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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Robin McCasland

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.

robin capitolRobin McCasland, Executive Board Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), is a communication expert recognized for her creative approaches to employee engagement strategies and internal branding. She recently joined Tenet Healthcare in Dallas, Texas as Director of Internal Communication.

Previously, she led employee engagement and internal communication for a business unit of Dell Inc. Over the past two decades, Robin received IABC Gold, Silver and Bronze Quill awards and earned several Communicator Awards for her work on clients’ recruiting and benefits communication projects.

At the May 15 IABC Phoenix professional development luncheon, Robin will present “Growing Your Personal Brand and Protecting Your Reputation.” During this event, you’ll learn how to recognize the intangible qualities that enhance your personal brand and make you more valuable and marketable as a communication professional. You’ll also learn why it’s worthwhile to go “ego surfing” online to ensure your reputation is solid.

Register for the luncheon at http://www.iabcphoenix.com/growing-your-personal-brand-and-protecting-your-reputation/

For more information, visit www.iabcphoenix.com. In the meantime, read on to learn more about Robin and her creative approach to communication planning:

Peggy Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Robin McCasland:
I believe that creativity and an open mind can overcome virtually any challenge (including a lack of budget). Also, it’s helpful to know that I believe if you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be doing it, whatever “it” is.

PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
RMC:
I love the process of employee engagement. I’ve experienced first-hand how workplace cultures can transform for the better with a long-term, consistent and creative engagement strategy. I love showing people how to take a more creative approach to strategic communication planning. I use a slightly different method that helps get at the “heart and soul” of an organization, engages employees and inspires them to do their best.

I also love presenting on personal branding and reputation. Most people don’t often think about their personal traits and habits that make them more desirable to employers and clients. Those traits are, in my opinion, key to their personal brands – more than their actual communication skills. It’s fun to get people thinking about how they can enhance those positive qualities that make them stand out from others.

PB: How have your leadership roles within IABC influenced your career?
RMC: I’ve been a chapter leader twice – in Fort Worth and Dallas. Each experience taught me much about managing people (volunteers), public speaking, presenting, managing a budget, event planning, fundraising and more. I’ve used all of those skills in my jobs.

Those chapter roles provided management experience that prepared me to take on more senior roles in my career, with far greater responsibility. My IABC experiences over time have given me the confidence and courage to seek bigger horizons – in my career and within IABC.

IABC is in a challenging but necessary transition. The International Executive Board (IEB), staff and I have worked through some difficult situations to move IABC forward. It’s not been fun. However, the experience as IEB chair has made my career seem so much easier by comparison! The things that used to rattle me at work don’t usually faze me now.

PB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
RMC:
If I had to choose one, it would be the work I did at Texas Instruments (TI) to help transform its university recruiting program with creative employment branding. I had the good fortune to work with amazing human resources pros at TI who gave me a real budget and a lot of freedom to do incredibly creative work. Overall, our work was so effective in this area that the Corporate Leadership Council benchmarked our programs as best in practice. The work was so much fun that I couldn’t wait to get to the office each day. How many people can say they’ve had a job like that?

PB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
RMC:
When I’m developing a strategic communication plan, I ask a few additional questions that will evoke an emotional response or cause people to take action or think differently. That’s the essence of developing clear, compelling messages. Depending on the circumstances and what we’re trying to accomplish, I might ask questions like:

–How do we make a difference in the world?

–What do leaders expect from employees? And – equally important – what should employees expect of their leaders?

–How do shareholders, customers and vendors view us? Is it easy to do business with us?

–How would we feel if any negative comments from those stakeholders were posted in social media? How would we respond?

–What do we value in this organization? Do we value the right things? How would others perceive our values? How would they discuss us in social media?

The answers to those questions and others help me build a more engaging, “living” communication plan.

Oh, and there’s one more unrelated, boring but tried-and-true best practice: Always have someone else proofread your work before you finalize it! Don’t rely on spell-check. Don’t rely on your own brain and eyes that have looked at the same copy for days. Have someone “fresh” read your copy. Always.

PB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
RMC:
I’m leading special event planning to launch a refreshed brand among employees. I’m excited to pull all the messages and activities together for this special event, which has the potential to impact tens of thousands of employees positively.

I’m developing a second-half 2014 internal communication plan for an organization in the healthcare industry. I’m learning the challenges of communicating with very diverse audiences, many of whom don’t sit in front of a computer on a daily basis.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
RMC:
I’m an audiophile. Music inspires my creativity. Music can literally change my mood in minutes! Some of my best ideas come when I’m listening to music. I love alternative and classic rock, but sometimes a beautiful movie soundtrack will help me engage emotionally in developing good communication.

