Lee's 'Better Communication Results' blog

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Presentation of Comms Strategy & Plan to MD

This afternoon is my presentation to the MD of my Communications Strategy and Tactical Plan for her company.

I've put together a spiffing presentation in Director (even though I barely scratch the surface of it, I really love using it -- it knocks the socks off PowerPoint, but the learning curve is steep).

I've fine tuned the printed report -- all that remains is to let the nerves settle, say a little prayer and get on with it.

Presentation starts at 1.30pm -- wish me luck!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Robert Middleton is lecturing in London and NY

My favourite marketing guru after Seth Godin is Robert Middleton.

He has a couple of workshop and intensives coming up in NY (July 16/17) and London (July 23/24).

If you get the chance, definately get along.

And if you haven't heard of Robert before, check out his free workbook and chapter from his outstandingly good book, "The InfoGuru Marketing Manual". I have yet to read any marketing 'how to' material for professionals that comes anywhere near his work...

Comments and rss feeds

There's been an interesting discussion going on over at Jack's place regarding comments appearing in blog rss feeds.

I'd love to see comments, but as long as each new comment doesn't then trigger my feed reader to think that the parent blog post is 'new' each time.

Completely off topic... Desert Island Discs again

Arrgh!!

A colleague lent me a copy of the recent Jean Michel Jarre album 'AERO' (see, I am old! - "album") and I suddenly remembered why I spent the better part of a decade listening to every one of his albums over and over and over again.

But it highlighted again the difficulty of reducing a passionate listening and music creation life down to just eight pieces. How can any list incorporate the diversity of my listening and do it justice? How do I fit in more Status Quo? More Tom Waits? Some Thomas Dolby? Some AC/DC? Thousands of hours listening to trance? Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Chopin, the Cure, the Police, Pink Floyd, Albanoni's and Barber's Adagios, Brian Eno, more recent additions like Switchfoot...

Or what of those one-hit wonders that somehow you keep humming in your head at 4am on a wet sleepless wednesday: The Cult's 'She Sells Sanctuary', REM's 'Everybody Hurts' and 'Losing My Religion', Tears for Fear's 'Pharoahs', Jellyfish's two great albums and 'Ignorance is Bliss'?

Arrgh, the agony of decisions. I now despise a once-good friend for starting me down this path [smile].

So, change to the Music list for my Desert Island Discs:
  • 'Oxygene 2' by Jean Michel Jarre
  • 'Your Song' by Elton John (but the 'Moulin Rouge' version by Nicole and Ewan; watching Moulin Rouge at a Cinema in the Park a few years ago on an early date was key for the good lady wife and I; we fell in love there and both cried over Satine's death)
  • 'Once Bitten Twice Shy' by Ian Hunter
  • 'Paper Plane' by Status Quo
  • Live version of 'The Piano Has Been Drinking' by Tom Waits
  • 'Don't Stop the Dance' by Bryan Ferry
  • 'Dare You To Move' by Switchfoot
  • 'Eagle Rock' by Daddy Cool

And if I could only take one song? Oxygene 2.
My luxury remains an anchored yacht.

And if I couldn't take 'Good Omens' as my book, then how would I separate any of my Le Carre or Len Deighton spy books? Arrrgh...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Roller weblogger

Thanks to the ever-amazing Constantin for this.

He put me onto Roller weblogging software as a possible (and free) option for installed blogging software for my client. Certainly looks interesting and the price is right - just depends on my client's IT bods and if they are able/willing to support it.

A potential visit to Sydney shortly to visit the IT chappies will no doubt clear up some of the fog around the issues they have - bandwidth, support, extranets...

Incidentally, they have quoted a colleague of mine (prior to my involvement) a very large sum to create an extranet. I would be interested in any folk's views on how much an extranet might cost to set up if I provide the server and co-locate its hosting. Any ideas, folks?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Better Communications Results podcast # 8 now playing in an mp3 player near you

Yippee!!

This week's podcast is now live and ready for grabbing.

And in this week's feature-packed issue I discuss how to build bridges of communication, plus consider 38 ways we can stay in touch with our clients.

At just 8 minutes and 04 seconds long, it's a bargain!

Download it now and listen to it immediately.

Or have your Doppler or Ipodder feedcatcher automatically download this and every new podcast of mine by hovering your mouse over the following link, then copying and pasting the shortcut into your feedcatcher: subscribe to my podcast feed

Links:
Robert Shaffer - High-Impact Consulting: How Clients And Consultants Can Leverage Rapid Results Into Long-Term Gains; Alan Weiss - Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional's Guide to Growing a Practice

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Powersupply Blues... again

"I don't believe it!" said Victor Meldew. Neither do I.

