Email Subject lines, links and numbered lists – Communicate with clarity and respect

The burden of communication is on the communicator; not the recipient.

Therefore proper email communication and email etiquette is for YOU to use

  1. Use active and strong subject lines – be exact
  2. Link to exact content or web pages – nobody has time to google it
  3. use numbered lists – numbered lists in email define priority
  4. limit use of bulleted lists – bulleted lists in email are for the lazy communicator

Further, try to use reasonably short paragraphs. Use these guidelines on how to write a decent email that might actually produce results.

Seals at La Jolla in California
Seals at La Jolla in California
Specifically email communication must use:
  1. Email Subject Lines – all emails need a well articulated and relevant Subject Line.
    1. Examples of good email subject lines:
      1. Client X going live on Tuesday July 29 before Friday Board Meeting
      2. Training help file on email etiquette posted on eschipul.com
      3. “Feast with the Beast” Presale Facebook AD text (sent to the zoo)
    2. Bad subject lines torture your coworkers with anxiety which lowers morale and greatly reduces profitability.
    3. Every time an email is sent with a bad subject line, a baby seal dies. This is sad. Save the baby seals! Use good subject lines!
  2. Links to the EXACT content or subject because ease of use changes behavior.
    1. Ease of use changes behavior. Without links people will NOT click through to see the work that has been done.
    2. It is rare that an email goes out that is truly not about SOMETHING that should be linked. Yes exceptions occur, but they are rare exceptions. Link to what you are talking about. Or don’t waste other people’s time if you are just that lazy.
      1. Think about it. It is not your coworker’s responsibility to overcome your unwillingness to copy/paste a link from a site you are probably looking at when you sent the email!
    3. Every time an email is sent without relevant and specific links, a baby seal dies. This is sad. Save the baby seals! Use links!
  3. Numbered Lists – organize your information.
    1. Bulleted lists suck – bullets are fundamentally evil because they do NOT convey priority by the sender (YOU!). Yet the recipient invariably starts at the top assuming this is in fact the top priority.
    2. Numbered lists with priority 1 being first – The value of forcing yourself to use numbered lists is that the sender (you) must organize your thoughts before confusing everyone else. It has been my experience that most people do not “order” bulleted lists but numbering makes them think about it.
    3. Raise your hand if you like numbered lists! Now raise your other hand so things balance out. Or to put it another way – be kind to people who need this structure. It benefits you if people understand your message. Embrace diversity including “diversity of types of thinkers.” Structure and prioritize your content in email communication, or really any communication.
  4. Use Short Paragraphs – with rare exceptions
    1. Shorter paragraphs with strong subject sentences greatly increase reading comprehension.
    2. Speed readers tend to read the first sentence of a paragraph and use that to make a decision if they should bother reading the rest. Shorter paragraphs means more of your message is consumed regardless.
    3. They force you to organize your thoughts before wasting everyone else’s time!
  5. Don’t use Nickel words – save them for scrabble
    1. To repeat – the burden of communication is on the communicator, including in email, not the recipient. While it is possible to write in tongues, this needlessly reduces comprehension.
    2. But don’t oversimplify an email as that just make it more confusing. Just make it as simple as possible and no simpler.
    3. If you must use an idiosyncratic word – well – LINK IT!
We all value our time. You do. I do. Everyone does. So it frequently seems expedient to send an email quickly without thought. The problem is the person receiving these emails might be receiving 500 emails a day and there is no way to Get Things Done without more data.
For example assuming you – not putting a decent subject line – costs each recipient 1 extra minute of time to comprehend (if they give you this minute), then an email that saved you 1 minute, just cost a company of 30 people 29 minutes of billable time. This is very real money. And these are very real emotions on the part of the recipient.
Don’t be mean; take the time to write decent emails. Or don’t speak.
[Note: this was an internal company help file for years, I probably wrote it around 2002 or 2003. This is just me reposting it for public consumption.]
[Update: You may also want to check for readability. I blogged about the gunning fog index here.]

katie’s last day at schipul

[This post was written on December 16 and I never hit publish. I removed some of the mushy stuff. And as I have said many times “bad news fast” so let me say first that I regret the chaos of Katie’s last day. I’ll make it up to you Katie.]

