Coping with Natural and Social Media Disasters

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations.

On April 27-28 2011 hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern United-States. The state of Alabama was especially hit hard on the day of the outbreak. April 27 2011 would turn out to be one of the worse tornado days in United States history with a record 205 tornadoes touching down that day.

Lina – skiing, North Lake Tahoe

I’m a big fan of Backcountry, I love to browse their site for skiing gear.  Friends often tease me that I should be awarded stock options in return for my enthusiastic endorsement of the company. Not a ski trip goes by when I don’t bring them up in conversation.

Founded in 1996, Backcountry is an online outdoor retailer that specializes in high-end outdoor recreation gear. was named the 2009 Backpacker Magazine/SNEWS Online Retailer of the Year and consistently makes the ranks of Internet Retailer Magazine’s Best of the Web Top 50 Retail Sites many times.


Related posts: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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I plan my shopping and purchases based on the site deals.  More often than not, I am made aware of the deals by way of the regular emails I get from the company.  You can imagine my disbelief when the following appear in my inbox on April 27 2011:

“Mother Nature Hates You”: Backcountry email blast on April 28 2011, as hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the United-States.

A Tasteful Apology Arrives the Next Day

Backcountry Email Apology – April 28 2011

The apology by CEO Jay Layfield is timely, sincere and to the point.  The communication leads with the apology and also includes an explanation about the realities of email marketing.  Backcountry is up-front about the mistake. They are able to resolve this unfortunate issue and move forward while being sensitive to those affected by the devastating tornados.


Apologies take the energy out of conflicts

Apologies separate time into past and future, problem and resolution

Apologies allow for recognition and shared accountability

Source:  7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy


Related posts:

Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management 

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word


Examples of Timely Updates

Amazon cloud outage takes down Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, & more

On July 29 2012, an outage of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud in North Virginia took down Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram, and other services.  Amazon Inc.’s web services division provides web services and data storage facilities.  Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest used Twitter and Facebook to update subscribers after violent storms across the eastern U.S. caused server outages for hours.

Many Instagram’s users were searching for answers. “Instagram” was the top search term on Google on June 30th, according to Google Trends.

Read the full article via Sean Ludwig on Venture Beat

Related Articles:

Amazon Web Services Knocked Offline by Storms by Nick Bilton via New York Times

Amazon Cloud Goes Down Friday Night, Taking Netflix, Instagram And Pinterest With It by Anthony Wing Kosner via Forbes


The art of communication is the language of leadership.   James Humes 

Apologizing Opens up the Doors to Communication

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations. Apologizing opens up the doors to communication, which allows you to reconnect and move on more easily.

Related Posts

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Elton is Right: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Social Media Blunders: It’s best to think in terms of “when” instead of “if” situations

Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, communicates about your brand. A mistake speaks volumes about your (in)ability to manage social media effectively.  Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point.

You said something, disclosed confidential information or shared images that are not supportive of your business.  How do you recover from such a slip up?

Irrespective of its origins, you must respond quickly to a social media crisis. Successful crisis management depends largely on developing a planned and integrated communications approach.


Social Media Preparedness References:


You’ve Blundered

Whether you accidentally tweet an insensitive message or a customer posts a disparaging video about your product, don’t panic. The starting point is to apologize via the same medium where the highly visible mistake originated. Offer an apology in public comments. Explain how you will take steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

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Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.  George Bernard Shaw

Action and Apology: It’s a two-step process

  1. You must first publicly acknowledge that there is an issue whether you are at fault or not.
  2. Apologize: this is an opportunity for you to separate out the past and future through problem and resolution.

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

For both romantic and professional relationships, apologizing has got to be one of the most difficult things to do. To put yourself in the right frame of mind, consider the lyrics to“Sorry seems to be the hardest word”written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin; recorded by Elton John and released in 1976.

    • What I got to do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to make you care?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • And I wake to find that you’re not there?
    • What I got to do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad, sad situation
    • And it’s getting more and more absurd
    • It’s so sad so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • What I do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad sad situation
    • And it’s gotten more and more absurd
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • Yeh…..sorry
    • Nah…….
    • Sorry
    • What do I do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • Yeah…..What do I got to do?
    • What do I got to do?
    • When sorry seems to be the hardest word


Related Posts

OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

 Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

 Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management

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Making an apology can be complex but it has to sound simple and sincere

It is very simple to apologize but constructing the right words to say will take some time. Whenever possible, personalize your response to a specific person or through the face / voice of your corporation.  Be sure to strike the right tone.

