Blog Writing Samples

(Originally ghost-written for the FuseDesk blog) 

There is a certain subtlety to dealing with the intricate and sometimes intimate matters of business, especially customer support. Even as businesses have moved online, what we say, how we say it and how we back up our words becomes the backbone of our business.

The Shadow of Our Words

Since we can’t talk directly to a customer online, our words are more important than ever. Your website is your face. It represents our hard-earned wrinkles and confident expressions which come from years of experience. It lets people know that you are trustworthy and dependable when you can’t show them that with a firm handshake and wise smile. What you say and how you say it will determine your status both with customers and with all-important search engines, both of which will increase your reach and your customer base.

Cheap Talk Will Always Be Cheap

Suppose for instance that I’m an older company, one who’s been around for decades. As the customer support game changes with the emergence of new technologies and social media, I pledge to be on that cutting edge. So I get a Facebook page and Twitter account. I set up a blog and a real-time chat window. But when a customer tweets me with a problem, I fail to respond timely or at all. This reflects poorly both on my commitment to serve the customer and to be tech-savvy.

Roping ‘Em In and Keeping ‘Em

If your words are your online face, then your content is your soul, so to speak. This is how your customers will judge you. Rather than looking at the slew of social media as an invisible web of hassles, see it for what it is, an ocean of potential customers. Most of these services offer ways to connect with prior contacts, so use that as your basis.

If you don’t think you’ll have time to keep up with all your web presences, delegate. You may already have a Social Media junkie within your organization.

Drawing That Line

Choosing quality content and monitoring our website for consistency is necessary, but reliable customer support is vital. Position your policies in a prominent but non-intrusive place (usually near the bottom, as customers are used to that location).

Be succinct in stating your policies but also thorough enough to leave no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Most importantly, be careful what claims you make about your capabilities. Customer support comes first, but don’t overextend yourself or promise more than you are willing or able to deliver.

Now that you have the web’s attention, let them know your capabilities: what you have to offer and what you can do for them if something goes wrong. Once customers know that your words carry the weight of a well-oiled, compassionate and thoroughly modern business behind them, they won’t waste time anywhere else.

 

Coping with Internet Addiction
(an article I researched, wrote, and edited for Winning Health Magazine.)

We all know and love the internet, right? It provides us with information, recreation, keeping us in touch with friends and family. But how much browsing is too much?

With the prevalence of social networking, online chat, and massive multiplayer online games (MMOs), a growing percentage of the populace now faces internet addiction. When the online world becomes disruptive to the offline world, internet addiction shows its ugly side.

How much is too much?

Well, that’s a tricky question. With more of our life revolving around online activities, it may be challenging to identify web addiction.

Losing time to the online world may be an indication of Internet addiction. General social isolation or distancing yourself from family and friends are other potential symptoms. Feelings of shame or guilt about time spent online also points to Internet addiction.

How do you know when you or a loved one is addicted to the internet? Possible symptoms include a significant weight gain or loss, difficulty sleeping, eye strain, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (pain in the wrists or hands) are all possible symptoms of Internet addiction.

Online addiction is no different from gambling or drug addiction. It affects a great number of people. Much like other addictions, there are changes you can make to your life.

It’s important to be aware of the amount of time you spend online. Set up time away from the internet—time to socialize, exercise or read. And if you’re still unable to change your disruptive internet usage or that of a loved one, there are professional channels available.

Internet addiction is a disease, and help is available.

 

A Slacker’s Guide to Fitness

I’ll be honest. I don’t like exercise.

It’s not that I’m against working out; I’m just really not that into it.

Still, I understand the importance of maintaining regular physical activities. I’m starting to hit that age when my metabolism put down the dumbbells in favor of a bag of Doritos. There’s simply no room for lethargy in my personal routines anymore.

But that doesn’t mean working out has to be some boring old jock-o-rama weight room ordeal, though. You don’t have to go for the burn. There is another way to stop the inanity.

I understand your pain, though. I’ve got the same laundry list of complaints:

As an ex-smoker, I have reduced lung capacity. My knees are shot from skateboarding, unsafe biking, and youthful exuberance. And to be completely honest, the smell of gymnasiums–ripe socks, sweaty t-shirts, over-used cologne and perfume–makes me queasy.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Scientists remind us that numerous studies have found the average human being requires 30 minutes of exercise a day. I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it too. Two to four hours of exercise a week? Ugh…

 

Excerpt from a review of National Geographic Taboo: Tattoo:

Historically tattoos often communicated information beyond the provisions of spoken communication. Among the Iban of Borneo, tattoos denoted tribal status and affiliation. During periods of inter-tribal warfare, a tattoo could rapidly indicate a friend or foe. In the heat of battle, misidentification often meant death. In specific, one hand tattoo sent chills up an enemy’s spine–the mark of a successful headhunter. During times of peace, tattoos acted a tribal roadmap. As an individual journeyed across Borneo, each tribe would adorn a visitor with their clan markings as a sign of friendship.

In many countries, tattooing, and scarification serve as a rite of passage. In Benin, a young Bétamarribé child’s face is striated with intricate cuts, signifying his transitioning into adulthood. Lacing a child’s chest and stomach with scars indicates courage in the face of life’s trials and tribulations. In societies like the Bétamarribé, individuals without these marks are often ridiculed or even ostracized from the tribe…

 

Excerpt from “Yelp! Me: Learning to Live with Online Reviews”

Love them or loathe them, the prevalence of online reviews is undeniable. Sure, nothing is more excruciating than watching a blood, sweat, and tears business raked over the coals by some shoddily coiffed hipster with a smartphone and too much time on her or his hands. At the same time, a glowing word of mouth review or five-star rating from the same smart aleck could boost your sales.

The ABC’s of What Not To Do

A recent episode of Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares proves once and for all the importance of handling online reviews properly. On the show, the proprietors fought every bad review tooth and nail with added venom. For that matter, they even fought with customers in their own restaurant. Let’s just say that the results weren’t exactly ideal. Sure, each curse-laden retort and vengeful retaliation might draw in the take-no-prisoners crowd, but it could alienate every other low key customer whose money is just as green. Sure, we’ve all thought about creating a third corn-shoot in a snide reviewer from time to time. Who wouldn’t? But common sense usually prevails. In an age where online reviews can make or break a small business, it’s paramount to respond to these cyber-jerks promptly and properly…

 

Writer’s Portfolio

(downloadable PDF)

This document was created for my Career Prep class at St. Edward’s University to showcase my writing and design abilities.

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