Category Archives: Public Relations

Effective Communication in the Healthcare Industry

healthcare-prOne of the most valued qualities in a job candidate is the ability to speak, listen and write effectively. Organizations that communicate effectively with their internal and external stakeholders benefit in many ways than those that view communication as an internal matter. Effective communication in the healthcare industry encompasses many factors.

Structure

This is one of the most important components of good communication. Professionals in the healthcare industry should organize information in a logical, easy-to-understand manner. For example, avoid using technical and medical jargon when relaying information to people who are not in the medical field.

Transparency

Effective communication in the healthcare industry should be transparent. For example, in a hospital setting, transparency refers to how much information should be revealed about the hospital, its dealings, policies and developments. Honesty and integrity are important elements of effective communication in the healthcare industry because they inspire trust between the industry and its internal and external stakeholders. Transparency in communication also ensures that everyone has the information they require to make the right decisions.

Accuracy

Many factors in the healthcare industry affect people’s lives directly and indirectly. Inaccurate information in research and other factors in the healthcare industry may even lead to loss of lives. Accuracy in communication can be enhanced mainly through research.

Sensitivity

The workforce in the healthcare industry is highly diverse. Therefore, the ability to practice sensitivity in communication is highly valued. Sensitivity in communication involves taking account of cultural differences in communication styles and adapting your messages so that they can be well received by your intended audience.

Effective communication in the healthcare industry is a broad field that encompasses many factors. Many companies are now hiring public relations managers to handle their internal and external communication. There are many benefits of hiring Public relations managers to handle communication for businesses in the healthcare industry.

• By hiring public relations managers, you receive experienced professionals who can brainstorm and tell the story of your company in a unique way.

• An external PR firm provides third party objectivity in communication. Effective communication may involve stepping back, assessing the situation and offering fresh ideas and perspectives.

• Public relations managers have the expertise to tailor creative messages that can break through misunderstandings and negative public opinions.

• PR managers have established communication with the media. While internal PR managers may be more passionate about their firms, news coming from them may seem biased and non-credible, which the media may not buy.

• Experienced PR managers work with company spokespeople and teach them how to deliver catchy sound bites, answer tough questions from the media and stick to important messages.

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Filed under Education, Juda Engelmayer, Public Relations, Social Media, Technology

Beyonce: Bootylicious or Business Genius?

beyonce-marketingPop stars trading on “pretty” is nothing new. Since video killed the radio star, pop icons have separated themselves from also-rans by being prettier, edgier, or more visually interesting and entertaining. Production became not only a tool, but a necessity of the trade. Better production meant better sound, and that dynamic made celebrities out of both top producers and the hitmakers smart enough to work with them. Brands were born, and the music industry created bidding wars for top names. Since Madonna and Cher, all the best single ladies dropped their last name and put their first name up in lights.

When Destiny’s Child burst onto the scene, you didn’t have to be an industry insider to know who carried the most star power. After the eventual breakup of the superstar “girl group,” Beyonce’ rocketed to fame on her own.

Initially, her inherent sex appeal, camera love, and stage presence carried her, but pop music has a lot of good looking women who love the spotlight. Friends, associates – even critics – say it is  Beyonce’s business acumen that keeps her at the top. (And I’d argue marrying Jay Z has helped both of them.)

Even Harvard Business School has taken notice. According to Businessweek, HBS is offering a new class unit that asks students what they would do if they were working for Beyonce’.

The class is based on a marketing strategy case study co-authored by Anita Elberse, a professor of Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries, who asks students how they would handle the “surprise” release of Bey’s latest album. The recording was downloaded more than 617,000 times in less than three days. Not bad for tracks that were released exclusively on iTunes.

Now, not everyone could manage that. You need a massive amount of market presence and name recognition to get there, but the question is … how would you handle it? That’s a key question in any industry. Too many focus entirely on getting to the top, without any idea of what to do to stay there. A lesson, it seems, they could start learning from Beyonce’.

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Filed under Juda Engelmayer, Media, Public Relations

Great Phones & Giant Robots

When you think of South Korea you likely think of cars, smartphones, and flat screen TVs. But what about robots? Well, with the advent of a state-sponsored 735 million dollar theme park featuring futuristic rides, as well as R&D labs, robots are fast becoming big business in South Korea.