Consider the following references and excerpts on the subject of apologies.

Three Little Words Every Leader Needs to Learn” by Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business School.

  • There are three little words that extraordinary leaders know how to say, and I’m not thinking of “I love you” (but those are pretty good). The magic words areI was wrong.”  Husbands and wives know that saying those words to each other can be even more endearing than endearments. When leaders say them to their teams in a timely fashion, they build confidence and can move on to a better path.
  • The simple sentence “I was wrong” is the hardest for leaders to utter and the most necessary for them to learn.
  • If a leader cannot admit being wrong in a timely fashion, he or she can never correct mistakes, change direction, and restore success. The consequences get worse the longer the denial prevails.
  • Of course, we don’t want leaders who are forced to say “I was wrong” too often.
  • Perhaps apology training will become a growth business. Actually, I hope not. But I do hope that smart leaders will be more alert to problems, and if mistakes are made, they can utter the three magic words and take corrective action.

Smart Apologies Should Be Strategicby Rosanna M. Fiske via Harvard Business School Blog Network

  • Throwing half-hearted apologies at an issue will just exacerbate a festering problem — and people will view it as an obvious and empty attempt to quiet the masses.

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 Know When and How to Apologize

While you might want publicity to be the end result of your public relations effort, this is not always the case. You don’t always govern the source and means of public attention. Publicity is not always positive and is not always under the control of your organization.  You and your brand are open to general observation.  Be sure to have a plan to respond to both positive and negative events.  Know when and how to apologize.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. Bruce Lee

Additional Insights: 


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Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management

Successful Crisis Management = Planned and Integrated Communications Approach

In her books “Les Médias Sociaux 101” and “Les Médias Sociaux 201” (Social Media 101 and 102 respectively), en français), social media expert Michelle Blanc includes many cases studies that illustrate the dos’ and don’ts of public relations crisis management in a social media era.

One of them focuses on Maple Leaf Foods, a leading consumer packaged food company; headquartered in Toronto with operations across Canada and in the United States.  In August 2008, deaths were linked to listeriosis from contaminated meat originating from a Maple Leaf Foods plant.  The company reacted quickly and without hesitation.


Related posts:  OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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Investigative reporter Abby Martin wrote a blog post that chronicles the steps taken by Maple Leaf Foods in response to the crisis (How They Handled This).  She concludes with the following sobering comment:

However, ultimately, the company’s swift and thorough response will not be considered enough. Because their actions will be of small comfort to those who have been sickened or who have lost loved ones to this nasty bacterial outbreak.

For the most part, Ms. Blanc agrees with Ms. Martin’s assessment of Maple Leaf Foods’ operational execution from a traditional crisis management standpoint (newspapers, press release, web site updates) and that the company reacted swiftly to the situation.

However, Ms. Blanc carries her analysis a bit further and exposes where the company fell short on the digital and social media fronts.  While Twitter and Facebook were not yet widely embraced by corporations in 2008, she argues that a corporate blog and digital media integration would have helped Maple Leaf Foods fair better in its operational response to the crisis.


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Ms. Blanc points out that a regularly nurtured blog helps with search engine referencing and develops strong ties with key constituents.  The company would have greatly benefited from a social media listening strategy (proactive reputation monitoring) and a corporate blog (to complement press release and regular updates).  A response via a corporate blog is easily passed around and has some degree of permanence.  However, you don’t want to create a blog just for the reply.


InformationWeek: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web

and   7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online


Not only did Maple Leaf Foods suffer from poor search engine indexing, it failed to purchase key words such as “maple leaf” and “listeriosis”.  As it turns out, these key words had been purchased by a law firm seeking support in a class action suit against the company. Consequently, at the height of the crisis, a web search on “maple leaf” and listerioisis” weren’t optimized to the company’s response in top search engine results.  This is clearly not the type of social lessons that a company wants to learn in the midst of a crisis.


