Take Vacation – For Everyone’s Sake

July 19, 2018

by Ellie Hodgkins

Unfortunately, more than half of America’s workers left 705 million unused vacation days on the table last year, according to Project: Time Off’s 2018 State of American Vacation report.  The primary reason?  They fear returning to a mountain of work.

While sacrificing time off may seem like a great way to get ahead, the research indicates workers who took 11 or more vacation days were more likely to have received a raise or a bonus in the previous three years than workers who took 10 or fewer days.  Additionally, taking more vacation time leads to greater productivity.  In fact, you can thank vacation time for the creation of Instagram and Hamilton.

Leaders should encourage their teams to make a strategic vacation plan, including a plan for delegating tasks while they are out of the office.  This reduces the likelihood of “work martyrdom” and ensures employees get the most of their time off without negatively impacting the business.

Luckily, Curley & Pynn offers a generous vacation policy that affords us each time to relax, unplug and check items off our personal to-do lists.  Just this summer, our team members have enjoyed theme park thrills, visited loved ones in other states and countries, and bummed it at the beach – and our office has not (yet) burned down.

Thanks to our clients and colleagues for supporting this much-needed rest and relaxation.  We encourage you to do the same!

Alex go-carting with Oklahoma friends in Alabama.

Connie flying solo to Houston, Texas.

Kacie and her husband Juan visiting “The Bean” on their trip to Chicago in June.

Ellie setting sail on a Bahamian cruise.

Liz and her sister taking a break to think things through at Universal Orlando Resort.

Karen visiting friends and her former host family in Rodadero Beach, Santa Marta, Colombia.

Bailey catching up with family at their Atlanta reunion in June.

The view from Dan’s rental home, billed as “Heaven’s Balcony.”

Roger and his wife Shelley in Monte Carlo.  “Time off should be mandatory!  Vacations refresh the soul.”

Heather’s daughter meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time.  “Vacations are about capturing special moments that live on in your heart.”


World Emoji Day – Reflecting on a Decade of Change

July 17, 2018

by Alex Heirston

Even as professional communicators, it can be difficult for us to find the right words to illustrate our ideas.  Thankfully, a picture – or icon – can say 1,000 of them.

When we heard it was World Emoji Day, it put a big 😊 on our faces.  Then, we got curious and decided to dig into the history of these entertaining characters.

As it turns out, we have Apple and Japanese designer, Shigetaka Kurita, to thank for the massive 2,666-character emoji library at our fingertips today.  Emojis were first introduced overseas in the early 2000s while Americans were still hooked on emoticons – the emoji’s simpler ancestor designed with creative strokes of the keyboard.  In 2007, Apple released the first-generation iPhone for North American consumers and included emojis on the keyboard, hoping they would help the product compete in its new market.  Needless to say, they succeeded, and popularity of the emoji keyboard exploded internationally.

The emoji keyboard has grown significantly over the last 10 years alongside other communication innovations, such as 4G/LTE networks, Snapchat and FaceTime.  Paying tribute to World Emoji Day and the evolution in communication it represents, here’s a look at how our team’s favorite symbols have evolved* from days of the emoticon to the emojis of today:


(*Dan Ward has yet to “evolve” to emojis and is advocating for a World Emoticon Day.)


A Better Way to Mind Your Manners

July 17, 2018

by Elizabeth Lytle

As children, we are taught to say “please” and “thank you,” two phrases widely recognized as the most fundamental tenets of basic manners.  And, you probably learned that saying “you’re welcome” was just as important.

This was the case for me.  Starting in kindergarten, it was ingrained that “you’re welcome” should be my go-to answer to someone’s expression of gratitude.  That all changed when I started my first job as a cashier at Chick-fil-A.

On day one of training, in addition to the basics of working the cash register and restocking the chain’s range of delicious sauces (Polynesian will always be my favorite), I was taught that saying “my pleasure” was an integral part of company culture.

“My pleasure” is a simple expression, but the underlying values it represents have the potential to change the way you interact with clients, co-workers, friends and family.  This elevated version of “you’re welcome” implies extra care has been taken.  It’s an acceptance of gratitude that shares genuine appreciation for an opportunity to do the work and to establish or strengthen relationships as a result.  While I was introduced to this subtle tweak in the hospitality industry, I’ve long since incorporated the phrase into my day-to-day lingo, both at work and at home.

At Curley & Pynn, we believe every interaction provides you not with an opportunity to answer, but to respond and share the message you want to convey.  So, the next time someone expresses appreciation, take the time to carefully respond, not just answer.


Opinion Journalism – Adding “Context” to Fact Checks

July 13, 2018

by Dan Ward

Time for my annual rant about “fact-checking,” otherwise known as opinion journalism.  Sites such as FactCheck.org and PolitiFact claim to provide rulings on whether statements by politicians and pundits are factual, but the rulings are often just a journalist’s personal opinion as to the context and meaning of those statements.

Two examples from this week offer a perfect illustration (and I’m glad to say that, lest I be accused of partisanship, the examples should equally offend liberals and conservatives).

On Monday Josh Hawley, a Republican candidate challenging Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, claimed that “Claire McCaskill voted for 100 percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees.”

Should be fairly easy to fact-check a statement about a percentage of votes, right?  Correct.  It was very easy.  In fact, McCaskill’s campaign confirmed that the statement was true.

PolitiFact’s ruling?  “Mostly True.”  You see, the fact-checker believes the factual statement was missing context because it didn’t also share that Republican senators voted in favor of President Obama’s nominees more than 80 percent of the time.  So, a 100-percent factual statement is not 100-percent factual.  See how this works?

The next day, Senator Charles Schumer claimed that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “has said the president shouldn’t be investigated.”  Has he said that?

