Fast Company’s Polly LaBarre’s Advice

Are you capable of change as fast as the world is changing?

What case do you make for the difference you make in your role?

Are you regularly able to reinvent yourself?

Polly LaBarre encourages developing a sense of energy. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Polly LaBarre encourages developing a sense of energy. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Those were daunting questions asked by Polly LaBarre, a founding member of Fast Company and the editorial director of MIX.

Her advice is not to be afraid, but rather to develop a sense of energy.

She quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “There are always two parties, the part of the Past and the party of the Future; the Establishment and the Movement.”

She offered the following advice during the October PRSA International Conference:

Stand for something. The values you stand for will imbue your organization. Your job is to be alive and awake to the shifts, but you also need to know what shouldn’t change. Articulate and advocate for a better future.

“You have to make a case for why what you do really matters,” she said. “Have you developed a story so powerful that people will stand in line for it? That they will tell it for you?”

If they are telling it for you, they most likely are on social media.

Cultivate your innovation DNA. LaBarre posed the question: “How do you do art as a team sport?” She discussed Pixar Animation Studios, which she said “turned the workplace into a canvas.” For example, the visitor badge reads, “A stranger from the outside.” Emergency exit signs at Pixar read, “Exit the building before tweeting about it.”

Lead without authority. The ruling idealogy for so long was “control” but that doesn’t unleash passion and inspiration.

Have you developed your sense of energy?

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Disruptive Ideas Through the Centuries

I don’t know about you, but I keep hearing the words “disrupt” or “disruption.” Most of the people using it act as if it is something new.

At the recent PRSA International conference in Washington, D.C., the talk centered on how the media industry is being totally disrupted. I don’t think any of us would disagree with that.

innovators-9781476708690But disruption is nothing new. Just ask Walter Isaacson, president and CEO Of the Aspen Institute and a noted author. He’s the guy who wrote “Steve Jobs.” His latest book is “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”

In the book, he writes of Ida Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s, and then explores the fascinating personalities that created the current digital revolution.

Isaacson shared some of the lessons from his book during his talk.

The best uses of technology are when we bring people together. “The great thing about humans,” Isaacson said, “is that we always keep up morally with our technology.”

He added, “If we bind our humanity with technology, our technology will always be as good as we are.”

Creativity is a collaborative effort. Seldom is there a light bulb moment when an idea appears. “Real innovation happens together – on a team,” he says. “Innovation is a team sport.”

Vision without execution is hallucination. He added that it’s important to pair a visionary with a team that can execute it. The flip side, also is true, Isaacson said, which means that “without a visionary, you lose some of the spark.”

Keep it simple. Use simple sentences, he said, “if you want to explain exactly what it is you are going to do.”

New Definition of Public Relations

We all know the communications landscape has changed. Reporters no longer only take a notebook and pen to cover a story. Now they tweet or update their Facebook status with breaking news. Some carry a small video camera to record the story to post to YouTube or the media outlet’s website.

The same is true of public relations. The Public Relations Society of America, the industry’s largest organization, is embarking on an effort to develop a better definition of “public relations.” The organization is soliciting suggestions from the public along with public relations professionals, academics and students.

So far the leading words are “public,” “communication,” “organization,” “stakeholders” and “audiences.”

As with most PR efforts, there is a creative name, Public Relations Defined. It’s all part of trying to make sense of the profound changes in public relations since the last time the organization updated its definition – in 1982.

PR was once a one-way process, but today PR moves in many directions and is more about engagement and holding a conversation thanks to social media and the Internet. Today it’s not just about PR or good buzz. It’s about earned media, crowd sourcing, buzz marketing and word-of-mouth marketing.

The PRSA website notes that public relations professionals continue to struggle with the question, “What is PR?” As a result, many industry professionals are unhappy with the current definition and no one definition is considered the de facto industry definition. PRSA’s definition of public relations was last updated in 1982.

In the past 10 years, PRSA has convened two special committees to explore modernizing the definition of public relations. The 2003 PRSA Committee to Define Public Relations agreed to a new definition, though it was never formally adopted by the Society.

Submissions will be accepted through Dec. 2 and PRSA expects to announce the new definition in late December.

How do you define PR?

How Does Your Community Grow?

Are you part of a community? Of course you are! And more than one. In fact, if you are on Facebook you are part of the 4th largest country in the world! That’s because Facebook now has more than 300 million accounts.

This means that how we communicate is changing – and rapidly. Many youth today don’t even pick up a phone to talk; they pick it up to text. I don’t send emails to one of my dear friends because she won’t read it. If I send a message on Facebook, I know she will get it, read it, and answer it. By the way, she’s 70!

Last week I attended the PRSA-Richmond chapter meeting. We heard from Dave Saunders of Madison + Main, who talked about social media, which he says “is the marriage of creativity, technology and interactiveness.”

With more than 1.5 million people on the Web today, he says it’s critical to be connected. Most in the audience raised their hands to say they are participating in social media through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Several had a blog. Then he stumped us. “How many have Tumblr” accounts? Very few hands. I don’t know much about it. If you do, I’d love for you to comment. 

When I Googled it (and when did that become a verb?), I discovered it is a “free and lightweight blogging platform aimed at quick and easy linking and sharing.” I’ll start experimenting soon; heck, I’m still adjusting to life with a blog. I promised myself I would post every Sunday and Wednesday so while I’d love to be reading a good book, I’ve got to finish this post. It’s just like being a reporter on deadline except that the only editor standing over me is in my head.

Dave also shared the benefits of social media and what it won’t do.  As for benefits –

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Reputation management
  • Improved search engine rankings
  • Increased Web site traffic
  • More sales for your product or service (if you didn’t know it, Dave says, “Cold calls are dead.”)

 What it won’t do –

  • Fix a broken company
  • Make you rich
  • Replace your other forms of marketing or PR

Quite simply, social media is another platform that is used to enhance your community, personally or professionally. So how does your community grow?