Over the years, I’ve had more than a few clients say some version of the following phrase to me: “You’re part consultant, part therapist.”
I couldn’t think of bigger compliment!
Why a compliment? Because, for a client to say that it means they trust you implicitly. It means they feel they can confide in you. And, it means they see you as someone who is a good listener (a key trait of any good consultant).
Yep, definitely a compliment.
But, also a necessary part of the job as a functioning consultant.
Let’s go back to the listening piece. A good consultant knows they should be talking less, and listening more. Probably to the tune of 80% listening, 20% talking. So, it’s natural than a good consultant would also serve as some form of a therapist to his/her clients.
Now, I’m using that therapist label lightly. Certainly, I’m not serving as an actual therapist. But, when chatting with a client, sometimes the conversation can turn in certain directions. It can go the personal route, talking about family, friends and kids.
Here, the “therapist” is listening.
It could be venting about work-related issues. Again, the “therapist” is listening.
In both cases, and more, the beauty of the relationship is I’m bound by the same doctor/patient confidentiality as a therapist would be–in a way. I’m usually asked to sign an NDA with most clients, so technically (and, more importantly, ethically), I can’t say a word to anyone about what they tell me (and, I wouldn’t want to).
The clients know this. And, this is a part of why they feel so comfortable sharing with me.
I like to think the other part, hopefully the bigger part, is that I’m easy to talk to. They feel a certain level of comfort with me. A collegiality that goes beyond being peers.
This is the holy grail of consulting.
So, if you ever have a client who calls you their “therapist”, take it as a compliment.
Take it as the ultimate compliment.
Trend: CEOs posting employee-only memos on personal LinkedIn profiles (and other social media sites)
There’s been a trend emerging during the coronavirus and civil unrest–one that’s flown under the radar a bit, but one I’m hoping we see more of in the years ahead.
It’s the notion of CEOs sharing employee-only messages with external audiences.
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella was probably one of the first to put this practice into place. His most recent example came in late March on LinkedIn, right after many of the stay-home orders were made. It addressed what I’m sure was a fairly anxious Microsoft employee base and talked about the company’s mission and steps they were taking to assist in the virus efforts around the world.
But suddenly, many CEOs seem to be taking this approach.
Best Buy and CEO Corrie Barry shared a message they had most likely shared with employee audiences earlier on the Best Buy LinkedIn page. This message addressed Best Buy performance during the pandemic, steps Best Buy is taking to help employees and, most importantly, that Best Buy was furloughing 51,000 part-time and hourly employees.
Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, announced on the company’s newsroom that it was reducing its workforce. Again, the message started with “Earlier today, Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky sent the following note to Airbnb employees.” Same message. First, internally. Then, externally.
Target CEO, Brian Cornell announced the company’s decision to recognize Juneteenth as an official annual holiday in this social post on the Bullseye View (a message that was most certainly shared internally first or at the same time).
So, what’s going on here? First, this growing group of companies are ahead of the curve. Certainly, at this point, they are the exception–not the rule. But, they are progressive. They are forward-thinking. And, they are doing it for a reason: the need for more corporate transparency and more trust in corporations (and their leaders).
Let’s tackle each of those separately.
First, the need for more corporate transparency. Look no further that corporate malfeasance at companies like Uber and Wells Fargo for recent examples. Customers, employees and the public-at-large want more transparency from corporations. Another recent example: Facebook. I mean, how many times has a Facebook rep testified before Congress recently? Doesn’t it seem like a monthly occurrence? Sure, a lot of that is about data and privacy, but an under-current to the whole thing is people wanting more transparency from these big tech firms like Facebook.
Next, trust. According to a recent Edelman report, CEOs scored LAST when respondents were asked who was doing an outstanding job meeting the demands placed on them during the pandemic.
And, given where the economy is at, and the fact that corporate layoffs have been a regular occurrence lately, that number is bound to go even lower soon.