I have my power supply for my notebook back for a week and it dies again. The reseller took it off me last time it failed, sent it to Sydney, and it took 2 weeks to come back with a 'nothing wrong with it' tag.

So there's nothing wrong with it again, I would assume...

Grrrrr..... really doubtful I will be buying any more gear from this supplier (link and name not supplied until they hit 'three strikes').

Mission Statements - time to die?

Found a great question asked by Katherine Ters over at the IABC Memberspeak forum, asking if Mission Statements were going out of fashion.

I can imagine mission statements going (slightly) away simply because the vast majority of readers of a mission statement are not emotionally impacted by them.

To take a 'cluetrain'-ian perspective, the mission statement is, by and large, a statement of how well 'we' (the company) will do, not how 'you' (the customer) will directly be affected. Most mission statements miss the WIIFM factor.

If markets, both internal and external, are now conversations (and there is growing evidence that this is indeed the case) then the mission statement is a one-way monologue. And who wants to listen to yet another highly-paid executive lecture you when you are an employee or customer at the lower end of the food chain and are struggling to make ends meet... High ideals are great when you can afford them, but high ideals don't feed the family.

However, the mission statement cannot afford to die entirely, because without it a company's 'reason to live' dies with it. If you don't know why you are or why you should be in the marketplace, don't be.

To add another twist to the discussion, I came across this link to FastCompany and their mission statement:

Quasi blogs revisited

Previous links:
Quasi blogs and RSS
Quasi blogs
===================

I didn't expect it, but it looks like it will be more expensive to bring quasi-blogs in via Contribute on everyone's desk than it will having 'real' blogs.

Even with 100+ users, MoveableType still comes in cheaper than rolling out Contribute to everyone, plus it comes with RSS built-in, which my client's current set up of flat html on a fileserver doesn't have.

So a combination of MoveableType for every employee, plus Contribute for the 7-8 major content producers/managers, works best for my client's dollar, methinks.

Funny, but I never expected the numbers to stack up that way when I started out...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Freezing my ...

Timing is all, isn't it?

I have a really bad cold/flu. So now is the perfect time for the reverse cycle airconditioning heater to collapse, after less than a year from installation.

It's a Panasonic unit, by the way...

The repair company that services Panasonic units still under warranty don't keep a spare of the dual overhead flanging scrumptionshiner that has gone faulty.

So it's freezing in the Adelaide hills at night, it's a weekend, there is no 'supply' date given for the new scrumptionshiner, I feel like death warmed up in a bucket...

But hey -- on the bright side, it's not a cold day, I'm about to go outside, sit in whatever sun is available and record my report for FIR #35; the lovely Heidi Miller gave me a fabulous review in her own podcast (which, by the way, just keeps getting better and better as she, and we all, get used to the medium); I will then create the advert powerpoints for my church's Sunday service and then get back to re-reading a much-loved classic: 'Smiley's People'.

I've been struck by a 'Desert Island Discs' attack, so am currently attempting to re-read my favourite books and compile a list of top 8 pieces of music I'd love to be stranded with on a desert island. And I do believe that I am already in the best country in the world (.mov - corrected link) so it would take a lot to make me want to be stranded on a desert island.

For the record, the favourite book after the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare (which are automatically stranded with you) would be "Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch".

I've read some of Terry Pratchett's other stuff, but it's the darkness in the humour that works for me in this book. I loved Gaiman's Neverwhere series on the beeb when it first aired, so was very thankful when someone bought me the 'book on cassette' version. As a reviewer said, Neverwhere is 'the sort of book Terry Pratchett might produce if he spent a month locked in a cellar with Franz Kafka'

Music?
  1. 'Nightporter' by Japan
  2. "Nostalgia' by David Sylvian
  3. 'Once Bitten Twice Shy' by Ian Hunter
  4. 'Paper Plane' by Status Quo
  5. 'Rain Dogs' by Tom Waits
  6. 'Don't Stop the Dance' by Bryan Ferry
  7. 'Dare You To Move' by Switchfoot
  8. 'Eagle Rock' by Daddy Cool
And if I could only take one song? Eagle Rock.
My luxury: as George Clooney said, an anchored yacht.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Phone+PDA combo

Okay - this is one of those 'I need your help' moments...

