Friday, March 16, 2018

How To Create a Public Relations Plan

You may ask yourself why does my business need a public relations plan?

A formal public relations plan is usually part of a company's broader marketing plan, or a smaller document that outlines the PR component of the marketing plan. Advertising and promotions are other common inclusions in a full marketing plan. Public relations is unique from advertising in that you don't pay for the media time or space. Promotion comes from news coverage, press releases, press conferences or other public events.

The primary purpose of the PR plan is to outline the company's objectives. Public relations is generally intended to support marketing efforts by promoting goodwill, reinforcing brand and product messages presented in advertising, informing the public and overcoming negative publicity. While companies often include some level of emphasis on each of these objectives, the PR plan states more specific details, such as increased popularity in the marketplace, better market awareness and improved customer retention.

The other side of public relations is damage control. A formal PR plan helps a company avoid being caught off guard by anything that comes up. Top companies usually know their weaknesses and the areas most scrutinized by competitors and customers. Discussing these areas of vulnerability helps company leaders present press releases and get feature coverage that counters them. The more difficult areas of this reactive strategy involve those unforeseen events. Major product issues or employee scandals are hard to predict. However, a good reactive strategy still includes a plan for how to approach these things. Whether to respond immediately or wait a period of time, and what tools to use, are central to a good strategy. It's also great to work with your team and board of directors to have a phenomena crisis plan ready to go. It's not if a crisis will occur but when. It's always better to be prepared.

A compelling public relations plan can go a long way towards helping a business spread its message, reach more customers and strengthen its brand. Here are a few steps to remember when building your public relations plan:
  • Define the goals and objectives of your public relations plan. Consider what you want your main objective to be, which varies from business to business. For some the focus is on increasing sales and making money.  For my business, my objective has always been a bit different. I am interested in increasing knowledge in a community, educating them how they can be more successful by using different techniques and skills to reach their clients, customers and partners.
  • Decide who is your target audience or the community you are interested in reaching. Ask the hard questions, why are you trying to reach them and what are the benefits for them. Also remember to consider the media that you desire to reach and why. Choosing the appropriate media outlets can help you to promote your brand and spread the word about your business and the great work you are doing.

  • Develop the strategies and tactics of your public relations plan, understanding that the two are very different although the terms often get used interchangeable. About 2,500 years ago, Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote “The Art of War.” In it, he said, Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Tactics and strategy are not at odds with one another—they’re on the same team. 
  • Strategy defines your long-term goals and how you are planning to achieve them. It gives you the path you need toward achieving your organization's mission. Tactics are much more concrete and are often oriented toward smaller steps and shorter timeframes along the way. They involve best practices, specific plans, resources, etc. They are also called initiatives.
  • Draft the key messages of your public relations plan.
  • Prepare a budget for your public relations plan. Be realistic and side aside funds for potential unforeseen occurrences.
  • Develop a detailed timeline to help you to implement your public relations tactics with maximum efficiency. Staying focused on your deadlines will help you to gain success. 
  • Engage in crisis planning. Consider a contingency plan in case of a potential emergency.

  • Always review your timeline and timetable throughout the campaign, making adjustments when necessary. Public relations is fluid. It's not a plan made in concrete but can be changed and improved as needed in order to become even more successful in reaching your audience.

The most important part of creating your public relations plan is to have FUN!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Do You Have Bad Manners?

If I had one wish today it would be for every person that looks at their mobile device 4 or 500 times per day to really stop for a moment to get a glimpse of themselves.The average person with a conscience would be appalled how they really look when interacting with people who are not, well, rude to anyone else. When asked, most people can't even understand the words, bad manners, because we all have great manners.  Might be time to check that phone again for more accuracy.

Poor or bad manners occur 24-hours per day, no matter who you are, male or female, short or tall, black green, yellow blue or orange.  If you just take an hour, okay, 30 minutes away from your mobile device to observe human interaction -- you would be sick in your stomach. That's what most people with decent or good manners think about those with no manners or who are just plain rude.

