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NetGain update

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  • Jim Rink
    NETGAIN UPDATE June 30, 1999 ================ Published by NetGain. Electronic communications consulting for professional business communicators. Training.
    Message 1 of 10 , Jun 30, 1999
      June 30, 1999

      Published by NetGain. Electronic communications
      consulting for professional business communicators.
      Training. Consulting. Speaking. Succeeding!

      What's inside...

      * Permission-Based Email: It works
      * Using Online Information and Knowledge Sharing
      to Boost Credibility and Value
      * Survey Results...Not
      * The Leadership Challenge
      * NetGain Case Study:
      Telephone vs. Online Surveys
      * This Month...
      * About This Newsletter
      * About NetGain


      by Pete Shinbach, APR

      E-mail is the relationship manager's best ally in
      cyberspace. Nothing on-line is as effective in
      maintaining relationships with customers,
      stockholders or employees. On the other hand,
      nothing is as ineffective in maintaining those
      relationships. For the public relations, investor
      relations, corporate communications or marketing
      communications specialist, knowing how to use email
      is critical.

      According to Forrester Research, customer retention
      through email is becoming so popular because it's
      intimate and affordable. Email is, after all, by
      definition a 1-to-1 communications vehicle.
      It's personal. And it's cheap, costing the same to
      send one message as to send one thousand messages.

      However, the differences between effective and
      ineffective marketing email are important to consider.
      Email should be by permission. This newsletter is
      "by permission." Someone, probably you, asked for it.
      And you can ask that we stop sending it, although
      we hope you won't. In other words, you've given us
      permission to send you this newsletter and you can
      rescind that permission anytime you want. That's called
      permission or opt-in marketing.

      Does permission-based e-mail work? According to
      Forrester Research, it definitely does. Their recent
      study of on-line marketing shows that click-throughs
      from links in e-mail messages are almost 30-times
      more frequent than from web page banner ads.
      Furthermore, email marketing messages can be tracked
      completely. Customer or reader inquiries, online
      transactions, employee feedback and shareowner requests
      can be tracked to the individual making them. They can
      be tracked to the email message that person read. And that
      information can be cross-tabulated with customer,
      marketing, employee or other demographic data to
      develop precise customer, organizational, or other
      demographic profiles. It's a level of detail that web
      sites cannot approach.

      Email can also be personal. It can be addressed to you.
      It can contain information that you asked for. The
      tools to enable us to produce these highly-customized,
      personalized email messages are becoming readily
      available. They range from word processor add-ons
      to stand-alone communications software to very
      sophisticated network services. To be effective,
      however, they should not be used by themselves.
      They should be integrated with other communications

      In its March issue, the Harvard Communications Update
      listed 10 commandments of email. Although all are worth
      remembering, two are of special importance to professional
      communicators: "Thou shalt never substitute email for a
      necessary face-to-face meeting" and "Thou shalt remember
      the hierarchy and keep it sacrosanct: First the meeting,
      then the phone call, then the voice mail, then the email."

      Every relationship manager should consider these as well
      as the effectiveness of "by permission," personalized
      email campaigns when developing their employee, customer,
      shareowner or other communications strategy. If you do,
      as Harvard's 10 commandments of email, concludes, "you
      will have email righteousness, the glory of a clean
      virtual desk shall be yours, and all the cubicles will
      ring with your praise."


      Contact Pete at pete@....


      by Craig Jolley

      Like the relationship between necessity and invention,
      sometimes adversity can be a great source of

      Recently I was speaking with Sheila (not her real
      name), a communication manager with an international
      corporation facing a rather unique challenge. After
      months of trying to convince her company that an
      intranet offered valuable communication and knowledge
      management opportunities, her CEO finally agreed
      that the concept showed promise. Unfortunately, instead
      of providing the needed catalyst to spur the development
      of the intranet, the CEO's interest has instituted
      an internal political battle as various department
      heads now jockeying for position to "own" the project.

      Instead of moving forward, the company's intranet
      planning meetings have become power struggles over
      turf, span of control and leadership rights. Along
      the way Sheila and Communications-who had the original
      vision for the intranet-are being pushed to the
      background. As a result, little has been accomplished
      except for infighting.

      What Sheila needed, she said, was a way to regain a
      leadership position in the development of the intranet;
      not to become its "owner" per se, but to ensure strategic
      communications objectives were integrated into the
      intranet's design. As a result of this re-positioning,
      Sheila felt she would stand a better chance to get the
      intranet development efforts actually started and moving
      down the right path.

