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I think we need to separate out three separate discussions here (all of which I think are distinct): the feeling that communications is too PC, the feeling that communications is too "feminized," and the question about the percentage of women vs. men who work in the industry. I don't agree with Marian's conflation of having or not having the balls to do something with this question of corporate communications being too feminized. As I've understood it, feminine communication styles focus on listening, empathy, relationships and community-based concerns, emotion, etc. I don't see this as somehow running counter to being bold or being risk-taking. In fact, I'd claim that quite the opposite is true of business culture in general: that it has far too little traditional "feminine communications" style built into its logic, its core, and its understanding of success. I think back to Sheryl Sandberg's argument with Lean In that the problem on the playground is that boys who boss people around are considered "assertive" and the women who do so are considered "bossy." Her takeaway is that we need to reward women for that dominant behavior in the same way we do men. My takeaway is that we need to discourage kids being bossy. True leaders don't need to waste all their time trying to prove their dominance in true "jungle" style. And companies need to get a whole lot better at listening to their audiences, their employees, etc. All that said...there can be a lot of problems when PC police are driven not by seeking not to accidentally offend people by saying something inconsiderate but instead by trying to make sure we never say or do anything that makes waves or take a stance on anything at all. That stymies companies from ever doing anything bold, to your point...
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2013 on I dig Marian Salzman at RepMan
I'd argue they have. In most cases, they don't have to research the audience, because they are the audience. They've been an active part of the community they are writing to for some time. They have been the appreciative recipients of the goodbye missives of colleagues past. And so they are writing this note to their community. Now, when it is sent to the whole staff...perhaps the note is intended more for some colleagues than for others...But the presumption is probably that those who don't know them as well or didn't care about their goodbye wouldn't bother with reading it all the way through, anyhow. The alternative, in a mid-sized company like ours, would be to send a note to most of the people on the staff but leave a few people out, which could inadvertently lead to hurt feelings.--especially if everyone around you got and started talking about someone's goodbye note.
Toggle Commented Jun 27, 2013 on Gone climbing. Permanently. at RepMan
Agreed with Jason here. Twitter is not a news platform. It can be. But that's not its primary function. It's a place to share snippets of information, passalong links, and share bits of commentary. In other words, it's a place for all of us to circulate information. When journalists use the platform, they are--we assume--doing so as part of their reporting. But to conflate the activity of "the rest of us" as attempting to be journalists or news outlets is to fundamentally understand what motivates most people to use a platform like Twitter. Most people who were tweeting about the Boston bombings weren't trying to compete with CNN. Sadly, though, CNN was trying to compete with them. And THAT's the problem. What we're seeing here is nothing new. People have always passed along info they've heard. Rumors have always spread, true or not. The difference is the frequency and the reach a platform like Twitter offers. CNN is never going to "break" news faster than a bystander who can share something with a tweet. But the difference is, the bystander is just sharing something unbelievable that just happened with them in most cases, not trying to "be a journalist." When journalists quit trying to think of people using Twitter as competition and start thinking of them as potential sources of raw information to be vetted just as one would traditionally vet a rumor, etc., we'll all be better off. But as long as journalists are trying to be "FIRST!" instead of right, we'll continue to see this madness.
Toggle Commented May 1, 2013 on Three’s a Crowd at RepMan
Few people have been able to cram more memories into one short-term project together than the time I was able to share with Tucker. He was an unforgettable character and a person I feel fortunate to have been able to collaborate with.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2013 on Playing hurt at RepMan
New York Times has been doing quite a bit of interesting experimentation with how best to tell a story. I've had the pleasure of working with Western Kentucky University's search committee as they are looking to bring someone in to advise the journalists of tomorrow on how to tell stories across multiple media formats at their campus newspaper. This doesn't require the "uber-journalist" who is a jack of all trades but master of none. Rather, it requires someone who can think about the story in a holistic way, in a way that considers what would work best for the reader/listener/viewer, and to be able to work on collaborative teams with people who have expertise in storytelling in different media formats to tell a story in a way that's best for story and audience, not just most convenient for the storytelling entity...
