Posts about Communications

7 Considerations To Choose the Right Corporate Spokesperson

The choice of corporate spokesperson should never be taken lightly.  Never.  Having the wrong person representing you can damage your brand in the best case scenario.  In the worse-case scenario, it could destroy your brand.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

The person or persons chosen need to be creditable, knowledgeable, well-spoken, but above all empathetic and likeable. There have been a few tragic situations over the last few years when brands seem to have forgotten this fundamental rule.

Over the course of many years in Public Relations and Crisis Communications I have been both a corporate spokesperson and coached others.  It is not an easy task. When dealing with death, there are just no words that can make anyone feel better. That is why it is so critical that you have someone who can give information and facts and most importantly have real and genuine empathy. You can’t fake empathy. You can’t fake the terrible feeling that you have knowing that a human-being has died. At this point the spokesperson must do his or her best to share information that will help make some sense of the tragedy without inflaming victims and loves-ones who are experiencing complete and utter loss, disbelief and anger.

A few months ago I listened as one corporate spokesperson spoke on a very, very tragic situation here in Canada. I did not envy him or anyone who had attempted to coach him. This level of tragedy was unknown in our country and facing those left behind was not going to be easy. Suffice it to say, the conversation did not go well. The words chosen and even the tone used, were wrong. I listened in disbelief. Only days later I listened to a follow-up interview. My only words to describe what I heard was:  why isn’t someone saving him from himself? Again the words chosen would only inflame the victims’ families.  

Brands can mitigate this by having the right person in place.  I offer the following advice to brands to avoid having the wrong spokesperson:

1.  Know the abilities of your employees, including your executives.  Choose a spokesperson based on knowledge and the ability to be empathetic and likeable, not based on position.  While it is true that PR people will “typically” recommend that the most senior person speak out to “take responsibility” in very serious circumstances, avoid this if your most senior person does not come across as caring, patient, and likeable.  

2.  Have a regular cadence of training for your spokespersons.  Don’t wait for a tragedy.  Have mock interviews with cameras, people playing probing and tough reporters. Be sure to watch and critique the interviews with the spokespersons.  

3.  Get 3rd party impressions of the spokespersons.  Play on-camera interviews with the audio turned off.  Ask what people felt about the spokesperson.  Did they feel that he or she was telling the truth or hiding something?  Did the person look angry, sincere, or arrogant?  You need to know this before an issue emerges.  

4.  If necessary, retrain after the the feedback.  If there is no improvement, replace the spokesperson.

5.  If the unthinkable happens and the spokesperson is called into duty, respond quickly.  The longer you wait, the more inflamed people will be.   Review and assess the person’s experience.  Be honest and really critique the situation.  This is the time that you need everyone doing the right thing for the victims and their families.  

6.  Change spokespersons if necessary. Do it and do it swiftly.  

7.  This one is most important:  Be human.  You are dealing with a tragedy.  Remember that.  You are not the victim. 

Tragedies are never easy.  The role of the spokesperson is do the best job to provide the facts and not inflame people.   

(Note:  a version of this same blog appeared previously in my old blog.)



You Are Rude, Don’t Blame Your Job

In this always-on fast-paced world we are all super connected to our technology.  We want to be on top of the latest email, tweet or Facbook post.  We want to appear cool and suave by responding quickly with some witty retort.  We want to feel important. But have you ever wondered how you really appear to others?  Have you ever thought that you might come off as selfish and self-important?  You should!  Are you innately rude?  You just might be.

Before going any further I have a confession to make: I “was” one of those people who had her phone physically connected to her body.  I even slept with the darn thing.  Every buzz or vibration was checked quicker than a cowboy could pull his six-shooter from his holster.  I prided myself in how quickly I got back to people regardless of the day of the week or the time of day.  When meeting with people I sometimes was only half there.  I was focused on that darn phone. I didn’t stop “being on” even when dinning with family or being invited to dinner parties.  Christmas get togethers also didn’t get my full attention.  I was “always” on.


Image compliments of

Then one day it struck me that I was being really rude.  I mean really rude.  I wasn’t raised that way and I like to think that normally my manners are pretty good.  It is actually important to me.  So, how do I justify this behaviour?  Well, I take full responsibility and admit to liking the feeling of “feeling important.”  Really though, I wasn’t important.  Instead, I taught people that it was o.k. to infringe on my personal time and that I was at their beck and call 24/7.  I taught people that it was acceptable to take advantage of me.  This wasn’t fair to my family, my friends or even to me.

