Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Last week I had the honor of speaking at the NetSquared meeting in Houston. I talked about how the merger of online and offline is transforming events and fundraising. You can find the complete write-up on the Tendenci blog and my slides on Google Drive. The summary on the blog starts with the conclusion of my presentation, but I want to take a little more time to elaborate on the introduction, in which I discussed key event participants. There are four key people that you want to be part of your event to help make it a success. I define success as a well-rounded event that will have as broad of an appeal as possible within your specific niche. Those people are the following:
Influencers - I know you may think you know what I mean by influencers, but you may be wrong. When I hear the term thrown around the internet, it is usually referring to individuals that have a high Klout score or a large follower count. My definition is broader than that. Think community leaders, local news personalities, city officials, prominent CEOs, and also those with pull on the internet. They will not only add more appeal to your event, but they will also help build the anticipation of your next soiree.
Loyalists/Legacies - Most seasoned organizations have a stable of supporters that may or may not be internet savvy. Just because they don't tweet or hang out on Facebook doesn't make them useless. In fact they are one of your most valued assets. When moving in a new direction you can't forget about the people that have carried the organization for so many years. These advisers will be your barometer of what is new and exciting and what might alienate the old guard. Listen to them!
Professionals - This group might not have been intimately involved with your organization previous to this event, and that's a good thing. Professionals bring a critical eye and hold a wealth of knowledge. They will spot problems and conflicts way before you even think of them. Adding their abilities to the essence of your function will increase legitimacy and give a fresh perspective.
Hobbyists - Hobbyists sometimes have more energy and spunk than any other contributor. These go-getters work hard and will follow through on whatever tasks you give them. Their passion will keep things energized, organized and will make sure that the details don't fall through the cracks. Having someone to take notes, schedule meetings, book venues, pick up supplies and make calls is invaluable. This also frees up time for event planners to focus and concentrate on the big picture.
The above list is based on my observations from being part of some very talented teams. You do not only want them in your planning core but also in attendance. If you strongly disagree or if you feel I left something out, please leave a comment. I want to hear from you and have a knowledge exchange.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Yesterday I turned in my laptop and said good-bye to Snoball. It was my last day as their digital strategist. Now if you are looking for me to be resentful of the team or the management, you have come to the wrong place. In fact I have nothing but great things to say about them. The group at Snoball is top notch. The reasons I joined the company still stand. They are committed to serving the greater good, the people that work there are crazy smart, and their intellectual property portfolio is huge. I care so much for each and everyone of my coworkers, and will miss them dearly.
You might want to know why I am no longer with Snoball. The truth is that it was out of my hands and out of theirs.They had to cut a few salaries to achieve some very exciting and aggressive goals. I fully support this decision and can't wait when all the hard work that's been going on behind the scenes becomes public. I am now looking for my next opportunity. If you don't know what I did at Snoball as digital strategist you can check out my profile on LinkedIn for a more complete description.
Here is what I am looking for in my next role, in order of preference:
- High Touch - I want to speak and talk with people that care and support the company I work for. I want to listen to their needs and concerns and take that up the chain of command to create a better experience.
- Customer Service - My new home must love the users of the product or service that is offered by the company. The happiness of these users must be paramount.
- Social Media - I love social media and I don't want to lose that. I want to be involved and I want to contribute and be a valued member of the team.
For all those that read this, I thank you for your time, concern, help and support. I have included some quotes and reactions to the news of my departure below. They really helped to improve my mood:
I look forward to hearing of your next adventure!
I know your next adventure will be an excellent one.
You're so connected I'm sure you will find something soon.
I am now off to discover my next endeavor. Wish me happy hunting!
Thursday, April 5, 2012
SXSW Interactive is hard to pin down. In one sense, it’s like a buttoned-up Burning Man for the tech industry. In another, it’s a place to do business, to learn, to meet living legends and befriend total strangers. SXSWi is what you make of it. To help first-timers make the most of their experience, we asked a handful of conference veterans to weigh in on a simple question:
What do you wish you had known the first time you attended SXSWi?
