One rule does not fit all!

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imagesHow often do we run into obstacles, as clients, customers, employees, even employers, that are the result of rules that nobody can even remember the purpose of? We tend to associate government with bureaucracy, but really, we find it everywhere. How many times have you heard that something can’t be done, or should only be done in a certain way because

a) Our policy is that…

b) The employee handbook says…

c) We have always done it like this…

d) It has never been done like this…

e) All of the above?

Liz Ryan from The Human Workplace recently wrote this wonderful piece ‘How short a skirt is too short for the office’ in response to a letter she’d received. Although the matter at hand is dress code, it is so relevant to many aspects of life and business.

What I love about her response is that she does not advise the writer to hide behind policies and regulations, but to acknowledge that the matter is subjective, and to a certain extent, unique to the individual. In Liz’ words:

‘If we are honest, a waif in your office could come to work wearing a certain youthfully adorable outfit and look perfectly appropriate, whereas if middle-aged zaftig me showed up in the same ensemble with the same fabrics, cuts and colors, you and your co-workers would ask “What is wrong with that woman? Has she no sense of decorum?”’

As Ms Ryan points out, we often come up with these one-size-fits-all rules to avoid having difficult discussions, making judgement calls, making arbitrary decisions, and even having to think for ourselves! Why do we do this? Why are we so scared of making a decision, a judgement call, thinking? I suspect in a large part it is due to our need to be liked, to be popular.

But then Ms Ryan reminds us that we are grown up, and in positions that carry certain responsibilities, and that we need to act like adults, and take decisions, based on the intricacies and the variables in front of us. Which might well mean that we don’t always make the same judgement call, because context matters.

So, how does she suggest we solve problems like these, if we can’t throw a rule book at it? By having those difficult, or, as she calls them, sticky conversations. Do it as a human being, with feelings, emotions, and sympathy, and in a way that makes the other person feel like a human being too. Do it with empathy and kindness. Your objective is to solve the situation, not to make anybody feel bad about themselves.

So whether we deal with colleagues, clients, stakeholders, let’s get away from that eighties style cubicle mentality, and acknowledge that what is good for the goose, is not always good for the gander. People are unique, and deserve to be treated as such. Even when it requires a bit more effort and, yes, stickiness.

 

Why you should sweat the small stuff

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“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”  Arthur Conan Doyle

“Sometimes the little opportunities that fly at us each day can have the biggest impact.”  Danny Wallace

“(I) can’t help but think about how it is the little things we look back on in life. I wonder how often people think that they should pay more attention to them.”  Erika Lance

Whether it is the chocolate on your pillow, being greeted by name, hearing please and thank you, or someone remembering your preference, small things make us feel valued and appreciated. It’s all about telling your customer that they matter, and that you care.

So get rid of your automated email responses, your ‘fax-on-demand’ service, your FAQs, and all your rote, generic, one-size-fits-all policies that shout that you don’t care, your customers don’t matter, and frankly, you are too busy counting your profits to pay attention to people! I know, you’ll probably have to employ a few more people to replace the machines you’ve come to rely on for ‘customer service’, but the long-term pay-off will be well worth it.

Building real, authentic relationships with your customers will not only ensure their loyalty, but you will be surprised at the wealth of feedback (not to mention free market research) you will gain.

#HomeGroundAdvantage

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I love sport. Well, most sport in any case. And as a born South African, that means in particular rugby, cricket, and soccer/football. As the crowds roar, and the vuvuzelas cry, my blood beats green.

Our nation has seen the miraculous way in which sport can heal wounds, and bridge divides. I stand in awe at the perseverance, the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears, that athletes put into the game. I am the kind of supporter who can live with my team losing, as long as I feel that they gave their all. I value a tough game above an easy victory.

I also love South African advertising. At times emotional and stirring, at times hilarious in a way that North Americans seldom understand, but Brits usually do, strangely enough.

So, as we are just under 120 days away from the Rugby World Cup, we have an ad to call us to action. A reminder that no matter where in the world we are, it matters not what colour we are, but what colour we wear.

What colour will you wear in September?

The Colonel is back – and he is a little bit creepy!

