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JLPR provides public relations, social media solutions and event marketing services to South Florida businesses, artists and non-profit organizations. Follow @JLPR.

On a personal level... JennyLee (that would be me) is a music lover, art advocate, public relations professional, eternal romantic, social butterfly, digital nerd, faithful friend, happy wifey and awesome mommy. This is both a professional and personal blog, a virtual glimpse into my reality from all angles. Follow me @jennyleeisme.
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Posts tagged "ways"
This has been a big year for me. In addition to launching Water & Wall Group in June, my wife and I welcomed our first child, Audrey, in January.

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten much sleep the last few months, though I can change a diaper in record time and I know who Sophie the Giraffe is (Audrey’s favorite toy).

As I reflect on the craziness of starting a small business and raising a baby, I’m surprised to realize how many similarities they share. Ultimately, I’m responsible for growing my business into a successful venture just as I’m responsible for raising Audrey into an intelligent, responsible, fun loving kid.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why running a PR agency is like raising a baby:

1. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Despite the months of preparation put into launching Water & Wall, and getting ready for the baby, there’s no way to know what it’s like until you experience it.

Baby books and business consultants were helpful, but at the end of the day you need to just jump into the deep end and hang on. If you’re passionate and hardworking, and surround yourself with like minded people (the foundation of any strong business/marriage), your chances of being successful should be good.

Remember, every iconic business owner and parenting expert once started in the same place.

2. Every day is different.

In previous PR roles, I had a fairly defined set of responsibilities on which I focused (pitch media, counsel clients, etc.). The same was true for my personal life pre-baby (go to the beach, obsess over “Lost,” never win my fantasy football league).

As a new business owner and parent, this is not the case. Every day I’m faced with new and different issues. At times, it can be hectic. I never know which part of my new life will keep me up at night, but it’s exhilarating. I like the sense of unpredictability, and I love going to work every morning.

3. It’s exciting.

Nothing lights up my day more than coming home and watching Audrey speed crawl over to me, and I’m fortunate to now feel a similar sense of happiness as an agency owner. Business headaches and baby questions aside, life has never been more exciting and I’ve never been happier. I believe that passion will make me a better father and business professional.

4. There’s only so much I can control.

We study the financial and communications industry like it’s our job, because, well, it is. We prepare for meetings to a fault and always do our best to have every possible angle covered. That’s part of the value we bring to the table and part of the reason most of our clients have been with us for so many years.

However, like a parent who can’t control flu season, there are some business issues that are beyond my control. As such, it’s important I focus my attention on what I can control and make sure my clients and baby are as prepared as possible for the unexpected.

5. Just when I thought I knew it all, I’m reminded that I don’t.

Just like the college graduate who suddenly realizes they don’t know as much as they thought they did, the same is true for a new parent and a new business owner. I speak with a lot of other new parents and folks in the PR industry, because I value opinions. I strongly believe three heads are smarter than two, and I’m never too old to learn new things.

I trust my instincts and, so far, they’ve served me well, but I’m smart enough to know that there will always be surprises along the way. Learning from those who’ve trodden the path I’m now following holds enormous value.

Do you have any reasons why raising a baby and working in PR/running an agency is similar? If so, leave us a comment. I’d love to hear some other thoughts.

Andrew Healy is partner at Water & Wall Group in New York. A version of this story first appeared on the firm’s blog.

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Recently, I saw the following headline on Ragan.com, and it made me want to pour even more brandy into my coffee (kidding, kidding!):

Writers have higher risk of mental illness, study says

Well, that’s just great.

It turns out that writers are more prone to anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and substance control problems.

Though I don’t think any of these symptoms apply to me, I started wondering whether my daily writing habits were going to lead my down a dark hole, filled with unpredictable mood swings, late-night trips to Walgreens for $3 red wine, and the irrational fear that the white van in my neighborhood really is following me.

