Monday, October 05, 2015

Eye-Opening Facts About the Workplace Impacts of Shut-Eye

By Rose Strong

Do you roll out from under the covers in the morning looking forward to the end of the day when you can crawl back into bed? Perhaps you find yourself drifting off while typing an email at work. Or maybe you’re one of those people asking for more hours in the day while trying to hold back a yawn.

You, my friend, are not alone. The United States is crawling with people who lack the proper amount of snooze time or a seriously good night’s sleep.

I don’t think you need a scientist to tell you many of us need more sleep, but, eye-opening studies on sleep and sleep disorders do abound. My eyelids get heavy during the day from losing a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row. My coworkers regularly need that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon to recharge them ‘til quitting time.

Seems our collective lack of sleep does more than just make us yawn and want a mid-afternoon nap at work. It is destructive to our health and happiness, as well as our pocketbooks.

According to a recent Washington Post article, corporate America is noticing its employees are not sleeping well. The C-suites are discovering that the lack of sleep is affecting not only employee moods, but also work accuracy and productivity. As a result, some employers have started working in sleep as a part of ‘get fit’ programs they offer to their employees – a great wellness tactic, as poor quality sleep is now linked to some major health problems such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

An article in Lehigh Valley Business by Cedar Crest College professor, Micah Sadigh, Ph.D. gives more than a few statistics based on a recent Journal of Science study that indicates that the kinds of sleep we get make a tremendous difference in how we think and problem solve.

There are many differences between non-rapid eye movement sleep – the time before deep sleep when we don’t dream and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep where we have reached the stage of deep slumber and we dream and truly rest. Making sure we achieve REM is important to our mental, psychological and physical well-being.

In trying to keep your regular sleep patterns (circadian rhythms) in good working order, here’s a helpful check list of tips for getting a good night’s rest:
  1. Set a regular bedtime and stick to it. Get in bed at the same time, Every. Single. Night. I know it’s hard to do. Weekends bring great temptations to think we’ll make up for lost sleep, but sticking to a set time for bed will help keep you on track to sleep well.
  2. Wake up at the same time every day. If you get a good, quality night’s sleep, it’s been found that you should wake up without an alarm clock. However, until you get that pattern down, keep your wake up time the same, even on weekends.
  3. If you need to nap, be smart about it and do it for less than an hour, midday. Napping can be refreshing and helpful, but if it affects your sleep at night consider eliminating naps.
  4. Turn off the TV and put the electronic devices away at least one hour before you put your head down on the pillow. Backlit devices and the television tend to suppress the production of the hormone melatonin which helps to bring on sleep.
  5. Sleep in a dark, cool room. A darker room is conducive to better sleep, so cover digital displays on clocks, turn off nightlights, use room darkening drapes and be sure the temperature is no higher than 65°. 
  6. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and ingesting too many liquids before bed. All three can be a hindrance to quality sleep. A glass of wine or scotch on the rocks may help you to fall asleep faster, but it can cause you to wake up after a few hours and leave you tossing and turning the rest of the night. Caffeine’s effects can last as long as 10 to 12 hours after ingestion, so it might be helpful to limit it after lunch. Of course, drinking too much of any liquid can make trekking back and forth to the bathroom several times a night a true sleep disturbance.
Looking for that magical way to relax and bring on sleep on quickly? The article, A Life Hack For Sleep: The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise Will Supposedly Put You To Sleep In Just 60 Seconds by Lizette Borrelli for has a breathing exercise that might be just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why should lawyers take the time to blog? Here’s one example

By Sarah Larson

“Content marketing” is an important ingredient in the communications plans that we create to help our clients get noticed, but oftentimes, getting them to actually create the content is tough.

Lawyers are busy, usually with work for which they can bill a client. Taking the time to write a blog post on a new development in their practice area or an article to submit to a journal often falls way down on their list of priorities.

We tell them how important blogging and other writing is, but, as with most things, it’s much more effective when you are able to show people a truth instead of just telling them. One recent experience with a client did just that, demonstrating the value of high-quality, original content to any communications plan.

Willig, Williams & Davidson, a labor and employment law firm based in Philadelphia, rotates different lawyers throughout the firm to write articles about developments in their practice area every couple months. Those articles are then posted on the firm’s website and shared with the firm’s audience through an electronic newsletter.

The attorneys at this firm have spent decades practicing labor, employment and workers’ compensation law. They know their stuff, and are a great resource for anyone looking for information or commentary when labor and employment issues affect public policy or make news headlines.

One of the partners, Wendy Pongracz, wrote an article for the website exploring the effects of a Pennsylvania court decision upholding same-sex marriage on employees benefits. The article, “Same-Sex Marriage in Pennsylvania: An Employee Benefits Perspective,” was published on the firm’s website in June 2014.

