Monday, January 26, 2015

10 principles to shake up thinking patterns

These are Annette B. Czernik's top ten principles to shake up thinking patterns and boost creative actions:
  1. Be curious and show an interest – observe and perceive what’s going on around you with heightened attention and awareness.
  2. Think long-term and embrace uncertainty – imagine various future scenarios, best case and worst case and how you would react to the different possibilities.
  3. Think like a visionary – dream and imagine how your environment and society could develop and how you could benefit from it.
  4. Challenge – do not just limit yourself to accept decisions or daily routines; rather ask yourself what you could do better about them.
  5. Get inspired – learn about others’ thoughts and ideas and play with them; appreciate team work as an opportunity for intellectual discourse; or assign a muse (whoever or whatever that might be for you).
  6. Develop tolerance for mistakes – adopt the perspective that every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow, be persistent and keep trying and experimenting.
  7. Trust your intuition – don’t just listen to your rational mind; give your intuition a chance as well.
  8. Organize – focus on the priorities even when the going gets tough or complex.
  9. Influence and convince others – communicate about your concepts and ideas and gain buy-in.
  10. Collect ideas – whenever you see or read or research something that sparks your interest, consider filing the material; you might need that stimulus later.

You may learn more about the importance of creativity for your company's success in Annette B. Czernik's article "No innovation without creativity" on

Friday, January 16, 2015

6 Essential Steps for Surviving a Crisis

At the end of 2014, the headlines seem to be dominated by crisis stories — Sony, Bill Cosby, Eric Garner, Rolling Stone. Communicators often see individuals and brands go through troubled times, whether by their own fault or the actions of others, yet the mentality still persists in many corners of PR that “it won’t happen to us.” That’s a mistake.

By Richard Brownell*

Experiencing a brand crisis is not a matter of if, but when. Sooner or later, fate, or a disgruntled customer or unthinking manager, will plunge your brand into chaos. The best way to prepare for this inevitability is to plan for it in advance. Here are six steps you can take before a crisis ever hits that will help you when dark days descend.

Identify your team. Keep it manageable and focus on the key players: CEO, legal, CFO, subject matter expert, and, of course, PR.

Choose your spokesperson. This can be the head of your company, but oftentimes the best spokesperson is the one closest to the crisis. They will be more believable because they will be considered the most knowledgeable.

Develop your message. This is when you choose the words that will communicate the facts you need to get out to the public. Choose them wisely and stick to them.

Test your message. Train your spokesperson by creating a mock press conference in which they will practice delivering the message. And make it interesting. Play the role of a tough reporter and interrupt the spokesperson, or ask leading questions to trap them into saying something wrong. Offer them false or misleading information and see what they do with it.

Analyze. Go over the testing session and assess how the messaging worked, or didn’t work. How was the spokesperson’s performance? Did their body language, voice and eyes convey sincerity or discomfort? Did they fall into any traps that the reporters laid for them? Then make changes accordingly.

Meet the press. Coordinate your messaging across all digital and traditional media so that no mixed messages are sent out. Create a plan for engaging the media at the earliest opportunity after a crisis hits, but don’t rush out unprepared. Be armed with all the facts at your disposal and stay on message.

*Richard Brownell is Content Manager, PR Events at PR News. He has several years' experience in developing and producing online events. Richard is a published author with several titles for young audiences to his credit. He has also written political commentary for several popular websites and his stage plays have been produced in New York and other major cities.