A recent CTV interview with Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau filmed days before the Canadian federal election, reveals much about the woman who stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the newly sworn in Prime Minister. The interview was not only a window into the family’s core values, it also revealed why she’s a rising media star.
Across generations, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau has struck a chord. She carries the type of authenticity that doesn’t require age to connect.
In watching the interview, it’s apparent that Sophie’s style of openness and ability to make a connection with people is precisely what makes her so appealing and relatable. You see she’s human.
At Peak we often prepare our clients for media interviews. Whether it’s for print, radio or TV, interviews can be intimidating if you’ve never been put in the hot seat.
Through media training, we help people feel confident and in control of their conversation before they speak with media. There are a few things we could learn from Sophie’s CTV interview. Here’s what she got right.
Know your key messages
While the media may ask the questions, it doesn’t mean they dictate the conversation. In fact by knowing your key messages, which is an essential statement, thought or idea you want to get out in your interview, you remain in control of the conversation.
For Sophie, her key message throughout the conversation was that regardless of what changes around them, “within we’ll stay the same”.
Offer sound bites
By keeping her language simple, short and without jargon means her message is easy to understand. By doing so, Sophie adds more power and credibility to her response.
Here are a few sound bites, which reflect her key message:
“whatever things you go through, you stay true to who you are, and your core values”
“how you grow out of adversity is a reflection of who you are and who you can become”
Talk like a human
While none would mistake Stephen Harper for talking like a human (watch him talk about his love for TV shows), Sophie speaks with a natural tone, and it never sounds like she’s reading from a script.
When the reporter asks about her children’s reaction to the potential change to their lives, she repeats her key message, “I answer honestly. Inside we’ll still be the same people.”
Open body language
Crossed arms, shifting gaze and fidgeting are just some of the non-verbal cues of someone who is uncomfortable. This could translate to public mistrust and leave doubt in the message that is being delivered.
From the way she leans forward in her chair, to her open legged-stance, warm smile and animated gestures, Sophie exudes an easy openness, which translates to trust. Not only do you want to hear what she’s saying, you believe her.
Until recently, my experience with Kickstarter was fairly limited—I loosely understood it as a fundraising platform for companies or projects. So when one of my for-profit clients announced they were launching a new product via a Kickstarter campaign, and needed extensive PR support to get more “backers” (campaign supporters who donate funds in exchange for a product or service) to reach their fundraising goal, I knew I had my work cut out for me.
In a nutshell, Kickstarter was developed to help creative projects flourish among target audiences—it is a low-risk channel that connects early adopters and innovators by introducing new products or services online at a discounted price. The concept is comparable to a commercial version of online dating—matchmaking in commerce. Typically campaigns last for 30 days and all financial proceeds collected during this time are used to help the company cover innovation costs and the expense of bringing the product or service to market.
While Kickstarter was a novelty that received extensive publicity when it launched in 2009, it is now ubiquitous. Rising above the chatter to deliver a topline Kickstarter campaign can be a difficult task that requires a well-thought out marketing and publicity strategy. Product websites, ad buys, news releases, case studies, video, social media, bloggers, events and direct marketing executed before, during and after a campaign are all excellent promotional tactics that increase exposure.
However, I quickly learned one of the most invaluable tactics, that has consistently achieved the best results in campaigns, is word-of-mouth support from your backers and brand supporters. Getting your backers to endorse, rate and review your product or service will always produce more authentic public content than you can generate internally.
Furthermore, if the media—i.e. influential bloggers and well-known outlets (such as The Huffington Post, Forbes, Fast Company, Mashable)—see that the general public is buzzing over your campaign, they will listen and are more likely to mention you in their next blog or article. Don’t underestimate the power social media, word of mouth and the loyalty of brand fanatics. While marketing your campaign is both important and necessary, taking your Kickstarter campaign to the next level requires looking outside the walls of your company for support.
Take Pebble Technology’s most recent Kickstarter campaign for its new Pebble Time smartwatch. The company has raised $$19,256,637—3,851% of its $500,000 Kickstarter goal—with seven days of the campaign still to go. While Pebble benefits from previous experience with Kickstarter, much of the campaign success is due to the company’s large social media following, word of mouth and ongoing media attention.
