Commentary

Sizzling Line Up for MEDIA PREDICTS: 2014

If you haven’t heard already, MEDIA PREDICTS: 2014 is going to be one of the best ever! PRSA Silicon Valley’s annual black-tie-optional event is THIS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5  from 5-9 p.m. at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.  There are still a few tickets available at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/media-predicts-2014-tickets-5135273742 but they’re going fast. Don’t miss out on being one of the first to hear what companies make the list of “What’s Hot and What’s Not in Technology for 2014.” Join us for a gala evening of networking with Silicon Valley’s business leaders, marketing and PR professionals, venture capitalists, authors, analysts, journalists and bloggers. Scott Budman (@ScottBudman) returns to moderate this year’s outstanding panel of media luminaries:

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See you Thursday!

 

Lost in Translation

Lost in TranslationTranslated word-for-word, the French phrase “Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué” means “Don’t sell the bearskin before killing the bear.” But as this isn’t a common phrase in the U.S., Tongue Tied (Manchester) Ltd. notes that it is often translated as “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Drastically different words, same meaning.  

My son recently studied abroad in Montpellier, France. For six months he spoke nothing but French. I asked him to translate the phrase and was surprised when he replied with the “counting chickens” version. This got me thinking about how, in client/agency communication, what is said is often “translated” into something completely different after it goes through our perceptive filters. And because of this, agencies and clients have to work especially hard to avoid misunderstandings. 

PRSA-SV President Dave McCoullough posted a great blog from the client’s perspective on the top ten reasons agency/client relationships fail. I can’t wait to read his next installment from the agency perspective. I bet “lack of communication” tops the list.

7 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

 Stress. We all have to deal with it – marketing and PR executives more than most. In fact, we probably experience more stress before lunch than other professionals cope with all day.

While not all stress is negative, too much shifts the body’s natural production of hormones – like cortisol (which stores fat) and ghrelin (which aids in the feeling of hunger). The result is an all-too-familiar influx of symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, sugar/salt cravings, fat storage, anxiety, headaches, viral infections, fluid retention, irritability, difficulty multi-tasking and much more.

It’s actually relatively easy to reverse or prevent these symptoms. For example, according to Dr. Ron Sinha, regular exercise reduces stress by increasing BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) levels, which in turn, boosts productivity and energy levels. Here are seven simple things you can do now to reduce stress:

  1. Delegate projects to other capable team members
  2. Eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies, plus healthy fats and proteins
  3. Achieve a fitness goal, like walking more miles or taking a new class
  4. Part ways with exceptionally difficult people – even if it’s a customer
  5. Step away from the computer and go outside for at least 30 minutes
  6. Get more sleep – at least eight hours per night
  7. Spend more time on your favorite hobby, or discover a new one

You went into marketing because you love it. That’s what makes you great at your job. So approach stress management with the same vitality and attention to detail. Because at the end of the day, your career will suffer if your body can’t keep up.

Growing Pains, PR and Politics

When I started with c3PR, I assumed I would learn about public relations – how to write news releases, pitch editors, promote our clients through social media, etc. Yet, while learning the day-to-day tasks, I actually received a more significant and lasting lesson about communication and compassion.

PR is about finding the best way to communicate ideas to a certain group. To achieve this with any sort of proficiency, you must understand the motivations of each group involved; their desires, concerns, what keeps them awake at night. Your goal must be to really listen and find unique and inspiring ways to address the target audience’s uncertainties and assuage their doubts. Maybe that’s why the senior professionals in the field are called PR counselors, as they provide strategic counseling for business executives.

The ability to perceive and understand someone’s concerns is just as beneficial in politics as it is in public relations. Last fall I volunteered to help elect Eric Swalwell to congress. As a young, unknown city councilman and prosecutor going up against the 40-year-incumbent Pete Stark, most thought he didn’t have a chance of winning. However, his passion for change couldn’t go unnoticed for long. After just a few months, his campaign headquarters was flooded with volunteers coming in on weekends, canvasing door-to-door after work and manning the phone banks. It was the hard work and determination of the volunteers in this grass-roots campaign that helped him make it to Capitol Hill. The excitement of the election and the inspirational work of his volunteers rubbed off on me. When I was offered a position in Congressman Eric Swalwell’s district office, I couldn’t turn it down.

In my short time with c3PR, I learned how to empathize with and communicate ideas to vastly divergent groups. Now I would like to use my ability to identify concerns and communicate persuasively on behalf of our constituents. Personally, I believe that for our government to truly serve the people, our elected officials must actively listen to the people they represent and take those concerns to Washington. I’m grateful that c3PR has prepared me to help Congressman Swalwell do just that. If you live in California Congressional District 15, you’re sure to hear from me in one way or another. If not, I hope you’ll let your elected officials know when you have concerns or suggestions. You can find a list for your district at: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/. And while I’ll truly miss working with all of c3PR’s clients, I’m excited for the opportunity to serve our citizens.

Social Media: The New PR World Order

Whether it’s challenging constituents through Twitter to ask Presidential candidates trivial questions at town-hall debates or making critical comments concerning President Obama’s late Grandmother, the strong political climate heightened by tonight’s Presidential debate is a stark reminder that in this race social media has become king.

