Author Archives: Lauriane Tiard

About Lauriane Tiard

Governance, Strategy and Brand Specialist - I assist people, association and corporation to improve their internal engagement and performance, strategy and communications

Right message at the right time – why is timing important ?

« there is a time and a place » for everything …

Over the last two months we mentioned the evolution of media and the importance of the message to be heard in a fragmented space. We now need to approach another important point of communications. Timing !

The Status quo is simple : No one can live without habits or our brain would be overloaded with permanent choices to make, a study says that we make 35,000 decisions per day that we need to prioritise. Everyone builds habits, patterns they follow in their daily routine, and that includes the media they trust to provide information and news.

When talking business and time together, we all have in mind « time is money » about the financial trade in general. It is not completely excluded of Communications as well, we can define for reasons for which time as to be taken into account for any marketing plans:

The objective of your communication influences its timing:

When one knows that the actions led by a communication will take a long time and will require planning to execute (for instance offline sales vs. online phone based registration), it is essential to understand the best timing for your clients to act – for exemple catch them on the way to the shop on the radio, with a SMS in front of the shop, or online when they search for ideas.

Modern platforms offer opportunity to adapt the message to the time of the day and the context

TV has always offered day-part copy rotation, digital communications increased a great level of flexibility including contextual adaptation. Morning advertising for a restaurant can push breakfast menu where evening could present today’s dinner special’s adapted to the type of audience.

Communicating all the time is expensive, observing right timing create efficiencies.

If your business have opening hours and your communications objectives if for people to call you, you may consider advertising during your opening hours only, or change your company client support system to adapt to the marketing campaign.

Catch your audience at the right moment for them to be open to receive the message.

Attention span is shorter, people are over exposed with thousands messages a day. It is necessary to cut through the clutter, but with what? If you have bigs bucks, the sprinkler approach works : you communicated all the time, which reach in mind to guarantee high repetition. If you do not have big bucks : choose your moment.
There is a space in which your place can be found in the routine, which would instil the message your company wish to pass.

Need any help to create efficiencies in your marketing plan?
Get in touch.

Stay tuned and do not hesitate to request more details.

Misinformation – Who to trust?

In these troubled Corona times – where everyone is at home and our screen time average is through the roof – I cannot help being shocked how many confusing messages and unfounded information are circulating and shared amongst us. I realised how ill prepared people are to confront these claims despite the emergence of the « fake news » which shed light on the phenomenon some time back, notably after the 2016 presidential elections.

The Colombia Journalism Review published a research from Claire Wardle which identify the most common misinformation techniques – check Details here:

  1. Authentic material used in the wrong context – by changing date, location and / or context
  2. Imposter news sites designed to look like brands we already know – creating a feeling of trustfulness
  3. Fake news sites – a fully worked website with no rooted truth or impartiality
  4. Fake information – a created piece of content made to look like a real information without roots in reality.
  5. Manipulated content – transforme content (for instance statistics) in a farfetched way to make a point
  6. Parody content – satire, sarcasm or jokes to convey an ambiguous message about a topic

If you do not feel like reading, listing to her interview on « your Undivided Attention ».

When I thought international media in the 2013 – the question remained around the biais between editor and advertisers who financed the news. Editors use to merely avoiding the hot topics from their « patrons » as revenues from subscriptions were diminishing and advertising was compensating for some time the influence keep growing.

It was clear the editor aims to preserve their independence despite strong headwinds from the newly created digital sphere’s ambitious players since iPhone was created and the evolution of the media consumption because most of the consumed content is on platforms that are not held responsible to provide sources and check facts broadcasted through it.

But this became different, a good proportion of adults (even a vast majority when considering lower education and income groups) consume news on Social Media as if they were a publisher, this was clear during the latest Presidential elections in the USA. Many study tried to understand this changes with clearly identifying the influence of news consumption (Check Pew research 2017).

People lacks the training to identify trustful sources and fact-checked information and we have the tendency to remember better the first information heard even if a correction has been published. The problem is not new.

Everyone feels more comfortable with facts and events that already suit our values and beliefs. One actually remembers these even better – even if eccentric – it is called the confirmation biais. This is leveraged very well by social media, but it will require a separate article to explain this.

What to do then ?

There are a great amount of opportunities to improve our fake news literacy – as well as avoid its amplification – that anyone can easily grab. I am not the expert in the field, but I try to protect myself and those who I love by checking out a few details when anything seems ambiguous:

  • Do not let yourself share anything without being certain it can be trusted ! whatever hilarious it looks to you
  • Illustration: is the illustration coherent to the story, to the context? reverse search the illustration to see if it has already been used => https://tineye.com/
  • Expert quote: do you know this expert ? where does s.he practice? has s.he got any references?
  • Web of origin: is it a known source of information? if not, where is it from? is it relevant to the news it broadcasts ? some basics that are useful
  • Statistics: Can you read the details of the question asked, when the research was run and by whom.

