Spokesperson Secrets to Build Your Brand: Donna LaVoie, Suzanne Robotti and Roy Taylor.
Train Your Communications Professionals with Secrets from In-House Spokespeople in LaVoie Health Science, MedShadow Foundation and MR.Studios.
Spokesperson Secrets to Build Your Brand celebrates the inaugural SPOKEies® Award winners. You’ll learn how these honorees simplified complex data for a general audience, how they established credentials as thought leaders in their field, and how they made their pitches conversational.
Featuring: Donna LaVoie, President and CEO of LaVoie Health Science and SPOKEies® Award Winner in the Corporate Emerging Growth/Startups Category and C-Suite Leader Corporate Categories, Suzanne Robotti, President and Lead Spokesperson for Medshadow Foundation and
SPOKEies® Award Finalist in the Non-profit Health Category, and Roy Taylor Founder Chief Revenue Officer MR.Studio, previous Corporate Vice President and Worldwide Head of AMD Studios and SPOKEies® Award Winner in the Corporate Technology Category.
DOUG: Welcome to Spokesperson’s Secrets to Build Your Brand. I’m Doug Simon, I guess you probably already know that and now we have the first ever 2-time winner seated next to me, so lots of pressure, Donna LaVoie she’s president and CEO of LaVoie Health Science. She’s SPOKEies® award winner in The Corporate Emerging Growth Startups Category and in the C-Suite Leader Corporate Categories and she’s also live streaming the event via Twitter at LaVoie Group and on LinkedIn. So Donna what’s your top tip?
DONNA: Top tip is you know, for us Doug our audiences are our clients, are experts in science and medical innovation. So for them what’s really important is how do we take their innovations and make them very simple. How do you take complex data complex information and simplify? That’s very very important for our audience.
DOUG: Great. And next up we’ve got Sue Robotti. She’s President Lead Spokesperson for Medshadow Foundation also dealing with medical information. She is a SPOKEies® award Finalist in The Nonprofit Health Category. Sue what’s your top tip?
SUE: Well I took a different direction on that and that is when I started Medshadow Foundation five years ago. I had no medical background, but we educate the general population on the side effects of medicines. So, I needed to make myself into an expert. So, I did a lot of donated articles to places like Reader’s Digest has some very tough and Healthy Women has a half a dozen or so other sites that might give me a wider platform. And then also to make myself into more of an expert I shamelessly nominated myself for a position on the Food and Drug Administration the FDA has advisory committees that have opinions that are presented drugs and make opinions. So, I applied for the drug Safety and Research Management Advisory Committee and got on it as a consumer representative. So, it’s fantastic I work with wonderful doctors and pharmacists and have become much more knowledgeable and it gives me a status from which to speak.
DOUG: And that’s such an important point, to establish credentials which brings us to our next guest who’s joining us via Skype. And it’s Roy Taylor and he was Corporate Vice President Worldwide Head Of AMD Studios at the time when he was the SPOKEies® award winner and right in The Corporate Technology Category and currently is The Founder And Chief Revenue Officer of MR.Studio and we’ll find out a little bit about that. Nice to see you and Roy what’s your top tip?
ROY: My top tip is to make sure that you know exactly whom your speaking to. That tip seems kind of obvious but I think what you need to do is for people to really really drill into that. So for example if I’m presenting into a particular place and time I will try to ask the organizers to literally give me a list of the names and job titles and companies if possible. You can speak directly to hundreds of people in different jobs and roles and companies, but you can get a sense of what might be important to them. So, every point you need to might need to in my opinion finish with “…and this is important to you because..” once you establish a conversation, a rapport with people who are interested in what you have to say because you’re speaking directly to them then your presentation becomes a conversation and not a pitch.
DOUG: Great. And we’ll stick with you. And just to find out more studio about MR.Studio, or M.R. Studio I hope I didn’t butcher that- tell us a little bit about what that does and what your role is there?
ROY: Well that’s a hole-in name, so anybody who’s watching it thinks is a terrible name. I agree. It turns out that when you start a new company just about every four-letter acronym or bunch of consonants and vowels is gone. We do now have a final name and will be announcing soon but the company’s designed to make pixels intelligent. Which is a huge huge opportunity. Presented that is going to be a bit challenging because it’s a bit like inventing and announcing the wheel.
