Lee's 'Better Communication Results' blog

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Communicating with intent: The importance of earnestly being

Reading a few posts on this morning's bus ride to the city, I am struck by the locquacity of some of my peers.

I loved Pete Shinback's views on why CEOs don't transition from the dining table to the bedroom; Shel clearly and aptly (again and as always) highlights the difference between strategy and tactics -- blogs are great but they may not be the answer to your question, it depends on what question you are asking and why.

For example, one of my clients has no formal KM (knowledge management) plan at all. So, I will forward them a copy of Suw Charman's case study on a pharmaceutical company who has introduced blogs (without calling them blogs) as a KM tool, with what would appear some success.

Similarly, another company I am acquainted with has a bunch of employees who are flat out trying to get all their work done in order to meet their tight KPIs. They are probably going to find it hard to introduce blogs as a KM tool, simply because no one has the time to a) learn the software, or b) time to post. The company needs to look at it processes and its staffing levels before it can consider the luxury of blogs.

From what I can tell, anecdotally, there is a 'take-up' rate of around 10% for internal blogging -- that is, around 10% of the workforce will go to the trouble of setting up their own blog and regularly posting to it.

Sure, the numbers may vary from one company to the next -- there will always be outliers -- but from what I can tell the engagement rate with blogs is probably a fair indication of the engagement level of employees; the happier you are at work the more likely you are to want to contribute to the company's pool of knowledge. The more unhappy you are, the less likely you are to contribute by blogging -- and only an employee with a 'fire me' wish is going to slag off their employer (for everyone to see) within their own company walls (as Chris Hannegan quite rightly points out - and hat tip to Neville).

Now, it is the rare employer indeed who can boast a workforce of more than 50% who are pro-actively engaged, who are looking for ways to make a positive difference to the company.

Championing 'blogs' as the salve for all of your KM needs is somewhat presumptuous at best and downright unethical at worst. But for the 'stars' within your company who WANT to contribute, who WANT to be part of the success of the company, blogs may well be a great outlet for them.

And if senior management join in the conversation (even though the conversation will often appear a one-way monologue -- how many interal blog posts actually get comments to them? Not many, I would guess) then even better -- any grass-roots initiative embraced and encouraged by senior leadership has a better chance of success.

More to follow once I have digested two of Amy's contentious posts (and the other one is about her very lucky husband!)...

Update: have corrected the link to Suw's study

Thursday, June 23, 2005

My favourite Douglas Adams quote

For whatever reason (I have no idea why, myself) this wonderful quote from the late, great—nay magnificent—Douglas Adams popped into my head.

From The Salmon of Doubt: "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

Update:

I just googled and found the quote, and a wonderful page full of his more memorable lines.

Is blogging a beast of burden, a monkey on my back or a tool for networking?

Having created the space to ponder longer over what sort of 'beast' blogging is or can be, I am delighted to find that it can be many things (roll of eyes as the reader goes "Duh!")

I guess for a SOHO consultant like myself blogging can achieve a greater profile. Indeed, Neville has stated several times that his blog is his only online presence. Similarly, whilst Shel has a website (with RSS feed, too! ha ha - Scoble has an interesting comment about sites without RSS) Shel's blog would be, I would think, how the majority of online visitors find him.

But having had a good look at my own stats for both my blog and my website, I must conclude from the data that my website is still (by a significant amount) my primary 'outreach' tool.

Sure, there is a 'longtail' effect here -- my website has been around a lot longer than my blog (by several years). But the effort I put in (before blogging came along) to writing and submitting articles to article databases has certainly paid off in terms of traffic [info on why articles are so good at generating traffic]).

Of course, the question for a SOHO operator is not so much the traffic (although that helps with Adsense revenue) but the conversion ratio of traffic to client. And here again I have to confirm that the website has brought in more clients than my blog.

All that said, I am increasingly finding two models at work for SOHO business bloggers:

1. The pure connection strategy of bloggers like Steve Rubel, Debbie Weil, Neville Hobson, Robert Scoble and to a lesser extent Shel Holtz (as Shel fits more into a middle ground between 1 and 2);

2. The commentary/think (with a link) strategy as exemplified by Amy Gahran, Seth Godin, Kathy Sierra, Doug Johnston, Nova Spivak, Hugh MacLeod, Paul Graham and Scott Rayburn inter alia.

I have toyed with strategies 1 and 2 and I have found that strategy 1 takes up a lot of time, but is less ego-centric. Strategy 2 gives the reader a better insight into the poster's mindset, but posts are less frequent and therefore risks a potential drop in one's google and technorati profile.

