Winning At Meetings: 7 Tips For Standing Out Without Falling Down

A lot – perhaps most – of what we learn at work comes by trial and error. Learning the hard way. On the job training.

Over lunch with a client not long ago, we discussed the things we wish we had learned earlier in our careers that could have helped us later avoid awkward moments or missed opportunities. It was a short lunch but the list grew quickly, and at the top for both of us: how to stand out in a meeting without looking like a show-off rather than fading into the background as a piece of furniture.

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The Trouble with Good Old Sex

Marketers have a sex problem. They slather it liberally onto any brand surface where it might stick – the ultimate consumption aphrodisiac. No one gets fired from a marketing job for saying, “sex sells.” But at the same time, they ignore or alienate the source of half of all U.S. household spending because sexy older people … well – that’s ridiculous.

The failing of marketers is that we tend to prematurely sexualize young people, and prematurely desexualize older people.

Teens and pre-teens, soaking in their volatile stew of hormonal dysphoria, are bombarded with images and messages they can’t or shouldn’t understand, with dangerous ramifications that they are massively unprepared to deal with. The marketers’ message: “Think sexy, be sexy, be sexier. No, even sexier.”

Meanwhile, mature adults equipped with the intellectual, emotional and financial resources for romantic relationships are sent a very different message by marketers: “Act your age. Don’t be gross.”

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National Iced Tea Day

National Iced Tea Day

We matched Snapple’s quirky and accessible brand to hungry social consumers through National Iced Tea Day, complete with bi-coastal celebrity Whitney Port as spokesperson and a free lunch giveaway from top New York City food trucks. The celebration engaged 1,000 fans, reached more than four million consumers through social media and bolstered sales in Q2 2011 by 8%.

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Bloggers Are Just People and New Media Is Just Media

When I first moved to New York City in 2012, I had a random Craig’s List roommate who claimed to be a “sports blogger.” In reality, he worked as an associate at Barney’s and tweeted, wrote and ranted about sports in his spare time. He also attended the Blogs with Balls Conference every year and insisted that it was the next big thing in sports journalism.

At the time, I just figured it was a bunch of sports “nerds” in a basement (which it technically was, at first). In reality, my then-roommate was right: Just three years later, Blogs With Balls is filled with everyone from PR guys like me, to people who get paid to blog about sports, to the NFL Players Association.

My Ketchum Sports & Entertainment colleague, Brandon Williams, was a moderator for the “Measuring Online Influence” panel. We attended Blogs With Balls 6 in Chicago just days before the NFL draft to get a glimpse into the future of sports coverage.

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Global Scholar: Oh Kaepernick, My Kaepernick

The Power of a post.
Have you ever gone to bed just after sending out a Tweet or Instagram post that garnered some attention? Perhaps. But have you ever woken up to find more alerts on your screen than you can count? If your answer is yes, than you know the rush and curiosity that flows through your brain while trying to figure out, “What is going on right now?” I was pretty amazed to eventually find out that I was @mentioned in a tweet by Colin Kaepernick. Yes, THE Colin Kaepernick – quarterback of my favorite football team, the San Francisco 49ers!

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How to Invest in Yourself

I like to stretch myself, to keep growing and changing. I have to confess that I’ve always really struggled with change, but proactively challenging myself seems to be a great way for me to keep embracing life to its fullest.

I’ve been with the same company for 15 years (I can only thank my colleagues for putting up with me!). But I know that to grow I must continually test myself in order to keep evolving.

Each year I buy a leather-bound notebook and jot down a few insigths that I try to hold myself to, and regularly revisit them throughout the year. So here are my four of my favorite tips to giving your colleagues and clients the best version of yourself everyday!

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Celebrating Moms

click to enlarge

First, as a mother of two myself, let me take a moment to wish all the wonderfully hard-working and generous mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day!

Jane Sellman once said, “The phrase “working mother” is redundant.” But the ways moms define success is not.

At Ketchum, we (and everyone else, we hope) appreciate moms throughout the year. And, as marketing-to-moms thought leaders, we know that moms represent trillions of dollars in purchasing power – more than any other consumer segment – and that moms’ economic power is still growing.

We also know that moms are now the primary breadwinner, or on par with a partner, in almost half of U.S. households (Happy Mother’s Day, indeed!) and at rates that are quickly increasing around the world (click to tweet).

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The Evolving Energy Story

Annually, at the end of April, energy experts from around the world gather in Houston, Texas for Cambridge Energy Resources Week (CERA) to discuss industry issues and opportunities, and share their visions of the future. This year, Ketchum Energy simultaneously sponsored an energy communications symposium in Houston in an effort to learn from these energy sector leaders.

The intersection of these two gatherings left me inspired and gave me some time to reflect on the evolution of energy communications. Here are a few of my “take-homes” from the conference:

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New Food, Where Content is King

Last week, we launched our new, state-of-the-art Ketchum Food Studio. It was an exhilarating moment to unveil our commitment to creating compelling food content and to serving it across digital and traditional platforms to reach the broad new array of audiences interested in food.

The event was a great — and delicious — success, with celebrity chef Gary Danko serving his famous buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon and caviar and Ketchum Food Studio chef David Shalleck treating our 100 guests to a sizzling cheese-topped asparagus gratin.

With that mouth-watering backdrop, I found myself reflecting on the evolution of food communications. We are at a major inflection point where technology dominates how consumers receive and evaluate information related to the food they consume, and opinions are shaped by many sources — from food influencers to visionary chefs, farmers, food scientists, nutritionists and even self-appointed consumer “experts.”

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Global Scholar: Broadening Horizons Through the Exchange of Ideas

Where to begin! The experience of leaving Madrid and working abroad as a Global Scholar within Ketchum’s Washington D.C. and New York offices was incredible, to say the least.

As part of the Healthcare Practice, my colleagues in both cities exposed me to every facet of their roles right from the start! I conducted research, pitched journalists (even landed a few placements), and contributed to client calls and live-events. Though they only just met me upon arrival, they had confidence in my ability to execute and deliver results, and I was given a genuine opportunity to be a part of the team. A global Ketchum family, indeed!

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Seven Graphic Novels and Comics That All Communicators Should Check Out

Ever since I’ve been old enough to hold a book, I’ve been crazy for comics. To this day, few things provide me with more pleasure than the combination of pictures and words, telling stories together in ways that neither can do on their own.

As PR, marketing and journalism become increasingly visual disciplines, it makes sense that practitioners can learn much from great examples of comics (click to tweet), so here’s a preliminary list of works that I think have a lot to say to communicators. You won’t find many superheroes or spaceships here – my own tastes tend a bit more toward the indie end of the spectrum, where artists have more freedom to experiment with what they say and how they say it. Though this list may be limited – these selections are overwhelmingly American, for starters, and I wish there were more women authors – it’s only the beginning of what’s out there. I’d love to hear additional suggestions!

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