Overcome the fear of making calls

Making calls for business is terrifying to many people – What if I stutter? Or if I say the wrong word? What if I don’t get the answer I want? What if I don’t make a good first impression? etc. are questions that most of the people faced with making calls have. So they just don’t want to do it…

A female customer service agent shows her frustration with the telephone and computer.

Now, the first photo I found on Google was the most relevant one so I had to pick this one (which you can find here). I suspect most of the people having to make phone calls look like this. Or at least, they would look like this if we didn’t have cordless phones 🙂 Hey, I once looked like that!

It takes a lot of work with yourself, but you can also practice some tricks to help you get more relaxed.  These bits of information will help you before making the call, during the call and after you finished it. It’s no rocket science, just basic common sense. You will be talking to people just like you, with two eyes, two arms, one nose.

First of all, before the call, you should:

  • Do a bit of research about the person/company you’re calling. After all, you don’t want to seem like you randomly picked them to call, even if you did. But showing a bit of interest beforehand looks really nice!
  • Set your mind to show the value your product/service add to their life. It’s about them so make them feel the can’t live without what you’re offering or that they need it so bad that don’t know how they lived before finding out about you.
  • Detach from expectations. Just set your mind to expect any response and be prepared to answer afterwards. Do not set high or low expectations, do not set them at all! Treat your conversation partner as you’d treat a friend.

Second, when you’re actually on the phone with someone, you might want to try the following during the call:

  • SMILE! Just wear a smile on your lips while talking to them. From ‘Hello!’ to ‘Thank you, goodbye!’, people can sense your mood and if you’re smiling to them, even on the phone.
  • Make sure you are brief. People are busy and do not have patience to hear stories. Just get to the point quickly. Who, what, when, why, where – the wh-questions are the golden rule!
  • Ask questions and listen to the answers. Find out what they need by asking just a few questions to help you get their idea. Also, if they are big talkers, just listen to them, do not interrupt. After all, you called to have a conversation and would be a two-way communication.
  • Be passionate. Even when presenting yourself and the company, make sure you speak from the heart, like you really believe what you’re saying. Actually, you should really believe in what you’re saying, because then why-the-heck are you doing it?!
  • Close on a positive note. Okay, maybe you didn’t get the answer you wanted, but that might be just for the now. Ask if you can call them again after some time. Ask for recommendations, maybe their friends are potential clients. Also, you can ask for an email address, so they keep updated about future news.

And last but not least, after the call make sure you got everything right. Maybe you wrote it down while talking to them. Do not call them again because you did not write down their friend’s name or just to double-check the phone number. And if you promised to call back in three month, then do that then. Not earlier! Maybe a bit later, like after three months and a week. Also, if they gave you their email address and you said you’re going to send them an email, make sure you don’t forget. So just do it right after you hung up the phone.

You get nervous and anxious when you concentrate on yourself, your emotions and what can happen to you. Instead, think of the person you are talking to, treat them as a friend whom you’re trying to make life better. They will perceive you less as a stranger and more like a person who treats them like human being, not a buyer.

My advice to you is that you make that call you hate between two phone calls with friends or family. Call your best friend or mother, talk about life things, going out or having dinner together. Then, right after you finished talking to them call the person you’re supposed to immediately, while you are still in the happy and relaxed mood. Keep it short with them – for you and for them both. This way, you haven’t got time to start panicking. After the call, call another friend or member of the family to keep your mind from going crazy and start analyzing what you did wrong. And so on.

Tip: it gets easier in time! Good luck on the practice!

7 PR Myths… Debunked!

You think you know PR, right? That doing PR is not difficult, that PR is all about having fun…

I have to say, I might have heard it all. I used to laugh whenever someone came to me saying they haven’t studied it, they haven’t read about it, they had no contact with the field whatsoever, but they think they would be great Public Relations representatives. So, here it goes…


anamariapopa.com 7 public relations pr myth-truth-banner


1st of all – Anyone on the streets knows how to manage Public Relations. No, they don’t. And you know why? Because it requires a certain professional skill set – good communication, patience, creativity, ambition, a friendly personality, etc. It is true that anyone can learn how to master the basics of PR like writing a press release or learn how to paint a brand or product from another perspective, but it all comes down to the skills you acquired through life experience most.

