I'm a Communications/Media Executive With a Past Life on TV and a Passion for Building Brands & Growing Exposure

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

PUBLIC SPEAKING: How are YOU Different?

Can You Remember Who Spoke?
How many conferences do you attend during a calendar year?  Ten?  Five?  Three?  One?  Easy to answer.  Now consider this.  How many of the speakers you heard during a calendar year can you actually remember?

My guess is that each of you has had the opportunity to speak in front of a group at one point or another in your career.  You prepare, rehearse and then deliver.  And so does everyone else. 

To be successful, you need to be memorable.  You need to be ... different.
The reasons are obvious.  Memorable speakers get what's referred to these days as "word of mouth marketing" which is huge.  They get testimonials and they create traction.  They elicit emotion and jump start action steps from those in attendance.  And they also do wonders for those who put on a conference.  After all, organizers want to make their clients happy and they want to create repeat business.  A good list of speakers creates follow up attendance for the next year’s conference.

Good Speakers Talk.  Great Speakers Engage.
So the question becomes… how can you be different or YOUnique?  Consider these as goals to achieve.

·         A dynamic speaker, not a reader

·         Enthusiastic delivery with passion for his or her subject

·         Unique way to deliver the material everyone else delivers

·         Strong opinions tied to the material

·         A GREAT open and a STRONGER close

Tying in current events, recent issues or things everyone can relate to or knows about is always a way to get people’s attention.  I’ve said this many times, but the speaker who’s chained to the podium, stiff and monotone will send an audience reaching for their cell phones to check email in a hurry.

I ENCOURAGE using phone
I’ve taken it to a different extreme.  I actually encourage people to pull out their phones.  Each talk I do that has any type of PowerPoint involved has a “hashtag” on every slide.  I’ll have my own Twitter handle somewhere noticeable on the slides as well.  The goal is simple.  I want people to use the hashtag to create a running line of content from the talk – a twitter feed of memorable moments or quotes.  This keeps people involved in the talk as active participants and they’ll type the things that resonate to them.

Bottom line is this… if you haven’t gone into the planning stages of your talk without thinking of how you are going to stand out from others, you haven’t planned to make an impact.  And at the end of the day – or in this case, the end of the talk – we all want to create and impact and be remembered.

Thought for the Day – Standing up on the stage is easy.  Standing out is the challenge that motivates the best speakers and separates them as well.



Monday, March 28, 2016


I’ve heard it from athletes and executives, agents and even public relations specialists; "Why aren’t media folks paying attention or interested in my story?"

That’s a complex question for sure.  And it usually has many layers.  But the fundamental issue centers around how compelling your story is and how well you are able to deliver it.

Think of how many interviews you’ve heard... and then, consider how much you actually remember after you watched and listened. 

·         Did the person have a real message?

·         Did the person share a story?

·         Did the person challenge the question with a strong opinion or stance?

Many times, those who get the opportunity to answer questions or sit on a panel discussion simply… answer the questions.   There is no passion behind the comments, no thought behind the opinion or many no real opinion at all.

Media folks are looking for quotes.  It's as simple as that.  Get used to being comfortable with that.  And audiences want to be given something they can hold on to.
They want a :30 second news clip that has some staying power and can be re-played over and over again so their on-air analysts or commentators can react to what’s been said.  Print media folks are looking for the juicy comment that can create a headline and draw readers and page views. That's reality.

As the subject of an interview, you may be saying “well, why would I want that?”  or “Who needs to be the subject of everyone’s attention?”

I’ll spin it this way.  Do you want people to know your story? Or your brand?  Do you want to be relevant?  Most do.
Are YOU "Quotable?"
In today’s media world, the only way to be notable … is to be quotable.  So when you’ve got a date with the microphone and a reporter or interviewer on the other side, anticipate the questions and think about what you might say.  In the same way that speech writers take time to craft the right words for the right impact, think about what you want people to remember and then deliver it with the energy and confidence to make it happen.