Ok, as the Chicago Tribune Editor said « …the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. », it just makes me hope that it helps to bring positive tips to the table.

We will be back with « timing » as the second part of « what is more important in media » in June, stay tuned.

Right message at the right time – is message more important ?

I worked a great deal of my professional carrier in media, because I love advertising and branding! I have been brought up with TV as the window to the wonders of the world. Great advertising ideas still remains in my memory: baseline that have been repeated so many times that still today they identify with the brands in my head.

When media vehicles were limited, just having budget to run ads would make the difference. Execution was limited : TV in 30s, one poster 4×3 and a portrait version for print…

When media vehicles were limited, just having budget to run ads would make the difference. Execution was limited : TV in 30s, one poster 4×3 and a portrait version for print…

Now media vehicles are fragmented, attention span is limited and the number of messages that people receive any day of the year are four fold : messaging counts way more.

Now media vehicles are fragmented, attention span is limited and the number of messages that people receive any day of the year are four fold : messaging counts way more.

It is not only the idea behind the creation, but also the delivery : the way the story is built.

For instance, TV messaging is usually build like a short movie : the emotional (or the problem + resolution) story unfolds over 25 sec until the big reveal over the last five sec – the brand / product.

Online videos are – on average – watched for just over 2 sec. Forget about the build up !

Pragmatism tells companies to put emphasis on brand presence and immediate rewards to encourage brand interest and/or intention to buy. It supports sell out on the short term, but it does not build brand loyalty on the long run.

Memory expert and world champions agree to say that it is mandatory to construct a story to memorise any type of information, even for a long string of unrelated figures.

Once again, it is about the story.

How does a story sink into someone’s brain? It completely depends on the objective and the people your business wishes to reach.

To brief properly a creative agency, you may want to provide them with the answers to the following questions :

  1. What is your objective : what do you want the audience to do?
  2. Who your audience: what are their values? their lifestyle? and the media they consume? where they would more likely do the action you wish them to do?
  3. How complex is your message?
  4. Which channel can you use to fill your objective?

It would help to define the specs that your story have to fill to get the right action from the right people. Do not hesitate to do A/B testing to select the most efficient approach to your goal.

Each channel has it set of rules and opportunity to think out of the box, but that would come as a future post. Please subscribe to be informed when the next story is published.

Stay tuned and do not hesitate to request more details.

What is Media vs Message ?

After a conversation on communications strategy with one of my clients, I realised it is not generally clear to businesses what the pillars of communications – media and advertising – are.

These are two distinct but intertwined elements that we are going to discuss over the next few posts covering:

  1. What is media vs. message ?
  2. The right message at the right time – what is the right message?
  3. The right message at the right time – when is the right time?

Just to clarify – let’s start with definitions :

‘Medium’ (singular of media) is the vehicle through which information is transmitted.

Any type of vehicles that carry information can be considered media that can influence our view of the world: publisher platforms, social media, word-of-mouth, goodies, branded content, sponsoring, endorsement, influencer program, video games… The number of media vehicles available not only have increased but their « quality » -or trustworthiness- vary greatly.

Graph of the evolution of media offer – based on a Perspective graph edited by Carat in 2008

Where ‘Message’ is the content that is transmitted.

Messages can take the form of news, educational content, stories, anecdotes, satires, propaganda, advertising, and so on…

What are the characteristics of Media?

  • Shelf-life: Each medium has a length of time impact: where an outdoor poster can stay up for a month to be seen 60 times by commuters. A social media post would have a few hours – if not minutes – of impact to be seen once by an audience.
  • Memorizing stickiness: Each vehicule needs a number of repetition before the message sticks, where 75% of cinema goers remember an ad in one shot, TV needs of 3 to 4 to reach the same.
  • Engagement: Each vehicle can instil specific action or response; like create curiosity, provoque a reaction, searching about a product, participating into a poll, keeping an information top of mind for a few hours, or just build trust.
  • Image: Each vehicle has a perceived image by the public: trustworthy, statutory, specialised, entertaining, the choice of media and so on..
  • Reach: Each medium has a particular capacity to reach an audience over a limited period on time.
  • Message complexity: Each vehicle carries a specific depth of details: where print permits long explanations, display ads allow only short headlines.

