Survive and thrive: when abortion advocates attack pro-life pregnancy centers

For years, abortion proponents have attempted to undermine the life-affirming work of pregnancy centers through weaponized communication tactics. Pregnancy centers are dedicated to providing pregnant women with the resources they need to feel confident about carrying to term, and this makes them a frequent target of abortion advocates. Groups like #ExposeFakeClinics, for example, will smear pregnancy centers by encouraging their followers to write fake online reviews about their services. 

Pro-life pregnancy centers must remain steadfast in their pro-life mission by combating the public image pro-choice activists have crafted around abortion. Abortion advocates have managed to recruit support for their cause by using the power of branding to classify abortion as “healthcare.” The media has been just one ally abortion advocates have consistently depended on to amplify their message. Lawmakers like Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker who want to be seen as defenders of women’s reproductive rights have passed radical abortion laws that allow the procedure up to the point of birth. 

The constant hostility pregnancy centers are subjected to means they must be prepared to handle attacks from abortion proponents. This battle for life is ongoing, and pregnancy centers play a crucial role on the front lines by serving women and their families in their time of need. Pregnancy centers standing strong against pro-choice efforts to bring them down represents the unseen struggle to restore a value for life in our current culture. 

However, pro-life pregnancy centers must not always be on the defensive when fending off unfounded attacks. Abortion advocates frame themselves as champions of women’s reproductive rights. While these groups promote abortion, pregnancy centers can go on the offensive by focusing on how they provide something of greater value than an abortion clinic.  

Highlight the Positive Reception to Their Life-Affirming Services

The critics of pregnancy centers dismiss the positive impact these organizations have on those they serve. A recent report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) found pro-life pregnancy centers helped almost 2,000,000 people in 2017 alone by providing them with free resources. Taxpayers also benefit from the presence of pregnancy centers, as their efforts save communities nearly $161 million annually. 

These numbers hardly reflect the National Abortion Rights Action League’s (NARAL) description of pregnancy centers as “fake clinics.” A 2015 report from CLI called “Turning Hearts Toward Life II” disputes this point even further. An overwhelming majority of respondents in the survey had a favorable view of pregnancy centers, and regardless of their stance on abortion, respondents saw pregnancy centers as a valuable resource. 

Pregnancy centers can publicize the widespread appreciation that communities have for them when their opponents try to smear them with falsehoods. 90 percent of the financial support pregnancy centers receive comes from private donations, and the funding given to them on a voluntary basis is a testament to all of the work they do. 

In contrast, Planned Parenthood collected over $600 million in taxpayer dollars and committed 345,672 abortions according to their 2018-2019 annual report. 

Relationships That Go Beyond Media Attention

Assaults on pro-life pregnancy centers may come in the form of unprecedented legislation that forces them to advertise for abortion clinics, or protests inspired by the lies NARAL or Planned Parenthood promote. The key to surviving attacks from abortion advocacy groups is to establish holistic communication. Pregnancy centers must build internal relationships with people who believe in their life-affirming message – donors, staff, and volunteers – without neglecting the importance of external connections. 

There’s an opportunity for pregnancy centers to build credibility by establishing trust in their neighborhoods. Planned Parenthood often has to construct their abortion clinics in secret to avoid opposition from communities. This should encourage pregnancy centers to share their compassionate vision with community groups and local media outlets who can positively attest to their services. 

Pro-life clinics also would not be able to operate if state legislators who support them did not exist – they must remember to honor these policymakers to secure their continued backing. Since places like Planned Parenthood can rely on lawmakers to advance abortion legislation, pregnancy centers need legislators who will speak on their behalf. 

Outreach efforts have proven to be beneficial for pregnancy centers in the past. Consider an incident from 2017 where a number of pro-choice activists gathered to protest a Connecticut pregnancy center. The locals were not persuaded by the lies the group shouted about the center, and they came out in droves to peacefully counter-protest. 

Pregnancy centers can continue to earn their neighborhood’s trust by employing effective communication strategies in order to establish long-term partnerships. The pro-life movement is up against organizations whose mission it is to convince women that abortion is crucial to their reproductive freedom. By taking the time to network and present a clear brand, pregnancy centers can help women see they deserve better than abortion.  

This article first appeared at the Live Action website.

Create a Winning Pro-Life Message During the COVID-19 Crisis

According to the Washington Post, “The coronavirus is a flimsy excuse to ban abortion,” while Fox News reports, “Pro-life leaders scrutinize WHO funding amid support for abortion during COVID-19 outbreak.” How are those who call themselves pro-life advocates supposed to create messages that will transcend the current pandemic? A pro-life mission does not sway based on who is president, how laws expand or contract access to abortion, or because of a crisis no one could have anticipated. What does one do when one still has the desire to be out on the sidewalks counseling women, that the greater pandemic is the number of abortions taking place throughout the world?

Here are some tips for crafting an effective pro-life message during the COVID-19 crisis:

1. Stay On Mission

For example, Live Action is an organization whose mission states that it “…exists today to shift public opinion on the killing of preborn children and defend the rights of these most vulnerable among us.” When Lila Rose started the organization, she was an undercover journalist working to expose illegal activity at abortion clinics, in order to help shut them down.

A recent headline in Live Action News reads, “United Nations gives China seat on Human Rights Council, despite abuses and genocide.” Why? Because we know that women in China often face forced abortions, and Live Action’s reporting points out that China does not deserve to be associated with an entity that supports human rights. The article is a good fit for Live Action’s mission. And while that hard news is tied into COVID-19, you have to admire their powerful human interest article, “Bittersweet: Photo of newborn meeting grandfather through window shows realities of COVID-19.”

This should be helpful to other pro-life groups who are tempted to exclusively chase after “all things COVID-19” as it relates to the pro-life/abortion debate. Don’t overlook the power of a “feel good” story.

2. Pivot Your Theme

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement about how the American College of OB/GYN believes that “abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care.” One key fact in that release is that, “85% of OB/GYNs do not perform abortions. If abortion was an ‘essential component’ of women’s health care, it would be a part of most, if not all, of our practices.” In addition, the statement concludes, “Elective abortions offer zero health benefits to women and do not treat a disease process.” While the statement was a new release as it related to abortion services during the COVID-19 crisis, it really was a pivot from the organization’s theme that abortion is clearly not health care.

Other pro-life advocates can follow the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ lead when communicating. Start out with strong facts that support your life-affirming position then be sure to “land on” a message that will never change, in this case that elective abortions are not essential and are not health care.

3. Make Your Message “yes and” Rather than “either or”

I live in Chicago where our mayor has pushed hard for social distancing, yet she posted photos with her hair stylist in close proximity without any protective wear to be seen. In a public service announcement, she tells women, “Getting your roots done is not essential.” This is a bad example of saying “yes” on social distancing while adding an “and” that the mayor is above her own executive order.

However, what Pro-Life Action Ministries communicated is a winning “yes and” message with the statement, “Covid-19 and Abortion: Events Cancelled; Sidewalk Counseling Remains a Must.” The message makes clear that the mission of Pro-Life Action Ministries will continue by honoring the social distancing guidelines by the government and still let women know that there are other life-affirming health care services to support them during a crisis pregnancy.

I remember the classic example that free speech does not apply to yelling “fire!” in a crowded theatre, because expressing your “free speech” in that manner could cause a panic that results in harming people. The same is true for pro-life activities; if you truly believe in protecting life, then you must also support directives from the government to protect the health of others during this pandemic.

4. Promote Pro-Life Good Works that Meet Current Needs

Our family has chosen the homeschool option for our children. My wife has been teaching our girls out of our house for years. However, that is not the case for the majority of families. So when the Culture of Life Studies Program offered free digital material during the quarantine, that was a winning idea for everyone. It gives pro-life parents the opportunity to supplement their home education with a curriculum that increases their children’s knowledge of and heart for the most essential subject ever: life.

