A new week ahead. But I’m still feeling the ding from Thursday. – SCN Encourager

I know this isn’t the most mature attitude to have… but dang.

That ding stung.

And if I had any self-confidence at all, it probably would’ve knocked it down a peg or two.

So I was fortunate to have futurist David Zach bail me out with his brief observation on “measuring the immeasurable.”
(Although now I’m wondering how he knew…)

What happened was this.

Last Thursday I was preparing to write Friday’s Encourager.

My writing/planning calendar isn’t all that complicated.

Realizing that I send out an email every school …

measuring the immeasurable

selling the invisible

clarifying the indecipherable     MSPRA link to all three


Want to become a school PR Einstein? Watch your math. – SCN Encourager

Experts say you get what you measure.

It’s true.

Even my wife Cindy’s a believer.

school-pr-einsteinShe’ll tell you without hesitation she wished she took time to measure all kinds of things many moons ago.

But she didn’t.

So she got what she failed to measure.


School leaders and communicators should try to avoid a similar mistake by establishing preferred benchmarks from the very beginning and then regularly measuring and monitoring all of the progress (or lack thereof) toward them.

One of the big time measures valued by marketing pros today is the NPS.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-8-20-02-pmNPS = Net Promoter Score

You’re likely to be familiar with this… even if the terminology is new.

Net Promoter Score is the % of people who say they’d “recommend” your product or service to a friend.

In a sense, every NPS is the back half of Seth Godin’s double-whammy definition of marketing.

Be remarkable.
Be recommendable.

Both are fairly easy to do, right?

(Thanks a bunch, Seth!)

But as both you and I know, life can be funny, and things CAN always take a turn for the worse.

And that’s what’s happening to the standard Net Promoter Score.

(Which figures… now that I know what it is.)

Marketers are now pursuing other measurements far beyond just asking someone if they’d willing recommend a particular business or organization to a friend.

They’re starting to measure other “measurables.”

Things like –
•  frowns,
•  smiles,
•  ease,
•  kind words,
•  harsh words,
•  and brevity.

They say knowing your NPS  – while useful for comparing and benchmarking – often is calculated way too late in the game.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-8-23-49-pmTracking frowns and smiles at regular intervals is what you should do if you’re truly interested in responding effectively and quickly to the people you serve.

These are the trends to watch.

I think it’s strange one of the quibbles marketers have with the NPS is that they don’t know how to interpret a respondent’s “silence” when they’re asked if they would make a positive recommendation.

They’ve got to be kidding!

When I asked Cindy if she’d recommend me to one of her friends –

I had no trouble at all interpreting her silence.

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Is this a difficult time of year for you, too? – SCN Encourager

Why are all the go-getters making their 2017 plans now?

What’s the rush?

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-06-33-pmI just don’t get it.

It seems like lots of folks are jumping the gun if you ask me.

Personally, I prefer to see the college bowl games get sorted out, decorate the tree, and eat a few Christmas cookies – and then actually watch the bowl games, take down the tree, and eat a few more Christmas cookies – before even thinking about how to “make the New Year my best year ever.”

You know, it doesn’t bother me to see stores put up their holiday displays before Halloween.

But I feel stabs of self-doubt every time I refuse to follow the clarion call to chart a brand new course for 2017 beginning RIGHT NOW.

What the heck?

What’s wrong with wanting to enjoy the full holiday season before chasing down new goals and blazing new trails?

In my view it’s a long-held American tradition to wait until the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve before kicking any future planning, reflecting, and resoluting into high gear.

But now I’m second-guessing myself.

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-11-36-pmFOMO will do that to you.

(And I didn’t even know what FOMO was until I wrote about the Fear of Missing Out a few months ago!)

I’m in a mental pickle, that’s for sure.

And it didn’t help me any when I heard a leadership coach say that loosening FOMO’s grip on our “inner self-talk” is one the best actions we should take on in 2017.

You’ll be able to accomplish this long before I will.

Loosening FOMO’s grip on me will be tough.

I’ve got to loosen SLO-MO’s grip on me first.

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Yikes! We’re competing with cat videos, Kanye and Kim? – SCN Encourager

And you thought it’d be smooth sailing after Thanksgiving, right?


No such luck.









The saying “There’s no rest for the wicked” definitely applies to us… the wicked school communicators that we are.

As we’re in a daily communications battle of epic proportions.

If ever you’re feeling overwhelmed and more than a bit harried – there’s good reason.

It’s not the stress of Cyber-Monday.

The demands placed on us really can’t be helped.

But they can be better understood.

And you might find clicking over to the full infographic beneficial.

