Rants and Raves: Chivalry

Chivalry. Yes, yes, we know – we women got the vote, feminism is a force to be reckoned with, and times have changed. And while we fully value and appreciate what our leading ladies accomplished for us in terms of women’s rights – we wouldn’t trade them for anything – we still have to wonder why chivalry seems to have died off.

Lines are often blurred in terms of roles these days. Women are the breadwinners, men are stay-at-home dads. Men are comfortable, and enjoy, being in the kitchen, while women play poker and enjoy a good Scotch. Men like to shop. Women like to golf. Men who aren’t afraid to cry, hug lots and express their feelings are awesome (whatever, Blachford). Men are softer, women are tougher. But still, does chivalry have to be dead?

Webster’s defines “chivalrous” as this:

a: marked by honour, generosity and courtesy; 
b: marked by gracious courtesy and high-minded consideration especially to women.

Maybe…
Some of you feel chivalry was a trade-off for women’s liberation.
Society has become too self-centred.
It has something to do with the vibrant mix of cultures peacefully living side by side and adapting to and exchanging customs. Diversity.
Technology has caused the opportunities for being chivalrous to dwindle.
Whatever the reason, we challenge you to bring it back for 2012. We’re not asking for grand gestures. We’re talking about small tokens of appreciation – when it comes down to it, just good old thoughtfulness. Is that an easier word to digest?

Call us old fashioned, but these are musts in our book. You’re a gay man with your bestie girl? We say rules still apply.

Hold open a door and let a lady walk through first (also applies to elevators). Offer her your suit jacket to drape on her shoulders if she is freezing. Wait for her to get inside safely if you’re dropping her off at her door.

If you see a woman struggling to open a door because her hands are full of grocery bags, hold the door open for her. Riding public transit and a young woman is attempting to get her baby’s stroller on the bus? Help her out. See an elderly person who needs a seat? GET UP and offer it to them. See a mom (or dad) with a car full of kids vying for the same parking spot as you and you’re on your own? Please, let them have it. They’ve got their hands full already. And yes, in this age of equality, these rules can apply to women, too. See a sister that needs a hand? Lend one. We preach it, we should teach it.
In short, chivalry is a choice. The choice to do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time. 
Comment or tweet us @rockitpromo.

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Rant: Conference Call Etiquette

Whether we like it or not, conference calls are a necessary evil. Okay, maybe evil is too strong a word, but they can definitely be awkward. There are multiple parties involved, and it’s tough to get a read on reactions without any visual feedback. But conference calls can also be a great networking tool and relationship builder, so it’s important to handle them with care. On the fourth floor, we conference with clients and business associates all the time, so we rounded up our best tips to help make the process smoother.

 

If you’re the organizer and you’re using a conference service for the first time, do a test run with a co-worker to make sure it works effectively. Make sure you send all parties ALL the info they’ll need to join the call. For example, leaving out a conference pin number could hold things up for everyone.

Share a conference line with the rest of your office? Check ahead of time to make sure nobody else has scheduled a call at the same time as you. Multiple parties calling in for two separate calls at the same time could lead to an embarrassing situation, not to mention waste people’s time.

Circulate a meeting agenda ahead of time so everyone has a chance to review and add to it, if necessary. This brings purpose to the call and will help you lead the meeting.

If there are people joining from multiple time zones, don’t forget to indicate if the time of the call is Eastern Standard Time or otherwise. You don’t want the big boss calling in hours before everyone else. 

Be prompt. Joining a call late forces the other parties to make awkward small talk while they wait, which nobody appreciates. Or, they will forge ahead without you, meaning you miss important details. If you do join the call late and someone is speaking, don’t interrupt to announce your presence. Wait for a break in conversation, and then kindly apologize for being late.

Take the call in a quiet space. Eliminate background noise including chatter, music, pen clicking, etc. Oh, and try not to breathe directly into the receiver. It’s annoying. Whenever possible, don’t call in from a mobile phone – there is a big chance you will cut out at some point, and it can be difficult to hear if the connection isn’t perfect.
Find a place that even Mr. Quiet would deem worthy. Image source.
When the call begins, allow everyone the opportunity to introduce themselves by name and affiliation so all know who is present.

Listen closely, and don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat something if you couldn’t hear. If you’re really having trouble, take notes and ask a colleague after what you missed, if possible. And don’t be afraid to jump in with ideas and information as appropriate.

