Should Your Business Implement a Summer Dress Policy

Summer is here, and employees are inclined to wear clothing — shorts, sheer tops, mini skirts — that may be inappropriate for the office. The result can be an increase in inappropriate behavior. “Every business should have, at the very least, some written dress code in their employee handbook or policy manual so that employees know what is not to be worn more so than what can be worn,” says Scott Soder, a human resources consultant who is CEO and co-founder of PayMetrix HR in Atlanta.

The advice is especially relevant for small, new businesses. Establish the image you want to project to customers and clients. Then, the dress code should be consistent with that image. At the same time, employers should be careful to not discriminate based on gender, sex, religion and ethnicity.

dressesThe dress code for employees that frequently interact with the public such as public relations professionals might be different from a desk-bound web manager or editorial director. Employers should consider a few of the following questions when determining summer dress codes, says labor attorney Steven M. Bernstein, a partner in the Tampa, Florida, office of Fisher & Phillips LLP:

  1. What working environment do I hope to achieve, and how would relaxed standards impact overall corporate culture?
  2. What is the practice within our industry, and how will this impact public perception in the local business community?
  3. Have we relaxed standards on Fridays or on other occasions in the past? If so, have employees been willing to hold up their end of the bargain?
  4. Do employees share my view of acceptable business attire, or is the emphasis too often placed on “casual?”
  5. Whether it is casual or business casual dress, the following guidelines for acceptable attire might be helpful for employees:
  • Dockers, pants, suit pants or slacks
  • Skirts, dresses, skirt suits, maxi skirts
  • Blouses, shirts, jackets
  • Modest jewelry

Avoid the following:

  • Shorts, leggings, capri pants, sweatpants
  • Tank tops, revealing tops, halter tops
  • Thong sandals, flip flops, open-toed shoes
  • Clothes with offensive language

While it’s not mandatory that companies implement a dress code, it is good to establish guidelines to avoid any problems. Be sure to enforce the dress code consistently, especially as the warmer months approach. Employers should review policies throughout the year and make adjustments as necessary. Most important, establish a work environment that allows employees to feel comfortable, relaxed and productive.

This post originally appeared on New York Women In Communications Aloud Blog.

The Year of Yes

It would be an understatement to say that I love Shonda Rhimes. She has truly broken through glass ceilings and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her. Needless to say, when she published her book, The Year of Yes, I was beyond excited to read it. The book shed so much insight into her personal and professional growth. The tone, her style of storytelling is personal, funny and engaging.

In her book, Shonda Rhimes shares insightful nuggets, and exposed me to some of my own professional struggles. One thing that resonated with me was Rhimes’ transparency about how she struggled with owning her success. The word “just,” became her motto. “I’m just a writer,” was the way in which she referred to herself. “I still couldn’t own being powerful. I tried hard to make myself smaller. As small as possible… Every time I won an award or something big happened, I worked to appear a little bit sillier and sweeter and simpler in the face of my greatness.” She goes on to say “I wanted everyone else to feel comfortable. Funny thing is no one ever asked me to do it.” How many can relate to that statement?

The Year of Yes is a transforming journey – a Must Read for all! Watch Shonda Rhimes’ Ted Talk (below) as she gives you a glimpse of her year of yes.

Behind the Scenes of a Conference Call

Have you ever participated in a conference call and had to deal with those frustrating entrance and exit tones? Well, I certainly have. However, it’s not just the tones, participants also have to deal with bad connections, dogs barking in the background, babies crying, and other distracting noises. As much as I prefer meetings via conference call, I always dread the “noise.”

I love this video because it perfectly depicts what actually takes place on a conference call. Take a look and share your thoughts.

Trends In Social Marketing

Trends in social media continue to evolve and new platforms are popping up everywhere. With more than two billion people using the Internet and this number growing by the day, it is difficult to fathom how to keep so many people engaged. Social networking users alone spend an average of 3.2 hours per day online. Vast technological developments require that marketers develop a strategic approach to social marketing to take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with their audience.

shutterstock_71532052As stated in previous blog posts, I coordinate and moderate bi-weekly Twitter chats for New York Women In Communications (NYWICI). During a recent Twitter chat, Rules of Social Marketing, we were fortunate to have Sheryl Victor Levy as cohost. For the past five years, Sheryl has been leading digital strategy and solutions for PHIL & Co., a full-service marketing communications agency in Manhattan. Sheryl also is the founder of Savvy Strategy, a digital coaching and marketing consultancy, working with individuals and clients in the entertainment, licensing and non-profit space.

