Blog of the Year Award 2013

One of the things I love best about the end of the year is all of the Best of designations, Year in Reviews, Top 10 lists, etc. (The year that ESPN showed the Best Sportscenter Commercials was at the top of my list.)

So you can imagine how thrilled we were at CCC when The Journal of Wall Grimm decided to designate this blog as a winner of the Blog of the Year Award for 2013. How exciting! It’s the blog’s first award, and along with the thoughtful comments, likes and visits, encourages us to continue down this long, strange road we’re traveling.

Blog of the Year Award

As a recipient of this award, CCC has the responsibility of passing it along to the blog(s) that we feel deserve special recognition. We follow some insightful blogs from a variety of people, so this was a decision we really had to think about. Without further ado, I present to you our 2013 Blog of the Year winners… (drumroll please)

101 Books

Robert Bruce is reading his way through Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels and taking us along for the ride. As a fellow writer and fervent reader, I appreciate his honest commentary and insight into each of his selections. It really helps me decide what — and what not — to add to my lengthy, always-growing reading list. For unbiased book reviews, insight on writing and a fun mailbag feature (where he answers readers’s questions), follow 101 Books.

Ahh The Simple Life

Carol and Michelle are sisters who value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Bucket List Publications

Some people make a bucket list when they’re dying; Lesley Carter makes one to live life to the fullest. She’s packed more into her years than people who have been around three times as long. Rock climbing? Paragliding? Dog sledding? Check. Check. Check. Lesley’s been to 34 countries and has no plans on slowing down. Follow along on her world tour as she seeks new adventures and works toward completing her annual bucket list at Bucket List Publications.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Congratulations 101 Books, Ahh The Simple Life and Bucket List Publications! I’ll be in touch shortly to personally congratulate you and offer some easy instructions on accepting this award. We’d be honored to have you guest blog here at any time.

Again, a heartfelt thank you to Sage Doyle at The Journal of Wall Grimm on honoring the Clearly Conveyed Communications blog with this award. Thanks for being a loyal follower and guest blogger!  

By the way, what’s your favorite blog? Drop the URL in the comments below along with a short description on what the blog’s all about.

Blog of the Year award badge courtesy of the Thought Palette, the originator of the award
101 Books, Ahh The Simple Life and Bucket List Publication headers courtesy of the respective companies

Cheers,
Jaime

p.s. We need your help to hit 150 fans on the Clearly Conveyed Communications Facebook page! When we do, we’re celebrating with a ‘Big Bang,’ and some fun prizes. Check out our contest and bring your friends!

Connect with CCC… we’re more than just a blog!
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It’s All About the #UNselfie

–> It’s All About the #UNselfie <–

Today is #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving back and helping others succeed. Immediately following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s a great way to remember what’s important in life.

This year, it’s all about the #UNselfie. Yep, you read that right. The #UNselfie.

 #UNselfie

Need a smile today? Click on the link above and scroll through the #UNselfie stream on Google Image Search. It’s heartwarming, fun and exciting to see all of the good going on in the world.

No matter which social platform you prefer, search for #UNselfie or #GivingTuesday hashtags to see how others are helping those in need this Holiday season, and every day.

Take and post your own #UNselfie to help spread the word about this awesome holiday and International movement to focus on the positive and create lasting change in our world.

Remember, you can change the world. Every effort counts.

#UNselfie image courtesy of GivingTuesday.org (the home of all things GivingTuesday)

Cheers,
Jaime
–Proud social media ambassador for the #GivingTuesday movement

Posting an #UNselfie? Share it with us!

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On Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for #GivingTuesday

I’ve posted before about many things I’m thankful for, from trail running to espresso. (Yes, they go together.) On this Thanksgiving Day, I want to mention one more — #GivingTuesday.

Related Reading: 50 Things I’m Grateful For  |  50 (More) Things I’m Grateful For

GivingTuesday is a movement to start a national day of giving to kick off the generous Holiday season. It’s celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, following popular shopping days Black Friday and Cyber Monday. After you score some crazy deals this year, why not give back?

#GivingTuesday is December 3, 2013

When I heard about this awesome movement last year, I decided to become a social media ambassador to help spread the word. It was a wonderful feeling to be a (very small) part of such an amazing cause. In its debut, GivingTuesday prompted more than 10 million in online donations, a 53% increase over the Tuesday after Thanksgiving of the previous year. More than 50 million people helped spread the word about this new movement, and over 2,500 recognized partners in all 50 states came together to make it happen.

In 2013, GivingTuesday has grown even more, with over 7,800 partners at the time of this publication. Companies, brands and individuals are all coming forward, asking what they can do to make a difference.

The Chucks (and I) at the Red Cross

My #UNselfie — the Chucks and I donating platelets and plasma at the Red Cross.

What can you do?