If the conversation goes off topic, reel it back in firmly – but be polite. It’s important to stay focused, especially when there is limited time available. Schedule a follow-up call if an important new topic arises. 

Be sure everybody is off the line if you continue your conversation with a client, or coworker. It would be really embarrassing if you started in about ‘how badly you want to go for a smoke,’ if one of the other parties is still on the line.

Finally, when the call comes to an end, be sure to thank everybody for their time or wish them a good day. It’s just a nice thing to do.


Got any fave conference call tips? Tweet us @rockitpromo or #conferencecalls.

 

Rant: Email Etiquette

Email is a huge part of our day. It’s how we communicate with media, clients, vendors, project partners, and each other. Sometimes we wish Email 101 was taught alongside PR 101 (listen up, Teacher’s Pets). It’s surprising how many people lack proper email etiquette skills.

EMAIL 101

  • First and most important to us is, include an email signature IN EVERY EMAIL: first and last name, professional title, company name, mailing address, office line, alternate phone number if applicable, email address and website. Don’t make us search through your last 20 emails to us just to find a phone number or mailing address.
  • Our email addresses have our first names. So, if you’re writing to rachelle [at] rockitpromo [dot] com, don’t begin your email with “Hi Rachel”. A mistake is cool, but try to care. Not so different from many Media, Darling pet peeves.
  • We’re not huge fans of the “read receipt”. It just seems pushy. Try not to overuse “reply all”. And careful when marking something “high priority” – you don’t want to end up like the boy who cried wolf.

Image source
Stop marking everything urgent!
  • Capitalize and punctuate. It’s fairly simple to throw in a few periods, commas and question marks, and makes it easier to understand what you wrote.
  • Also, please don’t shorten words or use numbers for words. We understand you may be in a rush, but an email riddled with short forms can come across as a) confusing, b) cryptic, c) unprofessional, d) annoying and e) it’s not a text.
you ≠ u
are ≠ r
for ≠ 4
to ≠ 2
great ≠ gr8
  • Read our entire email before responding, and try to address all of our comments and questions – we included everything for a reason. Going back and forth and re-asking questions wastes your time and ours.

  • (Side note: We love when media include their story request, deadline, any special instructions, and publication or issue date right off the bat! And we promise to get you all the necessary information by your deadline.)
  • A quick note on RSVPs – identify yourself (especially if you’re writing from a personal account like Gmail). We’re receiving lots of other RSVPs, so including your info off the top definitely makes it simpler and faster to track them. While you’re at it, tell us which event you’re planning to attend – we’re often working on more than one shindig at a time.
  • When replying or forwarding an email, keep the entire message thread. It’s more efficient to file *one* email in the chain instead of three or four. Plus, it saves time when you have to look back on something; you won’t have to look up several emails and piece together the entire conversation because all the info will be in one nice, tidy chain. We like nice and tidy.

 Have you committed any of these crimes against email?
Emailers Anonymous might be for you.

Please help us in making the e-world a better place, one email at a time. What really grinds your email gears? Tweet us your etiquette rants and tips @rockitpromo.

Rant and Rave: Wedding gift etiquette

Summer months signal longer days, sangria on the patio, cute sundresses and weddings. It seems that each time we check our mail box a new wedding invite arrives. With each new invitation we wonder, “what is proper gifting etiquette and how much should we spend?”
Weddings can be pricey for everyone involved – including guests. Image source
Gifting amounts can be tricky and you can’t exactly ask the bride-to-be what gift value isn’t going to make her tell the tale of the cheap guest for years to come. Here are some tips for you to follow to get you through wedding season without sign of the fail whale. 
If you’re attending an out of town wedding:
Your best friend is getting married…in Jamaica. Often when guests are asked to travel long distances, their presence is requested in lieu of gifts. That being said, we recommend giving a more modest gift off the registry or a cash gift totaling $50 -100 a head (depending on what you can afford). 
 Destination weddings are beautiful, but are a big ask for guests. Image source.
If you’re a bridesmaid in the wedding:
Being in the wedding party is a huge honor, but also a larger financial responsibility. In addition to purchasing your bridesmaid dress, throwing a bachelorette party and giving a present for the bridal shower(s), you’re expected to purchase a gift for the new couple. This is where things get tricky – you’re obviously close to the couple, or are a future in-law, so you’d probably like to get them something nice. But how much is too much to spend? We recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or cash gift totaling $100-150 per head.   
 Why do groomsmen get off the hook for paying for wedding events? Image source.
Attending a wedding that’s a cash bar:
In an effort to reduce expenses, and because couples are frequently footing the bill for their weddings in more recent times, some are opting for a cash bar at the wedding reception. Because guests have to purchase their own cocktails we recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or a giving a cash gift between $50-75 per head.
Side note: if you’re hosting a cash bar:
Be sure to let your guests know prior to the big day. This information should be spread by word of mouth, similar to how registry information spreads. Also, providing guests with a few drink tickets and wine throughout dinner is a nice way to ease the pain of the dreaded cash bar. 
Other tips to remember:
Don’t bring cumbersome gifts to the wedding. Deliver them to the couple prior, or post, wedding. Most major retailers with registry programs will also let the couple pick up their gifts at the store after the wedding.

