Showing posts from January, 2017

"Get With The Program"

If you are a federal employee, are calling for "resistance" and think you will spend the next four years throwing sand in the gears while on duty, you are stealing from the taxpayer and should resign now. No matter who you are, you have no right to physically attack people who wear "MAGA" hats, to knock their teeth out, and to beat them with pipes. If you do such things, you should be arrested and put on trial for assault. Similarly, you certainly don't have the right to go on social media and, God forbid, call for President Trump's assassination. If you do that, you should expect a knock on your door from the Secret Service.

President Trump, Please Reach Out

Our country is so polarized right now because everyone relies on their unique feed of cherry-picked news.

There is no easy answer to this because:

1) Social media has flattened the traditional journalistic power hierarchy. Anyone and everyone with an internet connection can be a reporter or a publisher.

2) Corporate interests and political interference lead to bias and censorship.

3) Politicians tend to operate with as much secrecy as possible.

4) When politicians can't work in secrecy they seek to "control the narrative."

One must understand that:

* Politicians act the way they do not only in instances of shadiness but also to avoid disclosing their plans to the "other side."

* Bureaucracies, federal and otherwise, also act to perpetuate themselves and this prevents them from being as forthcoming as they should.

* Businesses act to protect themselves so as to stay in business.

* And of course the wealthy individual in power seeks to keep that money and that po…

10 Success Tips For A New Year

Theme I: AttitudeTake Yourself Seriously. Not seriously like in an egotistical way but seriously like your choices have consequences. If you aren't taking yourself seriously right now, I guarantee it has to do with the logic of depression, meaning that you tell yourself things like this: "I tried before, and I failed." If this is you, understand that your mind isn't functioning right. You're going to have to retrain your brain, even if you have to stand there in front of the bathroom mirror in the morning and make accurate statements to yourself repetitively. Not phony affirmations. Sentences such as this: "I can't control the past. I can control what I do right now."Stop Being Irrationally Afraid. Sometimes we think, "If X happens, I'm screwed." Sometimes we live our whole lives that way. We don't speak up when we should. We don't leave a bad job or a bad relationship. We don't break ties with toxic friends, or family. Be…

10 Tips for Federal Employees on the Personal Use Of Social Media

Yesterday, January 23, 2017, the Federal Communicators Network (FCN) Professional Standards Working Group released the 10 tips below. I am part of the steering committee and a volunteer in this effort to promote the development of government-wide standards for professional conduct and quality communication.

These tips are meant to help clarify some issues that federal employees may not be aware of, or that may be confusing. It is not meant to replace a thorough review of law, policy, and official guidance or to restrict or alter federal employees' rights and responsibilities in any way. When in doubt, please do not use this as a substitute for obtaining reliable direction from an official source.

This document, like all FCN documents, is unofficial in nature and volunteers' opinions, as well as publications, do not represent official guidance, the views of their federal agencies, or the views of the government as a whole.

Reproduction & Distribu…

Coping With The Emotional Economy

The fact of the matter is that you have to get along with people in order to remain employed.

But you knew this already; you knew that as much as we exist in a knowledge economy we also exist in a collaboration economy, a service economy, an economy where brands are differentiated by the emotional labor geared toward making the customer feel special.

For the sake of efficiency, perhaps we should simply admit that we live in an emotion economy and be done with it.

I was talking to someone the other day who has impeccable credentials. But they were well-aware that credentials are not enough. They needed leadership skills, management skills, but even more than that they needed a mentor and a professional network.

The ability to build and maintain such a network, both at your job and outside of it, is an insurance policy for your professional brand. It is the basis upon which you will get referrals and references. But more importantly, it is the cornerstone of your ability to maintain your em…

Ending Radical Islamic Terrorism Through The Discipline Of Development

"If you're interested in making sacrifices for Allah, stick around." - Letters to A Young Muslim author Omar Saif Ghobash On January 6, 2017, the Washington, D.C. bookstore Politics & Prose hosted a talk by the author of "Letters to a Young Muslim," Omar Saif Ghobash. The talk was videotaped by C-SPAN and you can see it in full online.
"Letters" is not a book about religious prescriptions. It is a quest from within the Islamic religious community to help articulate the Islamic "position on the world" in clear terms. The aim is to help young people find a place in the world that is both productive and spiritual. 
For me as an observer of current events, the importance of the author's perspective is that it offers a practical, doable way to end radical Islamic terrorism in a way that none have conceived of before. What if we could end it without violence?What if we could end it without arrogant, false attempts to change the audience int…