It reminded me (once again) that Context is King and we live and work in an incredible age.

This info-pictorial from Social Media Today is logical, complete, and simple.

I even found it elegant.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-7-37-26-amNot that I know what elegant is or what shape it should take.

But I’ve written 1167 Encouragers to date and have never used that word before.

Besides, I’m embarrassed to have used the word “dang” more than 200 times.

It’s time to start strategically scattering in some loftier words now and then, I think,

just to see if I can somehow bump the classification of my writing up and out of the “cretin” category.

(Cindy and the girls have been encouraging me to do this for quite some time.)

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Here’s an amazing story you’ll want to share sometime (I’m just sure of it.) – SCN Encourager

It comes straight from the “funny pages.”

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-7-48-28-amAnd no, I don’t mean my brothers.

I’m talking about the traditional print newspaper comics section.

It’s a story which tells how a teacher helped create the first black Peanuts character back in 1968.

It appeared in Mashable and is well worth five minutes of your time.
(You might want to bookmark it. You’ll be glad to have it for later.)

This story about the introduction of “Franklin” touches every base imaginable.

•  It’s true – with real-world heroes and villains.
•  It gives a rich historical context.
•  The struggle was important and relevant.
•  There’s humor.
•  There’s hope.
•  There are good hearts on both sides.
•  The article includes visuals and examples.
•  The positive outcome was the result of considerable pluck.
•  It shows “old school” communicating (tech-deprived letter writing)
and using the right spirit and a respectful approach can actually work.
(Boy, I really like this one… Yay! Old school!)
•  And it’s proof that sometimes one person can make all the
difference in the world.







It’s also easy to like these words from cartoonist Charles Schulz as well.

No doubt they fit you and many of the other school leaders and communicators we know.

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Here’s the world’s best formula for an awesome Thanksgiving – SCN Encourager

And you don’t have to be a mathematical whiz kid to figure it out!


cash-4(For me.)

Because during this week in November, the simple equation you see on the left seems to sum it all up pretty well, don’tcha think?

Now, don’t tell me it’s not the truth.

You know it is.

Especially with all of those non-stop Black Friday ads trying to capture our attention night and day.

But maybe I’m being a little too “bah, humbug” for my own good, though.

Perhaps I’d probably be better served if I hopped back on the gratitude bandwagon I kicked off yesterday and see if I can somehow nudge three of gratitude’s research-based residual benefits to come my way.

You remember what the experts said flows into every grateful heart, don’t you
• more creativity,
• more intelligence,
• and more popularity.

Who wouldn’t want these?

And while “in my world” these bennies would just magically plop into one’s lap just by thinking nice thoughts and being a nice guy, gratitude doesn’t actually work that way.

It requires you to express it and act upon it.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-5-50-02-pmAn optimistic spirit may have an element of “tomorrow” in it (according to the wise ol’ stage sage Annie).

However, the spirit of gratitude is different.

You’ve got to live out your gratefulness in the here and now – or you can’t even claim to have it.

(Bummer, I know…)

But we don’t have to feel glum about all the effort gratitude demands.

Discipline and drudgery don’t have a place in this particular formula.

So I hope you like it.











Now, how cool is this?

Gratitude = Happiness x (2 Wonder)

Or is it this?

Gratitude = (Happiness + Happiness) x Wonder

Oh well, you get the idea.

Dang, I hate math.

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What? There’s more? Thanksgiving comes with additional benefits? – SCN Encourager

As if turkey and football aren’t enough!

But psychologists say there’s more.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-5-15-58-pm(The spoil sports.)

They say folks like me who are completely content every Thanksgiving just having family and friends around the table, seeing a full plate in front of them, and watching the big games on TV are really missing out.

They say embracing the spirit of Thanksgiving every day of the year will actually help you become more creative, more intelligent, and more popular.

I can’t believe I didn’t know this until last week.

I must not have been listening for the last several decades.

More than likely I was holding out hope that some soon-to-be-released university study would reveal how the spirit of Thanksgiving was the secret key to knocking about 20 pounds off my midsection and rolling back about half that number in years.

But no such luck.

Studies show that “a grateful heart” won’t help me with any of those things.

Apparently, the fruit of a grateful heart very much belongs in the creativity, intelligence, and popularity basket.

So I’m going to try to haul in this trifecta myself this week by placing the spotlight on gratitude.

There’s no downside.

And if I don’t eventually become more creative, intelligent, and popular, at least I can count on you to pick up the slack!

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-4-54-18-pmOne of my favorite gratitude-related quotes is this one from John E. Southard.

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.”

If you spot this on the internet, you’ll note that the person referencing it typically cannot secure any information about Southard himself.

