Don’t Waste Time Building Consensus

rebecca morganToday’s blog is written by Rebecca Morgan, President and CEO of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks LLC.

As the authoritarian “command and control” organizational structure has fallen out of favor, some believe that consensus is the replacement leadership model.

It is not.

In fact, finding consensus is best limited to innocuous situations. Working to build consensus can be helpful after a significant decision is made, but not before.

Do we really want to vote on strategy? On which bank to use? On pricing? On which markets to penetrate next?

Asking for input is one thing; waiting for consensus to build is just wasting time.

Come to think of it, what sense does it make to elect leaders? Can you think of an exemplar profitable business that schedules campaigns and debates, followed by an election for CEO?

Totalitarian governments have leaders. Unfortunately, their followers are often without free will. Legitimate leaders have followers that do so voluntarily. They may not always agree, but they are not being held against their will.

With common vision, mission and core values, supported by mutual respect regardless of position, leaders and followers can accomplish amazing things together. Leaders that listen, and that respect decisions made by followers. Followers that listen, and respect decisions made by leaders.

Sharing logic is valuable to learning. But voting? Getting everyone to agree before taking action?

Leadership is not a popularity contest. It is based on the confidence and support of followers. Spend your time building that, not consensus.

About The Author

Rebecca A. Morgan, President of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks Inc., is a manufacturing strategy consultant skilled at clarifying complex ideas, finding creative solutions to problems, and developing and leveraging operational strengths. She works with manufacturers to better position their operations to deliver their espoused competitive advantage repeatedly, reliably, and profitably.

Her ability to work as effectively with off-shift workers as with owners and C-level executives and her 30+ years professional experience combine to support both strategic vision and daily execution.

5 Tips for Manufacturers to Network Like a Pro

rob felber dave joyce

Rob Felber with Congressman Dave Joyce.

Networking is necessary for growing your personal and professional brand. Networking is a technique and competency that needs to be honed and crafted in order to be effective. Although it seems “easy” to many, the most successful business people have strategy behind their networking process. Recently my boss (Rob Felber) did a presentation on “Networking for Manufacturers”, which provided attendees with helpful tips as well as tools he has developed over more than two decades of networking. Below are 5 key takeaways from the seminar for you to use at your next networking event.

  1. Get There Early

When attending an event, it is best to arrive early and get to know the speaker before the event and build that relationship. By interacting with the presenter beforehand, you are creating a dynamic where you could be highlighted during the presentation. Also, talking with the speaker prior to the presentation gives you an advantage when it comes time for the Q&A portion of the talk. Being the first person to ask a question puts you and your company in the spotlight with your peers and colleagues.

  1. The Importance of the 10-to-30 Second Commercial

Crafting your 10-to-30 second commercial for networking events is essential in creating great first impressions. Practice it so that it becomes second nature.. Don’t bombard people with information. Keep it simple and to-the-point.  Start it off with a pain statement and leave it open-ended so that your prospect will be intrigued and want to know more.

  1. Get in with Key Influencers

When joining a networking group, it is important to get involved early. Volunteer on committees, or get in front of the board of the group. Getting to know key influencers in the group brings a level of ease to networking. Also, the more individuals you become close with, the more opportunities you will have for members to introduce you to prospects.

  1. Divide and Conquer

When attending a networking event with colleagues or peers, it is important to ‘divide and conquer’. Sitting with colleagues or friends is limiting and closes you off from making new connections. Unless you surround yourself with new people, you are not going to build relationships. Also, make sure and review the attending list prior to the event, looking up prospects on LinkedIn and trying to target and sit next to those individuals at the event. When researching your prospects prior to an event, see if any of your connects are able to make a personal introduction.

5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Social Media

Social media is a great tool to enhance your personal and professional brand. When you’re at seminars and events, tweeting or posting about it on your other social media platforms gives you the opportunity to grow your social media presence and following. Using social media to talk about what you’ve learned also opens the door for further conversations with speakers and attendees.





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How Manufacturers Can Avoid Pitfalls When Using Photos

Sometimes the Picture Has 1,000 Words You Do Not Want

Photos are a critical element in content marketing. Whether your story is strictly online, being used for a media article or your own collateral, a picture does tell a thousand words. But, what if the words are wrong?

real brendan

High resolution photo of client Buckeye Fasteners that will be utilized on their new website and on social media.

The following are key factors to consider when staging, using or choosing just the right photo.

