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  • Tag Archive: Rebekah Iliff

    1. 5 Tactics For Ensuring Customer Success

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      What do you think makes a B2B company successful? Turning a profit? Going public? Rapid growth? If you put yourself in the shoes of a customer success manager (shoes I’ve filled more than once), the correct answer will be revealed… If your customers are succeeding (with your tools, support, and encouragement), then you’re succeeding too. What makes a company thrive is really that simple.  

      I recently took a look back at a Mashable article written by our Chief Strategy Officer, Rebekah Iliff, which explored the fact that some of the most successful PR strategies are the ones that require a “customer-as-the-hero approach.” I couldn’t agree more. A company’s success is relative to how good that company is at solving their customers’ problems. And smart brands such as Western Union, and even celebrities such as Adele, have become magnificent at bringing their customer stories to the forefront of their own narratives.

      In light of the “customer-as-a-hero approach,” I’m sharing my go-to tactics for ensuring success from a customer/client management perspective. Because when you have the foundational skills for maintaining and growing relationships, you have what you both need to succeed.

      #1 – Develop a personal rapport.

      For most customer success managers, it’s a marathon not a sprint. In addition to onboarding and training new customers, you are also responsible for cultivating power users and external champions for your brand. Plus, if you’ve successfully developed a personal relationship with a customer, you will be in a better position to solicit real, honest feedback which will ultimately help you improve your product or service.

      Customer satisfaction scale and testimonials concept with happy human fingers on a blackboard#2 – Manage Expectations.

      Setting the tone for your relationship is important from the get-go. If you’re anything like me, you may have a tendency to over deliver. At first glance, “over-serving” a customer sounds like a good thing, but it’s not always sustainable nor is it scalable. Clearly, you want to woo your customers and help set them up for success, but that doesn’t mean you should do everything the customer requests at the drop of a hat or respond to emails when you should be sleeping.

      Instead, develop your own policy for meeting your clients halfway so that there’s a mutual understanding that your relationship is akin to a partnership. If you receive an email with a list of questions about your product, what is a realistic turnaround time? What’s your company’s policy on responding to customer outreach? Don’t forget you have your own internal meetings, overflowing inbox, etc. to juggle, and “an organized you” will make for more customer success in the long run.

      #3 – Maintain a positive attitude. No excuses.

      Being friendly, thoughtful, and considerate goes a long way (because we all know the last thing a customer wants to do is be around someone who trash-talks a competitor or is a Debbie Downer, in general). Remember that you’re the face of the company and it’s your duty to represent the brand in a positive light. Also, enthusiasm is contagious, and the best way for a customer to get excited about your product or service is through your energy.

      #4 – Be direct.

      Contrary to popular belief, you can be direct and positive at the same time. I’ve spent a lot, and I mean a lot, of time crafting lengthy emails including flowery language, i.e. explaining why things are the way they are, etc. We’re all busy, and there is no need to dance around an issue or add unnecessary language as filler. Customers will appreciate a short, clear, and to-the-point email because their time is precious just like yours. If you’re struggling with directness, consider the 70% Noise Reduction Rule.

      #5 – Be human, and show your appreciation.

      If your company’s product or service is working the way it should, your customer will succeed and thank you for it. It almost goes without saying that you should be showing your appreciation for your customer and their business too. Show them the type of professional you are by way of a small, thoughtful gesture such as sending them a link to an article you think is relevant to their business or a little treat on their birthday. (Sounds a little corny, but we all saw you smile the last time a mystery cupcake arrived.)

      The moral of the story…

      You don’t have to be the bend-over-backwards car salesmen of yesteryear to make your customers happy, but it does take work. Your business is only as successful as your customers, so be supportive, be real, and let them know that, yes—they are your company’s biggest champions.

      Thanks, (author) Rachel! Meet another bright mind behind the scenes at AirPR…


    2. The PR Optimization Pie


      Ever have one of those late afternoons where you stop to take a breath and realize your desk has become a complete disaster area in the past week? Yeah, that was me last Friday around 5:50pm.

      Since most everyone else had left for the weekend, I decided to take advantage of the peace and quiet and go on one my infamous Soza cleaning rampages which typically involves a whirlwind of Clorox wipes and an anal-retentive reorganization of our snack shelves.