In the case of Students for Life of America, they used the tried and true tactic of making a list: “The Top 8 Pro-Life Things to do During Coronavirus.” The list ranges from how to thank elected officials who support the pro-life position to participating in an online diaper drive. All are perfect ideas for a generation of digital natives who can do all suggested tasks online with ease.

By coming up with creative ways for a pro-life organization to blend its mission with timely added value for constituents, Students for Life of America has demonstrated that its mission can be relevant in any season, certainly well outside of the national March for Life timeframe that garners attention culminating in January.

Creating a Better News Cycle on the Abortion Issue

If you search for news on elective abortions during the COVID-19 crisis, much of the coverage focuses around state governments deciding if abortion is an “essential” or “non-essential” medical service. You will see the abortion industry crying foul when the practice is curtailed, and see some coverage of pro-life activists doing “business as usual” while appearing to ignore the crisis that has gripped the entire country. My hope is to suggest this: the winning pro-life message during the COVID-19 crisis is that of crafting a narrative that stays true to your organization’s mission of helping women and their babies in a crisis pregnancy, while finding unique points that add value well beyond the current rash of polarizing headlines that pit pro-life advocacy against abortion “rights.”

This article originally appeared in LifeNews.

Talking about Pro-Life: use the right language

communicating effectively

Last year, The New York Times featured an article, ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ vs. ‘Forced Pregnancy’: The Language Wars of the Abortion Debate. For people who have a heart for the unborn, the words they choose are important for protecting women and saving their babies. Even though they want to help, sometimes they can express anger and frustration with people who are pro-abortion. As someone who deals closely with the media to share pro-life news, I have come to appreciate the power of how words are used to get the attention of the sometime callous mainstream news reporters.

First of all, it is important to pay attention to what kind of language is being used in the news when abortion stories are reported and pro-life advocates are described. National Public Radio (NPR) talked about how they’re deciding on abortion coverage in the article, “Reviewing NPR’s Language For Covering Abortion.” They will not use the term “pro-life,” yet pro-lifers will not use the term “pro-choice” because it doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Listeners may complain that talking about a woman whose baby isn’t born yet shouldn’t be considered a mother, even though it seems obvious to pro-lifers that of course a baby starts his or her life at the moment of conception. So that is why we have to listen carefully about how they are covering that concept.

For instance, there has been a change in how terms are used over the years. At one point, people would not want to say “termination of a pregnancy,” but instead say “abortion, infanticide, killing of the innocent.” In the last few months, the New York Times has used the word “infanticide,” which has a bigger impact on how an audience understands killing a baby, whether the child is in utero or has already been born. Then again, the word “infanticide” can inflame the opposition, and it is more important to rationally discuss the issue of saving children’s lives than end up having a harsh argument where both sides of the issue are pouring gasoline on the fire.

Therefore, consider the audience: abortion legislation discussed in Alabama is different than Illinois. What I have seen is that people are using words like “heartbeat,” and how it is detected within the first six to eight weeks after a woman becomes pregnant. It is an emotional image, and much more powerful than simply yelling at the opposition. In Ohio, when the state’s heartbeat legislation was in process, the ACLU’s press releases did not acknowledge a heartbeat; their response was to not advocate for forced births. They did not want to use the word even though it was the bill. Yet it still had an impact.

Also, it is important to not endorse the opposition by using their language. For instance, Richard Nixon said “I am not a crook” when he was faced with impeachment. That was not effective because the negative idea was put into the public’s mind. In the case of abortion, when someone says a pro-lifer is anti-women or anti-choice, it is best to avoid using those labels because more exposure is given to them and will not help the argument against abortion.

The best words to use are what best describes the pro-life position, and it’s even better to have a powerful image or something that can instantly be shown. I know a case of a woman who was talking with a friend of hers who was considering an abortion, and the woman showed her something on Facebook. When she pulled up an image and a video that talked about why a baby is a baby and showed her friend some ultrasound pictures, she changed her mind. That powerful post was worth more than a thousand words. Even at state fairs, pro-life groups will display models of babies being developed from conception to birth. Even if people do not speak to the members of the pro-life group, they can find out what the consequences are when they encounter those visuals.

So how should you respond in such a way that does not express your anger, even though you might feel like you want to lash out?

Think about why the other person is for abortion. Even though we do not agree with everyone, we can still show compassion instead of anger. Some people are not aware of what is at stake, or they have a worldview that does not value all life. Before I followed Jesus, I thought all the arguments for abortion made absolute sense to me. I thought the baby in the womb was just a clump of cells, and was not a baby until it came out. I also thought it was cruel to make a woman who could not afford to have children give birth to only offer the kids a harsh life. Then when I came to Christ, I understood the Psalm that talks about being knitted in my mother’s womb. Knitting usually starts with some very thin threads that are put together into a bigger thread, and it becomes more and more, which means we literally go back to the point of conception. So, in some cases, it’s a heart issue that is blocking people from understanding.

In Romans 1:21 it says, “for, although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, their foolish hearts were darkened.” And I think we all come from a place of having darkened hearts until we come to know the truth. When talking to people who don’t agree with us–and I have been yelled and sworn at by abortion supporters–we have to go through a process of self-examination. David cried out, “Lord, search me and see if there’s any wicked way within me,” and I think that’s a place to start. We’re believers, but we need to have God search us and say, “God, give me the right attitude. Give me the love for people who are just in the same situation that I was lost in and with without hope, without Messiah.”

We also should listen instead of quickly speaking, as James tells us. I worked with a woman years ago and she was angry at me about how I managed her, and she eventually quit. I wasn’t a Christian then, but when I saw her again after she’d achieved a lot of success, I had come to know Jesus. She told me she had two abortions, and she shared her feelings, and she started to cry. I allowed her to hurt in front of me, and I didn’t show judgement because I thought of what Jesus would do. I was showing her that I was not there to condemn her but to help, and at that moment, she needed someone to listen.

Of course, it is easy to get upset about abortion and want to express our anger and try any means possible to get other people to believe what we are saying and to stop legislation and the pro-abortion messages that are so prevalent in our country. However, we should think higher, think about our witness and how Jesus always loved people who lived the wrong way, though he was there to give them a life-saving message.

The Political “Bases” Were Loaded During the State of the Union

thumbs up

While I was watching the president’s recent State of the Union address, I couldn’t help but think there was a subliminal pro-wrestling match going on between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. Their disdain for each other, which has been described all over the media (Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times says, “He declined to shake her outstretched hand. She omitted his ceremonial introduction and ripped up her copy of his speech”), was there for all to see. At first glance, it might just simply have been partisan politics on display or more likely a way for each of them to use the State of the Union to speak to their base.

Clearly, the president wanted to speak to the people who got him elected. He was shoring up their support, telling them they picked a winner…pick me again. Pelosi, who just a short while ago signed the impeachment papers, clearly did not want Trump in the room. It created drama, and it also taught us some lessons about communicating and remaining professional despite differences.

Here are three ways that what we saw that night highlights the need for more respectful and impactful communication:

1 – Management meetings matter. People are often in situations where there are conflicting viewpoints on what middle management should say to upper management (while we have three equal branches of government, clearly the role of the president is upper management). Some people may want to tear down recommendations by attacking a person’s ideas, or worse yet, the person who is making the suggestions. It’s a way of lifting someone up by tearing others down, which is not productive. I have found it more effective to listen to what the other side is saying, then suggest how I would approach it. It’s better than stepping over another person to push through your ideas and agenda. We should be influencers who effectively communicate to a decision maker while not diminishing our own reputation (think about Nancy Pelosi’s comments regarding the stunt of tearing the president’s speech. Besides, she has a net worth of $120 million, so you would think she could afford a paper shredder).

