Why I don’t read the newspaper

I admit it. I work in communication, and rarely read the newspaper. Part of it’s a time thing: I feel guilty sitting with the paper for an hour in the morning, when I can multitask at my desk, with tea, online news and email.  But the main reason I don’t read the newspaper, especially regional papers like The Province and The Vancouver Sun, is I feel it’s a waste of my time.

In this morning’s papers, another two examples of the kind of content and flagrant sensationalism that gives print media a bad name.

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Opening up about my worst year ever

Last year sucked. I can easily say it was my worst year ever to date.

I lost a long-time client, which had a significant impact on my revenue stream. I hadn’t been doing nearly enough business development for far too long, and work was slow coming in to make up for the shortfall. The illness Hootie has been living with for many years got a lot worse. My relationship with my best friend – and mother of my three godchildren – was feeling strained. She got breast cancer. And, as if it couldn’t get worse, some bad financial decision-making came to light that is going to take a while to recover from.

I felt sick, scared and a total screw-up.

What’s inspired me to open up about my worst year ever is this blog by Michael Simmons on the HBR Blog Network in which he shares the experience of his business failing and goes onto describe how “only presenting an idealized version of ourselves separates us from others.” He continues, describing the “mistaken assumption” we often make “that if people find out who we really are underneath, they’d remove themselves from our lives,” when the “reality is that if we share the ups and downs of our human experience in the right way in the right context, we build deeper connections.” […]

Teaching engineers to communicate

English for Engineers, Football French, Rocks for Jocks: specialized courses I remember from university. Depending on your faculty, you needed to take something like this to ensure you were graduating an academically well-rounded student. As an Arts student, I felt the science requirement was a waste of time. Did taking six credits of Oceanography really Read more about Teaching engineers to communicate[…]

Online petitions: signed one, now I’m done

In early August, I signed my first Change.org online petition about gay rights. I supported the cause and the point the petition was trying to make. Six weeks later and I’ve received my ninth email about online petitions from afore-mentioned organization. Let’s just say I’m done, unsubscribed and will likely never sign anything Change.org sends Read more about Online petitions: signed one, now I’m done[…]

Reputation management in tough times

Is Lance getting any reputation management advice? If yes, he should fire the people giving it. And if no, maybe it’s time to invest some of those earned-with-EPO dollars with someone who can help him stop the bleed on his reputation. Why does Lance not understand that every time he opens his mouth, he is making things worse?

Normally I wouldn’t choose to write about Lance Armstrong. But a story in this morning’s Guardian compels me to because, from a communication perspective, his reputation management mess is fascinating. […]

Opinions, judgement, assumptions and privilege checking: what really bugged me on Facebook this week

I am married to a man with opinions; one for every occasion, in fact. For Hootie, opinions open up opportunities for debate (a.k.a. his sport of choice). I don’t agree with some of what he thinks, and sometimes I want to beat my head against the wall for his seemingly insatiable desire to get into it on any and everything. But, an experience I had on Facebook this week has made me think about Hootie and his opinions differently.

On Monday, an organization I think is awesome launched one of its weekly campaigns to raise awareness and money for a cause. They sell cool t-shirts and donate seven dollars for each one sold to a charity featured in the campaign. What’s not to love?  I’ve bought a couple of shirts in the past year or two, share Sevenly’s content regularly and have used the organization to illustrate to my clients what good communication can look like (the particular example I have used is no longer on the site, so I can’t link to it).

This week’s Sevenly campaign is in support of autism. I shared this image on Facebook on Monday to show my support (Sevenly creates amazing visuals and I loved the message on the photo). My cousin, Cory, is autistic and an inspiration; he lives life to the fullest in his own amazing way and has achieved incredible things.

But, on Tuesday, when I saw Sevenly’s “BREAKING NEWS!” announcement, with a photo of Jenny McCarthy in her Sevenly tee, I gagged a little.

Oh dear. Jenny McCarthy’s involved and the autism-related charity that’s being promoted is Generation Rescue (Ms. McCarthy is on the board).

The purpose of this blog isn’t to debate the work of Generation Rescue or Ms. McCarthy (though Emily Willingham’s article sums things up nicely); it’s to share what happened when I chose to express myself on Sevenly’s Facebook page. […]

Attracting customers with an English-language website

For many foreign manufacturers, English-language websites are their first point of contact with potential customers in North America. But, when the quality of English translation is poor, these companies miss an important sales opportunity. An accurate, interesting and professional English-language website: 1) Makes a great first impression: websites are often the first place buyers look for Read more about Attracting customers with an English-language website[…]

Eight tips for making business development bearable

I’ve been doing a lot of business development recently. Sometimes, I love it, and get excited when I’m responding to proposals or pitching prospective clients. The ‘potential’ factor gets me going: will they like me? Will I like them? Will there be business chemistry? But, for all the excitement it brings, business development can also Read more about Eight tips for making business development bearable[…]

The question grown-ups need to ask more often

The endless ‘why?’ A simple question-turned-communication-strategy used by kids everywhere to drive adults crazy? Or are kids on to something and we can learn from it too? I watched a great video on Upworthy earlier this week about questions and answers. Writer Margaret Elysia Garcia gave an entertaining and poignant reading at a Listen To Read more about The question grown-ups need to ask more often[…]

If Stephen Hawking can do it, so can you

“I will not dumb it down!” is a common exclamation I hear when I’m working with technical and scientific professionals, helping them become more effective communicators. The reality is, ‘dumbing it down’ is the last thing I want anyone to do when it comes to communicating complex technical information. I have a soft spot for Read more about If Stephen Hawking can do it, so can you[…]