Integration Tops List of 2010 Words

Each year a list comes out about the top words.

For 2010, Merriam Webster’s year of the word was “austerity.” For me, the word was “integration.”

It was about not working in silos. Public relations, marketing, social media, messaging are distinct, but are so much stronger when integrated with the others. “If you actually mash them up and get them to play off each other it is going to be so much greater, said Scott Monty, who handles social media for Ford. He had been discussing Ford’s efforts in an interview with the Social Media Examiner.

And he’s right. Today, it’s truly about integrated marketing and communications. Ford knows the value of social media and doesn’t consider it a one-off.

The best companies have integrated social media not only into their marketing efforts, but also into their customer service and product development efforts. For many, it’s now part of the overall business model. Examples include PepsiCo, United Healthcare and Dell.

Even higher-ed institutions understand that communications and marketing efforts must be integrated. Degrees are now offered in integrated marketing. In fact, I hired someone with a master’s in that degree because I knew the person would be able and willing to work across all platforms.

Integration also works for the individual. For example, I include the URL for my blog on my email signature and my personal business card. The blog also is integrated with the NFPW website, my LinkedIn account and my Facebook page. By integrating the blog across these platforms, I am more likely to expand my audience.

What are you doing to integrate?

Wanted: Book Recommendations

One of my professional goals is to read books related to my field and to leadership.

I try to read five to six such books a year, but this year I only managed to finish three. Fortunately, I read so many blogs and articles, I think I still managed to keep up somewhat with what is occurring in the world of communications and leadership.

I finished –

                Made to Stick 

                The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

                The Power of Self-Coaching

I’ve started a list for next year, including “Switch,” by the authors of “Made to Stick” and “Managing Transititons” by William Bridges. What do you recommend?

The Power of Self-Coaching

For the past year, I’ve been working with a coach. It’s been an incredible opportunity to strengthen my leadership and management skills. It’s also a lot of work. I tend to over think at the moment because I want to be sure I’m implementing what we’ve been discussing.

Along the way, I also read a book my coach recommended called “The Power of Self-Coaching” by Joseph J. Luciani. I was relieved when most of the quizzes indicated I wasn’t dysfunctional but that self coaching could enhance areas.

My biggest ah-ha moment came when I read this sentence, “A big part of why you struggle is because you’ve become attached to your problems.”

What?! Are you crazy? Do you think I like working long hours?  

Taking it a step further, the author wrote, “You can choose to create the life you want by training yourself to be a complete and successful person.”

I took it to heart. So for the month of December, I have consciously been doing a better job of prioritizing and completing the most important item (s) each day and when it’s time to go home if that item is finished, I go home. The other items can wait.  I’ve also set my alarm to go off later, thus preventing me from simply going in to work earlier.

I require deadlines when people ask me to do something for them. Without a deadline, I don’t make a commitment and I get bogged down. I also don’t hesitate to say no, especially when someone is trying to schedule another meeting on an otherwise already meeting packed day. If I’m in meetings all day, I don’t have time to do the work that I need to do or I don’t have time for strategic thinking and planning.

I also have scheduled more unscheduled time. Yep, I’ve had a few weekends of total spontaneity. It’s freed my thinking and has allowed me to feel more sane and relaxed. Who knew? The whole time I was trying to control everything, I was only making it worse.

Coaching isn’t for everyone because ultimately it’s the person being coached who has to do the work. And it is work – make no mistake. But the benefits I’m seeing are worth it. I know I’ll have to make some self-corrections as I continue to self-coach, but because I’m seeing the benefits, I’m going to keep doing the work.  

Are you ready for some coaching?

PR for Books Is a New Horse Race

When it comes to publishing a book, it’s a new horse race.

That according to Leeanne Ladin, who recently co-authored “Secretariat’s Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend,” which she wrote with Kate Chenery Tweedy, whose mother owned champion racehorse Secretariat.

“Publishers want a marketing plan before they want a manuscript,” she said during a recent talk.

Many authors aren’t sure where to get started.

The key is to think about every platform and find a way to make your book visible. Her list includes:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Online profiles on Amazon
  • Book talks

 For example, VPW author Julie Campbell often changes her Facebook profile to that of her book, “The Horse in Virginia.” One of the last conversations I had with Emyl Jenkins was about how much time she was investing in publicizing her books, including developing a blog. She lamented to me, “When does an author have time to actually write?”

Another author friend isn’t current with all of the social media platforms and has asked for guidance.

I’m happy to help, but I can only do so much because of how much time is required. For independent publicists, it’s an ideal niche, says Patsy Arnett, who is president of Richmond-based Arnett & Associates, an international speakers bureau.

She noted that authors are writers. “They aren’t thinking about being marketers. It really is a burden on the authors.”

What are you doing to get your book publicity?

