Archive for September, 2011

Shades of Green: Cars 2

Friday, September 30th, 2011
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The all-American pastime – driving our cars. While a small portion of us has already moved to hybrids and low impact vehicles, most of us have not. Yet it just isn’t has hard as you think to do better.

CarsLet’s keep in mind that this is one of the most important things we can do to reduce our human impact on the environment. In the U.S., about 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and light trucks. Of course, this contributes significantly to climate change through global warming. It also contributes to air pollution (ask anyone who lives in Los Angeles!), ground pollution as particulate matter is washed out of the air and into our soil, and to disease and medical conditions suffered by many.

If you want to do something to impact the footprint we are making on the environment, this is it. Look at your car, and the use of your car, and start making changes.

So what can we do? Continuing from last Friday, here are eight more ideas:

  • It’s a lifestyle change, but consider car pooling. Find people at your office or around your neighborhood who work in the same area and set up a car pool. If you cut down just one trip a week, you’ll save one-fifth of your gas expenditure, carbon emissions, etc. And money.
  • Try telecommuting if your company and business will allow that. Working from home saves you the trip. Sell the idea to your boss as not only green, but more efficient. Remember, you can always go to the office when necessary. Any number of trips to the office you save is a positive step. Think this won’t save anything? The average rush-hour commute in 2000 was 62 hours! What a waste of time!
  • Use mass transit. Use the bus instead of driving. If your city has light rail or subway, use it. It will end up being significantly cheaper than driving even though you still have to pay for the ticket. Remember that a 20-mile round-trip commute costs about $2,000 a year in gas alon

    e for your cars. Anything less than that is savings. And, you  are not spewing emissions into the atmosphere. Even if you have to drive a short distance to a bus or rail stop, there are still significant savings involved.

  • This one will surprise you. If you have a reasonably efficient car now, keep it longer. It actually costs four tons of carbon emissions and almost 700 pounds of other pollutants spewed into the atmosphere to manufacture just one new car! Let's hold on to our cars longer. Each additional year makes a big difference.
  • Consider biodiesel if your car has a diesel engine. It’s renewable, biodegradable, and has none of the sulfur of regular diesel. Biodeisel B20 (a mix of 80-percent conventional diesel and 20-percent biodiesel; biodiesel comes in ranges of B5 to B100, with the higher the number signifying the higher the biofuel content; B20 is the base at which realistic fuel economy savings begin) saves 50 gallons of oil per year and will reduce your carbon emissions by 30 percent.
  • If you drive a normal gas-driven engine, explore E85 ethanol. Made from corn and other renewal resources, ethanol can be used by many modern, flex-fuel engines. There are millions on the road now and you may have one and not know it. Ask you dealer.
  • Get a different car. Find the highest mileage vehicle you can that has a flex-fuel engine and buy it. Use it for most of your commuting and errands. Cut your emissions and your fuel costs dramatically.
  • Get a really different car. Go for a hybrid. These cars get excellent mileage and have very low emission rates. Yes, they are a little more expensive, but you’ll get that back in fuel efficiency. If you can’t do the hybrid, find a small car with a high-mile-per-gallon rating.

By Julie Vincent, APR and Bob Dittmer, APR

From: Shades of Green, available at


Growing The Arts Audience: The Board

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

A critical internal public of the arts organization is its board of directors.

the arts board of directorsThe community leaders who serve on this board have accepted this voluntary position because they care about the arts and the enrichment it brings to their community.

It’s vital to the growth of the arts organization that each board member clearly understands that their position on the board is indeed a commitment to the growth and health of the company they serve.

A board member can help grow an audience in subtle ways:

  • By being a champion for the arts organization as the board member interacts
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    with other members of the community. These interactions can occur professionally, socially and personally.

  • By being a recruiter for future board members who are community and business leaders willing to embrace the goals of the organization as a fully vested stakeholder.
  • By aligning the organization with their personal perception of excellence and alluding to that perception at appropriate occasions.
  • By offering to speak at service associations such as, Sertoma (Service to Mankind), Lions Club, Kiwani

    s, etc., on behalf of the arts organization.

There are also more direct ways a board member can assist in growing an audience:

  • Attending events. Nothing speaks louder than a person’s actions. This is particularly true when that board member brings guests to the event.
  • Offer to sponsor an organized group to an event. Groups such as girl/boy scouts, middle school and high school art clubs, college and university art groups, etc., usually fully embrace such an opportunity.
  • Sponsor a military family to a season subscription. This not only supports the arts organization, it is a patriotic act.
  • Offer tickets to an event at the place of employment of those who work for and with them.
  • Fundraise! Read the article on this Website, Fundraising: Eliminate the Fear Factor. Many Non-Profit Board Members Fear and Loathe Fundraising, by Joseph R. Johns, for excellent advice on how to fully engage board members on this endeavor.

Keep in mind that not every board member will be willing to employ all of these tactics. In fact, it would be downright unreasonable to expect it. But, a board member should be willing to undertake at least one subtle and one direct tactic.

