Key communications learnings from Julieanne DiBene of Mellanox Technologies.
When handling delicate topics what are the most important things to keep in mind as a communicator?
I think, most of all, remember that you are dealing with people’s lives and often their livelihoods. Be discrete and compassionate, and be mindful that people have very long memories as you help or hinder them during times of crisis. I recently met a woman whom I had apparently had advised during a PR crisis many years ago and she became quite emotional, telling me how I had helped her during what she termed as the worst time in her life. All these years later she still saw me as a hero. The encounter reminded me that you just never know what kind of impact you will have along your career journey so always make sure to lead with compassion, empathy and hopefully wisdom.
What would you consider your greatest communications success in your career?
Some of the greatest successes in one’s PR career are surprisingly those we PR pros cannot talk about in detail. Most skilled PR professionals can, with luck, timing and tenacity, eventually land an executive on the evening news, score an interview in a national publication or even get a tweet to go viral but sometimes, it is what you keep out of the news that can be your greatest moment. I’ve found that it is actually takes far more strategy, judgment and skill to keep something off the front page.
What is something about the PR/communications field that you wish you could change and why?
The blurred lines between personal and professional via social media have resulted in a massive oversharing of personal and often inane information. This has become the calling card of most public figures and social media butterflies. Despite what we do for a living, many PR professionals like myself are actually quite private. I firmly believe in the healthy separation of church and state, personal and private and when promoting public figures, a little bit of mystery can go a long way.
How do you see the PR/communications field changing in the next five years?
More and more, ROI and revenue goals are being tied to marketing automation tools. This functionality is already extending deeper, into public relations and social media which will in turn become more closely aligned with the sales channel and company revenue goals through tools that now track sales, marketing campaigns and leads. We are moving into an arena of extremely finely tuned analytics and metrics where PR not only is seen as a tool for extending the company brand but as a vehicle that can help move the needle. I expect we will see even more sophisticated tracking tools in the near future with PR campaigns that are modeled from metrics that have been tracked at a very granular level – from the first tweet through the entire sales process.
What is your favorite city and why?
Hong Kong. I lived there as a child with my adventuresome parents who decided that being ex-pats would provide a great education and experience for their children. Once you have lived in another country you develop a very unique, global perspective on the world. And I still consider Hong Kong home.