2 – Everything is visual. While people were amused or bewildered when speaker Pelosi tore up Trump’s speech at the end (Ledyard King and Christal Hayes report in USA Today that she told a reporter she did it “Because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives”), it was an obvious visual for millions to see, and it got significant media attention. Just as interesting were the reactions from members of Congress: some were checking their phones or chewing gum, and some appeared totally disinterested, while on international television. Their reactions pretty much went against what I learned growing up: sit up straight, pay attention, and don’t chew gum. Whatever kind of behavior got attention that night, good or bad, it demonstrated that it is important to focus on what you are visually communicating. The president was able to verbally and visually share his ideas, while the members of Congress could only communicate through what people saw. When we are in a challenging situation, we also have to think about what we are showing people if we don’t have the option of using words.

3 – People tell stories, not speeches. Throughout the evening, the president talked about his accomplishments, as he was probably convincing people to reelect him. He told stories about children striving to achieve, or people who have sacrificed for the country or have significant accomplishments. He didn’t just discuss these important points; he told interesting stories about them. A highlight for me was when he was talking about the sacrifice of a wife and her children because their father is in the Army, and they have not seen him in months. Then, to the surprise of his family and the entire audience at the Capitol and around the world, the president brought the soldier into the room. Everyone applauded, even Trump’s opponents. It was an incredible emotional moment as part of a story that had a sad beginning with a happy ending. Creating stories like that as part of a powerful presentation can make everyone cheer, no matter how people feel about the presenter’s position.

Each of us will always have our own bias when presenting our ideas, talking about politics, running a business, or dealing with workplace issues. It does not matter if our activities are local or international, big or small; it is vital that we are perceived in the best light. Our reputation can be affected if we do not consider how our actions affect others’ perceptions of us.

How Church Leaders Can Explain the Tragedy in Sri Lanka to the Media


Did God forget His people on the most sacred day of the Christian calendar? The news flooded the world that churches in Sri Lanka’s Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade districts were targeted during Easter services with bombings. To the non-Christian, this could beg the question: If God is so good, why would He allow such a high-profile tragedy to take place if He’s an all-powerful and loving God?

Often individual churches face a crisis that draws the attention of the mainstream media. It could be a sexual, financial, or violent action at a house of worship that forces unassuming churches into the media spotlight. An example is when Willow Creek Community Church had to deal with alleged misconduct by its founder. And then there was the tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine members were murdered while they were in the church. Later, the media quoted the murderer saying “I would like to make it crystal clear, I do not regret what I did.”

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Communicating beyond the pro-life press

Live Action has launched a documentary series highlighting allegations that Planned Parenthood protects sexual abusers. This important series is just the latest evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide regularly cover up sexual abuse — including the sexual abuse of minors.

The series has spread like wildfire among pro-life outlets. However, it has gotten little coverage in outlets outside of the pro-life movement.

The reality of major media’s anti-life bias 

Prominent outlets such as the Journal of the American Medical AssociationThe Washington Post, and Politico regularly push anti-life falsehoods as news. CNN’s Jake Tapper was the rare reporter to be tough on Planned Parenthood for selling baby body parts, and it took Kirsten Powers’s USA TODAY column to force national reporters outside of Tapper to cover the Kermit Gosnell murder trial.

Even though many pro-life advocates avoid the hostile press, sometimes we need to get the press to cover abortion in order to convince the abortion-supporting public. As David Daleiden did with his videos and Gosnell did with his murders, the truth of abortion can often break through even their pro-abortion biases.

The right message with the right strategy

It’s never easy getting coverage even with well-timed and horrifying stories such as Live Action’s investigative journalism. But sometimes a story slips through. My client Created Equal flew banners above the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2016 urging them to support unborn life. The effort received liberal coverage at The Huffington Post and Jezebel, at local outlets like and even the international publication The Guardian.

