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  • Jim Rink
    NETGAIN UPDATE August 31, 2000 ================= Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications. ================ What s inside... * You Know
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 31, 2000
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      August 31, 2000

      Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint
      for eCommunications.

      What's inside...

      * You Know You've Been Communicating Change
      Initiatives Too Long When...
      * Outsourcing -- Staying Strategic In The
      eCommunication World
      * Information Portals: The Daily Me(dium)
      * Intranet Chat: Noise or Substance?
      * NextWave Returns
      * This Month...
      * About This Newsletter
      * About NetGain

      TOO LONG WHEN. . .

      by Carol Kinsey Goman

      1. You ask your waiter what the restaurant's core competencies
      2. You decide to re-org your friends into "cross-functional
      3. You refer to your date as a "pilot project."
      4. You prepare for a date by developing a list of "critical
      success measures."
      5. You can spell paradigm.
      6. You actually know what a paradigm is.
      7. You write executive summaries on your love letters.
      8. Your valentines have bullet points.
      9. You worry about putting the right "spin" on your wedding
      10. You refer to your marriage as "the merger."
      11. You celebrate your wedding anniversary by conducting a
      performance review.
      12. You believe you never face problems in life - just
      "opportunities for improvement and learning."
      13. You refer to your family picnic as the "offsite team-
      building event."
      14. You begin to believe there really is a difference between
      reengineering, downsizing, rightsizing, and firing people.
      15. You start to think of adultery as "benchmarking."
      16. You refer to family members as "associates."
      17. You think that the dog's refusal to obey means he's in
      18. You give constructive feedback to your goldfish.
      19. You create your grocery list as a PowerPoint presentation.
      20. You begin every sentence with "Since nothing remains
      constant except change. . ."
      21. You refer to a conversation with your two-year-old as a
      "brainstorming session."
      22. You ask your spouse to tell the kids to behave, and you
      think of it as "cascade communication."
      23. You refer to your optometrist's eye chart as the "vision
      24. You call your 96-year-old grandmother a "Luddite."
      25. You're certain that the consultant you hired just said
      something insightful.
      26. You think of Dilbert as a whinny little change-resistor.

      (I don't know the original author of this e-mail list, but I've
      altered and adapted it to reflect a change-communication
      perspective. Hope everyone is having a happy summer vacation.
      Obviously, I need one!)

      Carol is busy changing at carol@...


      by Tudor Williams, ABC

      Having trouble peering over the top of the black hole you
      disappeared into when you launched your ecommunication plan?

      Did the task of structuring and staffing the ecommunication
      function become a maze through which you crawled, literally
      creating new directions and routes to implement your strategies?

      Did you draw up job descriptions for positions that have never
      existed or only recently were created by technology advances?

      Have you searched employment marketplaces for skills that did
      not exist a year ago and experience that can only be measured
      in months not years?

      And when you eventually had a structure and a staffing plan,
      did you have to sell it to a boss or an HR department where
      little understanding exists about the challenges of launching
      and managing enterprise portals? Did they realize few precedents
      exist for the hiring and nurturing of our new technology

      But wait, why build another traditional, staff-heavy empire to
      deliver ecommunication strategies to customers and employees?
      In the past two years, the trend to outsourcing the tactical
      specialties of ecommunication is increasing by quantum leaps.
      Small, technology entrepreneurs are out there ready and willing
      to bring a creative specialty team to your rescue on a contract
      basis. And guess what, they will commit to high quality, low
      cost, fast turnaround - your impossible dream.

      But by far the biggest benefit of outsourcing the technology
      tactics of your strategy is your return to the strategic table
      where you can counsel and advise on communication strategy.

      If your core competencies lie in strategic communication
      management, then beware of the traps that await those who get
      tangled in the Web and wallow in the implementation of
      technology solutions.

      Stick to your core business. Outsource the ecommunication
      solutions to those bright young entrepreneurs who welcome
      the challenge and rarely know what quitting time is.

      Contact Tudor at tudor@...


      by Pete Shinbach, APR

      Longtime Update readers are by now used to our focus on portals,
      those personalized Web pages we can create at any number of Web
      sites. In fact, by my count, there have been five Update
      articles in the past year or so. Well, here's number six.

      Traditional portals, like MyYahoo, Quicken's MyFinances or
      Newspage, give us the ability to tailor entire sites to our
      likes & dislikes. I can set up Morningstar's portal to track
      my investments or my client & their peer companies' investment
      performance. My Snap portal can show me the local weather,
      news and lottery numbers as well as news about my company,
      clients or industries I track. The Interactive Wall St.
      Journal's Personal Journal shows me all the news from that
      newspaper that I've identified as being of interest to me.
      The idea is to provide the reader with a lot of information
      about general topics of interest to the reader.

      Recently, we've seen a refined portal making headway. Called
      various things, ranging from "screen scraper" to the more
      refined "Internet aggregation service," these services take
      the concept of the portal one step further. They give readers
      the ability to build their own personal, up-to-date websites
      comprising only those pages they select. The key difference
      here is that the reader -- you and me -- select the pages, not
      the portal host. Those Web pages can come from anywhere, not
      just sites that have relationships with Yahoo or Morningstar
      or Quicken or whoever is hosting the portal site. You or I can
      subscribe to Octopus or Yodlee and build a page that has our
      e-mail, frequent flyer mileage summary, news about our clients
      and updates on our favorite college football team. Some of these
      services will link to your bank or brokerage account and
      aggregate your financial information on the same screen with
      your airline mileage and news clips.

      None of this, however, should be surprising. Ever since Nicholas
      Negroponte, MIT Media Lab's director, started talking about the
      "Daily Me" back in the 20th Century, we've seen a continuing
      trend to more and more media personalization. For 21st Century
      communicators, the challenge is to adapt our messages to cut
      through the information clutter that these aggregation services
      help to control.

