Archive for “February, 2008”

My Niagara College experience.

I would like to give a big round of applause to Andrea Lacoik and Stephen Bascariol, two Niagara College Public Relations students that obviously put a lot of effort into planning the Public Relations Student Development event. Coming from a career in special events planning I can empathize with their difficulties and assure them that it was indeed a success.

It was an afternoon of four workshops where smaller student groups rotated around. I ran the Question and Answer section while seven other practitioners ran the interview, resume, and portfolio sections.

Having students ask questions about my career put me in an interesting situation. Truthfully, I don’t even know what I would put on my job description because, like all of us at Social media Group, I wear many hats. It’s hard to predict what I will have to do on a daily basis. It was much easier to explain the things I have done – blogger outreach programs for the North American International Auto Show, asset coordination for our SMPRs and the concept behind our SMPRs, to name a few.

It was also fun to explain that I got my job through my blog. It was at Third Tuesday Toronto where I met our chief strategist Collin Douma. Actually, I think that’s how he got hired too but I would have to check on that. Either way, I explained that the best jobs are obtained through networking, especially in this industry. The saying goes “It’s who you know” but I like to add that it’s up to you to know the right people.

Another interesting thing I found was that even though their understanding of social media tools was limited, explaining them was easy. For example, most of them never heard of Twitter. When I explained it as “a mix of instant messaging and a mini blog” the concept was understood right away. However, when I explained it to my mom my explanation was much lengthier and less filled with industry jargon. It’s not a question of intelligence it’s just where their heads are at. These students are surrounded by online social media, whether they know it are not, and have been most of their lives. It’s much easier for them to ‘get it’.

The main message that I wanted to get across was that I am fortunate to have freedom in my career to strategize so creatively. However, with this freedom comes responsibility. My attending their event, for example, was not an afternoon off work. I was teaching, networking and when all was said and done, producing a couple of blog posts about what I got out of it. There has to be a strategy and reason for every business move you make. Attending this event was for my professional development as well as theirs.

This rings true in every campaign you take on. When trying to leverage social media tools it’s not about throwing up a Facebook account or having a blog with a high number of visitors. You need to get value in each campaign that is clearly tied to business objectives. Simply asking “why are we doing this?” can help to clarify some of those reasons. As students they have the opportunity to explore all of the complex tools and learn the benefits of each one. When the time comes, they will understand why a Facebook fan page is the best option instead of a Twitter account (or the other way around).

The most difficult aspect for me was to keep within the time limits. I could have talked for hours with each group but I had to make sure each answer I gave was succinct and clear. From the feedback I have received, the students really got a lot out of the event and it looks as though it will be continued next year.

Women 2.0 in Ottawa next week

I’ll be speaking in Canada’s tech hub – Ottawa – next week for an event sponsored by the local chapter of Women 2.0. I’ll be talking about the work that we do here at SMG, as well as my experiences as a female entrepreneur. I have to say I’m really looking forward to it, and am honoured to have been asked. The format will be informal and conversational – if you’re in the Ottawa area, please drop by – you can register on the Women 2.0 event wiki. Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 from 6:30-8:30 pm
(doors open at 6:00 pm).
Where: Ramius Corporation Headquarters, 530-55 Metcalfe Street
(at Queen); Tel: 613-230-3808 x 242
Cost: $5 at the door
(funds will be used to support future Women 2.0 speaker events)
How to register: RSVP on Women2ca Wiki

Hope to see you there!

CPRS Student Development Workshop

I was asked to attend a professional development workshop at my alma mater. It’s a little strange because it was not long ago that I was attending these events as a public relations student. Now, I am in the fortunate position to participate as a practitioner.

This event is headed by Joe Murphy who runs student development events for the CPRS Hamilton Branch in his spare time. We met at the 2007 CPRS Pinnacles event while Joe was still a student. Currently, his ‘billed’ time is spent at Brainstorm Group.

