Best PR “Pickup” of the Week

In the middle of a brutal pro hockey strike, a wonderful moment.

Vancouver Canucks star Ryan Kesler sends out a tweet that he and teammate Kevin Bieksa will be under the Cambie Bridge for a pickup game of street hockey. An hour later the small court under the bridge is packed with over 200 people ranging in age from toddlers to… well everyone.

(Image via The Province)

The media gets wind of it and I hear an interview on CBC radio. A 23 year old who has just come off the… pavement is stoked and talking about how great these guys are and how they just want to play hockey.

It can be difficult to garner public support when you’re deeply entrenched in a seemingly endless argument that is taking away something so many people love.

When Kesler and Bieksa executed on the social media/celebrity equivalent of calling up the other kids in the neighbourhood for a game of street hockey, we forgot for a moment they are a couple of millionaires arguing with a bunch of billionaires over money.

Instead, they became a couple of guys who just want to play the game. In the process, they gave a few hundred hockey starved fans in this city a day they’ll never forget. What hockey fan wouldn’t want to someday tell their kids they played alongside, and maybe beat up, an NHL star?

It doesn’t hurt that media outlets across the country picked up the story either.

In the battle for public support in the lockout, score another one for the players.


Leaving on a jet plane

One of the best things about working for a public relations agency is never knowing what the next day will bring.

One minute you’re working on a strategy, the next you’re pulled into a brainstorming session to develop brand ideas for a new client when the phone rings with a mini-crisis from another.

Never was this so apparent as this week when a client asked on Tuesday for me to fly out to Toronto on Wednesday for a meeting on Thursday, returning to Vancouver Thursday night, back into the office for a Friday morning conference call.

It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time and is what makes agency life appealing to me.

Not everyone is cut out for this type of work environment, and that’s ok. It fits with my Type-A personality and my short’ish attention span.

Also, the value of being in the room for a big client meeting outweighs the exhaustion that accompanies two cross-country flights in less than 48 hours.

And, it makes me feel like I’m kinda a big deal.


Verbal Tics And You: And Stuff Like That…

A few years ago my colleagues pointed out that I have a verbal tic. Apparently, I end sentences with “And stuff like that”.

It looks ridiculous when I write it and, like most people, I would not include this in my written communications. But there I was, including this tic in my conversations with clients, colleagues and in business meetings.

Once it was pointed out to me, I became very aware of what I was saying, and how these four words reflected on my professional life as a communicator.

Many people have verbal tics, including clients. As public relations professionals, it’s our job to deliver clear, concise messages and eliminate these ‘space fillers’—both for our clients and ourselves. To help with that I thought I’d share this quick video from Ragan PR Daily on curing the verbal tic.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?


Who Wouldn’t Spoof this Campaign?

If ever there was an oil campaign that read like a feminine product commercial this is it folks. I don’t know who created this campaign. I know that their intentions were good. But further to Michael’s post of last week about tone and authenticity this campaign fails on both counts.

See spoof here.

We have to own who we are and be realistic about who we can be - it is imperative to tone.


Listen Up…

I was reminded recently that listening is just as, or more, important than trying to get your point across.

I was trying to find a specific product that would help me in the construction of our deck. We are DYI’ing it and needed a fastener for a unique angle. I eventually found what I was looking for but not before having to negotiate an over-zealous store employee that refused to listen to what I was asking for. 

I said we were decking. He immediately cut me off and said “this way” and dragged me across the store to the decking section. The part I needed was not in the decking section.

I tried to explain further what I needed. Got cut off twice more, including getting dragged to two other locations that did not produce the product I required. Finally, I was able to get my entire description of what we were trying to do out and located the according piece.

The experience left we mentally exhausted and more than a little frustrated.
Are we all so busy trying to get our message out that sometimes we forget what we’re trying communicate?

I sometimes think I know what’s best for my client and try to jump in when they’re explaining something, when all they really need for me to do is listen and then act, or just listen.

In an agency setting, we are hyper-responsive, fulfilling our clients’ wishes immediately. By taking the time to listen, you will be more successful and more responsive than acting without fully understanding what your clients need.

This experience reminded me that we all sometimes just need to close our mouths and open our ears to communicate effectively.