communication essentials

October 28, 2020

‘communication essentials’

2020 – the year that allowed me to talk to 100+ people in 20+ countries…with all the excitement of doing it from my dining room. But hey, I can now say I’ve presented globally.

Let’s start there with the most recent edition of communication essentials. Global trends. As mentioned, I was part of a panel of speakers last week that addressed the International Public Relations Network member agencies. There were a wide range of topics covered, including healthcare, nonprofit work, building and construction and understanding the value of a work day (when that day is now remote). You can see the full webinar here. Go ahead. Travel abroad.

I spoke on our ‘new’ work day – a topic I’m obsessed with and will be sharing more around as I conclude some time management studies in our offices. Stay tuned.

Back to school. I also visited a high school classroom, again from my dining room, to continue my conversation with Gen Z. This time, as you can imagine, we had a lot to cover. Some quick takeaways from the senior class I spoke with:

=Is it worse for the class of 2020—or the class of 2021? Depends on who you ask. But this class said it’s worse for them because the class of 2020 at least got some stuff. Can’t blame them. But I feel bad for both.

=What’s it like being an essential worker at 18? Most are working in retail or grocery stores. And despite not being allowed to go out with their friends, they were allowed to keep working. They liked the experience because they bagged some extra hours – and a lot of retailers upped the hourly rate.

=No friends? No problem? Oh, no – it’s a problem. For the most part this class has been responsible when it comes to limiting group size and staying close to home. Too many high risk relatives to worry about. But they miss the normalcy of everything from nights out to hanging out.

=Guess where the majority of them get their news? Twitter. But guess what they do that most others might not…they look up the article and the story to do their own fact checking. What a novel concept!

=They are tired of the divide our country is experiencing right now. Will this be their generational ‘moment’? I asked. Many said it’s too early to say but it is something that will stick with them.

I’m grateful for the chance to have these conversations. I really think it’s important to stay connected with the next generation of employees, clients and consumers – and it’s also inspiring to hear their fresh takes.

ICYMI – Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg go to Washington, virtually. Five takeaways, posted today, in Forbes.

Want to be a better (virtual) presenter? Here are four tips…yes, one is practicing. Oh man…my least favorite. Because now it means I have to look at myself on camera more.

Pandemic fatigue. Did you see the (subscription) WSJ article on pandemic fatigue? It’s written from a personal viewpoint, i.e., families tired of doing the whole quarantine thing. But I think it’s so true from a professional viewpoint as well. Here are five things contributing to fatigue, for me:

  1. Looking at my own face. Video burnout is real. I fidget in meetings. A lot. So it almost takes more energy to sit still for one hour meetings than it would to be in/facilitate a three-hour meeting in person.
  2. The pop-ins. I will never complain again about an office pop-in.
  3. Being early to a coffee meeting. Remember that? Oh wow – five minutes to check my phone/email. Well, now…that’s every day.
  4. Commuting. I don’t miss commuting daily but I do miss the car decompression time.
  5. My office. I know – we were all supposed to make a space at home for this. But no matter what…there are those two words – at home. It’s still your house.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!


October 21, 2020:

‘communication essentials’

Two months seems like a long time. But in today’s world it’s like…a decade.

I’m sorry I’ve fallen behind on real-time updates to our blog. I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s becoming a little harder to navigate the news cycle these days. As PR professionals it’s our job to evaluate the current environment and make recommendations on how companies can break through.

A few observations from our day-to-day dealings with the media that I’d like to share:

  • Shocker – COVID has changed the face of news reporting. Remember, the media has to prioritize literally everything, on a daily basis, having to decide what fits into 22 minutes of programming.
  • Many news outlets are looking to compensate for this through additional programming, whether online or offline. In some cases they are reporting on everything but COVID in this format – just to give viewers a break.
  • As mentioned in the above, the digital properties are where a lot of opportunities can be found. But don’t assume you can wedge a traditional pitch into a digital footprint. Bringing to light, once again, the importance of a channel strategy that accounts for all digital options.

Related: Is your digital house in order?

Let’s talk about the election for a minute. No, let’s not.

