Ric Ocasek was Lead Singer of the Motor Driven Land Conveyances‏

Based on your feedback, I’ve been trying to find more stories about communication and consensus-related topics that I hope will interest you the most. In this issue, you’ll find ideas on the art of apology for crisis and outrage managers, and some compelling thoughts on what social media might be doing to communication and human connection. I’ve also run into some “interesting” communication issues and was brainstormed into a coma recently, so lemme know what you think and what you might like more of.


Please, Forgive Me

Apologizing comes naturally to some people. I was born with this gene which was cultivated in Catholic grade and high schools and during the altar boy years, and peaked when I got my master’s degree years ago as a husband. Money, power and status tend to suck contrition from people, as you might have noticed in Rod Blagojevich’s bon voyage news conference. It’s a tenet in crisis communication and in the “anger, outrage and public involvement” training classes that we do. But now, here are some new, thorough and traditional thoughts on this subject for your consideration:



Groupthink and Brainstorming 2.0

You’ve probably facilitated some brainstorming sessions, or at least have been part of groups who got together to “brainstorm some ideas.” The fact is that traditional brainstorming sessions frequently devolve into an hour of your life that you never get back and have kind of fallen out of fashion. What was once thought of as the latest magical, never-fail technique to get brilliant ideas out of people does, in fact, work well under the right circumstances (and if conducted in the right way):


If you’re a brainstorming facilitator, here are some ideas for doing it better:


This begs to question the value of working with groups in the first place. “Blasphemous suggestion for a public involvement guy!” you say? Not at all. Inclusion and transparency don’t always require a group get-together any more than it always requires a typical public meeting:


Motor Driven Land Conveyances

There I was on a recent pleasure trip, without a thought about work or this newsletter, exploring nature out in the great beyond of mid-America when I came across the agency placed directional/instructional sign that fuels this tirade. I discovered that, in someone’s eyes, I was not driving a car, truck, van or powered vehicle of any kind, but rather something new — I was actually behind the wheel of a “Motor Driven Land Conveyance.” The state and agency shall remain nameless here but you know who you are. Some ideas for better writin’ & communicatin’ follow:



And, is your AP Stylebook getting dusty?:


Finally, if you work in or for any kind of bureaucracy, you’ll get a kick out of this video:


Has Email Destroyed Communication?

It’s a recurring topic in these newsletters, and I get more feedback from people about this than almost anything else. What do you think?


Are emails, Facebook, Twitter ruining the art of conversation?


And, is Facebook making us lonely?


Shameless Promotion of Great Coaching in Public Engagement

and Dealing with the Fury of the People

I’ll be in Chicago for the five-day IAP2 Public Participation Certificate course at the end of October. The best practitioners in the business have completed this course — it’s the foundational class for anyone in public involvement.

The class will be at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in the heart of the Loop. I hope we see you there!

Understanding the essence of the “Occupy” movement, public protest, angry people, and managing public conflict are more important than ever. You’ll learn about citizen anger and what to do about it during the two-day Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation (EOP2) class. This class is hands-on, immensely practical and has never been more relevant.

IAP2 Certificate class:

  • October 29 – November 2 in Chicago

EOP2 class:

  • June 4 & 5 in Vancouver
  • June 14 & 15 in Chicago
  • November 14 & 15 in Toronto
  • March 14 & 15 (2013) in Calgary

In addition to our project work, we’re taking customized versions of these and other classes to organizations of all kinds everywhere, so contact me directly for more information.

For currently scheduled U.S. class registrations click on:


For currently scheduled Canada class registrations click on:


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