Social Media Strategy and You

February 25, 2013 by  
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Do I need to be on Twitter?
Do we need to have a Facebook Fan Page?
Should the company have a LinkedIn Page, just for the firm?

These are just a few of the questions that I get every time I sit down with a company. Whether it's just the initial needs assessment, final sale meeting, kick off or SWOT Analysis meeting, I always get questions regarding Social. Things like, "...should we blog?"; “Is there anything to YouTube?”; or “What's Pinterest?”

The plethora of Social Media sites and platforms
Credit: Fred Cavazza, Creative Commons license

I generally open by mentioning that the company should have an overall strategy for Social Media Marketing. But then I usually delve into things like, “you should do all these things, but we'll help you to understand how often for each of the campaigns.” It's my firm belief that all companies should be monitoring Twitter for traffic discussing everything from the company itself, to areas of expertise, similar products and competition. The same holds true for Facebook and LinkedIn. If you don't know what your existing and potential customers are talking about, you're in the dark.

Now, this isn't all to say that organizations need to be pushing content continuously on Social platforms, but they do need to, at least, listen. In fact that is how I begin training. Individuals and companies should commence their “Social Life” by listening to what others are saying, doing, and/or accomplishing. Then initiate responses here and there. That's the easiest way to ease into it.

As far as listing all the platforms and their merits, I'm not going to do that here. There are plenty of bloggers and experts that can impart that wisdom upon you. If I sit down with you to determine if we should partner together to change your marketing direction, establish a Social Media Marketing strategy, or embark on a full branding to being found approach: we're going to decide together how to approach all the platforms. In conjunction we will learn which parts of your company will be handling push, pull and overall interaction. Members of your staff will be trained on use of their voice, how to respond, etc.

Whether you go with my company or not, guard against just hiring some kid, just because they're all over Facebook. You should have someone that understands how Social will impact your business. You need people with Marketing, PR, and/or an Internet Business development background.

Don't be scared by Social, and do not worry that you won't have the time to add things to your day. We will find ways to make this migration into Social Media Marketing as easy as possible. As long as you're following the strategy, constantly review and re-evaluate the plan, and embrace the fact that your potential customers are all over Social Media talking about things you want to sell them – you'll do just fine. Remember: Social Media is pretty much Word of Mouth Marketing. It's just done in real time, on line, and you can monitor and analyze it.

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Commit to Succeeding Through Honest Business Practices

December 19, 2012 by  
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I am not a judgmental person, and it takes a lot for me to not like someone. There are two types of people who irk me the most – people who are snarky for snark’s sake and liars.

Let’s focus on the liars. My dislike for someone goes deeper if I see them benefitting (personally and/or professionally) from their web of lies. At my very first PR agency internship, I learned quickly that the owner was a chronic liar. I learned even more about the lies she told to gain business from my friend who worked for her years after I did. It made my blood boil.

Here’s what we all need to remember: Success is that much sweeter when it’s created and earned through genuine, hard and honest work. 

We’ve all seen people get ahead in life and business in not-so-honest or trustworthy ways. Sometimes, they can run with their deceitfulness and get by without getting caught for a long time. Other times, they’re caught immediately. Failing can be good and can teach us many lessons, but this isn’t the type of failure you should want to face.

Look at all the recent examples this year alone of prominent public figures getting caught in lies. These people experienced enormous amounts of success in their lives. Yet once the lies were revealed, it was all taken away. All that hard work, just to have reputation and success destroyed from lies. It couldn’t have been worth it.

I’ve been thinking about this more due to a recent experience at my agency, Identity. Back in June, we discovered we had a brandjacker on our hands. A “marketing professional” in metro Detroit had decided to start her own agency. At the time, she was friends with one of my coworkers on Facebook. She was talking up her new agency and how excited she was to launch the website. So, my coworker decided to scope it out. Thankfully he did, because she had completely stolen elements of our brand and service offerings. Long story short, our partner handled it, and she removed everything on her site and her company’s social media channels that she had ripped off from us.

