Thursday, November 11, 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility Index

The 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Index, developed by theBoston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Reputation Institute shows the following companies in the top 25 positions:

  1. Johnson & Johnson
  2. The Walt Disney Company
  3. Kraft Foods Inc.
  4. Microsoft
  5. PepsiCo
  6. Apple
  7. Hershey Company
  8. SC Johnson
  9. Kellogg
  10. Google
  11. Caterpillar
  12. Intel
  13. Publix Super Markets Inc.
  14. JC Penney
  15. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
  16. Campbell Soup Company
  17. Marriott International
  18. Anheuser-Busch InBev
  19. UPS
  20. Adobe
  21. AmerisourceBergen
  22. General Mills
  23. Clorox
  24. Eastman Kodak
  25. Fidelity Investments

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bush on YouTube - How not to use video.

Having just finished a webinar with the Public Relations Institute of Ireland on how to effectively use video in PR I was interested to find out that George W Bush had also recently embraced the idea. The results however were not what we had spoken about during our webinar. The Bush video produced to promote his upcoming memoirs is painfully dull. It is three minutes long and I would challenge you to get through half of it. If you'd like to take up the challenge you can do so by clicking on this link .

4 elements that will ensure your pitch gets ignored

According to the Wall Street Journal there are 4 elements that can ensure your pitch goes straight to the delete/ trashcan if you include them. These elements are as follows:

  1. Introducing your mail with “Dear Morning Ireland” or ”Dear Morning Ireland presenter”- that tells the person receiving the mail that you have not taken time to research their show. This doesn't bode well for the amount of effort put into the rest of the pitch if this basic element is incorrect or sloppy.
  2. “Greetings!” "Hello All" -Automatic delete. Just a general e-mail.
  3. “Using the phrase ‘Breaking News’ -According to the Wall Street Journal this is one of the most over used and mis-used statements and is incredibly frustrating as most of what is termed 'breaking news' is anything but.
  4. Listing the other media that have already expressed an interest in the topic or the guest. Everyone in media wants to feel like we’re getting somebody unique not getting the left overs from the party. They all want to know how your story is relevant to them and their listeners, viewers or readers. You need to do your research in advance and sell the angle most suitable for the person/show you are pitching to.

Poorly crafted pitches or lazy pitches do you no good in the short term and may also do you long term damage. The liklihood of the same reporter opening one of your future e-mails diminishes if they have a bad encounter with you at the start.

If you'd like more tips on how to create a winning pitch read this interview with the Gordon Deal a reporter with the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Inviting criticism in order to engage employees

Even if you have a brilliant new business strategy or communications strategy it is not likely to succeed unless your senior management and your organisation's employees buy into the idea. But with so much information coming at people in the workplace, how do you engage employees with a new proposal? In the information overloaded society in which we operate this is a very valid question.

Leadership guru John P Kotter certainly has a novel approach to getting employees attention. Kotter's new book, Buy-In (Harvard Business Press), promotes encouraging employees to criticise your plans. This certainly seems a strange way to get buy in but Kotter argues that it can be a valuable way to get employees to engage with you. In his book he also explains how to deal with this criticism when it comes and how this can build engagement lead to successful implementation.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Turbo-boost your Facebook

Do you want to know how to use apps to promote your business on Facebook? This site Social Media Examiner has a great article on apps you can download to really enhance your Facebook.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Looking for a great book on how to be a speechwriter?

If you are in the market for a book that gives you great advice on how to be a great speechwriter then, ‘The Political Speechwriter’s Companion: A guide for writers and speakers’ may well be the book you are looking for. You could put it as the first item on your Christmas list!

Written by Al Gore's former speechwriter, Robert Lehrman, the book is a comprehensive guide to speechwriting. It covers:

  • The best way to structure a political speech
  • The importance of researching stories to illuminate a speech
  • Techniques to make a speech memorable
  • Numerous checklists for many aspects of a speech
Happy reading and writing!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The all-round leader: from east to west

Harvard Business School is embracing the idea of "mindful leadership”, a process that develops self-awareness and self-compassion in leaders.

A tradition that comes from the East, namely Tibet, is thought to be a tradition from which western leaders could benefit. The Harvard Business School Professor, Bill George, who is pioneering work in this area believes that leaders who don't develop self-awareness are subject to becoming seduced by external rewards, such as power, money, and recognition.

Leaders with low emotional intelligence (EQ) often lack self-awareness and self-compassion, which can lead to a lack of self-regulation. This also makes it very difficult for them to feel compassion and empathy for others. Thus, they struggle to establish sustainable, authentic relationships.