Related posts:  OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe


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OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

A faux pas is a violation of accepted social norms. Although these norms can vary wildly from one culture to another, their basic premise is “be respectful of others”.

The first time I had dinner with my then future mother-in-law, I committed a dinner etiquette faux pas (elbow on table if you must know). She didn’t say a word but her eyes and look communicated volumes. It’s a scene I’ll never forget.  Luckily, in time, I was able to redeem myself and the transgression was quickly forgotten.

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Best to be on your best behavior

In today’s connected world, you virtual actions are documented and magnified.  A faux pas can be greatly amplified and spiral out of control.  Given the immediacy and reach of social media, having basic rules of thumb around social media do’s and don’ts is more than a good idea.  You should know and follow your company conduct guidelines.  Social Media is an extension of these guidelines.

  • Use your best judgment. If you aren’t sure whether what you are about to post is appropriate, review it carefully and question what you’ve written with an objective mind. (I like to think of my mother-in-law in this case. I ask myself: would she approve?)
  • Respect your audience
  • Respect copyright, fair use and disclosure laws
  • Engage and contribute

Find numerous social media code of conduct examples here via Chris Boudreaux of  

Sometimes it’s easier to learn from the mistakes of others.  Following is a social media “best of” faux pas compilation.  I invite you to add to this #oops list.


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Here’s Proof That Social Media Blunders Have Real Consequences via Business Insider

A must see slide presentation by 22 Squared.  It offers case studies on some of the biggest social media catastrophes in recent years.


Marketing’s Biggest Social Media Blunders of 2011 via Advertising Age.

A Top 10 Social Media Blunders list that is both entertaining and disheartening.


    1. Weinergate : why flashing online is not a good idea
    2. Dissing Detroit Drivers : @ChryslerAutos drops the F-bomb
    3. Kenneth Cole Puts Shoe In Mouth : sarcasm often leads to controversy
    4. Gottfried Gets The Hook : jokes in incredibly bad taste
    5. Quantas Grounds Dreams : unhappy union workers hijack #QantasLuxury
    6. Shooting An Elephant : GoDaddy exec tweets a link to a video of himself shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe
    7. Netflixs : forgets to obtain @Quikster Twitter handle
    8. Kutcher Has Paterno’s Back : Ashton Kutcher goes off the rails
    9. Micky’s Big Mouth : not playing by the rules can be costly
    10. Ragu Incites Backlash : Dads fight back

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Top 12 Social Media Blunders of 2011 via Inc.

Inc’s and Advertising Age share some of the same nominees.  Inc’s other five blunder candidates are:

  1. @WhatsTrending : webshow dies following falsely tweeting of Steve Jobs passing while he was still living
  2. Newt Gingrich : buying fake followers doesn’t pay off
  3. Facebook :  Zuckerberg learns that Facebook isn’t private
  4. Cain : presidential campaign video gone viral
  5. Lowe’s : learns the importance of monitoring its social media accounts … even on the weekends

2012 Faux Pas Candidates might include some of the following:


Olympics-Social media ban imposed on gun-slinging swimmers – by Reuters on Yahoo!Sports

How following Mad Men backfired for the real Jaguar – by Ivor Tossell via The Globe and Mail

Think Sexism Is Dead? Read This Tech Company’s Tweet – by Bianca Bosker via The Huffington Post

  • ASUS’ ‘Rear’ Tweet Puts Sexism Front And Center : be careful how and what you tweet from the official company account.

McDonald’s not lovin’ out of control hashtag campaign – by Matt Brownell via The Globe and Mail

How Susan G. Komen For The Cure Torpedoed Its Brand – by Laurel Sutton via FastCompany

Lessons from a Horrible Social Media Strategy: Mayo Clinic starts taking paid ads on its blog  by Mark W Schaeffer

Potpourri Food for Thought: Facebook CEO’s Law of Social Sharing

You’re probably familiar with Moore’s Law which forecasts of the pace of silicon technology. Moore’s law was initially made in the form of an observation and forecast. The more widely it became accepted, the more it served as a goal for an entire industry.

Consider Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s law of social sharing.

Something is said to increase or decrease exponentially if its rate of change must be expressed using exponents. A graph of exponential growth would appear not as a straight line, but as a curve that continually becomes steeper.

Human sharing behavior is exponential.