Children inspire me. If they’re young enough, their creative minds aren’t stifled by people who tell them “no.” I like to approach each communication opportunity with no limits. Brainstorm as if there is unlimited possibility – and unlimited budget. That’s how kids think, generally. No limits.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
RMC:
The easiest way to reach me is via email at robinatiabc@gmail.com or on Twitter @robinrox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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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Know. Grow. Show. Digital Summit Phoenix.

Flickr_-_paul_bica_-_cutting_edgePhoto by paul bica

Join me at the Digital Summit Phoenix, March 31-April 1, presented by TechMedia, for leading edge digital media and marketing content and top flight networking opportunities with internet execs, online marketers, entrepreneurs and digital strategists.

Why should you attend Digital Summit Phoenix?

  • Know: Be educated on top-level trends, leading technologies, best practices and hands-on techniques in sessions designed to help you excel in the quickly evolving digital space.
  • Grow: Stay educated with the latest insight into trending and emerging technologies that affect your continued career knowledge and your company’s bottom line.
  • Show: See over 75 speakers from leading brands. Meet potential customers, vendors, expert resources, friends and colleagues.
  • . . . and SAVE: As a sponsor of Digital Summit Phoenix, 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!

Stay connected with Digital Summit Phoenix:

  • twitter.com/DigSumPHX  #DSP14
  • linkedin.com/Digital Summit Phoenix
  • facebook.com/digitalsummitphoenix


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Jeremy Schultz

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.

Jeremy Schultz

Jeremy Schultz

Employee communication expert Jeremy Schultz leads a team of internal communicators at Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon.

At the March 20 IABC Phoenix professional development luncheon, Jeremy will present “Trends in Global Employee Communication and How They’re Taking Shape at Intel.”

During this event, you’ll learn:

– What global economic, social and workplace trends are affecting employee communication

– How communicators at Intel are keeping employees informed and inspired

– Ideas and tips from mini case studies – cutting-edge and tried-and-true communication practices put to the test at Intel

Register for the luncheon at http://www.iabcphoenix.com/trends-in-global-employee-communication-and-how-theyre-taking-shape-at-intel/

For more information, visit www.iabcphoenix.com.

In the meantime, read on to learn more about Jeremy and his insights on global employee best practices:

Peggy Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Jeremy Schultz: Probably that I just love to learn. It’s the big thing that drives me every day. One of my favorite things about internal communications is the constant opportunity to meet the people moving the company, learning about them and their work, and helping them to be successful. That, and drawing ideas from a wide range of sources, gets me up in the morning.

PB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
JS: I think it’s my combination of technical aptitude and communication skills. I was a math and science whiz in school, got my degree in engineering, and worked as a software developer for several years before finding my way into communications. This gives me the ability to understand my (very technical) company’s products and the business strategies behind them, and then explain them in plain language for a broad audience. My abilities as a writer allow me to do that. I get to tackle projects from hour-turnaround news event reporting to informal blogging to longer-form, in-depth analyses. Writing is a blast, and a skill I’ve found isn’t too common, even within communications.

I like to try new things and push the envelope, so I’ve been at the forefront of using social intranet tools to foster conversation and more employee-to-employee connection. Intel as a company adopted these tools very early, but the communications team didn’t. I’ve been able to change that dramatically over the years, and now our team is helping the company to continue to work more collaboratively and communicate more openly.

PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
JS: I like to talk about trying new things, what worked or didn’t work, and bouncing new ideas around. I tend to be more of a synthesizer and improver of ideas versus a creator of brand new ones, so I’m energized by talking through ideas and evolving them with a group. I love to take on and take apart what look to be big problems, getting to the root cause, and figuring out how to solve them.

Content planning and development makes up a big part of my role, so that’s probably my favorite topic when it comes to communications. I’m always interested to hear how other companies plan and produce content, how much they curate versus create, and how they tie it all back to outcomes and business goals.

PB: How did you decide to shift your career from software development to communications?
JS: Pure serendipity. Software got boring—I was working in IT on important but unsexy internal systems. I started working with a career coach to start from scratch, and after loads of research and interviewing and job shadowing, I decided to go back to school and become a naturopathic doctor.

Shortly after I started taking prerequisites, I got swept up in broad layoff. I received an opportunity to find another job at Intel and had about three months to do it. I wasn’t ready to start medical school just yet, and a job in communications opened up. With my career coaching so fresh, I was able to articulate very well how my current skills set me up for success in communications, despite the contrast. I got the job. It was only three weeks between the old IT job and the new job in communications. I decided shortly afterwards to put the naturopathy career on hold. Six and a half years later, I’m still enjoying and growing in communications.

