One of my favorite movie lines comes from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when the creepy, high-achieving mom says, “Eyes on the prize, Violet. Eyes on the prize.” There’s just something so delightfully disturbing about the way she delivers that line. What Violet’s mom knows, though, is that it’s important to stay focused. Clients and potential clients often get mired in discussion of one-off tactics. “How do we leverage Facebook?” for example. It’s our job to bring them back to a total strategy view, to remember that Facebook is a tool but not the overall strategy, that the content is the most important element to create, THEN we can determine where it goes and how.

But darn it, if I even mention baby goats in a meeting, I’ve lost them completely.

I have three dead friends on Facebook. It’s hard; especially when their birthdays show up, or when well-meaning mutual friends post a message to their wall because they’re thinking of our deceased friend. ¬†If you don’t already, you’ll have friends on Facebook who die, either expectedly or unexpectedly.

Dying in the digital era has new challenges. For the user, managing privacy and security is important while alive — having your information totally inaccessible can be a real pain for the friends and family you leave behind.

Enter the age of Credential Management: a new field that touches the legal issues, health care, banking, social media and more. If you have a will, it’s important to leave instructions for your family on how to access your bank accounts. Passwords for all manner of online-managed personal details should never be written down, but instructions for how to get them are going to be critical in the event that you become ill, hurt, incapacitated in some way, or even die.

I recently started using Dashlane for password management. I like it for a number of reasons but one big one is the Emergency Feature, which allows me to name a contact or contacts who will be allowed access in the event of an emergency. You can read how it works on the site, but it makes sense (waiting period that you set from two days to three months, and never a release of your master password) and gives me the peace of mind I need to conduct my life.

What are you doing to manage your credentials?

I heard from a friend who lives in my city. Her relationship has ended, and she’s moving to another city in another, far-away state for a fresh start. Let’s pretend that city is Boulder, Colorado. I’ve always wanted to visit Boulder. Anyway, I wasn’t entirely sure who I know in or from Boulder, but I was certain that there is someone or a few someones, my network being what it is (fairly large and varied), and the way people move about the country following relationships, jobs and other opportunities.

On LinkedIn I went to Advanced Search and typed in a Boulder ZIP code. That pulled up three people in my network who currently live and work in the area. Huzzah! I went to my friend’s profile, clicked the arrow next to Send a Message on her profile, scrolled down and selected “share profile” and sent a note to those contacts saying hello from their former city (coincidentally, they all formerly lived in Charlottesville), and introduced my friend, asking them to be kind and hook a sister up.

I don’t know how this will work out, ultimately, but it’s what you do, and how you do it.

One of the most requested services we offer seems so simple on its surface. The Executive Session is designed to help clients in a one-0n-one meeting define their individual professional communications goals, review and improve their online presence, and create a plan for them to continue on a strategic path. Since professionally, one’s LinkedIn presence is sometimes the only place a person is visible online, we focus on getting our clients’ LinkedIn profiles up to snuff.

What I’ve observed in these sessions is that we can get a client up to All-Star status consistently in under two hours. Devoting the time to getting that important work done is often not a priority for business people, but the benefits they realize as soon as they’ve completed this work have a lot of value.

Rarely does anyone WANT to sit down and master a LinkedIn profile. People are overwhelmed by the platform, or worried about doing something wrong, or just annoyed by the hassle of taking the time to do what might be thought of as a tedious task. That’s why we set aside this time for a session we aim to make fun, fast, informative, and above all, valuable.

We get you to get this important work done — and for many people who have taken advantage of this service, it’s helped them build business, make valuable new connections, and further their career objectives.

Now, isn’t it time you were an All-Star?

My friend, media personality, and historian Coy Barefoot asked me to speak to his media class today at UVa. I love to teach and miss engaging with college students so I jumped at the chance. I used to teach public relations to college juniors and seniors who were communications majors at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri and I really loved that experience.

Today, the students had questions about how businesses and brands should be presenting themselves online, how media relations works today, now that social media is so prevalent, and what steps are important in crisis communications.

Three things I told them that I think bear repeating are these:

  1. If you want to be in communications, go buy the domain that is your name today, host it, install WordPress and, at a minimum, publish your resume. Maintain the domain.
  2. In a crisis, if you’re representing a brand, the first, most important step to take is an apology (even if you’re sorry that your community is experiencing this bad thing) and an expression of empathy.
  3. Pay attention to your personal brand; it can make you employable, valuable, and attractive. (Or the opposite of these, obviously. Manage it.)

For the student who showed up late to class and nodded off during — I bet she has a hard time finding a job when she graduates. Bet she never sees this post, either. D minus!