      During my desk disaster relief efforts, I happened upon a fascinating little doodle penned by my inimitable Chief Strategy Officer, Rebekah Iliff. Rebekah’s desk bumps right up against mine, so it’s no surprise when documents co-mingle.

      This particular drawing was too good not to share, especially since it totally parodies Ann Friedman’s hilarious pie charts. Take a look:

      PR Optimization Pie

      Rebekah and I constantly talk about how important time management is, particularly in the lives of busy PR pros. But we also know all-too-well how easy it is to find yourself hyper focused on one or two things while other important facets of being a well-rounded professional go neglected.

      The real challenge, as visualized above, is striking a balance…and committing to that balance. This means blocking off time in your calendar for stuff that typically gets pushed to the wayside and it means recognizing that if you’re always executing, you won’t have the time for insight mining or dot connecting.

      We don’t live in an ideal world, but we do have a lot of say in how we spend our time. Might I suggest taking a page from the Notebook of Iliff and turning a critical eye to how your workflow aligns (or doesn’t align) with the above PR optimization pie?

      If any of these slices are missing from your day-to-day (particularly the 6% where you drink wine), your work wheel might need a little rejiggering to ensure you are indeed spending your time wisely and not missing key opportunities.

      Being a PR pro is so much more than the volume of output you deliver and sometimes, we all need a simple, hand-drawn pie chart to remind ourselves of that.

      Got another slice of the pie you think is muy importante? Please comment below or tweet your thoughts to us! We can never get enough PR optimization tips.


    3. PR’s Past, Present and Future as told by Sally Falkow

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      When it comes to PR prowess and expertise, there are not many individuals who possess both in droves like Sally Falkow. As president of PRESSfeed and one of the industry’s leading minds on new technology and digital PR, Ms. Falkow brings over 30 years of PR experience to the table.

      Sally Falkow headshotSal (as she often signs her emails) generously offered to sit down with me at her beautiful home in southern California for a candid conversation about the past, present, and future of PR.

      Needless to say, the takeaways were endless.

      Here’s just a sampling of our dialogue, which most definitely included talks about what happens when you eat too much cheese, real time anagrams, and a Rosetta Stone case study guaranteed to blow your mind.

      The entire interview can be heard below. I suggest streaming it as you make dinner this evening or book marking it for an upcoming flight.

      Sally Falkow Notable Quotables

      • You cannot approach PR like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Your whole content strategy should be informed by analytics. Analytics allow you to know what is needed and wanted.
      • PR absolutely must embrace the PESO approach (Paid, Earned Shared Owned). Start with Owned (produce the content). Owned gets Earned (picked up by media). Amplify and push content with Paid, and then it will be Shared (social engagement).
      • Whatever you’re doing in PR, it has to tie back to the business goals. It’s about outcomes, not outputs.
      • PR goals cannot be vague (e.g. raise awareness, get more FB likes). They must be measurable. Identify where you are now, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.
      • Not measuring PR is like playing soccer with no goalposts.
      • 80% of firms are starting to spend more on digital skills, but there aren’t enough people with those skills because most students are still being taught very traditional PR.
      • You can’t teach someone to be a brilliant strategist, but you can certainly become a more critical thinker than you are today. People can learn to play chess, which requires critical and strategic thinking.
      • You need to understand the basics of coding, and the basics of the Internet. Otherwise you won’t know what’s coming or what’s possible.
      • All PR people should find one or two sources that they read to stay up to speed with all of the changes.

      You can soak up more of Sally’s infinite wisdom by visiting her fantastic blog.

    4. #MeasurePR + PRTech = PR’s Bright Future


      Last Tuesday Rebekah co-hosted Shonali Burke’s first #measurePR Twitter chat of 2015 alongside Deirdre Breakenridge.

      The topic? Why, PRTech of course.

      Considering these are 3 of the smartest (not to mention loveliest) ladies to ever utter the letters PR, it’ll come as no surprise that the rousing chat was chock full of wisdom and key industry takeaways.

      Curious about what hot topics were discussed, what PR pros should be paying attention to, and why PRTech is proving to a defining force in 2015?