Some people are just more difficult than others. And some people are REALLY more difficult than others.

Shut up. I’m not talking about myself.

I’m talking about Katie. Katie Laird. And I’m writing this on the last day she works for me. And that is sad for me as a person who will miss walking in to her office and rambling on about everything from Edward Bernays, to the latest Dan Keeney email that even we think is perhaps too full of candor, to our PR efforts to help April and the Silicon Valley office, or to discuss our latest ideas to save the cheerleader or at least save the world through Netsquared.

It is also a happy time for me because I love Katie in one of the 10,000 ways a person can love. And “love” isn’t a word I use without thought. Nope, this lady is unique. She is taking the next step in her mission and vision and I respect that. Even if I did manage to get us locked out on the 15th floor roof of our building on her last day because I wanted to say goodbye without 1000 interruptions that go with running a growing business.

Aaron hired Katie as a graphic artist ‘back in the day’. Kelly was our Communications Director at the time. Kelly was amazing of course, as she still is and I think she is even teaching the APR courses at PRSA Houston. When Kelly left, Katie  proactively observed the (numerous) balls I was dropping and, well, I’m not even sure if she asked. She just did. She picked up the reins and was doing our PR in addition to her responsibilities as a designer. I’m not sure how it happened. That’s what happens with high performance individuals I have learned. Sometimes they run over you to achieve what is ultimately in your best interest as a leader and what is in the best interest of the company and the tribe. Katie did.

And Katie, or @happykatie as so many call her, did that. She just DID. I’m not even sure that I, as the CEO, had a vote in it. She is a force of nature.

Keep in mind this is a woman is a cupcake expert, a Nintendo gamer, a pilot (yes, like real airplanes), a Mom to an amazing little girl named Ella, a philanthropist who gives of her time and money to so many different causes. It’s kind of like shaking hands with a beautiful tornado. But not to worry, Katie is almost always in a great mood. (A desirable characteristic when it comes to tornados from Kansas.)

I have given so many talks over the last 6 years where not only the slide deck, but the research behind the slide deck, was done by Katie. She can meet with me for 10 minutes, ask a few questions, and two days later I have a presentation deck that makes me look like a hero presenting to a national section of PRSA in New York. She is that good. That and Katie herself is an accomplished and sought after public speaker in her own right. Check out Katie’s slideshare here. I have no doubt her public speaking requests will continue and surpass mine in the near future. She rocks as a speaker.

And OK, I admit it. It doesn’t hurt that Katie is the founder of Houston Dr. Sketchy’s. Always  a great excuse to spend a Sunday afternoon at AvantGarden drinking wine and photographing models and friends. (Unless she revokes my “archivist” privileges, I know I’ll get to see her and Adam, and sometimes Ella, at least once a month.)

There is great joy in seeing people like Katie grow. Visiting her in the hospital when Ella was born. Jumping on an airplane to San Francisco for a one day trip with little notice to find out about this TechSoup Netsquared thing. Taking photos on the roof to show off the latest hand crafted scarf she made. Trying different advertising and acknowledging what fails, and trying again, and celebrating what succeeds knowing it is bringing in leads that become clients. To not get her a band aid, but instead say “wait, let me take a photo” when she skinned her knee riding a plasma car down the top of the parking garage. To enjoy those experiences with a co-worker you have to care. And I do. I care very much and to care it becomes personal. And Katie is leaving after over six years.  And that brings a sense of loss.

Did I mention she planned and ran SchipulCon 2011 this year? Without Katie we would not have seen Dries and Matt on the stage together. It was a team effort, but she was the team leader for the whole event. (and a shout out to David  and Al for the idea and the vid of course.)