      Pete is available at pete@...


      by Shel Holtz, ABC

      Many organizations are implementing online systems as part of
      an effort to spur collaboration and knowledge transfer. To
      be sure, online collaboration tools -- notably discussion
      groups (or forums or bulletin boards or newsgroups) --
      have been shown again and again to pay off for the companies
      that shrug off lawyers' concerns based on the belief that
      the benefits they will accrue are greater than any potential

      Excited by the prospects, some companies have elected to
      try chat rooms, as well. Often, these terms are used
      interchangably, but they are, in fact, entirely different
      beasts. Discussion groups are asynchronous -- that is, they
      are not real-time discussions. Participants check in at
      their leisure, responding to questions or comments posted
      by other participants earlier, when it was convenient for
      them. Chat rooms, on the other hand, =are= real-time tools.
      If I type a line, you have to be sitting at your computer
      at the same time in order to see it. And unless somebody
      takes the trouble to archive the chat, once it's over, it's
      gone forever.

      Chat rooms can certainly be used advantageously. They are
      useful tools as part of a strategy to communicate specific
      issues. For example, the launch of a new business initiative
      can be the topic of a chat hosted by the executive with
      responsibility for the initiative's success. A series of
      chats for employees of companies going through a merger
      or acquisition can help get answers to employees without
      requiring them to congregate in a central location while
      enhancing management's credibility. EDS, the high-tech
      consulting firm, uses chats to augment a face-to-face
      program in which executives meet with employees. Now, in
      addition to meetings in which local employees meet with
      management, additional chats allow employees from =any=
      location to meet with key management.

      The danger of chat rooms comes when they are implemented
      without purpose. One company recently opened a chat room
      for employees to discuss whatever was on their mind. The
      company -- a recent merger partner -- hoped the chat room
      would allow employees to talk openly to one another about
      substantive merger-related issues. Instead, a few
      employees dominated the chat rooms with inappropriate,
      foul-mouthed griping. They spent so much time in the
      chat rooms that their managers asked the communications
      department to block access for their entire business
      unit. The company now plans to limit open discussions
      to the asynchronous discussion groups and restrict chat
      rooms for topic-specific, time-limited special events.

      Technology for its own sake rarely solves any problems.
      Make sure any online solution you implement genuinely
      addresses an issue -- and addresses it =better= than
      any other tool.

      Shel can be reached at shel@...


      NetGain's partnership with IABC in presenting a two-day
      conference on new strategies and approaches to ecommunication
      was so successful, we're doing it again.

      NextWave, the IABC/NetGain eeommunication conference, is being
      presented in Toronto September 25-26. The lineup is not the
      same as the February conference in Washington, DC -- new
      topics and speakers are being offered, along with pre-
      conference workshops, so NextWave continues to offer the latest
      thinking and successes in the use of the Internet as a
      communication tool.

      The site for the conference, www.nextwave2000.com, includes
      details about sessions and online registration.


      * Opened a technology conference speaking on the human
      side of high tech.
      * Helped the leaders of a Fortune 500 company's IT
      department understand how to lead their organization
      through the transformation into the world of e-business.
      * Consulted with the IT department of a company going through
      its first organizational downsizing.
      * Began a client review of the cost and quality of delivery
      of ecommunication services and programs.
      * Conducted research to assist a client in the development
      of a common portal strategy for internet
      and intranet Web sites.
      * Helped an integrated marketing firm develop online
      communications strategies for three pre-IPO clients.
      * Presented a series of seminars for public relations and
      advertising professionals about understanding and working
      with online media.
      * Designed and launched, online, a full communication audit
      for employees in 10 countries and two continents.
      * Developed online and ebusiness polieis for a major
      manufacturing company.
      * Crafted a communication strategy for an international
      organizational communication association.


      Was this issue of the NetGain Update useful? Did it give
      you a new idea or two you can use to improve the way you
      use electronic information tools? Maybe even a new service
      you can offer your clients or employer to help them
      succeed. If it did, we've succeeded. If it didn't, just
      wait until the next issue.

      NetGain UPDATE is a monthly newsletter published by
      NetGain, a consortium of independent communications
      technology consultants. Each article in this newsletter
      is copyrighted by its author. Feel free to share the
      NetGain Update with your associates, clients, managers
      or anyone else you think would benefit from it. And
      remember, anyone can sign up for a free subscription at
      our Web site, http://www.netgain.org

      Jim Rink
      Senior Contributing Editor
      AAA Michigan, 1 Auto Club Dr.
      Dearborn, Michigan, 48126 USA
      PHONE: (313) 336-1513
      E-MAIL: userg@...
      WEB: www.jimrink.com/cmc.html

      Join 18 million Eudora users by signing up for a free Eudora Web-Mail account at http://www.eudoramail.com
    • Jim Rink
      NETGAIN UPDATE November 2001 ============== Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications. ================ What s inside... 1. This Month s
      Message 2 of 10 , Nov 29, 2001
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        November 2001

        Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint
        for eCommunications.

        What's inside...

        1. This Month's Topic: Newsgroups, Chat Rooms And Blogs
        2. Blogs And Public Relations
        3. Thoughts On Dealing With Rumors, Hoaxes And
        Other Online Bogeymen
        4. IM -- The Next Online Revolution
        5. We'd Like Your Views On Writing for the Web
        6. We Asked And You Told Us: Newsgroups, Chat Rooms
        And Blogs
        7. About NetGain
        8. This Month...
        9. About This Newsletter


        by Shel Holtz, ABC

        Long before high-priced designers began publishing slick
        Web pages loaded with Flash and Shockwave and all the
        other gewgaws that adorn sites these days -- in fact,
        even before there =was= a World Wide Web -- the Internet
        was a vibrant and thriving place. What made it so
        compelling given the absence of the graphical Web? Simple:

        Even the Web itself is an extension of the community of
        users that breathes life into the Net. With the notable
        exception of institutional Web sites (businesses, non-
        profits, academia, government), the Web is a place where
        real people express themselves in their true human voices,
        where a free exchange of ideas and information takes

        Business, loathe to ignore a popular medium, jumped onto
        the Web, viewing it as a nifty way to publish and ignoring
        its communal character. Even now, five or six years after
        business embraced the Net, most companies do not monitor
        discussion groups let alone build their own. In another
        example of business failing to leverage the power of the
        Net, most companies have brought the Net in-house in the
        form of intranets but have rejected the idea of employee
        discussion groups. God forbid employees should actually
        =talk= to one another!

