Saturday, February 6, 2016

Which of These Cognitive Biases Have You Committed?

gambler’s fallacy believing that a coin toss is more likely to come up heads if the previous five flips were tails
anchoring the tendency to rely heavily on one piece of information—usually the first thing we learn—when making a decision
the Ikea effect disproportionately valuing things that you’ve labored over
unit bias assuming that a “portion” is the right size, which accounts for our tendency to finish off an opened bag of cookies

The Happiness Code

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Does Tardiness Indicate a Lack of Integrity?

New York Times reporter Katherine Rosman relays this story from her interview with the founder of Lululemon:

I was 15 minutes late by the time I arrived, disheveled and apologetic. Mr. Wilson was seated with eight young women at a square table set for 10.

He is an imposing figure, 6 feet 2 inches tall, with a large head shaved bald and the scruff of a beard. He stood and helped me off with my parka, an old-fashioned gentleman.

When he rejoined his guests, all employed by Kit and Ace, he asked a question: what would happen if he were to arrive, say, 15 minutes late to a design meeting?

If he were 15 minutes late to such a meeting, he went on to explain, the designers might get the idea that it’s acceptable to deliver to the production department a bit past deadline. Then? The product would arrive late at the stores, which could lead to items ending up on the clearance rack.

“If we’re selling the product at a discount,” he said, “there is less money to market the product. If there is less money to market the product, then a different type of customer than the one we’re seeking will come into the store. There will be less money to put into the product’s quality and, ultimately, less profit. The whole system falls apart” ...

“Now we know,” Mr. Wilson added, “that when we have breakfast with Katie, we don’t really have to be there when we say we will be there.”

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How Facebook Conquered Mobile

Which Headline Is Best?

  1. Headline Formulas of the Stars: 37 Magic Ways to Get Your Content Clicked and Read
  2. How to Write Headlines Like Don Draper
  3. Who Else Wants the Secrets of the World’s Best Headline Writers?
  4. 30+ Headline Formulas Your Content Needs to Be Seen and Clicked
  5. How to Write 25 Headlines for Every Piece of Content
  6. What I Learned From Writing 25 Headlines for Every Piece of Content
  7. What Everybody Ought to Know About Quality Headline Writing Formulas
  8. Write a Clickable Headline—Without Losing Your Soul
  9. How to Use Formulas to Write Perfect Headlines Every Time
  10. Here Are 30 Quick Ways to Write 30 Can’t-Miss Headlines
  11. What Gatorade Knows About Writing a Great Headline
  12. The Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails
  13. Try These 30+ Headline Formulas. You’re Reading #17 Right Now
  14. 30 Ways to Make Your Headline Sing
  15. 30 Tried-and-True Headline Formulas You Can Test Today
  16. Get More Clicks on Your Content: Trust a Headline Formula to Get the Job Done
  17. Everything I Learned From Studying the Best Headline Formulas
  18. Build a Headline You Can Be Proud Of (And Others Will Click)
  19. Why Headline Formulas Are the Way to Go—And Which Ones Work Best
  20. The Double Whammy, the Big List, and More: 30 of the Best Headline Formulas
  21. Write Headlines Like a Magician
  22. The Most Important Tool in Your Content Toolbox: Headline Formulas
  23. 30+ Headline Formulas That Work, or Your Money Back
  24. Think Writing 25 Headlines Is Impossible? Not With These Formulas
  25. The Secret Headline Formulas That the Internet’s Best Articles Use
  26. 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, and Emails

Winner here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Which Headline Would You Click On?

  1. The Use and Abuse of Numbers in Writing
  2. Stories, Not Statistics: How to Make Your Metrics Meaningful
  3. Turning Statistics Into Stories: How to Humanize Big Numbers
  4. Every Big Number Needs Context
  5. The Numbers Have No Context: Why No One Remembers the Data You’re Citing
  6. How to Humanize Numbers, Statistics, and Other Data
  7. You’ve Been Using Numbers Wrong Your Entire Life
  8. Show Me the Stories!

Which Headline Would You Click On?

