• Study Finds Facebook Improves Image During a Crisis

    FBA Missouri School of Journalism study found that Facebook posts improved how people perceived organizations during a crisis. A doctoral candidate showed study participants two fictional stories about universities in crisis. Then, participants read Facebook posts by each university and were asked how the felt about the crisis. Attitudes about the organizations improved, and participants thought the crisis was less severe.

    Seoyeon Hong also found that a narrative, or storytelling, type of writing in the Facebook posts was more effective than a style that wasn't narrative:

    "This indicates that the effect of narrative tone in organizational statements during crises increases perceived conversational human voice, which represents a high level of engagement and best communicates trust, satisfaction, and commitment to the audience. This is an important practice for public relations professionals because perceptions that an organization is sincerely trying to provide timely and accurate information during a crisis can lead to not only more favorable attitudes toward the organization, but also perceptions of less responsibility the organization has for causing the crisis."

    Discussion Starters:

    • Does this research surprise you? Why or why not?
    • Find an example of an organizationi's Facebook post written as a narrative. What is effective about that style?
  • Yale Communicates During "Lockdown"

    Yale University had a communication challenge after a threatening phone call caused a campus lockdown. A student reported that his roommate was planning to go to campus with a gun. Later, the police interviewed a witness who saw someone with a "long gun." The call turned out to be a hoax, and reports of someone with a gun could have been a police officer, who were making their way to the scene.

    Still, the university sprung into action, possibly with concerns about another Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook shooting. The university policy department provided updates on its Facebook Page.

      Yale FB post

    Appropriate for crisis communications, these bad-news messages use the direct style: the main point is right up front.

    Yale FB pos2t

    Now, on Yale's Emergency Management site, we see no mention of a potential gunman. Likely the university would like to see the entire incident go away.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Look for other university communications about the incident. What else can you find? 
    • Although I can't find the email on the web, the articles reference one sent from the university to students and parents. What do you think was included in the message? Draft a possible outline of the email. 
  • Walmart Criticized for Food Drive for Employees

    Walmart Foundation has initiated a campaign against hunger, but an internal effort to help Walmart associates is getting more attention. In this video produced by Walmart Corporate, an executive explains the $2 billion effort, which includes a food drive.

    The sign, below, taped to a table inside an employee breakroom at Walmart store, isn't getting such a welcome response. A Walmart employee in Canton, Ohio, photographed the sign as an indication that the company pays insufficient wages. 

    Walmart food drive

    Spokesperson Kory Lundberg told Yahoo Finance,

    "That store has set up a bin for associates to help out other associates. These are people that have had some unforeseen hardship in the last year. Maybe their spouse lost a job, or they experienced the death of a loved one, or a natural disaster impacted their homethings you just can’t plan for. It’s a chance for associates to look out for and help each other."

    Image source.

    Discussion Starters:

    • What's your reaction to the food drive for employees? Do you buy the spokesperson's explanation, does this prove that Walmart doesn't pay enough, or something else?
    • What important messages do you hear in the Walmart video? How effective is the video in convincing you that Walmart has a serious commitment to ending hunger?
  • Walmart Workers Plan Strike on Black Friday

    Our Walmart, an organization of employees, is planning a strike on Friday, November 29, Black Friday. On its website, Our Walmart conveys the group's mission:

    OUR Walmart Vision

    We envision a future in which our company treats us, the Associates of Walmart, with respect and dignity. We envision a world where we succeed in our careers, our company succeeds in business, our customers receive great service and value, and Walmart and Associates share all of these goals.

    Called "Black Friday Walmart Protests," the strike is planned across the U.S. This map shows locations where associates have requested a strike.

    Walmart protest map

    Discussion Starters:

    • Clearly, Our Walmart uses emotional appeal as the basis for its arguments. What about the video works well and what does not?
    • Assess the Our Walmart website for effective design, organization, word choice, and so on. What improvements would you recommend for the site owners?
  • The Period and Tone in a Text Message

    To some, using a period in a text message changes the tone. Because few people use any punctuation in texts, the period, according to one article, is taking new meaning.