Bad manners occur where we live, in the workforce, on public transportation, in hospitals, in restaurants, in our schools, in clubs and bars, in Whole Food or other food stores, while driving, while biking, while jogging or walking, while shopping for beautiful outfits and especially on the streets of San Francisco and every major city.

Case in point, this afternoon, I left out of my condo unit and looked dead in the eyes of a neighbor who lives 2 doors down. As usual, I said hello. He made a point to look at me and put his head down. By the way, that's being rude or just plain stupid. And just in case you are wondering, English is his first language and mine too. When such idiotic events happen, I usually smile and make a note to delete that person from my view forever. To be quite honest, if there was a major catastrophe I wouldn't bother to lift a hand to help or to alert him. Listen up people, when someone says hello to you, respond with a hello or hi or just give a fake smile and nod your head to acknowledge the other person. My dad taught me to be nice to everyone once. It doesn't matter if they are the President of a Fortune 500 company or the janitor cleaning toilets or the busboy in one of your favorite restaurants that most refuse to acknowledge. Everyone is important. Ever thought about what they could do to your food -- Yum!

 Go ahead and deny it, but here are a few tips that may indicate you may be RUDE: 

Flat Out Rudeness

Some people pretend no one else in the world is affected by their bad behavior, actions, and words. Don't ask rude questions that are none of your business. And if someone does something nice for you, say, Thank you, to show your appreciation. Or Excuse me, if you step on someone's foot.That shouldn't be too difficult to say -- Just 2 small words even if you don't mean it.

Cell Phone Conversations in Public
When you're talking on your cell phone in public, remember where you are. Don't discuss anything that the rest of the world has no business knowing nor do they want to know, like what your doctor said about your infection, your Brazilian waxing appointment, your baby's daddy in prison argument about money, in an Uber of Lyft auto, or the argument you had with your boss after you didn't finish your work. Wait until you get home – or at least in your car or on a street corner with no people around – before discussing such private stuff.

Barely Tipping in Restaurants
Remember that many people who rely on tips make below minimum wage, and they often have families to support. Tip according to the type and quality of service rendered. The latest bills also add it up for you whether you want to give 10%, 15%, 20% or more. Check the box and sign your name.

Taking Your Phone to Dinner to See Friends
What did these people ever do before texting and social media existed? I am sure we all notice couples sitting at dinner and both are on their cell phones and not looking at each other. Are you dating the phone? They probably had "real" relationships with "in person" people. If you are physical with someone, don't ignore him or her to text someone who isn't even with you.

Breathing Down the Back of Necks
When you're waiting for someone to finish his or her transaction with a cashier, give the person room to breathe. We are not in an overcrowded country. Everyone needs personal space when dealing with anything financial – even if it's the purchase of a burrito or Cosmo. Pretty sure you would hate it.

Unkind to Disabled People
When you spot a wheelchair-bound person in a grocery store, ask if you can help get something off a top shelf. That should take you about a second, and it will be good for everyone. Never park in a spot designated for a disabled person with the reasoning that, " I will only be a minute", unless you are disabled.

Respecting the Elderly
A big sore point for me is to see young or middle aged people sitting on their butts on public transit, looking at their phones and refusing to move over so that someone can at least take a seat on a crowded bus or subway. Many people pretend that they don't see older people struggling to hold on while standing on a crowded bus. Or my latest observation is when women are 6 to 8 months pregnant and no man or woman could consider offering them a seat. My only wish is if someone who is rude lives to become elderly, disabled or pregnant and that you be treated the same.

Screaming Children = Poor Parenting Skills
You know how frustrating and annoying it can be when someone lets their children misbehave in public or on public transportation while the parent is on his or her cell phone. Whether they're throwing a temper tantrum or running around and disrupting others, they get on other people's nerves. Before you bring your children to any public place, talk to them about their manners. If the child does not understand, perhaps you should not be in a restaurant disturbing everyone and ruining a great date.