I wish my epiphany had resulted in my own self-awareness, but I can’t claim that.  Two things happened in one day that hit me like a hammer.  Two separate meetings taught me important lessons.

The first meeting was with a Vice-President that I reported to at the time.  When meeting with him you couldn’t help but feel like the center of attention.  After all, he stopped what he was doing.  He physically got up from his desk and sat at the meeting table with you in his office.  I am sure that he did this intentionally.  First and foremost he was moving away from any distractions on his desk.  Secondly he was moving away from the telephone on his desk.  His attention was 100% focused on you, the person he was meeting with, not anything else.  Even when his mobile rang, he ignored it.  The first time it happened I said it was ok for him to answer.  His response:  “No, it is not.  I am meeting with you.  You scheduled this time to meet with me and I agreed.  This is your time.  If there is a crisis or an emergency, someone will come to get me.”  I always left his meetings feeling respected and full of purpose.  Sure, we didn’t always agree on everything, but nonetheless I felt respected.

The second meeting was with another member of the executive team.  In this case we were meeting about an important strategic issue that needed a timely solution.  During the meeting the executive member answered no less than four calls, made three unrelated calls, accepted non emergency interruptions from colleagues and checked Facebook – which he said he “had to do.” Rather than feel respected I was frustrated when I left the meeting.  We had accomplished nothing.  He asked me to come back a couple of hours later.  I had to reschedule my afternoon to accommodate.  When I returned the next time, it was pretty much the same scenario.  Another hour passed and we accomplished nothing again.  I was asked to return later yet again.  It was the same thing.  In the end it took six hours of meetings to accomplish what could have been accomplished in 45 minutes.  It was not only a colossal waste of time, but it was indicative of how that individual thought of people.  It became very clear, very quickly that this was his M.O.  He did this to everyone.  

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.20.56 PM

Image compliments of

So this was my epiphany.  I experienced what it is like to be treated respectfully.  I experienced what is like to be treated without respect.  One person valued both me and my time.  One person did not.

The real question however is whether or not you are respecting your colleagues, family and friends?  What about yourself?

7 Ways to Creep Out Your Customers with Direct Marketing Campaigns

As a professional marketer, I thought that I had seen it all when it comes to the good, the bad and the ugly of direct mail campaigns.  I was wrong.  Last week my husband received a letter from a vendor, who shall remain nameless, that left both of us scratching our heads.  We thought it was a hoax to make this vendor look bad.  However, after speaking with a representative on the phone, sadly, we learned that it was a real marketing campaign.  In my opinion, it was an epic failure.  It was such a bad piece of marketing I just had to write this blog post outlining the 7 ways they failed using this Direct Mail Campaign.

Now, before I get to my list I want to qualify why I am writing this post.  This letter was so out of character.  It just does not meet the established brand that this company has built.  In trying to figure out what was going on, we thought for certain that it was someone who was trying to embarrass the company.  The other thought we had – honestly – was that someone had too much to drink, had what he or she thought was a brilliant idea, then wrote a letter to execute on said brilliant idea.  I don’t want to embarrass this company.  I believe that they are a good company.  I believe that they just don’t understand marketing and what works and what freaks people out.  We are a customer and aside from this bizarre twist, have been very impressed with them.  That being said, if this was an authentic campaign, there are a few lessons learned.  So, let’s get to the list:

1.  Always Use Letterhead 

When sending out a promotion to your customers, always use company stationary.  Using your name and your spouse’s name for the return address versus the company information is not a best practice and, it is confusing.

The same goes for the actual letter.  To help people understand where in fact the letter has originated, using letterhead makes it clear from the get-go.  I shouldn’t have to read a three-page letter to get to the end to figure out who sent it to me.

2.  Properly Address Letters

Since I am a customer having my name, or in this case my husband’s full name on the letter is a good idea.  The same goes for having our full civic address.  Addressing a letter with only a person’s first name and a number missing off of the civic address is kinda weird if done intentionally.  The Post Office put a question mark on the letter.  Even they were confused and took a guess.

As customers, don’t you know our name and address?  After all, it was on the bills that you sent us and the service technicians made it to our house o.k.