    Texting and periods

    Mark Liberman, professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, explains how a period may be intepreted by a reader:

    "In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all. In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like 'This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.'"

    Instead, paragraph breaks are more common to start new sentences, presumably because the return key is easier to access than the period. (On the iPhone, the return key is on the same screen as the alphabet, while the period requires a keyboard change to access.)

    The article author claims that the question mark also has "outgrown its traditional purpose," now used to downplay an otherwise "cocky" statement, such as "I think he likes me?"

    Image source (from article).

    Discussion Starters:

    • Do you agree with the author's assessment of the period? Does it imply tone to you?
    • I've been accused of over-punctuating text messages. And it's not unheard of for me to use a semi-colon in a text. Do I need professional help?
  • New "Teach" Campaign

    The Department of Education is trying a new approach to get top students to become teachers. With help from Teach for America, Microsoft, State Farm, the teachers' unions, "Make More. Teach," videos feature teachers doing interesting work and show teaching as a rewarding profession. 

    Taylor Mali narrates the videos. Mali became associated with teaching after his comedy bit, "What Teachers Make." His commentary responded to criticism from someone asking the question about a teacher's salary.

    The recruiting campaign is important, considering how the U.S. lags behind other countries in recruiting the best students. The comparison is clear in a McKinsey report, "Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top-third Graduates to Careers in Teaching," which is featured in of Business Communication: In Person, In Print Online, Chapter 10.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Watch the videos. In what ways are they similar to the military recruiting ads?
    • Analyze the persuasive strategies used. What examples do you find of logical arguments, emotional appeals, and credibility? How are visuals, voice, and music used? What types of people are portrayed, and so on?
  • Another Video from Low Pay Is Not OK

    Here's another video brought to us by Low Pay Is Not OK, the organization promoting higher wages for fast-food workers. The last video was a captioned telephone call from McDonald's employee Nancy Salgado, asking about health and other benefits. This one takes issue with advice from the company to its employees. 

    In an email, the video was advertised with this introductory text:

    Don't they read this stuff before they post it on the web?

    McDonald's knows they don't pay their employees like me enough to make ends meet. But instead of paying us enough to get by, their "help" consists of a website that's chock full of CLUELESS (and offensive!) tips. You have to see it to believe it.

    Titled, "McDonald's Really Told Their Employees to Quit Complaining," the video refers to documentation for employees:

     Discussion Starters:

    • What persuasion strategies are used in the video? Which are most and least effective in encouraging higher pay for workers?
    • The music and graphics are similar to those used in the previous video. In what ways do they support and detract from the message?
  • KlearGear Charges Customer $3,500 for a Bad Online Review

    A customer who didn't receive what she ordered from KlearGear wrote a negative review on a complaint site and was charged $3,500. KlearGear sells desk toys such as an LED shoelaces and something called a Splat Stan Coaster—a figure squashed by a coffee mug (not on my Christmas wish list).

    Three years after the customer posted on the site RipoffReport, KlearGear contacted her husband and requested $3,500, based on a clause in the company's terms of service (which apparently wasn't included at the time): 

    Non-Disparagement Clause

    In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

    Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.

    The clause, of course, is ridiculous. Trying to control social media conversation is a fool's game and can only hurt a company in the long-run. KlearGear made the situation worse when it closed its Twitter and Facebook accounts.


    Discussion Starters:

    • What's your view of KlearGear's "Non-Disparagement Clause"? One writer calls it "contemptible, unethical, and un-American." Do those adjectives sum it up for you—or are others more appropriate?
    • How would you advise KlearGear to handle the social media situation?
    • Imagine that KlearGear reopened its Facebook page. Write an apology post on behalf of the company.
  • Reinforcing Advertising Rules for Bloggers

    BlogBloggers who are paid by companies to advertise a product or service must come clean about the relationship, according to the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). This should be just a reminder to bloggers because the rules aren't new—but apparently they aren't followed consistently.