Make Your Story "Shareable"
Everyone has a story to tell.  Not everyone makes the “cut.”  Today’s media space is very picky and limited to the very best at making people take notice.  Can you make it happen?  Yes you can.  So, figure out a way to take advantage of your chance by saying something … and not just being the subject of an interview.  That's how you build a "shareable story" and bigger platform for you and your brand. 

Thought for the Day: Those who get their message across are those who have put in the time working on message and delivery well before the time of their interview.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

PERSONAL: LPGA 2015 - MY Rearview Mirror

Reflections from an LPGA Year of Travel
People say it’s tough to follow up a great year with another really good one.  Well, I beg to differ.  I was sitting on a recent flight … one of more than 100 segments flown during the 2015 work calendar… and I couldn’t help but think about the places I’ve been, the people I’ve worked with, the things I’ve learned, and the stories I’ve seen play out in person.

I was rattling off in my head the airports, airport lounges, and countries which included the Bahamas, Hawaii, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Mexico.  I made multiple trips to New York City, Dallas, Chicago and Seattle.  I tripped back and forth and back and forth and back and forth from Orlando to California in a three week tournament stretch.  I saw Green Bay for the first time and Des Moines for the second.  And with every city and every country and every airport, came a lasting image.

With Inbee Park & So Yeon Ryu in France
At the LPGA, the tournament schedule (now holding steady at 32- plus events each year) sends us to 14 countries, and puts our product on television in more than 170 each week. The global appeal preached by Commissioner Mike Whan has been accepted, embraced and now trumpeted by everyone within our organization.  Its link to every strategic decision made by our leadership - the “globalness” that is - is now part of what makes the organization special and successful..

The thing about working at the LPGA – in my role – is that every day is a new issue, a new challenge, a new message, and a new reaction.  But I like to think we try to "set the curve" not stay ahead of it. We live off think tanks and we recruit attention. I have no problem in saying that.  It energizes me. Today’s media landscape is more crowded than ever and if you spend any amount of time in earshot of me, you’ll hear “let’s not wait for people to take notice, let’s work to make them take notice.”  Every press release we sent this year aimed for a different twist.  And every press conference we held pushed for some type of attention grabber.

Our players know how to do that better than anyone.  THEY are the brand builders of the organization.  And they really are our best form of public and media relations. And these days it starts at the top with familiar stars like Lydia Ko and Inbee Park who battled for yet another year in a race for Rolex Player of the Year honors, money title bragging rights, low scoring average and the year-long Race to the CME Globe bonus.  Ko won in France and became the youngest major winner in LPGA history.  Park’s place among career Grand Slam winners was secure after she won at Turnberry.  And with that she secured the Rolex Annika Major Award.
Ko & Park with GC's Tom Abbott

American star Brittany Lincicome won herself another major, Lexi Thompson won a few events and continued her upswing in the race for sports world relevance.  Do you know Sei Young Kim?  All she did was wedge her name into the conversation of “best young players” by dropping a chip and tossing a fairway shot into the cup in a span of about fifteen minutes to win in Hawaii.  Do you know Brooke Henderson?  You’d better.  Names like Cristie Kerr and Suzann Pettersen and Na Yeon Choi and Anna Nordqvist and Jessica Korda keep winning.  And people like Kris Tamulis and Chella Choi keep reminding us that if you’re patient, your day will come.

Team USA Raises Solheim Cup in Germany
I’ll never forget my week in Germany… or the days that followed.  The rain was a test, the crowds were a treat … and the Solheim Cup found its way into the arms of Juli Inkster and her American team that never quit and found inspiration from its captain and momentum from controversy.  And isn’t a few minutes of drama what sports is about anyway?  It’s what makes us remember, and there’s always something to be learned along the way. 

Commissioner Whan & ESPN's Mark Schlereth
My year was about more than on-course golf.  It’s really about the generation of conversation.  That’s what we aim to create.  We want attention.  And we want stories - told and shared.  So when ESPN's Mark Schlereth is invited to play in pro-am and can share his experience ... we're all for it!

