Lee's 'Better Communication Results' blog

A blog to help YOU communicate better for better business results!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Podcast Number 4 now 'live'

G'day folks!

And in this week's issue: Clipart - when to use it and when NOT to use it!

Plus a very nice comment from Heidi Miller over at HeidiMillerPresents.com

Enjoy!

Subscribe to the podcast feed
Download the mp3 file

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

How to lose business

I had to pay my 6 month-old notebook's vendor a third visit recently.

The first visit was because of the motherboard frying; the second because the internal battery was stuffed.

The third was because the power block gave up life just when I really needed it. Argh!

Whilst waiting in the shop for one of the staff to see if they had a spare 'out the back' I listened in to the shop manager attempting to explain to a customer why he didn't copy over some programs from an old hard drive to a new drive she had purchased.

The customer's 'passion' levels were rapidly rising, her 'frustration meter' going off the scale. No matter how he attempted to explain his position, she was getting more and more aggravated.

In the end she stormed out, yelling that she was never coming back again, and to be honest, with the way she was handled, I don't blame her.

The manager spent all his time defending his position, talking at her rather than with her. Obviously not a devotee of Covey, he failed to 'seek first to understand, then to be understood'. Instead he just launched into a vigorous and patronising defence on why he didn't/couldn't do it.

The staff at the shop, I have noticed, are very good at selling you stuff, but not so good at helping you solve a problem when there's no direct financial incentive for them to do so. At least the chap who was helping me had helped me out in the past and was friendly and helpful to the limits he was allowed to be.

Additionally, they are no doubt very competent technologists, but their people skills are lacking.

The assistant handling my case came back shortly after the female customer had stormed out and let me know that my power block would have to be sent to Sydney to be serviced. I had to ask if they had any spares, but there weren't any.

Reluctantly, it seemed, the manager lent me a universal power adapter, but with very strict instructions to take care of it and not scratch it (no doubt he wanted to sell it as new). He then launched into a thinly-veiled and patronising series of questions to see if I had 'destroyed' mine by negligantly connecting it to the power without a surge protector. I almost got to the point of asking him if he was accusing me of lying when I said I did have a surge protector...

With my notebook suffering repeated failures, I am very much in the mood of the female customer. Next time I think I will take my business elsewhere.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

How do I black ban?

Argghh!!

Despite repeated attempts to unsubscribe from an email list, and repeated emails to the owner of the mailing service, I still keep getting email newsletters from a former business associate from whom I would rather not hear or read anything again.

Anyone know how to take the complaint up a notch? I've tried the automated unsubscribe many times, emailing the owner of the service three times... all to no avail.

I use Spamnet as my Outlook spam blocker, and I have repeatedly 'blocked' the emails, but still I receive them.

Frustration levels reaching Defcon 3 level...

She's got the gig!

Downloaded and watched Heidi Miller's promo vid - seriously impressive!

If you are looking to create your own PR video, her's is a great template.

The power of a great audio jingle

Listening to the first issue of Heidi Miller's great podcast on marketing and trade show presentations (she's up to show number three already - great listening!) I was reminded of why a good audio tag (or jingle) is so important.

I originally grabbed the idea from Robert Middleton's fantastic work on marketing for professionals -- it was he who directly inspired my answer to the question, "what do you do, Lee?"
I help businesses communicate better for better business results
A lot of alliteration, sure, but the listener is left in no doubt about what service I provide and for which market.

Heidi has a great audio tag as well, which I will let you find by listening to her first podcast. I wish she would use it as a tag/jingle for every podcast, it's that good.

Macromedia bought by Adobe

This is interesting!

My favourite software company Macromedia is being bought by Adobe.

I love Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Director and used Photoshop at LineOne in London, finding it very handy for 'stroking' images quickly, but have stayed away from using Photoshop more often because it is too 'feature-packed' for me. I like Firework's simple interface.

I never got my head around Flash, though -- I was used to Director's timelines and Flash works counter-intuitively to Director.

It'll be interesting to see if Fireworks gets a 'stroking' tool like Photoshop's.

Also interesting to note that Macromedia's share price went up on the announcement, but Adobe's went down (possibly because of brand/product dilution).


As Macromedia say on their website:
The combination of Adobe and Macromedia strengthens our mission of helping people and organizations communicate better. Through the combination of our powerful development, authoring and collaboration tools – and the complementary functionality of PDF and Flash – we have the opportunity to drive an industry-defining technology platform that delivers compelling, rich content and applications across a wide range of devices and operating systems.
I whole heartedly approve of anything that helps people and organisations communicate better!

Go on, try and tell me this blogging/podcasting thing is a waste of time...

What an amazing few days/weeks...

Because of a few mp3 comments sent to their podcast I get to start building a relationship with some bearded bloke (an ex Doobie Brother, I reckon) in California and a geezer in Amsterdam, then the incoming Chair of the IABC drops me a personal email because he has a good friend in Adelaide, inviting himself over for a coffee soon (which is gladly accepted!), then I get a very attractive and highly intelligent woman with a great podcast saying nice things about my own podcast (you'll hear her in my next podcast)...