    The ASA article indicates that bloggers asked for clarification:

    "Why are we doing this? We’ve received a steady stream of enquiries from bloggers wanting clarity on this issue and how the rules apply to their blogs."

    Below are the rules:


    2.1    Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such.

    2.2    Unsolicited e-mail marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as marketing communications without the need to open them (see rule 10.6).

    2.3    Marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer is acting as a consumer or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession; marketing communications must make clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from the context.

    2.4    Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them "advertisement feature."

    Part of the issue may be that bloggers are paid but asked by companies not to disclose the relationship. Although this puts bloggers in a difficult position, the rules—and ethics—are clear. Perhaps companies need the reminder, not bloggers.

    Image source

    Discussion Starters:

    • What situations may be blurry for bloggers? Think of a few examples when the rules may not be clear.
    • What are the U.S. rules for bloggers? Research the issue and compare the advice for U.S. blogger.
    • What are the rules for people who tweet? Should celebrities, for example, reveal their relationships with companies they promote?
  • Microsoft Emails Employees About Ranking System

    In an email to employees, Microsoft management announced the elimination of an employee performance ranking system. (Probably coincidentally, Yahoo just announced the implementation of a similar system.)

    Ranking systems force managers to place their employees' performance on a bell curve, comparing each within a department or division. In the strictest systems, employees who are in, for example, the bottom 5%, are terminated. According to The Institute of Corporate Productivity, cited in a BusinessWeek article, these systems are falling out of favor, with only 5% of high-performing companies using the process in 2011.

    At best, ranking employees encourages managers to differentiate performance, rewarding top performers and paying attention to underperformers. At worst, ranking may focus too much on data and fails to acknowledge that some departments simply perform better than others. Managers argue that they lose control with such rigid systems.

    Here's the beginning of the Microsoft email to employees:

    To Global Employees,

    I am pleased to announce that we are changing our performance review program to better align with the goals of our One Microsoft strategy. The changes we are making are important and necessary as we work to deliver innovation and value to customers through more connected engagement across the company.

    This is a fundamentally new approach to performance and development designed to promote new levels of teamwork and agility for breakthrough business impact. We have taken feedback from thousands of employees over the past few years, we have reviewed numerous external programs and practices, and have sought to determine the best way to make sure our feedback mechanisms support our company goals and objectives.  This change is an important step in continuing to create the best possible environment for our world-class talent to take on the toughest challenges and do world-changing work.

    Discussion Starters:

    • What's your view of performance ranking sytems? Have you experienced a similar process at work?
    • Assess the full Microsoft email. How is it organized? How does it consider the audience? What are the main points? Overall, what works well, and what could be improved? 
  • Newspaper Regrets Referring to Gettysburg Address as "Silly Remarks"

    Imagine a newspaper dismissing Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as insignificant. This week, a Harriburg, Pennsylvania paper retracted a 1863 editorial:

    "We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of."

    Patriot & Union Editorial, 1863: On the Gettysburg Address


    It's a little late, but the timing is appropriate: on Tuesday, we'll celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

    Image source.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Why wait 150 years? Why not 100? Or 50? Why publish a retraction at all?
    • What justification do you see for the initial review? What other reactions were prevalent at the time?
  • JPMorgan Chase Cancels Twitter Q&A

    JPMorgan Chase had good intentions when scheduling a Twitter Q&A with students about career advice, but the strategy backfired. The company encouraged questions of executive James B. Lee under the hashtag #AskJPM.

    JPM Q&A

    Of course, curious students weren't the only ones who used the hashtag. Plenty of snarky comments piled in.

    JPM Q&A 2

    It's a delicate time for JPMorganChase to expose itself on social media. Just last month, the company agreed to pay a $13 billion settlement because of misleading mortgage practices (the fourth multi-million-dollar settlement in 2013). A Wall Street Journal article two weeks ago explored CEO Jamie Dimon's "Complicated Relationship with Washington." And today, Reuters reported an investigation into the company's  practices in China, including potentially widespread bribery and a questionable decision to pay "$1.8 million over two years to a small consulting firm run by the daughter of former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao."

