Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Latest Online Explosion

B2C buyers have been flocking online forever. But the same has not been true of B2B buyers. In fact, conversations I have had with our B2B clients indicate there remain lingering doubts about whether their customers are online at all in any real numbers. So B2B companies should be made aware of the following statistics.

• More than 89% of B2B buyers go online for information before making purchase decisions, according to a recent study by Enquiro Research. In fact, online research is even more important than word-of-mouth and trade publications.
• According to the engineering search engine GlobalSpec, 91% of engineers reported using the Internet to find components and suppliers.
• And 98% of all B2B buyers conduct a web search sometime within the research process, says eMarketer.

This tells us that all B2B public relations clients need to be advised that there will be negative market impact if they do not integrate the online market into their strategic plans.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, B2C, B2B, Enquiro Research, GlobalSpec, online market, public relations agency, career, business, communications, public relations

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are You Making It in PR?

I call these “The Basic Four.” You’re unlikely to get to the top if you can’t master these career building tips:

1. Be a good manager. If you were to survey every head of a public relations agency — worldwide — I’d bet you’d get almost 100% agreement that people who are gifted managers and great at follow-through are few and far between. Add strong creative skills to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a career with limitless potential.

2. Acquire the right skill sets … especially, general media relations, working the social media, writing, research, organizing events, persuasion, presentation ability and creative idea development.

3. Cultivate strong strategic abilities. Strong strategists advance faster. To learn strategy, besides on the job, take a look at the case studies of industry awards competitions, like the Silver Anvils, available through PRSA; and take advantage of the resources provided by all the other professional organizations, like the National Investor Relations Institute and the Institute for Public Relations.

4. Build up your leadership skills. Leadership is not dictating to others. Leadership is all about role-modeling the highest standards of knowledge and service, excellence and integrity, and influencing others to follow you.

You have to have a vision and you have to be good at communicating it to others. Then you need to turn that vision into action. That requires the ability to collaborate with and motivate the other members of your team. (As a matter of fact, the corporate values espoused by our firm — initiation, innovation, communication, collaboration, motivation and education — have all been shaped to promote leadership.)

Underlying it all is a passion for what you do! Without that, all the above will only get you so far.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, leadership skills, corporate values, Institute for Public Relations, National Investor Relations Institute, PRSA, Silver Anvils, awards, media relations, public relations agency, career, business, communications, public relations

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What We Look for When Hiring Entry-Level Employees

Despite the tough job market, we are still interviewing entry level candidates, preparing for the time when this economic downturn is over.

We’re interested in job candidates who have a classic liberal arts education, who have demonstrated intellectual achievement in a wide variety of disciplines, such as English, science, math, history, political science and business. In my opinion, wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, a diversified skill set and the ability to learn quickly are prerequisites for a career in public relations. Nevertheless, we also consider those with strong communications backgrounds because they bring an understanding of our business that others don’t have.

Of course, specialists are always welcome at Makovsky + Company (after all, our tagline is the “Power of Specialized Thinking”). And, unlike many generalist agencies, we believe that specialization is the best way to build reputation, sales and fair valuation for our clients. But the fact is, most people just starting out in our business tend to be generalists, and we believe in hiring the best of them and training them for our specialties. There is no doubt you have an advantage at Makovsky if you are a finance or biology major.

Last month, I was one of the panelists for PRSA’s April 9 webinar: “Accelerate Your Career in Public Relations,” I shared some of the other qualities that we want in our candidates: a strong work ethic and a sense of humor, a demonstrated ability to lead and good presentation skills. We’re looking for people who are open to new thinking and new experiences … who are willing to try new things. Narrow-minded people need not apply.

Of course, the ability to handle stress well is absolutely essential, because in our business, every day is filled with highs and lows that are often unexpected and largely outside our control.

Finally, other than strong academic performance, those who hold key student leadership positions are attractive. College student leadership activities are often a laboratory for learning strategy and networking, strengthening interpersonal skills, and getting a taste of sales and management. These positions also build confidence. My own experience as a student leader added greatly to my development in business.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, job market, entry level,career, specialists , Power of Specialized Thinking, public relations, communications, business,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

PR’s Next Big Opportunity

PR’s next big opportunity channel for reaching consumers? The mobile device-personal computer.

