Only 1 in 5 CEOs report satisfaction with their strategies in 2020, According to Study by (X)

 

SAN DIEGO; Nov. 23, 2020 — COVID-19 made 2020 the year of the strategy pivot, and independent San Diego State University survey research commissioned by (X) shows how enterprise leaders are evaluating their pivots and providing lessons for improved strategy performance in 2021.

Data collected from more than 100 U.S. CEOs and other corner suite leaders from a cross-section of industries showed how they feel about their enterprise strategy execution:

  • Only 22% of C-level executives felt their enterprises were doing a good job with their strategic initiatives.
  • The majority (66%) said that the biggest obstacle to successful strategy execution was a lack of employee engagement, even though 79% said that employee engagement was a big driver of their internal communication program. 
  • More than half reported that strong communication strategies played a role in their enterprise’s success in 2020. However, 39% reported their internal communication was also strained by COVID-19. 
  • The degree to which strong communication helped enterprises succeed in 2020 correlated significantly with whether an enterprise used consultants: 68% of CEOs who reported using consultants attributed strong communication to their success compared to 50% who don’t use consultants. 

 “Strategy is crafted by few and implemented by many. Getting and keeping employees more engaged through supporting communication could go a long way in helping the 78% of CEOs who aren’t feeling good about their strategic initiatives,” said (W)right On Communications CEO Grant Wright. “This is why we partnered with Excelerate to create (X), a solution to help organizations wring more shareholder ROI out of their initiatives. Senior leaders know strategy implementation and internal and external communication need to be tightly linked, but our research also revealed some gaps, fragmentation and resource issues, with COVID-19 also creating a strain.”

The survey was conducted by the Broom Center at San Diego State University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies and sponsored by (X), an enterprise strategy execution and communication consultancy formed by partners (W)right On Communications and Excelerate. 

“Execution of key strategies is always difficult,” said Jana De Anda, president of Excelerate. “The realities businesses faced in 2020 drove even more complexity in getting key initiatives to the finish line. And with the majority of CEOs reporting that their employee engagement is such a big obstacle to their success, it illustrates the importance of connecting strategic planning and implementation with excellent internal communication just as much as external.”

(X) leaders Julie Wright and Jana De Anda are presenting the survey’s findings in a webinar on Dec. 3 from noon to 1 p.m. PST. The webinar will go deeper into the survey results and share tips on how enterprises can better align strategy and communication to more successfully achieve strategic goals. 

Register for the “Pivoting in 2021: Pitfalls to Avoid” webinar at bit.ly/2021pivotpitfalls

About the Study

SDSU’s survey, conducted from Oct. 6 to Oct. 27, examined the strategic planning and implementation and communication practices of enterprises during the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking to leaders at the highest level, CEOs (87%) made up a majority of the 136 respondents.  These leaders direct companies with annual revenue between $50M to $250M (54%) and more than $250M (46%). The survey gauged CEOs’ communication alignment with their business strategy. The data suggests best practices for upcoming communication strategy for Q1 of 2021. 

About (X) 

Combining the considerable capabilities and reputations of (W)right On Communications and Excelerate, (X) is a joint venture service offering that better connects strategic planning and operational implementation with integrated strategic communications for faster and more impactful results. From offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland and Vancouver, BC and with client partners coast to coast, (X) streamlines multiple agency engagements thereby reducing costs and decreasing redundancy while strengthening outcomes at a faster rate that is essential for organizations to successfully navigate unprecedented change and new opportunities.

For more, see PivotWithX.com or email AskUs@PivotWithX.com

Forbes Names (W)right On Communications to 2021 Best PR Agencies List

SAN DIEGO; Oct. 30, 2020 —  (W)right On Communications, Inc. a leading public relations agency headquartered in California, has been named to Forbes’ Best PR Agencies of 2021 list.

From among about 12,000 PR firms across the nation of which 5,000 were nominated, (W)right On was named among the Top 200. Of these, (W)right On is one of only 20 firms based in California that was rated with five of five stars according to Forbes research and analysis.

(W)right On’s Founder and President Julie
Wright and CEO Grant Wright

“It’s an honor receiving this national recognition, particularly since it’s driven by what client partners say about us”, said Grant Wright, CEO of (W)right On Communications. “PR takes a lot of strategy, experience and creativity to execute well, and credit goes to Julie for never wavering from the high standards she set when founding the agency 23 years ago, the terrific (W)right On team members for their savvy, progressive nature and relentless effort to achieve results, and our wonderful client partners it’s a privilege to support.”

Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista for its inaugural ranking of America’s Best PR Agencies 2021. To develop the list, Statista surveyed more than 12,700 experts and 20,500 customers who made the nominations. Participants were asked to indicate how likely they were to nominate a particular agency on a scale of zero (very unlikely) to 10 (very likely). Statista then narrowed the list to the Top 200 and gave those that received at least the median score a four-star rating and those that exceeded the median score a five-star rating.

With a mission to elevate the agency experience for its team members, client partners and industry, (W)right On Communications delivers world-class results from a team of award-winning communicators. The agency’s investment in comprehensive capabilities including data collection and analysis, certification by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC), and remaining on the industry forefront of integrated PR and marketing approaches has helped it successfully navigate the ever-evolving world of information and influence. Coupled with its steadfast commitment to operating in accordance with its Core Values, this approach has led to a growing list of diversified client partners in technology, hospitality, healthcare, education, cleantech, food and entertainment, life science, energy, manufacturing, government and not-for-profit sectors among others.

About (W)right On Communications

Founded in 1998 with client partners coast to coast, (W)right On Communications is an award-winning integrated strategic communications firm with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and Vancouver, B.C. With a mission to elevate the agency experience for its client partners, employees and the industry plus a focus on creative and measurable results, (W)right On Communications serves organizations in complex and unpredictable business environments working with business innovators, hospitality and tourism leaders and the not-for-profit and public sector. (W)right On is also a parent company of subsidiary brand (X) that seamlessly blends strategic planning, analysis and implementation with unparalleled strategic communications for exceptional results.

(X) Blends Business and Communications Consulting Services to Speed Clients’ Post-Pandemic Recoveries

(W)right On Communications and Excelerate join forces to bring business leaders a turnkey team of cross-functional experts to plan and implement their 2020 and 2021 priorities

SAN DIEGO; June 2, 2020 — San Diego-based (W)right On Communications, Inc. and Excelerate, LLC have created a joint venture, (X), to help organizations navigate the new normal emerging from the worldwide pandemic faster and more successfully. Created by one of California’s premier communication agencies in partnership with one of the West Coast’s best management consulting firms, (X) provides seamless integration of business strategy implementation with supporting complex communications.

“Business and communication strategies are two sides of the same coin. When one is overlooked or shortchanged, the other can’t succeed,” says Grant Wright, CEO of (W)right On Communications. “Many CEOs are making abrupt pivots, evaluating new business strategies and struggling to keep stakeholders and customers engaged and informed. (X) provides a streamlined resource to achieve faster planning and successful implementation for better outcomes.”

“With (X), we are filling a market need for speed that is informed by data-driven insights, which has always been a key part of Excelerate’s mission and client value,” says Jana De Anda, President of Excelerate. “Together with (W)right On, we can help organizations rethink their business models, operational plans and communication strategies to protect and grow their business or market share.”

Wright and De Anda will co-lead (X) supported by their respective teams, combined resources and offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland and Vancouver, B.C.

The two firms both have client partners coast to coast and share deep expertise working with retail, conservation, financial services, energy and water utilities, cleantech innovators, tourism and hospitality leaders, higher education institutions, not-for-profits, land developers, healthcare centers, manufacturers, regional and city governments and numerous other industries.

Follow (X) on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

About (X)
Combining the considerable capabilities and reputations of (W)right On Communications and Excelerate, (X) is a joint venture service offering that better connects strategic planning and operational implementation with integrated strategic communications for faster and more impactful results. From offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland and Vancouver, BC, and with client partners coast to coast, (X) streamlines multiple agency engagements thereby reducing costs and decreasing redundancy while strengthening outcomes at a faster rate that is essential for organizations to successfully navigate unprecedented change and new opportunities. For more, see www.PivotWithX.com 

About (W)right On Communications
Founded in 1998 with client partners coast to coast, (W)right On Communications is an award-winning integrated strategic communications firm with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and Vancouver, B.C. With a mission to elevate the agency experience for its client partners, employees and the industry plus a focus on creative and measurable results, (W)right On Communications serves organizations in complex and unpredictable business environments working with business innovators, hospitality and tourism leaders and the not-for-profit and public sector. For more, see www.wrightoncomm.com.

About Excelerate
Excelerate is a strategy implementation firm that delivers high value consulting across a variety of practice areas (customer & employee experience optimization, process improvement, digital transformation and operational design). With a maniacal focus on the belief that there is no ROI until a project is live, it uses a facilitative consulting style that engages stakeholders in the process to ensure high levels of buy-in and adoption. Excelerate’s motto is to help companies “go faster” by being the force multiplier to deliver solutions for how to achieve business goals and execution of those initiatives. With a west coast focus and San Diego HQ, Excelerate is a trusted advisor to many brands across retail, manufacturing, conservation, financial services and healthcare. For more, see www.Exceleratellc.com.

