Titles – CEO to Vizier

  As the US Postal Service finds itself in the news quite often lately, I was pondering the title Postmaster General. What a weird title! Silly, really. When you Google it, the information assures the reader that the postmaster general is the CEO of the USPS. Why don’t we just call it that? The first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin. I have to assume the witty Almanac writer was great at parties making him a Toastmaster Postmaster–now that’s quite a title! An even stranger (dumber) title is Grand Wizard. That’s what a certain white supremacist organization (which doesn’t deserve to be named) calls their leader. It’s stupid enough to suit that group just fine—good branding! I can think of some other suitable titles, but I digress.   The U.S. Government is Not a Great Model for Titles The United States government is full of titles that perhaps don’t mean what they once did and don’t seem to follow the terms of just one organizational chart. President, vice president–those are fine. The term ‘secretary’ was especially confusing to me when I was learning about the Cabinet (the what? Like a cupboard?) in elementary school. My mom was a secretary. She knew shorthand and typed. Is that what the Secretary of the Interior does? By Interior, we mean outside (what?)—national parks and such. She worked at a bank, does that make her a Treasury Secretary? Hmm. Then we have a whole tier of ‘deputies’ under the ‘chief of staff’ (a normal title). Deputies? Where are the sheriffs? Did they all get shot by Eric Clapton? Is the chief of staff the sheriff? In the interest of parallelism, if that person isn’t called the sheriff, shouldn’t those under him or her on the organization chart be called ‘assistant chiefs’? Or ‘sous chefs,’ like in a kitchen?   Russian Influence Sidelining sheik and vizier, the US Presidents somehow embraced the title of ‘czar’ as the title for those who are essentially task force managers, the term for Russian emperors before 1917. How did this Russian title make it into our government structure? Aren’t we opposed to Russian influence? What’s Russian for ‘task force manager’? That might have been better. Czar was largely used as a nickname for the person in charge of a department, however the title was given out by presidential appointment starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt who named 11 czars. Topping...
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Evaluation – A Necessary Evil that I Make Easy

Evaluation is an important part of your marketing strategy and yet it is a low priority for most small businesses and nonprofits. I know ‘Eval’ is close to ‘Evil,’ but you have to do it before you move on to the next thing on the to-do list and it’s forgotten. Mostly, I find that evaluation is ignored not just because of time, but because people do not know where to start. I have made evaluation as easy as completing a form. If you keep it up you will have great data to rely on year after year. Below is my FREE downloadable Communications Assessment Tool that will help you take inventory of your promotional activities as you move forward. If you have taken my classes at The Nonprofit Partnership then you likely already have this tool working in action. “Oh yeah!” I heard you say that! I offered this way back in 2016 also. It’s simple to use and very important. If you don’t keep track, how else will you know what’s working? McCormickLA_Comm_Assessment_Tool_2020. Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your promotional efforts can be here.  ...
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3 Ways to Promote Your Business During COVID-19

We were all ready to get back to normal! Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is still active and dangerous. Back inside we go! But you still need to promote your business during COVID-19. What’s different now in July compared to March when we first shutdown is the increase in computer literacy. We’ve all created a new relationship with our computer, tablet, and/or smart phone. Virtual meetings are the norm for business and family interaction. Stodgy executives and elderly grandparents alike have increasing comfort with communicating like The Jetsons. We’ve all become pros in ordering online as well. Now that (almost) everyone has been trained, take advantage of that with these three tips to promote your business during COVID-19—and there are more where these came from. Amplify your promotion by including one or more partners for these endeavors. You’ll share your customers with one another and share the reach for a much richer campaign. I’ve listed the collaborators that come to my mind under each tip. Use the options that are best for your business. Here are three no-contact ways to reach out to your customers during the COVID-19 shutdown:   Create a Webinar. If you are used to meeting with people face-to-face to explain your product, now you have the opportunity to do it with several people at once. Invite your list of prospects to hear what you have to offer on a 30-minute free webinar. Make sure you invite them to take the next step with you. Offer a discount to people who sign-on to your program during the webinar. Collaborator: Offer this through your local chamber of commerce or other local business association. There are neighborhood business development associations searching for speakers and good content all the time.   Host a Contest. It’s summer and people can’t travel as they’d like, can’t go to amusement parks—or any parks for more than a walk, can’t see extended family, no movies, no parties, no camps … they are BORED! Making videos is easy these days and if several people are loading videos about your business, there’s a multiplier effect that is more valuable than what you can likely afford. Pick a theme related to your business and create a hashtag for people to use when they share their videos on Facebook and Twitter. Offer a $25 gift card for any video that earns more than 100 Likes. Example: if you run an...
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Stakeholder Meeting Versus Focus Group

