BLOGS: Wag The Dog

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 1:22 PM

Tuesday's must reads

Here are three commentaries that may spark ideas on how you can communicate more effectively in 2009.

1. Ten ways social media will change in 2009 (ReadWriteWeb) -- Just when you thought you understood what Facebook or Twitter could do for your company, along come these predictions.

2. Avoid inviting distrust (Brandweek) - A new survey reminds us that it's not what you say; it's what people hear.

3. Salmonella scare spurs a boost in online outreach (PR Week) - Find out how the peanut butter industry responded to a massive recall.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 4:35 PM

Clouding your message


Companies looking to sharpen their message should consider a relatively new technology: word clouds. This tool - which creates a cloud out of the words that appear most frequently in your text - can be especially useful when writing speeches, press releases, or blogs. The more often a word appears in your speech, the more prominent it is in your cloud. You can analyze any document for free at This is great way to analyze whether your key themes are breaking through.

Check out a great word cloud analysis of recent presidential inaugural addresses by ReadWriteWeb by clicking here. Notice any themes?

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Friday, January 16, 2009, 2:37 PM

Building arks, trust, and coalitions

I am excited to be a new monthly columnist for The Daily Record, a great legal/business news publication here in Maryland. The first installment focuses on the substantial changes occuring on the economic, political, and public opinion fronts and what organizations can do to communicate more effectively in light of these changes. Check it out by clicking here.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009, 5:44 PM

Know your audience(s)

It's no secret that executives in the spotlight should know their audience. What's even more important is that they know their audiences - because they usually have more than one.

Case in point: Vice President-elect Joseph Biden yesterday acknowledged that the Obama transition team made "a mistake" in failing to notify key members of Congress that the president-elect had chosen Leon Panetta to be the next Director of Central Intelligence.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said she knew nothing about the nomination and was cool in her assessment of it. She chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, giving her broad authority over the CIA's budget. Her predecessor, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who was also left in the dark, was no more enthusiastic in his comments.

Knowing one's audiences is not simply effective politics - it is a sign of effective communications in any industry. Companies must ask themselves who is responsible for communicating with all key stakeholders when important developments emerge. Crisis planning exercises are a smart way to identify and eliminate such gaps in a company's communications plan. One oversight - whether it be board members, employees, members of the press, regulators, or even the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee - could be the difference between maintaining control of an announcement or surrendering it.

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