Embracing the ‘Cucumber Season’

01/08/2011
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On the front page of its July 7 edition, the flagship of the Czech economic media, daily Hospodářské noviny, came up with a most interesting story. The article describes reporters’ efforts to find out the salaries of top officials involved in various scandals.

Last year Petr Kynštetr, the long-term chancellor of the Czech Lower House, hid the amount of public money Czech MPs spent on flights to Ostrava or that was paid on various expert analyses. Now it was his turn to let the public take a look at his payroll: last year he earned CZK 315,000 in extraordinary bonuses only,” the article starts.

It promises to be a nice investigation, so I go on reading. The second sentence is cooling me down. “This is one of the few concrete results of a HN inquiry, which is backed by the new verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS), to map the salaries and bonuses paid in state institutions.

The article continues by describing reporters’ efforts to get NSS issue a verdict forcing public institutions to disclose the salaries of high-ranked officials, then the various means to circumvent the NSS decision used by Czech public figures. “Clerk conspiracy. They keep hiding their salaries,” read the article headline of the story, which continued on pages 2-3 inside the newspaper.

Basically, HN dedicated three pages to a story about its reporters’ work to disclose unethical and potential illegal behavior of Czech state officials. The work of HN reporters is admirable, by all means; they are some of the few journalists courageous enough to ask the unanswered questions and blow taboos on corruption and public money theft in the Czech media.

However, when you look closer, it comes as no surprise that this three-page story with no specific revelation came out on July 7. To those of you living here, you know that July 5-6 were national holidays and everybody was out of town. Therefore, nothing happened. Therefore, nothing to write about. Welcome to the Cucumber Season!

Turn this summer into a reputation-booster 
I can imagine that everyone wants to enjoy summer and forget about work even just a little bit. However, for many of you who wonder how to drive up sales and improve your image after the economic crisis that seems to finally settle down, there is no such thing as summer. There is only smart or clumsy reputation management. The example above shows clearly that in the summer, reporters are hungrier than ever for good media stories. What can you do to take advantage of the Cucumber Season?

• Review your goals.What do you want your business to achieve for the rest of 2011? How can (media) communication help you achieve those goals?
• Rethink your audience.Who is your audience? Who do you need to address in order to meet your goals? Where do your clients, investors, business partners, employees, friends go for information this summer?
• Rethink your story.What is your story in the first place? What are you trying to communicate? Is that media-attractive?
• Lighten up.Once you have your story, think of how you can tell it in a lighter, funnier and more memorable way. The last think you want is to greet a reader who turns over the page of an economic magazine on a sunny beach with a dark and gloomy autumn prediction. There are high chances that reader will turn the page immediately to the next article.
• Get a few reporters out for a beer. There is no better time to get to talk to the media than summer. Even though reporters are busy as other journalists take vacation and they still need to fill in the space, media people are still curious to meet new sources. There is no better time for chitchat and making friends over a mug of beer than in one of these beautiful summer evenings. Ask them what they need and how you can help them with their work this summer. You can enforce your relationship with your key reporters AND get your story out effortlessly.
• Write. Sit down, note your ideas of interesting topics in an agenda regularly, and then just write. Get a friend/editor to tell you if you writing is coherent and attractive, then write again. Practice makes perfect. Write expert articles, blog posts, write anything as long as you have something to say and your voice can make a difference.

Taking this summer to rethink your image and take control of your reputation might sound like a mind-numbing perspective. However, when people come back in September, you might have a reputation edge over your business competitors. Sounds like it’s worth the effort, don’t you think?

HIS TEXT HAS FIRST BEEN PUBLISHED ON AUGUST 1, 2011, ON THE BLOG MEDIAPOWER BY CZECHPOSITION.COM http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/blog/cristina-muntean/embracing-%E2%80%98cucumber-season%E2%80%99

I focus on strategic communications, emotional and systemic intelligence and personal and organization leadership. I help leaders and future leaders to develop their strategic communication skills, to build reputable personal brands and to boost their team and organizational leadership. I support individuals, teams and organizations through advisory, training, coaching and mentoring services.

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