A case study of a team approach to information architecture at Duke University by graduates of the Duke Continuing Studies Technical Communication Certificate program.
No matter how beautifully designed, if a site’s voice doesn’t ring true, it’s easy to spot an “ugh.” Rather than using this section of a site like a congratulatory press release, consider approaching “About Us” like a magazine’s Editor Letter.
Once viewed more as art than science, marketers are increasingly interested in measuring performance. Like it or not, there is a new wave of accountability in the world of marketing, and if you're not prepared, you could get swept under it. Companies are becoming increasingly concerned with ensuring that all activities are profitable. As a result, each dollar invested in marketing is being challenged to demonstrate bottom line performance. New forms of marketing, escalating ad costs and tools that purport to measure marketing effectiveness have all contributed to the pressure traditional media is facing to "prove its worth."
While accountants have been stereotyped as bean counters or number crunchers, good writing skills are an essential element to their success. Accountants must master the concepts and proper application of generally accepted accounting principles, but also must show they can communicate that understanding to peers, superiors, and clients.
This article examines the potential application of stakeholder theory to the case of a disabled worker returning to work. A gated notion combining both the instrumental and ethical views of stakeholder theory is explored as a way to understand how to determine who may be classified as a stakeholder. This nuanced application of stakeholding to the process of returning to work lends itself to the consideration of mediation techniques as mechanisms of conflict avoidance rather than exclusively as dispute resolution techniques. Implications in terms of the study of the return to work process, disability, and the further potential for practical application are discussed.
The advantages of peer feedback in business writing classes are clear. Students receive more appraisals of their writing than any single lecturer can ever realistically deliver. Also, the feedback comes from different perspectives and sometimes carries extra credibility coming from fellow students. Students gain from giving one another feedback as well. It is certainly learning by doing. Critiquing the work of colleagues raises awareness of the many ways to approach a given task and demands skills of analysis and attention to detail. Delivering feedback also requires tact and the ability to look for positives to commend as well as areas to improve. Reviewing written documents is a skill that students will certainly use in their future work lives. However, many of us have experienced problems with peer reviewing. Students hesitate to criticise their friends and prefer praising in a general way rather than suggesting improvements, which requires confidence.
Corporations increasingly pay attention to issues of social responsibility, but their policies and procedures to articulate such responsibilities are not just a result of the good will of top management. Often, such policies and procedures are devised because some stakeholders raised their voice on issues relating to the interests of employees, investors, governments, and others. One category of visible though heterogeneous stakeholders is composed of 'activist groups.' In this article, we present a range of tactics that activist groups employ to influence corporate policy and conclude with some corporate policy responses to these tactics, illustrated with some examples. Different Tactics Activist groups usually start an influence campaign by collecting and organizing information about some issue about which they are concerned (e.g., sustainable development, human rights, labor conditions), disseminating this information to their audiences and formulating desired outcomes. They inform the target firm's top management of their particular concern and propose desired outcomes or alternative courses of action. If the firm's responses are considered inadequate, they will likely continue their campaign, but by starting to employ a more varied set of tactics. Below, we discuss four different types of tactics that activist groups use to leverage pressure on firms and that do not rely on the state or legal action for resolution of the issue: shareholder activism, political consumerism, social alliances, and alternative business systems (de Bakker and den Hond, 2007).
Some say it's a revolution that will change radio broadcasting and people's listening habits forever. Others say it's a fad that's of limited appeal or use to anyone but geeks and enthusiasts. Whatever anyone says, something that has rocketed out of nowhere and gotten big companies and radio stations alike interested (and after only eight months) must be worth investigating. That "something" is called podcasting.
Policy writing and procedure writing is challenging because of the mechanics involved. Words must be carefully chosen; nuances must be considered. Understanding the mechanics of writing these documents is critical; however, an often overlooked aspect should be dealt with before the first word is written. How can policy and procedure writing tiptoe around the elephant in the room that everyone is trying to ignore?
According to research in educational psychology, advance organizers lead to better learning and recall of information. In this research, the authors explored advance organizers from a business perspective, where larger documents are read under time pressure. Graphic and verbal advance organizers were manipulated into six versions of an advisory report, read by 159 experienced professional readers in a between-subjects design. Their reading time was limited to encourage selective reading. The results show that graphic advance organizers facilitate selective reading, but they do not enhance recall. Verbal advance organizers introducing a problem enhance recall, and graphic advance organizers moderate the effects on both selective reading and recall.
With all the emphasis on ROI of public relations in the so-called 'marketing mix' to increase sales, the communications goals of most leaders and communicators go far beyond public relations ROI connected to sales.
