Starry Blue Brilliance

Masterpiece communications


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How Writing Led to My Next Adventure

Starry Blue Brilliance logo

I’ve always been a writer. And I’ve always used this talent to help people be successful at whatever they are trying to do. Engaging blog posts. Relevant content marketing and branding strategies. Stellar relationships with customers and employees. Collaboration and continuous learning. If it involves improving people’s lives, I am always willing to help! 🙂

It’s this passion for writing and helping others that led me to create Starry Blue Brilliance, a collection of masterpiece communications, resources and insights. Through this website, I’m dedicated to helping you build your business legacy through communication design.

Vincent van Gogh inspires my work. Through the iconic The Starry Night, van Gogh mixes “dreams and reality, observation and imagination.”  My goal is to make masterpiece communications that people will recognize and remember today, tomorrow, always.

Please let me know how I can help you and your business succeed. After all, “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” – Vincent van Gogh.

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Celebrating One Year of Starry Blue Brilliance

1024px-Van_Gogh_from_Space*Photo: Van Gogh from Space, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Credit: USGS/NASA/Landsat 7, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Thanks to your encouragement and loyal readership, my website starrybluebrilliance.com turned 1 this week.

I started Starry Blue Brilliance one year ago as a resource for learning and sharing corporate communication best practices to help our businesses and organizations succeed.

With your support, it continues as a “masterpiece” in progress that we create together as shown by these stats:

  • 63 total posts
  • 405 subscribers
  • Viewed by 96 countries

and these comments:

“Peggy, when I met you several years ago I recognized you as a great mom to my student Chris, but also as someone who was a great communicator. I only learned later that it was in fact your career. When starrybluebrilliance.com was launched, I was blown away. As you remember, I recommended that you should not only be writing, but should be consulting to companies. Peggy, you are great. Let’s let the world know.” – Bill Bryson, retired businessman and teacher

“Thanks Peggy for continuing to provide such great info time after time. I don’t know how you do it! You’ve created a unique blog that is a must-read for communicators looking for insights and tips that are immediately useful. I especially appreciate the many templates and forms you’ve made available for download including the Storytelling Feedback Tools and the Perfect Fit questions. You always have great content, great links and great artwork. Congratulations! I’m looking forward to the next year. Keep it coming!”Paul Barton, ABC, Principal Consultant, Paul Barton Communications LLC

Thank you again for making this important milestone possible!

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me  a story and it will live in my heart forever.” – Indian Proverb

*Photo description: In the style of Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night, massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. Phytoplankton are microscopic marine plants that form the first link in nearly all ocean food chains. Population explosions, or blooms, of phytoplankton, like the one shown here, occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the growth and reproduction of these tiny plants. To learn more about the Landsat satellite, visit http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/


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Where Was I?

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For the past three weeks, I’ve thought of what I could write about next.

In “Looking Inwards: How Self-Reflection Strengthens Leaders” by leadership development advisor Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC, I learned that “self-awareness gives you the ability to understand your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals, and recognize their impact on others.”

By taking some time off of writing my blog, I discovered that writing is truly my passion. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but didn’t know where to start, until I read Write Your Book Now! An A to Z Guide to Unleashing Your Creativity, Writing Your Book Fast, And Finishing Strong by Lynda McDaniel and Virginia McCullough.

In their book, Lynda and Virginia encourage writers to “jump in where they find their greatest passion.” My greatest passion is writing to help my readers feel inspired, solve a problem or reach their goals.

Self-reflection helps you realize your passion in life, and that is what I wanted to share with you.

Thank you for helping me realize my passion.

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” – Indian Proverb (also included in Lynda and Virginia’s book)


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Building a Better Blog One Week at a Time

Flickr_-_paul_bica_-_moonlight_shadow

Photo by paul bica

When I launched Starry Blue Brilliance last September, I promised myself I would continue to learn how to make this blog even better for all of us, week by week. Thanks to your loyal following and sharing of my blog, I stay focused on fulfilling that promise.

Here are three articles that are helping me pursue blogging “brilliance:”

Please share your ideas on topics or people you’d like to see featured. You are my inspiration to continue the masterpiece we’ve collectively created on Starry Blue Brilliance.

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Jeff Herrington

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.