Joe is enthusiastic and ambitious and it’s hard not to get excited when you hear him talk about his ideas. This particular idea is to give 30 PR students access to PR professionals in the form of an afternoon workshop. The afternoon will involve mock interviews, resume critiquing and portfolio building. There will also be an opportunity for the students to ask questions and maybe for me to do a little headhunting (hey…it wont hurt!).

This is a wonderful opportunity for CPRS to become more involved in student life; facilitating student/practitioner relationships is a win-win situation. If this pilot project is successful, and I have no doubt that it will be, it will only lead to more involvment from CPRS, other schools, and perhaps even a wider breadth of PR practitioners.

I will be posting later this week to discuss the event in more detail.

Toronto Girl Geek dinner Weds Feb 20th

This months’ Toronto Girl Geek Dinner speaker is Ali De Bold, Co-founder of ChickAdvisor, an online community that

Is about helping you make better purchasing decisions on everything from electronics to electrolysis. Our members determine the hottest trends, the best local services, and the coolest products, and we deliver the location and purchase information to make getting what you want and need easier, faster, and more affordable.

about-ali.jpgA third-generation entrepreneur, Ali will speak to us about her experiences as a female entrepreneur in the tech space, what it’s like to make a dramatic switch in careers, and share insights into the strategy and model behind ChickAdvisor’s successful and growing online community.

Once again, we’ll be holding the event at our favourite location (buffet dinner is $22pp taxes and tip in, cash & carry drinks from the bar). If you’re planning to attend, please sign up on the wiki as space is limited to 48 seats.

Wednesday February 20th, 6:30 pm
The Hot House Cafe
35 Church Street between Wellington and Colbourne
(Google map)
The entrance is right on the corner of Front & Church.
Toronto, ON
416-366-7800

Hope to see you there!

Toronto Girl Geek Dinners are an offshoot of the London Girl Geek Dinners, started by Sarah Blow. The goal of these get-togethers is to make technology accessible and interesting to all age groups and all people, particularly women.

Social Media Links for 02-15-08

    Improve Client Relationships Through Social Media, pretty basic stuff from the Wall Street Journal:
    With the growing popularity of social media platforms MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, businesses and nonprofit organizations alike are embracing the technology to build community and strengthen consumer interest…

    Social Media: Made for a Recession, By Dave Evans, from ClickZ:

    During a recession, or any other time for that matter, marketers must get the most for their marketing dollar. A recession adds heightened sensitivity for absolute cost, on both your part and your customers’ part…

    Study: Web Video Audiences Vary Widely by Segment, from Mediaweek:

    The characteristics and attitudes of the online video audience differ widely based on each individual user’s experience and comfort with the still-evolving medium, finds a news research study…

    Who’s Buying in to Web 2.0 Technologies?, by Dan Farber on ZDnet:

    In a recent survey of companies of all sizes, Forrester found that larger enterprises are almost twice as likely to pilot or deploy Web 2.0 technologies in 2008 compared to the small and medium flavors…

    The Inconvenient Truth About Social Media Marketing [SEO], from Searchengineland:

    Social media is easy to hype because there is a lot of traffic on social media sites. But if you try to do anything with social media traffic to convert it to revenue, you will be hard-pressed — unless you are selling CPM-based advertising…

    But is it about turning traffic into sales, or turning traffic into relationships which will eventually turn into sales? I would argue that social media is a more long-tail game than most realize.

We over-use and under-articulate the word "transparency"

Personally, I harp about authenticity - that if your organization is going to participate in social media, you need to be up front about who you are and communicate in the way that you would if you were speaking face-to-face with your audience (and, again, I’m using that word because it works and has no negative connotations for me). If anything, it’s as much about tone and manner (content) as well as observing the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) ethics code:

  • Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
  • Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
  • Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity
  • A lot of us in this space also talk about transparency, and I think we use it too much and don’t articulate it well. Transparency doesn’t mean opening your books and executive offices and secret R&D labs and inviting the world in, answering each and every question that is asked of you. Not at all.

