“THE Q&A” for our digital age

If there was one question and answer that sums up just how strange our world is in our day and digital age, it is the following:

Q: If someone from the 1950s

suddenly appeared today,

what would be the most

difficult thing to explain to

them about life today?

.

A: I possess a device

in my pocket that is capable

of accessing the entirety of

information known to man.

I use it to look at pictures

of cats and get in arguments

with strangers.

.

This Q&A originally was found on Reddit (apparently).

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Answering That Question about What You Do

“So what is it that you do?”

How often do you get asked that question? Do you have a rehearsed answer that gets people attention? Or do you find yourself struggling each time to find the right expressions to explain what “you do”?

When someone asks what your organization does, do you have a concise explanation? What of your colleagues? Would their description of what your organization does be similar?

The best thing an individual or organization can do for themselves is to think through and develop a script to answer the most basic of human exchanges; particularly the obvious questions about one’s identity and purpose. Here’s our suggestion: take the time and craft an “elevator chat” script.

The elevator chat will serve you (and your colleagues) as a concise description of who you are, what you do and why it matters. It can be developed to sound informal; however, a good script will be precise and capture the essence and significance of your work. Because you take the time to refine the key message(s), this script will be clear and accurate.

An effective elevator chat will be intriguing and leave your audience curious and wanting to learn more of what you do.

In order to help you craft a sound and engaging elevator chat, here are four questions to prompt your creative process and hone your core message(s).

  • 1. Answer the question “Why do I care?” Why should someone care and take notice of what you do? Talk about the significance of your work and/or organization – rather than its structure and your duties. In this way, you may establish an emotional connection between you and the person standing before you..
  • 2. Answer the question “What sets you apart?” You should highlight what makes you unique, distinctive – what sets you apart. It may be that you are the first or only one to be doing your work in the area – or perhaps you approach your work in a certain manner from others.
  • 3. Answer the basics. Include relevant details of the what? where? how? when? In order to showcase the explanation of the why? All details should accentuate the why? – the significance of your work.
  • 4. Anticipate the “So what?” question. Your chat should have a strong closing that provides the audience with a way to learn more, become involved, enter into a longer conversation. If you have made an emotional connection in the 30 – 40 seconds of your chat, there is a perfect opportunity to engage your enquirer in another level of discussion.

Have a business card to hand out; a website URL to share; a promise to follow-up in the days ahead. Be sure to follow-up with your enquirer. Take a few minutes each day to write thank you and follow-up notes.

So, the next time someone asks, “What is it that you do?” – there will be no grimacing, no fishing for the right phrase. Each elevator chat is an opportunity to share what is significant and, perhaps, to make a new connection.

(ed. – This is a repost, picked as one of our favourite three posts of 2011, taken from the earlier posts on the By George Journal.  The original post is here.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Def’n on the origins of popular sayings

HOT OFF THE PRESS
As the paper goes through the rotary printing press friction causes it to heat up. Therefore, if you grab the paper right off the press it is hot. The expression means to get immediate information.

A SHOT OF WHISKEY
In the old west a .45 cartridge for a six-gun cost 12 cents, so did a glass of whiskey. If a cowhand was low on cash he would often give the bartender a cartridge in exchange for a drink. This became known as a “shot” of whiskey.

THE WHOLE NINE YARDS
American fighter planes in WW2 had machine guns that were fed by a belt of cartridges. The average plane held belts that were 27 feet (9 yards) long. If the pilot used up all his ammo he was said to have given it the whole nine yards.

BUYING THE FARM
This saying is synonymous with dying. During WW1 soldiers were given life insurance policies worth $5,000. This was about the price of an average farm so if you died you “bought the farm” for your survivors.

PASSING THE BUCK/THE BUCK STOPS HERE
Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck knife company. When playing poker it as common to place one of these Buck knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was. When it was time for a new dealer the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer. If this person didn’t want to deal he would “pass the buck” to the next player. If that player accepted then “the buck stopped there”.

CURFEW
The word “curfew” comes from the French phrase “couvre-feu”, which means “cover the fire”. It was used to describe the time of blowing out all lamps and candles. In the early American colonies homes had no real fireplaces so a fire was built in the center of the room. In order to make sure a fire did not get out of control during the night it was required that, by an agreed upon time, all fires would be covered with a clay pot called-a “curfew”.

IRON CLAD CONTRACT
This saying came about from the ironclad ships of the Civil War. It meant something so strong it could not be broken.

And from the days of steamship travel on the mighty Mississippi River…

RIFF RAFF
The Mississippi River was the main way of traveling from north to south. Riverboats carried passengers and freight but they were expensive so most people used rafts. Everything had the right of way over rafts which were considered cheap. The steering oar on the rafts was called a “riff” and this transposed into riff-raff, meaning low class.

SHOWBOAT
These vessels were floating theaters built on a barge that was pushed by a steamboat. These barges played in small towns along the Mississippi River . Unlike the boat shown in the movie “Showboat” these did not have an engine. They were gaudy and attention grabbing which is why we say someone who is being the life of the party is “showboating”.