To illustrate the magnitude of this concept, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gives the example of a piece of paper folded upon itself 50 times.

If you took a piece of paper and folded it on itself 50 times, how tall would it be?” He continued, “Most people would say a few feet … Turns out it goes to the moon and back 10 times … I mean it’s 2^50 * the height of the paper. It’s a small base doubling many times.

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Watch Mark Zuckerberg explain the concept in this videoAlexia Tsotsis is a writer at Techcrunch.  Follow her on Twitter @Alexia

Send suggestions for future Potpourri Food for Thought features.

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Marketing Artfully: QRart and ‘Not So Pretty’ Implementations of QR Codes

In his 2012 social media predictions, Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions forecasts that QR codes will become obsolete.  He stipulates that QR codes are “mis-applied, over-used gimmick and people will end up not trusting them”.  I agree with him that mis-applications abound but nevertheless, I think that QR codes are here to stay.  In 2012, I predict that a few shining stars will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.

Are you new to QR codes?  You can reference two CaféLina blog posts on the subject. The first one is “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?”, it outlines QR code basics and provides 10 application examples complete with reference links. As for the second post “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, it incorporates examples from the feedback I received and points to the Quiet Revolution Slide Share presentation companion.  The Slide Share material includes all the references from the original Quiet Revolution post plus 5 bonus examples including IneoScan. QRart QRart. IneoScan recommends the i-nigma reader to experience the full breath of this QRart.

In appreciation for the mention of his startup and work in “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, IneoScan sent me an unexpected surprise.  Ineoscan designer extraordinaire Jean-Michel Roblin gifted me a “made in Paris” artful version of a QR code that drives to my cafélina blog. I am very grateful for this act of QRart kindness. I’ll be able to integrate it in my marketing outreach activities.

Unlike the standard black and white version, QRart is artful, colored and creative quick response (QR) code design.  QRart takes QR codes to a whole new level by blending QR code and design to allow for the artful activation of print.  To get a sense for the possibilities of designer QR codes, you can visit the following three QRart galleries:  IneoScan, and Kalvin Kleen.

Whatever your sport, hobby, cause, or business – there’s a way to contextualize a designer QR code that drives to a “call-to-action”.  The key is to “be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on. You’ll be successful in your QR code application as long as you take into account the following 3 points:

  1. Mobile marketing is more actionable than other forms of web marketing
  2. QR codes are linked to mobile
  3. Design your QR customer journey with mobile in mind
Actionable Marketing
“Be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on.

All too often, mis-applications of QR codes involves a poorly designed or completely overlooked mobile experience.  A mobile screen simply doesn’t have the same type of real-estate as a desktop PC.  Most web material is designed for the traditional PC viewing experience. Programming a QR code to point to a web destination intended for a PC screen is simply not as effective on a mobile screen.

I predict that along with successful QR codes applications, we will see a shift in the design of online content that favors the mobile screen.  In this regard, mobile marketing and Twitter have a lot in common.  There are 5 things to keep in mind when designing your QR codes mobile experience:

  1. Get to the point (what’s the customer offer and the call to action)
  2. Brevity is clarity (Gerry McGovern has a lot to say on that subject)
  3. Don’t strain my eyes (it’s a mobile device)
  4. Don’t make me work (drill down and scroll through = drop-off)
  5. Where’s the beef (engaging customer offer = positive reinforcement of the perceived brand value)
January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal, page C3

The January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal featured two book ads: “Cell 8” and “A Walk Across the Sun”.

Both ads appeared on page C3 of the newspaper and each ad had its own QR code.  The QR code for “A Walk Across the Sun” drives to a web destination that provides 4 distinct call to action options:

              1. Purchase the book
              2. What readers are saying
              3. Watch the video
              4. Read an excerpt

As for “Cell 8”, it has a ‘not so pretty’ implementation of its QR code destination.  It leads directly to an excerpt of the book and nothing else.  Is this not a missed opportunity to capitalize on an ‘actionable mobile life’ moment?  Accordingly,  “A Walk Across the Sun” gets top marks.