Joe Fernandez, CEO and Cofounder, Klout:
“It's a marathon; don't destroy yourself on the first night. If you just watch 4sq and Twitter you'll think every party is better than the one you are at. It's easy to spend all night chasing where the fun might be and end up spending your whole evening tracking back and forth across the city instead of having a good time. ”
Susan Beebe, Global Communications / PR – Corporate Social Media Management, Dell:
“Be flexible, ready to move at a moment’s notice; don't lock in your schedule as you will find good conversations and learning opportunities abound if you move with the flow. Always have a plan B for your daily schedule. The must-see panel may turn out to be a dud; leave that one and go to your plan B activity – be agile!”
Lisa Pearson, VP Global Marketing, Bazaarvoice:
“Follow it all on Twitter, but don't let twitter dictate your experience. It's easy to get distracted and think you're not in the 'right' place—that there's something cooler going on elsewhere. Social enhances FOMO. Bring your own snacks. Healthier and cheaper. Try to listen to discussions. It’s easy to get distracted, so really listen to at least one session each day. Bring a buddy to parties. It’s hard to network at a crowded party alone. Allow time and energy for spontaneous conversations. They are the memorable ones. Watch this video: SXSW: Do it like a local”
Greg T. Moss, Director Partner Ecosystem, Resource Interactive:
“Don't get overwhelmed with all of the sessions. Make a list of what you'd like to see, but don't be afraid to deviate. One of the best parts of SXSWi is the networking that happens in hallways, food trucks and outside on the streets. Make yourself available and don't hesitate to introduce yourself to others. Chances are, you're bound to have at least 5 things in common.”
Robert Gilbreath, e-Commerce Exec, Calendars.com"
“Keep your gadgets out of your right hand so you can extend it to shake others' hands.”
Amy Hayes, Director of Communications, Bazaarvoice:
“Stagger the sessions you really want to attend so you have plenty of travel time in between as well as good seating choices. Attending back-to-back sessions is a painful & frustrating way to participate in the conference. Bring mobile broadband because Wi-Fi can be spotty throughout the conference. Pedicabs are a ripoff.”
Wesley Faulkner, Digital Strategist, Snoball:
“I can tell you one thing I didn't know, that actually helped me. I didn't know how powerful and influential the people were that I was meeting. If I did I would have been so nervous. Seriously, the one thing I wish I knew: parties are where you make lifelong friends. People's memories tie shared events together in ways that is not always clear. When I meet someone at a party, and they have a blast, that feeling is subconsciously stored together in their mind. When they think of me, they think fun. I like that.”
Jon Loyens, Vice President Engineering for Products, Bazaarvoice:
“Don't expect any particular panel or talk to go really deep. SXSW is a very broad conference and so a lot of talks tend to the beginner side of things. Therefore, don't go to talks on topics you already know a lot about. Use it to expand your horizons and get inspired for the remainder of the year. Are you a coder? Go to a design panel or a panel on social change. Are you a social media junkie? Go to a panel on film production. Definitely go to the panels and talks hosted by big speakers like Clay Shirky or Mark Cuban.”
Shama Kabani, CEO, The Marketing Zen Group:
“Don't try to do it all. Keep room for "spontaneous" events.”
Mike Svatek, Chief Strategy Officer, Bazaarvoice:
“Open your mind and get inspired. You will learn a lot from people and companies who are in completely different markets.”
Matt Marx, Director of Media Products, Bazaarvoice:
“Start every day with a full charge, you'll need it! Don't be too aggressive scheduling back-to-back sessions in different locations. It's inevitable you'll end up stuck at that far-away venue too long to make it back for the session you've waited on all day. Skip a session if need be and make sure you know which handful of sessions are musts!”
Mack Collier, social media strategist and speaker:
“My advice is to decide what your business goals are from the trip, and then think about who you need to connect with while you will be in town. The first two times I went to SXSW in 2008 and 2009, I didn't do this at all, and as a result I spent a few days in Austin each time on a very expensive vacation. I had a ton of fun, but when I got back home I realized I had spent a lot on socializing. That's why I didn't go in 2010. Last year, I went back but had a specific business strategy for going, and set up several meetings with people while I was in town. In fact I even made a business deal during my CONNECTING flight into Austin! Last year was a huge success for me because I planned out my time in Austin to make sure that I got business value as well as time to socialize and catch up with friends.”
