Take AIM at your audience and make them like you

May 24, 2017 by

LikeableToday I am going to talk about likeability.

It’s something you should strive for when you’re presenting in a business setting. Practically every business communication event involves selling something. If not directly a product or service, then at the very least, a point of view.

You are likely hoping to persuade your audience of something or trying to motivate them to do something, aren’t you? Therefore, finding a way to demonstrate that you care about the people with you in the room when you present is precisely the way to encourage them to care for you and your position.

Last week, when I emceed the Irish Centre for Business Excellence conference, keynote speaker, psychologist, and author, Owen Fitzpatrick, reinforced this idea as he explained how influence is best achieved when you spend time asking questions of and taking an interest in the other person first.

In short, we teach people how we want to be treated.

For many, this “be likeable” notion might not come naturally. Instead, we focus on our proof points and logic to carry us through. Sorry, folks, because I do want you to like me but, blech – that is often super boring.

But knowing some need a structure to dial up on “likeable”, I teach my clients to apply a logic-based methodology.

Derived from communications lecturer JD Schramm of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, this approach helps you get systematic in your presentation preparation – especially if you’re not naturally inclined to consider others.

Gina London - Fuzion Communications

The methodology is boiled down to three simple letters: AIM.

Audience. Intent. Message. In that order.

1 Audience

Take a moment to consider who is in your audience.

Are they new-hires or veterans? Senior management or the executive board? Women or men? Both? Other? Do they prefer Elvis or the Beatles? PCs or Macs? Coffee or Tea? For my Irish audience, Barry’s or Lyons?

When CNN first promoted me to anchor, they sent me to an anchor-training school in Dallas, Texas.

I didn’t realise there was such a place. There is. One thing the trainer told me back then in Texas particularly stuck with me.

He said that no matter how dry or dense a story may seem, someone out there watching will be emotionally affected by it.

Every story has a ‘hope, dream or fear’ attached to it,” he said. It’s important to try to see the pictures inside their heads.

I sometimes ask clients to write their presentation agenda.

Next, write a second agenda from the audience’s point of view. Then I have them throw out that first agenda and begin again from the second one.

This is what I mean by truly considering the others’ points of view.

2 Intent

Your intent is never simply to inform.

If you’re just doing that, then you might as well simply put your information in an email and hit the send button. You must be trying to motivate or inspire your audience to some sort of action.

Define your goal very clearly. Too often I see this one overlooked.

The goal is too broad and ill-defined. What is it exactly that you want your audience to do after you’re finished speaking? Even if it’s just to agree to another meeting. That’s okay. Be very specific.

3 Message

Only after you have dealt with points one and two should you move on to craft your message. Like intent, this must be clear too. Write it down. One sentence!

Here’s the definition I learned from organising campaigns:

A message is “Brief, Memorable, Repeatable, Emotional and Data-backed“.

But it’s not only the data. While supportive, taken stand-alone, data dumps, as I already mentioned, are often dry and boring.

Your message is your ‘call to action‘ – your spoken declaration of your written intent, your motivation!

State it clearly and state it often. Don’t assume your audience is just “getting it“.

If you know your AIM, before you start writing, you will be better at framing and outlining your talk.

A client wrote to me just this week proclaiming that he now realises “this isn’t going to be an easy fix. It will take serious effort“.

He’s right!

Here’s a prime example from one of the readers of my column:

The 82-year-old writer shared that he learned how “to think and speak more clearly” through communications training.

He applies the training all the time, including just last Saturday when he said a few words at his 80-year-old sister’s birthday party in London. “Communications training has become a way of life.“, he wrote.

To my client and you lovely people reading today: Exactly.

Applying AIM and becoming deliberately more likeable to your audience will take time. But I promise, it is worth it.

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Gina London: Face Your Fear! My Top 3 Tips for Public Speaking

May 22, 2017 by

If the thought of public speaking fills you with dread – like you’re about to walk a tight wire high above – without a net – please read on for my top tips that appeared in my column this week in the Sunday Independent, “The Communicator.” 

Circus Tightrope Walker on a Unicycle

If I go on The Late Late Show and ask the audience to “raise your hand if you’d like to stand in front of everyone else and give a presentation”, how many hands do you think would shoot up?

If statistics are any indicator, most of you would literally rather die than get up and speak in public.

Fear of public speaking, as you may already know, is often listed as people’s number one fear. It out paces the fear of death or the fear of flying.

This brings me to a letter I received this week from a reader. He writes:

I love your column and three words that would describe me would be ‘curious’ and ‘confident’ in one-to-one conversations, but a very ‘nervous’ person when it comes to standing and speaking before an audience.