      To solve Sheila's dilemma I drew upon Francis Bacon's
      concept of "knowledge is power" and coupled it with a
      NetGain strategy and the power of online information.
      My advice: Set up an electronic environmental scan on
      intranets and become an internal electronic publisher
      to share this information and knowledge with members of
      her company, especially the CEO.

      By becoming a valuable source of information and knowledge
      about intranets Sheila can achieve several key objectives.
      First, she (and, by extension, the Communications Department) will be viewed as
      key intranet "subject matter experts" by others in the company and by top
      management. Secondly, she will be performing a valuable role in making sure
      that the intranet's development -- when it finally gets started -- will be
      based on solid information that will ultimately result in a better product.

      Lastly, Sheila will be demonstrating proactive leadership
      and problem solving, traits that certainly shouldn't hurt
      her in the eyes of management and her CEO.

      This is a strategy any communicator can use to enhance
      his or her position within their companies while
      simultaneously performing a valuable service.

      The online world is chock-full of incredible amounts of
      information. It is a simple matter of tracking down the
      best web sites, discussion groups, professional forums
      and electronic newsletters concerning a topic or issue
      of importance to your company. Once you have identified
      quality sources of information you can start collecting
      and saving this information to create a private,
      archival database or "knowledgebase."

      For example, NetGain has a knowledgebase of around 500
      web sites, white papers, articles, speeches, reports,
      etc., devoted solely to the topics of intranets and
      knowledge management.

      However, merely collecting information provides no
      value to you or your company. The true benefits come
      from sharing this accumulated information with as many
      people as possible. This too, can be a simple matter,
      given the publishing power of the internet, intranets
      and/or email.

      Of course, information sharing does not mean merely
      "dumping" it into employee's electronic in-boxes,
      adding to the problem of information overload.
      Instead, communicators should do what they do best:
      deliver the information within context, which
      can provide as much-if not more-value as the very
      information being distributed.

      True, it does take effort to learn how to efficiently
      research the Internet to find quality sources of
      information and added time to publish this information
      or incorporate it into existing electronic communication

      But for communicators searching for innovative ways
      to create and deliver value and help boost their
      credibility, it can be a highly productive investment
      both of time and effort.

      Reach Craig at craig@....


      by Shel Holtz, ABC


      That's the number of NetGain Update subscribers who
      completed the Web-based survey listed in our May 1999


      That's about the number of minutes it takes to complete
      the survey, so we don't believe anybody was put off by
      the work involved. After all, a good number of subscribers
      completed the first survey; we shared the results with
      the entire readership, and they were results you could
      use in your own workplace initiatives. So that leaves us
      with only one conclusion. The topic addressed by the
      survey did not resonate.

      The topic was discussion groups (or newsgroups or
      forums, or bulletin boards) as a component of an intranet.
      Either subscribers don't work for companies with
      discussion groups on their intranets, or they don't
      find them to be of any particular interest.

      When I raise the issue of discussion groups before
      communication audiences, I routinely ask how many
      have ever participated in one. Almost always, only a
      few scattered hands are raised. It is at that point
      that I admonish the rest of the audience to start.
      Now. Today. Because discussion groups reflect the
      future of online communication and a critical role
      for professional communicators.

      Does that seem to be going out on a limb? Consider a
      few implications:

      * Companies stand to suffer damage to their reputations
      through innuendo, rumor, or misinformation posted to
      newsgroups. Whose responsibility should it be to
      monitor such public discourse?

      * In the future, more and more commerce will take
      place, directly and indirectly, in these groups. A
      single comment could affect your organization's

      * On intranets, discussion groups are potentially
      the most significant channel for the transfer of
      knowledge in organizations. While knowledge transfer
      certainly is a component of Knowledge Management,
      it also is communication -- tacit, informal
      communication that could just as easily get out of
      control as it could benefit the organization.

      In fact, companies with intranet-based discussion
      groups that are managed as a communication asset
      routinely are among the group of better performing

      So don't write off discussion groups as somebody else's
      issue. The care and feeding of discussion groups belong
      squarely in the communication function.

      Next month, we'll be back with another survey featuring
      a new topic which, we hope, will be of greater interest.
      If there's something =you'd= like us know about your
      fellow subscribers, let us know.

