All the project management jokes I see indicate that project managers are universally hated. You hear a lot of complaints about nagging emails, endless meetings, spreadsheet worship, inflexibility, indifference, and general inhumanity. Only evil people could possibly fill such a role, right? But the definition of project management is simply “the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria.” That’s not exactly evil, especially if you agree that the operative words are “team” and “success.” And this definition outlines skills that most people will have to acquire and use during their careers — regardless of whether they ever carry an official “project manager” title.
Personally, I’d wish for projects that managed themselves! 🙂
One of the things I’ve learned in my PM role for Sterling Communications’ creative department is that lots of folks serve as project managers in disguise. No matter your official title, if you train yourself to be communicative, proactive, detail-oriented, and organized, every team you work with will benefit greatly from your contributions. Here are some “evil-free” project management tricks of the trade to help you and your teams succeed: (more…)
Since Sterling opened its doors more than two decades ago, we’ve had lots of laughs, persevered through some difficult and scary economic cycles, evolved our service mix, attracted wonderful employees, and created many long-standing client relationships. All of that happened because we created a strong culture, worked hard, anticipated change, and added new skills to capitalize on market transitions.
Notice that I listed culture first? That’s because NOTHING is more critical than your corporate culture. It can guide you through heady times and help you survive the difficult times. While there are certainly central truths in any corporate culture, your corporate culture is something you must continually shape and nurture — it’s not something you can “set and forget.” (As we’ve seen, even legendary corporate cultures like HP’s can get lost over time if leaders focus simply on business unit performance and let the corporate culture languish.)
Your corporate culture is something you must continually shape and nurture—it’s not something you can “set and forget.”
Smarter people than I have written many articles on this topic, but from where I sit, corporate culture really boils down to three questions: (more…)
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
The same goes for your company and your competitors’ companies. While you may serve similar customer needs, there can be vast differences in brand attributes. Take Ryanair and Emirates. Ryanair is Europe’s “ultra low cost carrier”; it has embraced a “no-frills, low-cost, get-you-from-A-to-B model” that makes air travel “accessible to the masses.” The airline guarantees that it has the lowest fares on flights to all of its destinations. Emirates, on the other hand, is one of the most luxurious travel brands on the planet. From its sparkling fleet of new planes, to high-quality cuisine, the latest in cabin design, and a wide range of entertainment options, Emirates strives to make the “Emirates experience” world class in every class.
The takeaway here is that you can’t be all things to all people, but once you know what you can do better than your competitors, you can polish your brand in ways that appeal to the type of employees you want to hire, customers you want to serve, and partners/investors you want to attract. (more…)
I recently found myself trying to explain the Internet of Things (IoT) to my dad. This is a man who literally doesn’t understand how to use a computer, though he has admittedly become somewhat engaged with the basic functions of a smartphone (read: pictures!).
“Why the hell do I want to have an Internet on my fridge?” he asked.
It was only when, after many examples, I mentioned how an Internet-connected sprinkler system would be able to detect that it had just rained and thus wouldn’t water the lawn on its regular cycle that I caught his attention. He gazed at the brown grass outside.
“Well, that’s pretty cool.” (more…)
Marketing, once widely regarded as a pure art form, is now being injected with (data) science. In fact, pretty much everything we read and hear about these days around marketing innovation involves Big Data and analytics. Now, I’m all for proper targeting and effectiveness measurement, but I hope we’re not losing sight of something important here.
Think back to childhood. When you’re dangling one-handed from the monkey bars with your sweaty grip slipping fast, you’re not pinning your rescue hopes on the kid with the photographic memory and unrivaled aptitude for regurgitating facts to save the day. Most likely, that kid would offer you relevant but decidedly unhelpful information such as the number of playground deaths occurring in the US each year for the past five years.
Please, don’t send that kid. (more…)
Public relations is a fast-paced industry where deadlines can be fluid and windows of opportunity within news cycles are incredibly easy to miss. You might have a compelling angle and an experienced spokesperson at the ready, but that won’t get you very far if your media list doesn’t have the right contact info for the right reporters at the right media outlets.
Making sure that you’re talking with the right journalists is vital. Sounds easy, but if there is anything that changes faster than PR, it’s the media landscape. Reporters change beats, outlets, and their preferred contact channels at a dizzying pace, and that’s not likely to slow down anytime soon.
So, what’s the best way to keep your media lists accurate? First, update them as often as possible. By dividing your upkeep tasks into faster, more frequent sprints, you will avoid time sinks and research escapades that could take hours, and you’ll be ready to jump on breaking news. Track industry happenings as part of each work day and, when you find a relevant article, make sure that the reporter is on your media list. If you notice that one of your media contacts has changed publications or coverage beats, immediately update your media list. And, when a new media outlet catches your attention… Update. Your. Media. List.
Everyone knows that maintaining media lists can be a beast. Well, I’m here to tell you that the beast can be tamed. Here are five steps to optimizing your media lists so you can generate great results: (more…)
This is the second half of a two-part article on press embargoes.
Photo credit: Alex Blarth via Flickr
Reporters know that if you’ve set a press embargo, you’re probably pitching the story to many journalists. If your embargo and the wire time for the press release are the same, the reporter who’s bothering to review your news in advance will be in competition with the wire service to be first with the news — and reporters like to break news, especially in the 24-hour news cycle. (Search for “CNN retracts story” to see the results of the fierce competition to be the first with breaking news.)
Ask yourself — Could I give my “friendlies” who are cooperating with me and possibly doing interviews, a leg up on the post time? Can I let them “break” the embargo that I’ve set? The answer is No if you’re working with a public company, and Yes if it’s a private company. (more…)
Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes via Flickr
In 2008, TechCrunch published Michael Arrington’s manifesto calling for the death of the news embargo: “From this point on we will break every embargo we agree to.” Media relations professionals pulled hair, gnashed teeth and whined on social media. Seven years later, the press embargo —a gentleman’s agreement between a reporter and a source to hold a specific piece of news confidential until a pre-determined date and time— is alive and kicking in Silicon Valley. (more…)
While Mel Gibson’s 2000 romantic comedy “What Women Want” was a mostly forgettable film, the ability to telepathically hear what women are thinking instantly became the envy of every man in the world, myself included. As a PR professional, however, much more valuable would be to know what’s going on inside the mind of a reporter. (more…)