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Archive for March, 2012

Does your business maintain a YouTube channel? How about a Facebook page? Have you looked at them lately? Who’s minding your corporate reputation on these social media properties?

At coffee this morning with a friend and business associate, our conversation turned to digital media and the variety of improper uses companies allow in order to stand out on YouTube, Vimeo and other popular social sites. The pressure to do more than just have a presence is immense. Short videos displaying the benefits of new products and solutions are great. Celebrity spokespeople providing a reality-like testimonial for your thousands of Facebook fans — a marketer’s best dream. And if your company is lucky enough to have a video go viral the result can be felt on the Richter Scale. But what’s the impact on reputation when your latest social media campaign fails to follow branding guidelines, or worse, crosses a line from being edgy to having poor taste?

Case in point: A certain vodka manufacturer posted an ad on its Facebook page. The ad’s  photo and message had a clear connection with rape. Smart? Do vodka companies need to care that their social media outreach, targeting a 21 – 34 demographic, ultimately reaches mainstream audiences as well? Is the company risking a reputation backlash with a clever but ill-advised ad that generates tons of earned media coverage?

Of course!

So some words of caution to consider.

Monitor your organization’s YouTube and social media efforts.

Make sure a trusted communications leader scrutinizes your organization’s social media content before it gets posted.

If you pursue social media outreach, keep it up-to-date with frequent and timely posts, video and interactive content.

Corporate reputation takes years to establish, but can be blown apart with a 60 second video designed to create interest, be edgy or skewer the competition. Do you really want your reputation to be the next corporate pinata in the business section of the news paper?

Take serious stock in everything tied to your brand. And don’t be afraid to can that great social media idea when you sense it might turn into a disaster.

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I’ve been a fan of the sitcom “Southpark” since shortly after it began to air – around 1998, I think. And while I’d never wish Cartman as a manager on anyone, we can use his “Respect My Authority,” quote as a lesson — in reverse — to all the people managers on the planet.

Managing people for more than a decade has taught me several valuable lessons. None more important than knowing your team deserves your respect – just as you expect the team to respect you.  For example, when your inbox overflows with emails and your phone won’t stop ringing on a busy day you might think it wise to tune out staff requests in order to focus on your own priorities.

This may serve as a manager’s fatal error. 

Instead, call a quick staff meeting and let those you supervise know you’re buried alive in work to-dos, and before you vanish for several hours you want to identify the work of the team that requires your attention. Presto. You’ve communicated your need to go heads down, but you’ve also told the team that what they do is equally important and you don’t want to hold up the work flow.

This little communication strategy helps you earn (and keep) the respect of the team. By connecting with them, and trusting they will understand your need to prioritize, the work that absolutely needs to get done will become clear and you’ll enable others to keep making positive contributions.

Congrats! You’re a great boss.  Today.

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Value proposition. I steer clear of words like this. Buzz words and phrases don’t excite me. But if you’re in front of leaders at an organization and want to make your mark — be noticed and memorable, or have an impact on the meeting itself — you have to think about the value you can lend to the conversation.

Being “on” in every meeting or hallway conversation seems daunting. Minds play tricks on us all the time. Distractions of work, mental to-do lists and issues at home all come in to play. So think of these four strategies to, at the very least, prepare yourself to contribute at work meetings — so you shine (even if for a moment) — and so your leaders remember just why they hired you.

  1. Thirty Second Reboot. I love my Mac because on those rare occasions that it needs to reboot, it takes all of 30 seconds. Humans can reboot their minds and moods in about the same amount of time. Try it before your next meeting starts. Before you step into the conference room or dial in to a conference call, clear your head. A few deep breaths, some positive self talk or even a quick walk will help you center yourself. I’ll frequently walk two or three flights of stairs to both clear my head and spark some adrenaline prior to the meeting.
  2. Identify The Meeting Objective. Every meeting has an objective. As the meeting begins, write down what you believe the objective of the meeting is all about. “To plan the annual employee summer picnic” or “Create activation strategies to engage with clients,” are two examples. With an objective staring back at you, you’ll stay focused on the intent of the meeting.
  3. Stay Engaged (No Matter How Boring The Subject). Posture at a meeting is one way to, through body language, tell everyone at the conference table that you’re a relevant part of the conversation. Sit up. Cross your arms in front of you on the table. Make eye contact with others when you speak. These tactics work on conference calls, too. (Instead of making eye contact, visualize each person when he or she speak and pencil out your thoughts before talking.)
  4. Say Thanks. When the meeting wraps up, thank the team for convening. Saying “Great to see you,” or telling the meeting host, “Thanks for including me,” serves as a reminder that you’re part of the group.

These basic strategies will help you stay focused and become known as a productive contributor. It’s part of your personal value proposition as a professional.

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