Lisa Zwick
Monday,
Decmber 5, 2005 1:50 PM

Top 10 Strategies for Success in 2006
Join a gym. Clean the closets. Get new customers. You know the drill. A new year is on the horizon and as always, it presents an opportunity to re-evaluate your priorities, both personally and professionally. With that thought in mind, I offer the following suggestions to consider while you prepare for the New Year.

  1. Hold your friends close and your enemies closer. Mergers and acquisitions, new product strategies, divestment – anything is possible. Keeping that in mind, it’s probably time to take another look at your first and second-tier competitors. Understand their product lines, target customers and marketing strategies so you can effectively position your company against them.
  2. Determine the right marketing mix. Are you doing the same marketing functions you’ve been doing, well, forever? The ads you have been buying in the traditional hard copies may not be cutting it anymore. Are you even doing PR? Maybe you need to hit the blogging community? By combining and integrating marketing disciplines, you can create a stronger communications program that builds company reputation, while driving sales.
  3. Stay in touch with customers. The old adage, “It’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one” has never been truer than in today’s fiercely competitive climate. In this age of e-mail and other indirect communication, retain the customers you have through personal and frequent interaction.
  4. Expand your network. 2005 was my first year as an entrepreneur, and literally all the new business that came my way was through friends and colleagues. It’s all about the referral, baby. So carve out some time for relationship-building, and you'll reap the rewards.
  5. Embrace change. Always be open to a new chapter in the book, but maintain a clear vision of where you’d like to see your company at the end of each quarter.
  6. Make a difference. Make sure your personal initiatives map to the company's overall business objectives. How are you affecting the company’s bottom line?
  7. Use the crisis communications golden rule -- communicate fast and openly -- in all your communications efforts. Talk to employees and customers in a timely fashion
  8. Recognize employee needs. Maintain an open door policy and recognize successes. Happy employees make successful companies.
  9. Step up your marketing efforts. During times of economic uncertainty, your competitors may be cutting back on their external communications. Beware of this trap -- the result could lose traction with customers.
  10. Repair and rejuvenate -- weekly, even daily. Take time for yourself. If you haven’t had a true lunch break in a while, you’re a prime candidate for burnout. Use the time to focus on your personal priorities and hobbies. You’ll be amazed at how this small thing can re-motivate and refresh.

Lisa Zwick
Monday,
November 21, 2005 7:23 AM

ARE CELLPHONES THE NEW LIGHTERS?

My husband and I went to the Eagles concert the other night at the Pond. They were amazing. I told my husband that it had the least “show” of any concert I’ve been to in a long time, but it was amazing. You have all these old guys basically just standing up and singing, but it was mesmerizing. Every song was a hit and you could feel a certain point of time in your life with each one.

What was really a trip was when they finished their set and people wanted an encore. I looked out across the arena and thought I saw a couple thousand glow sticks, but what I soon realized was I was looking at a couple thousand cell phones with the backlights on being held up like lighters. Sure, there were a few old school lighters, but it was really cool to see people united in glowing mobile phones to bring back a band that formed way before the dawn of cellular. And, it proves that people will continually find new ways to use technology. Can’t wait to see what’s next. I think I need to get out more.

Lisa Zwick
Tuesday,
November 08, 2005 10:50 AM

KEEPING A SENSE OF SELF AFTER KIDS

OK, this topic could take weeks to go over, but I want to specifically talk about the media and its smart targeting of women.

These days, living in SoCal, every mom seems to be a MILF. If you don’t know what a MILF is, better you don’t. Let’s just say, they look great and it’s hard to believe they ever popped a kid out. It’s hard to keep up with these women, if you even care to. I myself am approaching 40, so I cut myself a little slack in certain departments. But where I don’t really want to give anything up is in the way I live. I worked hard for my “disposable income” and there are certain things I don’t to give up just because I have kids: nice furniture, artwork, travel, dining and the like. I just want to know how to incorporate my family.

So, I’m reading Media Bistro today and they reference a new magazine called Cookie. A NY Times article says: ‘"I want the things around me to be beautiful, even if I do have a couple of kids,"’ says a woman who is featured in the premiere issue, more or less summing up the magazine's philosophy.” I love that. I think the media is getting ever savvier on how to target certain audiences. I’m hoping that women’s magazines are going to experience the same renaissance that men’s mags did a couple years ago, when Maxim and the other lad mags hit the scene.

In terms of PR, it means even more outlets and even more reason to target your pitches. Know your audience and what does “it” mean to them. Even if it is for MILF’s.