So, on balance, I will probably go for a mix, like Shel does, of Strategies 1 and 2. Which is a daily commitment, to take up Amy's point (and its follow up), but feels most comfortable for me. After all, what IF someone reading my blog DOESN'T also read any of my sources? At least I am passing the baton on...

And I am still very taken with Nick Usborne's business model of providing a way of the reader to gain more information by linking to an article on his website (although I would still use full feeds on my blog). Nick's business model is outlined in an article (on plantar fasciitis, of all things!) I wrote quite a few months ago about a different site I found that used the same model.

Podcast apologies

Due to a slipup with my ftp software I didn't realise that the mp3 of my latest edition of Better Communication Results the podcast hadn't uploaded to the server.

Massive apologies!

It's there now, so please feel free to download it or, better still, subscribe via RSS and drop each and every sparkling edition into your iPodder or Doppler.

Still unsure what RSS is? There's great information on what RSS is over at my website.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Blog Express Vs GreatNews - redux

Ahhh... of course the one great feature that GreatNews has that BlogExpress doesn't is caching of feeds, allowing me to read the headlines and text on my notebook on the bus.

So I'm going back to GreatNews -- I just wish it had the tab facility that BlogExpress has...

Previous articles: Great News vs BlogExpress - the Free Reader Wars

BCR podcast # 11 is here - nonverbal communication, kinesics and copywriting

BCR podcast #11 now onlineEdition 11 of Better Communication Results the podcast is now ready for your listening pleasure!

And in this week's edition I talk about how you can use kinesics to enhance your copy (and all the best copywriters do!)

Download it now and listen to it immediately - just 9 minutes and 27 seconds long, 8.7mb in size, and work-safe.

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: TheCopyDoctor.com

Source article: Nonverbal communication: kinesics

Note: you can find the source articles for nearly all of my podcasts over at my communications mp3s page on my website. And you can find all of my articles on communication there on my site, too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Why reading your email before sending it is so important

Here's something interesting: yet again research seems to support my original conjecture.

I have long held that before sending an email with a joke in it (or a sarcastic comment, or a pun, or similar) you should always read the email to yourself out loud.

Now research seems to be supporting me in this.

According to research by Prof. Justin Kruger at Illinois's Urbana-Champaign, and shortly to be printed up in the JPSP, we overestimate that our audience will find our witty bon-mot as equally delightful as we do.

Kruger suggests we can counter this "everyday egocentrism" (the natural tendency to see things from our own perspective) by reading aloud, in a dead-pan voice, the email we are about to send, or at least in a tone inconsistent with the intended message.

Kruger found that by forcing participants to read aloud their message first, a lot of overconfidence disappeared.

Great advice. Perhaps by reading the emails aloud first you will be less likely to have that fantastic joke fall flat, or have the world laugh at you, not with you (Heinz said they'd help clean up).

Source: Kruger, J., Epley, N., Parker, J., & Ng, Z. (in press). Egocentrism over e-mail: Can people communicate as well as they think? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

BCR podcast # 10 is now ready for your delectation

BCR podcast #10 now onlineWell, the flu is finally on its way out of my system (slowly, slowly...) so I have put a new podcast together.

Edition 10 is now ready for your perusal!

At just a shade over 5 minutes long, it answers that perennial question, "Podcasting in business - why should I?".

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: Audacity; Feedspring; Doppler; BlogExpress
Source article: Business communication solution: Podcasting in business - why should I?

Note: due to feedback from fellow Aussie Anthony over in China (sounds like a great gig, mate!) you can find the source articles for nearly all of my podcasts over at my communications mp3s page on my website.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Great News vs BlogExpress - the Free Reader Wars

Well, I've used Great News as my primary reader for a few weeks now, in a longitudinal (well, for the blogosphere it is) study.

Conclusion: I'm going back to BlogExpress.

Why: Because I really value BlogExpress' tabbed views. I can flip between different posts and blogs and not lose them (handy when putting together a podcast)

Next trial: BigContact's flash-based rss feed player

Previous posts relevant to this: update on trial; full or partial feeds; initial download

Monday, June 13, 2005

Amy has it right

I know that Neville is big on links (as in who links to you) but more and more I've been thinking about content over links, that content is king on websites and it should be on blogs, too -- at least for some bloggers.

If I run a pubsub or technorati search on my name some the links that come up are those who reference an article of mine where I am expressing an opinion (like Ben Hamilton did just the other day, here and here). But no links come up just for a quick post pointing off to someone else's post.

So it was really refreshing to read Amy Gahran's post today on "Why Daily Blogging Usually Is a Bad Idea". I'm a long-time fan of Amy...