3.  State the offer up front and be clear about what you are offering 

This isn’t a nice to have in business communications. It is a must.  Both my husband and I read the letter numerous times and we still didn’t know what was what.  The tone and language was so odd that it sounded like the sender of the letter didn’t realize that we were already customers.  Instead, it sounded like if became a customer now, we would get a envelope of cash!  Seriously…the letter said this.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Even after calling and speaking to an employee, we were confused.  After telling the representative what work they executed for us, I asked point blank, “what is the offer.  I don’t understand.”  The response:  if we needed anymore work that we would get what was offered in the letter.  It made no sense.

4. Have Your Letter Proofread

We all make mistakes.  I have read textbooks, marketing materials, blogs and letters with a typo.  It happens. It’s embarrassing. We hate it when it happens,right!  However, when the letter is filled with grammatical errors and it rambles on without purpose or real coherence, it kinda leads the reader to the conclusion that someone really was drinking when they wrote the letter.  Not the right impression to be making.

5.  Use the Right Tone 

Using threatening, or what can be perceived as threatening language, when trying to sell is not exactly a Best Practice.  Saying things like “I must give you  this WARNING…” and “This Time You have NO Excuse!” would not be a recommended approach. Kinda left me feeling like I should run for the hills.

6.  Use Capital Letters Judiciously

Using capital letters according to the grammar rules is cool.  Using them repeatedly for entire sentences or words means that you are yelling at me.  Again, not exactly the experience I want from someone trying to sell me something.  I personally shy away from people yelling at me.

7.  Never, ever, ever start a letter like this: 

“It’s 1:43 am and I can’t sleep…Alright, let me give you something no one else will.”    For the love of all that is good and pure in this world, please, please don’t start any letter…ever like this.    Talk about starting out on the wrong foot.  Think about it for a second.  No letterhead, the envelope wasn’t properly addressed and the return address was from people I don’t know.  Holy $#!+.

So, now that I have gotten this off my chest and on paper I feel a little better.  I hope that others will take this advice and use it.  I hope that I never ever see another letter like this.  How about you?  Have you ever received something like this in the mail from someone trying to woo you and get your business?  Do tell!

5 Brilliant Tips from Content Marketing Experts

Content marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to market a product, service or brand.  When done well, the results can be astonishing.  While Marketing Practitioners around the globe have embraced content marketing, there are still many who fear it.  To help build your case, here are 5 brilliant tips from Content Marketing Experts.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

1.  “…the most critical part of a successful content marketing program is building your audience….Without the audience, we cannot drive revenue of any kind.” @JoePulizzi

2.  “By distributing your content by platform, chances are you’re overlooking opportunities that can significantly enhance the breath and quality of your potential audience. Instead, focus on getting your message to the influencers and people who can amplify your message by sharing it with their networks.”  @HeidiCohen

Remember to help you build your audience, your information should not be overly promotional.  Your are building a relationship.  “Use the 80/20 rule. Share 8 pieces of content for every 2 promo-type pieces.” (Click to Tweet!  Thanks!)

3.  “The role of the marketing department is evolving. To deliver tangible value to your organization the marketing department needs to shift from being creators of marketing campaigns to creators of stories. But, the best story telling usually comes from employees and customers.” @BernieBorges

4.  “PR is about reaching your audience. There are many more ways to do that than just via the media: Great website content, YouTube videos, blog posts, ebooks, charts, graphs, photos, a Twitter feed, a presence in Foursquare, Instagram, and so much more.” David Meerman Scott (@dmscott)

5.  “Professional services firms often worry that providing content will enable customers to DIY and prevent them from hiring the company. I have been a consultant for most of the past 25 years, and I can tell you first-hand that if a prospective customer is genuinely weighing the option of doing it themselves or hiring you, that is NOT a customer you want.” @jaybaer

These are just five great quotes and sources.  What would you add to this list?

5 Reasons “Share If You Agree” Posts Drive Me Crazy

You know these Facebook posts.  The ones that profess love for your family, or that your son or daughter is the most wonderful in the land, or you will be friends for eternity and if you agree you should share (or Like)!  Just this morning I have 15 in my Facebook feed.  Seriously 15!  And, on top of that they were one right after the other.

