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Archive for October 2009

Tactical Transparency

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Conference Day 3 —  It just keeps getting better

Tactical Transparency:  We opened the day with author Shel Holtz who shared his research and conclusions from his new book (currently on my Amazon Wish List), “Tactical Transparency.”  Transparency is the new reality in the web 2.0 world, yet business has delayed changing their strategies to take advantage of the benefits of transparency, because the concept is frequently misunderstood.  

Transparency is a requirement, because there are no secrets anymore.  Today, employees are the front line of PR.  Transparency is not full disclosure, there are many topics that should never be discussed in public, however, there are more issues that need to be addressed in open and honest conversations.

 Here are three among many great examples of tactical transparency:

Get the book:

Writing for the Web:  I have been writing for the web since 1995, but I picked up a lot of tips for better copy and layout in Samantha Enslen’s Writing for the Web: Secrets, Shortcuts and Strategies.  Keyword:  Streamline

Preparing Messages for Information Overload Environments was presented by Julie Freeman, IABC President.  This presentation was a report on an IABC Foundation Research Study.  Information overload is defined as “A state where more information actually reduces your reasoning and decision-making.”  How well I know that!  The research provides 6 principles communicators can use to improve messaging effectiveness.

Link to study (free for IABC members, $99 value):

Staying The Course While Running on Empty:  Mark M. Crowley, Director for Internal Communications at Sherwin Williams wrapped up the conference with his communications strategy for Sherwin-Williams, a company deeply affected by the slowdown in the automotive market.  He shared how he gets things done despite budget cuts and logistical nightmares communicating Sherwin-Williams global employees in multiple plants – we all left the lunch with new ideas on how to reach out more effectively to our employee audience.

After Mark, it was back to PA.  It is always such a great feeling to get to listen to and network with the best professionals in the industry.  My thanks to the Heritage Region and Cleveland Chapter  for the privilege of attending the Heritage Region Conference through their Member-At-Large Scholarship fund.  

I’m looking forward to our 2010 event in Philadelphia, PA!

IABC Heritage Region:


Written by Beth Ryan

October 21, 2009 at 5:48 pm

We All Work For Our Websites

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Day 2 of the IABC Heritage Region Conference started out with a presentation by Bob DiBiasio, PR chief for the Cleveland Indians.  My initial thought was yea, right, he’s pitching sports entertainment, I’m in  B-to-B industrial…well, after 30+ years in the business, Bob shared a lot of information that was pertinent for any PR practitioner.  He generously shared the key components to their 2010 business plan:

An engaging speaker, he really warmed up the room when he said, “We all work for our websites.”  Isn’t that the truth?   He quipped that PR really means “Planning Right” or “Promoting Relationships.”

I attended an employee communication workshop with David Pitre that was just outstanding.  Here is a small piece of the research he shared with us:  “When we ask employees in surveys and focus groups, ‘What’s the one thing you would change about employee communication?’ they responded:

  • Increase honesty, transparency and clarity
  • Hold more meeting or face-to-face sessions
  • Increase relevance
  • Increase timeliness
  • Streamline communication

 I have many notes to myself to take back to work!

 Gerard Braund entertained us at lunch with his talk, “When Social Media & Crisis Communication Collide:  When ‘it’ hits the fan.”  This was a light hearted journey through a very serious topic.  I had the pleasure of eating with Gerard at the Dine-Around and he shared his journey of developing this system over his past 20 years as a journalist and PR professional.  He has great tools in place that any organization can benefit from.

I was honored to introduce Dan Droz for “Strike Up The B.R.A.N.D.”  Dan is an animated speaker who took us on a journey understanding what great brands are and how they are built.  Here are his 5 attributes of iconic brands:

  •  Backstory
  • Relevance
  • Archetypes
  • Nomenclature
  • Design

 We left with an additional CD, “7 Simple Principles of Marketing Leverage.”  All good stuff as I return to work and begin my 2010 communications plan.

