Archive for October, 2009

Want Power? Have a Conversation

October 19, 2009

“Who doh hear does feel” is a Trinbagonian expression that all Communicators should embrace. One thing though, you don’t just “hear” with your ears – you “hear” non verbal expression with your eyes too. A few years back a much older female executive (of whom at the time I was really not too fond), gave me excellent advice – Never underestimate the power of a conversation.

We love email. We live to text. We hate meetings. We forget what departments and other floors in our building look like. Why doesn’t work have Facebook. Ok Communicators – if you really feel this way, if you spend more than 80% of your day “communicating” from behind a desk, you need to “check urself b4 u wreck urself”.

If you’ve ever masked your feelings so your “phone voice” sounded “ok” then or sent a smiley face as a response when you were really cursing the sender of the email/text, then you know why its critical to have face to face conversations.

So now you’re thinking – WTH! AS if I didn’t have enough to do, now she’s recommending I actually MEET with people – YES. How? Carve it into your day. Schedule a walk through of your building at least twice a week. Eat lunch in common areas or, better yet, treat a random coworker to a sandwich once a week to get some insight into the thinking of staff who sit beyond the boundaries of your department.

If your business focuses on people (hell, even if your a doctor or chef), find a way to walk the waiting room or restaurant floor at least once a week to see what the “front of the house” has going on. TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS – LOOK THEM IN THE EYE AND ASK – HOW CAN WE DO BETTER.

A genious at this is Angelo of Angelos’ Resturant on Ariapita Avenue in Woodbrook Trinidad. You have not eaten at Angelo’s if you have not met him. He’s the chef and owner. He comes to talk to you. I have seen him have drinks with diners. I have become a regular at that place because of it. You see? The power of a conversation.

Get your butt off that chair. You can’t learn if you don’t ask and if you want power, people need to not only know your work, but know YOU as well.



Did You say Thanks?

October 19, 2009

Do you express gratitude? One of the most powerful phrases  in human relations is “Thank You”. However, few seem to do it well. Media relations for example cannot be built on one or two “media appreciation” parties a year. You staff won’t be a team if you simply wait until end of year reviews to say well done.

This week take up the challenge to actually make eye to eye contact  with some one and give a heartfelt thank you. Went to a great lecture or read a good article – write a testimonial to the author/ editor. Or, rediscover the dying art of handwriting – write a thank you note and shock the hell out of someone – mail it! Effort should always be appreciated and in this world of “fast” and “digital” – a good old fashioned thank you is still appreciated.

Remember, no one HAS to do ANYTHING for you so anything someone does that makes your day/ week/ life/ career a bit more pleasurable should be appreciated.

PR Pretty? STEUPS! Caribbean PR is more than looks!

October 18, 2009

A few ears ago I has an interview for one of the more enviable pr jobs in Trinidad and Tobago. After the first question, I knew I did not want the job. “Why isn’t your Miss Trinidad and Tobago or your Miss Universe finalist experience on your resume?”  My response was fast – I thought my master’s degree and professional experience ( international lecturing experience, 5 years experience (at that time) in strategic communication and PR) would be of greatest significance for those seeking a communication professional. I did not get the job. In the Caribbean, is PR about being “pretty”? The question is concerning to me. As we say in Trinidad and Tobago when someone “talks nonsense” – STEUPS!

Did My Miss Universe Experience Give Flight to My PR Career?

Did My Miss Universe Experience Give Flight to My PR Career?

Don’t get me wrong, my year long journey as Miss T&T did give me some insight into the local and international media. Being a 2004 MIss Universe finalist did teach me a hell of a lot about international even coordination, logistics, media and camera positioning (hell, ain’t no body that knows “camera readiness” like a beauty queen or a Miss Universe producer). For those like Shandi Finnessy (Miss USA universe 2004) or Jessica Rodrigues Miss Panama 2004, who both went on to successful TV careers, the pageant was a springboard.  My job however, is strategic and advisory, about positioning a company much more than it is about positioning myself.

