Archive for listening

It’s Okay to Toss the Script

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by innovativemediapr

Yesterday I received a call from the New York Blood Center thanking me for my recent platelet donation and welcoming me to the donor family. I have been a regular blood donor for years with the Central New Jersey Blood Center, but recently gave locally in my home community of Marlboro, NJ to help a local youth group. It turned out that this blood drive was run by the New York Blood Center.

I get called all the time to remind me that I’m eligible to donate because my blood type is O-, making me a universal donor.

What struck me yesterday was that the woman on the other end was reading from a script and not listening to my response. I kept telling her that I was a regular donor in New Jersey and she kept reading her script, thanking me for being a donor, telling me my blood type was O- and that they looked forward to having me donate in the future. Whenever, I mentioned my regular donations down in Shrewsbury, she said okay and moved on to the next line of the script. What I was trying to tell her was that I would continue to donate blood and do so at my normal blood center. She was pleasant enough, but it gave me pause to think how many businesses lose customers because the person on the other end gets frustrated with being read to and not listened to.

It is essential for companies, small business owners and individuals alike to realize that the voice on the phone may be the first contact that person has with your brand, company or project. Sure, it’s important from a marketing perspective to get your message across. However, it is also vital that the person delivering the message be attuned to the responses coming from the other end of the phone. By listening closely, that messenger may be able to hit on something that will turn the prospect into a customer, all because they picked up on a certain nuance or desire of that individual because they were listening to their responses. It’s something I try to have everyone at iMedia Public Relations  adhere to when dealing with media, clients and potential partners. You never know what key tidbit you will pick up by listening and not worrying about getting your views across first.

Make sure when delivering a message that you’re listening. And, after reading this, think about donating to the next blood drive in your community. It will be a great “call” on your part.

Tom Cosentino

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Are You Listening?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 27, 2010 by innovativemediapr

As a strategic media relations agency, iMedia Public Relations actively works to garner the attention of media in order to deliver client messages to the public. While we are strategic in our approach, targeting those outlets that speak to the audiences we want to reach with such messages, the real work begins at the inception of the program.  That’s when we listen to the goals and objectives of the client.  It’s the most important part of the process and one that agencies and clients often ignore because they have their own agendas.  By listening we can learn the intricacies of the client business, as well as develop questions that lead to further knowledge and create more opportunities to communicate their message.

About 14 years ago, I attended a men’s retreat sponsored by the Holy Name Society of St. Clement Church in Matawan, New Jersey.  While it was a spiritual day, the great learning I took from the day-long event and have incorporated into my practice as a communications professional ever since was the importance of listening.  I was in a small group with Don Miller, a deacon at our church.  He spoke to us about the class in listening that he took when he was studying for the deaconate.  As he expressed to us, listening was part of the curriculum for deacons, because it was an essential element in their future ministry. It was something they would need during their meetings with couples preparing for marriage, talking to those seeking annulment and visiting the sick.

The listening process is one that has benefitted the finest journalists over the years. The best interviewers are those that not only are well-prepared but listen to the person they are interviewing.  Its fine to have a prepared list of questions but the best question asked can come directly from an individual’s last response.  If an interviewer is not listening intently and instead is only concerned with the next question on his agenda, they will miss the opportunity.

I have been in meetings and pitches over the years with colleagues who fail to listen.  It always leads to a total disconnect with the individuals communicating their vision.  How can they be expected to hire you as their communications agency if you refuse to listen to them?  It’s perfectly fine to question their thinking and plans and make suggestions, but if you go in with a pitch all about you and don’t take the time to listen to what they are saying, how will you be able to develop a plan and strategy to meet their goals?

For years brands looked to captivate consumer audiences through their commercials and advertisements that used catchy slogans, jingles and art.  With the advent of social media, brands can connect directly with the end consumer and receive direct feedback.  Those that listen to the consumer will undoubtedly be the ones that succeed.

I believe the Old Spice  advertising campaign is a firm example of how future marketing and advertising platforms will be cross pollinated through social media engagement. If you haven’t seen it by now, Old Spice launched an ad campaign this February with former football player Isaiah Mustafa, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” Since the ads first hit, Mustafa has become a sensation on You Tube.  Just recently, a campaign on Twitter led to an avalanche of attention as tweets were turned into over 180 custom video ads on You Tube in a 24-hour period.

Simon Mainwaring in his latest business of social transformation blog posting writes extensively on how the campaign was a marketing success but not a technological breakthrough.  In the end, it was a success because Old Spice listened.

The Old Spice campaign was a wonderful demonstration of listening – just check out their Facebook page where Isiah answers questions personal questions via video. As I have said before, the future brand success will be determined by ‘the quality of listening’. In this case the personalized tweets by Old Spice not only showed the brand was listening but compelled the winterers to share the brand content again.

Whether you are Old Spice or a local business looking to connect with your customers, it is important that you listen to their needs and wants. If you’re a communications professional or agency and you want to keep your clients and win new business, it is essential that you listen as well.

Is anybody listening yet?

Tom Cosentino