Archive for October, 2012


Press Kit Mantras


Crafting an attractive and informative press kit is a whole new beast in the digital era.
The meaning of the phrase press kit is evolving. As recently as a decade ago, it meant literally a package of information in a folder sent out to reporters to try and generate interest in a company. The kits were an easy way to share a comprehensive look at a business, but were notoriously cumbersome. A reporter attending an industry trade show could walk away with suitcases full of packets of information from a dozen different companies in a mess of envelopes and loose papers. Lots of it, to be honest, ended up in the recycling bin anyway.
Over time, some companies and promoters got savvier. Press kits occasionally morphed into elaborately designed folders of multimedia information – CDs, music samples, and content on flash drives. Often freebies were tucked inside, but all the same, much of that would be overlooked and land in the trash.
These days, a press kit has been shrunken down to digital bytes, making it easier to handle for both reporters and public relations teams. In addition to saving money on printing and mailing costs, the modern press kit gives media instant access to photos and videos featuring your business that they can download and use immediately.
“Reporters who are on deadline, working on way too many things, spread across multiple beats, going nuts, you want to make it easy for them to write about you,” says Leyl Master Black, managing director SparkPR, a public relations firm based in San Francisco.
Public relations professionals say creating a good press kit is as important as having a website or customer service hotline these days. But putting one together is often as easy as gathering up some information about your company you already have lying around. But where do you start? Experts offer these tips:
Putting Together a Press Kit: Focus on the Key Elements
You want your press kit to be one-stop shopping for any journalist looking to write about your company. But public relations firms say they also use the kits as marketing tools for potential advertisers or clients. Professionals say every kit should include the following elements:
Company overview: What does your company do? When did it start? Is there something unique about your founding that people might be interested in? The overview is the place to sum up your business so that even someone who hasn’t heard of you before will understand what your operation is all about. This can also include a fact sheet listing elements of your business or a timeline of growth and achievements.
Biographies: Use this section to talk about your company’s founders, CEO, chairperson, investors or any other key players.
“It’s a great opportunity to differentiate and put a human face on the company,” says Lauren Selikoff, chief marketing officer for Allison & Partners, a public relations firm based in San Francisco. “Bios are often a lost opportunity for that because really a company’s executives are the soul of the company. You can get some insight into how a company’s management team thinks, what their vision for the future is.”
But keep the descriptions tight and don’t try to tell everyone’s life story or you risk losing interest fast, warns Lou Hammond, founder of Hammond and Associates, which handles public relations for several resorts and destinations out of its New York, Florida, and South Carolina offices.
“No bio in today’s world needs to be more than three paragraphs,” she says.
FAQs: You can use a frequently asked questions section to help differentiate your company from your competitors, Black says. She recommends talking to your sales team to find out what questions keep popping up. Your answers will help place your company in context of the larger marketplace. You may also want to consider including customer testimonials or product reviews if appropriate.
News coverage: You should always include at least your one or two most recent press releases. But you also should include any coverage or mentions in the press your company has received, such as reprints of magazine stories, clips from a newsreel, or screenshots from online publications. Don’t have any coverage yet? Erin Tracy, vice president of Regan Communications, says you should consider hiring a production team to create a demo video. This gives you a chance to show off your company and executives as poised, articulate, TV friendly, and ready for interviews.
Getting rights for reprints of news coverage can sometimes be costly, so Selikoff recommends considering just linking to the coverage instead in your online press release.
Art: In the spirit of one-stop shopping, your press release should provide some photos or B-roll footage of your company that media organizations can easily use. They could be photos of your products, headshots of key employees, video of your operations or a map of your location. The kit should make it clear that journalists are allowed to republish the images or video with any appropriate credits. Including a logo with the images is an easy way to get your brand image out into the public consciousness, experts say.
When creating publicity materials for the “Back Jack” campaign that seeks to turn Jack Daniel’s birthday into a national holiday, public-relations firm DVL, which is based in Nashville, included archival photos of the liquor’s namesake and high-quality downloadable videos talking about his history.
“He’s celebrating what would be his 160th birthday,” says Mark Day, senior vice president at DVL. “We want to point out to the media that Jack Daniels actually was a real man. [The kit] becomes a library of all things Jack Daniels for the particular birthday promotion.”
If you don’t have professional photos to share, Tracy recommends setting up a company Flickr page, YouTube account or Facebook profile and linking to them through the kit. Those services are easy to use and a quick way to share photos from recent events, she says.
Contact information: This seems like a no-brainer, but public relations professionals say some people often overlook including a section telling media whom to contact for more information. You should list phone numbers and e-mail addresses for your company spokesperson, public relations person or a designated staff member who handles media requests.
“The benefit of having a press kit is having all of the information that you want people to know together in one spot,” Selikoff says. “A press kit without contact information is useless.”