I am still photographed and it does have a positive impact on the brand of my company (most times….). However, looks alone could not get me this far. Quite a few “ex models” and past beauty queens in the Caribbean do study communication – but I think the link between looks and the Communications field has a greater tie when it comes to journalism or pr agencies. Anya Ayong Chee – Miss T&T 2008 has a clothing line and has interest in a PR firm; Giselle La Ronde West, Miss World 1984 is a Communications Professional at Angostura; Penny Commisiong assisted in the PR for the cricket world cup 2007 held in the West Indies. So, maybe there’s trend.

To be a effective “PR person” in T&T (if not the Caribbean as a whole), one need have the right mix of professionalism, persistence, performance, persuasion and passion.

Professionalism: The ability to, at all times put the craft/ company/ your boss’ needs against your immediate ones. Professionalism is being courteous to everyone – including the not so nice man that yelled at me in the roti shop yesterday…Why? As the “PR” or “Communications” “person” (I must say I dislike these terms – but hey, its better than “spin doctor” – someone from my past used to call me that. It still crawls my blood) – as this person – your brand and that of the company/ clients you represent can become intertwined. This can be good – but when you want to “take a wine” for carnival or wear that VERY risque outfit – you can, and will, be accused of having an impact (good or bad) on the brands you work for.

Persistence: Nothing in life comes easy – especially in the Communications field. We ‘drive home’ messages, edit and re-edit documents to ensure consistent language and MOST OF ALL – we have to work with our clients/ bosses – to keep them on message – everyday/ all day with every media house AND then harass the media houses to run your stories. Yep, our work is never done.

Performance: The cutest PR professional will be let go if they can’t perform. Your work defines you in this field. If you want to be paid to look cute – be a model. Its easier – TRUST ME!

Persuasion: As a Caribbean Communicator you have to learn to say “That is as_ness” without being offensive to the media/ your boss/ your clients. I cannot tell you how often when Caribbean Communicators congregate you hear the stories of how they managed to work with an editor to get the RIGHT (of hell – accurate) story in the media OR how they had to convince their boss that the words the lawyer wants to put in a media release mean NOTHING to the intended audience. Sigh – persuasion is the part of our field I have the greatest challenge with. I like saying that is SH_T! Just not at work…

Passion: If you do not love communicating, if you do not love writing/ rewriting/ editing and reediting, if you do not like attending events and if you do not like being thrown into the spotlight – channel your inner cuteness and pursue another career. For this field you must LOVE what you do so much that you do all the WORK in the day time and learn more about it at night. As a Caribbean Communicator, every conversation is a research opportunity/ learning experience. Love what you do. PR in the Caribbean can’t be just a job.

Add those elements to a strong back bone and ta da! You’ll be “crowned’ (LOL) an excellent Caribbean Communicator.

How will U be Remembered?

October 15, 2009

In Trinidad, you know someone has passed (passed away) when there is a lit candle outside a home. Automatically, friends, family, neighbours and strangers bring the family “stuff” (food, company, drinks and prayer). We wear dark colours to funerals (or white) and try always to void “speaking ill of the dead”. All these non verbal symbols mean grief or the passage from one life to the next.

When you’re gone, there’s one thing that will remain – the work you left undone. So I ask – how will you be remembered as a professional? What will your legacy be? If someone had to take over your desk tomorrow – would you be proud of what they found? Do you have the systems in place to allow for an easy transition? Have you built a tradition of leadership? Will the messages be sent as effectively or will the communication voice you preached from die with you?

Think about that today. We mourn the loss of a female communicator today in Trinidad and Tobago. I wonder, who can even reach to hold her torch and I wonder, is the roadmap to that torch understood/ available to make that transition possible.

Start today to put things in place to leave behind a legacy. I pray to God I make it through tonight because…my desk, like far too many a communicator…is a mess.

Do we over exert ourselves? What Did you Achieve?

October 14, 2009

Its ten PM. The boss has left and amazingly you’re in the office again. Sound familiar? If you’re a PR business owner like Judette Puglisi or Trinidad Genie , its probably still concerning but a bit more understandable. Yet, so many, like myself, find themselves in this cycle more than occasionally. But ask yourselves (as I am tonight) WHY? Why are ya workin’ so late? Chances are, you’re over exerting yourself.