Lisa Zwick
Wednesday,
November 02, 2005 12:05 PM

HAVING THE BASICS

In the past week I’ve worked with two companies struggling with the same problem. One company is huge and the other one really small. The problem was neither had the basics down. The huge company didn’t know what constituted a good program for its own customers. They were so busy just doing the day-to-day, when asked why they were the right choice for customers, they couldn’t articulate it quickly and concisely.

The small company, which is just starting out, didn’t have their elevator speech down. Again, they could not quickly and easily explain why people should choose them and what makes them different.

This is especially important when approaching the media and customers alike. When I get on the phone, I have about 10 seconds to make the editor want to continue talking to me. The pitch has to be well thought out and compelling, otherwise I get the big hang up. Same thing for companies, customers and sales calls.

And, when getting the basics down, remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Lose the marketing jargon and get down to the meat - what is their pain point and how can you make it go away? Can you do it faster, better or cheaper than the next guy? Or is it a whole new way of approaching the problem?

Bottom line, whether you’re in business for 5 minutes or 15 years, always know who you are, what makes you different and what it means to your customers.

Lisa Zwick
Wednesday,
October 26, 2005 3:02 PM

A Holiday for 'Ho's?

This has nothing to do with work , but I'm shopping for Halloween costumes yesterday and I'm astonished at the number of costumes that would be appropriate for Mr. J's. Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but what's happened to Halloween? Costumes used to be all about blood, gore or being clever. When did it turn into a holiday for ho's? For example, there was a costumed named "Strip Search Sally"; I kid you not. Or, I really like "Dr. Anita Lay" and the one called "Route 69" at least they're clever.

What really got me thinking was the mom of two trying on a French Maid&'s costume in front of her two little ones. Remember the days when you didn't even want to think about your mom in "that way?" Ewwwww.

I guess I'm nostalgic too after watching "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" with my kids last night. I may sound way old, but I preferred when costumes were scary, candy didn't have to be screened and it was OK to go trick or treating with just your big brother, your sister and your friends.

Lisa Zwick
Wednesday,
October 20, 2005 11:58 AM

What Will They Think of Next?

As a PR person, I’m always looking for the proverbial hook – some way to tie my clients’ business into something topical. What’s hot right now? How can they jump on a newsworthy bandwagon? Not always an easy feat, especially for technology companies. But, always vigilant and on the hunt, I came across something I just couldn’t help but share – drum roll please….

Oct. 22nd is National Eat a Pretzel Day.
Hey, why not? I also found out there’s a National Taco Day, so why not pretzels? It’s a tough tie-in, but it just goes to show you, there’s a publicity avenue out there for everything, from processors to pretzels, IT distribution to fast food. You just gotta look…

Lisa Zwick
Wednesday,
October 05, 2005 8:09 PM

Happy New Year to all our Jewish friends!
Here's Sam & Allison partying like it's 5766

Lisa Zwick
Monday,
October 03, 2005 8:29 PM

Being the Voice of Reason

I once had a client during the dot com boom that was a consumate sales person. He was always overly excited about his product, like that guy with the long hair on the informercials selling his latest fitness video. Needless to say, he needed some serious media training before we took him on the road, but the real trouble was that he was trying to sell his PR team all the time.

He was king of the adjective. Everything was the "greatest," the "best" or the "only." The problem was when he insisted his website was the "first" to offer a certain feature that would (wince) "revolutionize" the way people (fill in the blank). Luckily, we knew enough based on his personality to test anything he claimed. It turned out he wasn't the first, or even the second to offer said feature. So, our job was to gently bring him back to Earth and let him know that while enthusiasm is great, he doesn't have to sell his PR team.

A PR professional is there to not only get the news out, but to be the sounding board, outside opinion and sometimes, voice of reason. A good PR person will have a good head for business and news, understanding what will be appealing to an editor, as well as your other target audiences. Bring your PR counsel in during product inception, the "will this fly" stage, and if they are worth their salt, will have some good input. On the flip side, PR people need to have the moxie to tell a client what is news, as well as challenge their thinking. A good PR person is not an order taker, but an integral part of the business and communications process. A wise woman once told me to "challenge the status quo" and I think that's pretty good advice in life and in business.

Lisa Zwick
Monday,
September 19, 2005 1:07 PM

Keeping It Up

My friend told me I needed to spice this blog up a bit, hence the headline. But, not going too blue, what I've really been thinking about a lot these past few weeks is loyalty. Marriage, friends, lovers: I could write on an on about that and it probably would be a lot spicier, but what I'm really talking about is work.

I have so many friends worried about their jobs right now. One has been waiting to be laid off for about nine months, one is pretty sure she's going to be fired, another who ranks really high up at a huge company says he sees good people getting walked out everyday and thinks he could be next, and another who has lost about half his responsibilities with no explanation. And then, there's the recent firing of a high ranking OC ad executive. At least they gave that person a ride home in a limo. One last perk I guess.

