Using Social Media to Break the Internet

Last evening, Drake made an attempt to break the internet by releasing an album with no promo through iTunes. The 17 track mixtape features appearance from Lil Wayne, Travi$ Scott, and PARTYNEXTDOOR. Sales projections are at 500,000 units before the end of Saturday – that is a gold record goal before with less than three days of sales.

Following in the precedence set by Beyoncé who on December 13th, 2013 released her fifth album, self titled Beyoncé, to a exclusively to the digital audience through iTunes Stores. This release too was not prompted by promotions or a hit single instead fueled by social media. Columbia Records recorded the sale of 828,773 units worldwide in three days and gave Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number one album and a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. This is an interesting thought for marketers who target the young adult demographic.

Just as traditional journalism is shifting so is marketing for the new age, gone are the days of posting a full color ad in the newspaper or magazines. Now if you are not embracing social media in some way, through an app, or actual medium, you are passed on by this market. The revolution is now televised through 4.7-5 inch screens of smart phones in the hands of nearly all consumers aged 18-30. What do you think of this new phenomenon that is being fueled through social media? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

Maybe even while listening to “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” available in the iTunes store.

Increase your Reach Across Platforms

I am not one to push my religion on other people but my Washington DC church home (@CapCityChurchDC) is amazingly progressive. One sermon that I often revisit came from the Executive Pastor, @HarrisonWilder, on October 06, 2013. The sermon entitled ‘Great Faith. Little Faith.’ spoke about reach, and ways to increase your reach across platforms and through  people.

My interpretation of the points he made related back to my journey as a professional and publicist. I have the bold face words highlighted on the wall in my office just to help me when I get off track. Many times I revisit my notes when I am dismayed with a client or am just in need of a reminder of what it takes to be on top.

  • Become a good listener, people will tell you what you need and where they are. Listening comes in handy not just when speaking with clients but also with their publics. Proper response to complaints, feedback and compliments are key factors in maintaining and retaining good reach with public.

  • You must seek to effect one life at a time, make your message personal. A message that appears to be custom tailored  is more likely to get a response than those that are mass produced. Sometimes expanding your reach can come from just touching a few, remember not everything has to be grassroots.

  • Get intentional, develop a concise message that gets your point across. Once you get the attention of a public they do not want to be spammed or overloaded with information. Have your message make sense, as if you were to explain it to your Grandma!

  • Get prayerful, as you develop and finalize your plan, literally talk about it outloud. Once you have created the steps that will get you to the finish line have faith that it’ll happen. Most importantly on your journey to the finish line you cannot forget to be thankful for the progress that has been made with each bit of movement.

  • Take small steps, when you take too much on, you will just drown yourself. Don’t go for the home run right off the bat, mistakes are less likely to be made when you take your time, within reason, to ensure it gets done correctly.

  • Utilize community, although as publicist we want to be able to do it all no person is superman/woman. You cannot be afraid to ask for help and utilize the resources around you when you are unsure

  • Be patient, change takes time and good things come to those who wait. I cannot think of one brand that went from inception to household name overnight, know that you must create and follow a process..

  • Believe that people are hungry to live in their own purpose. This is key in choosing and keeping the right clients, if you are working harder than the client is working themselves there is something wrong. If a client doesn’t believe in themselves or their product what are we working for?

The points that he gave not only help increase your reach but help you become a better influencer or game changer. I believe that these are important to remember on this journey to go from being extra ordinary to extraordinary.

5 signs you’re not cut out for PR

Originally posted on PRDaily in March 2013 then Dec 2013 at PRDaily.com. Written by Scott Signore. 

While my firm is incredibly fortunate to employ some of the very best PR and social media practitioners, we’ve also had a number of staff members who simply weren’t cut out for our business. Sure, they were good, hard-working people, but the writing was on the wall early on that they weren’t cut out for public relations. 

Here are a few key indicators that PR might not be a good career path for you: 

1. You receive critical feedback, well, critically. 

Critical feedback is a way of PR life and professionals in this business are required to have thick skin. Even the very best piece of secured coverage can generate commentary from a colleague or client about a key message that was missed; the most successful social media campaign may result in a request for more “likes” or a greater number of followers. And that’s the results end of the campaign. 

The feedback during materials development and/or project management is typically without a filter and often comes from a number of sources including colleagues, managers, and clients. Critical feedback is part of the gig, and the best you can do is embrace it, learn from mistakes, and improve moving forward. 

Can’t handle it? Consider another career. 

2. You think the PR job (or project) is finished. 

An old and great client of mine, Jim Gustke, now the vice president of marketing at Internet phone company Ooma, once told me (wisely) that the problem with PR (and social media, marketing, etc.), is it’s never finished. PR people can always do more. And these were the words of a satisfied client—one who understood that the agency support I was providing his organization was the very best I could do under the budget, program, and business circumstances. 