According to a February 2008 survey by KPMG, the audit, tax and advisory firm, 87 percent of advertising and media executives say media companies will move more content for mobile consumption in the next two years. Sixty-five percent say that media companies currently adapt less than a quarter of their content for mobile consumption.

The rise of the mobile device/personal computer, 40 percent of the respondents say, is the second most disruptive force in media today, only to be exceeded by the pullback of ad dollars.

Note this: 61 percent of respondents say that fewer than 30 percent of ad agencies have a plan in place to leverage social media for their clients. This is a huge gap that we, as public relations professionals with our dialoguing skills are uniquely well qualified to bridge!

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, KPMG,mobile device, media companies, opportunity, advertising , communications,public relations

Monday, May 18, 2009

“Big Apple” Networking

It’s sometimes easy to forget that not all social networking takes place online.

I’m reminded of this because one of the best networking opportunities in our business is happening this Thursday. It’s PRSA-NY’s Big Apple Awards ceremony at the Rainbow Room on May 21, at 6:00 pm. It’s a unique opportunity to see examples of the great work done in our field over the past year, while making connections with the some of the best and the brightest people in our profession.

Whether you’re the CEO of a leading global public relations firm or a sole practitioner, an executive vice president or an account coordinator, networking in the “real world” can deliver a wealth of career benefits. It can help you to:
  • Raise your business and personal profile.
  • Develop friends and advisors whose expertise and support you can tap when you need it.
  • Benchmark your own performance against the best practices of others.
  • Build rapport with potential new partners, vendors, customers, employers and employees.
  • Generate new business leads. (When we analyzed the sources of Makovsky’s leads last year, we found that nearly 40% had originated from the contacts our people made while networking).
Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are great … but nothing can beat a face-to-face encounter with another live human being. In my book, networking is right up there with intellectual curiosity, honesty, a sense of humor and the ability to sell, manage and think strategically as a “must have,” if you want a career in public relations.

If you’re not already out there and networking, the Big Apple Awards celebration is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, Big Apple Awards, PRSA-NY, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook

Friday, May 15, 2009

The IPREX Treatment

What is the “IPREX Treatment”? It is what we are giving and getting this week from May 14-16!

Getting? Broadening our perspective. Deepening our thought processes. Gaining new viewpoints from around the world. Adding new depth to what we already know. Meeting new people, many of whom are industry stalwarts. And overall, enhancing our professionalism.

Giving? Makovsky + Company is hosting the international annual meeting of IPREX in New York City, where most of our members — from 25 countries and 37 U.S. cities — will gather to engage in a range of forums exploring our theme, “Multinational Issues in a Multimedia World.” IPREX is the third largest international corporation of independent public relations firms.

Various speakers and seminars will focus on the following issues: the green opportunity for public relations firms, the overall corporate reputation devaluation caused by the economic crisis and how to respond to it, the topics that international and domestic reporters are most concerned about addressing, and dissecting Google to discover new ways it can positively support our practices.

Among our guests will be heads of global communications from leading Fortune 500 companies — including General Electric, Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Prudential, Pfizer, MasterCard, Swiss Re, Viacom — an Executive Editor of BusinessWeek, the head of CorpComm at Google and leading Bloomberg reporters. We’ll also be touring Google and Bloomberg.

For 25 years the IPREX Treatment has massaged its members with an intellectual and diagnostic salve designed to bring new depth and expertise, thereby enabling us to apply new thinking and increase our clients’ satisfaction everywhere in the world that we collaborate.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, IPREX, New York City, international, Multinational, Multimedia,Google,Fortune 500 , General Electric, Eastman Kodak,Bausch & Lomb, Prudential,Pfizer, MasterCard, Swiss Re, BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, communications,public relations

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day — One Day Late

Somehow I have managed to write a blog at least weekly for three years and have never written one about my mother. This fact hit me yesterday on Mother's Day, and I felt very guilty, particularly because, unbeknownst to her, she played a critical role in my decision to enter the communications field. Even more importantly, she helped shape the person I am today.

My mother was a great communicator, although she would not have described herself that way. She just came by it naturally. She was sincere, articulate and had enormous candor. Yes, she would scream at me when I did something inappropriate, but she also recognized me for the good things I did and was not sparing in her praise. On the one hand, she was a cheerleader for climbing the mountain and getting to the top, and yet, she had no trouble having the difficult conversation with me when it was necessary, and only today do I understand the discipline it took.