2nd – Bad publicity is still publicity! God, no! Think that and you fail. Bad publicity is awful, bad publicity makes products lose credibility in front of customers, bad publicity makes brands disappear. No car company wants to be associated with most accidents in one year, no watches company wants to give their clients skin rashes because of the blend they treat their metals with, no food company can be okay after selling infested meat.

3rd – PR gives you a lot of free time to do whatever you want to do. Yeah sure, you can paint your nails if you can find time between filling in daily reports, doing research, setting up interviews for your clients, going to interviews with the clients, solving issues, writing letters, translating articles, brainstorming and explaining to the client your ideas, attending product launching. maybe eating and going to the bathroom…

4th – Life as a PR representative is a big party! Of course there is a little party involved, a PR needs to socialize and make the most of networking and creating connections. But that takes 2 hours of a week, tops! The other hours are filled with researching, brainstorming, act of creation and pitching. Still, nothing wrong with pitching your clients to the media during a cocktail, but that is not the big picture of a PR’s life.

5th – PR is all about the press release so if you nailed that one, you’re going to do great! Oh no, knowing how to write a good press release is just a small part of the ocean PR is. It is important but not enough, that is just one of the tools that help build your client’s image and reputation. Also, in big agencies, there are people who write amazing press releases and other who have no idea how to that, because their skills can be used is some other departments. The press release is a great tool to get the message out there, but you still need other skills to pitch, support the Social Media part and talk about information in the press release without knowing it by heart.

6th – PR is used to lie and cover up mistakes of brands. Do not mistake a PR pro for a lawyer! Of course there are pros and cons in every field, but a PR agency is not a gathering of moral degenerates who lie for their clients. A PR takes care of a brand’s reputation and that means no lying is involved. They do, however, build strategies in order to solve that company’s issue and clear its reputation. Just like in life, lying gets you nowhere and any PR pro knows that.

7th – A PR campaign can replace the Sales department. This is the most common misconception, so I am going to make it very clear: PR does not equal Sales and PR results can’t be seen overnight. What PR does for you is create brand visibility and awareness, so that people know you exist. It also handles reputation management and enhances your credibility so that when your sales department contacts a potential client, they already know you can be trusted and so the sale closes faster and better. It can turn cold leads into warm leads, which I hope makes it easy to understand now – PR helps Sales, but is not Sales.


PR really is more than meets the eye. Yes, it is press releases and parties, but it also is creating brand consistency, good writing and communication, strategic thinking, brainstorming and idea pitching, building strategies and creating media relations. And this is why a PR pro can do amazing things for your brand or company.


Photo source: effectdigital.com

Twitter 101 – 5 Tips for B2B Marketing

Many professionals are still confused about Twitter – How can 140 characters be relevant for brands and B2B Marketing?

Truth is: it’s a challenge. But the good news? Not impossible!

Since its launch almost 10 years ago, Twitter has been defined by simplicity. Less is more – targeted audience, public engagement and easy-to-find information. Businesses have so much to take advantage of, the social network being a powerful tool in testing and sharing content. So let’s get it right:


  1. Be short and sweet, but professional

Tweets are only 140 characters long, so make sure you stay on subject. However, be careful to use proper grammar and spelling! Of course, sometimes you’re going to need to cut short words, but make sure you still make it nice. And this leads to the next tip.


  1. Use hashtags

Not only that hashtags help you keep it short, but it’s a great way for grabbing the attention also.

anamariapopa.com blog twitter

Carefully choose your message and then use the appropriate hashtag to help you send the same information. Changing the emphasis of the sentence gives you a chance of grabbing the attention.

anamariapopa.com blog twitter hashtag

And this leads us to the next one, very important!


  1. Engage your audience

The virtual space is impersonal enough and the idea of talking and tweeting to a brand can be even more. So make it personal, be the voice that reaches out to the customer, in ways that make them feel special and connected.

Twitter is not the place for speeches or one-way conversations. You want that, you buy a megaphone and focus on expressing your thoughts. You, as a professional, need to go the extra-mile. Be the human behind the brand, make the audience feel the person.


  1. Plan ahead

Twitter lets you schedule your posts. Try and think of the whole audience or even potential audience. Just because you’re a night-owl or a morning person, doesn’t mean everyone is up at 4AM. Even when you schedule the posts, make sure the right amount of time in between tweets is respected. People need to feel the human touch, not a robot who posts a tweet every 5 seconds. Search for Hootsuite or Buffer and check them out!


