July 21, 2017

Daily Archives

  • Do You Go Directly to the Source or Find Influencers?

    As you think about how to reach your target audience (the people for whom your product or service is designed), you must decide whether you should create a marketing strategy that reaches out to them directly or whether you would be better off influencing the influencers.

    Let’s say you are a health food store. You believe that food is medicine and good, healthy, organic choices (the very type you sell) would benefit all sorts of people. Who should your target audience be? Those who do the grocery shopping? Yes. But who influences them?

    If a friend with no particular expertise in diet or nutrition suggested you make a change in your diet, you might consider it. If your doctor told you that based on loads of research and his or her personal experience, that making a change in your diet would improve your life, you’d probably be much more likely to make a change. So, as the owner of the health food store, shouldn’t you consider marketing to healthcare professionals as well as those who buy groceries?

    Depending on your budget and other marketing resources, it might be a better return on your investment to focus on the influencers. Who do you align with? Who benefits by promoting your product? When those healthcare professionals promote healthy food (referring patients to your establishment in the process), they reach their goal of enhancing their patients’ health, their patients make better food choices, and you make a profit. It’s a win-win-win.

  • 5 Writing Tips Everyone Should Know

    Even though most of us sat through countless hours of English instruction, we don’t feel confident in our writing. Why is that, and how can we fix it?

    English is a tough language to master. It seems to break the rules as often as it follows them, and if you don’t reinforce those rules constantly, they can slip away from you. Thanks to Microsoft Word, we can figure out when we’ve misspelled a word (that little squiggly red line is a lifesaver). MS Word also recommends helpful hints about sentence structure, but unless you understand the underlying grammar, you accept MS Word’s correction at your peril.

    So, how can you improve your writing? Here are some helpful hints

    1. Avoid mistakes by proofreading. Ideally, you can trade proofreading duties with a trusted colleague, since our brains often trick us into reading what we meant to write rather than what we put on the page.
    2. Be sure you know what you want to say; then say it. By all means, tell a good story; just be careful you don’t get so caught up in the storytelling that your readers can’t figure out what your point is.
    3. Use active voice. Active voice means the subject of the sentence does something rather than having something done to him/her or it.
      Passive voice: The very best cancer is the one that is prevented and the second best is the one that gets caught early.
      Active voice: The very best cancer is the one we prevent and the second best is the one we catch early.
    4. Choose strong verbs and powerful adjectives. Use words that make your writing come to life, words that enliven the senses–help people smell the raindrops as they hit the pavement and feel the watermelon juice as it runs down their chins.
    5. Get rid of your fancy filter. Use straightforward language, and use as few words as possible to drive your point home. People aren’t impressed by a bunch of words they don’t know. They are impressed when you can explain a complex idea clearly and thoughtfully.

    Many grammar rules are black and white; either you’re right or you’re wrong. However, as language evolves, writers have to decide when they want to adopt new words, for example. Remember when the word “email” had a hyphen? And have you noticed that “health care” is becoming “healthcare”? The key to navigating these gray zones is to decide how you want to manage the grammar conundrum and then be consistent. Happily, you do not need to figure out how to proceed on your own. If you’re a journalist or blogger, I recommend the Associated Press Stylebook. If you’re a book author, I’d go with the Chicago Manual of Style.

    If you’re not sure whether your writing is good, try reading it aloud. If it’s awkward to read, then it’s awkward. Period. Rewrite it.

  • Don’t Panic! Plan Your Crisis Communication Before the Crisis Hits

    Almost every business must deal with a public relations crisis at some point, whether it’s a data breach, an unscrupulous employee, a problem with the product or service, or a miscommunication. For almost every business, you can usually predict the types of crises you’ll face, so you might as well prepare now.

    Let’s imagine you work in a hospital. A “Code Black” situation means the hospital is overrun with patients–maybe there’s a natural disaster or a terrorist attack or a nurses’ strike leading to an employee shortage. Whatever the cause, you’ll need to communicate with frightened members of the public, desperate to find loved ones. You’ll need to communicate with organizational partners to set up shelters and/or alternative medical care options, and you’ll need to communicate with the media about what’s happening. And that’s only the first hour.

    Before any crisis hits, you can write the press release (mostly).

    The press release’s lede (first paragraph) should provide the who, what, where, and when of the situation. Then you can reinforce your organization’s mission and values, since those are the foundations upon which decisions will be made to guide your organization through the crisis.

    The press release you write to prepare for any Code Black situation could start with something like this:

    At (time of day) on (date), (number of patients) patients arrived at Hometown Hospital (HH) as a result of (description of disaster). The influx of patients quickly filled the 12-bed emergency department, but patients could not be sent to neighboring hospitals because they, too, were overwhelmed with disaster victims. 

    HH President Joe Goodguy said, “We’re triaging patients as quickly as we can, putting patients on gurneys and lining the hallways where our dedicated physicians and hospital staff have worked through the night to stabilize them.

    As always, our mission is to provide excellent health care for everyone in our community, and we’ll continue to do all we can to make this happen.” 

    People concerned about loved ones can visit HometownHospital.org/crisis or call (1-800 Crisis Line) for more information. 

    Clearly, you won’t know every detail ahead of time, but you know you’ll want to 1. Explain what happened, 2. Give kudos to the people in your organization going above and beyond, and 3. Provide answers to people’s most pressing question(s). In this case, people will want to know how to reunite with loved ones, or at least find out whether they’re safe.

    You can go through each crisis scenario your organization is likely to face and brainstorm probable questions and issues; then prepare a press release for each. You can also set up a dark page on your website (one that remains unpublished until it’s needed) with key facts and contact information to keep people informed in the event of a crisis.

    Best Practices for Crisis Communication

    1. Plan ahead. Identify likely crises and create a communication plan for each.
    2. Identify a spokesperson and be sure employees know they should refer all media inquiries to that person.
    3. Be open and honest about the crisis as quickly as possible; then provide accurate, timely updates so people continue to come to you for information.
    4. Use many pathways for communication: social media, traditional news outlets, community partners, and other networks. Use radio, print, broadcast, and web resources.
    5. Be accountable and make things right. If your crisis involves a mistake, admit the mistake and explain the measures your organization is taking to prevent this type of mistake in the future. If appropriate and if possible, make those who are affected by the organization’s actions whole again, to the degree that you can.