Anyway, there's been hundreds of articles written about how companies are no longer loyal to their employees, and I don't have any nuggets of wisdom to add to it. But, I will say, when I was leaving my employer of nine years, the best thing I could have done was to keep up my contacts over those nine years. Old clients, editorial contacts from all categories, ex-employees - whomever I liked and thought they had a lot going for them, I kept up with them.

The key is to dig deeper than their next job - it's about them, their families, their world, what makes them tick. Then, do everything you can to help them along. I guess it's the karma thing. As PR people, we often say, we're only as good as our rolodex, but that has to go way beyond the media. It's all about the hookup, right? Helping out the editor even though none of your clients fit his story. Sending a recruiter's name to your friend in need. Go out of your way to help everyone you can. It will come back.

Two hot tips: my husband entered his Bourbon BBQ Sauce in the Orange County Fair this year and won a ribbon in a very crowded category. It is awesome, I have to say and not just because he's my hubby. I'm trying to get him to give jars away for the holidays so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you know Deron, hit him up for a jar.

Second hot tip is from my brother in Seattle. If you live there or are traveling there and need some good restaurant tips, try www.iheartbacon.com. It give great reviews and also has recipes and links.

Lisa Zwick
Friday,
September 09, 2005 3:38 PM

Using the "F" Word

When is it OK to use the "F" word? Maybe I use it too much, but sometimes it just fits the situation. Some may turn there nose up at the sound of it, but others embrace it. The "F" word in this instance is freelancer. When one decides to go out on ones own, that's the time to really decide who you are and what your value proposition is - and that isn't always easy. I have a friend right now struggling with that very conundrum. But what I have learned, is that sometimes, the client decides for you.

Right now, as if mother, sister, friend, daughter and entrepreneur isn't enough, I'm also a freelancer, consultant or writer, depending upon the situation. For one client, I really use the brain power and consult on business changing strategies. For another, I'm simply a writer that does case studies and news releases. And, if someone called me saying they want a freelance PR person, I wouldn't be offended. I'd just ask about what they want to achieve. But, I have finally learned that when the inevitable social situation come up when someone asks what I do, I just say I run my communications consulting firm, and that usually does the trick. Either that, or I just make something up if I know they'll get that glazed look on their face or I don't want to talk to them. The "stay-at-home-mom" line usually does the trick.

Hot Eats: OK, so I had an amazing meal today at a place called Pho Irvine. I know the name isn't too original, but I sat out on their little patio and had a Jethro-sized bowl of hot steaming pho with chicken and shrimp for only $7. For those of who that haven't partaken in pho (pronounced fa, rhymes with tada), it's a Vietnamese soup of noodles, your choice of meat or tofu in a chicken broth, and then you can add sprouts, mint, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. I like to spice it up a lot with hot chili sauce. It reminds me of matzo ball soup or pozole, in that it's hearty and good for the soul. Pho Irvine is at 15455 Jeffrey Rd., pretty close off the 5 Fwy. Try it if you can.

Lisa Zwick
Thursday,
September 08, 2005 3:28 PM

Welcome to my blog. Yes, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. I want my blog to be a place where people, both in PR and anyone doing business, can go for some communications insight and maybe a laugh or two. As one of my old bosses used to say, you either edify or entertain, and I'm hoping I can do a little of both.

Ask anyone who knows me, I speak my mind and rarely pull punches, so this is definitely not unbiased. It's based on lots of years in the business, meeting tons of smart people and even more idiots. I'll touch on the business of PR (the how's and why's of it all), what it's like to be in PR (the good the bad and the ugly of dealing with clients, business travel, the media and life inside and outside an agency) and some observations on the world at large (good restaurants, shopping and current events).

It's hard to think of anything else right now except the latest current event, Katrina. As I sit here in sunny Southern California, it seems like so far away, yet so close to home. My husband and I both brought up "what do we do in an earthquake" at almost the same time and started working on a home disaster plan. I hope you all will too. Money, food, water, shelter, family - and not necessarily in that order - are some basics that need to be thought out. And, while you're thinking about that, also think about if all you had were taken away in the blink of an eye, then pull out your checkbook and give generously to the help the victims of Katrina.

I'd love to hear back from you on any topics you'd like me to comment about in my blog, or any feedback you have on what's already been posted.

 

 

"Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets." -Napoleon, Maxims

 

 

"All publicity is good, except an obituary notice."
- Brendan F. Behan 1923-1964, Irish Writer

 

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