I agree with her. Blogging takes up an extraordinary amount of time, as does podcasting (my latest upcoming report for FIR took 3+ hours to record and edit, for just 8 minutes and 02 seconds of 'airtime').

Now, don't get me wrong. I am very happy and also extremely flattered to be a part of FIR, and so will continue to take the time to contribute to it as long as Neville and Shel will have me.

But I'm joining Amy on a quest to post less, but post higher quality. For me -- a person who loves words and how they can create something magic -- I shall be returning the Content King to his throne.

And I don't buy the 'blogging is great for your search engine ranking' anymore. Does no-one honestly expect Google to adjust its algorithms to compensate for the current profile that blogging brings to search engine results? What is a search engine's job, after all -- to deliver search results of quality content of interest to the searcher. If a result page is full of blogs that are just "found this link" posts, then the search engine has failed in its mission and the searcher will disappointedly click away.

Aside: it's also interesting to witness the staggering decline in traffic visiting my website that has coincided with my decision to divert considerable resources to blogging. I don't see many visitors to my website coming from my blog, however my podcast certainly does draw traffic to my website...

And I like the model that Nick Usborne has -- use good content to draw people to his main delivery vehicle, his website. Whilst I still agree with Shel et al about the need for full feeds, I see no reason why compelling copy cannot draw an interested reader across to a full article on your website.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Serif v Sans Serif for print media

Thanks to Luc Devroye at McGill Uni and his great collection of typography links I was finally able to track down some research on font type and readibility/usability in print media.

He pointed me to Kevin Connolly's thesis at the University of Calgary on legibility: "Legibility and Readability of Small Print: Effects of Font, Observer Age and Spatial Vision" (1998).

I also found Kathleen Yoshida's workshop on 'Avoiding Font Fiascos' (pdf) which contained some useful exercises on legibility to work through for the reader's own understanding.

It seems the popular jury is out on whether serif or sans serif fonts are easier to read in long bursts. But I still hold to the 'old rule' that long text is less tiring on the eye with a serif font than a sans serif. Of course, it depends on the font you are using (a really complex serif font is more difficult to read than a simple sans serif) but if one sticks to the time-old, boring fonts like Times Roman then one can't go wrong.

Update:
And I've been reading FontLeech and Typomancy blogs - very interesting reading if you have a secret love of fonts (as I do)

EPIC 2015 - WOW!

WOW!!! I've finally taken 15 minutes out to watch what everyone is talking about. This is AMAZING stuff!

If you have any interest in how technology and new media will change the way we interact, you need to watch this. Phenomenal creativity and intensely thought-provoking.

There's a shockwave version of EPIC 2015 available - you will need Macromedia Flash Player to watch it.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

THIS is why external blogging is so important

Steve Rubel has an interesting find.

He's #3 on Google for 'Kensington Locks'. Who are Kensington Locks? The locks that the majority of laptop owners around the western world use to secure their laptops -- and there's a video doing the online rounds showing how to break a Kensington lock really easily, with just scissors, duct tape and a toilet roll.

{Update 14th June: Today the post you are currently reading is #4 on a search for 'kensington locks' at icerocket.com}

If you remember, Kryptonite (the bike lock people) suffered a similar fate wherein within 6 days the whole blogging world (currently 31.6 million of us and exploding) found out that their 'totally unbreakable' locks could be easily broken with a Bic ballpoint. It cost Kryptonite over US$10M and incalculable damage to their reputation. (For more info on the Kryponite fiasco, scroll down this blog til you find the text ': THE KRYPTONITE FACTOR'; it's about 1/4 way down the scroll).

They could have easily avoided the resultant PR and brand equity meltdown if they had been paying attention to the online blogging world.

Rubel's post needs reading -- then perhaps it will become clearer why we need to blog externally to customers, if for no other reason than to have some say or impact on Google results.

73 year old VP of GM and how/why he blogs

Debbie Weill has a great post today on her interview with GM's Gary Grates, VP Comms for North America.
"Bob Lutz, our 73-year-old vice chairman, was on a plane coming back from Europe when he started writing a response to some posts about GM he'd read on other blogs. He said, 'What do I do with this?'"

Grates told GM's communications techies to drop what Lutz had written about the new Saturn design into the Movable Type template being readied. And [the GM] Fastlane [blog] was born (on Jan. 5, 2005)...

"The worst thing we (GM) can do is make (blogging) a process or a program that needs to be serviced or funded." Currently about 3 techies and 3 or 4 communications managers work on the blog but it's not an official part of anyone's job description. Grates and several direct reports review the hundreds of comments posted to Fastlane before they go live. They usually get the comments up within 24 hours.