I wrapped up the day with 13 Axioms for Surviving Interesting Times with Dr. Tamara Gillis, where she shared some of her latest research for a new IABC publication.  Stayed tuned for more information.

Like all IABC conferences, you really work from morning until evening and get an enormous amount of ideas for both your workplace and your career.  Where else can you get professional development in all areas of corporate communications in one day?

Looking forward to Day 3. 

Heritage Region Conference website,

Taming Wild Ideas

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I attended a Fleishman Hilliard workshop on Innovation as part of our IABC heritage Region leadership forum where presenter Kathie Thomas showed this quotation on brainstorming from ad man Alex Osborne:

“It is easier to tame down a wild idea…than to come up with a new one.”

More from my notes:

“Innovation without methodology is luck.”

“There is no innovation without leadership.”

 “Innovation begins with discovering an untapped need.”

 She went on to share an interesting concept on Creativity, by stating there are 2 Phases and 1 Rule:

 Phase 1—Diverge, the search for ideas

Phase 2 – Converge, where each idea is weighed

Here’s the Rule – Keep the two phases separate! They use separate sides of the brain.

 “Creativity is not linear.”

She used the example of the brainstorming sessions that start out great while everyone is diverging, then someone starts converging before phase one is over and it kills the whole brainstorming session and everyone leaves feeling like they wasted their time.

Been there, done that. 

Speaking of taming wild ideas, the keynote speaker at our evening reception, Terry Stewart, CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, shared the history of the museum and the work that they do. 

The Silver Quill awards ceremony followed Terry, highlighting some of the many outstanding communication campaigns in our Regions – you really have to be here to see the work — it’s always an inspiration.

We ended up rocking with a group of young people made famous on You Tube – Recent ?- I probably didn’t spell that right – I’ll have to edit my post!  Day 2, its Recess!

Day 1 of the 2009 IABC Heritage Region Conference was a good day in Cleveland!


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 Sunday, 5 AM. My interest is a holistic approach to communications, called integrated marketing communications (IMC), and most organizations only address a single aspect of the art.

The Ad federation covers advertising, PRSA is focused on PR, E-Marketing addresses all things internet – IABC offers professional development in all of those disciplines. Living in a rural area, regional and international conferences give me the opportunity to network with the world’s best communicators and set the bar higher for my own work.

IABC covers all the bases.  My roommate told me on the way out that I’ll feel really important when I get back — The truth is, I will be totally humbled, exhausted and really glad I went:-)

The Smith Report » Sales Tip ? The Fallacy of Budgets

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There is a great post on the Smith Report today – this is not intended to undermine or ignore budgeting, an essential business tool; it’s more about how to communicate total value that will ultimately return greater profitability for both the buyer and seller. 

I think Ian really nails it, read on:

The Smith Report » Sales Tip ? The Fallacy of Budgets

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Written by Beth Ryan

October 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Our real job is to be Connectors

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I can’t remember where I read that the main goal of marketing is to remove objections to sales, but it is the simplest definition for marketing communications that I know of.

I think sometimes we in marketing get so focused on the number of leads our programs generate, that we gloss over the part where our real job is to be the connectors – to facilitate the conversation between 2 or more parties so everyone can achieve their mutual goals.

I was studying the “Sales Lead Success Checklist” by M. H. “Mac” McIntosh for my B-to-B Direct Response class tonight, and he addresses some very important questions. Three of them include:

  • Do you have a system in place to respond and document the inquiries you generate, whether the interest is short or long term?
  • Have you addressed the information needs for a person who is interested, but not a buyer, per say?
  • Are you measuring results and paying attention to what works?

If programs do not work out according to expectations, it’s easy to blame the sales people, because, like the infantry, they are on the front line. But the truth of the matter is that sales cannot do their job unless marketing does theirs.  The best way to accomplish this is to agree on what a good lead is and develop a comprehensive plan, not only to manage leads, but to support sales by continuing to provide relevant communication touch points between the company and their audience. 

You can download the checklist at M. H. “Mac” McIntosh website,

Written by Beth Ryan

October 7, 2009 at 8:54 pm