The combination of these characteristics plus the study of the audience to address is the basis for the media strategist to advise on the best vehicle to use for a specific communication objective.

Nowadays – with the fragmentation of media channels – it is sensible to involve the media agency into the creative process to ensure that the message is related in the relevant way for the environment.

This will be the topic in our next post, stay tuned.

CSR for small business

I have realised – over the past decade – how fast the concerns over the impact of business on our society and planet has emerge as a topic for every type of business. Big or small, leaders are now required to « care » more than ever.
From Child labor to #equalpay, from recycling to education for all, companies can have an amazing role in contributing while improving their balance sheet. This is a quick guide on how to kick start your initiative.

Combining this with the emerging capacity to check on companies promises vs their engagements and values; it is becoming more and more difficult to present a strait face and propose nothing.

  • It does not look good to future clients,
  • it does not look good for future employees,
  • it does not look good as a business leader in its field.

What is CSR ?

Corporate Social Responsibility = is a self regulation that aims to contribute to a better relation between a private business and its environment (physical or social) : it gives room for business to take an active part into societal, environmental and philanthropic projects as landmark of their engagement.

Keep in mind that CSR is not a cost line, it is an approach that can change some company set ups. It would actually lead to savings, lower employees’ turn over and greater business prospects (studies shows)

Why is CSR good?

Because any longe term planner knows that to keep a business floating, it needs a healthy working environment. And green washing is not a fix. Large businesses are looking into their partners to offer some of their own CSR relief (see guide below) so small businesses have to come equipped with solutions on their field of activity. it won’t be a competitive advantage, but it could soon be a form of obligation. 

Once out of the pack thanks to CSR, your business can leverage it with its clients and new businesses

But where to start ?

Let’s build up a simple step-by-step guide on the low hanging fruits towards building a no-nonsense CSR plan that can also gives you an edge in terms of business:

  1. Review your internal processes
    • Do you consume intrant material? water? chemicals? power? Can this consumption be reduced?
    • Do you generate waste? what is done with it?
    • Where is your office, how employees come to work? where do they eat?
  2. Review your external partnerships
    • What are your providers certification and environmental labels ?
    • Do they have their own CSR plan?
    • Have you set up requirements for them?
  3. Engage your employees
    • Are your employees feeling concerned by CSR?
    • Is your appraisal process including CSR questions ?
    • Does any of your employees already leading an initiative or willing to participate into developing one?
  4. Choose your engagements
    • Which of your company values resonate with environmental issue?
    • Does your industry struggle with a particular societal problem?
    • Does your office / business is located in an area which could benefit from local support?

Building this analysis can lead to clear first steps to improve the company impact, your providers relationships and the employees engagement. Maybe nothing clear emerges straightaway? Then we can suggest to help with a workshop session aiming to define long term company goals around positive issues based on the analysis. We believe that one day of focus can unleash a great set of empowering propositions to place your business in the right universe of work for good.

Do not hesitate to be in touch.

Building employer’s image

Companies can spend a lot on their human resources without major results or improvement as they do not always align their recruitment strategy and corporate culture to the type of employees they wish to recruit and keep.

Two sets of benefits are usually considered:
Financial benefits and incentives
– Pay
– Bonus
– Health insurance
– Stocks or shares
– Pension funds
Non financial benefits
– Working culture : flexible hours and or work space, horizontal, collaboration, rewards
– Employee development plan: training development program, etc.
– Offices, infrastructures and working material
– Diversity of missions and tasks
– Perks : gym membership, transportation cards or credits

Companies believed in the right combination of financial and perks to build the right market traction to the desired talents. Developing an employment branding requires to establish the HR strategy that will define the pillars of the communications.

This HR strategy includes to work on the following aspect before being able to move forward on establishing this communication strategy.

  1. Understanding the Company current working culture and habits, image to candidates and employees.
  2. Assess their needs and opportunities to improve -> can something be changed, improved or stopped within the current process.
  3. Defining the type of profile the company wishes to attract and retain on the short and long term
  4. Understanding the type of benefits and perks these ideal talents are attracted by.
  5. Assessing the market and competition to define the right packages.

Historically, employees used to focus on long term objectives appreciating good pension fund or health, clear career steps and loyalty from employers, accepting lower revenues or other benefits in exchange of security and visibility.

Now Millennials are constantly on the look up for better opportunities, the most talented are not risk averse. Their loyalty is not only based on the money making potential of a job, but also the pride and attractiveness of the company name in the eyes of their community.

With the emergence of crowdsourced content management on social media and web platforms, any candidates can check the credentials of companies as potential employers – how their business behave on the market, with its employees and clients and what is their general footprint on the market.

