PRactical examples

To learn from one’s own experience is smart. To learn from other’s experience is wise, and considerably cheaper

This is a collection of examples worthy of our attention and discussion.

The sharing of knowledge: the lessons I’ve learned as a lecturer

This blog helped me launch myself on both a personal and professional level. After writing a few blog posts, I was invited to numerous conferences in the country, the region… and beyond. According to my records, I have held a total of 275 in-house, conference and other types of open type lectures. Since 2008 and up until today, the average is 55 per year. In one way or another, I’ve been perfect public performance since the age of 6. I would therefore like to write a few about this…

Lecturers…

The market currently offers much more lecturers in comparison to the number of prominent events. In case you do get the honor to lecture at a conference, please think about the following things.

First of all, make sure you take a careful look at your schedule! Giving your word not only binding for you, but for the organizers as well, having in mind that they too are responsible for organizing he program and other promotional activities based on your decision -> in the past 5 years, I canceled a lecture only twice. The first time this happened due to a 39 degree fever (this was an internal training for Limundo) and the other time was in May this year when I had to cancel going to the Proactive conference which I love dearly, and where I’ve become a regular over the years.

During the initial stage of negotiating your presence, make sure to check all the necessary details concerning your appearance. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself beforehand:

  • The expected duration of the lecture – not including the Q&A session, as well the time reserved for this part
  • The structure (profile) of the participants
  • What the organizer wishes to achieve/accomplish with your presence (I almost always ask this because the lecturer can present a showcase presentation, an assertive/motivational presentation, a trending or theoretical presentation, etc). As a professional, it’s your job to help the organizers accomplish the goal they’ve sent for their event.
  • Technical details concerning the event: is it streamed, is the format of your presentation acceptable (.pdf, .ppt, keynote – it makes a difference), is the conference room possess adequate audio equipment (in case you plan to send video messages), what type of microphone is being used (this is a very important detail!), who are the other participants/themes (you shouldn’t overlap with your colleagues)…
  • Details concerning other obligations that the organizer has planned out for you – media appearances before the conference and during the event (press statements, interviews), excursions, participation in panel discussions and working groups, informal gatherings (cocktails, parties)
  • Deadline for submitting your presentation along with a description, as well as the final presentation for the organizers (in case the organizers do not ask you for your presentation, they either trust your enormously or are inexperienced; the organizers reserve all rights and are responsible for the content of your presentation, after all)
  • Logistical details – travel, accommodation, your fee, as well as how the fee will be paid out
Once you’ve reached a precise agreement with the organizers…
  • First of all, think about the audience, the organizer’s goal and your competence in this field.
  • Create a concept around your lecture – I usually sum it in the title of my presentation, but there are other ways of doing it as well. The idea revolving around the lecture helps you be more focuses when researching the topic and to more easily select content which you will later on compile into your presentation as a whole.
  • The following step is analysis – depending on the theme and the goal, I usually research anywhere between 3 and 10 days. Throughout this period, I search for analogies, applicable metaphors, relevant quotes and sources, as well as multimedia content that I can use to illustrate the verbal part of my presentation.
  • I usually take about two days to compile my presentation.
  • After that, I hand over everything that I have come up to design professionals – people who will visualize the meaning of my lecture along with my (sometimes rather abstract) ideas in order to give them a breath of life. PRpepper‘s amazing Creative lab department is responsible for this, having created numerous logos, books of standards, the basis of visual identity and visual characteristics of brands/campaigns. Such a team is of great help to personally, whether I’m in the midst of arranging my ideas or finalizing them in a unique process. My presentations were prepared by Ivan Ćosić a couple of times, but for the most part they were done mostly myself, having been taught by the experience. Remember that the presentation is you, your ideas, argument and anecdotes that you bring out or “pack” into your presentation. All of this together makes up for a successful presentation.
