No one wants more e-mail. And yet, we sign up for e-mails because, in some cases, it is the only way to consistently get the information we seek. E-mail has gotten easier to access with smartphones, but that’s part of the problem.

How many of you have an Inbox at zero? Ever?

The biggest challenge we face is the effective management of e-mail. The “touch it once” philosophy is great if you’re not already so overwhelmed by unread messages, some of which might actually be important. I’ve sat next to a number of executives and helped them get control of this problem. It’s a one-time setup, but solves the problem pretty neatly and gives the client back the time he or she needs to do much more important tasks.

Years later, I hear from those clients who tell me that they’re able to get to “Inbox: Zero” every day. That’s pretty gratifying for me, but mostly, for them!

What’s the “touch it once” philosophy? With each new e-mail, you have decisions to make:

  1. Trash it (with secondary decisions of, a) should a rule be created? b) is this SPAM or junk to which you need to unsubscribe?)
  2. Respond to it
  3. File it

Some of you read number three and think, “File it WHERE?” and that’s the time consuming part of getting out in front of this — setting up the organization of your e-mail and the rules to help KEEP you organized going forward.

Imagine this: what if every time you entered the house with bags of groceries, they were whisked out of your hands and everything was put away exactly where it needed to go. What if, additionally, spoiled food was removed from your refrigerator, making room for new ingredients, and the trash was deposited neatly in the receptacle outside and rolled to the curb? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Think about that the next time you are faced with a burgeoning inbox, and let me know if you think your team could benefit from some executive session help with that.

My sister became a grandmother last week. I’m not a grandmother, so I’m a wee bit jealous she gets to nuzzle a newborn and buy cute, itty, bitty things for the new guy in her life. I am delighted to be a great aunt for the first time, and it takes me back to when the little guy’s dad, my nephew was born, when I was a fifteen-year-old high school student. I was pretty excited about that, too.

We’re young, I think, for titles starting grand- and great- and younger, I think, than our parents or own grandparents seemed when they earned these designations. My own grandmother seemed grandmotherly my whole life, certainly. We called her Granny Hig (short for Higgins). I mean, EVERYONE called her Granny Hig, even those not related to her. (Except for my father, her son-in-law. He called her simply “Hig.”)

I don’t know what my sister will be called as a grandmother. Her kids call their grandparents (her husband’s parents) Grammy and Pop. Everyone has names for grandparents: Meemaw, Pop-Pop, Oma and Opa, etc. My cousins’ grandmother on their dad’s side was Granny Pop. I thought that was cute. My dad campaigned pretty hard to be called Big Daddy when his daughters were pregnant. He’s still Grandpa.

Some grandmothers are so sensitive to the grandma-stigma that they insist on some alternative nickname that has nothing to do with grand-motherhood at all. My former mother-in-law began referring to herself in the third person immediately. “Would you like Grandma to get that for you?”

I haven’t given it a lot of consideration just yet. In my head, I’m still about 28 years old, so it seems like a faraway need.

What do you want to be called as a grandparent, or what are you called, if you already have some doubtless, adorable and brilliant grandchildren? Does it matter to you?

What did you call your grandparents?

On September 23, 2014, I published a post called Social Media in a Crisis: How to Help the Search for Hannah Graham. I heard from a lot of people who were in support of my guidance within. I heard from two people who had different opinions.

In my professional capacity with my firm, Jaggers Communications, I advise businesses and the people who represent them, in part, how to use social media and how to conduct themselves online to achieve business goals, to maintain a professional profile, and to establish strong personal brands. I also have more than 18 years’ experience in public relations and advising corporations and public entities in crisis communications strategy. I use my blog as a vehicle to advise people who are interested in these pursuits, and sometimes reach a much broader audience, as was the case with this post.

I am watching news unfold today from the Washington Post about possible misconduct within the Grand Jury in the Ferguson, Missouri criminal case regarding the shooting of Michael Brown.  The news concerns Twitter and its use by members of the jury and their friends who also use Twitter.

Social media use can certainly complicate a criminal trial. It makes it very difficult to appoint a jury of people who have not seen or heard information or opinions about a case with news as widespread as the Ferguson shooting case, or as in the case against Jesse LJ Matthew and the disappearance of Hannah Graham. A compromised jury in a criminal case can sometimes result in a mistrial. Missteps in our criminal justice system can sometimes mean a guilty party goes free. It sometimes mean that an innocent person is charged.

My role, as a communications professional counseling others is to provide guidance about best practices. It’s to help us all be thoughtful about our communications both one-on-one and to a vast audience. I hope, like all members of the community in which I live, that Hannah Graham is found and justice is served.

We can help that cause by sharing sources for news, information relevant to the community (search sites, calls for volunteers, requests of the community made by the police department and other relevant content that needs to reach a larger audience.


The city of Charlottesville, the surrounding counties, and the University of Virginia community have been dealing with a crisis for the past week. On September 13, Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old second year student at UVa went missing.

Social media really lights up in a crisis, and can be useful for those trying to share a message, such as the tweet below from Charlottesville city government, encouraging witnesses to come forward.


People who may not normally pay attention to Twitter or Facebook are tuning into these platforms to try to get the most up-to-the-minute information. These platforms can be helpful for that, and it’s good to see the news organizations live streaming press conferences and sharing news updates as they are available. A couple of ways to stay on top of these are to follow the hashtag #hannahgraham on Twitter and to like the pages of local news organizations reporting on the unfolding story. is one, and is another.

In all crisis communications, one of the main rules is to refrain from speculation. Speculation can hurt a criminal case, it can distract from the mission at hand, and does not assist law enforcement in doing their jobs.

Here are five things you can do to help in the search for Hannah Graham:

  1. Share updates on Facebook from official sources to gather volunteers to search for Hannah, that share the WANTED poster of the person of interest in the case, and the tip line information to help make it accessible to anyone who might have a lead.
  2. Retweet sources announcing press conferences or other news the Charlottesville Police Department wants shared.
  3. Use the hashtag #hannahgraham to become part of the search stream on Twitter.
  4. Steer clear of fueling rumors or speculation about the case by staying out of online conversations about it.
  5. If you have something relevant to share, contact the police department, not the media.

Let’s all try to stay focused on helping the law enforcement professionals in this difficult case.


So many companies set up their marketing and social media efforts as an afterthought. They might engage an intern or an already-overloaded employee to manage these efforts, resulting in a bunch of one-off posts, releases, or ads. The whole thing comes across as half-assed.

If you want to build a brand and establish a reputation, the effort needs to be strategic. It should be thoughtful, consistent, and well-managed. There should be an internal point person (who doesn’t consider the tasks unwanted chores foisted upon them).

If the person in your company assigned to marketing and social media isn’t a marketing person trained and well-versed in social strategy, you have the wrong person in that seat. If that person isn’t passionate about establishing and growing your brand’s reputation, again: wrong person, wrong seat.

It’s easy to build a reputation if you’re following a strategic plan for doing so, and touch that plan every single day. It takes time, of course, but nothing compared to the time it takes to undo a reputation gone awry.