Speaking in Acronyms

July 29, 2015

by Connie Gonzalez

In the wave of new technology, most people like to use shortcuts to text or direct message, e.g., LOL, TTYL or OMG.  This is understandable for certain reasons – if you’re running late and don’t have time to chat, if you’re tweeting, if you are a teenager and don’t want your parents to figure out what you’re saying, or if you’re just plain lazy.  I’m guilty of at least one of these.  But what about social media?  Is it OK to speak in acronyms?  I was just reading an article by Robert Lane Greene about something very similar.  Greene asks a very good question.  “When, in fact, did we start talking in acronyms, and why?”

I constantly see people use acronyms to get their message across.  The only problem with that is I can’t understand what they’re saying.  You can call me old or uncool, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s scratching their head.  My question is:  What if companies started using corporate acronym jargon to sell their product?  Would we be able to understand what they are saying or selling?  Probably not.  No one would “like,” “share,” or “tweet” that company’s product.

Keep in mind, when taking to social media keep your message clear and concise or you’ll miss your target audience, even if you are just talking about nonsense.


Elementary, My Dear Watson

July 20, 2015

by Kim Stangle

No, not that Watson.  IBM is at it again.  Marketers, writers, business communicators, rejoice!  Now the same supercomputer that beat Ken Jennings on “Jeopardy” is going to help you analyze the tone of your written communication.

IBM’s Watson Tone Analyzer takes the text you provide and analyzes it using a scorecard approach.  The Analyzer provides insights about the tone of your text’s emotional, social and writing/style along with an explanation of which word fits with which tone.  If that weren’t enough, it’ll even suggest alternate words to help you more effectively communicate your desired message.

We probably shouldn’t need a computer to help accurately convey the tone of our messages, but IBM makes a business case for it by pointing out that marketing and PR teams could use the service to “automatically assess the tone reflected in the various marketing messages, media mentions and announcements of competitors, or their own companies to flag the ones that need special attention. “

Frankly, I’d be satisfied if the Analyzer could help me detect the sarcasm in emails from my brother.


July 17, 2015

by Ashley Tinstman

Everyone was talking about it.  There were ads on TV.  The buzz on social media was building.  Amazon Prime Day was coming, and it was going to be bigger than Black Friday—the sale to end all sales.  Consumers excitedly waited for July 15 to arrive, filling up their virtual shopping carts with all the items they expected to go on sale at midnight.  And then …

The deals never came.  Shoppers searched through Amazon’s website looking for the sales they had anticipated.  But as they were looking for tablets, phones and fashion accessories, what they found was much different.  Instead, they came across “exclusive” deals for duct tape, a VHS rewinder, a shoehorn and a bunion regulator.  (Seriously?  I don’t even know what a bunion regulator is.)

And as you can imagine, the social media world exploded.  People likened Prime Day to a giant, mediocre yard sale, and then, the #PrimeDayFail hashtag was born.  The ensuing tweets were as snarky as you might expect:

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

I was laughing so hard reading the #PrimeDayFail tweets that people probably thought I was crying.  But through my laughter, Prime Day also made me pause and think about the value of honest communication. Regardless of the tactic you’re implementing—whether it’s a social media campaign or a massive sale—effective marketing requires upfront and honest communication.

This doesn’t mean that Amazon intentionally tried to dupe people, but as a whole, that’s what consumers perceived.  They felt frustrated, as if Amazon had lured them in to sign up for its $99 per year Prime service, only to turn around and try to sell them dishwasher detergent for 20 percent off.  It felt dishonest for a company that is known for its excellent customer service and loyal customer base.

But for Amazon’s part, they were extremely pleased with their “subpar yard sale,” saying Prime Day was a success with sales surpassing Black Friday 2014.  But if Amazon is evaluating success from multiple angles (as it should be), it might want to take into account the sentiments of its shoppers.

Tweet 3

Amazon Prime Day may be coming back, but I have to wonder, will its customers come back too?