  • Support the event through your own channels of social media – share, comment and thank the event organizers. You’re a part of the event, hence it’s completely natural for it to become a part of you!
  • Practice your appearance – every lecture that I’ve given, I’ve done in front of the mirror at least 3 times! There’s no secret, the key is in the effort you’ve put into it. When I appear on stage, I know every slide, every picture and I have every anecdote that I consider appropriate from my research, learned by heart.
  •  At the day of the lecture, I upload my presentation on slide share and I prepare a tweet to be published during the presentation; first of all for all of those following the lecture through the live stream, but also for the people in the auditorium that are following the lecture on their device (this is especially important when you’re in large auditoriums like the one in Montreal which sits 3000 people). This also facilitates things for the organizers, having in mind they almost always upload the presentation on their website.
 During the conference…
  • Attend as many lectures as possible. You’re not a star. Come on, please… culture is something that depicts even the greatest lecturers, and to show up only to your lecture is rude and pretty arrogant. I always try to attend the lecture of my colleagues due to a few practical reasons, but mostly to learn something new. Also, being part of the audience let’s me feel the energy of the participants, their temper, it let’s me learn their names and nicknames, but also to spot the pros and cons of the auditorium and the stage. I also detect my colleagues’ lectures which are liked and not liked by the audience. In that way, you too become a part of the conference even before D-day. Both the participants and the organizers deserve this.
  • Socialize with people before the lectures. Say hi, look them in the eyes – these are rare opportunities to have a look at one another, give each other a hug and just feel. Ask them about their impressions concerning the lectures so far, and about their expectations. People. These are people. Most are smart, hard working people that learn and evolve. Be a real person with people.
  • During informal conference gatherings be available, but also dignified. I have never taken part in #krmljao and #kafanizacija activities. These do not represent the agency nor team that I represent, nor myself. In addition, you need to be rested before your lecture. You need to be well rested and focused – fresh and full of energy. A glass of wine and a dance or two should be more than enough. You’re a lecturer, you’re not a socialite nor an entertainer. Save your energy, your reputation, your name, as well as the trust of the organizers.
  • At the day of the lecture, I usually eat less than usual. In addition, I also run through my speech once again and make sure to correct anything if necessary. Thanks to being well prepared, during every lecture, I select someone from the audience to use an example, quote or to ask for their personal opinion. Share your glory – you’ll have more of it. “Glory” is only kept by those who never had it. All of us make up for a good conference. The lecturers, organizers, as well as every participant in the audience.
  • Before every lecture I perform a few ritual (speech and breathing exercises). I make sure I look my best. I consider myself an elegant woman that provokes not by her looks but through performance. I have never come on stage wearing the same outfit as I had on during that day at the conference. This is a trick that helps me gain extra self-confidence, but also sends a clear message of respect and my (serious) intentions to the audience. Lectures in low cut tops, flip-flops and attire of adequate length/width are not style.
  • During the lecture, make sure you keep track of time, as well as audience reaction. Even though I’m always well prepared, I improvise my performance based on audience feedback – I sometimes speed things up or slow them down, interact with the audience or call out to support it.
  • I usually put my hair away because I want to make sure that the audience sees that I see them. It is important for me to move, but not to run around the stage. I change and adapt my intonation and posture depending on which slide or anecdote is following the presentation.
  • At the very end of the lecture, I’m always touched by the support I get and I never hide that. I thank the audience and take a bow, and I show the love which I then return right back where it came from. I give a smile from my heart because I know that I ignited a small candle of hope or an idea that will eventually light up a new flame.
  • I am pretty patient during the Q&A session – I try to remember the name of the person asking me the question, while I write down or memorize the question asked. I thank the person for the question because it confirms the invested attention. I answer concisely because I wish to add value to the event and encourage other participants to interact.