We know communication must be timely to be effective however, I betcha most of what happens beyond 7pm (unless a crisis) can wait until at least 7:30am to communicate. For example, if these photos I had not just taken an hour to download from my camera and sort before sending out to the media tonight so they get info “real time” – few would notice. Reality check – the newsrooms are closed (for good news anyway) and while Twitter, FB, Stumbled upon and God Bless’em are still open, guess what? You’re readers on the East Coast (of the US – all coasts if in the Caribbean) are a) asleep, b)studying, c) having a life or d) doing something more fun than reading about a Divali celebration on line. So question #2 – if you are over exerting yourself under the assumption that communication must be timely – have you ever taken the time to really evaluate – who are ya communicatin’ with at those crazy hours?

For me, the answer is…myself! Yep. I confess. I am not only a communication enthusiast but also officially closer to verifiably crazy bc right here, in a public space I admit to talking to myself! But honestly, this is a good thing.

Communicators are our own worst enemies and competitors. The best of us strive to be “first to market” with everything that we can that’s positive. Our minds spin with ways to make what we just did better next time and how, after getting feedback of course (YIKES – I forgot to send out a feedback survey – yep that just earned me  another 20 minutes here), we can make the future better for all our internal and external stakeholders.

Reality check – the world gets better after a good night’s sleep, delegation to a competent staff (which I have – they think I’m a little odd with the 10pm and 3:52am email messages too) and, of course, the world is best when we are proud of the work done that day. I am proud of today. Here are a few quick tips on how to remind yourself you are achieving every day and to curb over exertion:

  1. Make a To Do List at the beginning of each day. Make a separate list for personal and professional matters.(I don’t need to explain this one)
  2. Check the list regularly each day, crossing out (physically or on your computer) tasks achieved
  3. At the end of each day (please, make this end no more than 2-3 hours MAX of the time your assistant leaves, street lights come on and happy hours begin!) make a list of achievements. Here’s a sample list of achievements”
  • Empowered my staff to find solution to a challenge I usually solve. I am a better manager;
  • Watched a past team be a success without me. I have a legacy.
  • Enjoyed a glimpse of the sunset. I am inspired to live another day.
  • I prayed. I recognise there are things I cannot control – I have asked for help.
  • I praised someone today. I will have a support system when I screw up tomorrow!
  • I reached out to an old but good friend. I recognize the value of friendship.
  • I laughed with my boss today. I am fortunate – he has a sense of humour.
  • I laughed at myself today. I am human – someone tell my detractors!
  • Held a child in my arms. My heart still beats, I still get fuzzy inside. I am maternal afterall.
  • I achieved 4/12 things on my to do list today. I have reason to come to work tomorrow.

So, its not the typical “Achievement list” – but its one that will inspire me to do better tomorrow. Make yours tonight. Share them in my comment space. Everyday may not be a fantabulous – but everyday can be great if you remember each day, each step takes us on the journey to excellence. Don’t over exert yourself. Take a breath. Get some rest. Be as close to excellent as you can tomorrow.

Hugs! TTYL

Are you Effective if the Media Coverage is Bad?

October 14, 2009

We’ve all been there. Hard work, improved media relations and significant employee communication make us seem like veritable “must haves” at an organization…then the winds of change blow and BOOM all the talk is negative. I’m no stranger to this. 8 days into my last job, I was thrust before a schlew of cameras to brief the media on a pretty big accident on a construction site. The job before that, I worked at a hospital (you class=”mceItemHidden”> do the math on the publicity good and bad). Inevitably in these negative times, someone will say – what’s the point of a Communications Unit if the media coverage is bad? That’s your time to shine. It’s time to prove your value.

Communicators, let’s be real. Everyone thinks our job is easy. Dress nice. Take some pics. Be nice to the media to get coverage and you’re in. The reality is few people even on your Executive team (if you’re lucky enough to be in the room with them) understand or REALLY care about your work. They care about what you bring to the table and since it ain’t revenue, you gotta prove yourself. So, when the coverage is bad, here are some tips to help ensure the Company values your energy and, more importantly, the real story gets covered.

