What We’re Reading: Professional Resolutions for the New Year

Not yet a week into 2012, we are astounded at the very public PR blunders of large corporations so far:

Take Pepsi for example.  According to Pepsi’s attorney, Mountain Dew will dissolve a (dead) mouse. It’s the company’s defense against a lawsuit in which a man claims his can of Mountain Dew contained a mouse. Instead of defending quality control and safety measures while also protecting Pepsi’s brand reputation, the legal team chose a different tactic; a win-the-battle, lose-the-war strategy that essentially conveys that Mountain Dew is nothing more than neon-green battery acid in a can. Don’t let this happen to you!

Instead, in this first week of the New Year, we uncover ways to make 2012 your most successful professional year yet:  

  1. Make a difference…as a company: These days it seems that the most successful start-ups are the ones with a focus on social change. Enter Warby Parker, the online-only retailer of $95 glasses – frames and prescription lenses included. While undercutting traditional retailers a la Netflix, they operate with the “buy a pair, give a pair” business model. For each pair purchased, someone in need receives glasses and the ability to experience the world in full-color. Another social entrepreneur is Marie Konaté – founder of the fortified cereal business, Protéin Kisée-Là, located in Ivory Coast, Africa – who created her business to spur local development and to fight malnutrition. She points to Africans’ tendency to export what they produce and import what they consume. As a result, foods with the highest nutritional value are unattainable due to high prices. Konaté hopes to change the structure of her native economy through something as simple as cereal.
  2. Stand out, be heard:  When our minds are constantly divided – hold on, @mashable just tweeted – how do we grab the attention of readers? Use vivid illustrations and analogies says Kare Anderson, writing for the Harvard Business Review blog. Our brains are hard-wired to make connections. Here, she gives three tips to creating words that stick: use a familiar slogan in a fresh way, startle with specifics, and the failsafe method – add some dry humor. When in doubt, just cut out all the boring parts, says Steve King.
  3. Go local (by going global): You may be able to communicate easily to each of your stakeholders with just one click of a button, but that doesn’t mean you should. Brian Solis, author of The End of Business as Usual, comments that the deepest level of engagement occurs at the local level. Switch up your “one-size-fits-all” strategy, even if that means using multiple languages to reach audiences across the globe. This concept of localizing content, and thinking about how various audiences feel when they interact with you online, will be essential to social media strategy. It’s also why communicators need to carefully consider the role social media plays in a reputation management program before making faulty (or incomprehensible) assumptions.

Even if you “don’t believe” in resolutions, the New Year is a perfect time to reflect upon preconceived business practices. It can be the best time to reorient strategy for improvement. What are your professional resolutions this year and how will you accomplish them?