It’s too late for me to become an otolaryngologist or get that degree in aeronautical engineering. Sitting down at a computer and writing stuff is pretty much the only thing I know how to do. I just don’t want to suffer from the side effects of my profession.

Ever since I started telecommuting, I’ve noticed that some of my personal habits are deteriorating. Sure, it’s little things now, but if I don’t get control of myself, I could wind up passed out (or worse) in an alley, wearing mismatched slippers and a Snuggie, and clutching a gin-soaked notepad filled with unfinished haikus about corporate communicators.

To avoid this fate, here’s how I should try to make my writing more healthful:

Go outside when I work from home. My desk is right next to a big picture window. I look at squirrels that crawl up trees and cheer them on when they get acorns. At first I thought this was a fun hobby, but it’s actually pathetic. It’s only a matter of time before I start naming them. When you work from home, you fall into the trap of “getting cozy.” But maybe it’s time that I put on some shoes and go for a walk during my lunch break. At least that way, the squirrels will hear me cheer them on.

Eat a well-balanced lunch. A friend put it best: “Your refrigerator makes you look like a serial killer.” Ha! Little did he know that my cupboards are packed with cereal. (Editor’s Note: Seriously, Jessica, you should go take a walk right now.) At the office, I eat “acceptable” food: chicken sandwiches, soup, or Chinese take-out. When I work from home, I wind up eating massive quantities of Cheerios, a Hot Pocket, and/or a can of kidney beans. If I ate at a regular hour with regular food, this might make me less anxious about my lunch habits resembling those of a 13-year-old boy.

Stop wearing my bathrobe. I own this hideous, leopard print XXL bathrobe that I put on immediately when I wake up and as soon as I get home from work. I have a feeling that wearing this so much will just lead to a drug habit. Isn’t it more likely that a person would start a heroin addiction wearing a bathrobe, versus wearing a sweater and jeans? I should just turn up my heat.

Sleep like someone my age. Lately, I’ve been reverting back to my “college schedule.” If I feel inspired to edit and write at night, I’ll just stay up late and do it and then sleep in a little bit more the next day. But it’s weird to email your co-workers at midnight on a Wednesday. Why even bother? Everybody else is asleep (or doing something much more fun). I should be, too.

Drink with friends, not alone. Writing has been linked with alcoholism. OK, not just linked; mixed and then shaken, not stirred. It makes sense—there you are, sitting at a desk, alone, writing down words that come into your head and you wonder, “Is anybody, anybody out there reading this? Or is it still just my mom?” If you’re feeling the urge to drink, grab lunch and a beer with a friend. (At least this way, you’ll go outside.) Hemingway made drinking and writing look cool because he was Hemingway. You’re not. (Besides, his story didn’t end “happily ever after,” now did it?) Starting your mornings with Malibu and orange juice is just going to give you a headache by 2 p.m.—not the beginnings of the next Great American Novel.

Care to add any other detrimental behaviors and their healthier alternatives? (You’ll feel better if you do; trust me.) Please leave them in the comments section.  

As a public relations professional, the most important client you will ever represent is yourself.

The old phrase “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” has no place in today’s professional landscape, because now, the expectation is that the cobbler’s children have on the most fabulous, stylish, and chic shoes available. Scratch that—they are wearing the shoes that won’t even be available to the rest of us until next season.

Clients today (and employers) want to see what you can do for them the moment they visit your website or hear your name. As PR professionals we are expected to be experts in positioning and branding, and what better way to showcase our skills than on ourselves.

Here are three easy steps to brand yourself in 2012:

Claim your name

Establish a blog or website under your full name and add interesting, relevant content to it regularly. The content you generate should appear in the first page of results for your name in Google and other search engines, making sure the first impression is the right one.

Include your bio, work experience, contact information, and a headshot, as well as links to your online profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. This way, people have options on how to reach you and spark a conversation.

Samantha Warren, a designer at Twitter, said she uses her personal site as a “test bed.”

