(credit Georgia State University)
Referrals are terrific tools for PR professionals. Recently a colleague landed a story by asking for a referral to a newspaper editor and a communications start-up is growing by asking others for help.
Talk about referrals often turns to sales, marketing and business development. Today I’m talking about personal referrals where either you ask for help or set out to help others. That can be to source information, get an interview, land a job or get buy-in for a project. There is art and etiquette to referrals which can help you succeed, or if neglected burn your bridges.
Leaders need to be detached. Which means getting off the dance floor and going to the balcony.
There is a strong correlation between asking for feedback and the overall effectiveness of leaders. But can you ask for feedback without risking your authority?
Sensitive to criticism?
At times I admit to having being sensitive when people critiqued my PR efforts. You may have experienced something similar. Invariably we try our best so when we do fall short, it can be uncomfortable when someone highlights our failures. Yet when people offer feedback it’s a terrific opportunity to improve performance.
PR managers may have substantial authority but they are only human.
Last week I asked 40 communicators to nominate a communicator-leader they admired. The room feel silent and only two people raised their hands. I was stunned. Surely there must be more because PR specialists have leadership skills in profusion.
Recently I presented on the topic of leadership to Australian Government communicators in Canberra. Which got me thinking how PR people in government and business rank when they get the chance to lead. Are PR professionals superior, average or below par when it comes to leading teams and organisations?
Research on the subject of PR leadership is thin. There’s been some American research but scant Australian study.
In late April I’m speaking at a Canberra conference for Government communicators about what makes a good PR leader. And how to develop the skills and characteristics you need to lead.
It’s a subject everyone in the room is sure to have an opinion on. By nature PR people are very perceptive continually assessing the people around us in senior positions.
While the academic and HR worlds abound with definitions, leadership is a word you normally don’t associate with the PR profession. I have always taken the approach that in the communications environment the difference is easy to spot.
A manager arranges.
Neuroscience is more important than technology when it comes to PR.
In recent years there’s been amazing advances in how the brain operates. Neurosciences and other research explore what attracts our attention, how we process and store information and how we retrieve memories. This is critical study particularly for those of us whose careers depend on engaging others.
Each day everyone of us makes decisions while confronted by mountains of information and levels of distraction in Tsunami-like proportions.
I’m currently reading Daniel Levitt’s book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. Levitt looks at how the brain works and strategies to more use our brainpower to more effectively organise our personal, work and social affairs and ultimately make better decisions.
Most of us want to be led by someone with vision, energy and purpose but communicators don’t always get the type of bosses they deserve.
Sometimes you find yourself working for a manager who won’t or can’t lead. Maybe they’re fearful for their own career, lazy or just never got the opportunity to learn how to lead. A lot of managers fail to make the transition to leader.
The end result is usually the same. Poor leadership has a dreadful impact on a communications team – it stifles creativity, blunts enthusiasm and turns what should be an adventurous vocation into a job without passion.
It’s very easy to let ‘groupthink’ infiltrate PR planning.
Cass Sunstein is a Professor of Law at Harvard
Statements such as I like something therefore other people must like it too (egocentric bias) can derail communications planning even before it gets properly underway. And a communications leader must be ever alert to the dangers of letting his or her team slip into repetitive patterns and not challenging assumptions.
US legal academic and former Obama official Professor Cass R Sunstein of Harvard University writes:
” People tend to ignore the long term; to be unduly afraid of losses; to display unrealistic optimism; to make self serving judgements: and to deal poorly with risks.
A campaign that simplifies a complex issue, personalizes benefits and uses simple and popular imagery is bound to succeed, right?
On 18 September Scots will vote to decide if Scotland should be independent of the UK.
Those for the status quo argue Scots will be better off if they elect to remain with Great Britain. Last Wednesday Her Majesty’s Treasury published an analysis estimating every Scot will be 1400 pounds better off by staying with the UK.
They followed up with 12 examples of how a Scot could spend that extra money, illustrating each option with Lego figures in cartoon-like situations.