      Email Shel at shel@...


      by Carol Kinsey Goman

      Over the last quarter of a century, leadership has
      taken on many new and complex dimensions. The dilemma
      currently facing leaders is to develop an organization
      that can achieve tomorrow's goals while continuing
      to meet today's challenges. To balance these organizational
      demands requires a new standard of leadership - the ability
      to positively influence human behavior in an environment
      of uncertainty and chaos. This ability goes beyond
      acquiring a set of leadership skills and strategies.
      It goes to the very heart of personal values, attitudes,
      and character.

      Who would you follow into difficult circumstances? Why
      would you follow him or her? When I put these questions
      to groups of employees, a leadership profile emerges that
      reflects the changing needs and demands of today's work

      **Leadership as Vision**

      In contrast to control-minded authority of the past,
      today's leaders must exercise power through a shared
      purpose and vision. An organizational vision is not
      the same as long-range or even strategic planning.
      Planning is a linear process; progression toward a goal.
      Vision is more holistic -- a sense of direction that
      combines a good business strategy with a comprehensive
      organizational purpose that declares its own importance.
      A vision describes a business as it could become over the
      long term and outlines a feasible way of achieving this
      goal. To transform an organization, leaders must adopt
      and communicate a vision of the future that impels people
      beyond the boundaries and limits of the past.

      Leaders who articulate such visions aren't mystics, but
      broad-based thinkers who are willing to take risks.
      Visionary leaders don't have to be brilliant, highly
      innovative, or incredibly charismatic. But they do have
      to be intently focused on what it is they are trying to
      achieve. Fred Smith of FedEx put it in these very practical
      terms: "If there is any indication that the leader is not
      totally committed to achieving the vision, then all
      the sweet talk in the world will not get people to support

      **Leadership as Trust**

      Until recently, managers' primary function has been
      supervision -- telling employees what to do and measuring
      how well they did it. But the new breed of individualistic
      employees increasingly don't want or need to be supervised.
      They need to be set free in the sphere of their own
      authority. A critical element to leading in new ways that
      encourage participation and responsibility, is a deep
      belief in the potential of your employees to make
      responsible decisions.

      To make responsible decisions, workers need information,
      support, encouragement, and resources. The amount of
      information and the scope of authority that leaders
      give the work force is proportional to how much they
      trust their people. The issue of trust is also pivotal
      in a living systems model of organization, where leaders
      begin with a strong vision or intent -- not a set of
      action plans -- and expect plans to emerge locally
      from responses to the needs and contingencies
      inherent in that intent. In this model, it is crucial
      that leaders trust the organization's intelligence to
      organize in whatever way the future requires.

      **Leadership as Vulnerability**

      Recognition of the potential of the work force for
      contributing solutions to organizational problems has
      increased while the infallibility of leaders and the
      certainty of management tasks have declined. The
      unquestioned authority of leaders in the corporation
      of the past has been replaced by the need to acknowledge
      the insight and expertise of those below, and to enlist
      employees as true partners.

      No one leader can fully absorb and comprehend the
      colliding tyrannies of speed, quality, customer
      satisfaction, foreign competition, diversity and
      technology that are shaping the future. Often,
      there is more that is unknown about the exact
      direction of the organization than is known -- even
      at the highest levels. Moving from a model in which
      leadership made all the decisions and knew all the
      answers to an organizational environment of openness,
      candor, and empowerment takes a willingness by leaders
      to become and remain highly vulnerable.

      By accepting and sharing imperfections, leaders show
      they are not afraid to look weak or uninformed in front
      of others -- and that frees other people to admit that
      they don't have all the answers either. These are
      disorienting times for all of us who are trying to
      make major decisions in a sea of change. As GE's
      Jack Welch famously put it: "If you're not confused,
      you don't know what's going on."

      **Leadership as Values**

      Webster defines value as "a principle, standard or
      quality considered inherently worthwhile or desirable."
      The root is the Latin valor, which means strength.
      Values are a source of strength for an enterprise
      or an individual. As leadership strategy moves from
      coercion to cooperation, the key to bonding people
      to the goals of the organization automatically becomes
      the intangibles -- relationships, commitments and
      shared values.

      An organization with cohesive values is like a
      hologram -- every part contains enough information
      in condensed form to display the whole. A hologram is
      a wonderful image for an organization. An observer
      can see the whole organization's culture and ways
      of doing business by watching one individual
      -- whether a production floor employee, the receptionist
      at the front desk, or a senior manager. There is a
      consistency and predictability to the quality of behavior.
      This quality is achieved through a combination of simply
      expressed expectations of acceptable behavior and the
      freedom available to individuals to align their actions
      with the boundaries of the whole organization's values.

      **Leadership as Motivation**

      "Two years ago, I remember discussions in my company
      almost always focused on competing through technology.
      The company with the best computer banking product or
      the best smart card or the best virtual banking
      capability would carry the day. But corporations
      are just beginning to learn something extremely

      Technology is so pervasive today that almost any company
      with enough money can buy any new development it wants.
      In our industry alone, we are seeing one bank after
      another introducing new electronic products in a game
      of technology leapfrog which has left the customer
      bewildered and confused. Yet the competitive advantage
      seems to be leaving the realm of technology and entering
      the realm of the individual. Why? Because only the human
      being has the capability -- the emotion, creativity and
      motivation -- to bring the benefits of technology to
      life." -- Chris Andersen, Senior Advisor, Royal Bank
      of Canada

      The secret to being a great motivator is knowing that
      motivation isn't something that can be forced or ordered.
      Motivation is an intrinsic capacity of human beings that
      can be tapped, nurtured, and developed -- but never
      coerced. In essence, all motivation is self-motivation.
      It manifests when leaders hold a compelling vision of
      the future, have a strong personal desire to realize
      that vision, trust in the talent and abilities of the
      work force, embody the values of the organization,
      and have the ability to inspire people to embrace a
      common cause. Then true personal motivation "magically"

      Reach Carol at carol@....


      by Tudor Williams, ABC

      We had the opportunity to put two data gathering methods
      to the test. A professional association, charged with the
      mandate to negotiate with an arm of government on behalf
      of its 4000 members, wanted to take the pulse of member
      opinion about the last round of negotiations.

      In previous pulse taking surveys, random samples of 400
      members were polled by a public opinion polling company.
      This time the association decided to run parallel
      surveys -- a telephone poll of 400 randomly selected members
      and an online survey, using an email message inviting
      members to participate by clicking on the hyperlink in
      the message. About one third of the members had email

      The results? The telephone survey took four days to
      administer and three days to process the data and
      overnight courier service deliver results to the client
      in spread sheet format. The online survey, in the first
      two days, received almost 400 responses. The full
      results, in bar graph format, sat on the client's
      desk on the third morning as pdf files ready for
      publication on their members' web site.

      In addition, the verbatim comments of 280 members,
      offered with the survey, were transcribed electronically
      and submitted along with the graphs. Comparisons of the
      accuracy of the data showed a variance of less than
      +/- 4% (accepted industry standard) on all but two
      items where the variance was 5% and 6%.

      The survey contained 35 questions. Comparisons of
      the cost showed the the telephone survey was four
      times more expensive and took three times longer to
      produce than the electronic survey. The end
      of an era for polling and market research by
      telephone? It may not be around the corner -- at least
      not as long as Web and email access is not pervasive.
      Nonetheless, it =is= coming faster than you think.

      To learn more how NetGain's electronic survey
      services can benefit your measurement needs
      contact any NetGain partner or send e-mail to


      * Began consulting with a government agency to develop an
      intranet site that will allow cross-organizational
      management of major projects, and communication among
      various agencies involved in the projects.

      * Undertook the revision of a major healthcare organization's
      intranet structure.

      * Helped a public relations firm develop an Internet
      marketing and awareness strategy for one of its clients.


      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 email message to
      * For more information on the newsletter and your
      subscription options, send an email message to

      This newsletter is managed and distributed using UnityMail,
      a product of Revnet. Get information at


      NetGain is a unique consortium. It is the only consulting
      organization made up of public relations and business
      communications consultants dedicated to helping other
      PR and business communications organizations capitalize
      on the advances being made in electronic communications
      technology. Using desktop computing, organizational
      networks or the Internet, NetGain helps professional
      communications organizations -- agencies, corporations,
      associations and non-profits -- develop and execute
      strategic electronic information programs. We help
      communicators succeed.

