5 Habit-forming Podcasts for PR Pros

Podcasts for PR pros

By Julie Wright —President
Twitter: @juliewright


If you’re a communicator today, that means you’re also an information junkie. What choice is there? If you don’t keep an eye on social media algorithm changes, newsroom shuffles and the next big thing, your next campaign could miss its mark.

Podcasts can make it a lot easier for PR professionals to keep up. While you’re driving, commuting or walking the dog, here are five fascinating podcasts for PR pros that you can queue up in your favorite podcast app to stay ahead of the curve or at least keep pace with the shifting media and digital landscape.

1. HowSound: The Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling

Why is HowSound worth a listen for PR pros? Because it’s all about great storytelling, and all great PR campaigns must start with a story worth telling and well told. HowSound digs into the stories that leave you parked in your garage waiting for their conclusion. It also shares the choices radio reporters and podcasters make to more deeply engage the listener. In short, it’s an opportunity to hone your own craft as a storyteller.

Tune in to episodes like “The Value of a Sympathetic Character,” which goes behind the scenes on the popular Heaven’s Gate podcast. Or “Don’t Write. Tell” which explains how a Planet Money reporter made a story on flood insurance memorable.

2. Social Media Marketing Podcast 

Each episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast is a deep dive into a topic related to—you guessed it—social media marketing and explored through host Michael Stelzner’s interviews with experts. The information is always up to the minute and insightful. As a podcast for PR pros, it will help you make the most of the social and digital tools available for your storytelling.  Stelzner, of Social Media Examiner, and his guests are generous with their knowledge. I really enjoyed listening to Sue B. Zimmerman’s interview last month on “Instagram Stories: How Business Can Make the Most of Stories.”

3. How I Communicated That from PRSA

I’ve only listened to the first two episodes of this podcast for PR pros that launched on the PRSA Member app in February, but I have high hopes for it. Its public debut on the PRSA website is expected in April. The first episode featured career advancement insights from a recruiter and the March episode featured a communications leader from the prestigious Cleveland Clinic on the changing role and expectations of her department. April’s episode features a Chipotle executive speaking on reputation management. How I Communicated That promises listeners “real world experiences that help communications professionals hone their skills amidst a rapidly changing environment.”

4. 2Bobs: Conversations on the Art of Creative Entrepreneurship

David C. Baker and Blair Enns are the only voices you’ll hear in the 2Bobs podcast, but for PR and other creative agency principals, CAUTION! 2Bobs can become habit forming. Baker and Enns mine their experiences as agency consultants and conduct incredibly open, frank conversations about the agency business. Take, for instance, this episode titled “How to Drive Your Employees Bat Sh*t Crazy.” (I, of course, have never done that to any of my employees, at least never more than one a week.)

5. Honorable Mentions

I’ve got so many favorite podcasts that my fifth pick is a bit of a cheat because I’ve turned it into a grab bag of favorites that are loosely connected to communications, media and PR specifically. However, here’s my take: as I stated off the top, to be a communicator today means being an information junkie, and that often means a lot of information is competing for your attention in a swipe-left, 280-character world. So, these podcasts are an opportunity to immerse yourself in a topic or a story as opposed to your constant multitasking. Think of these as a meditation or the equivalent of a Sunday Times long read.

Let’s start with Criminal with host Phoebe Judge. It rarely disappoints. The recent episode, “Cold Case,” I found mildly interesting until around the 24th minute at which point I was hooked for the last 10. Check it out if you enjoy a little true crime or mystery. Phoebe’s voice is the crème brulee of podcasting. Listen and you’ll understand.

The podcast Reveal which is a co-production between PRX and the Center for Investigative Reporting is always engrossing. Their episode on Silicon Valley and diversity creatively tackled the subject of gender and race in tech company leadership ranks. They did it by assembling a choir and contrasting a chorus that proportionately represented each gender and demographic. So, you could hear the small number of female voices/CEOs counterpointed against the large male chorus/CEOs or the near solo-sounding voices of African-American singers/CEOs contrasted with growing choruses representing Asian, Hispanic and white singers/CEOs. I suppose you have to hear it to appreciate its genius.