Leaders who have low emotional intelligence (EQ) can also often feel a pressure to be so perfect that they cannot admit vulnerabilities and acknowledge mistakes. This difficulty acknowledging mistakes is an Achilles' heel that has crippled a number of CEOs who have appeared in the news recently. Some of the difficulties of Hewlett-Packard, British Petroleum, CEOs of failed Wall Street firms, and dozens of leaders who failed in the post-Enron era are examples of this.

If you’d like to learn more about “mindful leadership” the following books are recommended. Jon Kabat-Zinn's book Wherever You Go, There You Are, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's books The Joy of Living and Joyful Wisdom and Bill George’s book True North .

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Implications of social media for your organisation

This artice I wrote for Health Manager examines the implications of social media for the health service. The implications are equally relevant to all types of organisations. Ensuring you and your employees are living your brand is more important than ever. Building two-way communication with your employees is essential. You can read the article here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lack of employee trust – a cause for concern.

Many employee focus groups and interviews I have undertaken demonstrate that many organisations suffer from a lack of trust. Employees don’t trust their leaders to follow through on what they say or to give them the facts in a clear and simple manner.

If you are looking to rebuild trust within your organisation, start by opening up two-way conversation channels with your employees, to find out what is really on their minds.

These simple steps are the first along to the path to building an effective internal communication strategy and building employee morale and motivation.

-M.B.W.A (Manage By Walking About) Leaders need be frequently visible to employees.

- Employees should have opportunities to ask questions and offer input. An electronic question and answer forum is very useful for this.

- Communications needs to address the major questions on employees’ minds. Employees also need to know that their leaders will share the good, the bad and the ugly news without spinning.

- Consistent messages will be identified and communicated frequently and persistently. These should be linked to your organisation’s strategy and what the organisation wishes to achieve, and most importantly, how employees can play an important role in achieving these changes.

- Train your managers and middle managers how to communicate effectively with their staff. I run training workshops with organizations on this issue and the results are very fulfilling for both managers and staff.

- Ask staff for the feedback about the new communication channels. This measurement will be the key to you winning more management support.

You can also use the feedback from staff to build a communication strategy that reflects the reality of your own organisation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Money is not your employees main motivator

I discovered this great 11 minute video, with fantastic illustrations, that argues that money is not the main motivator for employees. It argues that the carrot and stick approach only works in certain circumstances but fails a majority of the time when cognitive skills come into play. The case is very well made and is worth noting if your organisation is considering introducing a financial recognition and reward scheme.

Check is out on!

What are your views?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Organisational culture

The way we do things around here” often defines culture. So, how do you instil culture in an organisation. Edgar Schein in his book “Organizational Culture and Leadership” provides some clues.

He outlines the Primary Embedding Mechanisms for establishing culture as:

· What leaders pay attention to, measure, and control on a regular basis

· How leaders react to critical incidents and organizational crises

· How leaders allocate resources

· Deliberate role modeling, teaching, and coaching

· How leaders allocate rewards and status

· How leaders recruit, select, promote and excommunicate

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Going too far: Utah Attorney General Tweets Execution

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff gave twitter a real morbid twist when he tweeted about Utah inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner’s execution by firing squad.
Shurtleff actually posted not one, not two, but three tweets.
Do you want to read them? Click on the link below.

Number One
A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice

Number Two:
I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.

And finally, number three:
We will be streaming live my press conference as soon as I’m told Gardner is dead. Watch it at

I think we can conclude that Shurtleff is certainly a master of self-promotion (his tweets got coverage around the globe) but is this right?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fostering Start-ups at University

You can see why universities want to get foster potentially breakthrough research projects when you see could be on offer. The ultimate example of a university that has truly benefited from fostering a start-up was Stanford University. One of Google’s main assets, the Page Rank patient, is owned by Stanford University. When the initial public offering took place for Google on August 18, 2004, one of the big winners was Stanford University. When the IPO was complete, their shares were worth approximately $179.5 million. Stanford cashed in some of its assets immediately raising a cool $15.6million overnight. Nice work!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Employee newsletter -- print or online?

E.newsletters or e-zines are fast becoming the favoured method of producing newsletters. So is it the solution all newsletter producers have been looking for?

The e-zine certainly has many advantages. It’s easy to create and can be done as the news comes in rather than waiting til the end of the month and gathering all the information together for layout. They can be great for both internal and external audiences and e-zines are sometimes favoured by employees who are desk based and who use computers regularly. The other great advantage is that with most e-zine applications you can track results and see how many people have opened the newsletter and which articles they have read. This can be very useful information in shaping your communication message in the future.

