Key Advice Blog

Archive for September 2009

The media are throwing the word ‘snub’ around using all the weight of the innuendo to push ‘rumours’ about President Obama reportedly refusing meeting requests from Prime Minister Brown at this week’s UN council meetings in the US.

Snub means to be rejected unkindly or contemptuously, according the Oxford dictionary. But, this seems unlikely (to me) at a UN summit where being kind wins big points! However, rumours often morph into news at large events, where an army of news agents are pitted against an army of PR staff. Interestingly, this is not the first time ‘snub’ has appeared with Obama and Brown’s name in headlines about meetings. And, Brown is in good company; it seems Hilary Clinton was once ‘snubbed by Obama’.

And as the hours ticked away, it escalated from ‘reports of snubs’ to ‘snubfest’ and ‘snubgate’ is probably being inked as I write this.

For a small word, snub packs a big punch. With it come unsaid words and hinted at meanings of worth. And the questions of fact vs fiction and headlines that sell float to the surface, whilst the plain truth about the situation, and its relevance to readers – and the world – drown in conjecture.  And, all this from an unnamed diplomat.

Hopefully it is plain for all to see that one word does not tell the whole story, just like one spice does not flavour an entire dish. And, equally as clear, that a single element can be deceiving.

Let’s all choose our words – each and every one – carefully, for the world needs unity much more than disunity. Let’s be plain.

Yesterday I spoke to the Ulverston Business Alliance, my second of three presentations on new and social media opportunities for business. The group’s acceptance of, adaptation to and questions about Ning the B2B ‘social media’ platform showed great strides in only two months. But, I shouldn’t be surprised – the success of social media sites make them a natural partner for business success.

Chairman Paul Jarvis, Major Promotions, without any prior knowledge of Ning, embraced its ability to let members get, keep and develop new connections. Once you’re in Ning you can have a profile, a blog, join forums, special interest groups. But, most importantly this member driven, public platform, helps businesses refer each other’s services and fills the gap between meetings for getting to know members and their businesses and services.

Paul’s interview on the Mike Parr show on BBC Radio Cumbria can be listened to on BBC iPlayer until (Wed 23 Sept). Paul jokingly referred to us ‘Ninging along’. But, that’s really what’s happening. Interested business owners are taking a look, signing up, getting a feel for it – and linking up with others. That’s what ‘Nining’ is all about.

We were inspired to follow in the successful Ning steps of Landscape Juice, and given guidance by blogging guru Craig McGinty, They started before us, are still going strong, and members are getting very good referrals. The proof is in the pudding!

If you belong to a group that needs an interactive website (free) or you want to start an online community with a common thread – give Ning a chance.

Facebook isn’t for everyone, but a Facebook page has great appeal – especially for organisations.Your Facebook page is your organisation’s storefront window to other Facebook users. They become fans and you feed them updates. If they are interested in you, then they may also want to be connected to your other fans. It’s community building, with a strong business factor.

Setting one up can be a bit like tricky – but when you see the likes of Kendal Mountain Festival’s page, you can instantly see the benefits. Here’s a list of steps to get going.

1. First – set up a personal account. Although the Create Page link is on the bottom of the log-in, you need to do this first.

2. Once you have logged in, then select the Pages link (Flag) on your left hand list, or go to the Advertising/Pages link at the bottom of the page. If you don’t want to do an ad (which always comes up first), go to the Pages tab. Then make that page a favourite.

3. Your Facebook Page offers you a wall to post product, event and advice updates. You can also have Info about yourself, photos, videos, discussions, events, links…the list goes on. All these are meant to be of use to your Fans.

4. Fans are what make the Facebook page really work. Search, invite, promote it – and they will come.

With all the features of a ‘real Facebook’ site, Pages are a great opption, tailored for organisations, and connecting with interested parties. It allows you to send Fans a text only update and provides reports on their activities.

See you there…

Key Advice Facebook PageBecome a Key Advice Fan on Facebook

If you think Twitter is just about idle chatter between people, think again. An agency, Moving Brands, had more than 40k Twitter users check out and a substantial number provide ideas over eight days for their pitch to rebrand the city of London!

Freelance UK reported on how first they set up a feed in Twitter. Then they published the onging results in a blog. Then they presented their collaborative proposal to the City, citing their belief that a ‘public’ tender requires public input. And, why wait until after the fact to involve stakeholders?

This approach could have a huge impact on the culture of bidding for publically funded projects. And, for ways to get public opinion, in writing, quickly. With a federal election looming – be prepared to see an increase in opportunities to have your say!

In our  latest  Plain Language Wizardrybook, Website Usability, Cheryl Stephens, Canada and I offer a detailed guide to the field of internet publishing.

In the paperback Website Usability our combined decades of experience in plain language is used to guide website creators on how to use plain language principles to increase online accessibility and usability.

The co-authored books Plain Language in Organisations: An Action Plan and Website Usability: A Plain Language Toolbox, the precursor to this paperback, are also available as e-books through

Cheryl Stephens will be at this year’s Plain Language Association InterNational (PLAIN) Raising the Standards conference in Sydney, Australia October 15 – 17, where she is speaking on information accessibility as a human right.

Cheryl Stephens, Vancouver, Canada and

Kate Harrison Whiteside, Cumbria, UK and and

Everyone is talking about social media, and everyone wants to join the adventure. And many of these enthusiasts want it to be quick, simple, give instant results and improve their organisation or business. Well, like anything – you get out of it what you put into it.

Social media can be a jungle! Take a map.

Social media can be a jungle! Take a map.

The magic of social media is the superb opportunitites they offer to communicate with your audience, the variety of ways you can share the information, and the fact that most of them are offered online for free. But, free doesn’t mean you reap all their benefits without investing time, human resources, and in some cased equipment costs (a video camera, mobile phone, training). People – and this is the key word – who are successful at blogging, Twitter, Facebook pages – invest their time and energy to make these platforms work for them! You don’t get something for nothing.

So, make your social media commitments thoughtfully, with resources and ROI in mind. And remember, it’s a jungle out there – so think carefully about where you are heading! Create a road map. And consider consulting a guide. More on strategy in the next blog.


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