Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations’

How to communicate effectively when “you know too much”

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

presidential debateWatching the presidential debates, I have found the diversity of communication styles from candidate to candidate to be a fascinating study in spokesperson strategies and how they represent a brand. What traits make a spokesperson successful and what may not work in front of the camera or a journalist’s pen?

When you set aside the issues, what’s left are the basic elements of communication, or the strategies a spokesperson employs to convey their point of view and influence their audience while representing the company brand (or party image, in the case of presidential race).

Although public relations has evolved dramatically during the past 10 years, the basic guidelines for being a good media spokesperson have remained the same (with some tweaks). Below are some of the basics that you may already know but I hope they serve as a helpful reminder to anyone who plays the role of spokesperson, whether it’s a quick answer to a few questions or a longer, in-depth interview. As a spokesperson, you represent the company brand at all times, so how do you stick to the key tenants without going off track?

  • Remember, you know too much. You are an expert about your subject matter. So much so, that you likely have a level of understanding that is many levels deeper than the journalist. If you try giving them too much information, you will probably bore them and they may pick up a tangential point you may have mentioned instead of the topic you imagined would be the focus of the article. So keep the conversation simple and focused. This leads me to the next point…
  • Stay on message. There are many strategies for doing this, but in short: Say what you want to say, and then say it again. In other words, identify your core message and supportive key points before your presentation. Then, keep your core message simple and repeat it often so it sticks. You may give a lot of examples and scenarios to help explain your point, but always return to your core message. Another good way to wrap up your interview is to use numbered steps to outline your key points. For example, “ … the three main things I want to leave you with today are 1) …. 2) … 3) …” It may seem obvious, but reporters often appreciate the clear, concise recap.
  • Engage them in the conversation. This seems self-explanatory but when you have a lot to explain, it’s easy to start lecturing. If you feel this is happening, ask questions to make sure you’re not losing or boring them with too much detail.
  • Act as if you’re talking to your most important customer. Although you may be talking to one person, the end result may be an article describing your comments to a majority of your customers. You want it to sound respectful and concise.
  • Silence is golden. Don’t babble on uncomfortably if you get flustered when they stop asking questions. Just stop talking. This gives pause for questions and gives the journalist time to take notes. Also, remember that the questions the reporter asks reveal where he/she is going with their article and may flag areas of concern that you will need to address.
  • Set expectations accurately. No one likes to be let down or lied to, and it’s a real bummer when products you purchased don’t work as described. Be honest and deliver on your promises. Otherwise, you’ll start to sound like a presidential candidate and no one will trust you – OR your brand.

How do you represent your brand during media interviews? If you need help, give us a call! We have media training experts ready to help.

New agency partnership in Germany

Monday, January 27th, 2014

One of our core beliefs here at McKenzie Worldwide is that smart, experienced PR people can do a great job for clients without the need for a lot of overhead. Rather than set up an expensive infrastructure around the world, our focus has been on working with “best of breed” agency partners.

To that end, we’re pleased to announce a new partnership with Donner & Doria Public Relations based in Heidelberg, Germany. Like many good relationships, this one will be a two-way street. We will be turning to Donner & Doria when our US-based clients need support in Germany, and Donner & Doria will be turning to us when their clients need US support.

Given Donner & Doria’s proximity to SAP AG (10 minutes down A-5), a particular emphasis will be working with potential clients in the SAP ecosystem, as well as many other high-tech clients who want senior PR representation, strategic insights, technical smarts and great execution at affordable (think low overhead) rates.

Here’s the full (English) press release

McKenzie Worldwide Welcomes Donner & Doria Public Relations to the MWW Global Communications Alliance Program

Collaboration provides both agencies with enhanced capabilities to service clients in Germany and beyond

Portland, Ore. and Heidelberg, Germany, January, 27 2014 – High-tech integrated communications and marketing agency McKenzie Worldwide and the German agency group Donner & Doria today announced they have joined forces to help clients from across the information technology landscape increase their presence in worldwide media and markets. This collaboration provides both agencies with enhanced capabilities to service clients in Germany and international clients seeking to expand their presence in the U.S. market.

McKenzie Worldwide and Donner & Doria Public Relations are independent and owner-managed public relations agencies with international experience and a strong track record of helping technology firms build brands and increase awareness of clients’ products and services on a global basis. Clients can benefit from the firms’ deep IT expertise, strategic insights, excellent media contacts as well as efficient project management. Both agencies offer strategic communications consulting, media relations, content marketing, online marketing and social media programs among other services.

