Public Relations (PR)


Public Relations is the management function that evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. In other words a good public relations program has three steps:

  1. Listen to the public: Public relations starts with good marketing research (evaluates public attitudes).
  2. Develops policies and procedures that are in the public interest: One does not earn understanding by bombarding the public with propaganda; one earns understanding by having programs and practices in the public interest.
  3. Inform people of the fact that you are being responsive to their needs: It is not enough to simply have programs that are in the public interest. You have to tell the public about those programs so that they know you are being responsive.

Publicity is one of the major functions of the public relations department. Publicity is any information about an individual, a product, or an organization that is distributed to the public through the media and that is not paid for, or controlled by, the sponsor.

Other activities include:

  • Establishing contact with civic groups, consumer organizations, and other concerned citizens to learn their views of the organization, to answer their questions, and to provide information (or education).
  • Opening lines of communication with customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, stockholders, government agencies, educators, and community leaders.
  • Conducting studies to find the economic, environmental, and social consequences of organizational practices and to learn how to make a more positive contribution to customers, stakeholders, and society.
  • Providing any assistance needed to adjust the goals, policies, practices, personnel policies, products, and programs of the organization to meet the needs of changing markets.
  • Assisting all members of the firm in developing effective programs of consumer information and education.
  • Sending speakers to schools, clubs, and other such groups to maintain an open dialogue with students and other socially active members of society.
  • Creating incentives for employees to participate in public-affairs activities such as raising funds for charitable groups.
  • Answering consumer and other complaints promptly and correcting whatever it was that caused the complint.
  • Training employees or volunteers to provide prompt, friendly, courteous, and helpful service to anyone who contacts the organization in person, by phone, or written correspondence.
  • Demonstrating to society the organization is listening, reacting, adjusting, and progressing in its attempt to satisfy its diverse publics.
  • Opening two-way communications with employees to generate favorable employee opinion and to motivate employees to speak well of the organization to others.

This is an incomplete description of all the activities and responsibilities of the PR people, but it at least gives some feeling for what they do.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

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Determining Salary Range


Responsibilities and salary are always related. Once you have drawn up a list of job duties and responsibilities and have written a job description, determining a corresponding salary range should be easy.

Roughly speaking, all jobs can be sorted into three categories:

  1. Nonexempt jobs are those that involve performing prescribed, internal tasks and include little problem solving.
  2. Exempt jobs are those associated with supervising the performance of internal tasks and dealing with problems related to those tasks. These employees do not need to be overpaid overtime for extra hours. A good rule of thumb for determining whether a job is exempt is this: if you miss a day of work and someone else does your work for you during your absence, your job is probably nonexempt. But if you return to work and find your work waiting for you, you’re probably exempt.
  3. Management positions are those involving responsibility for addressing internal and external problems and programs, such as business objectives and challenges.

Avoid the temptation to inflate a job’s title by pasting the management label on a task-based job. People with management skills cost more money in the job market and are harder to hire. Let’s say you decide to speed up your company’s inefficient employee healthcare claims handling process by creating a new position: someone who will collect claim forms and coordinate with your insurance carrier. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are hiring someone to perform a series of tasks, not to address a management problem. Advertise for a clerk or coordinator, not a manager.

Always establish the correct responsibility level and salary range for every opening you advertise. Doing so will provide consistency throughout your department and maintain internal equity in the structuring and compensation of jobs.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Characteristics of Diversity


When managers speak of diverse workforces, they typically mean differences in gender and race. While gender and race are important characteristics of diversity, others are also important. We can divide these differences into primary and secondary characteristics of diversity. Age, gender, race, ethnicity, abilities, and sexual orientation represent primary characteristics of diversity which are inborn and cannot be changed. Eight secondary characteristics of diversity—work, background, income, marital status, military enterprise, religious beliefs, geographic location, parental status, and education—which can be changed. We acquire, change, and discard them as we progress through our lives.

