Know Your Selfie Etiquette

An image of women taking a selfie in front of the tragic East Village explosion has sparked outrage – and rightfully so. It’s just wrong and in the poorest taste possible.Selfie_NoNo

Unfortunately, instant clicks of a smartphone photo and vanity often lead to poor judgement. People become enthralled with being part of the action and need to share the moment with their friends and followers. But an accident scene? Really?

I witnessed the same lack of selfie etiquette a few weeks ago after a young man was hit by an R train at Union Street. As we evacuated the train, dozens of commuters were happily snapping photos of the incident. Luckily, a police officer on the scene began discouraging riders from taking pictures but not before the troubling images hit people’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.

People need to think before they click. It’s as simple as that. Why would a particular image be worth sharing? What would people have to gain by seeing your selfie? Are you dining at a hot new restaurant? Celebrating your engagement? Did you just meet Brad Pitt? Okay, those kinds of selfies are acceptable.

People need to remember that selfies are meant to be social. It’s the “social” in social media. Just as singer Mat Kearney took a selfie with the audience at the New York concert I attended last week, or Ellen DeGeneres’ infamous Oscars’ selfie – selfies are meant to make people feel like part of an event; to promote bonding; a common experience (and of course, it doesn’t hurt marketing, either).

But when it comes to an accident site, there’s definitely nothing worth smiling over. Village Idiots, indeed.

Everyone Loves A Good Story

In corporate communications, storytelling has long been recognized as a successful tool to communicate important messaging. It’s easier to reach employees with engaging content that pertains to them. People want to read about people – the faces behind the words. Image

Of course, the power of storytelling extends beyond the workplace. We might enjoy a good story at a party, over a gossipy lunch with the gals, or while reading weekly issues of our favorite magazines.

Okay. So we’ve established that people love a good story but do we ever think about why we’re so attracted to the technique?

The love of stories dates back to our childhood. How many times did our parents read us a story when they tucked us in at night? Their soothing words would lull us into a deep sleep. We felt comforted by the strong bonds that formed. And a good night story was our opportunity to wind down after a long day of school and homework.

Fast forward to adulthood and not much has changed. Effective storytelling provides escapism. Whether it takes place at a water cooler in the office or on the phone with a friend, storytelling is our chance to relate, engage, and entertain. Without storytelling, there would be no rapports. It’s an opportunity to share and keep things personal – whether you’re in an office or enjoying a Friday happy hour with friends.

Without storytelling, we wouldn’t be human. It’s what connects us. If we didn’t have it, we’d all be machines, just carrying out our day-to-day tasks with a bit of small talk here and there, at best.

Having covered a plethora of conferences over the years, I’m pleased to see more executives relating their own personal experiences to connect with audiences. And it’s working: surveys are revealing that employees want to hear from bosses, and that they want to feel connected to companies’ visions, missions, and values. It’s those stories that will help keep staff feeling connected. Effective internal communications tools will help to ensure that employees will also receive a voice and have the chance to share their own stories and experiences inside the company.

Thanks to social media, we all have platforms where we can share stories, whether they’re on Facebook or on a blog post like this one.

Storytelling helps us to feel, to empathize, to understand, to appreciate, to take action, to vent, to connect. It keeps things real.

Has technology made us lazier communicators?

Remember when we used to wait by the phone to ring or when we checked our answering machines when we got home, in anticipation of a special phone call? We relished the communication and our hearts skipped a beat when we heard the person’s voice.

Now, it’s Facebook. Or Twitter. We get a ping. Or a poke. Or a Like.


We don’t get a Happy Birthday phone call but there’s a post on our walls. Any recognition is nice, of course, but what’s missing is the personal aspect of communication. I won’t dwell on this too much because by now, there have been countless articles and blogs about this. But a newer trend I have been noticing is that blogs and Facebook/LinkedIn posts have been getting less comments. But they are getting Likes.

