Be a Quote Machine

Rosalie Mandel, a partner with accounting firm Rothstein Kass, mentors lots of young women. She has honed her message about discerning the difference between a mentor and a sponsor to a standard line. And that’s just the line that reporter Julie Steinberg of FINS, the Wall St. Journal financial news channel, needed for a comprehensive story on how women can advance.

Here’s the story excerpt: Mentors are important for giving you guidance on your career. Sponsors are more critical because they’re the ones banging on the table to bring you on for a new job or assignment.

Accordingly, you must treat them differently. Rosalie Mandel, a principal at accounting firm Rothstein Kass, recommends telling your mentor the good, the bad and the ugly and telling your sponsor only the good.

“The sponsor has heavy political capital and can place you into your next slot,” she said. “The mentor needs to know everything about you so they can help you grow and guide you.”

Rosalie delivered a succinct sentence that clarified a confusing issue. I worked with her to identify this key message and ensure a smooth, compelling delivery. Rosalie’s advice works in real life, and that’s why it worked for the story.


Me? Trust You?

Trust is one of those dynamics that’s impossible to measure…until you’ve lost it.

That’s why we appreciate the effort that public relations firm Edelman devotes to its annual Trust Barometer.  The barometer measures the credibility of institutions, spokespeople and sources. If your trust is high or rising, you can accelerate it through smart messaging for media interviews. If your trust is low or dropping, you are being set up for a crash course in crisis communication. (Of course, the nature of crises is that you can’t predict them…but that’s a topic better left to crisis communication diva Jane Jordan-Meier.

Here are the highlights:

Most trusted industries:

  • Technology
  • Automotive
  • Telecommunications

Least trusted industries:

  • Insurance companies
  • Banks
  • Financial Services

What factors build a trustworthy organizational reputation?

  • High quality goods and services – 69%
  • Transparent and honest business practices — 65%
  • Company I can trust – 65%
  • Treats employees well – 63%
  • Communicates frequently – 55%

And, what types of sources are viewed as most credible?

  • Academic or expert – 70%
  • Technical expert within company  – 64%
  • Industry/financial expert – 53%
  • CEO – 50%

Counterintuitively, one of the strongest trends for the 2011 Barometer was the rebound in CEO trust and the erosion of  man-on-the-street employees. Looks like at least half the public is willing to cede some credibility out of the box to the 1%, after all.

Two Words to Describe Occupy Wall St.

Of all the commentary spilled over the Wall St. protests of the fall of 2011, the two best words come from, of all people, Al Gore.  As quoted by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff, Gore called the boiling-over frustration “a primal scream of democracy.”

That’d be about right. People are beyond annoyed — so very beyond annoyed with the placid denials of the financial district and of politicians that physical protests feel like their best outlet.  Some — on Wall St. of course – have described the protests as a temper tantrum. I’ve yet to hear anyone on their side summarize their position as powerfully as a ‘primal scream.’

Wall St. has the money. Where’s its message?




The Biggest Scam in History in Two Words

As beautifully reported in the New York Times, the judge who oversaw the trial of Bernard L. Madoff thought long and hard about the sentence for the confessed swindler. Judge Denny Chin knew that the sentence itself would speak for itself – and that his sentencing statement would be widely quoted.

His decision to hand down a 150-year sentence would send a “loud, decisive message” about the legal violations on their own merits. But it was only after hearing several victims’ stories of personal financial devastation did the judge crystallize the statement he would give along with the sentence.  His law clerks told him that news crews had gathered early to broadcast every syllable uttered in the courtroom.

Judge Chin was well aware that his statement needed to contain terse, quotable elements. As reported by the Times, “One of the traditional notions of punishment,” [Judge Chin] wrote, “is that an offender should be punished in proportion to his blameworthiness.” Mr. Madoff’s crimes were “extraordinarily evil,” he added.

“Extraordinarily evil” summed up everything about the Madoff deception. Journalists seized on the phrase and it ricocheted around the world in headlines, leads and photo cutlines. “Extraordinarily evil:”  moral judgment,  empathy and perspective in two words.