It’s strange, I know, but I think Southard has pulled off a pretty neat trick.

He’s able to write down thoughtful expressions that people crave and is an intriguing man of mystery.

I can only do this in my dreams.

No wonder I need this week’s reflections on gratitude.

I desperately need its benefits!

But I found out that digging into the topic of gratitude was more difficult than I first imagined.

In fact, I nearly decided to write about more exciting things for you instead, like Detroit sports and listening to podcasts.

What do I know about gratitude, anyway?
Why embrace it now after all of these years?
Besides, isn’t there a “fake it ’til you make it” training course around somewhere?

But then I saw this quote.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-4-44-59-pmIt’s attributed to Gertrude Stein, an American novelist, who lived from 1874–1946.

Unlike John E. Southard who’s relatively unknown, Stein led a colorful, controversial, and much-publicized life.

But her quote challenges us, too.

“Silent gratitude isn’t much to anyone.”

For sure, it challenges me.

Because I’ll often believe loved ones and other cherished individuals inherently know the depth of my feeling for them, even though I rarely express it.

So I thought I’d give Stein’s admonition on gratitude a trial run a few days ago,

After all, if you want to be more creative, more intelligent, and more popular, you’ve got to accept some risk, right?

So I told Cindy how much she meant to me.

She gave me a weird look, and asked if I was only talking to her in this way now so I could “write about it” later in my blog.

(Ouch. She knows me too well.)

Like I said, this gratitude business is turning out to be more difficult than I thought!

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Brand Bits Friday. Where’s your chocolate Mickey? – SCN Encourager

It’s a strange question, isn’t it?

Some might even call it goofy.

chocolate-mickey-at-6-59-49-pm(Call it “goofy”… get it?!?)

But spotlighting the importance of always having “a chocolate Mickey” within easy reach is a perfect way to wrap up Brand Bits Week. 

In fact, when you consider the four previous Brand Bits, it’s the only one that makes implementing a “behavior based” approach to your branding do-able over the long haul.

It’s the only one that’ll help you stay on course when “life happens.”

• Monday’s Brand Bit promoted the importance of asking questions even if they cause discomfort.
• Tuesday’s Brand Bit made it clear that your organization’s “brand” is whatever people say about it when you’re not in the room.
• The HR department was given center stage on Wednesday in order to emphasize how critical it is to have a razor thin (minnie-mal) gap between the commitment of your staff and the preferred culture you have set forth for your organization.
• And yesterday’s Brand Bit reminded us that our branding efforts will always be subpar unless all hands are on deck.

yay-brand-bits-weekNow when the previous Brand Bits are presented in list form, they seem fairly straightforward, don’t they?

But you and I know things don’t always go as planned.

There are unanticipated mishaps and wrinkles that arise, and this is where having a “chocolate Mickey” nearby comes in handy.

Not only is a chocolate Mickey a yummy reach-out tool, it serves as your acknowledgement that you’re ready to keep your branding effort on track… just in case something bad pops up.

Disney – one of the world’s leading brands –  invests heavily in its “chocolate Mickey” preparation and training,

Their leaders understand that not every situation will be positive for their guests and they want each one of their team members (regardless of their place on the organizational chart) to immediately step in and make things right.

For example, let’s say a guest family is experiencing an unusual delay in checking into their hotel room.

If a desk clerk notices this – or perhaps it’s another employee who actually does – Disney encourages (expects) the staff member to take the initiative to send the family a gift basket (which includes a chocolate Mickey), extend a meal on the house, and make a significant reduction on that night’s bill.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-9-00-36-pmThere’s no need for anyone to seek authorizations from higher ups.

Just act in a manner consistent with Disney’s brand promise and resolve the problem quickly.

You can see why brand champion Disney believes having a “chocolate Mickey” ready to go is critical.

You’ve always got to be ready when “life happens.”

They understand that how quickly and empathetically you recover is the real-world, word-of-mouth barometer of your brand.

The concept of having “a chocolate Mickey” always within reach intrigues me.

Aren’t we similarly able to guess at the parent and student tough points where things could go wrong in our schools?

So why not review a few of those scenarios we know so well and figure out ways we can improve our responses ahead of time.

I’m no Disney expert but I’m pretty sure part of their corporate training must involve showing where and how to hide their chocolate Mickeys when they’re not in use.

When I think about sneaky bites I’ve taken out of my daughters’ Easter bunnies over the years, I don’t think it would be good for me to know where any of the chocolate is stashed!

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Brand Bits Thursday. Hope you’re a master of the Hokey Pokey. – SCN Encourager

All that moving “in” and “out” and “shaking it all about” works wonders.