After the presentation…
  • After the presentation, I make sure to stay as long as necessary to answer all the questions posed by the participants. In case they liked it – I always ask them what it is that they’ve found useful. Don’t be vain – vanity is superficial. Educators should always try and learn, even if we’re talking about their own lectures. Ask the audience what was good, as well as what wasn’t so good in order to shine even brighter next time around.
  •  And now, the most beautiful (or perhaps the most difficult) part: the reactions from the audience are divided all over the Internet – read, absorb, contemplate, respond, thank and follow.
  • After a day or two – when the organizers had the time to sum up the impressions, make sure to thank them.

Lecturing above all means that you possess the necessary knowledge, but also that you now how to share it unselfishly.

At the end, I would like to thank Nikola Jovanović that inspired me to write this text with his post and impressions from the spark.me conference that all of us – the organizers, lecturers and participants – equally enjoyed. @Nikola, thanks for all the wonderful words and your meaningful comment about the performance of PRpepper’s team. We’ll carry on doing our best!

*Below you will find some of my past lectures and presentations, as well as two tweets of colleagues with enormous experience, that I respect very much as lecturers. Do not claim -> demonstrate!

New business models – social change for @SPARKdotme from Dragana Djermanovic

#webcom Montreal – Dragana Djermanovic – Social web: in&out_come from Dragana Djermanovic

 

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[In confidence] When social web becomes the breadwinner

I know that many of you reading this blog are involved in different social media projects, as well as online presentation strategies for various organizations. In this post I have summed up some important personal experiences that I acquired while working for certain companies, as well as experiences of some colleagues that I respect within this line of business. I believe you will find them useful.

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Community management from the first hand

Do you remember the post The Wor(l)d is not for sale? Well, there was a sequel. These posts were written with the goal to enlighten active online users that managed to build significant social media capital and explain what it means to be working for an agency or a brand as a community manager, as well as what expectations both side have to fulfill and assess whether every chance is indeed a good chance.

Hana [Cyber Bosanka] bravely shared her experience in a recent post. She was commissioned online by Jasno & Glasno to manage a FB page of a certain brand. Due to her trust in Borja and his personal social media capital/legitimacy she was less careful. In addition, this was surely due to the lack of experience. The terms weren’t precisely defined, same as payment deadlines, and I’m not quite sure how it was in relation to the expectations and measurability of her work.

Either way, I don’t doubt Borja’s good intentions either, I know him and I consider him a great guy. The same applies to Hana, where with her post she only wanted to help others, the agency that hired her, and ultimately – herself. I’m writing this because I think it’s important to stress how much we can LEARN from such a public case study!

If we’re the employer, we have to focus on themes such as overall management, people and time management, analytics, negotiating skills, leadership abilities in general.

Suggested literature: Managing virtual teams -> Leading Virtual Teams, Harvard Business Press + How to lead or manage virtual teams + Fostering Creativity, Harvard Business Press

There are (at least) two main preconditions:

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DDJ’s Latest

I love the Internet. The Internet is a promise of freedom and sense fulfilled. I have abandoned the classic PR and social web is my main concern now. This is because I love people.

Business…

I established ‘PRpepper’ agency less than a year ago. Throughout the year, I worked fifteen hours a day on average. I tried to implement everything I thought I knew. That was important. I have worked in politics (Slovenia, Serbia), for NGOs (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia), for companies (Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia). The names, topics and how-to’s will be used to create case studies. I reluctantly use blog for advertising. Things are as they are. That’s the spirit I like to show. Do not claim- demonstrate! Therefore, I intend to demonstrate all this at conferences, soon.

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The world in the next decade?

At the end of August, the city of Bled was a host to a chosen circle of political and business representatives of Europe.

In addition to the numerous guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia- the host of the Strategic Conference 2010, in those days Bled was visited by the Prime Minister of Belgium, Secretary General of the United Arab Emirates, Minister of Foreign Affairs of India, assistant to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil and many others.

DDj was very honored to be a part of this, thanks to the friends from the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia and the invitation from the Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Samuel Žgobar.