    Social media is not a truth serum
    Transparency means simply that if you have a lousy product or lousy customer service, you can no longer hide it. It is not voluntary. Just by using the Google, I can find a thousand different opinions about your products and services, and I weigh those collective voices (some more than others) when deciding where to spend my money. Ultimately, if there are hundreds of people talking about how much you suck as a company, I am going to listen to them when making my own decision.

    Social media has meant an end to the isolated incident – now that everyone is a publisher, bad news travels fast (just ask Target). Smart companies understand this power shift and know they can’t stop the bad news, but they have a huge opportunity to learn from it. Disgruntled customers are inevitable, but hearing from them in a consistent and widely observable way provides valuable business intelligence that can help you fix problems before they hit the Wall Street Journal or your stock price.

    Negative is the new positive. Do you have the guts to capitalize on it?

    Getting Social with 3 talks on Social Media.

    Talks

    I have a busy week coming up with 3 talks on 3 amazing topics at 3 diverse un/conferences. Here are the details:

    Event Style Show: Expo and Awards
    Host: BizBash
    Talk: Gen 2.0: Join the Viral Marketing Revolution
    9:15am February 20, 2008 Direct Energy Centre, Toronto

    Social Media Marketing

    Host: Open Dialogue
    Talk:”Social Media Strategies that Work”
    3pm February 20, 2008, The Old Mill, Toronto
    (registration)

    Podcamp Toronto
    Discussion: Introducing the Social Media Press Release
    Feb 23-24, 2008, Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson University
    Actual date and time to be announced on the wiki!

    Hope to see you there!

    Social Media Group gets a new look

    You may have noticed that things are looking a little bit different – welcome to the new home of Social Media Group!

    Our talented team had grown leaps and bounds over the last few months as our client list has expanded, and we felt it was time we stepped it up a notch and created a space that would bring all of our voices together. So the SMG site will now officially be a group blog, with posts from the entire team aggregated here.

    We hope you enjoy the new look, feel and layout – have a look around and let us know what you think!

    Signal-to-Noise Ratio in the Enterprise

    This is just a quick post to expand on something I started thinking about while working through the exploration stage of a large strategy project we’re developing for a client. It’s pretty much half-baked, but I wanted to throw it out there to see if it resonated with anyone else.

    The issue of signal-to-noise is a no-brainer in the mass market – for every useful bit of information you’re interested in, you must wade through a mountain of stuff you couldn’t care less about. If the ratio is really out of whack, you never get to the stuff you want to or should, and you abandon the channel – it’s just too frustrating and useless.

    That last part also has real resonance for the enterprise. When the noise outweighs the signal, the system stops being functional because people stop being able to productively use it. Who out there gets 300+ emails a day? Many of which contain documents that you are asked to review? Who could possibly keep up with all of this in a meaningful way? A number of senior execs I know at some of the largest companies in the world confess to barely being able to keep up with this firehose of information. No matter what kind of process they employ, it all boils down to one thing: learning which communications are safe to ignore.

    Is it time to truly re-think the way that information moves through teams and the nature of responsibility for deliverables and decisions? Instead of project managers or team leaders or executives pushing the information at you that they think you need, perhaps we, as executives and workers, should be responsible for finding and reviewing the data we know we need.

    Is this plausible? Is it possible to slowly shift from a predominantly reactive communications culture to a proactive one, in which people seek the data they require? Of course there are many situations in which you don’t know what you don’t know, so information still needs to be pushed out – but maybe not quite so much if it.

    For this to work effectively it seems to me that a number of tools need to be in place, including a robust collaboration platform and a holistic enterprise-wide taxonomy that would allow cross-functional users to sort and search data effectively.

    Rather than being told I need to read something, the responsibility would shift and I would need to find and read the information I require to make effective decisions or keep projects going. I’m not just talking about using things like wikis and other platforms to facilitate collaboration – that’s not news. I’m talking about thinking about how social media tools can fundamentally change the nature of internal business communication from push to pull.

    Once again, another trend that may very well be soon swimming upstream from the marketplace to the enterprise (which is another concept that deserves a post all its own).