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How Negativity Impacts Business Relationships and Ruins Marketing Campaigns

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How Negativity Impacts Business Relationships and Ruins Marketing Campaigns

Life circumstances have a way of setting the tone for who we are and how we perceive the world around us. While most of us may try to leave our personal world outside of the workplace, it’s obvious that to err on the side of ‘fail’ in that would be prudent. But why? Has negativity gone wild? Moreover, is it an accepted norm instead of a character flaw formerly sought to overcome? When negativity impacts business relationships, do we have the mental and emotional chops to strategically maneuver it in our favor?

Perhaps it depends on whether you see a glass half empty, half full, or ample with opportunity…

If Nothing Is Off the Table, Be Careful About How You Set It

Remember the days when you were a mere toddler or seven years old when your mind was full of wonder. The most difficult concept to learn (just ask your parents) was the term and acceptance of the word “No”. (I know a few adults that still have trouble with this.)

Is it because we are naturally hardwired for “Yes” or positive thought? Well if so, something happened between birth and the here and now. The good vibes have seemingly taken a back seat in our mainstream and it’s adversely affecting what we expect of ourselves, others, and corporate cultures.

Fear Breeds Fear and Discontent

Some say happiness is a choice. You wake up each morning and can decide how you perceive the day. Sure, a positive outlook is great, until the day comes at you like a runaway freight train. If you have the mental agility to step out of its way or embrace it head on, one could call you a survivalist. Notwithstanding that, over time, the freight train of pessimism will impact your business dealings, future relationships and potential for referrals.

If you encapsulate the bad sentiments that seem to supercharge human reaction and implement them into product or service marketing strategies, as many companies do, it will garner you more attention. But what kind of attention? And would you know what to do with it?

Where Negativity Breeds, Brand Reputation Follows

Where Negativity Breeds, Brand Reputation FollowsLet’s get back to you, this morning, when you decided to wake up on the right side of the bed. (Even if you didn’t, pretend you did.) If you’re a W-2 employee, you’re making your way to your job site. If you’re a 1099 contractor, you’re either heading to a client meeting, about to enter into a conference call, or nursing a cup of coffee just the way you like it from the comfort of your living room sofa, wearing your favorite sweats.

No matter how you show up at work, ask yourself this question as it relates to negativity: Are you part of the problem or the solution? Then again, if negativity is part of the productivity that oils the corporate machine, your adaptability to this mantra may be a source of job security. If you do it well, how effective are you at turning the negativity off at home? Something to think about.

After a brief personal assessment, if you’re finding that pessimism is more prevalent than not in your life, how many people does it touch? And how many do they touch?

Adulting can be damaging to your wellbeing. If only we can revert the clock and be that cantankerous child who cannot accept the word “No’.

Unfortunately, we crave the word “No” and all its direct and indirect monikers because that’s what feeds our interests and conversations, on- and offline. Did social media content force the hand of human disgruntlements or is it the other way around? The cause and effect of negativity gets lost in the blur of rage, shared.

Company Culture or Counterculture Is Like an Hourglass

Company CultureThe spine-tingling phrase of “being a company fit” continues to create a stir in employees and job candidates. When you’re in the company, it doesn’t take long before you can distinguish between the culture they want to emulate and the reality of what is. But employee or client dissatisfaction can quickly alter company culture into something best kept hidden, though seldom remains under wraps.

Company culture used to be created and illustrated from the top down, from C-level execs, to managers and their reports.  Naysayers to traditional work culture were once thought of as a subculture and limited to a small grouping of employees and contractors.

But now, because of social media, dissatisfaction can generate and ooze from the bottom up. If this goes unchecked, it quickly casts a wide net across social platforms affecting internal relations, client interface and trust, marketing reach, and perceived value overall.  But by shaking things around, you can get right side up again—unless negativity feels good.

If You Dish It Out, Better Be Ready to Take It

The standard fare for any business marketing endeavor will include a mention of one’s product or service features and benefits. For many companies, that approach isn’t good enough. Sometimes, advertising campaigns need to step outside of a brand positioning’s comfort zone and do the unthinkable. For many, this means resorting to tactics that take the pressure of a lackluster product and focus on all that’s wrong with their competitors.

This can be done in fun using humor or through mere innuendo, common across the decades of fast food, beer, and soda wars: Coke vs. Pepsi, and Bud Light vs. Miller Lite and Coors Lite, to name a couple.

Negative ad campaigns can be effective, as long as the business and the brand is well established and is likable.  However, companies do utilize negativity in their marketing strategy when drawing attention, any attention, is the reigning goal. This can be formulated as an internal or external strategy, though keeping things in balance can be challenging.

How to Put Good in the Bad

If you’re daring and need a good kick in the butt-of-marketing, adding a little content sneer, on-air mention, or balls out assault on your competitors. A little guerilla marketing, some bad taste, and who knows you could be the talk of the virtual town.

Mud-slinging? You betcha!

