1. Flowers last week. Hot Pockets this week. What’s more important – the crisis? Or the crisis communication? Today, whether you like it or not, the answer is crisis communication. The crisis – no matter how severe – has happened. You can’t make it any better. BUT—you can make it a lot worse.

See Hot Pockets. They recently announced a recall on some of their products for ‘diseased and unsound animal contents’. (Other than that they were ok.)

Hot Pockets chose to post the recall announcement on its Facebook page, void of any formal apology. On twitter the company tweeted a little more information…but they also participated in a hashtag promotion #wecantdateif. As you might suspect, users responded with some #wecantdateif content of their own:

As I’ve said here before, the brands that realize the conversation is happening with or without them will be the most successful on social media. When you consider viewing this from a crisis communications perspective you realize even more that you don’t want conversations happening without you.

More importantly, brands need to be prepared for the conversations that may never happen, i.e. crisis communications planning. This starts with rapid response planning but don’t forget about the impact your crisis could be having on other channels. As we saw last week with 1-800-Flowers and now this week with Hot Pockets, consumers will find a way to be heard (and make sure everyone else hears them in the process).

2. If conversation is a lost art…why can’t we write better? I work in communications. I also work at communication. It’s the one thing besides my golf game that can always be improved.

As a result I like to research different communication theories. The other day I came across an article about the lost art of conversation and how it’s decayed with the rise of a more connected society. It’s not just the art of conversation; it’s the act of conversation. Consider a conversation staple – dinner – is now a chance to show off phones and the cool stuff on them.

We do most of our daily communication through the written word. Yet…our writing and grammar is not accelerating at the same pace conversation is decelerating.

Which is why when I come across an article like this, in the New York Times from the late Elmore Leonard (‘Easy on the adverbs, exclamation points and especially hooptedoodle’) I listen. It features Leonard’s 10 rules of writing and you have to read it – here’s the short form:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb said.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. (My favorite) Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

3. It’s not social media, it’s DiGiorno. Not sure if you’ve been following DiGiorno but they have been popping up quite a bit in my twitter stream lately. The reason why? They finally found their voice.

Wait, what? Brand voice – on social media? Yes, it’s as important as anything else your company does from a brand perspective. In the case of DiGiorno they tailored their voice to speak to its core audience: males 19 – 28.

I really like where DiGiorno took this because it went outside the expected comfort zone so many brands feel forced to live within. And DiGiorno did it by knowing its audience (hmm…sounds a lot like PR…)—and assuming the position on the couch right next to them, becoming that snarky twitter friend you never knew you had, tweeting cracks about everything from football to The Sound of Music.

DiGiorno is making me look forward to ‘Sharknado 2’

4. I want to be in a perfume ad. Who doesn’t? Well thanks to a new app from fragrance start-up Commodity, you can be. And so can you. And so can you. You can even name it whatever you want. Oh, and then you can send it to your friends to sample…which is the real hook here. Gone are the people who ambush you in department stores (remember that episode of ‘Friends’ where Joey did that?), replaced by a customized promo and scent.

Granted, while I think it might be funny to put my head on a model body and name my scent Blue Steel (or Sex Panther) I don’t know if it’s a scent I’d take seriously and actually try. But…on the other hand, if you went through all that trouble I think I would.

What would you name your scent?