I’ve met everyone in my new office and already forgotten most of their names. I’ve been shown the kitchen and bathroom, the photocopier, and even where the fire escapes are. Now I’m sitting at my new desk, looking at a big blue ring-binder folder with a Brother P-Touch label on it that says INDUCTION.
Inside are 70-odd pages of photocopied policies on things like bullying in the workplace (don’t do it), interstate travel guidelines (cost code 1-803-7229) and a brochure from an external HR company offering assistance in the event I’m concerned about my mental health. I learn that the organisation’s values are honesty, trust, innovation, and resilience, which surely sets them apart from all those other organisations who don’t care if you’re a vulnerable, uninspiring, treacherous liar.
This is a friendly reminder to show, don't tell.
In fact, let's start with 'friendly reminder', as in 'this is a friendly reminder that your payment is overdue'. By using the adjective 'friendly' we're giving an impression that an unfriendly reminder is just around the corner, perhaps in the form of a bunch of guys who'll hold you down and piss up your nostrils until you pay up.
I couldn't function without a reminder notification on my calendar. Five minutes until a meeting, BING! Perfect. Being reminded is normal and I'd go so far as to say that these days people expect to be reminded to do most things. It's what the little robots in our pocket are for. A reminder just means, 'That thing you said you'd do a while back? Do it now.'
The people who write these friendly reminder emails could, instead, simply say, 'Hi there. We've noticed your account is overdue. Would you mind attending to that for us?'
This is a reminder that's friendly.
For a long time, we liked to kid ourselves that Tasmania is a ‘natural laboratory’ that’s home to a world-class research community. This is not and never was true. But it could be.
Sure, we have some top-notch researchers doing amazing stuff here. You don’t have to dig very deep to find them. Add to that our indisputable advantages in certain niche areas such as marine science, biotechnology, forestry, and health, and the potential is impressive indeed.
Our state is geographically and ecologically diverse, clean and green, effectively self contained, and it offers a lifestyle appealing to many people.
But we need to stop saying things like we’re an ideal base, and that we’re a hub of research activity, and, instead, prove it. This is eminently achievable in Tasmania, much more so than it would be in any other Australian region. The outcome would be unique and serve as an extremely solid marketing and promotional tool for our state.
Our state could become a small-world network.
As the MC ended her intro and revved up the audience for the last performer of the night, Rachel the barmaid plonked her teatowel on the sink and took the stage, to rapturous applause. Who will get me my beer now, I thought, but only briefly, as the beer FOMO was quickly replaced with, What the Budweiser is going on here?
Turns out, Rachel Joan is one of New York’s finest stand-up comics. She also runs Old Man Hustle, a tiny twelve-seat dive bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan next to a Hebrew religious goods store. The comedy show she organises virtually every night at 8pm is free. And bloody good. The Hebrew store closes at 6, just so you know.
Somehow, me and the missus scored two of the highly-coveted bar stools, despite arriving a few minutes after the advertised kick-off time. When the show started a few minutes later there were another dozen or so folks standing, cramped into the narrow space between us and the wall. A capacity house.
At this point we were yet to learn that our gifted barmaid (I say ‘gifted’ because I know one when I see one) was the headline act.
The MC took the stage to the usual whoops and hurrahs, the audience high on anticipation, or at least on a gutful of the $3 Genesee-and-a-shot-of-tequilas so popular in the area.
I have it on good authority that explicitly quantifying what you’re writing about in the title of your story leads to a higher click-through rate. That’s a shame, because so often the “Six things you didn’t know about cataracts” or “Eight reasons not to believe a digital marketer” stories can leave you feeling a little ripped off. You get the impression that somewhat less work has gone into that particular list than went into, say, the three laws of thermodynamics. In an article I saw recently, “Seven ways to get a flight upgrade”, the number-one tip was:
Be a frequent flyer.
As if you can decide while you’re in the check-in queue to magically become one. You either are or you are not a frequent flyer with that airline, and speaking as someone with a bit of travel-hacking experience I can tell you that anyone who is not a frequent flyer need not trouble themselves with the remaining tips in that particular article. Smile all you like, dress to the nines, if you ain’t Platinum status you’ll sit where you’re bloody well told, you cheeky sod.
Anyway, thanks for indulging me. To the point of my essay, which I could argue segues nicely from the frequent-flying gripe because it was a plane trip to Japan that prompted the idea.
Serious stories about communication
told in a silly voice.
I dig a little deeper than most comms folk. From science at university, to a cold-and-wet career as a commercial diver, to working underground, and for the past 17 years as a communicator-at-large, I've had my fair share of weird experiences in all sorts of situations. It's given me a fair-to-middling grounding in all things explanatory.