“I’ve found that my site is the perfect way to be able to relate to clients trying to get off of the ground,” she explained. “Why? Because I can honestly say what worked— and what didn’t—for me, both personally and professionally.”

Voice your opinion

Pick an industry you’re passionate about and delve into the conversation both online and off. You’ll meet other professionals who share your interests and will start to feel a part of a larger community.

For example, if you’re interested in building a career in food and beverage PR, share your favorite recipes; engage with food and beverage editors, critics, and bloggers; attend industry events and follow industry trends.

If you’re interested in fashion PR, put together your own outfit layouts, interview up-and-coming designers and stylists whose style you connect with, and share their knowledge and experiences with your readers. If your schedule, and wallet, allow for it, attend a local or prominent fashion week.

Be genuine

The best brands have a human touch. By doing so, they make themselves more relatable to their publics.

Consider Starbucks decision to share the names of the three individuals who manage the company Twitter account, or Coca-Cola’s decision to collaborate with the two fans who originally created the existing Coca-Cola Facebook Page.

Take a cue from these companies when branding yourself. Don’t forget to show your personality and highlight the quirky details that make you human and relatable. Make every character in your Twitter bio count so that it’s more than just the facts you would find on a resume. Entice your audience to always want to learn more about you and the knowledge you have to offer.

The popular blogging platform WordPress revealed that its users produce about 500,000 new posts daily. Given that number, don’t you wish the Internet had a loudspeaker system that only you could use?

But you—unlike spammers—exercise restraint. You don’t want to be the person who uses capital letters in tweets, or solicits email addresses for shady Nigerian trust funds or Viagra campaigns. You want to earn attention and keep it.

Given the fierce competition, how can you set yourself apart?

Below are five strategies you can use to engage readers without being demanding or annoying.

1. Be as specific as possible.

Most humans have voyeuristic tendencies. Why not appeal to them?

Being nosy is how we learn about the world and gauge whether we’re “normal.” If you bait your reader with a personal anecdote developed with rich detail, the reader will gladly enter the world you created.

For example, instead of writing, “I went to the store,” you could write, “I jogged to the nearest 7-11 to pick up my favorite celebrity tabloid.” Which statement piques your curiosity?

2. Avoid talking down to your reader.

Even an expert in a niche field should practice explaining challenging and/or complicated concepts in simple terms. Don’t assume the reader understands what you mean; he or she can’t stop and ask you a question.

If you don’t often have the chance to discuss your work outside the workplace, ask someone outside of your field to interview you. If you can find a friend who works in a communications-related field, that’s a plus!

3. Use transitions and section headings when possible.

Transitions are words or phrases that help your reader follow your train of thought. Examples include “for instance,” “on the other hand,” and “similarly.” Using transitions also help arrange your ideas in an understandable pattern.

Section headings—bolded titles that break up a lengthy chunk of text—will help your reader skip to relevant information and absorb the main ideas.

4. Use rhetorical questions and quotes.

A rhetorical question is a question the writer asks the audience without expecting a reply. The writer won’t necessarily answer the question in the text, but he’ll use it to make a point and slow the pace.

Use rhetorical questions sparingly, but remember that they can make a big impact, especially in an introductory paragraph.

Also, consider quoting thought leaders or other experts in your field. When you support your thoughts and opinions with those of others, you demonstrate you did your research.

5. Incorporate multimedia wisely.

Think of your favorite teacher. Did that person spend the allotted class time simply lecturing? Most likely, your teacher incorporated elements like images, videos, and group discussion.

Media shouldn’t substitute good writing in your blog posts, but it can definitely enhance it and keep readers interested. Choose media such as images, video and sound wisely, and use restraint.

Try it

Brainstorm an idea for your next blog post. If you don’t have a blog, think about your next article or email. How can you incorporate one of the above strategies into your writing, and which response do you hope to elicit from your audience?

Have you had success engaging an audience, whether through written or spoken word? Share your tips!

