Howard R. Debs, The Blogger returns!

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I’m actually an optimist, but I’m heading the same way Sandburg did.

I’m back, occasionally.

Yes, for those who have missed me during my ramblings, for those who have yearned for more erudition about the things that matter most, I am back to post! Hey, that rhymes. Which is appropriate, since one of the many errands that took me away from this mission to explicate on the verities and related matters, was my penchant for  creative writing and determination to hit the literary trail. As The Little Einsteins say at the end of an episode, “Mission completion!” (yes I actually watch and enjoy The Little Einsteins); the mount of literary publication has been reached and you can go to a separate page on this site to see a selected list of publications graced or soon to be so with my presence. But enough about me.

This site was and is devoted to advancing the art and science of communications.  Now, in posts to come, I intend to expand on the subject matter to be covered, using this bedrock principle as a measure for all that appears here: if it can contribute to better more effective communication, private or public, it shall be admissible.

So thanks for allowing me back into your virtual hearth and home, I will try to make my stay pleasurable and productive. Stay tuned.

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Timing isn’t everything

Posts on this blog often deal with the news of the day, but not necessarily on the day it’s news. First, a reminder as to why a blog devoted to all things related to effective communication would spend time – at any time – addressing current events. It is because “culture” and “communication” are inextricably connected as I wrote in a previous post –https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/22/culture-and-communications/.

I stated there, “I endeavor to address the matter undertaken from a communications perspective.” So, most of the time, I take the time to analyze the news story involved to ferret out its implications and meaning from this point of view.

For example, since my intent was to consider the communications aspects  beyond the storyline itself relating to the comments of President Obama in connection with the Gates arrest incident, (see previous post titled: “President Obama and language used stupidly”) the post I finally issued was days after the nationally televised press conference at which the comments were made. Time needed to pass to let the public and media reaction occur and to assess the consequential happenings.

I am not looking to be first, I am looking to be insightful, to help shed some light on what is happening, by trying to interpret what has occurred focusing particularly on that area – communication “effect-iveness” – which constitutes the reason this blog exists.

Now this approach is not popular in today’s frenzied 24/7 cable news cycle. Our “news” must be New, with a capital “N”; we have been encouraged to automatically conclude that the more timely a published item – whether in the blogosphere or the traditional media –  the better it must be; we identify the actual number of minutes since a post, a comment, a news item has been issued, assuming that if it’s “old” it must be stale (what about fine wine?) – and we do indeed measure “old news” in minutes nowadays. There is no allowance for or acceptance of  time for reflection, and so much of what starts out as thoughtful often turns out to be shooting from the hip, and later gets recanted or revised. There is definitely a call for quick assessment, but there is most definitely an urgent call for some careful consideration.

This post is a statement of position on the matter of timeliness. I pledge that this blog will treat many of the important issues occurring in our midst as they arise in a manner befitting the portfolio of this blog and therefore, by definition, not necessarily when they arise, the better to see the forest in spite of the trees.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/07/29/timing-isnt-everything/

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“Accidents” can be the answers

When I was on the advertising side of communications I had many unique experiences. Because everything wasn’t ready until the last minute  a chartered  plane took me to  Lake Placid,  New York – the plane was crammed full with presentation binders, displays, and all the necessary multimedia equipment  to deliver an annual product introduction for a major multinational company. I thought we were completely prepared for anything; oops, nobody thought to mention the unconventional  power generating system at the famous winter resort we were heading to that would grind our “gear” to a halt. We ended up improvising as a small army of volunteers manually advanced the phalanx of slide projectors cued with scripts hastily reworked on site. A minor victory over technology bugs; and  to this day I always have back up plans and try to be as “self contained” as possible for any presentation. Accidents do happen, sometimes with fortuitous result, which is the moral to this story.

One of the clients I worked with in those days was Corning, Inc. – their Biomedical division had just introduced an innovative piece of laboratory equipment, a blood gas meter, but it wasn’t selling well partly because it was different technology than the market was accustomed to using. It wasn’t selling well except in one particular sales territory where it was doing great, and I talked to the sales rep about his surprising success. “Well when I go back for my sample unit, the  lab won’t let me take it, they try it and they buy it.”  Of course he wasn’t supposed to leave his very expensive sample unit, just show it during his sales presentation. Thus was born the “Borrow A Meter” campaign, and one of the most successful product launches I can remember.

