Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

Saving Face at the NFL: What’s the Cost?

Cluttered windowI’d like to thank the NFL for bringing the horrific issue of domestic violence to the forefront of our social conversations and values. Maybe lives will be saved.

I’d also like to vomit on the NFL for downplaying (actually ignoring) this horrific issue of domestic violence. Maybe the NFL’s face can be saved.

But at what expense? 

Thankfully, there is outrage from the public who has taken to social media and other communication channels to ensure their voices rise above Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

Meredith Vieira, thank you for having the courage to stand tall and proud against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s deafening silence in the cases of Rice and Peterson.

I realize neither Rice nor Peterson have been convicted. Please don’t whine about ‘innocent until proven guilty’ because you can refer to Rice’s video and press conference with his wife, the woman he knocked unconscious in a casino elevator in New Jersey before they were married.

And Peterson, the towering, powerful NFL player who thinks it’s OK to hit his four-year-old and call it discipline.

Has anyone checked this person (I wouldn’t call him a man at this point) for a concussion?

Peterson, who is also accused of hitting another one of his young children, says this form of discipline is what he knows. After all, his father used physical beatings, and he (Adrian) is just fine.

Really???

Was Peterson’s father a professional football player with a similar physical prowess and power? No, he wasn’t. Clearly, Adrian Peterson is confusing the use of the word ‘discipline.’

For Peterson to make it to the NFL, didn’t he need discipline and mental fortitude to compete and succeed?  If he could apply his mental prowess to the game, why couldn’t he apply it to his child, and choose a different form of ‘discipline’ without beating the boy?

Did Adrian Peterson not realize that he is taller and bigger than his son, which makes him the grown-up?

And where has Commissioner Goodell been hiding these days?

Goodell is hiding from women who are using their voices to express outrage over his acceptance of this repugnant behavior.

In New Jersey and California, women who serve in state government are calling for the Commissioner’s resignation.

“When someone sucker punches an innocent woman or takes a switch to his son, something is terribly wrong,” all 10 Assembly Republican women from New Jersey said in a statement. “The league either delays disciplinary action or issues a slap on the wrist of the offender. The victims are vulnerable to the power of these men. Commissioner Goodell is unsuccessfully trying to appease the fans and advertisers that the league takes these actions seriously.”

And there it is.

Why is Goodell as quiet as a church mouse?

Because football is big business first and money is speaking louder than the victims of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

 

Food Trucks Heat Up Networking Opportunities

Mr Softee truck editedThere’s power in food.

The growing popularity of food trucks is playing a curious role in workplace communication and networking. These mobile munch mobiles are helping break down barriers and boost comradery. And there’s fun along the way.

Employers are taking advantage of the food truck trend, which makes Ross Resnick happy.

Resnick is CEO and founder of Roaming Hunger, an online catering hub and dispatch for mobile food. He has 4,500 food trucks in his network, and says the majority of requests they receive are from businesses.

A New Form of Networking

Food trucks often set up in business parks across the U.S. and serve workers from many different companies that are based in the complex. “We consider it a new form of networking.  The barriers come down, everyone’s looking at the menu, and sharing a common experience.  And the cost is relatively low,” says Resnick.

“The activity of getting in line with other people from your workplace, waiting to order, and mingling for 10 minutes or so while food is prepared creates great opportunities for employees who may not have touch points during the regular day,” explains Resnick. “It’s a tremendous way for employers to get people outside and talking to each other in a different way.”

Resnick points out that it’s the kind of experience that inspires comraderies across all levels of an organization. “Senior executives are with the rank-and-file and everyone’s in the same boat. It’s very democratic and everyone is on a level playing field.”

Adding Flavor

Another intriguing business dynamic is that employers are getting creative when hiring food trucks. They are bypassing old favorites like hamburgers, hotdogs, and pizza, and opting for diverse ethnic foods. Experimenting with new foods can help spark conversation and educate people at the same time.

“We’re bringing out Indian, Greek, and Thai foods, things people aren’t eating every day. It gives people a window into other cultures and I think that goes a long way. If an employer can play a role in the cultural education of their employees through food, it’s a wonderful benefit,” explains Resnick.

 

 

 

The Agony of Delete: 3 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Content

scales of justice edited

Here’s an unscientific poll about content that I want to share with you.

More than 80% of people who write press releases, blog posts, bylined articles, and white papers admit they struggle with how to edit content.

I’m happy to offer a few suggestions on how to approach the editing process:

1. Write the main purpose on the back of a business card. In one or two sentences, summarize the reason you are writing. This brings clarity, which (usually) leads to brevity. If your purpose is too long for the business card, rip it up and start again. It must be clear in your mind before you begin to write.