Laryssa Wirstiuk teaches creative writing and blogging at Rutgers University, blogs atCraftYourDrafts.com, and is a writing tutor. A version of this article originally appeared onWeb.Search.Social. 

You already know that your social media fans are responsible for much of your success. They spread the word, earn you revenue through referrals, and often are paying customers and become lifelong fans of your brand.

Rewarding your fans is a great way to show how much you appreciate their role in your success. Though it might seem obvious that you should reward them, some people just don’t know how or when to do it.

Here are some ideas for rewarding your fans to make sure they feel appreciated.

Special offers: When you release a new product or you’re running out of stock, offer your social media fans first dibs on the goods. There are many types of special offers you can make that don’t involve discounts. For example, you could give your social media followers a coupon that, when entered at checkout, adds a free sample or bonus item to their cart. You can give them access to pre-order merchandise, or post last-minute specials for the first few people to claim them. 

Discount codes:
 Discount codes can be the tipping point that causes people who were thinking about ordering to actually go ahead and buy something. They might not have remembered otherwise, or they might have been waiting until they got paid and then forgot about their order. It doesn’t have to be a huge blow-out discount; just 10 percent off would help your customers out, and you can always limit it to one per customer. 

Worthwhile content:
 Help your loyal fans solve a problem by providing more than just a sales pitch. Ask questions of your fans, or ask them what they most want and need to know, then publish the answers for free. Share interesting articles or fresh information, and post when there’s big news in the industry. One of the best ways to thank people is by helping them, even if it doesn’t lead to immediate profits for you. 

Thank-you letters:
 Simply emailing a valued client or customer to say “thank you” after a purchase can be a fantastic way of thanking them. If they aren’t concerned about staying confidential, you can post a personal thank-you to them on your page, or even think about mailing a physical thank-you card or letter. Every once in a while—at good opportunities, like your business anniversary or a milestone number of Facebook page fans or Twitter followers—post a heartfelt thank-you to everyone following you.

Brands that do it right:

If you need more inspiration to figure out how you can thank your customers, look at what other businesses are doing. Domino’s Pizza ran a “50 percent off online orders” special in June to celebrate reaching $1 billion in online sales in a year, and Target ran an Olympics trivia contest on Twitter in which followers could win a gift card.

Kraft’s 2011 Twitter campaign simultaneously “@ mentioned” two people who had used the phrase “mac & cheese”; the first one to respond would get a free Kraft Dinner.

Nobody likes to feel that they’re just a number on your social network. Show your appreciation for everything they have done for you by reaching out to your friends, fans, and followers with a variety of strategies.

Peter Nevis wrote this article on behalf of OrangeLine SEO. Peter contributes to various marketing blogs, is a marketing expert, and enjoys writing articles about SEO and online marketing strategies.A version of this article first appeared on SmartBlog on Social Media.

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We’ve all seen and likely created a sepia-tinted, vintage-style digital photo on our smartphones using the photo sharing service Instagram

It makes our images look much cooler than they are, which is probably why the number of Instagram users is exploding—from 15 million in early 2012 to 80 million users in July. That’s an increase of 400 percent in seven months. 

And as they did with the surging popularity of Twitter and Facebook, big brands have taken notice. A recent study by Simply Measured found that 40 percent of Interbrand’s top 100 have an Instagram presence. Brands such as MTV, Starbucks, Burberry, Tiffany & Co., and Nike have a huge following with numbers topping or near half a million followers.

It makes perfect sense for consumer brands to use Instagram. But what about business-to-business companies or smaller enterprises? 

Instagram should be treated like all other social channels—albeit a more visual one—that has the means to build your brand, share news, and engage in dialogue. It enables companies to engage with their peers and customers by sharing snapshots of their products, culture, and people in an intimate and informal way.

But one overlooked area of use for Instagram is for various types of announcements a company may make, such as those for:
A new product. Post a cool picture of the new product, screenshot, or someone using the product on Instagram. Be sure to make the photo simple. It should give off a vibe, not jam in technical details.

