Navient COVID-19 email: not just vacuous, but deceptive

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Are you helping your customers right now, or screwing them? Like so many other companies, Navient, a student loan servicer, sent a vacuous, unhelpful email about the COVID-19 pandemic. You could easily ignore it, or just give it a cursory read. But because of changes passed by Congress, many borrowers don’t have to pay anything … Continued

You’re sharing essential content. Here’s how to get colleagues to read it.

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As I work with companies on internal communication, I see amazing and pervasive levels of inefficiency and waste. These groups work hard, generate valuable content, and then despair when it has less impact than they had hoped. This is fixable. I’ll share six ways you can change what and how you write to properly value … Continued

Atul Gawande proves health insurance saves lives in 12 bullets and 430 words

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Health care is complex. But Atul Gawande applies his intellect to make it clearer. His email about a research paper on the health effects of insurance is a tutorial on how to summarize effectively. In the New England Journal of Medicine, Atul Gawande and two colleagues published a 6-page survey paper with 54 footnotes on … Continued

Why American Express should shout about its bad news, not hide it

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A frequent flyer friend recently received an email regarding the American Express Platinum credit card. It includes some unpleasant news, but unless you’re the type that reads every word of every email, you’d probably miss it. That’s a mistake, because burying the bad news creates a backlash, now that everyone spreads news on social media. Here’s the … Continued

Talentedly email: communications experts have a burden to be clear

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A friend of mine got an email from Talentedly, a company that “informs, educates and inspires people at work by combining technology and experts to create products that are affordable, accessible and make work feel amazing.” When you describe yourself that way, your communications had better be simple and clear. Theirs wasn’t. Some people start … Continued

10 tips for effective email (infographic)

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Ineffective email wastes more time than anything else we read — or write. And it’s an easy problem to solve. Effective emails have a purposeful structure, just like any other document. Here’s an infographic with ten tips for emails that get things done, based on Chapter 21 of my book Writing Without Bullshit. Choose a subject line … Continued

FBI Director James Comey statement: Hillary Clinton was sloppy

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Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey issued his final statement about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server. While he characterized her behavior around classified information as “extremely careless,” he will not recommend prosecution. Democrats and Republicans are spinning his decisions relentlessly today. The overwhelming impression I get from Comey’s statement is of a diligent … Continued

Answers to your questions on social media, empathy, and more (Ask Dr. Wobs)

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From southern courtesy to corporate bullshit, you had lots of questions after last week’s webinar for Higher Logic. I’ve answered them here. (Questions edited for length and clarity; some questions are from multiple listeners.) Q. Isn’t this all things that we should have learned from “Elements of Style” by Strunk & White?  How is this different? Strunk … Continued