Archive | February, 2012

Headlines Making Headlines

29 Feb

Linsanity. Linning. To Linfinity and Beyond.

These headlines show some of the clever puns revolving around the New York Knicks’ point guard-turned-overnight celebrity, Jeremy Lin. Most puns were in good taste, but it was one cliché with unintentional racial implications that left a 28-year old editor without a job last week.

ESPN’s Mistake

A few hours after the Knicks suffered their first loss with Lin at the helm, ESPN Mobile produced the headline “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-Snapping Loss to Hornets.” The headline was taken down 35 minutes later, but by that time, the headline had spread throughout social media and ESPN was the target of serious backlash and disgust.

ESPN’s Reaction

Since then, ESPN issued an apology and a statement:

“We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.”

The editor who created the headline was fired, and the ESPN anchor that used the same phrase on live TV was suspended for 30 days.

Relevance to Business Communication

A story like this one is an example of how great an influence social media has on today’s world. The quick criticisms ESPN received from Twitter were part of the reason they took down the headline so quickly.

The response of ESPN in this situation shows the appropriate measures a company should take when they know made a mistake. ESPN immediately released a statement and apology, and also deemed it appropriate to terminate the editor’s employment. Crisis communication is very important in corporate situations and this is an example of a response that was timely, and helped mend the situation. The way a company responds in a time of crisis plays a big role in whether or not a company will maintain its loyal customer base even after making a mistake.

by Andrew Skalman



Get Hired for an Internship on the Way to Spring Break!

28 Feb

‘Networking’ may sound like a scary concept, however, with the many advances in online social media, countless opportunities now exist to network with little stress. Long before the idea of networking and its importance was ever explained to me, I had already invested numerous hours building and maintaining invaluable relationships with my time on websites like Facebook. Keeping up with the many online social media options is now essential for any savvy networker, however, as they accumulate so does the amount of time and effort we need to spend networking in front of a computer.

Online Networking is Taking Off

Now, online social media is continuing to evolve, allowing us not only to connect efficiently online, but also to arrange our time away from the computer so that we can network in person while on the go. One such example of the exciting new networking possibilities is Dutch airline KLM’s “Meet and Seat.” When you purchase a ticket, KLM’s webpage allows you the possibility of searching the current passengers by seat, connecting you to their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Even with easy communication online, people are traveling as much as ever and the program allows the unique opportunity to network while jetting around the world.

Even if you missed the opportunity to get the information of someone you chatted with on your flight, you can get a second chance with Will Scully-Power’s brainchild “we met on a plane.” After meeting his wife on a flight from Thailand to Sydney, Scully-Power founded a website that allows you to look up the passengers on you recent flight. You can post your personal and flight information on and the website helps you connect with those on the flight with whom never got the chance to exchange numbers. Studies have shown that online mention of “we met on a plane,” is spreading rapidly. Online networking is taking off in every direction imaginable; we just need to keep up. Who knows, maybe you could land a summer internship on your way to spring break.

by Scott Shlossman


Can Pinterest Become The Ultimate Social Media Tool?

28 Feb

Will adding social networking and media continue to be as successful? Pinterest is the fastest growing form of online social networking today, outpacing the new membership of Twitter and Facebook. Pinterest allows its users to create boards, or “online scrapbooks” that contain photos followed by a caption. Both aspects of these posts are important in creating a successful pin. The potential seen from pins that are popular is almost unimaginable. A pin can be posted and not even a day later that one pin has hit thousands of new boards. The amazing part about Pinterest is that every pin is public. This means that access is virtually unlimited.

The question is now, how can business utilize this new form of social networking to make their products shine? One pin can easily get lost in the shuffle. The challenge is to make those few important pins viral. Creating categories is an essential part of pinning. Naming boards something creative and comprehensive as well as grouping your boards into larger categories designed by Pinterest gives the best possibility for your pins to become popular.

Giving personality to your pins is a great way to make sure that they get noticed. The easiest way to achieve this is to pick photos that are “funny, inspiring or emotional.” Also, use photos that have good quality and are either obvious in their message or have a create caption that yields an explanation.

This brings up the next point: intriguing captions. Captions can often make or break your pin. Make it descriptive enough that it can carry a search and be more than just a simple description or a one-word summary. A great example of a good caption is “Happy Valentines Day! We added Coral to our colors! This is the Light-Duty Fish Tail Bracelet.” This caption provides a greeting, a description and excitement all in one. It also includes many key words including “coral”, “bracelet”, and “Valentines Day” that would be common search criteria.

