Insights about “communications”

2 / 17 / 2015

You’ve Got Mail! (The old-fashioned kind)

SO-blogYes, you are reading a blog about snail mail.

In this all-digital-all-the-time world, has the art of a hand-written, stamped and sent note been lost? I’d like to think not. I consider it ‘good mail.’  It waits there between the daily pile of bills and fliers, a fabulous envelope or postcard from a friend. Good mail brightens the day.

I recently had a year of exciting life events requiring a lot more correspondence with loved ones than usual, and while I chose email on occasion, everything else went out the old-fashioned way. I hand-picked fun stamps at the post office and found cool postcards to convey the invitation, the gratitude, the love and the cheer. The feedback I received signified that the effort was appreciated.

In this fast-paced communication age where everything seems to be abbreviated or rushed, I think a card or note to convey thanks still says a lot more than a thank you text. Sometimes a text is all that is needed, but if someone has gone out of their way for you, a nice note seems more on-par.

How do you connect with others outside of electronic communication when you want it to be more personal?

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

2 / 13 / 2015

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

blog-2-13It seems like we hear about a new cyberattack on a major company each week, including the latest attack on Anthem, which hits close to home as my insurance carrier and an Indianapolis-based company. USA Today reported in September of last year that, “a staggering 43 percent of companies have experienced a data breach in the past year,” including Target, Home Depot, Michaels and Neiman Marcus. That’s up 10 percent from the year before.

The article also pointed out that more than 80 percent of breached companies that the credit information company Experian works with, “had a root cause in employee negligence,” which could include someone giving out their password, losing a USB or inadvertently clicking on an email attachment from a hacker. According to Trend Micro (Nov. 2012), 91 percent of targeted cyberattacks started with a deceptive “phishing” email enticing an employee to click on a link or an attachment.

Why am I, a communications professional, talking about this? Because communications is an integral part of educating employees and supporting an organizational change management initiative to change employee behaviors – and hopefully prevent a cyberattack.

Check out this award-winning montage from a video series we created to help do just that. Too often, cyber security is seen as an IT issue. You can have the best firewall or strongest brick house in the world, but it can’t help you if someone opens the door to your network and lets the big bad wolf in.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

10 / 23 / 2014

Borshoff earns Diversity Distinction in PR Award

Agency’s internship boot camp teaches minority college students how to stand out, succeed

INDIANAPOLIS – Borshoff’s Diversity Internship Boot Camp has been named “Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative” by The Council of Public Relations Firms and PRWeek.

The Diversity Distinction in PR Awards honor excellence in leadership and promoting ethnic diversity within the public relations sector. The awards were announced Oct. 22 at the Council of PR Firms annual dinner in New York City.

Borshoff launched its inaugural Diversity Internship Boot Camp in 2014. This half-day program for minority freshman and sophomore journalism, public relations and communications students included interactive sessions on standing out as internship candidates, how to build resumes and portfolios, and an overview of skills needed to work in PR/communications.

Diversity Internship Boot Camp also featured a diverse panel of local communicators who shared their internship experiences, professional journeys and career advice.

“We have a long-standing commitment to diversity, and our Diversity Internship Boot Camp is the most intentional representation of our goal to grow the pool of qualified minority internship candidates and ultimately to increase the number of minority employees on staff,” said Borshoff Managing Principal Susan Matthews.

The panel of judges for the awards was comprised of a diverse group of respected professionals working in the fields of communications and diversity and inclusion, chaired by the editor-in-chief of PRWeek. Other award categories were Best Community Initiative; Best In-House Diversity Initiative; and Diversity Champion.

Borshoff’s Diversity Internship Boot Camp is part of the company’s diversity program. This overall initiative helps the agency create and maintain a diverse workplace where individual differences including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, lifestyle, age, disability, religion and culture are embraced and valued.