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2013 on RIP the Printed Word: 1450-2013 at RepMan original comment never seemed to let me try again. Sorry it took me so long to chime in on this discussion..I was too swamped with work while telecommuting for Steve and company. :) In all seriousness, I think both Michael and Carl have a good point above. Telecommuting--and flexibility for workers in general--is a great thing, but it is predicated on employees who are trustworthy and who are seeking both their well being and their employer's. If an employee claims to be working from home but isn't, or insists on working from home but chronically can't get motivated to work when doing so, then the problem the company has isn't a telecommuting's a personnel issue. (I feel the same way about employers "banning social media at work"...seems that it's not a social media problem they have, if they really have employees spending all day on Twitter and missing their deadlines.) For me, working from home is the ideal set-up. But it's because I have face-to-face relationships with my co-workers. It's because I travel to see my colleagues when the opportunity presents itself. It's because I've always found myself more productive working from home. It's because I like getting up and working on proposals and writing at 2 a.m. It's because it matches my work style. And so on. (BTW, if you were to track my productivity by VPN, I'd be fired tomorrow. I love my Mac, and only log into my PC in the physical office on the occasion I need something off the I probably work 2 hours a month according to those surveillance methods....) We live in a world where motivated employees put the expectation ON THEMSELVES to be connected to their email, and to work, nearly 24/7. If that's the world they live in, I think earned flexibility in returned is a humane response that ensures employees don't come to see work's goals and their personal life, well-being and mental health in opposition with one another.
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2013 on Profits over people at RepMan
By the way, I know employees who wouldn't trade working for the office for I think so much of this is developing a workplace that matches best to each employee's work style...To Michael's point, though, this is predicated on employees who are fully motivated and who join with you in finding a work style that both makes them happiest and the most productive in their job (which I happen to believe are complementary concepts...)
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2013 on Profits over people at RepMan
Great post, Frank. This trend from Facebook points toward what I'd consider true "virality" on Facebook--marketing messages being generated by their actions beyond their knowledge. They make social connections and, unbeknownst to them, their connection to or interaction with others is actually passing along marketing messages without their knowledge...I think that's how I caught the flu this flu season, coincidentally...
RepMan...Alas, 'twas a different Sam. I can't really weigh in on dating. I married my first girlfriend, and we were friends for years before we started dating. And I didn't have a cell phone WAAAYYY back when we started dating, so I had to call her on the phone. But we call it courtin' round these parts...
Great points, Ed. Here's the thing about many of the traditional measures: we don't label the measures for what they are. Circulation numbers or Nielsen ratings for traditional media don't tell us "engagement" They tell us how many people subscribe to a publication, or how many people who have a Nielsen box had their TVs on a certain channel at a certain time. They tell us the potential audience that might have had content on... What we measure is important because it outlines what we think success looks like. And too much measurement is focused on increasing certain numbers that don't necessarily map back to strategic goals. We may know intuitively that gathering arbitrary numbers that don't map back to any sort of strategic outcome is useless. Yet, that way of thinking is so deeply ingrained, everything else is dismissed? (For instance, rather than looking at how deeply a B2B social media account is engaging with key thought leaders in their field, success is measured by total number of followers or mentions. I think that's why a whole wealth of campaigns are deemed a success by the measurement standards but haven't really done anything for the company. You say that PR may be gone as a way of thinking in 5 years, and I think that may in some senses be true. Certainly, thinking of PR as "press relations" may be gone, especially now that the "public" have such direct means of access to connect with a company. That means basing our measures solely on "media relations" logics could leave us once again struggling to find the metrics that matter.
Interesting piece, Steve. Louisville has been putting some concentrated effort in on several fronts to build the city up (and get on more than that unhealthiest American cities list you blogged about awhile back). The bourbon business is booming (largest expansion since the end of prohibition, driven by both greater interest in the U.S. and by greater international interest), which has created quite a bit of tourism interest in the "Bourbon Trail" of distilleries. And there's been a major "cultural renaissance" there--leading to Lonely Planet just naming Louisville top domestic tourist destination recommendation of 2013. And all of it, it seems, has been achieved by balancing industry/governmental partnerships (at least from a casual observer like me who lives down the Interstate a bit).
Toggle Commented Jan 7, 2013 on An Epcot Center for the elderly at RepMan
My favorite? Alec Baldwin's video holiday newsletter/card from SNL:
Toggle Commented Dec 11, 2012 on Uncle Ernie's shin splints at RepMan
I do think there's a balance between "never doing a bad movie" and regularly doing them. After all, Meryl Streep's lowest rated movie in her career by critics (using Rotten Tomatoes as a barometer) still got 26% (Lions for Lambs by Robert Redford...which, considering who it was and the subject matter...she probably thought was going to be good. I would put her in that category of someone who occasionally lets her hair down alongside regularly still doing Oscar-award-winning performances on a regular basis. (After all, when's the last time Al Pacino's had a breakthrough performance? Not to pick on him, since I really like him). Even Hoffman has had a much better track record than De Niro...His biggest bombs of the last decade were the Meet the Parents sequels with De Niro and some subpar kids movies, but it's been alongside good runs in movies like Stranger than Fiction, I Heart Huckabees, Barney's Version, Lsat Chance Harvey, and others...and "stooping down" to TV to do "Luck" for HBO.