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


      Jim Rink
      Senior Contributing Editor


      AAA Michigan, 1 Auto Club Drive, Dearborn MI 48126
      (313) 336-1513 voice (313) 336-0986 fax

      pr@... userg@...
      http://www.aaamich.com http://www.jimrink.com


      PRBytes Web page: http://www.jimrink.com/cmc.html

      "Not all that is gold does glitter..."
    • Jim Rink
      I m reposting the latest (Aug. 24) edition of NetGain for the benefit of some new subscribers, and for those who may have missed it the first time. The NetGain
      Message 2 of 10 , Sep 16, 1999
        I'm reposting the latest (Aug. 24) edition of NetGain
        for the benefit of some new subscribers, and for
        those who may have missed it the first time.

        The NetGain online survey conducted in July and
        August, shows minimal involvement of communication
        professionals in the development and management of
        strategies to attract and retain good employees:



        Jim Rink
        Senior Contributing Editor


        AAA Michigan, 1 Auto Club Drive, Dearborn MI 48126
        (313) 336-1513 voice (313) 336-0986 fax

        pr@... userg@...
        http://www.aaamich.com http://www.jimrink.com


        PRBytes Web page: http://www.jimrink.com/cmc.html

        "Not all that is gold does glitter..."
      • Jim Rink
        NETGAIN UPDATE June 28, 2000 ================= Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications. ================ What s inside... * Profiling
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 29, 2000
          June 28, 2000

          Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint
          for eCommunications.

          What's inside...

          * Profiling Change Adeptness
          * Catching Curves From The Online Media
          * Just Do It: Childhood Lessons
          Might be Key in KM Development
          * Passing on Paint-By-Numbers Press Releases
          * This Month...
          * About This Newsletter
          * About NetGain


          by Carol Kinsey Goman

          I'll bet that your organization has developed a profile
          of the abilities and attitudes that it takes to be a
          top salesperson or an effective leader. I'll also bet
          that your company hasn't developed a profile of what it
          takes to thrive on change. And yet, for an organization
          to prosper in today's fiercely competitive and
          fundamentally unstable world of business, it needs more
          than proficient salespeople or even great leadership.
          The key to success in a changing world is a workforce that
          thrives in a state of constant transformation.

          Through extensive research and experience consulting
          with companies around the world, I've found five
          factors that determine whether a person is "change-adept"
          -- that is, proficient at dealing with not only transition,
          but upheaval. The following is a summary of my findings
          and a few recommendations for nurturing your personal

          Factor #1: Confidence

          Play to your strengths. Confidence stems from being
          aware of your strengths and talents. Where do you focus
          your attention -- on competencies and accomplishments
          or on mistakes and weaknesses? No one ever achieved
          great things by being "well-rounded." To build confidence,
          notice and reward your successes, and discover those
          talents that make you special so that you can develop
          them to their fullest.

          Factor #2: Challenge

          Nurture your optimism. Question: Is the glass half-
          empty or half-full? Answer: It's both. So is change.
          Pessimists will tell you every reason why change won't
          work -- which can be a healthy part of preparing for
          possible outcomes -- but if you fixate on the negative
          aspects, you intensify feelings of stress and frustration.
          Optimists more readily see the positive potential in change
          -- and if you fixate on opportunities, you liberate energy
          and enthusiasm.

          Factor #3: Coping

          Lighten up. In every industry, specific knowledge now
          becomes obsolete at warp speed. To succeed, all of us must
          be adaptable, flexible, and open to ongoing learning.
          Rather than bracing yourself for the inevitable change,
          remember to bring a sense of humor and spirit of fun to
          the workplace to cushion all that rolling with the punches.

          Factor #4: Counterbalance

          Get a life. It's a fact documented by my eighteen years
          of research: Workers with interests beyond business are
          more resilient under stress and more effective on the job.
          >From art to sports to friends and family -- you'll do best
          with work-related change when your life is filled with

          Factor #5: Creativity

          Honor your inner genius. Buckminster Fuller once said,
          "Everyone is born a genius. Society de-geniuses them."
          Remember that you were born curious, creative, and
          innovative. You develop this innate creative potential when
          you solicit diverse opinions to generate new thoughts,
          question rules and regulations, contribute ideas beyond
          the limits of your job description, and seek any business
          experience that exposes you to new knowledge and skills.

          Carol is available at carol@...


          by Pete Shinbach, APR

          Here it is, late June, and my to-do list shows two things
          to write today: this Update article and a seminar I�m
          presenting next week. The seminar is about working with
          online media and it�s for public relations people who,
          presumably, have experience working with traditional
          media. So, I thought I�d give you a preview of next
          week�s seminar. In a nutshell, there�s basically no
          difference working with online or traditional media.
          We still have to know what they�re writing about. We
          have to know who their readers are and what those
          readers expect. We have to know the e-pubs� deadlines.
          And, we have to know when and how to pitch ideas. In other
          words, it�s Media Relations 101. But then, the online
          media world starts throwing curves at us.

