We’ve launched a new set of services on our website under the banner of Turnkey Solutions. The aim of these new offerings is to provide current clients specific support through structured, facilitated workshop experiences. For example, every year, clients ask us to help them prep for new product launches. Our first big task for that kind of assignment is to develop a message platform capable of clearly explaining the product’s value proposition, it’s features and benefits. Oftentimes, the launch window is pretty short –– sometimes only a matter of a week. Traditionally however, message platforms take three or four weeks to complete. Our Turnkey Solution to respond to this tension is Brand Messaging in a Day. We’ve run this workshop 93 times in the past several years, and have honed the process so it produces a platform in a single seven-hour session. We discovered the right diagnostic tools –– and then put them in the right sequence –– to make Brand Messaging in a Day possible. It’s a pretty fun workshop and clients are rewarded at the end of the day with all they need to move into outreach creative and planning.
I really like our new and improved Persuasive Pitching workshop too. You can get great presentation training from a number of places. My favorite, by the way, is Duarte. Nancy and her team have a first-rate presentation training class that’ll suit many needs. But pitching? That’s a different animal. Unlike a presentation, where the purpose may be to share information, a pitch is a persuasive event. In the workshop, we teach the fundamentals of persuasion and a really cool technique called, “The World’s Greatest Sales Pitch.” Once you learn the formula, you’ll have an advantage over even the most stubborn audiences. And this is fun to tell you –– twice, we’ve used our Persuasive Pitching model to prep teams for appearances on both Shark Tank™ and West Texas Investors Club™. One got a deal, the other got a lot of good advice!
The two workshops mentioned above are complimented by a new line of Simulators. The leaders of each of our primary segments: Land Use and Mobility, Food & Health, and Utilities have taken on the challenge to address a specific category pain point. For example, in NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) Negotiations, Brian Dolezal shows clients how the land development process has changed over the last decade. The public, usually fronted by activist neighborhood organizations, has become more and more sophisticated with extracting concessions out of developers when a new development is announced. We’ve created a negotiation model to acknowledge that “building relationships…” isn’t the thing anymore. Today, developers are being forced to actually negotiate through public channels and in public forums; the days of the lawyer+lobbyist=approval formula are fading out. Through the simulator, Brian actually takes clients through an immersion experience to highlight where the twists can be expected and where the turns can be avoided.
And speaking of something to be avoided, how about an entire civilization melting down? Ryan Orendorf and the Utilities team have created a simulator workshop designed to help electric, natural gas and water utilities imagine that possibility, and teach clients how to effectively deploy communication techniques at critical points in a 72-hour timeline. When the power goes out, we all know we can light a candle or turn on a flashlight. But what happens to people when their cell phone batteries die? I love the way Ryan and the team put it: “Trust us, it gets ugly!” Wouldn’t it be great, though, to game that situation out to test your readiness? That’s the point of our simulator products; to imagine the possibilities and test your communication readiness. The same is true for Jenny Gregorcyk’s Food Recall Response workshop. Jenny works with food brands, and this issue comes up on a regular basis. Last year, in fact, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued 540 food product recalls. Jenny’s done some amazing research on brands we all know (a central Texas ice cream maker, for example), to show how crisis response messaging can make, or break, the future of a brand. In her section of our website, she’s got a great white paper on the issue of consumer trust and loyalty in the wake of food recalls as well.
Each of our new simulators contains modules that draw from the best social science and from our very own Predictive Media Interviewing (PMI) model. Since “it ‘aint braggin’ if it’s true,” I’ll say that Russ Rhea, our PMI master facilitator, has created what is simply the best media training workshop in the world. No one else offers a statistically-based media training model and formula capable of very quickly cutting through the fog that a media interview presents. We’ve incorporated PMI into each of our simulators. Ryan, Jenny and Brian are fully certified to present it, but don’t be afraid to ask for Russ to come into your workshop and deliver it.
Our final Turnkey Solutions tip our hand from a strategy standpoint. We’ve introduced two new digital offerings to address client issues. The first one I’ll talk about is our SpaghettiFan service. The phrase comes from the old expression, “the spaghetti hitting the fan…” All brands face the potential of having their spaghetti hit the proverbial fan (United Airlines, anyone?), so the imperative is to imagine the range of plausible incidents, and game them out into messages and instruction. That’s what our digital incident guide does for clients. Inside of the guide, we list the possible events that might occur for a brand, then develop responsive messaging based on a state-of-the-art model known as Image Repair. We’ve built SpaghettiFan to be a subscription service and imagine rolling it out to industry sectors. Our first two, for example, are universities, where protests seem to erupt on a recurring basis, and for outdoor events, like road races.
The big news is the best –– Newsology. Newsology is our new digital newsroom service designed to respond to big changes in the world. We’ve been studying the decline of the traditional news media, the rise of fake news and the proliferation of content marketing tools. When you put these three together, the digital newsroom concept is born. We’ve spent more than two years understanding all the ways a smart, productive digital newsroom can be created, and all the challenges that becoming your own newsroom poses for clients. I won’t spoil their launch parties, but we’ve got three clients who will go live with their digital newsroom platforms in Q2. We’ve been guiding them for many months now, and can’t wait to get the machines cranking.
Several other offerings populate our Turnkey Solutions page, and I hope you’ll check out each one. Our aim is to bring you the best research, the latest techniques, the smartest thinking without the fear of having to set up a new retainer-based relationship. It’s our way of adapting to a fast-moving, solution-oriented marketplace, and it’s our hope you find this initial menu of offerings interesting enough to try.