Are you a victim of wrong decisions?

Decision making
If you are passing through a difficult time at home or workplace, think how your decisions aggravated the situation.

Once Oprah Winfrey said, “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently is that when you don’t know what to do, you should do nothing until you figure out what to do because a lot of times you feel like you are pressed against the wall, and you’ve got to make a decision. You never have to do anything. Don’t know what to do? Do nothing.”

Eight years ago, a friend who was well settled at a top TV channel in Karachi, decided to join a new TV channel for growth. Unfortunately, things went wrong there; she is still not settled.

Please do not ask me about some famous media personnel who decided to switch their employers recently. Only time will tell how wise they were.

Thirty-eight years ago, there was a poor student in Daro, district Thatta, who failed to appear in the Class X examinations, because he couldn’t pay fees. Although the boy was very disappointed, he decided to work as a labourer, collect the required money, and appear next year – and he did it. Later, he became the first local director of a reputable private educational institution in Pakistan. I am referring to Dr Muhammad Memon.

If a decision is a choice from two or more alternatives, then we make dozens or hundreds of decisions every day: tea or coffee; biscuits or omelette; burger or biryani; resolving an issue or handling a difficult client, a subordinate, a peer, a supervisor or a loved one, etc. Doing so, we deal with two kinds of issues:

  1. structured: straightforward, familiar and easy; and
  2. unstructured: new and unusual. The latter can make or ruin a person or an institution. Notice the positive and negative impacts of decisions made by people in the above examples.

In decision-making process, usually we confront with two situations:

  1. Taking a rational decision by choosing the best alternative, if we have a clear and specific goal, and know all possible alternatives and consequences.
  2. If we are experienced and understand a situation well, we also make a decision using our intuition, based on our experience, feelings and accumulated judgement.

In any situations, making timely and well-considered decisions is essential in business as well as personal life. Before taking any decision, a wise person always:

  1. defines and clarifies the issue
  2. gathers all facts and understands causes
  3. brainstorms possible options
  4. considers and compares pros and cons of each option
  5. selects the best option
  6. explains his/her decision to those involved and affected, and follows up to ensure proper and effective implementation.

Are you a victim of wrong decisions? What if you had kept in mind the above six points? What if you had compromised or did nothing?

I second Oprah that sometimes doing nothing is much better than making a wrong decision.


Porter’s Five Forces of Media Industry in Pakistan

Media industry in Pakistan earned a revenue of Rupees 32.06 billion in 2011. There are approximately 250 active newspapers, 90 TV and 100 FM radio channels (including 25 campus radio stations) and 17,000 journalists in the industry (there were only 2,000 in 2001).

I have tried to analyse the industry through Porter’s Five Forces. The results are given below. Please feel free to share your feedback.

Threat of New Competition

  • Entry barriers (medium)
  • Exit barriers (low)
  • Capital requirement (high)
  • Switching or sunk costs (high)
  • Access to distribution (high)
  • Customer loyalty (low)
  • Industry profitability (high)

Threat of Substitutes

  • Internet (medium)
  • Mobile (low)

Bargaining Power of Customers

  • Customers can easily switch (high)
  • Customers have easy access to the world media (low)
  • Substitutes, like, internet and mobile, are available (medium)

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

  • Power of suppliers (low)
  • Power of content providers (low)

Competitive Rivalry

  • Costly and perishable products (high)
  • Diversified and influential rivals (high)

Porter’s Five Forces analysis reveals:

  • Threat of new competition is medium to high
  • Threat of substitutes is low to medium
  • Power of customers is medium to high
  • Power of suppliers is low
  • Competition in the industry is high

Overall, profitability of media industry in Pakistan lies between medium and high.

Managing Press Releases

Managing post-event press releases

What could be the best way to manage post-event press releases? Options could be: (1) collect content, including speakers’ quotes in advance, prepare a draft, get it reviewed and release it timely on the event day; or (2) take notes during the sessions on the event day and then incorporate changes into the draft. If we follow the latter procedure, we may not be able to meet our deadlines (editing, review, approval, translating into local language(s) and releasing to media). Usually, late releases do not get a good coverage.

I posed these questions to PR experts on Linkedin:

Cristina Falcão, Creative Problem Solver – I DO IT – Pharmaceutical Manager – Change Management:

“Option one is the only possible one (of the two) if you want to have an event; all the people will be expecting it, it is standard procedure.”

Maria Marsala, CEO/Strategic Planning Business Coach; Building 6 & 7-figure financial sector businesses; Int’l Speaker:

“Before creating a PR, I would add:
Determine the best pitch and story to weave through the PR
Make sure that you’re not creating an ad in disguise.

But if instead you’re creating an event’s announcement, that’s not a PR.”

Faculty and staff articles for media

A few basic questions arise here:

How an organisation’s PR department should manage faculty and staff articles for media, if organisation is acknowledged? If they need to review them, what should be the criteria: just check (i) if anything against organisational policies; and (ii) typing and grammatical mistakes? Does reviewing an article require rewriting, if needed? Should the PR accept a badly written piece for a review? Should the faculty and staff release their articles to media directly or through the PR department?

I posed above questions to the PR experts available on Linkedin:

Sally Hems, Managing Director at Oakleaf Communications:

“Given the amount of articles and IP now required from the HE sector, I suggest empowering them to take responsibility for their articles. Otherwise this will add an extra layer of bureaucracy.

The PR dept would be best used focusing on reputation management and identifying influencers to seed articles to – rather than spending time writing articles.

To nip any problems in the bud, you could provide explicit (but not overly wordy) guidelines for articles. This could cover suggested structure, tone of voice and of course, spell check! And if there is still concern, writing training may help.”

Andy M Turner, Founder, Six Sigma Public Relations Ltd, expert B2B communications consultant:

“Anything badly written will be rejected by the destination, which will not reflect well on the author. So you should find writers are only too willing to take up a review and sense check offer from your team – provided you are adding value.”

Related Links:
Op-Ed Articles: How to Write and Place Them

Using social media as a PR tool

No doubt, Public Relations (PR) is not a direct selling or marketing. But when it comes to media relations, PR is a very low-cost and effective tool. Most of the media personnel are connected through social media. They prefer visiting Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, rather then opening hundreds of their emails.

PR may trigger a campaign/service or keep it alive in public and media even after a marketing campaign/budget is over.

Marketing is not just selling. A negative news in media could spoil everything. I remember Lays chips had to run a huge campaign to counteract a news published in some low circulated newspapers in Pakistan that it was using a haram (not eatable as per the Islamic law) ingredient.

Let me share with you, nowadays, some media personnel even don’t like an association with a direct selling/marketing person.

Leaders of a company have every right to make a policy as per their professional judgment, but I would humbly advise them to spend some time reading about Marketing and PR to understand the new trends.

Related links: