Humanity, Storytelling and Persuasion‏

I got caught in Winter Storm Pax (the Latin word for peace) in the Southeast two weeks ago. Dealing with multiple flight cancellations and plan changes provided the expected firsthand experience: constant airline busy signals, endless phone trees, seemingly eternal information droughts and rental car/hotel 800 number phone-bank drones reading from scripts. In other words, this was the new norm of big corporations, customers and service.

Of course I wasn’t traveling with toddlers and hundreds of thousands of people were in the same boat. My situation wasn’t a life and death issue…it was just inconvenient, so no big deal. The silver lining was that there were some incredibly gracious and professional people who worked their tails off to help. Of course, they were greatly outnumbered by the throngs of headset-hangers sitting in front of screens somewhere in the ether reciting mantras and pushing keys, but I still appreciated their efforts.

The first set of articles below are dedicated to the brands that I plan to avoid in the future…enjoy!


Oh, the Humanity…  

These were words used by radio reporter Herb Morrison to describe the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, “the humanity” has vacated too many companies and agencies that are supposed to be in the people business.

In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people, we don’t trust companies or other big institutions…

And employees don’t trust their bosses…

Nor do we trust each other…

If you were expecting an easy answer to a complex problem like this, perhaps you should be watching Fox News. However, after pondering this for a while, I think the following two stories illustrate an interesting place to start:

What’s Hot in Communication  

Jeremy Galbraith is the chief strategy guy for Burson-Marsteller, the global PR and communication behemoth. He’s listed the 10 Global Communication Trends for 2014, which I think you’ll find interesting and useful. Some of its common themes have to do with personalization, the changing definition of news and good storytelling:

And, once upon a time, there was a very good story that really stuck with the people who heard it:

Visual stories tend to be most effective. If you’re offended by graphic violence, then don’t watch this next clip. If you’re not, then I’d like to hear your opinion about the effectiveness of the following PSA. And please…remember who they’re trying to reach and persuade:

And Speaking of Persuasion…  

When I first started working in this field several hundred years ago, I read Influence by Robert Cialdini (then a mere psychology and marketing prof at Arizona State University). It was and is an important work that has influenced much of what I’ve done.   Working mostly as neutrals, it’s been argued that persuasion has no place in what we in the communication biz do for a living. However, good communication of any kind is about transferring information skillfully.

The first article below is a nifty 59-second explanation of one way that persuasion works. The second, that which we call BYAF, is the essence…

Coaching and Mentoring  

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