You know that sinking feeling you get when a client comes to you with a question directly related to your field of expertise and you don’t know the answer?
Now, magnify that by a hundred if you’re already harboring some tendencies toward Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is defined as an inability to internalize your accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” – and speaking from experience, it can feel paralyzing. It’s also pretty inconvenient, to say the least, in a job where clients turn to you for your expertise all day long. Read more after the jump…
When we think of leadership, vulnerability is the last leg of a stool you might expect to support teams. However, when speaking to three leaders across the communications industry, vulnerability seemed to be the secret ingredient to foster strong leadership and quality customer service.
Dr. Bill Withers, a professor in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA., has studied, consulted and written about Quality Customer Service (QCS) for more than a decade. His blog, Faith. Lead. Serve., explores leadership topics about faith groups and large corporations. Having worked with four- and five-star organizations, Withers says, “Those organizations and their people all have a fundamental understanding of ‘excellence.’ They hire and train people with high EQs, not to meet – but exceed expectations, and they want every encounter to be an experience.”
A culture in which employees feel empowered to exceed expectations takes creative leadership. For some teams, that means a platform for expression. Not just creative expression, but a safe place for team members to be authentic. Erica Hanna, an Emmy award-winning producer and founder at Puke Rainbows Creative in Minneapolis, MN, and Kristin Darga, author and founder at Impact Founder, are two leaders in the creative community who serve that need. Hanna and Darga practice what they preach – authenticity and vulnerability.
Our Discussion on Creative Leadership
Darga created Impact Founder, an outlet and eventually a book where entrepreneurs could have raw conversations about what running and starting a business was really like. Darga said, “As a business owner, I can’t deny the direct correlation between my health, happiness, creativity and the growth of my business.” Impact Founder became a platform where founders could connect and share stories of their personal success and failure.
Hanna grew in popularity across the Minneapolis and national blogging scene after openly and honestly expressing her thoughts on a variety of topics from human rights to mental health. As a director, producer and editor, Hanna’s work is an expression of her own authenticity. “Saying it and actually doing it are two completely different things,” she said. “Showing that struggle and transparency sometimes is exactly what the consumer needs.”
Create a culture of excellence: Organizations known for Quality Customer Service create a culture of excellence.
Speak up and share: Empowering teams and providing a safe platform for authentic conversations can help those who are having creative ups and downs. Team members who open up to others are often perceived as leaders.
Embrace vulnerability and authenticity: In an era of overwhelming content, brands need to become comfortable with sharing authentic stories so they can stand out in the crowd.
GFM’s Amanda Brannum spent time working in-house with our clients at Tennyson Center for Children.
At GFM, we occasionally have the opportunity to work in-house with our clients – perhaps helping out during a maternity or paternity leave or filling in during a staffing transition. I’ve had semi-long-term (several months) onsite assignments with a handful of PR clients over the years, most recently last fall when I spent four months in-house at a local private school. Whatever the reason for the in-house assignment, it’s always a really interesting learning experience from a number of perspectives. Four top takeaways from my in-house time with companies in three different industries follows:
I had the opportunity to attend one of the more than 350 sessions that were part of the 2017 Denver Startup Week. Now in its sixth year, Denver Startup Week is the largest free entrepreneurial event of its kind in North America, and is one of the best resources in the nation for those looking to start or grow a business, or in my case, to learn from the best in business.
One of the sessions I attended, “Chinese Rockets and Disco Dance Lessons: The Art of Reinvention – A Night with Startup Visionaries Charlie Ergen, Mark Cuban and Brad Feld,” was highly entertaining and included a candid discussion with successful entrepreneurs.
While admittedly I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m in awe of gutsy business leaders who just go for it and live their dream. Charlie Ergen is the co-founder of Dish Network; Brad Feld runs the Foundry Group, a Boulder venture capital fund; and Mark Cuban is the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of “Shark Tank.”
Should social media be a space for branding/thought leadership or a function of your sales team?
We work with clients on this issue often and the short answer is that social media, when done correctly, should do both. On one side, organizations shouldn’t (or can’t afford to) blindly pass on an opportunity to generate sales or action through a channel where opportunity exists.
Or using it to build trust and credibility? On the other hand, social media isn’t simply “another sales channel.”
On the other hand, social media isn’t simply “another sales channel.”