A new hire. You often see headshots along with a press release for a new hire. For Instagram, make this picture a more relaxed version of the person at work or of his or her office, or use a shot of the welcome package on the desk. Avoid coming across as too stiff or formal; it makes it less likely someone will “like” or share the picture.

An upcoming event. Consider posting an image of the venue or city where it will be held. Take advantage of Instagram’s brand-new feature, a photomap that lets members plot their pictures on an interactive world map.

A recent award. Instead of a picture of the team accepting the award, a more compelling shot could be a hand gripping the trophy or someone nailing a certificate to a wall. Much like Twitter and Facebook, there are steps you need to take to kick-start and grow your Instagram follower base.
Here are is a list to get you started:
• Fill out your Instagram profile completely, completing all fields;
• Tag your pictures with relevant hashtags in the comments section, much like you do with tweets;
• Tag other users who are relevant to the post by typing their user name in the comments section;
• “Like” and comment on other pictures you find interesting—the point of a social network is to engage with others;
• Share your Instagram activity on Facebook and Twitter, and promote it on your website with follow buttons;
• Sign up for Statigram, a great tool for viewing your images in a Web browser, monitoring your stats, and promoting your stream on other social networks.
Instagram isn’t just a place for rich kids to show off their ridiculous purchases, or narcissistic celebrities such as Kim Kardashian to post picture after picture of herself; it can also serve as a valuable tool for businesses. And at the exponential rate Instagram is growing, now is the time to start sharing.

[RELATED: A complete guide for brands on Instagram]

Jen DeAngelis is an account executive at InkHouse Media + Marketing, where this story first appeared. Follow Jen on Twitter @jendeang and on Instagram

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Many professionals—including me—are active on social networks as de facto but not official representatives of the brand. Sure, we can put, “My tweets are my own,” in our Twitter profiles, but if you associate yourself with the organization you work for or represent, you bear extra responsibility. You may not be tweeting under the organizations’ official account, but you are contributing to its reputation nonetheless.

So here are guidelines that anyone who associates themselves with a brand in social networks should consider following when engaging in conversation online:

Keep it clean. Even though TV networks now regularly use language formerly considered vulgar in prime time, anyone associated with a brand should steer clear of doing the same in social media. And DEFCON-5 level vulgarities—for example, the F-bomb, its derivatives, and other phrases of its ilk—should be dligently avoided.

Make sure you want to see it again; it will come back to you.
Sure, you can delete a tweet or a status update, but you can’t delete impressions, and if someone else grabs a screenshot of your message, your bad judgment may live on in perpetuity.

Consider whether your boss/CEO/child/parents would be horrified. If the message you’re planning to issue would cause people you care about—or people you want to respect you—to recoil if they saw your statement in The New York Times or on Mashable's home page, don't post it. The same rule applies for petty insults and snarky commentary. Don't give in to temptation.

Take the high road. You will never go astray if you stick to the high road, and your statements will never come back to haunt you—or your boss. Be a good sport, a gracious winner, and a good loser. And never be a jerk.

Do some scenario planning. What are the best-case and (more important) worst-case scenarios your message could generate? Do you want to have the conversations your missive could incite? Before posting that tweet, think through the scenarios.

Divide and conquer, or don’t mix work and play. It’s fine to have a space to let your hair down, and many people have “work” and “play” social presences. My fun space is on Facebook. My presence there is decidedly nonprofessional—I yammer happily about sports, my garden, and my pets—and my network is made up of people I know and consider friends. I manage my privacy settings carefully, so people I’m not connected with can only see what I want them to see. That said, I don’t run amok on Facebook, but I don’t avoid controversial subjects on that network.

It’s safe to assume that someone is always watching, and that messages you issue will never go away. Hewing to these simple guidelines will help you avoid tarnishing your personal brand—and the organization that you represent professionally.

Have I left anything out? Let me know in the comments.

Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

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Creativity is the driving force behind a number of new products, services, and companies around the world. Yet many businesses don’t foster this sort of thinking in the workplace; sometimes they even actively work against it. 

Whether or not they realize it, there are a variety of ways that businesses kill creativity on a daily basis—which is not only bad for employees, but also the organization as a whole. 

So what can be done? 

The first step is to identify the creativity killers. Here are some of the most common, which link to blog posts with even more advice on the topic: 

Playing it safe 

Rejecting ideas because they’re different from the way you’ve done things might seem logical, yet it’s antithetical to any goal of creative or innovative thinkers. True creativity is about taking risks, breaking new ground, and discovering things that are new and novel—not just more of the same. If you limit employees to only working within existing bounds, you’re creating a poor environment for creativity. 

Rationing time and resources 

Creativity can flourish in the most Spartan situations, but generally it takes time and money to make that happen on command. Asking employees to work with little to no resources, and within an unrealistically short time frame, might sound like a dream of a budget-conscious company. But it’s sure to burn out employees and leave them resenting you, hating their jobs, and lacking any new ideas. Allowing employees enough time and resources to do their jobs effectively is essential for fostering a creative environment. 

Micro managing 

Trying to control anything and everything on a project down to the last detail won’t help creativity. In fact, it’s sure to drive off the best creative talent, leaving you with those who are less capable and who probably need more supervision. Micro-management breeds frustration, wastes time, and kills morale as employees feel you don’t trust them to complete their jobs correctly and on time. Step back and provide consistent guidance if you want to foster a creative environment in the workplace. 

Limiting group diversity 

People who are alike generally get along well, but that’s not always a great thing when it comes to creativity. It also means they might be thinking similarly and will avoid disagreements that could push members of the group to do something exceptional. Teams should consist of people with differing skills, abilities, viewpoints, and even backgrounds. That way, they bring a number of different approaches to the table when trying to solve a problem. These kinds of groups may not work as seamlessly, but their work will likely make up for it. 

Putting people in the wrong jobs 

Just because it’s most convenient for a certain person do a job doesn’t always mean he or she is the right fit. Failing to match employees with their appropriate roles is one way companies dampen creativity. Ideally, an employee should feel challenged, but that the job is within his or her capabilities to complete on time and at a high quality. If those terms aren’t met, creativity suffers and so does the company. 

Providing no feedback 

Without feedback, it’s hard to know whether you’re achieving the results the company wants. And it’s likely to make you more hesitant and unsure in your future work. Companies and managers need to let their creative employees know when something is a success and when something could be better, as feedback is an essential part of the creative process. Otherwise, employees will start to feel lost, unappreciated, and perhaps even confused about the goals of the company and what their role is in meeting them. 

Demanding immediate returns 

Creativity takes time. In many instance, it won’t offer an immediate and obvious payout to the company, even if the idea is a good one. Demanding that creative people think of good ideas and explain exactly how and when they’ll benefit the company is unreasonable. It will make most people reluctant to share their thoughts. Not every idea has to be a goldmine to be useful to an organization. 

Forcing all employees to work the same way 

We all think differently and use different methods to come up with ideas, so why should all employees have to work the same? Some might have their best ideas in the morning; others might like to stay in the office long after everyone has left. If employees are getting the job done on time, not disturbing their co-workers, and producing good work, there’s no reason to dictate the way they get to that end goal. 

Providing no support 

Even good ideas don’t always work out, and employees shouldn’t be punished for their creativity, even their idea fails. The quickest way to destroy creativity is to rub these kinds of failures in the faces of employees and to remind them of mistakes on future projects. If you want to keep creativity high, stand up for employees; don’t tolerate gossip or infighting; don’t take sides or play favorites, and provide a supportive, open environment where employees can work. 

Giving employees no incentive 

Incentives don’t always have to be monetary. Sometimes, employees just want to know they’ve done a good job and played a pivotal role in a team. Of course, more concrete forms of reward never hurt. They can help boost morale and give employees a sense that they have a true investment in the future of the company. Employees who are invested in the company and see their interests intertwined with those of the organization are more likely to turn out high quality work. 

