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One Play Doesn't Win a Game

One Play Doesn't Win a Game

I've been watching a lot of football lately, along with millions of other people. The next morning when we watch recaps on SportsCenter, we only see the big plays. The plays that all of us talk about and see replays of for years to come.

Seriously, if I said "Super Bowl helmet catch," most of you know which game I'm talking about and where you were when you saw it.

It's more fun to talk about the big plays. Those memorable moments that changed the game. But those moments don't win games on their own. Teams win games after a culmination of small steps and winning little victories that set them up for the ultimate success. The blocks that help get those many small 3-5 yard gains. The snaps that are caught. The time off the field working hard to be successful on the field.

Marketing has its own equivalent, especially in social media. It's the viral hits that make news. Those videos that get millions of views. The tweets that end up on the news the next morning. And it's great for brands that hit those milestones. Sometimes those viral hits can positively change the course for the brand that is reaping that momentary award.

Shouldn't we always go after those big hits?

Not always.

I'm not saying to not aim big. We should consistently . However, we shouldn't neglect the small steps that it takes to build a brand. That attention to the details. Getting the little things right establishing systems for multiple little wins. It's the small steps that become part of a brands routine that help lay the foundation for big successes.

We shouldn't sacrifice getting the little things right so we can chase one-in-a-million situations.

Just look at Arby's Pharrell tweet last year. It's easy to see how that one tweet became one of the biggest hits in real-time marketing in 2014. However, we never talk about the processes setup over a long period of time that set Arby's up to capitalize on that success. When listening to Arby's Director of Social Josh Martin talk about social at Arby's, he'll tell you about the consistent listening that they worked at over a long period of time before they had that big win. They also had small engagement wins over the last couple of years with other campaigns and responses to trending topics. Having those processes and habits in place help them make the most of their big Grammy's moment.

This doesn't just apply to marketing. It applies to all areas of success. When success stories are told, we only hear the parts involving the tip of the iceberg. We rarely hear all of the non-flashy details and moments that took place over an even longer period of time that contributed to the big play and the big win.

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So that's what I'm focusing on in 2015. I have big goals, but I'm going to be putting more focus on doing the little things right. Hopefully, when the big plays come, I'll be ready to make the most of it.

What about you?

Want to Succeed in PR? Sharpen Your Math Skills

IMG_2184 For a long time, public relations was a business of words. It still is to some extent. But sometimes words aren't enough.

I think I initially chose advertising as a major because of the lack of math classes. My only math requirements were a statistics class and a college algebra class. I rarely had to worry about Excel spreadsheets or make sense of large sets of numbers. In my naive college mind, I felt like I could make it on creative thinking and good presentation skills alone.

Man, was I wrong.

My last two years at a PR firm like DeMoss have sharpened my writing skills. Whether it's a long report, a thought leadership white paper (one coming soon) or a proposal for new business, I've written more long form content in the last two years than I ever have. At the same time, I've also had to do considerably more math.

We were fortunate at Engauge to have a full-blown analytics team. People whose full-time job was to make sense of large amounts of data and work with us to translate that story in a client report. At a smaller shop like DeMoss, we don't have a large group dedicated to measurement, so measuring digital campaigns usually falls on my list of responsibilities.

Every day I'm in Excel doing something. I may be exporting Facebook insights to measure the effectiveness of a client's content strategy. I could be in Twitter using data to justify why a client should/should not have a specific username in use. I could even be in Brandwatch, listening to content trends online and quantifying conversations to help craft client brand messages.

For a long time, public relations was a soft science. Now it's a real science where nearly everything can be measured. It's never been a better time to be able to justify the results of your work using hard data. There's also never been more opportunities for work accountability with the improvements made in data collection and measuring online activity.

In times when I've had to debate whether a strategy or tactic was the right one, I've found that math is the strongest trump card. It's hard to argue opinions when faced with tangible results.

The PR professional that survives in the future will be the one that's not afraid to get in the weeds and crunch numbers. They will find what's measurable...and maybe even allow math to prove their own opinions wrong in the process.

What about you? Have you seen your time crunching numbers increase over the last few years?

Did you get into the business of words to avoid the business of numbers?

Are We Trying to Harvest Before We Finish Planting Seeds?

Are We Trying to Harvest Before We Finish Planting Seeds?

If you're a young professional, it's easy to get caught up in the young entrepreneurs making it big early. Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, Tom from MySpace...all of these guys found more success in the first decade of their professional lives than most of us could ever dream of.