Media Alliance Code of Ethics

Media Alliance Code of Ethics
Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to it. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinize power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfill their public responsibilities. Alliance members engaged in journalism commit themselves to
Respect for the rights of others
1.  Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts.  Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis.  Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
2.  Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
3.  Aim to attribute information to its source.  Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source.  Where confidences are accepted,  respect them in all circumstances.
4.  Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
5.  Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism.  Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
6.  Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
7.  Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
8.  Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material.  Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast.  Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
9.  Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate.  Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
10.  Do not plagiarize.
11.  Respect private grief and personal privacy.  Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
12.  Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.
Guidance Clause
Basic values often need interpretation and sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.

How to Develop Your Photography Skills

How to Develop Your Photography Skills
Learn the basics, if you haven’t already. Basics of photography include composition, which is essentially the placing of a subject within the frame of a photograph, lighting, and the basic workings of your camera. See How to Take Better Photographs for some introductory material.
Be ready. At least half of the time, the difference between a great photograph and a mediocre one is being in the right place at the right time, with a camera in your hand. Carry your camera with you as often as you can. Make sure to use your camera often, too. Just carrying it around does no good.
Be there. Being “ready” is not enough. As Ken Rockwell says of his early experience,
Did you catch the spoiler word in my logic, “anything that presented itself?” I was a spectator. I thought that photography involved taking pictures of things that came along. NO! You have to get out there and find things. Finding and seeing are the hard part… taking a picture of what you find is the trivial part.
So get up, get out there and take photographs. Go out at every time of day, every day, and look for things. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to come along (but be prepared if it does!); go out and find them. Look for opportunities everywhere you go (whether you’re at the mall or on the other side of the world), and go to places to look for opportunities. If you can see something in your mind, chances are you can set it up and shoot it!
Stop looking for subjects to photograph and learn to see.
Look for colors. Or do the opposite: look for a total absence of color, or shoot in black-and-white.
Look for repetition and rhythm. Or do the opposite, and look for something completely isolated from the things around it.
Look for lighting, and the lack of such. Take photographs of shadows, or of reflections, or of light streaming through something, or of things in total darkness.
Look for emotion and gesture if you’re photographing people. Do they show happiness? Mischievousness? Sadness? Do they look thoughtful? Or do they just look like another person mildly annoyed to have a camera pointed at them?
Look for texture, forms, and patterns. Great black-and-white photographs are stunning because black-and-white forces the photographer to look for these things.
Look for contrasts. Look for something that stands out from the rest of the shot. In your composition, use the wide end of your zoom (or a wide-angle lens) and get closer and make it so. Look for contrasts of all the things above: color amid dullness, light among darkness, and so on. If you’re photographing people, try putting (or finding) your subject in a context in which they stand out. Look for happiness in unexpected places. Look for a person in a surrounding in which they appear out-of-place. Or ignore this and take them completely away from their context by opening your lens all the way to blur the background.
Look for anything that will hold a viewer’s interest which isn’t a traditional “subject”. As you find your niche, you’ll probably find that you end up going back to taking photographs of subjects again. This is fine. Looking for things which aren’t subjects will improve your photography no end—you’ll soon see a different world altogether.
Keep your photos as simple as possible. Get as close to your subject as you can. Use your feet, and use your zoom lens (if you have one) to fine-tune your composition. Get rid of anything that doesn’t give some important context to understand your photo fully.
Shoot film. If you already shoot film, then shoot digital as well. Both film and digital cameras have their place in the learning photographer’s arsenal. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both will teach you a different set of habits. The worst habits of digital are balanced out by the better habits of film, and vice versa.
Digital cameras give you immediate feedback on what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. They also reduce the cost of experimentation to zero. Both of these things are invaluable to the new photographer. However, the zero cost of digital makes it far too easy to fall into the habit of “spraying-and-praying” and hoping a good photo comes out at the end of it.
Film cameras force you to be more careful about what you are taking. Even a millionaire would be reluctant to sit around on his yacht taking thirty-six photographs of his bathing towel on film.[1] The economic incentive to make more of the shots you take might lead to less experimentation (which is bad), but it does make you think harder before taking photographs (which can be good, if you have a good idea of what you should do before taking the picture). What’s more, film still has a look all its own, and you can pick up professional-quality film gear ludicrously cheap as well.
Show the best of your work to other people. Which is to say, find the best of your work and show only that to other people? Even the greatest photographers don’t take superb shots every single time; they’re just very selective about what they show to others.
Be brutal about it. If they’re not great shots to you, then never show them. Your standards will increase over time, and even the ones you might have once thought were passable will probably look pretty lame to you a few months down the line. If this means that all you had for a day’s worth of shooting was one or two photos, then that’s okay. In fact, it probably means you’re being just harsh enough.
eek out and listen to the critiques of others. Don’t fall into the trap of posting in “critique my photos”-type threads on the Internet; these are usually full of the pixel-peepers mentioned above. Still, it’s good to seek out constructive criticism, as long as you’re careful about who you listen to.
Listen to artists. If someone has some great artistic work to show— photos, paintings, music or anything else—then this is reason to take them seriously, since other artists instinctively understand visceral impact, whether it’s in their field or not (and if your photo doesn’t make an impact, it’s probably better deleted). Most non-artists do, as well, although they aren’t as well positioned to tell you what you’re doing right (and they’re more likely to be nice to you to avoid hurting your feelings).
Ignore anyone who critiques your photos harshly and has no stunning photography to show. Their opinions are simply not worth listening to.
Figure out what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. If someone liked a photograph, what made them like it? If they didn’t, what did you do wrong? As said above, other artists will probably be able to tell you these things.
Don’t be modest if someone likes your work. It’s okay, photographers love being complimented on their masterpieces as much as anyone else does. Try not to be cocky, though.
Look for work that inspires you. This doesn’t mean merely technically impeccable; any (very rich) clown can stick a 400mm f/2.8 lens onto a $3000 digital SLR, get a well-exposed, super-sharp photograph of a bird, and that still won’t make them Steve Crone. Rather, look for work that makes you smile, laugh, cry, or feel anything, and not work that makes you think “well exposed and focused”. If you’re into people photos, look at the work of Steve McCurry (photographer of the Afghan Girl), or the studio work of Annie Leibowitz.
If you’re on Flicker or any other photo-sharing website, then keep an eye on the people who inspire you (though don’t end up spending so much time at your computer that you’re not out taking photos).
Learn some technical trivia. No, this is not the most important part about taking photographs. In fact, it’s one of the least important, which is why it’s all the way down here; a great photo taken by a point-and-shooter ignorant of these things, is far more interesting than a boring photo perfectly focused and exposed. It’s also infinitely better than the one that wasn’t taken at all because someone was too busy worrying about this sort of trivia.
Still, it’s handy to have a working knowledge of shutter speed, aperture, focal length, etc., and what effects they will have on your picture. None of this will make a bad photo into a good one, but it can sometimes keep you from losing a good photo to a technical problem and can make great photos even better.
Find your niche. You may find that you’re a good enough communicator to photograph people. You may find that you enjoy being out in all weathers enough that you can do landscape photography. You might have huge telephoto lenses and enjoy motor racing enough that you find yourself having fun photographing them. Try all these things! Find something that you enjoy, and that you’re good at, but don’t limit yourself to it.