When David Daleiden investigated and exposed Planned Parenthood, it didn’t cost the abortion-provider money, but the group was forced to disassociate with StemExpress. Planned Parenthood also faced investigations from Congress and several states. Tens of millions of Americans saw abortion industry employees joking about making money off of piles of body parts that were, at times, illegally procured. And a press conference at which Daleiden spoke in Houston, Texas was organized by pro-life groups and received extensive media coverage both nationally and internationally.

There are other ways to get pro-abortion press to cover pro-life values. The 2014 Hobby Lobby lawsuit against the Obama administration’s HHS Mandate and the 2016 Little Sisters case are prime examples – both led to favorable Supreme Court decisions and were major setbacks to the most pro-abortion presidential administration in American history. They also secured liberty for pro-lifers in the private sector.

Not everyone has the legal, investigative, or financial capabilities of the groups mentioned above. This shouldn’t stop pro-life advocates from combining their principles with great strategy to inform communities of the truth of life. I remember helping another client, Pro-Life Action League, partner with Iowa Right to Life to throw the world’s biggest baby shower to protest a Planned Parenthood event. The local media showered it with attention.

Keep the faith

The fight against abortion is exhausting. Over 60 million children have been killed in the last 45 years. National pro-life groups and local pro-life pregnancy resource centers need to remember that the arc of history, science, and God are on our side. And while we will sometimes fail to make traditional media pay attention, we should never forget that you miss all of the long shots you never take.

Read the full version of my post at The Daily Caller’s website.

A Van Gogh, Trump, and a Tall-Tale Toilet

When the White House asks for a favor, it’s best to think carefully before you take action. Paul Schwartzman reported in the Washington Post that President Trump requested a Vincent van Gogh painting to put in his private living quarters at the White House. What the museum offered was a piece of art that was more functional, and controversial: a gold toilet called “America,” which had actually been used by visitors to the museum as part of an installation in a restroom. Vincent van Gogh

People are probably laughing at the museum’s choice of art to be loaned to the President. However, whatever you think of the museum’s decision, there are some good and negative things to observe from the situation, which you can apply in your own publicity plan:

1 – Whatever you do on a regular basis has publicity potential. The Guggenheim is probably often asked to loan works of art, and what seemed like a mundane request became something bigger. They had the opportunity to create big news out of a normal procedure, and the story ended up appearing all over the media. So they succeeded in drawing attention to themselves, which you can also do if you find an exciting angle of your own story.

2 – An item can be a powerful symbol. If they’d given President Trump a famous painting, perhaps the value of the art would become news. However, they chose something that really popped. A solid-gold toilet is much more of a conversation-starter than brush strokes on a canvas, and the pictures and videos that have appeared in the media are worth more than any advertising campaign. You might have an object or visual that would be effective in your own publicity campaign, so it’s important to think about what can make a big impact.

3 – Political statements could backfire. While I don’t know the exact motive of the museum because they didn’t talk about why they gave the President a toilet, it seems that they meant to send a negative message to him. It’s not simply a piece of art to look at; more than 100,000 people used it. Because it appears to be mocking Trump, the museum could lose visitors and money because Trump supporters would be offended, or even people who don’t like to mix politics and art. It also moves the museum from a cultural institution to political commentary, so it would not be seen as neutral anymore. Also, by making the President’s request public, the museum chose to go to the lowest common denominator. What kind of sophisticated institution would want to do that? It’s something to consider if you’re thinking of creating publicity that would bring down your image instead of boosting it.

When I first saw this story, just the picture and headline put a negative impression of the Guggenheim in my mind. Had I been advising the museum about how they could publicize requests, I might have put it in a historical context. For instance, I would have advised the museum to offer something that was on par with a van Gogh, which would also be consistent with what other presidents had received. It wouldn’t get the laughs the toilet got, but it would be respectable and would boost the museum’s reputation.