And then Katie had me roasted. Very funny. Very Katie.

I know I am missing a ton of Katie’s accomplishments. And memories she created. She has been the driving force for the Schipul and Tendenci brands for years. So much so that she rejected a blog post I wanted to put on the Schipul blog  because it wasn’t “on message.” (Her rejection notice/email said something about “snarky” but I’m not sure what her point was #heh). In fact I’m posting this on my personal blog and linking to it because I know Katie wouldn’t think this blog post was “on message with the brand” either. She is a true brand steward. She cares about her work.

I’m proud of Katie in that she is following her passion and going after what, after much introspection, she feels is the best next step for her.

As a CEO, you always feel a bit like a failure when you lose a top performer. It means that you didn’t grow the company fast enough to keep them challenged. Or you didn’t increase profits enough to increase their compensation commensurate with their new skills, abilities, knowledge and mostly the RESULTS they produce for the company. And the next person who tells me “don’t take it personal” gets bonked on the head by Ded Bob from the RenFest because it means they have never walked a mile in the shoes of a company founder. I’m not sure I would even want to be a person who didn’t feel the human loss as well as the professional loss when a high performer leaves the company.

Make no mistake, this is a loss for Schipul Technologies Inc. And a huge gain for my friend Jay Steinfeld, the CEO of Blinds.com where Katie is going. Jay, you don’t  just owe me a beer. No sir. This calls for something more like a bottle of Opus One. But I can’t fault your choice of talent. You have excellent taste indeed.

Take care of Katie for me please. She rocks.

PRSA T3PR Presentation from NYC

I was honored to be one of the presenters at T3PR this last Friday in NYC thanks to Deirdre Breakenridge. Kind words for T3PR posted by Chris Kieff who calls it the “highlight of NYC Internet Week” on 1GoodReason

Best day spent at a conference: The surprising winner for me was  T3PR, the Public Relations Society of America’s Theory, Tactics and Technology group.    Why was T3PR surprising?    I guess I was just expecting the PR group to be a bunch of flacks- but they were far from it.    The reason this show was so good for me was because I learned so much from the likes of;  Justin Levy,Christine Perkett,  Sarah Evans and  Ed Schipul.    They are each brilliant speakers who took the time to prepare for their presentations and cared about deliveringROI to the audience.    A special thanks to  Deirdre Breakenridge for inviting me to the show.    Check out the twitter stream  posted here.

And a follow up article by Valerie Simon on Examiner.com. From Ms. Simon’s article:

The live event in New York City offered opportunities for participants to participate in engaging sessions and network with both speakers and other participants, however the conference’s reach extended well beyond those in the room. A pre-conference  “tweet chat“ served as a virtual pep rally and following the conference many sessions were posted and discussed, including:

My presentation on  the Personal Brand Era is below:

You can view photos from T3PR are on Facebook here, and reuse CC licensed versions of the photos in my  T3PR Picasa Web Album. All are Creative Commons Attribution (a simple “photo by Ed Schipul” is all that is required for use in print or on the web). A few that I liked and posted to Flickr from the NYC trip are below.

Guggenheim Museum in New York
The Guggenheim

Washington Square Park at Night
Washington Square Park at Night

Upcoming Speaking

On the road again. A few upcoming speaking gigs on my calendaraspen airport

Technology Section Conference: T3PR –  Theory, Tactics & Technology for High-Tech Public Relations Conference
June 11, 2010,  10:45″“11:30 a.m. New York, New York
“Personal Brands: The Opportunities and Threats”

CPE By the Sea Conference
June 16, Galveston, TX
“Social Media and Personal Branding”

PRSA Sunshine District Conferene
June 18, Jupiter, FL
“What it Takes to Become Internet Famous”