Stakeholder meetings versus focus groups, which to choose? They are both helpful tools for bringing in other opinions, perspectives, and even a dose of creativity that your team was missing. Though people often use these terms interchangeably, they are not the same. They have different purposes and knowing which one to use will save some hurt feelings and help you achieve what you want. Below I have described when to use each one and who attends. Stakeholder Meeting Coordinate a stakeholder meeting with people directly involved and support the issue at hand. Invite people interested and invested in the ongoing success of the project. In other words, they have a stake in the outcome. Mostly nonprofits and government agencies will bring together community stakeholders to advise and co-create plans. In a business, usually the board of directors and shareholders comprise the stakeholder list. Stakeholders might meet regularly to gain a sense of how their investment of money, time, or in-kind contribution is doing. Stakeholders might also be invited for a specific initiative that needs their expertise. In this case, they would be involved actively throughout the length of the project, meeting regularly to develop and track progress and adjust activities or protocols so the goals can be met. The end user can definitely be included as a stakeholder and adds something that maybe a financial contributor never could.   Focus Group Hold focus groups with a group of people, often paid for their participation, to seek better understanding of an issue or need. Use them to test a hypothesis. For instance, facilitating a focus group might help a company understand how best to position a product in the marketplace. A focus group is usually a one-time event and is coordinated for various reasons by a wide range of entities interested gathering or testing information. It is not uncommon for the focus group members to not have any idea what the information will be used for. Focus groups run the gamut in complexity from something simple like finding out if people think granola is a cereal or a snack food to examining the community’s knowledge of public utilities or gathering evidence to create ways to change systemic biases. Formal focus groups are usually held in a neutral testing center with a section of two-way glass where executives sit hidden to witness the participants discussing a topic. “That is not a...
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Reset Your Vertical Clearance

As we re-set and recalibrate, watch your vertical clearance. I’m all for a full plate—literally and metaphorically. The problem for many of us is that once the plate is full, we start loading it up vertically. As it gets taller and taller, it is harder to manage, like a tower of ice cream scoops on a cone, and as filling and rich as a tall stack of pancakes. Trying to slow the spread of COVID-19 gave us a forced intermission in our lives. Even if your job continued as you worked at home, and even if you were painfully reminded why you never wanted to home-school, your social calendar was lighter. For some of us, this has been a complete timeout. Business stopped. Volunteer engagements halted. Social activity banished to virtual sessions. People post regularly on social media their wishes for a re-set on 2020. As much as there has been disappointment in my household—one child home from her semester abroad in Grenoble, France, one child’s senior year obliterated—I think THIS is the re-set. This is what a re-set looks like.   We are forced to look at things differently. We are faced with deciding what matters most. As my 88-year-old mother shared, “Six feet apart is better than six feet under.” Grim but true. We’ve slowed down. We’ve re-evaluated. That’s a good thing. I would hope that all of us consider making changes as the world opens up again. For those of us in cities experiencing social unrest, newness will rise up like a phoenix and it could be painful. It’s a different place and our perspective has been altered radically and unexpectedly.   Mind your vertical clearance Above all, don’t go back to an irrationally stacked plate. Don’t return to dizzying multi-tasking that seemed normal. I say this to myself as much as I say this to anyone. I once blew a contact off my finger with my blow-dryer because I was unconsciously multi-tasking on overdrive. There was no rational thinking in that moment, no presence of mind. Wow! I was desperately over-scheduled.   The remedy is a calendar diet Instill some portion control strategies so you don’t consume too much of what you don’t need like gorging on empty calories. Say no to things you really don’t want to commit to doing. Damn ‘duty’ and ‘shoulds’! Get on the phone or a video-chat instead of traveling so...
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