My TEDx Talk Transcription

Delusional Self Promotion: The Bridge from Ego to Empathy

If you’re a business communicator in the digital age, you know more than anybody how important it is today to connect with, and deliver real value to, the people who matter to the success of your business.

 

Unfortunately, this guy didn’t get the memo. You may have run into this guy during your business travels, and you soon realized that he wasn’t there to connect with you, no. The only thing he wanted to do is sell you something.

Now if you haven’t met somebody like this guy, I’m going to paint you a little picture. This is a true story, starring me.

So, I’m at this networking event. I have to admit, I’m not that comfortable networking. I’m an introvert, but I can do it when I need to, and I know how important it is. But it needs to be a comfortable thing, and this guy looked really friendly. So I summoned up all my courage and I went over to him, and I extended my hand.

His name tag said “Sam.”

“Hi Sam. How do you do? My name is Dana.” My handshake was firm and confident, like it’s supposed to be. But his handshake was like sticking your hand in a rock crusher, and he broke every bone in my hand. But he didn’t notice I was wincing because he wasn’t looking at me — he was looking through me, scanning the room for his next victim.

Well, this made me really uncomfortable, and I just wanted to get out of there. I wanted to go to the emergency room, actually. But instead, I stuck it out, and I decided to talk to him some more because I was fascinated by this point.

“So Sam, what do you do?” I remember him giving me some kind of 30 minute spiel. He didn’t talk about a product or service. He rather he talked about himself a lot. I smiled, and I nodded, and I seemed to be very interested, and I reflected back, “Oh yeah? How many? Yeah? Wow.” We exchanged business cards. Then I drew in some breath so I could tell him about me, and what I do. But before I could get the first word out, he turned and walked away. He walked away from me. From me! I was flabbergasted.

Don’t you know, like a few days later, I got an email from this guy addressed to, “Dear friend,” trying to sell me something. I hit the delete button so hard my neighbor’s computer broke.

You know, if people like Sam treat people face-to-face the way he treated me during that awkward face-to-face encounter, imagine how he behaves online where people like this have access to more than 200 free social media channels, and they push themselves out everyday to potentially 10,000 people or more. When he’s really hyped up, he blasts email into your inbox, which forces you to hit delete, delete, delete, which could lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and not a little bit of loss of faith in the future of humanity.

You see Sam, which rhymes with spam, is a taker. He doesn’t give back. He talks, blah, blah, blah. He doesn’t listen. The only thing Sam is interested is in advancing his own agenda. When you’re with him, you wonder if he even sees you as a human being or just a means to an end maybe.

I’ve pondered this kind of behavior over the years, he’s not the only one. There are other people like him. I wonder, do people like that stay in business? Did he even have any customers who weren’t friends or relatives? I see it all the time. There are so many people who go into business, and all they talk about is themselves. Blah, blah, blah.

But I’m going to give him some slack. This is what people are taught. They’re taught that aggressive self-promotion is the way you’re supposed to grow a business. But you see, that’s old school thinking. Times have changed. Of course with every change, there is a little bit of chaos, some confusion, and a whole new set of challenges.

For example, there is more noise circling the globe than there has ever been in history. Yet we as business people still have to find a way to cut through that clutter and convey to people that we’re the best people to do business with. But we have to tread lightly because we don’t want to seem inauthentic.

Another challenge is it takes time, real time, to get people to know they can trust you. But the waiting makes us anxious. I mean, we have bills to pay, right? So we slip into default mode, which is shouting our promotional stuff from the rooftops again, 24/7, 365, “Me. Me. Me. Me.” It’s as if we’re thinking, “Hey. If I can just shout loudly and often enough, customers are going to just jump right into my lap.” But the harsh reality is today’s consumer is immune to that, and the sound of their silence is deafening.

If you really want to attract attention to yourself in this digital age, you’ve got to think and communicate in a whole new way. It might seem counter-intuitive, but believe me, it is so much more effective for achieving your business goals.

Now I don’t … I hate to be the one to say this. Don’t shoot the messenger. I don’t want to sound like the school yard bully, but you need to know — Nobody cares about you! But you know who they do care about? Themselves, right? It’s human, it’s natural. We’re built that way. We can’t help it, and we all think that we’re the center of our own universe.

