Working from Home

The alarm goes off. The first thing you feel is sweaty and hot and like someone has punched you in the stomach while you slept. Yeah, you are sick. You know there is too much work for you to take the entire day off, but you also don’t want your beloved coworkers getting sick (or maybe you do, which in that case totally go to work), so you decide to work from home.

Working from home has many perks. Let’s be honest; you are at home, your humble abode. You have seen the ads, “Work from home make more money” or “I can’t believe I make this much money working from home.” Today, you get to take advantage of being sick and take part in what, obviously, so many others already do. You quickly realize it is not so simple.

While working from home is a great concept, you have so many more distractions, e.g., kids, TV, pets, spouse, and kids. Yes, I wrote kids twice. They are so much of a distraction they get double billing. But fret no more, here are some easy ways to cut back on the distractions, complete the work you need to, and find time to recover from the pesky bug keeping you home in the first place.

  1. Make a list — Most people already do this on a daily basis, but today your list is only going to consist of what absolutely needs to get done today. If there is a project with a deadline more than two days away, it doesn’t make the list.
  2. Coordinate with your Coworkers — They know you are not coming, but you need to let them know what you will be working on and delegate what you can’t do to a coworker in the office if possible. The ideal way to do this is via phone, but if need be email can suffice. Just make sure the email is as detailed as possible, otherwise you might get a phone call during that recovery nap you desperately need at 11 a.m. Keep them updated throughout the day on what you have completed via email.
  3. Send Your Kids Away — Sounds bad, I know. But you are doing this for good reason. You need to get better and having little Johnny coming to you every five minutes asking for a drink of water is not going to help the cause. Plus, you do not want them to get sick either. If you have someone watch your bundles of joy at your house, ask if it’s OK to have them take your kids to their house just for the day, or give them some extra cash and send them on a day adventure. Kids love adventures. Come to think of it — I love adventures, but that’s a different blog.
  4. Rest — You have a lot of work to complete, but your pillow or the toilet is calling your name. Do not push yourself to the point where you are not actually getting the rest needed to get better. If you do not take time to rest and get healthy, you might wake up the next day still feeling ill. And now you have another sick day to contend with. Just sleep; it is worth it.

Nobody likes to call in sick. It makes it difficult for not just you, but your coworkers who have to pick up extra work in your absence. If you have the ability to work from home, following these tips can help you stray from distractions and get your work completed. It will also give you time to get healthy enough just in time to return to work the next day or two. 

Sometimes It’s Not the Message

We write a lot of messages. Internal messages. External messages. New messages. Fresh-polished existing messages. Messages that are spoken, printed, viewed. Even some that are written, rewritten, and tweaked again to stay current with a company’s shifting needs.

And we love them all.

But, sometimes, the message is not the trouble area nor where a company should focus the bulk of its attention. Sometimes it’s okay to stop fiddling with the exact language in order to take a closer look at what supports that language:

  • Your channels – Are you using the right methods for getting your message in front of people? The world’s greatest message won’t sway anyone if they don’t see it. What’s the reach of your current channels? What other earned or paid options can you add to the list? Are there channels you can eliminate to better put your efforts elsewhere?
  • Your audience – How capable is your audience to respond to the call-to-action in your message? Are finances, time or decision-making power limiting their ability to act? It’s very possible your message is hitting all the right people and they’re simply unable to move on it. If that’s the case and you’ve already adjusted your message to address common barriers, you might need to consider shifting your audience…not your message.
  • Your timing – Messages delivered in the wee hours of the morning or in the equivalent of tax time for accountants have little chance of being read and even less chance of producing action. Know when your audience is open to hearing your message, and target your channels and your timing accordingly.
  • Your expectations –As much as we’d all like them to be, messages aren’t a magic bullet. They do not work in a vacuum and they cannot work alone. Sometimes, it’s time to be honest and re-examine your mix of audiences and channels, as well as timing and budget. Small tweaks in any of these four can mean the difference between breaking out and falling down when it comes to delivering your company’s message.

 

Integrating Relationship Marketing with Media Relations

At Bottom Line, we recognize how media relations and relationship marketing perform better when integrated with one another. By simultaneously organizing meetings with key stakeholders and potential partners, and pitching a company’s unique stories to media, we double the touch-points for earned impressions and relationship engagement. This process increases brand awareness, enhances our clients’ visibility and supports strategic business objectives.

