RIP “Thoughts and Prayers”

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R.I.P. “Thoughts and Prayers”

By Beth Archer/Spoken Word Consultant

Platitude joins “no comment” in list of phrases not to say

Delete the phrase “thoughts and prayers” from your repertoire of go-to sympathetic sayings. It has lost its meaning and no longer conveys what is most important: empathy.

It started losing steam a few years ago in social media discussions about the gun debate. Elected officials often tweeted (and many still do), “thoughts and prayers” for victims after a mass shooting.

However, after using the same phrase several times, it became as stale as candy corn on Christmas. Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphy is cited as one of the first elected officials to challenge the lack of diversity in empathetic expression, with Murphy tweeting in 2015, “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.”

Those leaders that use “thoughts and prayers” are not unkind, devoid-of-feeling robots; they likely are in shock, as The Atlantic recently pointed. When we’re shocked and unable to think straight about an outrageous event, we default to words we use so often they flow without thinking – or feeling.

Without pausing as we tweet to allow ourselves to feel grief, our message loses our intent. We’re not able to communicate our compassion. We lost our authenticity.

I know it’s scary to allow ourselves to really feel our emotions in crises, as it often leads us to feel vulnerable and vulnerability is perceived as no-no for leaders.

What may be good advice for ensuring a job gets done, is not good advice for trying to connect with others. Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to express the emotions that are coming to mind during a crisis.
Is your heart broken? Say so. Are you sick to your stomach about it? Tweet that.

After the heart wrenching mass shooting in Las Vegas in October, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “To victims, families & loved ones affected by this senseless violence in Las Vegas, Karen & I are praying for you & offering our love…”

See what he did there? He tweeted what he actually felt. It’s authentic and empathetic and an example for all leaders to follow in times of tragedy.

Rest in peace, “thoughts and prayers”. We’ll put you right next to “no comment”.

Beth Archer is a Spoken Word consultant based in Texas. Connect with her on Twitter at @BethArch.

Former Exelon/Three Mile Island Communicator Ralph DeSantis Joins Spoken Word Communications

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July 11, 2017

Spoken Word Communications Expands its U.S. Utility Team

Spoken Word Communications is pleased to announce the appointment of Ralph DeSantis as a Senior Counselor in its U.S. Office. Ralph joins former Exelon Communications Senior Manager Beth Archer, to provide media, crisis and presentation training services for the Chemical and Utility industries as part of Spoken Word’s global network.
A recognized industry expert in the areas of media relations, public relations and crisis communications, DeSantis recently retired from his role as Exelon Corporation’s Communications Manager at the Three Mile Island Generating Station near Harrisburg, Pa. Previous to that he served as Communications Director for both PECO Energy and Exelon Corporation in Kennett Square, Pa. overseeing the external and internal communications function for both companies’ nuclear operations in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“I am honored to join the team at Spoken Word Communications and I am looking forward to sharing my media and crisis communications experience with our clients,” said DeSantis. “I have a passion for preserving and enhancing the reputation of organizations through effective communications.”
DeSantis has extensive experience as chief media spokesman and as a communications advisor to senior executives on media relations and crisis communications. He holds a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) Degree from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education from Clarion State University. He has also earned an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America.
In 2010, DeSantis earned a Top Industry Practice (TIP) Award from the Nuclear Energy Institute for developing and implementing a communications plan for the largest over the road land transport (two steam generators) in the history of Pennsylvania. DeSantis has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Public Relations at York College, York, Pa.

“I am delighted that Ralph has joined Spoken Word Communications,” Dave Scallan, founder of Spoken Word Communications, commented. “He has extensive experience in both the Nuclear and Utility fields which will complement the experience that Beth brings and will enhance our media, crisis and presentation training services. Organizations will benefit first-hand from the collective global communication experience, knowledge and training techniques we now have available within our U.S. office and on a global basis.”