–> Post an #UNselfie! Selfie may be the word of the year in 2013, but you can stand out by posting a picture of yourself doing good. The point? Let others know why you’re giving or show us your giving in action. Upload your picture of giving to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and tag it #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday to be part of the movement.

–> Spread the word! Head to GivingTuesday.org to get involved and let others know that you’re on board for this growing movement. Share exciting news and tips with your social networks, talk to your family and friends and let your favorite companies and brands know how easy it is to get involved. GivingTuesday partners will enjoy giving back while also reaping the benefits of positive public relations and corporate goodwill.

–> Give! Your time, money, expertise and efforts all add up to a big win. Donate to your favorite charity in honor of GivingTuesday. Help out at the local food pantry or make an appointment to donate blood or platelets at the Red Cross. It’s amazing what happens when we all do our part. Make sure to let others know what you’re doing! We want to capture the world’s attention on this special day, so tag your posts with #GivingTuesday to be part of the worldwide conversation.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”                                               –Sir Winston Churchill

Now enjoy Thanksgiving with your family and friends while remembering what you’re thankful for. I’m thankful that so many will join us on Tuesday, December 3rd to give back — an effort that unites us all.

Join Us

How will you be joining the GivingTuesday movement?

What’s your #UNselfie look like? Feel free to link to your #UNselfie or #GivingTuesday efforts so we can check them out!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving day food? 🙂

GivingTuesday banner and statistics courtesy of GivingTuesday.org

Feeling thankful,
Jaime

Connect with CCC on #GivingTuesday and beyond… 
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Pay It Forward: A Movement For You & Me

Pay It Forward.

You’ve probably heard this mantra before. Maybe you saw the movie or read the book or even came across a bracelet. Maybe you dismissed it as another empty phrase that someone felt the need to put on a silicone wristband to be cool.

It’s not. It’s not an empty mantra or hollow words or a trendy phrase. It’s a mindset that’s gained momentum to become a movement. A movement that’s about everyday people performing random acts of kindness for their peers. It’s not about money or prestige or power. You don’t have to buy a book or DVD or online access to someone’s ‘secrets’ to success.

“What we need is a movement that doesn’t have a guru to follow.”         –Charley Johnson

CCC Pays It Forward

Paying It Forward… a vital part of CCC’s mission.

At CCC, we’re big believers in the Pay It Forward moment and mindset. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why this company was started. To be more active in the community. To have more freedom to volunteer our time to worthy causes. To positively affect more people. To be a tiny, tiny part of a movement that’s changing the world.

The best part? It’s so easy to join. No forms or membership fees or background checks. Anyone can perform an act of kindness for someone else. Hold the door for the person coming out of the restaurant behind you. Leave your waitress a little larger than normal tip. Write a thoughtful letter to a relative you haven’t seen lately or pick up the phone. Pick up a few pieces of trash while you’re out for a walk.

Join the Movement -- donate blood or platelets!

There’s so many ways to Pay It Forward.

Sometimes it’s depressing to hear so much negativity around us: an uneven economy, ongoing wars, senseless killings, job losses, foreclosures. You feel like there’s nothing you can do to make the world a better place. There is. And you can start today. With one small step. Start Paying It Forward so you can help change the world.

Need more inspiration? Listen to this talk by Charley Johnson at TEDxSMU. It’ll be 14 minutes well spent.

How do you Pay It Forward?

Has someone ever paid it forward to you?

Chime in… let’s talk about something positive! (If you’re ever having a bad day and need to smile, check out the #PayItForward hashtag on Twitter. Plenty of feel good moments!)

Simplicity in a Complex World video courtesy of TEDxTalks

Paying It Forward,
Jaime

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50 (More) Things I’m Grateful For…

It’s been too long. I’ve had it in my mind to write this post since I published my first 50 Things I’m Grateful For… post last year. I kept finding cool things to blog about, and before I knew it, more than a year had passed. So here goes…

I’m grateful for (take 2)…

The sun sets on Lock 3

     

I love classic cars 

Wilson -- my idea generator

water view

Alright, so there’s my second list of 50 things I’m grateful for. (If you want to browse the first list, here you go.)

Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear about what you’re grateful for! No matter how tough life gets, we can all be grateful for something. Share your list (however big or small) in the comments below, hit me up on a social network or tag me in your blog post.  Cheers!

Grateful & blessed,
Jaime

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It’s All About The Little Things

It's all about the little things.

“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things.”
-Charles W. Chestnutt

Yesterday was my birthday (yep, I’m a Pisces). Upon the outpouring of well wishes from friends, family and business associates, I was reminded that life is so much about the little things.

A message on social media wishing someone a happy birthday. Making time for dinner with your family or lunch with an out of town friend. Calling someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile just to check in. Small acts that cost you little but brighten someone’s day.