Well, considering Al Pacino has: appeared in Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill appeared in Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's Gigli was the star of the 2007 movie 88 Minutes, which received a 49% Rotten Tomatoes rating from the audience and a 5% (out of 100%) from critics--(still better than 3% rating from critics for Sandler's Jack and Jill) And, to round things out for Pacino, how about this list? (And a lot of people really hate on Devil's Advocate, too.) I don't think he'd be your best poster child for your point. But I do think it's a good point...that many actors who could be choosy about what they do don't hone their long-term reputation in the way they might. I would say, though, that there are other reasons good actors make bad movies...because of their relationship with someone involved in the film; or their desire to work with another actor, even if the film isn't that good; or because the project had more promise and then the quality fell apart after they'd already committed. Or because they want to do something outside their genre to show their range and keep from getting too typecast, even if the film isn't that good. One reason I particularly have sympathy for, though: they are in a movie that isn't necessarily that good just because they want to have fun. (For Pacino, Hoffman, Beatty, and others, Dick Tracy fits that category...No one would consider it a classic, but you can tell the actors seemed to having a good time in it.)
Thanks, Steve. To be fair, my mobility isn't so great inside the pocket, outside the pocket, halfway in the pocket, or otherwise.
Toggle Commented Dec 8, 2012 on Dream on at RepMan
Great take, and I agree. As technically a Millennial myself (I believe), that was my response--that I can already feel people justifying their bad choices, or their children's, with this research. But I am glad to know that I'm better equipped to make choices now than I was a few years ago. As you point out, Laura, that doesn't mean I didn't make decisions a few years ago...I used the shabby brain I had to make due. By the way, I may be a 1983 Millennial like Paul..but my score on the Pew quiz was a I think I'm a MINO...
Toggle Commented Aug 31, 2012 on It's called enabling at RepMan
From this non-Confederate state denizen...burgoo is a stew made up of a mixture of things and served with cornbread. Typically, it's hickory-smoked meats with some vegetables and something to thicken it, like cornmeal. It's most associated round these parts with Owensboro, KY, which also has quite the reputation for BBQ.
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2012 on A star spangled star at RepMan
Make it some burgoo and I'm in.
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2012 on A star spangled star at RepMan
I agree with your point here, only that you might have been overstating it. I think the dedication that actors, singers, and other public faces showed during WWII was phenomenal and should be remembered. And I think there's plenty of blame to be thrown at the Hollywood culture of today. However, in calling out Hollywood culture, it's important to nevertheless highlight the work of people who are showing dedication to the troops, like Gary, Toby, and the lot. Also, when it comes to doing things like serving in the army one's self, etc., I do think it's an important distinction that both the number of people who fought in WWII and the number of people who believed WWII was a necessary war is much different than the way people felt about Iraq and Afghanistan. So it was also considered much more a duty throughout our culture to support the troops and war effort in the 1940s than today. We can muse that Travolta or Cruise wouldn't do so if WWII recreated itself, but hopefully we won't find out. (Although, to be fair to Cruise, he is both in part from Louisville and has performed at USO events in the past, so he might be more likely than you'd think to serve me some squirrel soup.)
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2012 on A star spangled star at RepMan
Are you suggesting C.M. Punk is no Bogart (someone else who was very active from that era in supporting the military and I believe was a veteran himself)? My point is simply that there are a lot of performers today who have gone out of their way to support the troops, as well as plenty who haven't. But Mark Wahlberg, Carrie Underwood, Gary Senise, Louis C.K., David Blaine, Jon Stewart, Toby Keith, Stephen Colbert, Karl Malone, Lance Armstrong, Robin Williams, and Trace Adkins are among those who have. I just wonder what the list of celebrities from the 1940s who weren't involved in the war effort in any way looked like....