    In the end, JPMorgan Chase cancelled the Q&A:

      JPM Q&A 3

    PR Daily offers sound advice for companies considering similar customer engagement activities:

    "Social media is about interacting with people, but it’s also about occasionally sticking a finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing."

    Discussion Starters:

    • Do you find fault with JPMorgan Chase's attempt? Was the Q&A a nice idea, or should the management team have known better?
    • What's your reaction to the cancellation tweet? In what ways is it effective or not?
    • Apply PR Daily's advice to other social media failures. How is this useful for companies?
  • Kellogg's Apologizes for Withholding Food from Starving Children

    It probably sounded like a good idea at the time: ask people to retweet messages as an incentive to donate food to hungry kids. But the gimmick sounded harsh.

    Kellogg's tweet

    The tweet was part of Kellogg's campaign, "Give a Child a Breakfast." The company also promised to donate when people watched a video on the website or shared the message on Facebook or YouTube.

    But reactions were strong, and Kellogg's posted a brief apology. 

    Kellogg's tweet2
    Kellogg's tweet3

    Discussion Starters:

    • Why did Kellogg's tweet get such a strong reaction, while no one seemed bothered by the request to watch a video in exchange for a kid's breakfast?
    • Isn't Kellogg's campaign just an example of Cialdini's "Reciprocation," one way to persuade people? Or, how is this different?
  • WSJ Article on Narratives

    WSJ StoriesA Wall Street Journal article reminds us to tell stories to engage our audiences.  The article isn't new for business communication students, but the advice is sound:

    "Move beyond facts and figures, which aren't as memorable as narratives, says Cliff Atkinson, a communications consultant from Kensington, Calif., and author of 'Beyond Bullet Points.'

    "Many people in business think raw data is persuasive. But when you're dealing with people from other departments and in different fields who don't understand how you got that data, you can lose them pretty quickly.

    "'You have to step back and put yourself into their shoes and take them through the process of understanding,' says Mr. Atkinson. 'That requires you to distill the most important facts and wrap them in an engaging story.'"

    Discussion Starters:

    • Think about a presentation you delivered recently. Where could you have included a story?
    • In that same presentation, how could you have expressed data in a more meaningful way?
  • What Do the New Common App and Health Care Have in Common?

    Technology problems abound. For weeks, the new health care system has been criticized for causing enrollment issues. Now, the new college Common Application system is causing universities, such as Georgia Tech, to extend the review process for prospective students.

    Common App

    Students have reported that they can't log into the system or upload documents, while universities can't download applications. Jason Locke, interim associate vice provost for enrollment at Cornell, blamed the problems on inadequate testing: "Many aspects of the system simply weren’t thoroughly tested and should not have been launched."

    Yes, we see a theme.

    A Huffington Post article identified three major problems with the Common App system:

    • Failure to modernize
    • Failure to simplify the process
    • Failure to acknowledge user experience

    Discussion Starters:

    • Read the Huffington Post article. Which of the three failures do you believe is most prevalent and why?
    • What are the similarities and differences between the Common App and the health care situations?
  • Can Lululemon Do Anything Right?

    Once again, Lululemon is facing an angry crowd. Earlier this week, the company poked fun at a not-for-profit organization. Now, after many, many complaints of declining quality of its high-end yoga clothes, the founder seems to be blaming customers. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Chip Wilson said, "Frankly, some women's bodies just don't actually work [for the yoga pants]," and "It's more really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it."