Fashion Photographer: Career Guide


Fashion photographers use cameras, lights and other equipment to capture photos that highlight clothing design. In addition to taking pictures, fashion photographers must study photography, learn how to edit photos and build a portfolio. Many work as freelance photographers or are self-employed.
Step 1: Study Photography
While fashion photographers are not required to have a degree, they can gain a greater understanding of their craft by studying photography at a college, university or trade school. Many schools offer a bachelor’s degree in photography. Coursework includes photography history, light studies, digital photography and fine arts. Fashion photographers may also choose to advance their education by attending graduate school or enrolling in programs that focus on fashion photography specifically.
Step 2: Develop Editing Skills
Fashion photographers must be able to edit their work to meet the needs of their clients. Using Adobe Photoshop and other computer software, photographers crop photos, correct flaws and alter the images they have taken. Photographers may take courses in photo editing or develop skills on their own.
Step 3: Build a Portfolio
Fashion photographers showcase their best work in a portfolio. They may upload their work to a website or digital portfolio. Prospective clients choose a photographer based on the style and the skills exhibited. Fashion photographers must keep their portfolio up-to-date and ensure that their abilities are well represented in the work they include.
Step 4: Manage Responsibilities
In addition to taking and editing photos, fashion photographers must handle business and marketing matters, since many individuals in this field are self-employed or work as freelancers. They must schedule shoots, manage finances and keep up with clients by answering e-mails and phone calls. They benefit from networking and meeting contacts in the industry. Some photographers may also print and frame their work. Some professional photographers may hire assistants to help them manage business matters. Fashion photographers must also study and enforce copyright laws to ensure that their work is protected.
Step 5: Book Shoots
Fashion photographers book shoots for clients. These duties may include arranging travel, reserving a space or working with publishers to make sure all needs are met. They must be flexible and able to work in a variety of climates. While they may suggest certain styles, fashion photographers must follow the direction of their client to ensure that photos meet their needs.