        Yet the community continues to fuel online communication.
        According to Burson Marstellar's research on who
        influences the Internet population, a key part of the
        answer is those who most frequently and articulately
        publish their views in bulletin boards, discussion groups,
        email mailing lists, and other online vehicles. (You can
        read a short version of the "efluentials" report at

        In other words, if we are going to leverage the Internet
        and intranets as communication tools, it is vital that we
        learn how to monitor, participate in and build the
        communities that are the heart of the Net.

        Blogs represent one of the newest means by which
        individuals share their views and influence others online.
        Our guest columnist this month, Gary Bivings, offers some
        thoughts on the importance of blogs (not to mention a
        definition, since our survey indicated few readers even
        know what a blog is).

        Online discussions are not only opportunities for public
        relations practitioners -- they can be a hazard, spreading
        rumors and misinformation about everything from public
        figures to your company. Pete Shinbach fills us in on how
        to cope with rumors and hoaxes that spread over the Net.

        Finally, Tudor Williams talks about the growing importance
        of instant messaging, another of those technologies that
        emerged from the realm of teenagers playing online to a
        useful business tool.

        Don't forget to read the results of last month's survey
        on how Update readers use online communities. And please
        follow the link to this month's survey about next month's
        topic: writing for the online world.

        Reach Shel at shel@...


        by F. Gary Bivings, The Bivings Group

        Blog: A blog (or web log) is a webpage where a blogger
        (the person who edits the site) logs all the other
        webpages he or she finds interesting, often offering
        commentary about the information that is posted.

        We’ve all heard the stories. John Smith from
        www.randomblog.com contacts a PR firm with questions about
        a client. Having never heard of the site, the PR firm
        never returns the call. John Smith becomes offended and
        ends up spending the next few days scorching the PR firm
        and its client on www.randomblog.com. Turns out
        www.randomblog.com attracts hundreds of thousands of users
        a month, and it seems like every one of them sends an
        email to both the client and PR firm. The mainstream media
        picks up on the story, and soon the client is on the
        defensive and the PR firm looks out of touch.

        Let’s face it –- this could happen to any of us. But with
        a little research and some creative thinking, you can deal
        with the emergence of blogs proactively, instead of
        becoming just another blog victim. Following are some tips
        that will help you navigate the world of blogs for your
        client or company.

        (1) Know the Key Players. If your area of expertise is
        politics, go online and identify the most popular
        political blogs and monitor them periodically to see how
        your client or issue is being covered. To identify key
        blogs, visit a blog search engine or directory and spend a
        few hours typing in searches that are relevant to your
        client (www.blogger.com and www.bloghop.com are two good
        places to start, with www.blogger.com even having software
        that makes it easy for you to build your own blog). Once
        you identify a relevant blog, check out that site’s Links
        section to find other blogs on your topic of interest. Be
        sure to search for additional blogs periodically –- new
        ones pop up every day.

        (2) Be Proactive. Once you know who the key players are,
        don’t be shy about contacting them. Add them to the
        distribution list for press releases and other information
        and let them know what your client or company is up to.
        The editors of blogs are intensely engaged in the issues
        they cover and will appreciate having legitimate
        information shared with them.

        (3) Build Your Own Blog. Say you work at a PR firm and
        your client is interested in promoting free trade. Set up
        a blog site on your client’s behalf that allows them to
        comment on the issues of the day. If the writing is good
        and the opinions are strong, the blog will become popular
        and you will have identified a powerful new way for your
        client to communicate with the online community.


        F. Gary Bivings is the Principal at The Bivings Group, a
        Washington, DC-based Internet strategies firm with globally
        tested and recognized expertise in public relations, issues
        management and marketing. Gary can be reached at
        mailto:fgb@... or via phone at (202) 835-1600.


        by Pete Shinbach, APR

        I was struck by one of the comments an Update reader wrote
        on our Reader Poll this month. When asked about the
        value of newsgroups, chat rooms and blogs, this reader
        wrote, "I think they’re a way for people to spread untrue
        facts." Yes, they are. And they are a way for professional
        communicators to not only find out what "untrue facts" are
        being bandied about but to rebut them.

        But that’s not the problem most communicators have with
        these electronic bulletin boards. The problem is that
        they don’t understand their dynamics and aren’t comfortable
        with their uncontrolled, "wild west" atmosphere. Perhaps
        the scariest of this group of online discussion tools are
        the blogs. Read Gary Bivings’ article in this issue for a
        description of these. And then look at the May 16 issue
        of the Online Journalism Review (http://ojr.usc.edu). Read
        how Edelman Public Relations Worldwide disregarded an
        interview request from a blogger and how that refusal got
        Edelman lots of ink –- all bad. But enough of this "sky
        is falling" rationalization for using newsgroups, blogs and
        chat rooms. Let’s get practical.

        In the past two months, rumors, suppositions and
        innuendos have become the stock-in-trade of the media
        and the people who depend on them for information (that’s
        us –- you and me). Want proof? Here it is in one word:
        Anthrax. Ask yourself how much of what you’ve seen,
        heard and read about Anthrax in the past two months
        has turned out to be pure hogwash. Some things have
        turned out to be true. Others have been pure fiction.

        Combating rumors has always been a challenge for
        organizational communicators. Much time is spent
        tracking down the source of the rumor and then trying
        to figure out how to deal with the rumor. Today, with
        the instantaneous nature of the Internet plus the
        24/7 news cycle, rumors and hoaxes are taking on lives
        of their own. So, here are some suggestions.

