So What Do You Do?

So What Do You Do? It’s probably the question we ask or are most asked when we meet someone new. Face to face it is easy to explain – or it should be. But somehow condensing that down onto a website seems to create difficulties for some companies and organisations. Instead of a simple explanation their web copy reads like War and Peace . The issue is instead of making the complex simple, some websites feel the need to make the simple complex. This comes in all manner of shapes and sizes. It often involves web copy using three words where one will do. Is the copywriter paid per word? Or/and using phrases like holistic solutions, multi-user functionality and innovative process technology. These mean nothing and will not set you apart from your competitors. Business jargon is notorious. Meetings are full of people talking about growing the business instead of building the business. Or how about value added? In what way? Explain how you add value. Then there is the

Fail to prepare.......

Fail To Prepare….. It’s an old adage but it’s surprising how few organisations take Benjamin Franklin’s quote seriously enough to put his advice into practise. Of course it is tough for organisations like smaller businesses and charities which don’t feel they have the time or money to spend on training. Unfortunately though, when it comes to dealing with a crisis of any sort, it is the preparation for that possibility which will save both in the long run. It is particularly true of the new European Union GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) which are aimed at protecting our personal data. But even before GDPR how many companies have put in place some sort of training for their staff to deal with one of the biggest dangers of this online age – cyber crime? How many of you have a robust plan to manage this risk? I suspect the answer is very few. Yet cyber crime can destroy an organisation. It’s not just the financial loss. Over time that can be recovered. It’s about r

A Recipe for Disaster?

When you are preparing your message for a media interview or helping someone else with their preparation, don’t try to cram in too much. Many times I’ve heard trainers asking delegates to prepare three or even five key messages. I like to think of interviews as having one key ingredient and then other tasty morsels to back up the main dish. As someone who can’t cook and won’t cook this is probably where I should leave the culinary analogies. But if you imagine inviting people round for something to eat and then expecting them to know all the ingredients you will be sadly disappointed. The point is, as with food, it is the main flavours that count. It is the same in media interviews. If you go into an interview with a handful of points you want to make the chances are you will either forget them or run out of time. Now put yourself in the shoes of the audience. Are they really going to remember every word you have said? Will those well-crafted key messages (note messag

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Every day we’re bombarded with statistics from organisations wanting to make their point. But a good journalist will be sceptical about the figures handed out. As Benjamin Disraeli said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Statistics can be used for or against any argument. For example “Our customer satisfaction survey shows 90 per cent approval ratings.” So you’re saying one in ten of your customers think your service/product is rubbish? Of course you may think this is journalists causing trouble. Well that goes with the territory. But is the question a fair one? I would say yes it is. If you are going to start making claims based on numbers then make sure those figures are watertight and actually mean something. Work out the answer to the one in ten before you do the media interview. The question might not come but have an answer none the less. The other thing to remember about statistics is avoid getting hung up on them. For scientific/acade
Reputation, Reputation, Reputation If the person you knew the least in your organisation could do the most damage to its reputation, would you treat them differently? If the answer is yes, then maybe this year is the time to think about how you communicate with them – particularly around the issue of cyber security. We’re all only one click away from ransomware, a data breach or a computer virus. It only takes one staff member, freelance, intern, temp to respond to a phishing request, click on a dodgy link, leave their mobile device unprotected and there it is. Data breaches such as the attack on the credit reference agency Equifax and the Uber breach are bad for business. Journalists know a finely tuned and prepared PR machine may prevent them from getting the jump on senior executives and the CEO when chasing these stories. But it won’t stop them finding customers who have been

Why CEOs need a Critical Friend

No matter how confident you are at doing your job and no matter how high level that role is, it is natural to feel apprehensive about doing media interviews. Even if you, as a CEO, have done dozens of interviews, there will still be an adrenaline rush once the camera/radio microphone is switched on. If there isn’t – that is the time to worry.  It’s the same for reporters. If we didn’t get that buzz there is every chance our own performance – and it is a performance – may come across as flat and disinterested. The audience will miss the important points because our tone and body language isn’t telling them what matters most. The same for CEOs. If you stroll into an interview, taking it for granted that you know the answers, there is every chance your complacency will show through. You may have all the right words and in the right order but come across as arrogant and uncaring. Often people think doing a good interview is about knowing the answers to the questions. No. You do

How to Deal with Rude Emails

How to Deal with Rude Emails If you have ever found yourself with a crabby email you might like to read about a new device I found recently. You can add it to your inbox and just like an out of office reply, it will deal automatically with all those terse responses for you. Do let me know if it works for you.  Dear Sender, I regret to inform you that your recent email of October 31 2017 has been caught in our HVR email filter. The HVR filter captures emails where the sender has given a knee-jerk reaction to a situation  without bothering to speak to the recipient before sending it out. HVR (How Very Rude) filters have been introduced because of the increasing number of such emails globally which disrupt communication systems and put the delivery of future emails at risk. The only way to lift the HVR filter is to take the following steps: 1.        Pick up the telephone 2.        Explain the misunderstanding or problem which has occurred 3.        Disc