Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Follower Leadership and the Communications Pro

In the last few months I've had various people share or present on the (now widely popular) video, First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

It's a pretty simple, great video lesson on leadership from Derek Sivers. If you haven't already, take three minutes and watch it:
"...Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire..." [full transcript]
So why is the first follower leadership lesson important for communication professionals? We have dual roles for movements within an organization: Communicators should serve as (one of the) first followers or promoters of the first follower(s) for senior management. From an internal communication perspective, the communication and public relations team should be on the front-line to help propel a movement for employees. We should look for and share the bright spots in programs and initiatives to fan the flames of positive progress so others can see the how and the why and importance of things.

Sivers sums it up nicely: 
"It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader. There is no movement without the first follower."
Are you a first follower?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Scope media coverage before sending your news release

Yesterday, a horrible bus accident occurred in Irving, TX on a major highway. A private charter bus carrying seniors to an Oklahoma casino veered across a busy DFW freeway and crashed. First responders, onlookers, and local media outlets quickly portrayed a chaotic scene for rescue of dozens injured or trapped inside and unfortunately, recovery of two people who lost their lives.

As the story developed, national news coverage broke with local affiliate footage from the scene as well as area hospitals where trauma teams awaited the arriving ambulances. The media echoed the calls from first responders to alert area motorists to avoid that and nearby roads. Additionally, reports came in citing the clean record of the bus company. The investigation will continue, but for the most part, I think it was a solid example of textbook media coverage for area outlets. As residents in DFW, our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones affected by the accident.

So what does this tragic accident have to do with public relations? Yesterday was not the day to send irrelevant news releases to local media. I was reminded of this as we had some district information to share in partnership with a local hospital on something pretty fun for elementary students. But...yesterday was not the day to send out our news release. It was not the time to bother with something lighthearted in comparison to the day's events on the roadway.

The lesson: PR pros must pay attention to what's happening in local media coverage before pushing send on news that will fall on deaf ears because of something much more important. Situational awareness is a valuable asset.