“The German market has always been a key focus for us and over the years we have worked with many great clients in Germany so finding the right local partner was a high priority. Donner & Doria has a great team and we’re looking forward to working with them,” said Megan McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Worldwide. “The MWW Global Communications Alliance offers clients a community of independent agencies that share the same spirit of excellence and quality customer service for a seamless and consistent agency experience around the world.”

McKenzie along with McKenzie Worldwide Vice President Brian Edwards will be working closely with Donner & Doria managing director Peter Verclas and PR consultant Simone Schmickl to implement effective client programs. McKenzie, Edwards and Verclas have known each other for more than 15 years and have jointly advised several IT companies, including German IT giant SAP AG, on global PR activities.

“We are very much looking forward to once again working together as a close-knit team on international PR campaigns with Brian, Megan and their team,” said Peter Verclas, managing director of Donner & Doria Public Relations GmbH. “We have many years of senior-level expertise in our respective markets that we’re confident will bring our clients tremendous value.”

About McKenzie Worldwide

Founded in 2004, McKenzie Worldwide is a high-tech public relations and marketing agency providing a range of strategic integrated communication services including PR, social media, content development/marketing and interactive programs to help companies build trust in their brands. The agency focuses on providing services to the world’s leading and emerging innovative enterprise, wireless and consumer technology companies. At the core of our work is a desire to work with smart people and smart companies – whether emerging start-ups or global brands – with interesting technology, products and services.

About Donner & Doria

The agency group Donner & Doria is the competence network for brand communication. The group offers marketing and communication services including brand management, image and awareness development, content marketing, lead generation, customer loyalty and sales support, employer branding, above-the-line advertising, public relations, online marketing and social media as well as internal communication. Customers span multiple sectors including IT and SAP, public sector and pharma and healthcare. The agency group consists of Donner & Doria Werbeagentur GmbH and Donner & Doria Public Relations GmbH. Donner & Doria has 20 employees in Heidelberg and Mannheim.

Media Contact:

McKenzie Worldwide
Megan McKenzie
Phone: +1 503 625 3680

Donner & Doria Public Relations GmbH
Peter Verclas
Phone: +49 6221 58787-35


65 million iPads – A New Era in Digital Media Arrives

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Although the excitement level for iPad 2, which probably should be iPad 1.5, is nowhere near the level that it was for the original iPad, the availability of the iPad 2 in stores today generated a notable news cycle. 

What’s also notable is the complete dearth of anything remotely credible as a competitive tablet, as the AP’s coverage emphasized, noting:

Competitors such as Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. can’t seem to match the iPad’s starting price of $499. Tablets that are comparable to the iPad in features cost hundreds of dollars more, while cheaper tablets are inferior to the iPad in quality.

I’m beyond baffled by this given that the PC and mobile phone boys have had plenty of time to simply follow Apple’s example of what a tablet should look like.  Microsoft says it won’t ship a tablet until 2012 which, given MSFT’s track record of late, will be more like 2014.

In the meantime, the iPad is plenty good, with Gartner expecting 65 million tablets (mostly iPads obviously) to be sold worldwide this year.  They’ve even gone so far as to predict a decline of PC sales in the face of the table onslaught.


As tablets reach critical mass, how will they impact the way we in PR and communications do our jobs?

Unlike laptops that are too clunky and smartphones that are too small, iPads let people consume digital media in all forms – eMagazines, news, radio, social media, video, music – anytime and anyplace. Worries about battery life or connectivity are fading fast.  

And while the emphasis is on digital media, many argue that there will be room for more in-depth content such as books and thoughtful articles.  As the success of the Kindle demonstrates, people are comfortable reading thousands of words on their tablets.  What’s more , the tablet can help bring in-depth content to life with videos or slide shows and interactive demos.

For those of us fretting over the demise of daily newspaper and the perceived collapse of journalism, the rise of the tablet is a godsend.  Most likely it will lead to a population of consumers and customers that is better read and more informed than those of us addicted to newsprint.  (I admit, I still get a paper delivered to my door; can’t get over that just yet.)

Overtime, the rise of tablets will lead to a much more successful and healthy news media as business models and licensing issues get sorted out.  This in turn helps those of us in the PR, and will force us to become adept at the art of cranking out digital media content quickly and cost effectively. I can see the day when almost every press release includes a video element, not just the photos we provide today.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, a much improved way to consume digital media is here to stay. To Microsoft, Google, Motorola, et al, come on, get your act together!