  1. PowerPoint: The Good, the Bad, the God-Awful Ugly
  2. The Problem Isn’t PowerPoint. It’s the Way You’re Using It
  3. 11 Tips to PowerPoint Perfection
  4. The Ultimate Guide to PowerPoint
  5. 7 Questions About PowerPoint You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask
  6. How to Turn Your PowerPoint Loathing Into Love
  7. How to Deliver a PowerPoint Presentation Like Steve Jobs
  8. This Is Why You’re Terrible at PowerPoint: Because You’re Not Thinking Like Steve Jobs
  9. Everything You Know About PowerPoint Is Wrong
  10. To Deliver a Killer PowerPoint Presentation, Forget Everything You Think You Know
  11. Everything You Need to Know About PowerPoint
  12. Your PowerPoint Skills Could Be So Much Better. Here’s How
  13. How to Make Ugly Slide Decks Beautiful

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Can You Identify Which Tagline Belongs to Which PR Agency?

These are the world’s top 10 PR agencies:

  1. Edelman
  2. Weber Shandwick
  3. FleishmanHillard
  4. Ketchum
  5. MSL Group
  6. Burson-Marsteller
  7. Hill+Knowlton
  8. Ogilvy
  9. Golin
  10. Havas

Yet when it comes to their own PR, these firms use taglines that are fully forgettable. In fact, these slogans are so generic and jargony, I’d wager $100 that you can’t identify which one belongs to which agency. Give it a shot.

  1. We possess the power to inspire and create change worthy of awe and action.
  2. Creating meaningful connections between people and brands through creativity, media, and innovation.
  3. A global communications firm that loves to do breakthrough work for clients.
  4. One of the largest marketing communications companies in the world.
  5. Experienced in strengthening our clients’ brands, reputations, and bottom lines. We understand the public’s seat at the table.
  6. A global PR firm. We are a creative studio of writers, designers, builders, strategists, conversation-starters, storytellers.
  7. A complete communications firm delivering the #poweroftrue in a world demanding unprecedented authenticity.
  8. A global public relations and communications firm.
  9. A leading global communications marketing firm that partners with many of the world’s largest and emerging businesses and organizations.
  10. A strategic communications and engagement company.

Note: All taglines were taken from the company’s official bio on Twitter, except for #4. This company’s Twitter page says nothing more than “Official twitter [sic] feed of [company].” In this case, I used the company’s bio at the bottom of its most recent press release.

  1. Golin
  2. Havas
  3. Ketchum
  4. Ogilvy
  5. Hill+Knowlton
  6. Weber Shandwick
  7. FleishmanHillard
  8. Burson-Marsteller
  9. Edelman
  10. MSL Group

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Job Interview Advice From the NFL

Casserly tells the coaches he advises to finish every interview the same way: “I want this job.”

Interviewing to Become an NFL Head Coach

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Best Job Descriptions Hook You From the Start

The Adolph Coors Foundation:

Before you read another word, please google “Coors family.” Read every word of what you find including the wacky, conspiratorial stuff. If names like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Adam Smith freak you out, or if you think terms like traditional American values, capitalism, free markets and personal responsibility are obsolete, this job may not be a fit.

The Atlas Network:

You came to DC to work on some of the world’s biggest challenges. And there’s no bigger challenge than helping to secure people’s freedom and prosperity. Freedom to make choices that are best for the individual and their families. Prosperity to lift people out of poverty. That is where Atlas Network comes in…

Monday, November 23, 2015

Should Teachers Copy Edit When Grading Papers?

Nancy Sommers, in Responding to Student Writers, says yes:

“Conversations about the paper load inevitably find their way to thorny questions about grammar and punctuation errors. To ignore such errors, especially ones that impede communication, sends the wrong signal to students. Yet to mark and correct each error sends an equally wrong and discouraging signal. But where is the middle ground to balance instruction with response?

