Sep 062010

The 2011 IKEA Catalog arrived in the mail recently and, as usual, is jam-packed with wonderful organizing ideas! Since we are discussing communication this month, I thought I would tie in my Catalog review with a quick review of IKEA’s communications strategy.

IKEA has a fantastic website at that is customized for 39 different countries in over 30 different languages! That alone merits nominating IKEA for a world business communication award! In addition to their website, they have a YouTube channel currently featuring 12 videos of “Swedish cooking with Jørn” and one of their latest U.S. commercials. IKEA also has a Facebook page (aimed at U.S. residents). While IKEA corporate does not appear to have a Twitter account, individual IKEA stores, like this one in Pittsburgh, do, offering coupons and special deals to followers.

IKEA applies its trademark creativity to its social networking communications strategy. To promote a store in Malmö, Sweden, IKEA used a unique Facebook strategy, posting photos of the new showroom and allowing fans to win products in the photos by tagging them with their names. The video below explains:

Despite an incredible reputation for environmental stewardship and its electronic communications capabilities, IKEA still prints a large paper Catalog each year. (Although this year the Catalog is also available as an iPhone app.) There is something wonderful about getting the Catalog. It is more fun to thumb through than just clicking through pictures on a website. I usually end up using the paper Catalog as a starting reference point but then switch to the website to find out specifics on pricing, sizes and new products.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff and review the 2011 IKEA Catalog!

First, what are some of the new products?

IKEA KIVIK Chaise. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

The KIVIK chaise is an elongated sofa that you can stretch out on and put your feet up while you are watching TV or reading. In a pinch, you could probably use it as a guest bed as well. It comes in 7 colors and the top layer is made of memory foam to comform to your body. The chaise can be mixed and matched with other pieces in the KIVIK sofa line to create the sofa of your dreams. If you are looking to reduce the number of pieces to clean and move in your family or living room, you might consider swapping a sofa and ottoman for one long chaise.

IKEA KIVIK Sofa Bed. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

IKEA KIVIK Sofa Bed. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

If you really need a sofa that doubles as a guest bed, however, the new KIVIK sofa-bed is a great option. It includes storage space for linens and pillows in the armrests!

The FÖRHÖJA wall cabinet is a cute little shadowbox shelf almost 10 inches deep you can use to creatively display your treasures. Here they have used it for toys, but you could put anything from photos to plants to books to china. Although the Catalog picture looks like it comes in blue, the website shows only a black or white option.

IKEA FÖRHÖJA wall cabinet. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

IKEA FÖRHÖJA wall cabinet beneath kitchen cabinets. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

Here is another Catalog shot where the designer stacked FÖRHÖJA cabinets beneath regular kitchen cabinets to provide an open shelving appearance.

IKEA Halogen Bulb E26. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

As of August 1, 2010, IKEA began phasing out incandescent light bulbs in its stores
with the goal of eliminating incandescent bulbs by January 1, 2011. IKEA will continue to stock compact fluorescent bulbs, and LED lamps as well as solar powered products like the SUNNAN work lamp.  (For every SUNNAN sold, IKEA donates a lamp to UNICEF to help children in India and Pakistan to be able to read and study after dusk). New for Fall 2010, are halogen bulbs that fit standard light sockets. Halogen bulbs use 30% less energy and last 2-4 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. The new halogen bulbs seem to come in standard and chandelier/night light sizes. IKEA also offers lightbulb recycling to address any environmental concerns with disposal of new lightbulb technologies.

IKEA GODMORGON storage box. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

IKEA GODMORGON storage box. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

The GODMORGON series has a new clear storage box for cosmetics with a tilt-up cosmetic brush section. The box is designed to fit in a bathroom cabinet drawer but if your drawer is a nonstandard size it would also look attractive sitting on the counter or on a storage shelf.

IKEA EKBY ALEX shelf with drawer. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

The new shelf with storage drawer addition to the EKBY line is great for situations where you need to store items that need protection or are unattractive (like loose paper or miscellaneous small objects) with other solid objects you want displayed.

IKEA RETUR recycling system. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

The RETUR series gives us another attractive and space-saving way to store recyclables. The shallow bins (about 8 inches deep) can be attached to the wall and lifted off when it is time to empty them.

In addition to all the great new products, the Catalog is full of style ideas. Here are just a few that could help you with your organization.