  1. Monitor your field

Hashtags help you a great deal, not only in making it short and sweet. Use them from the shadow – check out your competitors, get in touch with other specialists from whom you feel you’ve got things to learn. Also, set alerts with tools like Twilert, that help you with keywords and mentions of your brand. This way, you can also maintain the relationship with your audience. Remember, we hit that earlier…

Twitter can be very useful in B2B Marketing – it’s just like in a relationship. Take the time to get to know and value it and it will work its magic afterwards!

Turning a topic into an idea

Many people have a lot to say and write, but when it comes to actually doing it and share their stories or point of views with the others, something happens and words don’t go together as planned. In order to achieve the goal you set and be able to say ‘Yes, I did it! Read this – I wrote it!’, there are just a few simple steps to follow.

It doesn’t take a big detailed strategy, but it is important to ask two questions: ‘What are you interested in? and also of very high significance – ‘What are the other people interested in?‘. This goes both ways because you see, you really need to like the topic you are about to write about and do your research on and also, in order for it to be a success, you also need to think about what people are interested in reading about. A good way to find out what people’s interests are, is to research a bit the topics that go public online, in newspapers, at TV or at the radio.

Topics are general subjects or issues and they become an idea when you narrow it down to something. A topic can be about sports or the environment, technology or fashion. An idea is a plan or strategy about how to act on the topic you chose. An idea is a smaller part of the a topic and to see which one to write about, you can use the help of these following three factors: type, place and time.

The type of the topic is the actual niche that you have interest in. Such as, if you are passionate about fashion, think of whether the best idea is to write about shoes, clothes, bags or jewelry. When you got your mind set on a certain type, think of the place that you are writing about. It might be your city or country, or even a certain location or activity – going out to the fanciest restaurant. The time of the topic also helps. Think if you want to enhance an outfit that is trending this year. Or maybe you can compare the current trends with the ones last year. So, if you are passionate about fashion (topic), you can write about the appropriate outfits to wear when going out, according to current year’s trends (idea).

This being said, now it’s time for the research part. A great deal in writing is doing the right research before. Search the internet, read articles or news on the idea chosen, see what specialists in the field have to say about that. Make sure you have gathered accurate information before making it public!

At first, all this plan, strategy, steps might seem a bit difficult to you. You might wonder how can some people write one articles or story after another when there’s so much to do beforehand? Truth is – it gets easier in time. The first few times, you need to check the plan but afterwards it just comes natural and the steps have been already learned so that practice gets easier and easier and you will save a lot of time.

My advice to you is to write as much as you can. Think about topics and ideas as much as you can and research those. Practice makes perfect, remember!


Startup Stock Photos




Photo source: here.

PR: 5+5 Pros & Cons

It is a game of give and take, this is for sure. Even with the big picture painted, a career is not something that you just rush into. Do it with passion or not at all – somebody said and I couldn’t agree more. Knowing yourself leads you to know if you can handle the challenges that come with a PR career. The good and the bad, the achievements and the mistakes, all should teach you something.


1. Boring times? Never!

If you dislike routine, you’re in the right field. The work is so diverse that one day does not feel like another.

One week you can be dealing with a service provider who needs a Social Media strategy and the next one you’re planning a product launch event. Online and offline, writing articles and giving speeches, working from a desk or interacting with people all day long, there’s never a dull day in PR.

Think about all the opportunities, PR applies to any of them. You can work with clients from the public or private sector, or even non-profit organizations. Size? Giant corporations, small companies or start-ups. Fields? Automotive, travel, fashion, lifestyle, tech, you name it. Nope, no time to get bored.

2. Be a maker, you’re the storyteller

It’s up to you to use your imagination and make something out of nothing. Remember that people respond much better to emotions than anything else. You’ve got the tool to touch them – words. Using them appropriately can bring great outcome.

Now, even hotter is the topic of visual storytelling. Words and image or video – you can put together two things that have been put together before, but create something totally unique. How is that for a feeling?

3. The Creativity factor

Yes, Creativity with a capital letter, because it is that essential. A high level of creativity is one of the most significant skills a PR pro can posses. Whether as an in-house specialist or within an agency, writing, thinking and implementing are a big part of a PR position of any level.

Luckily, this is a skill that can be exercised by being a sponge, constantly curious about news in the field. Also, practicing a pro-active attitude when it comes to learning new things and research of any other info is a plus.

4. Not a one-fits-all

The PR sphere is about so many responsibilities based on a multitude of skills. From writing to pitching, giving presentations to planning and even researching, you can find your place. Working in a consultancy firm within a team makes you a specialist in your field, so don’t worry if you start out on one role, but then decide another one fits you better.

