Sunday, November 27, 2011

What is essential is invisible to the eye

The Little Prince said that, and he was right. :) When it comes to messaging--any messaging, I think--the intention behind what you say or write or print or broadcast carries the content forward. This is why mediums and movements that have split or contradictory messaging never put down roots and grow; they are at odds with themselves, unable to unify and become a solid path for that intended message to cross and reach the hoped-for audience. This is also why less-than-honest messaging ultimately fails: clients don't trust you, customers don't come back, new prospects feel "worked"--because they are!

How can you create messaging that is truly in line with what you want to achieve? What do you truly want to achieve? And will it be acceptable to the masses? Being in business is a good thing; wanting to do well can be a healing aspiration; and growing your work effort--seeing the fruits of your labor expand beyond your wildest dreams--would be a blessing to many, and maybe to all! So why do we need to hide our desire to do well behind messaging that doesn't tell the whole story? I think this shoots businesses in the foot and takes us out of integrity with ourselves; our messaging turns back around and the flow gets confused, like a tidepool or estuary, great for growing bacteria and pond scum but not so great if what you're hoping for is a rip-roaring flow!

Maybe for this holiday season, we can open our minds to new ways to present our messaging in an honest, direct way--a way that lets customers know what's real, shows them how our product or service can help them, and gives them the respect and freedom to make the choice. Ultimately it's that respectful and ethical treatment that builds trust and keeps people coming back. And you may be surprised how quickly it breathes new life into your business and buoys your own inner feeling about what you do. Wouldn't that be a great way to start the new year?

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Curious about Office 2010?

I just heard from my editor at Microsoft Press that my latest book, First Look Microsoft Office 2010, is now available for (free) download on the Microsoft Press site (wahoo). If you're curious about the new features (which include the customizable Ribbon, Backstage view throughout, Artistic Effects, video editing, new data visualizations, fresh SmartArt, cool new text effects, video styles...oh, I could go on and on), please feel free to download the book and see what Office 2010 has to offer.

And if you haven't downloaded the Office 2010 beta yet, you can get it here. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

New book coming soon!

I'm really excited about a new book that is at the printer now...coming soon! Water: Its Spiritual Significance is a collection of essays and poems on the sacred and sustaining nature of water. The book includes the work of Wendell Berry, Coleman Barks, and many, many more. (I have a small essay in this volume, too, which is a great honor.)

I have volunteered to help the publisher spread the word about the book and I'd like to find a few magazines who would be interested in reviewing an early copy in hopes a book review would result.
Thanks for the help, and if you live or work near Louisville, Kentucky, come be part of the Louisville Festival of Faiths, "Sacred Water, Sustaining Life," November 4-13. Thanks and feel free to help spread the word! :) k

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cement messages and social media

Hi again, everyone. It's fascinating to watch the world wake up to the potential of Twitter and begin to experiment with ways to share individual and corporate messaging around the globe. Although I've been using Twitter for some time, it's not been with any real focused, professional intent--I simply note what captures my attention, what I'm seeing, haikus I'm composing in my head. :)

But the Society for Environmental Journalists recently created a collective Twitter feed of environmental journalists and offered a way to subscribe collectively or individually here. And since that time Twitter has taken on a completely different energy for me. Fascinating ideas, links, resources, opinions are flying all over and surfacing in tweets I can read. The conversation is much more like waves at high tide--bits of information crossing each other, touching each over, flowing over the top of one another. Much messier and more alive than simple one-way messaging that you put on a four-color brochure or post on your Web page.

Are you ready for the fray? Are you willing to let your ideas, message, and maybe even to some extent your mission be shaped by those who are in conversation with you? It's a big question, yes, and probably one that strikes fear in the heart of large corporate enterprises. But the days of interactional media are here, and this generation--and the ones to follow--will expect and own their own shaping influence on the culture and what it produces. What a fascinating time to be awake and aware and communicating!

Good luck as you begin to loosen your grasp on your carved-in-stone messaging. Somewhere between your brand and your mission is the idea people will want to talk about with you. Just keep listening and dip a toe in the water when you can. It's full of life and possibility--and who knows what kind of opportunity awaits?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An ongoing conversation

Happy August, everyone! It is fascinating to me to watch the way Twitter is impacting the way we communicate as individuals, as companies, as citizen journalists, as human beings. Everyone seems to be recognizing the value of sharing what you see and know and we are gradually becoming more savvy about identifying the feeds, tweets, and sources we can turn to for reliable information.