Fast forward a few months. My coworker decided to check in to see what our friend the brandjacker was up to these days. She had launched a completely new website and direction for her company (marketing/PR services for emerging music artists). After a little Internet sleuthing, he discovered all her “clients” were not real people. She made them all up, along with the testimonials of her work she had on the site. One would think she would have learned from the experience with us. Clearly, she didn’t.

I find this so unacceptable and appalling that I’m pretty sure my blood pressure has risen just from writing this! So, here are two things I ask of you:

1. Do not lie to get ahead in life, personally or professionally. It’s not worth it, and it will come back to haunt you…even the smallest lies.

2. If you know of someone who is engaging in any type of unethical behavior or lying about who they are as a professional to make money and gain success, advise them to stop. You can’t force anyone to listen to you, but if you feel it’s appropriate to step in, do it. Think of the people who are giving them money for what they think are quality products/services. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to those of us who are ethical and who are doing great things in business without deceiving our clients and customers.

This deviates a bit from my typical posts because it’s more negative in nature, but the point I hope I get across is a positive one. Let’s all commit to being ethical in business and working to achieve success through honest practices.

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Reacting Quickly: How it Can Help & Harm You

December 9, 2012 by  
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We live in a world of immediacy where the crazy busy phenomenon has become the normal way of living. There’s no arguing that. We expect things now, and we put pressure on ourselves to move at warp speed. Being the first (or one of the first) person to do something is an accomplishment.

Being a pro multi-tasker and able to react quickly in a professional setting are two desirable qualities. We all want to work with and hire people who can juggle multiple responsibilities and deliver in a timely manner with great results. We need people on our teams who can move at lightning speed (especially those of us who work in the social media/digital world) with enough precision and attention to detail that they rarely make a mistake…and if they do, it’s a minor one.

It’s an art to be able to manage multiple tasks, projects, clients, campaigns (the list goes on) and consistently deliver success without letting things slip through the cracks…or completely burning out. If you’re one of these people, or can train yourself to become one, you’ll find yourself in high demand in both your personal and professional life.

Here’s the problem with reacting quickly: When you don’t take enough time to fully comprehend and digest the situation, you make mistakes.

Sometimes, these mistakes are minor and have minimal negative effects. Other times, they’re more drastic and could severely and negatively impact whatever it is you’re attempting to do.

Let’s look at a recent situation that is a perfect example of reacting too quickly without taking time to read the details:

At my agency, Identity, we’re hiring a social media strategist for my team. We posted the job opening on LinkedIn. Along with wanting a cover letter and resume, we noted in the job description that we were looking for a case study that included specific details. We were very clear on what interested candidates needed to do in order to apply for this position.

We immediately received applications via LinkedIn and email once the posting was live. Only a handful of the 40-50 people who applied followed the instructions the first time and submitted a case study along with their resume and cover letter. If we wanted to be really harsh, we could have completely disregarded everyone who applied without following directions. However, we took the time to reply back to everyone who didn’t submit a case study and let them know we wouldn’t consider them as a candidate without it.

Would every prospective employer do that? Absolutely not. In many employment situations, if you don’t follow the rules the first time, you won’t even be considered for the position. I won’t even get into the grammatical errors and other dumb moves people made when submitting their information to us (no, college senior, you are not a “social media guru” and you are not qualified for a position that clearly states 3-5 years of experience).

So, how can you avoid the negative side of reacting too quickly? You have to find the balance between moving fast and slowing down.

  • Always take the time to read thoroughly, and proofread before you send anything.
  • Take a moment to let it sink in, particularly if it’s something that hits a sore spot or gets you fired up. Don’t allow yourself to react simply on emotion. You may regret it later.
  • Ask someone else for his/her opinion or to proofread. You can build in enough time for this step.
  • Remember when you make mistakes from moving too quickly, and catch yourself when you’re in a similar situation in the future. You succeed from failure when you learn and improve from those failures. Don’t let yourself make the same mistakes over and over again.

It’s not worth being the first, or one of the first, to do something if you move too quickly and make a big mistake.

What are your thoughts? Have you been in a situation where you moved too quickly and made a big mistake? How do you balance moving quickly without making mistakes?