        First, read "Responding to Hoaxes Online" and "Rumors of
        Grace and Terror" in the October 23 and October 5 issues
        of the Online Journalism Review. Next, bookmark
        http://www.snopes.com. It’s an excellent Web site that
        lists all sorts of urban legends having to do with
        everything from Britney Spears to Sara Lee to, yes,

        Then, get involved. Learn how key newsgroups operate and
        then start participating in the conversations going on
        there. Start reading blogs. Yes, most of them aren’t
        worth the monitors they’re printed on but, occasionally,
        you’ll find one that is dead on. If you’re in public
        relations, go to http://www.online-pr.com, an excellent
        compendium of PR-oriented Web sites, and look in the
        Media Section for a list of news and political opinion

        And finally, dip your toe in the water and start a
        newsgroup, blog or chat room. Give your CEO a place
        online to talk with shareowners. For other ideas, read
        Gary Bivings’ article here or Jim Horton’s November 15th
        journal on the Online-PR Web site.

        And a closing note to our reader who thinks newsgroups
        and their ilk are places for people to spread untrue
        facts. They’re also places where a savvy communicator
        can obliterate those untrue facts with true ones.

        Pete spreads rumors from pete@...


        by Tudor Williams, ABC

        Last summer my office manager discovered instant
        messaging and joined the estimated 70 million people in
        North America who use IM. It was my Webmaster who put her
        on to it. She lives and works 1000 miles and a long
        distance phone call away. At first it was a social thing
        -– a way to catch up on news and have an inexpensive real
        time conversation.

        Then they convinced the rest of our small, virtual
        business to sign up. We have three work locations and our
        primary means of internal communication was by phone
        (usually voice mail) and email. Now our instant
        messenger service has become a core element of our
        inter-office communication.

        I can see which of our small staff is available and
        online at any particular time. If I have a question or
        need help with a decision I can instantly reach that
        person even if they are on the phone or do not have their
        email function open. We have reduced our email exchanges
        in favor of real time, on line conversations in the
        course of managing our business. Our clients were the
        first beneficiaries as we became better able to
        understand and meet client requests and needs faster.

        Will the instant messenger become a core element of the
        world of business? Without question this form of
        communication will replace a large amount of email and
        voice mail that is currently flying around in cyberspace.
        Already IBM is reporting that IM is catching up to email
        as the preferred mode of communication. The Gartner Group
        is predicting that by 2005, IM will be used more often
        than email.

        Some interactive webcasting applications use the IM
        feature that allows participants to engage in real time
        discussions with other participants without interrupting
        the voice discussion. One of our clients using this
        technology discovered the IM feature is one of the first
        features that web-casting participants like to use.

        The forecasts for the use of IM technology really provide
        an interesting insight into how we will do business in
        the years ahead. Already 30 million Japanese people
        subscribe to a cell phone service whose most popular
        feature is a short messaging system similar to IM. It is
        the ability to use IM through access by mobile phone or
        PC that is creating the real revolution. Talk is
        expensive and inefficient. IM saves you airtime and real
        time and delivers the means to stay connected in a
        variety of ways.

        So far the majority of the 70 million users in North
        America are kids. In Japan, 90% of users are adults. As
        business discovers the advantages of IM over existing
        chat rooms, bulletin boards and newsgroups and email, IM
        will be adopted as part of the solution to clogged and
        over used phone mail and email systems. IM will also
        create opportunities that have not been possible with
        Internet technology.

        Sure, managers will raise the fears that employees will
        abuse IM just as similar fears were raised with the
        introduction of email and Internet access for all
        employees. But smart managers and forward thinking
        organizations will quickly weigh the productivity gains
        against the potential losses and come to the same
        conclusions as IBM and other corporations who are quickly
        adopting IM. In the NetGain poll last month, one or our
        respondents reported, "My company also uses Instant
        Messenger to cut down on email storage".

        IM not only cuts down on storage but also enables real
        time conversations and discussions that you can discard
        or save to your hard drive. It is faster than email and
        much more efficient than leaving a voice mail message
        when your contact is on the phone. As cell phone service
        advances, IM will become an easy cheap way of
        communicating with our business colleagues, friends and

        IM is an idea and feature whose time has arrived and our
        working and personal worlds are about to change
        profoundly yet again.

        Send a message to Tudor at tudor@...


        Next month’s issue of Update is going to focus on writing.
        It’s a topic that’s high on the list of things all
        professional communicators –- internal and external –-
        want to know more about and seem to worry most about. So,
        we’d like to know more about how you and your organization
        are managing your online writing.

        Please take a few minutes to complete our monthly Update
        Reader Poll. You’ll find it at
        We’ll compile the answers and report back in our December

        And please let us know if there’s a topic you’d like to
        see covered in upcoming issues or if there’s just
        something you want to get off your chest. You can send
        your thoughts to us at info@....

        And don’t forget our Update Reader Poll. It’s at
        and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.

        AND BLOGS

        Once again, our Update Reader Poll’s results are a mixed
        bag. Last month, we wanted to know how you’re using the
        parts of the Internet and your intranets that give your
        readers the ability to communicate with each other
        directly with no filters, editing or oversight. We wanted
        to know about your use of newsgroups, chat rooms and

        Judging from what you told us, the PR, IR and other
        external communicators are using these services far more
        than their corporate, internal communications peers.
        Newsgroups and bulletin boards for customers (100%) and
        shareowners (80%) far exceeded the top-ranked internal
        communications applications: chat rooms for departments
        and business units (57%) and executive-employee chat rooms

        Perhaps the most interesting thing we learned from your
        responses was that most of your companies (72%) are
        allowing employees to post messages on the Internet’s
        newsgroups, bulletin boards and chat rooms. However, less
        than half of you (42%) have any written policy concerning
        who can represent the company on those newsgroups,
        bulletin boards and chat rooms.

        Nobody seemed to know what blogs are but we’ve taken care
        of that with Gary Bivings’ article in this issue.