Little things are just as important in business. My mantra has always been, “People do business with people.” I always try to put a face behind my company name, make my digital world seem more human and personal. Although much of what I do is electronic – writing, marketing strategy, social media, etc – I love connecting with people and putting a face with a name.

I believe that rich relationships are what life’s all about, in business too. Reach out and connect with people, care about what they do and how you can help them. The business will come, but first you have to connect with people, develop and nurture relationships.

Who knows what could come out of a simple birthday wish?

Your thoughts?

Cheers,
Jaime

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4 Reasons #GivingTuesday Is Succeeding (And You Can Too!)

Together we give | GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday

November 27, 2012 was the inaugural #GivingTuesday. It makes sense. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday dominate headlines, America has long been committed to giving, especially during the Holiday season. Finally, some generous minds came together and dedicated a day specifically to giving back, kicking off the giving season.

Here are four reasons why this powerful movement is succeeding that your business or brand can use to succeed too.

  • Find support The minds behind #GivingTuesday knew this idea would be much more successful with others dedicated to its success too, so they reached out to a slew of like-minded organizations, groups and companies. Over 2,000 companies responded to officially become #GivingTuesday™ partners! Plus, even more companies and donors have stepped forward to match donations to specific charities and causes, making even more of a difference. When so many people, organizations and companies are committed to an idea’s success, it’s more likely to happen.
  • Be genuine #GivingTuesday is all about helping others. You can donate money, volunteer your time or skills or share the news about this effort with your social networks. The folks who got together to put this idea into motion want to help people all over the world give back, no matter what they have to give. This movement is about working together for the common cause of helping those in need. Be transparent in your motives: today’s digital world and social media landscape make it difficult to hide alternative agendas, which helps those who are real.
  • Spread the word While jumping on Twitter this morning, one of the first things I saw was a tweet from Bill Gates about #GivingTuesday. That certainly got my attention, and with 8,908,437 followers, a few others noticed it too. A few others, as in 6,812 retweets and 729 favorites. You don’t have to be Bill Gates though. #GivingTuesday makes it easy to become a social media ambassador, share its news and get involved. Remember, a great idea isn’t much good if nobody knows about it.
  • Make it easy to participate Point #3 delves directly into this… it doesn’t do much good to spread the word if you don’t make it easy for people to participate. At givingtuesday.org, you can easily locate a cause to support, utilize your social networks for good or take some course of action. Those on Twitter can search the #GivingTuesday hash tag to locate opportunities, and participating companies are encouraging employees to get involved. While you’re busy drumming up support, don’t lose momentum by making it difficult for people to participate. Remember, make it easy and people (businesses and customers) are more likely to jump in!

Learn from this wonderful and successful movement by noting the four keys above and applying them to your brand or business. Also, get involved and support a cause close to your heart! We can all make a difference no matter who you are or what you have.

Image credits: #GivingTuesday website

Happy #GivingTuesday!
Jaime

Cause-Related Marketing: Support or Scam?

Cause-related marketing campaigns seem like a win-win situation. Consumers and businesses help support wonderful causes while the benefiting organizations raise much-needed funds. Do they really make a difference though?

As in most cases, cause-related marketing brings both good and bad. As a consumer, you can ask a few questions to ensure you really are supporting a great cause.

Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives program

Since 1997, Yoplait has donated more than $34 million to breast cancer awareness through the Save Lids to Save Lives program, Race for the Cure and other initiatives.
Photo courtesy of Miss a Liss via Flickr

1) Is the cause meaningful to you? Do you believe in this organization and its mission? Target causes that you truly believe in and are close to your heart.

2) Who does the campaign benefit? Make sure that your purchase will support a reputable organization that will put the funds raised to good use. Charity Navigator is one place to check out nonprofit organizations that you’re not familiar with.

3) How is the program structured? Understand exactly how the charity will benefit through consumers’ purchases. For example, the sponsor may make a donation per purchase. Is the amount stated (i.e. 2% vs. 10%)? Is there a limit on the sponsoring company’s donation (i.e. first $100,000 raised)? Or is there a minimum amount to be raised before the company makes any donation?

4) How will the charity use the donated funds? Nonprofit organizations should be very clear on where their funds go, whether it be research, education, assisting those affected by their cause, administrative costs, etc.

5) Is the sponsoring company committed to the cause? If you’re not familiar with the company, review the packaging, display, in-store signage and/or literature for more information on its goals. Does it regularly support this cause? Does the company seem committed to making a difference?

Cause-related marketing programs can be a tremendous asset to nonprofit organizations or they can really be a scam. Do a little research to ensure that you are actually helping a worthy cause and that your hard-earned money wouldn’t be better spent.

For additional information:
Changing with the Times (MediaPost looks at what causes are hot in 2012.)
Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives Program
Charity Navigator
Best Practices for Taking Up the Cause

Happy Boss’ Day to all of the great leaders out there!