MR + RM infographic V2

 

Crisis Communications 101

No matter the size of your business, it’s smart to have a communications plan for when a crisis occurs. Thanks to the news, it seems there is a crisis occurring every day, everywhere and it’s in your best interest to be prepared if it does.

The first thing to remember when dealing with any type of crisis is to get the facts straight. Be thoughtful and accurate and follow-up with new information as it becomes available. Once you have that down, you can start to look into how you are actually going to communicate this information.

There are several ways to communicate about what is happening at your business. Social media, TV and radio, and text messaging help spread information as quickly as possible, or are good channels for clarifying a message in the event of confusion.

Depending on the severity of the crisis, someone from your organization may be asked to speak to the media to give updates. Choose a predesignated “face” of the company, and train him or her on how to respond to media questions and how to control their emotions, especially when on camera.

Even with previous training, it is important to do a quick refresher session with your PR specialist before going on camera during any crisis. Training is one thing; doing it live in front of multiple reporters is a whole new level.

Depending on the circumstances of your crisis, using social media and text messaging is effective in spreading news to a high volume of the public at frenzied pace. If your crisis is something you can handle without involving the media or does not affect the general public, social media is not a resource to use. But if your crisis can affect the health and well-being of the general public it is a great way to disperse information.

Social media can be used to your advantage because during a crisis you want your information in the hands of as many people as quickly as possible. The key element is your information. The more time you take in relaying information, the far greater the chance is of false information making its way out to the public.

The best option is to draft a few messages pre-scripted for each crisis scenario ready to be released. This makes it easier to use small tweaks in the midst of a crisis while keeping your focus on the bigger picture. The last thing you want to do is to confuse people further by sending out inconsistent messaging or saturating social media with message after message.

You probably already have a social media presence, but using a hashtag to go along with your social media posts will make it easier for people to gather information specifically about the crisis.  Use social media to let people know there is a situation, what you’re doing to resolve it, and where people should go for safety. This will not only help during the crisis, but also will build trust with your organization.

No matter the resources you use to communicate during a crisis the most important aspect is to get the information out to the community. Creating a solid crisis communications plan prior to an event will only make things easier for your business. 

Building Relationships

Relationships, both personal and business, don’t just happen. Like your backyard vegetable garden, they grow over time with some nurturing and attention.

Like a garden, many relationships start with planning. Especially in business, where strategic relationships may have significant impact, think of planning a relationship just like you plan your garden, pouring over seed catalogs in the dead of winter, deciding what to plant. Say that you’ve just returned to the office from a trade group luncheon. You’ve talked to a few people and exchanged business cards prior to sitting down for lunch.

Back at your desk, you’re reflecting on the new people you talked with. One might be a helpful connection with an internship for your college-aged son. Another works for a company whose services are something you could use. Yet another lives in your community and you both share the same like for a particular restaurant. Before you get busy for the afternoon, do something with those business cards other than stashing them in your desk drawer–make a plan to cultivate those relationships.

The first step is as simple as sending a quick email. “Hi Jon, great to meet you today at the MMAC luncheon. I was intrigued by the graphic design services your company provides. Would love to talk further over a cup of coffee. Let me know when you’re free.”

The seed has sprouted. You have coffee and learn more about each other and discuss how you can partner together on future projects. A few weeks later, you come across an article about something you shared in your coffee meeting. Cut it from the magazine and send it to your contact with a handwritten note. This is the fertilizer that keeps your plant growing strong. When an RFP lands in your inbox, you think of your contact and again reach out. Your contact used to work for the company that’s looking for the services your company provides. He puts in a good word for your organization. Your garden is ready to harvest and your relationship has grown. 

A few things to note when cultivating a relationship:

  • Be persistent, but not pesky. We have few blank spaces on our calendars and emails get lost in a full inbox. Stay in touch. Chances are, the other person let it slip and appreciates the follow up.
  • Respect others’ time. If you set an appointment for a follow up meeting, be specific on the start and end time and adhere to it.
  • Know what you’re going to say. It’s best to listen and learn rather than have a specific ask in mind. Get to know the person before you jump in with a request.
  • Follow up. A handwritten thank you note is always appreciated.
  • Stay in touch periodically. Send an article of interest, a note of congratulations, the latest news release or newsletter about something happening in your company. Always include a personal note and the reason for sending. You might extend an invitation to get together again.
  • Be patient. Like a rose or tomato, relationships need time to grow.