Maximize Your Micro-Engagements, Personalize Your Points of Connection

In a world of ever-escalating automation, it takes effort to retain personalization.

The effort, I would argue, is well worth it.

Take LinkedIn’s relatively new feature of offering prompts like “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” and “Congrats on your work anniversary!” Flowing from our own initiative, all are lovely sentiments, and our moms would be proud and pleased. Problem is, with each click of these automated notes, we fall prey to the rising de-personalization that relentlessly encroaches in our Artificial Intelligence world.

It takes only a few seconds to customize a reply by adding the individual’s name and perhaps a word or brief phrase.

Who knows—maybe you could go a step further and check in with that person and see what’s new in their world, set up a 10-minute catch-up phone call, or otherwise focus on the quality of each relationship rather than rely on sheer quantity of activity and/or connections to carry the day.

Another opportunity to build off a template comes when inviting Facebook friends to become fans of a page. The Facebook-manufactured content falls far short of making an authentic connection that communicates what’s “in it” for the recipient.

Here it is, in its full vanilla-bot glory, for my Inside Edge PR page on Facebook:

By contrast, when I invite people to like a Facebook page, my first step is deleting that lame block of copy. Next, I type the person’s name and create something original. For example, this is a recent outreach for my “Go Figure: Making Numbers Count” page:

Even if Tom doesn’t become a fan of the page, the tailored message represents a concise commercial that is much more memorable than the automated Facebook note. And it’s certainly better than including no note at all, which is a path taken by some folks who recognize the need to delete automation but fail to seize an opportunity to create a connection.

In conclusion, whether it’s on a social-media platform, or in any other context, resist the temptation to short-cut your precious moments of interaction. Don’t regard people like a number to “get through” before you move on to more important stuff.

Instead, treat the unique individuals in your world like the significant people that they are. In my career, whether it was reporting on deadline for a newspaper or magazine, representing the PR interests of a company, or building my own brand, I have found that these micro-engagements are the important stuff.

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On October 16th in Oak Park: “PR Secrets From a Media Insider”

Since 2001, associations and companies across the United States have hired Matt Baron of Inside Edge PR to train thousands of journalists, publicists and other professionals to develop immediately applicable, improved story-telling skills.

 

On Tuesday, Oct. 16th, through an Oak Park – River Forest (OPRF) Chamber of Commerce Lunch and Learn at Adam Doe State Farm, he brings PR Secrets From a Media Insider. In this practical workshop, rooted in the rapidly evolving communications landscape, Matt teaches how to:

• Craft compelling, publication-ready news releases
• Establish yourself as an expert in your field
• Use social media to expand your communications reach
• Secure media coverage that leads to greater profits

To register, contact Mark Walden at mwalden@oprfchamber.org.

Tech & Modular Construction Summary Caps 10th Anniversary of ULI Chicago Coverage

“Unlike many other sectors of our economy, construction has remained largely rooted in the 20th century as leaders have resisted technological changes that have transformed the way other industries do business.”

Moderator Christian Beaudoin (left) and panelists at the historic Union League Club.

That’s the opening line in my summary this week for ULI Chicago’s panel discussion, “Tech and Modular Construction: Disrupting the Traditional Development Process.”

The coverage marks the 10th anniversary of my writing for ULI Chicago. That encompasses over 75 panels and 150,000 words.

Each and every time, it has been a learning experience. Doing challenging work, and learning in the process, are both wonderful fringe benefits of this ongoing gig that draws on my journalistic experience covering a variety of local government bodies for the Chicago Tribune and others.

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Sharing the Story of StorySlam: A Benefit for Farther Foundation

Honored to be serving as the emcee, and to be providing some media relations support, for StorySlam: A Benefit for Farther Foundation. It’s coming up fast–on Thursday, October 11th, at FitzGerald’s Nightclub.

Tickets are $50 and include food and all the entertainment. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.fartherfoundation.org or call 708-497-7240.

Founded in 2008, the Oak Park-based organization has supported 221 students–mostly high school sophomores and juniors from Chicago and nearby suburbs–who have traveled to 27 states and 32 countries.

Farther Foundation enables students from economically disadvantaged circumstances participate in life-changing educational travel programs. While traveling, students interact with people from diverse backgrounds, become immersed in new cultures and experiences, learn and develop skills and engage in community service.

See the news release at the Chicago Tribune’s TribLocal.

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Petco PR & Communications Team: Will You Help Me Improve Your Donation Pitch?

Guess which button I pressed (again)?

Soliciting donations is an art form—there’s no single scientifically proven method that’s best in all situations and for all causes.

Ideally, you want to hone a message that lies between these two extremes:

A) Craft a pitch too subtly, and folks won’t even realize you’re raising money.

B) Arrange words that conspire to push too hard, and you’re liable to repel your audience.

Which of those extremes, do you suppose, is illustrated by the overture to Petco customers at their point of purchase:

WILL YOU HELP SAVE A HOMELESS PET?

When I first encountered that query while purchasing kitty litter about a year ago, my first reaction was that pressing “no” comes at the risk of going on a guilt trip. But upon further reflection and with each subsequent purchase (and pressing of “No”), it has bred resentment. How annoying that, at a moment when I am patronizing this shop, it is implicitly challenging my compassion for homeless pets.

And isn’t Petco already using a portion of my money toward its efforts to help homeless pets? Rather than hearing “thank you for your business,” it feels like the company’s parting sentiment is “OK, now we see: you care only about your pet.”

One of my two cats, very much enjoying her housing, rests comfortably–oblivious to homeless felines everywhere.

I don’t have exhaustive analytics to back this up, but common sense would strongly suggest that neither guilt nor resentment serves any business very well.

Central to Petco’s donation-pitch problem is that it makes personal such a strong-armed tactic. Much better to dilute the directness by shifting to a collective “team” effort in saving homeless pets.

Simple addition or subtraction—a word or two, either way—would do wonders to improve this solicitation:

Will you help us save homeless pets?

Want to help homeless pets?

Want to help us save homeless pets?

Help us save homeless pets!

My closing words, then, are a direct (and, I daresay, neither too subtle nor too forceful) appeal to the Petco PR and Communications team:

Will you help me improve your donation pitch?

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