Reweaving the Web To Improve Profits

Creating a Big Impact On a Modest Budget

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Bart Jackson were prepared for the June 12, 2002 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Business Abroad

Despite escalating tensions, we should not fear globalization;

we should welcome it. Neil S. Orkin, principal with Global Training

Systems, a global management consulting firm specializing in human

resources development, says there are a number of steps that individuals

can take to thrive in the new global economy.

Orkin speaks on feeling more confident doing business globally at

a Meeting Professionals International seminar on Wednesday, June 12,

at 5:30 p.m. at the Bridgewater Marriott. Call 732-536-5135.

Orkin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a

master’s from Columbia, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers in adult education.

He now works with both U.S. and international professionals, preparing

them to do business globally.

As a full-time faculty member at Rutgers for seven years, Orkin was

coordinator of the Rutgers Corporate Program, where he designed, developed,

and implemented global training programs for Fortune 100 corporations.

Orkin, who has spent considerable time living abroad, has been a communication

skills consultant for Time T.I. Communications, a Japanese company,

where he worked with executives at many Japanese companies, including

Honda, Toyota, JVC, C. Itoh Trading, Sumitomo Bank, and Kawasaki Steel.

Orkin speaks Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese, and has a working

knowledge of Korean and Italian.

Top Of Page
Reweaving the Web To Improve Profits

Gizmo is more than a device. It is

your personal and divine link with the rest of the entire cosmos."

So exuded this fictional super PC’s inventor in Anthony Clarvoe’s

new play, Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Truly, there lies within us a romantic

desire to weld all our tangles of communication — from lips to

phone to magnetic ‘Net — everything into one single, hand-held

unit. And while the total-purpose gizmo currently alludes our grasp,

we teeter on the brink of a convergence that can make lives simpler

and businesses much more profitable.

Business people wanting to weave the strands of communication into

a more effective and technically continuous fabric should attend "Solutions

that Improve Your Bottom Line," on Wednesday, June 12, at 2:30

p.m., and again on Thursday, June 13, at 1 p.m., at the Garden State

Exhibition Center in Somerset. Speakers include John Estev and

several other design and applications engineers from Expanets, a national

company with offices in Bound Brook, Hackensack, and Mount Laurel.

This roundtable will discuss many of the Internet protocol (IP) links

and how they can be applied to solve individual business needs.

The seminar is one of 20 such workshops included in the New Jersey

Technology Showcase, which will take over the Garden State Exhibition

Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 12 and 13. Entrance is complimentary:

To register visit www.goitec.com. The New Jersey Technology Council

is a host, which is organized by trade show company ITEC, and sponsored

by Microsoft, Intel, Gateway, and other major computer players.

"Most of us just don’t have any idea of current convergence-IP

capabilities," says Estev, an applications sales consultant with

Expanets. "We still think of voiceover IP telephony as strictly

a way to avoid paying for long distance calls." Yet Estev for

decades has helped develop and apply the cutting edge of communications

technology. A native of Vernon, this up-through-the-ranks engineer

refers to himself as a 38-year veteran of a four-year-old company

with a 135-year history. This seeming riddle is solved by realizing

that both Estev and his current firm are spinoffs from the research

and develop arm of old AT&T.

Estev insists that today’s plug-and-play IP architecture affords businesses

a lot more flexibility and cost savings than they are using. It’s

strictly a matter of learning and saving, he says.

Data collaboration. The essence of convergence is the

unification of all communications — telephone, TDM, PCs —

all of it onto a single platform. The client chooses and communicates

via one medium. Within a firm of as few as five users, such single-mode

linking makes for a great savings in hardware alone.

Collaborating data beyond one’s own corporate confines already has

shown itself a cost-reducing tool. In the constant battle for zero-base

inventory, manufacturers now share their immediate needs on-line with

suppliers who ship the exact amount required for the day’s run. The

shipment goes from dock to assembly line. Expensive warehousing and

over-transportation are avoided.

Customer satisfaction. "The advanced telephony IP,"

says Estev, "changes the old call center to a customer contact

center." More than nomenclature hype, the contact center affords

both the telephone’s immediate discussion between sales person and

customer, plus the entire realm of product information available on

the web. Thus, when a mail order customer calls L.L. Bean seeking

a sleeping bag for her Peruvian expedition, she can find a lot more

than the range of sizes and colors listed in the catalog. Her call

center contact can give her fabric durability statistics, and can

instantly access a chart comparing the degree-comfort ranges versus

weight of several bags. The customer can discuss her needs with a

call center contact, who has a vast store of in-depth product details

at her fingertips.

In the realm of high tech, for both hardware and software,

such teleinterchange is an ideal troubleshooting tool. The enraged

and ensnared customer facing the woes of a particularly sticky lump

of software can send an exact vision of his problems to the supplier’s

call center. The repair person sees the screen exactly as his customer

sees it, and makes the fix from home. The customer receives immediate

aid, and our repair genius can sit cozily at home in his bathrobe,

never having to leave his hearth to venture out for a drive to the

client’s office.

Encouraging growth. Keeping the cash flowing in on time

with a minimum of chase and hassle remains a large part of what separates

successful from struggling firms. Several townships, in an effort

to make payment easier, have set up payment systems via credit cards

for property taxes. "We have seen increases in local tax payments

of up to 18 per cent annually," says Estev. Linking customers

and suppliers into such revolving payment plans can move your bill

into a category of general operating expense, rather than a slug in

the gut to be avoided.

E-commerce savings. Of course the convergence of all communications

into a single media saves drastically on hardware. But the unity of

programming also can save on time and operating cash. American Express

receives up to 20,000 client calls a day. By having the caller ID

capability linked into the operator’s screen, the operator can greet

callers with a cheery "Hello, Mr. Smith," while looking at

full account records. This shaves four seconds from each one of those

20,000 calls.

