Tom Garrity

Archive for the ‘Messaging’ Category

My enemy’s friend is my…

In Messaging on March 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm

There is a saying in international diplomacy that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”  Lately, one local media outlet has turned that old adage into “my enemy’s friend is my friend.”

With the documented decline of traditional print journalism(detailed in the 2011 and soon to be released 2012 Garrity Perception Survey), media outlets like the Albuquerque Journal and New Mexico Business Weekly have been more deliberate about their online footprint.

Reporters for the Albuquerque Journal have been successful in building an online following; tweeting about stories they are developing or sharing links to their published stories.

The New Mexico Business Weekly has been building its following through promotion of enterprise and wire stories from other group-owned Business Weeklies. And getting more vocal with Twitter.

The new @NMBW publisher @_IanAnderson has been active in tweeting sponsored events and articles of interest from outside his newspaper group.  The source list includes @WSJ @PNM and, as of this weekend, @JFleck the lead science reporter for across town rival @ABQJournal.

Yes, there has always been friendly banter among co-workers @newsieHeather and @antoinetteA as well as @amberlee_wx and @stILETtO7.  There is also a friendly dialog with that group and the print side of #twitter that includes @jolinegkg as well as cross channel rival @katiemkim mixing it up about issues and social plans.

Outside of established marketing partnership between certain media organizations, the cross promotion of editorial is something that isn’t seen often, if ever.

The @_IanAnderson approach is brilliant.  By sharing information from a competitor he is showing his followers as well as those who follow @JFleck that he is a resource for information.. regardless of its source.  That kind of approach has a way of building followers and credibility in the social media realm.

Building Blocks and a Ball

In Messaging on March 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm

The recent “Building Effective Community Outreach” roundtable at the PRSA Western District Conference provided some great insight from various communication professionals.

One of the things I promised, as a moderator, was to forward some helpful links pertaining to community outreach and corporate social responsibility.

Start Something That Matters – this is the link for the book written by founder of TOMS shoes Blake Mycoskie.  I’ve given this book to some friends in the business as a new way to look at CSR.  One of the recipients even took an idea from the book to send one of the most unique “thank you’s” I’ve ever received.

CorpsGiving – this is an organization that helps to organize “both large-scale volunteer programs and large-scale branded events.”  Think of them as an event planner for charities that want to do something big but lack the people power to get it done.

RockCorps – is a unique approach that uses music to inspire people to volunteer.  They do have a clever mission “Got 2 Give 2 Get”.  They have their own volunteer database and work with organizations of various sizes.

Of course, if you are looking for a masters or Ph. D. approach to CSR, there is a great event at the end of the month sponsored by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.  They will have their annual conference in Phoenix from March 25-27, 2012.

Special thanks to Tiffany Payne with Comcast for providing insight on these and other organizations that provide a great service to those in the CSR arena.

Resume with a Twist

In Messaging on March 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

The recession brings out the best and worst in people. This has manifested itself in many different things, including how people develop resumes.

Now, if you are applying for a position with a national laboratory or an engineering firm, this blog post might not be applicable.  But like most things on the net, it is free and there is a certain consideration for the price you paid for this advice.

When it comes to resumes, I am a traditionalist.  I like to see where people have worked, the dates, responsibilities and accomplishments.  In recent years there has been a move to write towards your skills instead of your experience.

For example, someone who sold shoes at a store in the mall might list this in a traditional resume: “Sales Associate, Bob’s Shoe Company – Provided sales support for Bob’s shoes and helped to set new sales records.”  Then there is the “skills” based resume: “Marketing – Developed sales strategies for a national shoe company.”

You see the difference?  The “Skills” approach is useful if you don’t have direct marketing experience.  But from an employer’s perspective, it is a bit maddening trying to figure out what kind of experience a candidate has when going through the hiring process.

My suggestion is a hybrid approach, with a twist.  List your experience and list your skill areas.  That way you provide a prospective employer your past employment and your skill sets.

Here is the twist, include a few one-paragraph case study that features your problem solving capabilities.  If you have a lot of information put two of those together on a second sheet.  Include things like the situation you walked into, the challenges, strategies developed, how it was implemented and the results.

From a hiring perspective, if you give me your experience, skills and a few success stories, then you’ve done a great job in getting my attention.

Go Barefoot?

In Messaging on February 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm

We’ve all heard the sad tale of how the “shoemaker’s children go barefoot” and can all relate, to a degree, about how that correlates to our own businesses and professions.

For the first 13 years, that saying described The Garrity Group Public Relations.  We do amazing things for our clients but fall short on touting our own successes.