2. Dissect your words and sentences. Slowly read each sentence, one at a time. Then read the next one. If you removed one of the sentences, would your story change? Each sentence must build off of the previous one, adding value to your story. This practice can significantly shorten your content and change the flow of your message. Translation: Cut the crap.

3. Consider your reader. Your word count will drop when you remove self-serving information that will be irrelevant–or annoying–to your audience. And don’t bother with jargon or rhetoric. Write to offer solutions to your reader’s challenges. Solve, don’t sell.

Finally, the words ‘very’ and ‘that’ should be used sparingly, if at all.

4 Key Aspects of Today’s Content Strategy

itsy bitsy spiderWhat’s the future of content marketing? It depends who you ask, I suppose.

When I joined one my favorite online places to learn –Sunday night’s #blogchat on Twitter–I knew there would be plenty of takeaways on content strategy and marketing.

The guest expert was author and entrepreneur Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute.

Pulizzi shared tips on the importance of building an audience for your blog, and converting loyal followers. He also covered the future of content marketing.

On the purpose of your blog:

Once we know the why, we need to clearly focus on who the audience is for our blog.

There are three reasons to create a blog: to generate sales, to save costs, or to create more loyal customers.

Your blog needs to create an audience. We can’t do much good if we don’t have an audience.

The blog can be the center of our entire content marketing strategy. Think of it as home base.

On building loyalty with readers:

The blog is the place where we should be creating passionate subscribers…subscribers are key.

The most valuable part of your blog is the audience you have opt-in permission from to communicate with.

Remember, 80% of your web traffic will never come back again. We need to work very hard to get them to subscribe.

Think like a media company. The value of a media company is in their list (the audience). Convert traffic to subscribers.

On the six important aspects of your blog:

Your content must fill a need in the marketplace that is not being met.

You must be consistent. Blog at the same time and frequency every week (just like a newspaper would).

You need to tell stories like a human being would. Get rid of corporate speak.

You need to have a point of view. What is your take? Why are you the expert? Show it with your content.

Remove the sale. Never sell anything directly in the content of your blog.

Your goal should be best of breed. Strive to be the leading content creator for your content niche.

On the future of content marketing:

Podcasts are going to really break out very shortly. They will be more easily available and there is a lack of content now.

Sure, everyone is talking video. But I see opportunity in audio, print, and in-person events.

Google+ Hangouts are another way to market. I like that you can create a podcast out of a hangout.

Longer form content is making a comeback. We are seeing 1000+ word posts perform WAY better than shorter posts.

The founder and host of #Blogchat, @MackCollier, has a stellar lineup of guest experts for the coming weeks.

It’s a smart and most enjoyable group!

7 Reasons Not to Pitch Your Story This Week

RR crossing lights flashing editedThe July 4th holiday typically throws newsrooms and reporters into a ‘scramble for something other than pools, camping, and gas price stories…PUH-LEEZE!’

Monday’s are usually slow news days. But as the hours passed yesterday, it became glaringly obvious that the upcoming holiday would be far from the norm.

Online news sites, bloggers, and reporters entrenched in digital had plenty of content and breaking news to last through Labor Day.

Unless PR and marketing pros can newsjack a story from the sorted headlines and tweets below, don’t even think about pitching your story or press release. It will likely appear mediocre at best. At worst, you’ll ruin your credibility.

Newsjacking has been around for decades, but with social media it’s now been given a spiffy new name.

When I was working as a broadcast news director and reporter, we called it ‘piggybacking on a story’, meaning we could find the local connection to a bigger story that was making news at the moment.

The goal was to beat the competing media outlets to the punch with a fresh angle and fabulous quote or sound bite. Get creative. And hurry.

Pitch your story only if you have a new and relevant angle that clearly connects to the big news:

  • Contraception and Hobby Lobby
  • Immigration reform
  • BNP Paribas $8.8 billion fine
  • New GM recalls
  • Israeli teens found dead
  • World Cup
  • Facebook study

 

Oh, and there’s apparently a tropical storm heading for the East Coast, just in time for the holiday weekend.

Maybe there’s a silver lining in this news cloud. Was this busy and frightening day the only way to bump the baby bumps and Kardashian escapades that masquerade as interesting or newsworthy from the headlines?

Once again, this former reporter is left scratching her head and going for the news from Nutella.

nutella

3 Reasons to Use Metaphors in Business Communication

crushed AW can editedThe rapid pace of technology and the world makes it more challenging than ever to connect with people, especially those with whom we want to build consensus and influence.

While words are powerful, the human brain is wired to think in pictures and images.

For example, if someone said the word ‘car’ to you, your mind will instantly pull up an image of a car, not the letters C-A-R. You may picture your dream car, your first car, or the car you currently drive.