          For example, there can either be more deadlines or no
          deadlines. If the online publication has a print
          counterpart, as is the case with most daily newspapers
          in the U.S., the deadlines for the electronic and paper
          versions may not be in synch. What�s more, the editorial
          staffs for the two publications may not be the same.
          In fact, as is the case with some sections of the New
          York Times� online edition, the editorial staffs may not
          even work for the publication whose name is on the
          masthead: they may work for another news organization.
          And, to make this picture even more complicated,
          relationships between newsgathering and news-publishing
          organizations seem to change more frequently than airline
          ticket prices as their parent companies form, reform and
          dissolve their on-line relationships. Just about any
          issue of The Industry Standard (www.thestandard.com), a
          leading Internet business weekly, will show you what I�m
          talking about. So, what�s the solution to this media morass?

          PR doesn�t have far to look for a clue. If we look at what
          the investor relations business has been doing for the past
          several years, we can see how to build valuable knowledge
          bases that can support any ongoing media relations program.
          In IR, it�s called "targeting" and its goal is to identify
          the Wall Street analysts who follow a company�s performance,
          compiling as much information about each analyst and their
          firms as possible. The sharp IR firm or department can
          then take that information and add to it. It can connect
          that information to stock tracking, news release, financial
          news gathering and other online services. Add to that the
          history the IR group has with each analyst -- the information
          it�s exchanged with the analyst and the meetings it�s
          hosted for the analyst -- and the result is a dynamic
          knowledge base the IR pro can use to create highly focused
          communications programs directed at those financial
          analysts who can affect their company�s market value.

          PR organizations can do the same thing. They can marry their
          media lists with news reports, industry analyses, editorial
          calendars, trade show & event schedules and other online
          information plus a history of their relationship with each
          journalist & publication to build their own knowledge bases.
          Some companies, such as Vocus (www.prality.com) and MediaMap
          (www.mediamap.com) already provide some of the building
          blocks necessary to create these invaluable resources.
          None, however, provide turnkey, off-the-shelf solutions.
          For that, PR groups need to first define exactly what types
          of information they need to gather and what they intend to
          do with it. Will it be solely for internal use or will it
          be shared with clients either through intranets or extranets?
          Will it be used for quantitative or more valuable qualitative
          analysis? Once those and other questions have been answered,
          the PR group will be in a far better position to target the
          growing number of media opportunities being spawned by the
          Internet and its constantly changing electronic media

          Reach Pete at pete@...


          By Craig Jolley

          If you are frustrated trying to build support for Knowledge
          Management initiatives, you might want to consider using an
          approach from your pre-school days to get things moving:
          Show and Tell. This is the advice of two KM World online
          subscribers contest winners who were asked "what has
          worked and what has not worked" in getting their organizations
          moving on KM initiatives.

          Both winners say that following the "show me" model allows
          them to demonstrate actual results, not just talk about
          promised benefits through paper or computer-based presentations.
          As one winner, Bernie, an IT manager for a large government
          agency explains, "Often corporate politics just doesn't
          move fast enough to "ask permission," explain what KM is,
          get support and convince management of a new corporate

          "Remember the first time you tried to explain what a
          spreadsheet was to someone who had never used one? What
          did you do to "just show 'em" how it works? Most of us
          put the numbers 1, 2, and 3 in A1, A2 and the A3 cells,
          then summed the column in A4 (see, even here it's dry!).
          The real "a-ha" came when you changed one of the numbers
          and the answer automatically changed, right? Don't try
          to explain KM or the concepts around KM, or seek to get
          permission to do it. Just do it -- it will sell itself, "
          Bernie says.

          So, the next time you might be tempted to develop a really
          slick PowerPoint presentation extolling the virtues of
          introducing interactive discussion groups for your intranet,
          consider instead seeing if you can't just implement it for
          one or two departments. Then go into that meeting with
          actual user responses and benefits documented. It just
          might be the trick you need to convince others by creating
          a bridge from the known to the unknown.

          Contact Craig at craig@...


          by Shel Holtz, ABC

          Think "Dell Computers," and the association you instantly
          make is...press releases?

