Lessons from ‘cat filter lawyer,’ Warren Buffet and more

Grab communication takeaways from the Bidens and messaging guidance from top companies’ Black History Month initiatives.

Lessons from cat filter lawyer

Happy Friday, comms pros!

Here are some choice highlights, lowlights and soundbites from the wild world of communication from Feb. 8-12:

1. A fun, furry reminder about Zoom filters.

No doubt the top story of the week—possibly the top story of all time—was the “cat filter lawyer.” NBC News purr-fectly summed up the surreal scene:

“A virtual courtroom hearing came to an abrupt paws in southwest Texas on Tuesday when an attorney inadvertently appeared on screen as a computer-filter-generated cat.

The mundane civil forfeiture hearing took a hilarious turn when Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton arrived in Zoom court in the form of a fluffy white and brown kitten.”

Ponton then uttered the iconic phrase that will live in our hearts forever:

“I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live, I’m not a cat.”

This delightful episode is a reminder to test your technology before going live on a call. (Or maybe don’t? We can all use more laughter.)

CNN offers a rundown on Zoom filters to spare you the fate of becoming the next viral sensation of mishap humiliation.

2. Learning from Warren Buffet’s candor and clarity.

Is there a better example of winsome executive communication than Warren Buffet?

Lawrence Cunningham, who has been “collating” Buffet’s widely-praised (and emulated) shareholder letters since 1977, shares wisdom from the “Oracle of Omaha” in a piece for Market Watch. He writes: “His key conviction: treating his readers, mostly fellow shareholders, as partners to whom he owes a clear candid assessment of their investment.” He continues:

“What most distinguishes Buffett’s annual missive are clarity, wit and rationality, along with many sections that read more like literary essays than corporate communications.”

Even if your leaders are stiff as a board, you can make them come alive via text or video. If you’re keen to do so, Buffet remains the gold standard for a reason.

3. Learning from Joe and Jill.

What can we learn from President Biden’s communication style thus far? He’s certainly going for a more compassionate, traditional and authentic vibe, evidenced by the revival of weekly “fireside chats,” as well as this heart-warming Valentine’s footage featuring a stroll with the first lady and the couple’s pups.

FLOTUS is also striking a compassionate, upbeat tone:

The Biden administration is placing an emphasis on consistency and transparency, as you can review all recent White House messages and statements posted in a timely manner.

4. How are you observing Black History Month?

A Comparably piece shares how 14 leading companies—such as GE, GoDaddy, Adobe and Salesforce—are celebrating Black History Month this year amid the ongoing struggle for racial equity.

If your company does mark the occasion, make sure it’s more than merely “checking a box.” You must “show instead of tell” if you want your messaging to resonate.

5. Keeping the vaccine messaging momentum flowing.

According to Dr. Fauci, a majority of Americans could be vaccinated come summertime. However, communicators have some persuading to do. Many people remain skeptical about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines—and inequities in distribution remain—so it’s crucial to keep your vaccine messaging coming.

Don’t be shy about cribbing comms and ideas from the CDC’s vaccination toolkit, and don’t give up the fight against this horrible virus.

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