You may come to the “end” of a launch, or a short-term client project may be “over,” but there’s always the next thing, the higher level. You can send one more pitch, or comment on one more blog. You can spend more time prepping your spokesperson for the next interview, or spend more time following-up with a key contact. 

In general, there’s always more to do and you should always be thinking of “what’s next.” If this isn’t in your makeup, you might start thinking about what comes next—after PR agency life. 

3. Breaking news means nothing to you. 

If you wake up one morning and realize that you couldn’t care less about what’s happening in the category in which you and your clients work, start thinking about your next career step. 

PR pros are expected to embrace the energy and enthusiasm that surrounds their clients’ categories. Do you keep up with current events? Are you a voracious reader? If your answer is “no,” you really ought to consider a new line of work. 

4. You have a perpetually low energy level. 

Does this sound familiar: After several coffees in the morning, your pulse barely registers? If so, the career gods are waving a large red flag in your direction and letting you know to pick another path. 

There’s natural and trained enthusiasm—and PR requires both. Trained enthusiasm is a person’s ability to credibly show enthusiasm for a topic without necessarily feeling the love. We’re not talking about faking it, but rather knowing how to make your client, colleague, or media target know that you are “genuinely” pumped about the latest and greatest. PR is a high-energy gig—and that’s one of the reasons why I love it as I do—and a lack of juice is synonymous with a “slow fade” from the PR biz. 

5. You are educated and you’ve been trained, but you can’t talk or type your way out of a paper bag. 

This likely seems harsh, but this list is incomplete without mentioning basic and solid communication skills. It should be a glaring sign to hang your professional hat elsewhere if you struggle with finding the right words to say or type. 

I wouldn’t expect any of our clients to rely on a communicator who is anything less than top-notch. While such standards aren’t as critical at the start of a career, you need to reach them relatively quickly, ensuring that colleagues and clients have confidence in your ability to deliver key messages. 

Can’t write? Can’t effectively talk with clients? You know what I’m going to say next. 

What have I missed? 

Scott Signore is the principal and CEO of Matter Communications, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a firm next week. 

5 Unexpected Ways To Build Your Personal Brand

Originally posted on December 10, 2013 by William Arruda onForbes.com

Sometimes, effective personal branding requires nixing conventional wisdom. Here are five tips to help you increase your visibility, influence and success.

1. Be Lazy. One misconception about personal branding is that you need to constantly create new content to build your brand. For the overworked, never-a-spare-minute among us, that’s stressful. And it’s not necessary.

Effective branding doesn’t mean you have to become your own full-time writer and media developer. Be lazy. It’s good for your brand. Being lazy – at least in this context – is about repurposing, reusing,  referencing, and therefore reinforcing your existing content.  It means shaping a series of tweets you wrote into an article, or breaking up a whitepaper into a series of Blog posts. It’s about finding content that exists elsewhere and providing your commentary on it, or using SlideShare to post the presentation you delivered in-person to a local networking group – making your presentation available to a much larger audience via the web.

Laziness helps you maximize the value of all your brand communications and amplify your voice. It also supports one other critical element of personal branding: consistency (more about that in #3 below).

2. Repel People. Strong brands often repel as many people as they attract. Think Steve Jobs, Christiane Amanpour, Donald Trump, Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Maher. Branding is not about pleasing all the people all the time. It’s about taking a stand, well aware that not everyone will agree with you. All brand masters have a point of view and are willing to own it and share it. I’m not suggesting you be disagreeable or contrary for the sake of it, but I am recommending that you have a position you believe in and express it openly.

Are you the executive who thinks leadership is about creating a vision and inspiring others, or are you the one who believes leadership is about collaboration and building a diverse, engaged team?

In Ditch. Dare. Do!, we say “Neutrality is for Diplomats, so unless your job is at the UN, get on your soapbox!” What’s your opinion?

3. Resist Change. Although adapting to the change around you is an important skill for everyone, knowing your brand and delivering on your brand promise consistently and constantly is critical to personal branding.

Strong brands are known for something – not a hundred things — and they deliver it with everything they do, over long periods of time. Look at Apple. They scream innovation with every element of their brand. It’s not just their products that are innovative. Think about their stores (glass staircases, large tables where you can “play” with the products, no check-out lines, etc.), packaging (you hesitate to throw away the box your iPhone came in, it’s so creative) and support (genius bars, one-to-one appointments, etc.). You need to employ the same strategy of consistency.

Resisting change does not mean you should welcome stagnation.