Trust in Public Relations

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about how recent world and industry news have given us more than enough examples of how important establishing trust is to an organization. We all grew up in the world of “PR Spin,” but that doesn’t feel like a good term anymore. Our jobs as PR professionals are fundamentally changing, in relation to the counsel we need to be giving to our clients. I saw the following post on the PRSA site reflecting this thinking:

Transparency has become increasingly necessary in our society. As communicators, we are tasked with sharing information from our organizations with members of the public. How can a communicator assure the public the organization he or she represents is a transparent one? How should a communicator handle information that is negative?

These are all questions we need to be asking ourselves as PR professionals with consumers and businesses prioritizing trust and transparency in an organization over products or services. How do we help create that trust for the organizations we represent? How does that effect the counsel we give regarding messages and how to communicate those messages? All questions I will be thinking (and blogging) about in the months to come.

Open Text’s Journey to Social Media Awareness

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

A couple of years ago, we started talking to our client Open Text about doing some “radical” things in social media, like start up a company blog.  A number of other enterprise software companies were starting blogs and gaining some traction so it seemed like a good starting point.

As we pushed ahead, we ran into some obstacles – ones that were pretty common at the time. The company policy forbidding personal blogs was a biggie. There were many doubters who questioned if social media was even worth the effort and time.

Still we forged ahead and in time succeeded in launching ECM Briefs, a corporate blog (but more of a news stream) that lived within the Open Text news pages.  We also started a program of regular “news” podcasts.  While lacking in personal observations, these efforts steadily moved Open Text to a self-publishing model.  The podcasts in particular were a huge hit since they provided a way to hear customers, partners and executives in their own voice.

Fast forward to today.  Based on the early successes, Open Text has fully embraced social media as a way to build buzz and influence audiences

Open Text Conversations

Open Text Conversations

directly.  Employees from around the company on a global basis have set up their own blogs and are developing personal followings.  Their posts are aggregated on a site called Open Text Conversations.

Going to the next step, the company has established its own YouTube channel and teams from around the company have set up audience-specific Twitter feeds, in addition to a large number of personal Twitter accounts. The company also has a presence of Facebook and LinkedIn.  The annual user meeting last month prompted a flood of tweets and retweets using the Content World #otcw hashtag, and many employees and customers documented the event on their blogs.

During a recent meeting with the PR team, one of the folks on the call noticed that a large percentage of our time was devoted to social media topics. We all agreed that was a good thing. While traditional media is still very important to Open Text – we crank out a steady flow of press releases – the new channels have taken on a life of their own and clearly point the way to future.

There are two take aways from the Open Text journey to becoming social media aware: any social media program is better than none, and a little social media always leads to more.  Is your company on the fence about social media? If so, start with baby steps and you’ll be amazed where they lead.

Social media helps bring your stories to life

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

PR and social media programs thrive on content. Compelling, content-rich communications programs aligned with strategic objectives – and yes sales objectives – can be the glue that binds your company together during a time of crisis, such as the ongoing recession. Clear, open two-way channels of communication keep your customers and prospects on board while giving you vital feedback to assist in managing through the crisis.

The compelling content and stories are there. Every organization has great products and human interest angles in abundance. The trick is to track down this content and put it to use.  With social media, this content can be turned into a powerful ally in the quest to maintain revenue. It also puts you in control of your message and gives you the ability to put up information according to your timetables.

Take a customer success story. Traditionally, you might write up a dry piece of collateral, post it on your Web site and maybe push out a press release. With social media, it can be much more than that. Customer stories can be brought to life as videos on YouTube, podcasts that you post on an iTunes and used as the basis for insightful

Social media lets you take a multi-faceted approach to communications.

Social media lets you take a multi-faceted approach to communications.

blog postings. The content can also be used for email pushes to prospects or turned into testimonials that help sales teams close deals. What’s more the PR team can use the customer stories to drive media coverage, both in traditional print and online publications, and on blogs, further boosting visibility.

A successful, multi-faceted public relations and social media approach like this moves your business forward quickly. The results can be tracked and a measurable return on investment demonstrated.  When stakes are high and business survival is on the line, every fiber of the organization must be focused on moving forward. Your marketing and communications programs are no exception and you should carefully evaluate everything that doesn’t contribute to the bottom line in a definable way.

It is also well understood that social media and PR programs are powerful, cost-effective brand builders. A strategic communications program can do more than just generate leads. In the course of generating leads it’s also boosting awareness and differentiating your products and services from competitors. Done right, you will not only glide through the downturn, but you will be poised to surge ahead when the timing is right.

Hello world!

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Welcome to Brand Trust Visions, the new blog for McKenzie Worldwide. Please add us to your favorite RSS reader and join the conversation about how PR and social media can help you create a respected and trusted global brand.

Ping blog