Analytic Vision

Posts Tagged ‘values’

Why Public Relations Are Not Marketing

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 07/12/2017

What the PR person does

The public relations activity is made up of the work performed by the PR person/ team in order to:

  • get documented regarding facts and check the source of information by means of one’s own research work;

  • research and segment the audiences, profoundly knowing their way of thinking, speaking, expressing themselves;

  • prepare the communication agenda considering the following: the message that is intended to be sent, the available channels, the environment, the resource funds required for performing the communication and the most efficient impact which can be generated by enforcing the agenda on the image capital of the organization/client;

  • plan the means, ideas and content to be sent to the target-audiences, and achieve a support-platform meant to sustain the set agenda;

  • adapt using the means and content of the environment, so that the ideas communicating the identity of the organization would remain stable in the long run;

  • monitor the impact that the performed actions have on the target-audience in the long run;

  • carefully analyze the steps taken by the competition, by tracking and comparatively reviewing their external public relations speech as compared to their own impact further to the public relations communication;

  • develop actions which would continue/capitalize further to the already obtained results;

  • prevent the crisis situations or promptly respond as soon as they occur, and prepare plans for the situations initially believed to be unpredictable, based on the principle “hope for the best, plan for the worst”, etc.

The speeches characteristic to the public relations structure are considering the following categories of target-audience: internal audience of the organization (employees, volunteers, collaborators), management and external audiences (clients, providers, NGOs, local authorities, opinion leaders, etc.). The public relations speech must be shaped, first of all, according to the interests of the organization, and second of all, according to each public that it addresses to, after being segmented according to the criteria required in order to make the speech relevant. The speech of the PR representative implies influencing, subtle persuasion, inspiration, putting ideas where nobody would have thought that they could occur, with the purpose of being assimilated without noticing the “packaging”.


The credibility of the sent message, between reply and feedback

The public relations person has a certain type of speech regarding the managerial activity component, influencing the leader to make the best decisions for the organization by means of the advice that he gives. The same PR specialist has another type of speech towards the internal audience, regarding the quality management. For instance, with Raiffeisen Bank in Romania, the construction of the quality management speech was based, in 2007, on a research of the joint values of the members in Romania, from all values, which was run through the filter of the managerial decisions in order to promote those values which are in agreement with the organizational policy, of those which were most frequently to be found with the employees.

Structuring the speech in terms of the importance for each audience, the public relations person comes, by means of the messages he sends, to play an influence and inspiration role in the public relations structure of the organization. There are certain aspects which are at stake in the speech delivered to the management, knowing that these will “weigh more”, and others when the speech is addressed to another audience. At the same time, the internal communication must be congruous with the external communication, because, as Philip Kotler stated in Marketing Management, there is also that interactive marketing, the one between the company’s employees and the potential clients – in other words, what it is found out about the company from those working within it, a feedback to the employer branding.

Kotler’s Triangle

Graphics by Irina Chiriță, 2017

For instance, by means of branding as an organizational identity attribute, a company wants to communicate the “openness” value. At the same time, the chief financial officer is a fiend who has to receive all the expense accounts to be signed, which are exceeding 10 $. Of course, it will be a challenge to send a certain piece of information via the official channel when something completely different comes out of the “back door”. The reply to be received by the company’s potential clients, who come in direct contact with its representatives, will be standard. However, the feedback will be a different one. The feedback is an implicit, indirect, spontaneous, unconscious and difficult to control reply, which seems obvious nonverbally and paraverbally and can emphasize or disproportion the reply, which is direct, conscious and previously thought about.

Let us think of an example. The reply that I, as a client of X bank, receive to the questions I ask at the counter is satisfactory from the viewpoint of the requested information. However, the feedback I receive non-verbally is one of dispatch, coming from a frustrated young lady who has reached her limit at the end of the day, confronted with who knows how many cases which have put her last ounces of patience to the test, and which she has decided to put up with for the salary she cashes.

The public relations policy at this level concerns the management of the reply delivered to the client, but the importance of feedback is often no longer taken into account. As a counterexample, in the USA, one of the most highly appreciated banks by the clients beats the drum about offering the highest interest rates and the most disadvantageous financial conditions, but the clients continue to resort to it because they are always welcomed by constantly sincere and happy bank clerks.


What marketing does differently

Planning the marketing activity refers to markets (not audiences), and it is oriented towards satisfying a certain sales target on a certain market. The marketing activity is an economic activity placing the product at the disposal of the markets at a price/cost ratio as advantageous as possible for the trader.