Particularly when it comes to branding.

yay-brand-bits-weekI’m sure of it.

Even though my daughter banned me from requesting it at her wedding reception back in April.

The spoil sport.

You see, doing the Hokey Pokey is anything but random.

It’s directed.
A whole group undertaking.

Nothing at all like the scattered, albeit well-intended branding activities carried out by the majority of organizations.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-7-31-42-pmThey make the Hokey Pokey look like a precision drill team in comparison.

So this today’s Brand Bit for you –

A reminder to keep the focus on your own internal fancy footwork (and that of your partners) –

when it comes to your branding.

Now today’s Brand Bit really isn’t as out-of-the-blue as it might seem.

It fits.

Monday’s Brand Bit cast new light on the value of “dumb” and “unpopular.”

Tuesday’s Brand Bit pointed out that “our brand” is ultimately whatever our outside community perceives it to be. (They’re the ones in control.)

And Wednesday’s Brand Bit placed the HR department at the core of ensuring an organization’s employees suitably reflected the organization’s preferred cultural DNA.

Unfortunately, simply hiring good people isn’t enough.

Teamwork is needed.

And that requires a branding strategy… something akin to the coordinated energy seen in an exuberant Hokey Pokey.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-8-51-47-pmExperts say a branding strategy must begin with all of the “good people” in an organization setting aside their operational silos temporarily to coordinate how everyone can support a unified and directed Hokey Pokey, uh I mean, a unified and directed branding strategy.

No single department – whether it’s the HR staffers or the highly acclaimed school communications office – can do it alone.

Effective branding, in keeping with an organization’s expectations for service and care, must be infused into the daily activities of EVERY department.

Otherwise people out in the community won’t buy it.

They’re always able to see when an organization’s walk doesn’t align with its talk.

And then… when they all start sharing their actual experiences with the organization with their family and friends, a real-world “brand” is born. (And it’ll always be what they say it is, yay or nay.)

Just like the Hokey Pokey is a “group thing” – so is the activation of a branding strategy.

I know this to be true.

I just wish I could expand on this some more for you.

But my Hokey Pokey dreams were squashed six months ago and I’m still working through a fair amount of disappointment.

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Brand Bits Wednesday. (I found this a little shocking to tell you the truth.) – SCN Encourager

I never expected this.

yay-brand-bits-weekBut it makes perfect sense.

I was just surprised to see this Brand Bit get tossed in from left field!

Now as you may know, I’ve been dripping out a series of Brand Bits this week. (Or maybe you didn’t know… which groups you with 99.9999% of every other adult on the planet!) 

Anyway, to recap the prior two Brand Bits: 

Monday’s Encourager made the case for us to be dumb and unpopular.

Tuesday’s Encourager presented a definition of BRANDING, firmly anchoring it in the behaviors and attitudes of an organization – which are experienced in the real-life and real-time by others and then reflected in how people talk about a the organization behind its back.

I pointed out how many marketing and branding experts describe our organizational behaviors and attitudes as our cultural DNA.

So, now that we’re all caught up –

Here’s today’s Brand Bit.

It reveals how many experts believe we should attack altering our cultural DNA if we feel the need for an upgrade or re-brand.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-7-11-14-pmThis advice applies to both branding and rebranding situations, mind you, in that the experts basically see them as one in the same, since our behaviors (and the experiences we create) largely become what our parents and school choosers will choose to say about us when we’re not in the room (which is the brand we own, like it or not).


Now, here comes the shocker.

These same experts believe the most important department in the fight to improve an organization’s cultural DNA is… drumroll please... the HR Department.

Ouch. This stings.

I had already cast my vote for the communications department.

So, believe me, I’ll do my best to hide what the experts are touting and keep it just “between us gals” so to speak, but unfortunately we’ve got to accept this reality.

The ones who will exert the most influence on the perception of your brand will come from the quality, personality, and character of the individuals your HR department hires into your organization.

If your HR department doesn’t secure people with the right DNA match for your organization’s “desired” cultural DNA, you can forget about boosting your brand’s image in any significant way.

It’s people who make the difference when it comes to branding… and always will.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-7-13-31-pmNow remember, you didn’t hear this from me and I’m not about to repeat this ever again.


The less said about it the better.

We school communicators have to hang together.

HR people should promote their own new found importance without our help, if you ask me.

So, in Thursday’s Brand Bit, I’m going to downplay this hidden gem of information while I proceed to shed a bit more information about it.

Hope you understand.

I’ve got to stay true to the ol’ school communicator’s mantra related to handling disconcerting news.

If you can’t spin it, sit on it.

And that’s what I’m gonna do.

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