Everyone wants to be noticed. Everyone wants to be cared about, right? So now we’re thinking, “Well, how do I promote myself and have people care about me and show them that I care about them in return?” Well, here’s a little hint, something to think about; the more we rely on technology to communicate, the more people crave real, heart-felt human connection. We seek out people to do business with, not some faceless corporation. We decide if a business is trustworthy by how sharing its experts are, and how much we feel they care about us, and the community, and the world. That’s where the E-word comes in –empathy.

Demonstrating empathy is one of the most important ways to show people that you care. It’s about sharing, exchanging ideas, it’s about listening to them, it’s about understanding their pain, it’s about solving their problems, it’s about treating others better than you treat yourself. Don’t focus solely on yourself, you don’t have to do that. Just stop drinking your own cool aid, spit it out.

Publicly recognize the achievements of others. Make them laugh, tug at their heartstrings. Model for them how to lead safe, happy, healthy lives. Every time you can, tell a great story. Empathy and value are the oxygen of commerce in the digital age, and I have a vision that if we can all change our mindset away from “me, me, me” to “you, you, you”, fewer businesses will fail, and greater goodness will expand into the universe.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Every man must decide whether to walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Every business has to decide that, too. So let’s choose the light.

Hey Sam, are you listening?

Thank you.

To view this TEDx talk on YouTube, click here.

PR & Communications Trends in 2018

Next year, business communicators are going to work harder than ever to adapt to a radical shift in the consumer mindset, part of which is, “What’s in it for me?” The most crucial objectives are to stay relevant, understand new technologies, and give the market what it wants. But don’t fret – givers get.

Accordingly, expect to see the following practices emerge in 2018.

1. Battling the “me” epidemic in social media. We will be forced to move away from ego-centric, sales-focused marketing communication (humble brags, ninja advertising) and create content that the audience wants. The new objective becomes earning audience trust before moving in for the sale. This is where PR shines.

2. Hiring seasoned strategists to manage the social media function.Stronger writers and business strategists will take the reins of social media and apply more savvy approaches to winning the hearts of key publics with robust, multi-channel content.

3. Businesses as media outlets. While it will still be important to work with traditional and digital media outlets to relay messages to big audiences, resource-rich companies will leverage social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, blogs, mobile phone video, etc.) to create, host and distribute their own content.

4. The blurring of lines between public relations and marketing.  A larger portion of the marketing budget will be spent on audience attraction through brand journalism. Advertising budgets will shrink. Marketing professionals will acquire and apply public relations skills to fill the gaps.

5. Return to human connection. The more we rely on technology to communicate, the more we crave real, heart-felt human connection. Businesses will find creative ways to engage with audiences and devote more resources to building attractive personal brands for leadership and customer-facing personnel.

 

Blog Creation Tip: OPW (Other People’s Words)

This is a quick tip for anyone who doesn’t have a blog because they:

a) can’t write

b) hate to write

c) don’t have time to write

d) don’t have anything interesting to write about

So here’s a good one — interview people! Have a Q&A session with someone who’s interesting, has particular expertise, owns a popular local restaurant, is someone you admire — any one of a million people and subjects your audience might find interesting.

If the interview is face-to-face, record it with your phone or a digital recorder. You can also record remotely using a free conference call service, Skype, and others.

Transcribe the interview. I use an online transcription service that charges $1.00 a minute. Clean up the text so that it reads smoothly and eliminates any parts where the conversation strayed off topic.

Ask your interviewee for a headshot and short bio. Add it to the beginning of the interview, after you’ve written a brief introduction.

Aim for one interview a week, then tell your contacts in social media that the blog is now available on your website.

Voila! It’s an interesting piece of content that took minimal time, strengthened your relationship with the interviewee, is something your interviewee is likely to share — there are so many great strategic benefits.

I do this all the time, and am happy to answer questions.

 

 

 

 

Research: Ready to See Daylight?

Have you ever been shocked to realize that something you once thought of as the truth, something you’d been led to believe your entire life, was a complete falsehood?

Most of us can cite hundreds of examples. Santa isn’t real. The earth is round. Some fat is actually good for you. Boomers rock. All shockers — all true.

Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” describes the painful passage to realization beautifully. It’s about people with entrenched beliefs who stumble out of the darkness of a cave (their current beliefs) into the light, and see the true nature of things.

This is what research does for our business. Not doing research (and acting on assumptions) is a sure-fire way to ensure failure. It takes a lot of courage to leave that darkness voluntarily. I’ve worked with too many businesses who prefer to keep the blinders on, costing them millions.