  • The first and often most important factor in photo use is resolution. Most print publications require at least a minimum 300 dpi. Not sure how to get the highest resolution on your digital camera? Simply set your digital camera to capture the highest resolution, or put it on a “raw” setting. This will ensure you have the depth, pixels and ultimately the resolution publications require. Just because it looks good on a website or on Facebook, does not mean it is large enough to be used in print or even with your very large trade show booth display
  • When taking a photo, it is important to not only feature what you want to show, but also what you do not want to show. Often we might see great photos of workers getting the job done. What is often overlooked is safety. Are the workers on a roof tied off properly and wearing OSHA and industry standard safety equipment? Your photo runs the risk of being rejected if your facility and workers are not up to industry standards. Even worse, if the photo gets published and others notice your workers, with logo-emblazoned helmets, prominently displaying an obvious safety violation, you could greatly tarnish your brand and reputation.
  • During the photo selection process, ask yourself “Are we giving too much away?” Look carefully at not only the subject of your photo, but the background. Here are some key points to consider:
  1. Is there proprietary equipment in the background?
  2. Are secret processes able to be seen in photo?
  3. Is the environment messy?
  4. Are there people in the scene that are distracting?
  5. Are customers featured and do you have their permission? Be cautious about tipping off your competition.
boots buckeye fasteners

Buckeye Fasteners photo highlights their unique retiree boot hanging ceremony and American-made values with flag in the background.

  • When pre-planning your photo shoot (please tell us you just didn’t charge your iPhone and wing it), make sure to review your company’s branding and messaging guidelines. Endeavor to capture photos that support your brand. Are you proud to be union and American made? Look for opportunities to take photos that support that image. Do you profess to have associates that roll up their sleeves and get the job done? Choose a scene and personnel that shows just that.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to capture and utilize the perfect photo. Now, the big decision is can you take the photos yourself or should you invest in a professional? This topic will be addressed in a future post.

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It’s Time to Start Planning Manufacturing Day 2016 Events

mfg day 2015 chart

This chart was obtained from the NIST US Dept. of Commerce

Manufacturing Day falls on October 7th, 2016. While it may seem light-years away, it’ll be here before you know it. Manufacturing Day provides manufacturers with the ability to connect with colleagues around the country,  create buzz for their company, and provide an inside view into some of the region’s best careers. In 2015, Ohio was ranked the top state for Manufacturing Day events in 2015 (see chart). Now is the time to plan or your competition will outshine you during this great opportunity to showcase your products and services!

Founded in 2012, Manufacturing Day is an annual national event that “has been designed to expand knowledge about, and improve public perceptions of manufacturing careers and manufacturing’s value to the U.S. economy.” Participants of Manufacturing Day use the hashtag #MfgDay to join the movement and support US manufacturing as a whole, with people and businesses around the country. Popular Manufacturing Day events include plant tours, job fairs, manufacturing community events, expos and celebrations.Don’t forget to register your event on the website.

SSP MFG DAY

Our client SSP on Manufacturing Day 2015

Plant tours

Are you looking to showcase your plant to prospective clients,  students, and the community? Now is the time to start send out invites. Schools will be out of session in four months. School administrators and teachers are now beginning to plan their first few months of the 2016-2017 school year. It is important to start the discussion now so they can coordinate with you and get students at your tour.

Job fairs

Job fairs create a great platform to recruit the next generation of manufacturers. Often job fairs can happen at a manufacturing business. However, if you are looking to get a larger pool of candidates, partnering with other manufacturing employers, or perhaps, a staffing firm is an excellent option.

Manufacturing Day Celebrations

Manufacturing Day events are extremely popular and are held the week of Manufacturing Day or even the entire month of October (deemed Manufacturing Month.) Celebrations can be organized by local or regional manufacturing associations, chambers of commerce, or business development groups. Also banks, accounting firms and other businesses that do a significant portion of their business with manufacturers may want to partner with you for a Manufacturing Day event. These can be simple events such as breakfast, lunch, and dinners, followed by tours, Q & A’s and even the occasional political dignitary appearance.

Manufacturing Day is a great way to showcase your company and what makes you special. Ohio had the top Manufacturing Day events last year. There are many ways your company can stand out during this celebration of manufacturing including plant tours, job fairs, and manufacturing celebration events. For more information on Manufacturing Day visit www.mfgday.com or to discuss event ideas, call or email Felber PR at 330.963.3664 x2 or AllisonMiller@felberpr.com

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We Get Manufacturing – Just Not the Way You Get It

we get mfg

You are a manufacturer, which means you are ‘head down’ most days. Your days are jam-packed between responding to customers, managing inventory, solving a technical issue and the list goes on, and on and on. Now’s its 6 pm and your ‘pesky’ PR agency is asking about content. Yes, content!? Your company is having great success, for many customers, all at once. You are knowledgeable about your processes and your market.  Perhaps you even know of or follow the trade publications that report on your industry. Industry trade publications call once in a while to speak with you but you never really had time during your week to gather the data that would be the meat of the article.

