The 10 commandments of online etiquette


By Gini Dietrich

How many of you love to receive spam email?

How do you like it when you meet someone and he automatically adds you to his newsletter list?

How many of you love to get information that talks all about the sender and tells you nothing valuable?

How often do you unsubscribe from email lists and newsletters?

How many of you know organizations that push their messages via social media, but don’t use it to engage, network, or build a community? I’d venture to guess every one of you.

If you are with me—you hate this stuff—I want to know why you do it to others when you get behind your computer at work.

Some examples

I ask these questions when I speak, particularly when I do three- or four-hour workshops. It allows me to dig deep into why people do this at work, but hate it as a consumer or buyer.

A few weeks ago, I did some research on different customer relationship management programs for a client. I spoke to five different companies. Of the five, three added me to their newsletter list without my permission, simply because I called looking for additional information.

And last week, I received an email from a company telling me it added me to an email distribution list and to let someone know if it wasn’t OK. This is not a company I’ve ever communicated with. Someone just decided I was a good target and went ahead and added me.

But I guess it makes it OK if someone tells me he added me?

I’m sure this is a sales technique of some sort. Maybe it’s to see if I check my email and, if I respond (even if it’s to say it’s not OK they added me to their lists), they know it’s a viable email address.

Or maybe it’s a list-building tactic, which means the organization is focused on the wrong things.

I’ve become afraid to answer emails from strangers at all.

Why is it that all of us hate this, but a good majority of us do it when it comes to online marketing?

The 10 commandments of online etiquette

Perhaps there isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation, and maybe you’re simply focused on numbers instead of conversions, but I’d like to think there is some online etiquette we all should consider.

Therefore, I created the 10 commandments of online etiquette:

1. Thou shalt not add anyone to a newsletter list without his or her consent.

2. Thou shalt not send a LinkedIn invite that says, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”

3. Thou shalt not post news releases as blog posts.

4. Thou shalt not talk about yourself in communications.

5. Thou shalt not use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn accounts as news feeds for an organization.

6. Thou shalt not create newsletters that talk about how great you, your leadership, products, or services are without putting them in the context of the buyer.

7. Thou shalt not build lists, fans, followers, connections or circles just for the sake of numbers.

8. Thou shalt not abuse your online power.

9. Thou shalt not email bloggers, journalists, influencers, or target audiences without doing research, building relationships, and giving them something of value.

10. Thou shalt not engage in black hat email marketing.

What else would you add?

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. A version of this article originally ran onSpin Sucks.

The best ways to start and end your workday


By David Spark

Everyone has a daily routine that makes them comfortable. For those highly productive people, they think about the first hour as the launching pad for the rest of their day. And they think about their last hour as a way to reflect on the day and a time to set up for the next day.

On Quora, I stumbled upon this discussion, “How do the most successful people spend the first hour of the day?” I was fascinated by the advice so I summarized the tips, and added some additional advice I’ve learned. I invite you to provide your input in the comments.

How to spend the first hour of your day

The first hour often can set the tone for the rest of your day. Think consciously about what you’re going to do in this time.

1. Go on a grateful and visualization walk.

According to Daniel Eskin, this walk is one of Tony Robbins’ mental strategy techniques. The purpose is to “become strongly associated initially with very detailed things in your life you are grateful for, and then visualize how you must make your life that day, that week, that year, etc,” said Eskin of Robbins’ advice. While he admitted it sounds new-agey, Eskin said it has incredible effects on associating success with his everyday life.

UI designer, Matt Dronkers, disagreed, “Choose to do positive things that don’t have anything to do with ‘visualizing’ what you want your day or life to be like. If you do that, it seems you will miss the first hour you are awake because you spend it in your head, and not fully aware of your surroundings.”

2. Exercise.

Exercise is one of the most common first hour pieces of advice. Many avoid exercise because they say they don’t have time for it. Those who exercise remark they are more productive and mentally fresh for the hours they do work.

3. Do the thing you dread.

Kate Huyett noted that Henry Paulson, Goldman Sachs’ CEO and United States Secretary of the Treasury, said the first thing he did every morning was the thing he most dreaded that day.

Sarah Lafferty adheres to Paulson’s advice and tries to tackle the toughest thing first.

“This clears my head for the rest of the day and makes me feel on top of things,” Lafferty said.

4. Create a to-do and not-to-do list.

Anuj Agarwal, founder of, creates two lists:

  1. What I’m not going to do today (distractions)
  2. What I’m going to do today (productivity)

5. Clear out all emails.

There are two types of people. Those who have hundreds of emails in their inbox, and those with less than 10. I’m the latter. I like to keep my inbox clean if not empty, especially at the end of the day. I bring it down to less than five within the first hour of the day. I try to have it empty by the day’s end.

