Getting the Message Across and Doing it the Best

On what list would you find Oprah, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Jack Welch and Benjamin Netanyahu?

That group comprises half of the top 10 living communicators who influence change, according to Ronn Torossian, a New York public relations agency owner. The author says he goes beyond the usual suspects to identify those who "reach people emotionally, shift attitudes and spark trends." He notes there are lessons to be learned from each.

For example:

Jack Welch: He has been called the greatest CEO in America. In practical terms, he earned the name because of General Electric’s unparalleled record of earnings growth and over more than two decades while he was chairman and CEO (1981-2001). He has attributed his success to an ability to focus on solutions and execute them using the right people. In order to do that well, you have to know how to communicate a message and at that Welch is a genius. His secret? “In leadership you have to exaggerate every statement you make. You’ve got to repeat it a thousand times… Overstatements are needed to move a large organization,” he told Thomas Neff and James Citrin in their book Lessons from the Top. Of course, you have to back up works with action – otherwise what you say will never be taken seriously. Today, when Welch gives a speech he embodies true American optimism and risk-taking.

Take-away: Words are most valuable when backed up by deeds.

Check out the full story.


Corporate Communication: Drop the Garbage and Actually Communicate

If you’re in charge of a corporate newsletter or outreach tool, either internally or externally, you have a valuable opportunity to provide your customers with beneficial information — so don’t insult them by peddling junk. In this delightful column by Steve Crescenzo, which I’m reposting in full from, he calls out one of America’s top condescenders advice givers:

Here at C.R.A.P. Central (Corporate Rhetoric Awards Program), we search far and wide to find the worst examples of corporate communication out there. And usually, we find at least two pieces of organizational feces to talk about.

This time, however, we are focusing on just one. Why? Because it is so bad that we need to stay laser focused on it. It’s so insidious, we’re petrified other editors might see it and be tempted to do something similar to fill space in their own publications.

And we can’t have that. So here we go, with what might be the worst C.R.A.P. ever.

You’ve all seen the “Dr. Phil” show, right? Well, if you haven’t, here’s an in-depth description of him:

He’s a jerk.

Oh, you need more? Okay … he’s bossy. He thinks he knows it all. He loves to tell people how to live their lives. He’s a hypocrite, in that he writes books about how to lose weight, and yells at people to lose weight … and yet he’s fat.

(I can call him fat, because I’m fat, too. It’s like how black rappers are able to use the "n" word.)

This C.R.A.P. award goes to an editor who … this is so hard for me to say … quotes Dr. Phil in her publication. That’s right. As if this half-shaved ape isn’t all over the media to begin with, now employees at this company also have to read his "advice" in the employee publication.

Here is the headline above the story where Dr. Phil makes his appearance; we changed the name of the company to protect the guilty:

XYZ Corp Trainer Loses Big on National Television

The trainer, it seems, is one of those sad souls who actually went on Dr. Phil, and let the bad doctor carp at him for being overweight. Now, the story has a nice ending for the trainer, because he lost 30 pounds (29 pounds of fat and one pound of self-esteem for going on national TV and admitting he’s a hog who needs Dr. Phil to help him lose weight).

But the story has a horrific ending for the other employees of the company, who a) have to read this boring article; and b) are subjected to a sidebar of "healthy tips for eating in a restaurant," courtesy of … you guessed it, Dr. Fatso himself.

And of course, Dr. Phil’s tips are asinine and patronizing. Here are some of them, along with our comments:

  • "Have clear soup, or a salad with lite dressing." Clear soup? What the hell is clear soup? Broth? Like the crap you get in the hospital after an emergency appendectomy? Thanks, Phil. Thanks for nothing. And by the way, those "lite" dressings are loaded with sugar. Maybe that’s why you’re so fat.
  • "Either skip an appetizer, or order two appetizers in place of an entree." Okay, Phil. I’ll have the bacon-stuffed oysters with hollandaise sauce appetizer, and the deep fried buffalo wings with blue-cheese dressing appetizer, instead of the Caesar salad entree. Idiot.
  • "Ask questions and be assertive with the wait staff." Can you even imagine how many waiters have spit in his food? Only Dr. Tub of Lard would tell you to be bossy with waiters to lose weight.
  • "Plan your order ahead of time, based on prior consumption." I don’t even know what the hell that means! Plan your order ahead of time? How? Call the restaurant and be assertive with whoever answers the phone? Make them recite the menu to you?
  • "No starches. No fats, oils, or sauces. Refuse a breadbasket unless it contains whole-wheat bread." Whew. Fathead doesn’t make it easy, does he? We can’t eat the bread, and we can’t eat anything with starch, fat, oil, or sauce. It would seem that Phil wants us to eat the actual menu, or the paper napkins.