After the excuisite experiences I had after the lectures and conversations with professor Wilcox, Michael Porter, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton, in Bled I was  also attending the lecture of the key note speaker, general Colin Powell.

General Colin Powell is the former Secretary General of the United States of America (2001- 2005), as well as the former Secretary for Security of the USA (1987- 1989).

The topic of the lecture was the future of the European Union in the next decade and the role of small countries in the process of general stabilization. A topic wide enough to see just how precise the speaker is.

At the beginning, Powell pointed out that after his military career of almost four decades, it was hard not to notice things from a perspective of a soldier and that the road we were heading to should have been seen from a perspective of the past.

Foreseeing the future through the past perspective is the key.- C. Powell

On China…

He is fascinated with the country which owes its global growth primarily to the middle classes. Further progressive growth of the Republic of China is more than evident, as is its potential for domination in the global economy on all levels. As opposed to the strong development, Powell showed his personal discontent  with the system which doesn’t allow its citizens to use that potential. The external expansion is in opposition to the internal control in the aspect of rights, possibilities and citizens’ freedoms, and according to Powell, this causes a serious threat to the stability within the country’s borders.

On terrorism…

Powell was the Secretary General in the USA in the year  September 11th happened, so he was very subjective on this topic, even in this public performance. ‘Nobody is immune to terrorism’, he pointed out, ‘and terrorists do not tear down buildings and kill people for the sake of tearing down buildings and killing people – they do it to terrorize us- make us scared and insecure.’. In the end of this personal interpretation of terrorism he emphasized: ‘However, they, be them 10, 100, 1000… cannot make us different than we are- devoted to freedom and democracy. We can only do that to ourselves.’

Look where you were before- look where you are now- in order to know where to go!- C. Powell

On tomorrow…

In the next decade, Powell sees the world finally moving on the bases that are not connected to war, but to healthy creativity and innovations. Stable economy in the first place, then (with the rules of cause and effect) stable politics will be the distinctive elements which will tell apart successful from the unsuccessful ones.

Give people jobs. This is the only way they can bring dignity to their homes once they come back from work. – C. Powell

On ecological sustainability and climatic changes…

A topic you cannot omit… Powell made a very rational point that ‘ it is not important whether the scientists or Al Gore were right. It’s simply not good to send this amount of poison into the atmosphere.’

On the Internet…

A 73-year-old soldier was very passionate when he said: ‘In the next ten years, we will all be talking about the Internet!

The Internet is fascinating! Everything is there! And everyone is there. I can no longer communicate with my grandchildren unless I’m on Twitter or Facebook. No, you cannot ignore this phenomenon. You have to comprehend the strength and the opportunities the Internet Era carries with itself.’ – C. Powell

In the end, did I learn about something completely new or unfamiliar? I wouldn’t comment on that. But, to hear very personal observations on highly global topics by someone such as Collin Powell was more than a memorable experience. Given that there were no reporters on the event, we are sharing this, nonetheless, on blog- in the spirit of general Powell’s understanding of the Internet.

Above all, in the spirit of an era of civil reporting which we are lucky to be a part of.

Your DDj ;)

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Case: Banca Intesa and a well-meaning citizen

Some web locations contained texts linked to the case of Vladimir Čučović and his initiative which was directed to Banca Intesa in Belgrade.

The on-line discussion and positioning of a ‘little man’ in front of a ‘big company’, with the ‘ever mighty’ citizen medium -> the Internet <- in the middle, was appealing enough for me to deal with.

Things, as usual, are not black and white.