The park is not set to open until 2016, but it is being reported that the country will be investing more than one trillion won into its national robotics industry, an industry that has doubled in size in the past five years. In 2012, Bloomberg reported that the nation’s robotics industry had revenue topping 2.1 trillion won. Now, the government is working to increase that number to more than 7 trillion won by 2018. The projection calls for 600 domestic robotics companies employing more than 34,000 workers.

This effort must include a shift in presence and presentation for a country famous for its tiny electronics—semiconductors, sensors, and modern automotive computing equipment. One market PR challenge may stem from a transition in end user, from public defense to private consumer. This is because much of the technology being used to “commercialize” the robots comes from Hyundai Rotem, a defense subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group.

In fact, one of the robot products already in use includes a robot sentry, equipped with a gun and grenade launcher, that has been tested on the border with North Korea. For many westerners, this application offers unsettling images of ED209 the “Bad Robot” from the Robocop film.

But the transition from military to consumer applications may not be as difficult as one might think. The country is taking the right tack in its transition by employing robots in places frequented by kids. Machines are helping to teach students English and others interact with fans at baseball games. Connecting with kids on two different fronts, the robotics industry is establishing a tried and true – and highly effective – PR program.

This is a vital step in continued growth, even as neighboring Japan has countered with robotics investments of its own. If South Korea wants to establish itself as a competitive player in this industry, it cannot discount the power of consumer expectation and strategic public relations.

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Apple: Where no news is still headline news

apple-product-announcementWell, Apple has done it again. Once more they released a vague statement and received an incredible amount of almost completely free PR. Back in August, Apple began sending out media invitations to a “special event” schedule for September 9. What would it be? They “couldn’t say more.” Of course, “everyone” assumed it would be the release of the new iPhone 6, but the company steadfastly played dumb while everyone lost their minds. Scores of reports across major news networks, segments replaying and dissecting the few actual commercials Apple released, guesses and prognostication and predictions galore. An entire cottage industry of blogs and gurus was created simply to talk about what Apple refused to talk about. How do they do it?

Sure, it’s easy to say they’ve earned it. Apple has been masterful in their PR presentation since Jobs was on the job. Using hype, unique products and a heavy dose of exclusive branding, Apple created a culture of fans by being completely different … but also knowing exactly how to appeal to those they targeted.

The lesson here is in style, not function. It’s about creating anticipation and parlaying that emotion into mad amounts of free publicity.

And anticipation wears many faces. Sure there will be the die-hards who will buy any new toy with an Apple logo on it. But there are many others who are after certain features and benefits that Apple currently doesn’t offer. It’s no secret that Apple is losing market share to Samsung and their deliciously large touchscreens. So, when it came time to start the iPhone rumor mill, one of the first things “leaked” was the projected larger screen. Up to 5.5 inches some said.

That little tidbit ignited a firestorm of conversation. Would it happen? Is it better? Does size really matter? Was it enough? Not enough? Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk…

And then there were the “outsider” predictions. The less obvious bets made by purported technology industry insiders who “knew” months ago that the actual big announcement would be the long anticipated “iWatch.” Apple was more than happy to feed these rumors too.

Then all they had to do was sit back and let the anticipation build.

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Tech Winners Trying to Infiltrate other Industries

technologyWhat do you do when you’re a young adult, and your tech startup has really taken off? Well, some might celebrate having the disposable cash to go party. Others, however, are stepping up to control the party, investing in nightspots across the country. That takes the idiom of “work hard, play harder” to a whole new level.

But what do these, or any other investors need to know about getting into an industry with which they are relatively unfamiliar?

First, you need to lean on people who understand that industry. Sure, having the cash gives you considerable leverage. But if you don’t know when and how to pull that lever, you may end up being one of the innumerable failures in your new industry – whatever that new industry may be.

It also helps if you are monetizing something you already enjoy. Some tech superstars investing in the entertainment and hospitality industries see the practice as little more than an extension of what they are already doing. They like hanging out at a neighborhood bar or doing business across a table at a restaurant, so why not own the place?