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How to Know When to Quit

November 12, 2012 by  
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I am not a quitter. I think long and hard before I make commitments to ensure I’m making the right decision. I find ways to make things work so that I don’t have to give up. A fresh perspective or getting input from someone not as intimately involved can do wonders. Quitting for the sake of quitting is too easy.

I bet many of you feel the same way. Do you think, though, that there are times when quitting is appropriate? How do you know when to quit? I think it makes sense to move on when:

  • You’ve poured your entire heart and soul into something for a significant amount of time, yet you’re seeing no results.
  • Your priorities, wants and needs have shifted.
  • You no longer love what you’re doing.
  • Your mental and/or physical well being are in danger.

We avoid quitting for several reasons, but I think it’s safe to say that we associate quitting with negative thoughts. Quitters are losers. Quitters are weak. Quitters choose the easy route. You may find this to be true in some cases, but would you use those labels on someone faced with one of the above situations?

Sometimes, not quitting can actually keep you from success. Take the first example. If you keep trying to make something work when you know deep down that it’s not going to happen, put your pride aside, step back and come up with a new and better plan – one that is more likely to succeed.

I’ve been thinking about the topic of when to quit because I’ve had to give up things I love doing (tennis and running) earlier than I expected due to the #littlebabies doing a number on my lower back. Luckily, I only have to quit these for a limited amount of time.

One of my goals for 2012 was to focus on less to do more (this line of thinking contributed to me writing my bucket list, which I highly suggest you do!), so I decided to give up some commitments that I had really enjoyed for the past few years. It wasn’t easy, but I knew it was going to be the best decision in the long run and would ultimately help me achieve my goal (and it did). Still, I had a hard time giving them up, and I allowed myself to feel like a quitter for awhile.

Are we really quitters if our lives change and we therefore have to shift priorities and commitments? I don’t think so. I stand by the four points I outlined above. You know it’s time to give up on something if you can identify with at least one of those scenarios.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you give up on something and feel like a quitter? Do you disagree and think quitting is quitting…no matter what the cause and effects may be? 

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Important Business & Success Lessons From TEDxDetroit 2012

November 4, 2012 by  
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I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend TEDxDetroit 2012 at the end of October. What I love about TEDxDetroit is that it’s so different from any other event or conference I’ve ever attended. I always leave feeling inspired and refreshed with new ideas and inspiration for how to improve upon my professional and personal life.

This year proved no different. There were several entrepreneurs who shared their personal stories and advice on how to turn ideas into action and success. Here are my favorite quotes from the event:

“Call the world’s bluff.”  Andy Didorosi, president and founder of The Detroit Bus Company

How many times has someone told you your idea is too “out there,” or something along those lines? When you hit roadblocks or opposition, do you stop, or do you power through? Andy’s advice is simple – When someone tells you it’s not possible, find a way to prove them wrong.

I believe it’s OK to pursue new ideas if you’ve done the research, made an attempt, yet realized it’s just not going to work out (more on the whole “when it’s OK to stop” topic coming in a future post). But if you don’t at least attempt to call the world’s bluff, you’re not only doing a disservice to yourself, but also to those who you could potentially affect and help in a positive way should you prove the naysayers wrong.

“Something is better than nothing.” – Tom Nardone, leader of the Mower Gang

I’ve been guilty of focusing too much on the big wins and not taking enough time to appreciate the small wins. Tom gave a good and important reminder that something is better than nothing. So you may not solve the entire problem, but if you’re chipping away by making baby steps toward an ultimate goal, then you’re still making a difference.

“Embrace change, keep the faith and make magic.”  Marlo Rencher, CEO of Good Sweat

Three separate thoughts, but harnessing each of these will help move the needle toward success. You can’t improve and succeed unless you use change to your advantage. If you don’t have faith and confidence in whatever it is you ultimately want to achieve, you’ll never make it. Finally, focus on your craft. Do what you do best. Make the magic that only you know how to make. If you’re producing the best possible work you can, you will see results.

