How One Email Can Destroy Your Personal Brand — Starring Kelly Blazek

Kelly Blazek About

Photo via Kelly Blazek, WordPress, Screen Grab

Seasoned professionals often feel the need to correct faux pas young professionals commit–and rightfully so. As a young professional, I can honestly say I appreciate and crave that guidance. I am sure others feel the same way.

Having served as a manager for both my college radio and television station, I can attest to the importance of passing along the airs and graces of an organization or industry to “newbies.” In television, one such cautionary tidbit I provided was don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in church in front of a microphone, as it could be live.

However, with workplace sensitivity and professional ethics prevalent now more than ever in our society, it is increasingly important to take care in how seasoned professionals communicate when disseminating these lessons. In other words, we must think before we speak (or type).

Kelly Blazek, the self-described “Job Bank House Mother” and IABC Cleveland award-winning communicator, is now experiencing a personal branding crisis due to what could be mildly described as an insensitivity issue.

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Transparency is One of the Best Crisis Policies

liesStudying crisis communication theory has led me to examine a myriad of fascinating cases. The primary ethic that seems to continually resurface in all successful cases is transparency.

Bruce Hennes of Hennes Paynter Communications in Cleveland, Ohio, a leading crisis communications firm, told me the core values of his practice are “tell the truth, tell it all, tell it first.” While seemingly obvious, lack of transparency is often the spark that causes a small incident to erupt in the flames of a full-fledged crisis.

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Bush’s Initial Hurricane Katrina Response: A PR Blunder

george-bush-katrinaHurricane Katrina still stands as the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States and the deadliest since the Okeechobee hurricane of the late 1920s (Knabb, Rhome, & Brown, 2005). As such, the scrutiny of the government response, particularly at the federal level, to the hurricane was intense and widely proliferated in the mainstream media. As the leader of the federal government, President George W. Bush made numerous public statements regarding the exigencies of those who were directly impacted by Katrina and what the federal government’s relief plan would entail.

The following is a deconstruction of some of the president’s communications in the context of the social and political climate of the immediate aftermath of Katrina’s Louisiana landfall. During the deconstruction, the messaging will be compared to the singular archived response the president issued after category four Hurricane Charley struck Florida the previous year, which also happened to be an election year, to better understand, again, the social and political underpinnings and the implications of power versus powerlessness in a situation when people are at the government’s mercy for relief and relief communication.

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Simply Soundslides

I’d always approached Soundslides with great skepticism. I didn’t understand why on Earth anyone would want to use Soundslides to create a photoessay when tools such as Final Cut, Premiere or, heck, even iMovie exist. Until I actually sat down in front of the program and explored what it could do, only then did I realize how valuable of a tool it can be.

For starters, it’s important to remember Soundslides wasn’t developed for users of programs like Premiere, Final Cut or Avid. It was developed to be an easy-to-use tool for photographers, journalists, students, educators, etcetera. In other words, it was meant for people who don’t often find themselves doing tons of video editing or web developing. While professionals certainly can use the program, it is aimed at a demographic that is less multimedia savvy. Continue reading