Remembering 9/11

I remember what I was doing September 11, 2001.

When President Ronald Reagan was shot March of 1981 I was a director at an NBC television affiliate and I remember running to the studio repeatedly, throwing on lights and interrupting regular programming every time we had a morsel of information to report. The first broadcasts varied – the president had been shot, no he had not been shot, yes, the president had been shot. The newsroom and studio were chaotic again two months later when Pope John Paul II was shot four times.

I remember when President Kennedy was killed. I was in first grade and our school was led to River Oaks Boulevard in Fort Worth, Texas to see the president and Mrs. Kennedy pass by. An hour later we were kneeling by our desks fearfully crying and praying.

9/11 was like that without the crying for me, but certainly with the praying. I do not watch TV in the morning but always listen to music. I woke earlier that morning, made coffee and for some reason turned on the TV. I hurriedly called my editor while dressing and before rushing out the door to my newspaper office watched another plane hit the second tower live.

At first our office could not decide what to do. I learned all schools and government buildings were on guarded lock down so I rushed to an area school to get a local angle on the story, took a photo of children praying at a flag pole and rushed back to met our deadline. I asked to have a box on the lower front page added to encourage readers to report gas gouging to a federal telephone number because many gas stations across the nation raised their prices an additional $3-$5 a gallon that day to prey off the panicking public.

I also remember emphasizing that we get the information correct, because some major networks repeatedly referred erroneously to “…the attacks in New York and in Washington.” However, the Pentagon is in neighboring Virginia, not in Washington D.C.

The next morning everything was different and things have not gone back to the way they were since.


Business phone eitiquette

This is not a journalist-specific post, so share this with any office -you think can learn from it. I wish we followed some of these rules my last office.

March 10, 1876 Alexander Bell spoke the infamous words, “Watson, come here. I need you,” through his experimental phone. What Watson said in response is not recorded in history because business phone etiquette had not been invented.
Of all the digital tools and technology we have at our disposal to make our work more efficient, the most important device is 138 years old. We need to think of the phone as a business tool rather than just a communication device, and by tweaking our business phone habits we can use it to our advantage.
  1. Have a pen and something to write on before answering the phone.
  2. Answer with a pleasant voice and don't make the caller feel as though they are an interruption.
  3. You can simply state your company name and then a pleasant, “How may I help you,” or state your company and your first name. Personally, I like my name and I use it often.
  4. It is polite to state your first name before asking the name of the caller. If the person asks to speak with another person or department, say “My name is ___. May I tell them who is calling?” Offering your name first builds a relationship between the caller and your company right away because they feel they are being introduced rather than intruded upon.
  5. When you inform the person or department of the call, tell them the name of the caller and reason of the call. That way they can prepare in their mind for what is waiting for them on the line and they can use the information when they answer the phone.
  6. If a person or department is not available, offer to take a message, then tell the caller “I will give ___ the message.” Do not tell the caller “I will have him call you,” because you are promising something you can not guarantee.
If you are on he receiving end of a forwarded call, do not burden the caller by making them start all over with their request:
  1. Always have a pen and something to write on before picking up the phone.
  1. Immediately use the caller's name and refer to the subject. The caller will enjoy your courtesy and you will save valuable time getting right to the point. For instance, a call may be forwarded this way: “Stella, Kenton Jerfton is on line two asking about rates and billing options.” You pick up the phone and enthusiastically say, “Hi, Mr. Jerfton. This is Stella. I understand you have questions about our rates.” The caller does not have the frustration of repeating the explanation for the call and the two of you can get right down to business.
You save time, make customers happy and build relationships simply by the way you handle phone calls. Even an irritated caller can be softened by the professional, personal and courtesy manner in which you handle the call.

Bonus: If you use your personal cell phone for business, use your name when answering so the caller does not have to guess if they dialed the right number. And “Whatzuuuuuup!” is not acceptable.
Also, no silly ring tones! Nothing is more annoying than “I'm Your Boogie Man” or some other stupid song going off in the office. And what kind of impression do you make when a rooster crow or cow mooo goes off during a business lunch? Take your phone out now and set your ring tones and alerts to a pleasant tone or common ring.
Your co-workers thank you in advance.

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