        Finally, there was no consensus about the usefulness of
        these interactive tools. One of our readers wrote, "Chat
        rooms have proven valuable for direct employee-management
        communication, especially where we have several locations
        per unit." Another wrote, "While there is certainly a
        high level of ‘ax grinding’ there, it’s helpful to be able
        to read between the lines to determine if a real problem
        exists or if people simply enjoy venting over trivial

        7. ABOUT NETGAIN

        NetGain is a group of high-end communications
        consultants who work with leading companies and
        associations to help them achieve strategic communication
        objectives using online technology. NetGain delivers
        onsite consulting, phone consulting and one-day seminars
        at the client's offices. For information, send email to

        To find out more about NetGain, send an email message to


        Jim Rink
        AAA Michigan
        1 Auto Club Drive, Dearborn, Mich. 48072
        voice 313.336.1513 fax 313.336.0986

      • Jim Rink
        This month s NetGain update: NetGain Update October 2002: Communicating Globally ==================================== Published by NetGain: We build the
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 28, 2002
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          This month's NetGain update:

          NetGain Update
          October 2002: Communicating Globally

          Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications.

          What's inside...

          1. Communicating Globally Is Talking The Talk
          2. Global Communication -- A Confusion Of Meaning
          3. And Now A Word From Our Shameless Commerce Department
          4. The Translation Conundrum
          5. We Asked And You Told Us: Going Global
          6. We'd Like Your Views About Using Wireless Technology
          7. This Month, NetGain Consultants...
          8. About NetGain
          9. About This Newsletter

          1. Communicating Globally Is Talking The Talk

          by Pete Shinbach, APR

          Saying you're a global communicator doesn't make you a global communicator.
          At least that seems to be the message most of the big PR firms are sending
          from their Web sites.

          For some reason, there's been a flood of e-mails, faxes and direct mailers
          crossing my desk recently inviting me to spend big bucks to attend
          conferences and seminars about global crisis communications, global
          investor relations, global this and global that. So, out of curiosity, I
          did some off-the-cuff and very unscientific research. Here's what I found.

          Most of the top 10 PR firms have something on their Web sites that
          proclaims their globalness. Words like "worldwide," "international" and, of
          course, the G-word are littered across their Web landscape. And with only
          two exceptions, one of which is an agency that has been developing its
          non-U.S. sites for more than six months, all those words are in English.
          All the sites are in English. One agency even highlighted one of its
          Spanish PR programs on its home page. Of course, the proclamation was in
          English, not Español.

          On the corporate side, things are better. Most large corporate sites have
          mirrored, foreign language sites. One of the better is General Electric's
          which has 37 "country" sites, many of which are bilingual. AT&T takes a
          somewhat different approach, integrating its "country" sites into its
          corporate site. But not all's rosy. Take a look at General Motors and see
          if you can find their "country" sites. You'll have to look under each car
          model's micro-site. Now take a look at what GM does with its Arab-language
          sites. It uses Arabic words as design elements, relying on English to
          communicate with its Saudi, Kuwaiti and other Arab-speaking customers.

          So, my first question is "how are you going to communicate with French,
          Spanish, Arabic, Chinese or other non-English audiences if you're not
          communicating in French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese or whatever that
          audiences' native language is?"

          But there's more to online communications than language. There's design,
          especially Web site design. And, for the most part, those organizations
          that have multi-lingual sites don't have multi-cultural sites. Their
          Israeli site looks like their Finnish site which looks like all the other
          "country" sites. While this isn't something that's going to send you to
          jail without collecting $200, it's something that we need to pay more
          attention to. Take China for example. In China, white is the color of
          mourning. That's why companies like Monsanto and Ford don't use white
          backgrounds to their China Web sites. Unfortunately, that's not true with
          most other U.S.-based sites intended for Chinese audiences. Their whiteness
          is akin to publishing a North American or European site replete with a
          black background and a somber funereal dirge soundtrack.

          So, to the 40-percent of you who said, on our monthly Reader Poll, that you
          ran your online material past foreign nationals for whom it's intended:
          congratulations. Then, there are the 40-percent who said they rely on their
          own understanding of foreign cultures when publishing offshore Web sites. I
          hope your luck holds out.


          You can reach Pete at mailto:pete@...

          2. Global Communication -- A Confusion Of Meaning

          by Tudor Williams, ABC

          A casual search of the Internet for the terms "global communication" brings
          back a variety of sites. Few of these sites use the term "global
          communication" in the context generally used by professional communicators
          (i.e., communication strategies that influence audiences diverse in
          culture, race, location and language).

          Very near the top of the search list is a site that proudly displays what
          looks like someone's back garden in Wisconsin. It has satellite dishes
          scattered throughout some shrubbery. The site actually describes the scene
          as an "antenna farm". It offers services that include Canadian TV
          programming as a desirable option for US viewers because it is protected
          from US media intrusion, and Canada has a world class home grown film and
          television industry and the benefits of ties with the British Commonwealth.
          While Canada does indeed have a vibrant film and television industry, it
          was news to me (a Canadian) that Canadian TV is protected form US media
          intrusion. The company's owners naturally and aptly named their company
          Global Communications in recognition of this apparently global reach of
          their services.

          Then there is the site offering me a cable modem kit for Macintosh and
          another, GlobalCommunication (one word), based in the Etna Valley in Sicily
          that offers total e-business solutions entirely in Italian.
          When I add the word "online" to the search, a new site goes to the top of
          the list -- LaborNet -- describing itself as global online communication
          for a democratic independent labor movement. With the exception of a link
          to the Canadian Postal Workers Union, the site content is US-based. There
          are also links to a few European countries Korea, Japan and the UK, where
          each of the LaborNet sites is in the national language (the UK site address
          is actually LabourNet).

          Nowhere in the search, does a site appear that deals with the sort of
          global communication that communicators talk about. At least LaborNet
          approximates what professional communicators would consider being global
          communication. Or does it?

          Do professional communicators have a common view of global communication or
          are we referring to a concept that has multiple meanings and nuances? Or is
          it simply that no one has yet built a business around this concept and
          offered it on the Web?

          The response to the NetGain poll in September 2002 suggests a variety of
          views among the respondents. Their internal and external websites are
          barely multilingual in that they are published in one, two or maybe three
          languages -- and those languages are the predominant languages found in
          North America, English, Spanish, French and Chinese.

          The finding that most intrigued me was the response that indicated a
          significant number of respondents believed their site content to be

          When we communicate with a global audience (i.e. multi-lingual, racial, and
          cultural) how do we know we are culturally neutral and is that, in fact, a
          viable or desirable strategy? Or what about global communication to a
          uni-lingual group scattered throughout the world? Is it appropriate to be
          culturally neutral and linguistically homogenous for that audience?