And yes, Lutz writes all his own posts and then emails them to the tech staff who drop them into the blog." As for what Lutz chooses to write about, "He juxtaposes his response to reader comments with what he wants to write about next," Grates said. "There's no science to it."

So proof that blogging from the top need not be a hard thing to do -- all that is needed is willingness to engage with the external community.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Passion versus mere ability: is knowing more the answer?

Great post from Kathy Sierra over at Creating Passionate Users on being better at something and getting a buzz from being better at it.

She points out that what matters in business is not what you sell, but what you teach. Teach people about your product and/or industry and they will want to engage more with you. More engagement equals more sales, which in turn equals more sense of enjoyment for you.

She uses the example of Red Bull: not content with doing what every other soft drink company would do (give free drinks to DJs at nightclubs), they have set up the Red Bull Music Academy to 'give back' to its target community. In return, you can bet they foster some passionate advocates in that community. Passion very often converts into unpaid evangelism. Unpaid, unsponsored, 'from the heart no strings attached' evangelism often leads to massive sales.

Great reading.

When YOU communicate, are you talking at people or are you engaging them in an educative process?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blogging: an heretical question

Hmmmm......

Something's been tugging on my coat sleeves this past few days and as much as I try to ignore the intrusion, it just won't go away.

It all started with a few comments on the IABC Cafe about blogging and comments and visitors and lurkers and re-invention and ethics and issues an' stuff.

Then today one of my clients asked me this:

What if the novelty of blogging wears off in seven months? How much would it have cost us?

The question was equally one of fiscal as it was of opportunity cost.

We all know that blogging can take up time: time to consider a piece of information just received, time to consider one's viewpoint, time to put that viewpoint down in some sort of coherent form.

It is recognised—but I don't have the facts to hand, sorry—that whilst the growth in the number of blogs is trending steeply upward, there is a percentage (low/medium/high?) of blogs that start with a flourish and die a quiet death, due to lack of posting by the owner.

Now, this could be for any number of reasons, but perhaps simply a lack of ROI (intrinsic and/or extrinsic) drove the blog into extinction as other more 'interesting and less time consuming' pastimes turned up.

So here I am, faced with no answer to my client's question. Blogging is still relatively new—how do we know that new internal company bloggers (who have been given the opportunity to blog for all the right Knowledge Management reasons) won't decide, after a little while, that the effort outweighs the novelty or that they've run out of things to say?

Does blogging risk running the same race as other 'key' management 'must haves' like any number of initiatives we could name over the last two decades?

Seeing as how my own list of influential bloggers ('sneezers' as Seth would say) come from a tight circle (we kind of all read each others blogs and those of some A-listers) are we just spinning our own wheels?

For a long time today I was disheartened.

Then, via circuitous route (I looked at who was subscribed to my blog at bloglines, then looked at the blogroll of one of them and found an interestingly-named blog in a subject area dear to me) I came across a fantastic blog that just lifted my heart and made me fall in love with blogging all over again.

This is the reason why blogging works: not because we all rehash each other's editorials, but because every now and then we find someone saying something that touches us deeply, in a well thought-out, quiet, introspective manner. Not shouting from the rooftops, but whispering quietly in a chapel.

And the power of blogging struck me again—blogging is Everyman's chance to publish something of value to another human being somewhere in the world. Not just inane crap or rehashed news, but insight, wisdom and quiet passion based on quiet reflection.

Whether that works for organizations is a different question, to which I have no answer other than "I think so..."

Email exceeds phone as communication tool, says report

According to this PR piece from Reachon.com, email has exceeded the phone as a favored communication tool for work and play. Findings show:
  • 20% stated that checking emails first thing in the morning delayed them taking kids to school on time,
  • 26% stated that they made it to work late,
  • 15% stated that they checked emails via PDA in the bathroom

Up and downward comms is key to engagement

Thanks to Neville Hobson for this.

Northwestern University conducted a very large survey of U.S. companies, looking particularly at the link, if any, between organizational culture and financial performance. This was no simple survey:
A total of 110,000 surveys, with three dollar bills attached, were mailed to prospective respondents in the 100 markets involved in the study. A total of 37,036 customers completed the survey, resulting in approximately a 34% response rate, with the number of respondents per market ranging from 271 to 472 (mean = 366.7). [...] To test for non-response bias, we followed up the mail survey with a telephone survey of 2,000 non-responders.

Of the many key findings, I found this fascinating:
The key organizational characteristic for explaining employee satisfaction is organizational communication (a measure of the downward and upward communication in an organization).