The last strong suggestion is to make sure that all of your social media are connected. By having links to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on your Pinterest account, you give viewers a chance to learn more about your business and products. By giving instant access, you are ensuring that you will not be forgotten.

To answer the original question: yes, Pinterest can be used successfully as a social media tool if you follow the simple guidelines to be clear, creative and concise.

by Ellie Knust

Source: 6 Tips For Tapping Pinterest’s Surging Popularity – WSJ

Send Emails the Right Way

28 Feb

Need some spice in your life? Tired of the same old same old? Well one part of my life that provides constant change is the way I’m able to communicate. I can telephone, snail mail, email, text, chat, blog, video conference, tweet, facebook, and the list goes on. The best part of this beautiful technological progression is that modern forms of communication have not eliminated need for older forms.

Tweeting is appropriate for quick and concise responses to current news, but blogs allow for more extensive, detailed responses. Email is perfect for sending important information to colleagues and friends, but what if you want to send something more personal? Something like a wedding invitation is better communicated through snail mail.

Many of us can claim with great confidence an expertise in these communication channels. Despite our sincere confidence, a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal may make you humble yourself.  Email, for example, is a good improvement story. A number of common mistakes are made before we click the send button.

Using vague subject lines

Why do we send emails? We want to either convey important information and/or solicit a response. To accomplish either of these tasks we must first get the recipient to open the email. This can be done in a couple of ways.

  • Use differentiating detail. What if a subject line read “Meeting?”Does this subject refer to last week’s meeting, an upcoming meeting, or a meeting that has no impact on your work? Instead of “Meeting,” you could write “Meeting to discuss upcoming changes in personnel.” Now, you have enough detail to decide if this email is worth opening.
  • Add deadlines. Emails that require some kind of action on my part are worth reading right away. Instead of writing “Remove your items from the kitchen,” the title “Remove kitchen items by 3pm” will initiate more action.

Burying the news

Now that you’ve compelled recipients to open the email, give them the information before you lose their attention. You have a very short time slot so noteworthy items like dates, times, and deliverables should be mentioned within the first few lines. Otherwise, you risk the reader not finishing the email and missing out on valuable information. Also, using short paragraphs, good spacing, and section headings can go a long way in getting the news out.

Thinking email works best

With so many ways to communicate, keep in mind that email may not be necessary. Some communications are better on the phone or face-to-face. Other communications require valuable, physical cues that even the best email craftsman cannot transmit through email. Identifying if an email is appropriate to convey your information should be decision number one.

by Cheyenne Owens

Source: Top Ten Mistakes Managers Make With Email – WSJ

The Evolution of Social Media

28 Feb

Social media began as an online medium to connect with individuals.  Over time, companies discovered the potential marketing and communication benefits associated with various sites.  Major television networks are now using Twitter and Facebook to engage viewer audiences in a variety of ways.  The evolution of social media leads us to ask, “Where do we go from here?”

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that social media and television are becoming more intertwined than ever.  Whether the event is the Super Bowl or the Grammys, tweets and posts increase exponentially around the scheduling of major broadcasting events.  Corporations can capitalized on the increased media attention.

Although the hype surrounding the upcoming Oscar awards was at a low, ABC hoped to boost ratings and viewer numbers using new communication techniques.  A few of the strategies included:

  • Celebrity Tweets throughout the show
  • Back stage video footage to online viewers
  • Questions from viewers to celebrities via Tweets

By implementing new uses for social media, ABC hoped to create the biggest night in social media history.  The success of the new strategy will be measured by the increase in the amount of social media chatter generated about the award show.  Engaging viewers creates a different, non-traditional type of buzz that may prove rewarding for television networks and viewers.  The strategy seemed well planned out, but only time will tell if viewers responded as well as predicted.

The advancements in social media have barreled through old communication boundaries.  Just how far can the limits stretch?  Here are a few questions to consider regarding the future of social media websites.

Could social media be used as a voting medium in the future?

The demographics of our country are gradually shifting towards a technology-savvy society.  As more users join social media sites, using Twitter for voting may become more efficient and convenient.  A simple tweet could be used as a vote.  For example, “#Obama2014” could be a general “voting” Tweet.

Is email becoming an outdated mode of communication?

All Facebook users are familiar with sending private messages to individuals.  The messages are similar to email in every aspect.  Users can include a subject line, attach files, and even post links to photos and websites.  Some may even argue that Facebook messaging is easier to use than email, and you don’t have to go through the trouble of remembering email addresses.

Will social media accounts ever be mandated?

Most young adults have met someone and later looked up his or her Facebook profile.  We often tend to judge an individual by the information we discover on a person’s social media page.  However, if account registry were mandated and verified by the government, law enforcement agencies and the general public could easily access important (not personal) information of any citizen.  Such information could be useful in determining credibility in new contacts.