The big drawback however is obvious – your newsletter is no longer printed in hard copy. If staff members are acknowledged they like to take home a hard copy. Printing the online version just isn’t the same. The other disadvantage is that it is less portable. Staff can no longer pick up the newsletter on the way into the canteen and flick through it over coffee, it is no longer left in staff areas where someone with a few spare moments can pick it up and read. Also sometimes staff may share access to a computer and therefore do not have time to sit down and spend 15minutes reading the newsletter.

In the end, it really depends on your audience. If a majority of your audience have access to a computer it can be very beneficial. If this is not the case, there is little point moving online.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Corporate events; scrap or save.

There is a lot of debate, given the current economic climate, surrounding whether large corporate events should be scraped in order to cut costs. Some marketing and communication experts urge the scrapping of the big ‘set piece’ events. However, others argue that these events are much more than the sum of their parts – they are part of the organisation’s culture and can contribute to building and maintaining employee engagement.

I think Leandro Herrero, a management thinker I read, expresses it well when we says, "[Events] serve the extra-functionality of any ritual: they create a glue, a link, a sense of belonging (even if temporary), a ‘reason d’ĂȘtre’, a door to get through, a point in the calendar that provides some sort of meaning, a punctuation in time, ‘something to go to’, or to ‘get through’”.

I agree, I vote to save.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A new way of saying 'no comment'

To storm out of an interview with a print reporter or editorial board is one thing, but to walk out on a taped television interview—that is not good PR! This is however, exactly what New York State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. did. Following questions regarding his place of residence and that amount he claimed in expenses - Yes, other countries have these debates too - Senator Espada left the station. It is certainly a novel way of saying "no comment." Check out Espada in action and see what you think.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Leadership post recession - CEO's views

The “2010 Global IBM CEO Study” was recently published, it’s one of the largest one-on-one CEO interview studies, surveying 1,541 CEOs, general managers and senior public sector leaders from 60 countries and across 33 industries. The four primary findings of this year’s survey are as follows:

  1. More than half of CEOs doubt their ability to manage the new complexities of the marketplace as the economy moves from recession to recovery.
  2. CEO’s ranked creativity as the most important leadership quality. They believe that creative leaders will take more risks, find more innovative ways of leading change in their organisations and encourage experimentation and innovation.
  3. CEO’s say they are identifying new ways to keep in touch with their customers and using more research and data analysis. Improving communication is key to this.

Videos in PR and Internal Communications

Video is coming the newest tool in the professional communicators arsenal. So how do you decide if you should use video to promote you client or organisation? If you consider that You Tube is the second most used search engine, you can see why it is worth while putting your videos on this media.

  1. A video release can really add to a press release if you have something visual to display.
  2. Before and after, videos are also very effective to demonstrate the benefits of your product or service.
  3. If your video is entertaining it may even go viral and the rewards can be huge.
  4. Piece to camera interviews with employees living the company brand or strategy can transform a boring document into a real life example.

Just creating video is not the only step necessary. You must craft a video that responds to the wants and needs of your audience. Your audience is looking for solutions to problems and questions. It’s your job to ensure your videos provides solutions, answer questions and lead your audience where you want them to go.

Leaving Cert supervisor's tweets lead to sacking

A Leaving Certificate supervisor was fired from his post early in the exams for twitting during the exams. Since the event the twitter account of the supervisor who was sacked has been deleted.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

That Stinks: Hospital employee fired after writing about toilets on Facebook

John Beaurain, an electrician at a Cape Town hospital, was fired for posting photos of blocked toilets on Facebook. Management warned him to stop publishing his stories. He claimed the c=blocked toilets were a health hazard writing, "the air conditioning system is totally rotten as a result of the blocked toilets". His dismissal is being appealed.

BP - Putting the spin into the spill

BP is a company name that is fast becoming synonymous with corporate incompetence. While BP insist they are doing all they can to keep the public informed of the situation without putting any spin on the spill, public opinion is fast turning against them.

BP’s disagreements with scientists about the amount of oil gushing from the deep-water well, supposedly underestimating the amount by several hundred percent, does not show them in a positive light.

Trying to turn off the live video feed of the oil gusher was also seen by critics as yet another example of BP putting the spin on the story.

Add to this the fact that BP recently referred to Gulf Coast residents as 'small people' (a translation error apparently- the executive is Swedish!) and BP are in serious difficulty on the PR front.

Interestingly, the PR battle is also ragging in social networking forums. A fake BP Twitter page has shown the up hill battle organisations face in a crisis. One of the tweets @BPGlobalPR read: "We are dedicated to helping the wildlife in the gulf. Any birds that need cleaning must report to 287 Quartemain St, Baton Rouge, LA 70801".

