On Hiatus

Apologies to my readers. The departure of some staff and absence of others has placed me in a situation where I can no longer post regularly. Hopefully this will resolve itself soon and I can return to my regular schedule. Until then, I hope you will continue to remain subscribed so you will receive notifications when my posts begin again.

I appreciate everyone’s support over the years.

Thank you

Do You Need To Feel Transcendent Or Sleep Better Right Now?

Ruth Hartt got a bit of a kick from the post I made last week where I termed her use of stock video footage and other clips to create an video marketing piece as a “Franken-Ad.” She tagged me and others about another set of Franken-ads she made more along the lines of print or social media pieces.

She uses these ads to address the pretty much cliched use of terms like “joyful,” “nostalgic,” “rhapsodic,” “timeless,” “refined,” and “sumptuous” to suggest that people will have a transcendent experience.  She associates this with Maslow’s hierarchy of need and raises the point that during current times especially, most people are focused on solving challenges related to health and safety rather than self-actualization.

Recent studies reveal that the benefits of a peak experience don’t end at self transcendence. Science tells us that awe increases pro-social behavior and has an integral part to play in health and happiness. In fact, people who report experiencing awe regularly have remarkably stronger immune systems and better mental health. Why aren’t arts organizations touting these benefits?

“Come for the classical music; stay for the lowered levels of inflammatory cytokines!” We chuckle at this imaginary tagline, but I’m confident that there are swaths of consumers who would be intrigued by this value proposition.

Frequent readers will know that I am not a proponent of arguing the instrumental value of the arts or positioning it as a prescription for ills,  especially since so much of the research on the benefits of the arts have had questionable results. So I am not entirely on board with all the claims her mocked up ads make. However, since it is true that any pro-social behavior contributes to health and happiness, an arts experience is just as valid an option as many others.

Tolerance for uncertainty and inspiring creative risk-taking may not roll off the tongue as easily as sumptuous and transcendent, but after years exposure to those latter terms, any alternative will catch the eye and intrigue people.

I am not really suggesting listing all the terms she uses in her ads, but I do like Hartt’s choice of an image of a woman who looks like she might be poised at the edge of anticipation or anxiety juxtaposed with “Warning this concert may cause: Lowered Stress, …Improved Mood, …Decreased Pain…Increased Alertness.” There is a sense that things could go either way.

I don’t know that I would use those exact terms, but an ad that communicated these general concepts instead of suggesting transcendence presents the experience as more relatable to the viewer.  If you are a new attendee still processing your experience, you might think you did something went wrong if you aren’t experiencing the promised ecstasy.

I also appreciated that one of her ads targeted businesses. While again I would be worried about companies seeing arts experiences as another tool to be used alongside nap lounges and ping pong tables to get the best work product from employees, the general idea that the presence of these experiences makes the community more attractive and liveable for employees is as beneficial as having sincerely motivated employees.

Yes, But When She Said It, It Sounded Brilliant

Vu Le posted this week about a well-observed phenomenon he termed “Outsider Efficiency Bias.”  He defined this as basically having an outsider like a consultant come in and be lauded for making the same observations and recommendations that internal constituencies have.

Because this is a common experience, I figured someone would have already coined a term for it, but I couldn’t find one. Though logical fallacies like appeal to authority, appeal to accomplishment and appeal to novelty all intersect.

He points out this manifests in the hiring and contracting decisions organizations make and beyond just bringing consultants in for a week or two.

•Board members insisting on hiring an external candidate to be the ED instead of promoting a qualified person within the organization
•EDs/CEOs doing the same thing, hiring a staff from outside, often neglecting internal candidates
•Foundations hiring people from academia or the corporate world, who have no experience in nonprofit, to be the CEO
•Organizations hiring consultants from outside the geographic area instead of contracting with local consultants who live and work there
•Organizations hiring local consultants instead of just listening to their staff
•Conferences booking national and international speakers instead of working with local speakers

Le said he experienced this situation with his own board when they suggested bringing in an outsider to advise them about how to write blogs and articles better. If you aren’t aware, Vu Le is in fairly high demand as a speaker and panelist based on the content of his blog posts and use of social media to advocate for equity.

He acknowledges that an outsider perspective is important to the growth of organizations and is not discounting the need, but he lists many ways in which a bias toward outsiders can undermine the short and long term health of an organization.

I would have to copy and paste a significant portion of his post to include everything so I encourage people to read the original and think about how the bias exists in your organizational culture.

Since the Bible talks about a prophet being honored everywhere except in his own town and among his friends and family, this behavior is pretty deep seated but can be avoided with the investment of some thought and attention.

The Medium As Important As The Message When Asking For Help

Dan Pink shared a link to a study that was conducted on perceptions of the most effective way to ask others for help comparing face-to-face, audio/phone, video (ie Zoom), and text (SMS, Email).

Previous studies had found that in-person requests were much more effective than requests delivered through other media, (thirty-four times more effective than email in one study), but there had been few studies that included people’s perceptions of how much more effective in-person might be to mediated requests.

The authors conducted two studies. In the first, they had people make requests for help in-person, through audio channels, and video channels. Those asking for a favor made predictions about their ability to get a positive response.  In the second study, in-person was removed and email was added to audio and video channels as an option. (Interestingly, text messaging wasn’t included in the study.)

In both cases, study participants greatly underestimated what the difference the different media would be. They intuited that face-to-face (FtF) would be more successful than a video or audio request, but the margin was much greater than they predicted. Likewise, they intuited a request made over voice or video would be more effective than email, but again the degree was much greater than predicted.

Given the large differences we observed in the effectiveness of FtF compared to mediated requests, and rich media compared to email requests in our behavioral studies, these findings suggest that people fail to fully appreciate the value of asking for help in-person, or in lieu of this possibility, through the richest possible communication medium.

Something to think about as we approach the end of the year donation solicitation season. How we make our appeals may matter more than we think.

Now interestingly, Pink had preceded his tweet about the best way to ask people for a favor with a tweet on a study about the best way to thank people:

In that case, the medium doesn’t matter as much. Though the article he linked to talked about some unexpected nuances about how people engage in the process of expressing appreciation.

“…while people generally expect an in-person thank-you to be most impactful, what happened in reality was quite different: Sending a thank-you over text was almost as impactful as delivering the message in person. Additionally, texting may be especially well-suited for situations where we feel awkward or embarrassed about expressing our appreciation.”

[…]

Overall, video calls were just as beneficial as meeting in person. Texting was slightly less effective than video calling—it didn’t make people feel more connected and happy, while video calling did. However, participants who sent their thanks over text still experienced benefits: Texting boosted their well-being and reduced their loneliness compared to the people who wrote about celebrities.

[…]

The researchers found that how people expressed gratitude didn’t impact how happy they felt, or how meaningful the experience was to them—nor did it impact how happy they thought the recipient felt. However, people reported that thanking someone in person (as opposed to via text) was slightly more embarrassing.

Send this to a friend