“Let Me Get This Straight”: When Identity Politics Becomes Identity Language

Plenty of articles have been written about achieving gender parity in the PR profession. But what nobody’s talking about is the collision course we’re heading for as communicators when gender parity meets gender neutrality. Can we—should we—be gender-agnostic in the workplace? What are the issues? How can communicators influence the conversatio

On January 22,  Michael Deas, ABC, SCMP, took us on a deep-dive into this topic, comparing current AP style guidelines with practical workplace realities. 

Our presenter:
Michael Deas, ABC, SCMP
Director of Communications and Public Relations, Volkert, Inc.

Michael Deas, ABC, SCMP, is at his heart a teacher and a writer but professionally, he has never been either of those. Instead, he has poured his ability into a variety of roles over his 34-year career: editor, missionary, translator, marketing manager, corporate communications manager, and communications director. Currently, Mike leads all internal and external communication at Volkert, Inc., an infrastructure engineering firm based in Franklin, Tennessee. Prior to this position, Mike was an independent consultant with Ideas Abound, LLC, a marketing communications agency that he and his wife Colleen owned and operated.

Mike has been a member of IABC for 23 years, a past president of IABC South Carolina, an Accredited Business Communicator since 2004, and a Strategic Communication Management Professional since October 2018. Mike is also a fluent German speaker and certified translator and interpreter.

His wide range of experience in communication roles–for companies large and small, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, on both sides of the Atlantic, in two languages–equips him with insight on the challenges facing today’s communicators.

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Why are social media posts like the cobbler’s children?

Finding good writing on social media can be like finding the proverbial unicorn.

A guest blog by Joe Diorio

The end of 2019 represents not only the end of another year, but the end of a decade.

That’s prompting no shortage of #grateful type posts on social media. Sadly, there is more than a bit of repetition to all of them, since the posts all start out the same way.

“So grateful for …”
“So happy to see …”
“What a year this has been …”

The problem with this is that if everything reads the same, then nothing may be read at all. The scan and skip nature of reading online material makes it way too easy to gloss over these posts.

It’s not just end-of-year messages, either. After IABC Nashville presented its annual Music City Gold Pen Awards, the avalanche of social media messages about the awards mentioned a lot except what was done to win the awards. Here’s a sample of what showed up in my various social media news feeds:

“Congrats to all of today’s award recipients!”
“We are thrilled to announce …”
“Wow, we are in awe …”
“So proud of you …”

At the risk of making everyone hate me, we are communicators, right? Then why are our social media posts so – what’s the word? – dull? Repetitive? Uncreative?

OK, everyone put down the torches and blunt objects and please read on before sending me a variation of a “WELL, YOU TRY IT” email. Don’t kill the messenger (a variation of that phrase can be traced all the way back to Sophocles in 442 B.C., but I digress). We all know the demand for quick and up-to-the-nanosecond communications is leaving good writing in its wake.

Dull writing is the proverbial kiss of death for marketing communication professionals. A decade after Nicholas Carr asked in The Atlantic asking “Is Google making us stupid?” we seem to be forgetting that the single most important job for us is to communicate.

We get it that you are proud, happy, and thrilled to have won, but go a step further and tell us why. Rather than saying “we are thrilled to announce” how about:

  • “Teamwork and a dedication to the goal of increasing widget sales by 10 percent resulted in our being recognized with a Music City Gold Pen Award.”
  • “A team from our agency and our client who believed we could pull off an event that
    heretofore never took place in Nashville was honored…”
  • “We taught consumers something they never knew before …”

In other words, use social media to tell your followers what you did, how you did it, and why you did it. We all have scores of social media accounts we follow. Identify those nuggets of wisdom that made your communication effort an award winner and lead with that. And along the way omit the needless and, sadly, self-serving words. Everyone should plan their social media posts about their awards as carefully as they plan the communication activities that garnered them said awards.

In 2009 I had the privilege of meeting Ted Sorensen, who wrote so eloquently while chronicling the presidency of John F. Kennedy. He explained the need to communicate clearly and effectively with a brilliant shaggy dog story.

He said a salesman was setting up shop to sell seafood. First pass at a sign: “Fresh Seafood, Fish for Sale.” Well, he thought, who would sell stale fish? So he shortened the sign: “Seafood, Fish for Sale.” Heck, fish ARE seafood, so the word “fish” was dropped. But if he’s selling seafood in a store, then why say it’s “for sale”? The final sign, eloquently and to the point, read, simply, “Seafood.”

And, by the way, I’m confident he was proud, excited, and humbled by the chance to open his store.