No Shortcuts to PR Glory, Then or Now

By Julie Wright—President and Founder

Twitter: @JulieWright


How PR Worked Before the Internet…

I started out in PR before the Internet or email. It was the era of fax machines, the Yellow Pages and 400-page media directories that you combed through to research and build your media lists. There were few shortcuts on the way to mastering your PR skills, but in some ways, all of today’s technology and automation tools might actually be shortchanging entry-level PR people and getting in the way of developing PR fundamentals.

Back in the day, once you had your list built, you then had to call each reporter until they picked up the phone and then use your verbal skills to hold their attention more than eight seconds to pitch your story. Those calls helped you develop a thick skin, fast. That real-time feedback taught you which approaches worked or didn’t.

Unfortunately, in today’s email environment, you’ll never really know what they loved or hated about your pitch. (Unless you follow @smugjourno or @DearPR to monitor Tweets from journalists losing their s*** after being addressed with the wrong name for the 10th time in one day, sent another off-topic pitch, distastefully news-jacked or sent a 120 mb attachment.)

In the pre-email era, entry-level PR pros had to work the phones but that process made us better, faster.

We had another tool beside the phone. It was called the fax machine. Part of paying your dues was standing over one feeding it hard-copy press releases with your fingers crossed, hoping to hear the modem answer. (If you don’t know what a modem sounds like, it’s kinda like a DubStep drop.) That sound let you know that your brilliant press release was transmitting.

http://img.memecdn.com/father-of-dubstep_o_166238.jpg

If you were sending a fax to a busy newsroom, you could often expect repeated busy signals and multiple attempts to get your press release through. Faxes could only be sent one at a time. You could punch in several fax numbers, but they’d be delivered sequentially and not simultaneously.

Think about that, for a moment.

You, literally—and I mean literally–experienced the sensation of your pitch colliding and competing for bandwidth with other pitches. The idea that your pitch was one of hundreds being sent to an outlet or reporter was not just a concept. It was something you actually heard and saw.

Anyhow, damn. Those days could be a real grind. Some labor-intensive, inglorious work. Like walking uphill both ways to and from school. But it was just what you had to do so you did it.

So, here’s my point: While the tools may have changed, I honestly do not think that the fundamentals have.

PR still requires an awful lot of legwork to do right and over the past quarter century, I have found that there is no substitute for that hard work—particularly as you are starting out. Generating a Twitter following, mastering Facebook’s algorithm, researching blogs for your thought leadership project—it’s a different grind, but to succeed you’ve got to do the work.

jw-quote

The practices I learned in the early 90s as an entry-level Gen Xer gave me sound fundamentals. It was a methodical process—detailed, diligent and it kept you close to your media contacts. You worked hard to find each contact and cultivate it. You knew the value of each contact and sent your pitches out into the world with each recipient in mind.

If I wanted to target my client for a radio interview, I had to listen to that radio show. If I wanted a trade or consumer magazine to feature my client’s project, I had to read the magazine. There was no website to consult or Google to search.

You had to be dialed into your media list, totally aware of who each contact was and why the hell they’d want to do a story on your news. I think this is one of those basics that has been lost in the race to automate our work, and it is the bane of the remaining working journalists who are inundated with off-topic email pitches. It’s also the bane of PR professionals who know that it takes time to do this job right but get pressure from clients who think PR is just distributing press releases to massive lists.

What Can You Do Today for Maximum Career Growth & Success?

What would happen to your pitching skills and PR instincts if you adopted these old school practices. What if you voraciously consumed the very same media you were expected to earn coverage in? What if you approached every single media contact on your media list like a wedding guest—knowing their background, your relationship to them, whether they’d want the ribeye or the vegetarian option and who they’d want to sit with?

I tell you what. You’d be successful. You’d be a rock star.

In today’s environment of cheap, plentiful and immediate information, taking pains to research and document each entry in your media list probably makes you feel like you’re doing it wrong.

Stifle that impulse. Take the time. If you have a passion for communications and telling great stories, then focus on your fundamentals. Do what might feel like drudgery. It’s called paying your dues. We all did it. If we wanted it, then we did it.

So if that’s you, don’t miss the opportunity to shine because it looks like hard work.

Put that extra care and attention into your work. Invest extra time in your day for attending a webinar to build your knowledge. Spend a little extra time every day reading up on your industry and talking to the more experienced people on your team about what you’re learning to get their take and advice.