DOUG: And if you can help make the MC of this event sound intelligent you’ll really have accomplished something. Now Donna you’re at an interesting spot here because you’re also working to represent your own organization and get your name and brand out there. But you also have to work with different organizations who come to you for your expertise to help guide them. We talked briefly in the last segment with the Atlantic Health Systems folks about navigating the communication inside and they seem to have a very unique set up there where people are getting along focused on the mission. But how are you trying to help your client get that kind of focus so they can work together and not in opposition? I know it can be such a challenge.
DONNA: Yeah it is a very interesting area. And you know as you mentioned it is very complex because it’s also a regulated industry and so many of our clients also have the added regulatory aspect of also being public companies. And so you know, you’ve got a lot of things tugging at you. You want to make things simple but you also have in some cases an obligation to communicate certain things. So you know there is a lot of navigation. And there’s you know a good, a good brainstorming sessions around these kinds of complex challenges and figuring out what’s the best way to communicate in the proper way. Right. Because there are regulatory constraints and we have to make sure that we’re making it simple but not so simple that it’s wrong.
SUE: Right. That is important and Sue you know you’ve taken on a challenge. You know I think you relate back to what Danielle had said earlier about the importance of having it be a personal mission if you’re going to be an effective spokesperson. You know clearly you’re engaged directly.
SUE: Yes I’m very passionate about the subject, and you can read more about it on my website if you want. But passion is probably the most important thing you can have, and it can be you know a little bit overwhelming for my family because I bring it home, my take with me to social situations, I involve my friends, and I make great demands it’s difficult to be my friend, because I’m often talking about the side effects of medicines and the alternatives to medicines that will make you happier and healthy. And you know maybe my poor husband you know maybe you should go exercise today. Yeah. Being passionate is very important but I actually really love the point that (Roy made) yes about ending every sentence with “…and this matters to you because…” I think that is a wonderful trick. I had forgotten it, I used to be a sales person, and used to use it and I’m going to remember that “and that matters to me” because it makes it personal to other people.
DOUG: And in the spirit of promotion, I should give you kudos because you’ve got people watching this on the Facebook channel of your organization which is at Medshadow.Foundation. Also, on your Twitter feed at Med_Shadow, and I believe on your LinkedIn channel as well through the Social Media LIVE™ service that we’re offering here at D S Simon Media. Roy, I thought you might be interested in this we have some of our poll results. And I was surprised that the answers, that there was a majority were more focused they rated higher and they could choose all of them. The development and template implementation of a focused messaging strategy was most important. Campaign reach was second and moving the needle KPI was third below that which it almost seems like– clearly they’re all important. But what’s your take on prioritizing when you’re trying to get your message out especially as a spokesperson?
ROY: I think your audiences are incredibly smart, because I agree with the priority. You can reach a wide audience if you pay the right money and you know, you have to write off in whatever way, you can reach a wide number of people. But if you don’t have a succinct message if you’re not clear and crisp in the message that you have. Then you really you know, you’re not going to get the best return on investment for reaching a wider audience. So I think that the viewers are correct. You go to know that first.
DOUG: That’s good. Any other thoughts about that. In terms of priorities Roy obviously made a pretty powerful statement there.
DONNA: Yeah I would. I would just add that you know going back to knowing your audience and you know in not in every case, you’re looking to reach a wide audience right. In some cases, it’s the right message to the right audience. It may be more tailored it may be, you know not necessarily a consumer message. And for us in the work that we do, you know, many of our clients are you know maybe looking to give a message to investors or to strategic partners. And that’s a highly specialized kind of message it’s not necessarily a consumer one. But yet they may have the need as they move forward into more of a commercialization model, to get a broader audience to message to a broader audience. So you really need to sort of think about what is the goal and what are they trying to achieve.
ROY: I’d like to just jump in here if I may. You know the only that I would add to that, is that words match up and phrases match up. And so you know there was a movement in the U.K., where I’m from against genetically modified foods. And the organization was struggling until it came up with Friday’s Frankenstein Foods started to get traction. In my mind, my new business you know we spent weeks circling around until we saw intelligent pixels. So I would also advise you don’t just throw words out but take some time with your team to think about how words and phrases sounds say them out loud practiced them so they resonate with the audience as well.