I recall working at a peer-revered terrestrial FM radio station here in the Phoenix metro area some years ago. We were part of a larger broadcasting company that had but four stations here in town: three rock radio formats on FM, and one sports radio channel on AM. Within the rock radio stations, there was music programming cross over between two out of three stations, such as:

Classic Rock > Album Rock > Hard Rock/Alternative

As you can see from the above programming flow, the album rock station shared some of their audience with either of the other stations, though seldom did listeners CUME of add TSL from classic rock to hard rock. This put the pressure on the album rock station to perform. And yes, that’s where I worked as an on-air talent, writer, and producer.

You might think that management thought it wise to market the stations collectively, position each as part of a “powerhouse of rock ‘n roll”. But that was not to be the case and here’s why. It was all about the advertising revenue (isn’t it always). The broadcast company would make more money if they kept the stations segmented, and, competing against one another from the inside out.

Marketing dollars were shifted each quarter, from one station to another. On-air talent blasted their peers at the other stations, live on their shows, without abandon. These negative jabs spilled over into audience sentiments, raising radio wars across the airwaves. Advertisers took advantage of the emotional fire and spent more money at multiple stations.

Here’s what was achieved:

  • Greater employee station loyalty
  • Greater internal work ethic
  • Low employee turnaround
  • Increase in listener retention
  • Stronger brand identity
  • Stronger brand awareness
  • Increase market reach
  • Increase in CUME and TSL (from station to station)

I wouldn’t recommend this approach today as I’m not sure it would turn out well with the added traction that social media provides. Because what you say and how you say it lives on forever in the virtual space.

Are Social Smut Campaigns the Best You Can Do?

Business Social Status

Statistics show that the increased rate of mental illness diagnoses and suicides today are correlated to social media presence and how we, as humans, gage its importance. As long as we, professional marketers, know where our audiences live, why not up our ante on how to approach them and leave the emotional slash and burn behind?

Until we can move past the divisive attitudes of winning vs. nothing-else-matters, negativity will continue to have rightful place in society—but at a cost. Even with all that we know about the impact of scorn and skepticism within media messaging, it remains a single key differentiator in how political elections are won.

Keeping a Lid on Sour Grapes

There’s an age-old saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Maybe we need to revisit that. As content media experts, we need to take ownership of our messaging because it affects our audiences. That’s our job, right? With all this power, perhaps putting some fresh eyes on irresponsible negative spins may help change the emotional and behavioral tide that is hurting our communities. And it starts from within.

Businesses Keep It Real on Social Networks

One of the most proactive practices you can put in to your business and its marketing is to make sure you have dedicated team members who do nothing more than monitor, manage, and respond to your social channels.

It’s a quick, reliable way to get an idea of how your customers and the public perceive your culture, your brand, and your products. In addition, active social engagements in real time allow you the opportunity to persuade opinion towards the positive, nurture the followers you do have, and build new relationships.

Are you ready to get an honest opinion about your own business culture? Does your mission take a misstep when it comes to your internal people? Do you walk your talk?

Send out a survey to your employees and make sure it’s set up for anonymous responses. There’s no reason to worry that the answers won’t be honest. Remember, people want to share their voice and be heard.

And if you’ve already decided that this will result in a bad turnout, perhaps you should get your negativity in check.

Need a Second Opinion? We Can Audit Your Social Channels and Help Identify the Risks

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Why Arizona Employers Put Employees and Clients at Risk

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Why Arizona Employers Put Employees and Clients at Risk

Small to midsize business owners, and for their employees who work in account service in some capacity, meeting with clients and customers to do a face-to-face can serve a multitude of purposes. It can get you fired or end the business relationship. It can provide you the opportunity to upsell products and services, or renegotiate a current contract. It can give you the opportunity to ditch the office and head out to a spectator sport or go for a round on the golf course. But for all the benefits behind wanting to meet your client in-person, most of us in Arizona never even consider the reasons not to. Here’s something to think about before you step into a conference room:

Are employers and their clients aware of guns in the workplace?

What Lurks Behind Company Doors Can Kill You

Now I’ve got you thinking… about the last time you set foot in your office, their office, or maybe the last pitch you gave to a business prospect. You see, we all take a lot for granted when we step into the workplace, whether it’s a warehouse, retail center, office complex, high rise, or somewhere in the field. We take our safety for granted because we assume the environment is safe. And you know what they say about the word ass-u-me

Imagine sitting in the reception area of your favorite client’s headquarters. Just because they require a fob for entry, or there’s a sign-in sheet that gives you the right to enter by signature, doesn’t mean the employees and third-parties in tow are: 1. Reasonable human beings and, 2. without a weapon.

It’s the negligence of people and flaws in the law that put us all at risk.

Why Violence in the Workplace

Why Violence in the Workplace Contrary to popular belief, statistics for U.S. places of work show that most homicides are related to domestic violence, robberies or suicides (the latter may have a lot to do with the opioid crisis and subsequent accidental overdoses). From here, the types of work place further segments this statistic. For example, convenience store workers and their customers have a 7x increased risk for on the job death than other types of companies.

Unless you work from home and never have a need to interact with people (other than in the digital space) there are dangers in where we work, some known, others not so much.