According to research conducted by Attest, a market research firm, 26 percent of businesses surveyed said they do not conduct any research prior to launching a new product or service. Thirty-five percent said that research was irrelevant and 21 percent said they couldn’t afford it. And 91 percent of respondents said they didn’t understand the buying behaviors of millennials, and don’t know how to go about it.

Today, there is a multitude of new technologies and resources that make it possible to conduct research affordably and with a depth of insight. But that doesn’t mean that one time-honored technique is out of date. It’s called, “talking to people.”

We don’t do it enough, having a chat with the people who matter to the success of our business. Asking a consumer, “Why do you buy,” and “How do you choose?” are questions you should be asking before you start a business and as often as you can after you’ve opened the doors.

As you begin your planning for the coming year, consider talking to the target audiences whose buying behavior baffles you most. This will help you to put aside the assumptions you’ve been making in how they think, what drives their behavior and what pleases them.

 

Is Your Content Cringe Worthy?

In this new digital age, where content is king, it is now more critical than ever to connect with, and deliver value to, the people who matter to the success of your business.

Unfortunately, some people never got the memo.

You’ve probably met a few of them during your business travels. You soon realize they’re not there to connect with you, or build a strong business relationship. The only thing they want to do is sell you something.

The first time I met someone like this was at a chamber mixer. His name was Sam. Let’s just say that all he did was talk about himself, and before I had the chance to tell him about me and my practice, he turned and walked away. I was dumbfounded!

A couple of days later, he sends me an email, addressed to “Dear Friend,” offering me a 20 percent discount on whatever it is he sells. I hit “delete” so hard my neighbor’s computer broke.

If people like Sam treat people the way he did to me in our awkward, face-to-face encounter, imagine how he behaves online in the massive, impersonal world of digital communications. People like Sam have unlimited access to more than 200 free social media channels, and they push their selling messages to millions of people every day, especially the hyped up ones who blow up our email inboxes and force us to constantly hit “DELETE”, which leads to carpal tunnel syndrome and years of supressed rage.

You see…Sam – which rhymes with spam — is a taker. He never gives back. He talks at us, but he doesn’t listen. He brags, but doesn’t praise. All he wants to do is advance his own agenda. When you’re with him, you wonder if he even sees you as a human being, or just a means to an end.

Over the years, I’ve pondered Sam’s brutally selfish and rude, behavior. I mean, “Did this guy actually have any customers who weren’t relatives? Is he even still in business?”

He made me wonder, “Why is it that when business people promote themselves so many of them become ego-centric and blind to the needs of their target audiences? Are these the same people who won’t let you merge in during rush hour traffic?”

In their defense, some people believe that aggressive self promotion is how you’re supposed to grow a business. But this is old school thinking. Times have changed. And with change comes confusion and a new set of challenges.

For example, to succeed in today’s market, we still have to distinctively position ourselves and convey that we’re wonderful, amazing and worthy of their business. But we need to tread lightly and not undermine ourselves.

Another challenge is that nurturing relationships takes longer than we’d like, and makes us anxious because we have bills to pay, so we tend to slip into default mode  and shout our messages from the rooftops. The problem is when ALL we talk about is ourselves and the benefits we provide and the awards we’ve won.  Me. Me. Me.  24/7, 365.

It’s as if we’re thinking, “Hey! If I can just shout loudly enough, customers are going to jump right into my lap!” But the harsh reality is that today’s consumers are fed up by it, and the sound of their silence is deafening.

If we really want to attract attention to our wonderfulness, we need to start communicating in a whole new way. It may seem counter-intuitive but it is so much more effective for achieving your goals.

I don’t want to sound like the schoolyard bully, but no one really cares about YOU.  But who do you suppose they do care about? Themselves. It’s human. We all want to be noticed and cared about.

So how do we get people to care about us, and show we care in return?

Obviously the old styles of self promotion aren’t working any more. Advertising is growing less effective. We’ve grown immune to and most of us hit fast forward or tune it out. Cold calling is a big “no-no” these days. We’re irritated by it. The ‘hard sell’ on the first social media contact is completely inappropriate. Today’s consumers want to be wined and dined first. After they’ve learned to trust you, they’ll come closer.

 The more we rely on technology for communication, the more we crave  real, heart-felt, human connection. We seek out people to do business with, not the faceless corporations of old. We decide if a business is credible and trustworthy by the quality of its experts and how much we think they care about us, the community, and the world.

