Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why optimism serves people well

Optimistic people tend to be more successful. Some studies have pegged 80 percent of successful entrepreneurs as optimists.

Which makes sense. Optimists don’t give up easily.

They find ways around obstacles and generally don’t take “no” for an answer.

Although pessimists keep the visionaries from going off the deep-end, people weigh themselves down if they see the problems or think they won’t succeed.

Optimism actually is healthier than pessimism. It seems to be better for the immune system. Optimists seem to age better as a result.

One reason is because they seem to have better coping mechanisms.

Optimistic people tend to be more altruistic, thinking of others rather than themselves. They also anticipate the future with relish. And, they see the humor (or the irony) in life.

They also tend to use their energy in constructive ways and brush aside—or at least put aside—stress.

Knowing—or at least viewing—adversity as temporary and realizing that it’s not personal also helps. Keeping problems from overwhelming the rest of your life keeps things in perspective.

Optomists also play to their strengths.

If you take nothing else away from this, take this:

Changing your weaknesses could take a lifetime and might only get you to middling-good.

Spending that amount of energy on your innate abilities will get you much, much further.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why are we drawn to some people -- and not others?

To create real relationships, people need to be compassionate. You can seem caring by doing a few simple things:

Smile and look the person in the eye. Warmth and connection start the process.

Touch the person. Even a quick pat on the arm will reassure them and let them know you care.

Ask the person how they’re doing – or at least how they’ve been since you last saw them. Show them you care. Don’t look at papers or into the distance while they're answering.

Nod your head, give encouraging non-verbal cues.

Don’t interrupt. Give them time to finish their thoughts.

Ask follow-up questions. Take the time to answer theirs. It creates an ongoing dialogue that is the essence of relationships.

If someone seems uncomfortable, acknowledge it. Be willing to admit that there is discomfort. It alleviates tension.

Check in with the person. Ask if they understand, have questions or need more information.

Compliment them. Everyone likes to be liked. The best way to show that you appreciate someone is to say something nice about them. In the process, you will make yourself likeable also.

Research has shown that if you spend a mere 15 seconds talking to anyone, it will seem longer to them. And, they will think you care about them. The interesting thing is that by the time you finish, you usually will. Simple acts of compassion go a long way toward humanizing all of us.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

Credibility: Different for Men and Women

Although we think that if we’re knowledgeable we'll come across as credible, recent research shows that that isn’t the case.

Credibility is different for men and women.

Despite enormous advances, women still have to prove their expertise while men are considered experts if they are busy professionals.

Men can talk about what they plan to do and everyone usually buys into it. Women still have to emphasize what they've done in the past. With concrete examples.

But, men aren't necessary trustworthy. Women are.

To be credible, men need to show their humanity. That means talking about their personal life.

If a man mentions his family, he seems human. Men who speak highly of their wife or kids are seen in a much better light than men who don’t have enough time to care about personal “stuff.”

Women, on the other hand, should never mention their husband or children. It puts them in the housewife category.

To show credibility, women have to show what they’ve done. They need to have someone else sing their praises and introduce them.

They need portfolios or resumes filled with numbers that show the ability to do the get the job done. They need glowing letters of recommendation and testimonials. In that way, they come across as knowledgeable experts in their field.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Looks matter.

Our response to beauty is hard-wired. Douglas Kenrick, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, studied babies as young as eight-months old.

Eye-tracking shows that babies will stare longer at an attractive female face, no matter what the race. We define being beautiful as having symmetrical, regular features with big eyes, thick lips and smooth skin.

It takes people three seconds to judge new acquaintances. Nalini Ambady, professor of psychology at Tufts University’s work shows that brief exposures become “thin slices on experience” that we rely on to instantly judge others.

There is a bonus for beauty and a penalty for plainness. Most people use looks to judge others (and themselves).

People with above-average looks earn a premium ranging from one to 13 percent. People with below-average looks get a penalty ranging from one to 15 percent.

Surprisingly enough, men’s looks have a larger effect on their earnings than women.

For Harvard MBAs, the difference in earnings over the first ten years of their careers was between 15 to 28 percent for men who were handsome.

No one escapes. Even for men who earn hourly wages, those who are judged homely earn about 9 percent less than those who are average. Above-average looking men receive a five percent premium.

For women, the penalty for homeliness was 5 percent while the premium for good looks was 4 percent.

Research by the Canadian Psychological Association found that men are as likely as women to have negative body images. Seventy-five percent of men don’t like how they look.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

How Do People Make An Impression?

People often make impressions in subtle ways. (They also make them in foolish, obvious ways, but we won’t go there.)

If you’re at a party or an event, what can you do to help people remember you?

· Say your name three times. It has a better chance of sinking in. “Hi, I’m Dell. Dell Richards. I run Dell Richards Publicity.”

· Always carry business cards. You never know who you might meet.

· Prepare a seven-second spiel that describes you, your interests or job. “I help people get into newspapers and magazines, radio and television without wasting money on advertising.”

· Ask questions. Target your conversation to the other person’s interests and needs, not your own. You will find out more that way and be seen as a lively conversationalist. In reality, you will be practicing the dying art of conversation.

· Think of yourself as a resource: How can you help people by hooking them up with others?

· Don’t talk more than 50 percent of the time.

· If you exchange phone numbers or cards, follow-up in 24 hours.

· If there are name tags, wear it on the right side. That way, you lead with it if you shake hands.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We remember ads & cartoons. Not public policy.

It’s not surprising that we remember advertising tag lines and cartoon characters more than public policy issues.

Advertising relies on catchy phrases and jingles.

