Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Archive for the category “Communications”

What does your personality type say about your work ethic?

Last week, a coworker gave out a personality test in the office. The test involved a series of four different words, and you would rank the words from “most like you” to “least like you.” After we went through about 20 sequences of words, we added the numbers to see what type of leadership personality we had. What came as a shock to no one, Jackie and I both ended up with the Socializer leadership style.

Among others, the Socializer style was defined by these statements:

  • the communicator promoting style
  • loves to talk
  • visually oriented
  • gets others involved
  • loves to be around people
So what does this say about my work ethic?
From a business perspective, these traits are spot on. Rarely do I ever like to work on projects on my own, and always welcome anyone’s opinion on the project I have at hand. I also love to talk to others as I work, and listen to music while working.

How does it compare to the traits of my coworkers?

From taking the test, I also learned that some of the team members that work on projects with me had completely different personality types. They would rather work on things in quiet, private space, and not have the entire team discussing something. Some also preferred to not collaborate on tasks.

How can you make different personality types work together?
After learning about my coworkers personality types as well as my own, I discovered that having a collection of types is what is best for a team. You don’t want everyone on the team directing and leading, and you also don’t want your entire team to be made up of serious schedule-oriented members. The key is to have an even amount of all types. You can then learn the way they work, as well as see how your personality adds to the flavor of your team as an entirety.

Although it didn’t come as a surprise to me what style I fell under, the test made me think about what a big difference leadership types can make on your workforce. Knowing what type you are as well where your coworkers fall can lead to a better understanding of ideas on projects. It can also teach you why people think about things the way they do. I encourage you to try them in your office. You can find tests online here and here.

Image source.

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When is it necessary to communicate face-to-face?

As digital natives, Gen Y-ers have less of a tendency to communicate about things in person. Kim and I work in the same office but still email and tweet at each other instead of just getting up and talking face-to-face (although we do that too—she’s my girl!). But, it’s not uncommon for Gen Y to behave this way. We text or send a Facebook message before we pick up the phone and call you.

Yet I still believe there are times when it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face.

It’s a matter of respect. There are certain topics of conversation that deserve to be discussed in person—serious, personal and/or private matters, for instance. Please do them justice by making the effort to speak about them when you’re able to look someone in the eye.

And what about tone of voice? Let’s not forget that things can easily be misinterpreted when the computer (or mobile device) stands in the way. I’m an extremely sarcastic person (those of you that know me are nodding along thinking, “Yep, she’s a smart ass”), but sarcasm doesn’t translate very well if someone can’t hear your tone of voice.

This last point is going to sound so obvious, but the other time I think it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face is when you’re in the same room as someone. I know we all sit there two-thumbing our phones while at dinner with friends, but aside from that being rude…it just doesn’t make sense. Be present. Be in the moment.

I’m not saying you can’t check your phone, but have you ever seen those people who don’t say a word to one another because they’re so absorbed with whatever is happening on their phone? Come on, what is SO important on your phone that you can’t speak to the person sitting across the table from you?

Maybe I’m a little old school. I do still use a notebook and paper. I prefer reading actual books instead of using an e-reader. But I really think there’s some validity to my face-to-face argument.

Why?

Face-to-face interaction will never be completely replaced. We’re human beings, aren’t we? We have an inherent need to interact with one another. Let’s not become robots that are unable to communicate in person or have no personality because we never had to learn how to talk to someone without taking time to think of a witty response before hitting send.

Think about this: job interviews are face-to-face. Meetings are face-to-face (sometimes). Other business matters are still often settled face-to-face. Networking, although it can be done via social media, also happens face-to-face. The first impression someone has of you probably has a lot to do with…your face.

Just trying to make a point here.

What point is that? Don’t undervalue face-to-face interaction, regardless of how tech-savvy you are. There are times when it’s necessary.

(Image from msnbc.com–link to textaholic article by clicking on the pic)

Are individualized PR pitches worth it?

Absolutely. I bet the folks over at Bad Pitch Blog would agree with this one too. I understand it might not always realistic or feasible to send out individual pitches, but more times than not it’s worth the extra time to individualize your pitch.

In my opinion, it’s probably more necessary in BtoB PR and when conducting blogger outreach. The reason I say this is because BtoB companies tend to fit within a certain niche, so you’re working with a smaller group of media outlets (mostly trade publications—online and/or print) that are very specific about the areas of whichever industry they cover. Similarly, bloggers each have a specific focus that you should respect and take into account when pitching. If you’re targeting a blogger, you might as well treat it as if you’re communicating with the publisher, editor AND reporter/writer all at once.