          I am of the school of thought that believes that communication should be
          targeted and customized for each unique audience.

          If those audiences can only be reached in two or more languages then the
          content must be translated in the local area. For example, in Canada,
          French copy intended for a Quebec audience should originate in Quebec. If
          our intended audience lives and works in a variety of cultures, the copy
          must appeal to the values, traditions and mores of each culture. If the
          intended audience lives and works in many locations around the world, then
          the communication must relate to each circumstance for meaning to be conveyed.

          I am not an advocate of culturally neutral communication strategies. As a
          person of British birth, Canadian citizenship and with clients in, at last
          count, a half a dozen countries, cultures and language groups, my vision is
          to help my clients communicate with their customers, their employees, their
          investors in unique and culturally rich ways.

          Let us never let anyone mistake our global communication as a technology
          solution or a neutral, meaningless strategy.


          Tudor lives in Canada but email reaches him at mailto:tudor@...

          3. And Now A Word From Our Shameless Commerce Department

          What's the difference between NetGain's audits and the audits done by those
          big technology and communications firms? You can understand our's. We're
          not computer programmers and our offices aren't in some high-rise Midtown
          Manhattan or Bay Area office suite. So, if you're looking for someone to
          help you make sure your intranet, Web site or other online communications
          are what you and your management expect and you don't mind plain English,
          simple sentences and suggestions that make sense, let us know. We're at

          Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

          4. The Translation Conundrum

          by Shel Holtz, ABC

          About 10 years ago, I managed a communications department for a
          pharmaceutical company. Among our other chores was the publication of a
          monthly all-employee magazine. We distributed the publication to several
          countries. In most of them, English was not the language employees spoke.
          Our budget would not permit multiple editions of the magazine (which would
          not have been feasible anyway, since in most cases, we would have printed
          only a hundred or so copies in each language). Equally unlikely was a
          magazine with each article in six languages. (If you've ever flown Air
          Canada, you know how confusing a magazine can be when every article is
          published in only TWO languages.)

          Our solution was to produce abstracts of each article, one paragraph
          summaries that captured the key message. These were written in German,
          Japanese, French, Spanish, and Italian. But even with only a paragraph
          translated into five languages, we still faced the challenge of accurate
          translations that didn't cost too much produced in a timely manner every

          Not too long after that, I tried my first translation software package. The
          folks in Puerto Rico, where I sent a document translated into Spanish by
          the software, had a good laugh over the pathetic but amusing translation.
          Since then, machine translation (MT, as it's called) has gotten better, but
          not good enough. One representative of an MT company told me the software
          isn't designed to manage translations, but rather to handle the first pass.
          "It reduces the amount of work by a translator by as much as 80%," he said,
          "which means you save 80% of the cost of the translation."

          Yeah, okay, except now I have to run the translation software, THEN hire a
          translator, wait for his work to come back, then pay him.

          The point of this trip down memory lane is that, despite all the great uses
          to which we put computers, translation isn't yet one of them. With great
          speed we are able to communicate across the miles, but the process of
          producing multiple versions of the same material in different languages is
          pretty much the same as it was 10, even 20 years ago. I was on a tour
          recently of the CNN studios in Atlanta, where the tour guide proudly
          announced that CNN.com is the network's fastest channel for delivering
          breaking news. But only in English.

          So much for global communications? In France, the law says you MUST produce
          a French version of a Web site, even if the audience is predominantly
          American. And don't get me started on Quebec.

          I am asked, in e-mails and phone calls and face-to-face encounters, how to
          address the need to translate as fast as Web pages can be produced. And the
          answer is (no drum roll, please) that there is no answer. We can cobble
          together interim solutions, but MT technology simply hasn't caught up with
          the Net.

          My answer usually goes something like this: "Unless you have to comply with
          a law that demands a translation, publish it in English and hope for the
          best. English has become the language of both business and the Net, and
          even though it makes you look like an arrogant American, odds are most of
          your audience will be able to read it."

          The truth of this solution was borne out during a trip I took to Slovenia
          last year. Everybody there -- even the hotel chambermaids -- spoke English.
          I asked one of my hosts why everyone's English was so good. "We watch TV,"
          she said, "we go to movies, and we listen to music. It's all in English."
          She never took a class in English. But after spending her whole life
          reading Slovenian subtitles and listening to the actors speak English, she
          just picked it up. So it is in much of the world.

          Yeah, I know, it's a lousy answer. It's the only one I've got. Until, that
          is, MT catches up. May it be soon.


          Contact Shel -- in English -- at mailto:shel@...

          5. We Asked And You Told Us: Going Global

          Our monthly reader poll this month told us some interesting things about
          the ways you're communicating with your global audiences. First, you're
          doing it. Of course, you have to since most of you who responded to the
          poll have multilingual audiences. Aside from those of you from Canada,
          which requires bi-lingual Web sites (French & English), at least half of
          you have non-English speaking employees and media who are fluent in Spanish
          and French. About half of you (44%) who have multi-lingual online
          audiences, use translation services for your English written content.
          However, only half of you who use these services are getting quick
          turnaround. It's taking more than a week for the other half to get its
          material translated and posted online.

          We found it interesting that almost three-quarters (73%) of you publish
          your Web sites in a language other than English, but less than half (44%)
          publish your e-newsletters in a non-English language. We assume that's
          either because you don't publish e-newsletters or do but only in English.
          In either case, it's probably best to reconsider what you're doing to reach
          your non-English speaking audiences online.

          When asked how you handle cultural differences for global audiences on your
          public Web sites, there was no consensus. Somewhat less than half (45%)
          have different sites with unique content for each cultural audience. About
          a quarter (27%) try to keep their Web content culturally neutral and the
          remainder (18%) don't bother to deal with online cultural issues at all.
          Likewise, there wasn't any consensus of what major issues are being
          confronted when dealing with dealing with a global communications market.
          When asked that, the answers we got back ranged from keeping information
          up-to-date to security to language & design to an overabundance of U.S.
          jargon & attitudes.

