Showing posts from June, 2017

Escaping Backwards Content

I joined the civil service in 2003 as a Writer-Editor for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Now - before you hit the "snooze" button on your alarm clock, let me tell you that the OCC was a pretty compelling place to be.

You know those incredible credit card offers you get in the mail?

OCC, which regulates the national banks, was out there before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was born -- educating its employees about the risks of deceptive credit marketing.

During my time there, a dynamic and idealistic Elizabeth Warren gave a talk on such practices. I remember how much I enjoyed it and how proud I was to see my resulting article in the newsletter.

SuperVisions, as we called the employee publication, was the major part of my job. As part of the internal communications team, we had to deliver it -- stuffed like a goose with articles -- regularly.

But as I soon discovered, delivering a monthly employee publication that people …

"You Are A Piece Of Property" - Helping Potential Victims Get Away & Stay Away From Child Sex Traffickers

A few days ago I strongly recommended that everybody watch "Tricked: Inside The World Of Teen Sex Trafficking," a free documentary from the Fairfax County, VA Public Schools.

But since many people don't necessarily want to watch a full-length video when they could read a blog instead, I thought I would share some notes from the presentation.
To the trafficker, you (the victim) are "a piece of property," nothing more. You're not a person and they don't care about you.A trafficker can tell in 30 seconds who their victims are: kids with low self esteem.It's OK to just walk away. Say thank you, but no thank you. Be polite, but assertive - don't fall for the idea that you have to engage with people who want to "date" you.Don't go alone to parties after school. Don't hang out with a group of guys alone. If a group of guys surrounds you, get away as fast as you can. They don't just want to be your friend."Sex for money, even j…

"Wonder Woman" & The Civil Servants

As a civil servant, “Wonder Woman” rotated on a different axis for me than everybody else.

They saw a revolutionary figure: the feminist superhero.

There she was, punching out the bad guys, flying through the air, catching bullets with those awesome cuff bracelets. (Pretty cool! Watch for that consumer trend to take off like crazy!)

But from where I sat, the main character was Steve (Chris Pine), the American spy. Where Diana/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) flew off by herself “to do her thing,” Trevor stayed within the bounds of the team. Where she could speak a hundred languages, he knew how to bend the rules of the bureaucracy.

Both of them were technically skilled. Both of them had good intentions.

But it was Steve who understood that the mission never ends. And that to make any difference at all, you have to work in unison, to attack one problem at a time.

The character of Diana reminded me of Carrie (Claire Danes) on the television show “Homeland.”

Like Diana, Carrie is smarter than everyone …

Shabbos at Camp Tagola

I am maybe thirteen years old, and I am going out on the lake, in a speedboat at Camp Tagola. My legs are hooked up to the thing that you wear when you’re going to ride the water. And I hold on, God knows how I did it, until the boat takes off and for maybe three seconds I am standing up just like that in the water. I’m flying! The memory of those three seconds is so weird. It’s like the time was so incredibly short, but I can cover myself in that sensation for as long as I want to, whenever I put myself back there. In the morning before Shabbos we would have an activity period, and I would go waterskiing as much as I humanly could. Those were the days when you could take time to get ready for Shabbos. There was no thing of working right up until the last minute, and then begrudgingly setting up the candles. Eating somebody else’s homemade cooking, that you took home as takeout food. I remember we would all line up for the showers in the bunk. The floors of those showers were so gros…

Help Your Partners Announce Your Announcement

The federal government offers many free tools that are useful to communicators regardless of where they work. One of these is "Promoting Your Public Report: A Hands-On Guide," (available in PDF and online), published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

I stumbled across this helpful guide and found it both comprehensive and concise. You can use it strictly for promoting publications, or more broadly when informing the public about other matters.

The intended purpose of the document is to help you plan ahead of time for major announcements, by considering all the ways in which you might communicate about them. But there is another, potentially far more powerful way to use it. And that is to develop templates that in effect multiply your efforts a thousand fold, by helping your partners to customize and share your message as it suits their needs.

This type of communication functions like "semi-homemade cooking,&quo…