And why are tech entrepreneurs getting so good at this? Well, they already have the cash – you can never have enough funding for a startup – and they also have the analytical chops to see both the big picture and the “small stuff” that often dooms solo entrepreneurs.

The lesson here for anyone interested in making it in a new industry? Understanding and adequate capitalization go a long way. It seems like a simple lesson, but it’s one that millions of startups learn the hard way every single year.

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Borrowing Credibility can Work Wonders

Sometimes, when your PR is stuck in a rut, it can pay to team up with other brands whose messaging and standing remain strong. That may very well be one of the reasons for a recent partnership among Uber, Starbucks, United Airlines, and OpenTable.

Uber is a fast-growing and increasingly popular transportation service. Despite its popularity however, the brand has been taking a bit of a PR roughing up recently, according to 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian. So, the company decided to put some happy vibes out in a big way. First, it publicly declared a new standard of becoming “as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.” Then, Uber put its money where its mouth is, opening its software platform up to nearly a dozen “partner” companies, including Starbucks, United Airlines, Hyatt, and OpenTable.

So now, when you book a table using OpenTable, you can also reserve a car, to and from the restaurant. And frequent flyers can now use United’s app to find an Uber driver to pick them up or drop them off at the airport. Not only does this open Uber up to millions of new customers, it gives the beleaguered company a much-needed shot in the arm. Partnering shoulder to shoulder, or, in this case, app to app, with known and respected companies will immediately give Uber a credibility boost.

This increase in credibility, call it legitimacy by association, is powerful for a business trying to change an industry. Competitors have been trying to pick Uber off, first with nasty PR, then by trying to price them out of the market. With a fledgling client base, Uber was certainly vulnerable on its own. Now it has the backing of massive international companies, and the bonus of “value added” offers across several app interfaces.

This move will protect Uber while also upgrading its status among those who may have been reluctant to give the service a try.

 

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Sharp PR for American Knives

american-made-knifeFrom 1998 to 2012, the number of American knife makers dropped by nearly 30 percent. This is just one aspect of a declining American manufacturing industry, but it is no small loss. For example, according to Businessweek, one Massachusetts knife maker employed 500 workers consuming 200 tons of steel annually. This was way back in 1864, though, and today, things are very different. That company recently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And they are not alone. Today there are only 188 knife makers in the States. That’s a tiny number when you consider how many knives are bought and sold in the U.S. each year.

Consider the sheer number of steak knives used at restaurants across the nation. Then, think about every carved turkey or family dinner or wedding reception. Every butcher, meat cutter, caterer, event facility, or breakfast bistro. Relatively few of them are buying American anymore.

Ronn Torossian admits that these companies have more than an image issue. They are facing the same challenges all American low tech manufacturers are. Rising prices for raw materials, lagging technology, and expensive labor costs are forcing many companies overseas. Sure, product quality sometimes suffers, but it’s better than closing their doors.

Still, is there something these American companies can do from a public relations standpoint? Well, first, most of these manufacturers are far too anonymous with regard to the general consumer market. Sure, chefs and meat cutters might have a favorite brand, but the average American consumer really has no clue what brand means quality. They buy on price and try not to go home with junk.

Knife manufacturers have only themselves to blame for this. American consumers love to be loyal both to American made products and to quality merchandise. Yes, they will buy the cheap junk when they have to, but only because they don’t know any better.

For the beleaguered blade industry, step one should be to build brand recognition, and create a story for their brand. Consumers want to know what they are buying … it’s up to the brand to tell them.

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Frampton Comes Unglued

peter-frampton-throw-phoneWhen something happens, it has immediately happened and cannot happen exactly the same way again. Unless someone captures it on video, and puts it up on YouTube. Then the same incident can be viewed over and over again, dissected and debated until all context is destroyed.

In the PR business, Ronn Torossian says he has seen this happen to individuals and brands time and again. A momentary incident suddenly attains a life of its own, and a context completely divorced from any comparative reality.

Just ask classic rock superstar Peter Frampton. The “Comes Alive” guitarist recently came unglued at a concert where one oblivious and obnoxious fan was ruining the show for everyone around him.