In fact, is your brand prepared for how not to engage during these new few weeks? Our digital team has been working with clients, prepping for this and decided to share some of their thoughts in a social sound off. Email me if you’re interested in what they’re recommending.

One COVID lull that might be ending. Great read in the WSJ today about how private equity firms are ‘roaring back’ to put cash into companies that need it the most.

This just in (literally). Quibi is calling it quiti. I didn’t even get the chance to check it out!

Finally, are you burned out on Zoom? Sure you are. But that’s not ending any time soon. So in the meantime let’s complain about it. That and more in the season two premiere of ‘Random Thoughts from Mike Lawrence,’ the akhia communications digital series.

Thanks for reading!


August 18, 2020:

‘communication essentials’ 

COVID. Election. Mail.

COVID. Election. Mail.


The news cycle is tough right now…and for those of us trying to pick through the twitter feeds, eNewsletters and news feeds to stay on top of trends…well, it’s a lot of scrolling right now.

But, despite that, I have managed to find a few pressing topics that we, as communicators, need to stay focused on.

Let’s start with what this site and blog is all about – the future of work.

Check out this sneak peek of the Inc. September issue talking about…yep, you guessed it…moving forward. They lay out six ways to go forward with a stronger team.

Remember these unprecedented times? Yea, well, we’re kind of still in them. However, we need to be pushing our companies forward as much as we can. And digital is one big way to do that. If you’re looking for an area that will lead us into the new way of working, digital is where to start.

But what areas of digital should you look into – and which ones should you start planning for right now? This blog details some of the emerging areas you will want to monitor, regardless of the industry.

Nice job. Now take the next month off. Ok, sounds extreme. But did you see this read in HBR about how remote working long-term could free up enough hours to equal a month (or possibly two depending on your commute)? You will want to read this article for a lot of reasons, especially if you’re trying to figure out how to define the new work day…

New norm. New roles. Does your company have a chief meme officer? No? Well, you may want to consider looking into this now that it’s actually a thing. Bud Light is on the lookout for someone to take its creative to the next level.

(Sneaky play here by Bud Light to bring some fresh thinking to the marketing department. I like it. I don’t like any form of Bud Light. But I like this.)

Thanks for reading,


‘communication essentials’ for August 12, 2020

If you love reading about generations as much as I do you know each one is heavily influenced by the working conditions of their parents. So I ask you…

What in the hell will the COVID kids generation look like? These kids who have seen and will continue to see their parents ‘working from home’. It is all on display…phone calls; bad buzz words; bad words, period; a picture of always on/always available. Well until we how that plays out they can just impersonate us by pretending to work at home themselves, now, thanks to this hilarious ‘work from home playset’ Fisher-Price just released. They boiled it down to eight pieces and I have to say…they kinda nailed it.

I noticed that playset didn’t come with its own IT consultant. Probably because we don’t all have our own IT consultant in real life either. But you can still be prepared – check out this webinar on the new state of cyber security: staying safe from hackers while working at your kitchen table. Register here – it’s free.

I don’t read Seth Godin as much as I used to. Something I need to fix because I need more reminders like this in my day: Don’t sell your time. Sell results.

As we are trying to figure out how to work remotely and balance the old with the new, it’s easy to lose track of where the value, in what we create, truly lies. In communications companies measure you on one thing – the results.

It’s time let employees make big decisions. This headline grabbed my attention. Partly because I’m always trying to learn about empowering employees. And partly because I had read almost the exact same thing in a Business Insider article on how managers can overcome relevancy challenges created by remote working.

Two sources I respect, within a day of each other, talking about turning over decision-making responsibilities to employees? I’m in.

If you have some time and can read both, please do. The point both are making is simple and clear – this pandemic has accelerated the state of business today. And a big part of that is how employees are expected – and want – to evolve and become a more active part of their organizations.

Finally, I’m a sucker for these infographics – what happens online, every minute. And this one, showing what internet life looks like during COVID doesn’t disappoint.

Thanks for reading!



‘communication essentials’ for August 6, 2020

Hey everyone – it’s August! Bet ya didn’t know.