But that's why they make news. Because it's not normal.

Even beyond the tech prodigies of today, it's easy to play a comparison game with those folks in similar industries as us but seeing a lot of success. When your in your late 20s like me, falling into a comparison trap is easy. We live in a world of instant gratification and having to take years to grind out success appears almost countercultural.

One day as I was having one of those comparison moments, wandering if I had done enough to "make it" and ran across this tweet from @PaulAngone:

Your 20s aren't about what you harvest, but what you plant in the ground. #Millennials

— Paul Angone (@PaulAngone) September 15, 2014

It's easy to want to rush success but some of the most successful people out there didn't strike gold early. They worked hard, stayed disciplined and worked at their craft for a very long time before experiencing what others perceive as an "overnight success."

Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy is a great example of years of hard work bearing fruit. His restaurant chain is one of the most successful in the country. He became a billionaire several times over and was one of the most highly regarded businessmen in our lifetime. However, it wasn't until this last week that I realized the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich didn't come about until he was in his early 40s.

HIS FORTIES.

At a time when most of us dream of kicking back and retiring, his dream was just getting started. He had been in the restaurant business for a couple of decades before things really took off. Sure, he became one of the most successful businessmen out there at the time of his passing a few weeks ago, but he was also 93 years old.

93 years is a long time to work on building a lifetime of work. Makes me feel silly when I put pressure on my career at age 27.

Great things take time to come to fruition, not just careers. Financial experts will tell you that it's not a salary that builds wealth but great habits that continue building over a long period of time. In long distance running, you don't get fast overnight but after months (if not years) of long, grueling miles.  Many bloggers will tell you (myself included) that it took years of consistently publishing posts before they retained any sizable audience.

We'll be working for a long time

When contemplating my last job switch, moving from Engauge to DeMoss, I had a phone call with a career mentor of mine asking for his two cents. I was stressing out on what would be the right move. After hearing him out, he finished the call by saying:

No matter what decision you end up making, you're going to be working for a long time. You might as well be enjoying what you do.

It's easy to look at our careers, or even our entire lives, through a narrow scope instead of viewing everything from a bigger picture. We get wrapped up in wondering why everything doesn't happen now.

Achieving anything worthwhile takes time. We should focus on the process (planting) and enjoy it as much as we can. The harvest will come when it's ready.

What seeds are you planting?

I've Learned About One Key Ingredient to Success: Priorities

I've Learned About One Key Ingredient to Success: Priorities

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Priorities. Focus is talked about a lot in the work world. I have even talked about it. But without priorities, you don't know what to focus on.

We lost arguably one of the most successful restaurant owners in US history Monday when Truett Cathy passed away. Putting aside any politics or viewpoints people have that may coincide or clash with the company, we can all agree that he grew a successful business and helped a lot of people along the way. He was quoted as often saying:

“I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing word, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed."

Truett Cathy's priorities helped guide all of his decision making. He wasn't in the chicken business purely to get rich. He got into the chicken business as a way to serve people. Cathy's main focus was to be able to help improve the lives of people in his community. Selling great chicken sandwiches was a way that helped him accomplish that mission.

Even without the billions he made over a lifetime, he would have still been considered a successful person because he always stayed true to his own personal mission. He kept his priorities in order throughout his entire life.

When we establish what our priorities in life are, we will know what to focus on and make better decisions. Does setting your mind to only a few things restrict your lifestyle. Not at all! I would argue that the opposite is true

Focus is liberating.

Our agency founder Mark DeMoss talks about "staying under the umbrella" in his book The Little Red Book of Wisdom. In there, he talks about staying true to your mission no matter the cost or intriguing distraction that comes your way. In the book he's quoted as saying:

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Even Mission Drift, a book I read not long ago, talks about how organizations that stay focused on their one mission are the ones that have the best longevity and success. Neglecting priorities are an easy way to run off course.

Easier said than done

Being completely honest with yourself and nailing down what your priorities are (or at least what you feel they should be) isn't the easiest thing in the world.  I'm still trying to nail what my own goals are in many ways. But I'm learning that setting basic priorities is the easiest way to stay on task.

Determining our priorities is how we establish our own personal metrics of success. Not what most of the world considers success, but what success in life means to us individually.  Success won't look the same to all of us - but knowing what it does look like is a significant first step in the right direction.

What are you focusing on?