Share if you agree

So why do they drive me crazy?  Here’s 5 reasons why:

5.  Can you say SCAM?

First and foremost I have to say that sharing a post, or liking a post, is not going to make you rich, have your luck change over night, or make someone fall in love with you.  Of course I am referring to the posts that claim if you share (or Like) it, something miraculous will happen within a set period of time.

4.  Exploitation

People who set these up such posts are often praying on someone’s insecurities or fears.  Think about the posts that show sick children or accidents.  Think about the ones that say “share if you hate [insert disease], ignore if you don’t.  Really?  By ignoring said post I like a disease?

3.  Pollution

Yes, I am calling if Facebook pollution.  It is polluting my Facebook newsfeed and taking away from the things that I want to see.  Real updates from people that I care about.

2.  Social Proof or Herd Instinct

A formal and proven psychological phenomenon, as discussed in depth by Dr. Robert Cialdini, demonstrates that people are influenced by their friends and also the number of people (the herd)  who are involved in an act.  So, if you see that 100,000+ people, some of which are your friends, have shared a Facebook post you feel that you must do it as well.  You want to be a part of the herd.

1.  You Are Making Someone Else Money and You Don’t Realize It!

This is the number one reason for me.  People are playing on all the reasons stated above to make money off of people who don’t realize it.

When someone creates these posts they have a very deliberate motive:  to make money. I am not talking about the companies who create Facebook Contests in order to get you to share or like their page in exchange for the opportunity to win something.  This is legitimate and the business is being up front with you.

Stupid Share

I am talking about the people who want to do this without being up front.  What they are doing is working with Facebook’s algorithm .  By getting more likes, shares and comments it is improving someone’s ranking in the algorithm (some used to call this the EdgeRank) and therefore this means that the better the ranking the more it will show up in other people’s newsfeed.  So, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?  Everything.  Once the original page hits a certain threshold, the owner can sell the page to another party.  Because it is so popular, it has a better price tag.  The new owner can then update some information and have a ready made community to spam, I mean share information with.  Yup, that is what it is all about.  Dollars.

So, if you agree with this post “Like” and “Share”.  If you don’t, just ignore.

10 Business Tips From Canada’s Etiquette Guy – Jay Remer

For those of you rolling your eyes right now, I challenge you! I challenge to you think differently.  Etiquette is not about stuffy pompousness to make people uncomfortable.  It is actually just the opposite.  In the words of Jay Remer, Canada’s Etiquette Guy, “Putting others first is what etiquette is all about.”  Etiquette helps us to help others; and I admit it, I like etiquette and think it is important.  Etiquette has guided me through many business and personal functions so that I didn’t make a fool of the person I was accompanying or the people that were kind of enough to welcome me to their function – whether held in a grand ballroom, a conference setting or their home. Etiquette is not just about what fork to use when.  No, it is much bigger than that.  Etiquette is about respecting others’ time and effort.  That is why I was so pleased that Jay agreed to be interviewed for my blog!  Thank you Jay!

Jay Remer

Jay Remer

Jay is absolutely right in his assertion that etiquette is about putting others first.  Etiquette gives you the confidence to know that your actions are not putting others off and/or inconveniencing others.  So, with Thanksgiving upon us (in Canada), let’s get to the questions for Jay.  I know that many others wonder about these things too but are afraid to ask!

Heather-Anne MacLean (HAM):  What time should guests arrive for a dinner party with dinner set for 7:00 p.m.?

Jay Remer (Jay):  If people are asked for dinner at 7, they should also be given an arrival time. Usually 45 minutes to an hour is allowed for drinks, etc. This way the invitation would be for 6:00. Arriving more than 20 minutes late is rude and disrespectful. People must realize that putting on a dinner party is a lot of work. Guests need to show gratitude. Showing up at an appropriate time is important.

HAM:  What is the etiquette around bringing a hostess (or host) gift?  Should you always bring a gift?

Jay:  Hostess gifts are always appreciated, but bringing one to a host you see frequently can be somewhat relaxed. That said, someone else is cooking your food – thank them with a small box of chocolates or a bottle of wine.

HAM:  If you bring wine or food to the host/hostess, should you expect the host/hostess to use said gift that night?

Jay:  A frequently asked question. If one brings a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, the hostess can do as she pleases. It’s a gift! If you wish to contribute wine to the meal, call ahead and ask. Don’t assume the host is not prepared, but do offer to help out.