          6. We'd Like Your Views About Using Wireless Technology

          A few months ago, Update was devoted to remote communications. Next month's
          issue will be about a topic somewhat similar to that one: wireless
          communications. Whether it be Web-enabled cell phones or Palm Pilots
          equipped with modems, wireless communications is a booming business. But
          how's it being used for business communications. That's what we'd like to
          know from you. How are you and your organization using wireless
          communications? You can tell us and everyone else who reads Update by
          taking a few minutes to fill out our monthly Update Reader Poll. It's
          available - wirelessly or otherwise - at

          It will only take about 5 minutes. So click or tap on over to
          http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?E3PWN41YBHLEC9J5MECRTNCE for this
          month's poll about Wireless Communications.


          Jim Rink
          Senior Contributing Editor

          AAA Michigan
          1 Auto Club Drive
          Dearborn, MI 48126

        • userg
          From NetGain: NetGain Update April 2003: Performance Measures for Communicators ================================================== Published by NetGain: We
          Message 4 of 10 , Apr 22, 2003
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            From NetGain:

            NetGain Update
            April 2003: Performance Measures for Communicators

            Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications.

            What's inside...

            1. Measuring More Than Jelly On The Wall
            2. Getting Endorsements Through Linking Strategies
            3. It's How Much You Don't Spend That Counts
            4. What Are You Worth To Your Company? Find Out In Our Next Webinar
            5. This Month, NetGain Consultants...
            6. About NetGain
            7. About This Newsletter

            1. Measuring More Than Jelly On The Wall

            by Tudor Williams, ABC

            Someone once commented that measuring communication was like nailing jelly to the wall. But it is not. At least you can see the jelly on the wall and can watch it as it slips slowly away from the nail. If we continue the analogy, we measure communication, not by catching the jelly but by assessing the stain the jelly left on the wall -- how much of it stuck and how long it stayed there. In other words, we are measuring the outcomes of what happened without visibly observing the output of the event itself.

            For many years, organizations were content to measures the outputs of communication, how many newsletters were published, how many "impressions" or column inches were created, or the size of the audience reached. But in a world where accountability matters, it is the outcomes that are important, the extent to which we were successful in achieving our goal. The output is but the means to achieve successful outcomes not success itself.

            The currency of communication is influence and the outcomes we seek through influence are changes of behaviors and attitudes in support of our cause. The business performance of communication is measured by the economic, social or political impacts of these changes. The performance of the professional communicator is measured by the success of the strategies devised to change attitudes and behaviors.

            The measures we use are found in the outcomes we seek. We set out to influence attitudes and behaviors to achieve one or more of a number of outcomes.

            * We create alignment of audiences with our vision.
            * We build the support of audiences for the corporate goals we set.
            * We foster commitment of audiences to our priorities, services and products as we earn their loyalty.
            * We strive for optimum productivity and profitability.

            The political arena is a good example of creating alignment, building support and fostering loyalty. A good politician first builds awareness and understanding for the cause. Then the politician develops the support of the constituency for the cause. At the end of the day, success is measured by how many votes are actually cast in favor of the cause. Votes come from commitment, shared values and loyalty that evolve from the awareness, knowledge and support gained.

            Along the way, we measure how well our audiences understand our cause, the degree of support we have and the satisfaction earned with our deliverables. All these measures are indicators that tell you how you are performing. And success is the outcome measured by the decision to purchase, the decision to support or the decision to join.

            Three critical success factors are emerging that are primary drivers of performance in communication today:

            1. Strategic focus -- building support and commitment for our strategic priorities

            2. Credibility -- consistency and accuracy in the way we present ourselves and our organizations to the world

            3. Respect -- the trust and accountability in the relationships we build.

            Where performance counts for more than a jelly stain on the wall is in each of these three areas. It is here that many organizations and leaders are struggling today. It is in these three areas, strategic focus, credibility and respect, that communication is measured as the core of successful strategy.


            Reach Tudor at mailto:tudor@...

            2. Getting Endorsements Through Linking Strategies

            by Pete Shinbach, APR

            In public and investor relations, we spend a lot of time chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, also known as the third-party endorsement. Entire media and analyst relations programs are built around getting that trade magazine, Web site or Wall Street guru to say favorable things about our products, management, stock or organization. And, for some of us, our performance goals, and the compensation that’s tied to achieving them, are measured by the quantity and, in most cases, quality of those third-party endorsements. But they’re one-shot deals. You get a hit in the paper, a mention on the evening news or some snippet in an influential blog and then have to start all over again with a new pitch or angle that’ll whet the reporter or analyst’s appetite. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to establish relationships with the most influential Web sites, e-mail news digests, blogs and other online publications so you don’t have to always be churning out new ways to get your messages in front of the right eyeballs? Guess what? There is.

            It’s called a linking strategy and it’s something that too few online communicators have as part of their online programs. Basically, a linking strategy is a systematic way to build good links from someone else’s site to yours. If you do it right, that “someone else” is going to be one of those third-party endorsers whose good words you’re seeking. So, aside from that, why invest the time to develop a productive linking strategy? Consider these five reasons:

            1. Most people find Web sites by following links, either from search engines or from other Web sites. If the people you’re trying to reach see a link to your site on a Web site they trust, what does that say about you?

            2. Search engines, like Google, give sites with good inbound and outbound links higher rankings on their search result lists. So, the more sites that link to yours and the more sites you link to, the higher your ranking by the search engines.

            3. Assuming that you’re producing really excellent content on your site (your content is excellent, isn’t it?), others will want to link to you because that means they won’t have to reinvent wheels, producing their own similar content.

            4. If you integrate a linking component in your overall online communications plans, you’ll be forced to ask yourself an extraordinarily important question: “Why would anyone want to link to my site?” Being able to answer that will help clarify your online value proposition? Not being able to answer it means a trip back to the drawing board. Regardless, one of the reasons anyone would want to link to your site is because your site has outstanding content.

