mind and will try equally as hard to do what it takes to achieve it.

Remember you’re not the only fish in the sea.  As PR professionals, we face fierce competition when it comes to capturing a reporter’s attention.  They receive hundreds of emails a day so to be successful at getting our clients in the news, we must develop compelling content that separates us from the competition.

Just like the team’s quarterback, we can expect that things won’t always go as planned and we must demonstrate the ability to make last minute adjustments at the line of scrimmage.  If a reporter does not accept your first angle, use the intel you’ve gathered from your research on the reporter and his readership, and try pitching a new angle.

Play-by-Play Analysis

Win or lose, after the clock stops it’s time to go back to the drawing board.  The team must analyze the game to determine what went right and what didn’t.  They’ll learn from the plays that resulted in success, such as 107 yard kickoff return that ended with a touchdown, as well as plays that didn’t quite go as planned like multiple turnovers that resulted in touchdowns for the other guys.   This reflection will help the team formulate a stronger game plan for the next matchup.

At the conclusion of each PR campaign, it’s vital to measure the results against the goals initially set-forth.  With a play by-play-recap of the campaign, we can identify the successes and failures and realign our approach to ensure the desired outcome is repeated or achieved in the future.

Whether you’re on the field or in a PR agency, execution of a strategic game plan is the key to achieving success.

A Brave New, Overshared World

SocialMediaI write a series on Fireside about social media resources we use here at Wireside that we endorse.  There seem to be so many great (mostly) free tools and resources for businesses to track and analyze social media output.  I’ve written on this blog about resources like Klout which allows individuals and businesses to gauge their influence on social media; RebelMouse which compiles a user’s social media output into a dynamic, colorful, easy-to-read format; and Bottlenose which allows users to analyze their social media influence and trends in real-time. And I don’t know what I’d do without Hootsuite, which allows me to schedule tweets and Facebook posts in advance, see a number of designated streams at once, and provides basic analytic tools – all for free.  It seems that every day a new start-up pops up to make my life as a manager of our social properties easier.  And I love that businesses use social media; it allows for a two-way dialogue with clients and customers rather than the one-way dialogue of the past.  As a marketer I love engaging with, not just talking to, customers.

But lately, I’ve read news account after news account about adolescents who are being bullied on social media, who are having their lives destroyed by one unflattering picture being posted online and remaining there forever.  In a recent article, in a series focusing on what they term “Generation Overshare,” an HLN.com reporter points out the difference between adolescents growing up today and those of past generations.  He notes that all of us encountered embarrassing experiences in our teen years (oh yes, I can attest to that!), but what’s changed is that now those embarrassing moments are turning up on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram to exist in perpetuity and be shared and shared until kids in the neighboring town and around the world have seen it.   Sometimes those images come back to haunt them into adulthood when they go to get their first job and the hiring manager does a quick Internet search.

It’s definitely a brave new world and it has gotten me to thinking about what resources are out there to help adolescents analyze and protect their social media output.  Sure, they could sign up for Bottlenose and track the trends around their handle and their personal brand, but such services are marketed towards people like me – the digital marketing managers – not adolescents.  Where are the start-ups in Silicon Valley dedicated to sniffing out digital bullies and erasing derogatory, bullying posts and tweets?  Are there engineers working to build programs that can erase those awful, embarrassing images once teens graduate to adulthood and realize that hiring managers know how to use Google as well?  It seems there is quite a market for such services judging by the news coverage.  If you know of great tools out there to manage social media output for teens and anyone interested in protecting their personal brand, please leave a comment below.  After all, teen years will always be filled with embarrassing moments and kids will be kids, but should teens be judged forever on one embarrassing, overshared moment?

Worker, Writer, Watcher: Where the Professional and the Creative Collide – The Art of Award Submissions

The planets have aligned perfectly for the 3 Ws this week—an advertising agency with whom we work, Central Coast, is going to be featured on AMC’s “The Pitch” (tune in this Thursday), AND, our own agency was thrilled to find out that we were named Bulldog Reporter’s 2013 Small Agency of the Year.

 

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Awards and contests, whether on television or otherwise, have much in common:  promote yourself while letting your work/skills do the talking. That said, writing about and promoting your own agency’s PR expertise is a bizarre experience—like the scene in the surreal “Being John Malkovich” when the actor John Malkovich slips into his own consciousness and finds himself in a restaurant filled with infinite John Malkovich’s all repeating one word, “Malkovich,”over and over again.  I’m sure our friends at Central Coast will find it equally strange watching themselves pitch potential clients on national television.

Sure, PR is work, the work we do every day. But when it’s under the microscope, it starts to look very different. Writing is the same, when no one is watching there is an immense freedom, creating the story, finding your voice, etc. –but how do you find it and how does it change when you know others are watching?

We work in PR! We make our living tooting horns, spreading the word and leveraging our relationships and our knowledge of the industry to do so.  However, this is all behind the scenes, we prefer our clients capture the limelight—we are the worker bees, not the Queen.  When the tables turn and you do that very same thing for your own agency, you see the process from a new perspective.   It touches on the duality of our culture: Do not be a braggart, but be successful! (Exhibit A: The Unsinkable Donald Trump).

The experience of writing the submission, working together to find our agency’s “voice” to tout our accolades, was an interesting exercise. When pulling together our awards submission and writing the narrative, zeroing in on “our story,”  all that we have done as an agency, it was easy to miss the forest for the trees.  Certainly the honor of winning and the exposure is amazing—excellence is what we aim for after all. But that doesn’t account for the experience of working with the team on the submission—passing edits back and forth, pitching in with our various expertise, working late into the night—which was a rediscovery of the core of what makes our agency tick.

From RVA to USC: Sending-off the Business Leaders of Tomorrow

We deliver stellar results to our clients on a consistent basis, but it’s not all work and no play for the Wireside ladies.  Outside of the office, our team is involved in a variety of activities and organizations – from PRSA, Ad Club, AMA, James River Writers to Richmond’s historical Quoit Club.

RVA_GamecocksOne group that I’m actively involved in is the University of South Carolina alumni chapter here in Richmond.  Serving on the leadership team as the organization’s communications and social media chair, I’m tasked with raising awareness of the chapter throughout the region and energizing the alumni base to get involved.  We coordinate several events during the year including football watch parties, networking happy hours and philanthropic initiatives like our SEC Alumni Blood Drive Challenge which is taking place all this month.

Our most recent event was the freshman send-off, held last week at Dave & Buster’s.  The alumni association, My Carolina, partnered with our local chapter to welcome some of the nearly 80 Richmond-based students heading to the University of South Carolina this fall.  We hosted approximately 50 guests, including students, family members and university staff.  Two days later, I traveled with the leadership team to Charlottesville, Virginia to support that area’s freshman send-off event as well.charlottesville_pic2

The caliber of students in attendance at these two events was so impressive.  Many of them had their sights set on the International Business Program, which is no surprise – it’s the number one program in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report.  With strong ties to and admiration for my alma mater, I’m confident the university will equip those students with the education and skill set they need to emerge as strong, successful leaders.  Hopefully they’ll work for Wireside when they’re through!