You’ve heard it before – Content is King! Whether you are developing your sales literature, creating social media to attract engineers (that seems younger than your oldest daughter), or preparing to tell your story to the media. You need to have content. Content is the fuel by which your business can grow. You will use it on your website and  blog, as well as in your trade show graphics and email newsletters, .

We get your world and can help. Relationships with media need to be fostered, just like relationships with your best customers. Your PR person needs to know the publication’s editorial direction, engage with editors on social media and arrange interviews and tours. Your job? Open the content vault and let the magic happen. And, once you have industry media interest and trust, you may soon find your manufacturing firm, your staff and yourself elevated to “expert” status. Reporters will continue to call you to discuss industry trends. Instead of lamenting on how your competitors are always interviewed, your competitors can now look at your company with the same envy.

So, you’re an engineer, a scientist and entrepreneur – but NOT a writer. No problem, that’s what we do. We Get Manufacturing. We connect people, processes, and ideas together. We turn this raw material into content utilized in multiple marketing and publicity tools. Want to see more? Check out our success stories here or call us at 330.963.3664.

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Launch of Felber PR “Mug Shots”

You’re Getting Mugged

john troyer

John Troyer from Ciuni & Panich loves his Felber PR mug as much as his ‘Great Place to Work’

You are getting mugged, but no one is getting hurt! Do you love your Felber PR mug? We hear all the time that it’s people’s ‘favorite mug’. We’ve created an album on our Facebook page called ‘Mug Shots‘, with photos featuring the one and only Felber PR mug.  Our mug is a trusted companion that keeps coffee nice and hot–from late night work sessions to long days managing the factory floor.

tom jackson leverity insurance group

Tom Jackson with Leverity Insurance Group “insures” he always has a strong cup of coffee to start the day helping businesses protect their investments.

 

We’d like to promote your company through  ‘Mug Shots‘. Just snap a photo with your Felber PR mug. Be as creative as you can, capturing your company’s uniqueness! We can’t wait to see where you are using your mug.

So, what are you waiting for? Take a coffee break and have some fun. You deserve it! Send your photo to allisonmiller@felberpr.com We will be continuously updating the album as photos arrive. 

What, you don’t have a Felber mug? Let us know and we’ll send you one!

Click here to view all of the Mug Shots:  Felber PR Mug Shots Album

Manufacturing Media Interviews: How To Ace Them

What you need to know before you agree to  speak to a reporter

mark fabrisonic and bill k SME

Our client, Mark Norfolk of @Fabrisonic3D, being interviewed by Bill Koenig, reporter at @MfgEngNews

They like you, they really like you. So, you have a reporter or editor interested in speaking with you about your work and company. Perhaps he/she responded to a press release, met you at a trade conference or your agency arranged the conversation. Preparing for the interview and obtaining just the right coverage is critical. In this article, we will discuss the strategy you should take for nailing media interviews. Note, in this article, we are talking about a typical media interview NOT a crisis situation or the dreaded “ambush” interview with a reporter shoving a microphone in your face. How to handle a crisis or “ambush” interview will be discussed in a future article.

For your typical interview, you should have a strategy for these five steps: 1) Know their audience, 2) Research the reporter and their history, 3) Have your facts straight, 4) know your desired outcome, and 5) Have your art ready.

First, are you familiar with the publication? You need to know who they consider their audience and if there is a fit with the content you hope to convey. Research their website, peruse past issues, and look at their media kit. The editorial calendar is of particular interest. These are the “big rock” issues they will be covering editorially. If you can align with a proposed topic, you will be doing yourself and the reporter a huge service. Second, get to know the reporter. Read articles they have written. Pay attention to tone, depth of technical expertise and look for any bias the reporter may have, especially if that could either help or hurt your cause. By demonstrating your familiarity with both the publication’s editorial direction and the reporter’s work, you are also showing you have respect for their organization.

Make sure that you are well versed in your subject matter. Whether you are meeting in person or over the phone, make sure you know the facts about your organization. While you cannot anticipate every question, you should know your content cold. If you are not the expert, either get briefed by one prior or better yet, have them participate in the interview. Knowing your facts and developing key message points are not always the same thing. Your message points are fact-based content that you want to highlight. One tactic you can use is to request questions ahead of your interview. You have to be tactful here and be prepared for no. But, if you get the questions ahead of time, do not squander this opportunity to prepare.