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About Borshoff

Borshoff is an Indianapolis-based advertising and public relations agency whose professionals deliver results through strategic, creative solutions. Founded in 1984, the agency’s 57 employees work with more than 70 clients in a variety of industries. Borshoff is a partner in IPREX, an international partnership of independent communications firms. In 2014, Borshoff was again named a Best Place to Work by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

9 / 29 / 2014

The Power of Quiet in Communications

katherine-blogHow can you be an introvert and work in public relations? It turns out, introverted qualities can actually be a perfect match for life as a professional communicator.

I recently read a book that made me realize I am not as weird as I originally thought. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, is a beautifully written and researched book that lays out the myths and realities about introverted personalities.

The first thing I learned was the true difference between being shy and being introverted. Shyness is about the fear of social judgment and humiliation. But introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. As Susan Cain describes it:

Introverts feel “just right” with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book. Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes and cranking up the stereo.

Of course, humans are complex beings, so these characteristics rarely hold up 100% of the time. Introverts can and do enjoy a good party every now and then, and extroverts do, in fact, take time to read!

Unfortunately, however, American culture considers introversion to be a problem to overcome, and many of our key institutions – schools, corporations, government – are designed for extroverts.

We’ve all experienced the trend toward collaborative work spaces, an insistence on group brainstorming and self-help books that push us to “come out of our shell.” But the reality is that introverts bring richness and depth to the world that we ignore or push down at our own peril. Consider these findings from Cain’s research:

  • The best ideas don’t necessarily come from gregarious groupthink but rather from the creativity and productivity that come out of solitude. Without introverts, the world would not have the theory of gravity, The Cat in the Hat, or Google.
  • Introverted leaders who lead teams made up of extroverts often find greater success than extroverted leaders. “Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions,” Cain says.
  • There’s never been a correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. You don’t have to go far (read: any number of politicians can serve as an example) to know that the loudest, most eloquent person is not necessarily the smartest.
  • Every major world religion is built on the idea that you have to go into the wilderness to receive the revelation. Without solitude and time for reflection, we would not have the teachings of Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed.

So what do we do with our newfound appreciation for introverts? Cain suggests two simple action steps that can help us strike the right balance.

First, we must stop the madness of constant group work. In my role as a communicator, I recognize and appreciate the value that my entire team brings to our client work. But I also know that no truly brilliant idea was ever formed by committee. People need time to think on their own, and collaboration should follow after that.

Second, we must go to the wilderness. All of us are overstimulated by technology, multitasking and constant chatter from every channel that surrounds us. For introverts, this barrage can be debilitating. We shouldn’t feel guilty for the time we take to reset, and our extroverted colleagues and friends could find the same benefit from a little down time.

Regardless of where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, recognize your own tendencies and appreciate those in your life who are different from you. As Cain put it,

“Today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts – which means that we’ve lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of all Americans are introverts.”

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

3 / 03 / 2014

Boot Camp, the Borshoff Way

diversitybc_formatted for blogBoot Camp. Though the name sounds a little intimidating, our Diversity Internship Boot Camp was such a treat to the students and to us, as hosts. The Boot Camp was part of Borshoff’s diversity initiative, which helps our agency create and maintain a diverse workplace where we embrace each other’s differences including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, lifestyle, age, disability, religion and culture. We believe everyone is important and brings value to the agency.

The purpose of Boot Camp was to teach students about internship opportunities at Borshoff, equip them with the knowledge they need to develop as standout interns, and grow our pool of qualified minority internship candidates. We had the privilege of hosting students – mostly freshmen and sophomores – from Butler University, Franklin College, Indiana University, IUPUI and UIndy. Thirteen students committed half of their Saturday to talk about public relations, communications and design. Several members of the Borshoff team shared advice on how to be standout interns, and the students responded with enthusiasm and insightful questions as we explored effective writing, resume and portfolio tips, social media pitfalls, career paths and other topics.

To help students get the most out of Boot Camp, we enlisted outside help as well. A few of the community’s brightest and most talented communicators – Gene Ford, IU Health; Danielle Neveles, Eli Lilly and Company; Jae Park, Interface; and Gene Rodriguez, WellPoint – shared their internship experiences, professional journeys and career advice. The students’ wide eyes, rapid-fire questions and “ah-ha” expressions were indicators that our panelists hit the mark! And when the panel discussion was over, the students lined up to keep the conversation going.

