23 Jul
2013

Guest post: ‘Just the facts’ is not going to cut it

This post is written by Jen Marsik Friess, a buddy of mine from metro Detroit who now hangs her hat in Flower Mound, Texas. I’ve been impressed by Jen’s go-getter attitude since the first day I met her, and after she recently started her own blog, I asked her to share some of her wisdom on mine.

Throughout your career (and your personal life), you’re going to run into lots of nice people and some not-so-nice. Thankfully, the overwhelming percentage will be nice, but you have to be ready for the not-so-nice.

I admit I can be a little thin-skinned. I’ve come a long way, but if I get a particularly abrupt email, I need to measure my response. Give it a few minutes. We all know that email can erase tone, so you need to be careful you’re not misinterpreting how the message is intended. Often a quick call will provide all the clarity both parties need to stay on-track.

My skin was still pretty thin when I had a supervisor who was on the fast track and much beloved by all the higher-ups, but had pretty poor communication skills among her staff. She could be very cold and dismissive, and many of our meetings were miserable. However, working for that person made me much stronger. I was able to take away the best things she taught me, shedding the negativity that often surrounded those lessons.

One of the biggest takeaways was this: When something blows up, big or little, don’t just alert your client. Reporting the facts quickly and accurately is necessary, but you can’t stop there. Make sure you’re delivering good counsel. What do you suggest to solve or move forward from this issue?

This is embedded so deeply in my professional DNA, I don’t even think about it, but I realized recently that it’s not the case for everyone in marketing and communications industry:

Recently, someone posted a negative comment on one of my client’s social media channels. I realized as I talked through the situation with the SM manager that my golden rule was not on his radar yet. He shared what he planned to tell the client, and we had a discussion about the value of his expertise — the client didn’t have the SM knowledge he had, and needed to hear his suggestions.

He and I had a very positive conversation, and the follow-up from my colleague to the client was well-written. The client accepted it without hesitation. I was so excited he got that great endorsement from the client. I hope this means he’ll make this one of his golden rules, too.

When things are flying hot and heavy, we can get caught up in quick email or text conversations with our clients and be throwing out information without contributing our real value as communications experts. It’s worthwhile to slow down and make sure we’re talking solutions. That’s why they hired us!

Jen has more than 15 years of public relations experience. It’s primarily in media relations, but also in writing, event planning, content management and research. The “relations” part is vital: She knows that’s the key to getting results.

Jen knows this because she’s seen the communications process from multiple angles. Her trajectory from reporter to nonprofit PR, corporate, agency and finally solo practitioner has given her a great deal of insight about how the system works, how PR is perceived and how relationships cultivate success.

When she’s not staring at her laptop, meeting with clients or out networking, she’s hanging with her husband, chasing her dogs around and cheering for the Detroit Tigers long-distance from Dallas-Fort Worth. Connect with her on Twitter,  or her site.

Photo credit: Hyrck. on Flickr