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The story of a big potty, accents and communicating

In the art of communication, it’s not just what we say, but how we say it that can determine whether or not we are reaching our audience. In this lesson: the story of a big potty, accents, and communicating.


We moved to Massachusetts when I was in second grade.

This was the first of the moves that would take me to five new regions of the country by the time I was a junior in high school.

When my mom and dad were house hunting in Massachusetts, they looked at several areas… and narrowed in on Worcester. When the realtor was showing Mom and Dad the house we ended up living in for about a year — my mom kept hearing the realtor say she could have a big potty in the house. The realtor was seriously standing in the middle of the living room telling my parents about this BIG POTTY they could have…

After she said it a few times, my mom realized the oh so Massachusetts realtor was actually saying that my mom could have a big PAHTY (party) in this new house.

Boston accents are wicked cool.

I remembered the story while working in Boston this week. My mom tells me I absorbed that Massachusetts accent pretty quickly. I wish we had video of me walking around TAAHking like that as a 7-year old.

I’ve always been quick to pick speaking styles up. For better or worse. It took me FOREVER to get rid of the Minnesohta accent I adopted when I worked at a TV station there over 10 years ago.

The problem with an accent can be when it creates a communications issue. While it’s so individual and a part of who you are… it can stop you from landing a job or getting your soundbite in a TV story if they feel the audience won’t understand your message.

Many of my clients work with me to make sure they can communicate better with or without an accent.

I love accents. I love listening to how people form their words and what they emphasize in a sentence. Regional accents are a lesson in our country’s history.

Speaking of history lessons… have you had a tour of Fenway Park in Boston?

I toured the park yesterday. Head on over to my Facebook page for a tour of the park in the SNOW, the locker rooms and some history of the park.

Side note: when people ask me if moving around so much as a child was terrible, I tell them that without all those moves — I wouldn’t know so many parts of the country, have friends across the U.S. (and world) and wouldn’t have the regional U.S. knowledge I have. An example: While working the day breaking news came into our Memphis newsroom about the death of six firefighters — I’m quite sure my anchors were two of the only TV anchors in the nation who pronounced Worcester the right way. I wouldn’t have known that without all the moves as a kid.


Kathryn Janicek | Media Coach, Producer, Public Speaking Trainer
Kathryn Janicek is a three-time Emmy Award-winning television producer with 20 years of experience working in newsrooms across the country. Kathryn coached talent, producers, and writers before switching her focus on helping entrepreneurs and corporate executives. Now, based in her home city of Chicago, she is a much sought-after media coach and public speaking trainer who will help you produce the best YOU. Click HERE now to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Kathryn!

How to Prepare for & React to a Media Crisis (so it doesn’t become a bigger deal)

Imagine…

Something terrible happens – and the media is calling and beating your door down.

You hide.

You don’t know what to do or what to say.

You did nothing wrong — but you just handled the situation wrong. And now, there are accusations online, your employees are confused, and the media won’t. just. go. away.

You can go from normal to a media crisis in minutes. An employee sends out a racist tweet. You lay off workers. Your CEO gets in a car crash and he was drinking. There’s a video of your employees doing something illegal.

What could happen at your company?

Every organization is vulnerable to a crisis. If you ignore it – it doesn’t disappear.

Maybe it’s not even your crisis – but it’s a vendor’s or a client of yours is having a crisis. Maybe you’re a law firm, a financial firm, an accounting firm… and you have clients who have a crisis. If you know how to help them — you can save them.

TRUST ME – if you don’t prepare – you’ll be worse off.

  • The impact to your financial and reputational bottom line will be more severe.
  • Employees and other stakeholders will not know what’s happening and will become confused and angry.
  • Your organization will be perceived as inept and possibly criminally negligent.
  • The media crisis will last MUCH longer. 

Why trust ME?

I have 20+ years of media experience as a TV and social media producer, executive producer, writer and news director. I have seen the good and the ugly. I helped manage my TV station’s 9/11 coverage.

As the spokesperson for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, I handled all communications for one of the biggest news events in Minnesota: the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Talk about a crisis. The eight-lane, steel truss arch bridge that carried Interstate 35W across the Mississippi River collapsed into the river during rush hour on August 1, 2007. Thirteen people were killed. 145 were hurt. First thought was terrorism, then it quickly became a structural issue. I was in charge of all local, national and international media – even over the federal response.

The basic steps of effective crisis communications are not difficult, but they require work in order to minimize the damage.

Are you serious about crisis preparedness?

Here is what you need to do: