The best news I have heard all term comes from a little book with a big message: the dip by Seth Godin.
“Here is the good news: The fact that it’s difficult and unpredictable works to your advantage. Because if it were any other way, there’d be no profit in it. The reason people bother to go windsurfing is that the challenge makes it interesting. The driving force that gets people to pay a specialist is that their disease is unpredictable or hard to diagnose. The reason we’re here is to solve hard problems.
The next time you’re tempted to vilify a particularly obnoxious customer or agency or search engine, realize that this failed interaction is the best thing that’s happened to you all day long. Without it, you’d be easily replaceable. The Dip is your very best friend.”
In the world of public relations we are always faced with problems that need to be solved. Without issues, our job wouldn’t even be that necessary. This book is perfect for public relations professionals because it encourages people to stick to the things they are great at and ditch the things they are good at. Excellence is key in success. The best people in the world are the best for a reason, they focused on their particular field of expertise and had to take some things for granted in order to get there. You have to get rid of the things that come up sub-par in your life. If you don’t, you risk not having the time and/or energy to perfect the things you will be great at.
This book taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned in this lifetime; that quitting is not the same thing as failing. I bought this book the first time I took (and failed) “Infohell” a 100-page research paper course as a perquisite for the journalism school. But the grade really didn’t represent my efforts. In fact, it was my choice, and my choice only, to not finish the paper that I had given countless hours to during fall term 2009 and to re-take the class in the winter and give it my absolute best. I’m one of those people who has a problem with turning in something that is sub-par, something that isn’t perfection in my eyes. So quitting that particular term, meant exceeding expectations in another. I turned that F into an A in four short months. And I wouldn’t have been able to do it without this book.
I read an article recently on how to reach your potential and avoid self-destructing “mantras” that lead us to our usual excuses on not reaching our goals. Below are the top three negative mantras that were highlighted in the article:
1. It has to be complex to be good
2. Surely, everyone has thought of that already
3. It’s someone else’s fault that I can’t do this
I guess this article hit home more than I thought it would. Not necessarily because my mind has wandered to these specific mantras on a daily basis, but more so because the last mantra, that it is someone else’s fault that I can’t do something, definitely runs through my head now and again. I’ve been very ill for quite some time now, and it has been incredibly hard to keep on track with schoolwork, internships, jobs, and my social life. I recently found myself saying things like, “I can’t do that” or “That would be too hard on my body” or “I used to do this” and even the classic “Well, maybe next time.” And then yesterday something changed. A little spark that I had kept locked deep inside of me for the past year finally broke free. I told myself that I could no longer be such a victim of my own life.
I climbed a mountain yesterday. I left my self-destructing mantra’s at the bottom, and when I reached the top I could finally breathe again. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I no longer will be using the word “can’t.” That is my new mantra.
I dare you to change one of yours. Seize the day. And Live.
Every woman seeks advice on fashion, love interests, hair colors, sex tips, recipes and home decor. But there is rarely ever talk about the workplace. Maybe it is because top jobs for women are sacred and highly sought out for, or maybe it is because women are too afraid to discuss their jobs for fear of failure or fear that someone better (or younger) will take their place. Regardless, Author Nicole Williams, tackles this stereotype head-on in her book Girl On Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success. I received this book as a gift several years ago, but recently picked it up again to help prepare for portfolio reviews. I came across a specific chapter that I felt pertained to public relations and how to make yourself stand out.
The chapter is called “Play Hard to Get” and delves into the idea that you should not only constantly fight for your job, but also fight for yourself and your hard-working efforts to be noticed. Williams lays down a list of four simple rules to help tackle this ongoing battle.
1. Be sure to deliver: Believe me, getting someone to fill the chair isn’t tough. There are literally thousands of people out there biding their time — coming into the office on Monday and counting down the hours until friday. Bosses and boyfriends alike are sometimes simply looking to fill the position — turning a blind eye to the fact that there’s really nothing of substance to be delivered.
2. Let your work speak for itself: You’re not going to be able to deliver if all you’re doing is talking. I’ve had this one-way conversation personally and professionally and I’m not sure there’s anything worse than some idiot telling you how valuable, smart, or indispensable he is. If you’re that great, word will be on the street and/or I’ll come to that conclusion myself. The more time and energy you put into bragging about yourself, the less demand there will be for your talent.
3. Be a “special”-ist: There are plenty of pretty, nice, smart girls out there. What makes you so special? I have a simple rule. Don’t even think about competing with the masses — you’ll get lost in the crowd. I truly believe that if you want to set yourself apart, you need to figure out what you enjoy, which 99 percent of the time is what you’re actually good at, and then practice, practice, practice. Dedicate to being the very best at your core talent.
4. Keep it fresh: Once you identify your special talent, you need to learn how to mix it up. The key to working the supply curve is to deliver your core talent tied up in a sparkly new package. Regardless of industry, there’s always innovation and you need to be ahead of the curve, changing your story, your appearance, your delivery so it feels unique. Make a new change, learn a new trick, or reevaluate.
According to a recent social experiment conducted by The University of Milan and Facebook the new average number of acquaintances separating any two people in the world is now 4.74. This may come as a surprise to most of us who grew up in an era where the phrase “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” was thrown around as much as Nerf balls, but the findings seem to be accurate.
The original findings, dating back to 1967, state that the phrase “six degrees of separation” was coined by a psychologist named Stanley Milgram who conducted an experiment where 296 volunteers sent a postcard message through friends and friends of friends to a specific person in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.
The new research, however, was conducted on a much larger-scale with 721 million Facebook users (approximately 1/10th of the world’s population.) The experiment ran over the span of a month after researchers developed a specific algorithm that calculated the average distance between any two people by computing “sample paths” with Facebook users. And according to a New York Time’s Article , “they found that the average number of links from one arbitrarily selected person to another was 4.74. In the United States, where more than half of people over 13 are on Facebook, it was just 4.37.”
So what does this new number mean for the human connection? And more importantly how is it going to effect public relations? Well, personally, I believe that because people are now more connected, these numbers are going to lead to easier communication and the travel of ideas from one person to another. According to a Word of Mouth Marketing Association Infographic,word of mouth (even virtual words) accounts for 54% of the driving forces for purchase decisions. So, social media is now a tool for the human connection, a tool that can be molded in any direction we choose, and at the fingertips of public relations representatives, social media personnel, and anyone in communications.
Made to Stick, a novel by Chip & Dan Heath, is a great tool for public relations professionals looking for a way to make their ideas “stickier.” After reading this book for my 400-level Public Relations Strategic Writing class, I wanted to share with you the Heath Brother’s magic secret: the six key principles of sticky ideas. With these ideas in tow I have found that you can turn even the most bland idea into something people will remember.
Principle 1: Simplicity
The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity: a one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.
Principle 2: Unexpectedness
We must generate interest and curiosity. We can engage people’s curiosity over a long period of time by systematically “opening gaps” in their knowledge, and then filling those gaps.
Principle 3: Concreteness
We must explain our ideas in terms of human actions, in terms of sensory information. The ideas must be full of concrete images because our brains are wired to remember concrete data. Speaking concretely is the only way to ensure that our idea will mean the same thing to everyone in our audience.
Principle 4: Credibility
How do we make people believe our ideas? Sticky ideas have to carry their own credentials. We need ways to help people test our ideas for themselves.
Principle 5: Emotions
How do we get people to care about our ideas? We make them feel something. The hard part, is finding the right emotion to harness.
Principle 6: Stories
How do we get people to act on our ideas? We tell stories. Hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and efficiently.
I read an article last weekend highlighting a bloggers insights into the world of Cirque du Soleil and was incredibly intrigued on how you can find PR advice in the coolest of places. Blogger Arik Hanson attended a Cirque du Soleil show in LA this past November, and left with more than just the utter grandeur, magic, and magnificence of the usual show. He left the circus with four PR lessons that I believe can be tied to making a fantastic fashion show and therefore felt the need to share them with you:
4 PR Lessons You Can Learn From Cirque du Soeil | By Arik Hanson
1. Consider your customers perspective: Two of the coolest moments of the show where when performers actually swung out OVER the audience on trapeze-type contraptions. They you were literally looking straight up, OVERHEAD at these performers. It was incredible. And, it was all about a different perspective (which they had carefully considered when designing the show). Do you have a good feel for your customer’s perspective? Have you spent time in their shoes experiencing your brand from the outside in? That perspective can help you engineer products, services and processes that can enhance your customers’ experience–which can help propel profits and drive loyalty.
2. Make your customers part of the show: During the second half of the show, the Cirque performers pulled one guest on stage for a somewhat extended routine in which they asked him to act out a number of “scenes” mimicing the Academy Awards. The guy was a pretty good sport. And, the audience loved it. And, more importantly, I’m guessing it’s an experience this gentleman won’t soon forget. What are you doing to draw your customers into your brand? Are you letting “inside the ropes?” I’m thinking specifically about opportunities with influencers and bloggers here.
3. Don’t forget about artistic design: The design of most Cirque shows is pretty amazing. This particular show has a “firm Noir”-type feel. Costume and set design is a HUGE part of what makes Cirque, Cirque. It completes the experience. Are you considering the artistic design of your brand? I’m not just talking about your actual logo, your marketing materials or your signage. I’m talking about the artistry of your brand. I’m talking about the finer touches. The merchandise your front-line staff wears at events and trade shows. The buttons and link colors on your blog or Web site. Your avatar on social platforms. All that brand artistry adds up to shape your customers’ complete experiences.
4. Sweat the details: Cirque is famous for sweating the details. I’m always amazed at the level of sophistication in the design. In the costumes. And, in the experience. During intermission, performers roam the aisle and engage the guests. Even the band members in the suites above were carefully dressed, even though they were 50 feet about our heads. It’s an obvious point, but paying attention to the details for your brand can make the difference between a return customer and one that’s willing to walk away.