Further into the report, the following results were noted:

The key organizational characteristic for explaining Employee Satisfaction was Organizational Communication, a measure of organizational climate. Organizational Communication represents the measure of the downward communication in the organization, i.e. the effectiveness with which information about the organization is sent and received by employees, and the upward communication in the organization, i.e. the effectiveness with which information is sent from employees to people in higher level positions. The analysis in this study shows that Organizational Communication accounts for 45% of the variance in Employee Satisfaction, while none of the other 13 organizational characteristics under study were found to have a significant impact on Employee Satisfaction.


And the best tool that I know of to communicate both up and down the organization is blogging — the ability to share knowledge as well as feedback to higher levels what the view looks like form the ground floor.

Link to full report

Monday, June 06, 2005

BCR podcast # 9 finally here!

BCR podcast #9 now onlineWell, the flu is on its way out of my system (slowly, slowly...) so I have had the energy to put a new podcast together.

Edition 9 is now ready for your perusal!

At just a shade over 12 minutes long, its full of great info on how to identify some organizational communication barriers and how to overcome them.

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

Link: Melcrum's report on Engagement

Minding the Planet - Was Douglas Adams right?

Nova Spivack's 'Minding the Planet' is a fascinating read when you have a spare 5 minutes or so to consider all that he writes about.

Researchers in Europe have created a massive computer simulation of a universe so that they can study black holes, etc.

All of which makes me wonder if we are in danger of being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, and that the mice really do run everything, after all.

Brave companies blog

Courtesy of Rubel...

"A growing number of companies are stepping softly into the blogosphere, following a path blazed by Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and others in the technology field. The Internet journal format, they find, lets businesses expand their reach, generate product buzz and encourage consumer loyalty - while bypassing traditional media."

Link to full story

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Blogrolling down?

Does anyone else know if blogrolling.com is down? I cannot log in...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

GreatNews - update on user trial

Well, I've been playing with GreatNews for over an hour now, with mixed reactions.

I've imported my BlogExpress feeds, and rearranged them into channels in a style directly ripped off from Allan {smile}; instead of "First cup, Second cup" and so on, I have "Cappuccino; Darjeeling; English Breakfast and Green Tea". I must say it is a delight to organise myself this way, so thanks Allan for the idea...

Likes: the two-column layout; the ease of managing the channels; the feeds I receive from Shel and Allan are now full, not tiny.

BCR blog branding lozenge Dislikes: the graphic branding lozenges I created for my podcast and blog feeds don't appear in GreatNews whereas they did in BlogExpress; the order of feeds within a channel is dictated by whether the first letterBCR podcast branding lozenge of the feed title is upper or lower case -- so Shel's 'a shel of my former self' was steadfastly at the bottom of my cappuccino channel until I went through a couple of hoops to rename it in caps. I also miss BlogExpress' neat way with tabs, which GreatNews doesn't feature.

So I am heavily leaning towards changing to GreatNews as my blog aggregator.

I'll keep trying it for a few more hours/days and see if the novelty wears off...

Cory Rudl dead -- VERY sad news!

This is really sad.

Cory Rudl, a pioneer of online marketing and phenomenally successful at it, was killed at the race track, doing what he loves - driving fast cars.

I have bought several of his packages over the years and devoured his stunning online sales letters. It was he who first gave me hope that money could be made online. I have watched over and over again a set of his videos on internet marketing. His 'Insider Secrets' course is brilliant.

My prayers to his new family.

Thanks to BL Ochman for the news.

RSS feeds - full fat or skimmed milk?

Now here's a curiosity...

Just installed GreatNews (yes, lovely reading interface) and whereas in, for example, Shel's and Allan's blogs I only get partial feeds showing in BlogExpress, in GreatNews I get the full post.

GreatNews - I'll try it out

Thanks to Neville and Allan for this, so I've downloaded GreatNews and I'll give it a go.

But I do like my (also free) BlogExpress, which I have been using for yonks...

38 ways to communicate with your clients

As Alan Weiss (guru to the savvy consultant) says:

"It is actually difficult to contact clients too much. It is easy to fail to contact them frequently enough. If there is anyone anywhere who has ever sent you a check for your services and with whom you haven't communicated in the past 6 months, then you will never reach your growth potential. The secret is simple: Establish an ongoing dialogue with clients. In the worst case, a monologue will do." Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional's Guide to Growing a Practice, by Alan Weiss (p. 196)

You don't get business you don't ask for. You don't get remembered if you don't keep in your clients' minds.

But how can you keep your name on the tip of their tongues?

Here's 38 ways:

Print:
Letters; brochures; newsletters; article reprints; job aids and checklists; posters and sayings; cartoons; testimonials and examples of completed assignments.