This was originally posted at Westmeath Netsortium of experts: creating programs to help enterprises perform better.

Back to the Future: Life Lessons that Stand the Test of Time

You never know who the next hero is going to be. Jean Mackin’s story, “11-year-old saves choking friend with lesson learned from dad,” is about how a boy used the Heimlich maneuver on a girl who was choking on a lollipop. father son hands

It was a life-saving skill that his dad taught him, and it reminded me of what my father taught me. What he told me may not save someone’s life, but it could save someone’s reputation, and even business. Here are five ways that my father positively influenced me, which I’ve applied in my own life and share with others:

1 – Send a handwritten thank you note. I grew up in a generation where a note wasn’t optional, but a must. My father really emphasized the importance of the personal touch. So much communication nowadays is digital, and some people don’t even take the time to thank others at all. So when people do take the time, it really stands out. For instance, in Toledo, someone even gave a policeman a handwritten note during his patrol shift, expressing the person’s appreciation of his hard work. He and the department were so glad to get the note, they posted it on social media. It seems like a minor action, but it really makes a difference

2 – Give gifts. My father was big on tangible gifts. Of course, he believed that a thank you is good, and a gift is even better. When someone does me a big favor, or if I want to show my appreciation for their work, or recognize the importance of our relationship, I send them a card with brownies. The note is nice, and the brownies are usually quickly consumed.

3 – Make a phone call. My father didn’t have email, which was a good thing, because he liked to meet people in person. If that wasn’t possible, a phone call was the next best thing, especially if someone lived far away. Usually people prefer to text rather than call, and it seems easier. However, a phone call is a great way to follow up with others and can also prevent misunderstandings. For instance, just setting a date for a business meeting can lead to long email threads that could bury the date or location, and you could forget to include some important information. Phone calls can be brief, yet ensure questions are answered.

4 – Focus on everyone. You never know who can help. It’s good to pay attention to all kinds of people when you are trying to reach decision-makers. When my father was taking care of my mother towards the end of her life and had to take her to the doctor, or when he visited her in the nursing home, he wouldn’t just pay attention to “important” medical staff. He would talk with all kinds of people and often bring cookies and other treats to the doctors, nurses, and helpers. He considered everyone as offering crucial support, and made sure no one was overlooked.

5 – Bless others when youve been blessed. As a child, I never really understood why we had to give money to the church every week. When I asked my father about it, he said, “Look how God has blessed us.” Chances are, good things have happened to you this year, and there are many ways to “share the wealth.” As a result, helping others is not only good for them, but can help your reputation as well.

Just as we can pass on blessings that we’ve received, we can also pass on wisdom that we have gained not just from our parents, but our clients, friends, and colleagues. So take a moment to think about who has influenced you and what you can share with others. There’s a lot to be thankful for, especially our reputations.

This was originally posted at Westmeath Netsortium of experts: creating programs to help enterprises perform better.

Did Trump Use the Right “Matchmaking” Advice with Russian Officials?

With all the complexities with the Russian scandal in the White House, it seems like President Trump should not have delegated his Russian relationships to his son. However, delegating tasks seems to be the trend, not just in politics, but in business as well. delegate

The BBC’s Catherine Snowdon describes how companies have set up ways to take over tasks that people don’t want to be responsible for. One company sends texts or emails for people who don’t want to deliver the bad breakup news themselves. Another company has invented a machine that can write notes for someone when they want to avoid using a pen and paper. And if people don’t want to stand in line for tickets, they can hire others to do that as well.

It seems like people are paying good money to avoid responsibility, allowing companies to take over their relationships. However, there are three reasons why it’s not such a good idea, even if you’re giving them permission to do so:

1 – Relationships are important. Whether they’re romantic or professional, close relationships require real interaction, even if the relationship is being terminated. In business, valued customers require honest communication. Even if an outcome is not favorable in the short-term, the personal touch can have positive long-term benefits. If the breakup is handled tactfully, the door can be left open.

