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.

 

Brag Busting

One of the most important goals of public relations-type communication is to secure “third party credibility.” This is when other people say wonderful things about you rather than your having to do it yourself.

When you do it yourself, you’re bragging and it’s tacky (always has been) and people ignore it. When other people talk about your importance and wonderfulness, it’s societal “proof” that you are important and wonderful. People believe what other people say about you, whether it’s good or bad, true or not.

Good “word of mouth” is the best thing your business can achieve. You’re not going to get it by bragging.

It’s a psychology thing.

Back in the day, when we wanted to guarantee people knew about us and why we were the right ones with whom to do business, we bought advertising. Advertising ensured that our message would be exposed to our target audiences. It was expensive, though. To get people’s notice takes frequency, and frequency (in advertising) takes money. Lots of it.

And, it wasn’t exactly third party endorsement. It was advertising. Period. There’s no free lunch in marketing, though bless us, we’re always looking for loopholes.

In days of pre-Internet, we secured third party endorsement by announcing our achievements and newsworthy stories via press releases and pitches to the traditional media. If the media presented you in a favorable light, readers, viewers and listeners automatically assumed you were important, credible and trustworthy. There were no guarantees that the media would spread the news, but when it did, the impact was impressive.

Low-budget businesses have always tried to get the word out to traditional media by disguising its advertising in press releases. It doesn’t work very well as a loophole — editors are hip to it and shut it down.

When the Internet came along, it opened the door for low-budget businesses to use free social media channels to promote themselves. Rather than strive for third party credibility, they’ve skipped the media relations and influencer marketing steps and have gone straight to the unfortunate tactic of telling the world how wonderful they are.

I’m so honored and pleased to have won this award… We’re so honored and pleased to have presented a check for $10,000 to a local charity… I’m thrilled to have been promoted to EVP…

You get the idea. The mistake with this “humble bragging” approach is that it has virtually no effect on your bottom line, because no one cares. Well, except for your mother. And maybe your board of directors. And well-meaning friends. And sycophants.

Even with the massive potential exposure available to us in the digital age, third party endorsement is still as important as it ever was for business success. It takes a lot of work and time to get it nowadays, but it’s most effective for achieving true success.

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.

 

Episode 18: Jan Fox

lobster

Welcome to Episode #18 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Emmy award-winning news anchor, speaker and media coach Jan Fox explains how to get booked for television interviews, and how to improve your skills as an interview guest and public speaker.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Jan are:

  • How to be “3D” for TV
  • How to “let go” and be your authentic self on stage or on TV
  • Why shutting your mouth is often a good thing
  • How to get the attention of talk show producers
  • How she used lobsters to land a TV reporting gig

Read the Transcript

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

Episode 18 Jan Fox Transcript

Links & Resources

Email: jan@foxtalks.com

Get Yourself on TV & What to Do When You Get There

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 15: Craig Ey

Welcome to Episode #15 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Craig Ey, editor-in-chief at the Philadelphia Business Journal, explains the role of editor-in-chief, why it’s an exciting time for journalism, and how the Business Journal brand extends far beyond the production of a weekly business newspaper.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Craig are:

  • What he loves about being a journalist
  • Why the “power of the pen” is a big responsibility
  • What the “Chinese wall” is and why it mustn’t be crossed
  • How the weekly issue gets put together
  • The components of a great pitch

Read the Transcript

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

Episode 15 Craig Ey Transcript

Links & Resources

Philadelphia Business Journal

Email: cey@bizjournals.com

Phone: 215-238-5134

Twitter: @PHLBizEditor

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 12: Ken Grant

Welcome to Episode #12 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, Ken Grant, a former journalist who has been affectionately nicknamed by his peers “The Godfather of Social Media in Delaware,” tells us about his years in the radio and print industries, what it’s like behind the scenes at a political convention, and his approach to building solid relationships with journalists.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from Ken are:

  • How radio and print media have changed over the years
  • An exploration of the “immediacy factor”
  • Why he couldn’t use “Kenny G” as his on-air radio name
  • Why more businesses need to step forward to tell their stories
  • The kinds of stories that may appear about the presidential candidates in the months to come

Read the Transcript

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

Episode 12 Transcript Ken Grant

Links & Resources

Ken’s Parking Citation Appeal Chronicle

Sites to learn what’s going on In Wilmington, Delaware:

www.DowntownVisions.com

www.InWilmington.com

www.VisitWilmington.com

Twitter: @kengrantde

Email: kengrant7@gmail.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 10: John Infanti

Welcome to Episode #10 of the Media Pro Spotlight podcast. In this episode, John Infanti, an award-winning producer at 6ABC Action News in Philadelphia, describes the hectic life of a television news producer, how he puts together daily newscasts, how social media has changed the game on news gathering and reporting, and how to build collaborative relationships with members of the news media.

Listen to the Audio

Some of the key takeaways from John are:

  • The Action News approach to news gathering and its commitment to serving the enitre community
  • Why he decided to make a career in journalism
  • What a “day in the life” of a network affiliate news producer is like
  • Some examples of really good story pitches
  • Why relationship building is the most important part of media relations

Read the Transcript

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

Episode 10 Transcript John Infanti

Links & Resources

6ABC Action News

Twitter: @John6abc

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 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!