“We need to remind ourselves that errors are a natural and normal part of learning to write. As writing teachers, we have a wide repertoire of strategies to employ when teaching grammar and punctuation, including lessons and exercises, in class or online. Correcting students’ errors is one such strategy, but it is not always the most effective. When teachers become student’ copy editors, they take away the responsibility and opportunity for students to recognize and resolve their own mistakes. Research studies have show that students can identity and correct their own errors, if given the opportunity. (See Richard Haswell, “Minimal Marking,” College English 45.6 (1983): 600-04)

“We can and should expect students to proofread, to use their handbooks, to go to the writing center, and to seek help from their teachers to answer specific grammar or punctuation questions. And we must feel we are able to hold students accountable, even if we haven’t pointed out every error in their drafts. Holding students accountable not only promotes learning but also teaches them to use resources and be active participants in their own learning.

“It is often difficult, though, to resist correcting students’ grammatical and punctuation errors. After all, as writing teachers we are trained to recognize and remedy such errors. And it is often difficult to resist students’ expectations that we mark all their errors. Yet I’ve found that using a similar responding strategy for grammar and punctuation errors as for rhetorical problems saves time and increases students’ responsibility and authority. That is, I focus on patterns—and overuse of passives or misuse of apostrophes, for example—rather than correcting each and every mistake. Similarly, spending classroom time at the beginning of the semester to explain my typical approach—what language and format I’ll use to respond to grammatical and punctuation errors, including abbreviations and shorthand—helps students learn from such comments.

“Asking students to become their own copy editors encourages them to develop a reflective and analytical habit of mind. And it frees teachers from being comma cops. Instead of correcting each error, I circle, highlight, or underline a pattern of errors or put a check mark in the margin to indicate the presence of an error. It is the students’ responsibility to find the remaining errors of the same type. And instead of rewriting their sentences, I make suggestions: ‘How about using active verbs instead of ‘be’ verbs?’ The specific choice of active verbs is theirs, not mine, and they learn more from the process than if I had chosen one for them.

“To strengthen their writing skills, I ask students to keep editing logs in which they copy and edit their sentences, write the grammar or punctuation rules, and explain how to correct the errors. Editing logs are a variation on the theme of ‘trends and patterns.’ When students identify their pattern of errors, apply principles from the handbook, and chart their own progress, they gain control over their writing. The goal is to keep the focus on learning and on building skills, one lesson at a time.

A colleague says no:

“I have a different take on this. My students have told me repeatedly that they want their papers copy-edited because they can’t find their own errors. (I’ve flat-out asked them: ‘Would you rather see a sea of red marks, or just an overview of what you did wrong?’) Many of them have told me that they struggled in earlier English classes because they only had the vaguest idea of what mistakes they were making.

“When I hand back a paper with all the double spaces after periods circled, the misspellings noted, and the continuity issues pointed out, they get a concrete visual of what they’re doing wrong. It’s eye-opening for them, and they seem to appreciate the feedback.

“Now, if only I could get them to stop making those mistakes...

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What tends to catch your eye and cause you to pause as you're scrolling through a social media feed?

I love this answer from Buffer’s Kevan Lee (via email):

“I brake for visuals—images, videos, animated GIFs, Vines, you name it, I’ll look at it.

“Visuals spur nearly double the engagement than text does. If you usually get five likes per post, get ready for 10. If you normally draw 10 clicks, here come 20!

“And the best part: adding a visual is quick and easy.

Friday, October 30, 2015

This Is Exactly What a Social Media Editor Does All Day

“My life became a blur. Tweeting furiously. Hopping over to Facebook to post a story there. Clicking through our Twitter mentions for possible retweets. Fielding requests from Slate editors to promote their newest stories ...

“I had been instructed to keep an eye on Chartbeat to see if any stories suddenly spiked in traffic. That was a hint that the story had legs—people were into it, and so it merited an additional boost on Twitter and Facebook. I saw a piece from our excellent politics correspondent Jamelle Bouie doing well, so I threw it some Twitter love. I noticed a moving personal tale from the writer Rebecca Schuman drawing clicks, so I goosed it on Facebook. I sorted through Slate’s mentions and found some people saying nonhorrible things, so I retweeted them. I checked back to see which stories we hadn’t promoted in a few hours, and shoved them back into the spotlight. I began to get the hang of it ...