So, it’s important leaders and their corporate communicator partners hear this and respond with strategies to build trust among employees. Few things do that better than posting employee-only messages externally. That’s a big trust-builder.
Especially during difficult times like what we’re facing right now.
So, the business case is there. And, I’m happy to see more CEOs (and corp comms teams) using these personal LinkedIn profiles and other social media tools to build trust and create more transparency for their companies.
In case you missed it, the list is now pretty long of companies boycotting Facebook to support the #StopHateforProfit campaign. Unilever, Coca-Cola, Patagonia and Ben & Jerrys are just a few of the companies on the list.
Some of these companies are boycotting for July. And, some, like Unilever, are boycotting for the second half of the year, which is quite a substantial move.
But all this boycotting is masking another big issue bubbling up right below the surface. The fact that most companies are over-relying on Facebook (and Instagram) advertising.
According to some reports, Facebook makes up 83% of all social media advertising. 83%! Now that’s what I call over-indexing.
Yep–according to eMarketer Facebook (and Instagram) generated 67 billion in ad revenue in 2019. The next closest major social network (here in the US, at least) was Twitter at just 3 billion.
Companies are so invested in Facebook + Insta, they don’t even think about it anymore. But, it’s high time they take notice–and start proactively diversifying.
Why? Well, for starters, what happens if, for whatever reason, this boycott continues. And grows. And becomes a huge deal closer to the election. What if Facebook (gulp) starts losing revenue, as a result, hand over fist. What if Facebook fails?
The smart digital marketers are diversifying not only their overall digital ad spend, but more specifically, their social ad spend.
That means looking at channels like:
- Pinterest (one of the most under-utilized channels, historically–especially from an ad perspective)
- LinkedIn (expensive, for sure, but a great channel for B2B)
- TikTok (considering the rapidly expanding user base, it’s worth experimenting with at the very least, right?)
- Reddit (expanding their ad options in 2020)
- Twitter (seen a renaissance during COVID as a channel–now might be the time to dip your toes back into Twitter’s waters; also doing a better job of removing and flagging hate speech)
- YouTube (pre-roll is over-rated as an ad tool, in my view, but YouTube is still a HUGE platform)
Another option–taking some of that Facebook/Instagram ad money and reinvesting it in paid search. This is a go-to tactic in every digital marketer’s toolbox–why not double-down on paid search at a time when Google search numbers are growing?
So, what are you doing to diversify your social media ad strategy in the wake of the Facebook boycott?
Each year, I make a “coffee list.” Essentially, it’s 12-15 people I really want to have coffee with this year.
It’s not an expansive list. Most years, I have coffee with upwards of 75+ people. But, as we all know, 2020 is not a typical year. That said, I have had coffee with six people on my 2020 list so far! Some pre-COVID (Kelsey Dodson-Smith, Megan Tuttle, Sofia Horvath) and one post-COVID (Laura King).
I still have some work to do, but, I’m not going to let COVID stop me from “seeing” people!
So, as of July, I’m implementing a hybrid approach. A mix of virtual coffees and socially-distanced coffees.
The virtual coffees speak for themselves. They’ll be on Zoom. They won’t be ideal. They won’t be as fun as the real thing. But, the way I see it, they’ll be a door opener to a “real person” coffee in 2021 (when, hopefully, this is all over).
At the same time, I am going to try to actually see some people–given they are also up to the task!
Just one problem: My go-to, home-court coffee hangout (my two local Starbucks’ here in So Mpls) are not open for indoor OR outdoor seating!
So, time to punt. I’ve heard the following coffee spots have outdoor seating–and I’ll be using them for my coffee home bases until we all come back online (or, winter freezes us out!).
- Common Roots Cafe, Uptown. A bit of a hike for me, but fairly central to all.
- Fireroast Cafe, Longfellow. 10 minutes from my home. Wonderful little patio. I hope the coffee’s good!
- Sister Sludge Coffee Cafe. Used to be just a stone’s throw from my house here in the Hale/Page neighborhood, but new location has a much better outdoor seating area.