Of course, the problem is not so much Dr. Phil’s stupid tips that he himself obviously can’t even follow. A lot of publications carry patronizing "life tips" that readers can and do ignore. What really got C.R.A.P. Central’s dander up is the concept of running a sidebar of tips from a talk show!

We’re scared to death that this might become a trend. Can you imagine?

Tips from “The Jerry Springer Show”: "What to do when you find out your transvestite husband is having an affair with your father, who is a paraplegic dwarf."

Tips from “The Oprah Winfrey Show ”: "If you are having self esteem problems, just start your own magazine, name it after yourself, then put yourself on every single cover, after paying designers thousands of dollars to airbrush all the fat off you so you look like Beyonce instead of Rerun from the TV show, ‘What’s Happening.’ If that doesn’t work, start your own network!”

Tips from “The Glenn Beck Show”: “Keep a knitting needle between your knees when you sit at corporate meetings. Whenever you want to appear passionate about a topic and win people over, covertly take the needle and jam it into your thigh, until the tears run down your face.”

Here’s a solid piece of advice that, unlike Dr. Phil’s nonsense, you can actually follow: Daytime talk show hosts pander to, and exploit, the simpletons in this country—the people H.L. Mencken used to call "The Booboisee."

Give your readers more credit than that.

Twitter is the New Twitter: Grows 131% in March

Ok, I’m getting as sick of writing about Twitter as you are of reading about it, but this is interesting: illustrates the shocking pace at which Twitter use is growing. Also, you’ll be happy to know Oprah is now using the microblogging technology, so its existence is officially validated:

Twitter grew 131 percent in March 2009, according to research firm ComScore, which pegged the site’s visitors at 9.3 million, up from 4.3 million in February. Twitter drew increased attention recently over rumors of a possible Google acquisition. A ComScore analyst attributes a substantial portion of Twitter’s growth to increased media attention.

Twitter grew 131 percent in March 2009, with its total site visitors cresting at 9.3 million, up from 4.3 million in February.

The microblogging site, which lets its users post "tweets" of 140 characters or less on any particular topic, has been embraced by general users and the enterprise as a supple social networking tool. Twitter has been adding new features, and befitting its increased profile, has been rumored as a Google acquisition target. 

"One interesting theory alluded to by several people in last week’s discussion was that the mainstream media attention on Twitter is really helping fuel its growth," Andrew Lipsman, an analyst with ComScore, wrote in a corporate blog posting on April 15. "And there may certainly be some merit to that. It seems you can’t get through a typical newscast anymore without some mention of Twitter."

Lipsman cited Newt Gingrich’s use of Twitter to comment on President Obama’s handling of the Somali pirate crisis as an example of how far the site has penetrated into both daily life and the hourly mass-media stream. He suggested that Twitter is changing the way "our entire news ecosystem operates."

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Oprah Labels Holiday World a Top ‘Wacky’ Destination for Families

Well, you’ve made it, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari; Oprah thinks you’re cool:

The popular website just released its list of “Wacky Family Attractions” in a feature designed to encourage families to vacation closer to home this year “when time and money are in short supply.” Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is one of the eight family attractions recommended on the list.

“If Oprah wants to call us ‘wacky,’ we don’t mind a bit,” says the parks’ president, Will Koch. “Come to think of it, it is a little wacky for a theme park to play Jingle Bells in the middle of July!”

The article includes a photo of Santa Claus in his Holiday World summer garb along with a brief history of the park and description of the variety of rides—and holidays—featured at the world’s first theme park. Other parks included in the feature are Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Legoland in California. is one of the 2,000 most-visited websites on the Internet.

Holiday World Theme Park opens its 63rd season on May 2 with the premiere of Pilgrims Plunge, the world’s tallest water ride; Splashin’ Safari Water Park opens May 15. For more information, visit the parks’ website at or call 1-877-463-2645.

Kudos to Holiday World, an Indiana Chamber member. Check out the mention on Oprah’s site here.