  1. Get the Facts out to Your Staff: Fact: lawyers shut up communicators. Fact: Saying nothing can lead you to a lawsuit. Fact: Saying the wrong thing can lead you down the same path. So, what do you do? There is ALWAYS something you CAN SAY. You may be unable to place your statements in writing/ email but then hold a meeting with your staff (at  the very least your top management) to share the facts and at least 3 talking points;
  2. Get Feedback & Build Talking Points: Ok, they heard the basics – what do your staff think? If you CAN answer their questions , it will prepare you for public discussions (which, guess what? They’ll start anyway!) so – use their feedback to craft 1-3 core messages on the topic. Ensure they receive this info and have it ready AT ALL TIMES to answer in response to queries;
  3. Talk to Your Key Media  People: If you have earned the media’s respect, at the very least, you’ll get a call letting you know there’ll be a story and requesting a quote. If you can’t give one on the record, there are still ways you can help. Now, this depends on your relationship with the reporters – talking off the record is not for the weak hearted or inexperienced – note, you CANNOT share anything you are not authorized too but perhaps there are tips, angles approaches you can suggest that can help the media get the “right story” without compromising yourself. Have your CEO/ Company head sanction these approaches before hand – don’t move by the “seat of your pants or you’ll get up tomorrow without a pair!
  4. Talk to With Your Staff (Wait – is this a repeated point?): Your staff are your KEY COMMUNICATORS! Guaranteed if the media can’t get a story out of you, they’ll call your company a few times to try to shake facts out of your junior people. I know. I worked for a media house once (super briefly). Sooooo – have them track enquiries on the issue at hand OR better yet, do spot “walk bys” or discussions to get their sense on how the issue is being handled, how they feel and their suggestions on containing same.

How does this prove value?  Ever saw the movie Doubt? When the priest compared gossip to goose feathers being scattered in the air  and showcases the difficulty in retrieving same?  Its the same with Communication – you send those messages out to your staff and work with them – constantly asking for feedback and no matter what, the “feathers” of the “right messages” will be disseminated. The doubters may not see the goose – but they’ll remember the feathers and in the end, the feathers offer more comfort and ultimately more value.

If that analogy soared over your head – have no fear. You can also simply track the media stories that include even a snippet of the “right” information from your ONE media release or talking points. Keep a diary of your media discussions and, yes, share same upon request. Nothing shows an accountant value more than a chart with some numbers and basic info!


Got Media? How to Appease the ‘Media Wanters’ & the Media

October 13, 2009

So you want media coverage of your next activity. You’ve heard it – “get the media to cover this”- uttered of course by, not usually the CEO, but usually the event coordinator, Marketing Department or worse, individual who has done ONE PR course and now TOTALLY gets the power of media. Newsflash – media don’t just “show up” to any and all events. There has to be NEWS there.

News? What’s that? Well, a loose Communications Questions definition is “information or activity being shared for the first time or in a way never seen before” – GET IT? News is not the same people, speaking in the SAME venue with the SAME info time and time again. Ever had a “press conference” (BTW wrong term – it should be MEDIA Conference – most papers don’t even use the “press” any more) and the media don’t show up or WORSE, leave! Well, if you have, its because you did not follow the ABC of media coverage.