“In the afternoon, with the automated program now doing the grunt work, I got more creative. I played with the language on tweets to see if they’d pop. I chucked a few oddball stories up on Facebook, to see if they’d surprise us with unforeseen traffic pizzazz. During the 3 p.m to 4 p.m. hour—traditionally a dead period, I learned—I’d been instructed to post one of my old articles that has reliably gotten a lot of Facebook traction ...

“At the end of the day, I had my first and only brush with ‘viral lift.’ Moneybox writer Alison Griswold cleverly wrote a post about a new, controversial phenomenon known as ‘hot desking’ ... The story exploded on Facebook and Twitter. I kept tweeting it in slightly different ways, over and over. It dominated Chartbeat—I could watch the numbers soar in real time. It was thrilling.

Seth Stevenson

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Here’s Proof That Wegmans and Walmart Are the Best Grocers on Twitter

I love Mallomars, those chocolate-coated marshmallow cookies. The problem is, they’re hard to find. So, I asked five local grocers, via Twitter, if they currently carry these confections. Here are their replies, from worst to below.

1. Target


2. Harris Teeter

Thanks for nothing. Then thanks for giving me the monkey.

3. Safeway

Exactly what I needed to know.

4. Walmart

Bummer, but at least an alternative was provided.

5. Wegmans

Perhaps the best response ever.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2 Tips to Help Your Next Job Description Cut Through the Clutter

1. Instead of the usual boilerplate, write a listicle—something like, “4 Reasons You Want Work at the Jonathan Rick Group.” (Here’s an example from the Analyst Institute.)

2. Add a brief description of the key people the candidate will be working with. Here’s an example from Help Scout:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Why You Should Always Follow-Up

When to follow-up with someone is a decidedly thorny issue. Do you wait one day, one week, one month?

There’s no right answer—as always, context is king, and patience is a virtue—but here’s a good story that illustrates the importance of doing so:

“It was so Washington, the way they met. She was on the dais at a panel discussion on media and politics, holding forth knowledgeably; he was in the audience, smitten. At the steakhouse dinner that “followed, Jake Brewer got the courage to walk up to Mary Katharine Ham and give her the hopeful, ambiguous let’s get a drink sometime line.

“Then he emailed her an invitation to a tech policy luncheon. She never replied.

“Soon after, he was sitting at El Tamarindo in Adams Morgan with a friend, and she was beelining for their table. She greeted the mutual friend at his table—and only then turned to him with a friendly stare of nonrecognition.

“’Hi,’ she told Jake. ‘I’m Mary Katharine Ham.’

Later, they got married and had two children.

Which Headline Would You Click On?

  1. 17 Tricks to Master Email Etiquette
  2. 17 Ways to Send Smarter Emails
  3. To Master Email, Learn These 17 Tricks
  4. 17 Habits of the Best Emailers
  5. 17 Habits of the Smartest Emailers
  6. 17 Ways to Send Better Emails
  7. 17 Ways to Make Emily Post Praise Your Emails
  8. 17 Ways to Make Emily Post Praise Your Email Etiquette
  9. 17 Points of Email Etiquette You Thought You Know
  10. 17 Points of Email Etiquette You Were Never Taught
  11. For the Sake of My Sanity, Please Learn These 17 Rules of Email Etiquette

Addendum: And the winner is...

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Typical Day on Business Insider

Tom Scocca:

The home page of Business Insider today is full of headlines that use the “curiosity gap” technique:

  • CARL ICAHN WARNS: It would be disastrous
  • The man who delivered one of the great economic speeches in history just made a bold move to bolster India’s economy
  • This health-conscious fast food chain is challenging McDonald’s to be healthier
  • Your Mac is going to change this week
  • NASA’s “major” Mars water news is a distraction from something much more exciting

What? Who? Which? What?

Carly Fiorina Is a Master Manipulator of the Media

“Clinton and Fiorina appeared back to back on Meet the Press recently. Clinton was challenged on the email issue and tried affably to defend her conduct. Fiorina was challenged on the existence of a Planned Parenthood video she claims to have seen.

“In contrast to Clinton, Fiorina simply refused to adopt a defensive posture. She ignored the challenges and just hit Planned Parenthood harder. The factual issue sort of got lost in her torrent. She was stylistically indomitable even if she didn’t address the substance of the critique.

David Brooks