Jaime

5 Ways to Spice Up Employee Appreciation

Most of us know by now how valuable it is to keep good employees. Knowledgeable, happy employees are valuable assets to a company, helping to reduce costs, maximize productivity (and revenue) and enhance your company’s brand or image.

There are a plethora of ways to thank valuable, hardworking employees. Following are 5 ways that you may not have thought about.

1. Bowl them over — A bowling outing can be a great way to boost morale and encourage bonding. Furthermore, many alleys also offer other perks, including a variety of food options to whet nearly any palate, arcade games, bocce, billiards, happy hours, karaoke, transportation to/from the event and variations to the standard bowling experience — black lights, special rules, etc.

cosmic bowling

A bowler enjoys the atmosphere of cosmic bowling.
Image courtesy of m4tik via Flickr

2. Cycle tours / special rides — A group bike tour or specialty ride can add some fun and memories to an otherwise typical day. These experiences can be turned into a team building event on their own or inject some serious fun into company picnics, appreciation days or a thank you for hitting key goals or metrics. Employees won’t forget getting out on the open road in an entirely different way anytime soon.

Rocket Ship Car

The Rocket Ship Car
“The Happiest Ride on Earth”

3.  A spa-like experience — Reward hardworking employees for pulling off a complex, last minute        project, crushing their quarterly goals or successfully making it through a crazy time of the year (i.e. tax deadline for accountants, a national convention). Various packages are available for many different budgets, and your staff will enjoy being pampered and waited on. From express massages to full service pedicures (yes, gentleman too), your relaxed employees will be grateful and energized.

4.  Casino night — Bring the thrill of Vegas to your staff! Employees will receive chips and move throughout the casino to play a variety of games. Friendly dealers will show less experienced players how the games work and bring an air of excitement to the festivities. Players redeem chips for raffle tickets and use these tickets to win prizes. Everyone has a chance to win, and best of all, there are no losers because no real gambling is involved. Hit the jackpot!

5.  A breath of fresh air — Nature has amazing restorative tendencies and employees will relish an opportunity to get out of the office. Thank your staff with a special trip to a zoo, an amazing retreat at a national park or a day trip on a scenic railroad. Attendees can unwind to a beautiful backdrop and rejuvenate for the next big project.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

Hocking Hills State Park is a great place to soak in the beauty of nature.

Remember, a fun experience can be had by all in a number of settings. Employees will appreciate your efforts to recognize their hard work and dedication and be inspired to continue to give their all to your organization.

What’s the most memorable employee recognition

experience you’ve had?

Enjoy your weekend,

Jaime

To Give or Not To Give…

After regularly donating blood for several years, the Red Cross contacted me regarding my high platelet count. They asked me if I would consider donating platelets, so I said sure. I knew that whole blood and platelets were always in high demand. They assured me that it was very similar to donating whole blood with a few differences.

A thank you gift from the Red Cross

Red Cross swag for being a first time platelet donor

Well, it was and it wasn’t. Platelet donation involves a bigger time commitment (typically 2 hours) and involves a little more machinery. However, it does still use a single needle in your arm. (Update: The Red Cross has gone back to a two-needle donation process.) It wasn’t painful although I did feel a little weird during the process. Maybe that was just me though!

My biggest problem was my body temperature. It kept falling below where it should have been, which alerted the machines. It seemed like a Red Cross technician was constantly coming over to make it stop beeping. (I almost felt like I was hoarding their time although they were really nice about it.) When the machine beeped, the needle would actually vibrate in my arm because my vein was hardening. It was a strange sensation, although not painful. It was more of a discomfort, because it made the needle entry into my arm feel tight.

Join the Movement

Donate blood or platelets today!

I was wrapped in blankets (including one around my arm) with a heating pad on medium heat on top of me. I was even given a heat pack to squeeze instead of a stress ball in order to warm up my arm. I did make it through the experience, and I’m glad I did it. Despite the body temperature issues, I’ll probably donate platelets again, because they’re always in such high demand.

If you don’t currently donate, consider the following…

  • Your platelet donation has the power to enhance the lives of up to 3 patients in your area.
  • With a shelf life of only 5 days, platelets are in constant demand.
  • In order to meet the patient needs in Northern Ohio, the Red Cross must collect over 300 platelet products each week.
  • You can donate platelets up to 24 times in a year and still continue to donate whole blood.

Have any other platelet donors experienced internal body temperature issues while donating? If so, do you have any suggestions on how to better regulate for next time (besides wearing a parka)? Ha! I would love to hear of your experience and any suggestions.

For additional information on donating platelets, visit http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/types-donations/platelet-donation.

Save a life… donate blood or platelets if you can!

*Want to read more about my platelets donation experience? Here’s an update four years in.)

Jaime