Consider these three reasons for using metaphors in business:

1. Metaphors help us capture attention. The year 2014 has been dubbed ‘The Year of the Visual’ on social media. Infographics, slide decks, Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo, and Vine snippets garner more attention than basic text. Therefore, it makes sense that we weave metaphors—which pull up mental pictures—into our business conversations and presentations. Metaphors help our messages resonate with others.

2. Metaphors create emotional connections to other humans. Metaphors—also referred to as comparisons, analogies, or relationships—speak from and to the right side of the brain. This portion of the brain handles emotion and imagination. When discussing a logical matter (left brain), such as systems and processes, consider this suggestion by corporate trainer and author Anne Miller.

Metaphors in Biz communication Pullout box Anne Miller 6-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Metaphors help simplify complex thoughts and ideas. Have you ever watched or listened to a newscast where the announcer says, “The water main break pushed 15,000 gallons of water into the streets of our city. 15,000 gallons. That’s enough to fill Yankee Stadium three times.” We may not grasp what 15,000 gallons of water looks like, but most people have an image of a professional baseball stadium to help them better understand the size and scope of 15,000 gallons of water, three times over.

As Miller says, this subtle power of language helps us to persuade, explain, sell, and inspire others to get the results we want.

20 Surprising Ways to Recharge Your Career

Power lines at beach editedSlowing down for the lazy, hazy days of summer?

While others are complaining that business is tapering off and everyone is on vacation, use this time to recharge your battery and kick-start your success.

Here are 20 things you can do to prepare for a triumphant rest of the year. These small tasks can make your life less stressful and easier to manage day-to-day. You may even develop a new habit.

1. Clean up your database.

2. Sort through your Favorites and Bookmarks. Categorize them and delete the ones that are no longer relevant.

3. Go paperless when possible. Shred or toss old papers you don’t need.

4. Read the magazines you’ve been saving for the past three months.

5. Get rid of the magazines you’ve been saving for the past three months.

6. Contact someone you admire and invite them to coffee or lunch.

7. Volunteer with a local nonprofit that can benefit from your business expertise.

8. Update your social media profiles and headshot.

9. Register for a webinar or course you’ve been meaning to sign up for but haven’t had the time.

10. Read the biography of leaders such as Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, or Florence Nightingale.

11. Schedule time to think.

12. Identify a few online chats that can help you grow professionally or personally. Mark your calendar and start participating.

13. Pay attention to self-talk soundtrack that plays in your head. Replace the negative with positive, more compassionate language.

14. Back up your blog, website and computer—every day!

15. Write a thank-you note to a former boss or mentor, expressing gratitude for what they have taught you.

16. Unsubscribe from all the e-mails, newsletters, and other junk you receive but never read.

17. Research awards or contests in your industry that you may be eligible for and note the deadlines in your calendar.

18. Write down five things you are afraid of doing. Do one of them. Repeat.

19. Subscribe to the blogs of five leaders in your field—or your competition.

20. Make a list of 10 reasons you went into your profession and why you are still passionate about it.

Come September, you’ll be glad you worked on this checklist. Surf’s up!

Twitter Erupts as NBA Finals Take An Oddball Bounce

FlagsThe AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX took a big image hit during Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. Things heated up quickly between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat.

The power line that feeds the air conditioning unit broke, sending the arena temperature to a sweltering 90 degrees. As the play-by-play announcers whined about sweating, there was also talk of how the players were holding up, both physically and mentally.

The Spurs rallied in the last few minutes to win the game.

But it was Miami’s LeBron James who stole their thunder. 

When James awkwardly limped to the bench and was helped into the locker room suffering from ‘leg cramps’, people were all over Twitter and social media to share some chuckles.  Take a peek at #NBAFinals2014 and #GoSpursGo.

Here are a few highlights:

 

I can’t wait for Game 2!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Easy-Breezy Struggles of a Former 22-Year-Old

WTC PATH Banner NYC 2013(Editor’s Note: Dan Roth of LinkedIn recently asked me to contribute to his #IfIWere22 series. Influencers share their own career journey with new college graduates. The following is my reflection of what I learned at 22).

I’m 51 years-old, and damn it if 22 doesn’t feel like yesterday.

And some days, 22 feels like a lifetime ago.

In 1985, I had just graduated from Quinnipiac College (now Quinnipiac University), in Hamden, CT. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication, I was hell-bent on launching my radio news career. I had great contacts and mentors, and a bit of professional on-air experience. The harsh reality was that broadcasting was an extremely difficult field to break into, and to stay in.

Having lived away at school for four years, you can understand my reluctance to return to my parent’s house in Edison, New Jersey. But reality beckoned me back to my old bedroom, a rent-controlled unit (free) which included food, laundry facilities, and general run of the house. My responsibility was to make monthly payments on my 1981 Chevy Camaro and two student loans. One of the few rules was to come home at night.

Central New Jersey was a great place to grow up because it’s sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia. The challenge for an aspiring broadcaster is that it’s one of the most competitive media markets in the country.