    He didn't quite say that some women were too big for the pants, but he seemed to imply that women choose sizes that are too small. Comments on Lululemon's Facebook page called Wilson's comments "insensitive" and more: 

    Lululemon FB

    Update: Founder Chip Wilson posted this apology video:

    Discussion Starters:

    • Wilson may have a legitimate point: what is it? On the other hand, how could he have expressed it differently?
    • On behalf of Wilson, write an apology that he might post to the Lululemon Facebook page. How can he win back customers, some of whom are already turned off by the brand?
  • Guns & Ammo Editor Resigns Over Controversial Article

    Guns_Ammo_December_2013_CoverGuns & Ammo editor Jim Bequette is stepping down after publishing an editorial, "All Constitutional Rights Need Regulation, Even 2nd Amendment." As a firearms magazine, Guns & Ammo doesn't typically include articles about regulation. 

    Bequette's apology was posted to the website:

    "As editor of Guns & Ammo, I owe each and every reader a personal apology.

    "No excuses, no backtracking.

    "...Metcalf’s 'Backstop' column in the December issue has aroused unprecedented controversy. Readers are hopping mad about it, and some are questioning Guns & Ammo's commitment to the Second Amendment. I understand why."

    Continue reading the apology.

    Discussion Starters:
    • Read the entire apology. What persuasion principles does Bequette use in the piece?
    • Assess Bequette's decisions: why would he run the piece and later apologize for it?
  • Did Walmart Misrepresent Employee Wage Numbers?

    Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon presented questionable data about employee wages. During the Goldman Sachs 2013 Annual Global Retailing Conference, Simon showed a slide, "It all starts with an opportunity." A bullet point says that 475,000 employees earn more than $25,000 per year (excluding benefits). 

      Walmart GS presentation

    Here's the entire presentation.

    The trouble is that Walmart employs 1.3 million employees in the U.S. (2.2 million worldwide). That leaves 825,000 earning less than $25,000 a year. A Walmart representative clarified that only store employees (about 1 million) were considered for this point. Still, that leaves roughly half of them earning below $25,000 a year.  

    Discussion Starters:

    • The U.S. CEO seemed to walk into this controversy. How could it have been avoided?
    • How, if at all, does Walmart's clarification affect your view of how the company pays its employees?


  • Lululemon Offends Again

    After months of controversy over Lululemon's declining yoga-wear quality, the company is in the news for a new issue: mocking a shelter's fundraising strategy.

    Reflecting what a Dallas website calls an "oddly aggressive stance against Dallas charity," Lululemon posted a sign on a local store window that reads, "We do partners yoga, not partners card." "Partners Card" refers to the work of The Family Place, a Dallas-based not-for-profit organization that provides housing, counseling, and other resources for people in abusive situations.  


    The Family Place website describes the Partners Card:

    "Partners Card is the signature fundraiser for The Family Place, Dallas’ largest domestic violence agency. 100% of your Partners Card purchase goes directly to supporting survivors of family violence."

    People who buy a $70 Partners Card through the organization receive a 20% discount at hundreds of local stores—a list that doesn't include Lululemon.

    Responding to the criticism, Lululemon posted this message on its Facebook page:

    "The intention behind the window decal was to share our love for yoga, not to offend our community. Although we choose not to participate in Partner's Card, we choose to give back in a different way. We are working in collaboration with Family Place to offer the gift of yoga, and what we can create together."

    In another post—this one from the corporate headquarters in Canada—the company seemed to be taking action:

    Lululemon apology

    In response to an inquiry from Dallas Culture Map, The Family Place expressed appreciation to its supporters:

    "Every Partners Card we sell at the Family Place provides a night of safety and shelter for victims of family violence. We understand that not every retailer can give the 20% discount, but we are thankful for the hundreds who do and for the thousands of donors who buy a card. We look forward to working out a way Lululemon can join our important mission to end violence in the homes of Dallas County."

     Discussion Starters:

    • What were Lululemon marketers thinking when they put up this display? What do you think the store was expecting, and how was management misguided?
    • How do you assess Lululemon's apology—both the store's post and the corporate headquarter's approach of working with Lululemon?
    • In the headquarter's post, the company says it's creating a wellness program for staff. Is this an appropriate solution? Why or why not?
  • Mashable Email to Staff Announces New Exec

    Pete Cashmore, founder of technology news website Mashable, announced a new executive. In his email to staff, Cashmore used the direct organization plan (as we would expect) and put the news up front:

    Team Mashable,

    Today we are announcing an important and exciting addition to our family – Jim Roberts. Jim joins our team as Executive Editor and Chief Content Officer.