Defining characteristics of diversity as either primary or secondary enhances our understanding, but we must remember that each person is defined by the interrelation of all characteristics. In dealing with diversity in the workforce, managers must consider the complete person’s differences.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Building Business Pipeline


  1. Every week, select ten companies or organizations that meet your ‘target’ market profile. List these names, addresses and phone numbers. Select these carefully and include referrals.
  2. Make a research cell to each and identify the most appropriate initial contact. You do not need to speak to this person at this stage, talk to the receptionist or assistant instead.
  3. Send a one-page ‘success’ letter and a very brief overview of what benefits you can offer. Mail on a Thursday or Friday. Focus on your capabilities and how you can benefit the prospect.
  4. Telephone each ‘suspect’ that you mailed within 3-5 days. As 50 percent will be unavailable, log callbacks in your diary. Don’t be surprised if they don’t remember your letter, review it on the phone. Dropping names or using benefits by association can be useful.
  5. Have a prepared call sheet, questions and reasons for an appointment (your goal is a short initial meeting). Offer a benefit to your meeting: share ideas, examples, etc.
  6. Set aside time each week for research, mailing and planning – consistency is vital for this to work. You might find it better to aim for one hour a day rather than one whole day each week.
  7. Maintain accurate but brief reports to monitor your progress and to track activity.
  8. After approximately 10-12 weeks of containing new suspects, reduce the new contacts by between 50 percent and 80 percent and instead go back through all those people you contacted previously and re-contact them, i.e., stay in touch with suspects and prospects every three months. Things often change and if you have selected potential prospects well, it may only be a matter of time before you do business.
  9. Make sure that the subsequent 90 day contact contains something new, interesting or different, even if only very slightly. This also makes sure that you don’t appear too pushy.

10.  No matter how busy you get, always make time to keep in touch with new suspects and prospects in this way on a planned and consistent basis.

The rules:

  1. Do not allow any one customer to contribute more than 30 percent of you sales in any given quarter.
  2. Make sure that at least 30 percent of your sales pipelines is from new business, the rest should be from existing customers or referrals. Do not rely on existing customers to the exclusion of new customers.
  3. Always have a third more sales in the pipeline than you need.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Learn the Language


If you are going to spend a year or more in a country—definitely, absolutely, do your utmost to learn the language. It will make a tremendous difference to your state of mind. Ability to understand the local language seems to play a major role in adjustment to culture shock and personal success in a foreign world.

It is not clear why speaking the language makes such a big difference, but it does. Obviously it makes getting around a lot easier. In hundreds of moments of struggling to get something done, from shopping to household repairs to getting directions, just knowing some of the language removes huge portions of aggravation and helps you gain a sense of safety and self-assurance. When people around you are babbling away in a foreign language, you become vaguely insecure and feel isolated. Knowing the language gives you a sense of mastery in situations where you may feel vulnerable.

The more process of learning the language gets you more in tune with the culture, and breaks the ice, putting you in the right frame of mind to adjust. In some places, speaking a second language is important to enhance your image as a well-bred, educated person—you may be somewhat better off if the language you learn is not the language spoken in the country.

The frequent traveler should think about learning languages too, of course, depending on the amount of travel and bilingualism of the business community. Speaking a language fluently can permit you to attain levels of relationship and business advantage unattainably by someone who doesn’t.

Fluency in the language will allow the traveler into otherwise exclusive realms of local business. The process of negotiation often depends on behind-the-scenes information flow.

Learning the language is no substitute for learning the culture and appropriate behavior. People who are fluent in a language but not sensitive to the culture can make worse mistakes, perhaps because the local experts more of them. And there are dangers in speaking a language if you are not competent in it. Not knowing the nuances of words or being careless with intonations, you might say things you don’t mean. In most languages, some common words have extremely vulgar meanings if pronounced incorrectly. Or you may hear unintended meanings.

If you don’t speak the language well, it is best to reveal that you have made the effort to learn—but then rely on English or an interpreter. Experts advise that is generally best to speak the language for socializing and daily activities, but not when transacting business. As a rule of thumb, if you are not fluent and your foreign counterpart does not speak fluent English, always transact business with an interpreter. Traders who meet frequently with foreigners say that while English is the business language around the world, buyers are far more comfortable talking in their native language, and even if they can speak English, it is often better to have an interpreter. They don’t have to struggle so hard, and it puts them at ease.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Speaking the Body Language


About 60 to 70 percent of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. More important than speaking the language is what you communicate without words. Many travelers trust that if they don’t speak the language, there are a hundred gestures to get across almost any meaning. But gestures have quite different meanings in different parts of the world; body language is not universal. Subtleties are noticed, like the length of time you hold on while shaking hands. On a very unconscious level we can turn people off even when we are on good behavior. Thumbs up is considered vulgar in Iran and Ghana, equivalent to raising the middle finger in the United States. Touching a person’s head, including children’s, should be avoided in Singapore or Thailand. In Yugoslavia, people shake their heads for yes—appearing to us to be saying no.

