Communicating online (the big leaps)

It’s not just like the real world but with keyboards.

Leap 1: Attention is too easy to steal online, so don’t. Spam is a bad idea. Interrupting hundreds or millions of people doesn’t cost you much, but costs each person a lot. You wouldn’t stand up in the middle of a Broadway play and start selling insurance from the audience. Don’t do it with your keyboard. Permission is anticipated, personal and relevant.

Leap 2: There’s a difference between asynchronous and synchronous interaction. We know this intuitively in the real world (a letter is different from a phone call) but online, it’s profound. A discussion board isn’t the same as a Zoom call. It turns out that we can create rich and layered conversations with async communication, but we also have to be just a bit more patient.

Leap 3: More than one person can ‘talk’ at a time. In the real world, that’s impossible. At a table for six, we take turns talking. But in a chat room, we can all talk at the same time. Use it well and you can dramatically increase information exchange. But if you try to follow all the threads, or you miss what you need, then it’s actually less effective.

Leap 4: Sometimes we leave a trail. Most real-life conversations are inherently off the record because the words disappear right after we say them. But if you use a keyboard, or you’re attached to a server, assume you’re being recorded and act appropriately. And sometimes the people who are talking are anonymous (which never happens in the real world).

It’s possible, with effort, to transform business communications (and schooling) away from the top-down, synchronized, compliance-focused, off-the-record, hierarchical and slow status quo to something significantly more fluid and powerful. But we’ll need to do it on purpose.

 

PS the free co-working space we’re offering has become a successful community hub. Thanks to the Akimbo team for putting so much into creating it, and for the thousands of people who have found energy and solace by being part of it.


Generous isn’t always the same as free

People have been generous with you through the years. A doctor who took the time to understand your pain. A server who didn’t hesitate and brought you what you needed before you even knew you needed it. A boss who gave you a project at just the right time.

Gifts create connection and possibility, but not all gifts have monetary value. In fact, some of the most important gifts involve time, effort and care instead.

Money was invented long after humans arrived on the scene, and commerce can’t solve all problems.

In this moment when we’re so disconnected and afraid, the answer might not be a freebie. That might simply push us further apart. The answer might be showing up to do the difficult work of connection, of caring and of extending ourselves where it’s not expected.


PR People: It Is Time To Become The Joker

Hello PR people. You are now deep into a quarantine. You can no longer go to an office and look busy. You can no longer. 

Your lives have changed a lot – mine has not. You were born to go to offices and talk about television shows that everybody else is watching. You were built to make phone calls where your manager could see, and nod as you as a reporter says “please don’t call me.” You do not know how to do social media other than #using #hashtags, but you do know how to be a bright and breezy person that people think “is really nice.” You know how to do an agenda. You know how to seem, at a glance, like the busiest person alive. 

But now you’re digital. Everything you do has to be something someone can actually look at. The amount of time something takes is no longer balanced against how much consternation you have. You can no longer tut at someone for leaving at 6pm, and stay until 9pm doing something and get told you’re working hard. 

You forgot to go digital. You didn’t think you should actually learn to function as a normal human on Twitter. You created a generic persona that you thought was pleasant – an undefined person #who #uses #hashtags. Now you’re defined only by words. By posts. 

You never really learned how to be a normal human online. You never adapted to being a normal person – or an interesting one-  in real life, but that’s never been an issue. But when you’re a gestalt of your posts, being a boring automaton isn’t gonna work out well. 

You are just learning to post.  My friend, I have been posting my entire life. You posted carefully like you were dipping your toe in the water. I have been online this entire time, waiting for the day that a great equalisation would force you online. You cannot escape. 

Welcome to my nightmare. 

What’s Happening

You see, this entire time – your entire career – you’ve leaned upon people remembering you as nice, or “strategic,” or other vague terms. You could say things like “our team got” when you mean someone else did work that you took credit for. Your approach to media relations – bolstered by years of the PR industry trying to tell you it’s okay to not be able to make relationships with reporters – has been mostly glancing, sterile and faked – a patchwork of communication that still worked because you had all these other things to point to.

