If not you, then who?

One of the things I love about the job I’ve built for myself is that I get to talk with interesting groups of people about how they can use some of the things I’ve learned about marketing to help themselves. Some of the time, I get paid for these speaking gigs and other times I do it because I believe in what the group is doing.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I spoke with a group of women from California Women Lead as part of their “If Not You, Then Who?” series for women who are considering running for political office.

The six week course wraps up next week, and I have a feeling this isn’t the last you’re going to hear from this group of women.

If you have something to share that can provide value to others, go ahead and share it. If not you, then who?


Wait…what did I just say?

Part of my job is helping clients prepare to speak with the media. This involves helping clients determine what to say, how to succinctly describe what they do, and helping them deal with “sticky questions.”  This process has changed over the years as attitudes towards communication have changed and the obfuscation has changed to transparency.

The goal used to be “the sound bite,” getting that one thing that would definitely be used by a reporter, no matter how the story was put together. Part of this process is minimizing the number of other things that you say that aren’t as important for you. The flip side to that is making the most memorable thing you say, be something that makes no sense at all, or even worse hurts your cause.

The Sacramento Kings are big news in our town and the will they or won’t they go story plays out every day in the media.  On Friday a story came out saying the Kings may be around for at least one more year and the quote from one of the Kings’ owners when asked if they expect the Kings to remain in Sacramento?

“That is not what we are saying,” Maloof told The Bee. “We haven’t said what we are going to say. We’ll let you know when we know.”

Did you follow that? No, neither did I. Later the Kings released a statement that read:

“We await the results of the fact-finding visit that the NBA made to Sacramento the past two days. We have not made a decision with regards to relocation filing, and will not make that decision until we have more information from the NBA.”

Apparently that is what they were going to say when they were saying what they wanted to say.  Couldn’t they have just said it?

California Community Colleges Show How to Use PR Stunts for Good

Image from Renee C. Byer, Sacramento Bee

I’ve written before about how I’m a fan of “stunts that work.” These have included living off camel milk and using heavy machinery and fire hoses. Today’s stunt doesn’t involve anything as dramatic as camel milk or conflagration, but it has a good cause, California Community Colleges.

Last weekend, tens of thousands of Californians joined hands across the state as part of “Hands Across California” to raise awareness of the nearly three million Californians who attend community colleges. Community colleges provide an incredible service with affordable higher education in communities both large and small.  The California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment is raising $100 million to create an endowment that will be able to provide 5,000 scholarships per year in perpetuity.  They have $25 million committed from the Bernard Osher Foundation with an additional $25 million as a challenge grant if they can raise another $50 million.

Why did this stunt work?  Their goal was to raise awareness of how many students attend California’s community colleges and kickstart more donations.  They are on their way.  Take a look at this article in The Sacramento Bee which included these important facts:

With 2.7 million students and 112 colleges, California has the nation’s largest community college system. But Scott said 140,000 students were denied admission last year because of an 8 percent budget cut. He said more stand to be turned away with deep cuts looming this year.

You can get involved by , visiting www.HandsAcrossCalifornia.org for details, or text HANDS to 27722 to donate $10 through June 30.

The Door in the Face Theory and the Sacramento Kings

Image by David Hoyt

In college I took a class called “Persuasion.” This was an upper division elective for communication majors that looked at various theories related to persuading people to do things.  One of my favorites is called the “door in the face (DITF), ” where the first request that is made is so outrageous that there is no way it will be accepted and the door will be slammed in your face. Then a second request is made that is much less than the first request, and this smaller request is viewed as a concession.

The examples most often made using DITF are related to charitable and political contributions. For example, “If you donate $5,000 then we put your name on a building, and put you on our board. Can’t afford $5,000? How about $100 and we give you a t-shirt?”  The goal all along might have been to secure a $100 donation, which to the giver now seems like a bargain amount to give to help their favorite charity.

How does this relate to the Sacramento Kings moving to Anaheim?  It does, because I don’t think the Maloofs want to take the team to Anaheim. I think they want to sell the team, under the perceived duress of the NBA, or move it to Las Vegas.  So they say “We want to move to be the third team in the Los Angeles market!” Door in the face provided by the Lakers who are one of the most powerful teams in the NBA.  “Ok, how about we move the team to Las Vegas?” Or, how about if we can’t move it, you buy it from us and we buy another team?”

So, if you want something, ask for something much bigger first.

If your interview ends with the CEO pointing at the camera and saying “Turn that off” it’s not a good sign

RIM, the makers of Blackberry, have been under fire for many issues. They still sell a lot of their smartphones but have been eclipsed by the iPhone and Android phones in public consciousness.

In what looks like an interview that is supposed to be about RIM’s forthcoming “PlayBook” tablet (I’m guessing this because he’s holding one in his hand) the interviewee loses his train of thought and willingness to answer questions when asked about issues like security of their products in the Middle East and India.

When asked whether the issues with the Indian government have been sorted out, he looks to the side, I’m guessing to his PR person and says “That’s just not fair…because you implied we have a security problem…” and then continues “We don’t have a problem, we’ve just been singled out because we’re so successful around the world.” Then when asked if that issue was being sorted out, the CEO responded with “We’re dealing with a lot of issues…” I was seriously waiting for the next question to be, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

Whenever the interviewer would ask a question, the interviewer would respond with the same language, don’t let people choose your words for you.  The term to use is bridge, when asked about security issues, “Our products are used in 137 countries around the world (I made that up) and we’re constantly working to keep them the pre-eminent communications tool….”


The segment of the interview we’re discussing can be viewed at the BBC, and to be truthful it’s only a segment so we don’t know what else was said.



Reel Change in Hometown Paper

There’s something about being in a hometown newspaper. They don’t always have the biggest circulation but it feels good to have neighbors and friends say they saw you in the paper.  Our friends at Reel Change are in their hometown paper this week and we couldn’t be happier for them.

If it was a client, we’d be very happy, but since Reel-Change is a nonprofit we work with pro bono, it makes us feel even better.  Check out Reel-Change, and get involved. A special thank you to Laura Newell for helping us tell this story.