Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to handle a crisis

When people ask us about crisis communications, we tell them to prepare for the worst by creating a plan. If you wait until you have a crisis on your hands, it’s too late.

Here what to do:

Have one spokesperson and one spokesperson only. Send all media to him or her, even if it means being on call 24/7.

Figure out what you’re going to say before you talk to the media. Think of the worst questions imaginable. Answer them as honestly as possible.

Never say “No Comment”. It implies guilt, sounds like you don’t care and are arrogant.

Say you’re doing everything possible to find out what’s happening and to fix the problem.

Tell the media you’ll let them know as soon as you can. Then do it.

Say you’re sorry. Show empathy for injury and suffering. Do not get defensive, no matter what anyone says.

Never lie. Journalists get people to spill their guts just by lending a sympathetic ear.

What say to the media and on social media networks in the first hour is crucial.

Having a plan is the basis for handling the pressure of a crisis if you ever face one.

For more information, call Dell Richards Publicity at 916-455-4790 or visit www.dellrichards.com.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Websites make updating news easy

The other day I grabbed a handful of hand-outs as I rushed out the door to a speaking engagement and didn’t realize I had the wrong one until it was too late.

I used it to talk about how public relations has—and has not—changed in the past few years.

The most revolutionary change is that company news sections now replace press kits.

A well done newsroom lets journalists scan what they need faster than a brochure, press release, backgrounder or business card.

Unlike printed material, news pages can be updated instantly—at much less expense—with as many pages and links as the company needs.

We tell clients to place articles prominently as they have more credibility than press releases.

We also suggest that clients get reprints of articles and quotes to link to the news page. Ditto broadcast appearances.

Reprints let the company add their logo and contact info to the story while still maintaining the integrity of journalism.

Press releases also can be used in the newsroom, but they don’t have the implied third-party endorsement of expertise that media recognition does.

For more information, call Dell Richards Publicity at 916-455-4790 or visit www.dellrichards.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to succeed in business

Many business books focus on passion, commitment and giving more than you get.

Certainly legendary visionaries like the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs epitomize that sense living your dream.

But what if you’re not passionate? What do you do then?

A former client, whose business brings in $12 million a year, lived by one creed: Show up, look like you mean business and do the job.

He said that being there every day and being serious about the work was the secret for him.

He also had another mantra that helped him cope: If it can go wrong, it will.

While he always tried to fix the system when it was at fault, he usually took problems in stride, rarely blamed anyone and was pleasant to work with as a result.

Yet he demanded enough of himself that others wanted to live up to his standards.

This approach may not be an eat-sleep-dream your business of many entrepreneurs, but it does work.

For more information, call Dell Richards Publicity at (916) 455-4790 or visit us at www.dellrichards.com.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why wire service releases don't work

Business people often use wire services for press releases.

If you want the information added to the Internet, it’ll do that.

If you want the story picked up by a mainstream media outlet, don’t count on it.

Wire service material often goes into a catch-all mailbox no one checks.

If you luck out and someone opens it, most journalists only scan the first sentence or two.

If the first words say the company is announcing something instead of saying what's going on, they’ll probably delete it.

Releases must have newsworthy information up front—what makes the new product unique or what makes the services utterly different.

Don’t fool yourself. Journalists get hundreds of pitches daily.

Send them what they need or don’t waste your time and money.

For more information, call Dell Richards Publicity at (916) 455-4790 or visit us at www.dellrichards.com.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Listen to your customers

There are many different responses to customer and staff complaints—some better than others.

Over the years, we’ve seen people who wanted to incorporate every idea that came their way to ones who wouldn’t listen to a word anyone said.

In the past, an unhappy client told some 10 people about their negative experience.

Thanks to the Internet, if someone hits a nerve today that 10 people could be 1,000, 10,000 or more.

For one city in California, two complaints is all it takes to get someone’s ear.

For one state, it only takes five letters on a particular subject.

For forward-thinking business people, one complaint—one person upset enough to make waves—should be enough for the company to question how to do it better.

When people are willing to listen to their customers, it not only creates better service—or a better product—but keeps up with a fast-moving market.

Because if your business doesn’t do it today, someone else’s will tomorrow.

For more information, call Dell Richards Publicity (916) 455-4790 or visit us at www.dellrichards.com.