Phone:
Calls to 'stay in touch'; a 1800 (or 800 in USA) number and hot-line help to encourage use; information relayed on meetings or events of interest; reminders of long-term follow-up responsibilities and dates; introductions to third parties (that is, customers for your client).

Events:
Interviews with the client for industry journals; attendance at industry and professional meetings that the client attends; hosting periodic conferences on topics of interest; acting as an intermediary with other clients for mutual learning.

Internet:
Web page updates and additions; 'password' website reserved for clients; regular email contact; branding in your email signature file; email with ideas and suggestions; references and/or hyperlinks to relevant sites; a chat room on your website; an extranet

Personal:
Visits to the client without any particular agenda; entertaining key clients; sending holiday cards or gifts (as permitted); participating in mutual charity events and fund-raisers; seeking out common community and social events; sending "I'll be in the area" cards.

Other:
Co-authoring articles with the client; sending fax messages and information; advertising in industry publications the client reads; exhibiting at trade shows that key clients will attend; asking the client to help you as a critiquer, advisor, editor, etc.; inviting the client to be on your advisory board; breakfast or lunch meetings you sponsor on relevant topics.

Obviously, not all of these methods will lend themselves to your own business. But I am amazed and ashamed that there are so many more ways I can be keeping in contact with my clients than I currently am.

What might be useful is to compile a Communications Strategy for each of your clients, utilising a checklist of the most appropriate of these methods for each individual client.

Is blogspot a bad neighbourhood to be seen in?

Allan Jenkins has decided to remove himself as much as possible from the world of blogger.com and blogspot blogs, citing spam as the principle reason.

Firstly, I am envious that he is trafficked enough to get comment spam.

Secondly, in email discussion with him, he assures me that he will still link to me, as a industry colleague, but will look at whether to link to other blogspot accounts, or other free hosting services that seem to originate lots of comment spam.

Allan suggests I move to a nicer neighbourhood. I am flattered that he believes I warrant a nicer view, but I haven't noticed any bad smell myself.

But the idea of moving -- moving my posts across to a new host, and more importantly moving my audio-tag url -- is 'BIG'.

After all, "bettercomms.blogspot.com" is easy to remember, methinks/hopes.

Sure, I can easily adjust my feedburner feed. I am confident I have the tech nouse to be able to program in an auto-redirect from my blogspot account to the new address. But I worry what branding implications there are.

I also have personal reasons why I would want to continue to avail myself of the facilities of a free blog host. Sure, it's frustrating not having trackbacks and easily-identified permalinks on my blogspot account, but I can live with it.

As Allan points out, there is an idea now circulating that blogger is becoming the 'hotmail' of the blogosphere -- large, free and full of spammers. But I am daily amazed at how many people I come across in my work/personal life who use a hotmail account. The spam must drive them insane, but they stick with it.

Until my website host (SiteSell) installs 'full monty' blogging software (and the owner has commented in private forums that this is unlikely to happen, as he doesn't believe blogs hold long-term promotional value for website owners) then I am unlikely to move from my free blogspot account -- unless someone is going to pay for me to have a typepad or other such account.

But it strikes me strange that the only people I can find complaining about comment spam are typepad bloggers...

--- Update ---
...and another thing about typepad: why is it that only typepad blogs (and not all of them, all the time, but certainly the ones I usually visit most, like Allan's and Neville's) give me Internet Explorer script error messages in my feedreader, so that I have to click 'yes' to 'continue running scripts on this page' if I want to read what they've posted?

An interesting Adelaidian photographer

Spending some time just following random links around the blogosphere (as you do), I came across my own blog featuring in a site called 'The Adelaide Index' (no rss feed as far as I can see, tho...).

One of the blogs I found there is run by Stephanie, a talented photographer. The content of her blog posts aren't about to set the business world on fire, but if you follow the link off to her photo gallery there are some lovely shots.

Nice one!

Allan Jenkins, Benjamins and comments

Great post on Allan Jenkins' Desirable Roasted Coffee about Benjamins and blogging for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Like Allan, I worry about my Technorati standing... does that mean I'm actually Allan Jenkins? {tee hee}

Great post, Allan. I blog for the fun of it but sure do appreciate the traffic... as Nev and Shel (and others) recently pointed out, it's not about content on blogs, it's about who links to you.

Actually, I once toyed with the idea of calling my band in England "A Bus Load of Jeremys" but eventually dropped it in favour of something else -- "Crocodile Tears". Mind you, my favourite band name was actually "Clock Radio and the Alarmists" but sadly punk had already moved on in my musical sphere...

Colours MEAN something!