As an owner of a small business, I have occasions to stand and speak about my business. But, to be honest with you, I would rather visit the dentist than give a speech.

I know how important it is to the growth of my business but the fear I have of public speaking is just too great. I get very red, my hands shake and I have the dry mouth of a desert.

Please, please how do I get over this fear?”

If you’re like some fad-dieters who keep looking for a quick trick to shed pounds (or kilos or stones or whatever), I have to point out there is no magic pill to do that or to instantly shake your stage fright nerves.

But, here are three things that should help:

1 Think positively

In an old episode of The Brady Bunch (please tell me you know this show!) Mike Brady tells daughter Jan, who is petrified of giving a speech, to imagine her audience wearing only underwear.

I won’t go that far, although you’re welcome to try it for a laugh. But I will tell you that in my experience, every audience — no matter how they are attired — wants you to succeed.

That’s a really positive place from which to start. They’re looking to find meaning in why they are there. They want to connect with you. Bear that in mind. Be self-affirming.

You step up on stage at 100pc.

2 Take time to write it right

Don’t wait until the day before you have to speak to write your speech – Give yourself proper time to prepare.

When you craft your speech, make sure to consider and address your audience’s interests and not simply your own. What’s in it for them?

If you operate on a “brain-dump approach”, that’s fine for your first draft, but revisit it the next day to refine and edit. Get early, honest feedback on your script from a colleague.

Remember, too, that the way you write may not be the way you speak.

Are you writing words you’re comfortable with? If the words aren’t conversational to you, they won’t sound conversational to your audience.

If you want to be comfortable with your public speaking delivery, you must first be comfortable with your written material.

3 Practice out loud and on camera

That silly joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” comes to mind. Answer: “Practice. Practice. Practice.

This is where you really can combat potential butterflies. You have to practice the same way you expect to deliver.

32298502311_30dfe8bff8_o

For instance, if you’re going to present standing up, then stand up when you practice.

Don’t forget details like voice quality, energy and expression.

Many people are uncomfortable hearing the sound of their voice when it’s projected, so they hold back when they practice. That’s a mistake. You should practice as performance-day-like as you possibly can.

Smile. Gesture. Get into it. Try to get off-script. You’ll connect better with your audience and that’s the whole point.

I feel like an actor,” one client told me recently. That’s okay at first. Over time, it will feel natural.

Bonus tip: Get help

Years ago, at my first job as a journalist with the Orlando Sentinel, I joined a “Toastmasters” group. With clubs all over the world, Toastmasters members deliver a wide-variety of speeches, receiving structure and encouragement along the way.

Joining wasn’t a job requirement, but I thought, “Hey, if I’m developing my skills as a written story-teller, it would be a good idea to practice telling stories aloud too.”

It was a great experience and one that helped me during my transition to on-camera reporting at CNN. I’ve since enjoyed going back as a guest speaker at Toastmasters clubs including in Lagos, Nigeria, and at the West Cork Toastmasters, one of top performing clubs here in Ireland.

With the right coaching, practice and time, public speaking comfort is a gift available to us all. Or, as you may have heard once or twice on The Late Late Show,There’s one for everyone in the audience.

So, go on. When I ask, raise your hand.

Whether through Toastmasters or another training programme, I’d love to hear from readers who are learning to overcome their fears of public speaking. What is working? What are you still struggling with? Email me at sundaybusiness@independent.ie

Gina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant.

So you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

May 22, 2017 by

Michael O'Leary - Ryamair

I’m still reeling from the shock of the great customer service I just experienced from Ryanair!

I found that there was a simple error on my flight booking for our summer holidays. Without much hope, I got onto the Ryanair “live chat” and after a relatively short wait, someone came on and solved my problem without an issue and – wait for it – are you sitting down? – without any additional charge – even though I had my credit card in my hand!

The Ryanair experience has improved so much that even Greg, my other half, isn’t complaining (well, not as much as usual) that we are using the airline to get us to Italy this year – in previous years he prefered to take an Aer Lingus flight to Paris and then take the train to Milan (beautiful journey by the way!).

So Michael, I applaud you, you turned the big ship (or plane) and set Ryanair on a new course towards good service, putting the customer first and you gotta be reaping the rewards…..

I think this is a big lesson for all of us.

Just because we do something one way, a way that might have built the success of the company, it doesn’t mean we have to stay doing the same thing, just because it’s the way we always did it.

