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Loyola business professor, New Orleans Hornets reach out and make a connection

Loyola press release - December 16, 2011

The collaboration between the New Orleans Hornets and Loyola University New Orleans management professor Michelle Johnston, Ph.D., has certainly paid dividends over the last year for both the teacher and organization.

Johnston, who specializes in business management communication, has used her skills to help major corporations, such as Entergy and Pfizer Pharmaceutical, find more efficient ways to communicate with their employees and customers. In 2010, the Hornets’ top executives enlisted Johnston to provide a three-hour workshop at their leadership and communications “Tip off” event as a way to improve their communications and listening skills, interaction with each other and, most importantly, Hornets fans.

“The questionnaire I provided, within 20 minutes, analyzed what kind of communicator you are. That’s pretty valuable to a business, especially to one in the public eye, like the Hornets,” Johnston said. “Are you a people person? Do you listen well? Are you an action-oriented type or do you require a lot of information before you respond? Each organization needs to know how to best communicate if they are going to reach their goals.”

“Understanding my communication habits has helped me work more effectively with my sales staff. In addition, it helped me better connect with the New Orleans community when we held the '100 Events in 100 Days,'” said Hornets Director of Sales Bryan Ross. “By understanding my own habits and preferences, I was able to adapt to a variety of situations and a variety of different people.”

“When I worked with their new managers on their communication skills, they realized how some of their bad habits were getting in the way of connecting with others,” Johnston said. “They learned how to break down those barriers to work more effectively with their teams and ultimately, their customers.”

Since launching their unique “100 Events in 100 Days” initiative on June 7, the Hornets are No. 1 in the NBA in new season ticket sales, despite New Orleans being the league’s smallest market. Through an aggressive itinerary of personalized meetings with current fans and prospective ticket buyers, the Hornets reached their ultimate goal of 10,000 season tickets sold earlier this month.

After working with such a high-profile client, Johnston realized she needed to develop her own, more complete, communication inventory so that more organizations could improve their performance through more effective communication.

In 2011, Johnston developed The Communication Preference Profile, an inventory that identifies four habitual communication styles: people, action, content, and technology. The twenty-item, easy-to-use inventory helps individuals connect more effectively with others to accomplish team and company goals.

She is using the Communication Preference Profile in the classroom, as well as with additional local businesses like Georges Enterprises. "We are using the Communication Preference Profile in our businesses to maximize performance," said CEO John Georges. "It's a no-brainer that we all need to do a better job of finding ways to connect with our customers, especially in this economy."