Archive | December, 2011

Thanksgiving: Sales’ Most Chaotic Week of the Year

5 Dec

Thanksgiving break always brings a smile to my face; thinking of all the food, family, football and the holiday music is such a peaceful and serene environment. That’s why when I saw my friend Daniela rush through the doors, barely saying hi to anyone and then rushing back out, this felt so out of place and I was just extremely confused. I asked her mother what was wrong and she responded, “Oh, this happened last year; this is just her busiest week. Don’t worry, I’ll save her food for Saturday.”

Daniela works for the Customer Service and Marketing department for a J.C. Penney’s in Louisiana. When I finally got to talk to her on Saturday, she looked just like I did after all my finals last year. I asked her why she was so stressed out on such a relaxing holiday, and she just uttered almost in disgust the words “Black Friday.”

She explained to me how much has to happen for a business to have a successful Black Friday and how everyone needs to be on the same page. Her week starts off by having her boss send a letter that corporate sends out about the expectations and procedures that will happen on Black Friday. They then have a meeting with all the workers that will work during that Friday to discuss all the sales and how to manage long lines and other situations special to this extremely chaotic day. Then, she told me the reason she works so much on Thanksgiving Day is to set up the store so that it attracts more customers and have easily accessible to all the deal. She explained to me in a very simple way: There are deals everywhere on “Black Friday,” the way you get a lot of customers is by how you communicate to them and make them find out how great your deals are. It really is true–the businesses with the most effective communication, both internally and externally, will have the most success by bringing in customers. Business is all about communicating, and the ones that are most successful at doing so are the ones most likely to succeed. Next time I go to a mall, I know I will look out to see how all the different stores try to communicate to me to try and get me to go inside and potentially purchase something, something I had previously overlooked.

by Luis Rivera


Steve Jobs: Model Innovator and Presenter

5 Dec

In memory of Steve Jobs and his enormous impact on the world, I will be discussing the keys to his success from a public speaking standpoint. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., showed his talents to the world beginning in 1984 with his presentation on the first Macintosh. During this presentation, Jobs started his presentation with an awe-inspiring act. He had the Macintosh read out loud a script that he had written to introduce the product and presentation. Not only does Apple serve as an exemplary company but Steve Jobs will always serve as a model for presenters.  I have formulated three consistent aspects in Jobs’s presentation that contribute greatly to his success.

The Hook

While watching Jobs present, we see that Jobs quickly grabs the attention of the audience, whether using a witty line, logos, or using another smart technique. For example, when presenting the first IPod, Jobs explains Apple should enter this business because “music is a part of everyone’s life. Everyone. Music has been around forever.” This represents a logical reason as to why Apple should enter the portable music industry. He then supports his idea by showing, with statistics, that an IPod will save consumers money and time, compared to other products in the industry (i.e. the CD player and flash player), and would help Apple take over the industry and turn in huge profits.

The Story

Steve Jobs engages audiences by presenting his information in a form of a story. Each topic logically follows the previous one and in the end he ties his story up neatly. For instance, with his MacBook Air presentation, Jobs explains how first, Apple measured the competition. Next, the Apple team decided which characteristics it would like to mimic with its new product. And, finally, he introduces the characteristics of the MacBook Air and introduces it to the audience. In this presentation, Jobs stresses the central idea of “world’s thinnest notebook,” which is also the point that he finishes his MacBook Air presentation about.

The Passion

We quickly notice that Jobs does not rely on memorization or on slides during any of his presentations. How can he know what he is going to say for such a long presentation? Passion. He does not need to rely on his memory because he truly believes in what he is saying and we can see this passion by his enthusiasm and his strong words, such as “unprecedented.” The first Macintosh captures Jobs’s passion perfectly when it identifies him as “a man who’s been like a father to me… Steve Jobs.”

Watch these videos to learn and understand for yourselves:




Marlins Stadium Deal a Scam?

5 Dec

Miami’s new ballpark might not be as innocent as it seems. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has begun investigating the controversial public financing deal that the Miami Marlin’s struck with Miami-Dade County. This deal involves having the city cover 80% of building costs while the Marlins cover only 20% of the cost. The Marlins defend this need for outside help by stating that they do not currently receive any profits to finance a new stadium; yet, a recent report by the Palm Beach Post revealed that the team has been making consistent profits, thus refuting the Marlin’s claim for needed money.

