Making Voicemail More Effective

I just got another voicemail. “Hi, this so-and-so with XYZ company,” the message says. “Can you call me back as soon as possible?” OK. Sure I can call back old so-and-so, and when I do they will probably ask me for some things that I need to look into. We will chat for a bit. I’ll promise to look into the matter, make some notes about what I need to do for follow-up and finally the call is over. Mission accomplished!

Well, not quite. I still need to do that research and then get back to the caller with their requested information!

Wouldn’t it have been much more efficient if on the initial voicemail message the caller had just told me what they were looking for? I could’ve checked it out and had what they needed right in front of me when I returned the call. Then we’d both be done with our interaction – so-and-so would have their answer and I could get back to doing some real work.

Please consider this the next time you’re leaving a message for someone. The time you save could be mine.

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Favorite Albums of 2013

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I co-edit a little music blog called, Smells Like Pop. Each year we put out a list of our albums of the year, and as usual, my list of “favorite” albums is just that – a list of what stuck with me most throughout the year, and not necessarily what my brain thinks should be the best albums. Hopefully these 10 recordings will stand the test of time.

  1. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
    Most-hyped record of the year, finally worms its way into my brain and reveals itself to be “all that”
  2. Typhoon – Whitelighter
    Most underated album of the year from Stumptown big band – almost every song a classic that begs you to sing along
  3. Savages – Silence Yourself
    Ferocious songs and serious attitude come together for an album that’s almost as a great as their live show
  4. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
    Sounding like the Fall’s bratty grandchild with pop songs wrapped in sloppy hooks, and all no longer than they need to be
  5. Cate LeBon – Mug Museum
    Icy and hot, restrained and heartfelt, retro and modern … an album of contradictions from my favorite Welsh singer songwriter
  6. Radiation City – Animals in the Meridian
    Hey! You got 70s AM rock in my vintage stereophonic lounge music. Hey, you got vintage stereophonic – well, you get the idea. These great PDX tastemakers all taste great together.
  7. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
    Percolating, ping-pong splatter-beats and over-processed synths anchoring songs of gender dysphoria – what’s not to like?
  8. ARP – More
    Brian Eno and Kraftwerk walk into a bar. Musicality ensues … minimal, edgy, pretty and discrete
  9. Yo La Tengo – Fade
    Meditative and sincere with songs pared to their essence and then set on a hypnotic “repeat” for a tranquil, yet uplifting album
  10. Deerhunter – Monomania
    If I could magically join any band, this might be the one. Not an immediate “winner”, but the distorted mind-bending songs slowly create a solid whole.

 Click to see the Honorable Mentions at Smells Like Pop

 

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New Domain Names Coming Soon

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Did you miss your chance to register your business name as a simple dot-com? By the end of the year you should have literally hundreds of new domain names to choose from. Domains like .nyc, .shop, .web and even .online. But sadly, there’s no .pdx – as a Portlander I searched for that one right away.

New domains for businesses

There are many new domains specific to business types though, names like .build, .boutique, .hotel, and even .vodka! How businesses actually use these names and how accepting the general public will be is still to be decided. I can tell you that www.drink.vodka must be one that somebody already has their eyes on.

Some basic domains like .llc or .inc may come in handy for some businesses, but I wonder how powerful IBM.inc is next to IBM.com?

Personally, I was curious to see how I could make my own business domain name stand-out more. After searching though the list of possibilities I saw a .design and .marketing that might work well. Then it occurred to me that we could have a whole second wave of dot-com squatters gobbling up new domain combinations, like the one above for vodka, in hopes of making some fast cash.

Subdomains as specialty domains

Businesses that are currently using subdomains for speciality aspects of their sites like stores and events, could add a .shop and a .rsvp to their line-up of domains if it makes it easier to direct their customers to those sites. You could direct potential trade show attendees to mycompany.rsvp to sign-up for a special seminar, and send them to mycompany.shop for your on-line store instead of rsvp.mycompany.com. Does this seem like splitting hairs? I think losing the extra dot actually makes the address easier to convey and quicker to digest. For a large campaign that could make a real difference in marketing results.

Domains for bloggers and personalities

Personal blogs like this one could more quickly let you know what they are with a .blog domain. If you missed your chance to get yourname.com, then yourname.blog, yourname.actor, or yourname.web are likely all sounding pretty good right now.