Two years ago, we started a strategic planning process.   It started by focusing on the vision and mission.  Then shifted to identifying the clients we wanted to work with and could benefit from our expertise.

One of the focus areas identified in our strategic planning process was to be the public relations thought leader for New Mexico.  That idea manifested itself in the Garrity Perception Survey.

It was a third party survey commissioned by the firm that focused on  the perceptions of New Mexico residents on 16 industries and trust of 16 professions.  We identified how people access news and information in our state and how much they trusted government or corporations.

The survey opened doors and helped us to move closer as the firm that leading organizations turn to for critical opportunities and issues that impact their operations in New Mexico.

I’ll be sharing some insight about our planning process and how we leveraged the perception survey to increase market position and secure top tier clients at the Public Relations Society of America’s Western District Conference, March 12-13 in Denver, Colorado.  Here is the website for more information on how to register and participate in the discussion:

Ode to Nonprofit Mail

In Messaging on December 28, 2009 at 11:23 pm

This time of year, more so than others, my mailbox is filled with last minute requests from various nonprofit organizations.

In New Mexico, it is a “who’s who” list of charities.   

During the last year, I’ve personally and corporately made donations and contributions to various organizations. 

I’ve chosen these charities because they have been successful in making a personal connection with me.  That “first contact” was not in the form of a letter or mass mailing.  It was in the form of a conversation, a site tour or recommendation from a friend.

During these difficult economic times, Nonprofits would be well served to check their approaches to see if it is providing the needed connection with their target audiences.  Also, check your databases for accuracy.  I’ve been included on prep school and university mailing lists who claim I am an alumnus from their “distinguished” institution.

If your organization believes in making a personal connection, then I think you will be one step closer to success.

For the rest of you who blindly buy mailing lists and/or have found my name using some nifty software that provides you a financial snapshot (I know who you are), good luck.  You’ll need it!

For the rest of us, this is a good seasonal reminder to “know your audience” 12 months out of the year instead of trying to be impersonal and connect during the last two weeks of the year.

Boatloads of …

In Messaging on July 30, 2009 at 1:43 am

BoatloadsWednesday was a big day for Yahoo!.  They were able to tame the financial beast of Microsoft with a partnership that originally started as a takeover attempt by the software giant.

The announcement was a grand achievement of sound negotiating and long-term thinking.  With so much thought and money that went into the deal, why didn’t Yahoo spend more time on the messaging?

In describing the partnership and its impact for investors, Carol Bartz, the chief executive officer and a director of Yahoo! leveraged the message that the deal would result in “boatloads of money” for investors.

Whether she was consistent in her message or just said it once isn’t really the point.  Just do a quick Google, Bing or Yahoo! Search and you’ll see how popular her characterization has become.

I first became aware of Ms. Bartz’s “Boatloads” comment while watching the unflappable CNBC commentator David Faber chortling and wondering what kind of “boat” Ms. Bartz was referring to.

Was it a toy boat, canoe, paddleboat, cigarette boat, rowboat, oil tanker, cruise ship, container cargo ship?  It is hard to say. 
So many “boatload” visions of the Exxon Valdez surface (or should I say sink) when I read her comment.

Suffice it to say, whoever put “Boatload” on her talking points should be sent off in a dingy.

Photo of my two brothers-in-law on the Madison River in Montana bringing in a boatload of fish.

Sharing Your Message

In Messaging on July 14, 2009 at 1:38 am

Sharing your message is all about how you communicate with your target audience (i.e. constituents, customers). In the past, communicating with the larger public was largely relegated to the news media. 

Today, there are a multitude of options available when communicating with a broader spectrum of people.

While there are new ways to tools, the guiding questions about sharing your message remain the same: What do you want to accomplish?  Who do you want to reach?  What do you want them to know about your organization?  What do you want to say?  How do you want them to feel about you and/or your group?  The answers should be found in your measureable objectives, target audiences and key messages.

Sharing your message is akin to having a conversation.  In your personal life, you typically want to celebrate good news with everyone.  If you have bad or sensitive news, would you want to share that face-to-face or one-on-one?  Despite what we see on reality television, the same approach is true in a business setting.

During my ten years as a news reporter and seventeen years in public relations, I cringe at the thought of a news conference.  As a reporter, I like the personalized pitches.  Everyone sharing the same talking heads, same quotes generally the same setting is akin to everyone sharing the same cup of coffee at a breakfast.  As a public relations professional, news conferences are maddening.  Granted they are easy on the client’s schedule, but that is about the only really good thing about news conferences.

Sharing your message is a personal conversation and connection with your target audience.