Recently, while sitting in the waiting area of an out-patient surgical clinic, I was privy to one side of a cell phone conversation between a woman and a business associate. Apparently the woman was a social worker assigned to assist families with children who have gender identity issues. As the woman continued her conversation, discussing one particular family and giving intimate details of her meetings, I was astounded at the lack of concern for privacy. I learned the child’s full name (including the proper spelling of her first and last name), date of birth, social security number, street address—and then I learned her mother’s name and personal identification information as well. I was not alone.
When your organization lacks a compelling cause, you can at least take comfort in the idea that you’re pursuing your calling or vocation. Aligning with your calling is ideal, but this can be an issue for technical writers, because almost no one feels that technical writing is a calling.
All too often companies are focused on their own processes, wrapped up in a type of organizational navel gazing. They simply don’t know what customers actually go through. What’s more, logical solutions can cross departmental lines. Ideal solutions may require crossing those boundaries. An organization’s rigid decision making makes that difficult. Here’s where I believe IAs and UX designers can use our skills to make a difference. We have the ability to understand and to map out both business processes and the user experience. Visual representations can provide new insight into solutions that appeal to a range of stakeholders. Alignment diagrams are a key tool to do this.
This article challenges the conventional approach to cross-cultural communication teaching that instructs students to adapt their communication styles to different cultures by providing them with details about the particular practices of these cultures. It argues for an approach that focuses on common principles of effective communication by pointing out some limitations of the current culture-specific approach and presenting a pilot study that indicates the commonality of communication needs. It suggests some ways to find a different approach for studying international communication and shows that some current research is, in fact, moving in that direction.
This article identifies and assesses the effectiveness of communicating expectations, listening, delegating, and providing feedback in relation to the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership model. It reviews the correlation between task versus relationship behavior that forms the basis of the Situational Leadership model. Then the article summarizes information found in literature on effective techniques for the four skills stated above. As these techniques are identified, they are discussed in relation to their effective use in the Situational Leadership model. To understand the application of the model in businesses and its impact on managers communication effectiveness, we conducted a study of an operational department of a Fortune 500 financial services company. The results and content analysis of a survey we administered by random selection of the managers in this department indicate that successful use of the Situational Leadership model relies on effectiveness in four communication components: communicating expectations, listening, delegating, and providing feedback. Finally, we recommend areas of future research such as comparison analysis of surveys, interviews, and focus groups with subordinates of managers who have been trained on the Situational Leadership model and those who have not.
When bloggers attack, we, as trained communication experts, must be ready to respond, and must recognize bloggers as a new wave of reporters. Many are key influencers who can rally a community against you. Working with bloggers and responding quickly builds rapport and relationship. And gets you the bigger story—maybe even a more balanced story.
Anti-employer blogs, those which criticize companies or their employees, are posing significant legal and ethical challenges for corporations. The important legal issue is the conflict between the employee's legal duty of loyalty to the employer and the employee's right to free speech. Although U.S. and state law describes what an employee may or may not say in a blog, corporations should encourage employees to contribute to the process of creating clear, reasonable policies that will help prevent expensive court cases. The important ethical issue concerning anti-employer blogs is whether an employee incurs an ethical duty of loyalty. In this article, I conclude that there is no such ethical duty. The legal duty of loyalty, explained in a company-written policy statement that employees must endorse as a condition of employment, offers the best means of protecting the legal and ethical rights of both employers and employees.
Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) can help proposal writers identify effective document design techniques and parts of arguments that are critical to persuasion. In addition, ELM has implications for other types of technical communication, including recommendation or feasibility reports. While one would anticipate that decision-makers would be willing and able to evaluate critically all arguments presented in a recommendation report, ELM explains why this is rarely so. Therefore, technical communicators can profit by understanding and using the two routes to persuasion or attitude shift, the central and peripheral routes, explained by ELM.
Some of the nicest people we know send the most thoughtless e-mails. Many are telegraphic, with a smattering of disconnected words and abbreviations, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. Most are dashed off without review and arrive in their native state: confusing, grammarless and brimful of spelling errors. That's not even to mention lack of logic and transitions.
When you think about growing a business, you think about how to attract customers. You might build a web site, create marketing materials, and look for ways to get your message to the masses, but have you ever considered ways to repel clients? Separating the wheat from the chaff is a big part of creating a successful business.
Email signatures are so easy to do well, that it’s really a shame how often they’re done poorly. Many people want their signature to reflect their personality, provide pertinent information and more, but they can easily go overboard. Why are email signatures important? They may be boring and the last item on your list of things to get right, but they affect the tone of every email you write. Email signatures contain alternative contact details, pertinent job titles and company names, which help the recipient get in touch when emails are not responded to.