Based on the information by the on-line sources writing about the event, as well as on the documented facts which I received as soon as yesterday (Sunday), I will try to explain three aspects of this case:

  • Banca Intesa’s attitude towards the security of its users and the protection of visual identity
  • Banca Intesa’s attitude towards a citizen’s initiative
  • most important to this blog -> the approach of the sector of corporate communications and the marketing sector of the Bank to an on-line reputational risk

1. Attitude of Banca Intesa towards its users’ security and…

  • 1.1. Action ->

In February, Banca Intesa received an on-line initiative by Mr Čučković presenting a complete solution for the visual and structural appearance of their web-site. Čučković mentioned later on the  e-criminal portal that this well-meaning initiative was sent without any financial expectancy, i.e for free. The Bank’s official attitude, however, stated the following:

…not for free, as he said, but in replace to a ‘support’ to a project e-market in the value of 50 to 70 thousand RSD a month. As a proof, we are attaching both messages sent by the subject to the bank. After the consideration of the offer, we decided that it was not interesting for us and kindly thanked Mr Čučković.

  • 1.2. Reaction of the bank in Serbia ->

The Bank responded with the following e-mail:

Dear Sir,

We thank you for your suggestion.
At this moment, we have no interest in developing such Bank portals.

  • 1.3. Reaction of the Banca Intesa Sao Paolo Group ->

With regular on-line monitoring (some companies really do this), the Italian headquarters noticed the existence of this site and that it implied the activities of an official character, so they elaborated Group’s reaction to the office in Belgrade:

We noticed a content which can lead a visitor to a thought that this is one of bank’s official internet presentations. Due to the fact that the website contains the logo of Intesa Sao Paolo without our permission, in addition to the promotion of the services of e-banking, we hereby bring charges to the Department of defense against high tech criminal, part of  the Ministry of Internal Affairs, since, besides the unauthorized use of the company’s logo, we consider the site prone to all kinds of misuse, such as phishing, blackmails, etc. in the future.

What’s very important to point out here is that financial institutions have a huge responsibility towards the protection of its users and their data, and no matter how relevant the risk is, in most number of cases it is treated under very strictly determined procedures. The reaction is instant -> the reaction is fast (you don’t say for banks!) -> the reaction is synchronized.

This is particularly significant when it comes to situations even close to phishing, a form of Internet fraud which has increased, on a global level, extensively.

Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail orinstant messaging,[1] and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to fool users,[2] and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies.[3] Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures. – Wikipedia.

If a financial institution should react in any different way, we should definitely be worried.

In accordance to the procedures, the international process against Mr Čučković was initiated.

2. The attitude of Banca Intesa towards a citizen’s initiative

  • 2.1. Action of the Bank ->

We thanked the subject via e-mail. All further communication was to be done by ways of official investigation structures.

  • 2.2. Reaction of Čučković ->

When sending the official attitude of Intesa, Maja Kolar, director of corporate communications of this institution, further explained this relation:

After being informed that we initiated arbitrage and after the Ministry of Internal Affairs had contacted him, Mr Čučković sent a letter to the bank demanding to speak to some of the officials. As per his demand, he received a call from a colleague from the Department of management of users’ satisfaction. In this phone call, Mr Čučković insisted that the arbitrage be dismissed or he would ‘adress the media’. The colleague informed him that the arbitrage had been instructed by the head office of the groupation and hence could not be stopped, since this was not in accordance to the Group’s policy.

  • 2.3. Reaction of the community ->

Čučković described the incident on the portal e-crime and a few days later this was announced on Istok’s blog titled: ‘ Catastrophic PR of Banca Intesa Belgrade’. In addition, links related to this event were posted on Twitter, Facebook, and finally on GlobalVoices. A strong on-line reaction was a result of empathy by the internet users, but also of a very based impression that banks were truly too rigorous, slow and institutions oriented to a one-way communication. Just enough motives for everyone (including me) ‘to take sides’ on this man who had a good intention and an interesting initiative not asking almost anything in return and who eventually, because of this, became a subject of local and international investigation.