Colours are powerful communicators.

Colours in our communications can affect our moods and our understanding. Knowing what colours represent to our viewers helps us understand why fast-food chains use lively oranges, yellow, and reds, and why the cool, tranquilizing blues and greens and the earth tones of navy, burgundy and chocolate are in airlines.

Research has shown that colour can even effect the IQ scores of children.

So below I present a list of colours (because after much jiggery-pokery of the dual overhead flanging scrumptionshiner this blog software cannot handle tables, it seems), with what moods they create and what symbolic messages they convey.

Colour: Red
Moods: Hot, affectionate, angry, defiant, contrary, hostile, full of vitality, calm, tender
Symbolic Meaning: Happiness, lust, intimacy, love, restlessness, agitation, royalty, rage, sin, blood

Colour: Blue
Moods: Cool, pleasant, leisurely, distant, infinite, secure, transcendent, calm, tender
Symbolic Meaning: Dignity, sadness, tenderness, truth

Colour: Yellow
Moods: Unpleasant, exciting, hostile, cheerful, joyful, jovial
Symbolic Meaning: Superficial glamour, cowardice, sun, light, wisdom, masculinity, royalty (in China), age (in Greece), prostitution (in Italy), famine (in Egypt)

Colour: Orange
Moods: Unpleasant, exciting, disturbed, distressed, upset, defiant, contrary, hostile, stimulating
Symbolic Meaning: Sun, truthfulness, harvest, thoughtfulness

Colour: Purple
Moods: Depressed, sad, dignified, stately
Symbolic Meaning: Wisdom, victory, pomp, wealth, humility, tragedy

Colour: Green
Moods: Cool, pleasant, leisurely, in control
Symbolic Meaning: Security, peace, jealousy, hate, aggressiveness, calm

Colour: Black
Moods: Sad, intense, anxiety, fear, despondent, dejected, melancholy, unhappy
Symbolic Meaning: Darkness, power, mastery, protection, decay, mystery, wisdom, death, atonement

Colour: Brown
Moods: Sad, not tender, despondent, dejected, melancholy
Symbolic Meaning: Melancholy, protection, autumn, decay, humility, atonement

Colour: White
Moods: Joy, lightness, neutral, cold
Symbolic Meaning: Solemnity, purity, femininity, humility, joy, light, innocence, fidelity, cowardice

Blogging as proof of employability

Further to Neville and Shel's comments in FIR#38, I conducted a quick search for the term 'blog' on Seek and CareerOne here in Australia.

Nothing yet, but no doubt it will happen soon - probably in the next 6-12 months.

I find the idea of specifying a blog as a prerequisite to employment fascinating -- the idea that having your own blog shows you can communicate ideas effectively (or not, as the case may be).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Communication Strategy - the results of my presentation

Well, it was an interesting meeting!

Whilst generally it can be held to be positive, there were learnings that came from it, so I thought it a good idea to share them with my communication colleagues.

Outcomes

1. The MD feels that her organisation is too small to benefit from the blogging or podcasting initiatives I recommended. However, the greater Group may indeed benefit from blogging (podcasting is still too unknown).

2. A very tight budget focus due to current business trends means that any initiatives have to be very carefully considered, via a Cost:Benefit Analysis.

3. The MD will be able to read my full Plan proposal on Monday, apparently, when she may read more of the 'smaller' ideas I had on how to improve their communication (such as font usage). This may help in the 'educative' component of my proposal -- as I knew from the outset, any radical departure from the 'status quo' of internal communication will require an educative component. My sponsor now 'gets it' with regard to blogging and (I hope) podcasting -- hopefully my Plan proposal will help the MD 'get it' too.

Learnings

1. There is a need to find out as much as possible about the final decision-maker and their thinking. The MD is currently very cost conscious, due to industry trends, and I had no way of finding that out before the presentation (I worked with the project sponsor, not the MD on this plan).

2. Be prepared to have your views swept aside/negated/adjusted by business and environment issues you knew nothing about.

3. Concentrate on presenting and delivering small, easy wins first (to build your credibility) before suggesting bigger goals.

4. Be aware of your credibility/posture before you start -- how credible you are determines how far you can push your client/how radical a proposal you can make.


Upshot:

Although there were not a lot of 'wins' I could hang my hat on coming out of the meeting, the client has engaged me to further some of the smaller communications issues I did address. That is a good sign.

Plus, the greater Group is also looking at how they communicate and my proposal and support material, plus ideas, have found their way to one of the Group's Comms professionals, who has shown some interest. So whilst my immediate client may not take up the suggestions at this stage, they are certainly not stopping me from influencing the greater corporate body where I can.