“Thinking isn’t enough. Put action behind thoughts.”  David McGhee, program director for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint 100 Men 100 Boys Program

We all know this, yet we continue to do it. We come up with ideas, then we sit on them. Maybe we start putting together the building blocks, but something always distracts or dissuades us. Your thoughts alone aren’t going to produce greatness. Don’t know where to start? Start somewhere. Anywhere. Just start. Seek out others who can help you move things forward if you get discouraged or don’t know what to do next. Action makes things happen. Thoughts are just the conduit to success.

Huge thanks and congrats to all the TEDxDetroit producers for another job well done!

Does any of this advice resonate with you and encourage you to move forward on something you’ve been holding back on? What other advice has helped spark success for you?

Metro Detroit Places & Events You’re Most Thankful For

October 23, 2012 by  
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If you aren’t from metro Detroit, feel free to tune out now, but come back soon!

A few years ago, I wrote a Thanksgiving-themed piece for Metromix Detroit with five reasons to be thankful for metro Detroit. This year, I’m doing something similar, but I need your help.

This year’s piece is going to include metro Detroiters sharing the local places and events they’re most thankful for. If you want to participate, here’s what I need you to do:

  • Leave a comment with your places/events, and include why you’re thankful for them.
  • Include your name, age and city of residence in the comments (must have all this, or I can’t include you).
  • Include an email or Twitter handle where I can reach you because I’ll need a photo if I choose your comment.

This piece will run in mid-November and will be featured in the Metromix Detroit newsletter and on the website. I’ll pick 10 people/comments to include.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

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Video Blogging – How to Vlog Like a Pro

October 21, 2012 by  
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Do you hate being in front of a video camera? Does the phrase “video blogging” instantly bring on the nerves and anxiety.

I’ll admit – I used to hate being in front of the camera. Thankfully, I’m much more comfortable with it now. While I’ve dabbled with video blogging in the past, both in front of (check out that short ‘do and old school Twitter handle!) and behind the camera, I definitely don’t take advantage of it as much as I could/should.

I’m guessing many of you don’t, either. That’s why I wanted to share some stellar vlogging tips from Meredith Sinclair, the guest speaker at the recent Girls Lunch Out Chicago event (I attended on behalf of client Verizon Wireless, who sponsored the event). Vlogging can be a powerful form of communication and can really help mix things up for your blog readers.

If you want to get started (or get smarter) with vlogging, follow these tips from Meredith (with some additional commentary from me for an extra kick):

  • Use content you’ve already created as inspiration. If you already blog, dig through your archives and find content you can turn into a vlog. Take your most popular posts and build off of them, or add new insights.
  • Have great lighting and sound. Don’t record a vlog with dim lighting, and don’t stand in front of a window. Make sure you have good lighting so your video doesn’t look grainy. If you’re going to sit at your computer and record yourself, you shouldn’t have any problems with sound. But if you start to experiment with how far you stand from your computer, or if you want to ensure you sound loud and clear all the time, invest in a microphone.
  • Give yourself a two-minute warning. If it’s just you talking in front of the camera, try to keep it short and sweet. People will tune out after two minutes if you drone on and on. If you start doing more complicated videos with edits, you can go longer than two minutes.
  • Imagine your best friend is on the other side of the camera. This trick should help if you get really nervous. Imagine your best friend is on the other side of the camera recording you and you’re having a casual conversation with him/her.
  • Learn basic editing skills. iMovie and Final Cut are two good editing programs to use if you want to learn how to edit video. I know how to use iMovie, and I promise it’s relatively simple if all you want to do is slice together different shots and add in some music and text.

Those are some tips on what you should be doing when vlogging. Here’s what you should avoid:

  • Writing down what you want to say word-for-word and/or memorizing a script. Don’t do this. It’s going to be obvious that you memorized it, and you’re going to sound robotic. Practice having a casual conversation with your viewers. If you drop a few “umms”, “likes” or pauses, it’s not the end of the world. But keep those to a minimum, too!
  • Recording too many times. Sometimes, it’s just not your day. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to perfect a vlog. Take a break for a few hours, or pick a different topic if you’re struggling.
  • Talking continuously with no pauses. Don’t talk in one continuous stream of consciousness without pausing. It’s going to come across as babbling, and your viewers will quickly lose interest.
  • Forgetting you have a delete button. If all else fails and you absolutely hate your vlog, pitch it and start from scratch.