Showmanship for Magicians – Entertainment Fundamentals

From Showmanship for Magicians, PG 24-25

magic1“From the above, then, we should be able to to begin to cull a list of the often-found integrants in successful and popular entertainment. Most often appearing in our analysis, as shown above, are the certain fundamentals:”

  1. Music
  2. Rhythm
  3. Movement
  4. Youth
  5. Sex appeal
  6. Personality
  7. Color
  8. Comedy
  9. Harmony
  10. Romance
  11. Sentiment
  12. Nostalgia
  13. Pointing
  14. Timing
  15. Surprise
  16. Situation
  17. Character
  18. Conflict
  19. Proper costuming
  20. Careful grooming
  21. Physical action
  22. Group coordination
  23. Precise attack
  24. Short scenes or turns
  25. Efficient pacing
  26. Punch
  27. Careful routining
  28. Tireless rehearsal
  29. Special material and score
  30. Grace
  31. Effortless skill
  32. Sure-fire
  33. Spectacle
  34. Thrill
  35. Emotion
  36. Common problems
  37. Escape from the humdrum
  38. Unity
  39. Up-to-datedness

Dallas AMA Presentation on Web Marketing and SEO

Dallas In Dallas TX for a presentation for the Dallas Chapter of the American Marketing Association.  As a member of the AMA it is always an honor to present to the AMA!

AMA Web Marketing Made Simple ““ Maximizing Your Online ROI
Ed Schipul, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company

Fri 10-Feb-06 7:30 AM to Fri 10-Feb-06 9:30 AM

On the flip side, the main AMA site has unfortunately implemented an interstitial (read cheesy landing page a.la.flash.intro type page) http://www.marketingpower.com/welcome-interstitial.php

Why would the AMA have a splash landing page on the primary URL?  This is proven to reduce the conversion rate.  The wonders never cease.  Hopefully they will get back to marketing fundamentals and measure the response rates.

Update: AMA Dallas has multiple sites – this is the "real" version: http://www.dfwmarketing.org/ which has real content!

New but related marketing topic.  Whenever I travel, which is more frequently than I would like, I try to catch up on business podcasts.  For Immediate Release (On Podcast #110!) is a required podcast for me as well as The Advertising Show (TAS is a client as well, but I listened first – great stuff!)

Presenting at American Creativity Association International Conference in March 2006

While preparing for an upcoming presentation in March at the American Creativity Association International Conference 2006 I was researching white papers on association and organization trends.   First some information on the speaking engagement for ACA – I am an attendee as well so I am really looking forward to the conference!

American Creativity Association International Conference 2006
Ed Schipul CEO
Schipul – The Web Marketing Company

Wed 22-Mar-06 8:00 AM to Sat 25-Mar-06 5:00 PM

Now for an interesting white paper from Mr. Barkan who I have not met nor read previously, but I found the following short very interesting from a visual communication perspective.   And of course it may be a bit “the sky is falling” but it IS true that many organizations experience a real performance gap as described below:

Strategic Review on Association Development: International Trends, Issues and Options
Mr. Terrance A. Barkan, AGS (Association Global Services) www.agshq.com

Association_rate_of_change_threat <snip pg.6>Associations with their consensus decision-making processes, tend to be following rather than leading organizations in the implementation of new business practices, programs and services.   In contrast, it is within associations that professional development issues, trends, standards and benchmarks are debated, forged and communicated.

When the rate of change of the external environment exceeds the ability of an association to anticipate or react to that change, a gap develops between what the environment demands and what the association can deliver.   It is this disconnect between the rate of change in the environment and the capacity rate of change of the association to adapt that poses a serious threat to the continued relevance of the organization.

Blatant plug disclaimer. It is the closing of this association performance gap that Tendenci represents.   Even if you don’t know what CMS, RSS or Podcasting are; you get them anyway.   That is the power of a cutting edge MMS application sold in the ASP sales model where everybody wins and your organization remains relevant.   The most important aspect is the enabling of distributed authoring for the association members.