Marlins Face More Accusations

This is a touchy situation because it is believed that there were several illicit dealings as well as “pay to play” schemes involved with the building of the new park. “This is not the first time and may not be the last time” that the SEC investigates bonds deals in Miami, said Mr. Nortman, an SEC professor at Nova Southeastern .

Public Perception

At this time, I believe it is vital that the Marlin’s handle this situation tactfully and carefully. The consequences of failing to meet the SEC’s demands would be disastrous for the new stadium and the team. It can result in civil lawsuits, fines and possible criminal charges. Most importantly, the Marlins would lose the huge investment they have made in their fans and this new stadium. I believe the solution here is to be transparent and work with the government. Otherwise the repercussions for failing to do that could destroy the franchise.

by Hector Lopez

Twitter and the NBA: Not Quite a Slam Dunk

4 Dec

Businesses often find themselves in situations where they must fight for corporate issues with public relations hanging in the balance.  Twitter wreaked havoc on the negotiation process between the NBA, and its Players Association, the NBPA.  The social media platform gave individual players independent voices, which often differed from the views expressed by their Players Association.  The NBA and NBPA fought each other tough at the negotiation table, and then went to Twitter during off-hours to fight for fan support.  Twitter linked the points of negotiation to public image in a way never documented before.

Costly Errors

Early in September, NBPA Vice President Roger Mason intended to send a private message to a friend regarding how long he thought the lockout would last.  Instead of sending the message to his friend, Mason accidentally tweeted the colloquial message to all of his followers, leading to rampant speculation about what the message meant.  Due to the ambiguous and unprofessional language, “How u” became a running joke and column sign-off amongst basketball journalists, perpetually thrusting the Vice President’s error into the spotlight.  Mason was highly criticized, and the public began questioning his effectiveness as a corporate leader because of his slip-up.

Feeling the Heat

Mickey Arison, owner of the Miami Heat, chose to voice his opinions on Twitter.  When one fan told him he was “ruining the best game in the world” and a “greedy (expletive) pig,” Arison responded with “You are barking at the wrong owner.”  The NBA fined Arison $500,000 for portraying a negative public image of league owners.  Warranted or not, this fine demonstrated the importance of social media communication and how important it was to the league to win the battle of public relations.

The Twitterview

Soon after the NBA fined Arison, the Association announced plans for a strategic communication event.  Enter the “Twitterview,” which allowed fans, players, and journalists to ask the NBA questions about the latest labor proposal via Twitter.  The NBA then responded to these queries in an effort to clear miscommunication and engage its fans.  The Twitterview did not turn out effective at all.  The NBA’s selection of questions to answer offered minimal insight into negotiations and left a cloudy view on issues that this event was supposed to clear up.

The NBA labor negotiations are a clear-cut example of how new instant mass media such as Twitter can completely derail an organization’s focus.  Instead of focusing entirely on the negotiations, the NBA and NBPA made concerted efforts to win the support of fans.  Fans were upset because of how long the negotiations took, and both organizations seemed to lose sight of this.  If the NBA and NBPA had fully committed to negotiating instead of fighting a two-front war, the negotiations would have been settled long ago and minimized customer outrage.

Both the NBA and NBPA (including players themselves) took to Twitter to voice opinions, respond to criticism, answer questions, pose questions of their own, and bash the other side in an unprecedented public manner.  The public criticisms voiced on Twitter made the NBA and NBPA more hostile towards one another, driving each side farther away from compromise.  While the public could now follow and interact with daily updates like never before, basketball was farther out of reach.  As a fan, I would give up following these negotiations on Twitter if it meant I could follow the games on the court

How u.

by Jason Feldman


Is Texting Appropriate in Business Communication?

3 Dec

Texting is the most common non-voice cell phone function amongst Americans.  The average number of texts sent and received per day per phone user is rapidly growing, as texting is being used for an increasing variety of purposes that extend far beyond simple communication. Such uses include checking bank account balances, ordering food at restaurants, inquiring about flight statuses, and to running sales or promotions. The applications of texting are constantly evolving and seemingly endless, but does business communication fit on this list?

Characteristics of Texting

Texting is a brief, informal means of electronic communication between either friends and close acquaintances or automated systems. No texting “rules” exist, leaving mobile phone users at liberty to express themselves however they see fit. “Texters” frequently use shorthand abbreviations during such exchanges to replace longer, commonly-used phrases. Perhaps most popular are “LOL” and “BRB,” which replace “laugh out loud” and “be right back.” While texting has become a widely accepted, even preferred, form of talking, as with any electronic communication messages are at risk for being misinterpreted with the absence of voiced emotion and body language.