A: ASK, Advise, Advocate

  • Ask: Do not confuse this A with “Assume”. In fact, its the opposite. ASK yourself & your fellow “media wanters” the 5 ws and 1 h. Answer from both YOUR perspective AND that of the media – why should they turn up and what’s in it for the media/ their audience. If there is advance time, ask a few editors/ reporters how you can make the event/ activity of interest to them – what would they like to know/ hear/ do that would make the 454th media conference/ event/ speech/ dinner they attend on that day most interesting to them? Note: Food and drinks are nice but do not entice assignment editors – DON”T confuse a “lime” with WORK! Once you answer the 5ws and 1 h, turn them into an ADVISORY;
  • Advise: Ahh…. All hail the Communicator who knows the difference between an ADVISORY and a RELEASE (both preceded by the word MEDIA not PRESS). For the rest of you a MEDIA ADVISORY is sent out IN ADVANCE Of the activity/ event/ activity. It is sent in a such a time frame to adequately allow the assignment editor to ADVISE his team of reporters and…GUESS WHAT…possibly even allow for MEDIA REGISTRATION…shock of shocks…this way you CAN know exactly which  reporters AND photographers are assigned to cover your event. Imagine that power – to text them an “on the day reminder” and send them a follow up thank you – all because you followed this step – TO ADVISE. (Note, implied in this step is follow up beyond media advisory dispatch – as in a PHONE CALL and taking of names of those who received. Labour intensive? Please! Followup is some of the best way to use pre-activity time. It makes a difference! Trust me! Oh, fyi – a media release is different to a media advisory because its sent out at or after the event/ activity. In some cases however, they may be despatched before and “embargoed” until a certain times.

Note, also advise  the feature speaker of which reporters and media houses have indicated they will be present. You       never know if the presentations can be tweaked slightly to cater to some reporters (usually only senior one’s) needs/ interests/ advance questions.

  • ADVOCATE: Not just for your company in your follow up pitch calls to the media the day before and on event day

B: Be – polite, timely, beautiful & ready

  • Be Polite: You have your key officials greet the specially invited guests and SO OFTEN I see events with no one assigned to meet/ greet the media. HELLO! WTF – didn’t you “need them there”?  I don’t know them all but I generally know the names and media houses of the more senior reporters on my beat . Note though that in today’s media houses, this can change rapidly…guess who’s job it is to know the changes….(scroll up to the ask and advise section – the suggestions here can help you with this.
  • Be Beautiful & Ready: Have your media release and agenda ready for them as they walk in. Take a moment (if possible) to discuss with each media house present. Suggest best locations (or prearranged location) for cameras. Tell them your feature speakers “best side”. Give them the heads up on whether questions will be entertained after the main event. Put yourself in the shoes of a reporter – wouldn’t all that info up front make your job a little easier on the day. Have the $? Prepare a digital media release – or you can do my secret and….wait a minute, if I reveal EVERYTHING next thing you know I am unemployed! Find your own signature – better yet, scroll up to the ASK section and find ideas on how you can put your own signature on your media relations.

Challenge to Stay on Time

  • Ensure your presentation/ event/ activity runs on time. If it does and media are in and captured their story in 45 minutes, they’re happy AND most likely to partake in the thousands of dollars spent on food/ drinks/ snacks/ gift items (all icing on the cake). Run late, they not just WANT to leave but HAVE TO! In Trinidad for example, ever notice how many events our print media photographers cover in one night! Jeez! Challenge you speakers and coordinators to stay on time. The media will appreciate and ultimately so will your audience. Guess what? NO ONE likes a lengthy speech – Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech was 17 minutes long. President Barack Obama’s famous “Race Speech” was just over 9 minutes long (notice his abbreviated acknowledgement of protocol – encourage you speakers to as well!). Unless either of your speaker can speak like them – ain’t nothing they can say that will keep attention for more than 9-10 minute max!

With those tips, a well briefed cadre of speakers and yes, an MC or coordinator who understands the importance of timeliness, you’re on your way to at least making the media who attended happy. Last tip – don’t drag out your activities! There are FEW things our media professionals have not seen before and NO ONE wants to see the same thing again and again and again. For example: I had a junior colleague call me to enquire on the best way to ‘handle’ media at a 4 hour tour – HELLO! 4 hours? NOTHING IS INTERESTING FOR 4 Hours…too much action in over 2 hours can kill you too – see Transformers 2…

What comes after? Hopefully coverage, but more than that, with any luck, you earn an iota of respect from the media. Why? They are professionals and you treated them as same. Maybe next time you’re company is on the firing line, they may give you a ring before printing the story? Don’t expect it – WORK TOWARDS that.

That’s it for today (long enough). Go forth and communicate for change!

Questions anyone? 6 ways to solicit feedback at your next meeting

October 12, 2009

Ever been to a meeting where questions are left for the boss’ last 30 seconds in the room? Ever left a meeting with more questions than you started it with? If you answered yes, you’ve been a victim. A victim of a one way communicator.