And for god’s sake, show up. Network with journalists, other PR professionals, peers and business leaders. Volunteer on a committee so you can practice your leadership skills outside of the office to get more confident contributing during team and client meetings.

It may sound old-timey but work hard, pay your dues, take chances with your new knowledge and you will get noticed and rise quickly. I assure you, don’t be afraid to do these things for you will have one of the most exhilarating and rewarding careers imaginable.

3 PR & Marketing Tactics to Dump in 2017

By Julie Wright—President and Founder

Twitter: @JulieWright


Out with the old. In with the new! What stale PR and marketing tactics will you shed in 2017?

I’ve got a few on my naughty list this holiday season. They’re activities that perhaps at one time were strategic but now are automatic things PR and marketing professionals are doing without really thinking. Isn’t it time to leave these three things behind?

  1. Your Press Releases No One Reads

Away documents Free PhotoIt’s well past time to ditch the traditional press release.

If you want media coverage, then spend your energy and budget on developing your brand’s story and pitching it to a carefully cultivated list of media targets.

Just as advertising is the price you pay for being unremarkable, press releases are what you do when you don’t have a real PR strategy.

They’re a PR crutch and are often abused by people who think press releases are public relations.

In 2017, empower your agency or PR department to generate media coverage with creative ideas and storytelling. Focus on your communications goals and then determine if press releases are really going to help you achieve them. If not, get creative and strategic with the tactics that will actually impact your communications and business goals.

While they may not generate media coverage, you can be strategic in your use of press releases.  Use them to raise online visibility for your brand or key content to spur discovery through keyword analysis and search engine-optimized content, and to share exceptional visual content such as great photos, videos and graphics.

Just don’t continue putting them out as a proxy for a real PR strategy.

  1. Your Facebook Page that No One Sees

Facebook social media Free Vector How much time does your team spend drafting and posting content to Facebook? Now how many likes or comments does that content get you? How much traffic to your website? How much brand engagement and equity is all this effort producing?

Be honest with yourself. Is it worth it? What would happen to your business if you dumped your Facebook page? Or your Twitter account, for that matter?

If you’re doing it right, hopefully the answer would be “quite a lot.” Website visits would fall, event attendance dip and top of mind awareness would suffer.

If you can’t answer that question satisfactorily, take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and ask yourself why? Do you know what impact you want this activity to have on your business?

Now flip things around and pretend that Facebook was your only channel for reaching your audience. How would you approach it differently? Would you do more research and target better? Would you dedicate more budget to advertising? Would you study what type of content performs best?

So develop a plan in 2017 to do social media right. Or stop doing it.

Set goals for your social media activity that will support the impact you want to see for your business and then produce the content, schedule, promotion and targeting that will reach them.

  1. The Content You Spend More Time Marketing than Your Actual Product or Service

I get the concept behind content marketing. Provide people with helpful, well-packaged information that draws them in and predisposes them to like, trust and value your business so they’ll consider doing business with you.

Time and money Free Vector Do this on a massive scale and you’ll have a lead generation machine, the theory goes. With every blog post or white paper, an email has been captured so that the prospect can be continuously marketed with more friendly, helpful emails, blog posts and white papers.

That said, it’s a shit-ton of work to do this right. And if you’re the prospect, you could now have five or 10 companies trying to move you through their content marketing funnel. Your email inbox will implode!

So how much of your marketing department’s time or agency budget do you want to spend generating and marketing helpful blog posts, infographics, videos, white papers and case studies, and how much do you want to spend actually marketing your product or service to your target buyers?

I may be out of fashion here, but content marketing has to have jumped the shark a few years ago.

“With over 90% of B2B marketers cranking out ‘content,’ prospective buyers are inundated with information.”

How many buyers will be saying to themselves in 2017, “Boy, if only I could find more content?” I’m skeptical. Content is important but it is not the end in and of itself. It’s the means to an end. So in 2017 stop slaving away at the content game and make sure it’s serving your needs and not vice versa.

What tactics will you be dumping in 2017? Let us know with a comment or tweet!

Robot writing with a pen Free Photo

Write Your PR for Robots AND Humans

By Kat Beaulieu, Communications Strategist


Whether you call it a press, news or media release or a press statement, it’s all the same thing—it’s the communication piece aimed at hooking the media onto your story. Far from being a relic relegated to our past, the press release lives on as an important tool in a PR professional’s toolkit. But in this age of media overload, getting your press release noticed is no simple feat. Plus, nowadays it’s equally important to ensure your press release appeals to robots and humans alike.