The reason so many people feel inundated by email is because they probably work in an office where they get cc’ed on everything and feel the obligation to read everything. If you’re drowning under office email, you should find a better way to communicate through a non-email based collaboration tool such as Yammer.

6. Make money.

In an interview on MixergyDane Maxwell said he starts every day with a “revenue generating activity,” as quoted by Andy Brudtkuhl.

7. Empower others.

After he gets ready for work, Alwyn Brannewyn van Deventer spends his first hour of his day “psyching up other people.”

8. Read for pleasure, general news, or industry news.

What you read in the morning is your choice. I like to read one or two industry tech blogs. I used to subscribe to a 10-minute daily tech update. It was great to know what was going on in my industry at the start of the day. I don’t like to be left in the dark. Unfortunately, there isn’t a good short daily technology podcast anymore, so I refer to a couple of blogs. One person commented they like to use text-to-speech technology to listen to blogs.

9. Go into the office.

Many of us are fortunate enough to have the option to work out of our home or in the office. While working at home avoids the commute, it is also the center of far too many distractions. If you know you can’t be productive at home, go to the office.

10. Do a combination.

Many of the first-hour activities can be combined. For example, Alex Ikonn has a routine that combines exercise with Robbins’ grateful and visualization walks. Some like to listen to industry podcasts while they exercise.

How to spend the last hour of your day

Do you know when the last hour of your day is? If you do, then you’ll know when you have to get everything done. If you don’t, your hours in between the first and the unknown last hour will not be as productive.

1. Reflect on the day by journaling.

This is rather sound advice that I don’t adhere to. Journaling forces you to think about what you’ve done, and provides some understanding of what you should do in the future.

2. Write a list of the top three things you want to accomplish the next day.

Kenneth Chenault, CEO and Chairman of American Express, creates tomorrow’s “top three” list at the end of the day and then uses it to start his next day, Abbey Reider said.

3. Exercise.

Many like to start their day with exercise, others like to use it as a cool down from a stressful day. Do what works for you.

4. Excuses don’t make you successful.

All of this sounds great, if I had all the time in the world. But … no one became successful with excuses. You’re not supposed to do everything on this list. You’re supposed to find what works for you, and do it.

5. Know what the last hour of your day is

This is probably the most important piece of advice to maintain your work/personal life sanity. While having an active mind about work can be good for you and your business, don’t be a work “grazer.” If you trickle your work day off by answering one more email or one more Facebook update, you’ll constantly feel exhausted and you’ll never get any truly “free time,” which is key for reenergizing.

This article was originally a report published by Spark Media Solutions’ David Spark (@dspark) forIntertainment Media‘s Ingaged Blog, makers and distributors of the KNCTR and Ortsbo.

9 things to do at the end of your internship


Jeremy Porter

Internships are 100 percent the No. 1 thing you’ll need on your resume to get that first job after college. The No. 2 thing you’ll need is proof you can write. Guess where you get that writing experience? Yep—internships.

To round out the list—and some will disagree with me on this—the No. 3 thing you need to land a job after college is connections. Again, if you play your cards right, you get some through internships.

If you did just put your internship to bed, or you’re about to, there are a few things I’d like you to do on your way out the door:

1. Say thank you.

Personally thank everyone you’ve worked with this summer. A handwritten note is my preference, but a sincere, verbal “thanks for the experience” is the minimum requirement. Provide specifics and leave the door open for future contact. For example: “I really wanted to thank you for the time you spent with me this summer. I know my knowledge on X, or what you taught me about Y will be useful in my career. I look forward to staying in touch as I continue my education or begin my search for my first job.”

2. Get connected.

Make sure you have people’s business cards. Make sure you’re following everyone on Twitter (or are subscribed to their blog). And for Pete’s sake, make sure you connect with them on LinkedIn. Turnover is high in PR and journalism; LinkedIn goes with people from job to job. This is how you’ll build your network over time. It’s important.

BONUS: If you did a great job in your internship (be honest, you know if you did or not), ask the highest-ranking person you worked with to recommend you on LinkedIn. Don’t be shy about this—endorsements on LinkedIn can save you time later on when you need references. Make it easier for the reference writer by giving them some starter points. 

For example: “Would you please write a recommendation for me on LinkedIn based on the work I did this summer? It would be great if you could comment on the work I did on project X or your satisfaction with the writing I did on Y.” 

Whatever it was that you did, having somebody comment on your work does a couple of things. It draws attention to you in their network, and it sticks with your profile for a long time.