Tell me this blogging/podcasting stuff isn't wonderful, go on...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

IABC - a first impression

Having now swelled the illustrious ranks of the IABC, induced in no small part by Nifty Nev and Shakin' Shel's wholehearted endorsement of the organisation, I am able to report on my first impressions.

"Very" is a word that springs to mind.

The resources available are impressive -- I haven't had time to wander aimlessly through the books and material available for purchase, but certainly a few quick clicks of my mouse enabled me to print off a swag of great articles for reading on the bus.

Sure, a couple of the articles are 'magaziney' in feel (as in a little light on 'how to' and a bit too much like articles you'd find in House & Garden), but some were absolute corkers!

I've committed what many of my peers would consider heresy -- I've read the $#@^ing manual on MyComms before actually starting work on producing a Comms plan with it. Once I start the project proper I'll get to put my reading into practice. Stay tuned!

So all in all, my first impression is very positive.

Living as I do in Adelaide, there's no 'chapter' for me to join, so I join the ranks of the 'members at large'. [I wonder if it is a comment on my waist size? Has my wife been talking to them behind my back?] But no doubt there will be plenty of opportunities to find IABC colleagues here in Australia at an appropriate time.

So thanks, Nev & Shel, for recommending the organisation to me. You are indeed good ambassadors.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Hopkins swells ranks of IABC

Well, I took the plunge and joined the IABC.

No doubt there will be champagne corks a-poppin' in IABC HQ tonight...

Now playing in a mp3 player near you...

This week's podcast is now online and I look at modes of communication in a busy world.

Many thanks to Shel & Neville for their kind comments, as well as a big "G'day" to Fred.

Subscribe to the podcast / download the mp3 file.

Confused about podcasting and how to subscribe to the feed? Visit a page on my website dedicated to explaining how to subscribe to podcasts.

Mentioned in today's podcast was Ken Evoy's 'Deliver My Mail' (disclosure: I am a keen supporter of Ken Evoy's SiteSell concept and this is an affiliate link)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Someone's using my content

This is bizarre!

Following on from comments in FIR #22, I searched Technorati for my own name.

Came up with multiple entries in a blog called 'Conference Call'. It seems to republish others' content, but only part of it.

There is no attribution to the author other than somewhere in the text, and no links back to my site or blog.

But there are also no Google Adsense ads around it, so as far as I can see there's no monetization going on. So the infringement of copyright is a subjective point.

I wonder what Conference Call's business model is?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Time to blog versus business need to blog

I've been wondering about the impact on the small business that blogging has, principally around the amount of time it takes to blog versus the ROI.

Sure, the Edelman/Intelliseek report is fabulous (in spite of the Pew controversy), but the report looks at the impact on customer engagement (and one can extrapolate that to include staff engagement too) resultant from blogging. The report, and all of the bandwidth at the moment in the blogosphere about business blogging, seems to focus on corporate blogging.

But for the SOHO/entrepreneur/micro business owner one has to wonder if there is an ROI worth the effort.

I know how long it takes to pull material together for a one-hour podcast. Some podcasts are made daily, some are recorded twice per week, plus the creators blog extensively as well.

Where do they find the time? Is it that 'business is slow' therefore they have time on their hands? Do they have others to delegate business life (such as selling, following up, production) to? What happens to their audience when they go on holiday/burn out? In traditional terrestrial radio it is a maxim that you never take a holiday, for fear of losing your audience and/or your replacement doing a better job that you do.

A series of posts over at my hosting company (I am a passionate SiteSell customer) have made me think about the ROI of blogging. Sure, the search engines love it, but that is going to be a temporary blip, perhaps, until the engines figure out what to do with all of the new content.

If a search engine's task is to deliver useful results, then a random blog (albeit rich in keywords) goes only a little way towards solving the searcher's headache compared to a full article on it. But blogs seem to have some level of primacy at the moment. At the moment.

The question remains: does the time it takes to blog provide a large enough ROI for the SOHO/entrepreneur? Someone who probably already has their hands full trying to keep their business afloat (assuming that they are adhering to the three basics).

I believe that if you do NOT provide your customers/prospects with a way to engage in dialogue with you, if you don't allow the opportunity for others to create a community with you, then you are missing an important part of creating your own brand identity.

Sure, I blog and podcast precisely because I consult on blogging and podcasting; but the 'early adopters' of new technology steal a significant march on those who come later.

True, some technologies are blind alleys, but SOHO/micro entrepreneurs (myself included) have to make risky business decisions every day. Sometimes our decisions pay off, sometimes they don't. That's business life. The decision to invest in blogging (and it's more time-intensive sister, podcasting) are decisions about being 'early to market' and 'defining and reinforcing your brand'.

Your views?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Thanks, Fred!

Fred Zelders in Holland has very kindly commented on my podcast -- and even posted a couple of blogs about me (here's his second blog and here's his third).

Mind you, my Dutch isn't what it used to be!
(it never was in the first place! [smile]).

Thanks and Goeiedag Fred!

How do you do (it)

Question to my fellow communicators:

What tool(s) do you use for conducting a Communications Needs Assessment and/or Audit?