2 – Your voice is your own. There are many Elvis Presley impersonators, and people who haven’t heard the real Elvis might be fooled. However, fans who know him understand that the impersonators are just imposters. So even though a fancy machine can write notes in your handwriting, it’s still not the real deal. Important contacts in your network would know that a note did not come from you, so the communication would not be genuine or foster a closer relationship. Basically, a copy isn’t as valuable as the original.

3 – Failure. No one wants to experience failure, but cutting corners can make it happen faster. Maybe businesses can save money by hiring others to take over mundane tasks. After all, what executive has the time to stand in line all day? Or deliver bad news, and be put in an awkward situation? However, companies have to be careful about what they delegate, and to whom. A well-known example is the Chicago Tribune, which outsourced work for the Blockshopper site to offshore writers who created stories under fake names. When the deception was uncovered, the Tribune was caught, and their reputation for journalism suffered. If they’d checked the company they’d farmed out their writing to (which also included writing generated by computers), they probably could have avoided the problem.

Basically, it’s important to think before you act, especially when handing off responsibilities to someone else. Prioritizing is key. While Donald Trump probably could trust his son in many matters, he should have re-thought what could have been delegated as he was pursuing the White House.

This was originally posted at Westmeath Netsortium of experts: creating programs to help enterprises perform better.

Don’t Blow Up Your Publicity Plan

When we’re going to have a baby, we love to tell people about it.
However, when was the last fireworkstime a baby announcement could land you in jail?
Alastair Lawson reports in the BBC News that a man shot an exploding target to announce his wife’s pregnancy. It sent billowing blue smoke into the air and created a boom that could be heard miles away. The man thought he was doing something clever, but it was illegal, and scary to his neighbors.

Hopefully, a business wouldn’t want to create a frightening promotional stunt, but everyone still needs to be careful. Here are 5 lessons that you can keep in mind when promoting your brand:

1 – Make sure it is legal. The man bought the explosives in a store, so he assumed it was okay to use them. However, he should have made sure he had the required permit. Whether you need a city permit or want to simply use a copyrighted photograph, make sure you find out what you need to do, or shouldn’t do, for your promotional campaign.

2 – Put it in context. A publicity stunt is more effective when you incorporate it into a promotional package that could be more valuable for media coverage. It’s about quality, not just the “wow” factor. The man was proud of the blue smoke he was creating, but in the bigger picture, it caused problems. If you’re thinking of doing something spectacular, make it part of a plan that has long-term effects.

3 – Consider your audience. The man’s neighbors were upset, even though he was having fun celebrating good news. It’s important to pay attention to what message you are communicating, and be conscientious about the details. For instance, WGN-TV picked the wrong star while reporting a positive story about a Jewish holiday. Instead of using a generic Star of David, they used an image of a star that was worn in a concentration camp. While it wasn’t an attempt at publicity, the mistake was broadcast and written about throughout the world. The embarrassment could have been avoided if they had paid attention.

4 – Focus. This is a follow-up to point number 3, because the man’s mistake was not the right message for his audience. By choosing to broadly broadcast his joy, he was off target. He was happy about the baby, but he should have communicated with people who would truly appreciate the news. Had this proud papa-to-be invited friends and family over for fireworks in his backyard, it would have been appropriate. When promoting your own story, remember that media outlets range from hyper-local to national. Therefore, consideration has to be made for the right media, message, and scope of audience.

5 – Don’t go it alone. To prevent problems and misunderstandings, consult with a team of people who fall into three categories: the CEO, who will ultimately be the spokesperson whether things go well or badly; your in-house legal expert; and communications professionals.

As Thomas Paine said, “Character is much easier kept than recovered,” and with careful planning, your reputation can be preserved if you implement a wise publicity stunt that will get the right kind of attention.