contentgrrl

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Archive for January, 2012

Figaro’s 5 ways to teach a kid to argue

Posted by contentgrrl on January 26, 2012

Years ago, I ran across a site that put Aristotle firmly in mind for his three Rhetorical appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos. The site, which is lost now, gave some wonderfully homey examples of how a child could use the three appeals to convince her mother to let her go to a certain party.

Recently I ran across FigaroSpeech’s Teach a Kid To Argue.

What?! If you teach your kids to argue, they’ll talk back! They’ll second-guess you! They’ll question everything! They might think independently…oh, wait. I actually want that.

Here is Aristotle’s Guide to Dinner Table Discourse, according to Jay Heinrichs:

  • Argue to teach decision-making, by playing devil’s advocate. “You seem to have good reasons for what you want to do. But what’s going to happen next? What happens down the road? How does that affect your friends and family?”
  • Focus on the future. “What’s a good way to make sure that toys get cleaned up?”
  • Call fouls. “Calling names is not going to win anyone over.”
  • Reward the right emotions. “Expressing anger with whining and shouting is not pathetic enough, because it doesn’t persuade me to empathize with you. Try using a calm, big boy voice.”
  • Let kids win sometimes. Reward a good argument.

Liking this better and better. Aren’t you?

Yep, I got the book: Thank You For Arguing. Chock full of pop culture examples to illustrate rhetorical devices. Thinking of getting his Word Hero once I have time to get through dozens of similar books on my shelf. Anyone read Heinrich’s latest?

And if any of you English & Rhetoric teachers out there can find me a great source on the three appeals, please share.

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Firm response to #McDstories

Posted by contentgrrl on January 24, 2012

Nice use of Social measurement statistics in MacDonald’s response to its hijacked Twitter hash tag (hat tip Business Insider).

But the tweets are pretty entertaining:

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LinkedIn Does A Better Job of Communicating

Posted by contentgrrl on January 23, 2012

OopsSurprising phrase in an email from LinkedIn:

We could have done a much better job communicating about this change, so we want to clarify what this may mean to you…

This was the second message I’ve gotten about its changing feature set for displaying Twitter feeds.

The first alert had left me wondering if my Tweets would still update my LinkedIn status stream. This second message clarified that this service was still intact and unaffected by the change.

Now, Alsup’s Number 8 of 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation is to recognize your shortcomings. “We could have done a much better job of communicating” rang very loud about the faux pas. Think for a minute: LinkedIn might have been a little quieter about their previous oversight. But if they had left out that statement, the message would have come off as a high-handed afterthought, as though the audience was too dumb to realize the previously unspoken detail.

So that statement:

  • Brings LinkedIn down a notch
  • Keeps their reputation friendly and self-deprecating
  • Fulfills that rhetorical appeal of Ethos, or character. Kudos!

Ideally, when alerting customers about a change in services, you include a little disambiguation from the get-go. A good writer knows to anticipate and define terms the audience may find confusing. The writer’s challenge is to select details that will clearly support the purpose of the alert, while assuaging their biggest concerns and promoting a positive reputation for the organization.

In the first message, LinkedIn could indeed have done a better job of distinguishing the Twitter feed box being discontinued from a related feature that automatically integrates Tweets into your LinkedIn status updates.

But they freely admitted their oversight. Bonus, they successfully communicated the difference, while educating members about a feature that many might not have known was available.

It’s good public relations, too. If you want to temper bad news where you must take something away from your customers, come back to admit an oversight and highlight something great that you offer for free!

I may steal this trick sometime in the future. Shhh…

Two questions for discussion:

  1. What did you think of LinkedIn’s decision to remove the Tweets box from member profiles?
  2. What other examples have you seen of companies turning bad news around?

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