The public relations speech is addressed to the audiences, which can especially interfere with the markets: several audiences can be found in the same market or several markets in the same audience. For instance, BookFest and BookLand are addressed to different markets, but to the same public: the one interested in training, development, improvement. Thus, in these markets, the following markets are intertwined: specialty books market, fiction market, electronic books market, audiobook market. All the consumers of these markets can be found within the audiences interested in what reading means. The fact that the offer comes from specialized providers is a component which must be taken into account by the PR specialist in segmenting the audiences, and constructing the message so that the event brand identity would be communicated to all the niches as clearly as possible. The brand is addressed both to the audience, and the niches, as it is a blend of marketing and public relations (although it tends towards marketing more, because it can be measured quite precisely, unlike the public relations which in general have results difficult to quantify).

The two activities are interdependent, but marketing focusses on tasks, activities, tangible things, and it is closer to sales in a mathematical spirit, while PR focusses on people, relations, intangible things, and it is closer to HR, in a human spirit. The public relations communication finds its place in the marketing mix by means of the contribution it brings by customizing the relation between product/service and its buyer.

Thank you!

Happy branding!

Ştefan Alexandrescu

Communication strategy and human resources consultant

Translation of the article ”De ce relaţiile publice nu sunt marketing originally published in Romanian by Ștefan Alexandrescu at the 24th of November 2012 on Discerne. Translated by Cristiana Boicu, 2017. Initially written in April 2008. Updated by Ștefan Alexandrescu Romanian in November 2014 and in English at 25.10.2017. Romanian text copyright (C) Ștefan Alexandrescu, 2008. Photo copyright (C) Irina Chiriță. English translation copyright (C) Cristiana Boicu. 


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10 Useful Skills That Will Make You A Better Entrepreneur

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 31/07/2017


Working as a consultant for entrepreneurs is exciting and stressful in the same time. I know, because I’ve done it for years. So I decided to share some of my observations that might come as very useful for entrepreneurs and not only.

Not having these skills will not ruin you, but it would certainly slow you down. This is not an exhaustive list, just a “top of my mind” approach that I think would be very precious especially for those in the beginning of the road that make the leap from freelancing to entrepreneurship.

  1. Creating rules based on your principles. Any company is similar to the entrepreneur which creates it. In the beginning, especially if you don’t have a lot of employees, it will be easy to express how other people should behave, act or think concerning your business in order to respect what you want to create. Principles are like a lighthouse in the dark and in the night. In the beginning, they might be clear and easy. But the best way to share them is to express them as laying foundations for the rules: not too many, not too few, but clear for everybody. Once set, everyone must respect them. You must respect them the best. In the same time, it is important to train this skill, because your principles evolve and so do you.

  2. Express gratitude. Train yourself to use any anniversary, any opportunity in order to thank people which have made a contribution. Thank your clients after buying from you. Thank your collaborators for doing a good work. Thank your employees for reaching the goals. Thank your partners for supporting you. If you believe in God, keep this in mind: do not wish for God to give you how much you can take! You can take and have as much as you want as a burden in this life. Whatever you want, God can give you. But, in order to keep it, you must remember to be satisfied with less and with more, to take any success as a gift from God and not as a merit. The gratitude is a key skill for an entrepreneur.

  3. Recognize the teachable people. There are no real incompetents, only people who don’t manifest or have lost the capacity to learn. Therefore, choose wisely to work with only those people who can be taught. Do not hope that giving chances to seemingly talented people will make them fly and become stars. Most oftenly, the people you like the most are not those which necesarrily perform the best. Welcome the people who you choose to improve their careeer working with you!

  4. Train yourself to make distinctions between options, possibilities, opportunities and probabilities. All might sound similar, but they are very different. Anything is possible until you have to chose options. Those options must be at least probable. Between the options which are probable, you have to prioritize your opportunities and decide wether you want to choose them or create them. But remember, whatever you do, your options must not only be possible, but probable also! Many young professionals start their entrepreneurship career doing business plans like they did during faculty, but fail miserably. Know your territory and act upon that knowledge!

  5. Constantly develop yourself. What happens when the one thing that you are able to do for your clients is the thing that stops you the most from developing yourself? The competition will likely take over in a matter of time. You need to constantly be a source for re-invention. Working for your own development should not be in a competition with working for your customers or with your employees. Time for yourself to develop is also needed in order to enhance your business.