Read on for some best practices for ensuring your press release is seen by robots and humans and not getting lost in the shuffle.

The Writing Phase

Writing a press release for robots

Start writing your press release with an audience in mind. In this case, let’s begin with our robot audience. When I say ‘robots,’ I’m not talking about The Terminator, or Autobots & Decepticons, or cute heartstring-pulling characters like WALL-E. I’m talking about those web-crawling spiders that do all the grunt work of indexing the internet so that when we do a Google search on “press release,” it only takes 0.84 seconds to return 272,000,000 results (take THAT, human!)

Writing a press release for robots, or more specifically, writing an SEO optimized press release, follows certain protocols which are largely determined by the current algorithms of the top search engines you want to place prominently on. Basically you need to follow the same rules for your press release as you would for a web page. Fundamentally, this comes down to:

1. figuring out your key search terms

2. making sure those terms are peppered as naturally as possible throughout your press release.

Robots don’t care about varying your language to keep things interesting, using creative, emotional hooks to encourage them to read more, or even grammar and typos (unless they’re your key search terms, of course.) The robots will read to the end of your release no matter what and then efficiently and mathematically rank your press release among the 272,000,000 other ones out there.

Writing a press release for humans

Humans, on the other hand, care about all of those things. If there’s nothing compelling about your headline, they won’t bother reading more. If the release reads like a boring SEO-peppered document with no WIIFM (what’s in it for me, or my audience), they won’t bother remembering it. And if your release has grammatical mistakes or typos, it will also upset most humans in editor, journalist (and many) blogger roles and they’ll stop reading it. So after investing time creating an SEO optimized press release, edit it for human consumption. This means spending the time to:

1. Create a catchy headline for your press release that piques a human’s curiosity

2. Elaborate on the press release headline with supporting detail in the sub-head

3. Embed WIIFM detail throughout the body of the press release, preferably with an emotional connection—make it instantly clear why this topic is relevant, interesting, funny, sad, irritating, inspiring, joyful and most importantly, worth sharing. Give it the Facebook share test—is the info cool enough that you’d share it on Facebook given the right audience?

4. Include a good and relevant photo that supports the story. A picture says a thousand words, and this is so much more important in today’s highly-visual media arena. Plus, providing a low-res image in your initial press release provides an excellent opportunity for you to accompany the release with a personalized note to get in touch with you for a hi-res version.

5. Proofread. Robots don’t care about typos. Humans do.

The Distribution Phase

Distributing a press release to robots

Sending your press release over a paid wire service is an almost guaranteed way of capturing the attention of the robots. In fact, paid wire services serve little other purpose. In addition to sending your press release out over the wire, you can help contextualize it by supporting it through owned media channels (like a corporate website and social media). This is another place where your good and relevant photo will come in handy as you tweet and post teasers from your press release to followers.

While you might not see any immediate results, getting the robots to index your press release will pay off in the long term. It’s called seeding the internet—consider it like good press insurance. You want lots of good stories indexed by the robots so that the good outweighs the bad. This way, when something “bad” hits the media, the search results present some of the good along with the bad.

Distributing a press release to humans

As you’re probably already aware, humans are a lot more high-maintenance than robots and as such, require more time investment. To get humans to notice your press release, it helps to keep some uniquely human behaviors in mind, like:

  • Humans are social. Fact: humans are more likely to respond to humans they already know. It’s not fair, but it’s true. An editor will more likely read an email and respond to a voicemail from someone they know and trust. Build those relationships.
  • Humans have expectations. Humans expect you to do your homework. Do your research and find out which editors specialize in the topic of your news release. If it’s not that person’s specialization, they probably won’t care about your press release. This is where an up-to-date media list and your WIIFM copy is crucial.
  • Humans have a short attention span and can forget things. Unlike a robot, who will systematically comb through each and every press release in an orderly fashion, a human will likely skim through until something catches their interest. This is where your short catchy headline is golden, and where a heads-up or follow-up call can make all the difference.
  • Humans are lazier than robots. Avoid relying on attachments that humans have to double-click to open. Put the press release and image in the body of the email where possible.

So should I write a press release for a robot or a human?

The answer is that a really good press release that gets noticed is written for both. You can start with a skeleton press release that hits all the SEO sweet spots, and then flesh it out with the strong emotional meat that hits the humans in the feelies.

Need help with your press release? Fortunately we have a full team of humans who specialize in writing captivating press releases that appeal to both robots and humans. Get in touch and we’ll respond in a humanistic way that’s refreshingly un-robotic.