If your brand is all about creativity, inject creativity into everything from the agenda you prepare for a meeting to how you facilitate the meeting to the ways you follow-up once the meeting has concluded. And don’t just do this occasionally. Do it for every meeting going forward. Branding is about consistency, so don’t be changin’ when you should be maintainin’.

4. Flaunt Your Quirks. It’s often people’s quirks we find interesting and memorable. Ever the notice the space in Madonna’s front teeth, Tracy Morgan’s catchphrase “What’s happ’n, chief?” or Fran Drescher’s unmistakable laugh? Ellen’s incessant dancing has become such a trademark for her, American Express hired her to do a commercial in which she does nothing but dance. Howie Mandel’s Germophobia has him fist bumping instead of shaking hands. Yes, it’s quirky. It’s also memorable!

Often, it’s the things that make us a little different – sometimes, it’s even the things we don’t like about ourselves – that actually get us noticed and can even be endearing to others. Who can forget Adele’s Grammy acceptance speech delivered in her North London accent with pure authenticity as she exclaimed: “Oh my God, I got a bit of snot.”

Your quirks become trademark traits that are recognizable and associated with you. Don’t manufacture them; just sit back and emphasize them. Effective branding is based in authenticity.

Work your quirks!

5. Be Promiscuous. When it comes to networking, especially online networking, being promiscuous is a good thing. According to dictionary.com, the word promiscuous is defined as “characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association.”

To show you how promiscuity works to build your brand, let’s use LinkedIn as an example. The LinkedIn search algorithm favors networks of connected people, LinkedIn groups, and profiles replete with the same keywords. If you’re a market research expert and want to be found by a CMO who is using LinkedIn to find someone to build a market research strategy, you need to be connected to someone he’s connected to (in addition to having a stellar profile with the right keywords repeated in your summary and experience). That’s because in response to queries, profiles are displayed with 1st level connections first, then 2nd level connections and so on. So being too selective in your connection strategy could keep you from pursuing ideal opportunities – those you don’t even know exist.

Think of being promiscuous as planned serendipity. You don’t know who might be looking for you, but you need to make it easy for them to find you.

Inspirational Quote: November

Whenever I feel bad, I use the feeling to motivate me to work harder. I only allow myself one day to feel sorry for myself.

Beyonce

I believe that adopting Beyonce’s attitude towards moving forward when the going gets tough is important. I  live a better life than this mega-star being that the world isn’t watching when it comes time to air my dirty laundry.  When she was dealing with the very public issues with her father you never really saw her saw her sweat just a very politically correct response and adjustment to her game plan. She came back on top and now is doing better than I think she can even believe herself. Kudos to B, and best of luck to each of you as you reach trails and tribulations. As you push through just remember that the best revenge is to come back stronger than before. If you need a song to encourage you check out Beyonce’s own Listen from the Dreamgirls Soundtrack.

10 Qualities Every Leader of The Future Needs to Have

Originally posted October 29, 2013 by Martin Zwilling on http://www.entrepreneur.com

The reigning theory in business has long been that “alpha” leaders make the best entrepreneurs. These are aggressive, results-driven achievers who assert control and insist on a hierarchical organizational model. Yet I am seeing increasing success from “beta” startup cultures where the emphasis is on collaboration, curation and communication.

Some argue that this new horizontal culture is being driven by Gen-Y, whose focus has always been more communitarian. Other business culture experts, like Dr. Dana Ardi, in her new book The Fall of the Alphas, argue that the rise of the betas is really part of a broader culture change driven by the Internet — emphasizing communities, instant communication and collaboration.

Can you imagine the overwhelming growth of Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter in a culture dominated by alphas? This would never happen. I agree with Ardi who says most successful workplaces of the future need to adopt the following beta characteristics and better align themselves with the beta leadership model:

1. Do away with archaic command-and-control models. Winning startups today are horizontal, not hierarchical. Everyone who works at an organization feels they’re part of something, and moreover, that it’s the next big thing. They want to be on the cutting-edge of technology.

2. Practice ego management. Be aware of your own biases and focus on the present as on the future. You need to manage the egos of team members by rewarding collaborative behavior. There will always be the need for decisive leadership, particularly in times of crisis. I’m not suggesting total democracy.

3. Stress innovation. Betas believe that team members need to be given an opportunity to make a difference — to give input into key decisions and communicate their findings and learnings to one another. Encourage team-members to play to their own strengths so that the entire team and organization leads the competition.

4. Put a premium on collaboration and teamwork. Instead of knives-out competition, these companies thrive by building a successful community with shared values. Team members are empowered and encouraged to express themselves. The best teams are hired with collaboration in mind. The whole is thus more than the sum of its parts.

5. Create a shared culture. Leadership is fluid and flexible. Integrity and character matter a lot. Everyone knows about the culture. Everyone subscribes to the culture. Everyone recognizes both its passion and its nuance. The result looks more like a symphony orchestra than an advancing army.