Smart Grooming
Dress for the place and occasion. Follow the dress code at work and other places where people typically wear nicer clothing. Remember that casual Friday at the office isn't an excuse to be untidy. Regardless if you work for a high tech company, a startup or for a non-profit agency please take a shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair and for goodness sake wash your feet if you are going to wear flip-flops and prop your dogs on top of your desk because it's cool. Trust me, it's not.

After you receive a gift, send a thank you note. No need to write an essay, just simply thank the person, address the envelope, put a stamp on it, and stick it in the mailbox. Wait, you do know what a stamp is right? And a mailbox - It's that big blue box on most corners in most cities.There is an app for it. If you absolutely don't have the two minutes to spare, send an email. Email isn't the best , but it's better than nothing.

Using Profanity in Public
There is no reason to let loud foul language pass your lips when you are in a public space, especially when there are elderly folks and children around you. Losing control of your language is considered a weakness and screams insecurity,

Don't Touch Me
Get real people. If you ever been on public transportation during rush hour, everyone touches each other. The other day a young woman threatened to call the police if a woman touched her again. I couldn't help it, I just laughed out loud at the stupidity. As a result, everyone on the subway laughed too. Let's get real, if you don't like crowded buses or trains, drive on a crowded freeway. What! no car? Maybe you should never leave your house or apartment.

Mikael Wagner is a Communications Project Manager. For more information, visit us at

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Do You Love Your Job, or Hate It?


If you do, we should all come over to work with you. Seriously, if you love your job, tell me 3 or 4 things that you love about it and things that we should look for in a job.

For me, I love my work which has nothing to do with many of my co-workers is usually the answer I get from everyone when I am talking to them.  From communicating with many people these are a few things that I have discovered:

Why I Love My Job:

  • My manager is a true leader who wants each team member to grow and to become a great leader.
  • Laughter -- I always know that my co-workers will make me laugh, even when I am in a bad mood. It makes me so happy and I look forward to seeing them after the weekend.
  • Being able to make an impact on people or communities that we are serving.
  • Always learning new skills and being coached. If a mistake is made my manager says dust yourself off and let's try it again, maybe a different way but with the same goal.
  • Directions are clearly defined with deliverables and due dates.
  • Opportunity to talk to my manager and get honest feedback and share ideas on ways to accomplish projects more efficiently.
  • Trust and Respect between staff and our Manager or Leader.
  • Everyday is different, challenging and exciting.
  • Knowing and seeing the people we are trying to reach actually get the message, smile and say thank you.



Why I Hate My Job:

  • Lack of good communications
  • My boss is a micro-manager and never trust anyone.
  • My ideas are not appreciated, acknowledged or welcomed.
  • Clear issues around discrimination and racism although it’s hard to prove.
  • Managers with poor or no leadership or management skills.
  • Retaliation if something is said that the boss does not like. We have been told that we should learn our place.
  • Lack of recognition and security.
  • Unable to use my skills, talents and expertise.
  • Being Underpaid and overworked without compensation or acknowledgement.
  • Lack of Flexibility with Benefits and Commute
  •  Lack of Confidence
As a result, most of the people I have spoken to have quit their jobs without having another job in hand. When asked why – Because it would be more enjoyable to be a dog walker or a clerk at Walmart then to be abused day in and day out by a horrible and in many cases incompetent boss.

Remember, being miserable on a job can affect your overall mental and physical health. Several of the people that shared their stories with me have experienced stress, skin irritations, headaches, rising high blood pressure and overall depression of feeling stuck in a bad situation. It's a great opportunity to start planning your next step and consider what you really want to do. It's a wonderful opportunity to reimagine life and build a network of supporters to help you achieve your goals.

So What are your reasons for loving or hating your job? What are you going to do about it?

For more information, please free to email me at Mikael Wagner is a Communications Project Manager.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Planning Your Next Project

Happy New Year!  It's a great time to kick off the new year with a solid plan that will drive your next project towards success. Planning is a key tool to include in all of your activities to reach your goals in a timely fashion. I hope that these ideas and tips will be beneficial in your next project planning effort.