But not all social media makes a negative splash. I recently had the privilege of attending the launch of Eastwick’s sister company, SocialxDesign, a firm dedicated to improving the social engagement of businesses, government agencies and NGO’s. It was at this event that I learned through an experienced panel of speakers – including founders Giovanni Rodriguez, Toby Chaudhuri and Barbara Bates – how social media can be used to empower everyone to become directly involved in the processes that affect them on a daily basis.

Think about it: social media is giving a voice to historically underrepresented groups, such as Asian and Hispanic Americans. In fact, the panel described how social media practices and applications are constantly being adjusted to suit the needs of both citizens and clients. This fluid technology gives renewed meaning to the adage, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Through groundbreaking new social media tools, like Peace on Facebook, even Average Joe’s across the world can make monumental and enduring statements.

Outside of the political spectrum, the global connectedness achieved through social media is alive and well in the PR realm. Using these channels to engage your target audience may seem like foreign territory, but the impact can be monumental with the right strategy in place.  

To learn more about SocialxDesign go to: http://socialxdesign.com/.

Hag Sameach

This week was challenging for PR professionals. With the Fourth of July holiday on Wednesday, some audiences were gone at the beginning of the week, others at the end. Many PR agencies and companies, c3PR included, delayed releasing news and sending out newsletters until next week. While it was great to have a day off in the middle of the week, it was also a bit of an inconvenience. This story by Louis Fried, a fellow writer and friend spending some time in Jerusalem, brought it all back into perspective:

“Happy Fourth of July! The following really happened. Wednesday, July fourth, in Jerusalem was a usual day … business, traffic, tourists, shopping in the farmers’ market nearby … everything as usual. That night we watched a movie on television. Our living room windows were open to catch the cooling night breeze. They also let in the traffic sounds from the street on that side of the building. About eleven-thirty we turned off the TV and prepared for bed. The bedrooms of our flat overlook a paved courtyard about a hundred feet wide between our building and the hotel across from us. There was a noisy late-night party going on the in the courtyard. Shouts, laughs, hoots, whistles, talk, screams, the yells of a few young men kicking a soccer ball to each other made me close our double-paned window and pull the heavy drape. We lay down, but the noise, which echoed off the stone buildings, still penetrated our barriers. Then, as if at a signal, the noise stopped. I glanced at the bedside clock. It was just before midnight. I was curious. I rose from the bed and went to the window, pulling aside the drape I looked at the courtyard seven floors below us. There must have been over a hundred young men and women standing quietly. A few had automatic rifles slung over their shoulders … Israeli settlers or soldiers. The only sound beside street traffic was the hissing of three fireworks fountains that someone had lit in the square. The silence continued for a few seconds and then a woman’s clear voice began singing. God bless America, Other voices joined hers and soon it seemed they were all singing. From the rolled “Rs” and the slightly guttural pronunciation of the “c” it sounded like many were Israeli voices. Land that I love. In my mind I automatically started singing the familiar words. Stand beside her and guide her Through the night with a light from above. I swallowed the piece of nostalgia stuck in my throat. From the mountains to the prairies To the oceans, white with foam, Someone absent-mindedly bounced a soccer ball. The man next to him grabbed it and held it still in his hands. At the edge of the crowd a man and a girl set off two more sparkling fountains. God bless America, Our home sweet home! God bless America, Our home sweet home. For a few moments the silence held again, then someone who had obviously been to too many ball games screamed a rebel yell, “Yaaaaahoo!!!” “Hag sameach!” an Israeli shouted back. “Happy Holiday.”

Thanks, Professor Bentel

Portrait of Dwight Bentel, a former distinguished journalism professor at San Jose State University, at his home in San Jose on April 4, 2007. (Joanne Ho-Young Lee/Mercury News) ( Joanne Ho-Young Lee )

Today is the convocation for 130 San Jose State University School of Journalism and Mass Communications students. Every one of them, and the thousands of alumni before them, are in debt to the school’s legendary founder, Dwight Bentel. Professor Bentel died one week ago today at the age of 103. He left quite a legacy:

  • 77: Number of years the Spartan Daily has been publishing. Now also online at http://spartandaily.com.
  • 10,500: Number of Spartan Daily issues produced over those years. Staff motto: Never missed a scheduled day of publication.
  • 6: Number of Pulitzer Prizes won or shared by graduates of the Journalism and Mass Communications Department.
  • 240: Number of internship hours that students must serve to earn an undergraduate degree.
  • 9: Number of awards the Spartan Daily staff won this semester from the California College Media Association.
  • 29: Number of faculty and professional staff in today’s department.

In a San Jose Mercury News article, former student and retired Merc columnist Leigh Weimers said, “Just look in any newsroom in the Bay Area (and beyond). The professional standards he instilled live on.”

I spent many hours in Bentel Hall, the SJSU journalism building named after him. It smelled of old newspapers and damp wood. There was certain reverence; we knew we were learning from the best. At today’s convocation ceremony, I’ll thank Professor Bentel for giving us all such a great start. If you agree, consider leaving a message in his memorial guest book.