  6. How much do you allow yourself and others to act authentic in a relationship? Find and recognize the other people’s values, beliefs and convictions. Beliefs are convictions we believe to be true. Attitudes are collections of beliefs and values around a certain topic. There isn’t such a things as a “non-value” or “anti-value”, there are only different beliefs, values and attitudes. Erach person is motivated by different scopes and if you learn to discover those asking specific questions (such as some from LAB profile), it is worth to use them and to link them with each of the important actions that need to be taken for your business plans to work. Values lead to motivation. Motivation leads to vision. Vision leads to strategy. Why? Because where there’s a will, there’s a way. If the strategy does not take into consideration the values of the employees, it will be a difficult to implement strategy.

  7. Use the faults of the employees in the favor of the teams. Knowing that a certain person has a low performance in a certain area means that you know not to delegate to that person something (s)he might do which is wrong. Creating teams taking into consideration both their strong points and their weak points is a service that you can do creating the kind of complementarity that the collaborators could and should appreciate.

  8. Constantly shape in your mind the model of the best entrepreneur that you can be. How does that feel? What does this model do? How do you see him or her? Remember, it’s a model, it’s not Superman, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Practice in your mind what you would do in different types of situations: with your employees, with the clients, with the partners. Put yourself in the shoes of people who need to make difficult decisions. What’s worth doing to become such an entrepreneur? What is it important to giv up in order to become this model?

  9. How do you manage to diplomatically tell the truth and be convincing without lying? Practice rethorics and argumentation. What’s worth doing in oder to prove that you are right? Sometimes, it’s not enough top be right. It also depends how you say it. Having different reframing strategies in order to make each person think in his/her way is required, because not everybody will be convinced by the same arguments. In business, it doesn’t matter so much who is right, it matters what makes things profitable. Also, please keep in mynd, what others perceive as a message matters, not what we intend to transmit.

  10. Serve your clients, for their own good, don’t please them. Politicians, coaches and psychologists may oftenly be “punished” for actually serving those who chose them. Pleasing the clients is something which others can do very easily, but it takes some courage to educate your clients to recognize their own deep needs and to be glad they are actually served by what you are offering.

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Which Are Your Values for Success?

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 04/09/2011

As a exemplification of the checklist presented here, I want to share with you how I apply some of the concepts for myself. Of course, each person has his or her own values for success. The values of the successful businessmen they say, are: the leadership abilities, the communication skills, the delegation of tasks, the wide network of people known, the ability to work hard, team playing, enthusiasm, strategic vision, uprightness, analysis, loyalty, direction and sincerity.

Tony Robbins talks about the seven key traits of the great winners as being the passion built on motivation, the faith built on perspective, the strategy built on techniques and methods, the values clarity based on alignement, the energy built on equilibrium, the charisma built on the power of personal branding, the communication excellence built on efficient techniques.

Your goals are important. For you and for others. Plan, manage, monitor and evaluate your goals well. You will only receive the results for the expectations you envisioned. Live your purpose and enjoy it. The trip matters more than the result. You will only get the result if the trip was well set. Work smart, or else you’ll work for others.

Invest in planning to gain abilities, not knowledge (I will write about improving your abilities in a few days). Knowledge is everywhere, and it’s getting cheaper. Those who have the abilities to search, find and apply the right knowledge, also have the access to the resources thatmatter.

Give what you feel to who is appropriate. Don’t expect anything in return and everything you will receive will be a gift and not a disappointment. Use your gifts, your abilities, your knowledge and all your resources every day, serving others (not like this). Don’t let anyone tell you how much you worth. Sclavagism ended. People worth more than what they can produce. You only have these resources for a short period of time, make them serve others and grow. Take care of your needs without hurting others.

This is the only way you will not only obtain your goals, you will sustain them. Keep your eyes on the prize! Think, act and talk in a positive, affirmative manner. Beware of what you wish and what you concentrate on. Focus follows attention, energy follows intention. Every word you say, everything you read, say and hear, creates an I M P A C T and you will have an effect. May it be an effect you expected (or even better, planned) and not one you just suspected.

Ask yourself if you like and trust the people you get energy from. Ask yourself if they respect you, if they have common values. It’s so difficult to live with or  to learn from someone who despises you, or has opposite values from yours! The people who truly know you should believe in you.

The professional values which matter the most for me are development (beyond the security, beyond the comfort area), efficiency (creating a lot of quality with a small quantity of resources) and sharing (offering tools you can use).

The limits of acting according to these values are:

1. I will not share something for free if I don’t think you will be motivated to use it. I will only share  stuff I think you can use for your information and development. I will not use all of my resources, but only some of them.

2. I will not share anything without getting permission from those involved (especially photography and video). Anyone can ask for retraction of a published material from this blog, (although not without explanation after initially publishing it, at least personal).

3. I will not work for organizations (clients or employers) having the goals I’m working for, against any of my values, or against civil or human rights liberties. I include here all forms of abuse depicted in Debug Your Mind.

