June 2004
Issue 6
Volume 9

In This Issue

Important News for On Target Readers
Using Google as a Clipping Service
B.I.T.E. Your Tongue with Unhappy Customers (or Clients)
Grammar Trap: Your vs. You're

Important News for On Target Readers

First, the bad news. At least we hope you think it's bad news--at first, anyway. This is the last issue of On Target for several months. And it's the last issue of On Target as you've come to know it.

Now, the good news. On Target will return, bigger and better than before.

We in Ag Comm have been publishing On Target as an e-mail newsletter since 1995. And, although we now post it on the Web after we send it (sometimes long after) and have added a Back Issues and Grammar Traps page, we haven't really taken as much advantage of the Web as we could. So we're using this hiatus to retool.

You'll hear from us in October, probably in the form of a "push message" that will direct you to the Web and the October issue. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for all of your suggestions and compliments over the years.

The On Target Team

Using Google as a Clipping Service

So you've written a press release and sent it to your local media, and now you want to know if they're using it. Got Google?

On the main Google page www.google.com, you'll find the word "News." Clicking here will take you to the Google news page. This page is the gateway to keeping track of all the online coverage your story is getting. When you type in words that describe your story, Google searches over 4,500 news outlets.

Google will also send you an e-mail whenever a story that matches your keywords is posted. This is known as a news alert. To set up a news alert, visit www.google.com/newsalerts?hl=en and type in the same keywords. You can choose to have alerts sent as soon as the news is posted or once a day. I prefer once a day alerts so I have fewer messages clogging my inbox.

It's also possible to shut off the news alert. At the bottom of the alert e-mail, there's a link to "Remove This News Alert." When you click that link or paste it into your browser, Google will stop e-mailing you that alert.

You can set up as many news alerts as you want. Stopping one alert doesn't stop the others. In the past, I've set up alerts for gas pump safety, Purdue, and milk prices.

The best news is that Google will not share your e-mail address.

Obviously, Google can only search online media outlets. And, even then, there are some newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations that are missed. That's why it's important to read the papers and keep tabs on other media. But Google can be a useful tool when you're filing clips or need a quick idea about how your story is playing in the media.

Kay Hagen [kjh@purdue.edu]

B.I.T.E. Your Tongue with Unhappy Customers (or Clients)

As the old Chinese proverb goes, "The tongue like a sharp knife.kills without drawing blood." This, we can equate with the dissatisfied customer who launches a verbal attack when his or her needs have not been met. Now, you are left to mend the wounds. So, what do you do? I say that it's time to B.I.T.E. back!

(B)ehave Appropriately

Don't add fuel to the fire by making your own smart remarks. Start the conversation anew. When dealing with a difficult or frustrated customer, your reaction to them will set the tone for the remainder of the conversation, so behave appropriately. As a customer service representative for your department, you should have the attitude of "What CAN I do for this customer?"--not "What DID I do?" Behaviors that you should exhibit are kindness, attentiveness, and reassurance. The goal is to calm the customer.

(I)nitiate a Healthy Conversation

Neutralize the conversation by raising the white flag. In a situation that involves misinformation, you now become the mediator. First, apologize for the lapse in communication, and then ask the customer to reiterate the information that he or she requested. Now, process the information you received from the customer, and explain to him or her how the information that he or she obtained was incorrect and how the situation was mismanaged.

(T)alk Proactively

AchieveGlobal, Inc., in their presentation on "Serving a World of Customers," stated that, "Customers consistently report that they value a small number of qualities in the service they receive, regardless of the industry, product, or type of service." These qualities are attention, speed, trustworthiness, accuracy, and resourcefulness. The customer wants you to mold your answer to fit his or her needs. He or she does not want a "one-size-fits-all approach." The goal is to have the conversation progress from a negative direction to a positive one.

(E)ncourage the Customer

The customer wants to feel that he or she is in competent, well-informed hands. The goal is to have the customer leave the conversation with a sense of comfort, knowing that his or her problem was your first priority.

For more information on customer service, see "Customer Service--Handling Demanding Calls When You're Having a Bad Day," in the January 2003 issue of On Target, and "Grumpy Customers Are People, Too," in the April 2004 issue.

Vanessa Puckett [vpuckett@purdue.edu]

Grammar Trap: Your vs. You're

This trap is similar to last month's (Whose vs. Who's) in that people confuse these two words when writing because they, too, sound the same when speaking.

"Your" is an adjective that means relating to yourself, especially in the sense of possession.

Example: I hope your vacation is a great one.

"You're" is the contraction of "you are"

Example: I hope you're doing all you can to ensure a that you have a great vacation.

There's no tip that will help you avoid this trap or last month's--other than to stop and think.

Thanks to Ken Penrod, Crawford County, for suggesting this topic. Do you have a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like to see discussed? Do you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one? If so, please let me know.

Visit our archive for past “Grammar Traps.”

Laura Hoelscher [ email ]

We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of On Target? If so, please e-mail any of our writers.

© 2005 Purdue University EEO Statement