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November 2011
Cropped 2011 head shotSnow?

Already? Now if you are in the Southern tier, or a warm weather place, you can stop snickering now. If you are in New England or Northern NYS, my condolences. If you are in a ski area--Woo hoo! Who says there's no such thing as climate change?

Kudos to Tracy Lobdell and her team at Canstruction LI for a terrific gala that introduced the wonderful "sculptures" created solely out of canned or packaged food. These talented and hardworking groups built fantastic structures including "Checkmate on Hunger," a life-size chess game. Canstruction raised over 48,000 cans of food for Long Island Cares/Harry Chapin Food Bank plus $2,000 in cash to help Long Islanders who don't have enough food to eat. If you are on Long Island, try to get to Rexcorp Plaza, Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale by November 10th to get a look at the work. If you aren't on Long Island, look to see if there is a Canstruction event in your city.
Happily, November brings us Veterans Day, an important commemoration, and Thanksgiving, so I hope you all have fun plans for this tasty holiday! 
Non-verbal Communication

Be Careful How You StandMartin Block 


We all spend a great deal of time on written or verbal communications.   Corporations often focus on advertising, public relations, and more recently, social media like Twitter. Individuals tend to focus on face-to-face meetings, introductory or marketing letters, and of course, social media as well. 

Non-verbal cues like the way one stands, or how one holds one's arms can negate all that nice written and verbal communications. At best, it can put all the messaging we spend so much time creating into question. I recently attended two presentations on Body Language, and came away with an enhanced appreciation for what we transmit non-verbally.


A recent and stunning example of this is the now famous (or infamous) Herman Cain commercial with his campaign chief of staff, Mark Block, looking confrontationally into the camera and puffing on a cigarette, blowing smoke right at the camera (and, by extension, viewers). What, in heaven's name, was he trying to say? They are pro-smoking? (If so, they'd better give more support to making health care more accessible.) Are they extreme Libertarians who don't want the government to tell us what to put into our bodies? (But if a smoker or second-hand smoke recipient gets lung cancer, either the government will pay for treatments, private insurance companies will pay, or no one pays and the person dies.) And of course, all this non-verbal, confusing communication was followed up by Cain's Cheshire-cat smile. What is up with THAT? 


Understanding non-verbal cues goes far beyond ads like this one. It can be very useful when you are in meetings and presentations and want to determine if your audience is engaged, or whether they can't wait to leave. It can come in handy when you are interviewing someone (or being interviewed); the person may be saying how interesting it would be to work at your company, but when his or her eyes keep shifting to the window, the door, or the clock, you know it's time to say, "Next!"


Of course, the other side of this equation is your own body language. So be aware of whether your arms are crossed, your eyes are meeting those of the person to whom you are speaking, and whether you are revealing more than you want to.

Listen and Learn

Social Media is Not Only About Talking


Following the theme of the aspects of communications and marketing that get less attention, many people spend a lot of time texting, tweeting, and posting about their companies, brands, and even themselves (personal brand), and a lot less time listening. We all know how effective digital media can be in getting our messages "out there." But are we so busy putting these messages out that we forget to see what is going on in the marketplace, or to listen to what others are putting out?


I have often compared market research to driving at night, posing the question: Would you drive at night without lights? If you did, you would not see obstacles in the road, much less other drivers; you could not act or react to potential dangers. Similarly, failing to listen to what customers or potential customers are saying will keep you ignorant of dangers in your marketplace. Failing to listen to what people are saying about your competitors will preclude you from acting or reacting to their activities. Many companies spend a lot of time acquiring customers, but less so in keeping them. Listening to what people are saying on social media can help you in both areas. It can alert you to problems in your customer relationships, as well as problems your competitors are having.


Listening and learning is not really new. It's just happening in a relatively new venue. Customer feedback has traditionally been obtained through surveys and focus groups, and competitive intelligence through secondary (desk) research and search engine exploration. These are still fine avenues for listening and learning, especially if your information objectives are very targeted. But digital media offer a whole new way to find out what customers are saying about your brand, your competitors, or the category altogether.


On an individual level, reading and analyzing digital information can help you avoid pitfalls in your career. It may help you to identify where the edge of the cliff is, and how to avoid going over it. You can find out what everyone else is doing so as to create a unique niche for yourself.


Turn on the lights so you can see what is ahead of you, what is on the sides, where the dangers are, and where the opportunities lie.


Upcoming Events
November 16, 11:30am-1:30pm 


IABC/LI is happy to feature Brendan Stanton, Assistant Suffolk County Executive for Communications and New Media, speaking about "Turning Social Media Into Traditional Media Coverage." Brendan will review various media applications, and the opportunities and hazards they present. This meeting will be held at the Huntington Hilton, 598 Broadhollow Road, Melville. For more information and to register, visit the IABC/LI website.


November 9, 8-10am


SMPS-LI is sponsoring an important meeting on the state of K-12 school construction. This meeting, held at Westbury Manor in Westbury, offers an impressive panel of experts. For more details and registration, click here.


November 9-10


New York IABC, is presenting Intranet Global Forum 2011. This two-day conference is important for anyone involved in internal communications. IABC members receive a $100 discount. Get more information at:


December 7, 6-8pm 
It's the annual IABC/LI holiday party! Get ready to have some fun! It will be held at 300 Long Island, a bowling alley on Broadhollow Road in Melville, just North of the Northern State Parkway on the West side of the street. There will also be a raffle to benefit the Lustgarten Foundation, which seeks an end to pancreatic cancer. Go to the website to find out more and to register.
This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:

Ann Middleman