In slotting in the last few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle for my client, I am looking at integrating PDA and mobile phone technology.

Of course, the Blackberry exists, but it is cumbersome and ugly. Does anyone have any suggestions as to other options? Must be able to sync with Outlook would be a good first start... battery life not too important, as I envisage the phone/pda being charged overnight each night.

Over to you...

BCR # 7 now live

And in this week's feature I discuss Oral Versus Written Communication.

At just 8 minutes and 42 seconds long, it's a bargain!

Download it now and listen to it immediately

Or have your Doppler or Ipodder feedcatcher automatically download this and every new podcast of mine by hovering your mouse over the following link, then copying and pasting the shortcut into your feedcatcher: subscribe to my podcast feed

Erk... a horrible head cold and a podcast to record

Yuch! I have a horrible head cold.

It attacked me yesterday -- swept over me.

At 1pm I was fine, by 6pm I was in bed, three layers of clothing and the heating on, shivering.

I'm so glad I have an understanding, supportive wife - she kept the family routine going while I collapsed.

Now I am home from the office, wrapped up in bed, about to record this week's podcast. Don't expect verbal pyrotechnics!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

And then there is REAL stupidity...

I couldn't believe this when I read it. A friend in the UK emailed me with the content of a 'discussion' they'd had with their IT department.

It seems that any 'out of office' auto-reply set up on the company's email client only gets sent to in-house addresses.

Which means that if my friend Peter sets up a "sorry, I'm on holidays for a month" autoreply then only his work colleagues in the same company will get the message. Anyone from outside the company who sends Peter an email won't get any response.

Not surprisingly, upon finding this 'feature' of the email client software he contacted his IT department. He was told to 'log a fault' wherein he received an autoreply advising him it would be approximately 5 working days before he got another auto-email outlining the progress of his 'fault'.

Peter comments:

Have to update you to say that I received a call telling me that "this is the way it is". I was actually told that I should send out a message to my customers before I was going on holiday to let them know I would be away. Fine for someone like me who has one company/multiple contacts but what about the account managers who have hundreds of accounts and millions of contacts????

And as we all know, everything communicates - even silence. It just doesn't
necessarily communicate what you want it to.

Communication strategy - almost there

At the start of my third week on this project and I'm almost there...

A couple of minor things to sort out and then I am going to put together a Director presentation (because PowerPoint doesn't let me do the funky stuff that Director does!)

One of the issues to be sorted out is whether to purchase MoveableType and install on our server, use TypePad for external hosting (but, if I can figure it out, secure so that the world and Technorati can't get to the content) or go down my original flat html-and-Contribute route.

There's pros and cons for each course, but the Contribute route has presented the biggest headache so far: without hosting my client's intranet on a 'proper' web server (but instead just as a file in a folder on a windows fileserver) there is no way that any feedreaders can get to any xml file on the fileserver.

So the knowledge-sharing component of my strategy gets derailed because of a lack of any way to notify interested parties to new content available at individual blogs. Instead, they would have to manually go to each blogger's page and decide if there is new content there, and if so if it is relevant - a large cognitive load for a busy call centre operator or claims processor.

As always, my proposal will also incorporate a significant educative component -- what ARE blogs and podcasts and WHY would a business want to use them? I've got to take senior management down the path of understanding the WHY first before I can ask them to make a commitment or go to battle with my client's owner's IT group.

I can't remember who's blog it was that talked about it, but the cure for insomnia, they said, was to spend time discussing bandwidth with their IT folk... I'd add that it is a sure-fire way to raise my blood pressure -- having any discussion with IT on getting a commitment to allow an increase in bandwidth usage.

Linking and targeting

It is really beginning to annoy me...

I can fully understand why people do it---because of pop-up ads and the blocking thereof---but the lack of a default or 'switchable' target for links from blogs to other blogs or sites is really annoying. When I want to follow a link from someone's blog I have to right mouse click and 'open in new window'.

Whenever I create a blogpost I have to manually edit the html to append the requisite target="_blank" code to each link. Time consuming and error-prone.

But if I don't do it then I run the very real risk of someone following a link from my blog and disappearing from view for ever. Not a desired outcome for me.

Does anyone else have a solution to the targeting conundrum?

Monday, May 16, 2005

I've been promo'd

Man O Man!!!

Shel just sent me the audio intro for my next report -- I am stunned!!

I cannot wait to hear FIR 33 to see how they introduce it!

Talk about flattered...

Friday, May 13, 2005

RSS and quasi-blogs - rethink

Hmmm...