Happy new year, and let’s write carefully out there, people. 

Joe Diorio is a Nashville IABC member and a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader. You can sign up for his newsletter, “A Few Words About Words,” by visiting his website

Would you like to be a guest blogger?
Email us at iabcnashvilletn@gmail.com

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Panel discussion: Entrepreneurship in Communications

With the end of the year fast approaching, many business communicators are reflecting on the next steps for their brands and careers. What does it take to launch a freelance career or establish an agency? How can businesses and in-house communicators benefit from hiring a freelancer or agency to help take their brands to the next level?
 
Join us Wednesday, November 13 for an in-depth panel discussion with some of Nashville’s most well-respected communications entrepreneurs as they share their insights on what communicators should do when starting their own business, and what in-house communicators should consider when hiring and working with an agency.

Meet our panelists  

 
Janet Kurtz, CHDM
President & Founder, Kurtz Hospitality Marketing
 
Angie Boyd-Chambers
President & Founder, Boyd-Chambers Communications
 
 
 
 
Mike Smith
President, Founder & Chief Marketing Strategist, Conjure
 
 
Moderator: Kellie Davie
Managing Director & Founder, Keycom
Vice President of Professional Development, IABC Nashville

Event information 

Schedule

11:30am-12pm – Networking
12:00pm-1pm – Panel Discussion and lunch

Location

1918 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
 
Saltine is located in the old Blackstone building. Ample parking is available in the lot adjacent to the restaurant.

About the event   

The panel discussion will include:
  • What to consider when starting your own business in the communications field.
  • Balancing creativity and client work with business operations.
  • Client relations: The good, the bad, and the savvy.
  • How companies and in-house communicators can maximize their agencies for long-term ROI. 

Reserve your spot

Register today – we look forward to seeing you there! 

Thank you to our sponsor!

Special thanks to our November 2019 luncheon sponsor: Keycom

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November mixer: End of year holiday soirée

Let’s eat, drink and be merry with the best communicators around! Join IABC Nashville at STK Nashville Thursday, November 7 for our last networking mixer of the year. Enjoy tasty libations, snacks and engaging conversation with fellow communications pros as we celebrate a successful 2019.

Event information

STK Nashville 
700 12th Avenue S
Nashville, TN 37203

Thursday, November 7, 2019 
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Parking / transportation options  

  • Lyft / Uber
  • $5 valet at STK Nashville 
  • Park on your own in a nearby parking lot or metered spot 

Reserve your spot for our last mixer of 2019!

Members are FREE and non-members are $10 to attend! Prepay only. Registration will not be taken at the door. 

We can’t wait to see you there!

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Research & Analytics: Converting Data into Brand ROI

Traditionally, market research and data analytics operate as two separate entities and are viewed as distinct functions: the former focused on consumer perception and the latter on insights obtained through internal resources such as sales, profits, and projections. The big question is: how can business communicators combine analytics and market research together to execute successful campaigns for their brands?

Join us Wednesday, October 16 for an in-depth conversation with Heather Ball, Vice President of Marketing for 20|20 Research, as she shares her insights on how to effectively use research and data to make strategic marketing communications decisions for your brand.

Topics in this presentation will include:

  • Audience Identification: Identifying the right audiences to target and anticipating their needs
  • Brand Perception: Where does your company land in its market and industry?
  • Customer Experience: Keeping customer satisfaction and brand reputation strong based on feedback and data.
  • Direct & Social Feedback: Using analytics to understand what’s working and what isn’t for your audience.

About our presenter 

Heather Ball is Vice President of Marketing for 20|20 Research.  In this role, she is responsible for strengthening the company’s brand, as well as the development of the marketing strategy and campaigns. Before joining 20|20, Heather held a variety of marketing and communications positions in the financial services and banking industry, most recently serving as Director of Marketing for Comdata.  She has an MBA from Vanderbilt University. 

Event information

Schedule

11:30am-12pm – Networking
12:00pm-1pm – Presentation and lunch

Location

Waller Law
Nashville City Center
511 Union Street, Suite 2700
Nashville, TN 37219

Parking / transportation  

  • Ride share options: Uber / Lyft 
  • Waller Law Parking Garage on Union Street (limited visitor spots) — validated by Waller Law
  • Open Lot (as part of the Waller Law building) on 6th Avenue
  • Valet at the Hermitage Hotel – $13 up to 2 hours, $18 over 2 hours
  • Parking garages at the Library or McKenzie Methodist Church (one block away) 

Reserve  your spot!

Register today – we look forward to seeing you! 

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