2010 Award Winners

Jay Johnson

Jay Johnson

Jay Johnson of WorldLink Communications has made APCC history by winning awards in two categories, Excellence in Training and in Excellence in Electronic Media.  His colleagues’ praise for his work speaks to Jay’s creativity, hard work, and dedication to his clients—all the signs of excellence in consulting.

Tamara Maxwell, president of Our Youth Lifeline, who nominated Jay for the Excellence in Training Award, stressed the community service goals of the agency and the results achieved by Jay and the WorldLink team. Our Youth Lifeline (OYL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged urban youth from the Detroit and Flint, Michigan areas. OYL offers classroom-based instruction and training, free of charge, to children 14-17 years old in the areas of leadership, conflict resolution, career development, and public presentation.

Training Content
WorldLink was hired to improve the skills of OYL students in three key areas: 1) Leadership development, 2) Career and professional skill development, and 3) Public presentation training.

In the leadership module, Jay provides extensive training in leadership qualities and behavior. Students are asked to role-play real-world scenarios that test their skills in areas such as conflict resolution, decision making, and group leadership. Furthermore, students are instructed in the practice of diffusing arguments and are taught strategies to win over hostile audiences or individuals in the discussion.

For the career module, Jay works through cover letter/resume development, which is often the first time these students have ever been asked to complete them. He uses video analysis to actually show the students areas they could improve, rather than just lecturing to them. Again, using role-playing, Jay and his team develop scenarios to help students analyze their reactions to a business environment. In terms of student participation and interest, these sessions are an invaluable part of the training package.

Finally, in the public presentation module, students learn the types of speeches and communication strategies for effective organization and delivery. The students are also exposed to the fundamentals of non-verbal communication, cultural differences in communication, and audience analysis. The session ends with a presentation to local business leaders.

The Results
Ms. Maxwell reported,

We could not be happier with [the WorldLink team’s] efforts to jump right in, and the results they have achieved to-date. Their work has helped our students understand and demonstrate strong leadership skills in their individual schools, communicate with peers and adults in more positive ways, and become more successful as they search for employment in an extremely tough market.  As the students continue to learn and put these skills into practice, our expectations for them will grow, and they will ultimately be more successful individuals…. OYL is very pleased to have a continuing working relationship with Jay Johnson and WorldLink Communications. Since hiring them to support our training, OYL is making a difference in the community, not only for now, but for the future. WorldLink is a big part of our mission and success.

What great praise from a client for a successful training venture!

2010 Excellence in Electronic Media Award – Jay Johnson, WorldLink Communications LLC
Jay Johnson’s second award nomination came from Terry Fischer, his partner—another high honor to be recognized for one’s internal corporate work, specifically Jay’s exceptional efforts in digital communication strategies and market development. According to Terry,

Jay’s initiatives in building our company’s online presence and successfully marketing WorldLink services in social media and other digital channels make him well-deserved of this prestigious honor.

The Overall Approach

Jay’s overall approach covers both internal and external projects to improve the strength and financial viability of the company and can be divided into three main components:

  1. Development of expertise and sales in 2nd level social media tools and applications
  2. Launch of WorldLink blog (www.worldlinkcomm.com/category/blog/) to promote the  website, increase traffic, and market business solutions
  3. Integration of digital video capabilities to be promoted as part of the overall business strategy

Some of the ongoing social media projects include:

  • Working with Creative Kids Design—a local non-profit start-up looking for ways to market their products online, and at a low cost
  • Assisting the United Way of Genesee County, Michigan—a branch of the United Way serving the needs of over 420,000 residents through social media based community outreach
  • Developing a comprehensive digital media strategy as part of a Wayne State University grant to increase HIV awareness among young adults living in Detroit
  • Partnering with a technology company, Max360, to add a social media module to their enterprise solution package

The Results
Each of these initiatives has measurable results, both in reaching potential customers through new channels and in new client satisfaction. Internally since creating the blog for WorldLink Communications and committing to regular content updates and search engine optimization efforts, the company has realized a ten-fold increase in traffic to their site, continuing to grow each week. Additionally, through search engine optimization, their rankings have improved on Google and Yahoo. Most notably, they recently attracted an international medical device start-up company interested in content development and editing services for their website and marketing material.