            5. Finally and most importantly, you’ll become part of the club, the network, the community. Your site or newsletter will become one of those sources your influentials will refer to when they need trusted, up-to-date, verifiable information.

            All of which leaves two questions. First, how do you execute a linking strategy? We’ll get to that in the June & July issues when we’ll tackle the issues of managing and benchmarking communications strategies.

            Second, what’s a linking strategy have to do with performance measurement? Consider that a well thought-out linking strategy can

            * Validate assumptions made at the beginning of the year about which media sources are the most important to your organizational goals and help identify the more important Web sites to go after as third-party endorsers;

            * Show you how consumers, investors, job applicants, customers and other employees are finding your Web site, thereby providing you with one more way to measure how well your online communications program is performing; and

            * Complement your other online initiatives like e-mail newsletters, search engine optimization strategies, online advertising and promotion and Web-based discussion forums.

            So, if the hyperlink is the key to the Web, which it is, doesn’t it make sense to capitalize on the potential of this important tool? Committing to developing and maintaining a good strategic linking program is the first step to creating a powerful communications tool that can produce highly measurable business and online communications performance results.


            You can reach Pete at mailto:pete@...

            3. It's How Much You Don't Spend That Counts

            by Shel Holtz, ABC

            As a measurement evangelist, I can spout off any number of reasons and means to measure the effectiveness of your performance as a communicator. Company management, however, keeps coming back with one question: What's the impact on the bottom line?

            There are two basic approaches to answering this question:

            1. The impact of communication cannot be identified on a balance sheet. Communication produces intangible results. Internally, it generates improved productivity and heightened employee commitment. Externally, increased awareness and favorable perceptions result from good communication. Communicators should be evaluated based on these valid measures and not the bottom line.

            2. If you acknowledge the bottom-line value of reputation, you can determine the value of communication by assessing its role in improving your organization's reputation. (This is the approach taken by The Reputation Institute with its Reputation Quotient; you can read more at http://www.reputationinstitute.com.)

            There is a third approach that can be more meaningful than either of these, particularly if you are appealing to the bean-counters (or people with bean-counter mentalities) who need to understand the value of communication in dollars and cents. That approach is called "cost avoidance."

            Here's how it works. In 1992, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) assumed leadership of a three-year-old boycott of Mitsubishi, the Japanese industrial giant. The boycott ran eight years as Mitsubishi attempted to fight perceptions that the company's ecological policies were disastrous. In order to put the boycott behind them, the company capitulated on several points. Ultimately, the company spent about $6 billion, according to an estimate from American City Business Journals. Some of that money was spent fighting the boycott, most on agreements like reducing the use of paper and packaging in products like the 1 million TV sets it sells in the U.S. each year.

            I don't care how big your company is. Six billion has gotta hurt.

            Now compare Mitsubishi's experience to that of a consortium of nearly 20 companies that spent much of the end of the 20th century exploring for natural gas in the Camisea region of the Peruvian rainforest. This group spent nearly $250,000 on a Website that went into excruciating detail about the project and even offered a message board where visitors could debate the merits of the effort. The PR people who built the site worked with the Rainforest Action Network to ensure the site addressed all the questions and issues environment-minded visitors might have. The result: Not a whisper of protest over the project, which was ultimately abandoned as economically unfeasible.

            Now compare. On the one hand, you could spend $6 billion fighting and then giving in to a boycott. On the other, you can spend a quarter of a million explaining your organization's actions to those who would boycott in terms they understand and appreciate. How's this for expressing the value of your efforts: "Thanks to our communications, our company didn't have to spend $5.75 billion."

            Okay, so that's a stretch. But the point is valid. Communications don't make money for the company, but they can certainly help the company avoid having to spend it -- not only on boycotts, but also fighting legislation or regulation, labor actions, bad press, lawsuits, and a host of other costly activities. (You could even add that to the value of your improved reputation.)

            The Camisea case study is particularly intriguing since RAN is currently opposing a new natural gas project in the Camisea. The focus is mainly on Citigroup, the project's financial advisor. A search of the Citigroup site reveals not one word about the project. The site of Hunt Oil refers to the project but says nothing about environmental concerns. You have to wonder how much they'll wind up spending that good communications might have offset.


            Reach Shel at mailto:shel@...

            4. What Are You Worth To Your Company? Find Out In Our Next Webinar

            "Define Your Value, Build Your Credibility" is the topic of the next NetGain Webinar, which begins on May 12. Subtitled "Measuring business performance for internal communication," the Webinar will help you identify and measure precisely what communication is adding to the bottom line.

            Register at http://snurl.com/value
            Get details at http://webinar.holtz.com/synopsis/measure.htm.

            5. This Month, NetGain Consultants...

            * Continued work on intranet and Web assessment and development for a major Canadian healthcare district.

            * Agreed to provide strategic planning for a global pharmaceutical company.

            6. About NetGain

            NetGain is a group of high-end communications consultants who work with leading companies and associations to help them achieve strategic communication objectives using online technology.

            NetGain delivers onsite and online consulting and professional development programs. For information, send e-mail to mailto:info@....

            To find out more about NetGain, send an e-mail message to mailto:info@....

            7. About This Newsletter

            Was this issue of the NetGain Update useful? Did it give you a new idea or two you can use to improve the way you use electronic information tools? Maybe even a new service you can offer your clients or employer to help them succeed. If it did, we've succeeded. If it didn't, just wait until the next issue.

            NetGain UPDATE is a monthly newsletter published by NetGain, a consortium of independent communications technology consultants. Each article in this newsletter is copyrighted by its author. Feel free to share the NetGain Update with your associates, clients, managers or anyone else you think would benefit from it. And remember, anyone can sign up for a free subscription at our Web site, http://www.netgain.org.

            * To unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to mailto:UNSUBSCRIBE-NGUpdate@...-publisher.com.

            * For more information on the newsletter and your subscription options, send an e-mail message to mailto:HELP-NGUpdate@...-publisher.com.



            Jim Rink
            1705 Mansfield
            Birmingham, MI 48009

            (248) 792-2247 hm
            (313) 336-1513 wk
            (586) 946-0049 cell



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