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The two sides of managing client’s media expectations

danger1Expectations-300x206By Leo Valiquette

A beloved alumnus of our shop, Danny Sullivan, once wrote on the subject of managing client expectations:

“Every story has a natural news value and, while it’s important for PR people to understand what this value is, it’s even more important that the client understands it too. Without mutual agreement about what level of media traction can be expected, you’re flying blind and all too likely to crash.”

And our namesake tells this story:

“One of the first of what I like to call ‘Francis’s favourite fictions,’ or ‘Everything I know that’s wrong about PR I learned from technology company executives,’ was a line from the CEO of one of the very first tech companies I pitched when I originally ventured out on my own in the early 1990s.

“‘I want to be on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen tomorrow morning,’ he said.

‘I was a lot younger, thinner and more intemperate in those days, so I replied, ‘Okay. Go home and shoot your wife tonight.’”

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The eternal struggle to balance process with results

car-mired-in-mudBy Leo Valiquette

Back in the day when I was a full-time journalist, I would often rouse the ire of hired PR guns by daring to contact their clients directly.

I mean, the sheer gall I displayed by responding with such enthusiasm to whatever pitch or media release they had sent my way.

As a busy hack trying to pump out a dozen news briefs a day, it only made sense for me to take what seemed to be the most direct route to get a source on the phone as quickly as possible. If I had to go through a middle man, then fine; if not, why bother?

And here I am today, one of those PR guns, often sharing the bottom of a client’s media release with one of the client’s own communications people. Who should the media call? Either one of us is fair game. In the end, it’s the result that matters. I am much more concerned with the thud value of a pile of media coverage than nitpicking over who the media called to arrange the interview.

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Marketing lessons learned from a weekend camping trip

sale-300x300By Leo Valiquette

In this socially enabled age, it could be argued that “try before you buy” has become as anachronistic as a laptop case with pockets for floppy disks.

As a consumer, why bother to waste the time when you can simply turn to product review sites and customer review ratings?

Because opinion is seldom objective, that’s why.

Many negative reviews say more about the reviewer than they do about the quality or performance of the product. It’s impossible to appreciate and factor in all the variables that could be influencing another buyer’s reaction. They may have had unrealistic expectations, their needs may not have not have been an appropriate match, or they could have been looking for features and functionality that were not present and are not relevant to you.

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A tale of ProFantastic customer service

Outstanding-Customer-ServiceBy Leo Valiquette

Your quality as a vendor is often demonstrated best by how you deal with prospects who have decided your product or service is not for them.

As Francis wrote in his last post on customer service, we have a particular preoccupation with this subject because of its timeless relevance to any technology company:

“Customer service is based on what I have come to call my first law of competitive differentiation, the proposition that, in an age when almost any technological or cost advantage will rapidly and inevitably be eroded, the only sustainable competitive differentiation for most companies is to treat their customers like the centre of the universe, which they are.”

My most recent experience should be of particular relevance to software vendors, especially software vendors that are targeting niche markets and are trying to keep a lot of balls in the air with a small team.

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If you neglect your health, you are neglecting a crucial part of your business

fitnessBy Leo Valiquette

Back in March I walked into an Ottawa Chamber of Commerce event and volunteered to be the male half of a 10-week fitness challenge.

It was an impulse buy. It was also great timing. I been watching the gradual inflation of that fellow in the mirror for some time and was ready for an opportunity to do something about it. Like most people, I just needed a little nudge.

That 10-week challenge has turned into an ongoing commitment. After four months of effort, I have dropped 26 pounds (and continue to lose), trimmed at least four inches from my waist and added muscle mass I didn’t even have in my youth. I look better. I sleep better. I feel better. I am more productive and focused throughout the day. And while my doctor will have the final say on this, I believe I have even eliminated the need for the entry-level blood pressure meds I have been on for the past several years.

I regularly engage with entrepreneurs, business owners and busy professionals and it’s often all too easy to see where the toll of too many long hours tied to a desk or on the road eating from a super-sized menu add up. It’s one thing to be a young code jockey trying to write that next killer app, sustained by a regular diet of caffeine, energy drinks and cold pizza, and quite another to be one of us guys past 40 now obligated to get regular prostate checks. But the habits that you develop in your 20s easily entrench themselves for the decades to follow. And the pattern is no different for the ladies out there, for whom cardiovascular disease is now the number one killer in Canada.

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