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This week, KFC announced the resurrection of Colonel Sanders, as the fried chicken chain seeks to re-establish its market share in the limited service chicken segment. In 1999, KFC held 39.7% of the US market share in the limited service chicken segment. That figure has shrunk to a current 20.2%, while Chick-fil-A’s U.S. market share has overtaken it, standing at 27.8%. (Technomic and Janney Capital Markets)

Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, will be played by Darrell Hammond, well known for his appearances on Saturday Night Live, in the new commercials.

SNL's Darrell Hammond is the new Colonel Sanders in a series of new KFC ads.

SNL’s Darrell Hammond is the new Colonel Sanders in a series of new KFC ads.

KFC plans to redesign the interior and the exterior of its restaurants, as well as its packaging. The fast food chain also promises some new menu items, such as Kentucky baked beans, Finger Lickin’ Good Sauce and lemonade from Dole.

The ads have a very retro feel to them, and presumably the idea is to play on nostalgia to lure people back to the franchise. But frankly, I just find them dated, sad, and yes, just a little bit creepy.

But hey, judge for yourself, maybe it is just me. Here is a preview of the ads, which will start featuring on Monday, 25 May, (Memorial Day in the US.)

It makes me wonder how they did their market research. I think neither the ads, nor the changes, address the real reasons why KFC’s market share has diminished, and therefor won’t solve the problem either.

Looking at the trends in health and the fast food industry, I think they would have been much better served paying more attention to their menu, by introducing healthier options, while retaining their signature taste.

They should also have addressed the issue of how and where their ingredients are sourced, and come out with a firm policy to only serve poultry that is antibiotic free. MacDonald’s have already done so, and Chick-fil-A has announced its plans to eliminate antibiotic-fed chicken from their menu.

While only time will tell if their new direction will boost their market share, I, for one, will not be rushing out to buy shares in the company.

How effective do you think this marketing campaign will be?

Successful Green at Work

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Integrated Marketing Communications

The IMC class engaged more than 700 visitors to Fairview Park Mall on Saturday, March 28, at an event designed to raise awareness about environmental practices at home, at work, and on the go.

Green is the New Black was the theme.

Student teams had to pitch ideas to Mall Marketing Manager Leah Landriault as part of their event and project management classes.  Green at Work is an initiative of Cadillac Fairview Inc. and encourages mall tenants to participate in environmentally sustainable activities.

The student learning covered many areas, including how to meet client expectations, how to get along with other members of the team, how to pull many different ideas together into one cohesive plan, how to engage the public at an event, how to manage contest winner phone calls, how to set up and take down multiple booths, how to talk to the public about environmental concerns (and…

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Put your money where your mouth is!

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One of the basic tenets of public relations is that anything you say must be able to stand up to challenge and scrutiny. In this instance, I must declare my bias. I am not a fan of Monsanto, and I am not a fan of herbicides and pesticides. Where possible, I buy organic produce. So I was laughing by myself when I came across this:

This is not very good PR for agricultural company Monsanto.

In an interview with French cable channel Canal+, GMO advocate Dr. Patrick Moore claimed that the chemical in the company’s Roundup herbicide is safe for humans to consume and that  “you could drink a quart of it and it won’t hurt you.”

Of course, the intrepid interviewing journalist then promptly challenged him to drink some, which Dr. Moore refused. (Apparently he is not completely stupid, or an idiot – or so he says!)  Dr. Moore was insisting that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, is not linked to increases in the incidence of cancer.

REAP says thanks for IMC presentation

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Integrated Marketing Communications

Joy Smith of REAP Operations (and incidentally a Conestoga PR grad herself) sent the following message to IMC program co-ordinator, Kim Denstedt:  “I just wanted to thank you, Sarah, Riani, and Nicole for coming out to speak at the Felt Lab last Friday. I’ve written a Tumblr blog post about it, and I  wanted to share it with you, in case you wanted to share it with your networks to show them what you’ve been doing recently:http://thereapfeltlab.tumblr.com/

So, check out Joy’s posting and pictures and then check out her blog for information about the kind of presentations that are featured at REAP’s  Lunch and Learns every Friday noon hour.  While many are of a technical nature, this particular IMC presentation focused on marketing communications.

It was a pleasure to present with Nicole (2013 IMC grad), Sarah (2014 IMC grad) and Riani (2015 IMC grad candidate).

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