HAM:  What is the etiquette for presenting the gift?  Should you make a big deal, or do it discreetly?

Jay:  A hostess gift can be sent ahead – such as an arrangement of flowers. Otherwise, the gift is given upon arrival, with no fanfare!

HAM:  What is the appropriate reaction of a host/hostess to a guest that arrives just in time for dinner and vacates immediately after the dinner?

Jay:  A good host never embarrasses a guest – even if it’s a member of the family. There are two suggestions. One – don’t ask them back. They are ungrateful and clearly do not understand the purpose of a dinner party. Two – pull them aside at some point privately and explain that this behaviour is not acceptable. After all, it does annoy a busy hostess who has gone to quite a lot of trouble. If it’s a family member, one needs to wonder where this behaviour was learned in the first place. We do learn the way the monkeys do – mimicking our parents. I am not suggesting that all bad behaviour is taught, but it is important for guidelines to be instilled from birth. So many parents forget to say “No”

HAM:  How should a host/hostess arrange the seating?  Should it be according to traditional plans that dictate that a woman be to the right of the host, etc.?  Or, should it be designed around personalities and efforts to create an environment of conversation?

Jay: In brief, husbands and wives should not be seated next to one another. If possible each woman should have a man on either side of her.

Courting couples should be seated side by side. Children should sit next to a parent. The guest of honour (if there is one) sits to the right of the host or hostess.

HAM:  What is the etiquette when it comes to not liking something that is served?

Jay:  If the meal is a buffet, do not serve yourself something you aren’t going to eat.

If the plates are presented with food on them, if there is a food you do not like, simply move it around your plate a bit. Do not verbalize any displeasure at the dinner table. Do not hide food in the napkin. Feeding it to the dog is acceptable in my book as long as no one sees you. Do not offer food from your plate to others.

(HAM Note: Provided it is food that the dog should and can eat.  For example, never feed a dog chicken or turkey bones.)

HAM: Should people turn off and put away their mobile devices while at (or hosting) a dinner party?

Jay:  Yes, unless he or she is a doctor on call or one may be expecting an emergency call. Then the phone can be put on vibrate, but never placed on the dinner table.

HAM: Is there an appropriate response/reaction for a host/hostess or guests should another person be consumed with one’s mobile device?  (assuming of course that there is no emergency)

Jay:  In an effort to avoid any embarrassing situations, if this is a likely scenario, simply request before the meal commences that cell phones are not permitted at the table. It’s your house (or dinner party) and your rules are what one follows.

HAM:  In today’s modern environment, is it still appropriate to send a thank you note the day after a dinner party?  If so, would email be appropriate?

Jay:  A thank you note is always appropriate. An email is often used and is acceptable, but not preferable. There is no substitute for a hand written note.

And last question (the bonus round)

HAM:  Do you find people turning more towards or away from etiquette in our fast-paced world of selfies and look-at-me environment that social media has created?

Jay:  People seem to have lapsed into an etiquette coma. Putting others first is what etiquette is all about. This is not an arduous, painful, or unpleasant action. Teach your children good manners from birth – no exceptions! We cannot blame our bad manners on social media. We must bear the responsibility of how successfully we do or do not connect with other people. 

Jay suit fountain (2)

Etiquette is not about dinner parties.  As I mentioned in the opening of this post, I have relied upon what I was taught growing up to guide me through many, many business functions.  Being able to show respect for others in business and social settings is very important.  It could be the difference between getting a job or not getting a job.  Etiquette continues to matter and can give you the leg up.  So, get your etiquette on and show your human side!

For more information, check out Jay’s website:  The Etiquette Guy.

6 Communications Lessons from the Big Bang Theory

More and more I enjoy the Big Bang Theory, and no it is not because the theme song is done by a Canadian band – although that is not a bad thing either, but I digress.

Image courtesy of Big Bang Theory

Image courtesy of Big Bang Theory

The appeal for me really, is that through comedy, there are lessons that we can all take-away and use in real life.  Here’s a quick look at the lovable and absolutely amusing characters of the show:

1.  Dr. Raj Koothrappali

This sweet shy boy/man could be a blog posting all on its own.  Come to think of it, each character could have a separate posting; however, I will keep it to one for now.