Here are a few basic tips that I learned from my experience. I hope they prove useful for those of you preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign of your own:
Be sure there is a genuine interest for your product or service, and a real need for external funding
Communicate with your customers before you launch your campaign, and maintain consistent communications with backers and customers during and after the campaign—do not lose contact with them simply because they have pledged for your campaign
Ask your backers to talk about your product or service among their networks
Remain active on your social media accounts and be sure to post consistent updates to your website and Kickstarter webpage
Proactively identify and reach out to select media and bloggers that have a specific interest in your product or service area
Be consistent, transparent and genuine—continue to post updates and communicate with your backers and the media well-after the campaign is completed. You never know when you will launch your next Kickstarter campaign and the ongoing exposure is vital for the success of your company.
Many of the writers and bloggers I spoke with were interested in publishing a follow-up piece on the successes and learnings from the campaign. All publicity is good publicity, after all! So you didn’t get the results you were after? My advice: reach out to your media contacts and backers anyway to tell them what you were happy with, and what you would change next time. This shows your humility and willingness to learn, and will help generate support for your next Kickstarter campaign before it’s even been conceived.
Interested in learning more about Kickstarter? Here are a couple of useful articles that may help get you started:
In this final post of our leadership series, we outline what Art of Leadership speaker Charles Duhigg discussed in relation to the power of habit. In particular, he explored how leadership can improve and change habits.
Duhigg informed the room that, according to recent research he’d seen, 45% of what we do is habit. He explained the habit loop, emphasizing the importance of reward in forming habits.
What I found interesting was his take on unplanned organizational habits. He illustrated this point by talking about how we operate in the workplace daily, often without even realizing what we’re doing and how we’re behaving. For example, we operate in silos or we stick to our own job descriptions and won’t interfere with others. He highlighted this by talking about the Kings Cross fire in London which killed 31 people and injured 100. From what I understood, Duhigg was suggesting that, if London Underground employees hadn’t stuck to their job descriptions and silos, the fire may have been prevented from spreading.
Obviously there are always a lot of factors to consider in these kinds of situations but, talking us through the steps and habits of how the employees responded, certainly confirmed his theory. Ultimately, unplanned organizational habits prevented anyone from taking crucial action.
So how do we change habits? Again, it’s a big topic and one that I cannot do justice to in a short blog post. But I would add:
Will power is key
Recognize that habits spill into all areas of life; identify those you truly want to change
Identify what provides you with an opportunity for change
Find habits that deliver emotional rewards
Hopefully this leadership series has given you some thoughts, tips and tricks to apply to your workplace environment, teams and individual development. The key to success and growth is keeping things simple and realistic. So be sure to identify what you believe will work for you and focus on a selection of these points. And don’t be afraid to have check-ins with yourself and others. Documenting progress, getting feedback, and being open to change will ultimately allow you to become a more successful leader.
This past Wednesday marked 12 incredible years of Peak Communicators. It was great gathering with our friends in the media and past, present and potential clients to celebrate with a sparkling wine tasting, live music and lots of delicious food!
If you weren’t able to join us for all of the festivities the other night, check out these photos collected from “#Peak12” for a taste of the fun.
Thank you to all who attended – support like yours has been what has helped our company flourish for over a decade. We can’t wait to see what the next 12 years has in store!
Fans devoted to hot yoga typically embrace the heat, but in recent days Bikram’s founder Bikram Choudhury is sweating for a different reason. The famed guru is currently facing six U.S. civil lawsuits for rape or sexual assault. The latest legal case has been filed by a Vancouver woman who claims Choudhury sexually assaulted her while she was yoga training and working with him.
When a negative allegation is made, even if it’s eventually unproven or dismissed like in the case of John Furlong, the damage is done. It takes years to build up a brand, but only seconds to have it shattered by slander or harmful rumours. There is much at stake for the reputation of Choudhury’s trademarked empire. With 650 yoga studios around the world including 29 in B.C., a breach of trust will have a detrimental impact on Choudhury along with the businesses that spent years building their individual success upon the multimillionaire’s personal brand.
This is where crisis management communications comes into play. Peak Partner Alyn Edwards was recently interviewed on CBC News to discuss what local Bikram franchises can do to confront the current reputation crisis. He also looks at the dangers of why it’s precarious to build a brand around a single person’s name. Unless you have an irreproachable reputation, it’s impossible to escape the burden of risk. Watch Alyn’s interview below for expert PR tips on what brands can do to mitigate the impact of a crisis. *Hint – it starts with having positive key messages and sticking to them.
The International Ragan Communicationsawards accept entries from across the globe. From an abundance of top-tier entries, Peak’s was chosen by the judges to be one of six finalists.
For that reason, we’re proud to even be recognized. The award winners are to be announced in late March – consider our fingers crossed until then (all positive vibes appreciated)!
