I’ve been searching for a part-time job. One application has garnered interest, and as part of the process, my potential employer has asked me to write a blog entry about why I want to work there, why I think it would be fun.
Why Vine multimedia? What I’ve learned about the company from its website (http://vinemultimedia.com) – mission, beliefs, methodology – resonates with my own views and approach. I like its concept of a “social business,” with its emphasis on doing the right thing and making a world a better place. I believe I would get satisfaction from participating in that kind of effort; I’ve always felt communicators do their best work when they believe in the message. Finally, I’ve enjoyed my electronic exchanges with the team’s leader. I’m fascinated by the holistic approach combining online and offline approaches described in his bio, want to learn more about how that applies in real life and real time, and would like to explore how I could “fit’ in and contribute.
I like applying my hard-won skills and experience to real-life challenges. I get satisfaction from knowing my talents and abilities are useful and valued. I enjoy “paying it forward,” adding my perspective to support and enhance the efforts of fellow communicators. Since I retired from full-time employment, I’ve kept current by volunteering as a mentor and evaluator with IABC’s accreditation and awards programs, however, both those programs are currently in flux and I don’t know what the future holds. I’m seeking another outlet.
Finally, I need additional income. My retirement investments have depleted faster than expected, and I don’t want to reduce my lifestyle. I don’t need full-time employment, and I’m not looking for the responsibility that comes with it. I’d like someone else to take the lead and make the hard choices. As the song says, “I just want to have fun!” Some communicators in my situation opt for consulting work, but success as a consultant demands an ongoing sales effort I’m not prepared to make. I enjoy explaining and selling the importance and benefits of good communications… selling myself, not so much.
On to the next step!
IABC’s recent “hold” on accreditation applications did not surprise me, especially on the heels of the recent survey about accreditation. For some time, I’ve had concerns as to where IABC’s decision-makers are moving with both the awards program and the accreditation program. At this point, I’m not sure there’s a way to alter either course.
I’m concerned both programs are moving more and more from the control, and access, of grass-roots members, with the rationale that it’s just TOO hard to make them work with volunteers. The consequence, in my opinion, will be that both will become less and less accessible, and meaningful, to ordinary communicators who don’t have resources, or interest, to travel or interact at the international level.
I’m not unsympathetic with the dilemma faced by IABC’s top brass. They want to raise the prestige of accreditation, make it more desirable outside the profession AND outside of North America, have it perceived as WORTH more. Status/Face is very important to many individuals, and in many markets, and I suspect a product like the Executive Accreditation Seminar (EAS), with its close ties to high status universities, “sells” well in those markets and to those individuals.
Accreditation in its existing form IS an “inside” secret. I believe it IS recognized, and honoured, by corporations and organizations that have had experience with accredited communicators they respect. Those ABCs have sold the brand, usually on a one-to-one basis. Unfortunately, that kind of recognition only comes when the people who earn the designation themselves respect it, use it, explain it, and, by doing so, promote it. It is not created by a news release or an ad campaign. It can’t be bought.
Accreditation in its existing form also requires WORK from the recipients. It takes more than reading a book, signing up for a course, or paying a fee. It demands thought, and effort, and change. It makes everyone involved (candidates, employers, mentors, evaluators, etc.) BETTER communicators, but achieving it can be a painful and time-consuming process. I suspect the pain and the time is TOO much for many wantabes, and I’m afraid the influences that are swayed by appearance rather than substance are going to win. A likely consequence, in my opinion, is that accreditation will become more and more costly (those high status universities are not cheap) and, as a result, limited to communicators with substantial personal or corporate resources. That’s very sad for those with limited resources and restricted travel budgets.
I know that’s sounds pessimistic, but I’m feeling that way. At this stage in my career, it’s not life-altering. I’ve gained the benefits I wanted, and needed, from my accreditation; I can continue to enjoy “passing forward” what I’ve learned to younger colleagues as long as there are those interested in listening. The current generation of communicators are the ones I’m sad for; they’re the ones who’ll lose out and miss it. The ones who follow won’t even know it existed.