DOUG: That’s also meant to show just how smart Roy is, even from far away via Skype. He was able to figure out that the Frankenstein food was being served in our green room in the tech room. So he had some insight on that we have a couple of questions and comments from people who have been watching, so I’ll try and get those too, and maybe sue if you want to jump in. What are best practices for subject matter experts working with spokespersons from an educational standpoint. Is that ongoing sessions, one time, quarterly, please advise. And it’s Rodrick from Vegas and he’s putting a shout out to their hockey team. And he’s also asking if we will be archiving a link to the webcast which we will, so I mean the rangers have been down long ago, so I’m down for Go Nights and so if you want to jump in, best practices for social subject matter experts working with spokesperson’s and then after this we can get to your final thoughts for the second segment. Move on to the next panel.
SUE: I’ve mentioned we have a medical advisory panel that we call on. And so as regular readers or visitors to the website we’ll see some names recurring became because they’re experts, and we’ve vetted them to be free from the influence that they’re not taking charge on an area, and that their opinions are independent. Not the people who receive I can’t have independent -it’s just seems a little more secure in that way. So we do use that but we also go outside we make sure that we use professional health journalists who have wide contactless so that we can get a variety of opinions, and just talking about telling to the audience we have more than 40 percent of our regular site visitors are male which is a little surprising on a health website. So we always make sure that we have a mixture of articles targeted towards the male audience when we when we look at what articles we done what articles are coming up to make sure that we’ve got one for the sandwich generation of women who are taking care of their parents and their children, and one for men 25 to 35 which is this segment that seems to love us, and then another one for seniors who get a degree of 165 plus is segmenting is important.
DOUG: And you made a great point there about trust and one of things that I’ve noticed is that trust, you have to work this long to get it and keep that going but you can mess it up and just like that tiny amount of time and one misstep really can get you in trouble. That was sort of the thinking behind the development of the SPOKEies awards because we felt it was sort of an overlooked area to actually recognize people who are dealing with truth and authenticity to promote their organization and get their message out there. What is being our first two-time winner meant, no one has taken that away from you. So maybe talk a little bit about that sort of why you decided to get involved and engaged with it.
DONNA: Yeah. So you know the exciting part about developing our campaign for the bio-organization was all about you know how did these companies tell their stories and 15 slides? Which is you know pretty difficult for these science types to do. So it goes back to the earlier message about keeping things simple without jeopardizing the integrity of the data or the story in really getting these folks to take their very complex science and technical stories and break it down and actually story tell. Right. That’s that’s the challenge. That’s the challenge for these folks. And also just you know getting back and building on what Sue said with regard to getting spokespeople ready. We recently trained pediatric oncologist around some key data brain tumor that was presented at a major medical meeting in one of the things that, that we were working through with him is you know what are the three top key questions that you don’t want to be asked. Where are the holes?
DOUG: Sue you want to take a stab at that, just the whole idea of recognizing people who are speaking on behalf of their own organizations and the importance of it.
SUE: It is. I’ve never heard of it before, a good friend of mine who told me about it, and then ultimately nominated me and our organization for this. And it’s kind of cool. I never really thought of myself as a spokesperson. I’m a blogger and I’m an advocate and I’m a panelist but I hadn’t thought of it as a spokesperson but yet that’s really my most important role. And the important part is, to make everybody on our team make it sound like I’m alone here, with you know, a lot of people work with us. Everybody needs to be an advocate. Everybody has to be a spokesperson. So, thank you. Make it important.
DOUG: Some great. And now we’ll turn to our intelligent pixel, who is visiting with us via Skype as we wrap up this segment. Roy your take on the SPOKEies® and we’ll be doing the poll in the next panel so not right yet on that. Well wait a little bit on that, but Roy what do you share your take on the recognition being part of the SPOKEies®?
ROY: Well first of all I’d like to say thank you to Chris and Stella from AMD my former employees who nominated me, it was very kind of them. I also applaud you for doing this not for my own sake, just to be recognized but actually I think that professionalism and recognition of best practice in spokespersons is actually a really wonderful thing to do. You know there are there are companies that sometimes are great products, services that don’t always get the success they deserve because they sometimes find it difficult to articulate their value. Really good quality spokespersons can help them with that. And so I think that this is more than just one recognition of great talented people. It’s actually a really terrific direction to take the articulation of value.
DOUG: Thanks we appreciate that and obviously the folks we’ve been able to speak to here are pretty amazing at this and really conveying message. But it really comes into belief in what they’re talking about and caring. There’s so much passion. It’s really wonderful to see and express.