Cartoons rely on color and fast-moving images.

Policy policy and history? Long, archaic language like “redress.”

That’s why a recent poll* found that:
We know more about “The Simpsons” than First Admendment freedoms.

Which are the freedom of:
Speech, Religion, Meetings and Political Rallies, Media and Being
Able to Sue or Appeal a Judgment and Get Money.

The medium is the message.

But, the medium has to grab our attention for us to remember the content.

Despite blogging, we are moving out of the age of print and into the age of pictures.

That’s why newspapers, magazines and the Internet rely on short sentences, short paragraphs and simple language.

We don’t have the time or patience for anything else.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

* Study for the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum. Telephone survey of 1,000 adults conducted 1/20/06 to 1/22/06 by Synovate, a research firm with margin of error 3 percent.

Monday, February 27, 2006

How Do People Actually Use Websites?

Research by Jakob Nielsen* shows how people actually use websites. People need to keep these points in mind when creating them:

· 80% of web users only scan pages.

· Only 10% scroll past the first page.

· We ignore fluff – promos, mission statements, etc.

· Large fonts, bold and color catch the person’s attention.

· Hyperlinks and meta tags get picked up by search engines, raising the ranking. To sink in, messages need to be consistent. People remember keywords.

· Users lock onto headlines, graphics, captions, summaries, bullets. They ignore written text.

· Even bullets have their limits: 9 to be exact.

When using a web site, note how you use it.

For help with website, blog and enews alert creation, copy and maintenance and updates, check out our website at and use our online form.

* Info on Jakob Nielsen’s research is at

Sunday, February 26, 2006

How do you choose a PR firm?

Because there are so many PR firms, choosing the right one can be difficult. Unfortunately, agencies often promise more than they can deliver.

In the world of PR, no one can promise anything. Especially media coverage. It’s NOT possible.

The only people who can promise space are advertising firms. But, even they cannot guarantee results.

Advertising is the least effective, most expensive marketing strategy out there. Most people only start there because they don’t know what else to do.

PR is effective because of the difficulty of placing articles. If an idea has to go through a reporter, editor or producer, it has some legitimacy.

Sophisticated people realize that PR is the fastest way to build credibility and reputation. That value translates into money eventually.

So, how do you choose? There are four major things to look for:
· Experience counts, but what type of experience is it? Someone who has never been a journalist can’t talk to a reporter the way another journalist can. They don’t know what to say or how to say it. Look for someone who has been a journalist.

· What type of experience do they have? If the firm mainly worked for government agencies or large corporations that get coverage easily, they won’t know how to place them for a mid-size, much less small, firm. Or start-up. Creativity is what counts.

· What industries have they worked in? If they have worked in your industry, they may know reporters, editors and producers. They also may be more familiar with the issues and jargon, which means less time getting up to speed.

· Speaking of which, beware of anyone who speaks in biz buzzwords or jargon. Reporters, editors and producers hate it. If the publicity firm can’t simplify information enough to make a child understand it, they can’t place articles. Journalism is targeted to eighth grader.

If you want to know what they a publicist can do, ask to see their portfolio. Looking at reprints or copies of actual articles will give you the best idea of what the PR person can do. And, whether they are right for you.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

Why do people use PR?

· People see 10,000 pieces of information daily, most of which is subconscious. While people automatically hit the remote when they see an advertisement on TV, they watch the programs, seeing products in the background and assuming the talking heads are experts in their field.

· Few people realize that most news and feature articles are the direct result of PR people getting stories on them. A study by the Columbia University Review of Journalism showed that even in the Wall Street Journal, 45 percent of the articles were placed by PR people.

· The people in the articles are not experts, but people smart enough to hire a PR agency to get them publicity. They are not experts, yet they are taken as reference points because they are part of the media.

· People believe the information they see and read. The media has credibility that advertising never achieves.

· Think of it this way: Television advertising is bought in .15- or .30-second spots while most television segments are 3 to 5 minutes long. That’s ten times as long, or more.

· Measured by the amount of money it would cost to buy an ad that long, an appearance on a newscast would be worth $10,000, if not more. If you could buy the space, an article in a newspaper or magazine could be worth $20,000 or more.

· But, you can’t buy that space. Think how much more valuable publicity becomes as a result.

· Add the credibility factor and you to see how valuable publicity can be.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

What Do PR People Do?

We are often asked what PR people actually do. Here are some of the things we do on a daily basis.

· Help clients understand what is newsworthy and what is not.
· Spend a lot of time with editors pitching ideas, sending memos and following-up with phone calls about the client, their services or products.
· Call editors to place news, business, lifestyle and feature articles in newspapers, magazines, trade journals and industry publications. Get television and radio producers to do stories on clients.
· Write articles about clients themselves, issues and innovations in their field.
· Ghostwrite columns and op-ed pieces for client by-lines.
· Do advance media publicity in association publications to maximize trade shows and conferences.
· Create, copywrite and maintain websites and website blogs, like this one.
· Copywrite and oversee email alerts, newsletters and marketing materials such as reprints of articles and brochures.
· Create fact sheets and press kits, when necessary.
· Copywrite and oversee production of print and broadcast advertising.
· Copywrite and oversee internal materials such as employee handbooks, how-tos and training videos.
· Track publication of articles, news stories, etc.
· Arrange introductions to the media for clients so they can be used as sources in future articles.
· Arrange publicity for client events such as seminars, speaking engagements and fund-raisers.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Our blog went online today.

Stop in soon for new posts. We'll have more information on PR and marketing soon.

For more information, check out our website at and use our online form.