I tried putting an xml file on our server, then having BlogExpress find it.

No such luck, which makes me think there must be some underlying code that sits on a webserver and doesn't sit on a fileserver (I'm not a techie so please forgive me if I got this wrong).

So having flat html quasi-blogs might not be a useful idea, as there is no way to update feed readers with the latest posts.

Darn!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Why I love blogs as a knowledge management tool

As part of the strategy document I'm putting together I needed some info on companies who blog. I'd visited all the usual suspects (most helpfully the ever-amazing Constantin and Jeremy Wright), but also remembered Shel Holtz had posted about a European company who gave their new starts a blog as part of the new-start package.

But could I remember the company's name?

Nope - but because of the magic of archiving, I found Shel's article and another piece of evidence gets added to my report.

Gotta love this technology!

BlogTalk Downunder

blogtalk downunder, sydney, May 19-22

[sigh]

I wish I could go, but existing commmitments preclude it.

Looks like a great few days in a beautiful part of the world...

Call me slow, but...

I came across Steve Crescenzo's superb blog over at Ragan Communications and took up his suggestion of downloading a free copy of this month's 'New and Improved' Journal of Employee Communication Management.

WOW!

Not only do I find me old china Shel in there (note to non-Aussies, 'china' is aussie rhyming slang for 'mate', as in 'china plate'... 'mate'), but a superb collection of articles I wouldn't normally access.

Great stuff!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Drawing blood from my fingers

I really detest it, even though I know I'm good at it --- writing.

I am putting together the first draft of my final comms plan for my client and every word is like a pulled tooth.

As they say, you cannot edit a blank page.

I know I'll be proud of the end result, but at the moment I am looking for any distraction to keep me from having to think of what to say...

Coffee, anyone?

Monday, May 09, 2005

De.licio.us not working for me

Having had a spare 20 minutes up my sleeve, I thought I'd try out de.licio.us.

Registered, got the obligatory registration email, logged in. But despite several mentions in the site's 'About' and other pages, I cannot find the small bookmarklet to install.

Have I missed something, or does the bookmarklet no longer exist?

I love the idea and would love to use it, but for now I'll stick with my old but beloved Webmonkey (AtHoc) toolbar.

============
UPDATE

Okay, I have now got the bookmarklets, and I am now adding pages to my list.

Frustratingly, it takes a while for these new pages to show up. But they are showing up, so that's good news, hey?

+++++++++++++++
UPDATED UPDATE

Nah, the interface is still too hard. I just love the blogrolling interface - One click, pop-up window to handle it all. Much better...

Measurement is still my focus

Measurement is still a big issue - without buying a book on 'how to measure your comms' (have you written one, Shel?) how do you measure your internal comms apart from focus groups?

Sure, you can measure comms by type and frequency of delivery, but I would bet the ratio of number of comms to desired outcomes achieved is tiny.

Are focus groups the only way internal communicators can measure their effectiveness? Are there ways to firmly measure ROI?

Quasi blogs

One of the many things I'm really excited about is the possibility of having my client's intranet have some sort of 'soft' blogging capability -- thus, have normal flat html pages for individual, key contributors then allowing them to use Macromedia Contribute to update/add to their own pages.

But I don't know how to tag those pages with rss-friendly data so that if I put feedreaders on each desktop Mary in customer service can see when Joe in Claims has updated his page. The only way I can see that happening is if we use 'proper' blogging software installed on our system, such as Moveable Type, but I don't know if I can swing that, nor if I can get the larger group's IT to allow my client (a smaller company within the group) to install it on their own dedicated intranet web server, which my client would have to purchase.

So I am looking at using flat pages as a quasi blog to get management used to the idea of employee blogging; once they are happy and see the value, then I am more likely to be able to successfully sell them on forking out for 'proper' blogging tools.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Other useful business podcasts, anyone?

Of course, there is my favourite - the Hobson & Holtz Report. I also enjoy the Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter. And the Podcast Brothers and Daily Source Code are essential listening.

But does anyone know of any other great business podcasts? I don't have time to download everything from podcast alley's business section to listen to...

Bloggers near me: inaccurate map, so not using this service

Originally saw a neat applet on Neville's blog (I often find cool stuff on his blog, like his comments, that free clock, the 'who's visiting your site' tracker...)

The applet lets you know how many other bloggers are near you.

This is cool, so I went to the site, entered my details, and my map is nowhere near where I actually am. I went back and re-entered my data, including going to all the trouble, as they suggest, of finding out my latitude and longitude.

