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HC + T Update

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  • Jim Rink
    In This Issue: o PR Effort All But Misses the Net o Private Website for Soon-to-be Employees o Settling the Font
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2000
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      In This Issue:

      o PR Effort All But Misses the Net
      o Private Website for Soon-to-be Employees
      o Settling the Font Question...or Not
      o VYou Poll Results
      o Fall IABC Workshops
      o HC+T Update
      o Boilerplate And Subscription Information


      If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area (as I do),
      you've been hearing a lot of back-and-forth between
      the Local 250 of the Service Employees International
      Union and two healthcare organizations, Sutter Health
      and Catholic Health West. Today, in fact, is the day
      of the one-day strike by SEIU-represented employees
      against hospitals managed by these two organizations.

      Both sides have taken to the airwaves in a campaign
      to gain public support. Management says the union
      is putting the health of patients at risk as they
      insist upon lifetime employment. The union counters
      that patient care is the issue, that the hospitals
      don't give nurses enough of a voice.

      There have been so many radio commercials one would
      have to believe that the money spent on air time
      would have been more than enough to improve salary
      and benefits =and= reengineer hospital processes.

      With all the hot air the two sides are breathing into
      this issue, one might think that the Internet would
      be an ideal forum for furthering the debate. After all,
      SEIU has used the Internet effectively before, luring
      Yahoo! visitors to a site explaining the union's actions
      against the company that employs airport security

      Not a word appears on the main SEIU site, and the
      site owned by Local 250 only has basic information
      (although the strike does dominate the home page).
      A strike headquarters page offers press releases,
      an open letter to Catholic Healthcare West from
      community leaders, a notice that the Joint Commission
      on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations has
      downgraded Sutter's status, a bargaining update, and
      a list of Catholic Healthcare West executive

      On the other side, Sutter Health has one news release
      on the strike. There isn't a word on the Catholic
      Healthcare West site.

      Nor does there seem to be any discussion in any of the
      discussion areas. In the Usenet newsgroup, misc.
      activism.progressive, a report on Bay Area activities
      includes a listing for the July 6 action. Other than
      that, it's very quiet out there.

      Labor unions have used the Net effectively in the
      past, and the organizations with whom the unions are
      at odds need to figure out how to apply professional
      communication principles to the Net as well. In this
      case, both sides missed an opportunity. Don't expect
      high-visibility labor actions to miss the Net in the


      Here's a nifty idea from a colleague:

      This communicator's employer has been acquiring companies.
      During the period between the announcement and the
      finalization of the deal, employees of the acquired
      organizations have a lot of questions. They have been
      getting their answers from private sites on the World
      Wide Web. On these secure sites, employees can visit
      to learn about their new employer and get answers to the
      kinds of questions these soon-to-be employees would

      I remember, in the pre-Net days, developing materials
      a client could take on the road to groups of employees
      who worked for a company the client was acquiring. It
      was a time-consuming, labor-intensive effort for the
      client's staff. Pointing employees of the acquired
      company to a Website is much more effective.

      The site is on the public Web because, until the deal
      is complete, these employees are not employed by the
      acquiring company; it would be premature to provide t
      hem with access to the company's intranet.

      The effectiveness of this approach is not yet known,
      but the communicator spearheading the effort will
      discuss the project and results at the "NextWave
      eCommunication" conference set for Toronto, Ontario,
      Canada, on September 25 and 26.


      I try to be strategic in these brief articles, but I
      have to address an issue that seems to just keep
      cropping up. I have had, in the last couple of years, at
      least 20 email queries asking for the most readable
      font to use on a Web page.

      My belief:: A serif font, primarily 12 pt. Times New Roman.
      Note this is the default font for virtually every Web browser
      on the market. That's no coincidence. The first graphical
      browser, Mosaic, adopted the Times New Roman standard based
      on readability tests, and none of the subsequent browser
      developers have found a good reason to switch.

      There is research to support the serif argument. A study
      conducted by Alyson Hill at Stephen F. Austin State
      University in Texas explored the effects of six background
      and foreground color combinations, three fonts and two
      type styles (plan and italic). The study determined that
      the serif font offered the fastest interaction. The study
      is available at hubel.sfasu.edu/research/AHNCUR.html.

      In his new book, "Designing Web Usability," Dr. Jakob
      Nielsen suggests using sans serif fonts for smaller type:
      "There are simply not enough pixels available to resolve the
      fine detail needed for the serif in a 10-point typeface,"
      Nielsen explains. "At the same time, most people prefer
      reading serif type."

      Since the use of type smaller than 10 point is rare (and
      rarely advised), most of the body copy on a Web page
      can match reader preference for serif type.

      There is, of course, plenty of fodder for the opposite
      side. One study, conducted at Carnegie Mellon (arguably
      a more august academic institution than Stephen F.
      Austin State University) found no difference in reading
      speed between serif and sans serif fonts. (That study
      can be read at

      Ultimately, though, I agree with the writer who suggests
      that most of what we read day-to-day is serif: most of
      our books and magazines, and essentially =all= of our
      books. (For that matter, they are mostly black type on
      white backgrounds.) For the sake of readability, I would
      stick with that to which readers are accustomed.

      And you? Visit www.holtz.com -- right on the home page is
      a poll where you can vote: serif, sans serif, or either
      one. I'll report the results next month.

      And speaking of poll results...


      Last month, I discussed a new technology unveiled recently
      by Vyou.com (pronounced "view") which allows content
      developers to render text and images unprintable and
      uncopyable (which isn't a word, but it works here so
      I'll use it anyway). The company touts the technology as
      a boon for organizations that wanted to publish on the Web
      but feared the loss of their intellectual property. I asked
      readers to visit my Website to register their opinions.

      Twenty-six of you took me up on the offer, selecting one
      of four points of view. The vast majority -- 61 percent --
      weren't concerned about Vyou.com's server-based code,
      suggesting that only some companies would adopt it, and only
      for limited content, meaning it wouldn't have much of an
      impact on the open access that characterizes the Web.

      Nineteen percent felt companies would rush to adopt the
      technology but that the inability to copy or print would
      not diminish the Web's value. Fifteen percent feared that a
      widespread adoption of the technology =would= diminish the
      value of the Web. Only 3 percent thought the software would
      fail in the marketplace and leave no mark.

      I'll report in several months on the company's progress
      and the adoption rate of the technology. Thanks to those
      who participated in the poll.


      The DATES for Shel Holtz's Fall workshops, sponsored by
      IABC, have been set:

      **Writing for the Wired World**

      October 24 -- Newark
      October 26 -- Houston
      October 27 -- Los Angeles
      November 3 -- Cleveland

      **Integrating the Net**

      October 30 -- New York
      November 1 -- San Francisco
      December 5 -- Chicago
      December 6 -- Washington, DC

      Check the IABC Website for registration and venue information

      HC+T Update

      >>> Shel is helping a major international
      manufacturer develop employee policies for the
      company's intranet, Web access, and ecommerce

      >>>Shel will present his "Writing for the Wired
      World" four times in July -- for a human resources
      consulting firm, a retail operation, a financial
      services company, and a healthcare organization.

      >>>Shel continues his relationship with a Chicago
      public relations firm when he meets with staff
      during their annual retreat to discuss various
      aspects of online communication.

      >>>If you haven't read "Public Relations on the
      Net," Shel's bestselling book, you can get it through
      Amazon at 20 percent off the cover price. Go to
      the book directly from Shel's Website:

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