3. Get your samples.

I hope you’ve been collecting copies of the work you did this summer. In most cases, the work you’ve done at your internship is the legal property of the agency or its clients. Make sure you ask your supervisor for permission to use those work samples in your portfolio. You’ll want electronic or hard copies of all the work you did this summer, because there’s no guarantee you can access this stuff later. Websites get replaced. Blog posts get deleted.

You might not think some of the things you worked on are relevant, but believe me, they will be. Save them all so you can customize your portfolio for each interview you do when you start your search.

4. Get coached.

You might be awesome. You might not. Regardless of what you think about yourself and your performance in this internship, ask your supervisor to suggest three areas you can improve on, based on his or her observations this summer. Tell them you want them to be brutally honest with you, because it’s the only way you’re going to improve. People would tell me how great my writing was in my internship, but when I look back a lot of it was sloppy and littered with errors (you know, like a lot of my blog posts). I wish they would have told me to keep working on my writing and editing, and that attention to detail is important.

5. Keep working?

Is there something you’ve done so well this summer that everyone is talking about it? Are people sad you’re leaving, because you don’t be able to do that thing anymore? Suggest to your boss that you keep doing it as a freelancer while you go to school. When I did my first internship in New York, I put together monthly clipping reports for clients (copies of all the press mentions for the month). They were a lot of work back then. I suggested I do the work from my dorm room in upstate New York. The company bought me a computer, leased a copier, and paid me a very good rate to do the reports each month. 

This type of opportunity is not the norm, but if you do something exceptional, you might be able to gain valuable work experience (and make some money) while you finish your coursework.

6. Stay in touch.

If you don’t keep working with them, be sure to stay in touch. Keep the lines of communication open. Let people know what interesting stuff you’re learning in school. Attend local Public Relations Society of America or press club events so you can socialize with former co-workers. Interview your co-workers for class projects (or consider inviting them to speak to one of your classes). Of course, if you’re following them on Twitter or Facebook, you can interact on a regular basis through those channels as well.

7. Say only good stuff.

There’s a chance you didn’t have a good experience this summer. Don’t talk about it publicly; it will get back to the agency. I’m not suggesting you lie to anybody, just don’t go around bashing the company that gave you a shot. (It will make people wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.) It’s OK to warn future internships professionally about what to expect, but keep it professional. Along the same lines, keep proprietary information confidential. Don’t talk about the new products clients are working on or their secrets to getting coverage in The New York Times. This will strengthen your own reputation over the course of your career.

8. Don’t burn bridges.

As an extension of No. 7, I have one “don’t” for the end of your internship. Don’t burn bridges. Even if you hated working with somebody with every ounce of your soul, don’t tell that person off on your last day. Don’t decide you’re never going to talk to that person again. It’s a mistake. If you follow the suggestions early on in this post with everyone you worked with this summer, you’ll establish a firm foundation for your network to grow in the future.

9. Share your experience.

You learned a lot this summer. Don’t keep it all to yourself. Blog about it. Talk about it in class. Encourage other students to pursue the same opportunities. Use that experience to fuel you. Learn more, keep practicing, and you will succeed. Share your experience and others will succeed with you—and that’s what it’s all about.

5 fashion mistakes for millennial women

Jeanine Levco

As a recent Fashion Design grad at Indiana University, I spent the past four years watching girls dress themselves in Ugg boots, baggy sweatshirts, and North Face fleeces.

But ladies, now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to grow up. Or at least dress like you have.

Here are some fashion tips to help recent college grads look their everyday best in the office:

1.  Makeup: You’re not a clown, tone it down

2.  Low cut shirts: Save it for the night club. Your workplace cafeteria is not a bar.

3.  Leggings: Wear these at the gym. You’re at work—not working out.

4.  Sleeveless: Only Michelle Obama can pull this look off.

5.  Scents: There’s nothing worse than sitting next to someone who smells like vanilla extract or honeysuckle.

Do you have any other fashion advice for post-grad millennials?

(Image via)

Post-grad millennial life – or what I miss most about college

Lauren Yanow

It finally hit me.

I am not going back to college.

Everyone told me this would happen, but I figured I had adjusted well to post-grad life and might not even notice.

This summer felt like every other summer I’ve had for the last four years. I got an internship and was working on building my resume, instead of building my tan.

Nothing seemed different or out of the ordinary.

Of course, my diploma arrived and the photos of me in a cap and gown were on Facebook. But it just didn’t seem real. My internship became a full-time job and I now have entered the lifestyle of working 40 hours a week.

Now, I see pictures of younger friends attending tailgates and hanging out at my favorite college town bar.