Did you get all that? Three common themes shine through.
1. You can’t do it all, and will only turn into a FOMO-suffering nervous wreck if you try.
2. Seek out new people, ideas and experiences.
3. Be flexible.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Lists of people to watch in marketing often come under fire for being light on diversity. Here’s the thing: including those with ethnic, cultural and religious differences is not hard to do! Some say there’s a diversity deficit, and that may be true, but as with many things, my (obviously very biased) opinion is that solo PR pros are ahead on this.
Solo PR pros are well aware that valuing diversity among our colleagues is not just for multicultural clients and initiatives (duh) – and we have the relationships to prove it. It’s a fact that no two people have the same background, and those varied experiences shape our outlook and opinions (not to mention make life more interesting – can you imagine how boring the world would be if we were all the same?!). Embracing varied opinions is one of the keys to better PR and marketing, as we know.
You might not expect a post about diversity from a WASP-y southern gal like me, but perhaps that’s exactly why I need to write it. I’ve never done a “list post” before – they’re always subjective, and the odds are 100% that you’ll forget someone you meant to include. But with that caveat out of the way, here are some of the amazing colleagues who are impacting me each day:
Shonali, principal at Shonali Burke Consulting, is an award-winning, accredited solo PR pro and founder of Twitter’s #measurepr chat. Originally from India, she’s a leading speaker on the topic of integrated, research-based, measurable communications that support business objectives (and the fact that she loves Elvis is a bonus!).
Jacqui is the founder and principal at iFusion Marketing, which specializes in helping media and Internet-enabled start-ups connect with their audiences. Co-organizer of TEDxPeachtree and a board member of the Atlanta Press Club, Jacqui is a dynamo whose energy never ceases to amaze me.
Mustafa Stefan Dill
Mustafa, known to regular participants in the #solopr Twitter chat as @MuslimNewMedia, is the founder of Ummah Relations. A former journalist, he specializes in media strategies for Islamic institutions/businesses, and has done so during some highly challenging periods in recent years. I greatly admire his ability to merge his passions with his business – something we can all learn from.
Wesley’s background is actually in technology, but his strategic smarts and engaging personality meant he was a natural to move into the marketing realm. A fixture on the social media scene since the very beginning, Wesley is now digital strategist for Snoball, a new company that makes social giving easy and fun. Social good has been a passion of Wesley’s for some time, and I’m proud of him for making his dream a reality.
Amanda Miller Littlejohn
Amanda, social PR strategist and online branding coach at Mopwater PR, never backs away from a challenge. In addition to being a Columnist at Black Enterprise, she’s also Co-Founder of the new organization, ColorComm: Women of Color in Communications. Amanda is one of those generous people who sees a need and fills it, and she’s been an enormous inspiration to me throughout the Solo PR Pro journey.
Jami (rhymes with mommy), Principal at Jami Reyes & Co., is a Honduran-born, DC-raised, and Miami-adopted public and government relations consultant. Always one to add some fun to a Twitter conversation, Jami also takes her work seriously and knows how to get great results for her clients.
Having just recently (belatedly) discovered his Pushing Social blog, I don’t personally know Stanford, but I’m determined to change that. With a fun-to-read writing style and a wealth of knowledge I need to learn, Stanford has reminded me that there are always great new blogs and voices to discover. I can only imagine how good he must be at his day job as VP Marketing/Strategy at Fluency Media – maybe this blog post will be our introduction (if he’s not afraid of my stalker-esque stance!).
Dee is the owner of DeeGospel PR, where she merges her Christian faith with her business by specializing in supporting related publishers, music labels, musicians and authors. She started her Christian Fiction Blog in 2005, and under her pen name, Miranda Parker, Dee is the author of the Angel Crawford Bounty Hunter series of books. I love that Dee has built her business around what she finds most important (noticing a theme?), and she’s an amazing person to boot.
Karen D. Swim
As many in the Solo PR Pro community can attest, Karen, public relations and marketing communications specialist at Words For Hire, LLC, is not just a consummate professional, but also one of the kindest people on the planet. An extremely early adopter of social media, she engages in none of the posturing one expects from others in that crowd. Karen’s Twitter bio states she’s “quietly doing work I love for people/orgs I believe in and that inspire my respect” – she has my utmost respect, to be sure.
