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When to Take a Stand

As an organization or individual professional, when should you take a public political stand? What are the risks and benefits? Who will you alienate or support by your statements?

If you haven’t done clear branding work, these questions will be tough to answer. Branding is not simply developing a logo. (That’s just an outcome.) Branding means defining who you are as an organization, figuring out who you serve, and understanding why you do what you do.  Your brand should support your mission–it’s your organizational promise.

Taking a strong stand on a controversial political topic is risky, but depending on who you are as a business, it can be one worth taking.

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The Art of Interviewing Others

If you need to interview someone for a blog post, news story, book research, or another professional endeavor, here are some helpful tips.

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You Don’t Have to Quit Your Day Job

This blog post is a little outside my usual subject matter, but I wanted to share some thoughts to inspire you to go after what you really want. Lately, I’ve been running into smart, talented people who feel stuck in jobs they hate, and this makes me sad. I know it’s hard to change careers. We all invest time and develop expertise in a field, and we get used to the money that comes with our experience. Maybe you simply need a new job in the same industry, but maybe it’s more than that. Maybe it’s time to go after your dreams, no matter how scary or seemingly impractical.

Maybe it’s time to go after your dreams, no matter how scary or seemingly impractical.

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Paying Attention to the News

In public relations, it’s important to pay attention to the news as it pertains to your business. Although you don’t need to respond to the majority of news stories, when a topic gets hot, it’s worth asking yourself, “Should my organization take a position on this? Do we have policies that protect us from being swept up in the public frenzy? Can we provide leadership?”

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The Art and Science of Survey Writing

When I ask clients about the tools and methods they use to communicate, they typically share all the ways they broadcast their messages, forgetting that communication should go two ways. When I ask about the tools they use to listen, gather feedback, or measure opinions, I am sometimes met with blank stares.

Ideally, communication is a constant give and take. Most organizations have several important stakeholders: internal ones like employees and board members, and external ones like clients and industry partners. Even if you think you have your finger on the pulse and know where these stakeholders stand, it’s wise to schedule consistent check-ins. First, this allows you to confirm you do, in fact, understand how your stakeholders feel about issues that affect your decision-making; and second, asking stakeholders for their input lets them know you value their opinions.

Surveys can be a great way to gather information, but not all surveys are created equal. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your survey.

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How to Thank Your Clients So They Keep Coming Back

Sometimes we miss the easy things. In our mad dash to find new customers, we forget to appreciate the ones we have. When I’m working with new clients who want to grow their businesses, one of the first exercises I do is to make concentric circles of all the people they should communicate with on a regular basis. Think of this as the dartboard of communication, with a big, red bullseye in the middle.

Oddly enough, the two groups who belong in the bullseye often get left out when I ask, “Who are your target audiences?”

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The Magical Power of Thank You Notes in the Workplace

What if you could spend just ten minutes a day on an activity that was guaranteed to lift your mood, as well as improve the mood, productivity, and loyalty of those you work with? Probably worth it, right?

When I was the communications director at a hospital, the hospital had a contract with the Studer Group, an organization that helps healthcare organizations continually improve, clinically and financially. One of the Studer Group’s many directives required executives and directors to send thank you notes to workmates and employees—not once in a while to recognize exceptional behavior, but weekly or even daily to let people know how much we appreciated both the big things and the little things they did.

My boss provided grids so we could record how often we sent thank you notes and to whom. I felt like Big Brother was watching me and, honestly, I was a little resentful that I had to report my thank you note completion rate to the CEO. But, since I wanted to remain employed, I got with the program. I bought personalized thank you cards and started to look for people who needed thanking.

And that’s when the magic started.

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Commit to Something–Change Will Follow

Many of us are fascinated by stories of people who came back from terrible injuries to accomplish incredible physical feats or who lost more than 100 pounds and kept the weight off. How do they do that?!

During the month of October, I’ve focused on the theme of transformation, looking at how sustainable change takes hold. People are motivated by different things, but it seems clear that a big part of lasting change is simply making a firm commitment to take that first step, however small.

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Want to Make Real Progress? Build on Your Strengths.

Many successful people continually strive to improve. They ask themselves (and others), “What can I do better? How can I get stronger? What’s the best way to out-perform my opponents? How can I achieve more?”

These are useful questions to be sure, but too often the answers focus on improving weaknesses rather than capitalizing on strengths. If you’re an extrovert, you’re going to have a hard time enjoying uninterrupted quiet time more than your introverted colleagues. If you’re a big-picture person, you probably won’t become the most detail-oriented person in your company. Or as one of my more creative friends suggested, “You don’t want to race a goat up a mountain if you’re a fish.”

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Want a Few More Hours in the Day?

How many times have you thought, “If only I had a few more hours in the day, I could get all this work done.”? I hear you. As I think about all the competing responsibilities vying for my time and attention, I have a hard time figuring out how to fit it all in.

So, what if we refused to fit it all in? What if we simply crossed a few things off the list?

I know this sounds radical, but stay with me for a moment. Imagine an alternative to your current stressed-out, guilt-ridden state of being. What if you made two lists–the things you must do to keep you and your family breathing, and the things you’ve committed to do (for one reason or another)?

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