There’s a strange subliminal code that we, unwittingly and subconsciously, are supposed to buy into and it is based on the premise of trust. We use trust in our personal relationships (if you don’t you better check yourself) and usually apply it in one of two ways:

  • Trust but verify
  • Trust is earned

Though the above characteristics of applied trust don’t always align in the workplace, maybe they should. In Arizona, and many other states, we seem to favor the right to bear arms over safety. Here’s how.

Arizona Gun Laws at Work

If you’re a gun enthusiast, you may already know some of these stats. For those who don’t, this will be eye-opening.

Gun Ownership in Arizona

  • 325,421 active licenses to carry a concealed weapon (CCW)
  • 37 other states will honor Arizona CCW

Yeah. That’s a lot of firearms power. There are stipulations in place to get an AZ CCW, though not prohibitive for most.

Required for an Arizona CCW gun permit:

  • Cost for permit – $60.00
  • Duration before expiration – 5 years
  • Minimum age of applicant – 21
  • Lawfully in the U.S.
  • Arizona residency OR U.S. citizen
  • Completion of approved U.S. firearms training course
  • No felony convictions or pending charges
  • No mental health diagnosis of record

This is scary for anyone not comfortable with owning a gun. Now that you know the ease of the process in gun ownership in Arizona, and the wait time for an application is just 75 days, how many people that you work with would, could or do carry? And where?

Protections for Arizona Gun Owners and Non Owners

No matter which side of the gun ownership coin you stand on, here’s an overview of where it’s cool to carry, and where it isn’t:

Can Carry

  1. In a vehicle
  2. Road side rest stops
  3. National forests
  4. State forests and parks
  5. School property (WHAT???)
    1. ONLY IF you’re an adult in a vehicle and unload the firearm before entering the school grounds.
    2. To exit the vehicle, the unloaded firearm must stay in the vehicle, out of plain sight and locked inside.
  6. Elsewhere in Arizona as long as it is not on the Off-Limits list.

Any establishment that has a no gun policy must have a readily visible sign stating so. In addition, these specific places are cited as Off Limits by law:

  1. Liquor retailer with no weapons sign posted
  2. Nuclear generating and hydroelectric generating facilities
  3. Election day polling places
  4. School property
  5. The grounds of any school
  6. Correctional facilities
  7. Federal law prohibitions

But what about businesses that do allow gun carry in the workplace?

Liabilities for Business Owners with Gun Carry Policies

Places of business are required to integrate best practices at their premises in health and safety for employers, employees, and third-party entities. This falls under the purview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition to the need for a Drug Policy in place, businesses should be vigilant about having a Workplace Violence Prevention Program and training employees on how to use it, should an event occur that requires response.

This isn’t just about the people that come under the employ of a company, but their family members, as well as external vendors, clients and customers.

Precautions should go beyond what is legal and recommended. Consider the loopholes. We’ve seen the repercussions of those who have the right to carry, or know someone who does, inflicting harm on others because no one noticed or cited their adverse emotional behaviors to authorities.

In a business, employers and coworkers are the authorities, in a sense. “If you see something, say something,” comes to mind. This is where human frailty comes into play. There’s only so much that each of us can predict. The rest is up to chance. Is there truly any security in place for that?

The Four Pillars of Protection

Now enter your client’s workplace. Even if they have a no gun policy (and a sign posted as clear as day) does that make you feel any safer? Probably not (from the perspective of gun enthusiasts and non-advocates).

Here’s what the law provides to help keep a balance between safety and freedom.

General Duty Clause. OSHA guidelines require employers to provide a safe working environment. If this is in lack and a workplace violence event takes place due to the improper provisions or safeguards related to firearms, the business will be cited.

Workers’ Compensation. Governed by individual state, employees who are injured as a result of a firearm can file a claim for benefits.

Negligence Claims. Business owners are liable if they employ a person with known or exhibited tendencies or behaviors that indicate the possibility of inflicting harm on others in the workplace. This includes clients or customers at the business as well as persons (contractors) at the company. Should someone be injured at a place of business with these circumstances, the employer would liable under state law through any or all; negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent retention.

Vicarious Liability. This is evident when an employee, during their working hours and typical designated job scope, uses a firearm to injure someone else.

Of course all of the above pillars of protection are subject to interpretation and other mitigating circumstances. Yet this still seems to do little to support workplace safety and the risks of allowing firearms in the workplace.

How Long Can We Dodge the Bullet in the Office?

You’re in your car, heading out to meet a client or clock in for the day. How many people, in the cars around you, are AZ CCW licensed?

You’ve arrived at your client’s office or, for that matter, your own place of business. Do you know who has a license to carry? Any idea who keeps a firearm in their car? Which beloved client or coworker keeps one in their desk, a purse or backpack, even with a no gun policy?

Unless they share their personal information with you about how they handle gun ownership (or abhor it) you’ll never know. Until they find an opportunity in the workplace that would warrant its use. And in that moment, what would you do? What could you do?

Does greater safety in the workplace equate to more firearms, or less? Is there a need for armed guards? Designated, lawful gun carrying employees? Metal detectors upon entry and exit? Individual pat downs and searches? Or do we all insist on work-from-home employment?

Is anyone safe in an Arizona workplace anymore? Are you?

 

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