I’ve just read a post that argues that, since journalists are human beings and, therefore, have opinions, they should be free to express those opinions via social media and that to limit that freedom is to suggest viewers/readers “are too stupid to figure out where the truth lies, or too thick to consider the facts of a story if the reporter happens to have retweeted someone or joined a Facebook page.”
As someone who originally trained and worked as a journalist, I agree that journalists are human beings and have opinions; I don’t believe it necessarily follows that their viewers/readers need to know what they are.
When I was in training as a reporter, my editor told me my job was to leave my own opinions at the door and concentrate on gathering and reporting facts about all aspects of the story clearly enough to enable my readers to make up their own minds. The goal was a “balanced” report. As my editor said, “Opinions belong on the editorial page, not in the news sections.”
I knew I’d been successful when one of my stories generated calls of appreciation from both supporters and critics of a speaker I’d reported on. I’d had a personal opinion of the speaker and his message, but I was proud that I’d obviously managed to keep that opinion out of my story. I’d done my job.
To return to the content of that original post, I don’t agree that limiting journalists’ freedom to express their opinions via social media suggests viewers/readers are “too stupid to figure out… the truth or too thick to consider the facts…”
However, I DO wonder about journalists who feel the need to supplement the stories they report by expressing their personal opinions via social media. To me, that suggests those journalists either lack faith in their own ability to tell a story well, OR doubt their readers’/viewers’ ability to come to a “right” conclusion.
Anyone can have an opinion; it takes a professional to write a news story.
p.s. To read the original post, and comments: Twitter and journalism: It shouldn’t be that complicated – gigaom.com
Today, Canada went to the polls.
Everyone, including me, will watch with interest for tonight’s results, but what truly excites me is what’s already happened.
For the first time in years, young Canadians, including my own children, have become “invested” in the process. They CARE about turning out to vote! My kids were so determined not to miss their chance that they voted in the advance polls.
I’m not sure why it’s happened. It certainly wasn’t inspired by a young charismatic leader, as happened in the USA in 2008. None of our political parties have those, not yet anyway. Still, based on Facebook comments, media reports, conversations with workers at the polling station, it IS happening.
Democracy is a strange entity, strong and fragile at the same time. It can survive bad governments, but struggles with an indifferent electorate. We citizens have to CARE enough to vote, if only to drive home to those who end up elected that they serve at our pleasure. And caring has to start when you’re young, because if you don’t believe in the possibility for change when you’re in your 20s, you won’t start when you hit your 40s or your 60s.
It’s not terribly efficient, or necessarily effective, but, as Sir Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, it’s “the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
Vote as you will, but please VOTE!
I’ve just had eye surgery… cataracts. My right eye is SEEing the world clearly without a “coke-bottle” lens for possibly the first time in my life. My current lopsided view of the world – my left eye is still awaiting its new lens – inspires introspection.
I am grateful.
I am grateful for my kids, whose baby pictures I can now SEE hanging on my bedroom wall when I wake up in the morning.
I am grateful that they are healthy, and out in the world making choices that I trust will lead them to the “right” lives for them, I reject (at least I’m trying) the mindset of parents who continue to interfere in their children’s lives after the “past-due” date set by nature.
I am grateful for my sister, who chauffeured me to and from surgery, “baby-sat” me for 24 hours afterwards (just in case), made supper, washed dishes, slept on the too-short couch, then chauffeured me to a post-op appointment to ensure all was well before she returned to her own life.
I reject the mindset of siblings who waste their lives quarreling, envying, resenting. My sister is a sister of both shared DNA, and the “heart.” No one else in the world shares my memories, my sorrows, my dreams in quite the same way. As a friend of our mother once said, we’re “cut off the same pattern.”
I am grateful for the skill of my surgeon, the modern technology that enables it, the caring and dedication of the health care staff that make it possible.