BARGE IN
Heavy freight was moved along the Mississippi in large barges pushed by steamboats. These were hard to control and would sometimes swing into piers or other boats. People would say they “barged in”.

HOGWASH
Steamboats carried both people and animals. Since pigs smelled so bad they would be washed before being put on board. The mud and other filth that was washed off was considered useless “hog wash”.

OVER A BARREL
In the days before CPR a drowning victim would be placed face down over a barrel and the barrel would be rolled back and forth in an effort to empty the lungs of water. It was rarely effective. If you are over a barrel you are in deep trouble.

(ed. – Our thanks again goes out to friend Dick Inwood who is a constant source of wonderment.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Freedom of the Press

South of the Canadian border there is a raging war over the legitimacy of media organizations. There is a growing disrespect and a new disregard for traditional news sources – and it is being fueled by politicians, corporations, and news media itself.  Our mainstream media is assaulted on all fronts for its bias, uneven and “yellow” journalism. The public is increasingly doubtful that news organs are providing the facts of a matter. The end result of this assault is a growing cynicism and rejection of traditional media.

Today, the popular and overused phrase for any news item that may not suit the reader/viewer is to coin it “fake news.” Many will differentiate between facts and alternative facts and this is based on which set of facts may best fit a person’s own bias. There are no “bald truths” that are recognized universally – or so it seems.

There are no recognized, universal truths and no recognized conveyors of truth. We find in many cases, with the proliferation of Internet news sites and blogs and social media platforms, mainstream media and its unbiased news reporting is being replaced by opinionated editorializing of news events. Remarkably, there are generations of younger people who receive their news on select social media and from sources that reflect their own world-view.

This is not only occurring in the United States. The erosion of credible (critical/non bias) news sources is also happening in our country. This is a serious matter.

One of the founding fathers of the United States, John Adams, made a sage observation about the necessity of a nation’s media, “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom.” This week, remarkably, American media has felt it necessary to take the unprecedented step to have to explain this fundamental idea. In hundreds of editorials across the country yesterday, the mainstream news media lashed out at President Donald Trump and his enduring rant against the U.S. fourth estate.

CNN has compiled the over 350 news organizations that participated in this campaign for the minds of the public.

What is at stake is the credibility and authority of a free (non-state) media. The New York Times provided an accurate assessment of our current state of affairs:

“In 2018, some of the most damaging attacks are coming from government officials. Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are “fake news” is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the “enemy of the people” is dangerous, period.”

In editorial after editorial, American news have tried to bring some perspective to this issue:

  • A person who blasts reliable news sources as fake when they prove him wrong on an issue, or when it reveals his self-contradictions or his ignorance, or whenever he simply doesn’t like it, is denying reality. – Idyllwood Town Crier (CA)
  • Journalists are trying to do a job. We’re not trying to tear down our nation. We’re trying to strengthen it. For we believe in the foundational premise behind the First Amendment – that our nation is stronger if its people are informed. – Mercury News and East Bay Times (CA)
  • Americans may not like the news they see or hear buy they should not hold that against those who report it. In short, don’t shoot the messenger. – The Lakeville Journal and the Millertown News (NY)
  • We take pride in our work and our daily mission to bring you the latest news in an accurate and fair manner, but we also take pride in the community we call home. – Ocala Star-Banner (FL)
  • America’s press is not without its criticism. However, there is no other industry in the United States that opens itself for criticism so regularly and so transparently. – Houghton Lake Report (MI)

Last word on the American media dust up goes to the NY Post editorial “Hate the press all you want – we’ll keep reporting.” Post editors write:

It may be frustrating to argue that just because we print inconvenient truths doesn’t mean that we’re fake news, but being a journalist isn’t a popularity contest. All we can do is to keep reporting.

 

(So, consider what Canadian news rooms are confronting with the federal government’s continual filtration and rewriting of our news… or the new tactic by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who wants to control the actual items that are recorded for news. Canadians should be as weary and concerned… )

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Mind-Numbing (Friday afternoon) Quiz

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Here is By George’s TGIF-Friday-afternoon quiz to determine whether the work week has knocked your mind sideways. Let us know how you scored…

 

  1. Johnny’s mother had three children.  The first child was named April.  The second child was named May.  What was the third child’s name?

 

  1. There is a clerk at the butcher shop, he is five feet ten inches tall and he wears size 13 sneakers.  What does he weigh?

 

  1. Before Mt. Everest was discovered…what was the highest mountain in the world?

 

  1. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?

 

  1. What word in the English Language …is always spelled incorrectly?

 

  1. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer.  How is this possible?

 

  1. In California, you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg.  Why not?

 

  1. What was the U.S. President’s name in 1975?

 

  1. If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?

 

  1. Which is correct to say:  “The yolk of the egg are white” or “The yolk of the egg is white”?

 

Here’s a bonus question…

 

  1. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field?

 

Answers can be found in the By George comments section below.

 

(ed. – Complete the quiz – and don’t peek. Then tell us what you got – honestly. Anything under 5/10 and you deserve to leave the office immediately and start the weekend!)

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.