Terry reports these client results:

Our company receives tremendous feedback from clients regarding the increases in prospects, media coverage, and community recognition. There is no doubt that WorldLink’s targeted digital media efforts are responsible for our customer satisfaction. Jerry Lehman, a Director of the Genesee County United Way, wrote, ‘Jay has been essential in helping our organization come up to speed on the advances in social media. We feel more in touch with the community and it helps our fundraising projects get off to a great start. We appreciate his dedication and rely on Jay to help us continue to improve technically as an organization.’

Another great client testimonial, with his colleague’s extra pat on the back. Jay clearly is meeting his external and internal clients’ needs. Congratulations for a very successful year, Jay!

Reva Daniel

Reva Daniel of Dynamic Business Writing receives the Excellence in Writing for a Client Award for the customized style guide she wrote for Ergon, Inc. The style guide demonstrates perfection in content and professionalism in the process. The following description outlines how Reva worked collaboratively with the client to create a uniform style guide, now used across the globe in Ergon locations. The booklet is consistent with best practices in stylistics, in usability design, and in attention to client needs.

Reva Daniel, president of Dynamic Business Writing in Clinton, MS, has enjoyed a successful career as a writing consultant to businesses and the government since the 1980s. In that role, Reva addresses not only the large issues that make text reader-friendly—organization, format, and style. But as a stickler for correctness, she also can spot an error better than most. She must have memorized The Gregg Reference Manual, for which she has served as an outside reviewer. It is the latter skills that she brought to bear on the assignment for her client Ergon, Inc.: She developed a corporate-specific style guide that will create correctness and consistency in written documents throughout the company worldwide.

The content of the Ergon Style Guide, which is based on an extensive review of the corporation’s communication, was produced after she had presented training sessions for Ergon employees and had become familiar with their writing. Working closely with two vice presidents, Reva used the company-specific information they provided to create a consistent style across the many Ergon companies, essentially developing “the Ergon way.” In the process, Reva and the team followed best practices in stylistics, in usability design, and in attention to client needs.

Document Design Elements

The booklet was designed to be useable by incorporating these elements:

  • A booklet style with a wire binding for ease of handling and stability of the binding
    • Multiple ways to find information
    • A table of contents listing major sections
    • A detailed index
    • Many cross references to items within the guide in addition to references to specific sections in The Gregg Reference Manual
    • Alphabetical order for entries
  • Heavily formatted content to indicate at a glance what kind of information the user can  expect to find within that formatting
    • Extra notes and helps in boxes
    • Icons to show types of content
  • Brief explanations with examples (not wordy)
  • Alternatives to wordy paragraphs
    • Bulleted or numbered lists, as appropriate
    • Informal tables
    • Full formal tables to summarize complex rules or relationships, such as the rules for subject-verb agreement or placement of quotation marks with other punctuation, etc.
  • Quick References
    • URLs for further help online in a table format on the back cover for easy access
    • Pronoun subject-verb agreement table, complete with an example of each, repeated on the back cover for quick access to tricky content

Usability Testing

To test the usability of the booklet, Reva worked with reviewers both within and outside the organization to answer questions such as:

  • Where did you first look for information?
  • Where did you finally find the answer?
  • How easy or difficult was it to find the information on a scale of 1–5?
  • How easy or difficult was it to understand and apply the information on a 1–5 scale?
  • Where would you have wanted to find the information?

Appealing to Corporate Authority

Finally, to encourage use of the style guide, the corporate president endorsed the guide and its use. The signature of the beloved president of the huge family-owned corporation was powerful. In the short paragraph of endorsement, which was placed on the inside cover, the president commented on the ease of access and the purpose of the style guide. His final sentence said, “We expect that you will make the Ergon Style Guide an integral tool in your daily work.”

Indeed, that is the result achieved—a consistent, well-designed, widely used style guide customized to meet the needs of the corporation and its employees. Plus, the Ergon Style Guide demonstrates Reva Daniel’s expertise and professionalism—a worthy recipient of the 2010 APCC Excellence in Writing for a Client Award.

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