PB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
JS: There are a handful of stories I’ve written over the past few years that I’m proud of. Despite the barrels of ink that the tech media prints on the industry we’re in, there’s still plenty of ripe territory important for employees to understand. My flagship pieces have in-depth analyses of rising competitors, explaining each company’s history, business model, and keys to success.

Over a longer term, I’m proud of how I’ve helped move our department’s use of intranet social media from fledgling to a big piece of everything we do. It took several years, but today employee communications plays a huge role in influencing our intranet and ensuring employees get maximum value out of it.

PB: How do you incorporate strategic storytelling into your communication programs?
JS: Storytelling underpins a lot of the work we do. Our most effective and consistent all-company channel is our global intranet news. We not only dig up and tell individual stories, but we also build out longer-term editorial plans based on overarching narratives tied back to the company’s top priorities.

On the other end of the spectrum, we offer storytelling training to managers and leaders to help them be more effective communicators. That kind of hands-on help extends to helping employees write more colorful, candid blogs, too.

Overall, it spans from asking good questions during interviews—explicitly asking for stories and seemingly minute details that make stories come to life—all the way to using stories to help us reach company goals.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
JS: Besides keeping up with a lot of the groups and sites that specifically focus on internal/employee communications—IABC (of course!), the Corporate Executive Board, and a handful of other communities and blogs—I like to read about the latest in journalism and social media.

On the journalism side, I follow groups like Poynter and PBS’s MediaLab, and then I’ve got lists on Twitter and Google+ that include a broad group of creative folks who share interesting things related to communications. I’ve read some great books on interviewing and writing—Jack Hart’s A Writer’s Coach is a particular favorite.

On the social media side, I follow some of the leaders in using these tools to achieve specific outcomes. Not everything that works online applies inside the company, but some of the same principles apply and it’s fun to see how people are pushing the envelope.

Otherwise, I’m a huge fan of Wired and Fast Company. I read a lot, but these are the two magazines I usually read cover to cover.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
JS: LinkedIn is probably best: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremyschultz/. I’m fairly active on Twitter (@jschultz) and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+JeremySchultz/), too. I’m happy to share this information, and I look forward to hearing from your readers.

PB: To learn how to incorporate storytelling in your organization’s intranet, read my post, “Every Great Intranet Reveals a Great Story.”

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: Angelo Fernando

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

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

Angelo Fernando

Angelo Fernando

Veteran communicator Angelo Fernando has written about big shifts in advertising, marketing, media and education for the past 18 years. He has worked for Ogilvy and Mather and JWT, trained in broadcasting at the BBC in London and later turned to podcasting. He was a technology columnist for U.S.-based Communication World (CW) magazine published by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and is now a technology columnist for Sri Lankan-based business magazine LMD.

Angelo is a prolific blogger of the Hoi Polloi Report, http://hoipolloi.wordpress.com, and a dedicated teacher who runs a computer and technology lab at an elementary school in Scottsdale, Ariz. He is also author of the recently released book Chat Republic: How Social Media Drives Us to Be Human 1.0 in a Web 2.0 World. This book addresses content curation, podcasting, crowd sourcing, ‘media snacking,’ and civic journalism, and interprets what all this chatter might mean for business, politics and the rest of us. For more information, visit www.chatrepublic.net.

To learn more about the intersection of technology and society, join Angelo as he presents “The Human Approach to Communication in a Web 2.0 World” at the Feb. 20 IABC Phoenix monthly professional development luncheon in Phoenix, Ariz. During this event, Angelo will share his insight from interviews with and published work by thought leaders at Facebook, Ogilvy, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the U.S. State Department, Google, and Intel. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase copies of Chat Republic at a discounted rate. Register for the luncheon at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/iabc-phoenix-luncheon-human-approach-to-communication-in-a-web-20-world-registration-10123801563. For more information, visit www.iabcphoenix.com.

In the meantime, read on as Angelo shares his insights on “how we ought to be more authentic even as we embrace the tools that turn us into non-stop communication machines.”

Peggy Bieniek: What interested you in this particular topic?
Angelo Fernando: I am a big fan of the spoken word and audio over video. As all NPR and public radio listeners know, conversations are powerful ways of exchanging ideas.

PB: How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?
AF:
 I was coaxed into writing for a business magazine. It was a big shift from being a copywriter at an ad agency (JWT). Advertising forces you to consider your audience. Writing for print media forces you to tell a story and consider how your story is received months after you submitted it.