Dr. Natalie Tindall
Dr. Tindall, chair of PRSA’s Diversity Committee, is a professor in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University. You may be surprised to learn that she’s also hilariously funny (I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Tindall at an event at UGA in 2008, and her comments from the peanut gallery kept me cracking up the whole time). Dr. Tindall will continue to be one of the leading voices on diversity in public relations moving forward, so she’s definitely one to watch.
Tiffany Winbush is a NYC-based solo PR and Social Media Strategist with a background in media issues, having worked with Clear Channel Communications. She’s also the creator of Women Making Moves, which highlights outstanding achievements of women in their careers, communities and business. Tiffany has always impressed me as someone interested in helping other pros get ahead, and I admire her generosity.
These are just a few of the literally thousands of diverse leaders in PR and marketing who influence me each year. Who are some of your influencers?
Friday, March 23, 2012
Do you love foursquare? Aaron Strout and I do. And we want to show our pride by celebrating foursquare day on April 16 in Austin with a party and a little charity while we’re at it.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Zoosh, a new technology developed by Sunnyvale startup Naratte, aims to deliver all the benefits of NFC (near-field communication) with any device that has a speaker and microphone. Instead of relying on NFC chips, Zoosh uses ultrasound to perform secure mobile transactions.
The technology — which can be added to any app or device with a simple software update — drastically reduces the barriers to entry for NFC-related tasks like mobile payments and secure data transfer.
For all the hype NFC has been receiving over the past few years, it’s still limited by the need for new devices with NFC chips. Zoosh, on the other hand, can easily be deployed to existing devices — making it a simpler and more cost-effective choice for merchants and consumers.
In practice, Zoosh performs just like typical NFC technology: You wave two devices near each other and a transaction occurs almost instantly. But instead of waiting for a response from NFC chips, Zoosh instructs the devices to listen for ultrasonic communications.
In a conversation with Naratte co-founders Brett Paulson (CEO) and Byron Alsberg (Chief Development Officer) last week, the pair said that the company was able to pull off the groundbreaking technology thanks to the unique backgrounds of its 12-person team. That includes employees with seasoned experience in acoustics, digital signal processing (DSP), and wireless from companies like Apple, Google, Texas Instruments, and Qualcomm.
Naratte’s team was able to tap into existing mobile trends, like faster processors, better microphone sampling rates, and deeper access to mobile device hardware, to be the first company to deliver effective ultrasonic device-to-device communications.
Zoosh can work offline — since its transmissions move directly between devices — and it can even work in extremely loud environments. Naratte says that upgrading an existing point-of-sale terminal to use Zoosh can cost up to $30, while doing the same for traditional NFC technology can cost between $100 and $850. The company tells me that the amount of data Zoosh can transfer is comparable to NFC.
Paulson and Alsberg stressed that security is something they played close attention to for Zoosh. Every Zoosh transaction has a unique and perishable ID, so even if someone managed to record the transmission, it would effectively be useless. The pair also said that transmission distances are controlled, making it very difficult for someone to capture Zoosh transmissions without being right near you.
Naratte was founded in May 2009 and has been operating in heavy stealth mode since October 2010. Sparkbase, one of the company’s earliest partners, has already won a major technology innovation award for its Paycloud mobile wallet app, which relies on Zoosh technology. Naratte also says it’s working on using Zoosh to send virtual checks and cash from person to person. Further down the line, the company says Zoosh could be used for social networking (think of NFC-enabled contact exchanges and check-ins), vending machine payments, and painless Bluetooth device pairing.
It may sound like Zoosh is competing against Google Wallet and other NFC-based initiatives, but it could actually end up being something that Google licenses (or perhaps even purchases) down the line to bring Wallet to phones without NFC chips.
With eight patents filed already, Naratte seems poised to carve out an interesting niche in the mobile payments arena. The company is well aware of the potential for its technology, and it plans to license it out heavily. For now though, it’s hoping to make Zoosh an integral choice for mobile payments.
Naratte has raised $5 million in a first round of funding from an unnamed strategic investor.