‘Cell 8’ and ‘Walk Across the Sun’ QR codes web destination

Also in the “not so pretty” category is Palo Alto Networks, the Santa Clara based network security company and their ad from the January 9th 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal.  The ad touts the company’s highly desirable position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls.  The ad concludes with this tag line: “Get an exclusive report at or scan QR code below.”  This is essentially two vague calls to action:

  1. Go to the web site to get an exclusive report (why not say the Gartner report instead of “an exclusive report”?), and
  2. Scan the QR code (presumably to get “an exclusive report”?)

As it turns out, after many steps and screens, and providing registration information; both calls to action eventually lead to the “exclusive report”. You really have to want the exclusive report! The captured registration information results in a call-back and email follow-up.  You can see the full step by step “not so pretty” implementation unfold in the Slide Share companion to this blog post.

Starbucks makes me hopeful that 2012 will provide a few shining stars who will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.  Building on the growing adoption of its mobile application, Starbucks recently released a new version of the app that extends well beyond the “digital mobile payment” option.  The Starbucks mobile app now comes with an imbedded QR code reader (thereby overcoming one of Mark Schaefer’s main objections of having to download a QR reader). On January 13th 2012, I picked up a QR coupon after sampling the newest Starbucks coffee blend. My only criticism of Starbucks QR implementation is having to scroll down three screens before I got to “vote” for my fovorite blend.

As I see it, four factors give Starbucks steaming hot QR potential:

  1. QR Reader bundled in mobile app
  2. New Starbucks promotions with QRart (multiple ‘actionable mobile life’ moment opportunities)
  3. Tracking and metrics (Starbucks will learn and refine its approach)
  4. Customer engagement and feedback (company and customer have much to learn about each other)

In closing, as William Arruda reports in a MarketingProfs column (Personal Branding Trends for 2012 (Part 1)), according to, it’s now possible to place extremely large QR codes on the tops of buildings.  The large size codes can then be photographed by the satellites that feed Google Maps and Google Earth. Those QR codes will be digested by Google’s mapping systems and will cause companies’ logos to appear when someone looks at their building’s images.

Will 2012 be the year that we see QR codes take off in all kinds of directions?

Additional QR Information and Discussion:

QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?

Lina’s business card QR code

The révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution) was the 1960s period of intense change in the province of Québec.  It was characterized by the rapid secularization of society, the creation of a welfare state (État-providence) and a re-alignment of politics. These changes ultimately shaped a distinct, strong and flourishing National Identity.  In the digital and social world, will QR codes have their own digital “Quiet Revolution” or will they fade into oblivion because they lack purpose, identity and a sense of belonging?Not just another passing fad, QR codes and the results of their ensuing “Quiet Revolution” are paving a new road to a digital and social world.  QR codes are creating a bridge between the physical world we live in and the ever evolving digital social world.

What’s a QR code and why should you care? (video)  Before we look at some of the burgeoning uses of QR codes, let’s quickly review QR code basics.

A QR (Quick Response) code is a two dimensional bar code originally designed for the automotive industry.  QR codes allow its contents to be decoded at high speed providing you have a QR code reader installed on your mobile phone.  Whether it’s in traditional media placements such as magazines or billboards, when you see a QR code, you can simply take a picture of it with your phone’s camera and you’ll be directed to the embedded information of that code.  The programmed destination could be a website, video, text message or telephone number.

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QR codes are easy to create (using a QR generator application) and then embed into the physical world.  With a minimal cost to entry, the possibilities for uses abound. 

Here are 10 QR code applications:

1)     Government agency forms and communications now often come with QR codes.  Scanning them allows the user to quickly be directed to the relevant web location specific to the subject form or letter.

2)     With a QR Code, real estate signs and flyers advertising a market listing provide quick online access to property and agent information.  Change in price, availability or terms, no need to reprint the flyers, simply update the information on the web site.

3)     Before digital books completely overtake hard copy books, there is the case for enabling the transition from print to digital.  Prolific blogger, social media expert and author Michelle Blanc does a wonderful job of that in her French social media books (aptly called social media 101 and 102) by including QR codes and easy to reference shortened URL footnotes throughout the text.  Check out the QR code on the cover of her most recent book.