      Of course you are.

      Below is a taste of the juicy chat tidbits as well as a few takeaways guaranteed to take your work to the next level.

      Let’s get after it…

      PR bright futureOn the importance of measuring PR:

      • “Understanding [PR] performance let’s you enhance, iterate.” – Julie Diaz-Asper
      • “If we want a seat at the ‘grown ups table’ we have to earn it via metrics.” – David Rockland
      • “We cannot say ‘PR drives bottom line’ and not embrace measurement. Either we’re integral or peripheral to business.” – John Friedman

      In case it wasn’t clear from the astute observations above, PR measurement is a non negotiable. Proper measurement helps us optimize and improve, while clearly demonstrating the value PR. In regards to PR measurement, let’s make a pact here and now: We vow to be practical, produce great work, and measure our asses off. How about you?


    5. The myth of DIY PR (and why I yelled at Inc.com)

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      There are two particular things in life that make my blood boil to a point where I actually start having hallucinations:

      #1 – People who can’t commit to anything fully and who often use words like “try” “should” “possibly” and “maybe”. Sometimes in the same sentence. These folks couldn’t stay in a relationship if they were chained to a bed and couldn’t make a business successful if they were handed $100 Million on a silver platter. Note: stay away from these types of people if you ever want to have sanity in your life.

      Example phrase – often in the form of a text message: Oh, I am really going to try to make it for sure. I should possibly know maybe by like Friday. TTYL. LOL.

      #2 – This second point is perhaps less personally annoying and just more generally, no completely, unacceptable: people who talk about things of which they have little insight or expertise but simply because they have seen it done or experienced it on some level they believe they are experts.

      For example:

      Exhibit A: Someone who has been divorced 5 times giving relationship advice to her 25 year-old daughter. This conversation can be overheard in places like, oh say, Beverly Hills, almost on a regular basis.

      Exhibit B: Someone who has never actually started a business giving advice to an entrepreneur about how they should run their business. This also, ironically, tends to happen in places like Beverly Hills. And pretty much every other place on the planet.

      Exhibit C: A Sales and Marketing blogger writing a grammatically incorrect and misleading article about Do-it-Yourself PR on Inc.com of all places. [And thank you Meredith Fineman for bringing it to my attention with this email subject line which pretty much sums it up: “head –> desk.”] (more…)

    6. PR, the psychologist meet Advertising, the dentist

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      I’m a big, big fan of personification. Huge. So much so that sometimes I mistake my mother for an actual hen or my friend Tom, as alluded to here, as the discipline of public relations. This habitual form of self-entertainment and creative process is rivaled only by my fanship of satire, as can be seen, oh say, here.

      My belief is that the personification bit happens often for one of two reasons:

      A. I’m cray. #highlylikely

      B. It’s the easiest way for my brain to understand extremely abstract concepts. #alsohighlylikely

      After having spent an entire day reviewing and thinking about PR Measurement followed by getting mouth-maimed by an exceedingly chatty dentist, I had a light bulb moment: PR can be thought of as an engagement with a psychologist, and Advertising can be thought of as a visit to the dentist.

      The former is a two-way conversational process that can often take months and years to finally take effect. The outcomes in behavioral change vary from “marginally functioning adult still caught up in narcissistic tendencies” to “highly functioning adult able to get through the day without feeling like a loser.”

      The latter is a one-way ticket to conversational hell whose goal is clear (as painful as the getting there may be): clean teeth and healthy gums. The sale is direct, and you know what you’re getting. They may serve it up to you differently, but the tools are all relatively the same, the process is the same, and the outcome is “measurable.”

      Why is this an interesting personification topic of discussion?

      Well, for starters, the past several years have been spent attempting to dislodge the use of AVE’s (Advertising Value Equivalency) as a valid PR measurement tool. In fact, the recently released Nasdaq/Ragan survey of 1,467 PR pros reported that (with regard to “problems with measurement”): “32% believe PR pros measure the wrong things,” while 22% liked the answer, “Are we still talking about AVEs?!”

      Another respondent was decidedly candid: “AVE is total BS, like comparing baseball to the Kentucky Derby.”

      Or a psychologist to a dentist. (more…)