By Peg McRoy Glover

Coming up next: Growing Arts Audiences: Donors


Crisis Communication: Is It OK to Plead the 5th?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

In a crisis communication situation, communicating who you are and what you stand for can either put you in a shark-filled tank or be an example of your integrity and class. Solyndra Execs and Crisis CommunicationThe most current illustration of this either/or condition is the case of the two major executives of the bankrupt California solar energy company, Solyndra, Inc. Subpoenaed to appear on Capitol Hill last week, Solyndra’s CEO, Brian Harrison, and the company’s CFO, Bill Stover, responded to lawmaker’s questions with a stiff, “On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer any questions.” Now, that’s communicating what? While constitutionally protected, these two men have extremely valuable and important inside information that could inform the loaning institutions of the reasons for the declared bankruptcy, as well as give the thousand or so out-of-work Solyndra employees a sense of what went wrong and why they are now in unemployment lines. Communicating without fear of legal responsibility also is a possibility that their lawyers could work out with the congressional panel prior to their appearance. Years of experience with training clients in crisis communication conditions include imploring them to be open and truthful. Prepare answers to questions you know are coming. Prepare responses to possible questions you don’t want to hear but fear might be coming. Respond with brief, calculated and informative answers. Respond honestly to follow-up questions. Refer

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to already prepared response documents or statements available online or in news releases. And did I already say, tell the truth? The congressional committee examining the events surrounding the government-backed loan to Solyndra of over a half-billion dollars is now presented with an insurmountable barricade by these two men in their side-stepping of preparing true and honest answers to the downfall of their company. The committee chair called the bankruptcy a “heist” and said there might be “co-conspirators called the U. S. Government.” Those personal comments aside, the use of the 5th Amendment in this situation robs the Federal Government who entrusted these men with the financial resources they needed of ever knowing what really happened, not to say anything of the public’s right to know. Communicating truth, honesty, integrity and remorse in a crisis communication situation is the best way to help the cause of understanding. The pleading of constitutionally protected 5th Amendment rights is a major legal maneuver that, right or wrong, brings doubt to the equation. No matter how or when the truth ever comes out, these men and Solyndra, Inc. will forever be branded by their response. by

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Non-Profit “Lift” Speech

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Board Members Need to Perfect the “LIFT” (elevator) Speech

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences; what others say in a whole book.” Friedrich Nietzsche

elevator speechImagine getting on an elevator. There are no stops until the thirtieth floor of a huge office building. The elevator is jammed but you have to enter face-forward, no way to turn around. You’re now looking at your captive “audience”. The doors begin to close and at this moment you have 30 to 90 seconds to talk about your organization before the doors open.

OK. So much for dramatic effect. BUT, has your organization developed a dynamic 1-2-3 speech for its board of directors? I like using the term “LIFT”, the British term for “elevator”, because the short-and-to-the-point presentation must give a “lift” to you, your organization, AND, the listener. The LIFT speech can be as simple as the one or two paragraphs you might have been asked to develop for your personal Belief Statement.

Or, you could launch your speech with the board-adopted “Positioning Statement” (which was included in your Communications GO Box): The WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHERE, and HOW of the organization. 1-2-3. Boom! Boom!

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Why, you could even lead with the Vision, Mission, and Values of your organization.

The whole concept of the LIFT speech is to introduce a person or an audience to you and your organization — quickly and with great interest. Many times you don’t have the luxury of a planned presentation or breakfast meeting to dwell on numerous talking points. You need to summarize the importance of your organization and why the person(s) listening need to be as interested as well thirsting for more information.

We live in a sound bites world, and you need to develop, practice, and perfect this speech. You should devote a board retreat or a special meeting to practice this concept (and other public speaking skills-building). Board members should practice standing up in front of their peers, rehearsing and refining, and rehearsing again. Board members should be practicing and challenging each other so that ALL board members are consistent in their message and their delivery.

The talk has to be UPLIFTING! It has to be UPBEAT and it has to be UPTEMPO. If you can’t generate the excitement about your organization in 30-90 seconds, go back to the drawing board and refine your presentation. There is no PowerPoint in the world that can generate the same excitement and LIFT that a presenter can generate with direct eye contact, a smile on his/her face, and looking natural.

Give your organization a LIFT…develop that quick presentation and it will most definitely generate a request for MORE information and a formal presentation where more specific information can be shared. As one speaker once said “Be accurate. Be brief. And then be seated!” The “encores” will definitely follow.

by Joseph R. John

Time Management: Only Key Meetings

Monday, September 26th, 2011

To improve your time management skills, attend only the meetings you must

time managementOK, if you are like me, you get invited to a lot of meetings. I’m on a lot of organizational committees, and get invited to at least 3 group meetings a week! Ouch. That’s a lot of time away from my primary tasks.

