Avoiding Workplace Distractions

I don’t do well working at home. I’m too easily distracted by dust bunnies, laundry and the pile of books I want to read. Plus, at the office, I know exactly where all my files and piles are, and I seldom remember to bring the right paperwork home with me.

However, there are days, when I don’t seem to get anything done at the office and it’s because there is too much chatter or too many meetings. Turns out those are two of the top three workplace distractions, according to the results of a survey by Ask.com.

I now have an office with a door, but I try to avoid closing it as I prefer to remain accessible. However, when the volume outside the door becomes too great, it’s a challenge to work. I’m always surprised by this because when I worked for a newspaper, our desks were tight against the next desk and there wasn’t even a cubicle wall to separate the reporters. Yet, I could totally concentrate.

I’ve picked up a few habits from my colleagues to minimize distractions, including listening to music through headphones. I also rely heavily on IM for quick answers. For the most part I keep my conversations to the computer, although at least once a day, I make it a point to touch base with each member of my team. It allows all of us to concentrate and communicate when convenient.

I’m also in favor of stand-up meetings or walking meetings because they cut down on the length of the meeting. I seldom accept an invite to a meeting that doesn’t have a stated purpose. When I run a meeting, I try to stay on point by sending an agenda in advance.

What distracts you at work, and how do you cope with it?

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Summer Reading List Keeps Me Sharp

Growing up, summers meant library time and signing up for the book club. Whatever the minimum level, it was never a problem to reach as I read voraciously. I still do.

In the summer, though, I tend toward less weighty subjects that are best read poolside. I do, however, create a summer reading list to keep me sharp.

This summer is no different, and I’ve selected five books, which is a bit ambitious.

The Marketing Agency Blueprint by Paul Roetzer. This one was recommended to me by Brian Forester of Dynamic Web Solutions. The book presents 10 rules for building tech-savvy, hybrid agencies that will disrupt and transform the marketing services industry. One caveat, several reviews criticized it for its heavy focus on HubSpot. I still think I’ll benefit from it as the communications world now has such a heavy focus on digital.

Katie Paine shared her books at a workshop. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Katie Paine shared her books at a workshop. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Measuring the Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. The premise is simple, “If you want to change the world, be networked, use measurement and make sense of your data.” I’ve heard both authors speak, and I follow Beth’s blog. When Katie spoke to my local PRSA chapter, I finally bought the book. She also signed it for me and provided some great inspiration, “May all your results be great by any measure and may you change children’s lives with data.”

Engage by Brian Solis. This one’s been out for awhile, and I have the version that includes a forward by Ashton Kutcher. Brian has been at the forefront of social media and this book is often touted as a must-read. The reason it’s languished on my shelf for so long unread is that every time I pick it up, I turn to a sentence that is unwieldy, and I don’t think I can read further. This past week, though, I turned to a section that did pull me in so I’m going to read it and skip over the poorly written sentences.

Authentic Leadership by Bill George. The book club I belong to at work has selected this book for our September discussion. I didn’t read the last book, so I’m determined to read this one. The Amazon site notes that George has become the unofficial spokesperson for responsible leadership—in business, the media and academia. He shows how to develop the five essential dimensions of authentic leaders—purpose, values, heart, relationships and self-discipline.

Words That Mean Success by Jeffrey D. Porro. I’ve worked with Jeff Porro and have learned much from him. In this book he tells you how to take your speeches and presentations from good to great.

Once I finish a book, I plan to write a blog on it. It’s a way to keep myself accountable. Plus, if you are interested in the book and haven’t committed to reading the book, maybe the post will encourage you.

What books do you recommend?

Online Newsrooms Worth a Visit

We all know that the Internet makes finding information easier. But are you making it easy for people to find information about the company for which you work, your own business or your book?

Steve Momorella, who is the owner and founder of TEKGROUP, which has been creating online newsrooms for 25 years, recently shared some great tips to make your online newsroom stand out.

Key attributes include appearance, freshness, content, social, SEO and ROI.

The appearance must look professional and have the branding of the corporate site, otherwise, Momorella says, you confuse the viewer.

Freshness, of course, refers to making sure the newsroom is up-to-date. The content on the site must include more than press releases. The site should include background on the company, videos and the company logo.

Social, Momorella says, is the big shift. “Twenty-five years ago our target was journalists. It’s gone much bigger than that.” He refers to the general news consumer, individuals who want to learn more about the company. “A lot of people go to the newsroom for research.”

SEO, or search engine optimization, is important because you want your newsroom to be found when people are searching for information about your company. ROI plays out when you build a newsroom that allows you to distribute videos that stations can use. Doing so saves money in overnight shipping and often lands your company on a news segment, which can lead to an increase in sales.

To check out some online newsrooms that Momorella says incorporate these attributes, visit:

  • Toyota’s newsroom because of its graphic design, categorized video search and social media landing page.
  • Cisco for its fresh content, storytelling, graphic design, embedded video and searchable archive.
  • Starbucks for its video, photo galleries, information and speaker requests and fresh content.

Trust, Candor Critical to Company’s Brand

Truth has become a rare commodity, which makes it highly valuable.

That’s the observation from Kelly O’Keefe, the chief creative officer at CRT/tanaka, a PR and ad agency in Richmond, Va.

Speaking to PR professionals, he noted that we often talk about transparency “as if we have a choice, but we really don’t.” Today’s critics are everywhere and their tools – smartphones, tweets and posts — allow for immediate reviews.

“If you take shortcuts and a product fails, not only will we immediately know about the failure, we will know you took shortcuts,” O’Keefe said.

Decades ago, it was the big companies that people trusted, but today it’s the smaller, locally focused startups. “The longer and larger duration (of a company) translates to less trust,” he said. More people trust JetBlue than Delta, for example.

“The company and the brand are one – that’s what the world is moving to,” O’Keefe said. “Consumers want to know what an organization stands for, and this is especially true for Millennials.”

In the past you learned about Crest, not about Proctor & Gamble. Today’s consumers want to know everything, including the company’s values. Knowing what the consumers care about leads to shared storytelling.

It’s even okay to share flaws. “Flawed is the new perfect,” O’Keefe said. He cited Chrysler’s 2011 Super Bowl ad that featured Eminen. “Chrysler ran straight at the truth – the negative comments about Detroit,” he said. The result was a rebound in sales.

Taking responsibility and owning up to mistakes are all part of brand candor.