When I was a newlywed, I had the privilege of living in Beirut, Lebanon for five years with my husband who was then an executive with Pepsi International. In those ‘good old days’, mail usually took two weeks to arrive. Phones often didn’t work and you had to go to the Post Office to place an international call. When something important happened, you sent a telegram. That’s what we did to notify our families when my son Stephen was born.

All of this may sound like ancient history in this digital world where we are all connected 24/7. Messages now travel instantaneously; borders and boundaries appear to dissolve in cyberspace. This digital revolution impacts all businesses and all age groups. An interesting statistic I saw recently was that the number of Baby Boomers on social media effectively doubled in the past year from 24 percent in 2016 to 48 percent in 2017.

Internet-based communications have been truly transformational in our business. No more waiting for the mail to deliver a press release. We can respond instantly to a crisis…write a Tweet or post on Instagram…write a blogpost and find friends on Facebook.

As great as it is, there is also a potential downside to this wired world. People can tap out messages at warp speed—no grammar, punctuation or even caps. Too many of us are glued to our mobile phones, tablets and computers. So much so that there is an increasing call for people to take a ‘digital de-tox’ and put away our devices for a day (or longer) and look instead at the world and the people around us.

That brings me to my favorite topic—face-to-face communications. The convenience of digital communications should not entice us to abandon the tried-and-true technique of personal, face-to-face interaction. Seeing a face or hearing a voice helps us build relationships. As you may recall in my last blog, it was the relationships I formed with the media and within the industry that enabled me to start and build my firm. That’s why I still place such an important emphasis on getting out there and getting to know the people we interact with on a regular basis.

Despite the dramatic changes we have witnessed in the past thirty years, our business has been built on some good old-fashioned values that are as applicable today as they were in the pre-digital age:
• As a communications firm, we insist that everything we write and distribute is grammatical, clear and well-written.
• We answer our own phones whenever possible, instead of automatically sending them to voicemail.
• We don’t leave the office at the end of the day until every media call is returned.
• We are always on time as a mark of respect for others – a lesson I learned from working in the airline industry.
• We dress in a professional and business-like style – even on ‘dress-down Fridays’.
• Through a combination of electronic and personal communications, we build relationships with our clients, the media, and our co-workers. These relationships are the foundation for building a business that will last.

A New Twist on an Old-Fashioned Favorite – Hot Fudge Sauce without Dairy

One of my year-end traditions has been to share a favorite recipe with extended family and friends. Here’s an easy chocolate sauce for those who are lactose intolerant.
 ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa
 ¼ cup sugar
 ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao)
 ¼ cup boiling water
Combine the first three ingredients; add the boiling water. Let sit two minutes; then stir until combined. For those so inclined, you can add a splash of rum or cognac to the boiling water to make it extra special. Serve immediately over ice cream or other desserts. It’s magic!

Lou logo