PB: How did you come up with the title for your book?
AF: I was always amused hearing people repeating the phrase “If Facebook was a country” as if it was a thing to revel in. I have also been fascinated by the power of conversations and the spoken voice that, minus cameras and other distractions, conveys much, much more.

PB: What is the main message you want your readers to understand?
AF: My overarching message is that we risk losing what makes us human by being so distracted that we prefer to scan headlines in 140 characters, rather than dig deep into the issues. We risk losing the art of listening because we are busy thinking how we may craft the next ‘tweet burp.’ After reading my book, I hope my readers reconsider what goes on in the name of marketing communication, PR and corporate communication.

PB: What kind of research did you do for this book?
AF: I spoke to many IABC-ers and scoured social media literature for some powerful ideas that have been ignored. Ultimately, Chat Republic is about being social, not media machines, so I looked at historical uses of communication to see what made early communicators so engaging. I couldn’t resist some of the contemporary events that make us so digital and so analog – revolutions and diplomacy for instance – because they shed more light on the ‘Republic’ motif. Communication is now in the hands of the hoi polloi (the common people).

PB: What were your goals and intentions for this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
AF: I wanted to say the things that tend to be unsaid in many of the social media literature. I also wanted to give readers a balanced view of how social media is being used outside the Americas as I was born and schooled in south Asia. I was fortunate that Chat Republic launched in Sri Lanka first (it was a lucky accident – long story!). My launch events were run by the Marketing Institute and an ad agency. It was extremely well received by the marketing, media and advertising community, including a very active population of social media practitioners. The CFO of Saatchi and Saatchi in Greater China (who reviewed the book) ordered copies for the Singapore office staff.

PB: What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
AF: This is not a how-to book or a ‘Dummies’ style book. Chat Republic takes a deep dive into the issues behind social media and examines whether our transition into digital is helping or hurting us. I spent a lot of time footnoting the ideas and commentary so that anyone could go into these issues even deeper. And yet, I am told, it is a very fast read.

PB: When you hear from your readers, what do they say?
AF: Someone told me this was a book she wished she wrote. Many have told me that they were once skeptical about all of these areas and now find that they could approach social media with a lot more context.

PB: How has the growth in digital media affected corporate communication?
AF: Corporate communication will never be the same now that the hoi polloi have as much influence and ‘transmission’ power as Big Business. At the very least, digitally connected citizens (and by this I also mean customers, stakeholders, etc.) have forced corporations to be better listeners. It could also be a nightmare learning to live with a lot less control over once watertight corporate functions such as branding, positioning, product design and customer service.

PB: How can we help our organizations become more human in a Web 2.0 world?
AF:
We need to encourage organizations to rebalance their digital and analog efforts and let their people be human first and digital second. It is unfortunate to see how some organizations have no way to be contacted via phone because they rather you send an email or a text message.

PB: What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about social media, that isn’t so?
AF: People like to believe that the one or two tools they use are the only ones that matter. On the other side, you get people who believe that everyone in social media is vain and that connecting via social media is an accident waiting to happen.

PB: What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about social media that they need to know?
AF: That this thing we call social media was supposed to make us more social; that it could make us better antennas, not loudspeakers.

PB: What are some other emerging media you see on the horizon?
AF: First, social media fatigue, for sure. People are going to ignore or cancel many of their social media accounts. Our brains are not wired for so much information. With that said, the emerging media might be those that are not intrusive and even those that scale down our network to the few who matter. There’s a reason why Path (which limits one’s network to 50), and Snapchat (which lets shared images disappear after being viewed) are gaining traction. I’ve also looked into an alternative to LinkedIn called Somewhere.

PB: What are your current projects?
AF: I’m a teacher. I am passionate about getting students to stop being mindless content consumers and start becoming content creators. As such, my days are filled with incorporating digital media into education and my classes, even while I try to help them balance their digital and analog lives. I’m just starting on an ambitious series of lessons on coding, blogging, and teaching first-graders to use microphones and Audacity. Audio is a great way to get them to speak, to share and to engage with each other. I’m also a robotics coach and am toying with a book on robotics.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources for content curation?
AF: Wikipedia is still one of my best content curation sites, warts and all. I love Story Corps and Storify. One the podcasting side, I’m fascinated by SoundCloud.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
AF: Call me first at 602-750-3476. Email me at angelo@hoipolloireport.com. My Twitter handle is @heyangelo. I’m happy to share this information, and I look forward to hearing from your readers.

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?