Modern interaction is defined by two way commuincation. Enter, user generated content (think Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger). Web 2.0 has raised bar on the two-way communication expectations of many of today’s even aging audiences. Feedback is the key to effective communication in the workplace – and is the basic premise upon which two way communication is built. Going back to communication 101: Sender encodes and sends the message, receiver decodes the message and gives feedback. But what happens if your reciever(s) don’t give feedback in a meeting – if when asked for same, none is given?

If that’s happening, your audience can be any number of things from bored and tired to upset or even (gasp) disinterested. As an effective communicator its your goal to ensure the messages can go through ALL of those hurdles (noise in the communication channel) and not only reaches the “receivers” of the message, but also engenders feedback. Here are a few tips:

  1. K.Y.A.: Knowing Your Audience is the communicators step number one to ensure you don’t have to C.Y.A. after an event/ meeting. K.Y.A. means understanding who they are, why they are coming to the meeting, what they care about, what they “think” they will hear about, how they are likely to receive the message and where they are likely  to repeat the message;
  2. Plan for the Good, the bad and the ugly: You kow the audience, now cater your messages for the good, bad and ugly among them. I don’t mean the look wise. Focus on those who are most likely to be negative to your message and craft statements in a way to convince them without being defensive. The ugly are the ones you’ll never convince – so plan to listen.
  3. Have an agenda. Share it before the meeting. Solicit additional agenda items – thereby asking for input before the meeting and engaging your adience before you walk in the door;
  4. OUt of the Box: Position a question box or email address where attendees can send agenda items or questions before the meeting. Have the chair commit to answering these questions.
  5. Plant strategic questions: My  5th tip is the one that engenders feedback. Why? BC communication is planned. So, maybe you start with why people came to the meeting, then as you share each point or agenda item, ask whether people think this agenda item or another should be covered next, whether the order of the agenda meets their needs, and what they think of the issues discussed.
  6. Ask for feedback at the end of meeting – in the room and within 24 hours. Wait more than 24 hours and the feedback won’t be fresh. Immediate feedback tends to lack critical suggestions – never the less, ask immediately IN ADDITION to that questionnaire ( ) you will email them after the meeting

Other tips? OMG start on time, provide snacks and breaks if the meeting will be long and maintain a positive message even if the meeting goes aggressive. Any other suggestions? Leave them on the comment section of this blog! 🙂

Is Technology Fostering Unreasonable Communication Expectations?

October 6, 2009

Ever been called a chain caller? Can you admit to sending a text immediately after leaving a voicemail?Left a skype mesage after the skype call was not answered?  Have you checked someone’s FB wall for activity to see how long its been since they communicated…Physcho? Nope – your just a victim of technology.  Gone are the days when we were satisfied a person was just “not home” when no one answered the phone . Now when WE want to communicate – WE EXPECT an answer NOW!!!- if not an instantaneous one,  one within, well at least a “reasonable” time frame. (Reasonable in this instance may well be defined by the number of possible mechanisms on which messages may be left – if you include the social media realm, within 10 odd minutes, a person could have at least 7 messages left for them!)

Have you been a victim of confusion listening to persons younger than you communicate? Do you find yourself suddenly thrusted to the google access nearest you to find the meaning of accronyms? Yep, Tweens (a new term in itself describing 9-13 year older are FOREVER evolving communication) bringing text and social media sites into day to day converation! Enter OMG, TTYL, XOXO, KISSES and even BBM, FB, Tweet etc. These phrases have become universal – eating away at the very cultures the internet so readily allows us to explore. I PERSONALLY have heard OMG SAID in Japan and wondered ‘Which god are they referring to?’

You have two choices “peeps” – roll with the punches or FOREVER (exasperated) sound like your oldest relative as you constantly seek clarification. Here are some basic tips to help you navigate the ever changing world of communication and in keeping yourself sane despite the unreasonable communication expectations of others  (especially the more youthful).