It’s refreshing for everyone to change things up, it’s good to really listen to your customers and even more important, your potential customers and even if it goes against your original core values (or some might argue, lack of them in Ryanair’s case), consider adapting to suit your market in this very changing world.

When you are ready to make that change – the Fuzion team can be there with you every step of the way to help you 😉

Deirdre 

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion

Fuzion Communications is a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Advertisements that pull at your heartstrings – are they only for Christmas?

May 18, 2017 by

McDonald's

This morning, like most other mornings people are continuing to find things to give out about.

I’m very much about voicing your opinion when necessary, but sometimes I feel it can all be a tad dramatic! This time one of the world’s favourite fast food joints, McDonald’s was under attack for their newest advertisement, which is now tactlessly titled the “McDonald’s Dead Dad Advert”, making it easier to find online for those interested.

What is the advert about?

The advert shows a boy who was clearly very young when his dad passed away and is intrigued to know more about him – what he was like, what sports he played etc.

His questions are his way of finding out how similar they might have been.

However, his mother depicts a person that he is nearly nothing alike. The boy seems disappointed but not upset at his findings but then just as he sits to enjoy his Fillet ’O’ Fish meal his mum tells him that what he has ordered was his dad’s favourite too and that he always got the tartare sauce on his chin.

The camera then cuts to the boy with tartare sauce on his chin, his mum smiling and looking out the window fondly remembering that moment she shared with her husband.

Watch advert here:

The commotion:

I’m not going to go into much detail on what people are saying about the advert, it’s pretty 50/50 but you can read up on this online for yourself. However, there were enough complaints for the advert to be banned.

According to The Journal.ieMcDonald’s said “t had not meant to upset anyone, but “wanted to highlight the role McDonald’s has played in our customers’ everyday lives — both in good and difficult times.”

McDonald’s said today it was withdrawing the ad “completely and permanently” and would “review our creative process to ensure this situation never occurs again.”

You can read the full article by clicking here:

My view:

So this brings me to my point, would this be more acceptable at Christmas time?

Let’s not forget EDEKA the German supermarket Christmas advert which shows a grandfather faking his own death which was also controversial but in a weird way somewhat humorous OR Lidl’s Christmas advert that showed a family celebrating the special time of the year but missing their Grandmother at the table.

You can view these videos by clicking on the links below:

The German EDEKA advert and the Lidl advert.

Both adverts show bereavement in a different way as does the McDonalds advertisement but they are all asking us to remember our loved ones that can’t be here with us anymore.

I personally think that the complaints are a complete overreaction. It was a well thought out advertisement showing a very personal side to what some families go through every day. It was upbeat, not at all morbid and I did not get the impressions that they were trying to say that McDonald’s fixes everything. I felt that they were showing how the brand is very much a part of nearly every family.

The boy’s newly discovered likeness to his father is a fond memory that his mother has, and is now something they can both share together – this connection could make their relationship as mother and son stronger.

The trip to McDonald’s could be one of many and a way for them to hang onto a shared memory – what is so bad about that?!

Not to get all morbid, but death becomes a part of everyone’s life at some stage and while right now you don’t need to experience it directly, if an advertisement can shine a light on the part of death that shows a family connection, nostalgia and shared memories then I’m all for it.

Of course, the ironic thing about it all is that McDonald’s as a brand is still grabbing the media and public’s attention.

So whether you like the ad or not they’ve created awareness for their brand while promoting a meal that probably isn’t on their most ordered list! It might not be how they wanted to receive this attention but it is still publicity at the end of the day!

Do you think McDonald’s were right to shut down their advert?

Arlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion Communications in our Dublin office. Fuzion provide Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Social Media Management services from our office in Dublin and Cork.

Never, ever write a cheque to make yourself look bad!

May 16, 2017 by

James Bond Museum

I was doing a review of the marketing activities with a new home improvement client a few years back.

In the previous year, they had spent €15,000 on Google Adwords in the UK bringing the right search traffic to the website of their UK operation.

They weren’t convinced about how successful this investment was and they asked me to review the campaign.

The lack of success was simple to figure out because the €15,000 was being used to drive traffic to their website, which was outdated and made them look like an old fashioned, backwards operation. You could easily understand how this traffic was not converting because, like me, I am fairly sure that the people who looked at the website were not inclined to do business.

Not only were they wasting money but they were damaging their brand – an important and very simple SEO tip is to make sure you have a website that makes people want to do business with you!

My simple recommendation to them was to stop the campaign immediately, upgrade the website and then, and only then, start up the Google campaign again.

I was told that there was no budget for a new website and instead they decided to increase their Google Adwords budget in the hope that bringing, even more traffic would somehow improve the results they were getting from the previous campaign.

