Timing is Everything

I just received an e-blast from a major New York steakhouse with the subject line, “Need a drink?” Um, it’s 10:00 a.m., so the answer to that questions is “no.” hurricane

Obviously the steakhouse is advertising a new cocktail promotion but at this hour of the morning, people are still on their first or second cup of coffee. An email like that should not be distributed until late afternoon when most people’s work days are winding down. Messages need to be timed accordingly so audiences will read them at just the right moment. For my clients, I generally try to opt for 10 or 11 a.m. (when many are caught up and settled in at their desks), or after lunch.

I actually deleted the email from the steakhouse but decided to retrieve it to take a peek at the content….which brings me to my second point:

If you’re going to send an e-blast to customers, make it worth opening. Why not include a striking visual of the martini you’re promoting, or better yet, a happy couple sipping the martinis? When I opened this particular restaurant’s e-blast, it was simply a yellow banner with links to the restaurant’s social media pages. No imagery, no copy. Just lots of white space. That tells me that the steakhouse just threw the email out there; to send it just to send it. If you’re not going to make an effort to jazz up your content, how can customers be sure that you’re going to make an effort in the kitchen or at the bar? It’s just plain sloppy marketing.

My third and final point has to do with frequency. It drives me crazy when I receive too many e-blasts from one particular business or organization. In the case of the steakhouse, I get one a week, which in my opinion, is way too often for a restaurant. Eating and drinking establishments should save mass email distribution for special occasions, like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day menus, or Open Mike nights and poetry readings. In the case of nonprofits, you can get away with greater frequency (especially during end-of-year appeals, but even those emails should be spaced out accordingly). In each instance, messaging should target a different angle or program to vary the content and keep people reading.

Bonus point: Don’t forget about social media. Before drafting your e-blast, think about it: is this the right communication channel for this particular message? If you’re running a campaign, perhaps the information needs to go viral. In that case, social media is definitely the way to go. Using hashtags and tagging the appropriate contacts are surefire ways to drum up traffic and place you in the spotlight.

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It’s Time for March Madness

Came across this Bloomberg article today about March Madness fueling employees’ productivity:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-14/ncaa-tournament-2017-march-madness-can-make-you-more-productive

I tend to agree. If employees bond over office pools and brackets’ success, why should companies cry “foul” if their staff take a timeout to enjoy the madness? Camaraderie is a known morale and productivity-booster, so if participating in the annual pool or watching a few minutes of a game makes coming to work more fun, I say go for it. It’s a win-win!

 

 

Getting Motivated on a Soggy Monday

cloudsToday I am blah-gging. Not blogging. Blah-gging. I, along with many it seems, have the Monday blahs. It’s been chilly and rainy all day, after a weekend that saw 60 mph wind gusts, thunderstorms, even snow in some places. Opening Day at Yankee Stadium? Ain’t happening today. Happy Spring…

Okay. Enough venting. So what to do when you’re a professional writer and you’re just not feeling it? Here are my top tips for staying motivated and lifting the clouds:

1. Martini in the Morning – No, I don’t mean drink a martini before Noon. I’m referring to the Internet radio station that cranks out lively tunes from classic crooners like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Listening to these playlists is sure to put some pep in your pen and brighten up your day. http://martiniinthemorning.com/

2.  #Connect – Before getting lost in Microsoft Word, try traveling the Twitterverse for awhile. Not only will you catch up on the latest news, chuckles and trending topics, it’ll give you a chance to shout-out your tweeps and see what they’ve been up to. And who knows? You may even find your next topic to write about.

3. Fuel your Productivity – If you’re aiming to complete your next great story, get into the groove with outside projects that will help build momentum and boost your productivity. Blogging is quite useful (hey, that’s what I’m doing right now!), since it organizes your thoughts and gets your creative juices flowing. Catching up on emails is another favorite of mine. Whether you’re reaching out to story contacts or cleaning out your inbox, the sense of accomplishment you feel can help trigger more motivation, inspiring you to gets those magical words out to make your story shine.

Leadership Lessons from NLDS Champions New York Mets

FloresHomeRun_Mets

It takes more than great pitching to make a successful team, and the New York Mets are proof of that. Manager Terry Collins and Team Captain David Wright provide exemplary leadership while different heroes emerge every week (case in point, second baseman Daniel Murphy who’s homered in four consecutive playoff games). Murphy’s fist pumping and enthusiasm continue to inspire.

Off the field, different stories of teamwork emerge; stories that demonstrate a classy display of winning attitudes and flexibility essential for success. Veteran ballplayer Michael Cuddyer, who won the National League batting title in 2013, didn’t complain when rookie Michael Conforto began to see more playing time. “You still need to be ready to get that big hit at any time,” Cuddyer recently told the media. Last Saturday, the outfielder replaced Lucas Duda at first base, stepping up for the team in a different position – a move which Collins made with tact. Rather than blatantly stating the obvious (Duda hasn’t been producing runs), he explained that Cuddyer simply had more experience hitting against Cubs’ pitcher Jon Lester. Smooth.