And they are still paying me, which is a delight.

Giving iPods to the sales force

Courtesy of Blogspotting:

Paradyne, the networking company, is diving into podcasts for internal communications. "We've seen such good results with podcasts," writes marketing manager Eric Knapp in an e-mail, "that we're thinking of issuing iPods to our entire sales force." Next up for Paradyne? Video podcasts for training within a month or two.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

"Why Blogging Matters" - a useful primer for my client

Turns out that there are some communicators in my client's Group Head Office who are also charged with looking at how the Group communicates, so I've sent them through a stack of material, including setting up another blog on the whole issue.

I just posted this extract from 'Once Was Red Couch':

From the book that Scoble and
Israel
are writing, with the help of other business communicators:

Every few years, something comes along to change the way everything is. In the middle 1990s, it was the Internet. Previously our lives were changed by email, computer networks, PCs, fax machines and photocopiers. The continuum of change extends all the way back through TVs, phones, cars, trains, the telegraph, electricity,
the Gutenberg press, perhaps all the way back to when the wheel first rolled out.

Blogging has not yet proven itself to be on this same level of significance. We think it will. It takes a while before revolutionary technologies prove themselves to be such. Revolutions are often declared to be such only when you look back on them, not forward as we are doing. As we write, many business people are still scratching their heads wondering what the big deal is about blogging. The challenge is to finish scratching and start acting before the same heads get hit on the side with 2 X 4s.

===

Finally, businesses should not dismiss the well-documented popularity of blogging among young people worldwide. They are the next generation of employees and
entrepreneurs and they are likely to use the technology tools they know to conduct business as they move into the marketplace.

As far as blogging is concerned, the sea change has already happened. The Genie is indeed out of the bottle, but history would indicate some companies will persist in ignoring it.

So did the village blacksmith.



They say it far more eloquently than I ever could...

Beyond Bullet Points

I'd forgotten how sensible Cliff's ideas are, but re-reading his free copy of Chapter One (pdf) I immediately forwarded the link to several colleagues, as well as posted it on my client's intranet.

Great stuff - thanks, Cliff!

The importance of professional standards and inhouse rules for blogging

Robin Good points out that with the proliferation of blogging comes a requirement to meet standards (especially important in corporate blogging). He suggests some simple rules:
  • Consistency
  • Research
  • Define
  • Titling
  • Classifying
  • Referencing
  • Complementary copy
  • Structure
  • Layout
  • Attention to detail
  • Quality of writing, and
  • Spell checking

Comes with interesting reader's comments at the bottom of the page...

Reasons to business podcast

Thanks to Shel for this.

ITWorld.com has turned its attention to the growing use of the medium among businesses. The article lists five reasons podcasting matters to business:
  • Podcasts lower the threshold for publishing audio content
  • Pocasts encourage two-way communication with listeners
  • Podcasts extend the reach of Internet sites
  • Podcasting can be used to extend the frequency of contact with customers
  • Podcasts make audio files easy to find on the Internet

The article provides more detail on each point.

Blogging is a good way to earn a living

From the WSJ:

"A small but growing number of businesses are hiring people to write blogs, otherwise known as Web logs, or frequently updated online journals.

Companies are looking for candidates who can write in a conversational style about timely topics that would appeal to customers, clients and potential recruits."

Yahoo posts corporate blogging guidelines

Via Steve Rubel, Yahoo has posted their blogging guidelines (pdf).

Yes, I know you probably know this already... I've been away from the blogosphere, distracted by work... but I post this in case you haven't already seen it.

BCR podcast delayed

Due to my body still suffering from the ravages of the flu, plus the tremendous burst of energy expended on the proposal to the MD on Tuesday (more indepth learnings from this to be posted shortly), please accept my apologies for the non-arrival of a weekly edition of BCR into your podcatcher.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed by next week, but right now I need to let my body heal from the flu...

Internal blogging without RSS capabilities not a viable option

Without a simple, no-fuss way of updating 'subscribers' to new content on a blog, 85% of the worth of internal blogging disappears out the window.

But blogging to the external world, outside of the organisation, still would be of tremendous value.

In an ideal world, I would roll out Contribute across key content managers (the managers of each team - e.g. claims, membership processing, admin, IT support, Cust Svc, etc.,) and let every employee blog via Roller, internal blogs only for most, external blogs allowed for key contributors.

Mind you, the whole point of external blogging is to enter into human conversation with others outside of our company. Constraining those external bloggers by having to run everything through Legal or PR functions defeats the whole idea - the general public are sick of corporate language (aka 'marketing puke') and want to be spoken to in a human voice.