Significant savings need not involve so grand a scale. The 400,000

volumes circulated annually by South Brunswick Public Library entail

a transaction of 30 seconds each. Installing a link that reduced that

time by three seconds saved thousands of dollars.

In-house convergence. Taking a new employee through the

standard paper chase and getting him all "entered in" is a

total waste of time, says Estev. Typically, a newcomer is signed in

with an E-mail server, an Internet server, a human resource server,

a voice mail server, and more. With flexible, single-entry linking,

the individual’s name and a few vital facts are typed in once. In

addition, his name and duties can go into the directory and be shipped

out to various essential customers and suppliers. He can also be put

into the loop for certain categories of memos and in-house publications.

Most of our current communications services, like poor little

Topsie, just grew. The phone, the fax, the web, with all of its tangents,

each came about independently, as a new wonder, with never a thought

of fitting in with the past or future. While it been fun and challenging

playing with all these new communications toys separately, maybe it’s

time we put them all together and make the machines do what they were

invented to do — work for us.

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Creating a Big Impact On a Modest Budget

Busy doing the good works they do, many non-profits

fall short of their potential for want of a little ink — or a

few seconds of air time. The same is true of a good many small companies.

But lack of time is not the only reason that so many small and growing

enterprises do not get the publicity that leads to growth. There is

a fear that getting the word out just costs too much. But, says Susan

Young, owner of East Brunswick-based Susan Young Media Relations,

good publicity often calls more for creative thinking than for cash.

She reveals secrets of low-cost — and no-cost — PR when she

speaks on "Media, Motivating, and Marketing Without Money"

on Friday, June 14, at 8:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Clark.

Also sharing low-cost success strategies at this event are Carol

Kivler of Titusville-based Kivler Communications and Kirstin

Carey of Noriton, Pennsylvania-based Small Talk Marketing and Communications.

Cost: $149. Call 609-737-8157.

"So many times," says Young, "people in non-profits tell

me `we’re the best kept secret.’" Her response: "Let’s let

the cat out of the bag." Stealth mode is not where the successful

enterprise wants to be. A mindset that holds down many non-profits,

she says, is "we think of ourselves as small, as struggling to

get money." Think big, is her advice. Get out there and compete

for attention inches with the best of them. Cleverly targeted news

about an organization can lead not only to stories in the local press,

but also to alliances with larger entities.

"We’re in a great place," says Young. "We’re surrounded

by big corporations and foundations. But if no one knows who you are,

the dollars go elsewhere."

Think of happy, early memories, says Young. Chances are listening

to a parent or grandparent read a story will make the list. "Everyone

loves a great story," she says. She is convinced that every organization

has many to tell. A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Young has been

a stringer for ABC news and the Associated Press, a member of Christie

Whitman’s office of radio and television, and a radio anchor and news

director. On the receiving end of the news, she has observed successful

— and not so successful — techniques for attracting positive

media attention. Here are some low-cost ideas that work:

Give advice. It’s nearly summer. Travel agents might provide

tips on planning a foolproof vacation with toddlers. Dermatologist

might offer advice on enjoying the outdoors without upping the risk

for skin cancer. Garden center owners could weigh in with ideas for

creating inviting outdoor living spaces. Accountants could provide

a service by analyzing the tax pros and cons of purchasing an investment

property by the sea.

Generally speaking, says Young, offering to provide advice is a much

surer route to press coverage than is sending a generic folder of

company info.

Be clear and brief. "Busy news people don’t have time

for a three-page handout," says Young. As a newsperson, her attitude

was: "What’s it about? Tell me upfront, in one or two lines."

She didn’t have the time to dig more deeply, or to re-read obtuse

text. Decision makers in news rooms may receive several hundred letters,

faxes, E-mails, and phone calls in a day. Vague, over-long, or jargon-filled

missives often land in the trash.

Find the human angle. "The news is about people,"

Young points out. For every story, the newsperson automatically wonders

"how does this affect people?" Framing a media pitch with

its effect on people right at the top makes it easier for the newsperson

to see where it might fit in. For instance, the announcement of a

business expansion may draw more attention if it starts with the number

of new jobs that will be created. And a breakthrough in dental technology

will get more press if it leads with statistics on how it will cut

patients’ pain, or time in the chair, or number of cavities.

Tailor the story to each media. In pitches to the media,

one size does not fit all. It’s a lot easier to send the same pamphlet

to everyone, but most often a waste of time and money. For radio,

Young was most receptive to a six-sentence story accompanied by a

sound bite. A magazine with a small staff often is swayed by a promise

of photographs. A television station wants a story with fresh visual

elements.

Study each outlet within a media group. Some magazines

and newspapers cover events and write about them afterwards. Others

largely, or only, write previews of events before they occur. Trying

to pitch the story the other way around, a common occurrence, is likely

only to annoy an editor.

Follow up. This is a tough one, Young admits. "There

is a very fine line between being persistent, and being a pest,"

she says. She suggests starting each call to a media outlet by asking

"Is this a good time for you?"

Establish relationships with the press. As in every other

aspect of business, placing stories sometimes comes down, at least

in part, to who you know. Instead of calling a reporter repeatedly

to pitch the same story, try to make his job easier by finding out

the kinds of stories he needs, and supplying them.

Pitching stories is a numbers game. Some percentage of your

proposed stories will not find a home. "There are no guarantees,"

is the way Young puts it. Your company may have come up with a pill

that cures baldness in a single dose with no side effects, but if

it hits the market on a day when the Bush twins visit the Jersey Shore

for a week-end of bar hopping, the story may not get much play.


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