FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 08.29.2023

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find client news, an impactful marketing collaboration, text etiquette, small talk, and a sweet Avalon fun fact. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

Avalon will be closed on Friday, September 1 and Monday, September 4 for Labor Day. Your Avalon teams will ensure that all campaigns remain on schedule. I hope you have a great long weekend that leaves you refreshed and ready for fall fundraising. I’m excited for the season ahead.

On a sober note, The Washington Post released a challenging report on human remains that are still housed in Smithsonian collections. Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch, III published an op-ed on August 20 to acknowledge and condemn this “abhorrent and dehumanizing” legacy, apologize, and outline the Smithsonian’s ongoing work of reckoning and repair. He wrote, “I have always felt that a full, unvarnished, honest telling of history is the only way for us to move forward as a people, as a nation and as institutions.” Thank you, Secretary Bunch, for your candor, accountability, and vision.

For creative inspiration, we are following the immense popularity of the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) limited edition library cards, featuring Jay-Z. The 13 cards are now considered hip hop memorabilia, they are a huge hit, and—best of all—they have generated 11,000 (!) new library accounts. It’s an inspired engagement campaign and an exciting collaboration. Marketing VP Barb Perell noted four lessons for direct marketers:

  • Stay mission relevant. BPL chief executive Linda Johnson explained, “Swag in the form of T-shirts or mugs, that’s not really what we’re about. The card is your ticket to everything we have.”
  • Make people feel like insiders. The special cards are only available to New York residents.
  • Provide options. The library created multiple designs and rotated them among the branches to promote visiting different sites.
  • Inclusion matters. Library member, artist, and scholar of Black joy Chaz Barracks observed, “We don’t always see Black stories like Jay-Z’s take over everyday public spaces. Every time people go to get other books, maybe it’ll encourage them to remember that our stories exist in the library, too.”

In other news, senior VP Jackie Libby shared a fascinating article on the evolving grammar of texting. A hot topic for linguists is the effect of using a period at the end of a text. Those who drop the punctuation (often younger people) explain that the message bubble makes the end of a text obvious, and a full stop isn’t necessary. In fact, omitting the final period is now common enough that including it may convey an unintentionally formal or curt tone. I agree with Jackie that it still feels wrong to end a sentence without punctuation. Even so, it’s something to consider as we interact with young people in our lives—and our audiences.

From Avalon HR, senior director Melissa Ferrell shared two great posts on talking. The first is an article on the power of positive self-talk, such as affirmations, visualizations, and mindfulness. These techniques, the author explains, can enhance confidence, focus, and communications. The second article, from Wired, covers office small talk. Here’s the secret to making the most of chit chat at work:

The first step is to embrace the awkwardness. “You have to be willing to accept the uncertainty going into that conversation and be curious about where it might go,” says Julie Beck, a senior editor at The Atlantic and host of the podcast How to Talk to People.

Small talk isn’t small, by the way. It helps colleagues build relationships, both in person and remotely. For example, it’s how we discovered our newest Avalon fun fact. Our virtual gatherings committee recently treated everyone to ice cream, and our team shared favorite recipes, flavors, and stories while they ate together online. A surprising connection emerged: at least 7 Avalon team members have worked at an ice cream shop or truck in the past (and, as marketing VP Barb Perell said, “have the arms to prove it”). What a sweet team!

Take care,


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Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group
202-429-6080 ext. 102