Jeff Herrington

Jeff Herrington

On April 16, IABC Phoenix is proud to present writer, trainer, speaker and communication expert Jeff Herrington of Jeff Herrington Communications as he leads two renowned writing workshops and “talks pop” over lunch. Jeff’s techniques and tools are designed to help you re-energize your writing and become more effective at conveying powerful messages through different channels.

For this special event, there are several options from which to choose:

– A morning or afternoon session with lunch

– Lunch only (this is IABC Phoenix’s regular monthly luncheon program)

– All day with lunch included (the best value)

Register at http://www.iabcphoenix.com/reinvigorate-your-writing-transform-your-results/

For more information, visit www.iabcphoenix.com.

In the meantime, learn more about Jeff and his best practices to help make your writing more powerful.

Peggy Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Jeff Herrington: That I have no tolerance for corporate writing that insults the intelligence of those who encounter it or has as its goal ‘impressing’ readers rather than helping them. At the same time I have infinite confidence in the ability of corporate writers to produce content that is interesting and informative once they encounter the simple guidelines that can help them get there.

PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
JH:
 Writing for the Web. The Internet showed up midway in my career and massively altered how we access information and absorb it. Yet so many organizations write content (web copy, blog copy, emails, etc.) as if it is still 1987. I love seeing the ‘aha’ my workshop participants get when they encounter web content that is simple and clear. They understand the web is more about navigation than narration and immediately alter how they write.

PB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
JH: That is tough. There are so many, but here are two projects in particular:

1) When I first went self-employed in the 1980s, I focused my business on producing articles about the overseas operations of American companies, which they published in their internal and external publications. That business became so successful for me that I once had 27 assignments on one trip to the Far East, including five assignments for IBM and six for AT&T. I continued that work for nine years, from 1982 to 1991, when I basically collapsed on the floor of my apartment from sheer exhaustion.

2) Five years ago, Dallas sought to build a downtown convention center hotel. A competing hotel magnate launched a campaign to stop the hotel from being built. A group of civic-minded 20somethings in Dallas hired me to guide their efforts to produce an unorthodox social-media-based campaign designed to get young professionals in the city to vote FOR the building of the hotel. Three months before the election, the hotel’s passage was 30% behind in the polls. But because of our controversial and innovative campaign, it passed on Election Day by 2%. Even better, Dallas’ mayor at the time cited our campaign as the margin of difference.

PB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
JH: The fact I can turn my feet 180-degrees backwards. Oh, you mean PROFESSIONALLY? Likely my international experience – I had the good fortune to work in more than 40 countries on five continents – before the age of 30. That AND my commitment to simple, clear writing regardless of the topic or audience. You’ll never see me use such a phrase as ‘facilitate operational outcomes’ in my writing or in my workshops. That’s not intelligent, that’s boorish.

PB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
JH: They are very simple, technical practices so many organizations forget about. Things like keeping all of my online sentences to 25 words or less; keeping online paragraphs to three short sentences or less; leading off with the most important point rather than writing my way up to it; avoiding trite words and phrases like ‘This product enables’ or ‘Thanks for reaching out.’

It’s stunning to me how much work I see that isn’t observing those very important concepts of effective authentic writing. Yet many communicators do observe them, and the difference between how effective Sample A is compared to Sample B can be startling.

PB: How do you incorporate strategic storytelling into your work?
JH: If it is a print piece, I do it a fair amount, using classic feature story techniques. But if the reader will likely encounter the work online, I do it sparingly. People don’t have as much time and patience for storytelling when they are on the web, and I try to respect that.

PB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
JH: Right now I’m managing all of the communication and media for a festival that will celebrate in June the opening of FOUR major civic projects connected to the Trinity River adjacent to downtown Dallas. One of those is a former car bridge over the river that has been completely re-designed as a pedestrian and cyclist park, complete with misting machines, a bocce court, a labyrinth and more.

Also, I have writing workshops coming up for the communication teams of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Phillips 66 and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, all of whom have me conduct a couple of writing programs for them each year.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
JH: Television series like Mike and Molly, Scandal, The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife – great writing there! Also, sports sections of city newspapers and Sports Illustrated magazine.

Finally (and it will come as no surprise to those who know me), great songs. With a song, you have three minutes max to convey a compelling story. That’s tough, and people like Alicia Keys, Bruno Mars, John Mayer and James Blake know how to do that expertly.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
JH: You can contact me at jeff@jeffherrington.com.


What best practices in communication would you like to share in future Brilliance@Work profiles? What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in upcoming profiles?