In comments on the post by Istok Pavlović, other users, shocked by the story, shared their negative experiences with this bank with the visitors of the blog, as well as WITH THE ENTIRE WORLD, ONCE AND FOR ALL. Among others, the owner of a company called Madnet showed his discontent, signing his name:

Nenad Orlic on August 14th, 2010, 7:43 pm

The bank in question seems to know nothing about normal communication. A week or two ago, one of our employees administered a request for a credit. He was rejected and after politely asking them for a reason, he received the following answer: ‘the company you are working for is in blockage or has not payed its taxes’. Naturally, he expressed his concern to everybody in the firm. If this were true, no questions asked, but our company has not once been blocked in the ten years of existence, let alone not payed taxes. The bank received a letter of protest, but to this day we have not received any reply.

In this manner, as a consequence of inarticulate systematic on-line communication procedures, the bank was promoted on the Internet (read -> browsers) in a very bad way, which even if it was not too harmful for them, most certainly didn’t do them any good.

Huge issue: In practice, in most of the cases direct contact and two-way communication solves all the misunderstandings. In the end, compromise is the option which makes all the participants of a negotiation winners… smaller or bigger, but winners. This is not the only and most certainly the last initiative which will be processed officially and without the perception of dialogue and giving meaning to the ‘small’, ‘ordinary’ people. We have the Internet now- so there are no more ‘small’ and ‘big’; What’s more- there are no ‘local’ and ‘global’ conversations. There are no ‘local’ and ‘global’ markets, either -> Markets are a conversation, if we want to reflect on the first thesis by ClueTrain. Bad or reckless conversation by a company with no matter who (or how important that person is) ‘can become global at any moment‘.

Markets really are a conversation- this should be noted and all business and conversational procedures should be (re)set accordingly.

In connection to this topic, I sincerely recommend the companies to read the post by Dragan Varagić, titled: Systematic building of relations and trust on the Internet.

3. Attitude of the Sector of corporate communications and marketing of Banca Intesa towards an on-line reputational risk

  • 3.1. Action by DDj ->

I contacted Maja Kolar on Sunday around noon via Facebook message:

DDj FB mail:

Dear colleague,

On various web locations there is a case of Mr Čučković and the initiative he addressed to your bank, as well as the reaction you had to this initiative.

You can find more details on:
http://www.ekriminal.com/?p=1
http://www.istokpavlovic.com/blog/katastrofalan-pr-za-banca-intesa-beograd/
as well as on:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/08/14/serbia-banking-group-turns-well-intentioned-suggestion-into-pr-disaster/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

I ask for your quick reply and opinion on this topic, given that I intend to write a post on the blog on citizens’ initiative, reactions of the on-line community and, in the end, the bank, the subject of this entire story.

If you have questions concerning any details you can contact me on 0659300ddj.

Dragana

  • 3.2. Reaction of the director of communications of the bank ->

Less than an hour later (note that the day was Sunday) I got my reply, as well as the relevant documents from Intesa, but also a call from Maja. In her written statement she said the following:

‘there are certain things you cannot trade and negotiate with. In the case of a bank, this is client security when using the bank’s services, be them transactions on-line, on an ATM or in a branch office.’

Still, what us active bloggers aiming for credibility in the community have to be seriously worried about is this sentence by Maja Kolar:

Thank you for your post. I am pleasantly surprised that any of the bloggers interested in this topic ask for the bank’s side of the story before forming their attitude.

I had to ask myself a question here- was the Serbian blogosphere becoming the same as the Serbian (off-line) mass media: a one-way directed arena?

We can all learn something from this:

  • Us (bloggers) -> since blogging is the informal, personal, but yet significant form of activism. Situations are rarely black and white. If we seek relevance, we have to use as relevant information as possible.
  • Citizens dealing with some sort of injustice -> because we are all similar on-line. The channels are open to a point of no return and everyone has a chance.
  • Companies -> when we talk about the Internet, we talk about people. People are not merely consumers and buyers… they are also the media, employees, stock holders… who knows what else! The time of systematic approach to on-line conversation has long started…

Regards, DDj.

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