But tune in if just to listen to corporate spokespeople trying their best to cope with uncomfortable questions about issues like diversity, pay equity among female engineers at Google or Tesla’s safety record in its plant.

Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, choices and relationships. It’s always thought-provoking and often applies to the art and science of strategic communications.

I’ll save some of my other favorites for a future blog post. But if you’re not already listening to these podcasts for PR pros, you’re missing out and quite possibly falling behind! Let me know what podcasts you think we’re missing! Shoot me a note on Twitter at @juliewright.

When Your Passion is Contagious, it Spreads

Contagious passion

By Julie Wright —President

Twitter: @juliewright


Passion is an awesome thing. It gives you the drive needed to push past obstacles and embrace challenges. But passion alone isn’t enough.

To succeed as a strategic communicator, you need what the (W)right On Communications team calls contagious passion. Contagious passion is one of our core values. Why?

Because, if your passion for your client, pitch or charitable cause doesn’t infect others, you can’t advance it. With earned media, shared media and word of mouth driving more brand connections than paid strategies today, contagious passion is essential to your success as a communicator.

A trending Twitter hashtag–like #GoTFinale—is a symptom of an outbreak of shared passion across the Twittersphere. It signifies that thousands of people are fired up about Game of Thrones and its season finale.

Similarly, a long string of comments on a Facebook post will raise a post’s visibility on the platform. In a way, the Facebook algorithm is fueled by contagious passion. But to achieve that kind of engagement you’ve got to develop content that contains an idea, concept or image people can connect to emotionally. Without that shared feeling, there’s no reason to care and without a reason to care, there’s no motivation to act. Which means failure.

I have a friend who has a contagious passion for slowing climate change. When she tells me about a book she encountered that examines the top 100 solutions for reversing global warming and what it taught her, it’s not long before I’m downloading my own copy of Project Drawdown and telling others about it. In a matter of 24 hours, I’ve infected three other people with this book’s intriguing research and ideas.

I’ve been thinking about our agency culture and the importance of our values, like contagious passion, because we added a new team member a few months ago. During the interview process and since joining the team, she has made it clear that she has a passion for communications, for her clients and for the work we do at (W)right On Communications.

Her client partners have quickly taken to her because they can see, and more importantly feel, that she cares about their organizations and achieving results for them. Her fast start has been remarkable but no accident. She brought the passion and infected others with it. (Hat tip to you, Sandra, for being a great example of our agency values!)

Think about the last time you were in a meeting where someone renewed your enthusiasm for a project or won you over to their vision or idea. I guarantee you that their contagious enthusiasm played a big part, and you probably applied yourself to the task with more gusto because you were inspired by it.

You can fake passion, but it’s hard to fake a contagious passion. If your words don’t align with your body language—animated gestures, leaning forward, maintaining eye contact—people won’t pick up on what you’re putting out. If your heart isn’t in it, then your passion won’t feel authentic to others or move them. Most importantly, it won’t fulfill you.

And that’s important. You should love what you do, care deeply about what you’re communicating and be invested in the success of your idea, client or team.

That passion motivates you to excel, to learn all that you can about your client or craft and to challenge yourself to grow and reach mastery.

We all encounter wet blankets in our work life. People who are genetic anomalies and immune to passion. They’re a bummer to work with or for, of course, and probably don’t understand why no one listens to their ideas or wants to go to lunch with them. Think Eeyore.

Those people are probably just in the wrong job or career. Or they’ve given up and lost their mojo.

For others who love what they do but struggle to muster a contagious passion, the cause can often be their own fear and insecurities. They’ve put a wall around their passion because they’re afraid to be wrong, to fail or to show that they don’t know something they should.

For your passion to be contagious, you need to get in touch with it. What excites you? What’s worth sticking your neck out for?

If you have a contagious passion for a hobby or a sports team, invest the same zeal into your client’s business or your employer’s industry to find the joy. It’s possible. Often, the more you invest yourself in a topic, the more exciting it becomes. It’s the difference between the college courses you had to take in your first year and those you chose to take in your senior year.

In the same way that smiling can make you feel better, choosing to find the joy can make you feel the passion. The cart doesn’t always have to follow the horse. The main point is to find it, feel it and spread it to others.

