Starry Blue Brilliance

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Giving Thanks for My Internal Branding Learning Adventure

FireSky Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona

Photo: FireSky Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona

I had an incredible week at FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona for a learning adventure at the Strategic Internal Branding Conference. #ALI_IntBranding

The best part of my adventure was spending time with people who valued collaboration and having fun! I’m grateful to everyone who shared their time, expertise and insights with me. Connecting with good people creates good energy! 🙂

I was especially happy to have met in person these collaboration experts featured on my blog in March and April:

A big thank you also to Michela Moe and Erin Sherwood of Advanced Learning Institute (ALI) for connecting us all together for this memorable adventure.

Although the conference is over, my adventure continues with sharing follow-up stories with you. Stay tuned!

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Take a Fresh Look at Your Internal Branding

White Blossoms“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz, author and teacher

The “real you” should be authentic. So should your brand. It’s time to take a fresh look at your internal brand. Reinvent to become an authentic and inspired brand leader.

Join me April 19-21 at the beautiful FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona for the Advanced Learning Institute’s “Strategic Internal Branding” Conference. Together we’ll learn about using authentic internal branding communications to create brand champions, build culture and engage employees to live and deliver on the brand promise.

Here’s a peek at a few of the presentations and speakers:

  • “Learning to Rebrand Your Company from the Inside Out” by Shannon Smith, Director, Employer Branding, Intel
  • “Using Videos and Education to Increase Employee Brand Engagement and Build a Strong, Consistent Brand” by Joe Pantigoso, Senior Director, Global Brand, SAP
  • “Enhance Your Employee Experience through New Technologies that Align with your Organization and Communication Campaign Goals” by Chuck Gose, Founder and Host, ICology

Since I’m a conference supporter, just mention Starry Blue Brilliance when you register to receive a $200 discount. 🙂

Please share this information with your networks. The Twitter hashtag is #ALI_IntBranding.

In the meantime, watch for my conference posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Starry Blue Brilliance.

Looking forward to attending this event with you!


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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?

 


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Crissy Saint

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.

Crissy Saint

Crissy Saint

Crissy Saint, Senior Communications Strategist at MM Identity Lab in Phoenix, Arizona, will share her insight on strategic content marketing as part of the panel discussion, “Cross-Platform Convergence Platform: Best Practices for Blending Online and Offline,” during the Digital Summit Phoenix, March 31-April 1.

With huge passion for innovation and the power of collaboration, Crissy helps businesses of all sizes to streamline their content marketing efforts. She loves to tell visual and written stories through social media, brand identity and strategy, public relations and community building.

To learn content marketing best practices from Crissy in person, join us next week at the Digital Summit Phoenix. As an event sponsor, IABC Phoenix is offering a $50 savings on registration. Don’t miss out on two days of career advancing-business growing content, hours of peer networking, open bars, good food, cool swag and lots more!

In the meantime, read on as Crissy shares her insight on building a successful brand content strategy:

Peggy Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Crissy Saint: I crush on storytelling for brands that has a positive impact on humanity at large and opens up a two-way dialogue for brand-consumer conversation.

PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
CS: Building brands from the ground-up has always been a passion of mine. Helping brands mature from grassroots entities to well-known brands is another.

PB: What projects are you most proud of?
CS: Every project that I’ve worked on with the MM Identity Lab has been memorable and notable. Working with various nonprofits around the Valley always makes me beam because of the positive impact it has on our local community in Phoenix.

PB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
CS: Oftentimes, our clients want to jump straight to tactical implementation and they overlook the building of a strategic brand foundation. I’ve helped clients take a step back and get an elevated view of their communications efforts so that there’s consistency across all platforms and mediums for their brand voice and content development.

PB: How is content marketing a key driver of your digital marketing efforts?
CS:
Over the last few years, we’ve seen search engines change their algorithms to focus on quality content over outdated link-building efforts to promote content exposure online. The development of quality content that has the ability to live in various places online and in different formats is key. Without quality content, digital marketing efforts often fall short and can fracture brands.

PB: What is your process for creating original content?
CS: Creating original content for brands based on their core brand strategy is a balancing act. It’s based on understanding the target audience as human beings instead of dollar signs and creating a content strategy that is tailored to both the functional and emotional assets that are shared between the brand and the reader.

PB: What do you focus on when creating content for your audience?
CS: From a brand perspective, I focus on consistency in the telling of the brand’s story. From a content perspective, I focus on creating original content that can easily translate to various platforms. From an audience perspective, I focus on content that strikes up conversations and appeals to the audience by providing meaning, education and value.

PB: I read that you are an avid photographer. How did you get started in photography?
CS: Photography is another means to tell a visual story. Being a lover of stories in all forms, it made sense to explore this hobby more in-depth.

PB: What type of photography do you enjoy the most?
CS: Landscape and candid photography.

PB: How do you use photography to tell your organization’s stories?
CS: At MM Identity Lab, we partner with various photographers based on our particular storytelling needs or the needs of our clients.

PB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
CS: I try to make it a priority to meet other writers in the Valley, read books and journals, and write as often as possible. Not losing my passion for the art of writing is something I value greatly.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources for content and digital marketing inspiration?
CS: Seth Godin’s blog, as well as other business publications have always been solid resources for inspiration. Also, attending local meetups for in-person inspiration from other writers and content strategists is big for me.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
CS: You can connect with me at Crissy@mmidentitylab.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?

 


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Create Your Organization’s Face with Visual Storytelling

Photo: Sculpture Per Adriano, work of Igor Mitoraj, Square of Isla de Madeira, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

Photo: Sculpture Per Adriano, work of Igor Mitoraj, Square of Isla de Madeira, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

“A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.” – Vincent Van Gogh (www.goodreads.com)

Artists know the value of creating compelling visuals to tell their stories. Communicators can use this same concept of visual storytelling to engage their audiences on a personal level.

This article from prnewsonline.com can help you get started on the road to “visual storytelling mastery:” http://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/2013/10/29/6-tips-for-visual-storytelling-mastery/

If you take your own photos, you’ll want to read “Telling Stories” by Phil Douglis, ABC, IABC Fellow and a master of visual storytelling. In his article from IABC’s Communication World, Phil shows you how to engage your audiences and draw them into your story to help them develop a deeper understanding of your organization. For more inspiration on visual storytelling, check out Phil’s “cyberbook” of photo galleries at http://www.pbase.com/pnd1

How do you incorporate visual storytelling into your organizational communication?