It was so inspiring to watch the students eagerly soak up information that could one day shape their futures. It made me feel great to play a small role in their journey. And I look forward to doing it again next year!

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

2 / 27 / 2014

Four Things to Consider When Communicating Change

changesThere have been all sorts of articles over the years about obstacles to change and the difference between change leadership and change management. Major organizational change can fail for a number of reasons if the change isn’t planned or executed effectively.

And while communicating organizational change is only a part of what makes major change successful, it’s a critical part that requires strategy, creativity and intentional effort.

Here are four elements to consider as you communicate major change in your organization:

  • Make your employees a part of the conversation. In an ideal world, leaders would make employees a part of the actual planning of a change.  But even if change is pushed down from the top without employee input, making them a part of the conversation as you communicate change can go a long way to ensuring they understand, adopt and even advocate for the change you are trying to make.
  • Address the elephant in the room early.  Change is hard, and it often requires sacrifice or acceptance of the unknown. It’s important to frankly and clearly address any downside when you’re communicating what’s going to take place. Pretending that everything is going to be great and the change will be easy is asking for trouble, and no one will believe you.
  • Repeat, repeat and then repeat again. Just because you’ve told your employees about a change doesn’t mean they get it, understand it and love it after hearing it once. Build some redundancies into your communication plan. You may be sick of hearing about it, but they may not fully grasp the extent of the change after hearing one announcement. Make sure they get many opportunities to hear the message, ask questions and check understanding. And make sure your entire leadership team and supervisors are repeating the same, consistent message, too.
  • Keep it simple and stay linear, but share the end goal early. You don’t want to overwhelm people with too many details, but you want to be transparent and forthcoming. Paint a clear and compelling picture of what your end goal is in making the change, but quickly move back to the current day and walk people through the steps it’s going to take to get there in the short term. Communicating a message that builds from the starting point to the end goal will help people know where they are at in the spectrum of change and the progress they’re making, without getting them distracted by details in the middle.

In the end, change is only successful if it makes sense and people embrace it. They can’t embrace it if you don’t clearly communicate it to them in a way that compels them to join you. If the change is poorly designed, no amount of clever communication will make it successful. Remember, actions always speak louder than words.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

8 / 19 / 2013

Every second counts, literally

DigitalBlog_240x240“Do you have a second?” I’m asked this question a lot throughout the day. Granted, the person asking never really needs a “second” because what can really be accomplished in that amount of time? Not much, right? But in doing some research recently, my theory was proven wrong.

In our digital world, a lot of information is being shared fast, really fast. In fact, here are some statistics that show just how much is happening every second:

  • 100,000 Tweets
  • 684,478 items shared on Facebook
  • 2 million Google search queries
  • 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube
  • 47,000 apps downloaded from the App Store
  • 3,600 Instagram photos shared
  • 571 websites created
  • $272,000 spent online

Every second! These numbers are daunting to me, as I try to understand the digital revolution. But then I think about my own habits, what I do digitally every day (every second of the day), and it all starts to make a little more sense. Whether I’m discussing a rich media ad campaign with coworkers or uploading my son’s first day of school photos to Facebook, I’m now asking the question, “What am I doing today that isn’t digital?”

When you send your next Tweet or post a photo to Instagram, keep these stats in mind, realizing you too are part of this communications revolution.

2013 digital statistics from MistMedia, Dublin, Ireland:

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

6 / 14 / 2013

One more thing the NSA should probably listen to

spyingIt hasn’t been a good month for the NSA. With all of the back and forth, miscommunication and anger, the directors have hopefully learned that a clear, well-communicated message is better than reactively scrambling and hoping for the best. Even if they haven’t, we can learn a few things by how they’ve handled the situation.