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2012 on A star spangled star at RepMan
Great post, and agreed about shining the spotlight on some of these forgotten voices. I have to echo book's points, though, about many celebrities dedicating time to the USO. And I think there are many that go beyond that: WWE has gone to Afghanistan and Iraq every year for years to put on shows in combat zones for the troop and air them back in the U.S. Toby Keith has been incredibly dedicated. Etc. I wonder what the count is of stars in the 1940s who WEREN'T involved. But there's also the issue that a.) a far smaller part of or the population has fought in the current wars, and the public is much more divided about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan than they were about our entry into WWII (in terms of celebrities actually enlisting).
Toggle Commented Jul 5, 2012 on A star spangled star at RepMan
Steve, there's another aspect to this overall trend you might be missing. You indicate the perks might lead to some form of comfort or complacency and a sense of cushiness that doesn't reflect the real world. But there are two other factors I wonder about. (Note: these remarks are not aimed at Google or Facebook in particular, and certainly some aspects of these comments are not reflective of their corporate culture, as I understand it.) First, as Nick Bilton alludes to, if there's a culture where employees organize all their social life around the office, doesn't this mean employees have blinders on? If employers aren't careful, employees will become disconnected from the world--and the culture--outside their walls, and it will be very easy for group-think to set in. And, if they lose touch with the real world, they lose touch with the experiences of the audiences they are seeking to reach and serve. Second, and just as troubling, though...these perks might be built around keeping people at the office, as you allude to with the 24x7 comment. And I think it's dangerous for an organization to build perks around an expectation that people should be at work all the time. For younger employees looking to build their career or who are content with seeing their professional and personal lives meld, that might be embraced. As some of those people get married, have children, or find increasing involvements outside work, though, it might be tough on employee retention. At Peppercom, while all of us have had periods where long hours are required because of a large workload or an intense client need, we talk about chronic late nights as a problem that needs to be resolved. Instead of making life cushy in the office and then expecting people to stay 24x7 as a rule, it seems we strive for that "work hard/play hard" mentality we regularly talk about. I think all these perks might seem neat for awhile but eventually might lead people to start wondering if they're being lulled into signing over their lives. And that lack of balance does not lead to the sorts of critical and well rounded thinkers that can help companies stay innovative.
Toggle Commented Apr 25, 2012 on Spare the rod. Spoil the employee, at RepMan
I think the difference is a different definition of nice. When I think of someone being nice, I think of people not being unnecessarily cruel, being empathetic to the other person and handling things in the kindest way possible, etc. Where I think the disconnect here is that Steve is talking about people who are overly concerned with being perceived by others as nice. This reminds me of the discussion about whether happiness in the workplace is important or not. If you just do everything you can to make people happy all the time, then the workplace will be dysfunctional. ("So, you want to leave early? Sure! Whatever floats your boat.) And, similarly, people who are so concerned with being perceived as nice that they'll never deliver news that's tough to hear will have a problem. But, while I don't think a leader can be obsessed with perception, I think a leader can be nice and be a successful leader. In my mind, being nice includes being direct...courteous while doing it, but direct. Steve, you've passed along feedback to me in the past that I didn't necessarily like hearing but needed to hear. Had you not passed it along to me, I'd wager it wouldn't have been very nice you. It would have left me ignorant to feedback I needed to hear. Someone who is driven by being nice rather than wanting to be perceived as nice will have the tough conversations but do so in the most respectful way possible. I will counter one thing, though, Steve: I've worked for nice people, and I've worked for jerks. (And, to be clear, I firmly include you and Ed in the "nice" camp, potentially much to your chagrin.) The nicer my boss has been (at least by my definition of nice), the more motivated I was to work for them. If I saw them displaying a collaborative spirit, rolling up their sleeves and working hard, etc., it motivated me to work as hard as they did and to pleasing them. When I've worked for a jerk, it's motivated me, too...motivated me to find another job. I think people can be temporarily motivated by negative reinforcement and working for jerks. But it only works for a short-term win. After all. Look at yourself. Those jerks might have motivated you to do well on an assignment, but some of them are also what motivated you to go into business for yourself (so you wouldn't have to work for their type any longer...). Perhaps from a "life" motivation standpoint, they were helpful. But they certainly weren't helpful in retaining an employee for their organization...
Toggle Commented Apr 20, 2012 on Mean vs. Tough at RepMan
Thanks for sharing, Rob! Glad you found the video of interest.
This is a great story, Sara. I would still say authenticity and transparency are good things: the honesty is that it's the sentiment she's revealing when she's being authentic that is so bad. To be frank, this is probably not the line of work for her, if she just couldn't be nice to people in those circumstances. I guess she could have left it gone unsaid, and those of you who tried to stay on the plane would have found it out the hard way. :)