I’m not there.

Instead, I am living the post-grad life back in Chicago.

Here is what I miss the most:

1.     Sleeping

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I always chose classes based on what time of day they were offered. There is a reason I never had a class before 10 am. Oh, and naps. I miss them, too.

2.     Walking

Walking around my college campus to get to class was the most aerobic activity I did over the last four years. Now, I just take the elevator downstairs to get lunch.

3.     Weekends starting on Thursday

Enough said.

4.     Free stuff

My closet is stuffed with free T-shirts I collected in college. Now that I’m a professional, I need to make room for some blouses.

5.     Cheap drinks

Living in Chicago is not cheap. And neither are the beers. In my college town, you could get a full price beer for $3, but now I am lucky to find one under $6. Oh, well. Guess that’s what my paycheck is for.

What do you miss about your college?

(Image via)

Can a millennial reporter live without voice mail?

Jessica Levco

This is an embarrassing workplace confession: Up until yesterday, I didn’t set up the voice mail on my work phone.

I know, I know.

How can a reporter not have voice mail?

You’d be surprised. It’s been a pretty easy thing for me to get away with for almost three years. Sure, I’ve missed every single call, but I’ve never missed a story. And no source has ever told me or emailed me, “Why haven’t you returned my calls?”

First, allow me to explain how this happened:

When I first started working at Ragan, I was mostly writing and proofing newsletter articles. I never bothered setting up my voice mail because nobody ever called me. Eventually, I started writing for, but after six months had passed, I wondered, “How stupid would I look now if I said I didn’t know how to work my voice mail?”

Not having voice mail was my dirty little office secret.

But now as I’m writing more for our health care website, I decided it was time to figure it out—no matter how embarrassed I was. It just so happened that our IT guy called me the other day and asked me to confirm my extension number. I told him. And then, blurted out, “I don’t have voice mail on my phone!”

Later in the day, I found out that I was on speaker phone when I admitted this. Of course.

When I told my GenX editor all of this, she was amused—but I think she questioned my ability to do my job.

“What if a source was trying to get in touch with you? What would you do?”

I assured her that I’ve been able to function just fine without voice mail. Mostly, I think that’s because I’m a millennial. My friends and I rarely leave messages for each other on the phone. We communicate with texts, emails, Facebook messages, and carrier pigeons.

Reporting can be done in a similar way.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. When I need to contact a source for a story, I always email first and set up a specific time to talk with him or her. I never say, “Call me sometime in the afternoon.”
  2. If I was forced to leave a message for a source, I’d just say my phone number very quickly. Then, I’d say my email address five times on the voice mail—and hope for the best.

Plus, there’s always been a certain joy to not having voice mail. I was impossible to talk to—unless it was on my terms. I never had to listen to PR pitches over the phone. No prank calls. No soliciting phone messages.

But I’m ready to move on.

In fact, when I came into work this morning, there was a red blinking light on my phone saying that I had a voice mail. My first one!

 Well, it’s too bad I don’t know what my pin number is. Maybe I’ll figure it out next year.

An open letter to a Baby Boomer CEO

Dear Baby Boomer CEO,

I’m a Millennial. I am young, talented, eager, and driven to get my foot in the door. It seems many people in the workplace, including you, often think my generation is unprofessional, non-attentive, and unmotivated.

This portrayal could not be further from the truth.

Millennials love challenges. We live for the excitement of diving right in and sharing our ideas. Every job-related experience is new to us. You think we’re un-attentive? No. We just don’t like to be bored. Does that mean we’re bored working for you? No. It means we are seeking to change tasks within our job and keep it exciting. Take advantage of our desire to keep learning, doing, and succeeding in your workplace.

We are talented. We have the skills you’re looking for. Not only did we go to college, but we’re taking our education beyond the classroom. Millennials complete more volunteer work today than any other generation, says the Corporation for National and Community Service. Aside from volunteer work, millennials eagerly accept unpaid internship opportunities.

Do you know how well millennials can multitask? You may find our addiction to social media and technology annoying, but we’re productive. Judith Lindenberger, president of Lindenberger Group LLC, says that millennials can easily complete tasks, talk on the phone, communicate online, research, write, create, read, study, demonstrate, and teach information to others simultaneously. We use every bit of technology that has enveloped our lives. Think of how advantageous this skill can be to you and your company.

I’m not expecting you to give me a handout. I’m a creative professional who just happens to be young. I want to be a part of your company. Put me to work. I’ll prove to you what I can do. And so will the rest of my generation.


Mitch Kohl

Editor’s Note: Mitch Kohl really is looking for a job. If you know any openings, send him a tweet.