Student’s E-mail Note Delights

I received the most delightful note the other day from a student I had met during a PRSSA function where professional communicators interviewed students to help them prepare for when they interviewed for jobs.

As I interviewed each student I noted what they did well in the interview so they would continue to do that. I also didn’t hesitate to tell them what they did poorly. After all, this interview didn’t count and they could easily improve on it. My advice ran the gamut from rethinking how to dress to the look and structure of the resume to how questions were answered.

It’s the type of activity that you do freely but you never expect to hear back from the students, although I always provide my business card and tell them to reach out to me. It’s part of my paying it forward or giving back philosophy.

Dawn Lyons e-mailed me to tell me that she graduated and that she has a job. She wrote: “Starting this new career is both exciting and intimidating. You were honest and motivational during our discussions and I needed that.”

She added: “Today is my first day at my new job and I just felt I had to share the great news with you and tell you thank you for taking the time and speaking to me.”

Dawn is now a communications assistant with Virginia Health Information.  

How wonderful to know that a recent graduate landed a job in this tough economy! And how wonderful to hear the great news directly from her.

Business Cards Still Part of Doing Business

Business cards are changing, but they still play a role in business.

One of my laments is that I take all of the information from a card and enter it into my contacts. But I don’t have a visual of the card, and often, months – and sometimes years – later it’s the look of the card I remember. In the “old days” I had a giant Rolodex and I would flip the wheel scanning until I found the image I remembered from the card. At that point, I was able to recall the person and have all of the data at my fingertips.

I haven’t done that for years, and sometimes it’s frustrating. Today, though, you scan cards, add QR codes or bump. Technology is changing business cards, but not eliminating them.  

I’ve heard some people say they don’t even bother with business cards because they can search and find the person through LinkedIn, Facebook or other digital means. I’d still prefer to collect your card. When I meet a person, I associate the name and face with the card. I always write a note on the back of the card telling me how I met the person or if they requested something of me. That way when I get back to the office I can follow-up. This is especially useful at conferences where I may collect dozens of cards.

The other week I ran into Kevin Flores of The Flores Shop, a branding, marketing and design firm with which I had worked. His business card definitely stood out and I had to ask him about it (09037_TFS_B Card FLO front).

“The thought behind our business card design (and the ones we design for our clients) is to provide only the essential information about each individual while portraying the brand essence or cultural personality of the company,” Kevin says. “Our company culture is innovative, creative and playful. You see, we’re a boutique design shop who works with big name clients when they need some über-creative mojo. And, even if someone ONLY saw our business cards, they would get some sense of that brand persona.”

He still sees business cards as valuable. “There is a sense of professionalism that comes with presenting your business card,” he says. “It legitimizes your company and/or position to the person receiving it.”

Kevin prefers to hand a contact two business cards. “This has paid dividends in the past as my networking contacts have passed along one of the cards they had to other associates who were seeking services that we offer.”  

When it gets right down to it, Kevin says the business card is the way to seal the deal. If you’ve met the big client at a networking event, you want the client to remember your card. And that’s why his firm’s cards are so memorable.

What does your business card say about you and your company?

Time to Renew NFPW Membership

Why should you renew your membership in NFPW?

For most of our members, they don’t even ask themselves that question because they have experienced the benefits.

But if you’re asking yourself that question, ask yourself another one first: Am I doing what I can to benefit from membership? In other words, are you networking? Asking for guidance? Did you attend the conference in Chicago? Or are you planning to go to the national conference in Iowa and Nebraska in 2011?

I just finished talking with my VP about NFPW and was sharing with her all the benefits that I’ve received. Early in my career, I volunteered to help with activities through my state affiliate. It was my first exposure to event planning. I would go on to host state conferences and a national conference. I also put on major awards banquets and graduation programs when I worked for a police department. The event planning skills I developed through Virginia Press Women and National Federation of Press Women allowed me to be successful professionally.

In my current job, I needed to secure venues in locations throughout the country. Thanks to Mary Jane Skala (who is now in Arizona) and her connections, my organization was able to hold an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Ann Lockhart of Colorado connected me with the Denver Press Club.

During the national conference in Idaho I met Laura Hermann of the Potomac Communications Group. Her presentation on the digital world was informative and helped steer me as I considered Web and social media strategies. Laura is now a member of NFPW, too.

The awards I’ve received validate the work that I’m doing but they also just make me feel good.

My point is that none of the above would have happened if I had not reached out to members, attended conferences or entered the contests.

Membership is reasonably priced, so I don’t mind paying. Yes, I pay for it, not my employer. It’s a few less lattes a year, but it’s a strong investment in my career.

Still need some more reasons? The NFPW website lists the top 10 reasons why you should renew your membership or join NFPW. There also is a video on the home page in which past presidents talk about why they are members. Check it out.