That’s the great news – you can find a position that fits you, whatever your skills or interests are.

5. You make a difference and should be really proud of it

It is not about you, yourself and you again. You work with people, for  other people. PR touches and has an impact. You are a part of the story all the way from when a hint of an idea is born, through pitching and into the closing. Just imagine a client calling you and saying they closed a deal thanks to the coverage a certain news had.

PR is power and it is in your control.



1. You value your free time too much

PR is not the field for a set schedule and to-do list. The job will never be 9-to-5 and the tasks will always, and yes I mean always be different. If you like predictable days, PR really isn’t the thing for you. Communication crises do not ask for permission on when to happen and that is the moment when you need to act right away. Also, if you have clients all over the world, you will need to set your meeting suitable for them. It can be very stressful for someone who is not flexible and doesn’t like to compromise, but it can also be very rewarding when passion is part of the story.

2. Read, watch, learn. Repeat.

Part of PR is doing the research on your clients’ field and/or competitors. Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and campaigns is also part of a pro’s duty, so constant work reading magazines and watching relevant videos is implied, yes.

3. You like to do things just to cross them off your list

Attention to details is very important and it goes all the way from articles being grammatically correct to hints of credibility when presenting of pitching. There is no room for sloppy mistakes, your work must be read and re-read, analyzed from all the angles that you can think of.

In PR. you need to cover all possible questions or assumptions in order to get a flawless result.

4. It’s not you, it’s your topic

Rejection is part of the process and pointing out mistakes will become daily routine. The only productive thing to do in those situations is to learn from your mistakes and become better. Figure out what you can improve and allow yourself to develop.

First of all, you will need to accept that you make mistakes. We all make them, it’s human. When something goes wrong, it doesn’t mean you’re not trying hard enough, just that you need to still improve and learn new things, maybe develop new skills. One of the don’ts when that moment comes is to make excuses or avoid responsibility.

5. Numbers? Ugh!

During a conference I once was invited to, some of the guests said – ‘PR specialists chose this field because they hate numbers’. I will remember it all my life, cause I admitted I related to that. But unfortunately, in real life and real PR, it doesn’t work like that. PR improves measurement and proves ROI, and that is exactly why measurement is a huge part of PR.

It has been a weak point for many time now, but things have changed. And this is especially needed in paid programs. An effort is needed for learning the basics, yes.


Hopefully, this has been a little more eye-revealing on what the PR career is built. As I said in the beginning, it is a game, but at the end of the day, the benefits outweigh the cons. A bit of effort and a lot of passion will make it worth it all.

FYI: Whatsapp introduces Bold, Italic & Strikethrough option

Whatsapp update version 2.12.17 for iPhone and 2.12.535 for Android finally lets its users format their texts. Bolditalic, strikethrough or bold italic are the new way to be cool.


anamariapopa.com blog post whatsapp new feature bold italic strikethrough


Now, the option is not activated from settings or by one magical button, but it’s available by using codes. From the printscreen above:

  • Bold option: hug the word or sentence with asterisks (*). e.g.: *really*
  • Italic option: hug the word or sentence with underscores (_). e.g.: _just saying_
  • Strikethrough option: hug the word or sentence with tildes (~). e.g.: ~don’t~
  • Bolt italic option: hug the word or sentence with asterisks (*) and underscores (_) together, regardless the order. e.g.: _*all of them*_

With more than one billion people using the app every month, this makes the app so great, since Whatsapp’s new features and updates have been kind of basic and the only exciting thing about it was introducing voice calls.

Public Relations: Have you got what it takes?

I frequently get asked about the PR field. Last time, the conversation took place with a 20-something-year-old who’s hesitant about what to do next in this life.

– I was thinking to go for PR, if I can’t find anything that I like to do. How do I know if I’ve got what it takes? What’s the job? What do you actually do? How did you start?, they usually ask.

My reply is – ‘I didn’t choose PR, PR chose me.’ Basically, because it’s true. It all started as an extra thing to do besides university, in order to earn my own money. And I got really lucky this way, I admit it.