IKEA EKBY JÄRPEN/ EKBY BJÄRNUM. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

The designer of this living room creatively used the EKBY JÄRPEN/ EKBY BJÄRNUM shelving above the window to add more space for books. Blinds were used instead of curtains to maximize the window space.
The designer in this room did some really creative work with shelving, putting the EKBY JÄRPEN/ EKBY HÅLL shelves on the upper-half of the wall, leaving the lower half free for small furniture and photos. Isn’t it cool that the shelving also turns the corner of the room to maximize storage space!

Storage idea from IKEA PAX wardrobe system. Image © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Used with permission.

Here’s a great jewelry storage tip from the designer of the PAX wardrobe system. Loop long necklaces in a loose knot over a closet rod!

Have some fun and take your own browse through the IKEA Catalog! What products are you most excited about for 2011? Please share in the comments.

Sep 032010

One of the great benefits of modern communications technology is the ability to transmit life-saving information rapidly to large numbers of people during an emergency situation.

"Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Wheeler, a U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer, radios to a Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter during a search and rescue case in Oxbow N.D., March 26, 2009." Photo by Chuck Simmins. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

September is National Preparedness Month in the United States and encourages all of us to review our emergency preparations this month. Those of us on the east coast of the United States are getting a real life reminder in the form of Hurricane Earl, which fortunately has changed course and is not predicted to cause significant damage.

As you review your emergency preparations this month, don’t forget to update your emergency communications! While most people primarily rely on local or national news for emergency alerts, social networking is a new and growing tool in emergency management and there is plenty of current, local information available if you just know where to look. In just a few minutes or less, you can connect to receive valuable information that just might save your life!

1. National Emergency Information

FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a Twitter feed with information on major national emergencies. Hurricane Earl is the primary topic of late. FEMA’s Twitter feed is followed by 17, 356 people and agencies. FEMA also has a Facebook page with 16,303 fans.  If you don’t participate in social networking, you can also sign up to receive email alerts from FEMA at this link.

2. Local Emergency Information

Since FEMA covers a huge territory and can’t possibly stay on top of every local emergency, it is good idea to stay in touch with your local emergency management department as well. provides this indexed map where you can click on your state and find your local emergency contacts. Nearly all of these agencies have Twitter or Facebook pages to share information. Some also offer email or cell phone text alerts.

In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has a Twitter feed and Facebook page as well as e-mail alerts.  For those in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, CapitAlert is a service for traffic, weather, terrorism and other alerts through the coordinated efforts of the governments of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

3. Really Local Information

Some of the best communications networks to have in your emergency planning are the immediate neighbors on your street. Setting up a neighborhood directory, Facebook page or Twitter account is a great way to enable neighbors to help each other. You never know when you might be stranded and need the help of those closest to you. Our neighborhood learned this lesson during last year’s severe snowstorms.

Has anyone been saved by social networking alerts though? Actually, yes! While the numbers aren’t large, there are many incredible stories of people being saved by technology.

Emergency preparedness is one of the feel-good benefits of our increasing interconnection through social networking. You never know when you could be the “friend” or “follower” that makes the difference.

What resources do you rely on for emergency information? Have a social networking rescue story to tell? Please share in the comments.

To my U.S. readers, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Sep 012010

It’s the start of a new month and that means a new theme here at Ruly. In September, we are going to be discussing one of the most vital components of success in your personal and business life . . . communication.

"Classic Red London Telephone Boxes," Photo by niai. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

"LinkedIn Centipede Participants in the 2010 ING Bay to Breakers." Photo by smi23le. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

In 2010, there are so many ways to communicate with people: in-person contact, telephone, snail mail, email, fax, texting, videochat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. etc. With all of the ways to communicate, how do you stay on top of all that information? How do you know which is the best way to reach someone? Are new social etiquette rules being formed?

The world of digital communication is evolving so quickly that I don’t think there is one “right” way to communicate. There are a variety of communication strategies and I invite you to share yours! If you are interested in writing a guest blog this month about your personal and/or business communications strategy or even an anonymous rant sharing your frustrations with communicating in the 21st century, please contact me at In exchange for your well-crafted words, I would be happy to include in the post a short blurb about your product or service (if applicable) or guest blog on your site in return.

To start, I will share with you my own communications strategy, which I consider a work in progress.

From a business perspective, it has been my philosophy that I want to make it as easy as possible for readers and prospective clients to stay up to date on what I am doing and to contact me. I try to speak their “language” and have this blog, a private email list as well as accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I generally have the same information updated in all these places continually. I try not to put information in one place that is not reflected in the others since I think it is unrealistic to expect that people will want to take the time to stay up to date on every communication I write in every medium. I also don’t want people to feel alienated if they miss out on something on a network they don’t use.