I combat this time loss by reviewing the agenda’s in advance and determining if I really need to be at that meeting. Sometimes I discover that the group will be addressing topics I can’t help them with. Sometimes they are not decision making meetings, but just information sharing meetings where I know there will be a written record of the meeting later.

In these cases, I sometimes choose not to attend. I’m courteous to the meeting organizer and let them know. I also share any insights with them if I have any regarding any topics under discussion, but I save my time and stay on task. I can’t let others do my time management for me!

Sometime I have a subordinate attend the meeting in my place, take notes, and report back. Especially for information sharing meetings.

Don’t be afraid to make some critical judgments about which meetings you attend. As you probably already know, not all meetings are needed or productive. You want to be there for the meaningful ones, but not use up you time on the others.

What You Can Do:

Be judgmental about each meeting. Make a knowing decision about attendance. Sometimes it’s based on your workload, sometimes on the topic or other items. But make critical time-saving decisions about what meetings you attend.

That hour-and-a-half you spend in a useless meeting might just be the time you come up with the next Big Idea.

By Robert E. Dittmer, APR

Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time

Shades of Green: Cars

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

carsThe all-American pastime – driving our cars. While a small portion of us has already moved to hybrids and low impact vehicles, most of us have not. Yet it just isn’t has hard as you think to do better. Let’s keep in mind that this is one of the most important things we can do to reduce our human impact on the environment. In the U.S., about 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and light trucks. Of course, this contributes significantly to climate change through global warming. It also contributes to air pollution (ask anyone who lives in Los Angeles!), ground pollution as particulate matter is washed out of the air and into our soil, and to disease and medical conditions suffered by many. If you want to do something to impact the footprint we are making on the environment, this is it. Look at your car, and the use of your car, and start making changes. So what can we do? Here are eight ideas:

  • Start by simply driving less by driving smarter. Make it a goal to drive 10 miles less each week
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    by combining your trips to the store, shopping and the dry cleaners. Saving 10 miles a week

    results in a savings of 520 miles a year. That’s a significant saving in air emissions and, by the way, you’ll save about $225 in gas costs over that same year.

  • Don’t idle the car to warm it up. First, it’s not necessary for today’s cars, and second, you don’t spew more emissions into the atmosphere while going nowhere.
  • Keep your engine tuned up. The difference between a properly tuned engine and one that is not can run from 15 to 50 percent in fuel efficiency!
  • Keep your tires at the right pressure. Check monthly, because the average tire loses about one pound per square inch each month. Tires that are under-inflated produce drag, lowering fuel efficiency. They wear out faster too. Keeping your tires properly inflated could save you about a tank of gas a year.
  • Drive sensibly. Stay off the gas pedal. Jackrabbit starts cost gas mileage. Speeding above 55 mph costs gas mileage. Aggressive driving with lots of acceleration and deceleration costs gas mileage. Here’s an example: at 55 mph you will use 15-percent less fuel than at 65 mph. Aggressive driving increases fuel consumption by up to 33 percent! It also results in five times more exhaust emissions than normal driving.
  • Don’t drive at high speeds with the windows down. This causes drag and reduces fuel efficiency. In fact, go ahead and use that air conditioner. It’s actually more fuel efficient than opening the windows (at high speed).
  • Don’t keep the car loaded down with “stuff.’ Every extra 100 pounds of stuff will reduce your fuel efficiency by 2 percent.
  • Gas. Buy the cheap stuff. Unless you experience problems with regular gas, or your owner’s manual specifically requires it, your car was manufactured to run efficiently on 87 octane. Don’t go for the 92 octane premium. You will get no improvements to fuel efficiency, engine power, speed or performance. But the price is usually about 20 cents per gallon higher. Save that 20 cents and let it add up. Then buy a hybrid car.

By Julie Vincent, APR and Bob Dittmer, APR From: Shades of Green, available at  

Delegation: Authority vs. Responsibility

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Authority and responsibility are similar yet different. And when it comes to delegation, you need to know where to draw the line. DelegationAuthority is what your organization has bestowed upon you to get the job done. You give direction, and those placed under your authority are obligated to follow as part of their employment. But authority can also include responsibilities such as signing off on budget expenditures, hiring additional staff or contract help, or approving a project to move forward. You may delegate some of your authority, such as if you’re on vacation or out of the office on business. For example, you may delegate staff management to an employee that you trust to make decisions as you would when you’re away from the office. Delegating authority means you’re handing over a whole set of responsibilities encompassed within a specified level of authority. This authority may be delegated on a long- or short-term basis. But delegation of responsibilities is more about assigning accountability for given tasks, often without the benefit of authority. For example, you may ask an employee to attend a weekly meeting on your behalf, but reserve your authority to make any commitments

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as a result of the meeting. What You Can Do: Before delegating, make sure you know the difference between what is authority and what is responsibility. Whether you delegate authority or responsibility, you’re ultimately accountable for the success or failure of the outcomes. By Stephanie McFarland, APR, and Robert Dittmer, APR, 151 Quick Ideas for Delegating and Decision Making