After reading Hanson’s article I realized that when it all comes down to it, artistry is about captivating your audience. It’s about surprising them with something unexpected and awing them with splendor of beautiful artistic designs, exquisite details, and a superb storyline. We can all learn a little something from the magic of Cirque du Soleil.
This November Top Designer Donatella Versace joins forces with fashion retailer H&M, debuting a “joyful” winter 2012 collection. The marketing for this new line has been stellar; premiering with a fashion show on November 8th which included famous guests such as Blake Lively, Uma Thurman, Jessica Alba, Niki Minaj, and Prince.
A viral video showcasing The Very Best of Versace For H&M has also hit the web, along with a look book video as well.
But with great fashion comes great controversy. H&M is a brand that showcases high fashion for a low price, with “real people” as models for its clothing lines. However, according to a recent New York Daily News article, Donatella showed great disapproval in a “Model New Yorkers” ad campaign that show-cased everyday new yorkers as models. Donatella only approved one model out of the entire campaign, causing great confusion as to why she would want to pull together with H&M in the first place if she wasn’t ready for her designs to be on “average people.”
Although Donatella stated that she understood the H&M consumer to CBSnews.com, it now seems to the public that she feels that her designs are too good for the average new yorker looking for a cheaper fashion fix. With H&M designs reaching prices as high as $249 though, maybe, her audience is not the “average” H&M wearer after all.
So the real question now is how are the public relatoins departments for both H&M and Versace going to handle this fashion fiasco? Well, it has been over a week now since the decision to pull the new york models was made, and nothing hot has hit the press. The only comments have been from H&M, that states,
“We are very surprised by the New York Daily news article and do not understand how they came to this conclusion. We can only explain it as a misunderstanding and a series of miscommunication [sic]. H&M is a democratic fashion brand and it is not our policy to decide models for fashion features in media. Both H&M and Versace have, over many years, cast from a wide and diverse pool, not only of models, but of celebrities and personalities reflective of all ethnicities, gender, ages and sizes.”
Yet how can a deliberate pull of all “average” new york models simply be a misunderstanding? And why has Versace and Donatella not taken responsibility and further explained this said misunderstanding? It seems to me that certain public relations reps are not doing their jobs, or maybe, they feel it is just unecessary to apologize to average new yorkers.
Last week I read an article called “Fashion and Social Media: Power to the People or the Publisher?” And I must say this article has furthered my quest of exploring the depths of fashion in the PR World. Author Vanessa DiMauro speaks on how social media is used in the fashion world, or more-so how it wasn’t used as much as she would have expected during the annual New York Fashion Week. She explains how there was plenty of tweeting and related articles, but that she was expecting much more “digital innovation” than actually was present. However, I must say that I disagree. One of my best friends, Kate Troedsson of Option Model Management, walked in both shows for Portland’s second annual Fashion’s Night Out (the kickoff event for New York Fashion week that happens in all major US cities) and invited me to come watch.
So, on September 8th 2011 I stopped by Banana Republic to pick up a new outfit for the evening, and then drove myself and another friend to Portland, Oregon. Before I left though, I made sure to check out the buzz on the event. I searched the main site for Fashion’s Night Out, I “liked” them & hit attend on the event on facebook, “followed” them on twitter, and searched the blogosphere for some user generated content. In fact, for Portland’s event you even had to register yourself and a +1 on the website to receive your “official” invitation to the event. All of these online “social” resources generated a V.I.P feel to the event and reached audiences (such as me in Eugene for the summer) who probably wouldn’t have heard about it if it wasn’t circulating the web. Even in Nordstrom, the main hub of the event, there were contests and drawings happening solely based off of the 10-15 ipads they had dispersed around the store, thus even furthering the technological and social aspects of Fashion Week.
As far as New York Fashion Week goes, tons of shows were posted on youtube immediately after they happened (example shown below) and some were even live-streamed by popular fashion websites such as Refinery29. I understand DiMauro’s stance on how more user generated “digital innovation” would have helped, such as more user generated content on Voguepedia or fashion applications for iphones. But in my opinion, social media was all over Fashion Week. It helped drive the force behind it and keep it at a steady pace. Social media can, and in this case did, bring New York Fashion Week to everyone, even if they couldn’t make it to The Big Apple. And bringing something that is usually “untouchable” to mass amounts of people, I’d say that is success at its finest.
The Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2012 Collection (designed by Marc Jacobs) was absolutely breathtaking. Yet somehow the presentation was much more than that, it was purely magical. A divine white carousel with models atop stunning porcelain horses was unveiled as chiming chords conveyed a message of youthful innocence and utter grandeur. The carousel was about much more than just presentation though, according to People Magazine Jacobs said: “the carousel was also a metaphor for fashion. The way it goes round and round. . . and how there is no end to fashion. How it is a beautiful ride. and there is no end to its beauty.”
Fashion shows like this one, that are more than just outfits and models walking along a catwalk, really make me start to feel something for fashion. As if a little fire is starting up inside my heart, its warmth beckoning me closer. A new passion? Possibly! Now it is time to investigate the PR world inside of fashion.