Archive for the ‘communications’ Category

More Social Media Abuse

November 22, 2010

Recently I launched a new website/company, SynergiSocial, focusing on social media training for people who have never used social media before.  Apparently I need to expand my scope of services to experienced technical people who can’t keep their e-traps shut.

First there is this gem about a guy trashes the city of Memphis on Twitter while visiting FedEx which is located there.  This condescending Tweet could have cost Ketchum a multi-million dollar contract.  Then I came across this post describing how, after accepting a job at Cisco, some guy Tweeted that he hated the job before even starting.

Folks, social media is not about you; it’s about everyone else who reads what you put out there, which is why it’s called social media and not me me me me media.  I previously wrote a blog post about topics people should generally avoid posting to Facebook and Twitter.  I didn’t think I had to say this but apparently I do:  in addition to the other things I listed in the earlier blog post, DON’T trash your employers, employees, clients, enemies or friends on social media.  The Internet has a long and unforgiving history, and these postings will probably end up biting you at some point down the line.   This is especially true in a terrible economy.

So please be careful when using your social media.  A good rule of thumb is to use your outside voice:  if you wouldn’t say something in polite company or at a dinner party, why would you put it on the Internet for the whole world to see?

Advertisements

Are Facebook Statuses Driving You Crazy?

October 13, 2010

Facebook has emerged as one of the most, if not the most, popular social media websites in the world.  Five-hundred-million people — nearly one in 14 people on Earth —  has a Facebook account.

Sadly, a good portion of these five-hundred-million folks think the best way to utilize the site is by telling everyone what they are eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, and between-snack snacks, every single day.  Others describe, in painstaking detail, each and every show they watched, are watching and/or are planning to watch, and provide in-depth commentary about each and every one of them.  Perhaps the worst updates are those which publicly lament their lack of love in their lives and plead to the Universe that they find The One as soon as possible or the world will surely end!  (see picture below.)

 

 

 

(Image shamelessly lifted from this website)

Although I appreciate the need to connect with others in this cruel and lonely world, doing so in this manner devalues the perpetrator’s Facebook value, leading others (including me) to hide their status updates, or even de-friend you, just to make it stop.

In my opinion, the only reason someone should reveal this level of detail is if people really want to know what you are doing and are willing to pay for it, such as a celebrity (like Aston Kutcher) or a lifestyle guru (like Martha Stewart) where people are indeed very interested in their lives.

Don’t get me wrong:  the status bar is a very powerful tool which can be used in multiple ways.  Some of the best items to post are funny anecdotes or Youtube clips.  Posting pictures and stories while on vacation are a great way to connect with folks.  And if you are a business owner, such as a Realtor, Facebook can be used to post your listings and projects in progress.   In fact, some of my friends are accomplished artists who use Facebook to tell people about their upcoming exhibitions; they even post pictures of their art on their walls for people to preview.  Even the occasional post about your upcoming social plans can be very useful.

So how do you know when something is worth posting?   Keep this one rule in mind:  Facebook status updates are most effective when they are not for your consumption, but for those who are reading your updates.  If you wouldn’t say something out loud at a dinner party, why would you broadcast it to everyone you know?

So please folks:  unless you are a mega-celebrity, please ease off the updates about every detail of your life.

And for the love of all that is holy:  no, I am not going to give you corn seeds for Farmville or whack your enemy on Mob Wars.  So stop asking.

Someone needs Toastmasters, badly

September 9, 2010

This is not a partisan blog, but rather a communications blog.  Although I am a proud Democrat, I bash Democrats and Republicans equally for their communication blunders.

Having said that, I present to you Phil Davison who is running for Treasurer of the Stark County GOP in Ohio.  As President of my local Toastmasters Club (which happens to also be the first Toastmasters club in the world) I would like to offer some feedback on Mr. Davison’s speech.

On the plus side, he is passionate.  He looks like he is ready to take on this job and will do what it takes to secure the position.  And he has the credentials and experience to get the job done.  Sometimes it takes anger and passion to do something right.

But he definitely goes over the top here.  According to him, he has a Masters in CommUnication!  I didn’t add that exclamation point or the italicized U by accident.  That’s how he says it, with increasing fury as he rattles off each degree he’s earned:  “… and a Masters Degree in CommUnication!”  Really?

His shoulders are tense and he paces back and forth, as if he’s ready to pop a blood vessel.  And he scowls throughout the speech, as if the audience made him eat rotten lemons and wash it down with spoiled milk.  These attributes will not endear him to many people.

Sadly, at about 1:25 into the speech, things really take off.  Now I understand he is upset with the Stark County Treasury, but screaming at the top of his lungs with a cracking voice is not an appropriate way to express such outrage.  For instance, watch the video at 2:10, where he says the office “is in dire need of structure>squeak< and guidance.”  And, he keeps referring to his notes for everything; he really should have rehearsed his speech better.