Ambitious companies – whatever their size – cannot afford anymore to overlook their HR strategy if they wish to ease and save money on their recruitment processes.

That is to say, companies now have to « walk the talk » to convince their young talent to engage with them and participate into the process, as well as present a leverage to increase loyalty hence reducing turnover.

Then the strategy team can move forward on work the communication brief to address HR related topics starting with :

  • Get adoption from the management for the needs and reasons to implement a company employment branding
  • Define the relevant environments and subjects that resonate with your desired recruits and market.
  • Build an internal messaging and benefit for current employees which includes their participation into the strategy – internal engagement is the most powerful recruitment tool.
  • Set up the company external communications channels
  • Develop a dashboard presenting the relevant KPIs of the business for HR communication to pilot the strategy.

We are happy to provide you more guidance on the preparation and the implementation of your employment branding. Contact me anytime.

Finding the right team members

“We need to hire someone more senior for this role” is a phrase I have heard my whole agency life. But what means “being senior” in a business,

“We need to hire someone more senior for this role” is a phrase I have heard my whole agency life. Often, the choice is right and the person fulfil her role with professionalism. Still, we sometimes end up with a deceptive and ill-adapted solution where the person is not equipped to fill it mission, however senior s.he is.

This can have a devastating on the level of service on the short term and quality of the business relationship on the long run, I have experienced it first hand lately and it took me to reflect on the roots of the problem we faced.

Why recruitment does not always work and how to address it?

Analysing the internal issues we faced, I realised that this seniority definition is divided into the following pillars:

  • Expertise/ Skillset: based on the pure technical know how and specificities of an industry or a solution. Someone who is certified or accredited in a particular area of work. The more senior one’s get the deeper one’s knowledge is.
  • Experience: based on the length of someone’s acquaintance with a sector, a role or a situational environment which makes one’s knowledge about the potential outcome and necessities of the future role.
  • Values: based on the capacity to take ownership of a role and resolve to address any issues coming with it, including potentially managing team members.

I gather that each role does not require to reach the same level in each of these pillars. But the company needs have to be clear what the job requires.

How do you get the assessment right ? I read a lot of HR and Coaching blog to address this and the actual best advice I found is the following: Use your team members to confirm and clarify the role needs and values as the doers are the best persons to understand the role needed and the mistakes not to be made (again).

That includes :

  • Build a precise role description
  • Advertise it properly: internally and externally
  • Assess the applicant on those necessary pillars:
    • Expertise : check it skills with a test – does he have to master excel ? web based and/or collaborative tools ?
    • Experience: check with its old employer and work history
    • Persona : how does he cope with stress ? with other team members ? with stakeholders at all levels of the hierarchy ?
  • Do not underestimate practicalities : other job offers ? does he have to move in town ? where is his.her family?

As a manager, it is essential to clarify if your HR process is covering these 4 elements or needs to be cover by you. at the end of the day, the manager can sometimes « inherit » a team member he has not selected and end up not being able to keep its standard of service and productivity because of an ill prepared recruitment process.

When recruiting for your company is difficult, it can also emerge from the external outlook of your company as a good place to work.

Large businesses address this as part of their corporate communications strategy to support recruitment effort of qualified personnel.

If you are facing recruitment issues, and need support in building a recruitment strategy, do not hesitate to share your questions with us. we are always happy to help.

Stopping micro-management

Lately I tried micro management, and it was not a major success.

I experience some flaws in a colleagues work, mistake and oversights, on matters wich concerned my unit. I asked around to find out if that was common in his work for other teams and it appears that it was. The lad was overworked, overstressed and in a few weeks from his holidays. Everyone was hoping of a quick recovery after this break. I then chose to micromanage him until the break. This entailed:

  • Checking various times a day that he has done what he promised, to guarantee on time delivery,
  • Booking time slot reminder in his diary for missions he was supposed to execute with my team, to guarantee fulfillments,
  • Reading the correspondance he sent in my teams name, to ensure clarity and exactness,
  • Pulling him off any non priority projects, to release some pressure on his shoulder;

Despite my efforts, I missed a major misunderstanding of my colleague, leading to larger problem that the client did not appreciate. We could resolve the problem before anything major occurred. I had the feeling I wasted a lot of time in supervising to avoid the unavoidable. I face criticisms despite my every efforts which had a taste of injustice but they were actually right in a sense.

I was completely mislead – as we sat in the same briefing and received the same next steps – to believe we both understood the outcome. Micromanaging made me believe I was on top of things, where I was not as the problem was already there before I started. No one can rewrite the past, so i took on the lesson and make sure I understand the most important parameters before managing the execution.

