Inside PR tackles questions to ask before accepting a controversial client

In this week’s episode of Inside PR, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I discuss how each of our companies deals with the question of whether we should take on a controversial client. And we don’t all agree.

Listen to the episode to hear us discuss this issue from several perspectives.

And tell us what approach you take at your company? Do you believe that all clients deserve public relations representation? How do you decide whether to accept a client or decline the business?

Don't be afraid of criticism. Use it to become better.

One of the realities of social media is that people talk back. They tell you if they like what you are doing. But they are equally quick to tell you what they don’t like about what you are doing.

This can be a painful thing. Anyone who has ever performed in public – and that includes all of us who lay out our ideas on blogs and social media sites – knows the sinking feeling of starting to read a comment when someone says your performance sucked or your ideas were just plain wrong.

For many of us, our first instinct is to run from that type of commentary. We rationalize that paying attention to critics will cause us to have second thoughts, to be timid, or to pull back from taking risks in the future.

Don’t be that person. Don’t shy away from reading and taking criticism to heart.

Photo by Jeremy Lim

Listening to and embracing criticism is one of the secrets of the true high performer.

This week, I saw that graphically illustrated when C.C. Chapman came to Canada to talk about Content Rules, the book he co-authored with Ann Handley, at Third Tuesdays in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver.

I had seen C.C. present at conferences over the past couple years. He’s one of the best. And he met my expectations right from the beginning of this week.

C.C. started strong with a great presentation in Montreal. He hit all the right notes and the audience loved him. In fact, his presentation and the question-and-answer session stretched over 90 minutes before it could be brought to an end.

The next night in Toronto his performance was again strong. But there was some chatter in the back of the room as some people’s attention drifted. I wondered what was going on, why the presentation wasn’t gripping this group the way it had the previous night.

We use to host the Third Tuesday event sites. Meetup has built-in questionnaires to ask users to rate and comment on the speaker’s performance. Overwhelmingly, the comments about C.C.’s Toronto presentation were positive.  But there were some criticisms. Some people were looking for more structure in cc presentation. A few event said they hadn’t found the content they expected from C.C.

The next night we were on to Calgary. As he started his presentation, I saw that C.C. had made some changes to it. He added an introduction that provided a quick overview of the content of the book and identified some particular points that he would highlight. In effect, he provided a structure and roadmap to his presentation. It appeared to me that C.C. had read the comments and used them to refine his delivery.

Thanks to the Meetup software, we received a fresh batch of comments after the Calgary event. Again, almost all were positive. A few made suggestions about how C.C. could improve his presentation.

On the final night in Vancouver, C.C. further tightened up his presentation, focusing on a few ideas that had made the most impact on the previous nights. He had again addressed all of the critical comments that had been left on Meetup or in tweets.

I had watched this unfold during the week. But I hadn’t said anything because I thought C.C. was in full flight and he didn’t need any additional kibitzing from me. However, in the taxi after the final event was over, I asked C.C. if he was reading the comments about his presentations as we went along. For sure, he responded.

Over four days and four presentations, one of the best presenters around listened to the criticisms and embraced them. By doing this, he turned an already great presentation into a presentation that received one of the highest ratings achieved in five years of Third Tuesdays.

That’s how C.C. has become a great presenter. Never get mad. Never run away from criticism. Grab it. Use it. That’s how it’s done. That’s something we should all do. In our presentations. In what we write. In our jobs. All the time.

Content Rules in Calgary: The Taxi Interview

If this is Thursday morning, it must be Calgary. And we must be on our way to Vancouver.

C.C. Chapman has how done three of his four Third Tuesday Content Rules events – in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. One more to come tonight in Vancouver.

In the taxi on our way to the Calgary Airport for our flight to Vancouver, C.C. talked with me about his impressions of Canada and the people he’s been meeting.

Nice words about Canada by one heck of a nice guy.

Help make sure Content Rules in Canada this week

If you create content – a blog, video, a podcast, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed – any kind of online content, the new book Content Rules will give you insight and practical advice you can use to make your content even better, even more engaging for your audience.

C.C. Chapman, co-author with Ann Handley of Content Rules, is arriving in Canada this morning to speak at Third Tuesday social media meetups across the country. He’ll be talking in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver about how to make great content that builds and serves your community.