Even though the venue specifically forbade flash photography and video, the fan took it upon himself to continue videoing the show. Now, this is hardly uncommon at concerts, but it is rude. Particularly if the venue has specifically requested concertgoers not do so. But the fan felt special. Forget that the raised arm and bright light was obstructing the view of the fans behind him, he was going to capture this moment (and probably illegally post it up on YouTube).

Then, Frampton got involved. He requested the fan stop videoing and stop taking flash pictures multiple times. The fan agreed, but went back to it time and again. Finally, Frampton had enough. He stopped the show and asked the fan to show him the shots he’d been taking. The fan obliged. Frampton glanced through the pictures and then pitched the phone into the rafters. Audience members cheered, and the offending fan was escorted out by security. Message, hopefully, received.

In past decades, it would have ended there, but in the Internet age, people are still talking about this incident ad nauseum online. Suddenly Frampton is more relevant than he’s been in years, and he has become a symbol of polite concert behavior. Like that time Axl Rose leapt off the stage and punched a fan, people will be talking about this incident for years. But they will be doing so with a much larger number of people.

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How simple ideas can Create huge Charity PR returns

ice-water-challengeIt began with a series of videos. Then it went viral. Random people dumping buckets of ice on their heads in order to get attention – and, hopefully, bring attention to various charitable causes. Those who get doused are encouraged to “pass it on.” As a PR stunt, Ronn Torossian says this trend has feet. What it lacks, Torossian argues, is substance.

Sure, people are going to watch other people doing something fun and a little bit silly. And, yes, other people are going to give it a shot. But then nothing much happens. This presence in place of substance is so prevalent in today’s Video Everywhere culture that it even has a name – Slacktivism. The pejorative relates to simple, purportedly charitable, actions that don’t actually accomplish anything. And they are everywhere. When NFL players are sporting neon pink socks for “awareness,” then you know a cause is in grave danger of jumping the shark.

But that doesn’t mean an idea that might lean toward slacktivism doesn’t have merit. Even the ice bucket challenge can make a difference if applied in the proper context. While a charity cannot coerce people to give, they could create fun ways to encourage donations and volunteering based on activities as simple as the ice bucket challenge. In a world of immediacy and microdonations, you don’t always need massive events to bring in the bucks.

That’s not to say major events are not worthwhile. Statistics bear out exactly how profitable major events can be, and that doesn’t seem likely to change. But there is a large – and largely untapped – generation out there who looks at, and engages with, the world in a very different way. You reach those folks with ice buckets.

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McDonald’s is Having a Tough Summer

mcdonalds-summerFrom Super Size Me to health crusades to flawed product releases and minimum wage battles, McDonald’s has faced its fair share of negative PR in the past. But Ronn Torossian says this summer McDonald’s is facing a very different sort of negative news.

According to Businessweek, McDonald’s has been ordered to pay $27 million in compensation to the families of two dead Texas teens. The judgment comes as a result of guilty verdict that alleged a Houston area McDonald’s of operating with “lax security.”

 The incident in question happened back in February 2012. Denton Ward, an 18-year-old college student, was beaten to death by a mob at that McDonald’s location. His girlfriend, 19-year-old Lauren Crisp, was killed in an accident while trying to get Ward medical attention.

While the single incident may not have prompted such an award, the families’ attorneys argued that the restaurant had a “horrible history,” with over 200 complaints during three previous years. The attorney argued that McDonald’s knew about the issues but failed to act. The jury agreed, though the case will likely go to appeal.

This is a very different sort of negative Food PR that comes on the heels of several recent national issues that have dragged the Golden Arches through the muck. McDonald’s has been on the forefront of the minimum wage and living wage debates for months now, an easy and highly visible target, much like Walmart. In addition, McDonald’s is almost always mentioned when reports are made about the “American diet” or obesity or unhealthy eating practices.

When PR scenarios are coming at you like this, constantly and from different directions, you need a positive PR game plan in place to counter them. But, as this story shows, you also need to be prepared for something horribly different. When the story first ran back in 2012, countless local news stations went looking for the “most dangerous” McDonald’s in their towns. Suddenly, a single tragic series of events took on the feel of a national pandemic.

Now that the verdict is in, expect the cycle to start all over again. McDonald’s may be able to appeal the verdict, but their approach to public opinion is not so easily challenged.

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