Pret: A Brand To Watch

I love going to Pret for my coffee in the morning. It’s not just another coffee place.
Pret is love.
I can tell how much they care about the food they serve. For one thing the presentation is so appealing. (I eat kosher, but God does allow me to admire a chicken hotwrap.)
All of their food is fresh. If you don’t see it on the shelf, it’s because they haven’t made it for that day just yet.
Their brown paper packaging is not only appealing in a basic way, but also tells me they care about the environment.
The eggs are cage-free. I didn’t need for that to be true, but I like knowing it. And that fact is proudly displayed directly even on the ingredient list for a simple egg salad sandwich.
Pret is love. They love the bounty of nature, their ingredients, and they take good care of the planet, too, with thoughtfully designed trash receptacles that actually make me want to recycle.
The staff works as a team. They seem to genuinely like each other, from what I can tell.
Their good feeling t…

Fix My Brand

Typically when people ask me “how can I fix my brand,” the answer is very simple. They just don’t want to hear the answer.

Here are five examples of things people don’t want to hear.
Communication is a critical function that must be heavily staffed with highly qualified people who live, eat, drink, breathe and exude the brand. Most executives pay lip service to it, but at the end of the day their assumption is that “anyone can do it, I’ll figure it out on my own.” As an extension of this mistake, organizations will sometimes hire professionals who serve as the official communicator for the organization, but only as a token — akin to hiring a great lawyer and then ignoring their advice, or a super cybersecurity professional and then refusing to take even the most basic advice about strengthening passwords.Most of the things you are saying right now are actually hurting the brand, not helping it. This is primarily because most organizations talk in a very generic way to “everybody,” rathe…

10 Trends To Watch In 2017

Citizen Journalism Eclipses the Mainstream Media: In a trend that continues from the campaign, we will see official sources of news decline in public interest as it is perceived that they spin a pre-fabricated narrative. At the same time, the perceived honesty of independent bloggers, researchers and other citizen journalists will lead the public to turn to social media first and potentially exclusively to find out what is going on. In 2017, the "MSM" will serve chiefly as fodder for the real conversation, which occurs in public and private social media forums. Expect social media to fall into relatively stratified ideological lines, with the Left talking mostly to itself and the Right doing the same, while the media wrings its hands over "fake news" and struggles to make the case for its legitimacy.The Decline of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube: A number of factors have combined to create distrust in what can now be called "traditional" social media. These…

Who Is "Us," Exactly?

Growing up in the '80s I used to listen to the Howard Stern show on the radio. Now keep in mind that I also used to dress up as Gloria Steinem on the Jewish holiday of Purim. But all of us knew the difference between politically incorrect humor and the actual problems women faced in real life.

Raising my children in the late '90s-early 2000's I entered a far more politically correct world. Everybody got a certificate for everything. They watched Barney saying "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family" and they learned that any kind of intolerance was wrong. Millennials, as a result, are even more polite than Canadians.

Then they got older and there was 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security was formed, and the show "24" depicted all the nefarious ways that "bad guys" were plotting to take America down. This was followed in short order by President Bush's Iraq War, which never made any sense to anybody, and frankly, to me, neith…

Two Kinds Of Workers You're Better Off Without

Worldwide, many employees do not have any rights at all: They are slaves and therefore treated as property.

As of March 2016, reported, based on multiple sources compiled into a “Global Slavery Index,” that there are an estimated 35.8 million slaves globally and that approximately 1 in 4 of them (26%) are children. “Adult male slaves, meanwhile, are often forced into labor due to financial debts, while females are often exploited for prostitution.”

Although today every country in the world “condemns” forced labor, according to the International Labour Organization, someone is still making money from it. Even if you subtract forced sexual labor, the world’s 14.2 million slaves generate an estimated $51 billion per year.