You are now sat at a computer, at home, without the ability to look busy by taking phone calls all day, or typing very loudly, or looking at documents with deep consternation. If you’re a manager, you can no longer stroll over to your underlings and ask them the status on something – nobody sees you doing it, thus you’re not managing. Suddenly you’re going to be reduced to a sum of actual work you’ve actually done, such as documents, or emails sent. And guess what? Clients are gonna notice too. You can’t set that all-hands in-person meeting to salvage a client with a deck of stuff that you and I both know isn’t actually impressive, but god damn are you passionate, and god damn will the client understand when they see you do an approximation of Donald Draper. Except they won’t. You’re staying home. You’re reduced to a voice.

A voice without definition. A generic, bright, breezy voice with professional language, stuff that sounded great and got you high grades in college but on its own, without human contact, is boring as shit. You’ve buffed off any actual personality that may be out of the norm, hoping desperately to fit in with your industry or your colleagues or your clients. You have been led to believe that the right thing in a crowd of people that all look and sound the same is to look and sound exactly like that.

Me? I spent the last 23 years online. I’ve been working on how to not be boring in text form for a long time, and I have never had the ability or luxury of being able to fit in. When I started in PR, I didn’t want to call people, I didn’t want to talk to my colleagues, I didn’t want to email 500 words to people – I wanted to die! And so I chose the lifelines I had – talking to reporters in general because my industry was so insufferable. I spent years online talking to them, growing a following and never being afraid to be me, which means that reporters actually know me, and speak to me online.

Sure, I ignored going to events because I never saw the point at them, sure, I didn’t go to PRSA events, sure, I didn’t go out of the house that much at all, seeing more of a point in growing an actual digital presence that resembled me.

And now look at you. You’re lost. You’re afraid. You are scared. You are still saying that media relations doesn’t work.

No, it does. Join me. I shall lead you.

You Can Become The Joker

The reason that I succeed despite my many faults is because I am able to communicate cleanly in the written form. It’s time for you to throw off the shackles of the PR industry – it’s time for you to, as the Joker once said, introduce a little anarchy. upset the established order, and everything [will] become chaos. And, yes, I’m an agent of chaos. It’s time for you to realize that all of the things the PRSA and your agency CEOs told you are lies, lies to keep their jobs and keep you down.

It’s time to:

  • Write pitches under 120 words.
  • Actually read reporters’ stuff, and objectively understand subjects.
  • Read around subjects.
  • It’s time to get rid of 90% of the bullshit language you use in pitches. That means any and all stupid words like “exciting” or “revolutionary,” all insane roundabout ways of describing something, go out the window. Write like a normal person, directly, succinctly, get what you need to say out there and let it stand on its own merits.
  • Not form pitch. Send 7 emails a day. Who cares. Make them good.
  • Follow reporters and talk to them like an actual human being. Log onto Twitter, post whatever you feel like, have a good time out there, stop worrying that you don’t sound professional. Nobody who matters actually cares.
  • Say “fuck” and “shit.” You can do it.
  • Post normally, or abnormally. Be you.
  • Focus on what actually matters in your job – like getting hits for your client – and stop lying to yourself that LinkedIn content strategy is a thing.
  • Laugh in your manager’s face if they say to you that you need to ‘make a pitch more robust.
  • It’s time for you to stop worrying about whether PR people like you. Seriously, a lot of this industry has been built upon people assuming that if PR people don’t like you, you’ll fail. Guess what, nobody has liked me my entire career, and I’ve done just fine.
  • It’s time for you to rethink that PRSA membership. What have they done for you lately? Nothing, that’s what. They’re gonna do even less with your dues soon.
  • It’s time to do things that actually matter. If you see your agency pushing some obscene content strategy because they can’t pitch, tell them to find a way to pitch instead. This entire virus thing isn’t a blocker to everything – it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge of your ability to communicate and your relationship development skills.

You can do this entire job without being in an office, and you can excel at it if you learn to be an actual human.

If you don’t, this COVID-19 situation, and any future emergencies, are going to steamroll you and your agency. Your ass will be grass. The world does not need bright and breezy. It does not need nice. It needs communicators. It needs posters. It needs Jokers.

So say it with me:

Image result for i am going to become the joker

The post PR People: It Is Time To Become The Joker appeared first on The Future Buzz.


Virtual Conferences and Events in our New Covid-19 Reality!