Whether it is..

– Advertising when your store is a mess
– Putting a cheap sign over your premises
– Paying for an advert and not designing it properly
– Getting cheap business cards
– Bringing traffic to an outdated website

..the message is always the same.

Never, ever, write a cheque to make yourself look bad.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Don’t Think Outside the Box

May 14, 2017 by

Think outside the box

It’s a term we hear all the time in business, and especially in the creative industry –  ‘”Think outside the box”’.

I see it in briefs, job descriptions and I hear it said in meetings.

I hate it!

The term has become meaningless, if everyone thinks outside the box then all you do is create a larger box!

The fact is there is no avoiding the box. Everything we do in business and in life has boundaries. There are laws on the street, marketing campaigns have a budget and designing a billboard always has size constraints.

The best way forward is to be creative within the box – Use the boundaries, work within the limitations and show people that you are still, more than capable of being different and creative.

I love the box!

Paul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Brexit – Keep calm and plan

May 8, 2017 by

Prepare for Brexit - Enterprise Ireland

The uncertainty, implications, and fallout from Brexit was the topic for debate at an Enterprise Ireland event that I went along to this week.

As a country so heavily dependent on exporting to the UK, Brexit represents the most significant economic challenge facing Ireland and one which we are advised to plan for without really knowing what the fallout will be.

While we can only speculate, Enterprise Ireland have rolled-out a dedicated roadshow, specific grant and an online tool to encourage businesses to plan and prepare so that anything other than a hard Brexit is somewhat of a bonus, dare I say it.

The UK will continue to be a key market for businesses in Ireland and the advice for companies in preparation for Brexit is to be as lean and innovative as possible.

Like all challenges, Brexit presents an opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their markets, products, risks and operations to hone their business contingency plans to build resilience, which is never a bad thing, is it?

A well-thought-out business plan will be crucial for responding to change which is why an investment of time and resources will be vital.

Enterprise Ireland has launched a really clever Brexit SME Scorecard – a planning tool for Irish exporters to the UK designed to assess business readiness for Brexit as well as a Be Prepared Grant to help to financially support and encourage businesses to research, prepare and focus on the elements of their business which they can influence, whatever the outcome of Brexit.

There is no doubt that we’re facing a time of change and uncertainty but one thing is for sure – trade, as one of the oldest professions in the world, will still continue between people and countries.

How we prepare for change will make all the difference.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion Communications – PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

“I don’t want publicity this time but next time, yes… “

May 8, 2017 by

Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll wedding

Looking at the media coverage of the recent nuptials of one of golf’s hottest properties Rory McIlroy, something struck me as odd, well less odd than the reported price tag of over half a million Euro spent on it, but still strange nonetheless.

There were no photos of it. The lavish four-day wedding was veiled in such secrecy that very few details have been or could be made public.

Reportedly, some of the steps the McIlroy’s went to stop leaks were anti-drone technology to stop them flying overhead and taking photos, people working at the event had to check in their phones and guests had to leave their mobile phones behind entirely, just in case one of them decided to ‘check in’ to the wedding of the decade or post a photo.

This all begs the question, where does the public interest start and finish when it comes to celebrities?

Rory for example, has sponsorship deals with Omega, Bose and has just signed a new 10 year deal with Nike valued at around €100 million. Publicising these, Rory can be seen sporting the new exclusive Omega watch and on the course, he is branded from head to toe in the newest Nike gear and is all too happy to pose for the cameras while wearing them.

To protect the couple, there was reportedly three levels of security around the grounds of the beautiful Ashford Castle and McIlroy’s management team worked overtime to ensure that the wedding details remained top secret from the large media entourage that arrived at Cong.

Ashford Castle staff, lauded for their discretion with the hotel’s celebrity clientele, even refused to make any comment on the wedding celebrations.

The phone hacking scandal a number of years ago ignited the question of how far media can go, and the recent demands of €1.5 million in compensation from Prince William over photos taken during a three-day break in a chateau in southern France in 2012, is bringing the topic of invasion of privacy of celebrities to the fore once more.

Prince William expressed his anger at the incident in a statement read to a court in Paris, where six media personnel, including three photographers, are on trial for alleged invasion of privacy.

In McIlroys instance, what would have happened if a ‘lucky’ photographer managed to get a snap of the happy couple in their finery – an invasion of privacy lawsuit?

I’m not saying that prying into the personal lives of public figures is correct or not, the question is, is it right that celebrities can have their cake and eat it too?