At 22, I had landed part-time weekend gigs at two different radio stations.Out of a necessity for money and a job, I went to work at an international shipping company based at the World Trade Center in New York. To this day, I don’t remember applying for the job and I certainly had no interest in being there. In my spare time, I prayed for a full-time news position that paid poverty wages and required working nights and weekends.

When my friends were planning vacations to the Caribbean, I joked that I was going to the islands, too. Coney, Staten, and Long.

Every day for three months, I would put on my work clothes, drive to the train station in nearby Metuchen, and take a train and a subway into ‘the City.’ I wore my clunky Sony Walkman headphones; Scandal’s “The Warrior” was the big summer song.

I worked on the 11th floor of Tower 2. At lunchtime, I would venture outside and eat by the fountains, people-watching and enjoying the absolute beauty of the iconic buildings. I often wondered what I was doing there. It was so tempting to just take the escalator downstairs and ride the PATH train back to Jersey. Would anyone miss me?

On the weekends, I recorded my newscasts. I made cassette copies, which were needed to apply for on-air jobs. An air check often carried more clout than a résumé.

The odd thing about my schedule was that I didn’t realize I was working seven days a week.

One Friday, a co-worker in New York asked if I had plans for the weekend. She was dumbfounded when I told her I worked in radio, and she was even more shocked that I worked every day of the week.

It didn’t seem to faze me. It’s what I had to do to succeed in my field. And get out of my weekday job. It took exactly three months.

After 10 years of working in radio news, I went on to serve as Deputy Director of NJ Governor Christie Whitman’s Office of Radio and Television, started a software marketing company with a former colleague, and worked as PR director for a statewide nonprofit. In 2000, I launched my PR, news and social media training company. In between, I got married, had two children and moved to San Antonio, TX.

#IfIWere22, I wish I had known:

  1. To take some business classes, even after graduation.
  2. There is a huge difference between surrendering and giving up.
  3. How to love myself unconditionally, just as G-d has created me. I am enough.
  4. To take pictures at the World Trade Center to remind me how stunning and glorious those Towers once were.
  5. The importance of a quiet mind and a peaceful soul.
  6. How to better manage my finances.
  7. To take my typing class seriously.
  8. There are no accidents or coincidences. The world is unfolding exactly the way it should be.
  9. Hobbies unrelated to work are essential.
  10. Everything I swore I would never do…I did.
  11. There are no ordinary moments.

Am I where I thought I would be? Yes, because I have spent my career doing what I love: Working in news and communication.

Looking back, I had that “entrepreneurial spirit” but I don’t recall ever thinking I would own a business. Until 14 years ago. And I never imagined I would be in sales and would travel around the country speaking and training. Please refer to No. 10 above.

My advice to 22-year-olds:

  1. There are no shortcuts; put your head down and work.
  2. Be persistent, patient, and resilient.
  3. Believe in yourself and honor your values. You are so much better than you think you are.
  4. Develop a positive mindset and be a lifelong learner. Professional and personal development are integral to success.
  5. Work on your communication skills, as the experiences you have in every job and relationship will depend on your verbal and nonverbal communication.
  6. Help people solve their problems and the universe will bring you abundances beyond your wildest imagination.
  7. Avoid being a crap magnet.
  8. Ask good questions. When you ask quality questions, you get quality information.
  9. Schedule time to think.
  10. Keep promises, especially the ones you make to yourself.
  11. Express gratitude every day.

I hope the 22 nuggets above will help you along your journey.

 

10 Memorable Communication Quotes from Dr. Maya Angelou

angelou_mayaWhen word spread that renowned author, poet, and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou had died at age 86, tributes to her life poured onto social media. Many on Twitter shared their favorite quotes.

Traditional media provided background on Dr. Angelou’s early life. Reporter Emma Brown writes in The Washington Post:

“As a child growing up in the Jim Crow South, Maya Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend; as a young woman, she worked briefly as a brothel madam and a prostitute. From those roots in powerlessness and violence, she rose to international recognition as a writer known for her frank chronicles of personal history and a performer instantly identified by her regal presence and rich, honeyed voice.”

Here are 10 quotes from Dr. Angelou, a communicator who leaves a void in American culture, and the world.

1. “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.”

2. “When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that. But I’m also trying for the language. I’m trying to see how it can really sound.”

3. “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

4. “The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.”

5. “All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells that we are all more alike than we are unalike.”

6. “The best candy shop a child can be left alone in is the library.”

7. “I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.”

8. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

9. “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”

10. “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

Oprah Winfrey, who has been mentored by Dr. Angelou from the time they met in Baltimore in the 1980s, describes the poet laureate as her “sister friend.”

My favorite quote from the list is No. 10. Yours?

 

(Image Via)