Persuasive Picks for week of 5/13/13

5-Google+-Insights-Resources-and-Tips-for-Business-Plus-InfographicGoogle added 41 new features to their social network darling, Google+. Yes, 41! With 190 million monthly active users, Google+ is still not as popular as other social communities, but interactive expert Bernadette Coleman thinks that with these updates comes a more appealing, more competitive network. She explains why social media marketers and small businesses should pay special attention in New Google+ Features Hit the Web – via SocialMediaToday

Yahoo announced that Tweets have become an important information source for many and will now be featured in Yahoo’s news feed. While few details have been revealed, it’s probably safe to assume that Yahoo will feature tweets that are popular, influential and of course meet certain criteria for authenticity and newsworthiness. Business2Community contributor, Victoria Harres, helps communicators prepare and provides 4 Best Practices Brands Should Implement, Now That Twitter is a Yahoo News Source

emotionsKing Fish CMO Gordon Plutsky wants to remind brands that people buy for emotional reasons. So while the digital marketing revolution has enabled companies to communicate directly with customers, it’s how companies choose to communicate with customers that will determine their ability to create emotional connections. Check out Gordon’s picks in  4 brands that emotionally connect with consumers - a look at leading companies that are moving past transactional relationships to better connect with empowered customers on iMediaConnection.

When Did Social Media Lose Its Way? In the early days of social media, users interacted like real people do. However, in time, social networks evolved into pits of broadcast messages. MarketingProfs‘ Verónica Maria Jarski posts an infographic from Hubspot that demonstrates the history of how brands lost their way in social media, and how they can find a path back to their roots.

Persuasive Picks for week of 5/6/13

toolsBehind every successful social media marketer is an arsenal of marketing tools that help to ideate, implement, and track the success of a social media campaign. But social media tools are a dime a dozen, and keeping up with the latest offerings can be an overwhelming and frustrating process. Fortunately for us, Social Media Strategist Rebecca Debono has posted her Top 5 hottest social media tools on iMediaConnection.

As a marketer, brand manager, PR practitioner, or executive you have likely figured out that in this new, content-driven, multichannel environment your brand is now, among other things, a content publisher. With more than half of US consumers using smartphones, it is now time to plan your mobile content strategy. MarketingProfs‘ Frank Sinton gives some helpful tips to get you started in Seven Steps You Can Take to Capitalize on the Mobile Video Viewing Shift

Traffic to your websiteIf you are looking at LinkedIn as your next digital marketing project, then don’t forget to spend a decent amount of time focusing on your ‘company page’. If you are looking for some guidance, then check out LinkedIn Tips and Advice Part 2 – Company Page Optimisation for some sound recommendations provided by Business2Community contributor Kerry Dye.

Social media is 24/7. Someone is always tweeting, posting on Facebook, or uploading a new picture to Instagram. However, for social media managers and businesses alike, this can be quite a challenge. Brianna Smith at Social Media Today explains that there are a couple different ways to determine when your audience is online, and points to an insightful infographic to help you determine the Best Times to Post on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC].

Lights, camera, action, oh my?

clapper with handsJust as personal computers and the Internet have sparked the writer and publisher in everyone; camera enabled devices and social media are now making videographers and producers of us all. Video has not only become a part of everyone’s social life, it’s become a necessary skill in the public relations and marketing world.

Shooting and editing video has never been more accessible. Whether you use a laptop, tablet, phone, helmet, or glasses you have a video camera at the ready. With a little luck, you can capture the fun, happy, mundane or big moments in your life with ease. Where do you start when you need to shoot video in a professional capacity? A shaky camera and bad lighting may fly in coach, but a poorly shot video will lose its charm in business class.

Here are some simple tips to consider for your next video shoot:

  • Use a tripod if/whenever possible.
  • Position your subject (or yourself) a little to the left or right of center and leave a little headroom at the top of the frame.
  • For online video, avoid pans (horizontal movement of the camera) and zooms (focusing in or out using the zoom feature on the camera).
  • Don’t shoot your subject in front of a window or with the sun behind them, the best light source comes from behind the camera. If you happen to have a lighting kit – or even a few floor lamps – check out Media College’s illustrated guide to Three Point Lighting Technique.
  • Use the viewfinder on the camera to watch the interview at the same time that you look over the camera and make eye contact with the subject. This puts the subject at ease, gives him/her someone to look at and also makes the interview more natural-sounding.
  • If your subject will be looking off camera for cues, it will work best if you sit next to the camera and have your subject focus their attention towards you, not the camera, and you provide cues. This also helps put the subject as ease and makes the interview feel more natural overall.
  • Don’t make any sound at all when your subject is talking. Flipping pages, coughing, moving in chair, etc. can all get picked up by the camera’s microphone and will surely sound undesirable to viewers.
  • If your subject stumbles in their response, instruct them to relax, gather their thoughts and respond again. Make sure they do not feel rushed.
  • If your subject is willing, consider shooting multiple takes. When editing footage, it is always helpful to have multiple takes to choose from. If nothing else this offers your subject the opportunity to run through the process and to feel more at ease in subsequent takes.

Circle back after the shoot for Part 2, where I’ll discuss choosing a video editor and provide some helpful editing tips.

Have some helpful tips of your own? Please leave a comment below.

Influencers Who Inspire: Interview with Jon Swartz of USA TODAY

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

In a special edition of our “Influencers Who Inspire” series, we’re chatting with award-winning technology journalist, author and avid San Francisco Giants fan, Jon Swartz. Jon shares his thoughts on smart phones and peer pressure, guerrilla marketing tactics that actually work and how reporting compares to baseball.

We read your article on BlackBerry’s Z10 launch and their plans for a comeback; so tell us, what is your ‘go to’ mobile device?