Keeping players’ morale up seems to be a specialty of Collins. After Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday, he asked the slumping Wright how he was doing. Wright replied, “Now I suck, but I’m fine,” his inefficacy at the plate obviously getting to him. To motivate his third baseman, Collins keeps telling him, “Keep putting those good at-bats on because it’s going to happen.” Wanting the best for his team, Wright even volunteered to sit out Game 2. But Collins wasn’t having it.  He’s keeping Wright as the number two hitter in the Mets’ lineup.

Collins, like any successful leader, also knows that people make up the heart of your brand. In the Mets’ case, it’s the loyal fans who have stuck by their team through thick and thin. When the Mets’ clinched the NLDS last Thursday to advance to the NLCS to face the Chicago Cubs, Collins celebrated with Mets fans, including one elated fan who planted a kiss on Collins’ cheek.

To win, you have to spread the love with your staff and those who are committed to your brand. Judging by the Mets’ performance and the exuberance of long-suffering fans, that formula is working, with a trip to the World Series becoming one step closer with every win.

Let’s Go Mets.

(Photo credit: New York Mets Facebook Page) 

Why Writing is Good for Your Health

When it comes to writing, you either have it or you don’t. Sometimes words and ideas flow better for some more than others. Whatever the level of your ability, you should never give up on the craft. Why? Put simply, writing is good for your health.

1. It’s a form of self-expression: You may try venting to friends and loved ones all you want, but with the short attention spans people seem to have these days, is your “audience” really listening? Perhaps there’s no better platform then a blank page – your very own space to express your innermost thoughts; to vent; to release the fears and toxins that eat away at you when others are too busy to notice. Whatever you write, you own it. With your thoughts now visible in black and white, people will listen (if you want them to). And if you don’t, your words can be a personal, therapeutic outlet for only you to see. keyboard

2. Writing leads to clarity: Whenever I’m completing multiple writing assignments, I tend to be sharper. I’m much more detail-oriented. Putting sentences and paragraphs together inspires organization and flow, allowing for greater focus. The more writing you do, the more your mind will always be working to come up with your next great accomplishment. Let writing be the fuel that your life runs on.

3. Writing keeps you connected: In the dead of winter (like now!), I often like to write to friends – whether it’s an email, tweet, or a Facebook message. And of course, with less people speaking on the phone these days, text messaging has more meaning than ever. We’re all guilty of longing to hear that wonderful ping alerting us to our replies. Thanks to smartphones, we have engagement at our fingertips, participating in conversations without physically uttering a word.

4. Finally, writing leads to action: By communicating your wants, your needs, your ideas, you’re giving yourself a voice; you’re making yourself heard, sharing information that leads to results. Writing is empowering and shouldn’t be dreaded. After all, that’s why spell-check was invented.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Yes, I do love Christmas and all the sparkly lights and Hallmark movies that come with it. But Thanksgiving is different. It’s an opportunity to turn yourself off and solely focus on what matters: friends and loved ones and great food! No rushing out to buy last minute Christmas presents; no balancing your gift budgets. It’s about rediscovering the art of conversation, catching up with siblings, watching football teams that play better than the embarrassing Jets and Giants! And a chance to use my oven and fill my fridge with food! (We single busy freelancers don’t get to do that too often!).

Thanksgiving is also a chance to reflect. As I writer, I know I’m thankful for a few things, including excellent spelling skills and a working Internet connection. But I’m also thankful for the lives I touch. When I write an employee recognition piece, there isn’t anything more satisfying than receiving a follow-up call or email from someone thanking me for acknowledging him/her. “I took the article home to show my family,” wrote one employee. “We read it at the dinner table.” That’s when you know your work really hits home – literally!

Recognizing that people like a pat on the back, let’s hope workers everywhere get thanks – and give thanks – this season. Here’s to slowing down and appreciating the little things in life during Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond!cornucopia

When smartphones aren’t so smart

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about digital distractions in social settings. While texting dinner partners is still a common sight, I can’t help but notice the same behaviors taking place in business settings.

Enter a clothing store, the sales help are on Facebook. I’m at the gym, and the trainer is perusing Twitter while not one, but three clients are running on treadmills. Suppose one of the women had fallen or had become short of breath while the trainer’s head was down? Not only is that bad business etiquette, it’s just not safe.

I was dining in a restaurant recently and my friend failed to get the waiter’s attention because he was staring at his phone, no doubt on Facebook, or checking his texts. The restaurant wasn’t even busy – all he had to do was remain attentive to our table. But he was more interested in the contents on his screen – a smart phone, but a dumb move on his part. He is working for tips after all. And we haven’t been back since.

This brings me to my point – if you’re running a business establishment – a clothing store, a gym, a restaurant – you’d better make darn sure your employees are doing their jobs. If patrons feels ignored, it will impact your business. They will not be rushing back to give you any business.

If you’re a business owner or manager, it is important to establish digital guidelines for your staff from the get-go. You don’t necessarily have to ban electronic devices during work hours, but it is good practice to limit smartphone use. If you work in retail, check your phone during your break. If you’re a personal trainer, wait till after your sessions to check your messages.

While staff may be annoyed by the restrictions initially, they have to understand the bigger picture. If customers see they’re engaged, then they will be engaged. It’s as simple as that. Satisfied customers come back; unhappy ones take their business elsewhere.