But there's a point needs to be made as we post and tweet and link and share: Even though we are giving Twitter credit for changing the way we communicate (and Biz Stone is great so this isn't meant to take anything away from his amazing creation), people are the ones making Twitter work. We are ready to share. We trust what we experience. We have interesting thoughts. We are recognizing the very real and integral way we are connected, can connect, do connect with each other. We see the effects of our ideas and posts, as they radiate outward into the world. We have become part of a truly global and ongoing conversation, which begins with each of us sharing what we see, hear, think, and respond to from our own worldview. This is a wonderful, amazing manifestation of a talent we each inherently have just because we're human beings. We experience and we share that experience, and others benefit--or at least respond. Wonderful!

Twitter is a great, catalyzing tool, to be sure. But in terms of communication, we will do well to remember that the ability, the desire, the vision is really within us. The people down the hall from you would be glad to tell you about a fascinating article they read yesterday. Your managers have much more to share than the latest sales reports or the projections for next quarter. Create a real-time, face-to-face forum for this type of tweeting conversation to occur in your own workplace and watch what happens. We will bring it. It's what we do.

And you just might see a transformation in the way people relate and respond to each other, just because you provided the opportunity. Try it and see! (And then tweet it we we can know how it goes.)

Have a great month! :)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Show and tell your message with DIY video

Hi everyone, and welcome to mid-summer here in the upper hemisphere. :) I am beginning a cool new project that includes a variety of media and instructional tools, and as an experiment with new software tonight I created (in about 10 minutes, mind you), the following Go Green! PC Power Management video segment using Camtasia. [Note: Camtasia is available as a free trial for 30 days in case you want to test it out.] Easy to use features, simple editing, good sound controls, and easy to publish in multiple formats. I didn't edit out my blooper because...well...I figured a little imperfection is good for the soul. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Please remain in your seats until we've come to a complete stop

You've probably noticed this in your own life, but when you have something you want to communicate, timing and environment are just as important as having a great message. You could have the greatest message, product, book, or idea your industry has ever seen, but if no one is listening, it's not going to go anywhere. If you have a vision of a great new technology that enables us to think directly into Word and never have to type at a keyboard--wonderful! But society and the world at large may not have any idea what to do with that idea for another 20 years or so. Or at least 10. And if you have that great idea, project, book, what-have-you but the only person you tell about it is your cat, you don't have the right environment for the idea to begin to put down roots and start to grow.

In an economy like this one (yes, they tell us its getting better), it is both prudent and vitally important to think through the timing and environment for the delivery of your message or product. As always, trying to balance vision with practicality is no easy task but very necessary. Full disclosure: I say this as a writer who has no less than eight finished, non-published books, a half dozen plays, and a gazillion poems living in Happy Land on her backup hard drive. :)

Here are a few questions you can use to gauge whether the time and place is right for your next project:
  • How does the project grow organically out of what you are already doing?
  • How is the project a natural extension of your strengths?
  • In what way does the project add something that your existing audience needs?
  • What do you see in the social, cultural, economic, or industry environment that leads you to believe there is a place for this project?
  • Who will buy this project and how does it connect for them with their perception of the current environment?
  • Does your project add something worthwhile to the world and contribute something positive--a new technique for getting things done, something to help people in their jobs, a way to offer more support, solve a problem, reduce a struggle? (This list could go on and on, obviously...)
  • How long will it take you to develop the project, and will the time still be right when you're done?
  • What resources are needed for you to develop the project, and is the time and environment right internally for you to use those resources now?

This list gives you an idea of the type of landscape into which you'll be pitching your project. Of course once you're clear on this part of the foundation, you need to begin thinking more seriously about the who.

One other thought--and this is a hard one for me--waiting is okay. Sometimes circumstances require us to take a deep breath and wait for the right time and environment in order to act. When this has happened for me, I've noticed that additional clarity and knowledge come to fill in the gaps--the wait time winds up being fruitful, enriching the final project when the time is right for it to be completed.

The moral? Love your project, believe in the good it will do, and listen and watch carefully for the right timing and environment for it to blossom. Yes, Life, I'm listening.

Have a great month!