          Dig just a bit into the Dell site (at www.dell.com), and
          you'll find the company is trying to make a few extra bucks
          by cranking out press releases, presumably for companies
          without the resources to have them produced by public
          relations professionals.

          "It's hard to get the word out -- especially when you
          devote most of your time to running your business," the
          site laments. "Have you ever thought about spending time
          on the Internet to build publicity?" Dell's "EWorks P.R.
          Workshop," as it's called, promises to deliver "publicity-
          building materials in as little as 30 minutes." The services
          range from a writing service where "a professional writer
          will craft a news release for you to ensure that it fits
          media standards" to a distribution service that promises
          to get your release to "over 22,000 media outlets
          throughout the world."

          At first, one wonders if Dell has ever heard of the
          concept of "core competencies." You have to wonder how
          much of the company's resources are dedicated to this
          effort that might possibly be pumped into producing
          better computers -- and better customer service. Then
          you wonder if you want your press release written by
          a computer-maker. Finally, you say, "Wait a minute.
          Can a "professional writer" who gets a submission off
          a Website actually produce a press release that can
          generate measurable results?"

          The idea is absurd...and the company's claim to be
          able to pull it off for $149 only adds to the absurdity.
          A writer from "Wired" magazine made up a company in
          order to use the service. He produced a description
          of the company that was completely meaningless, which
          wound up posted to many of the best-known business news
          sites on the Web thanks to Dell. Just think -- Dell
          could do that for =your= company!

          Of course, Dell isn't the first to offer Web-driven
          template-based press releases. I have seen several
          such offerings; there's one at
          http://snap.internetwire.com My fellow NetGain
          founder Pete Shinbach noted a defunct partnership
          of two Detroit-based PR agency employees dreamed
          up the idea about five years ago. The difference
          with Dell is based on the fact that Dell isn't
          two communication professions with public
          relations experience; it's a hardware company.
          If it's a bad idea for PR pros, it's even
          worse for a company that should be =hiring=
          communication professionals instead of offering
          the service.

          If Dell's making money at this, maybe we'll start a
          service on the NetGain site providing computer
          technical support. We're as qualified for that as
          Dell is to write press releases.

          Shel can be contacted at shel@...


          * Delivered the opening keynote speach for an
          international association to help the audience of
          trainers deal with the impact of e-learning.
          * Participated as guest lecturers at the Seton Hall
          online university organizational communication course.
          * Presented a teleseminar for a national professional
          organization about online media relations and how it
          differs from traditional news media.
          * Taught workshops on how to write for the Web in Brussels
          and London.
          * Consulted with a major automaker on issues related to
          online public relations.
          * Accepted an assignment to help a major manufacturer
          develop companywide Internet, intranet and ecommerce
          * Presented a keynote talk for a college system addressing
          the change-management issue for educators and administration
          of moving to e-education.


          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 email message to
          * For more information on the newsletter and your
          subscription options, send an email message to

          This newsletter is managed and distributed using UnityMail,
          a product of MessageMedia. Get information at


          NetGain is a unique consortium. It is the only consulting
          organization made up of public relations and business
          communications consultants dedicated to helping other
          PR and business communications organizations capitalize
          on the advances being made in electronic communications
          technology. NetGain's solutions are built upon four
          cornerstones of People, Culture, Business Strategy and
          Technology which are translated into successful coaching,
          competitive analysis, consulting, knowledge management,
          research, seminars, speaking and strategy development

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


          Jim Rink
          Senior Contributing Editor


          AAA Michigan, 1 Auto Club Drive,
          Dearborn MI 48126

          (313) 336-1513 voice (313) 336-0986 fax

          pr@... userg@...
          http://www.aaamich.com http://www.jimrink.com


          PRBytes Web page: http://www.jimrink.com/cmc.html

          "Not all that is gold does glitter..."
        • Jim Rink
          NETGAIN UPDATE August 31, 2000 ================= Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications. ================ What s inside... * You Know
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 31, 2000
            NETGAIN UPDATE
            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 5 of 10 , Nov 29, 2001
              NETGAIN UPDATE
              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.

              ONLINE BOGEYMEN

              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 6 of 10 , Oct 28, 2002
                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 7 of 10 , Apr 22, 2003
                  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.

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                  Jim Rink
                  1705 Mansfield
                  Birmingham, MI 48009

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



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