The news media is not your target audience, it is a conduit to reach your constituents and customers.

The new media (yes “new” and not “news”) provides effective ways to engage your target audience.  Websites, blogs, wiki’s, and social media are all different ways to connect, unfiltered, to your audience.   Direct mail, personal letters, magazines, newsletters are some good standbys to reinforce your brand beyond the computer screen.  These tools are an effective complement to reaching your objectives through traditional media and tactics.

Think of your communication tools as golf clubs.  They each provide a specific purpose to move Clubsyour message/brand forward.  You wouldn’t use a putter in the tee box or a driver on the putting green.  Knowing your audience and your objectives will help you to identify the right tools to share your message effectively.

Picture provided courtesy of

Shaping your messsage

In Messaging on July 13, 2009 at 1:35 am

We use a number of effective tools to help shape messages.  In a crisis/reputation management scenario, I usually focus on either Message Mapping or the Rule of Threes.

Message Mapping can be effective in developing effective responses to a critical line of questions, where inaccurate information is built into the premise.  It takes a little time to work through.  Think of Message Mapping as a good “defense.”

A good “offense” is found in the Rule of 3s.  Before every interview, I ask my clients what three pieces of information they want to present during the conversation.  Public speakers use a similar approach when developing presentations.

I also like to illustrate the rule of three by sharing with a client that they can survive three days without water, three weeks without food and three minutes without oxygen (that is the friendly reminder to breathe during an interview).

In all seriousness there are three rules of three that are very useful in interview situations.

The first has to do with your disposition during the interview.  You should be authentic, prepared and conversational.

The second is what do when confronted with hostile questions.  You should answer/acknowledge the question, bridge the discussion (usually by providing a natural transition) and convert the discussion to one of the three items you identified in advance of the interview.  Justifiably, reporters hate this approach.  Some people have abused this approach to the point where a reporter could ask the subject what time it is and he/she would break into a talking point.

The third is, have a conversation, engage the reporter and ask questions of your own.  Remember, this is a conversation.  Transition your confidence into asking questions of the reporter about his or her knowledge of the situation.  Now, you don’t want to do a reverse news conference.  Just ask a question to help you clarify your response.  Reporters have to know a little about a lot, help them to get the most accurate story possible.

God save the Queen and her iPod!

In Messaging on April 3, 2009 at 10:38 am
“Good policy fosters good public relations” has long been something that we’ve successfully woven into the communication fabric of our clients.
Based on a recent gift from President Obama to the Queen of England, we could say that good foreign policy fosters good public relations.
Earlier this week when the President met with the Queen (as seen in the AP photo), he presented her with an iPod. But, it wasn’t just any old iPod it came loaded with 40 Broadway show tunes, including several which were set in the United Kingdom.
The iPod also included electronic images and video of past visits to the United States as well as an mp3 of Obama’s inaugural address and his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention.
It is the simple things that make the most powerful statements.
Now, to the larger question… Does the Queen have an iTunes account or personalized earbuds?

You’re Good Enough…

In Messaging, Uncategorized on March 18, 2009 at 1:57 pm
ssmalley“You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and, doggone it, people like you” – Stuart Smalley
Al Frankin’s spoof on the power of positive thinking is an all-time great moment for fans of Saturday Night Live. It was great parody.
Sometimes people take the issue of self empowerment to dangerous levels where one thinks he or she can will a specific outcome just by thinking positive thoughts. If this was the case, we’d all be financially secure and every city would have two major daily newspapers!
We know better.
However, for our nation’s leaders, being positive and real is a delicate balancing act.
Since his election, President Barack Obama was very negative on the economy. Since elected, he was very deliberate to say this was a problem he inherited (implying it was just the Past President and not current Congress). In the same breath, he was negative on the outlook for the United States economy. Shadowing his comments were real issues in the financial and automotive sectors. The stock market retreated to levels not seen since the late 1990’s.
Two weeks ago, the White House tone shifted. Real commentary on current financial issues was followed with a positive economic outlook. The message changed. No longer did we hear about the problems we’ve inherited, but the solutions that are being made available.
Last week, the focus was on “shovel ready” projects. This week the focus is on “small business.”
The President talks about his NCAA Final Four picks and schedules an appearance on Jay Leno, people feel better. The stock market starts to stabilize. The promise of “stimulus” dollars has yet to trickle out of the Beltway.
In this case, the power of positive thinking takes the form of “getting on with life.” It reshapes the focus from 10% of the workforce looking for employment and provides permission for the 90% of the employed permission to get back to work.
Yes America you are being “handled.” And that’s ok because “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and, doggone it, people like you.”