Tag Archives: research

Christina’s Simple Tips to Live with No Regrets

In this post I use Christina DesMarais’s ideas on how to live your best life. I prefer the word whole so I say you have one life, just keep living it and working to make it whole. However, her ideas are well worth putting into practice.

Christina aka @salubriousdish says, “being mediocre and coasting through life is the easiest thing in the world. But it also means you’re going to miss some opportunities and maybe even have some regrets when you get to the end of your days.”
Here are her ideas on how you can be more intentional about how you spend your time and live your best life.

Stop checking Facebook
I say “yay” to that. Christina says Facebook’s “a curated, disingenuous portrayal of your friends’ lives. If you believe what you read, their marriages are only full of adoration and respect, their children are perpetually high-achieving and beautiful and their holidays always feature amazing vistas and smiles reflecting a good time had by all. Nobody posts photos of their spouse during an argument, their kid acting like a brat, or the annoyances involved with actually getting to and from a vacation destination. And researchers have found that scrolling through all this pretend perfection makes you feel less satisfied with your own imperfect life. In essence, it fosters envy, an emotion which doesn’t lead to being the best version of yourself.” Clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew maintains, “What social media has done is make everyone accessible for comparison. In the past, people might have just envied their neighbours, but now we can compare ourselves with everyone across the world.”

Go to nature
According to Christina, “Studies have found that spending a few days in nature increases creativity by 50 percent, improves one’s attention span while reducing hyperactivity and aggression. Being close to the ocean is associated with higher levels of happiness and people who reside in greener neighborhoods live longer. At the same time, hearing traffic noise adds strain to a person’s heart.”

Teach yourself to be calm
“It’s actually contagious”, says Christina. “Instead of being someone who stresses out, be a rock for the people in your periphery by modeling self-composure and confidence. In the event of a challenging situation, take time to breathe, gather your thoughts and carve a path which is responsive and not reactive. How you handle yourself will affect how the people around you handle themselves. Will getting agitated, angry or upset help the situation? Likely not.”
I can vouch for that. I’ve found that taking a deep breath and count to ten instead of voicing my immediate responses is a great communication tool.

Take the hard road
We keep being told, “Achieving great things doesn’t happen by doing things the easy way.” Christina agrees that successful people do the difficult work of getting out of bed early, exercising every day, keeping to-do lists, reading and being vigilant about continuous self-improvement. “Envision the opposite: sleeping in, sitting around, disorganization, ignorance and a lack of growth. None of that will result in anything worthwhile.”

In my own case, studying while raising three children and completing my masters degree while working full time meant putting in the long hours while others were sleeping, playing and watching TV. But the result has been a rewarding career and a sense of achievement.

Finally, along with others, Christina quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” And she adds that being useful doesn’t need to mean changing the world, but merely making it a tiny bit better than before you existed.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Dumping PR activity on all-and-sundry

I want to take up the issue raised by Wadim Schreiner in his article in The Media Magazine (December 2013: 4) entitled “Strategic comms is not an info dump”. He criticises public relations people who “dump” irrelevant information and “hot-air activity” on “as wide and undefined audience as possible” and then fail to do a valid and credible impact assessment (I assume that is because the research methodology will show a mere haze of media activity with no clear outcomes……).
If PR people do not know the following, then Schreiner is correct in saying, they “clearly have no idea about PR”; all communicators have learnt to execute any good PR plan and Communication strategy by:
1. Knowing the vision and future goals of the company
2. Identifying their key ‘publics’ , audiences or stakeholders, their needs and media preferences
3. Setting communication goals to align with the company goals
4. Developing messages and tactics that will ensure the goals are met
5. Creating tailor-made or specific messages and activities with the key audience in mind
6. Selecting the media that your audience uses and finds relevant, ensuring “a high hit rate”.
7. Timing distribution of messages to suit audience’s demographics, logistics and lifestyle. Go to them, they’ll tell what media to use.
8. Assessing feedback and impact, and evaluating audience perceptions thru’ good qualitative research, not only qualitative.
9. Keep communicating, adapting to your audience’s needs

The quality of a limited number of good connections far outweighs the quantity of a shot-gun approach to messages. It’s the connections that invite engagement, use and loyalty. Ultimately these are the things that matter, if you’re value- and goal-driven, rather than purely sales-driven.