Online Crisis Tips


Following my post on preparing for a brewing media crisis I was asked how I felt about scripted responses, specifically, prepared Twitter posts that can be shared across multiple satellite offices. Since you rarely know what form an online crisis will take, I prefer to follow a set procedure and then tailor each response to the specific issue.
Think of several crises that may befall your organization: a leaked YouTube video of an off the cuff comment made by your CEO, a racist comment made by a member of your staff to a client or customer, a product defect that injured or poisoned a consumer, or an ill advised post that went viral (see KitchenAid post). In any of these cases the response would be different based on the specific issue, the seriousness of the claim, or the staff members involved.
Here are 10 tips to help you through an online crisis when time counts and coordination of your message is key:
Smooth Approval Process
In a social media crisis you must have a smooth approval process for posting information. Depending on the structure of your organization you may have a multi-tiered process. Organizations with multiple locations and duplicate sub-departments may either choose to empower local staff members to make final decisions or await a strategy from headquarters. A lengthy system of checks and balances may make you feel safe however the minutes that turn to hours reviewing a single post can make your organization appear confused or in the midst of a cover up.
Raise a Flag
At the first hint of an online issue the designated crisis coordinator should be alerted. This staff member will then decide the severity of the issue and alert key staff members if need be. Be sure to cast a wide net to those who interact with the media or may encounter questions regarding this news. You never want your senior management to be caught unaware. I am frequently the crisis coordinator, since I oversee internal and external communications, allowing my organizations to feel comfortable with a process centralized by a trained spokesperson that underwent crisis training.
The Manual
To prevent an internal crisis within your process you need to have a manual dictating various scenarios. Who do you contact if the crisis coordinator was “hit by a bus”? What happens if the CEO is unavailable for a statement? How does your call center coordinate responses with your social media team? These inevitable questions need to be considered and planned for as far in advance as possible.
Move Quickly
Once a crisis coordinator has been alerted he or she can ensure that all key members of your staff as well as outside consultants are aware of the situation and begin to formulate a strategy and response. As a crisis coordinator I frequently use email only for consensus data at this point and begin having office discussions or call a quick meeting/teleconference. This helps the process move quickly and keeps everyone in the loop.
The staff member who originally raised the issue may be eager to post a response. In some cases you may decide that a response is necessary to let the public know that you are aware of the issue and to thank all involved for bringing it to your attention. In other cases you may wish to wait until you know a few more facts and post a response. In my experience I have found that an initial response thanking the poster works well. If you wait too long before your first post you may appear uncaring or out of touch.
Stay Positive
Many crises are elevated when an organization becomes defensive. Even if a person is attacking you I find that it is best to treat that person, publicly at least, as if they are being helpful in bringing a concern to your attention. Keep the dialogue positive. The crisis coordinator should have the authority to post an immediate response requesting further information before jumping in too early with a coordinated statement.
Stay Nimble
As additional information comes to light, draft appropriate responses and decide if you should spread your response to other media. Is a press conference necessary? Do you notify the board of directors? Depending of the crisis you may need to elevate the scope of the discussion to offer clarity to the general public before rumors begin to spread.
Operating multiple locations, your coordinated effort should require each location to post similar alerts tailored to their local audiences. However, as you coordinate your responses you should not use form statements that have been kept on file. All it takes is one investigative post to highlight that you responded the same way a few months ago when a separate crisis occurred. Remember that this is a social interaction and personalization can mean the difference between appearing caring or unconcerned. Need I say it: Appearances are everything in a crisis.
It is vital to review the events of each crisis. What worked and what broke down? Was there an event that was not accounted for in your manual? When was the issue solved and when did it get away from the response team? This is when accountability takes center stage and every staff member involved needs to be debriefed.
Now that you know what went well and where you failed, you need to update your manual. In fact you may need to remove a strategy rather than just adding to your response procedures. Once you have a new finalized version be sure to circulate it among your crisis response team and ask them to disregard prior manuals.