She never wrote journalistically, but reading her letters, written daily when I was away at college, was like donning a robe and lying on a couch and reading a good book. How I looked forward to getting those letters! Many were strategic in nature, advising me why I should take a certain path and noting the tactics to employ to get there. Mom did have a way of repeating herself, and that isn't all bad in management communications. When I moved to New York, the letters continued to come, and some were five or six pages; it seemed it was nothing for her to write for an hour about the family goings-on and her various concerns. Today they would call my mother transparent.

One of the attractions of being in a public relations firm was the diversity of clients and the intellectual challenge in learning all about the clients and their various industries. It was mom who stressed the importance of learning about many things simultaneously and having many irons in the fire. As children, my brothers and I were given every kind of lesson in the book — from acting and ice-skating to athletics, singing and violin. We needed to become cub scouts and boy scouts, go out for the class play and still get top grades in school. It made me a natural for an arts and sciences education, designed to develop intellectual diversity... one of the traits we look for in our recruits. I don't think she realized it, but she was planting the seeds of management and leadership.

Lastly, mother seemed to handle bumpy rides well. She coped, mostly staying calm, although sometimes the anxiety showed. There were ups and downs with me, my brothers and my dad's business. Nevertheless, she was steady.... she was the glue that held it all together. She helped get us through the tough periods ... and in that, taught me a management fundamental: that you can get through almost any challenging period if you hang in there and actively work at solutions. It was not so much what she said but what she did that demonstrated the ideal of persistence. She understood — and demonstrated — that communication often transcends mere words.

Underlying everything was my mother's passion for her children, their well-being and her desire for us to engage in life responsibly and with self-respect. Although she passed away many years ago, she remains one of my most important role-models.

Technorati Tags: Mother's Day, business, communications, public relations

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Top 100 Brand Dropouts

Financial services companies and automakers should be making every effort to implement an intensified PR and branding program to preserve the value of their brands.

The Millward Brown’s BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands 2009 report noted that the 15 brands that dropped out of the top 100 were all in these two categories. Among the financial names were AXA, AIG, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia.

Yet most other brands in the top 100 sustained their value. Conclusion? An April 27 Ad Age article states an important truth: that with a few exceptions, ”consumers are blaming companies and leaders for current troubles, not brands.” This finding is underscored by the most recent Harris Reputation Quotient (RQ) study which stated that a record number of Americans — 88% —describe the reputation of corporate America as “not good” or “terrible.”

Thus, with the proper public relations and branding programs, financial services and auto products have a better chance of regaining their bond with consumers than the leadership of the companies that are behind these products and services. Major $ await those brands in these two categories that act rapidly.

According to the BrandZ study’s authors, the total value of the top 100 brands — about $2 trillion — “didn't suffer the decline one might expect in a recessionary environment.”(Brand value was determined by a set of calculations that includes a distillation of the earnings represented by that bond with consumers.)

For the record, the #1 brand was Google, followed by 6 other tech and telecommunications brands in the Top 10.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, Financial services, automakers, branding, The Millward Brown’s BrandZ , AXA,AIG,Merrill Lynch, Bernie Madoff, Harris Reputation Quotient ,Google, public relations

Monday, May 04, 2009

How to Get the Best Out of Social Media

As business deepens its activity in the social media, the need for guidance on how to expand and where to go and the best strategies to apply increase. Thus, consultants loom more important. But the question is who is the right consultant and what qualifications do they need to have to give business the best advice.

Here are some options: Digital shops, advertising agencies or public relations firms? Which can serve clients best? The answer should revolve around the dynamics of the social media environment, and which of the aforementioned options provides the best fit to meet the needs at hand.

The technical knowledge of the digital counselors is important. But is it the centerpiece? The promotional language of advertising may be appropriate for ads but not for Wikis, blogs, Facebook, message boards, etc.

Fundamentally, what makes the social media – the social media? Dialogue. Dialogue is the foundation of social media and the very foundation of public relations itself. Public relations is about building relationships with constituencies that are critical to the survival of any corporate or organizational entity. Through public relations companies reach out and converse. The challenge is bringing value to these multiple conversations that are held between and among constituencies that corporations wish to reach. That is what public relations is all about: the integration of a client’s value message into a dialogue with its targets.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, social media, Facebook, Wiki, transparency, blogs, message boards, dialogue,