As proud as we are about being chosen as a finalist, it’s the actual program itself that we want to boast about.
Health and fitness is a huge priority here at Peak. Maybe it’s due to the fact that most of us are natural fitness fanatics and health enthusiasts… or the company breeds them – either way, keeping fit is a huge part of our daily culture.
Why workplace fitness?
Speaking as one of those fitness fanatics, incorporating daily fitness and overall wellness is essential to productivity and contentment in the workplace. It’s one of those ‘oh I know it’s important, but I don’t have time’ components that unfortunately aren’t made to be a priority for many companies. But, for those companies who do, and especially those who incorporate health and wellness as part of their culture, they reap many benefits.
Here are a few:
Healthy employees will be more productive and cost employers less in absenteeism and sickness costs (reference: The Globe and Mail).
Fitness encourages group participation which helps employees build relationships with one another. A more connected team results in a more productive one.
Whether you have fun fitness challenges at work, provide your employees with gym passes or have an employee health plan, you are making your employees happy and healthy and cutting costs related to your bottom line – sounds like a healthy business model to me.
I was in the media for more than 30 years and the first rule is PR and journalism don’t mix. If you want to do PR, you leave journalism. Simple.
In 2011, I was a consumer reporter at CTV and was offered a job as Premier Christy Clark’s press secretary.
When I accepted the position I told CTV immediately, even though the job didn’t start for two weeks, and that brought my TV career to an abrupt end. My story for that night was cancelled; I was allowed to thank all the great people I worked with, clean out my desk and record a 20 second thank you to viewers.
I offered to continue to work off-air for two weeks before I started with government, to assist a new reporter stepping into my old role and CTV politely declined. Its rules were strict and I applaud them.
At CTV, we signed a document which spelled out potential conflicts and the consequences which were dire and immediate. All CTV personnel knew the rules and many like me made career choices.
It appears Toronto Global TV anchor and executive editor Leslie Roberts didn’t make that difficult choice.
According to a Toronto Star investigation, Roberts is the co-owner and creative director of a Toronto PR company BuzzPR and some BuzzPR clients appeared on his show. The Star disclosed Roberts tweeted about some clients to his more than 19 thousand followers and other clients appeared in Global news stories produced by other reporters. In fairness, some of those clients also got stories on other TV stations, which legitimizes their news value.
Global news has suspended Roberts indefinitely while it investigates the allegations.
Roberts’ says he never received direct payment from any client for appearing on his newscasts and never took a salary from BuzzPR, but those clients did pay BuzzPR of which he is a part-owner. He told The Star he went to BuzzPR everyday and conducted media training for clients and helped write media pitches. He told The Star he is resigning from Buzz PR effective immediately.
Global viewers trust the news they see. Primarily they trust that there is a separation between the journalist and businesses or guests featured on news programs. They trust that the people they see interviewed, particularly those playing an “expert” role, are chosen for what they know and not who they know.
How would those viewers have felt if full disclosure had been made such as “my next guest is an expert in widgets and his widget firm is a client of the public relations company of which I am a part-owner and creative director.”
Critics of the media have often charged that advertisers or others use their financial clout to influence the news. In my experience those critics are wrong. I was never prevented from doing any story that positioned an advertiser in a bad light. On occasion, my stories in radio and TV cost my employers a good client and a lot of money, but as an old boss at CKNW used to tell businesses “buying advertising is not news insurance.”
Also no sales person ever suggested to me that I should do a story on a particular business that was an advertiser. We kept sales and news separate. Roberts is a veteran award-winning journalist. He should have known that what he was doing at the very least had the appearance of a conflict of interest.
If we accept his word that at no time did he cross a line, that he was surprised when BuzzPR clients appeared on his show or elsewhere on Global news and that he had nothing to do with those appearances, that still does not explain other findings of The Star investigation: his tweets supporting BuzzPR clients and an apparent positive ad-lib on air about a client with a coupon app.
In my opinion, Roberts had a duty to viewers to disclose any conflicts and he failed in that duty.
Back in September reporter Charlo Greene of KTVA-TV in Alaska famously quit live on air as she disclosed she was the owner of a medical marijuana business, Alaska Cannabis Club, which she had just finished doing a story on.
Greene’s conflict is direct, Roberts’ is one step removed. Both are serious, in my opinion. Roberts’ credibility as a journalist has been irreparably harmed. I fear the reputations of his clients may be in danger of being tarnished as well because the public may wonder if the reason they got airtime was because of the Roberts connection. That would be unfortunate.