I reject the mindset of those who waste energy complaining about what our health care system does NOT do, or doesn’t do fast enough, while neglecting to acknowledge the miracles it performs. I recognize there are gaps, and delays, but Canada’s modern health care system is truly a wonder.
Here’s to the glass half-full!
All of us want to believe our work has value.
The dilemma is to identify methods that measure/prove that value to others… and to ourselves.
That dilemma is particularly crucial for communicators because what we do is often intangible, an influencing of our audiences’ hearts and minds.
How do you measure… prove… demonstrate something like that?
Your corporate PR department has recently handled a media relations and promotion campaign to introduce a new business-to-business product line for one of your company’s divisions.
In a post-campaign sales review meeting with the division manager, you present an impressive package of news clippings from a variety of trade journals. You claim awareness-raising success based on the $500,000 value of the advertising cost equivalent of the editorial space devoted to this product, versus PR expenditures of only $8,000.
The division manager says, “So what? First quarter orders are less than half of our projections, and you guaranteed that your PR campaign would generate sales at least in line with our projections.”
So, HAVE you committed a communication ethics infraction?
- No, because promotion is only one element of the marketing mix, and some other factor, such as high pricing or lack of sales force aggressiveness, may be causing the low sales figures.
- No, because PR is only indirectly related to actual sales, and you can’t be held accountable for actualities outside of your direct control. Besides, it’s still much too early in the promotion cycle for all potential buyers to have seen the trade journal articles.
- Yes, if you guaranteed the promotional campaign would generate sales in line with the division’s original projections, as this promise is technically beyond your capability to deliver.
- Yes, because you mislead the division manager by applying an ad equivalency measurement, even though it clearly indicated you were saving the firm money and potentially enhancing its advertising objectives.
If, in fact, you DID “guarantee” your promotional campaign would generate the sales in the division’s projections, then, according to Article 11 of IABC’s Code of Ethics, (Professional communicators do not guarantee results that are beyond the power of the practitioner to deliver.) the answer is simple: Answer #3. It’s also questionable to use figures you’re in a position to affect, i.e. Advertising Cost Equivalent, as “proof.”
Now, having dealt with the “black & white” answer to the scenario, let’s rewind events a bit.
Do any of us believe a division manager in the real world would set sales projections for a new product based on promises from the PR department?
What is much more likely is that the PR department was asked for a campaign that would “introduce” the product to potential customers and make the actual selling process easier. The division’s sales projections would have been based on its “reading” of how the new product was likely to be received by the market. In this scenario – first quarter orders that are less than half what was projected – it appears that someone “goofed,” BADLY.
Maybe there was a downturn in the economy; maybe a new, superior product was released by a competitor; maybe the team leader of the sales projection crew was hired because of “who” he knew rather than “what.” Realistic sales projections don’t miss the mark that dramatically because of a media relations and promotion campaign that, based on the scenario (no matter what opinion you hold on the concept of Advertising Cost Equivalent), was valued at the equivalent of $500,000 in advertising.
The reality is that even the best promotion campaign does not compensate for the wrong product, the wrong market, or the wrong time.
Taking all that into account, what can/should you do now?
First, consider carefully what was said in that original meeting. Did you get enough information? Maybe you should have asked more questions about how the division arrived at its sales projections; maybe you should have pushed for market testing before the product was released.
If you DID guarantee a promotional campaign that would generate sales in line with the division’s projections, prepare to take your lumps. NEVER promise what you can’t deliver!
If you committed to something else, tactfully, but firmly, make that clear. You are defending not only yourself, but your staff, and the credibility of your department. Ideally, you have something in writing to back up your version of the discussion.
Finally, consider why you are only NOW becoming aware of this problem. Plan how you could avoid such nasty surprises in the future. Maybe your promotion team should have worked more closely with the sales team on this project; they DO both belong to the same company team.
Remember, the hearts and minds that we work with as communicators are located as much INSIDE as OUTSIDE of our organizations. We need friends who appreciate us, not enemies who resent us.