Put Lipstick on the Pig

One approach to clear communication is to include visuals that accompany your message. The NSA released an “informative” PowerPoint presentation that was, well…not very informative.

All we learned from the presentation is that lots of logos on a slide combined with excessive amounts of text and diagrammed bubbles will only lead to confusion and ridicule. Of course, good design can go a long way to making visual communications effective.

The Medium is the Message

If you want to convince people that you aren’t spying on them, it’s probably best to avoid looking like you’ve been spying on them. For example: a senator called out a journalist for a tweet that was sent during a hearing that was still in session. That was probably a bad idea. “No, we’re not spying on you! Especially not you person who tweeted a thing!”

Stick. To. Your. Story.

The best way to ensure that your audience doesn’t hear your message is to keep changing it.

“We weren’t spying!”

“Spying isn’t bad!”

“What we did isn’t unconstitutional!”

“It was for your safety!”

No matter where the truth may lie, continuing to change your message can make it more difficult to educate your audience and will send another message: it’s possible that we messed up big.

So whether you’re preparing your next advertising campaign or responding to your own crisis (let’s hope it’s not domestic spying), remember to have a message and a strategy prepared before you start talking.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

2 / 15 / 2013

Accessible thoughts

closedcaptioningAs communicators, we need to keep broad audiences in mind. This includes the disability community. And this was the topic at Wednesday’s PRSA Hoosier Chapter luncheon, “How to Connect with Diverse Audiences.” I was eager to attend in the hopes of gaining takeaways to apply to my client work, especially the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities.


Here are a few takeaways I found especially interesting.

1. Twitter has a hashtag for everything

Until Tuesday, I didn’t know there was an unofficial official Twitter hashtag for all accessibility-related posts – #A11Y. The “A” and “Y” are for the first and last letters of accessibility and the “11” for all those letters in between.

2. Photo-heavy social media shows little love for assistive technology

It’s difficult for assistive technology such as screen readers – software applications that attempt to identify and interpret what’s being displayed on the screen into sound – to interpret the written message within a photo. This tells us that Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are not your best communication channels if your audience has visual impairments.

3. Closed-captioning is regrettably expensive

Closed-captioning is essential when communicating with persons who have hearing disabilities. Unfortunately, a nationwide shortage of live translators is driving up the cost of closed-captioning. Keep in mind when planning an event or webinar that requires live translations. Speaker Wade Wingler from Easter Seals Crossroads did offer an alternative option: YouTube allows users to upload a video and manually written captions. Then, the site automatically aligns the captions to the audio. More on that here.

4. Question your newly designed websites: Compliant vs. Usable

Can your website be easily read and understood by screen readers or people with visual or hearing impairments? Web developers should use a standardized checklist to remember to maintain accessibility. Michael Burton from Courseload reminded us about WCAG (web content accessibility guidelines), which is an internationally shared standardization of accessible web content.

Want more of my takeaways? Just ask in the comments section.


The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

5 / 07 / 2012

Giving a rock-star interview

Media training is one of the many services we offer at Borshoff. In these sessions, we teach valuable information to prepare people for giving rock-star interviews. We provide an in-depth look at today’s media landscape, the do’s and don’ts when caught in a crisis, and tools to ensure you come across calm and collected on camera, radio or in a print article.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you have the opportunity to conduct a media interview:

  • Be yourself – humorous, relaxed and knowledgeable.
  • Epitomize the company – act as you want others to see/know your company/organization.
  • Concentrate on the interviewee – looking at notes too much indicates that the reporter or interview wasn’t important enough for you to prepare in advance.
  • Smile slightly all the time on camera – a slight smile won’t really look like a smile; you’ll look confident and relaxed. If you don’t smile slightly, you will look like you are frowning.
  • Make eye contact – focus on the reporter, not the camera.
  • Speak with more energy and range and louder than usual – if you’re nervous, you are likely to speak softer and flatter than usual. Try not to speak faster than your natural place.

These will ensure you give a great interview and don’t leave thinking, “I wish I had remembered to…”

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

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