We spend a lot of time blogging here about communication strategies and tactics, but communication success starts with passion and the ability to make others care. What goes around comes around, and contagious passion is no exception. I hope you’ve felt mine and that this post leaves you a little more stoked to make the most of your work whatever it may be!

 

Best Media Training Tips

By Julie Wright —President

Twitter: @juliewright


Our agency meets every two weeks for in-house training and recently Practice Area Director Chance Shay shared his best media training tips in a fun session he titled “Crushing Media Interviews.” I’ve participated in or delivered many media trainings, and I liked how Chance’s presentation so concisely shared our agency’s media training tips. So, I’m sharing a recap here.

To avoid a media meltdown, follow this four-step media interview process and our best media training tips:

Step 1. Screen the Opportunity

When you see a media interview go bad like this British interview with Quentin Tarantino, the culprit is typically a lack of preparation combined with an unrealistic expectation as to how the interview was supposed to go. When things don’t go as we expect, some of us—like Tarantino—will lose our cool (which makes great, if cringe-worthy, television for the rest of us).

Screening requires basic fact finding to ensure the opportunity is a good fit for you and that you prepare appropriately.

Chance’s best media training tips started with reviewing the outlet’s and writer’s past coverage. Is this media outlet and opportunity a good fit for your business and its goals? Is it a top-tier media outlet, smaller and scrappier blog or trade media that look for advertising in exchange for editorial coverage? Will the writer do their due diligence and apply a professional code of ethics such as the Society of Professional Journalists’ code? (The established rules of journalism are not always followed or respected by many new media outlets and blogs–from pay-to-play to twisting quotes to fit a partisan political agenda.)

A blogger seeking clicks has a different goal than a long-form magazine feature writer or a local TV news reporter needing video for broadcast, video for the webs and an article for the web. Print and online journalists will often want video to accompany their stories as well.

Find out who else the reporter is interviewing for the story. Are you one of many voices or are you the only person speaking to your side of an issue. They may or may not tell you who else they’re interviewing, but it will certainly help you better prepare if you can find out.

If you’re not clear what it is that the reporter wants from you for their story, ask for more details or clarity. If their explanation doesn’t make sense to you, it is okay and often safer to politely decline.

If this is an opportunity you are interested in, it is important to get the reporter’s deadline and commit to the interview well before that time. I have seen clients hold out until the last second and, as a result, miss the opportunity. The reporter wants to complete all interviews as early as possible so that they can write the story. The longer you wait to provide a comment, the higher the likelihood others will shape the story and your quote will be placed at the very end of the article, if it gets included at all.

Step 2. Prepare for the Opportunity

Take the time to prepare yourself by drafting or reviewing your key messages and talking points.

If you don’t have these already, start by narrowing down the main points you’d want to communicate. Pick your top three. Practice them in front of a mirror or with a friend.

If you are expecting challenging questions during your interview, brainstorm all of the worst rude questions you might be asked and practice your responses to them. That way, when the nasty question arises, you’ll be relaxed and able to respond without losing your cool.

During our discussion of preparation methods, Chance was asked by a participant whether it was true that Sarah Palin had refused media training. Famously, she did and famously, it showed.

Step 3. Interview Smart

“After all of this, it’s go time,” Chance said. “If it’s an outlet that’s challenging for your client or client industry, you can still get a great win.”

During the interview, remember your ABCD’s.
  • Acknowledge the question: “I’m glad that you asked that.” Or “I get asked that question a lot.”
  • Bridge to key messages: “That’s a great question that I get asked a lot, but what’s really important to people is / what our customers ask is…” These phrases help you move from the interviewer’s questions to your key messages. More examples: “Let me answer that question by putting things into context…” “Let’s talk about something I’m even more familiar with…” “Well the answer is no, but what is really important here is…”
  • Conclude with proof points: “… we know that because we did a customer survey and 95% said…”
  • Dangle the next topic if you’re feeling lucky: “… and it’s dang cool software design” or “… and that discovery leads to a really surprising new problem to solve.”

Chance’s best media training tips included being brief. The less you say, the more poignant and quotable your points are. It also lets the interviewer be engaged so they can ask questions and leaves them wanting more. It’s easy to drone on, especially when a reporter is interviewing you by phone and taking notes. Just because the reporter hasn’t asked another question, doesn’t mean you need to fill the void with ramblings. Make your point and wait for the next question.