An Unlikely Communicator

July 17, 2015

by Kim Stangle

Depending on your age, you may know actor Alan Alda from his notable role on “M*A*S*H” – or more recently – “The Blacklist” or “30 Rock.”  I think he has one of the most recognizable voices in television and movies.  But, it wasn’t until today while listening to a few minutes of his interview on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show that I learned he’s also a visiting instructor at a center bearing his name:  the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

As longtime host of “Scientific American Frontiers” on PBS, Alda’s love of science has been at the forefront, but it’s his desire to help scientists and researchers better tell their stories that I find so fascinating.  He told Rehm during the interview about “The Sagan Effect,” which generally describes the biased perception by some that the better you are at communicating science the worse you are at actually being a scientist.

Can you imagine being punished for being an effective communicator for your industry?  It’s our job as communicators to break down the most complex information and make it simple.  And, that’s exactly what Alda and faculty are teaching at the Center.  Through courses ranging from Improv for Scientists to Writing to be Understood, they’re training the next generation of scientists to communicate more effectively.

Emmys and Golden Globes aside, Alan Alda’s contribution to communication deserves the highest honor.


July 16, 2015

by Roger Pynn

The timely reporting of events has always been at the heart of the news business, and yet more and more often I’m seeing the word “recently” – a word that was verboten in my days as a journalism student – creep into news stories.  In fact, I counted three in the last week where it was clear the story had been missed … one by as much as a week.

Not so long ago I’d have written a blog post about lazy reporting, but the more you look at this the more it becomes clear it is a matter of total change of focus for newspapers.  The transition to “digital first” is happening more and more every day … and resources are being deployed for an era of a different type of reporting.

Our Orlando Sentinel provided great examples this week in its Business Monday section where we were treated in print to several stories you’d already have seen if you were subscribing to their new Growth Spotter – a subscription email product focusing strictly on business stories.

You can subscribe only to the Sentinel’s Web-based product for one fee and they throw Growth Spotter and a lot of newsletters in for “free,” or if you get the good old newspaper in your driveway, you get all the digital products as part of the deal.  But you really have to wonder how long the broadsheet will be around.  Perhaps one day they’ll give you the paper if you subscribe to the digital product.


But not if Tampa Bay Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash has his way.  This essay published first in his paper and then shared via the related Poynter Institute website is an eloquent sermon on why media companies should do everything they can to sustain the newspaper … as an institution and as a product.  Tash acknowledges exactly what I said about resource deployment.

In the end, people don’t buy newspapers – or click open their news websites – for the advertising.  They are a collateral advantage of pursuing information and knowledge.  People crave to know what is going on … right away, not recently.

How to be Confident in the Workplace

July 13, 2015

by Vianka McConville

Last week, C&P VP Kim Stangle shared an email marketing piece that was interesting, to say the least.  It sold keys for women to be more confident in the workplace.

Long story short – we’re not buying it.  However, here is some free advice to boost the confidence of anyone in the workplace:  body language shapes who you are and how confident you feel.

Amy Cuddy shares research on the subject during this 21-minute TED Talk.  There are positions of power that chemically make you feel more confident.  Watch the talk to find out what they are.

Cheers to good advice for women AND men in the workplace!

Haunting Words

July 7, 2015

by Roger Pynn

From the “things you wish you hadn’t said department,” one has to wonder how badly former USA women’s soccer coach Pia Sundhage wishes she had never called Carli Lloyd “a challenge to coach.”

Quips like that ought to be hung on the wall of all who find themselves in a position to be an organizational spokesperson or aspire to political office or are frequently sought out for quotes due to their experience and expertise.  You never know a) when someone will have a breakout game or b) when your words will bite you in the backside.

Of course, as this story from Forbes.com suggests, Lloyd not only got the last laugh with her world-class World Cup performance on Sunday, but she’s likely to be laughing all the way to the bank for a long time to come.


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