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting C-Suite buy-in

Without buy-in from the your organisations top management, corporate communication managers are likely to have less success in promoting effective communication within the organisation.

For this reason it is imperative to have a strategic communications plan with SMART (strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) objectives. When the C-suite is presented with tangible results; solid and accurate measurement that objectively portrays the degree to which communication is effective in the organisation, their perceptions of communication as a 'soft skill' change.

Too often communication’s potential power is lost because the critical strategic planning phase is not followed. And the reality is that to get the attention of top management communicators must speak in the facts and figures language of other successful business disciplines.

Monday, June 14, 2010

5 Reasons to use social media

  1. Monitor what's being said on Twitter using RSS
  2. Set-up an RSS reader to stay on top of what's being said about your company or organisation, industry news and opportunities in the marketplace
  3. Generate and read a Google Analytics report
  4. Search blogs for comments. You can use the converation prisim for this.
  5. Then subscribe to the RSa for that search so you only have to do it once

Measurement in internal communication: Tell the uncomfortable truth without getting fired.

You may know that your organisation’s employee staff briefings are not up to scratch. The content is weak and the attendance is poor.

You know this fact, the employees know it and the managers in the organisation know it. Maybe the boss also knows it but as no-one addresses the issue it continues as is. No-one seems prepared to take a stand.

This is where you come in. As internal communications manager it is up to you to ensure that communication with staff is effective. However, it is understandable that you do not want to be a lone voice telling it as it is. So, before you stand up and wave your arms …measure.

Measurement of staff briefings can be very simple. Distribute a simple feedback form to every member of staff as they enter the briefing and collect them as they leave. They can be anonymous or staff can give their names, that doesn’t matter. The important element is that you have their feedback. You’ll be amazed at the information they provide.

Armed with this information you can address the issues surrounding the briefings with the boss and not get fired. You are not just waltzing into the boss’s office and giving your opinion. You have collected staff views and are bringing powerful feedback and communication from the grassroots upwards.

You can now say with confidence that 80% of staff who attended the briefing reported that they didn’t receive the information they wanted in relation to the business plan. 30% of staff reported dissatisfaction with the topics up for discussion. Topics staff wanted addressed included: how to address absenteeism and the timelines and targets staff have to meet in order to meet the organisation’s objectives.

This puts you in a strategic position as the person with their finger on the pulse of the organisation. This puts you in a powerful position as a change agent in the organisation.

The other great thing about this type of measurement is that when improvements are made you can clearly demonstrate the improvements in an equally reliable manner. And that is a nice place to be!

TUNA is no use to your organisation

Could your internal communication with staff could be categorised as TUNA: Totally, Uninteresting, News and Admin. If this summarises your internal communication it is very likely that staff will simply ignore the messages. Worse if the messages are sent via email staff will just simply delete them without even looking at them.

Try using storytelling to get your message across. This entails using real life stories to illustrate your message. It is even better if you can use staff examples. It is also worth considering using your staff's screen savers as a way to convey key strategic messages. This means that when the computer is inactive for a period your key messages appear. It can be a very effective manner to unobtrusively get your message to staff. Like the continuous drops of water on a stone, the effect will be noticeable over time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Social Media may have saved lives in Cumbria

Last week on 2nd June 2010 a series of shootings took place in Cumbria. Lucky for many the police used their twitter account to alert people to the danger. Their first message was "Urgent public message - Shots fired in Whitehaven". Traditional methods of communication would have been more time consuming and would have been slower to reach a large audience. The police therefore decided to use twitter, a channel that can be used by anyone at anytime. Their Twitter account is available on

This crisis demonstrates the importance and benefits of being social media savvy in a crisis. Organisations would be well advised to develop their social media accounts and to incorporate their use in their crisis plans and crisis management planning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why we may get tired of social media: 5 reasons

Warning: these may make you laugh!
1. Too many passwords. We thought we already had enough passwords to remember with online banking.
2. Being ‘Facebooked’ by old college flames under the guise of ‘networking’ or ‘business’.
3. Self esteem and morale plummet as we realise we only have a handful of followers on twitter.
4. Everybody seems to be talking about how great LinkedIn is for networking. The only people we know on LinkedIn are our colleagues.
5. Our social workload is fast becoming another 40-hour-per-week occupation. However, it’s not paid.

Marco Greenberg - Meeting a force of PR Nature

I have this afternoon come out of a truly inspiring session at the International Association of Business Communicators World Conference in ...