Let’s get right to it today. We are halfway through 2020 and one of the biggest topics, in my world at least, is the increasing number of expectations being put on brands and CEOs. In fact, a survey released last week (The Harris Poll; Axios) showed that in the cases of some brands, the public trusts them more than the government.

To me this shows that companies need to be more focused than ever on their brand, what they stand for and their preparation plan – as well as they are ready for the current social environment. That’s the topic of this first article. And it asks some very important ‘what ifs’ around a new surge in employee activism.

So what can leaders do about it? I keep writing that leadership is up for grabs. But what can a leader do to step up and actually lead during such a volatile time? Fast Company tries to answer that in this five-minute read.

Small businesses are so unique…in so many ways. They are able to come up with new ways of doing things. They remind us of which old ways of doing things still work. And they are often an indicator of how the business economy is performing.

No surprise that COVID has impacted small business. But the number – 1 million so far – is staggering. Trying to find the positive in what others have done to succeed, The Wall Street Journal has profiled five companies that did survive – and how they did it. Great read.

The days aren’t longer. Just the work days are. Yikes – the work day, on average, is now 48.5 minutes longer. This goes with my mention last week of how I’m challenging myself to redefine my work day. This is an important read, whether you’re managing your time or employees’ time. How, exactly, are we filling the day?

Hey, Slackers! If you love Slack, like I do, then you know it’s changed how we work and communicate simply through the app. Now the company itself is trying to answer the question ‘just how different will the future look?’ They know they can’t answer the question alone so they are hosting a virtual conference with several speakers who will attempt to answer – or at least give their insight.

Thanks for reading!



‘communication essentials’ for July 29, 2020

I saw a tweet yesterday saying if you’re a marketer, and not on Google Trends daily, you’re doing it wrong. Well…I guess I’ve been doing it wrong because I wasn’t going daily. In fact…I wasn’t going regularly at all.

Mistake. I have been down the rabbit hole in researching some topics that I’m obsessed with and it has yielded some great insights. I know…this new thing called Google Trends, right? Well, maybe there are a few of you like me who never took full advantage of what is has to offer. If so…have fun!

One of the topics I dug in on…work life balance. Up quite a bit since…want to guess…yep, March! Which ties in nicely to our next topic.

Tomatoe…tomotah. Have you heard of the pomodoro technique? I hadn’t. I have heard of pomodoro sauce (yum!) but this method of managing your time was new to me.

I’ve been working with it now for two days and I have to say – where ya been my whole life?

It’s named after Francesco Cirillo. He was the professor who came up with it back in the early 1990s, named after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work cycles. He would set a timer for 25-minutes. At the end of that period he would reward himself with a five-minute break. After four of those he gave himself a 15-minute break. Then hit reset and do the cycle again.

It’s fascinating and helps you to hyperfocus on projects, in small incraments of time, for as long as you need. And now that I’ve been working at home for seven years (ok, four months but it feels longer) I need help in both time management and focusing. Otherwise…I feel like I wake up and it’s off to the races where I try to get as much done as possible, sometimes not getting up from my table for three hours. I’m using the Focus Keeper app but check out the method and see what you think.

What have we learned? I read about a new trend in crisis communications – helping companies prep for the second wave of COVID. And while my first reaction was ‘hey, this is a scare tactic’ I really started thinking about it. I realized, if you look at it from the perspective of ‘knowing what I know now, what would have I done differently to prepare for the first wave?’

With that in mind…it’s worth the simple question to yourself: what would you’ve done differently and is it something you can apply to your business going forward?

Speaking of going forward. LinkedIn released their guide for business recovery, post-COVID. I won’t go into too much here but it’s something you’ll want to take a look at.

Going forward, leave these behind. I love the content being published on FastCompany’s Strong Female Lead page. Some really great insight for any leader, including this solid read on lifestyle changes you want to make permanent.

My favorite? Celebrating those every day moments. We should all try to have a greater appreciation of these moments in our day!

Thanks for reading!


Written By

ben brugler

CEO, President

More communication essentials

akhia communications — an Ohio public relations agency