In general, avoid gesturing with the hand. Many people take offense at being beckoned this way, or pointed out, even if only conversationally. In parts of Asia, gestures and even slight movements can make people nervous. If you jab your finger in the air or on a table to make a point, you might find that your movements have been so distracting that you have not made your point at all. Unintentionally, Americans come across as aggressive and pushy. Yet, in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America or Italy, gesturing is important for self-expression, and the person who does not move a lot while talking comes across as bland or uninteresting. As always, watch what local people do. Or ask.

Body language is more than gestures. You communicate by the way you stand, sit, tense facial muscles, tap fingers, and so on. Unfortunately, these subtler body messages are hard to read across cultures; mannerisms don’t translate. In many parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is disrespectful.

In Japan a person who looks a subordinate in the eye is felt to be judgmental and punitive, while someone who looks his superior in the eye is assumed to be hostile or slightly insane. The Arabs like eye contact—the eyes are windows to soul—but theirs seem to dart about much more than Americans. We don’t trust “shifty-eyed” people.

Subtle differences in eye contact between the British and North Americans can be confusing. English listening behavior includes immobilization of the eyes at a social focal distance, so that either eye gives the appearance of looking straight at the speaker. On the other hand, an American listener will stare at the speaker’s eye, first one, then the other, relieved by frequent glances over the speaker’s shoulder.

Eye contact during speaking differs too. Americans keep your attention by boring into you with eyes and words, while the British keep your attention by looking away while they talk. When their eyes return to yours, it signals they have finished speaking and it is your turn to talk. These almost imperceptible differences in eye contact interfere with rapport building and trust.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Risks: Building Blocks of Success


A person’s confidence is best measured by his or her willingness to take risks. Fear is best reflected by the degree to which a person seeks to avoid risk. The old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” will always be true. Risk, the possibility of loss, is a necessary to success as air is to life.

Imagine what would happen if everyone decided to try to live 100 percent risk-free:

  • No farmer would plant a crop because there might be too much rain or too little. Or the market price for the grain might collapse.
  • No one would start a business because comptition might cause it to fail.
  • No television programs would be produced because there might be too few viewers to attract advertisers.
  • Investors would not put money into new construction, into oil well exploration, and into new ventures.
  • Artists and authors would stop work because people might reject their activity,

To be completely secure, people would take their money out of banks (the banks may fail), hoard food (there may be an atomic war), refuse to drive cars (I may have an accident), and patients in hospitals would refuse blood transfusions (the blood may be contaminated). A goal of 100 percent security would almost overnight destroy our economy.

To avoid risk completely, no one would apply for a job (you may not get it), submit a poem to a literary journal (it may be rejected), speak up in a meeting (you may be laughed at), or ask for an order (the prospect may say No).

Here is an important point: Success-oriented people take risks and sometimes the risks turn out to be losses. Thirty-seven percent of today’s millionaires went broke after accumulating wealth. But they came back to win. No investor is always “right,” and people who build shopping centers, rersidential neighborhoods, and office buildings sometimes lose money. In the oil drilling business, a majority of wells turn out to be dry holes.

How we react to defeat is the key. You have heard people who have failed in a job or in a business of their own say, “I’ve had it. Never again!”

At times, we all feel like giving up. And if we’re not careful, we will give up. Pressure from peers to surrender can be powerful. They tell you, “Look, you tried. The plan didn’t work. Why beat your head against a wall? Don’t feel bad. Most people who try something new fail.”

These people – your peers and “friends” – are often glad to see you surrender. It’s disappointing but it’s true. They don’t have the courage to do something on their own. If they see you fail, they feel better about themselves; you are one of them – another mediocrity.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

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