Borshoff

Insights about “communications”

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!

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.

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Slb5x5fixk4

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.

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.

 

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…”

4 / 04 / 2012

Let light shine in your words

Last week I visited the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial while I was in Washington, D.C., attending the National Association of Black Journalists’ conference on health. The monument was simple but beautiful, with the major focal point a chiseled image of Dr. King emerging from a stone inscribed, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

I had time to reflect on Dr. King’s crusade for civil rights and the way he delivered his message. As a communicator, I’m always interested in both the substance and the style, because sometimes the substance gets lost if the style distracts.

I think Dr. King had it right. His style was one of peace, dignity and unwavering faith that good would conquer evil. Dr. King didn’t try to out-shout those who disagreed with him. He pointed out injustices, but he also believed that two wrongs would never make a right. He rose above.

In our age of commentators talking over each other and politicians personally attacking each other, it’s refreshing to go back and read the speeches of a man who changed history by having a vision and eloquently sharing it. Go back and read Dr. King’s speeches and you’ll see what I mean.

One of my favorite King quotes is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Consider your words and your tone in everything you communicate. There’s an old country saying where I grew up: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Our words can be vinegar if we’re not careful, and vinegar rarely changes the world in a positive way.

3 / 12 / 2012

Keeping your fan engagement up

Facebook has been around for several years now. But for many companies, it’s the newest tactic in their communications toolkit. And just as they were getting used to it, along comes the new timeline to shake things up.

The following five tips offer suggestions that are general, as well as timeline-specific, to help you keep fans engaged.

  1. Be brief. Posts that are 80 characters or less in length have 27 percent higher engagement rates, according to research published in “Strategies for Effective Facebook Wall Posts.” Superfluous copy will detract from your message.
  2. Select a thoughtful cover photo. The timeline allows you to visually express your personality and point-of-view visually with a large, banner photo across the top of the page. The aesthetics help encourage interaction in a more intuitive way. Therefore, the cover photo needs to clearly reflect your brand.
  3. Seize control. Unlike Facebook’s old format, the timeline allows you to exercise control over the placement of your content. Hover over a story and you’re given the option to make it bigger, move it to the top of your page, or delete it all together. Companies now have more input into where to direct audience attention.
  4. Monitor messages. With the new timeline format, people can privately message brands. Likewise, brands have the ability to message fans back.
  5. Repeat what works. ReEvaluate! The value of understanding what works and what doesn’t can’t be understated. At a glance, you can see which posts are popular by looking at the feedback (likes or comments) you receive. Facebook also offers “Insights,” which breaks down the interactions between you and those who “like” you. Other services, such as TwentyFeet, can track your account’s interactions so you can get a better idea of what’s effective.

What about you? Have you had success keeping your Facebook fans engaged that you would like to share with us?

12 / 07 / 2011

Accessible Communication

Last week, the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities held their annual convention – a gathering of more than 400 advocates and individuals with disabilities around the state focusing on “Celebrating Community.”  For me, the conference was more than the incredible keynotes by Glen Hiemstra, Aaron Bishop and Ceasar MacDowell. It went beyond the engaging workshops focused on building an inclusive, livable community.

I was captivated by the stenographer.

During each presentation, the stenographer diligently captured the spoken words and projected them onto a large screen for anyone to read. This observation took me back to COMM 101 – the transportation of a message between the sender and the receiver.  Throughout the conference, I observed so many different methods of message delivery:

  • Sign language interpreters
  • Braille note-taking
  • Low-vision aids
  • Hearing aids
  • Closed-captioning

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11 / 11 / 2011

Be a better leader

By Allison Eckstein, senior account director

Once a year, Lacy Leadership Association offers a course called Leadership Education and Development (LEAD), and this year I had the opportunity to attend. The class meets for six weeks on Fridays and includes other supervisors, managers and business owners who are interested in becoming more effective leaders. LEAD was an amazing experience for many reasons.

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