With his extreme shyness,  his “selective mutism” condition, and his desire to become a part of American culture, Raj sometimes misses the nuances of situations.  Combine this with his naivety and he sometimes speaks when he shouldn’t.

Lesson Learned:  Of course this provides all sorts of comic relief, but the real lesson learned is really:  do your homework and know what the issues are both on the surface and, more importantly, below the surface.  By doing this, you can better prepare all your stakeholders and communicate in a more meaningful manner.

2.  Howard Wolowitz – Wow, there are really so many things to say.  Where would one start?

Well, despite his over active need for “love” and his incredible collection of terrible pick-up lines prior to getting married of course, there is a very kind and dependable side to Howard.  I think of the show when Penny wanted to give Leonard a surprise birthday party because he had never had one.  It was amazing just how far Howard would go to help Penny make this happen for Leonard.  Despite being deathly allergic to peanuts, he ate them in order to keep Leonard at the hospital long enough to get the party together.

The lesson we can learn from Howard:  be sure that the people that you choose to be on your team are as dedicated (minus taking a such a risk with one’s life) to the cause and doing things right, as you are.  Your team and your communications are only as good as your weakest link.  Being in it only for yourself doesn’t cut it.

3.  Penny – Over and above being the eye candy for the male viewers, Penny has a completely different set of smarts than “the boys”.  Bringing a softer side of things and a completely different outlook and set of experiences, Penny has actually helped them evolve.

The lesson learned from Penny’s character and interaction is:  when forming your team it is absolutely critical to ensure that you have someone who thinks differently than the rest.  This person will not only challenge you to see things differently, but help your messages be clearer and more on target, thus you will increase your probability of successfully communicating.

4.  Dr. Leonard Hofstadter – Good ole Leonard.  Growing up the child of a world famous child psychiatrist and neuroscientist who severely lacked the ability to express any love at all, Leonard is probably the closest to not being a geek of all “the boys”.

The lesson that we learn from Leonard is pretty straight forward: be consistent, be steady and never give up.  An important lesson in communicating, Leonard demonstrated this with his consistent pursuit of Penny.

5.  Dr.  Sheldon Cooper – Perhaps one of the most kookiest characters on TV right now, Sheldon is hilarious.  How the writers came up with the idea of someone like Sheldon is fun in itself.  Part child, part man, part human being who is borderline insane, Sheldon demonstrates one of the most important things that we can learn from The Big Bang Theory.

Lesson learned from Sheldon:  with continuous support from your team, individuals can learn from others in order to become better at a task, to become a better co-worker, and finally to become a better person.  For Sheldon to improve and evolve however, he has to be receptive.  Like communications should be, it is a two-way street.  People have to be receptive to messages, trust and be willing to accept change.

Finally, the overall lesson that we can take away from the characters on The Big Bang Theory:  be true, be loyal, be honest, and always share.  These are simple tenants to good communications.

Do you follow these tenants?  Do you share or do you shut people out?

A version of this post was previously posted on my old blog New World Marketing & Communications

5 Sales Pitch Lessons from the Shark Tank

Developing a sales pitch is both complex and time consuming. What may work for some buyers might not be right for others. Time is money and whether you’re selling a product, service, or a full solution, you need to captivate your audience immediately.

Image courtesy of the

Image courtesy of the

Nowhere is this more evident than on ABC’s Shark Tank, a reality series that finds entrepreneurs attempting to sell their big idea to a panel of successful investors.

The program is a textbook example of making a successful first impression by being properly prepared to nail your big pitch.

Here are five tips for perfecting your sales pitch from the sharks of Shark Tank:


 Let’s face it; we get pumped when we talk to someone who brings his/her A-Game. If you are excited about what you are selling, it will come through in your pitch. In the Shark Tank, people who are excited and knowledgeable immediately get the Sharks’ attention.


 Know what you want to say in the most concise and informative manner that addresses real pain points for your audience. In other words, what will motivate them to work with you? In Dan Pink’s latest book, he discusses how understanding real motivation can transform how you sell. In the Shark Tank, the Sharks are motivated by why something is different and how what you’re offering will fix “something.” If you can’t demonstrate that in the first 40 seconds, you have already lost ground.