The key to every successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is essential in developing your project or community event. Quite often, project planning is often ignored by most event planners and community organizers in order to focus on the work that may seem more important. In my early years of community engagement, planning was often the last thing considered. Most people often fail to realize the great value of having a project plan. A great plan can be beneficial for saving time, money and possibly many challenges that may be faced. There are several steps to planning a successful project that may be helpful:

Project Goals
  • A project is successful when it has met the needs of the stakeholders or community gatekeepers. Stakeholders can be anyone who is directly, or indirectly impacted by the project. To begin, it's important to identify the stakeholders or gatekeepers in your project. Surprisingly, it's not always easy to distinguish stakeholders of a project that are indirectly impacted. Examples of stakeholders may include:
    • The project sponsor or financial supporter
    • The client or customer who receives the deliverable
    • Users of the project output
    • Project Manager or Project Team
    • Board or Advisory group member
    • Community leaders
After identifying your stakeholders, the next step will be to ascertain their needs. One way to identify their needs is by conducing key informant interviews with them.  During the interview process, it's key to discover the requirements that  create real benefits. Beware, sometimes stakeholders may discuss needs that aren't relevant and may not deliver benefits. From experience I have found that it's good to listen and hear what is being said by your audience.

Once all interviews have been completed, develop a prioritized list of needs. The next step would be to create a group of measurable goals that can be reviewed against the SMART principle. Once a clear set of goals have been established they should be  placed in the project plan. It's also helpful to include the needs and expectations of the stakeholders. This is the most challenging part of the  planning process. Here are the elements of the SMART principle:

Project Deliverables
  • Once the goals are created, develop a list of items that the project will need to deliver in order to reach its goals. Remember to add all deliverables to the project plan with approximate deliverable dates. Try not to stress if the dates are not accurate. Every good plan should be flexible and adjustable in order to reach the overall goals of the project.
Project Schedule:

Now the fun begins - develop a list of tasks that need to applied for each potential deliverable or objective. For each task, make note of the following key items: 
  • Amount of time required for completing the tasks
  • Note who on your team will be responsible for each task and their role
This task will help to establish the amount of effort for each deliverable leading to a more precise delivery date. In developing your plan there are a number of project planning tools that may be used. Many of the tools are free. It's a great idea to check them out to see what feels right for you. There are a couple of tools that are more compatible for me that I will highlight, but please check them all or create your own tool. Here are some potential (free) project management tools for your review:
  • Asana
  • Basecamp
  • Orangescrum
  • Meistertask
  • Wrike
  • Smartsheet
  • Slack
  • Zoho
  • 2-Plan
  • Freedcamp
Other Resources:

There are a variety of plans that may be created as part of the planning process that can be included in the overall plan.

Human Resource Plan:
  • Identify by name the team members and organizations that may have a leading role in your project. For each, describe their roles and responsibilities. Remember to identify the number of people needed for the project and if possible the amount of time to complete each task.
Communications Plan:
  • Develop a document that reveals who should be kept informed about the activities of the project and how information will be distributed to them. Often, monthly or quarterly status reports are provided that describe how the project is performing, accomplishments and future work.
Risk Management Plan:
  • Risk management is essential to the success of project management. It's imperative and highly recommended to identify as many risks as possible to your project. Planning ahead helps the project manager to be prepared and ready to deal with potential or unexpected challenges. Here are a few examples of common, everyday project risks:
    • Lack of stakeholder input
    • Poor communication leading to misunderstandings
    • Stakeholders adding new ideas or activities after the project has began
    • Not understanding the needs of stakeholders
    • Unclear or misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities
    • Unexpected budget cuts or budget delays
    • Not enough time estimated in order to complete projects
    • Disagreements between team members and/or stakeholders
Once you start working on your project, you and your team will identify other potential risks that may or may not occur.  It's a great idea to make a list of those potential risks and jot down notes of how each would be handled if it should happen during the project. You are now ready to get started in what will be a GREAT project.

Always remember:

For more information about project planning or planning your next community engagement or event, please feel free to email us at