What to Say When Someone Offers Holiday Greetings You Don’t Share

By Communications

Joey DeVilla sums it up nicely with a handy flowchart. His point is, of course, if someone wishes you any kind of warm, thoughtful greeting — even if it’s for a holiday you don’t celebrate — thank them, and wish them well! It’s not an invitation to argue with them. It’s not an attempt to proselytize. It’s just a greeting.

Having worked in public relations my entire career, I’ve been conditioned to offer very holiday nonspecific greetings and am often, perhaps, overly careful to share the appropriate message. This post, though, makes me rethink that a little, and this year, I’m just going to wish people well however the mood strikes.

As we head into Thanksgiving, in that case, I wish you all a Happy Pie Day!

Losing Battles with Social Media

By Communications, Social Media

It’s kind of funny that the same arguments, concerns, and battles about social media are still happening in the workplace. I forget that not everyone has adapted, adopted, and generally accepted that the internet, at the least, and social media tools of all kinds, are part of our daily work and personal lives. I forget that there are still some bosses, managers, and business owners who are afraid of social media or, really, anything internet-based. (I taught a class recently and this was brought up, rather emphatically, by a student.) It’s fear of the unknown, of course. The people with the biggest concerns are not users, themselves. There’s a lack of understanding of how the tools work, and an assumption that quickly follows, that IT MUST BE BAD.

If it’s important to you and your business that all of your employees stay off of social media at all times, but especially while at work, you’d better put that in a written policy that they sign, then enforce it consistently. Clarify that even using their own personal smartphones during work hours to access social media is a violation, if that’s how you feel about it. Be really up front with new employees and bring down the hammer on any current employees. Don’t complain about how hard it is to manage this or enforce it; we know that. But that’s the choice you’ve made: it’s more important to you to spend time making sure your people aren’t spending time in one specific way, than to establish what you DO want employees doing, in terms of communications.

I get that people abuse social media and, in general, the internet, but we’ve lost that battle across the board. You can’t effectively enforce all internet activity of people who work and in general, trying is not going to be worth the energy output.

But again, be clear, and when people keep doing what you don’t want them to do, they might just want a different job for an employer who doesn’t mind if they tweet. Help them be free to get that job.

E-mail: The Scourge of Good Communication

By Communications

No one wants more e-mail. And yet, we sign up for e-mails because, in some cases, it is the only way to consistently get the information we seek. E-mail has gotten easier to access with smartphones, but that’s part of the problem.

How many of you have an Inbox at zero? Ever?

The biggest challenge we face is the effective management of e-mail. The “touch it once” philosophy is great if you’re not already so overwhelmed by unread messages, some of which might actually be important. I’ve sat next to a number of executives and helped them get control of this problem. It’s a one-time setup, but solves the problem pretty neatly and gives the client back the time he or she needs to do much more important tasks.

Years later, I hear from those clients who tell me that they’re able to get to “Inbox: Zero” every day. That’s pretty gratifying for me, but mostly, for them!

What’s the “touch it once” philosophy? With each new e-mail, you have decisions to make:

  1. Trash it (with secondary decisions of, a) should a rule be created? b) is this SPAM or junk to which you need to unsubscribe?)
  2. Respond to it
  3. File it

Some of you read number three and think, “File it WHERE?” and that’s the time consuming part of getting out in front of this — setting up the organization of your e-mail and the rules to help KEEP you organized going forward.

Imagine this: what if every time you entered the house with bags of groceries, they were whisked out of your hands and everything was put away exactly where it needed to go. What if, additionally, spoiled food was removed from your refrigerator, making room for new ingredients, and the trash was deposited neatly in the receptacle outside and rolled to the curb? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Think about that the next time you are faced with a burgeoning inbox, and let me know if you think your team could benefit from some executive session help with that.

A Grandma by any other Name

By Communications

My sister became a grandmother last week. I’m not a grandmother, so I’m a wee bit jealous she gets to nuzzle a newborn and buy cute, itty, bitty things for the new guy in her life. I am delighted to be a great aunt for the first time, and it takes me back to when the little guy’s dad, my nephew was born, when I was a fifteen-year-old high school student. I was pretty excited about that, too.

We’re young, I think, for titles starting grand- and great- and younger, I think, than our parents or own grandparents seemed when they earned these designations. My own grandmother seemed grandmotherly my whole life, certainly. We called her Granny Hig (short for Higgins). I mean, EVERYONE called her Granny Hig, even those not related to her. (Except for my father, her son-in-law. He called her simply “Hig.”)

I don’t know what my sister will be called as a grandmother. Her kids call their grandparents (her husband’s parents) Grammy and Pop. Everyone has names for grandparents: Meemaw, Pop-Pop, Oma and Opa, etc. My cousins’ grandmother on their dad’s side was Granny Pop. I thought that was cute. My dad campaigned pretty hard to be called Big Daddy when his daughters were pregnant. He’s still Grandpa.

Some grandmothers are so sensitive to the grandma-stigma that they insist on some alternative nickname that has nothing to do with grand-motherhood at all. My former mother-in-law began referring to herself in the third person immediately. “Would you like Grandma to get that for you?”

I haven’t given it a lot of consideration just yet. In my head, I’m still about 28 years old, so it seems like a faraway need.

What do you want to be called as a grandparent, or what are you called, if you already have some doubtless, adorable and brilliant grandchildren? Does it matter to you?

What did you call your grandparents?

Twitter Plays a Role in the Ferguson Shooting Grand Jury

By Crisis Communications, Social Media

On September 23, 2014, I published a post called Social Media in a Crisis: How to Help the Search for Hannah Graham. I heard from a lot of people who were in support of my guidance within. I heard from two people who had different opinions.

In my professional capacity with my firm, Jaggers Communications, I advise businesses and the people who represent them, in part, how to use social media and how to conduct themselves online to achieve business goals, to maintain a professional profile, and to establish strong personal brands. I also have more than 18 years’ experience in public relations and advising corporations and public entities in crisis communications strategy. I use my blog as a vehicle to advise people who are interested in these pursuits, and sometimes reach a much broader audience, as was the case with this post.

I am watching news unfold today from the Washington Post about possible misconduct within the Grand Jury in the Ferguson, Missouri criminal case regarding the shooting of Michael Brown.  The news concerns Twitter and its use by members of the jury and their friends who also use Twitter.

Social media use can certainly complicate a criminal trial. It makes it very difficult to appoint a jury of people who have not seen or heard information or opinions about a case with news as widespread as the Ferguson shooting case, or as in the case against Jesse LJ Matthew and the disappearance of Hannah Graham. A compromised jury in a criminal case can sometimes result in a mistrial. Missteps in our criminal justice system can sometimes mean a guilty party goes free. It sometimes mean that an innocent person is charged.

My role, as a communications professional counseling others is to provide guidance about best practices. It’s to help us all be thoughtful about our communications both one-on-one and to a vast audience. I hope, like all members of the community in which I live, that Hannah Graham is found and justice is served.

We can help that cause by sharing sources for news, information relevant to the community (search sites, calls for volunteers, requests of the community made by the police department and other relevant content that needs to reach a larger audience.