Now that you have your facts and message points ready for your interview, know exactly what you want to get out of this interview opportunity. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask the report how their story will be used. Is this a feature on your company or are you being included in a larger piece? Is this a sidebar to a separate story or simply a product mention with a photo and caption?

Lastly, have graphics in the form of charts, photos or infographics ready and in the proper format. When you reviewed the publication, you already made note of the “art” they publish to support their content. Make sure your supporting graphics are ready to be emailed or uploaded. If this is a print publication, they will undoubtedly want the highest resolution photos or graphics you can provide. A jpeg off your website will usually NOT work. We have seen time and time again our client’s interview featured simply because we had the best and most readily available supporting graphics. Just as important, relax. You are prepared and ready for this opportunity. And, if you string a few of these together, you will certainly be viewed as an industry expert.

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Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2016

As a marketing and public relations firm squarely positioned, and exclusively serving, manufacturers we were intrigued and pleased to see positive predictions for U.S. manufacturing in 2016. Of particular interest for our client Fabrisonic as not only was 3D printing mentioned, but many of the prediction are already reality for Fabrisonic and 3D metal printing.

Reprinted from Manufacturing Leadership Blog

Global Manufacturing to Grow Modestly: Economists and governmental organizations are predicting respectable industrial growth in 2016, assuming that there are no disruptive political or economic events. A 2.6% growth rate is foreseen in the U.S. China and India, although currently in contraction, are seen as faring better, with 6% growth predicted in China and as much as 8% growth foreseen for India. With its economy continuing to recover, European manufacturing growth, while uneven country by country, is expected to grow faster than the U.S. The yet-unknowns: the migrant crisis in Europe, the global threat of ISIS terrorism, and the possibility of more sophisticated cyber attacks, any of which could upset business conditions and damage growth.

 U.S. Election Year Blues: Despite a rise in state-sponsored manufacturing competition from countries such as China and India, U.S. manufacturing will struggle for visibility during the U.S. Presidential election year as terrorism, immigration, and rising income inequality, among other topics, dominate the national political debate. None of the major candidates from either political party have demonstrated knowledge of or a focus on manufacturing. The one bright spot: the selection of the U.S. as the partner country at the world’s largest industrial event, the Hannover Fair, in April in Germany. And the participation of President Obama, the first time a sitting U.S. president will be in attendance at the Fair.

 Manufacturing 4.0 In Action: 2016 will be the year when the much-vaunted theories behind Manufacturing / Industry 4.0 that have been developed over the last few years move into real-life practice as front-line use cases begin to bring to life the opportunities for applying advanced new digital, cyber-physical approaches to plant floor automation and processes to significantly improve manufacturing productivity, flexibility, quality and efficiency. Companies that can serve as role models for others will emerge. And end-user demands for interconnectivity and software standards will intensify.

Small Manufacturers to Fight the ‘Digital Divide’: Concerned that they could fall rapidly behind global competitors with greater financial and other resources, small- and medium-size manufacturing companies will move more aggressively to develop strategies to embrace Manufacturing 4.0 concepts and technologies. For many, this will include modernizing plant floor equipment and moving to state-of-the-art operational systems, including cloud-based ERP systems, to better manage information.

Read more at http://www.gilcommunity.com/blog/manufacturing-trends-watch-2016/

The Evolution of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The new year is right around the corner and with that comes reflection. What did you accomplish? Where you can improve? I decided to be nostalgic and take a look back at our blog since its inception in 2008 and compare it to our blogs in 2015 to see how our blogging has changed (and hopefully improved). One of our very first blogs talked about the importance of organic (meaning unpaid for) search engine optimization. In this blog, I’ll discuss what we thought then about SEO, our current SEO strategy, and what we’ve learned as a firm from about SEO over the last several years of blogging.

Our SEO Strategy in 2008:

In 2008, our sole SEO focus was using keywords. In a 2008 survey, we polled approximately 50 publishers (60%) and marketers (40%), through online surveys and phone calls, to determine our core keyword areas. Then we took those findings and would cross check with services such as wordtracker.com and websitegrader.com to continually help us in choosing the right key words.

2008 seo blog

An example of one of our very first blogs, which discussed SEO in 2008.

As you can see is the example photo to the left, our blogs in 2008 were very brief. We were on the right track with linking multiple sources in our blogs, as that helps in getting blogs to be found in searches more frequently. Although we used keywords in our blogs and monitored Google Analytics to try and find a correlation between keywords and blog traffic, we weren’t using keywords to their fullest potential. Also, we didn’t understand the value of using photos and tagging them with keywords for Google indexing.