Yourname.black or yourname.blue? I’m sure what the thinking is here?!

You can see all of the new domain name possibilities here.

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Remember the Email Subject Line!

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Want to do something really nice for all of the people you send emails to? Make sure you include an email subject line that briefly describes what the heck is in your email. If you’re wondering why this is important, ask yourself if you’ve ever had to search through your emails for a specific piece of information only to start mumbling curses when the email isn’t where it seems like it should be. Buried in that list of reply-to-alls is the information that should have been easy to find with a quick scan. If only the sender had given you a clue in the subject line. Something like “FTP Information for the XYZ website migration” makes a lot more sense when searching than simply “information.”

I started thinking about the merits of this after reading an article on Fast Company which was essentially a reposting of an article, 5 Tips For Writing Productive Email Subject Lines written by Thanh Pham for Asian Efficiency. So, now I’m reposting that repost for you! Here’s Tip number 2 from Pham’s article:

2. Be Specific

On top of avoiding one-word subject lines, try to be as specific as possible. The more specific you are with your subject line, the less you have to write in the body of the email. Plus it’s easier for the recipient to scan, search and reference your email when you write specific subject lines.

Here’s an example:

Bad: Dinner
Good: Dinner party at Stacy
Best: Dinner party at Stacy this Sat (Nov/7) @ 8pm

Notice (or imagine) how the brevity of your emails changes as your subject lines become more specific. With the “bad” subject line from above, you still have to elaborate when and where the party is. With the “best” subject line, it’s all there and you can just get to the point in the body.

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This is especially useful when you’re checking email on a tablet or your phone. When you look at your inbox, you can see immediately the information you need.

So be nice to your email recipients, and remember the subject line. The person you help could in fact be me!

 

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Perfect Pop Transmissions from Radiation City

Radiation CityAdding two different genres of music together to describe a new unnamed third is a common trope when trying to describe the sound of a band. In the case of Radiation City, whose music exists at a fascinating intersection of time and space, you almost have no choice. So here goes: their new album Animals in The Median sounds a bit sixties tropicalia pop meets psychedelic seventies rock mixed with some percolating beats of the eighties and then sprinkled with the nineties post-modern sound of Stereolab. Got all that?

The members of Radiation City play these timeless sounds with a listener’s ear, giving each other the space to create some really lovely textures and exquisitely crafted melodies, and all with a dark and beautiful edge. The twelve songs in total are both sad and uplifting, a contradiction that makes sense when you realize that the band hails from Portland, Oregon where we have the most incredible bright summers and some unusually long dark winters.

Album opener, Zombies could have been written in either 1985 or 1965, reminding me of Fun Boy Three or Banarama, thankfully without the eighties drum sound. Foreign Bodies takes you on tour of early seventies AM pop with rising harmonies and syncopated drumming, but it never goes saccharine even as the song rises to a climax. Wary Eyes shift gears to a reverb-laden space where Galaxie 500 would feel right at home, and the vocals are equally haunting. Buckminterstfullerene sounds like early Pink Floyd or the Beach Boys, until the bridge veers into a piano bar stomp that almost sounds like a Glam rock anthem. Slightly muddy production keeps the song from sounding overly pop, though. In fact the whole record has a hazy quality that keeps the listener at a slight distance, sounding like sonic transmissions from a ghostly past.

There are a lot of contemporary indie bands milking the 60s-70s seventies psych-pop vein in a seemingly ironic way that sounds transient and disposable to my ears. Radiation City have their roots in an eclectic musical past, but the music they’re creating shows a band very much in command of their own sound, a band building for the future.

Originally published in Smells Like Pop

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All My Fits I Print As News!

I’m David Bailey, and yes, I try to be clever when I can. I’m a Portland-based creative director, logo designer, illustrator and WordPress website developer who likes to listen to, play, and write about music. I also try to stay current on politics, style, design, movies, fiction and pop culture. Wow–that’s a mouthful! Curious about what I do for a living? Please visit the website for my business, Deluxe Design and Advertising. Want to see some things on the internet that strike my fancy? Check out my Pinterest page. And finally, if you want to read about what music makes me all tingly inside, check out my reviews at Smells Like Pop!

Want to get in touch? Just shout, “Hey, David Bailey!

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