Let’s say you get all awesome with vlogging and you want to take things to the next level. Thanks to Meredith’s experience with vlogging, local and national media frequently call on her to do interviews on various topics. Here’s what you need to do if you want to become a media resource (aka, PR 101 knowledge):

  • Know the show. Do your research. Figure out which media outlets would make the most sense for your specific topic and area(s) of expertise. Don’t blindly reach out to a reporter or producer without doing some research upfront.
  • Know your niche. What do you bring to the table that’s unique and different from others who have been interviewed on the show? How can you make the segment/topic more interesting and relevant to viewers? Make sure you communicate that clearly after you’ve identified the best person to reach out to.
  • Know the need. This is very much related to the above. How can you help the show fill a void? If they recently interviewed someone on an area of your expertise and you have more insight to add, find the right person to contact and say you’d love to be considered as a source for the next segment related to that topic because you would add (fill in the blank).

Hopefully this advice helps if you’re ready to tackle vlogging.

If you’re already an avid vlogger, I’d love to hear your tips! Leave them in the comments. 

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This is a Teaser: Are You the Next Donald Draper?

October 20, 2012 by  
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Posted in Advertising | PR | Creatives,Business,Marketing,Social Media,Strategy

According to eMarketer (, US total media ad spending next year is going to exceed $170 billion, indicating a 3% growth, while digital spend is going to increase by 14%. This is a figure that makes the online advertising industry look quite promising in the future. Don’t you think?

Maybe it’s too soon for us to tell, but at least you know there have been (and will be) a lot of technology transitions and media channel revolutions. in the ad world. With that being said, can you see yourself working in the industry?
Picture this: you start your day with a cross agency conference call. At 10:00 AM you’re in front of the computer, interpreting a nine-month performance dataset. (Big data! Aren’t you excited?) An hour later you pick up a call walking your clients through a strategy deck you’ve been working on. Noon comes with an internal lunch & learns about some new media channels and their application. Your afternoon hours are split between market research, ad hoc analysis, and bouncing ideas off your team about developing a training presentation for the agency.
If you are like me, and the latest technology/tools/advertising channels excite you, you would probably find the “day-to-day” description above exciting.
Actually, Oct 30th will mark the sixth month since I stepped into the industry, and I have grown more and more in love with the agency and the industry. I feel like it’s supposed to be where I belong. If you’re curious about how to get into the industry, you have to come see me at Ignite Ann Arbor where I will be presenting “Are You the Next Donald Draper?” (
  •  A little spoiler: advertising is NOT just about fluffy puppies.
Please come see me whether you’re into the industry or simply just want a different perspective comparing the advertising agency world to the corporate world. You can get your free tickets here
See you on Thursday (Oct 25th) at U of M campus!
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Apple Vs. Open Source. iPhone Vs. Android. Mac Vs. PC. Right Vs. Left.

October 18, 2012 by  
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I had a recent conversation about the Apple iPhone with a brand new Android user. The first thing he said was, "I'm trying to figure this out...". I mentioned Apple's iPhone and he replied that he didn't fall for all the hype.

I've heard that before. That people see all the lines of fanatics that have to get the next iPhone or iPad and they don't understand it. I guess I don't completely either. I can wait 4-6 months to get an iPhone 5. I had my 3GS until it stopped being able to do location based apps.

This gentleman - after I told him how much I loved Apple products, said you can't change people's minds - they like what they like. It's like politics, he said. I'm not left or right wing, politically - or I guess I'm both. And I'm only a convert to Apple because they're smarter, faster, stronger, easier to use and it has nothing to do with how cool or fun they are.

So, I looked at Android vs. Apple when I bought my touchscreen (moving from Blackberry and Treo). Apple just seemed better and more intuitive. I've already helped changed other's minds - but it's not all because of me. When people use Apple products - they change on their own. My brother and parents dragged their feet forever. They're converts finally. I expect my dad's next computer will be a Mac Book Air. Especially since it's $300 cheaper than his last Sony.