4)     Recently, I was a guest at Google’s main Mountain View campus.  After enjoying a wonderful lunch in the legendary Googleplex café, my host and I made our way to a meeting room.  Every meeting room door on the Google campus has a QR code that provides all the specifications (size, equipment) and scheduling information specific for that room.  Use your phone and reserve the room on the fly – no need to fire up that bulky pc and search for the logistics pages.

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5)     Stand out from the crowd.  Should your resume have a QR code?  You can read a great blog post on the subject.  As the author suggests, maybe you shouldn’t include a QR code in your resume but I would argue that your business cards should include one.  The code should point to your digital business profile.  You could program it to lead to your public LinkedIn profile.  I recently designed a set of 2 sided custom business cards that include a QR code as well as Lina specific images.  I learned about MOO cards from a trusted social network connection.  Talk about giving a classic calling card a digital make-over!

6)     Need stocking stuffer ideas?  Along the same lines as the MOO QR business card, you can design your own QR code stickers to put on your digital treasures (telephone, laptop, etc.) or get some personalized luggage tags with a QR code image.  Make yourself and your love ones (people and things) easy to find.

7)     Thinking of updating your estate plan?  It can now include provisions for a digital epitaph tribute grave marker.  The inscription on the grave stone includes a QR code leading to a viewable memorial tribute page that tells your life story.  A trip to the cemetery might actually come to life!

In the following tweet, Jeff Bullas references a post by Mark Schaefer who in turn introduces a brilliant SharePoint presentation by Gregory Pouy:  The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns.

@jeffbullas: The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns via @markwschaefer

Want to learn about boundless and creative possibilities, this material is a must read/view.  Specific to QR codes, check out the 2nd and 3rd case studies featured in Gregory’s material.

8)     2nd video case study |The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy:  Tesco (Home Plus)View the video on slide 15 of 61.  Through the creative use of QR codes in subway stations, Korean supermarket chain Home Plus allows shoppers to do their shopping without ever visiting an actual store.

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9)     3rd video case study “The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy”:  NY Central Park comes to digital life via a museum in the park experience featuring Park codes.  View the video on slide 22 of 61.

Let’s have a riddle to close off this QR list.  What do you get when you cross a QR code with an OREO cookie? 

10)  Answer:  a QREO of course!  Admittedly, it’s not the most practical application of QR technology but it can certainly be characterized as innovative and wittyQR + OREO = QREO comes by way of All TOP and Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki.

Far from being “quite redundant” given ever increasing smartphone numbers, QR codes are far from being another passing fad.  Rather, they represent the humble beginnings of a “Quiet Revolution” journey on the way to a connected and social world.  NFC and location based services, bring it on!

What QR codes have you noticed and quietly tried out?

Are You Preparing An Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak

Presentation coaches abound, everyone has a favorite.  Mine is Jerry Weissman, founder of Power Presentations, Ltd.   Without question, I rank my training with Jerry as being my highest ROI career development investment.  I took the Core Program (The Art and Science of Powerful Presentations) which is a comprehensive 3 day format for no more than 4 people.

I value Jerry’s experience and attention to detail for effective communication.  In this Harvard Business Review blog post, Jerry discusses the importance of avoiding filler language in presentations.  Filler words are short phrases or questions that have been used and abused to the point of diminishing your connection with your audience.  Examples include:

  • Does that make sense?
  • Like I said …
  • You know … 

Every time I hear a presenter say “you know …” I can’t help but smile and recall a Golf Channel interview with Michelle Wei.  It was comical how she managed to say “you know …” multiple times in the span of 30 seconds.  My hope for Michelle is that she now has a presentation coach as well as a golf coach.

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As for filler words, they are the first cousins of frankenspeakFrankenspeak describes language that doesn’t sound like it was penned by a human.  In their book Content Rules, Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman coined the frankenspeak concept.  Check-out this humorous MarketingProfs clip (2:14) called Frankenspeak Friday.  It manages to say all the words we overuse and that say nothing.

My filler sins include “actually” and “basically”.  As for frankenspeak, I’m guilty of abusing “win-win” and “leverage”.  What filler frankenspeak will you avoid in your next presentation?

The remarkable tweets of a fake City Raccoon

Not so long ago, it was “no one knows you’re a dog on the Internet” … now it’s “follow the fake raccoon” on Twitter !

The remarkable tweets of a fake City Raccoon – The Globe and Mail.