In September 2015, Evan Jones, a business reporter at the Reading Eagle newspaper (subscription required) wrote a news series looking at the impacts of the Whitewood v. Wolf court decision on Pennsylvania workplaces in the ensuing year. While doing his research, he came across Pongracz’s article and then cited her and the firm in the resulting news piece, “Gay marriage brings new rules at work.”

That news series then was picked up and published by Bloomberg Business.

And just like that, an article that an attorney had written more than a year previously garnered the firm the attention it deserved in both a regional and a national publication as a knowledgeable source of insight into employment law.

Content like this is what we call “evergreen,” meaning it will remain relevant for a long period of time. From a public relations and marketing perspective, publishing this kind of valuable information on a law firm’s website or blog is key to demonstrating the firm’s leadership in its area of practice.

So what are you going to blog about today that will demonstrate your leadership in your own area of focus?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Snapchat – Evolution of a Social Media Platform

By Kim Tarasiewicz

Social media platforms come and go, but the ones that remain strong have two things in common: they evolve along with their users’ needs and they reach several target audiences, not just one. Snapchat is a platform that began as a one-to-one messaging app (originally known for use in sexting) but now has evolved into a platform for group chatting – with an average age demographic of 13 to 34. Snapchat is used daily by more than 100 million users, and businesses large and small are taking advantage of reaching those users more and more often.

Snapchat allows you to take pictures or videos, edit them with text, emoji, colors or filters and then send them to a large group all at once. The photos or videos stay live on the Internet for only a short time and are erased from the user’s feed after one view, though viewers can take a screen shot of the message. Snapchat then notifies users when a viewer takes a screenshot so the sender is able to tell if the message has been saved by someone.

Small businesses use Snapchat to get users to follow their company. Many companies are using the platform to give a behind-the-scenes look into their business or as a teaser to get users to follow them. One company sent a “snap” with a video. At the end of the video you could screenshot a coupon to use at the store. This, of course, is supposed to bring customers into the store. Snapchat currently doesn’t provide a detailed tracking report, so businesses must rely on “opens” or “views” to track engagement. Since Snapchat lets you know when someone takes a screenshot, that function operates as a de facto tracking device to judge the success of your coupon.

Some larger businesses are beginning to see the attraction of Snapchat as well. Burberry announced it will premiere its fall line live on Snapchat. You can see the new fashions as they go down the runway, but then the photos will disappear after 24 hours, which coincides with its next show. This creates another teaser marketing plan from the company leading into another show and gaining interest for the brand.

While some smaller companies use the platform on a small level to reach a young, smaller audience, large corporations are beginning to use the advertising side of Snapchat. The ad costs are pricey at $750,000 per day, and there isn’t a way to directly target the advertising to a specific group. Because of this, companies need to rely on their followers to open the “snaps,” so creativity is a must when creating a message.

The NFL recently made a deal to sponsor content to Snapchat users along with their advertising. The partnership allows the NFL to send out live “snaps,” which they are calling a Live Story from the games, and allows users to post their own “snaps” while at the games. This type of interaction will give the NFL many chances to build brand awareness and gain followers. The first Live Story they did during the draft reached 15 million users – not a bad number for first time out. The NFL feels that number will grow during the season as more users become aware of the service.

Snapchat seems to be a social media platform that is still evolving, but also one that is here to stay. It will be interesting to see how followers react to seeing advertising within their messages. If you use Snapchat, we would love to hear what portion of the app you use most.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Press Release Mistake You Need to Stop Making

By Sarah Larson

Years ago, a press release was written and then carefully formatted on a sheet of letter paper, usually official stationary of the company or group sending the release. It had headers and footers and logos and salutations. It often was printed and either faxed or - gasp - mailed.

It was no surprise, then, that when email took over prominence as the main form of business communications, many organizations continued to follow the same procedures and then, instead of printing or faxing, simply emailed the document as an attachment.

If your organization still is sending out press releases this way, there are good reasons you should stop. As a matter of course, Furia Rubel sends press releases to media contacts in the body of an email, not as a separate, attached document. Here's why:

  • Spam. Adding an attachment to your email increases the likelihood of your message getting held up in a spam filter.
  • Not efficient. Forcing someone to open an attachment makes it more difficult for a busy journalist to quickly evaluate the news you're sharing. Many will just ignore it, rather than spend the time to open an attachment.
  • Restrictive format. In that same vein, attaching a document in a certain format requires the recipient to have that program in order to open it. Not everyone has Word or PowerPoint, nor wants to have to install a program just to view your document.
  • Not mobile friendly. Many of the journalists you are trying to reach will be reading your message on a mobile device. Having to download an attachment takes longer and requires better mobile signal service, especially if you load the release with space-hogging images and logos.

As you can see by the complaint posted on Facebook (above) by a journalist friend, these might seem like little things, but they annoy journalists - mostly because they make their work lives harder - and an annoyed journalist is far more likely to skip over your message completely.

Sending a press release as text copied into the body of an email is an easy best practice that you can implement right now, to increase your organization's chances of catching the interest of the right people.

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