Positive Language Works!

23 10 2012

Which phrase works better: “Don’t be so negative” … or …  “Be positive”?

Most people see the first comment as accusatory or critical. And they see the second comment as more encouraging, more helpful.

And so it is with most communications, whether written or spoken.

Negative language tends to create barriers to effective communication, while positive language tends to create a bridge and to encourage more effective communication.

Negative language can have many harmful – and often unintended – effects. For example, if I tell you: “Your idea won’t work” …

1)      You become defensive, hurt or mad

2)      You stop listening, even if I follow-up with something positive

3)      You become argumentative, poised for battle, and

4)      Communication breaks down.

However, if I had said: “That’s an interesting idea. What do you think will make this idea successful?” …

1)      You’d feel I respected and was interested in your idea

2)      You’d be more open to discussion and more likely to listen to my thoughts

3)      You’d feel cooperative, and

4)      We’d ultimately communicate more effectively.

To communicate more strategically, more powerfully and more effectively, strive to use positive, instead of negative, phrasing.

It may mean breaking some bad habits, and recognizing the need to rethink our choice of words when we feel the need to use not, no, don’t, can’t, won’t and their nay-saying counterparts. For example, use:

-          “I agree” rather than “I don’t disagree.”

-          “I prefer something else” rather than “I don’t want this.”

-          “Please contact me” rather than “Do not hesitate to contact me.”

-          “Most people prefer to …” rather than “No one does that anymore …”

-          “Our approach is …” rather than “That’s not how we do it.”

As respected crisis PR guru Jim Lukaszewski says: “Negative language is the language of losers. Positive language is the language of leadership and candor.” For more on negative language and how to eliminate it, visit Lukaszewski’s 2001 paper  at http://www.e911.com/monos/lessons08.html.

A Dozen Things to Expect from Your PR Firm

10 10 2012

We recently outlined a list of seven things a client can do to make its PR agency great – our thoughts on how a client can make its PR firm more effective and a better partner (http://wp.me/ppqb5-iF).

Based on our firm’s 20-year history – and a few client relationships that have lasted more than 16 years – we’ve learned there are also a number of things an agency should do to make its relationships with clients mutually beneficial.

Of course, results are ultimately the most important thing in the client-agency relationship.

Generating solid results, however, is just the start of a great relationship, according to many of the clients we’ve talked with over the years.

If you’re a client, your peers think you should also be able to expect your PR firm to:

1)      Be attentive – they should be responsive, accessible and pro-active, and they should feed the relationship

2)      Think long-term and strategic – not just about short-term activities or easy billings

3)      Offer ideas and opportunities that are good for your business – even if they are outside of the PR realm and don’t add any revenue or work for the agency

4)      Be a good steward of your budget – they are prompt and fair with billing and are thrifty with your money

5)      Keep you informed – they strive for transparency and no surprises

6)      Anticipate your needs – and they work hard to meet them before you’ve asked them to

7)      Provide a realistic view of what you can expect – honest, accurate, puffery-free predictions about cost, timing, impact and/or results

8)      Demonstrate that they are always thinking about you and looking out for your best interests

9)      Make you the hero – and not seek or take credit for a program’s successes

10)   Know, and cater to, your preferences and priorities – instead of forcing you to accept theirs

11)   Communicate with you candidly, honestly and frequently – better too much than too little

12)   Make it pleasant, friendly and fun for you to work with them – everyone does better in a positive environment.

I’ve always believed that if we, the PR agency team, take care of the client, the client will take care of us. So far, in the majority of cases, that has proven true. It can for you, too.

Clients: What other expectations do you have for your PR agency?

Maximum Exposure: Press Release Distribution 2.0

3 10 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP- Account Service)

If your typical press release distribution process is like ours, it probably goes a little something like this:

  • Issue the press release on the newswire;
  • Email it to a carefully crafted, customized media distribution list;
  • Post the news to media sites that allow image / news sharing;
  • Post the news to social media sites; and
  • Monitor for coverage and share the results with our client.

Simple enough, right?

But no matter how many times we’ve successfully conducted this process over the years, we’re still asked every now and then: Do we really need to use the wire? Can’t we just email the release? If we’re using the wire, why do we need to email it too? You’re going to share our news via social media? Isn’t this all a bit redundant?

My response will typically begin with a question: Do you want maximum exposure of your good news?

The typical reply back: Well yes, of course we do.

When you’ve got good news to share and you’ve taken the time to carefully craft your message, gained executive approvals, etc., why wouldn’t you take the same amount of time and effort with the distribution process?

Let me address those “why we need to …” questions:

  • Newswire – The wire has become a standard for issuing most news, as you can select exactly which areas your news is released – a particular city, state, country, etc. The reason for using the wire is simple, it’s how our industry typically shares its news with the media and public at large. Another benefit of using the wire is the increased online search visibility it creates for your company and its products / services. This is due to the database links and news aggregator sites that pick up the release this way.
  • Direct Email to Media – Creating a customized media distribution list and emailing it directly to media is critical to making sure that your news it getting to the right publication, reporter / editor, instead of just hoping that they’ll catch your news on the wire.
  • Posting News Online – With the slimming down of editorial staffs, more publications are beginning to allow you to upload your own news and images to their sites. This is especially ideal if you have images to go along with your news, as it can allow for guaranteed online media exposure.
  • Posting to Social Media – Utilizing sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. will extend the reach of your news with your contacts, who (in many cases) are media covering your industry, as well as customers, potential customers, industry influentials, etc. My suggestion is to post your news release on your website, so that you can share a link to it on these social media platforms, thus increasing your company’s potential website traffic as well.

Over the years, we’ve continued to find ways to carefully hone and perfect a pretty basic – yet critically important – part of the PR process. The result: increased media hits; increased circulation; and, ultimately, increased client satisfaction.

Execution, as a legendary championship coach so aptly put it, does indeed win it.

How have you tweaked your release distribution process? And what were the results?


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