March 2008


I guess I picked the right picture of Robin from his website based on the comments the post, titled Tim and Robin Discuss “Funeral Home Blogging”, has generated.

Here’s a selection of the things readers have been saying:

“Wow, what a strikingly handsome fellow that Robin Heppell is!”

“He can give me business advice anytime.”

“I feel almost embarassed to say it, but that Mr. Heppell is a strikingly handsome man. Thank you for sharing his picture!”

And for those of you who can’t get enough of Mr. Heppell, here’s another shot:

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Flickr user, Intimaj shares this photo from the family album.  See more sizes here.

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  This interesting-sounding game (I haven’t played it yet) is described as:

The Graveyard is a very short computer game designed by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn. You play an old lady who visits a graveyard. You walk around, sit on a bench and listen to a song. It’s more like an explorable painting than an actual game. An experiment with realtime poetry, with storytelling without words.

The trial version sounds nice, but the full version ($5 pricetag) adds just one dimension:  the lady can die.

Basically, every time you play the full version, she may die.

Hmmmmm….

This is a picture of my brother, Lynn, Jr. and my sister, Crystal.  The looks on their faces are because I’ve just told them something COMPLETELY stupid and then snapped a picture.  I like the shot, because it captures the way they look at me most of the time!

Robin Heppell, Funeral FuturistThe guy to the right, Robin Heppell of the Funeral Futurist, and I recently spent 40 minutes discussing the future of the funeral industry and the Internet, and how the industry can use blogging to market services right now.

You can hear our interview on The Funeral Futurist website in a post titled, Blogging for Funeral Homes with Tim Totten.

After that interview, I also spent 15 minutes chatting with a gentleman from American Funeral Director Magazine (the one published by Kates-Boylston).

He wanted to discuss how funeral homes can use blogs to better connect with a community and a general funeral audience.

Here’s a super-simplified version of my thoughts on funeral blogging:

1.  Blogs are, at the very least, a place to practice your pitch and interaction with clients for free.
2.  A blog can be a free online obituary listing for your firm.
3.  Blogging reveals your true voice, which lets people see the “real you.”
4.  Blogging focuses your thoughts.
5.  Blogging can create a few evangelists or “true fans” who will help spread the word about you to the community.
6.  Blogging connects you to the tech-savvy members of your community.

For more, listen to the Funeral Futurist interview or check out an upcoming issue of American Funeral Director.

I like finding interesting uses of Internet technologies, because they reinforce my belief that the Internet is changing our world in a BIG way.

And while this may not yet be evident in the funeral industry, it is affecting others.

Like the storytelling world, where this new story is told with Google Maps: 

The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming

A recent email conversation with a Final Embrace blog reader has revealed the age old wisdom that some of us have forgotten:  every business needs an attorney.

This funeral director, who I won’t name until he shares the outcome of the legal matter, asked me for an opinion on whether he should hand over funeral arrangement paperwork (contract, embalming authorization, etc.) to the attorney representing his client family in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Concerned that he might damage his relationship with the client family or be included in the lawsuit himself, he wanted to figure out what to do as quickly as possible, so as to lessen any impact it might have on his community standing.

Unfortunately, the issue was clouded by the law firm which requested, in addition to these documents, that the funeral home lower their bill (for services already provided) by almost 20%. 

The director was, at least in my mind, rightfully unsettled by this request, as he did not cause the death and had a signed contract for the services he provided at the price he quoted.  (I think that the attorney is trying to either free up money to fund his own work or wants to look like he accomplished something for the family to justify his fee.  If he/she operates a “no fee unless you recover money” type practice, this reduction of the funeral service bill might qualify as a “recovery.”)

But because I am not a legal scholar, I suggested that he get an attorney immediately. 

Let’s face it, if a client family turns over their affairs to a lawyer or one of those “consumer reporters,” it’s time for you to add a similar layer of support to your firm. 

Just remember, the best time to choose an attorney is NOT when you need one.  Take some time to audition lawyers now, before you need one.  And make sure you find one who can be there when you need him/her.  Because lawsuits, “Action News Reports” and angry families don’t happen when your schedule is most conveniently organized.

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