With the advent of various music channels on TV, Video jockeying is becoming an exciting career option for the music crazy generation. The main job of the VJ is to introduce music videos and host music related shows on Television. But as competition increases, music channels are on the trend of incorporating many diverse shows to attract the public, especially the youth. So the VJ’s area of work involves apart from introducing videos; hosting game to travel shows to youth forums, chatting with the public, doing interviews with artists and music celebrities etc. In short, they act as intermediary figures between the audience and the musicians or music videos. It may also involve off- camera work like deciding on the theme and choosing the songs to suit the theme of the show, participating in promotional like road shows, attending theme parties and with experience, even writing script for the show at times.VJs must constantly keep up-to-date on the latest trends in music, all the latest videos and information about music stars and other celebrities. In that sense, they take upon a more journalistic role. They also should have a well-rounded knowledge of all types of music and also should be informed about a bit of everything from films to politics to travel whatever the theme the show demands. Some of them specialize in a particular area or genre of music. They must be able to answer any queries about music and must fulfill their roles as experts. Vj’s interact with the viewers through telephone, e-mail or fax. Jockeying generally involves three areas and as such Jockeys are called a Video Jockey (VJ), Radio Jockey (RJ) and Disc Jockey (DJ). They all deal with music but while VJ’s present shows on TV, RJ’s do it on Radio and DJ’s in live shows in clubs, restaurants, Music stores etc.
There is no specific educational background or formal training is required to be a VJ, except some personal attributes. However a background in mass communication, visual communication or the performing arts comes in handy. An interest and love for music is an essential aspect. Along with that, excellent body language and dress sense, a pleasant voice, good command over the required language depending on the medium, presence of mind and a good knowledge of music anyone can aspire to be a VJ. One has to get to know about the various styles of music, musicians and albums. With the changing trends one also needs to be well informed generally on topics like politics, travel and what is new. Command over language is important as video jockey needs to talk a lot. Some amount of voice training would definitely help as VJs need a voice that’s clear, pleasant and strong. He should be able to take split second decisions, answer promptly, be energetic and have a wonderful sense of humor to make the show interesting. He may also need to work erratic hours and travel extensively.
Job Prospects and Career Options
 VJs are mainly employed by Music channels, Producers of music shows and film based programmes.Besides popular prospective employers like MTV, Channel V, B4U music, MCM Asia etc, there are many number of channels including regional ones who are in demand of VJ’s. But it is not easy to get a break in the field. You may be employed on a contract basis per show or on a full time basis. There will be paper ads calling VJ’s or VJ hunts advertised on TV. The selection will be tough, which may include a test on paper, on voice modulation or facing the camera. Your screen presence, physique and voice, and ability to stand out in the crowd will go a long way in being selected. Once you are selected, there is no such thing as hierarchy in this profession. Beginners with talent may get to handle their own shows within the first 6 months. It mainly depends on your ability. Besides the excellent pay, you get to host shows in the country or abroad, meet celebrities, and be on the glam walk of life. Keeping up the popularity for long is not easy and as such this profession is a short lived one. The rule is make hay while it lasts. But the profession gives you ample scope to diversify to various fields such as Modeling, Theatre (direction/acting), Film (acting), Music videos (directing/acting/choreography), Anchoring, News casting, PR etc. that generally VJ’s do. The more popular you get through veejaying the more the choices you may have.
 There is a great scope for the profession with the explosion of satellite channels and more and more music channels being launched. The success of the music show depends entirely on the VJ’s ability to connect with the audience and make them come back for more. Although this is a short lived career, within that short time span, a successful VJ can earn between 10,000 to 25000, running up to lakhs depending upon the popularity of the show. Apart from the earnings, the glamour and popularity associated with the profession attracts youngsters to the field.