We can’t control everything. Unanticipated things happen. When that occurs you just might be able to use the result to advantage if you’re open to consider something different than what you expected.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/05/03/accidents-can-be-the-answers/

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The Gypsy Kings and Dr. Seuss

The Gypsy Kings is one of my favorite musical groups. They perform rumba flamenco,  a musical form indigenous to the Catalan region of northeastern Spain and southwestern France.  Never heard of them you say? Well, they have a wide audience alright, (selling over 18 million albums) but in a sea of such expanse as THE GLOBAL ECONOMY how does one define “wide”? One definition, “Large in scope” (from the Wiktionary entry: “wide”), leads on to another – what do they mean by “large”, and so on ad infinitum.

Which brings me to Dr. Seuss, who used a pseudonym by the way,  just like some in the online new media of today. His real name of course, Theodor Seuss Geisel. Of his many wonderful children’s books, the one on point for this occasion is: Horton Hears a Who! For those unfamiliar with the story, I refer you to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horton_Hears_a_Who!

Basically, Horton, an endearing elephant in the jungle, seems the only one capable of hearing the inhabitants of the city “Who-ville”  who live on a tiny planet comprised of a speck of dust. For the purpose of this post the important point to note is that: “In the end it is a ‘very small shirker named JoJo’ whose final addition to the volume creates enough lift for the jungle to hear the sound, thus reinforcing the moral of  ‘a person’s a person, no matter how small’.”

So now, let’s cite some stats. Technorati, the be all – end all for blog info tracks around 112 million blogs at this point (from “The History of Blogs” in The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging)! So how can any blog ever hope to have an impact, let alone an audience? Which brings us to audience profiling. Who in “Who-ville” is the blog really trying to reach? That answer defines the “universe” (size, total number) of the intended audience, which may very well turn out to be only a handful. So evaluating effectiveness of “reach” (a media advertising term which in essence tries to quantify by numbers and/or percentage how many readers/visitors from the intended audience any particular blog in this case is actually attracting) is the important consideration.

The Complete Guide to Blogging states:  “There may be 112 million blogs in the blogosphere, but only 7.4 million, Technorati tells us, have been updated in the last ninety days.” So close to 94% of the blogs out there are essentially dormant.  That narrows things a bit!

Thus, the moral to this story is “an intended audience, effectively reached, signals success – no matter how small”.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/23/the-gypsy-kings-and-dr-seuss/

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Blogs as today’s communication bargain

Over the past weekend a number of media sources – online and off – picked up on a story which I think may have originated in Chicago, my hometown, on Friday the thirteenth no less. We won’t call it “Black Friday” in this instance, instead we’ll call it “Red Hot” Friday. The basic point of all these pieces was that the hot dog is making a comeback in these hard times; it is construed as the “perfect recession food” Hot dog sales are “red hot” according to the site “Serious Eats” http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/03/the-hot-dog-as-perfect-recession-food.html#comments

Now I am a serious hot dog lover myself; the Mii on my Wii is “hotdogman” for goodness sakes. The buzz about the dog reminded me that this is the time of the little guy, the bargain. I pass up the fancy car wash with the waiting room sporting a flat panel TV in favor of one tied in with a gas station where I get pretty much the same hand wash for about half the price.

Blogs are in a way the bargains of today’s world of communications. The “hot dog article” posted at Chicago Public Radio http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=32792

references the opinion of Darren Tristano an executive vice president at Technomic Incorporated, a food industry research firm: “He says hotdog stands are set to capitalize on food trends-they’re cheap, the food is fresh, customizable, portable, and he says Chicago hot dogs taste really good. All of which makes them a strong contender for a great recession meal.” Just exchange the words “Chicago hot dogs” for the words “well prepared blogs” and I think you’ll see the attributes listed are comparable. The recipe for “well prepared blogs” will be given in a later post.

 

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/19/back-at-the-same-old-stand/

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Marshall McLuhan revisited

We’re going to mention “packaging” a lot, “The manner in which something, such as a proposal or product, or someone, such as a candidate or author, is presented to the public.” (from answers.com) with emphasis on what should be considered in trying to appeal to the INTENDED audience, which it often turns out is not necessarily what appeals (appearance-wise or otherwise) to the one generating the communication; this determination – what is it that most probably will appeal to the intended audience –  should be the first order of business in calculating a communications approach in all cases;  I would strongly urge that anyone striving to be an effective communicator start with Marshall McLuhan, if you haven’t already, because his conception of communications  is one of the pillars upon which all effective communications strategy should be based.

For example McLuhan said: “People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.” Here’s another one, after the manner of McLuhan: People don’t actually read blogs. They jump on them coming and going like a bullet train.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/07/marshall-mcluhan-revisited/

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