Registry at The Bay? They’ll let you purchase and ask the couple to pick up the gift later. 

Wedding presents should be gifted no longer than six months to a year after the wedding date. Mixed opinions about the exact timing, but no later than the couple’s first anniversary, or else it’s just a bit awkward.
Stick to the registry, unless you’re very close to the couple and have a wonderful idea for a personal gift. If you choose to take this risk, include a gift receipt – people are very picky about items they hope to have for years and years to come. Yes, they really do want that brand-new alarm clock.

Broke? Give the gift of amazing music by DJing the wedding! Image source.
If you can’t afford a wedding present, offer your services. Are you an expert photographer or a great DJ? Offer this as a substitute gift to the couple a few months in advance of the wedding. 
If you’re bringing a date to the wedding, make sure you calculate this into the cost of the wedding gift. Typically a present should cover the cost of each plate (approximately $100). 
 Is this vase worth $7,500? Kim Kardashian thinks so. 

In the end, someone has invited you to their wedding because they want you to be there to celebrate with them. If you’re under extreme financial stress, no bride and groom wants you to give a gift that you can’t afford. Be happy, supportive and invite them over for a delicious dinner after the big event to show that you care, even if you can’t get them that $7,500 Baccarat vase they desperately need.


Ed. note: Happy weddings to our two upcoming summer brides on the fourth floor, Christina Walters and Abigail Van Den Broek.






Rant: Umbrella Etiquette

Even though May is only supposed to bring flowers, so far, this month has been just as rainy as its predecessor. Given the forecast for the next several days, and at the request of some of our Twitter friends (ahem….@Shawn_Rusich), we’ve decided to give you some pointers to help you brush up your umbrella etiquette.

Obviously, the biggest grievances when it comes to umbrellas occur on the sidewalk. As we’ve mentioned before, proper sidewalk etiquette is crucial when living in the city, and this becomes quite apparent when it’s raining. People with poor umbrella etiquette really grind our gears.
When passing someone on the sidewalk with your umbrella open, you need to have some sense of spatial relations. Just because you aren’t bumping into someone next to you doesn’t mean your umbrella isn’t. 
Obviously, avoid swatting your passing neighbour in the head with your umbrella. Be courteous, and lift yours as you go by. 
Of course, if that person is much taller than you, you should let them lift theirs first to avoid poking them in the face. Or, tip yours to the side, away from them. Nothing is worse than a prickly, wet umbrella in the eye. 
 This is not the way to pass people with an umbrella in hand.
When racing to get indoors out of the rain, you must close your umbrella just before you go through the door. Don’t bring an open, dripping umbrella inside. Other people coming in behind you will be equally eager to get inside, so chop chop – close that brolly quickly and hustle inside. 
Once you are inside, take care to not leave a dangerous, dripping wet trail of water all over the floor. Leave your umbrella at the front door, ideally in handy umbrella stand. If you are hosting and it’s raining, invest in said handy umbrella stand. Your guests (and floors) will thank you. 
When choosing an umbrella, pick something fun and cheery. Why contribute to the dreary rain with a boring black umbrella? Plaid, polka dot, striped, bright yellow, or printed with palm leaves – if your umbrella is fun, maybe your fellow brolly carriers will forgive your other (worse) umbrella transgressions.
And, finally, if you can’t follow any of the above etiquette tips, perhaps it’s best you leave the umbrella at home and invest in a good rain jacket. Embrace the wet and stop annoying people. 
Any umbrella etiquette tips that we missed? Tweet us @rockitpromo

Rant: Cellphone etiquette

Attention BlackBerry addicts, iPhone fans and Palm Pre enthusiasts: this rant is for you.


