It was Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and I had a business meeting at 10 a.m. I don't usually meet with prospective clients on a holiday weekend, yet it was a request I was happy to accommodate. This isn't the first time I've worked on a Saturday or Sunday. In fact, I would venture that most business owners work all the time in some capacity. The meeting was a success and we got the project. After that, I took a walk by the Long Island Sound and reflected on my business. This weekend marked our 22nd year. Two decades (and then some) is long enough to have a perspective on the past and a vision for the future.
When I started in the public relations business promoting authors and their books, the telephone was our lifeline. It was stimulating to brainstorm ideas with journalists, newspaper reporters and television and radio producers. I miss that. Public relations has always been about great writing and communication, and today, the challenge is to craft the perfect email.
Changing technology affords PR professionals many more options to gain media exposure, but now there are other important avenues for coverage. Strategically advising clients on building a platform through social media development, targeting industry influencers, and making valuable introductions using new databases and sources are essential as well.
At a time when book coverage was disappearing we started BookTrib.com to establish a direct relationship with readers and built an online community for book lovers offering articles, book reviews, video, podcasting, social reach opportunities, author microsites and live events online and off. This community has made our business more robust and value-driven for our clients.
Bryan Mattimore, co-founder & Chief Idea Guy at The Growth Engine Company, an Innovation Agency, says that even in "impossible situations" declining market share, increased competition and lower margins... creativity is the answer. "There's always 'a better way,'" he says, "and the trick is not to give up, but to have the creative persistence to find it. Probably the easiest and most effective creative thinking strategy for solving 'impossible challenges' is to question your assumptions-about your industry's accepted practices, your business model, even how you've framed the challenge itself."
With so many options to communicate via computer, email, Skype, or videocast, meeting people in person is still critical to developing lasting relationships. We aggressively arrange strategic speaking engagements, introductions and plan meaningful events. Fran Tarkenton, legendary Hall of Fame quarterback and founder of Tarkenton Companies, says, "No matter how much or how great the technology we have, people still have to do business with other people. They still need to partner with other people. They are able to play on a team with other people because they have built trust together. You do that by creating actual relationships. Technology is only a tool, but personal relationships really direct everything we do."
In addition to the importance of honing excellent writing skills, fostering continuous creative energy, and building deep professional relationships, these are my daily tenets to being the best you can be:
- Just say yes! (and be nice): When an opportunity comes your way, say yes first. The rest will unfold. This is especially true during the beginning stages of your business. You may not end up with the project, but it is so much better to have said yes to the meeting, or yes to the unsolicited telephone call or email then to have disregarded it, because you never know where the next big fish is coming from.
- The difference between good and great is only an inch: Always go the extra mile for your client with cutting edge ideas coupled with consistent communication and a clear vision for results. Ideas are the lifeblood of our business and if something isn't working, don't hesitate to go back to square one. Never settle and keep your standards high.
- Be the solution: There are a variety of problems that come up when you are conducting business every day. I love problems because they give me the opportunity to develop something new, learn from mistakes, and create a solution. Take problems on with a vengeance, because there is always a solution that helps you grow.
I have an unbridled passion for what I do every day. I meet incredibly interesting people who have written books or have projects and are looking for expert advice and execution to launch their new venture. This gives me the opportunity to be creative and form new and lasting client relationships.