Public relations and strategic communication (without an s) are about long-term relationship building, not only about sales and marketing. Reputation management should include reliable, valid and credible methods of measuring improvement in reputation. Another way of measuring reputation is: put your business on the market and add a value to your ‘reputation’ over and above the financial value and see whether others agree with your valuation or not!

Putting humanity back into Business

Putting humanity back into Business

People create businesses, people are businesses, people drive businesses and people break businesses. So why overlook people and the human aspect of business?

This is the information society and we need to change our tactics!
People know more than we think. People have more power than we think. So why should they choose you? It’s time to change how we communicate and connect with our people, change our marketing, advertising and PR practices and change the entire ‘ecosystem’ of our company.

Accessibility to technology and media saturation has informed people and empowered them to engage in the public sphere. If they feel strongly enough about an issue they can garner huge support to oppose or protest against it. The growth of this ‘civic’ power has seen the rise of advocacy and social pressure groups and, their actions could cause losses for a company. Consider, for example, the role of anti-alcohol-abuse groups to bring about a ban on alcohol advertising in SA.
Big business is beginning to acknowledge its interdependence with other groups; it can’t act irresponsibly or unethically and not be accountable – what it does affects others and if it impacts negatively on them, there could be negative consequences. Hence, as companies are part of society, they should act like social and economic entities, become corporate citizens and change how they do things.
To survive as part of a greater system: A business or organization should focus mindfully on the following:

1. Know why it exists. Get to its ‘source’ and develop a goal and values-driven mission which must be turned into a written statement by which it conducts itself. If a mission statement is only about sales and profit, customers will go to someone who CARES. It has been proven that people support companies not only for their prices, they choose them because they understand them and their needs.

2. Do some research and planning to develop strategies, objectives and tactics to guide your communication (SWOT and PEST analysis will help to set you on the right path). There is nothing haphazard about PR and integrated marketing communication. Plan and strategize to achieve your goals.

3. Develop an identity and brand that is unique to you and your goals, is recognisable & memorable. Based on cognitive psychology, visuals like logos and slogans can attract people and create associations that are positive, based on their own good experiences which are often emotional not rational.

4. Identify its key target groups or stakeholders, not only customers, but community, media and environmental groups. Understand them and their needs and connect with them based on this knowledge. Ask what information they need about your product and your company. And use all platforms, traditional and online, to share relevant and focussed information with them.

5. Connect proactively with your stakeholders or targets. Engage with key target groups thru’ managing the flow of relevant information sharing (not giving) to build relationships and reputation. Don’t engage in ad hoc marketing communication activities. It’s an ongoing dialogue to influence the perceptions people have of your company which impacts your image and company reputation.

6. Keep communicating, creating ‘stories’ for exposure, identification and image. Position your company within the stories. Add to the narrative regularly so as to attract attention and convince them of what makes you different from others and tell what you have been doing to make their perceptions of you better, or their lives better.
7. Manage your reputation – thru’ messages, behaviour, employees, CSR et cetera. Use the media (editorial not adverts) to create news and publicity about you and what you do. If people perceive you in a good light, your image improves and your reputation grows stronger.

8. Keep all the pieces of the Marketing Mix together. Plan for integrated campaigns that ensure that you speak with ONE voice and your products and services uphold your promises. Your actions and communication must be in unison. Contradictions confuse people. Don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes by giving information for your own ends, rather share it collaboratively. No longer are companies seen as the owners of information – there are no ‘fundis’ – everybody is a learner and a teacher.

Today people can access whatever information they want about a product or service and they can verify the information gathered. They ‘google’ a product or service, get thousands of companies doing similar things. But what makes them choose one and not the other?
Do things differently and see the difference!