Nearly everyone has a smartphone, giving you unlimited access to email, Twitter, Facebook, websites and apps. All. The. Time. As handy as these amazing pieces of technology are, sometimes you need to give your thumbs a rest. There’s a time and a place for everything, so give it a break and listen to our tips:

Dinner – Dinner with someone special (friends, lovers, parents) should include great food, delicious drinks and stimulating conversation. It should not include cell phones. Texting or emailing during dinner is rude. Remember your manners, and engage with the person sitting across the table. It shouldn’t be that hard. Consider the dinner table a phone-free zone.

Are their phones more fun than each other? Image source.

Sidewalk – Sidewalks are meant for walking. So long as you are walking, we aren’t complaining. Stop walking, and you’ll likely hear from us (remember this post?). We have people to see and things to do; we don’t let texters stand in our way. Please do not stop to answer 20 emails in the middle of the sidewalk. Your fellow pedestrians will thank you.

Streetcar – The streetcar is not the place to make your private life public. Your BFF may have gone wedding crazy, and your bridesmaid dress may be a hideous chartreuse that doesn’t work with your (or anyone’s) skin tone, but this does not mean you need to share the news with half the city over the phone. Public transportation is just that – public. Save your private life for private conversations. Transit is a GREAT time to check that email or text away. Provided that you are alone. If you’re riding with a friend, try to give them a little more than a distracted “um…yeah…sounds…..great”.

Movies – While you may not care to last a full hour and a half without BBM’ing, there are others who paid $14 to actually watch the film. Your phone not only lights up the dark theatre, but the clicking of your buttons is also a distraction. The person beside you is much more interested in Jake Gyllenhaal’s naked chest than your love affair of the month. Put your phone away until the credits roll! 




Bed – If you’re married, or living with somebody, enjoy the quiet time in bed together. Love each other, snuggle, TALK and put away the computers/phones/handhelds. Trust us, the rewards are far greater than sending one last tweet.

There is nothing worse than meeting friends, to just stand there, glancing awkwardly around while they “just check one quick email”. Tapping away on your phone shows that whoever you’re talking to on that little piece of plastic is more important than the person who is sitting right beside you. Shouldn’t face time be a little more sacred? (We don’t mean iPhone’s Face Time, either). 

Thoughts on the subject? BBM us (kidding).Tweet us @rockitpromo.

Rave: Social Media

Twittiquette

Did you know most of the 100 million (+) people on Twitter don’t actually tweet? About 80 per cent of all users have tweeted fewer than 10 times. We know most of our friends are Twitter-extraordinaires, but for some of the folks out there that are watching instead of playing, here’s a crash course in having fun with Twitter, and how to get something out of it.

Don’t be a flooder. Even though Mom thinks everything you say is interesting, not everyone agrees. Tweet when you have something worthy to say. Filling everyone’s feed with play-by-plays about your cat is lame.


Nothing to say? If you’re worried about your voice at the start, you can still be active — post a link to your favourite news story, photo of the day, recipe or You Tube clip. People will start following you if you’re posting interesting things, even if it’s not an original thought.


Your dirty laundry. Keep private messages private — use the “direct messages” feature or email the person. Remember, the world can potentially see every tweet you post. This is meant to be a public forum.


Re-what? Like what your friends have to say? Share with everyone by re-tweeting what they said. This helps build their followers and will get you in their good books.

It goes like this: Type “RT”, then the @ sign for the person’s handle. “RT @janedoe (cut and paste their message here)”. Be sure to leave a space between the @ sign and the RT. And no space between the @ sign and the person’s handle.



What’s with the # signs? Known as hash tags, # signs help categorize what people are talking about. Setting up an event? Create hashtag by choosing a short word that immediately conveys what your event is all about (like #g20). Make sure no one else is using it.

Promote your hashtag right away in your tweets, Facebook and blog. Every time someone uses the tag in a tweet, it will make your event much more searchable.

Then, search your tag here. You can set up a free RSS feed to see how often your hashtag is used. Voila! Your event just became that much more popular.  


To follow or not to follow? The jury’s out about whether or not someone following you means you must follow back. What do we think on the fourth floor? Follow people who are important to you either personally or professionally. Follow people who are interesting. If you get bored with their tweets, unfollow. It’s not a real-life breakup.

You are now well on your way to becoming a social (networking) butterfly.

*Our creative director Matt Austin Sadowski offers Twitter tutorials for personal use or business. If you’re interested, please email him at matt@rockitpromo.com. Or follow him.