On the Canadian version of Shark Tank known as Dragon’s Den, a team seeking investment utilized gymnasts to demonstrate that their product – add-ons to seeing glasses that would prevent them from falling off – actually worked. This definitely got the panel’s attention. It was interesting, it was different, and it proved that the product worked. Three of the five “dragons” invested in the company.


When making the pitch know how much room for negotiation you have. Being able to make the deal on the spot could mean the difference between a yes and a no. Like in the Shark Tank, if you capture their interest with a good pitch, you can make a deal right there in that moment. Once you walk out the door, however, it could be over.


The most common advice that the Sharks give:  “never give up.”  This applies to everything in life! Perfecting your sales pitch does take time and patience. Be sure to learn from each experience and bring that to the table for your next pitch.


Note: a version of this post was previously shared on the blog.

3 Things the Jimmy Kimmel Twerking Prank Should Teach Us

Jimmy Kimmel did a fantastic job pranking the world.  Yes, the world.  A fake video uploaded to YouTube with a girl twerking and catching fire not only went viral with more than 9 million views on YouTube, but mainstream media went crazy over it.  So, what should this prank teach us?

Image from the Jimmy Kimmel reveal

Image from the Jimmy Kimmel reveal

1. Just because it is on social doesn’t mean it is true!

What ever happened to critical reasoning?  Have we blindly become a society of people who will believe whatever we see?  Apparently so.  When did social become the one source of truth.  Why didn’t mainstream media investigate? Why did they care?  I hope that this is not indication of what is to come.  We need the media.  We need them to be able to investigate and tell the truth.  After all, media remain one of the few trusted sources of information based on the latest Edelman Trust Barometer.

2.  People are fickle

As a whole we want to believe ridiculous things happen and kind of enjoy watching people make fools of themselves. (Although I must confess that I did not watch the video until I saw the Jimmy Kimmel unveiling of the prank)

3.  We have Lost Perspective

When did twerking, regardless of who is doing it, become our fascination?  More people have paid attention to this original prank than some much more important and relevant issues. Case in point:  a news story in my city has unveiled some serious criticisms of our local hospital.  While in said hospital yesterday I overheard two health-care workers  talking in an elevator.  The Miley Cyrus twerking story came up and both knew about that.  The story, which directly impacts them about their hospital, was only known by one of the two workers.  This story has been all over the media for days. I can’t imagine that it is not being spoken of a lot in the hospital.  How sad that someone would know about twerking versus something that they are a part of.

What are your thoughts on this prank and people not valuing the important issues that can directly impact them?  Have we become too fickle and lost perspective?

5 Tips for Small Business Owners To Pick a Content Marketing Expert

Content marketing continues to grow and for good reason. It enables businesses to leverage their expertise in a real and demonstrable manner, at a relatively low cost. So, why aren’t more small businesses taking advantage and implementing content marketing? The answer is simple.  They just don’t have the expertise or the time.  The good news is that there is help.  There are many excellent marketing practitioners who live and breathe content marketing.  At the same time, there are many people who profess to understand content marketing and do not.  Here are 5 tips for getting started when seeking your content marketer:

Content is King

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1.  Think Strategically

One of the first things that a content marketer should ask about is your strategy.  Good content marketing consultants will interview you about this and ask thought-provoking questions.

2.  Develop Personas

In order to curate content, it is essential that your content marketing professional be able to develop personas, should you not already have them.

 3. Act with Integration in Mind

Content should not be created only with social in mind.  An integrated approach must be taken.  Be sure that your marketing consultant has the expertise to leverage and implement an integrated marketing approach tied to your strategy.  Don’t be dazzled by someone who knows how to set up a Facebook Page or Group.

 4.  Execute Based on Best Practices

Be sure to ask questions to determine if your consultant knows how to make use of the right channels at the right time.  For example, recommending to post updates to Facebook at the wrong times with the wrong content will result in poor results.  This also applies to quality over quantity.   Always look for consultants that focus on quality first.

 5.  Focus On Long-term Results

As tempted as we are to want things to happen immediately, marketing is something that takes time.  Your consultant should be prepared to guide you through the process and make adjustments as needed.  Remember we are dealing with consumer behaviour and influencing behaviour takes time.

These are just 5 starting points to get you thinking.

Looking for more tips for small business?  Check out:  25 Cool Online Resources to Grow Your Business.