We (and many others) have made the comparison often: social media should be treated like a cocktail party or networking event. If you walked up to everyone you met at an event, told them what you do, why they should work with you, hand them a business card and walk away, you wouldn’t be making a great impression on anyone. The better approach is to engage with those you’re talking with and actually build rapport and credibility.
Knowing the value you provide for clients is critical if you work for a public relations firm. It can be easy to fall into the trap of providing the services that you think they should value instead of taking the time to listen to them to understand how they view their needs.
I was reminded of that recently when I read the Global Communications Report 2017 from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The report examines a number of agency and in-house public relations issues, and one chart chronicled the top reasons companies choose to work with PR firms.
Among in-house public relations professionals, the highest-ranked reasons for working with a PR firm included:
Creative thinking (69%)
Strategic insights (69%)
Specific practice areas (62%)
Digital and social media (61%)
Specific geographic markets (56%)
Objective, independent perspective (53%)
Every client is different, but seven in 10 are looking for creativity and strategy. That’s a great reminder to take a step back when you feel like you have been in the tactical weeds too long. Neglecting the big picture to accomplish smaller things may allow you check action items off a list, but it may not be what the client values most.
Buyer behaviorists have for a long time relied on the traditional consumer journey funnel to describe how a potential customer starts with a set of brands and through a set of methodical steps, reduces the number of brands down to a small number to make a purchase. The following funnel visually indicates the typical consumer journey: Read more after the jump…
Why do so many of us feel compelled to check our smart phones so frequently? And why do we get an anxious feeling if we haven’t checked our phone recently? In a recent 60 Minutes segment, Anderson Cooper explored our obsession with our smart phones and the physiological reaction many of us have, such as every time we get an alert on our phone, it triggers a release of cortisol, which makes us anxious, and our goal is to rid the anxiety so we keep checking in.
Everywhere you go today, in the U.S. or abroad, you see people of all ages walking around with their heads down looking at their phones. According to Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager, the smart phone is like a slot machine, every time you check it, you’re pulling the lever to see if you get a reward. And the rewards are texts from friends, new likes, cute emoji’s, etc.
Where do you get your social media ideas? When you hear the words “brainstorming” or “creativity,” you may not immediately associate them with science and research, but I do. When I see a calendar invitation to a brainstorming session, I make a note to make time for some research. I’m not talking about what competitors are up to, though that too is important. I’m talking about finding a LexisNexis log in and doing some digging to see what the scientific community says about the topic. You’d be surprised what exists out there to inspire your work.
Most recently, I did some work with a child abuse prevention nonprofit and stumbled across the amazing Frameworks research that studied how people in various demographics responded to different message framing related to child abuse prevention. This research is widely used amongst nonprofits working on this topic. It has great insights like “because so many frames have the effect of lifting support for child abuse and neglect policies, child welfare advocates on this issue have the opportunity to create some synergy across child development issues by using frames that also elevate other areas of child development.” To translate, there are many ways of talking about child abuse that can be effective, but a few strategic ones will also help everyone else working on the topic. In coming up with ideas for this April, which is child abuse prevention month, we kept that research in mind.
The child abuse example is just one of many. If the topic relevant to you doesn’t have extensive existing research there can be more broad ways to investigate, such as looking for research related to online giving and social pressure for nonprofits. Or even understanding theories related to how people choose what to buy. This study tested whether people offered a coupon for jelly bought more when they could choose between 26 flavors or 6 flavors. More people were attracted to the big display, but more people actually bought jelly when there were fewer choices.
If you want to propel your agenda, build a movement, and change the narrative, you’re going to need some powerful social media ideas for content. Why not start with a Google search to leverage psychology, cognitive science, and the latest social science research to help lead you to success?
Every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we meet truly inspiring people that leave us in awe. Mary Hoagland, is one of those people.
As a group of us recently had dinner with her earlier this week, she had a lot of wisdom to share about her 92 years in this world. As we’re inundated with sensational stories in the media and on social media, it’s refreshing to hear from someone who is so accomplished, yet humble, and happy to live in the moment.
After graduating from Smith College in 1946, then marrying and raising four children, at the age of 48, she decided she wanted to go to law school. Her husband was a successful attorney in Denver, so why couldn’t she become one? After being turned down twice from the University of Denver School of Law because of her age, on her third attempt she showed up with her tuition check in hand and told them: “You’re a business, and you need my money.” They finally relented and admitted her in 1972. She graduated and went on to run her own family law practice for 16 years, which included representing women in serious, often dangerous, family situations.