Avoid negatives or charged words. A “problem” is a “challenge.” You don’t “hate” something, you “prefer its alternative.” It wasn’t a “failure” but a “learning opportunity.”

Recent media research shows that the media don’t have a political bias. They have a bias for ‘negative’ angles. Conflict sells. When everything is going smoothly and harmoniously, there’s no news.

Remember during your interview that nothing is off the record and the camera is always rolling. What you say before or after the interview can be picked up by a hot mic. Chance’s best media training tips include not saying anything you don’t want to see all over the Internet.

Be conscious of your energy level and body language. Your nonverbal communication can say more than your words. Voice, gestures, posture, eye contact. Avoid eye rolls or big sighs. And if it’s an on-camera interview, dress for the part.

Step 4. Follow Up

Correct any inaccurate statements or provide more follow-up to clarify content from the interview. This could include emailing a full study or images and other links to the reporter. If you have an agency or PR department, they will often take care of the loose ends.

But you can still debrief on the final published story to look for opps to improve for next time.

Chance shared additional do’s and don’ts among his best media interview tips. It was an excellent session but it is no replacement for a full, customized media training session including on-camera practice that is based on your industry, your company’s needs and your own level of comfort in the media hot seat.

To learn more about getting our best media training tips in a customized session for your team or your media spokesperson, please contact us at (W)right On Communications. Call (858)755-5411 or email info@wrightoncomm.com.

How to Strengthen your Business with Diversity

By Ronda Williams—Marketing & Administrative Coordinator

Twitter: @R_Williams11


Diversity is defined as…

an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities.

(W)OC has a diverse team of experts in various fields including communications, social media, public relations, graphic design, videography, and more. Not only is our team diverse but the industries we cover are also; this makes for a complementary partnership. Who says you can’t be an expert in more than one field?

The Facts about Diversity:

According to the Harvard School of Law, “the presence of an industry expert independent director is associated with an increase of 4.6% in firm value.”

Whether it be a firm, agency, or business having an industry expert will add to the value of your company.

Another fact  says, “40% of respondents in a recent survey of S&P 500 firms identified industry expertise as a desired background.”

We all could learn a thing-or-two from the business strategies of the S&P 500 firms.

Diversity in a Contagious Atmosphere:

At (W)OC we have a positive atmosphere that makes for less stress and allows us to GSD (Get Stuff Done).  Everyone here works together in  the benefit of achieving the tasks at hand.

Mark Nadler says, “You want people who understand the business and the industry that you’re in so they can think strategically.”

Having a team that is comprised of a diverse background makes for a winning team that can strategize together for the big win.

To put it simply, “a diverse team makes for a strong team!”

He goes on to say, “the roles of the individual board member, the outside person, is to pull the two sides together, to create a link and to bridge different opinions and different points of view.”  Again, backing up the concept of,

A diverse team = A strong team!

At (W)OC we help strengthen each other with our expertise. We’re always lending advice and coming together for a team huddle to create winning strategies for our client partner’s. Having that one team member that is an expert in such industries can be helpful to bring together both sides of a vision.

To learn more about the diverse industries that we cover please visit, www.WrightOnComm.com or give us a call at (858) 755-5411 and let us help bring your visions to life!

Does Listening to Music at Work Increase Productivity?

By Ronda Williams­­ Marketing & Administrative Coordinator’

Twitter: @R_Williams11


“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” -Plato

Here at (W)right On Communications we are encouraged to turn up our music and jam out as we work.  When you enter our office you might hear Julie Wright “fist pumping” to some EDM as she finishes up a report or Grant Wright “deep in focus” with some smooth jazz while he draws up a proposal. Then there is Keely Smith singing to Adele or Chance Shay listening to his “brotha-from-another-mother,” the artist formerly known as Kanye West. No matter what time of the day, we’re all listening to music as we work.

One morning I was wondering if listening to music while you work increases your productivity, so I started to research and here is what I found:

It’s good for repetitive work!

 “Various studies have indicated that, in general, people who listened to music while they worked on repetitive tasks performed faster and made fewer errors.”