    Many of you may know Jim from Twitter as @nycjim, from his work as Executive Editor of Reuters Digital, and from his years at The New York Times where he was most recently Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing the digital newsroom including video, social media and breaking news.

    Read the entire email.

    To complement the internal annoucement, Jim Roberts, the new hire, wrote an article on LinkedIn about joining the company. Here are the first two paragraphs: 

    Today is an exciting day for me. I’m joining a new family, as executive editor and chief content officer at Mashable.

    To some it might seem a bit of a departure. You might imagine a headline like: "Longtime New York Times and Reuters veteran forsakes legacy media for digital upstart."

    Read the full article.

    (Side note: Although the story on LinkedIn refers to the communication as a  "Memo to Staff," it is highly unlikely that Mashable is sending printed memos rather than email. [In his introduction, Cashman refers to it as a "message."] Using "memo" as a generic term was part of my presentation topic at ABC 2013 in New Orleans: "The Memo Is Dead.")

    Discussion Starters:

    • In what ways does this email follow principles described in Chapter 6 about positive and neutral messages? Where does it fall short?
    • In addition to the direct style, what other organizational strategies does Cashman use in his email? In what ways are they effective or ineffective?
    • If Cashman asked for your feedback on his email before he sent it, what would you advise? 
  • Facebook Finally Admits Decline in Young Teens

    Facebook-teensAfter denying reports of young teens forgoing Facebook, company officials have finally admitted the decline. On a third-quarter earnings call, CFO David Ebersman told analysts,

    "Our best analysis on youth engagement in the US reveals that usage of Facebook among US teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens."

    This drop seemed to shake investors' confidence. The stock dropped 2% on the news.

    According to the CNET article, Ebersman also admitted that it's difficult to determine teen activity becauses this group often fabricates dates of birth. 

    Earlier reports claimed that Facebook isn't cool now that mom and dad (and grandma) have accounts. Some statistics show that young teens are flocking to sites such as Twitter and Tumblr instead. 

    Image source.

    Discussion Starters:

    • How do you think Facebook made the decision to stop denying reports? What do you think were the deciding points?
    • What's your view of Facebook's claim about fabricated birth dates? What are the responsibilities of users, the company, parents, and perhaps other groups?
  • Hallmark's "Gay Apparel" Is Now "Fun Apparel"

    Hallmark sweaterAccused of taking the "gay" out of Christmas, Hallmark has changed traditional song lyrics on a sweater ornament. The "Holiday Sweater" reads, "Don we now our fun apparel."

    Comments, like this one, have been harsh on the company's Facebook page: "Your ugly sweater ornament is offensive and just another reason why I will look for another company to use for greeting cards!"

    The company posted a statement and an update in response to the controversy:

    Holiday Sweater Ornament Update

    UPDATE 10/31/2013:

    We've been surprised at the wide range of reactions expressed about the change of lyrics on this ornament, and we're sorry to have caused so much concern. We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products and in hindsight, we realize we shouldn't have changed the lyrics on the ornament.

    Statement originally posted 10/30/2013

    Hallmark created this year's Holiday Sweater ornament in the spirit of fun. When the lyrics to "Deck the Halls" were translated from Gaelic and published in English back in the 1800s, the word "gay" meant festive or merry. Today it has multiple meanings, which we thought could leave our intent open to misinterpretation.

    The trend of wearing festively decorated Christmas sweaters to parties is all about fun, and this ornament is intended to play into that, so the planning team decided to say what we meant: "fun." That's the spirit we intended and the spirit in which we hope ornament buyers will take it.

     Discussion Starters:

    • To what extent do you agree with the strong reactions? Do you think the anger is justificated, or did people overreact?
    • Assess Hallmark's first statement and the update. What works well, and what would you suggest changing?