(Note: The scenario described comes from the Ethics Quiz that is part of the IABC Accreditation Completion Program; the commentary before and afterwards is mine.)
Something known by more than one is no longer a secret.
The current WikiLeaks saga is provoking worldwide public debate and discussion about “secrets” and “confidentiality.” Individuals, organizations, governments, each have a point of view.
Communicators know about “secrets.”
Being privy to proprietary information comes with being a communicator. Respecting confidentiality is part of the job, as is explaining to the Powers-That-Be how fragile true confidentiality is in today’s virtual world. Needless to say, it can be a very uncomfortable responsibility.
You are communications director for a medium-sized industrial company listed on a major stock exchange.
A couple of weeks ago, your boss told you to prepare internal and external communication strategies to announce the layoff of 25% of the head office staff within the next two months. Your boss also told you to keep this information quiet until the actual announcement.
At a neighborhood social gathering about 10 days after you begin working on the project, a close friend—who works at your company and may be affected by the layoff—looks you straight in the eye and asks, “Is it true that half the head office, including me, will be gone by this time next week?”
What do you do?
- Claim you have no idea what your friend is talking about.
- Assure your friend that the layoffs will be only about one-fourth of the workforce, not one-half, and that they couldn’t possibly happen as soon as next week.
- Tell your friend about all the other rumors you’ve heard regarding this situation.
- Tell your friend that even if there were going to be layoffs, it would never happen in a week because you think the company is required to provide 60 days notice to workers.
- Say, “If I did have such knowledge, I wouldn’t be able to discuss it.”
What’s the ethical thing to do?
According to IABC Code of Ethics, Article 8, (Professional communicators protect confidential information and, at the same time, comply with all legal requirements for the disclosure of information affecting the welfare of others.) the answer is simple: Answer #5.
You were instructed to keep the information to yourself, it’s confidential, and, because of securities legislation, you can’t disclose any information at this point.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if real life unfolded so neatly.
It’s a Sunday evening; you’ve had a few beers; you’re with friends; you’ve been talking about kids, sports, politics. You deliberately left your difficult work issues behind in the office.
Suddenly, those issues are right there in front of you.
How do you react?
Do you respond correctly? smoothly? credibly? the way you would at work? the way you would if you were expecting a confrontation?
What if you stutter? stammer? freeze?
How do you deal afterwards? with your friend? with your boss?
What do you do?
(Note: The scenario described comes from the Ethics Quiz that is part of the IABC Accreditation Completion Program; the commentary before and afterwards is mine.)
I just got an iPad.
Many years ago, when I moved from my mother’s into a place of my own, my mother commented tartly that I was starting out with more in my first kitchen than she’d had when she married. I replied, in like tone, that, since I’d learned in her current kitchen, the tools were necessities to me. I think the specific tool in question was a handheld electric mixer.
My first personal computer was an Apple Macintosh. It came with a new job. My new boss was a Mac fanatic who’d decreed his entire department was to be equipped with his computer of choice. The move wasn’t entirely successful since it seemed the rest of the world, certainly the rest of the organization with which we worked, was addicted to PCs, but it was a delight for me. I spent most of my first month on the job learning to use my Mac, and the newly released Pagemaker software that my new boss had declared I just HAD to have.
I’ve come a long way since then…
My personal world now includes (in order of their acquisition) a MacBook, an iPod, a Mac mini, and my new iPad, and all, except the latter, have long since become “necessities” to life as I know it. Given that I’m using the iPad to write this, I suspect it is only a matter of time before that, too, becomes essential.
I did give up on Pagemaker around Version 3.0.
Time moves on, and we change; sometimes without even realizing it.
However, some things stay the same.
Writing is still about the basics.
Putting words together effectively still requires a combination of talent, training and experience, although methods of delivery have changed and evolved. Writing for a blog or a website is not the same as writing for a newsletter or a brochure. Writing to be read is different than writing a speech or a script.
