About the up- and downside of innuendos

Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, explains the logic behind using innuendos instead of speaking straight.

Relationship types (dominance, communality and reciprocity) are reflected in language. If the relationship type  is not clearly  defined, innuendos are one way to avoid conflict. Moreover, the content of innuendos only create individual knowledge instead of mutual knowledge and that´s why their content (if inappropriate) can be “taken back”.

The video also explains, why for example calling the boss by his or her first name might cause akwardness among employees instead of comfort. It also explains why mutual knowledge is so important in change-processes. This leads us back to the key role that access to information has in a democracy.

For more videos from the RSA go to RSA Comment.


Social Media – Get involved or stay away?

Social media changes the communication culture in certain target groups, the way they gather information and prepare purchasing decisions. Many companies still do not know how best to deal with this new channel, in particular because it calls for a new culture of communication and because traditional strategies do not work.

In our strategy workshop, we help you to determine:

  • Whether getting involved in social media would benefit your company (target groups, advantages and disadvantages of social media etc.)
  • The departments for which social media might be a useful channel (for example: PR, customer services, sales; cost-benefit analysis)
  • The kind of resources you would need (one or more employees, outsourcing to a partner etc.)
  • Who in your company should be involved in your plans
  • How you can represent your corporate culture in social media (wording, topics etc.)

In addition to advice on social media strategies, we will also provide you with practical support in your day-to-day business, as well as in developing your digital discussion platforms and implementing campaigns. We will go online for you, analyse how your company is perceived and help your employees establish communication. We will formulate your social media guidelines and advise you on implementation issues. Your social media concept will thus become an integral part of your company’s overall communication strategy.

We develop all our services according to your individual requirements. Simply give us a call: +49 (0)6073-6889186 (Katharina Scheid).


Systemic Effects: Why Wikileaks has to pitch stories

wikileakswall6Everyone would have thought that publishing secret material like the embassy cables would in itself create so much attention, that no additional pitching would be necessary. In fact, Wikileaks learned that this is not the case. With pitching I mean the term used in PR, which means bringing a topic to an editor´s attention by calling him, writing an email or summarizing the story by writing an abstract.

Originally the Wikileaks founders thought, that all those thousands of people editing Wikipedia and all those bloggers commenting on critical issues, complaining that they never get access to an original source like established media outlets do, all these people would be delighted if they got original source material and they would spread it on the net in no time creating maximum impact.

But according to Julian Assange, this is not what he experienced. Simply publishing source material does not work. I think legal consequences do also play a role, but his conclusion is that non-professional editors only write about topics that display their values to their peers. I guess this is the reason why it is so hard to get coverage on facts that oppose the current opinion of many bloggers (and editors also), which I already experienced myself.

Assange concluded that Wikileaks had to give at least summaries of the source material or in case of more complicated stories, write an article. They actually liaised with editors to give them the material plus story on an exclusive or semi exclusive basis and to spread the embassy cable news worldwide, Wikileaks liaised with major editorial houses in the US and Europe.

A year ago many people watching the development of the internet as a news channel predicted that the internet would lead to maximum transparency. Well yes, there is much more transparency now, but the “currency” on the net (as everywhere else) is still attention, as Google puts it. The Wikipedia example shows that apart from all transparency on the net, news still follow the “old rules” in terms of how to create awareness, and that a lot of the impact (apart from the story) depends on the credibility of the publisher and the awareness he or she can create among the general public, which means inside AND outside the internet.

PS: I really like the Guardian Live Blog on Wikileaks. It´s very interesting to follow the events and comments on Wikileaks around the world in real time and in one place.


How to get some sleep on a flight – with a consultant in the seat next to you

An Andersen Consultant and a Deloitte Consultant are sitting next to
each other on a long flight from LA to NY. The Andersen Consultant
leans over to the Deloitte Consultant and asks if he would like to
play a fun game. The Deloitte Consultant just wants to take a nap,
so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few
winks. The Andersen Consultant persists and explains that the game is
real easy and a lotta fun. He explains “I ask you a question, and if
you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a
question, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $5.”

Again, the Deloitte Consultant politely declines and tries to get to
sleep. The Andersen Consultant, now somewhat agitated, says, “OK, if
you don’t know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the
answer, I’ll pay you $50!”

This catches the Deloitte Consultant’s attention, and


More than Words: Clouds

newsspectrum journalism PR_smExpressions people associate with specific topics are very important in communication. They create the film that is played in people´s heads while listening to narration or reading a text. The associations change over time, depending on currently discussed topics and experiences of the individual of the past. And of course, everybody has his or her own associations.

While planning a new campaign or drafting a new speech it is often very helpful to know what is currently associated with a single word.  Thanks to Leander Wattig I recently found neoformix.com and the tool News Spectrum.  It is a visualization tool that shows which words are associated with a specific pair of terms in the news (taken from results from Google News.) One topic is coloured blue, the other red, and the associated words are coloured and positioned closer or further away based on how highly they are associated with one or the two topics.

You can try News Spectrum by clicking here and enter your own terms of interest. Maybe the results help you to better shape the wordig and associations you use in your next campaign.

Below I ran the expressions “Journalism” versus ” PR” and got interesting results, see yourself.