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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

6 Tips Social Media Marketers Can Learn from Astronaut Chris Hadfield

What does a former Air Force Fighter Pilot and Canadian Astronaut know about marketing?  Well, as it turns out, a lot!  Chris Hadfield has done an outstanding job at generating interest in the current space program while also showing that astronauts are not just very smart people, but fun, clever and very much connected to community.  Take a look at this list and you will learn very quickly that @cmdr_hadfield is a model of inspiration.

1.    Know Your Community – Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for any one wishing to market themselves or a brand is to actually understand your community.  This of course is slightly complicated when your community is literally the entire planet.  Despite this significant challenge, Commander Hadfield has successfully connected with people around the globe.  He has found the common denominators that connect humans.  In this case, curiosity and the desire to learn.

2.    Use the Channels Your Community Prefers – Commander Hadfield understands the power of the moment and reach.  Twitter has been one of his most powerful communication tools and it shows.  With nearly 800,000 followers, he can share photos, thoughts and memories as he experiences them. 

3.    Show Your Personality – If there is one thing that really stands out about Command Hadfield, it is his personality.  His smile and genuine warmth leave you with one response.  You like him.  You want to listen to him and learn from him.  Of course not everyone has the same personality as this famous astronaut, but being genuine is the real take away.  You can’t fake being genuine – not over the long term.  If you care about people, people will care about you.  Remember, people on both sides of the transaction fuel brands.

Answering Questions from International Space Station on May 6, 2013

4.    Maximize Your Environment – Whether or not you are on the International Space Station in zero gravity, knowing how to leverage your environment is key.  Share photos that are interesting and unique to your audience.  Find something that the average person just doesn’t have access to.  Do pod casts, interviews and more using the tools of trade.  Show how they fit into your world and how you use them. Don’t just keep them in the background.

5.    Realize That You Can’t Do It Alone – Despite being extremely genuine and popular, Commander Hadfield has realized that he can’t connect with his community alone.  He partnered with Bare Naked Ladies front man Ed Robertson to write a song about the International Space Station.  He has reached out to schools, media personalities, science centers and more to do live appearances while in space.  While he is the center of attention, he realizes that it really isn’t all about him.  He is sharing more about others and his environment, than he is about himself.

6.    Be Consistent – Commander Hadfield is consistent in all that he does and this has reinforced all of his messaging.  As a result, people are interested in the man AND the International Space Station.  People now have a vested interested in this mission.

Note:  this is a slight variation on a blog post that I wrote for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog last week.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10,000 Hours and the Pursuit of Subject Matter Mastery

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In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers the theme of becoming a subject matter expert, or master, was discussed at length. According to Gladwell, the time it takes to become a master: 10,000 hours. The number of hours was not really the point. The real focus was that it takes practice and lots of it – 10,000 hours to be exact. While some might find that daunting, it really isn’t when you break it down into realistic and measurable chunks. For example, many of us can achieve this status in just five years. In the bigger picture, that is really not a big deal. To get you started on your journey, here are 5 ways to help you get there.

1.   Focus:  To become a master, or a subject matter expert, you need to focus. Like my mother always told me: focus on what you want. You can be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.  While she didn’t coin that phrase, she got it.  So, select an area that you enjoy and that you want to focus on and become an expert or master.

2.   Find a Mentor:  Seek out someone you respect and like in your field of choice and look to that person as a mentor. If you follow the formal route of asking, be sure to do your homework about what such a relationship is like, what you can provide each other and what the expectations are for each of you.  Be up front about all of this and ensure that you are both on the same page about expectations and results. Know when its time to move to a new mentor. Mentors can also mentor by watching and learning what they do. Or, just asking advice on occasion. 

3.  Surround yourself with excellence:  Work in the best environment you can. If you can’t work where you want, volunteer! There are often tremendous opportunities to work with some of the best in the business in fundraisers, festivals, not-for-profits, etc. Never limit yourself. 

4.  Read and Research:  Don’t just execute, be sure to read and research about best practices and work in your area of interest in different industries, different regions and emerging trends.

5.  Don’t Stop:  Remember that reaching 10,000 hours is not the goal. It is about practicing your craft. Reaching 10,000 is a milestone and one to celebrate, but as practitioners, experts or masters, we have an obligation to continue our learnings and to practice, practice and practice. 

Finally, be willing to share your knowledge and mastery with others. For those seeking mentors, let’s be ready and willing.  If you were lucky enough to be mentored, it is an experience that you never forget. It is invaluable. Giving that experience to another is priceless. 

What are your thoughts on mastering a subject? Do have experiences that you can add? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

There is NO Such Thing as Over Communicating

The world of marketing and PR in particular is very interesting to say the least.  Having worked in these fields for longer than I want to admit, because it will give away my age, I can tell you I have pretty much seen and heard it all.  

Naturally people tend to think of PR people as Spin Doctors and they would be..well..mostly right.  However, I would argue that is not always the case.  In my role as the head of PR in a few organizations, I always wanted to tell the truth, be timely and be truly transparent.  This does not always go over well. However, it is my belief that the truth will come out and being the one to tell the story first sets the tone and builds trust

Perhaps my favourite story though has got to be one CEO that told me we were "over communicating."  Unfortunately I am not making that up.  I have to say that I was rendered speechless.  Over communicating?  Seriously?  People cite communication problems all the time and never once in my entire career have I heard someone say it was because a person or organization was "over communicating."  In fact, case studies, best practices and real life accounts of well..everything speak about the need to communicate constantly and that there is no such thing as over communicating.  Sadly that organization still suffers from that belief. 

In fact, articles like Creating the Best Workplace on Earth  as presented by Harvard Business Review advocate the need for constant communication stating: "We maintain, though, that executives should err on the side of transparency far more than their instincts suggest.  Particularly today, when trust levels among both employees and customers are so low and background noise is so high, organizations must work very hard to communicate what's going on if they are to be heard and believed."  

While PR practitioners can advise, we don't create magic.  So, the best bet is to remain true to your professional values and follow the Communicators' Checklist as noted above.  What would you add to this list?

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