Our SEO Strategy Today:

Today, Felber PR & Marketing uses a very thorough SEO strategy that we utilize across ours and our clients’ social media platforms and blogs.

2015 SEO blog

Manufacturing Day 2015 blog utilizes the keywords “Manufacturing Day” throughout the piece in the photos, headline, and body of the blog to improve SEO & Google indexing.

On the left side is a recent blog I wrote. As you can see, the title is straight and to the point and utilizes our focused keywords “Manufacturing Day”. The keyword can be found in the URL, image names, and the majority of all photo captions on the page. The more the focus keyword is used, the more likely it is to be seen in posts. Like in 2008, we link and cite multiple sources in this blog (and make sure that the hyperlink opens in a separate tab so that people stay on the blog and read our content!

2015 SEO blog 2

Manufacturing Day 2015 blog uses multiple photos with captions to improve the flow and readability of the piece.

 

Our blogs are much more thorough in 2015 and highly researched. We also have worked to create a much more visually appealing layout with photos and captions, to make the blog more aesthetically appealing and improve readability. After our blogs go live, we social media the blogs out on all our platforms with the keywords and other appropriate hashtags, all in an effort to gain more readership.

What We’ve Learned:

Organic SEO has changed and grown as a field since 2008. While we were on the right track in 2008 using keywords, we did not realize the extent that we needed to use keywords throughout the blog, photos, and in the URL. We also did not utilize hashtags to our fullest potential in sharing our blog content. Today, continuously monitoring LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, and other key resources to find the latest trends and keywords to use to give ourselves and our clients more visibility. SEO is an ever changing and evolving field. We’ve stayed up-to-date on the latest SEO trends and will continue to learn new processes and ways to leverage SEO for years to come.

Tips for Networking at Holiday Parties

How to make networking fun and worthwhile

networking-holiday-party-handshake

December is the time of year for holiday parties galore- and with that comes opportunities for networking. Love it or hate it, these events provide attendees with the opportunity to connect with colleagues and make new professional contacts. Attendees may be there to network, are attending because of a work obligation or simply to have fun and unwind. Here’s how you make yourself stand out at holiday parties, provide value to other attendees, and grow your network.
1. Go the the Party with a Strategy
It’s tempting to let loose and hang out with the usual people in the office. If your goal is to expand your circle of influence, it’s best to make a list of people that it would be beneficial to speak to at the party. If you’re going with the purpose of networking, let your co-workers know what you’re doing and divide and conquer. Enlist the host or other key people in advance – ask if they might introduce you to someone on your list. That way, you and your company are getting the greatest amount of visibility possible.
2. Network with Everyone You Can.
Holiday parties provide great networking opportunities. You could meet a future boss, mentor, co-worker, or a customer. However, networking is easier said than done for many people. If you’re unsure of where to start with people, begin with asking people some basic information, such as where the people work and what their job entails. After you’ve learned that basic information with people, ask people questions about projects they are working on then move on to talking about trends in your industry or current events that may be interesting to that person, based upon what you have in common. One of my favorite starter questions, easy when here are name tags is “So, tell me about (insert their name).” The beauty is you will immediately get them talking, and this is important – talking about themselves or their favorite topic. Do they lead with their job, hobby, family? Pay attention and let them carry the conversation.
3. Limit ‘Shop’ Talk
Preparing some conversational topics ahead of time can be helpful, specifically if you are a shier person. Review current events and think about some topics that aren’t work-related. The last thing you want to do is talk about work-related achievements and come off as haughty or overly self-interested. Or worse, they use the opportunity to complain. Listen more, speak less. Ask informed questions. This will show people you are speaking with at the event that you are genuine and interested in what they do. You aren’t all about promoting yourself or creating sales.
4. Offer Your Business Card (and Ask for Theirs)
Once you have had good conversations with key people at the party, it’s important to offer your business card so you can stay in touch. Ask if you may have their card. Write a quick note on the back. It could be a small reminder about what you talked about or something that will jog someone’s memory as they look through their vast amount of cards.

networking-holiday-party-card

Our personalized and branded thank you cards that we send out at Felber PR & Marketing

5. Follow Up
After you’ve had great conversations, it’s time to follow up. We absolutely love written notes. We even have a prepared note card that fits in a regular #10 envelope.  If you want to really stand out, though we suggest the handwritten note to people’s workplace. People rarely get handwritten notes these days and that is a great way to cut through the clutter of emails and stand out! Don’t forget to invite people to connect with you on LinkedIn. A simple message on LinkedIn or email will show that you are gracious and are a person who follows through.