Sheryl shared the following useful tips for social marketers:

What are the benefits of social media marketing?

  • Real-time brand extension, crowdsourcing brand perception, building loyalty and deepening customer relationships.

What is the best social strategy approach?

  • Know that there’s no one size fits all.
  • Develop a strategy based on business goals, consumer/audiences, communication goals and resources.
  • Research competitors and brands that are doing it right.
  • Survey your community: What do they want? What will they respond to? How do they want info delivered?

What are the top three habits of successful social media marketers?

  • Listen, strategize and optimize

What are some tips to create an affective social media marketing campaign?

  • Definitely know your audience. Do a lot of listening. Develop a persona and know their wants and needs.
  • Be genuine and transparent. Consumers can see through brands! Match your tone to your product.
  • Craft content that is searchable, shareable and relevant.
  • Use hashtags so your audience can find you

How can you determine which social platform is right for your business?

  • Platforms must match your audience and objectives. Facebook for example, is the broadest, yet doesn’t work for Millennials.
  • Twitter is great for leveraging trending topics. Instagram is better for visual representation and reaching Millennials.
  • Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube all have a value and should be used strategically.

What does the future of social marketing look like?

  • Multicultural, niche, commerce, personalized, mobile and offering a seamless brand experience

Social marketing is affective, and with billions of Internet users, it is advantageous to meet consumers where they are engaging. “We live in a “multicultural world,” states Sheryl, and she suggests, “Marketers broaden their reach. Video, images and graphics lead the way in digital trends. People are becoming more visual. The proof is Facebook acquiring Instagram.”

This post originally appeared on New York Women In Communications Aloud blog.

Inter-Generational Marketing

Did you know that Generation Z is tech savvy, while Generation Y is super confident, diverse, liberal and more hands-on than Generation X? When targeting different generations, marketers need to understand their audience and adjust their marketing tactics, since each generation has unique expectations and lifestyles, which in turn will influence their purchasing behaviors.

As moderator of NYWICI’s bi-weekly Twitter chat, I had the opportunity to interview Erica Martell, a marketing and communications consultant. Martell shared vital information about the effectiveness of customized inter-generational marketing. “Shifting demographics impact every business,” says Erica. “Communications’ professionals know how to connect, using buzz words.”

Researchers have defined the various “generations” as

Mature/Pre-depression, sometimes also referred to as “The Silent Generation” (born between 1927 – 1945)
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964)
Generation X (born between 1965 – 1980)
Generation Y/Millennium (born between 1981-2000)
Generation Z (born after 2001)

According to Erica, the “practice of segmenting the population is based on various demographic and psychographic factors.” Understanding their unique characteristics, experiences and needs can help marketers target their message. This is important because “one size marketing does not fit all.”

An interesting fact shared by Erica is that by 2030, Millennials will outnumber Boomers by more than 22 million. And although the year 2030 may not seem so far away, it is important for marketers to know that “seniors are currently the largest demographic, with 70% discretionary income and mega buying power.” In addition, “seniors value honest, optimistic language and premium service, making it all about them.” When developing targeted marketing campaigns, a thorough knowledge of these generational trends should be the driving force behind every effective customized marketing strategy.

Additional tidbits shared by Erica during the hour-long Twitter chat included:

  • Marketers creatively target all generations via Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • Social Media will continue to evolve in 2015 as will generational participation
  • Marketers are using Infographics to get key points across visually and instantly to convey their message
  • “It is not unusual for several generations to live under one roof with different values and experiences, especially since the 2009 recession,” says Erica. “Therefore, it is important to cater to culture and generational values and experiences.”

Lastly, consumers want to be assured that they can trust a brand. Erica reminds us that marketers must initiate genuine relationships, demonstrate value and respond to each community’s terms.

