From Papercuts to Smartphones and Back Again

February 14, 2017

by Heather Keroes

I’m an addict.  It’s a Saturday morning and I am glancing down at my iPhone while attending a child’s birthday party.  Although I try not to respond to emails over the weekend and after close-of-business, I like to keep an eye on things.  The world doesn’t stop because it’s a weekend and as a PR professional, it’s my job to always be listening.  And so, over the cheers of children hitting a piñata, I multitask, switching between my phone and another forkful of cake.

I am not alone.  Most of us check our emails on smartphones and tablets and this mobility has changed the way we work.  When I began my public relations journey more than 13 years ago, you couldn’t check email on-the-go (unless you were among the first lucky folks to own a BlackBerry). And even with access to my desktop computer, I stuffed envelopes, mailed press kits, faxed information and (shocker) regularly pitched media by phone.

These days, I have significantly fewer papercuts and I’m able to manage client requests and issues anywhere at any time.  But this doesn’t mean that the “old ways” are obsolete.  In fact, they can still be the most powerful ways to communicate (I’m a fan of phone calls, especially).  It’s important for all of us – those who have grown up with email and tablets, as well as those of us who remember the pre-Facebook days – to not lose sight of the tried-and-true communication methods that foster conversation and engagement.

Ask anyone at Curley & Pynn, and they will tell you that once we have determined our publics and our message, we take aim and fire through mediums that have the greatest impact with our target.  And while that may often mean email or other digital means, that doesn’t mean we don’t get papercuts from time to time.


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.


Want to Avoid Negative Reviews? Provide Better Service.

August 4, 2014

by Dan Ward

Mashable reported on Monday about the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, NY, which threatens to fine guests $500 for negative reviews.

In what will be a surprise to no one except the Union Street Guest House management team, this policy has resulted in an increase in negative reviews, mostly from people who have not stayed there but who believe the policy to be absurd.

Here’s a thought for the Guest House team:  if you’re upset about negative reviews, provide better service.  You might even try listening to what your guests are telling you and making changes to provide a better experience.

The Guest House explains on its website that it is not for everyone, and that its vintage look is sometimes unpopular with guests.  Instead of fining those who don’t like the look, the Guest House should try targeting its message to those who will.


How Effective is Your Communication?

May 21, 2009

by Kim Taylor

Do you regularly spend weeks writing the content for your next big presentation and then wait until the night before to rehearse?

Do you know the difference between a transition and a ‘hot start’?

How about the importance of holding your gestures and keeping them ‘above the belt’ and outside the ‘breadbox’?

These are just a few of the things I learned while attending “Presenting with Impact & Influence” last week at the Academy of our affiliate, MS&L.

The stats were astonishing. When it comes to the 3 V’s of Effective Communications: Vocal, Visual and Verbal, we typically focus on the Verbal … the content of our presentation … yet, the Vocal and Visual are really what counts.

Try this exercise:

Say the heady words we all wait to hear: I Love You … and say it like you really mean it.

Now, say them again, but this time, say the word ‘love’ with doubt and questioning … I Love You?

The same result happens when you shift that doubt to the word ‘you.’

Same content, completely different meaning.

That exercise alone should help validate the importance of Visual and Vocal skills when presenting. Content still counts, but never underestimate the value of thoughtful gesturing, eye contact and replacing your ‘ums’ and ‘uhhs’ with silence.


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