Patrick Jones - Fuzion CommunicationsPatrick

Patrick Jones is an Account Manager in Dublin with Fuzion Communications, Marketing, PR & Graphic Design 

It’s hard to find the perfect shade of yellow when you’re a blonde?

May 4, 2017 by

Lena Dunham at the Golden Globe Awards

For decades it was suggested that blondes simply can’t wear yellow, as it clashes with their hair and gives their skin an unpleasant, pallid undertone. This might be true of certain yellows (Lena Dunham is just not having a good day here), but sometimes when you find that perfect shade/tone it can look fantastic!

With that said, this can also be true when looking for the perfect supplier of a service you require for your business. In this scenario, the client is the blonde individual and the shade of yellow is the service you require – Procurement!

PR is a service that some businesses, not all, often don’t clearly understand in terms of what the service is or how it can benefit them.

There are many elements to a PR campaign and more and more agencies are now adapting to the changing world of technology as well as developing extensions such as design, social media, digital support, and training.

For a business, it is important to find your perfect PR agency match (your shade of YELLOW!), but you also must be ready for PR and understand what type of support you need from an agency.

The following are some tips that will help guide you before contacting any agency:

1. Are you ready to share your company’s expectations, your business plans and goals?

This is important. An agency will need to know what direction the company is looking to go in and where they see themselves in the future. This can decide the concepts and angle the agency may suggest to you – is it a project requirement or a more long term like a retainer?

2. How much time are you willing to give to the PR campaign?

Your agency will require ease of access to the information they need to tell your story. The campaign can only go so far and move at the pace agreed if all parties are willing to invest the required time. Be sure you have a strong team that can help facilitate this.

3. Be realistic with your expectations re: Return on investment

This will not happen overnight and in reality you should expect to see media interest within 2-6 months of the campaign (this can be industry sensitive).

4. Social Media should be your best friend!

It’s time to embrace the online social space. This can be supported by your agency but no one knows your company better than you and it would always be recommended that the voice of the company is visible across all platforms – strategic plans can be created here to give direction.

5. Prepare to be open minded and uncomfortable

If you are looking to stand out from a sea of similar companies, products etc then you must be open to thinking outside the box but also within relevance and respect to your brand identity. It’s important to grab some of the spotlight!

6. Who will be holding your hand?

When you first meet your prospective PR agency you will more than likely meet a senior, super professional senior team. Our super tip here is to request that you meet the full team who will actually be doing the work on your account – do you like them, are they right for your business, do they seem to grasp what you are trying to achieve?

7. Financial expectations

Be realistic! You’re a business person that has a particular value on the work you do and so does the PR agency. This all boils down to what your needs and expectations are, as well as the time that you’re willing to give. All these factors can make a huge difference to the value, not just in relation to cost but overall results.

 

Golden Globe Awards

Now it’s time to look fantastic!

If you take all of this on board, approaching an agency should be easier with these points in mind and you will be on the right road to finding your PR agency match!

Your perfect YELLOW!

Arlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion Communications in our Dublin office. Fuzion provide Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Social Media Management services from our office in Dublin and Cork.

 

 

My week’s work experience

May 2, 2017 by

Transition year student Niamh McInerney from St. Mary’s Secondary School Mallow recently completed a week’s work experience with us. Before she left she wrote a blog about her experience

Where to even begin…. It was such a brilliant week.

As my two favourite subjects in school are business and English I decided that I would go to a PR and marketing company for a week of work experience. After some research I came across Fuzion. I rang them up and explained that I was looking for work experience and they kindly accepted my request to join them for a week in late April.

I was so excited to get experience in PR, marketing and design as this could be a possible future career for me. I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous as I did not know anyone working in the company so therefore I really did not know what to expect.

When I arrived for my first day of work experience all the staff were so welcoming and kind towards me. I really expected to be just doing the photocopying and making tea and coffee (which I would not have minded), but instead I learnt how to do a media analysis report and to write up a press release. It was very interesting to get to see all the ins and outs of the various departments in Fuzion.

Make a Will week

On my final day, Alison, one of the PR team kindly brought me along to a photo shoot for the Mercy Hospital Foundation. It was to launch their annual ‘Make a Will Week’ with solicitor Don Ryan. The campaign sees Don help people make a will in return for a donation towards the Mercy Hospital Foundation. It was so interesting to see how the photo shoot was coordinated and I was delighted to be a part of it.

During my week at Fuzion I really learnt so much and was so grateful for all the help and support that the team gave me. It was a really enjoyable week and gave me a great insight into the world of PR!

Niamh McInerney


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