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If you’re an information junkie like me who subscribes to numerous professional, trade and special interest e-newsletters, then you’re probably just as overwhelmed as I am when it comes to managing the email inbox.

Yes, you’ve set up rules for Outlook (or similar program) to automatically route emails to appropriate folders.

Yes, it’s easy to glance at those folders for new emails.

But it’s also so very easy to get caught up in either taking “only a minute” to read a snippet here or there.

Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour on “educating” yourself on the latest news on the effect of Google’s most recent algorithm update, the reasons why you should attend the next best-ever conference, or how to improve your swim stroke for faster race times.

The key term here is “educating” because, otherwise, how can you justify that last hour that didn’t make a dent in the piles of work on your desk or on your project list?

Here’s a suggestion I’m going to try myself: switch to using a free email service like Gmail to handle all those incoming e-newsletters and notices that aren’t pertinent to my day-to-day work activities.

While I imagine it’s going to take some time to update all those e-newsletter accounts, I’m hoping that in the long run this will help me be more productive in the office.

Have another idea? Share your experience with me. Thanks!

I’m faced with a very difficult decision today regarding my memberships with two professional organizations and the desire to join another.

The challenge comes down to what every business owner is facing today: stretching the budget to achieve maximum results.

It doesn’t matter that last fall I prepared what I believe is a realistic 2011 budget. It also doesn’t matter that I do have the money squirreled away to pay for the memberships.

It has everything to do with what’s happening in today’s business climate, planning for my firm’s current and future technology needs, and weighing these considerations with the value I get from my memberships.Logos for IABC, PRSA & SEMPO

Everyday the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) send me emails usually full of informative and insightful content that feeds my brain, my creativity, or my business self. The local chapter events provide ample time to connect with colleagues and meet potential project partners while enjoying a bit of camaraderie.

The challenge I’ve had the last year is that my schedule hasn’t been in sync with my local IABC and PRSA chapters’ events (and it doesn’t look any better for 2011 either).

For me, the value of membership with a professional organization is based on information/education and social connections. I strongly advise colleagues and students to join at least one organization within their chosen field that offer these kinds of important benefits.

Adding to this conundrum is the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization. SEMPO has been on my radar screen for the last few years and is in the forefront because more of my business includes SEO-oriented work and SEO copywriting. Plus I teach this stuff called SEO and online marketing at UNLV Continuing Education.

What am I gonna decide?

I don’t know…I have until tomorrow to decide.

Wondering how to improve the number of times your tweets get passed on in the Twitter Universe? Simply ask for a retweet. Use “please RT” or “Pls RT” it at the end of the tweet.

I recommend:

  1. Reserving the request for tweets on critical issues, important information, and events that can affect businesses and people in both positive and negative ways.
  2. Keep it short so it can be retweeted in its entirety, including your Twitter name.

For instance, these retweet requests appeared today on Twitter:

  • From @IBetUDidnKnow Ben Louis retweeting SaraKoshek03 – Smokers are likely to die on average six and a half years earlier than non-smokers. Pls RT

I’m very passionate about the travel and tourism industry and its one of the industries I enjoy working with. So when events present themselves that could help or hurt that industry, I spread the word.

Take the situation in Washington State for example. The tourism industry is rallying to save Washington State’s tourism marketing (an expected victim to state budget slashing) through an industry alliance and planning summit, I tweeted the following today:

As mentioned in a prior Sweet Tweet Tip, my tweet is descriptive and has plenty of space left for retweeting.

For more examples, do a Twitter search using “Pls RT” in the search box. Take a look at the results and think about how you can do it better.

Photo credit: USATF.org

“When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.”  Doris Brown Heritage, five-time World Cross-Country Champion


If you want to be good at something, you gotta have passion and a willingness to get out there and challenge yourself. In Doris’ case, she broke new ground for women in the sport of distance running.

Yes, talent plays an important part but then why can gifted athletes lose a race, game or competition to someone else? In many cases, it just came down how the athlete’s passion and determination pulled a bit more effort from someplace deep inside.

Photo credit: Image from TravelAffialiates.com

Every time you show up to your office, store or simply for work, know that you’ve just put yourself into a race. Let your passion loose and see what you’re made of.

When you hear the term “entitlements”, what do you feel? Something to dislike? Desire? Privileged? Frustration? Anger? Resentment?

When you hear the term “benefits,” what do you feel? Something that is attractive? Something good? Something you wouldn’t want to lose?

Let’s take a look at the definitions of the words from Merriam-Webster.com:

Entitlement: 1) a : the state or condition of being entitled : right b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract; 2) a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program; 3) belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

Benefits: …2) something that promotes well-being : advantage b : useful aid : help; 3) a : financial help in time of sickness, old age, or unemployment b : a payment or service provided for under an annuity, pension plan, or insurance policy c : a service (as health insurance) or right (as to take vacation time) provided by an employer in addition to wages or salary

While these definitions describe similar purposes, the words also have emotional definitions based cultural associations. “Entitle” may be equated with privilege whereas “benefit” means something good or a reward. But aren’t we “entitled” to earn money for our labor? Or do we consider our pay a “benefit”?

The words we choose to use to argue, persuade, debate and communicate overall can either work for us or against us depending upon the emotional connection other people have to those words. For business purposes, it’s important to remember that emotion drives purchase decisions. How often do we use something called “rational thinking” to justify a decision? Like 99.8% of the time – if we’re honest with ourselves.

So what can we business communicators and business owners learn from how these two words are being used in the current American political discourse about ways to reduce federal, state and local budget deficits?

Choose our words carefully…understand their definitions as well as their cultural meaning…so that we can better connect with our audiences or customers.

Think of a tweet as a 15-second commercial. At its core, a good tweet is concise, expressive and re-tweetable.

If linking to a story, write something catchy that introduces the article and gives a sense of context. For instance, here’s a recent tweet of mine: “Can Robocop return to save Detroit by luring in #tourism dollars? http://bit.ly/f9Zp6E” The news story was about efforts to raise money to have a Robocop statue built, something that other cities have done for other movie characters.

Write with 120 characters in mind (spaces included!) so that someone can retweet it and leave your Twitter handle and message intact.

Stay tuned for more Sweet Tweet Tips…

Many thanks to my colleague and friend Mike Klassen, The Magalog Guy, for having me on his  Magalog Guy podcast show. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat about five key aspects of social networking that will help business owners increase customer loyalty, brand awareness and sales.

Here’s a short synopsis of our conversation:

Key #1 – Understand that social networking is about getting to know people, having conversations, and sharing information. It’s not about incessant sales pitching, “me, me, me” or “we, we, we.”

Key #2 – Choose the right social networking tool based upon your business goals and the tools your customers are using. Schedule time each business day to plan and review your efforts; write the blog posts, Facebook updates and tweets; and reply to posted questions and comments.

Key #3 – Set up your accounts. If your company name is already taken, then consider adding a geographical reference to it like “Las Vegas” or “LV”. UPDATED TIP: It’s important to be consistent – for search engines as well as brand recognition – so use that name for all your online efforts.

Key #4 – Learn how to effectively use your chosen social networking tools through online resources like blogs, videos and podcasts like those of The Magalog Guy, your industry or trade organization’s articles and webinars, and business publications. Always be civil and respectful when handling negative comments and differing points of view.

Key #5 – Be a helpful resource: post good information on your Web site, blog or social networking platform; answer questions; and refer people to other resources that may be of help or interest to them.

Bottom line: Savvy business owners use social networking to connect with their customers, watch for new trends, and quickly change course when new  opportunities arise.

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