Women are like teabags . . .

. . .  you don’t realize how strong we are until you put us in hot water.” That quote from Eleanor Roosevelt was my “best advice” speech at the 2012 Silicon Valley Women on Influence gala dinner. (Photo is of fellow honoree and Sidemark President Sandi Jacobs (left) and me.) I’ve sat in the audience at these WOI events for years, wondering if someday it would be me up on the stage. But after reading the profiles of each year’s amazing women, I always doubted I could measure up. Then last summer when the call for nominees came out, my daughter Melissa, a fellow Silicon Valley marketing professional, asked “If not now, when?”

That’s when I realized the time couldn’t be better. My PR agency, c3PR, had been doing a lot of pro bono work, which answered the “community aspect” of the competition. I was on the board of PRSA Silicon Valley, so I was giving back to my profession. And c3PR was doing well after having launched a cool new website.

But no matter how influential you think you are, it’s the equally influential people who take the time to nominate you that makes the difference. To each and every one of them I send out a big thank you. And a special thanks to Bridgelux for sponsoring two tables at the event, enabling me to surround myself with friends, family and clients. (Buy Bridgelux LEDs!)

If you’re a Silicon Valley-based businesswoman and haven’t won this honor, start now to strengthen your chances. If I had another “ten” best words of advice, it would be that in today’s networked world, “It’s not who you know – it’s who knows you!”

The Real Rosies

Close to 200 professional women and students gathered at Ebay in San Jose this month to learn from a strong line up of Bay Area executive women. “Bridging Inspiration & Achievement,” Santa Clara University Women in Business Network’s tenth annual conference, began with an inspiring keynote by MetricStream CEO Shellye Archambeau. In one of the last sessions of the day – a panel on “Consensus Building, Negotiation & Communication” – NxGen CEO Liz Fetter and Oracle Senior Director of Product Management Charu Roy, joined me to discuss how we’ve used those three skills to build our companies and advance our careers.

Just like we hope our experiences and wisdom will help inspire the next generation, Filmmakers Anne de Mare, Kirsten Kelly and Elizabeth Hemmerdinger were inspired by the extraordinary women who in 1941 went to work when their men went to war. “The Real Rosie the Riveter Project” features 48 filmed interviews conducted over the last two years. And none too soon, as these pioneering women are now in their 80s and 90s. Yet they remember their workdays like it was yesterday.

 “They don’t talk just about walking into the factory. We get their whole lives. We get stories of the Depression; of racial, class and gender divides – a story of America. I hope young people will look at these real-life Rosie interviews and gain insight and inspiration for their own lives,” said Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, who began spearheading the research project as a graduate student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Between 8 and 16 million women were employed during World War II building ships and aircraft, manufacturing electrical equipment, and producing 6 million tons of bombs and 41 billion rounds of ammunition. They did jobs that were previously considered too dirty or physical for women. But they did what they had to do for their country and for their husbands, brothers and sons fighting overseas.

When World War II was over, the returning soldiers reclaimed their jobs and the Rosies went back to traditional women’s roles — homemakers, maids, laundry workers and waitresses — making 20 to 30 times less money than they did in the factories. How far we have come in the 70 years since Artist J. Howard Miller published the iconic “We Can Do It!” poster.

I invite you to join us at the Women in Business Conference this Saturday and view clips of the event later this month. In the meantime, I hope you’ll watch the videos of the Real Rosies – our mothers and grandmothers who inspired generations.

Make Big Bucks in Your Bathrobe

At c3PR, we have a lot of experience working with entrepreneurs. In fact, our Principal Mar Junge founded c3PR in 2002 to give small to mid-size B2B tech companies the chance to benefit from great PR. Before that, she was a partner in Communiqué and worked with big names like IBM, Cisco and Seagate. She’s operated her own agency since 1982 and is a founding board member of the nonprofit Sticks-2-Schools. Despite her multifaceted experience, what does she consider one of the best things about being an entrepreneur? Having the option to work from home. After all, suits are soooo 1999 – welcome to the reign of sweatpants.

Based on her success, Mar was invited to speak at the Santa Clara University Women in Business event “Making the Leap: Stories from Successful Women Entrepreneurs” on Friday February 18, 2011 in the Forbes Conference Room, Lucas Hall from 6:30 to 8:30. She’ll join a panel of three other women entrepreneurs for a discussion followed by a Q&A session and networking reception, include a tasting from specialty liqueur-infused ice cream company Silver Moon Desserts. Plus, 100 percent of the event’s registration fees will go to Dress for Success, a nonprofit that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women. To further benefit this cause, attendees are encouraged to bring gently used women’s business attire and accessories to donate to Dress for Success San Jose.

Mar’s “Making Big Bucks in Your Bathrobe” discussion will focus on how she made her entrepreneurial dreams come true. She won’t sugar coat it – successful entrepreneurs put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their work – but the results can be remarkable. In fact, c3PR’s entire team has the privilege of telecommuting. It’s not PJ’s and robes all the time, but when we’re not meeting with clients and prospects, you bet we bring out our bunny slippers.