We worked for multiple appearances on the Today Show and countless mentions in Sports Business Journal.  We found media space from Bloomberg to Glamour, Shape to Self, The Players Tribune to Global Golf Post, and Esquire to Cigar Aficionado, Yoga Journal and ESPN the Body took notice as well… helping our league and its stars reach new diverse audiences.  Our goal is actually to find our way into Refinery 29 … and then parlay that into a piece on the home page – which actually happened this year.

Our LPGA team at Sports Business Awards 2015
While we had a bushel full of golf shots that made it a memorable year.  One of MY personal highlights that made this year spectacular wasn't a shot... but a media accolade for the entire organization.  This year, the LPGA was recognized in New York City at the annual “Sports Business Awards” as one of 5 finalists for “Sports League of the Year” – something that’s never before happened.

At the LPGA Teachers Conference
As I said earlier, I spent my year on a whole lot of airplanes.  More than I’ve ever been on.  But I’m hardly alone. We all travel hard but we do it with a purpose.  Media days, partnership meetings, LPGA/USGA Girls Golf events, National Conferences for our LPGA Teachers – all part of the bigger picture some don't see for our organization and each with the goal of growth.

Golf is about victories for the best players in the world.  But for guys like me and our entire  team, it’s about progress and capitalizing on relationships and ideas.

Your "Bright Idea" Is??
At the beginning of the year, I gave everyone on my team a light bulb.  It was meant to signify the concept of a “bright idea.”  I wanted everyone to think about doing something and owning something that could change our organization for the better. When somebody’s light bulb “went off’ in their head, I wanted them to come share the idea that they had come up with.  Then, we’d figure out how to incorporate it into our game plan for the year.  Yes, I’m kind of corny that way.  But I believe that everyone should take ownership of our growth and play a part.  Perhaps it’s a new way to hold a press conference.  Possibly a better way to use social media or the web site to break news or share stories about our athletes.  No matter what … the challenge was issued and we have had many victories to celebrate this year as a team.

I’ll leave you with this.  What I’ll remember most about 2015 are THREE THINGS:

·       The joy on the faces of our partners at All Nippon Airways (ANA) on the 18th green Sunday at their major championship.  It was their first year with us as a sponsor, and in the end they watched a playoff between Stacy Lewis and eventual winner Brittany Lincicome.  They partnered with us to “grow their brand in the United States” and what they got was a prime-time television finish between two of the top American players.  They’ve helped to take a major championship with storied history and give it a fresh new look.  At each opportunity, they still chat me up about that particular Easter Sunday.

·       The progress made with the help of a 10-player Communications Committee that dedicated it’s time to helping push our media envelope.  Our players not only say “yes, I can help” … but they also say “how can I help.”  That’s rare in today’s world of professional sports.  But it is unique to the LPGA.  With players like Sandra Gal, Shanshan Feng, So Yeon Ryu and Morgan Pressel giving their time … it’s tough to go wrong when it comes to involving top players and their ideas.

·       The smile on the faces of three young girls and their families at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.  We sent personal invitations to the winners of the Drive, Chip & Putt held at Augusta National.  Three of the four families were able to attend at Westchester Country Club.  The purpose for us was to allow the young winners to see their heroes in person – given that the finals take place on Sunday prior to the Masters which happens to be the final round of the ANA Inspiration for the LPGA in Rancho Mirage, California.  Those young girls were treated to an all-access week with their families to watch press conferences, get pictures, go inside the ropes and go on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive.  And another young girl earned a trip to be a “junior reporter” for the week – having a chance to document her own experience.  To me, it’s about providing memories and giving girls a chance to experience the LPGA and perhaps live out a childhood dream that gives them hope to be a star themselves someday.

Drive, Chip & Putt Winners Visit  the LPGA
I could document so much more.  But there is a new year on the horizon. New sponsorships to be collected, new relationships to foster.  In the coming year, I’ll visit Rio for the Olympic Games among many exciting opportunities.  But the goal remains the same … grow our stage, raise the height of our mountain so that when we shout about the good things going on at the LPGA … the reach is just a little bit bigger each year.

THOUGHT FOR THE YEAR: You are NOTHING without a great team around you  - and with you.  A huge thanks to the team I work with each day in LPGA Communications - the best media team in the business of professional sports.