In other projects I am working on currently, I have the challenge of communicating with a mixed group of people, some of whom use the Internet and some who don’t. It becomes even more difficult to print and mail paper documents reflecting the substance of what occurs in Internet discussions. There is a definite generation gap at work where the majority of the people not using the Internet are older people. Bridging the gap between the digital and paper worlds is tough and time consuming and, despite best efforts, there is always at least some information that never makes it to the paper world.

From a personal perspective, my contacts are all over the place. Some I only ever see in person.  There are some that require paper/snail mail communications (including hard copy photos). Some want the telephone. Most use email. Some text by cell phone. A few are on Facebook and almost none are on Twitter.

Among many people I know, social networking is a hard sell for a variety of reasons. The most common objections I hear are:

1. Fear of humiliation/embarrassment. If you have worked hard to build a reputation in your business life and maintaining that reputation is essential to your job, Facebook can fairly be perceived as having more negatives than positives. The big challenge of Facebook is that you are connecting people from various parts of your personal and professional life into one big group of “friends.” While in the real world, you might selectively share different kinds of information with each group, on Facebook, it is all one big pool. If just one friend posts something inappropriate, whether about you or about them, you could alienate contacts instantly that may have taken years to build. Many people view this downside as outweighing any benefit to Facebook and simply opt out of the process.

2. Intimidation by the online popularity contest. Popularity contests are only fun for popular people. Facebook and Twitter give you the “benefit” of numerically calculating exactly how many friends and followers you have. Who wants to go on the record publicly saying, “Hello, World! I have exactly 2 friends.” I have learned not to assign any value, however to the number of online friends a person has. When I did a quick inventory of my own Facebook friends, I was surprised to find that the people I know who are incredibly popular in real life didn’t have the most online friends while some of my less popular friends had enormous numbers of online friends.

3. It’s uncool. There seems to be a bit of a generation gap (or maybe a personality gap) between my generation and the younger generations that built Facebook and Twitter into the powerhouses they are today. Many of my peers think it is tremendously uncool to join a big group for any reason. They want to be individuals. Fanning a business or joining a cause is something they only do because they have to for some other reason (a relative owns it or they are raising money for a cause). They also think it is geeky to spend so much time on the Internet. The whole concept of social networking is unpleasing to them. Take for example the quotes below:

“So it came to pass that I started logging on to Facebook. And, like seemingly everyone else I’d ever met, eventually S “friended” me. My policy has been always to accept whoever asks, no question, and never to friend anyone myself. (In this way I maintain the fiction that I’m not an active user.)”

–Kate Bolick, “A Death on Facebook,” The Atlantic, September 2010

“I am still trying to keep my daily screen-time to the absolute minimum. Those of you who are trying to find me on Facebook, please be warned that I will probably never find the time to become your friend. But I do love you.”

–Artist Alex Martin of The Little Brown Dress Project fame.

I seem to meet a lot of these individualistic friends. Even when I have tried to friend them on Facebook, I run into that awkward privacy screen where Facebook basically says, “Yes, this person is a user but no you cannot contact them even to ask whether they will be your friend. They are in the Facebook void.”

Even if you do manage to friend someone, there is always the chance they are “ignoring” you electronically without your knowledge. The Washington Post recently wrote about new technologies to block Twitter communications from unwanted users:

“The problem with one big water cooler is that you don’t always want to be at the water cooler with everyone all the time,” said Bretton MacLean, a Toronto developer of a popular iPhone app called TweetAgora, which lets users block unwanted tweets without the tweeter ever knowing. As the company puts it, “Some people are great in real life but just plain suck at Twitter.”

–Michael S. Rosenwald, “Too much Tweeting from Twitter friends? There’s an iPhone app for that — and some other ways to get anti-social on networks.” The Washington Post, August 29, 2010.

And yet even if these three objections speak loudly and clearly to you and Facebook and Twitter seem like too much drama, I don’t think any of us, particularly those in business, can ignore social networking entirely. Just like those who don’t want to learn the Internet and want everything mailed or telephoned, you can’t expect that everyone else is going to cater your needs.

It seems that social networking is here to stay although I am sure it will probably continue to evolve and improve over time. The number of people we can connect with is truly incredible. I do sense a little social fatigue setting in, though. Sometimes we don’t want key life events shared in one mass mailing. We miss the intimacy of the slow-moving social grapevine–being the first to know rather than just “one of the friends.”  This may be something we see addressed in future versions of social networks.

How do you communicate with your friends, family and business associates? Do you have a suggestion for me to improve Ruly’s communication strategy? Please share in the comments. And if you want to guest blog this month, please contact me at