In both cases, individual pitches where you researched the outlet and specific reporter/blogger will prove to be more beneficial because, by the time you send the pitch, you already know the news fit with topics they typically cover. Whether or not they choose to cover your news often has to do with timing, resources, and other aspects that are out of your control…but at least you did your homework.

So, overall, why do I think individual pitches are worth it?

They’re Relevant.

Tailoring a pitch to the person you want to cover your news requires you to make sure the pitch pertains to that person (try saying those five words over and over—tongue twister): You know who you’re pitching, what they tend to cover, and what their audience is interested in hearing.

They’re Personal.

Nobody likes being treated like another number. If you took the time to find out the information I mentioned above, you’re not only relevant but you’re also putting in the effort on a personal level. It sounds like common sense, but a huge part of relationship-building is just acting like a human being. Even if the person you’re pitching doesn’t write about your news, you’ll probably stand out to them the next time around. And, they’re likely to consider you with the same respect that you showed them.

They Help You Avoid Sounding like Willy Loman.

Am I the only one that thinks pitching can seem like old school door-to-door sales from the Death of a Salesman days? Sometimes they’re a step away from cold calling or mass email blasts from a spammy email marketing campaign. But think about it: Who enjoys this? Is there anyone out there going, “Oh random telemarketer I’m SO glad you called me today because I really care about what you have to say!”?

Of course not. So why would a PR pro ever send out a pitch that remotely resembled that type of behavior?

Probably because we don’t even realize it. But that’s where an individual pitch comes in handy—it helps avoid coming across like a cheesy sales rep who goes through the checklist from “Selling for Dummies” when they pitch you.

Instead, you’re speaking to someone one-on-one like you would with a friend.

I’m not saying you should be informal and bust out the U, URs, LMAOs, etc. in your pitch, but it can just be straightforward and casual: “Hey, I saw you’ve covered this before, so I thought you might be interested in ___ news. Is this something you’d want to cover? Here are some reasons you might find it interesting.” (Or something along those lines)

That type of interaction (AKA human interaction) is more likely to be well-received. It’s also more genuine and gives you a chance to honestly explain why you think your news and/or story angle is something interesting and worthwhile for the reporter/blogger to cover.

Although some might think PR pitching is all about who you know, it’s not. Sure, relationships are great to get your foot in the door—your email is more likely to be read by someone who already knows you, and they’re more likely to hear you out—but the bottom line is that the content in your pitch.

The reporter can be your best friend, but I bet they won’t cover the story if it isn’t interesting and doesn’t relate to their audience. So take the extra time to do the legwork for that individual pitch. And then cross your fingers that the timing is right.

What do you think? Anyone had some great success from individual pitching? I’d love to hear about it because, like many others, I’m still learning about what works and what results in an epic pitch #FAIL.

(Image from ebooksx.com, thanks to Google Images)

What are three biggest challenges marketers face?

This question popped into my head after I stumbled across a Slideshare presentation by Jason Falls called The Marketing of Un-Marketing. Even though it’s from a couple of years ago, I think it brings up some points that are still very valid today…

Such a large portion of the marketing community is talking about how today’s consumer wants communication with a brand to be personalized and relevant to them. Consumers want to be engaged (yeah, I threw that buzzword out there). Consumers want to see compelling content directed toward them as an individual.

So what are the three biggest obstacles holding marketers back from achieving that desired one-to-one connection?

1. Marketers think like marketers

Stop it. Did you forget that we’re all consumers? Next time you sit down to develop a marketing campaign just think of how you’d want to be marketed to as the consumer, or really, just as a person (since “consumers” is really just a fancy marketing way of saying “people”…isn’t it?).

2. Marketers speak like marketers

Marketing professionals tend to get way too caught up in marketing-speak. Unfortunately, your average consumer isn’t interested in high-level, fluffy language. It’s confusing and abstract. Instead of defaulting to the “marketing way” of describing something, ask yourself: “How would I explain this to my family/friends in casual conversation?” Chances are your audience would prefer that explanation too.

3. Marketers act like marketers

Almost everything marketers do (not just professionally) revolves around marketing. Why we like something, what we share via social media, the articles we read, the links we click on, etc. can be tied back to marketing. But remember: not everyone likes this stuff.