This is where the “E” word comes in – EMPATHY. Demonstrating empathy is critical to influencing the behavior of your audience. It’s about listening to them, having two-way conversations, understanding and curing their “pain,” and putting their interests above your instinctive need to self-promote.

Positive relationships are the oxygen of commerce in the digital age.

Don’t focus solely on yourself. Publicly recognize the achievements of others. Model for them how to lead a more satisfying life. Make them laugh, shed tears of joy. And share valuable information.

I have a vision. That by shifting thinking away from “me-me-me” to “you-you-you,” fewer business will fail and greater goodness will expand into the world.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

And that goes for every business, too. Let’s choose the light.

Hey, Sam — Are you listening?

Episode 7: Mark Nardone

Welcome to Episode #7 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Mark Nardone, senior editor of Today Media’s Delaware Today and Mainline Today, shares his deep insight into the workings of regional lifestyle magazines, with an exploration of demographics, range of coverage and editorial approach.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Mark’s presentation are:

  • What is a “lifestyle magazine”? Who is the audience?
  • How is their content organized?
  • Why magazines continue to stay in business
  • Why all of their restaurant reviews are positive
  • The criteria for being listed in their “Best of” round-up stories

Read the Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here:

Episode 7 Transcript Mark Nardone

Links & Resources

Delaware Today magazine

Delaware Today on Facebook

Mark Nardone: mnardone@delawaretoday.com

About Dana Dobson

Dana Dobson is CEO of Dana Dobson Public Relations, a boutique PR firm that helps businesses with creative publicity campaigns and business building content strategies. She is an award-winning B-2-B business writer, specializing in producing compelling, persuasive content for businesses in the services sector. She is the creator of the PR Breakthrough Publicity workshop series, an online training program that teaches you how to launch your own successful publicity campaigns, and she is also the host of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast, featuring interviews with top media talent. Dana speaks frequently on building market presence for executive and subject matter experts, demystifying media relations and how to write effectively.

Who Would You Like Us to Interview?

Is there a member of the media you’d like to know more about? Perhaps someone you’ve been trying to contact but have been unsuccessful, or someone whose work you admire? Are there any particular questions you’d like us to ask media professionals during the interview? I’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Podcast

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe!

Spread the Word

If you enjoyed Media Pro Spotlight and find it useful, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review, and share it with friends and colleagues. When you review the podcast, it makes it easier for people who need this information to find it.

See you next time!

 

Episode 6: Mark Eichmann

Welcome to Episode #6 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Mark Eichmann, reporter, producer and co-host of WHYY’s “First,” gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to produce a weekly TV news magazine, what kinds of stories he’s most likely to cover, and some important advice on your role and responsibilities when you pitch a story.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Mark’s presentation are:

  • Why “story” drives everything
  • Examples of how great stories are put together, with your help in the planning process
  • The secret to great visuals
  • Unprofessional behaviors by story pitchers that are a complete turnoff to producers
  • To B-roll, or not to B-roll

Read the Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here:

Episode 6 Transcript Mark Eichmann

Links & Resources

About “First” and WHYY

Mark Eichmann: meichmann@whyy.org

About Dana Dobson

Dana Dobson is CEO of Dana Dobson Public Relations, a boutique PR firm that helps businesses with creative publicity and customer communication strategies. She is an award-winning B-2-B business writer, specializing in producing compelling, persuasive content for businesses in the services sector. She is the creator of the PR Breakthrough Publicity workshop series, an online training program that teaches you how to launch your own successful publicity campaigns, and she is also the host of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast, featuring interviews with top media talent. Dana speaks frequently on building market presence for executive and subject matter experts, demystifying media relations and how to write effectively.

Who Would You Like Us to Interview?

Is there a member of the media you’d like to know more about? Perhaps someone you’ve been trying to contact but have been unsuccessful, or someone whose work you admire? Are there any particular questions you’d like us to ask media professionals during the interview? I’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Podcast

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe!

Spread the Word

If you enjoyed Media Pro Spotlight and find it useful, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review, and share it with friends and colleagues. When you review the podcast, it makes it easier for people who need this information to find it.

See you next time!

