March 2009

“Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed”
– Flatt & Scruggs

Crisis of Credit

Crisis of Credit

Storytelling.  It’s part and parcel of being human.  From the time we start to understand language as toddlers, we experience the world through stories.  We learn about right and wrong, how to get along with others and how to be human through the stories we hear.  For the rest of our lives, we interpret what we see and hear through the story lens:  “Once upon a time,” “Then this happened,” Then that happened,” “And the moral of the story is . . .”  Whether through oral, print or aural techniques, stories help us make sense of what happens in our environment.

Not that anyone should have a reason to doubt the value of dynamic media tools such as Flash to build understanding of both simple and ridiculously complex subjects, here’s a terrific example of just how effective this emerging storytelling technique can be.  In 11 minutes flat, Jonathan Jarvis explains what the credit crisis is and how the heck we got into this mess in the first place.  Brilliant!  This should be required viewing for everyone.

Here’s hoping we’ll see a similar animation this fall explaining how we got out of this mess so quickly.


“It’s no secret,
When you got me jumping up and down.”
–  Jefferson Airplane

Even ACME's not doing well these days

Even ACME's not doing well these days

It’s no secret what we’ve experienced in the business world these past five months – and what we will likely keep experiencing for the next 12 or so – is so unlike anything in our experience.  Today the Dow Jones Index fell below 7,000 for the first time since 1997.  Trying to find words to describe how bad it is out there can make it sound trite.

It’s not.  And it’s likely to get worse before it gets worse.

At the same time, we will recover and companies will begin staffing up again.  Until then, though, no company can afford to lose its best talent if it wants to have any hope of coming out alive on the other end of this Class 5 rapids called our economy.

To that end, I recommend reading a terrific new monograph from a friend and former colleague/mentor of mine, Mike Herman, APR, Fellow PRSA, SAGE.  But seeing as my perspective may be somewhat biased, here’s what Matt Kucharski, APR, senior vice president of Padilla Speer Beardsley in Minneapolis had to say in his firm’s blog, “The Lead”:

“For many, the layoffs have happened.  Those that remain are likely your high-potential, high-performing employees.  What are you doing to make sure they’re staying engaged?  Dumping more work on them?  Letting them know that if things don’t pick up they’ll be next?  Sure, with the economy the way it is, the chances of them walking out the door aren’t very high, but as soon as the economy picks up (and yes, it will pick up), those employees will be the most in-demand.

Mike Herman, APR, Fellow PRSA, SAGE, CEO of Communication Sciences International

Mike Herman, APR, Fellow PRSA, SAGE, CEO of Communication Sciences International

Mike Herman, CEO of Communication Sciences International, just finished a monograph for PRSA Counselors Academy called “Reaching Your Individual Potential in the Workplace.”  While it’s geared at hiring and training in mid-sized public relations firms, much of the advice is valuable to any company that sees this as the perfect time to invest in high-potential employees.  You can pick up a copy at the Counselors Academy Web site, if you’re interested.”

If you’re a Counselors Academy member, it’s free.  If not, it’s $40 and well worth it.