As C.C. works his way across the country in the middle of a Canadian winter, I think it would be a great welcoming gesture if we could …

make Content Rules the number one book on the Canadian business bestseller lists this week.

You can help make this happen. Here’s what you can do:

Get the Book

Between now and Friday, get a copy of Content Rules. If enough of us buy the book this week, I think we can push Content Rules to the top of the business best seller list.

I bought my copy as an eBook from Kobo. Instant satisfaction! If you are a fan of traditional hard copy books, you can get Content Rules from Chapters.

Spread the word

Link to this post in a Tweet or a Facebook status update

Leave a comment on this post telling us when and where you bought your copy of the book. Tweet that too.

Tweet or post a Facebook status update quoting your favourite passage from the book

Use the Hashtag

The hashtag for the book is #ContentRules.

I’ll set up a feed for the hashtag #ContentRules and capture your tweets for C.C. and Ann to read (I’m sure they’ll want to thank you) and for a wrap up post following the week.

With your help, we can make sure that Content Rules in Canada this week.

C.C. Chapman Sells Out

One week from today C.C. Chapman arrives in Canada for his cross-country Third Tuesday Content Rules tour. And already the Third Tuesday Toronto, Third Tuesday Calgary and  Third Tuesday Vancouver events are sold out. Clearly, C.C. is a hot ticket. People are interested in hearing what he has to say and meeting him in person.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Montreal, there are still some open places to hear and meet C.C. at Third Tuesday Montreal. So, you still have a chance to register to attend.

Meeting C.C. Chapman is better by the book

If you are planning to attend Third Tuesday with C.C., I encourage you to get Content Rules and start reading it before the event. You can find it at a bookstore near you or online in hard copy at Chapters or as an eBook at Kobo. C.C. will be signing copies at the event. So be sure to bring your copy with you.

Our sponsors make the third Tuesday community possible

C.C.’s Third Tuesday cross-Canada tour is shaping up to be one of our most successful events yet.

We live in a big country and the cost of staging something like this is considerable. Third Tuesday is organized by volunteers and we could not afford  to bring great speakers like C.C. across Canada without the support of our sponsors: CNW groupRogers Communications, Radian6, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Thank you to our sponsors. You make third Tuesday possible.

Content Rules with C.C. Chapman at Third Tuesday

Here’s some news that I hope you’ll like: C.C. Chapman, co-author with Ann Handley, of Content Rules, is making a cross country tour of Third Tuesdays in January. C.C. will be at Third Tuesday Montreal on January 17, Third Tuesday Toronto on January 18, Third Tuesday Calgary on January 19 and Third Tuesday Vancouver on January 20.

What’s Content Rules all about? In C.C.’s words:

Content Rules: How to Create the Right Kind of Stuff That Engages (Not Bores) Your Customers

Your brand is a publisher now. That’s a frightening notion, perhaps, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity. Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms are giving organizations like yours an unprecedented opportunity to engage directly with your customers. So instead of creating awareness about your company or your brand solely the old-school way (through annoying people with advertising, or bugging them with direct mail, or interrupting them with whatever), you now have a rich and awesome alternative.

Now, thanks to the advent of the Internet and the rise of Web-based tools and technologies, you can create the kind

of web content, blog posts, videos, webinars, and web sites that will attract customers to you, rather than you chasing after them. What’s more, you can entice your customers to share those stories with each other, all across the web.

Produce good stuff, and your customers will come to you. Produce great stuff, and your customers will share your story for you: Content is king! Content rules!

Read the book. Meet the author

And here’s some more good news. When I told the folks at Kobo that we’d be having C.C. as our first speaker of the New Year, they made a point of ensuring that we can buy Content Rules as an ebook from Kobo. I love Kobo because, unlike Amazon, the books are available in the open ePub format and I can read them in the reader of my choice. So, if you’re planning to attend, hop over to Kobo and buy Content Rules as an eBook. Or, if you still love the feel of bound paper, you can order a physical of Content Rules from Chapters. Either way, reading the book before you meet C.C. will add to your experience.

Thank you to our Sponsors

Finally, as always, I want to thank the Third Tuesday sponsors – CNW Group, Rogers Communications, Radian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Their sponsorship for Third Tuesday makes it possible for us to bring great speakers like C.C. not only to Toronto, but to Third Tuesdays across the country. Thank you CNW, Rogers, Radian6 and Fairmont for helping us to build a vibrant community of social media practitioners.