Similarly on Twitter, you tend to see a lot of re-tweets or favorites, but there are fewer conversations. And rather than personally messaging people to thank them for a follow, many tweeters are programming annoying auto-responses with a link to their websites. Boy, that’s personal.

My point: technology is resulting in less effort to communicate. It only takes a second to hit a Like button but to actually have to comment and participate in a back-and-forth conversation? Forget about it. People just don’t have the time these days. However, they do seem to have time to play Candy Crush or Pengle. Games win out over thinking and communicating any day.

Technology and social media are great, but through all our gadgets, texting, and tweeting, we mustn’t let our brains turn to mush. We need to remember to keep engaging, keep conversing, and keep building the relationships that we want to grow. We need to actually be SOCIAL.

KellyKassEditorial Launches!!

Today I unveiled my new website, Many thanks to everyone who’s given me lovely feedback including Liking my Facebook page.

While I’ve written for multiple channels over the years, there’s nothing like having your own “baby” and seeing your name in lights, so to speak. As writers, we don’t always get credit for our work; we’re often behind the scenes crafting the words to make businesses shine. (And I’m certainly not complaining about that!). It’s simply what we do.

Of course, I’ll continue to blog on WordPress, but be sure to stop by my Facebook page for additional commentary and writing tips.

Thank you!

Stay social, freelancers

As freelancers, we all tend to get caught up in the projects we’re working on. We want to focus solely on the work at hand and keep our clients happy so they keep coming back for more.

The danger of that, however, is not keeping up with your online profiles. No matter how busy you are, you should always take time out to visit important social media sites. If you’re working on a noteworthy project or if you’re freelancing for a new company, tell people about it!

I did just that this week, updating my LinkedIn profile to reflect my current freelance writing work at Marketing Works, a New York area PR/Marketing firm. Once I did that, I received several kudos from my LinkedIn connections, and best of all, I came up with new leads for additional freelance work. Even the slightest tweak to your profile will get noticed fast.

And while you’re at it, take a quick Facebook or Twitter break to schmooze with old contacts because you never know when they’ll become a new source of potential work. Twitter even has hashtags #jobs or #freelancer #jobs which can be useful as well. LinkedIn has frequent job listings also, and after updating its mobile app, the postings are much more handy and accessible.

In short, stay visible at all times. Think bigger picture and there’s a great chance you’ll line up your next freelance gig!

A meeting of the minds in Midtown

Sometimes I forget how much I love conferences. Maybe because I’m usually flying solo working out of my home office. But when like-minded communicators come together to share knowledge and best practices, you can’t beat it.

Toby Ward and the folks at Prescient Digital always put on a good event and this year’s Intranet Global Forum was no different. “Global” it was – speakers came to present from Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada and of course, the U.S.

Dennis Agusi from Philips (pictured below) explained the lighting/consumer healthcare/electronics company’s journey into into internal social media including the launch of its very own video channel. Image

Organizational communications consultant Shel Holtz presented on employee ambassadors and social media, the use of the tool to communicate during a crisis, and the types of questions employees tend to have that need answering.

Jonathan Anthony – Director of Corporate Communications at Teekay – discussed the launch of the company’s enterprise social network, while Victor Aviles from AIG gave useful tips on how to make the business case for a new intranet. AIG’s intranet strategy: Show and prove. Then repeat. And: take it one prioritized feature at a time.

Of course, what would a conference be without networking? The cocktail reception provided ample opportunities for attendees to mingle and share pain points as communicators. The biggest issue people tend to experience: working as a one-man band on a limited budget, and helping executives become comfortable with internal social media adoption.

Ah, some things never change…

Don’t let the grapes go sour

wine-grapesI felt inspired to post this after a recent Facebook experience with one of my old broadcasting contacts. I had lost touch with him after a few years so I decided to reconnect with him on Facebook to say hi and schmooze a bit.

