Wednesday, September 28, 2005

beautiful invitations

For your next social or professional event, consider this month's preferred referral to artist and graphic designer Melissa P. Hackmann, who creates unique custom invitations designed to match your style and situation. Whether you need a small batch of exquisite handmade invitations -- truly one-of-a-kind -- or a larger-scale printed piece for a major event, she'll work with you closely to ensure you don't get caught without attendees. Contact her directly at to learn more!

catch these job opportunities

If you're looking for a permanent job in public relations, why contact a temp firm? Because Kate Perrin, president of PRofessional Solutions, LLC, Washington's first and only PR temporary firm, tells us she's facilitating "a record number of temp-to-perm hires, particularly at the mid-range level." Individuals with skills, experience and interest in temporary PR assignments should go to the PRofessional Solutions website and check out the For Job Seekers page for an application form and complete instructions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

why businesspeople speak like idiots

Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter's Guide is the title of our new favorite language book for the workplace. With a great sense of humor -- in chapters like "Pick Up the Damn Phone" and "The Smartest People Use the Dumbest Words" -- the authors have pulled together a terrific guide for presentations, memos, even conversations. The team responsible for the book also created Bullfighter, a software program that can analyze your writing (or someone else's) for known jargon. Check out the book's Website here to find excerpts, a free download of the Bullfighter software, and the "mystery matador" service, which helps you send a jargoneer an anonymous email showing how his obfuscations stack up when analyzed with Bullfighter. May office memos and our next presentations never be the same again.

Check out our sister blog, The Eloquent Woman, for more on giving great speeches and presentations and become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook.

Monday, September 19, 2005

stirring the alphabet soup

You may be at a university, a newspaper, or like us, just caught in the nation's acronym capital of Washington, D.C. Want to sort through the abbreviations that abound? Try this website: Acronym Finder, a simple search engine that takes your acronym and serves results of the most popular meanings. Then do us all a favor and stop using acronyms. We prefer to coach writers to use the full name of the organization on first reference, then to use a part of the name -- "the Society," "the union," or "the Federation," for example -- in subsequent references. Once you see just how many groups have the same acronym, we hope you will do the same! To find out more about our workshops on writing with clarity, contact Denise Graveline at

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

even if it's not your favorite mistake...

...admitting a mistake early, apologizing and taking responsibility for harm caused are the best communications steps to take if you're in the public eye. President Bush today said he took responsibility for failures in the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, following the resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown. Was his timing the best? Sooner would have been better, forestalling a tide of resentment, questions about accountability, and eroding support from both political parties. Politicians who can admit mistakes, fully and frankly, find that simple step impresses public audiences more than any other skill...most people can relate to having made mistakes and understand the difficulty in admitting them, but still want their public servants to demonstrate responsibility in words as well as actions. To prepare for difficult public relations situations, contact Denise Graveline at

Monday, September 12, 2005

caught in uncertainty?

You may want to proudly stay there, but first read journalist Ted Gup's wonderful audio essay from today's National Public Radio segment "This I Believe." In a world that seems increasingly polarized and where every fact appears to prompt lineups on either side, his refreshing take is that it's fine -- and even necessary -- to be (and admit you are) uncertain. We say you can't go wrong expressing your own viewpoint when communicating with others. Saying "I feel..." always works better than "You think..." when building connections with folks on all sides of issues. Enjoy the essay and tell us what you think at "This I Believe" revives an old Edward R. Murrow radio program of the 1950s, which encouraged entries from people around the U.S. "to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

update on flood zone coverage

CNN took the federal government to court over the new-this-week FEMA directive limiting video news shots of dead bodies in the Hurricane Katrina recovery -- which was enforced at gunpoint. After hearing these two comments, CNN went to court to recover its free press rights: New Orleans' homeland security director Terry Ebbert said the recovery effort would be done with dignity, "meaning that there would be no press allowed," and Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore later said there would be zero access to the recovery operation, according to the Associated Press story today. After a reversal of that policy in the courtroom, CNN agreed to drop the case.

Friday, September 09, 2005

no flood of information?

One of the disturbing communications developments to arise in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is the absence of enough government public affairs professionals on the ground in New Orleans and other affected areas. The result: Police officers and National Guard soldiers are implementing FEMA's communications directives at gunpoint, and the agency has asked news organizations not to broadcast images in which dead bodies appear, which would include much of the city at this point. FEMA only yesterday asked other federal agencies to contribute public affairs personnel to the hurricane recovery effort -- a step that historically would have been organized in advance of an anticipated natural disaster, or immediately after it. Communicators in a flood or hurricane zone serve several important functions, keeping lines of information open, especially to the news media; handling access, so others can do the more important recovery work; ensuring that facts are vetted before they are released; and much more. Career federal public affairs personnel usually have extensive experience in handling crisis communications in such situations -- at EPA, we worked with pros who'd handled everything from the Mississippi floods to Chernobyl. We say if it's a public affair, let's let the professionals in public affairs do their jobs -- and in a nation with a free press, we don't need to do this with guns. The topic is the subject of news coverage in today's Washington Post and an editorial in the New York Times, and the Associated Press today reports on just how difficult conditions are for basic reporting in New Orleans, guns aside.

Friday, September 02, 2005

new bipolar book

Don't get caught client Candida Fink, MD, is co-author of a new book, Bipolar Disorder for Dummies (Wiley 2005) that we're working to promote. Dr. Fink's psychiatry practice focuses on mood disorders in adolescents and children, and her new book emphasizes approaches from medicine to lifestyle changes that can help manage bipolar disorder. And because she doesn't recommend "flying solo," the book includes resources for friends and family members who want to support someone with the disorder. You can check out sample chapters, the contents and index here, or order the book here. Dr. Fink also is the co-author of The Ups and Downs of Raising a Bipolar Child: A Survival Guide for Parents. We urge you to share this great resource with anyone you know who's struggling with bipolar disorder.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

we see you on the radio... the clever tagline for this month's preferred referral, News Generation, a well-respected source of radio news. If you're promoting a news story, they package the story, pitch it, and provide you with a detailed report on who was reached, when and where. If you're a station news director, they're a consistent source of newsworthy stories, professionally produced -- so much so that they've attracted a vast network of stations that accept their stories even before the pitch is done. The trick: They insist on content that's credible news. You can see and hear examples of their radio news stories on the website they offer as a source for radio stations. Many organizations are seeing success placing stories on issues in the news, from healthcare to homeland security. News Generation offers public service announcements, radio tours, audio news releases and more. Contact them at and tell them we sent you.

strategy of sharing

In the new edition of A Field Guide for Science Writers, the official guide of the National Association of Science Writers, don't get caught president Denise Graveline offers an insight about communicating science from an institution, advising communicators to collaborate to extend the reach of a news release. When your institution or researcher has science news to share, take the time to coordinate in advance with science communicators who can help spread the word -- and stretch your budget and manpower. For example, if your organization publishes research journals, develop a system for notifying authors' PR contacts well in advance so they can be working to disseminate; if your researcher's presenting at a major meeting, check in with the meeting sponsor to see what else can be done to highlight your speaker. Few communicators take this extra step, and they miss out on expanded networks and opportunities. The 2d edition of the Field Guide for Science Writers is now available here at, and we recommend you add this expanded and revised edition to your office bookshelf now. Check here to learn more about the contents and the expert collaborators who put this edition together. For more strategies to enhance your research communications, contact Denise Graveline at