I saw an article yesterday that talked about the company that created the tech behind the Minority Report movie. They have put it in production and companies like Boeing are using it. The tech reporter said the training that one had to go through to use it made all the coolness drop off. Especially with how Apple has re-invented usability.

Since my company consults on usability I look for the easiest most intuitive way of letting other experience what we create. I explained to my friend that I guess don't think of it as a black vs. white thing. Think of it as a "Wow this just makes sense" - as opposed to "I need a class on using this". Politics is completely different. Political views are more like religious ones. In my opinion Apple Vs. PC doesn't compare to a belief system. I know DotNet programmers that LOVE their MacBooks. (one even has a MS tatoo)

Honestly, I'm surprised that many people have trouble with their Android devices. Generally speaking, open source works just as good as the paid developer model. I use OpenOffice on all machines. My server is Apache/Linux. But for my phone, until something better than an iPhone comes out, I'll continue to buy them. Until someone creates a better machine with out viruses, major issues and requiring hours of training - I'll keep buying Macs.

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Two Important Takeaways From the WKBT Jennifer Livingston Viral Video

October 7, 2012 by  
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An interesting video has gone viral in the past week, but it’s different than your typical viral video (no cute kitties or babies, crazy stunts or someone acting out). This video features Jennifer Livingston, a news anchor from WKBT in La Crosse, WI, responding to a condescending letter from a viewer who took it upon himself to educate Jennifer on why she’s not providing “a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular,” by being overweight and appearing on television.

Take a few minutes to watch the video, if you haven’t already.

I don’t want to talk about whether the viewer had a right to send that letter or if he was completely out of line. I want to talk about two things:

  • Turning a negative and hurtful situation into a positive one by using it as an opportunity to impart knowledge on others.
  • What it takes to effectively communicate an important message.

First point – Turning a negative situation into a positive one. Jennifer didn’t have to do what she did. She didn’t have to share this painful event with the world. She could have kept it between her and her coworkers, completely ignored the viewer and continued on with her life. She could have told her husband (who also works at the news station) to ignore his anger about the situation and not post it on his Facebook page.

Instead, Jennifer exposed herself, and this viewer, to the La Crosse community (which quickly expanded beyond Wisconsin thanks to the power of the Internet) by going on-air to explain what happened and teach some important lessons. These lessons included:

  • Personal attacks of this nature are not OK, and attention should be called to them.
  • Outward appearance has no indication of what a person is made of on the inside, and no one has the right to make any assumptions about someone based on his/her appearance.
  • Behavior like this is learned, and we need to do a better job of teaching others (especially children) why hurtful critiquing and passing judgment on others is not acceptable.
  • We are better than those who try to bring us down.
  • Others cannot define our own self worth.

Would you be strong enough to confront someone who put you down? Let’s take that a step further. Would you be strong enough to share a personal story that was painful and demoralizing and use it as an opportunity to lift others’ spirits? It takes some serious cajones to do what Jennifer did, and every time I watch that video, I want to jump through the screen and give her a huge hug. Her actions are commendable, and her words are inspiring.

You don’t have to use a very visible and public forum like a video or YouTube to do something similar. But think of how many people you could possibly help by extracting a positive lesson from a negative situation and using it to educate others. Doesn’t matter how you do it, but finding ways to help others gain from your loss, pain, mistakes, embarrassment, etc. is powerful.

Moving on to the second point – Effectively communicating a message. I probably took notice of how Jennifer delivered her message more than the average person would because of my work in PR, but there is a lot to be learned from her delivery.

Whether it’s a one-on-one conversation or a speech to hundreds of people, the next time you need to make sure an important message comes across clearly and effectively to a person or audience, take these cues from Jennifer:

  • Speak with confidence and conviction.
  • Don’t shout, but make sure your voice is clear and strong.
  • Use controlled hand motions, and let your hands help you highlight important components of your conversation or speech.
  • Use appropriate facial expressions. Display the proper emotions at the right time during your conversation or speech.
  • Be genuine.

There you have it – my two takeaways from the Jennifer Livingston viral video.

Your turn. What did you take away from this video and Jennifer’s experience? 

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