Sean Gallagher is the editor of OnlineMBA.com, the No. 1 ranked news destination about online MBAs. Gallagher is the former managing editor online at Los Angeles Times and has worked for AOL and The New York Times websites. version of this story first appeared at OnlineMBA.com. 

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Theodore Roosevelt said, “The single most important ingredient of success is knowing how to get along with people.” 

Of course, Roosevelt never met that annoying guy in accounting you have to deal with every week, did he? And he certainly didn’t have your in-laws.

Funny thing, it seems that even the folks we find particularly difficult to deal with have friends, spouses, and social lives. So it’s clear that someone is able to get along with them. Why not us? By putting in just a little effort up-front, you can better deal with the difficult people in your life. Here’s how:

1. Identify their difficult-ness

Just what is it about them that you find so “difficult?” Think back to the original situation when you officially classified them as such. Make sure that your assessment is the result of a pattern of demonstrated behavior, and not the result of a single interaction upon which you’ve been focusing. Once you’re sure, there’s a pattern, come up with a few examples.

2. Think about their overall goals

They may be difficult, but they’re still human. They have goals and objectives, and in most cases “being difficult” is not one of them. Consider what overall goals are driving their “difficult” behavior. Is that guy in accounting who annoyingly nags you for additional receipts just trying to drive you nuts, or does his pending promotion require that he collect flawlessly accurate documentation? Sometimes reflecting on the goals that affect a person’s “difficult” behavior can provide enough insight to make them tolerable.

3. Consider their possible fears

We all have fears, even if we don’t realize what they are. Some folks fear not getting work done on time. Others fear criticism. Or they are afraid they’ll be taken advantage of. These fears impact our behavior, even to the point of being perceived as “difficult” to some folks. If you consider that your “difficult” person actually has some fears that drive them, you might just see that person in a different light.

4. Observe their strengths

Perhaps the office assistant is “difficult” at times, but she’s a little easier to take when you realize that her natural affinity for details and organization actually makes your life easier in some ways. Or think about your “difficult” team leader whose confidence and assertiveness enables her to successfully negotiate a deadline extension on your behalf. What strengths does your “difficult” person bring to the table and how do those strengths provide value to the organization?

5. Look at the “flip side” of those strengths

Our strengths are positive, right? Most of the time they are, but sometimes they can be over used—and an overextended strength can be at the root of your “difficult” person. For example, self-confidence is a desirable strength. But when it’s overdone, we see that same person as cocky. To better understand your “difficult” person, assess what is annoying you and look for the strength behind it.

6. Determine how they judge others

How does your “difficult” person assess and judge others? Some folks judge others based on their ability to complete tasks. Others make judgments based on a person’s people skills. Or their problem-solving talents. Or how well a person can persuade and influence others. When someone makes judgments based on values completely different from yours, there’s more room for conflict—which is why you consider them “difficult.”

7. Figure out their motivators

As Dr. Phil might say, “What’s their currency?” Is maintaining a harmonious family top priority? Or are they mostly driven by career accomplishment? Does their competitiveness define them? Or is it most important to them that everyone just get along? Is what motivates them contributing to what you’re assessing as being difficult? 8. Note their reaction to stress Apply enough stress, and you’ll see a person’s behaviors change. Consider if the “difficult” behaviors you’re seeing are a result of stressful situations. Someone who inspires enthusiasm in others may become glib or appear superficial when under a lot of stress. Under stress, a supportive, dependable team player can become detached, inflexible, and even stubborn.

9. See their perspective

Perform all of the steps above, and you’ll likely have a pretty good idea of that “difficult” person’s perspective on the world. And seeing that perspective brings some “aha” moments. “Oh, that’s why he got so worked up when I didn’t reply immediately….” Now, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still exhibiting difficult behaviors that you might need to address at some point, but you probably understand them better now.