He accepted my friend request immediately and a few minutes later, began instant messaging me. I’m not a huge fan of IM (especially when I’m trying to meet a writing deadline), but what the heck. I decided to engage in a chat with him, and to my surprise, the happy-go-lucky, easygoing guy had turned quite negative.

As it turned out, he was let go from his on-air radio gig a year earlier and has been trying to find work every since. So I tried giving him a pep talk, stressing his strongest skills while – from a social standpoint – advising him on various spots in the city that he could still frequent without breaking the bank. My encouraging words were met with a smiley emoticon and that was that.

In the days and weeks following our exchange, I couldn’t help but notice a plethora of status updates on his timeline – each one darker than the last one – especially cutting remarks about hiring managers who had turned him down for jobs. He even went as far as saying he was going to de-friend anyone who viewed his posts as negative. And he did!

While social media can be a good source of online therapy (which I’ve mentioned before), there is a danger of crossing the line. You cannot be too negative or else you’ll come across as bitter. And if you vent too much – like criticizing recruiters or other potential job sources – who the heck is going to want to hire you?

Sure, you can change your settings to private, but we all know that a good deal of our Facebook friends are present and former colleagues in the biz. Word gets around. It isn’t long before others get wind of your rants.

Instead of venting on social media, keep your rants offline. That way, you don’t risk tarnishing your image. Remember: there’s no crying in freelance life! You chose this lifestyle so it’s important to keep a stiff upper lift and roll with the punches. You’ll be stronger for it in the end.

The 3 C’s Every Freelancer Needs to Follow

Freelance life can be isolating at times, especially if you tend to work from home like I do. The solution: to stay as connected as possible.

Connectivity is critical when you’re trying to maintain steady work. No longer can you only rely on word-of-mouth and your tried-and-true clients or production companies who have always called you for work. Budgets are shrinking. No one is spending money like they used to. So it’s up to us as freelancers to build new relationships.

That’s where social media comes into play, helping us foster a sense of community where we can network, share knowledge and create conversations.

Sure, everyone and his brother are on Facebook but let’s face it, the majority of reasons why people are on there are to coo over their kids or brag about the wonderful meals they’re eating or the new cars they’re driving. In other words, Facebook is more for personal use.

If you want to create a sense of community with people in your field, Twitter and LinkedIn are the way to go, hands down. On LinkedIn, you can even join groups specific to your line of work. But I’m sure many of you know that already.

As for Twitter, I am amazed how many freelancers I encounter who are still unsure about how to take advantage of the popular social media tool. I suppose the problem might be that many feel it’s a tool for celebrities to boast about their latest projects or to incite feuds (such as the recent one between Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel; the two have kissed and made up since then). Or perhaps people feel stifled since there’s a 140 character limit. Whatever the reason, people need to start using Twitter more.

I use it to link to articles I’ve written or to promote an event I’m covering. I also live tweet during conferences or television programs – any instance where my commentary might grab the attention of someone influential. In some cases, you may even get a re-tweet! Just don’t forget those hash tags so you can be a part of trending conversations.

While on the subject of Twitter, I have to give a shout out to The IC Crowd in London: Rachel Miller, Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson are three lovely ladies who work in internal communication. They started The IC Crowd as a way to connect others who work in the field; much of the conversations they create occur on Twitter (and will soon continue on Google+). Since launching The IC Crowd a little over a year ago, Miller, Wheller and Leeson have worked to move the online conversations offline, hosting a Xmas drinks networking function as well as an unconference.

On this side of the pond, the Freelancers Union (headquartered in Brooklyn), often helps freelancers connect via networking events and other helpful resources.

So if you have connectivity and a sense of community with your peers, there’s a good chance collaboration will follow – the final C that you need to be aware of. With increased online exposure and regular networking, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on who’s working on what and whether or not there might be an opportunity for you to contribute to a new project.

And of course, dropping some emails to your existing network of contacts never hurts either!