Why do you prefer that/those tools?

Looking forward to your comments and thoughts.

Blogging about blogging, podcasting about podcasting...

Various blogs and podcasts I subscribe to have recently been discussing why it is that bloggers seem to waste so much time talking about blogging (especially business bloggers), and why business podcasters do similar on their podcasts.

As Shel and Neville have suggested, it's just the evangelism process at work. We business communicators who DO 'get it' are trying to 'beat the drum' so that those who 'don't get it' might finally pay attention.

I find blogs are, yes, online journals. But they can be and often are so much more.

In the Cluetrain spirit, blogs and podcasts are amazing opportunities for companies to better manage their knowledge, spread their PR activities wider, develop a genuine 'voice' that can interact with the public, elicit feedback from customers, clients and the public, allow people to 'time shift' when they hear news about their product or service a business provides, and much more.

If any of us are guilty of incessantly talking about this new medium, it is because we are excited about its possiblities. Forgive us, but we genuinely believe blogs and podcasts can add substantially to the communications mix for any company.

Podcast no. 2 - now 'live' to a player near you

Issue 2 of Better Communications Results (the podcast version) is now online.
Subscribe and receive it regularly...

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Catholic Insider is not alone!

My local church now podcasts!

I have helped them set up a podcast of their Sunday services, plus bundle the sermon PowerPoint.

The whole kit and kaboodle is available on their website -- now I just have to educate the church's community on what RSS, XML and Podcasting actually are, and why they would want to get onboard.

The Podcast Brothers

Came across the Podcast Brothers' podcast via FIR #21, and find it an amazing resource.

If you are considering setting up your own podcast and are interested in monetization issues, their's is an excellent resource.

Creative Commons Licence

Once again the 'net saves the day.

I know I'd seen a posting on Shel's blog about a Creative Commons image database, but never got around to finding the link.

What a goldmine!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Oops -- xml file empty!

Ooopps!

I uploaded my Better Communication Results mp3 file, registered with a few podcasting directories, then found out that my xml file was empty - no item in it.

Damn!

Sorry to those who have attempted to subscribe - please try again...

It should be working properly now.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

BCR Podcast launched

Inspired by the growth and business awareness of podcasting as a legitimate communications channel, it seemed only right that I started 'smoking the podcasting dope'.

Starting today, and available on a semi-regular basis (because clients get in the way! [grin]), my own podcast on communication issues is now up for listening.

Please feel free to avail yourself of the Better Communications Results mp3 file, or subscribe to podcatch it.

More details about the podcast, plus some other podcasts I listen to and useful software, are on my website on a page about communications mp3s.

Sharpening the Saw

Having printed off Douglas' templates, I noticed a section that allows you to 'Sharpen The Saw' (Covey's concept of self-improvement and development, inter alia).

It reminded me that I had a personal goal of attending eight business-related seminars this year.

I then realised I already attend two one-hour seminars each week — Shel & Nev's For Immediate Release podcast.

So thanks, guys, for saving me a shedload of dollars on seminar fees; you chaps keep me more up-to-date on issues relevant to business communication than I could possibly hope for.

That was quick!

Douglas just left a comment re my previous post about an A5 planner template.

He's moved my wish to reality, so I'll definately be downloading it later today and giving it a road test.

Incidentally, I printed off the US-formatted template exactly how he said not to do it -- I centred it and enlarged it to fit my paper (A4) and it looked really nice. So I'll definately be interested to see how the A5 version looks when enlarged to A4 size... could well save Douglas having to spend time re-jigging the templates to A4 format.

Thanks again, Douglas, for a great tool! I'm a fan!!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Douglas Johnston's Day Planner v2 is out

Like Douglas, I'm a devotee of the tactile relationship between pen ( in my case my beloved fountain pen) and paper.

So the recent loss of my crusty Palm III was welcomed as an opportunity to return to an age where you can doodle, create and scribble without having to power up or worry about low batteries. And as my notebook weighs a ton that, too, is a consideration! [smile]

Get the D*I*Y PlannerGreat to see Douglas has released his Day Planner -- I'm eagerly awaiting a European-sized A5 format...

Friday, April 01, 2005

A division will ariseth...

Listening to one of Adam Curry's Daily Source Code podcasts today, and especially where he recommended a link on his show notes off to Amazon with his affiliate link in it so he can show that podcasting can make money, I was struck by the thought that blogging and podcasting will, in the next year or two, evolve in the same way that the web has -- into two different mainstream camps.

There will be those for whom blogging and podcasting will remain a much-loved hobby. And there will be those whose income stream and business branding requires them to podcast and blog.

But the vast majority of those currently blogging and, especially, podcasting, will find the amount of time and energy required to blog and podcast too much.

Their ROI will be insufficient to justify the demands in light of competing demands such as sleeping, eating, spending time with the family, earning money to pay bills, etc., etc.

I know that there is an increasingly large amount of tumbleweed blowing through blogspace; no doubt courageous, witty and resource-intensive podcasts will start to fall by the wayside shortly as their creators run out of steam (creative, financial and time).