10. Consider your own behaviors

Now that you’ve dissected the “difficult” person, you must consider your own behaviors and how that person likely perceives them. It’s never fun to think that we might be contributing to the problem, but you must take a look at the possibility that perhaps they see you as “difficult.”

11. Empathize

This step is easy if you’ve actually done each of the prior steps. Once you see things through another person’s perspective and understand their behaviors better, empathy seems to come more naturally.

12. Speak their “language”

Armed with new insights about your “difficult” person, adapt your communication approach to better match their perspective on the world. If they value accuracy and high-standards, responding to them from that view shows respect to their feelings. Making this effort can help you head-off conflict and avoid triggering the “difficult” behaviors they’ve demonstrated in the past.

These 12 steps take a little effort. You may be questioning why you should have to do anything—after all, he’s the difficult one! Well, a very wise person—who I at one time considered particularly “difficult”—once told me that I had a choice: I could take the short-term pain or I could take the long-term pain. 

Bryce Christiansen is an avid careerist, who runs The People Profiler, a web app that helps you connect with others by understanding their strengths, goals, fears, and perceptions. A version of this story first appeared the 12 Most blog

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The press release is a pillar of any PR campaign. When writing one, you should keep in mind a few simple search engine optimization (SEO) practices that can have a major impact on how well it will rank from a search perspective. 

Using a major distribution service (for example, PR Newswire or BusinessWire) will typically give each release a direct feed into Google news results. This is an important place to appear in additionto general Web search results. 

Even without the help of a distribution service, the guidelines below will help make a press release as SEO-friendly as possible.

Use relevant keywords 

In my previous SEO for Public Relations article, I recommended using the Google keyword tool to identify brand-relevant keywords and phrases with high search demand. Finding a phrase with high search volume can ensure a press release appears in general search results and Google News results. 

For instance, Google pulls a live feed of news releases into its general search results for common or trending searches such as “St. Patrick’s Day.” Including trending terms can help your release grab the most exposure.

Write a search-friendly headline 

In terms of search, the headline is the most heavily weighted element. Keep it short and sweet, no more than 100 characters. Be sure to include the keyword phrase.

Make the most of the summary 

Whenever you have the ability to include summary text with your release online, take advantage of it. Be sure to include the keyword search phrase you identified in Step No. 1 and, if possible, keep it to 240 characters or fewer.

Sprinkle keyword search phrases into the text 

To increase the perceived relevance of the release, try to include keywords or phrases once in every 100 words throughout the body copy. This gives a consistent theme for search engines to identify. 

Give yourself some link love 

Where appropriate, include hyperlinks to your own branded content, press releases, or company website in the press release. This practice probably won’t factor in the search ranking of the press release itself, but it’s a good opportunity to drive traffic to—and raise the relevance of—other brand content. If you do embed links, use no more than one link every 100 words.

Optimize your boilerplate 

Make sure your boilerplate includes language that’s beneficial for search and website rankings. Key product categories or service offerings should be mentioned along with the company name and relevant brand links (website, media room, etc.).

To demonstrate the value of these tips, we at Cramer-Krasselt conducted a test—search-optimizing two press releases distributed annually by one of our clients. Same timing, same topic, but we optimized the 2012 versions of each release, according to the SEO guidelines above. The result: significant differences in search rank over last year.

During our test, both 2012 releases were pulled into Google’s general search results for several days. One of the releases, which was tied to St. Patrick’s Day, even ranked in results (as part of the news subsection) in searches for St. Patrick’s Day. The optimized releases saw a significant lift (more than 70 percent increase over last year) in the number of sites that picked up the release. 

Press releases have always been an integral part of a brand’s content strategy. Making sure they also support a brand’s overall SEO strategy ensures you don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with users following relevant topics. 

Nick Papagiannis is director of interactive/search for independent marketing and communications agency Cramer-Krasselt

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