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Marijean

Distracted: Lack of Focus and Attention is Making our Lives Worse

By | Communications | No Comments

Numerous PSAs inform us that distracted driving is bad, something we all know, yet continue to practice. It’s hard for us to sit through even a half-hour TV show without checking our phones numerous times. The embarrassingly messed up  Best Picture Award announcement at the 2017 Academy Awards was blamed on an accountant distracted by a tweet.  Children whose parents pay more attention to their mobile phones are acting out to get the attention they need.  We’re failing at paying attention in ways that are inevitably making our lives worse.

Too many of us believe in the fallacy that multitasking makes us more productive and effective. We know better, but we’ve all become experts at distracting ourselves. It’s hard to sit quietly and wait for an appointment, accompanied by nothing but our own thoughts, without checking our phones. When I’m on a deadline, or working on a client or writing project I do manage to shut everything else out. I need to. I know that the results are far better when my total attention is focused. I don’t take calls or look at texts; I don’t stop to check social media sites. I just write. Sometimes I even disconnect from wifi so I’m not tempted to take a little break. It works.

Over the weekend, there was a popup, sudden, severe storm that caused a power surge at my home. The modem failed and since Saturday, our home has been internet-free while we wait for the replacement to be shipped and installed.

It’s been surprisingly freeing.

Work has happened just in the office or at meetings. Entertainment is in interaction with one another or reading books. It’s so tempting to continue internet-free at home for longer, to see if we can resume better habits of paying attention, of focusing on one another or on the tasks at hand. I keep seeing evidence of distraction hurting people around me. I think it’s important to take stock of how distracted we are, and how much we’re allowing distraction to happen, before we lose what matters to us.

Hal Movius on Negotiation, Conflict Resolution in the Workplace in Fast Company

By | Communications | No Comments

Hal Movius ResolveNegotiation expert Hal Movius published a book, Resolve: Negotiating Life’s Conflicts with Greater Confidence  and has immediately gained nationwide attention. Hal’s book comes at a time when anxiety is high, and relationships, in and out of the workplace have another layer of potential for conflict. This week, Hal teaches us how to turn confrontation at work into productivity. From the article:

“People who think of themselves as pretty cooperative tend to avoid or give in when they’re up against more powerful counterparts at work. But the fact is that using confrontation in these situations isn’t about getting aggressive or being pushy. Do it right, and it becomes a subtle technique for prodding your counterpart back to the table. With a little resolve and a willingness to wade into conflict rather than shrink from it, you can actually build more collaborative partnerships than you’d otherwise think.”

I’m learning a lot from Resolve and from Hal’s work. Learning techniques for successful negotiation and perhaps more importantly, building one’s confidence to deal with work issues is something just about everyone needs.

CrowdJustice Platform Launches in the US with Legal Aid Justice Center Case

By | Public Relations | No Comments

Our work in public relations and social media strategy sometimes intersects with fundraising efforts, as it did this week when Legal Aid Justice Center launched a crowdfunding effort through CrowdJustice, a platform designed to raise funds specifically to support legal cases.  We think legal help should be available to anyone who needs it, and CrowdJustice was established on that premise. The case Legal Aid is asking to support is Aziz vs. Trump,

“Just hours after President Trump signed his executive order on immigration, Tareq and Ammar were handcuffed, detained, and forced to sign papers that they had neither read nor understood.  Those papers signified a “voluntary” waiver of their legal immigration status.  They were then put on a plane to Ethiopia, the location of their layover on their way to Dulles.  As of this writing, they are still in the airport, unable to leave and with no place to go.”

The goal of Legal Aid’s litigation is to force the United States government to bring Tareq and Ammar back to the United States and to restore their immigration status.  The organization is seeking the same for each of the other ~60 Visa holders and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) deported from Dulles under similar circumstances.

If you’re inspired to give to this case, or others like it on CrowdJustice, you can do so here. The CrowdJustice platform brings legal aid to the masses, which should be of interest to all of us.

Is it News? Check Your Pitch Against the 8 News Values

By | Media, Public Relations | No Comments

Seasoned PR people and journalists know what makes something news, and what doesn’t. We all hate to see any kind of brand or organization wasting time spinning its wheels pitching news that isn’t newsworthy. What makes something news? Check it against these eight standard news values:

  1. Proximity
  2. Prominence
  3. Significance
  4. Timeliness
  5. Human interest
  6. Unusualness
  7. Conflict
  8. Currency (newness)

Even if you’re clear on what value your pitch holds, you may struggle. “Is it enough?” In fact, it’s better for a story to have proximity, for example, AND unusualness. Conflict AND timeliness. Prominence AND human interest. More value leads to greater likelihood your story will get picked up. If you’re still unclear, scan through a list of headlines in your local paper or favorite online news source (local news may have more diversity in values than that on the national or global level) and see if the values jump out at you.

Piedmont Housing Alliance and the Redevelopment of Friendship Court

By | Public Relations | No Comments

 

Our client, Piedmont Housing Alliance faces many challenges. Their mission is to help provide access to affordable housing to people in central Virginia. They do this by providing Piedmont Housing Allianceeducation to help people save, clean up their credit scores, and purchase a home. They do their homework and connect people with sources to get mortgage assistance or subsidies. They purchase, renovate, and build properties to help shrink the affordable housing gap in our community. Currently, they’re working on the redevelopment of a big community called Friendship Court, a 12-block, 150 unit, Section 8 subsidized housing development in the heart of downtown Charlottesville.

Piedmont Housing is a nonprofit organization, so they raise funds from private donors, through government funding, and through grants to support their mission. They share the information about the work their doing through an e-newsletter, a blog on their website, and for the Friendship Court project, on www.friendshipcourtapartments.com.  Both Piedmont Housing Alliance and Friendship Court Apartments have Facebook pages. They keep the public informed through press releases shared with local media, and staff stays in close communication with the residents they serve in all the properties they own or manage.

We believe that affordable, safe housing is essential for everyone in our community. We are pleased to help Piedmont Housing share the word about what they offer, raise funds to support the good work they do, and seek opportunities to tell their story.