In sum, I’d recommend he – and all of you, by the way – join Toastmasters, which is a safe environment to practice leadership and communication skills.  I’ve been a Toastmaster for over a year, and even though I also have a Masters in Communication, I have significantly improved my communication and leadership skills since joining.

Perhaps Toastmasters could help Mr. Davison communicate better as well.  If not, maybe someone could recommend a good doctor who could prescribe Xanax.

UPDATE — I incorrectly spelled Phil’s last name Davidson and changed it to the correct spelling, Davison.  Sorry for the blunder.

More Communication Dissonance from Democrats

August 20, 2010

Oh Howard Dean, where would we be without you and your mighty scream?

The good former Vermont Governor recently weighed in on the lower-Manhattan community center nontroversy by stating his desire to see the location moved.  This, combined with Harry Reid’s announcement the other day, serves only to create further communication discord within the party. Once again, Dems are giving the (correct) impression that they are not on the same page.  This does not settle well with voters, because they want to know what each political party stands for, and if Dems speak for ten different things, why should anyone want to vote for them?

Contrast the Democrats’ messaging vs. the GOP’s.  The Republicans clearly stated the Ground Zero Mosque (it’s not true, but it sure is catchy) should not be there, period.  Dems are all over the map on the issue and are, once again, harming their own credibility by not communicating consistently.

Once again:  Please Dems, try communicating consistently.  You don’t have to agree with every issue every time, but like it or not, this has captured the world’s headlines and is therefore a major issue.  Please oh please, just once, try to stay on the same page, at least with the big items like this one?  Please?

“Just Do the Right Damned Thing”

July 14, 2010

In case you haven’t noticed from my previous blog posts, I strongly encourage people and firms to communicate honestly by getting to the core of what you are trying to accomplish with as few words as possible.  This video captures the kind of honest, straightforward communication I’ve been ranting about, and is probably one of the most compelling things C-Span has ever aired.  The message cuts through all the spin and hits you right in the gut:  People are suffering in the gulf.  Things will likely get worse before they get better.  And people need help.

The young man in this video finishes by saying “Just do the right damned thing.”  Granted, what doing “the right damned thing” means is up for debate; indeed, it is a lot easier to write a song than fix a catastrophe like the ongoing nightmare in the Gulf.   Regardless of what “doing the right thing” actually means, isn’t his passion and heartfelt sincerity refreshing compared to the lies and obfuscation we’ve seen since the spill began?

Friendly Advice for the GOP — Trashing Thurgood Marshall Will Only Hurt Your Brand

July 2, 2010

I’m not a Republican, and I do not play one on TV.  However, I would like to offer some advice to my GOP friends (yes, I am a Democrat who has GOP friends) regarding Supreme Court nominations and how they reflect on your party’s brand.

Never ever trash Thurgood Marshall no matter how right you think you are.

Look, I understand your frustrations.  No really, I do.  You feel as if the country is being taken away from you, and you need to do whatever it takes to bring it back to the way things were, or at least how they oughta be.  And you’re afraid that adding Elena Kagan to the court will add yet another activist judge on the bench that will harm the country even more.

But strictly from a standpoint of good vs. bad communications, don’t smear the legacy of Thurgood Marshall to achieve your goals.  In case you didn’t know, Marshall was rejected from admission from the University of Maryland School of Law because of his race (which, incidentally, has since named their law library after him), won in the landmark Civil Rights case Brown vs. the Board of Education and later became a Supreme Court justice.

Sure trashing him (and Kagan) as an activist judge may go over well with some in your party, but that is no way to build, or rebuild, your brand.  So I’d strongly suggest you stop before you hurt your bramd even further.

BP’s Lame Propaganda Machine

July 1, 2010

The other day, Stephen Colbert ripped into BP’s spin-doctoring regarding their oil spill.  In his typically hilarious yet brilliantly insightful way, Colbert called out BP’s BS when they say things like — and I’m paraphrasing here — golly gee, our unprecedented, catastrophic error is creating jobs by filling local hotel rooms.  See, BP does care!

Like most of you, my stomach literally burns when I think about the destruction BP wrought, and I get especially furious at pictures of the poor, helpless animals flailing in the oil.

But what makes me even madder — if that’s even possible — is BP’s lame attempt to spin their way out of this with clever messaging and finding silver lining in this oil-drenched tragedy which is still ongoing.

How stupid do they think we are?  That’s not a rhetorical question folks — really folks, how friggin’ stupid do they think we are?