Setting Strateg…

Setting Strategic Direction: Vision, Strategy, and Tactics


Defining and Using the Three Tools of Leadership
You’re so proud of your new vision statement. It sounds nice. Inspiring, even. But the vision is useless unless it can direct action.
Your vision lays out a destination; your destination guides your strategy; and strategy chooses action. It’s action that leads to success. In those moments of action, having clear direction is crucial for building momentum. If your organization is like most, you spent weeks debating every word crafting your vision, mission, strategy, and goals. But no matter how lofty, if they aren’t created in a way that provides direction, those statements are little more than high-priced indulgences.
Every company means something different by the words “vision” and “strategy.” One person insists that “Provide our customers the highest possible quality widgets” is a vision. A friend takes one look and assures him, “That’s a strategy.” Here are some useful definitions that will help you decide if you’ve set a direction that can truly get traction.
Envisioning the future
Vision is timeless. It’s based on who/what you want to do. It’s why you’ve got an organization in the first place. It must be specific enough that everyone can use it to decide if their work is moving the company forward. Progress towards the vision must be measurable. A vision is independent of specific competition, and while it may mention the customer, it must guide even someone who doesn’t know the customers’ mind. The best visions imply whom the company serves, what it provides, and what distinguishes it from other companies providing the same products and services. Vision sets the broad direction. It says, “Go west, young man.”
Wrong: We will provide exceptional products and services that our customers value.
This vision requires knowing the customers’ mind in order to understand what the company provides. It doesn’t distinguish what is unique about the company, since presumably everyone in the market produces something customers value.
Right: We will help boat owners everywhere navigate new seas with geographically based directional products and services.
This vision tells us the market, the product (navigation products and services), the distinguisher (geographically based), and the progress measurement (delight).
Some organizations may call this a mission statement, rather than a vision. Or, they may have both a vision and a mission, with the vision expressing the ideal world or company, and the mission expressing the company’s purpose. For our purposes, they’re the same. A mission statement rounds out the vision. Together, they give timeless, overarching principles chosen by the company that express the company’s reason for being.
The strategy thing
Strategy links the destination (vision) with current reality. Strategy applies to the whole company, and answers the question “How will we reach our vision, given current market conditions, competitive scenario, regulatory environment, etc.?” Strategy is narrower than vision, but broad enough to guide companywide organization structure, hiring, capabilities that must be developed, and so on. Strategy says, “We’re going west, but we ran into this grand canyon. We can go around to the north or south. Let’s choose south.”
For example, a company may have a vision to “provide scientifically proven technology to solve the medical needs of consumers and hospitals.” In the 1950s, the strategy may be doing in-house research, hiring and developing scientists, and a compensation program based on discovery. In the 1990s, the same company may have a strategy of acquiring small drug-making companies and buying and protecting patents from other companies. Both strategies will reach the vision, but they are appropriate for different competitive environments, and they have different organization structures, different financing options, and different operational characteristics.
You know you have a strategy if you chose your current path from many alternatives, all of which would have reached your vision, each of which would have required hiring different people and building different systems. If you didn’t consider many alternatives, or you didn’t choose your alternative considering your competition, your vision, and your current market conditions, then you probably have a tactic, not a strategy. If you can execute your strategy with your current people, reward systems, and organization structure, then it’s not a strategy, it’s a tactic.
The tactics
Tactics are limited in scope, typically just to a part of the company. They’re shorter term than a strategy. They involve executing given the existing capabilities and resources of the company. Unlike strategy, tactics generally work within the current organization structure, rather than changing the organization. Tactics say, “We’re on the south path. Let’s travel two miles today.” Your tactics probably won’t work unless they’re generated from a strategy that lays out a consistent philosophy for how your company will compete/win/attract customers in today’s market.
Your “moments of truth” are those moments in time when you build traction and momentum. For example, a moment of truth in creating a quality-driven organization might be when the CEO refuses to ship a poor-quality product, even though it will hurt quarterly numbers. Moments of truth always happen during a tactical action. That’s why you need a vision and strategy—without them, people won’t have the guidance to ensure they can move the company forward in that moment.
Your strategy also helps you find your moments of truth. If your strategy involves locking up important distributor relationships, your moments will involve reputation and relationship building, creating the perception of value to the distributors, and establishing negotiating leverage to capture an exclusive relationship. If your strategy is to be a low-cost provider, moments of truth might be times when opportunities for efficiencies arise, or incidents where you can encourage a “continuous improvement” mindset in your team.
At the end of the day, your vision and strategy only exist to drive tactics. And often, the most significant tactics are those moments of truth whose effects are far-reaching. When your vision sets direction and your strategy ties it to your current situation, they provide a compass for everyone in your organization to follow for years to come.