The software didn't recognise the data. And no matter what address I put, it still didn't update or reflect my actual location.

Nice idea, but not for me at this stage.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Same group, different headspace

The client I'm working for is part of a larger group.

The larger group is updating its intranet by means of, it would seem, a simple paint job (change the graphical furniture, change some colours, change the page layout).

The intranet site I had created for my client is far more sophisticated and content-rich than the (largely unused) group intranet site.

It seems that my site has ruffled some feathers.

But a useful series of telecons and emails may have presented a solution -- co-locate my client's intranet site on the same server as the group intranet site, link from one to the other, and complete a relatively simple change to the Dreamweaver templates that created my client's site.

We'll see if the technical bods at Group HQ find it a feasible workaround, especially as I am keen to introduce the following tools:
  • Contribute 3 as a way of creating quasi-blogs (useful as a way of getting the client used to the idea, then proposing they purchase 'proper' blogging software to host)
  • RSS feeds (I have no idea on the underyling technology behind RSS feeds, just that they work brilliantly. That's why there are tech boffins at GHQ - and if they don't know I know a resource to attack)
  • Podcasting for the MD to keep in touch with her crew (she goes OS and interstate heaps) and I reckon a weekly podcast from her will help the 'engagement' figures

My college library is online but not online

Grrr.....

The library for the college I attend on a part-time basis (I'm reading for an MA) is online, so I can reserve and renew books from the comfort of my home, since I'm only there one morning a week.

But I had some overdue items. So they sent me a letter. By post.

Yet to access my postal details they would have had to access my personal details, wherein they would have found my email address.

I was down at the library this morning, dropping off some books and sniffing for others, so asked the librarian if they could email me any overdue notices, as I spend the majority of my life online.

"Oh no, we can't do that" I was cheerfully informed.
"Why not?"
"Because we can't" came the smiling reply.

There was no use engaging in a prolonged exchange with this person, so I'll write to the Head Librarian personally (and I note that previous emails to the library, from the college website, have gone unanswered). In writing. By post.

The college goes to the trouble of having its borrowing facilities online, but they don't have anyone reading their email account, nor do they use it to communicate with borrowers (which would save them printing and postage costs, natch).

One gasps at their lack of ability to 'play the game' and get into the 21st century...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Number 5 'alive'

Show number 5 of the Better Communication Results podcast is now ready for downloading. It should be streaming into a podcatcher near you any second now...

This week I look at how we can effectively communicate to the four main personality types.

Go to my download page on my website
Subscribe to the podcasting feed

Enjoy!

Links: Fred Zelders / The Hobson & Holtz Report

Technological challenges

The start of the new project, and I waste the first half of the first day getting my net access sorted and Office software to work. {sigh}

Got that done by just after lunchtime, so then two hours to play with MyComms, then off to a meeting for the rest of the day, a meeting of very little relevance to this project but one I was obligated to be at anyway.

But the MyComms tool is definately useful -- I created a dummy plan for announcing a new intranet at the company. Whilst blogs and podcasts don't yet feature as a 'coded in' component of the delivery mechanisms, they are really easy to add to the mix.

I look forward to digging into the tool and creating a strategy that considers all of the elements inherent in the tool (but that's just me -- why nip around the edges of the plate when with a little more effort you can feast on the meat?)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Measurement questions

As part of my weekly 'report' to The Hobson & Holtz Report, I touched on the importance of measurement.

A book I have found to be of great value is Alan Weiss' "Value Based Fees: How to Charge - and Get - What You're Worth"


Disclosure: this is an Amazon affiliate link - I potentially can earn at least 5c from anyone purchasing it (I've never received anything from them yet; never hit their cheque threshold and unlikely to in my lifetime! ). Feel free to edit the link appropriately...

At the back of the book are some great questions we can use to measure and assess the value of what we are contributing:

  • How would conditions ideally improve as a result of this project?
  • What would be the impact on ROI?
  • How would employees/shareholders/suppliers/other stakeholders notice the difference?
  • How will you know when you've accomplished the business objective?
  • What information do you need from employees, and in what form?
  • Ditto for suppliers, vendors, management, external agencies?
  • What is acceptable improvement, and what is ideal improvement?
  • How will you be able to prove to others that the objective has been met?
  • What would be the impact if you did nothing at all?
  • What would happen if this project failed?
  • What might you save or gain (in $ terms) if the project is successful?
  • What might you lose if the project fails?

Great questions!