Their propaganda offensive is hurting themselves as well as my field.  They are essentially labeling communications professionals to a bunch of well-paid liars who spin stories, deflect blame and try to make chicken shit into chicken salad.

Luckily, we have geniuses like Stephen Colbert (and his writers, of course) to channel this raw fury into humorous yet dead-on observations about BP’s outrageous propaganda campaign.

And if you aren’t as brilliant as Colbert and his entire writing staff, maybe you can direct your energy in, erm, more creative ways, like this guy did.  I’m not even sure what to say about him.

Mmmmmm, secret food…

June 29, 2010

Okay, I’ll admit it:  I am a junk food junkie.  Very few things give me a greater rush than Taco Tuesdays at Del Taco, except maybe a Wendy’s Frosty.  And I just love the idea of secret menus, especially from a communications perspective (more on that below.)

The author of this blog post has a partial list of establishments which offer secret menu items.  While In n Out Burger lists theirs on their website – hence they are not so secret – other places do not, including Burger King, McDonald’s and Fatburger.  If you want a good sampling of unknown menu items, sit near a Starbucks barista for 10 minutes and try to decode what some people order:  “I’ll have a half-calf 24 degrees bloopity skim light bibitty foam three-quarter bloppity whip ditty boop.”

Somehow, these baristas take their orders without spitting in customer’s faces laughing.

From a communications perspective, I am also a fan of secret menus.  They make customers feel they are part of an undercover society, where a select handful of people have the inside scoop on what’s going on behind the scenes, and only they know the mystical key words that will open a treasure vault filled with extra whipped cream or something.  Secret menus also seem to evoke a sense of childhood wonder and mystery, taking us back to our hidden forts in the back yard where only a password will grant you access.

So yes, I am a sucker for fast food, and I totally dig secret menus.   When you think about it, secret menus are a very clever and challenging marketing tactic:  after all (In n Out burger notwithstanding) how do you market something without marketing it?

Spirit Air’s Offensive Ad Campaign Is My Fault!

June 28, 2010

At long last, Spirit Air suspended their offensive ad campaign which capitalized on the BP oil spill.  Granted the ad went down with a screaming hissy fit, but hey.

Evidently Spirit decided, without my approval, that I didn’t get it.  According to them, this ad campaign was nothing more than a well-intentioned attempt to explain how the beaches they service are not impacted by the oil spill, and my inability to comprehend this is my responsibility.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s what Spirit said in a statement:

“It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today’s beach promotion. We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these hot vacation spots.”

Ahem.

Yo, Spirit Air, come a little closer.

No, a little closer.

Okay, now lean in.

I have a secret I need to whisper into your ear.

You ready?

Here it goes:

DON’T BLAME ME FOR YOUR SCREW-UPS!!!

I’ve said previously that good communications cannot replace good decision-making.  How lucky we are to have examples of bad decision-making and bad communications – all in one company!  It’s like a learning laboratory for how to not run a business with Spirit Air, no?

Spirit Airlines — Doubling Down on The Stupid

June 23, 2010

Evidently Spirit Airlines has doubled-down on a really stupid idea.

For the uninitiated, Spirit Airlines is attempting to capitalize BP’s oil spill by running ads depicting the beaches they service as full of oil-soaked women, not crude oil gushing from deep beneath the earth’s surface.  Hardy har har.  One disgruntled person wrote to Spirit and got the following response:

Thanks for writing to Spirit Airlines, and for your feedback about our new marketing campaign.It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with this sale. We are merely addressing the false perception we have oil on the many beaches we service, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.

Please accept my apology if you find this campaign offensive. It is certainly not our intent to offend our valued customers. We’ve actually received positive feedback from many who appreciate our efforts to stimulate travel to the state.

I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.

Again, thank you for your feedback. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Shorter Spirit Airlines:  You’re not as funny or clever as we are, and that’s your fault!

If I may get on my soap box for a moment, I’d like you to highlight one point in this response:  “I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Oy vey.

Too often, as in this case, communications is not considered to be an integral part of a company’s business strategy, leading to disastrous results like this.  Leaving comms out of the decision-making process is a huge mistake, and yet it is so common.  A company that communicates well has everyone on board, and on the same page, from the very beginning so there would be no need to forward “your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Once more, Corporate America:  Communications decisions are ultimately business decisions and should be treated accordingly.

This ad campaign should have never been green-lighted.  Let’s hope cooler, saner heads prevail and this ad campaign gets squashed.  Sadly for Spirit Air, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

As a side note, the most commonly used word in their response is “Feedback”.  In fact, they use the word three times in five short paragraphs.  Don’t you think they should emphasize things such as “Concerns” and “Service” instead of something as dry and emotionless as “Feedback”?  Yeesh.