  1. Glance through at least twice a week: With its varied articles on everything social media, Mashable has its pulse on evolving technology and the jargon (read – new phrases) inculcated therein)
  2. Communicate to the preference of your audience: ASK – do you prefer voicemail or text messages? Email or phone calls? Or hell, be even more proactive and SAY “listen, the BEST way to reach me is by (choose one) text/email/voicemail/mobile/office number/ facebook”. This way, your intended audience knows which is the best mechanism from you to look out for feedback;
  3. Disconnect: Check your voicemail no more than twice a day. Don’t reply to every email AS it comes it (set an alarm so email/ phone calls/ text messages from key people like your boss make a different “sound” when they hit your inbox so you don’t miss them. Remember, YOU set the standards as to how people will communicate with you. “Be the change you want to see”;
  4. Learn the lingo: OMG (oh my god/goodness) its 2 easy 2 learn to talk & type in SMS (short message system) format. Have fun with it in casual communication and it can save you time. Leave it OUT of official communication – its not okay to address colleagues in a work email as “peeps” or “u” or to end a work email with TTYL! Be professional – that’s the mark of a true communication prof (joke!).
  5. LOL About it: (Laugh Out Loud) about the way communication has changed and use humour as a way to get your message about being more “sane” when it comes to communication accross to others. For example, I stopped sending email messages at 3am to my team (all equipped with blackberries) after one joked about my “work inspired insomnia”…it was a little office joke – but it got my attention – I have OUTLOOK delay sending messages until 7am now – by 7 they’re usually  at least awake and a bit more receptive to a flashing light on their bberry. Guess what? Since then – lots more smiles in the am

In summary, everyone’s communication style is different. Whether tech savvy or technically challenged, we all need to focus on our listener/ audience before we communicate using ANY mechanism. Be considerate. Be sane and most of all – be reasonable – leaving 5 messages by different channels is just, well, stalker-like!


Beyond the BS – Are Communicators Dedicated to Continuing Education?

October 1, 2009

Yesterday, IABCTT hosted a training event of interest to me. I did not go. Neither did two communication colleagues. Why? Work did not fit the bill. For less than a new pair of shoes/purse/handbag/dinner out – we could have met with communication professionals to discuss the impact of social media. As I awoke this morning to blog I thought – Are we, as professionals, really dedicated to improving our skills and craft?

My answer  – not if doing so is “hard”. At a conference this weekend, Lara Mc Culloch asked approximately 120 Caribbean Event professionals how many were using Twitter and LinkedIn – the number of hand that stayed glued to laps was astounding – almost as astounding as the few Communications Professionals that attended the conference – so few it was shocking.

What’s the link between Twitter and continuing education? Enter,,, or hundred of online access to research, statistics and tips on constantly improving the Corporate Communication toolkit or adapting our craft to an ever focused on ROI world. In fact, honestly, the first time I READ the term Return on Investment, I’m fairly sure it was in an IABC discussion.

So what do we do?

  1. Set up a “Education Savings Acccount” – We’ve heard pay yourself first. Now adapt that to invest in yourself! Each month, save a few hundred dollars in an education account – for yourself! Not just for kids! That way, when your training budget gets declined due to budget cuts (it happens), you will AT LEAST be able to afford local resources
  2. Read & Listen  – Web 2.0 is a financially challenged individuals best resource when it comes to staying on top of news, events and the evolution of our field. Follow fellow communicators like @judettepuglisi, @iabc or even @danijones (ok that’s me) on Twitter to be referred to articles/ blogs and news your peers (or mentors) are reading & read them too. At
  3. Network – If you are missing that cocktail, you are missing an opportunity to learn from peers and do “social research”. Ask CEOS, business professionals and average folks who their Corp Communications person is, what challenges are facing their marketing teams or how they view the Communications field in general. ASk them what would “sell them” on Communication’s worth to their business. See what team building initiatives different companies have. Networking is a GREAT way (if done well) to keep your name and interest out there AND assist you in staying abreast in current if not emerging trends of thought about our field.
  4. Cough It Up – Skip a few dinners and do a few extra classes. We’re paid to be creative thinkers but really we’re paid to strategically map out ways to keep our companies “top of mind” – to do that requires continued inspiration and education. Attend a damn training session.