6. Be ready for roles and responsibilities to change weekly, daily and even hourly. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make is they don’t act quickly enough. Markets and needs change fast. Now there is a focus on social, global and environmental responsibility. Hierarchies make it hard to adjust positions or redefine roles. The beta culture gets it done.

7. Temper confidence with compassion. Mindfulness, of self and others, by boards, executives and employees, may very well be the single most important trait of a successful company. If someone is not a good cultural fit or is not getting their job done, make the change quickly, but with sensitivity.

8. Invite employees to contribute. The closer everyone in the organization comes to achieving his or her singular potential, the more successful the business will be. Successful cultures encourage their employees to keep refreshing their toolkits, keep flexible, keep their stakes in the stream.

9. Stay diverse. Entrepreneurs build teams. They don’t fill positions. Cherry-picking candidates from name-brand universities will do nothing to further an organization and may even work against it. Don’t wait for the perfect person — he or she may not exist. Hire for track record and potential.

10. Not everyone needs to be a superstar. Superstars don’t pass the ball, they just shoot it. Not everyone wants to move up in an organization. It’s perfectly fine to move across. Become your employees’ sponsor — on-boarding with training and tools is essential. Spend time listening. Give them what they need to succeed.

Savvy entrepreneurs and managers around the world are finding it more effective to lead through influence and collaboration, rather than relying on fear, authority and competition. This is rapidly becoming the new paradigm for success in today’s challenging market. Where does your startup fit in with this new model?

Miley Cyrus Inc.’s Branding Tips

Originally posted October 28, 2013 by @DanSanker, President & CEO of CaseStack Inc.

While talking heads are still busy squawking about Miley Cyrus’ wild MTV Video Music Awards performance of Sunday night, the celebrity is moving on.

Cyrus’s performance was, in some ways, one of the most graphic and raunchy performances ever aired on MTV – and that says a lot. Rightfully so, there will be plenty of indignation and heated discussion about the new lows for pop culture.

To me, it just looked like a corporate rebranding exercise. From a branding perspective, her team probably saw no place in pop culture for a 20-year-old Disneyesque character. Good, bad, or indifferent – the Cyrus team decided to take matters into their own hands and radically rebrand.

A few rebranding notes:

Planning is Crucial – From the part of the MTV event that I watched, it looked somewhat accidental in the first few minutes. But, as you add the perspective of the pre- and post-event activities, it becomes crystal clear that Miley, Inc. was very in-control. The lead-up, the event and the post-game were all part of an elaborate plan. Branding isn’t accidental.

The Venue Matters – In this particular case, the actor planned to make radically inappropriate moves that would invariably insult her previous audience. If you are going to go there; at least choose an appropriate venue. Drinking and gambling scenes might be insulting, but they’re less insulting when you see them in a bar or at a casino. In Miley’s case, she butchered decorum, but at least she did it on MTV.

Learn from the Past – In business, it is always good to look for analogies. You can learn a lot from them. If you study other attempts in your field, you can learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to watch Miley and not think she studied some Madonna footage.

Build on What You’ve Got – The Hannah Montana brand was powerful to its target audience – a huge demographic. Unfortunately, it looks like the Miley, Inc. team couldn’t figure out how to leverage the brand, so they just plucked out the platform – like regenerating from stem cells. They took the fame, added some shock & awe, and established a new brand position. As a student of brands and as a parent of young children, I would have been a lot more impressed if they kept the old brand equity and built on it. For most businesses, the Cyrus approach isn’t feasible. You usually don’t have that much fame, and you usually don’t want to use the crassness of shock. Obviously her and her people weren’t able to think of a way to leverage her old brand.

Relevance Matters – Miley’s Hannah Montana brand is still relevant, but not for her. So, she found a new brand that seems to have perpetual relevance in pop culture. A recent business example – JC Penney did the opposite. Ron Johnson saw looming brand irrelevance, but he replaced it with a new equally irrelevant brand. He misread what shoppers wanted, didn’t test his ideas, alienated core shoppers, and offered up an irrelevant replacement identity. In contrast, Miley killed Hannah, but she found a relevant new position.

Go Big or Go Home – Small changes to brands are a lot less disruptive and a lot less risky. But, evolving a brand can be even more difficult than creating a new one. Sometimes it’s easier to tear down a house and build a new one than it is to remodel an old one. If you really can’t think of a way to salvage the charm of the existing infrastructure, break out the bulldozers. Make sure there’s no going back. Miley torched Hannah Montana. It reminded me of Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects (also rated R; also inappropriate for children).

Frankly, I think they could have salvaged the old brand and built on top of it. People want authenticity, and this new Miley brand looks contrived.