 

Episode 5: Mark Fowser

Welcome to Episode #5 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Mark Fowser, news director and afternoon news anchor at Delaware 105.9 will share his opinions and insights gleaned from more than 20 years in radio, including his preferred methods of contact, how a radio newsroom operates, and what constitutes a good news topic.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Mark’s presentation are:

  • What makes a “news talk” radio station different than other kinds of radio stations
  • How to contact Mark and his colleagues with press releases and story pitches
  • What to put in the subject line of your emails
  • How his station uses social media to collect story ideas

Read the Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here:

Episode 5 Transcript Mark Fowser

Links & Resources

Delaware 105.9 News Talk Radio

Mark Fowser: mfowser@dbcmedia.com

About Dana Dobson

Dana Dobson is CEO of Dana Dobson Public Relations, a boutique PR firm that helps businesses with creative publicity and customer communication strategies. She is an award-winning B-2-B business writer, specializing in producing compelling, persuasive content for businesses in the services sector. She is the creator of the PR Breakthrough Publicity workshop series, an online training program that teaches you how to launch your own successful publicity campaigns, and she is also the host of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast, featuring interviews with top media talent. Dana speaks frequently on building market presence for executive and subject matter experts, demystifying media relations and how to write effectively.

Who Would You Like Us to Interview?

Is there a member of the media you’d like to know more about? Perhaps someone you’ve been trying to contact but have been unsuccessful, or someone whose work you admire? Are there any particular questions you’d like us to ask media professionals during the interview? I’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Podcast

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe!

Spread the Word

If you enjoyed Media Pro Spotlight and find it useful, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review, and share it with friends and colleagues. When you review the podcast, it makes it easier for people who need this information to find it.

See you next time!

 

Episode 4: Theresa Medoff

Welcome to Episode #4 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Theresa Medoff, associate editor of AAA World Magazine, shares a number of tips she collected from her years of experience, and also her media colleagues and PR practitioners, about professional behavior, pet peeves, and reasons why you’re not getting the media attention you’re hoping for.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Theresa’s presentation are:

  • Know what you’re talking about before you talk to a media person
  • Reasons for the growing acrimony between journalists and people pitching stories
  • Dos and don’ts about sending attachments
  • What not to say in your subject line
  • Why trying to “con” a journalist is professional suicide

Read the Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here:

Episode #4: Theresa Medoff Transcript

Links & Resources:

A Theresa Byline: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/64541a22#/64541a22/41

Theresa’s Website: http://www.tmedoff.com/

AAA World Magazine

About Dana Dobson

Dana Dobson is CEO of Dana Dobson Public Relations, a boutique PR firm that helps businesses with creative publicity and customer communication strategies. She is an award-winning B-2-B business writer, specializing in producing compelling, persuasive content for businesses in the services sector. She is the creator of the PR Breakthrough Publicity workshop series, an online training program that teaches you how to launch your own successful publicity campaigns, and she is also the host of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast, featuring interviews with top media talent.

Who Would You Like Us to Interview?

Is there a member of the media you’d like to know more about? Perhaps someone you’ve been trying to contact but have been unsuccessful, or someone whose work you admire? Are there any particular questions you’d like us to ask media professionals during the interview? I’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Podcast

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe!

Spread the Word

If you enjoyed Media Pro Spotlight and find it useful, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review, and share it with friends and colleagues.

See you next time!

 

Episode 3: Michael J. Mika

Welcome to Episode #3 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Mike Mika, former executive editor at Today Media’s Delaware Business Times and digital media expert, explains why all of us must think of ourselves as digital publishers, why print is still important, and how to cut through the incredible clutter with your story pitches.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Mike’s presentation are:

  • Everyone is now a publisher
  • Who, what, when, where, why and how are still important
  • Why you need to have a digital footprint
  • Know your key messages
  • Engage in social media dialogue with your media contacts

Read the Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here.

Episode #3: Mike Mika Transcript

Links & Resources:

Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeljmika

Mike on Twitter: @MichaelJMika

About Dana Dobson

Dana Dobson is CEO of Dana Dobson Public Relations, a boutique PR firm that helps businesses with creative publicity and customer communication strategies. She is an award-winning B-2-B business writer, specializing in producing compelling, persuasive content for businesses in the services sector. She is the creator of the PR Breakthrough Publicity workshop series, an online training program that teaches you how to launch your own successful publicity campaigns, and she is also the host of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast, featuring interviews with top media talent.

Who Would You Like Us to Interview?

Is there a member of the media you’d like to know more about? Perhaps someone you’ve been trying to contact but have been unsuccessful, or someone whose work you admire? Are there any particular questions you’d like us to ask media professionals during the interview? I’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Podcast

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe!

Spread the Word

If you enjoyed Media Pro Spotlight and find it useful, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review, and share it with friends and colleagues.

See you next time!