4.  I will not give up my friends for accomplishing my goals. I will not develop myself on the expense of others’.

5. I will not overplan tasks. I will consider my physical limitations.

The message I would like to send to myself is: develop your personal brand. The message I would like to send to my readers is: Be your brand.

If you’ve liked this article then you’re gonna love this book [en, scribd].

Please also read the articles in Romanian about finding out what is important for you and for any person:

“The Principle of  Necessity and Priority” part Ipart IIpart III.

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The Ethics in HR

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 07/12/2009

Beyond making a few jokes to lighten up the atmosphere based on my (little) experience of dealing with corporate HR in Ro, there is a serious point I wanna make, especially considering two of my start-up ideas centered on stress-reduction were publically trashed.

Beyond the fact that many of the people in Romanian HR don’t actually know what they’re doing or don’t actually have a real strategy (I looked for a certain research to quote on this, but it’s quite obvious), I think the ethics in HR is considered as “the way we should act, or if not…”, which is rather determined by an internal frame of reference, developed in the formation period. I can’t really imagine HR specialists from Romanian companies coming to… let’s say ethics training. Usually, the participation at a certain training is viewed more as lack thereof than striving for improvement.

That’s why SNSPA’s initiative of including such a course in the Human Resources master (the best in Romania) is very important. And also very late. When SNSPA started organizing this master’s degree, there were already a loooot of “specialists” witheout any formation or certification, which rather viewed this as a mean to justify or insure their position by acquiring yet another diploma.

Let’s have a look on how a US university looks at such a course.

I don’t know how this kind of ethics can be promoted either as “stress reduction”, “organizational health” or “ethics”. It’s simply too late to label it as such in the market. If it costs, there won’t be money. If it’s for free, there won’te be time. If I were teacher at such a course, I would call a project like organizing a HR ethics training for HR specialists or for students (like I remember a students’ association did in Bucharest).

You might think it’s idealistic to think like that. Well, it’ll cost you even more if you don’t. And I’m not talking about the fines from  ITM (The Labour Inspection Office).

One of the most important things I consider in ethics are the integrity and the respect. It’s much more easier to trust an HR’s inner ethics than what (s)he tells himself/herself to do like in “oh, this is how it’s done because they say it’s correct”. But one of the most important decisions that HRs make in companies is the acquisition of products and services. How can you trust somebody who doesn’t know how to convince his/her boss or who gets fooled too fast by anyone throwing around data about, let’s say, psychological testing? How much integrity does that show? Hmmm, not much. Integrity is not defined by one’s good intentions, but by someone’s ability to have objectives and statements convergent with the company’s interests. How can someone have convergent interests with any other entity, when lacking persuasion and criteria?

Another important thing is the respect [en, blog]. Anyone might agree that is important, especially in Romania. Well, I mean it at a deeper level. The HR specialist has a huge responsability in a company, especially being between the management and the people. The same, the consultant, being between the agency management and the client’s interests. Where is the respect for the person and for the organization. Simply considering: “what are these entity’s needs and how can I supply them?” won’t do it. The discourse for each person, organization, must be adjusted to each one’s terms as a proof of respect to that person’s vision of the world. As a sign of excellence, an HR person must have the ability to figure out other people’s thinking and replying on their terms, with their own words and their thinking styles. That is, if a manager thinks in data, offer figures, numbers. If a consultant talks in resources, talk in money, time, people, equipment, location, information. If a subject at a test talks about emotion, talk emotion.

In HR nobody hires you to be yourself. Act like others, think like others and use your integrity and intuition on making decisions. Aknowledging that might result in a deeper respect. For oneself, for the client, for the consultant, for the manager, for the people, and for the organization. And, as an important distinction to what is stated at the end of the embedded video, “treating others like you expect to be treated” is not respect, but lack of respect, because it claims that others have the same expectations or value the same things as you do in an organization. An HR person’s work is very particular, campared to all other fields. HR people (should) know better.

“Ethics means making decisions that represent what you stand for.” (Alysa Lambert, Indiana University Southeast, Ethics course)

What I’m emphasizing here is values. Before training people on ethics, it’s best knowing their values. And not in general. But especially in HR. That is where the real changes have impact. Of course, I can’t expect that to happen from participating an academic programme, but I’m talking about training. Now, you can find information everywhere. You can sell at best, filtered information. But no intelligent person buys information anymore, in training. You can find that in books. Values development, on the other hand, is something much more worthwile.

PS: To have a first glance at ethics in USA, the country of HR, you should check out  this study [en, html].

Posted in The Art of Respecting Others | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

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