What hasn’t changed is that you still need to know your audience, and you still need to keep your desired outcome clearly in mind. Even the grammar that educationalists tried to declare “obsolete” back in the 50s still has a role, although, probably, not in texting. To me, nothing separates “amateur” writing from “professional” more clearly than the grammar.
Most of all, you need to honour the words.
(Editor’s Note: My spelling of “honour” is deliberate; I choose to stick with the version I learned rather than accept what spell check SAYS I should use. I offer a tip: Spell check is a useful tool, but it doesn’t replace good, old-fashioned proofreading.)
P.S. When my mother emptied her kitchen for the final time, I appropriated one tool, her potato peeler. It had been a wedding gift to her, and I’d found they just don’t make them the way they used to.
HONOUR THE WORDS!
“Those (Canadian communicators) that are professionally accredited tend to have a higher average salary than those that aren’t ($93,482 vs. $76,954, respectively). (2009 IABC/Canada Salary Survey)
Does a communicator with an ABC get paid more? Not necessarily.
Communicators’ earnings depend on a myriad of factors. Qualifications, of which an ABC is only one, are just one element.
Other factors include: Where do you work? Who employs you? What are your job responsibilities? your job “risks”? How long have you stayed in one place?
Professional life, like your personal life, is about choices. Career choices, just like life choices, impact both emotional and financial bottom lines.
An ABC is not a guarantee; it is a certification.
It says, “You are capable;” YOU determine “of what.”
In somewhat the same way as having a CA or CGA does for an accountant or P.Eng. does for an engineer, having an ABC indicates to employers, present and future, that you have a certain level of education, experience and competence. It does not guarantee a promotion or success in every job interview, but, other things being equal between you and another candidate, it may tip the scales in your direction.
Completing the accreditation process requires you to submit an acceptable portfolio of work samples and pass both a written and oral exam. No one completes this process without becoming more conscious of “best communications practices,” and gaining a deeper understanding of how communications fits within, and contributes to, an entire organization. That kind of increased knowledge and awareness increases your career potential.
Completing the accreditation process proves to YOU that your professional knowledge, skills, abilities and judgment have been measured against today’s recognized standard of communications expertise and judged worthy by “a jury of your peers.” That kind of objective validation makes for increased self-esteem, which helps you become a communicator who not only knows what to advise, but has the confidence to give good advice (as opposed to comfortable advice), as well as the confidence to ask, and accept, the advice of others.
Does a communicator with an ABC get paid more? Not always. Are they worth more? DEFINITELY!
Some families are formed and held together by ties of blood; others by ties of friendship. My daughter’s wedding on 10-10-10 in Revelstoke represented both.
As rain pattered gently on the canvas roof of the tent that was the “weather option” in their wedding plan, Nicole Liane Shirray and Glen Robert Cherlet promised each other “today and… the rest of our tomorrows.”
The wedding venue had been chosen with care.
Mount Mackenzie Log Chalet is located on the side of one of the mountains that surround Revelstoke, British Columbia. Operated as a B&B during the summer and winter high seasons, it usually sits unoccupied during spring and fall. The owner agreed to lease it on Thanksgiving weekend for an outdoor autumn wedding that began with traditional formality and ended in an old-fashioned Manitoba-style country “bash.”
The bride’s father traveled from Manitoba to escort her down the aisle…
The bride’s attendants came from near and far… Kelowna, Winnipeg, Ulsan (South Korea).
They are linked to Nik by strong ties of friendship.
Maria, the maid of honour (in brown), has been Nicole’s buddy since Grade X. Four friends – two girls, two boys – went through high school together, and they’ve stayed close. Both boys are now married with children; Taylor, the flower girl, is the daughter of one of them. Maria, now the lone single, is a lawyer in Winnipeg. She flew to Calgary, then drove through the mountains. Taylor’s family drove all the way.