Most people don’t eat, drink and breathe in marketing (especially not from the strategic point of view), so they aren’t looking at your campaign thinking, “This messaging is great! I’m very captivated by this call to action.” Or, “I don’t think I’m the target audience for this one.”

It’s more like, “Does this help me get what I need?”… “Is this the right product for me?”… “Will this solve my problem?”

Try to keep it simple and to the point—that’s what will end up resonating with people the most.

Bottom line: If you want to truly connect with a consumer on an individual level, then start considering things from the consumer point of view instead of the marketer point of view.

(Note: I said “we” in this post because I think PR falls under the marketing umbrella. Guilty as charged.)

Is Twitter useful for PR outreach?

There might be some PR folks out there thinking “hell no” when they see that question because it’s not necessarily the traditional way to conduct PR outreach, but Twitter can definitely be a useful tool for pitching the media.

Why?

Journalists are there

Most journalists are on Twitter, so it makes sense to communicate with them wherever they’re present. Journalists are people just like the rest of us, meaning that they probably respond faster to @ replies and Twitter DMs than their overloaded inboxes with PR pitches galore.

If you know who you want to target, you can search for their Twitter handle specifically. If you’re not sure, you can use tools like http://mediaontwitter.com to see a list of thousands of journalists’ Twitter handles.

It’s individualized

Communicating with a journalist via Twitter is an obvious way to show that you’re not sending out an email blast. It’s personalized and relevant to the individual journalist, which makes things much more efficient for both parties.

You have to keep it short and sweet

The beauty of 140 characters is that you have to get to the point. Let’s face it: no one has time (or wants to) read through paragraph after paragraph in an email. With Twitter, you have to be concise and get the crux of the message out there. It’s a great way to gauge interest too. If a journalist wants to hear more, then you can follow up via email.

You get to learn about the journalist

Twitter enables you to see what a journalist is interested in/cares about, which means you can 1) provide a more relevant, individualized pitch, and 2) cultivate a relationship. Not everything has to be about the PR pitch—maybe you’ll find that you have something in common with them. Learning about a journalist will go a long way in building that relationship which ultimately makes your PR outreach more effective.

Another way to see what journalists are talking about on Twitter is to check out http://journalisttweets.com/.

It shows your effort to engage

Going along with the point I made above, using Twitter for media outreach also shows your effort to engage. You had to take the time to do your homework on the journalist and then cultivate the relationship. Your extra effort will not go unnoticed and will most likely be reciprocated in some capacity.

Wouldn’t you be much more willing to work with someone who took the time to seek you out and pitch you on things that are truly relevant to you?

The reason that Twitter is a useful tool for PR outreach boils down to this: At the end of the day, we’re all people and that’s how we want to be treated. Twitter enables the PR-journalist dynamic to become more like an actual relationship.

That’s my two cents on why Twitter is useful for PR outreach, but if you’re looking for some tips on pitching the media via Twitter I highly suggest you read this blog post written yesterday by Maya Wasserman.

What do you think? PR pros, have you pitched journalists on Twitter?

(Image borrowed from http://www.kevintylersmith.com)

What Does “Social” Really Mean Anyway?

Inspired by a Harvard Business Review article, “The Devolving Meaning of Social Media” and a blog post reaction to that article by Matt Cheuvront, I decided that I needed to turn to the dictionary for answers.

Why? Because these people are bringing up some great points – what does social really mean? And, has the definition been tainted by the hype of social media?

Thank you online dictionaries (like m-w.com, my favorite) for providing these definitions of the word social:

  • “Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with one’s friends or associates”
  • “Of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society”
  • “Tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others of one’s kind”

The last one is my favorite. It gets right to the point: forming two-way relationships with your niche audience. There you go marketers. Merriam-Webster just schooled us.

The point here is that this definition came from the dictionary. It didn’t come from some “expert” or “guru” trying to give you the secret to social media marketing success (because there is no secret). It’s taking a basic principle and applying it to today’s technology and forms of communication. People have always been social and will always have an inherent need to connect with one another, but now a main way we do this is via social media platforms.

Apply that to marketing. The idea of a consumer wanting to make a personal connection with a brand has always been there. All social media does is provide the tools for making that connection. Those tools will continue to evolve and change many times over, but social networking (in some form or another) is here to stay because in its simplest form it’s just…socializing.

So before you get all caught up in “doing social media,” just take a step back and really think about what social actually means. It’s the core definition of the word that really drives the use of social media for marketing purposes, not the other way around.

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