What a difference a few weeks makes! In the first two months of 2020, I interacted with thousands of people at ten different in-person events on three continents. Now and for the foreseeable future, there will be no live events. However, I am super excited that many organizations have stepped up to create high quality virtual events at a time that many of us are hungry to learn new things. I wanted to share a few virtual events I will be participating in.


Is everything going to be okay?

That depends.

If we mean, “Is everything going to be the way it was and the way I expected it to be?” then the answer is no. The answer to that question is always no, it always has been.

If we mean, “Is everything going to be the way it is going to be?” then the answer is yes. Of course. If we define whatever happens as okay, then everything will be.

Given that everything is going to be the way it’s going to be, we’re left with an actually useful and productive question instead: “What are you going to do about it?”


A Sound Brand

Originally from Cremona in the Northern Italy region Lombardy, Mina Mazzini—Mina in discography—has a long string of timeless success to here name. At 80, her sound career spans more than four decades. She made the history of Italian television in the 60s and 70s with a combination of stage presence and incredible talent, then decided to abandon it forever. The images here are but a small sampling of the amazing creativity of the Mina brand. Her voice is unmatched to this day. I have used a reverse chronological order for the collage. She has since recorded / reissued several new…


Responding to Emergencies

On Friday, September 21, 2001 there was an explosion in the city of Tolouse, France. Since it happened ten short days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it meant immediate panic about a terror attack. The public had already been primed in that direction by both politicians and the always-on news cycle. At the time, I had flights to Italy booked 20 days out and, though I didn’t know it yet, I would lose my job right before Christmas. It was a volatile time, marked by ambiguity and uncertainty. Making decisions with a clear head…


Let’s do it together

As we’ve seen through these challenging times, the real skills matter. The ability to hold it all together, to lead, to bring insight and care to interactions. Too often, we’re pushed to only focus on the easily measured, but each of us knows that the human elements are critical.

We’re relaunching the Real Skills Conference. We ran it a few months ago and it was the most effective and extraordinary online event we’ve ever experienced. More than 97% of the participants in this two-hour online conference were still actively engaged at the end of it.

It runs on April 24, but you need to sign up in advance, since it will be fully enrolled.

You can find out all the details at realskillsconference.com. If you click the purple circle on the site, you’ll save quite a bit on the fee if you register today.

We can move forward, together.


Everything You Need to Know About Facebook’s Learning Phase

Facebook uses machine learning to gain insights on the best users and placements to show an ad. With each impression, Facebook’s delivery system gets slightly better at optimizing ad performance.

In late 2017, Facebook unveiled the learning phase. This ad set-level metric gives advertisers a pulse check on any algorithmic optimizations occurring behind the scenes each time an ad is served.

If you’ve pushed an ad set live between the rollout of this delivery insight and the present day, you’ve likely seen this message in your Ads Manager dashboard.

In the Delivery column, Facebook indicates which ad sets are actively gathering learnings and lets you monitor progress as your ads get closer to reaching the recommended 50 conversion events.

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Regardless of your campaign objective, Facebook relies on the learning phase to gather as much data as it can to figure out the most effective way to deliver an ad set. The delivery system is looking for around 50 conversion events in a seven-day window to gather the insights it needs to stabilize performance, and ad sets will remain in the learning phase until the necessary number of conversion events have been reached.

During that time, though, you can expect your performance to fluctuate. Ad sets in the learning phase generally see higher CPAs than stabilized ad sets, so it’s important to wait for your ad sets to exit the learning phase before jumping to any conclusions about the performance of your campaigns.

In this graph, you can see the correlation between the amount of ad spend in the learning phase and both conversions and CPA. In this graph, you can see the correlation between the amount of ad spend in the learning phase and both conversions and CPA.

According to Facebook, “advertisers with ~20% of spend in the learning phase (2nd decile) see 17% more conversions and 15% lower CPA than advertisers with ~80% of spend in the learning phase (6th decile).”

With that in mind, your ad sets would ideally spend the least amount of time necessary in the learning phase before performance stabilizes. Sometimes though, that’s not the case. If a week has gone by and your ad set still hasn’t exited the learning phase, you’ll see the “Learning Limited” insight in the Delivery column.