I admit, the questions about the future of social media are radical and may seem to some to be unlikely.  Then again, how many people thought we would be using the @ and # symbols to communicate with each other?  I believe that the short-term changes will involve the substitution of social media sites in place of email and an increase in companies using social media sites.  Social media is always changing and only time will tell what the future will bring.

by Kyle Billig

Buffett: I Have a Secret, but Can’t Tell You

28 Feb

This week, Warren Buffett communicated to his investors, Wall Street, and the financial world that he has chosen a successor for his mammoth holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.  Buffett maintains immense respect in the investment world; everyone wants to know who will take his throne.  Yet, he refused to name his successor!

The Background

Because Buffett had not communicated the possibility of a successor for the past decade, investors fear that if the 81 year old CEO should pass, Berkshire’s share price would drop tremendously.  While Buffett is widely regarded as the most successful investor ever, many (myself included) doubt that his successor will perpetuate Berkshire’s success.  Buffett partially communicated the issue and put some investors at ease; other investors, however, are even more concerned.  If the new successor is not publicly groomed by Buffett, then the financial world may not give necessary respect and trust to the new successor. 

Who is David Sokol? Never Heard of Him!

Berkshire’s share price appreciation has been hurt over the past five years by the successor uncertainty and public distrust in his executive management team.  Last year, one of Buffett’s closest advisors, David Sokol, resigned because he was accused of violating Berkshire’s insider trading laws.  Mr. Sokol was considered to be first in line to succeed Buffett.  However, Mr. Buffett did not address Sokol when announcing that he had chosen a successor.  Since Sokol deeply embarrassed Buffett last year, Buffett may take extra precautions to prevent another fiasco. 

Time to Really Explain What is Going On!

Buffett is certainly a good decision maker.  He has earned tremendous respect for the discipline he demonstrates in his investments.  I am in awe of his accomplishments.  Nevertheless, he needs to realize that his successor may not carry his same weight.  His communication is parallel to telling your friend “I have a secret, but I can’t tell you.”   His letter is informative, but still intensifies the issue.   This is Buffett’s chance to communicate strength in the future of his company.  Buffett will eventually be replaced; therefore, a reassuring statement is necessary.  When he is gone, will Berkshire still be the powerhouse that it is today?

Let People Know

The method in which we chose to disclose information significantly impacts the perception of our co-workers, friends, and shareholders.  Whether news is positive or negative: disclose all relevant information up front.  Listeners are more receptive and trusting when they feel consciously involved.  Buffett has many stock holders who do not know who the new successor to Berkshire Hathaway will be.  Although I am a huge fan of Buffett, I am also skeptical of this mysterious decision.  Why should stakeholders entrust their capital in a company that won’t reveal its next leader?  Buffett needs to state all of the facts; good communication is open communication.

by Rafi Lowenstein


So You Want to be an Executive?

27 Feb

Executives are defined by the way they handle adverse situations, provide leadership in the office and present themselves to others. However, not all executive-hopefuls know how to put forth the ideal persona.

For these middle-managers, the next step is to go back to school.

A study referenced by the Wall Street Journal says that “Executives with presence act self-confident, strategic, decisive, and assertive.” There are now workshops, some with a name like “Power of Image,” which teach prospective executives how to change their work presence.  This is a complete overhaul of specifics such as dress, or broader topics, like interpersonal behavior and presentation skills.

The executives who participated in these types of courses listed increased self-confidence and a “faster acceptance of ideas by senior management” as benefits. Another executive stated that her survival was a function of how well she could command a room, even when that room is full of other leaders.

These executive courses are clearly effective; otherwise there wouldn’t be so much demand. However, the most important changes can be done without attending a training seminar. The core change that is most important for these middle managers is self-confidence. Self-confidence is the glue that holds together improved dress and interpersonal skills and sells a presentation, or even a handshake.

My thoughts on these classes? The biggest change to make is with respect to your self-confidence. However, changing your confidence level doesn’t require a focused class or seminar. Instead, work on your self-confidence in a way that is best for you. If making presentations is disconcerting, do research on effective presentation styles. If you have difficulty finding a professional method of dress that you like, ask friends for suggestions. Or just pick something you enjoy and get good at it. Self-confidence is contagious, and achievement in one area of life will make confidence in the office easier.

Business communication takes many forms, with only a small part of it being your written words. In the source article, the Wall Street Journal explains how important non-verbal communication is and that mastering an executive presence will yield incredible rewards.

by Egan Muir