Michael Hobbes, writing for the Huffington Post, notes that consumers have for twenty years now tried to avoid slave labor in the products they buy. And although many lists have been published in the name of providing transparency, truly achieving this goal …

On The Indispensable Nature Of "Straight Line Thinking"

"The truth at any cost lowers all other costs." - Robert Steele, former CIA Officer and intelligence reform activist Adbusters uses the term "straight line thinking" to describe "logic freaks" focused only on "more technology, more rationality, more surveillance, more consumption, more control." But that isn't what I mean. From my perspective, "straight line thinking" is: The ability to clearly articulate what your desired outcome (goal) is.A commitment to getting there as efficiently (shortest number of steps, cheapest cost) and effectively (highest quality result) as possible.Encouraging debate regarding the best method of achieving the goal. Great communication facilitates all three aspects of "straight line thinking." Not only does it enable different kinds of people to understand what you're saying, but it also makes it possible for them to participate in achieving the goal. In order to enjoy the benefits of &quo…

Is Federal Communication A Waste Of Money?

In my own personal capacity as a citizen and as a communication professional, I am frequently critical of the federal government's use and misuse of communication tools.

As a federal communicator -- and please note that all opinions expressed here are my own -- I have spent the better part of my career trying to make things better. Not just on my own, but also with many intrepid others. There are in fact numerous mechanisms, from meetings to listservs to free training sessions to videos, that enable us to improve.

Most recently, in 2016, a group of us culminated a year-long project and published "Advancing Federal Communications: The Case for Professional Standards of Practice" (executive summary here). The paper argues that in the absence of clear and consistent professional standards and uniform government practice, as exemplified by the UK for example, we will continue to see well-trained professionals hampered in their efforts. No matter how stellar a performer you are…

Law Enforcement & The Crisis Of Public Confidence

"If You See Something, Say Something" is the most memorable public safety campaign I can think of. It began as a DHS (U.S. Department of Homeland Security) initiative but quickly branched out into a nationwide initiative at the federal, state and local levels and you can see the motto everywhere, particularly at public transportation hubs.

Here's a fun fact: the motto was originally rejected. As Mike Riggs reported several years ago in (citing an Adweek article from 2002), Korey Kay & Partners tried to get the federal government to adopt it after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Nobody was interested -- not DHS, not the Department of Justice, and not the Department of State.

But eventually DHS did adopt it, and according to Riggs, in 2008 the line "went viral." (The article offers an excellent timeline showing key moments in its adoption.) The question for students of law enforcement communication, and social media marketing, is wheth…

Turn To Your Silent Army

There is a Jewish prayer we say at bedtime, after the Shema, that gives me great solace. It sounds better in Hebrew, when you say it in that sing-song-y way I learned as a child, but here it is translated:
To my right is (the angel) Michael; To my left is (the angel) Gabriel; In front of me is (angel) Uriel; Behind me is the angel Raphael; And above my head is the Divine Presence.  Do you ever think about the concept of angels? It's not just a Jewish thing. Many of us have heard, at one time or another, to "call on our angels" for support in difficult times.

Conceptually an angel is a Divine creation that is sent down to Earth--or rather, perhaps, out, from the spiritual plane to the material one--to take care of a specific task.

I remember vividly one day as I was crossing the street, and a bus nearly ran right into me, how "something" pushed me out of the way. And I "know," in that way we know things without having proof of them, that God sent down…

Presentation On The Importance Of Professional Standards In Communication (Audio & PDF)

On September 13, 2016 I presented "Advancing Federal Communications: Research Findings, Implications & Next Steps" in a webinar that was free and accessible to the public.
For those who are interested, the audio recording of that presentation is still available (see below) along with the other original materials associated with the release of the research document.  
Audio recording (no password required)Presentation Survey resultsExecutive Summary White Paper FCN Presents Research Findings to the National Association of Government Communicators - By Dannielle Blumenthal, PhDTo Restore Trust in Government, Empower Federal Communicators A large group was responsible for the development of this paper; I was the co-lead writer along with Jeff Brooke, former Chair of FCN, now of MITRE.
Please note that the Federal Communicators Network is a grassroots volunteer organization and all the work done by its volunteers is independent of their places of employment. As always, all …

Goodbye Corruption

Yesterday the rabbi asked us to think of the one thing that most defines 2016 in our minds.  Immediately my husband and I turned toward each other and exclaimed, in a low shout, "Trump!" 

With tremendous gratitude to God, here is a transcript of the president-elect's remarks from the campaign video above, released October 27, 2016.

Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal


Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.

The Washington Establishment, and the financial and media corporations that fund it, exist for only one reason: to protect and enrich itself.

The Establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don't have your good in mind.

Our campaign represents …