Learning Limited

The Learning Limited status indicates that your ads could not generate the recommended number of conversions during the initial seven-day learning phase.

In this screenshot from Facebook Ads Manager, you can check the Delivery column to see if your ads are Active, in the Learning Phase, or flagged as Learning LimitedIn this screenshot from Facebook Ads Manager, you can check the Delivery column to see if your ads are Active, in the Learning Phase, or flagged as Learning Limited

As a result, the Facebook delivery system won’t be able to optimize performance, meaning your ads won’t see full results or may encounter issues spending your budget in its entirety.

If your ads seem to be stuck between Learning and Learning Limited status, you’re probably wondering what gives. If that’s the case, it’s important to step back and make sure you’re not inhibiting Facebook during the learning phase. This means you should avoid:

  • Budgets that skew too large or too small. You need enough ad spend to get you the recommended 50 conversions, but an inflated budget can impact the way the delivery system optimizes.
  • Edits to your ad set or ads.
  • High ad volumes. This can unintentionally force your ad sets and ads into competition, resulting in fewer learnings for each ad set and ad.

If you’re obeying Facebook best practices and still seeing “Learning Limited” in the Delivery column within Ads Manager, try troubleshooting by testing some of the strategies below.

Mitigate Audience Overlap

Without distinct targeting parameters, your ad sets may be unintentionally overlapping. Not only can this lead to higher costs, but it plays a big role in the delivery of your ads, too. When audiences are used across ad sets or share similarities, Facebook prioritizes the top performer to mitigate competition within a single account. This means the other ad sets won’t fully deliver; as a result, they may be forced into Learning Limited status.

To combat this, combine ad sets with relevant targeting to minimize overlap. You can get more insight into any potential crossover with the “Show Audience Overlap” setting within the Audience tab of the Assets section.

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Consolidate Ad Sets

If remedying targeting overlap still leaves you with an excessive number of ad sets, Facebook recommends account simplification through the consolidation of ad sets. When too many ad sets are live at once, the ads within them are served less often, resulting in more time in the learning phase.

Advertisers can work around this by consolidating relevant ad sets. For example, using automatic placements eliminates the need to break out ad sets by placement; opting for multiple languages in a single ad set means you don’t need to create a unique ad set for a single language.

Expand Your Targeting

If your audience is too small to begin with, there’s a high likelihood that’s a factor that’s limiting your ad sets’ ability to win auctions.

Audience definition directly impacts the effectiveness of your targeting, especially for organizations that sell niche products or services. Keeping your budget in mind, make targeting adjustments that give your audience pool more breadth.

By expanding your targeting, you’re giving Facebook a wider pool to more accurately search for the users that are most likely to take the desired action from your ads. Make sure you’re keeping audiences sizes consistent across ad sets, though. Campaign Budget Optimization will typically prioritize the delivery of the ad set with the largest audience, which could unintentionally impact the learning phase of your other ad sets.

This message from Facebook Ads Manager alerts you that your audience size may affect budget distribution. If your audiences are significantly different in size, ad sets with the largest audiences will likely receive the most budget.This message from Facebook Ads Manager alerts you that your audience size may affect budget distribution. If your audiences are significantly different in size, ad sets with the largest audiences will likely receive the most budget.

Readjust Your Optimization Event

If your audience is too small to begin with, there’s a high likelihood that’s a factor that’s limiting your ad sets’ ability to win auctions.

Audience definition directly impacts the effectiveness of your targeting, especially for organizations that sell niche products or services. Keeping your budget in mind, make targeting adjustments that give your audience pool more breadth.

By expanding your targeting, you’re giving Facebook a wider pool to more accurately search for the users that are most likely to take the desired action from your ads. Make sure you’re keeping audiences sizes consistent across ad sets, though. Campaign Budget Optimization will typically prioritize the delivery of the ad set with the largest audience, which could unintentionally impact the learning phase of your other ad sets.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Facebook’s Learning Phase appeared first on Portent.


You are your clips

A divisive radio personality, asking for forgiveness, says to his critics, “don’t judge me by my clips.”

Why not?

The things we say and the projects we do are our clips. Taken together, they are our contribution. If you don’t want to be judged by a clip of something you said or did, the path is pretty clear.

The best resume says, “please judge me by my clips.”