- French Meadow Cafe, Uptown. Close to Common Roots. Nice patio. Good coffee. Could be a go-to spot.
So, there you have it. Game plan drawn up! Now, I realize I may have to modify my list–after all, people working from home in Woodbury may be a little reticent to drive 20 miles for a cup of coffee. That said, I’m probably only looking at one coffee per week during COVID (versus the 2 to sometimes 3 I was doing pre-COVID).
I also may cut the coffee meetings down in length–I’m thinking 30-45 mins max, to conserve on time (still got a day job to do!).
I’m also going to give special credence to those looking for a job. We all know times are tough and many in our industry are out of work. So, I’m here to do my part. May not be a long meeting. May not be in-person all the time. But, I’m here to do what I can.
Now I guess there’s only one question left to ask: What kind of coffee are you drinking?
How do we get more people of color in the PR industry? A conversation with United FC’s Gabriela Lozada
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about steps I believe companies across the country (and world) should be taking to put an end to systemic racism in our culture–and our industry. I felt weird writing it because, after all, people in my age group and race (middle to older white men) are a big part of the problem. But, then again, that was exactly why I was writing it. More of us need to speak up.
However, we also need to amplify and bring more people of color to the table and give them a platform to share their experiences, their perspectives and their feelings.
So, today I’m starting to do just that. I recently connected with Gabriela Lozada, Public Relations Manager for the Minnesota United FC, to ask her a few questions about how she’s been feeling the last few weeks, what steps brands can take to address this issue, and how the PR industry can become more diverse in the years ahead.
First, I want to start with a simple question: How have you been feeling these last few weeks as a person of color here in Minneapolis?
Helpless, a little guilty and overwhelmed. So I’ve spent a lot of time looking at myself and the unconscious bias I have and how that relates to other communities and my own. As a person of color, I’m not absolved from bias and even within my own community, we struggle with classism and racism but we also face some of the same roadblocks from systemic racism as the African-American, Asian-American and indigenous communities.
What is your background, and how has that impacted how you’ve felt?
I was born in Venezuela and my family immigrated to the United States when I was six years old. While I’m proud of the work my family has done and the sacrifices my parents have made for us to be successful in this country as immigrants, I know that our journey is not one every immigrant shares and Hispanics work and fight for success just like every other community of color but the system is not set up for everyone to succeed. It’s almost like it’s set up for one community to succeed (beyond the white community) and one cause for people to support. Sometimes it feels like each community blames each other for not being able to rise above in this country. Minorities fight each other to succeed and fight each other for attention instead of working together for all to succeed. It’s unfair and enraging.
What action steps would you like to see brands and civic agencies take to start to put an end to systemic racism here in Minneapolis/St. Paul?
Finding leaders within minority communities and including them in the conversation of how our cities and state can be better, can create more opportunities for people of color, how to better our education system and improve the achievement gap. It starts there, with our youth.
Where do we start in making real progress in the PR industry? Because, as you well know, we don’t have the most diversity in our profession.
We can’t have leaders in this industry that are representative of minority communities if we don’t have people of color who work in this industry. Organizations like The BrandLab have the right idea, reaching students of color at younger ages, in high school and college and presenting marketing PR as a viable career option. In my family and culture, most people are doctors, engineers, educators and I never thought a career in communications was even an option. I do believe it’s about educating and recruiting students of color to help fill our industry with more representation. I’ve always enjoyed getting to know college students who are interested in making connections with professionals in this industry and even more so Hispanic students and finding ways to help guide them through their time in school and first couple years after graduation.
Any specific stories or examples come to mind of what this could look like?
A couple years ago I met a Venezuelan PR student from the University of Minnesota. She reached out to me to connect and I saw myself in her and she was only a few years younger than me. I never had that while I was in school, someone who looked like me trying to succeed in this industry. We can’t hire people who don’t apply or don’t have the qualifications. Our industry can’t grow if we don’t reach our youth.