The World of Business Communication

The term “business communication” encompasses several forms of exchange, from marketing to customer relations, and includes both internal and external communications. Despite such variety, all branches of business communication are characterized by a distinct sense of formality. Perfect grammar is expected, language should be clear and concise, individuals are addressed by last name, and being polite is a necessity. Such standardized etiquette makes business communication consistent across many workplaces.

Can These Two Paths Cross?

Recently, I ordered a gift online for a friend. The company had a question about my mailing address – and texted me about it. Hearing from a company from which I ordered an item was the last thought in my mind as I was opening a text message from an unknown phone number. As prompted, I responded to their question and received a quick thank you. Problem solved – fast. Is this the future of business?

As I witnessed, certain companies have adopted texting as a form of communication with customers. But will this application become the norm, and can it further apply to other aspects of business-environment interactions? Can a means of communication so strictly governed by widely accepted principles be replaced by the “rule-less” realm of texting?

It depends. Experts tend to agree that texting for business is acceptable for certain occasions that require only simple questions and answers, perhaps like verifying a customer’s mailing address. As many rules of regular business communications as possible should be applied to such texts. Messages should be succinct, have all words spelled properly with no abbreviations, use correct punctuation, and maintain a sense of professionalism. In cases where immediate responses are necessary, texting (with the above rules in mind) may also be suitable.   However, for all other exchanges, traditional methods are still preferred. The future may show different trends, but texting is still viewed as too informal and too at-risk for misinterpretation to apply to business situations across the board.

by Christina Ruggieri

The NBA Lockout Could Have Been Shorter If Both Sides Were More Open

2 Dec

Basketball fans around the world are happy to hear that the NBA lockout between the players and owners has finally ended and that the season will begin on Christmas. While this news is exciting, the lockout could have been over much sooner.

The two sides came to the negotiating table, but neither side seemed willing to talk to the other since they each seemed more interested in talking at each other. Each side stubbornly stuck to their views, and this resulted in a 149-day stalemate.

Communication Issues 

According to Jonathan Abrams of Grantland, “There is no real reason why we couldn’t have arrived here in June or earlier. The sides started talks of this agreement more than two years ago and games were still lost. That reflects failure on both sides and a willingness to diminish a product.”

Both of the sides wanted to walk out of the negotiations with a win. They were not interested in doing what was best for the league, but rather what was in their best interests.

The longer the lockout went on, the more people began to express their opinions. Some owners, such as Michael Jordan believed that the players deserved a smaller percentage of the revenue than the original proposed amount. There were players who also took the opposite stance. All of these additional voices muddled the picture even more than it had already been.

The Group Without a Voice

While the NBA lockout was between the players and the owners, the fans were also another very interested party. They may not have had a voice, but they are one of the driving forces behind the league. Fans go out and support the teams and buy tickets, which in turn, helps provides the money to pay the players’ salaries.

This ordeal forced fans to see that the NBA is more than just a form of entertainment; it is a business. From the sidelines, the fans watched millionaires and billionaires “duke it out” to try to get every last penny out of the other side.

Once it was apparent that the season would be lost if an agreement was not reached, the two sides were able to focus on the game itself. This pressure led to the compromise that allowed the lockout to end and for everyone to be happy about its conclusion.

by Robert Knapel

The Millisecond of a Lifetime

2 Dec

We are told time and time again that first impressions are lasting, but how influential are they in reality? According to a new study from researchers in the Department of Psychology at Princeton University, first impressions truly last a lifetime.

The researchers showed participants images of faces for 100 milliseconds, then 500 milliseconds, then 1 second and longer periods. The impressions made after each micro-exposure for all traits judged, which were attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and aggressiveness, stayed consistent throughout. Interestingly, participants were able to predict the winners of congressional elections at a 70% rate after just 100 milliseconds, proving that individuals can correctly judge human traits in less than a second. Specific decisions are commonly influenced by facial characteristics, with competence most highly correlated with public office.

So does this mean that we cannot change how others initially view us? In fact, it’s quite the contrary. While facial features do play a role, body language, as well as how you present yourself (clothing, jewelry, shoes etc.) factor into first impressions. With this in mind, remember to dress well, stay upbeat and stay aware of your body language (no slouching!) when you need to make a good first impression. Ultimately, making the right first impression generally requires little more than remembering to do so, and let your personality take care of the rest.

Works Cited:

by Karl Bach