How music affects the brain…

According to examinedexistence.com,

“The meter, timber, rhythm and pitch of music are managed in areas of the brain that deal with emotions and mood.”

So listening to music while you work should not only increase your productivity but also put you in a better mood. This article goes on to say,

            “A great way to relieve the tensions that bring you down is to listen to music. Soothing tunes can help relax your tensed muscles, as well as pace down your breathing rate.”

Having a relaxed mind and muscles can also help prevent prolonged work injuries to your arms and wrists.

Crew.com quoted neuroscientist and musician, Jamshed Bharucha, as saying:

 “Creative domains, like music, allow humans to connect in a synchronized way, helping us develop a group identity and makes us more likely to work together – which was an immensely important advantage for keeping the human species alive.”

Not only will listening to music while you work put you in a better mood but it will increase team morale in the workplace.

Just remember that you are in control of your mood and stress levels at work. Tomorrow is a brand new day so try something new and listen to some music while you’re getting stuff done.

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Five Pro Tips For Mouth-Watering Food Photographs

By Shae Geary—Senior Communications Strategist


Ready. Set. Selfie!

We all love showing off our personalized pictures of food, travel, and fun experiences, especially during holidays. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, we’re betting you’ll be sharing some delicious eats with your sweetie or besties. To make sure your food selfie skills are perfectly polished, we’ve delved into our archives for today’s blog. Here are five pro tips from San Diego food photographer Sam Wells for producing mouth-watering and Instagram worthy photos for this Valentine’s Day xoxo.

In Hospitality Public Relations, we often rely on images to help tell our stories – a pristine white sand beach; a mojito in a mason jar; a field in bloom. With the rise of social media and the availability of high quality cameras on most smart phones, photography is often how our guests tell their vacation stories, particularly when it comes to food.Tip1

Despite having such ready access to cameras, however, most of us remain photographically challenged. A good camera phone isn’t enough to turn our latest gastronomic delight into the envy of all our friends: placement, lighting and composition are all important elements in the quest to capture delicious food memories. Sounds difficult, right? That’s when you turn to the pros.

I was recently fortunate to work with Sam Wells, a respected San Diego food photographer who shoots for publications like Carlsbad Magazine and San Diego Magazine. While I watched him work his photographic magic, it occurred to me that he must have a load of helpful hints for us “do-it-yourselfers.” Sam was more than happy to give his insights on what makes for great food photography. Follow his tips and you’ll be on your way to drool worthy food on Instagram in no time.

Food Photography Tips from Photographer Sam Wells

Tip3

Tip 1: Light quality is everything. 

I shoot most of my food in areas I call “transition zones” – where the light is transitioning from light to dark. Windows, open doors, and the outer edges of shaded areas all produce beautiful directional light. If there are any conflicting tungsten lights in the restaurant, try to block them to create clean light.

Tip 2: Create a strong composition.  

Negative space can be a great asset to a photo. Using the “rule of thirds” always helps – just imagine there are two horizontal and vertical lines dividing up the frame into nine rectangles. Place the most interesting point of focus on any two lines or where the lines intersect, and you’ll instantly have a better-composed image. Add a few more details to fill the frame, and you’re off and running.

Tip 3: Steady your hand.  tip4

Motion blur can ruin a photo, so if you are hand-holding the camera make sure to take a few and be gentle when you push the shutter button. Make sure your camera or phone doesn’t move when you shoot the photo. I always use a tripod to ensure maximum sharpness.

Tip 4: Show some life and action. 

Have a hand reaching for something. Take a bite. Make it messy. Do anything that makes the food look delicious and enticing.

Tip 5: Styling can make any dish interesting. 

I always use linens and napkins to help spice things up a bit. Adding other elements allows you to create a more interesting composition by leading the eye through the image. Think of image flow – a fork placed in the lower right hand corner pointed towards the dish will lead the viewer’s eye towards the focal point.tip6

Keep this handy for your next dining adventure and you’ll definitely have some Insta worthy food photos. Need more photo inspiration? Follow the latest in Sam’s food reel on Instagram at @swellsphoto.

We team up with photographers like Sam to help tell your hospitality story. Get in touch with me, (Shae Geary, Senior Communications Strategist), if you’d like help getting your hospitality story out there.