Once again, PolitiFact provides plenty of evidence to back up the claim.  Kavanaugh wrote in 2009 that “we should not burden a sitting president with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions.  The president’s job is difficult enough as is.  And the country loses when the president’s focus is distracted by the burdens of civil litigation or criminal investigation and possible prosecution.”

PolitiFact’s ruling in this case?  Only “Half True,” because Schumer didn’t recap Kavanaugh’s comments in full to provide additional context.

The lesson here is not that fact-checking should be eliminated.  That genie’s already out of the bottle, and journalists long ago decided that their role in holding public officials to account requires that they use their personal judgment in deciding whether facts equal truth.

Our job as communicators is to prepare for the day in which fact-checking moves beyond politicians and pundits to include a review of the statements from our clients and CEOs.  First, we must realize that being factual is no longer enough … we must provide context so that we don’t leave it up to the judgment of others to do so for us.  Second, we must not be afraid to call fact-checkers to account when they get it wrong.  Finally, we must resist the temptation to rely on fact checks to justify our own claims and actions.

We should not legitimize the practice of fact-checking until it returns to its journalistic roots: the checking of facts.


Taking Aim by the Numbers

July 12, 2018

by Karen Kacir

Ten years ago this month, Curley & Pynn launched Taking Aim.  Here’s a quick look at our blog by the numbers:

 


Top 10 Posts from 10 Years of Blogging

July 11, 2018

by Karen Kacir

On this day 10 years ago, Curley & Pynn published its first post on this blog.

Since 2008, our industry has seen dramatic changes in the way audiences are consuming and responding to media.  Meanwhile, we’ve maintained focus on helping corporate, government and nonprofit clients communicate with all who have an interest in their success.  And we’ve kept up with the times by constantly reminding ourselves of the tried and true advice from legendary archer Howard Hill, which also inspired the name of this blog.

Thank you for tuning in to Taking Aim since the beginning and sticking with us through the years.  We sincerely appreciate the time you’ve spent indulging our urge to share tips, musings, opinions and the occasional complaint, and hope our writing has been worth reading.

In honor of Taking Aim’s 10th birthday, here’s a roundup of the blog’s 10 most-viewed posts:

  1. YouTube vs. Vimeo – The Faceoff:  In 2011, we explored the differences between two of the top streaming services.
  2. Hate to Pester? Try Humorous Reminders:  A team member detailed how using wit can inspire client respect.
  3. Deathly Journalism:  An oversight at the obituaries desk led to a glowing feature on a convicted murderer.
  4. Censorship is a Good Thing:  How fatherhood informed one team member’s views on self-censorship.
  5. Target Me, Please:  Roger received a mysterious letter and gleaned some insight into targeted communications.
  6. Cracker Jack: It’s All About the Prize:  When Cracker Jack modernized its prize, Heather stepped up to bat.
  7. The CNN School of Journalism:  Dan issued a word of caution on CNN’s citizen journalism program, iReporter.
  8. Jennifer Aniston’s Sex Tape for Smartwater:  In 2011, Smartwater and Jennifer Anniston set out to make a viral video.  They succeeded.
  9. The End of the Internet:  Roger commented on a Wall Street Journal article predicting that the internet would run out of IP addresses.
  10. Black Wednesday:  Heather observed the rise of #altwiki following the Wikipedia blackout of 2012.

Breaking News: Three Takeaways from the Orlando Police Department’s PIO

July 10, 2018

by Karen Kacir

Last month, the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter reported to the Orlando Police Department Headquarters for a special session with Michelle Guido, Orlando Police Department’s public information officer (PIO). After 26 years in journalism, Guido became the police department’s first civilian PIO in 2013 and was tasked with radically re-evaluating how the agency told its story.  In a media landscape more difficult than ever to penetrate, Guido turned to Twitter.

When she started managing the Orlando Police Department’s Twitter account in 2013, it had amassed just over 600 followers.  Five years later, it now reaches over 122,000 – more than three times the number of 25- to 54-year-old viewers of Orlando’s most popular 6 p.m. TV news broadcasts.

Here are three takeaways from Guido’s presentation on leveraging this owned media channel:

1. Break your own news and remain the go-to source.

In 2017, Lt. Debora Clayton was fatally shot in a Walmart parking lot after attempting to apprehend murder suspect Markeith Loyd.  When the Orlando Police Department apprehended Loyd days later, this tweet went live within a minute.  By breaking the news on social media, the police department established itself as the source for information related to the case, driving media to its social channels for further information and updates.

2. Streamline communications.

At 3:15 a.m., June 12, 2016, Guido was informed about the shooting at Pulse Nightclub.  By 7 a.m., she had received 1,100 emails from media across the nation requesting more information.  After sending out a mass email directing all media to the Orlando Police Department’s Twitter account, she stowed her work phone and didn’t touch it for 10 days.

Responding to every outlet would have been an impossible task.  Even if Guido had been able to personally respond to a fraction of the inquiries, it would have required prioritizing some outlets over others.  By keeping the police department’s social channels updated, Guido ensured that all media outlets had access to critical information as it developed.

3. Control your message – for better or worse.

By cultivating a responsive social media channel, the Orlando Police Department has earned a robust following, which Guido leverages to tell the stories traditional media outlets might never pick up.  On the Orlando Police Department’s Twitter account, stories of rescued puppies and officers’ good deeds abound.  When the news is less palatable than puppies, a timely, transparent response circumvents public mistrust.

The Orlando Police Department’s strategic investment in social media has afforded a tremendous level of influence.  Traditional media has its place.  However, when preparing to break your next news story, consider looking no further than your own social media.

(Bonus!  Police Chief John Mina showed us that he’s social savvy, as well.)


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