This post originally appeared in NYWICI’s Aloud blog. You may read all of my NYWICI Aloud posts here.

The Rewards of Mentoring

In January 2002, The Harvard Mentoring Project, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service implanted the first National Mentoring Month. Mentoring is not only fostered and encouraged during National Mentoring Month, it is also a time to thank mentors and encourage others to take on mentoring roles.

The NYWICI Foundation understands the importance of mentoring. Since 2009, the Foundation has matched more than 130 pairs and mentors and mentees. Our mentoring program is structured to meet the needs of NYWICI members by providing flexibility for both mentor and mentee. In recognition of National Mentoring Month, a recent NYWICI Twitter chat on Jan. 13, 2015, focused on the Rewards of Mentoring.  Julie Livingston, co-VP Mentoring and President, Livingston PR, a Public Relations Consultancy, spearheaded a very important dialogue about mentoring.

According to Julie Livingston, “having a mentor is a magnificent tool for career development.” And while the mentee may glean essential career growth from their mentor, both “mentor and mentee” contribute to the effectiveness of a mentoring relationship.  Because mentoring relationships can vary, it is important that mentors and mentees have clear goals to maximize effectiveness. “To get the most out of mentoring, it’s advisable to create a communications structure,” says Livingston.  In this age of advanced technology, mentoring is not limited to face-to-face relationships. Julie suggests mentors and mentees meet across multiple platforms including: phone or Skype – “there is no one size fits all when it comes to structuring a mentoring relationship.”

Setting goals is key for effective mentoring relationship. Below are a few benefits of goal-setting:

  • It reinforces seriousness of the relationship by keeping things on track,” says Livingston
  • Allows mentors/mentees to check in with each other along the way
  • Provides an opportunity for collaboration and acknowledgment
  • Identify mentoring needs early in the mentoring relationship

The frequency in which mentors meet with their mentees should also be established early on in the mentoring relationship. Linda Descano, NYWICI President participated in the mentoring conversation. She says, “The frequency of mentor/mentee communication depends on objective. Weekly or daily interaction may be necessary if navigating a particular issue.”

Each mentoring relationship is unique. And communication of goals, expected outcome and structure are key elements that will contribute towards effectiveness. “Mentors are positive people by definition,” says Livingston. “Mentoring allows you to give back by helping others in your area of expertise.”

This post originally appeared in NYWICi’s Aloud Blog.

Let’s Put an End to Alzheimer’s 

Lately, I have found myself becoming more vocal about Alzheiemer’s Disease. In 2013, I wrote a blog post about my mother’s experience with Alzheimer’s and briefly discussed how I was dealing with the loss of my mom. Yes, my mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. That was the last post I wrote publicly about my mom and Alzheimer’s because grief had its own agenda. And speaking about the very disease that claimed my mother’s life was not part of the agenda. But now, less than two years later I can no longer remain silent. 

Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease. Just in case you are not aware, Alzheimer’s Disease is an “irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.” Simply put, Alzheimer’s Disease wipes out your memory and everything and everyone that was near and dear to you are forgotten! Don’t think it could happen to you… Think again. It is a very unfortunate reality that impacts millions. The worst part about Alzheimer’s is there is no cure. Sure, there are some medications that are given to patients to help “slow down” the process. And although it may temporarily slow down the process, the person you know is slowing emerging into a person who you no longer recognize. 

You can make a difference and help bring awareness to this disease. Each time you talk about Alzheimer’s, you help bring awareness and “inspire action.”  Actress Julianne Moore’s recent Oscar win for the movie “Still Alice” has certainly helped increase awareness. And although I couldn’t watch the movie, I’m grateful that it got recognition and a platform to show the world that Alzheimer’s is real and closer to home than we’d like to admit. 

Let us all take the time to help those who are Fighting to Remember – and essentially, that is all of us. Memories – good, bad or indifferent are worth cherishing. Those childhood memories, memories of your children, college days or even that last relationship that saddened your heart… They are your memories and the fact that you remember is a blessing that none of us should take for granted. 

We are all Fighting to Remember!