For further information:
Dave Scallan – Spoken Word Communications at 713-471-0008

About Spoken Word Communications
Spoken Word Communications is a media, crisis communications, and presentations training company that advises on how to communicate effectively, build confidence and credibility in any type of interaction involving the spoken word. Former journalist Dave Scallan is the founder and president of Spoken Word Communications, a global media and crisis communications training firm located in Houston. He has provided counsel to executives in over 25 countries around the world and worked with five of the Top 10 Fortune 500 companies. Spoken Word specializes in the Oil and Gas, Utility and Chemical industries. The company maintains offices in the U.S., U.K. and Singapore.

Former BBC Presenter Andy Johnson Joins Spoken Word UK Team

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Spoken Word Communications is pleased to announce the appointment of Andy Johnson as a Senior Associate Partner in its UK Office. Andy will work alongside former National Grid Communications Head, Clive Hawkins, and former BP manager, Elodie Grant Goodey, to provide media, crisis and presentation training services for the oil and gas, chemical and utility industries as part of Spoken Word’s global network.

Andy Johnson has over 25 years’ journalism experience. He started in print and then spent 17 years as a BBC presenter and reporter for network and regional television. He presented live from the London 2012 Olympics, spent five years fronting the award-winning BBC1 current affairs programme, Inside Out, appeared on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme and BBC Five Live.

Andy Johnson said; “I am pleased to partner with Spoken Word Communications. They have established a strong presence in the USA and Singapore and I am looking forward to working with Clive and Elodie to replicate this success in the UK.”

Founder of Spoken Word Communications, Dave Scallan, commented; “I am delighted that Andy Johnson has joined Spoken Word Communications. He has extensive broadcast experience will complement the corporate experience that Clive and Elodie bring and will enhance our media, crisis and presentation training services. Organisations will benefit first-hand from the collective global communication experience, knowledge and training techniques we now have available within our expanded UK office and on a global basis.”

Picture by Jon Super.
Picture shows BBC Radio Presenter Portraits, Manchester, England, Thursday March 24, 2011. (Photo/Jon Super)

Spoken Word Communications Opens London Office. Clive Hawkins and Elodie Grant Goodey to Head Team.

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Spoken Word Communications is excited to announce that former National Grid Communicator Clive Hawkins and former BP Communicator Elodie Grant Goodey have signed on to head the London office of the Media, Crisis Communications and Presentations Training company.

Clive Hawkins is an experienced FTSE20 communication leader with over 30 years’ corporate communication leadership experience, having directed national and international communication programmes under intense government, regulatory, media and public scrutiny.

He is former Global Head of Employee Communication & Media Relations for National Grid plc and was chief media spokesperson between 2001 – 2015, where he directed media relations for M&A, financial results and corporate development activities throughout National Grid’s transformation into one of the largest energy companies in the world.

Clive also led media relations for National Grid’s UK and USA electricity and gas infrastructure developments, where the company invested £3 billion ($4.3 billion) annually on replacing and upgrading electricity and gas infrastructure assets including the development and expansion of the UK’s major LNG storage terminal at Isle of Grain, electricity transmission cable tunnels across London, substations, overhead lines, gas pipelines and compressor stations to connect new supplies of energy to electricity and gas networks across the UK and northeastern region of the USA.

Clive is a member of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Institute of Directors, and European Association of Communication Directors.  He is former chair of the communications directorate of the UK’s trade association, Energy UK, and an inaugural member of the Queen Elizabeth Engineering Prize Communication Counsel.

Elodie Grant Goodey is a senior communications and external affairs professional with 20 years’ international experience in external issues management, societal risk assessment, corporate responsibility, government and civil society relations, external and internal communications.

She has deep expertise in the oil and gas industry but also works across other industries. She was formerly BP’s Head of Societal Issues and Relationships, leading social policy management, social risk assessment, advocacy and stakeholder engagement. She also worked as Head of Communications for BP’s Exploration & Production business and as Communications and External Affairs Director for BP’s North Africa business.

Elodie has wide experience at Board and Executive Committee level and a global network of contacts in NGOs, government organisations and multinational companies (Algeria/Libya).  Previously, Elodie worked for the BBC World Service and volunteered for a number of human rights NGOs.


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