People often think of public relations only in marketing terms. How can we use PR to build our brand? If they don’t see an immediate payoff, they ask why bother? They are missing the link between positive PR and saving the brand during a crisis. Positive PR is like getting a flu shot, it won’t guarantee you don’t get the bad news flu, but it will make the symptoms less severe.
When a crisis hits, the first step reporters take is to type your name and your company’s name into Google. They are looking for a general impression. What another reporter has said about you will be given a great deal of weight. Reporters trust other reporters above all others.
Step two for a reporter is to search your name and the key crisis words like “fire,” “layoffs” or “complaints,” whatever best describes the crisis. They are looking for how you handled previous events and if there are any stories about your preparedness or lack thereof.
They will search all your social media channels, personal and corporate. They will dig hard and they are really good at it.
Within a few minutes they will form a picture of your corporate or personal character and that will frame an approach to the story in the hours, days, or weeks ahead. It is a picture you will find very hard to change during a crisis. For media there is no grey. It’s black and white, you are the good guy or the bad guy, the victim or the perpetrator.
Try it right now. Search your name, your company’s name. Now search again and add in a crisis word or two. See what comes up. That’s what a reporter will know about you today if bad news strikes in the next few minutes. If you have been keeping a low profile, not telling your positive stories, then reporters will find a void. This void will be filled with bad news when disaster strikes. Your bad news flu just became pneumonia. It might be fatal.
The most overlooked component to effective crisis management is building a positive public reputation in advance of any crisis. You can’t control when a crisis will strike but you can control how you build your reputation in advance of the bad news. This reputation will be the foundation you stand on during the crisis. Create a public perception of your company as a positive member of the community. It will help shape how media and the public will view the crisis story and your efforts to deal with it.
There is an old saying in politics, “If you don’t define yourself, your opponents will define you.” Business is no different. If you don’t define yourself now, the media, your critics or the crisis will do it for you.
An organization with a good public reputation will take a hit but will weather the crisis better than one that the public first hears about when a crisis has struck and the blame game is in full swing.
The day before he was to be introduced as the next Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations, Trevor Linden says he was put in an impossible situation during a live TV interview. He told Global Newshe had never talked to the Vancouver Canucks about the job. “I had never really thought about it to be honest,” he said. After four and a half minutes, he ended by saying an announcement was not imminent.It would soon be revealed that none of this was true.
The next day, he was apologizing as he was introduced as the team’s new president of hockey operations. The Province newspaper called it a “barefaced lie” while its blog editorial was titled, “Lying to fans is no way for Linden to win their trust.” SportsNet called it a “white lie” and the Vancouver Sun said Linden “wasn’t completely honest.”
As Linden explains his responses to questioning on live TV, he didn’t want to disclose that he had talked to the Aquilini family, owners of the Canucks, because he was trying to protect Mike Gillis, who was about to be fired, and the integrity of the process. He says he had to do what he did. And he did it calmly for four and a half minutes.
Whether Canucks fans think it matters or not, there is a huge PR lesson here for everyone else.
Linden’s ‘impossible situation’ was of his own making. It shows that, even if you have done thousands of media interviews, you need to be properly prepared and you need to know when to say no. Here’s what he should have done.
Impose a media blackout The safest and smartest step for Linden would have been the media blackout. It’s a common step corporations take when there is big news they don’t want to leak out — and this was big news. As soon as he got into discussions with the Canucks, he should have gone off-the-grid, cutting off all contact with the media and cancelling all personal appearances, especially media interviews. This was not the time to go on TV to promote a new fitness concept.
Be prepared If he was determined to go on television or thought he might be tracked down by a diligent reporter, he should have anticipated the most obvious question: Have you been approached by the Aquilinis? The best answer would have been: “I have met the Aquilini family, but I am not in a position to disclose the details of those discussions.” Simple and truthful while respecting the process and soon-to-be-fired general manager Mike Gillis.
There are lessons for all of us:
Each media opportunity needs to be assessed on its own merits. Sometimes the best answer is “no thank you.”
Anticipate and be prepared for all media questions
Prepare a toolkit of responses for any question that could catch you off-guard
Negotiate the interview up front and get assurances any questions you can’t respond to won’t be asked
Be prepared if the reporter asks those questions anyway
Trevor Linden’s brand credibility took a hit with fans and the media. He was right to apologize. It is sad that the entire incident could have been avoided.
You can bet the next time he does an interview, someone in the media will be thinking: “Is he telling the truth?” How long that will last is the great reputation unknown.