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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Planning an Event? Using Internal vs. External Speakers

Whether you are planning a client conference or putting together an employee retreat, you are probably working to line up speakers and fill the agenda. How do you decide when to use internal or client speakers versus hiring an outside speaker? Here are a few tips:

  1. If you do an annual client conference and you have internal resources that are subject-matter experts AND are good speakers, add them to the agenda. Okay, you should probably ask them first!

  2. Have a client who is knowledgeable AND a dynamic speaker? Invite him or her to speak.

  3. We recommend you mix up internal and external speakers – it adds depth to the agenda. Do make sure you have a large number of sessions that add value for the attendee. They should leave the event thinking they got more than their money’s worth!

  4. Bring in an outside keynote speaker to either do a motivational address or hire an expert speaker to talk about industry trends that your attendees might not have learned. Get them excited about the future and thinking about what your firm should be doing now to plan for the future!

  5. If you are doing an employee retreat, you may also want to bring in an outside speaker—either on some specific topic as an educational speaker or as a motivational speaker. It’s a change of pace from listening to the same internal folks year after year, and can bring new perspectives. It can also tell employees that you think they are important.

No matter what, do your research on your presenters—nothing is worse than an interesting topic delivered by a boring speaker! Tell us about the best (or worst) speaker you've ever heard. We'd love to hear your story! If you have questions, feel free to contact us at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Email Still Outpaces Online Networking

Internet users spend about 4.6 hours a week on social networking, a survey from global market research firm TNS reports, but e-mail is what they use the Internet for most often. The survey found that users spend about 72 percent of their time every week reading and sending e-mails, which accounts for about 4.4 hours of activity.

Checking their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and related activities takes up about 46 percent of their weekly time. Almost 75 percent say they check their e-mail every day, but fewer than half visit their social networking sites as frequently.

Given these statistics, it makes sense for you to have email as a component of your marketing plan. This may consist of monthly newsletters, coupons, invitations to special events or for free whitepapers or books. If you are not doing email now and need some help, give us a call at (919) 850-0605 or send an email:

Spring = Beautiful Weather & Increases in Outdoor Risks

Spring has officially arrived. There are robins in the yard, daffodils are out, new green grass is starting to come up and the trees are budding. The nicer weather weather draws folks outside and into activities like walking and biking. Unfortunately, sometimes as we enjoy ourselves outdoors, we end up at risk.

A friend missed work yesterday. This morning, he limped in wearing a cast on his arm and hand and a knee brace on one leg. Turns out he decided to ride his bike to work to enjoy the nice weather and save money on gas. He was hit by a car on his way to the office. After a short hospital ride and fun day in the ER, he was sent home to recuperate. Fortunately his injuries were not too severe. Unfortunately, this type of accident is all too common during nicer weather.

I just read an interesting article on bicycle accidents by attorney Annie Reynolds that offers some statistics on bike accidents and some safety tips. I thought I'd pass it along to you all. Be safe out there!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Handling Bad Press

I recently read an article by Philadelphia attorney Neil Murray about the recall of a product that I personally have used. Here’s a portion of the article:

“On January 6, 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced that the Triad Group notified doctors and patients that alcohol swabs, alcohol pads and alcohol swab sticks, which were sold under a variety of brand names, were being recalled. These products were recalled after it was discovered that they were contaminated by a bacteria, Bacillus cereus, which can cause serious and potentially life-threatening infections.” [read more]

From my perspective as a consumer, I was shaken that this medical product was unsafe. As a marketer, I started thinking about the challenges businesses face when they must address recalls and similar issues in this age of rapid dissemination of information.

At some point in their lives, almost all business owners or managers will have to deal with negative publicity. This might come in the form of a product recall that hits the national news or it could be an unhappy client posting a review on Google Places, Facebook or any number of other sites. Whatever form it comes in, reputation management should be part of your plan.

In today’s information-based world, bad press stays out there on the Internet. The wider the original net was cast, the harder it can be to counter the after-effects. The level of response depends on the type and severity of the negative publicity. Here are a few things to consider when you put together your response plan:
  1. You absolutely must have a plan ahead of time. If one of your products is recalled, you will have very little time to consider options before the news spreads and you are forced to respond. A timely and proactive response will allow consumers to see that you “get it” and are working toward a resolution.
  2. Respond, you must. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and can make it significantly worse.
  3. Attempts to cover errors can be much worse than admitting the error and announcing your firm’s action plan to deal with the problem.
  4. Your response should match the scope of the original issue. As an example, for a major national product recall, your firm’s survival may be at stake and this should be an “all hands on deck” response. For a negative online review, you might respond directly to the reviewer with a public commitment to resolve their complaint (i.e., we’re sorry you didn’t like the product, here’s your money back).
  5. Be proactive – don’t wait for the complaints to come in. Invite all customers to post reviews and let them know you value their opinions. Build your community now. The folks who love you and your product/service will frequently step up and defend your firm if someone does post a negative comment. Most consumers are savvy enough to recognize that one or two extremely high or low reviews are probably outliers and should be ignored.

Your plan should be developed by a team that includes senior management and your marketing and PR folks. It wouldn’t hurt to have an attorney review the plan and provide suggestions for minimizing liability. Various scenarios/contingencies should be considered.

We’d love to hear how you have dealt with negative publicity. Comment and let us know. If you have additional questions, contact us directly at


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