Deidre (Dee), the bridesmaid in red, met Nik when they were both English teachers in Ulsan. They shared a love for adventure and fun: rode motorbikes, climbed rocks, partied enthusiastically. Still a teacher in South Korea, Dee spent 40+ hours in transit, then drove from Vancouver. The morning of the wedding, she and Nik Skyped Ulsan to say, “Hello,” and “Good-bye” to old friends at their favourite bar; it closed on Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend.
London, the tiny lady in gold, had the shortest distance to travel. She and Glen are friends of long standing, and she and Nik “clicked” the moment he introduced them. A nurse-in-training in Kelowna, London was the AIC (attendant-in-charge), the one who accompanied Nik to buy her wedding dress, selected the bridal party’s gift to the happy couple (the groom’s dream barbeque), and picked up and delivered the dinner entree (Wilbur, the pig) to the wedding venue for cooking.
The groomsmen represented both family and friendship.
Doug, the best man, (in brown) has been Glen’s buddy since they met playing soccer when they were both five years old. He traveled from Winnipeg where he is a courier driver. Matt (in red) is described by Glen as his “brother of another mother.” They met when they were “very little,” and later lived and partied together in Calgary where Matt still lives and works as a graphic designer. Jeff (in gold), Nicole’s younger brother, moved to Revelstoke late last year at Glen & Nicole’s urging, and is enrolled in a carpentry apprentice program.
Nicole and Glen both grew up in Winnipeg – Nicole in St. James, Glen in St. Vital – but their lives didn’t cross paths until they both landed jobs at Panorama ski resort during the season of 2007-2008. Glen was working as a chef, an avocation he’s pursued doggedly since he started taking over his mother’s kitchen in his pre-teens. Nicole, a newly-qualified wilderness guide, was working as a server so she could polish her skiing skills during the guiding off-season.
Both were attracted, but cautious; each worried the other was “too young.” They breathed mutual sighs of relief after they exchanged ages and found the difference was “just right.” They discovered they had much in common, including a love of physical activity and the outdoors, and a dislike for unnecessary pomp and circumstance. Glen told his mother he’d found “the ONE!” Nik was more reticent, but she finally admitted to her mother in the spring of 2008 that this relationship might actually be the one that lasted. Glen accompanied her back to the Chilcotin Mountains where she worked her second season as a wilderness guide.
And so it began. After a summer in the Chilcotins, Nicole & Glen migrated south and east to Revelstoke and fell in love with the people, the community and the surrounding mountains.
They skied and skidooed in the winter; Glen taught Nicole how to curl. When summer came, they played baseball, hiked and camped in the mountains, and tried their hand at starting their own business.
They got engaged in late summer, 2009. Instead of a traditional engagement ring for Nicole, they had celtic knot designs tattooed on both ring fingers. Their titanium wedding rings were chosen to fit over the tattoos.
Glen & Nicole chose their wedding day for a combination of sentimental and practical reasons. Revelstoke is a tourist town, winter and summer are peak seasons, and prices during the “shoulder season” are much more reasonable. The three-day Thanksgiving weekend meant family and friends coming from elsewhere had more travel time. Getting married on the 10th day of the 10th month of 2010 sounded auspicious (Glen gave up on a 10 a.m. ceremony after he realized what that meant in terms of a wakeup time). On top of everything else, October 10th is Nicole’s mother’s birthday.
And so we gathered… family and friends… for the wedding party Nicole and Glen wanted…
Nicole’s family: her cousin, Adam Oates & his wife, Mai (celebrating their first anniversary on Nicole & Glen’s wedding day); her brother, Jeff Shirray; her mother, Linda Lee; her uncle & aunt, Ian & Lesley Elwood-Oates; her cousin, Rob Oates, his son, Rylan, and his fiance, Kristine Masterman.
Glen’s family: his mom & dad, Jeannette and Bob Cherlet; his brother & sister-in-law, Craig and Lyren Cherlet.
A combination of the formal, and the informal…
But, most of all, fun of all kinds…
“So shall it be… all the seasons of their lives.”