Jul 09

Media fanning the flames of a recession

Steve and Ted discuss whether or not there is a direct correlation between media and the downturn of theRepchatter_logo_2
economy.

The discussion centers on the abundance of doom an gloom stories many media outlets have been writing on the present state of the economy.

Are they fanning the flames of a recession or are they just stating the facts? Is this negative press putting citizens in a frenzy?

Apr 11

Doing right by doing good

According to a survey undertaken by Equilar, Inc., on behalf of The Wall Street Journal, many more CEOsCashbonus
of America’s largest companies are turning down their bonuses. At least eight top kicks turned down their 2007 bonuses. That’s compared to only four in ’06. And, based upon today’s economy, I’m sure we’ll see the number expand dramatically next year.

That said, experts quoted by the Journal say a deferment sends mixed signals and can be interpreted by employees as a ‘ho hum.’

First American Corp CEO Parker S. Kennedy is doing it the right way. Instead of saying, ‘no thanks’ to the board, he’s asking that his $800,000 bonus be disbursed among eligible employees. That’s really smart. It not only says, ‘Hey, I know times are tough and I’m not going to take advantage." It also says, ‘But, I want my best employees to suffer as little as possible.’

Employees are any company’s ultimate brand ambassadors and, in my opinion, the most important target audience to influence. Employee actions or inactions can make or break a company’s fortunes in a Recession. Just look at Bear Stearns. Or, Arthur Andersen.

More CEOs of publicly-traded companies need to emulate Kennedy. It portrays him as a caring, responsible chief executive who does the right thing when the chips are down.

I think Wall Street and Main Street alike will reward those CEOs who not only turn down bonuses in down times, but truly share the wealth. It’s a great example of doing right by doing good.

Apr 08

When the aircraft carriers sail into your waters

Economists and pundits alike are quick to point to telltale signs of an impending Recession. Some citePr
housing starts. Others look at consumer spending habits. Me, I look at what the large PR agencies are doing. And, when I experience what I just experienced, I know that, yes Virginia, the economy is indeed heading South.

The experience I’m referring to was a recent new business pitch for a Web 2.0 start-up. We were up against a few other midsized firms as well as one aircraft carrier (that’s inside PR speak for a large agency). The prospect loved our ideas, loved our team and called to tell us we’d won. Yay! Break out the champagne! Or, based upon the smallish-sized budget, break out the Bud Light! Regardless, it was time for a mini-celebration.

And, then, things changed. A day or so after we’d been told we’d won, the prospect called to say they were "still reviewing a few other proposals." Oh. Then, another day passed and we were told it was between us and another top midsized firm. Uh oh. Finally, the prospect called to say they’d selected the aircraft carrier. Apparently, the large firm’s CFO had called the prospect over the weekend, committed to an amazingly small retainer and guaranteed, in writing, that the firm would invest $50k in time of their senior account manager. I told the prospect we couldn’t and wouldn’t compete with that.

So, what does it say when the big guys are willing to compromise the rest of the playing field by slashing fees and giving away their time? In my mind, it cheapens our industry and belittles our value add. It’s also probably a pretty good economic indicator of what the big guys are experiencing now and what might lie ahead for the rest of us. If so, batten down the hatches and be prepared for more aircraft carriers to start sailing into your waters.

Feb 25

Students determined to be more successful than their parents

Steve and Ted sit down with University of Vermont students to discuss their job perspectives and whetherRepchatter_logo_2 or not
they believe they will be as successful as their parents. 

This discussion centers on the latest student survey that shows that this is the first generation that does not believe they’ll do better than their parents in terms of financial and job success.  What are the reasons for this?

Is the recession causing concern for young job seekers? Perhaps Generation Y has a different definition of success?

Feb 15

A sure fire Rx for the job hunting blues

My partner and I were recently dazzled by a job prospect who did absolutely everything conceivable to ‘win’Job
the interview.

She employed some strategies that may seem academic, but proved spot on for differentiating her from the competition. And, with a much-hyped Recession on the horizon, I’d suggest any jobseeker: consider some of her approaches, including

– tell the prospective employer exactly why you think you’d be the ideal fit

– spend the time to not only research the company in general, but be able to share ‘trivia’ and ‘tidbits’ that will demonstrate your interest and passion

– demonstrate knowledge of the company’s points of differentiation as well its leading competitors (i.e. ‘Industry knowledge’). This particular prospect knew our positioning, key messages and milestones.

– come prepared with tailored questions. While our job prospect didn’t know she’d be meeting with us simultaneously, she nonetheless had a set of questions ready for each of us

– follow-up the first interview with HAND-WRITTEN thank you notes. It shows the employer you’re taking a little more time and energy than your e-mail dependent competitors.

I’m probably missing some nuances from that fateful interview. But, I promise you that, as soon as the prospect left, we asked our senior people to set meetings with her. And, we extended an offer shortly thereafter.

So, rather than fretting about the latest economic news, create a tailored action plan for ‘winning’ interviews with the organizations you admire most.

Feb 01

Rumblings of a recession cause discomfort

Steve and Ted discuss the present state of the economy and the possibilities of a recession. Repchatter_logoWhat impact
could this have on the PR industry?

This discussion centers around the recent doom and gloom stories presented by the media at top tier publications.

Should we be worried about our jobs? Is the media contributing to the problem by hyping the recession to a point where it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy?

Jan 22

Which came first, negative press or poor financial performance?

I never cease to be amazed at the ways in which the media can whip up a frenzy: whether it’s forecastersJournalism
predicting a storm of the century, entertainment-focused, paparazzi types reporting on some dysfunctional celebrity’s latest miscue or, in the case of the economy, pure doom and gloom stories that make the much anticipated Recession a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My most recent ‘fan-the-flames’ favorite appeared on the front page of the New York Times business section. It focused on 40- and 50-something blue collar types who, having lost their $18-an-hour jobs, have been forced to move back in with their octogenarian parents. Ouch. Talk about grim. Not content with reporting just the facts, though, the reporter felt compelled to dig deep and elicit such quotes as, “I’m ruined,” and “I’ll never be able to dig myself out of this hell.”

The media helped build the dotcom mania of 1999 and 2000 by waxing ecstatic about get-rich-quick schemes that, as we now know, were anything but.

Now, they’re taking the opposite tack and filing one negative story after another. Which begs the question: which came first? The poor economic news or the negative press? My money’s on the latter.