It was my second year at university and I got this question – ‘We saw you were passionate about Facebook, how would you like managing our business page as a job?’. Now, passionate is a special way of describing my Facebook skills. I was basically obsessed… All day, every morning till night, I was online on Facebook. I posted about everything, sharing things that I liked or found interesting. My day would be defined by the time between the new and the old posts in my news feed. But I said – hey, I’ll give it a try. And so I started learning about the professional way of using Facebook. Yes, it all started with Social Media for me, and then my duties got bigger and bigger. I would manage all the online accounts and then even got to the offline part – events, meetings, gatherings, projects. Anything that had to do with representing the company I worked for, a dental clinic in Bucharest.

Job Description

PR is easily defined by its name, yes – it is about managing the connections between the company you represent and the public. As a PR, you are responsible for the image and reputation perceived by the community. Your tasks consist of establishing, implementing and maintaining multiple ways of communication, as well as strong relationships with the media reps.

A PR officer can find his/hers place whether in an agency/PR consultancy firm or as an in-house specialist. The PR agencies enjoy the benefit of offering a wide range of services in many areas of expertise, but they can also concentrate on a particular field, such as consumer or B2C (business-to-consumer) PR, corporate or B2B (business-to-business) PR or just general public affairs.

In-house specialists can be found both in public or private sectors, but also in non-profit organizations. They are in charge for both internal and external communications and will face a challenge bigger than a PR consultant, given the fact that for this role, an in-depth knowledge of the field and business environment is needed.

I was an in-house PR officer in the dental field and even though my knowledge of actual medicine was limited, I found it amazing! My motivation came from learning new things, on a level that it makes sense for the future. I took part in dental interventions that showed pure anatomy. And with it, along came the struggle. As an outsider, I was highly impressed. As the employee of the clinic, I was taught basic dental activity. But as a PR specialist, I had to find the right way of putting into words an intervention that seems scary to the public. Challenging enough? This is a level apprehension not possible for an external PR.

Qualifications & Background

As any other field, some study is required. The most relevant fields would be:

  • Public Relations
  • Marketing
  • Journalism, Communication and/or Media
  • Creative Writing
  • Social Sciences.

I come with a background of Psychology and a passion about Communication and people – what drives them, what motivates them, etc.

Passion is much more important than whatever degree you’ve got. Passion is the first thing people read when they see you, and trust me when I say that you won’t have your degree subject written on your forehead.

One way for an employer of any kind to be sure of your passion is providing a history of volunteer work or internships. The no-pay or low-pay activity gives them an idea of how up you are for gaining experience. Subsequently, there are trainings, workshops and courses you can attend in order to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the field.


This is it – you either have it or you don’t:

  • Amazing verbal and written skills
  • Self-confidence, excellent presentation and networking skills
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience and great interpersonal skills
  • Ability to handle pressure and juggle with different priorities and deadlines
  • Drive, flexibility, pro-active attitude, open-mindedness and willingness to learn new things
  • Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent organizational and planning skills
  • Business orientation.

Activity & Responsibilities

If you’ve made it to this point, now it gets real. PR is never just PR. PR has a way of asking for some Marketing skills, Event Planning, Budget Planning, Social Media or even Project Management talent.

Still here? Good, let’s see what this is all about.

Your work tasks may include, but wouldn’t be limited to:

  • Plan, develop, implement PR strategies
  • Set up the PR budget and needs
  • Create and maintain a favorable image and reputation of the company/brand/organization
  • Build relevant relationships with the media reps
  • Write press releases and promotional materials
  • Market research
  • Develop a Social Media strategy
  • Create new business opportunities
  • Attend and/or plan events, press conferences, open-days and/or exhibitions
  • Create a PR crisis strategy
  • Update information on any online platform
  • Constantly search to grow the contact list
  • Manage projects and/or product launches
  • Coordinate photo opportunities
  • Manage sponsorship and/or partnership opportunities
  • Write and edit all written communications – articles, speeches, case studies, reports
  • Manage the logistics of brochures, leaflets and/or videos.

FYI – For Your Info

These are just a few of the PR needs of any company, brand or organization. They may vary when working in a team, but just be prepared.

  • PR specialists are usually office-based, but the duty might also involve travel when meeting clients or potential clients, suppliers or partners
  • The dress-code is usually smart, unless a certain event says otherwise
  • Working hours may vary and involve unsocial hours
  • The career ladder can go from PR Assistant to Manager and then to Senior
  • Salaries do vary, depending on the career level, location and employer.


With that being said, it is important to know that PR presents a fierce competition when it comes to jobs in the field, for women and men equally. With the glamorous picture aside, a great significance should be given to both the pressure and the reward of choosing a career in this field.