Now, I am working on my method, involving a step by step approach :

  • Preparation first to ensure deep understanding,
  • Assessing the knowledge necessary to execute the task,
  • Brief the team to get them to comprehend the whole picture,
  • Assign an owner to deepen
  • Make sure the team has the elements to move forwards owing their mission,
  • Be present for the team to help with decisions when experience is needed
  • Support workload to guarantee timely delivery.

Changing is hard, even for an adaptable person. I am keen on efficiency and I do hope people will crave understanding which would force me into explaining every single details, but they don’t always have this level of natural engagement. I need to ground myself to be meticulously sharing details and cues for my team to feed on. At the same time I am afraid of information overload which could lead them to more confusion, hence my habit of not giving too much at a time.

I would love to have your experience on how you manage the project setting in a complex environment with limited ressources, I am sure some around have useful tricks and solutions which would apply to all. Do not hesitate to share.

Time Management

As a kid, my dad always says : “we all have 24 hours in a day, you cannot say you did not HAVE the time to do this. You are the one to choose your priorities”

Being repeated this often anchored it into my heart and soul: we choose what we do of our time!

Time is the only commodity we cannot trade, save for the future, or buy back.

So what is the link with priorities? Now that we acknowledge that time runs and can’t be influenced, how come Bill Gates is him and I am me and not the contrary?

Focus vs multi-tasking

The more task you do simultaneously, the more time they take. Be conservative in estimating the time you need to do each action then add a good 30% when you try to do it at the same time as another time. Is that worth it? Only multi-task actions that require none of your attention.

For instance, I set « offline time » during which I do not refresh emails while producing content, this avoids loosing focus. I allow distractions while replying to communications which require little attention.

Procrastinating vs deep thinking

My sister always says that you are faster and more efficient when you know you have built a clear vision of the outcome. Then she says that one can use time to think through what needs to be done before starting.

I believe that – instead of dwelling in front of a blank sheet – it is a better use of your time to do any brainless tasks while thinking about your next mission: many studies says that repetitive tasks free mental space and relax the brain… You won’t feel like procrastinating anymore – and forget the guilt that goes with it – as you are moving the work to a new dimension.

Be careful though, this does not work for taxes.

Money vs time

How much is your time worth ? I really mean money wise… Do you feel that you could make more money out of this time than do your current task, maybe you should delegate it then.

What one doesn’t buy with money, one pays with your own time.

Some moments are priceless, these are the ones you wish to keep most of the rest can go. Your definition of priceless is unique : maybe that is organising a party for your family or be the key speaker at TED, what is important is your conscious choice of investing in these moments.

For instance, accounting is not my thing, I would hire someone just to sort my invoices and keep track of payments. This blog is also my priceless moment, I do it for me to create space for others as well.

Obviously, that list can go on ! Do not hesitate to comment on your way to build priorities.

Asking questions

Man should rather spend an hour with a wise man than ten years in books.

A Chinese proverb

As an unexperienced adult, I was not afraid to ask questions as I did not have much to loose. It was easy to ask but it did not always mean that young people have the right questions just yet. When one grows old, one may have the right questions but not always the will to risk anything to obtain an answer.

Everyone should believe in its own right to become a better person by learning something new everyday – the easy way to do this is actually to ask questions.

By asking questions, I realised that the majority of my surroundings were happy to share answers, experiences, information and even personal wisdom. This can create a virtuous circle that give again more will to ask, but also accept when there is not a positive feedback. I am grateful everyday for the chance I have to be so well supported and equipped with others knowledge to move forwards.

Spanish are pragmatic, they have a proverb which reads “el no ja lo tienes “: the “no” you already have. I have to admit that it came in my life as a revelation of something I know deep in my heart but had not yet put words on.

Go ahead – ask – nothing is to be lost anyway.

If you need one extra reason for asking questions, remember that it keeps the conversation going between you and your network.

« What to ask? » one might say.

In a professional context, there are 4 simple starting points:

  • Example: when explained a theory, one can believe it is clear, but examples are never useless to picture clearly.
  • Context: when describe a situation or told an experience, the teller do not always provide context and usually have one angle of view. Do not hesitate to question context to understand better where the story comes from.
  • Outcome: what happen after the end of the story ? What were the consequences or learning to take out of the story.
  • Resource: if the topics interests you, do not hesitate to request extra material and ressources to get a deeper understanding of it.

In a personal context or during networking events or ice-breaking exercise, you may need to include other types of questions.

Check the following lists as fun to read as it can be awkward to use, but it gives you some good examples.