Interview Better by Leaving the Script

Legendary NFL coach Bill Walsh is considered the godfather of the “West Coast Offense” and also made vogue the practice of scripting the first 25 offensive plays of a game. He stuck to the script regardless of the game’s changing circumstances and obviously garnered a great deal of success, but should interviewers stick to their scripted questions regardless of an interview’s changing direction?

Leave the scripted strategy to execute more productive interviews.

Leave the scripted strategy to execute more productive interviews.

I was recently listening to an interview on NPR’s, “All Things Considered.” The conversation was between the show’s host and an extremely obscure folk musician who had some interesting songs, but as we soon found out, had an even more interesting back story. Having asked thousands of interview questions over the years, I recognized the host’s prepared questions. However, the guest’s response to one of the questions offered an interesting and unexpected tidbit that caught my attention. It caught the host’s attention too because she immediately followed up, and the interview went an entirely unanticipated – and highly interesting – direction from that point.

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Executive Communications: Helping the “Big Guy” Succeed

Let’s be honest, writing for the chief executive officer of any organization is a sweet gig, but it comes with a fair amount of pressure. Question is, if you’re responsible for putting words in the “Big Guy’s” mouth, is what’s coming out increasing your value as a trusted ally or is it increasing your chances of becoming an insurance agent? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

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Every corporate communicator knows consistent access to top brass equals influence, however influence can vaporize faster than steam coming off boiling water.  Here are five ways to become a successful executive communicator — and stay that way. Continue Reading…

Social media should be more than an add-on

Can you imagine a potter spending hours creating a beautiful pitcher then realizing he forgot to add a handle? The solution: slap a lump of clay on the neck and quickly finish it off. Crazy, right? But many organizations treat social media as if it is that lump of clay slapped on to the rest of their communications effort. If that’s you, here’s some advice. Put the social media down…and step away.

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Many organizations are still behind the adoption curve regarding social media. In many cases it isn’t that they’ve resisted as much as they haven’t been in a position to aggressively pursue its addition to their overall marketing communications strategy. For instance, I’ve worked with some non-profits lately that simply haven’t had the resources to add personnel who can guide it, and other staff members have been too strapped for time to handle the additional responsibility–one they probably don’t fully understand. Continue Reading…

Does your communications strategy have one rail or two?

Have you ever considered why railroad tracks have two rails? Probably not because the answer is obvious. Unfortunately too many organizations only lay one rail of a communications strategy yet expect it to offer a smooth ride and a destination arrival ahead of the competition.

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I was talking with a prospective client and exploring what it is his company needs as it repositions itself following a couple of years of rapid growth. We talked messaging, and vision statements, and speaking points, and visual branding, and elevator pitches, and content marketing strategies; you know, the bling people see and hear. But then I asked him about the other rail. Continue Reading…

Leaders, don’t be the tree in an empty forest

Question: If a leader falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear him, does he still make a sound?

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I recognize I’m mixing my (metaphysical) metaphors, but the question does have two philosophical implications for leaders and leadership. Philosopher George Berkeley used the metaphor of a tree falling in the forest as a basis for raising the questions: “Can something exist without being perceived?”; and “Can we assume the unobserved world functions the same as the observed world?” Continue Reading…

Is Your Communications Strategy More Than Lipstick on the Pig?

A communications strategy not built on the foundational elements of an organization’s vision, mission and the actions of its leaders and employees amounts to putting lipstick on a pig.

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I had  a recent conversation with some organizational leaders about communications strategies and how to better tell their organization’s story. I had to manage some expectations because there was the idea that an integrated communications strategy can make everything better. And let’s face it, it can, but only if there is some substance to the organization worth communicating. Continue Reading…

10 Social media resolutions you need to make for 2014

It’s interesting how making New Year’s Resolutions never seems passé even though only 8 percent of people actually reach their resolution goals. However, here are 10 social media resolutions that would be worth striving for in 2014.

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1. Resolve to learn what each social media tool does best

Too many people and organizations still do not fully understanding the difference between social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. For instance, Facebook is great for community building and brand promotion. Twitter is great for rapid-fire conversations, plugging content on your website or Facebook page, and to pass along useful information posted by others. Each social media tool accomplishes something different. Learn the difference and use them effectively. Continue Reading…

Three interview tips you can learn from Phil Robertson

President Richard Nixon was once asked why he didn’t do more press conferences. His response: “Too much exposure cheapens the product.” It’s advice Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty boys would do well to heed.

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Robertson, the patriarch of the ubiquitous family made famous by the reality show, Duck Dynasty, found himself in the crosshairs of the GBLT crowd and those who kowtow to political correctness by saying in a magazine article that homosexuality is a sin. The network that airs the program, A&E, suspended Robertson and made a statement categorically disagreeing with him. Supposedly the network is considering dropping the show. Continue Reading…

Leadership and communication (They’re close friends)

Last year, Forbes magazine contributor, Michael Myatt, wrote an insightful article on the 10 Communications Secrets of Great Leaders. I agree with all of them, but would like to add one: A leader should pay attention to what’s going on around him or her…and engage. (Yep, I see them as one leadership tool).

Communication builds teamwork

I’ve written before about how important communicating clearly is for both leaders and followers in my post, “Leaders can improve employee motivation with these tips.” However, I recently finished 20 physical therapy sessions recovering from a bicycle accident and observed how important communicating clearly is for, well everyone, and it begins with leaders paying attention to what’s going on around them. Continue Reading…

Brand Journalism: Why you should invest the effort

Imagine standing on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It is minutes before the opening bell on what is predicted to be the busiest trading day of the year. When that bell sounds, you better be ready to beat dozens of other brokers to the punch and buy thousands of shares of the hottest company going.

Brand Journalism

Here we go…5…4…3…2…1…GO!

Shout! SHOUT LOUDER! LOUDER! 

The seller can’t hear you over the noise and the distraction of everyone’s arm waving is preventing you from catching his attention. It’s a free for all! Mayhem, I tell ya! Continue Reading…

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