Monday, June 25, 2007

5 Cs of Great Agency Leadership

What gives a public relations agency a leading edge? Here is what I see as the “5 Cs of Great Agency Leadership.”


  • People with exceptional talent who have passion for what they do and help drive the firm. Not prima donnas.
  • Client advocates who bring client delight.
  • How leadership gets along with each other and helps each other out. Leadership sets an example for all others and that has a great impact on employee satisfaction.
  • Colleagues are team players. Collaboration is their "middle name."
  • The needs of the employee and the company have to be balanced to make it all work.


  • To the client and the firm
  • To constant learning and constant improvement
  • To quality
  • To achievement


  • In client relationships: A clients-for-life philosophy
  • In working relationships: Consideration and support


  • Helping clients think differently about their business
  • Helping the agency succeed


  • Belief in our success is fundamental
  • Winning begets winning
  • Our reputation is more important than money

Technorati Tags: leadership, culture, commitment, continuity, creativity, confidence, business, communications, public relations

Monday, June 18, 2007

Your Identity – and What You Do With It

It is hard enough for companies to define themselves; they spend millions attempting it and once finally defined, they employ public relations and advertising to promote the new identity, while they strategically apply it to certain areas of activity. For example, at Makovsky our identity is “specialized thinkers.” We apply it through vertical specialization, e.g. health, financial services.

But what about the individuals in the company? How do they define themselves, and do they also strategically apply it?

Well, a friend of mine, Larry Ackerman, who wrote two corporate identity books, Identity is Destiny and The Identity Code, conducted a mini-survey of a cross-section of people. The exact question, “What do you believe is the single, most important application of identity in people’s lives?” Or – once you have determined your identity, where do you apply it?

Of the 100 identity-aware individuals asked, 50 responded and half of them generated valid responses which, while the numbers are small, may indicate how a larger population might respond.

The respondents generated four distinct identity application categories:

  • forging relationships (in particular with family)

  • understanding the essence of one’s self

  • providing a guiding force

  • influencing one’s career

Here are some summaries of what was found.

  • Forging relationships: About one-third of the respondents replied that the main application of identity is how it influences and is influenced by one’s relationship with others—i.e
    “I become manifested through, and see my self through, the eyes of others”
    “My sense of identity derives from my connection with (significant) others”
    “I identify myself as a mother, wife and friend”

  • Understanding the essence of one’s self: Some said that a person’s identity represents his/her “profound self” or as Socrates understood, know thyself.
    “(The) clarity of purpose in one’s life”
    “The single most important application of identity in people’s lives, is achieving insight and clarity about the deepest level of one’s own personal ‘inner truth’ and ‘reason for being’”
    “(The) most poignant application of my identity resides in feeling inner peace”

  • Providing a guiding force: About a quarter of the people said that the most important role of identity is as a guiding force in their lives. That is, a person knows who he is and that his identity shows him the way through life. As an old Dannon Yogurt commercial claimed, If you take care of the inside, the inside will take care of the outside.
    “If we are identity-driven and therefore true to our self, we have a clear roadmap”
    “I have a strong sense of identity that drives and guides me and the choices I have to make”

  • Influencing one’s career: Many saw their profession as the main expression of identity—through work and the impact it has on others.
    “So much of who you are is tied up with what you do”
    “Work is the ‘application’-or the part of my life-where my identity can contribute most, where I like myself the most”

Larry concludes: Although it isn’t explicit from the survey, it is compelling to note that people who are more aware of identity have developed well-formed ideas about its purpose and benefits – in short, identity has become a conscious part of how they live their lives.

Technorati Tags: Larry Ackerman, Identity is Destiny, The Identity Code, identity, corporate identity, relationships, career, business, communications, public relations

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Sunni Sheik’s PR Strategy

There was a poignant story in The New York Times a few weeks ago about a Sunni Sheik in Iraq whose home was occupied by American soldiers. Holding out hope that the day would arrive when it might be returned, he embarked on a unique and hopeful communications strategy: visit the Captain of the American soldiers daily and build a relationship. While obviously untrained in the science of communications, Sheik Duleimi’s approach is far reaching. He might have sulked and left the area. He might have become an irritant. Instead he decided on a bridge building approach. This is probably not common in this war-torn country. Thus, here are three “communications lessons” that can be derived from this situation:

Good Communicators Express Mutual Respect: Despite Sheik Duleimi's antipathy toward the American enterprise in Iraq, his visits with Captain Chris Calihan are cordial and have become something of a self-affirming ritual for both men. The Sheik reminds the American whose house this really is. The captain replies, “You're kind for letting us stay here,” allowing the Sheik to retain some dignity.

Good Communicators Are in It for the Long Haul: The regular contact helps the captain maintain at least the tacit cooperation of the community's leaders in the fight against the hard-core Sunni resistance. And despite his obvious — and very reasonable — frustration with the Americans who occupy his house, the Sheik looks ahead to the time when his life returns to normal. ''Take care of my house,'' he murmurs to the soldiers, when he leaves, and hopes his visits will be a factor in American preservation of his home and the day when it will be returned in relatively good condition.

Good Communicators Acknowledge the Complexity of Life: ''To take my home in this way is not right,'' the Sheik says. He sees the Americans as occupiers who came uninvited to Iraq and who, in their rush to remove Saddam Hussein, may have damaged the country beyond repair … but, the Sheik says, he also wants the Americans to stay, at least until some semblance of stability is restored.

Technorati Tags: The New York Times, Sunni Sheik, Iraq, Sheik Duleimi, Saddam Hussein, respect, communication lessons, cooperation, stability, business, communications, public relations

Monday, June 04, 2007

Four Ways to Get Attention on the Job

It doesn’t take a lot to distinguish yourself in a business or non-profit organization. I’m not saying that the following four action points are all you need to be successful — you still need to know your “stuff” and be a top performer — but they will distinguish you, for your boss and others, as someone with a future.

Here they are:

  • Return all of your calls and answer your voicemails and emails promptly.

  • Do what you say you are going to do, and exactly what you’ve been asked to do.

  • Meet your deadlines. If you can’t, advise the person in advance and set new ones.

  • Follow through on the projects you manage.

These sound like simple rules. They are. But countless leaders of organizations I speak with agree that few abide by them. So if you do, those whom you report to and work with will remember you.

Admittedly, most people intend to observe them, but things get in the way, and they don’t. How easy it would be to call and say, “I am really sorry, but it will be tight for me to meet the deadline I promised next Tuesday. Would it inconvenience you if I changed it to Thursday?” Or, “Unfortunately, I can’t do what I said I would because…” But far too many of us, for a variety of reasons (fear, fatigue, inertia, sensory overload), just let such matters slip.

These rules are not only good business, but they communicate basic consideration, and particularly, that you care about the other person.

At Makovsky our credo says, “We are all each other’s client.” The rules are part of our philosophy — and our most mundane interactions — with clients, employees, outside suppliers and all the others with whom we work.

I recommend them highly to you, too … indeed, to everyone, everywhere.

Technorati Tags: get attention on the job, business success, communications, public relations, business,