I used a BlackBerry up until two years ago when the trackball wasn’t working as well as it should. At the time, I faced some peer pressure from my colleagues in the Valley to get an iPhone. There used to be a lot of iPhone bias in Silicon Valley, but it has gone away now for the most part. More people are using Androids, and I would certainly consider a move to a BlackBerry or Android from the iPhone. I can live without the iPhone. I find the battery life is awful, and I have to have a charger with me at all times. As a result, more restaurants and bars have charging stations (at SXSW we saw this all over the place).

You know, BlackBerry CEO (Thorsten Heins) is right; he calls the iPhone passé and says they (BlackBerry) have the same problem that Apple did. “We need to earn our laurels back.” It’s true because in tech things become old fast; the shelf life of these things aren’t very long now. Apple has traditionally done a great job of that, making the old version obsolete as they quickly move on to the next thing. So it’s no surprise others are following suit here.

We know you are huge San Francisco Giants fan. How did your obsession with baseball begin?

When I was six I went to my first game. I also got to see Willie Mays play when I was a kid, so that got me hooked for life. I also loved playing the sport. You become infatuated with it, and it never loses you. Baseball also has a long season, and it takes a lot of patience. It’s a lot like reading a novel. It’s not like other sports where the season is more like a quick sprint. The upside is that you can go to a game and actually explain what’s happening. You can also count on always seeing something different. I have probably been to more than 1000 games, and there is always something new to explain or something you haven’t seen happen before.

Baseball is a half-year long, and it changes with the seasons. In spring there is so much optimism, and then comes the summer when things really heat up. In the fall when things wither away, it gets dark and cold and with it comes a sense of desperation when the season ends. That is the beauty of the game. It’s very logical to me and different to other sports in that you can’t run out the clock. You HAVE to finish the game. No matter how well you played and how many runs you are up by, you have to FINISH.

Are there any lessons from baseball that can be applied to business?

Yes, I would never assume anything about anything. Baseball teaches you that you can’t assume something is over until it’s over. Like in 2002 (World Series game) when the Giants had a five-run lead over the Angels with only eight outs left. They had to keep playing until the end and ended up losing the game.

It sounds a little corny but in baseball it’s a different sport. It’s hard to excel if you have to prove it every day. That’s the same as being a reporter; you have to prove yourself daily, but when it’s over it’s over. With so much content and so many articles, today the shelf life for stories is too short. You finish a great story and you are proud of it for about 20 minutes before you have to do something else. You have to move on.

We are all constantly inundated and bombarded with news from all different sources. So every day you have to reinvent yourself to always do more. It’s like Freddy Lynn (MVP and Rookie of the Year) – he came out of nowhere like a comet. But then pitchers found his weaknesses. Unless you can adapt and reinvent yourself every day, you will hit a rut. BlackBerry went through it, and Apple went through it, too. In tech it happens all the time.

Speaking of re-inventing, with the most powerful images getting clicks in social media today, do you find yourself framing your stories differently with visuals or video in mind now?

I do think more about storytelling and how to interest the reader, but rather than visuals, it’s more about the people and the stories. It is necessary to think that way, though, and I am trying to do more of it.

How has your job changed in the last six months?

It’s crazy. In addition to reporting, I oversee all tech coverage in the paper. So I edit and manage people, too. While I’m talking to you I’m editing a story. It’s actually a story on baseball, and it’s coming out next week. There is no shortage of data in baseball, but trying to figure out which data to use and how to use it is the challenge. Just like in reporting, in baseball they too are struggling with deciding how much time to give to data. I have ton of notes but the bigger problem is what parts to use in the story. People ask all the time, “Why you didn’t include us or mention us?” There is only so much you can do given bandwidth and the amount of content to sift through. I write for people who are on the go and always busy, and you have to find a way to keep your story succinct.

Would you tell a student today to go into journalism?

I would say if you are a good writer you can work anywhere, as everyone wants content today. It is so important to have good writers. Smart companies like Salesforce and Mark Benioff understand you need to tell stories to get your customers to want to buy your products.

Has working with PR people changed?

Not really; I have been working with the same people for the last 10 years or so, and pretty much the same good ones. I always work with a core group of 50 of them that I seem to always interact with. It is like cultivating any relationship you built it over time.

What kind of (PR) people do you like to work with?

They should know their company well. Most people I work with have been there a long time. I like working with internal people who can get you what you need faster. They are usually more responsive. I work with a lot of good people. People at Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple; they are all on top of things and respond. Apple is much more responsive, and Yahoo is getting that way, too. They don’t have a choice anymore. Everyone used to have to wait to go to Apple, but now they have to cooperate with us and be responsive.

What was the nicest/most memorable thing someone has done for you?

I have so many stories of people doing something for me in my personal life. But in work life, I would say the most memorable “nice” things people do for me and/or others are services like the airport limos at SXSW and the SXSW survival bag. There was a company called Tagged that provided airport limos to drive us from the airport to town at SXSW. That was nice, convenient and smart.

If you had to cook one meal what would it be?

Pasta. Everyone likes and agrees on it in our family. Jackie is Italian, and pasta is the one thing that I would get no argument on.

What do you do when you’re not working, or at a baseball game?

We have four kids ages 12-25, so it’s a full house, and we are always going from one event to another with them so that means not a lot of free time. We do like to travel a lot to different places and really enjoy our time away.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Writing cover stories and features I can spend time on. It’s rewarding to do something that no one else is doing. Feature writing is a little different than what everyone else is doing. You always remember your great feature stories. They include more original thinking and have a long-term impact on things to come. They give you something to be proud of.

Telecommuting Tips for Those Who Don’t Work at Yahoo

This week is National TeleWork Week (March 4-8). Coincidentally this week also falls on the heels of the Yahoo decision to stop all telecommuting – so for those of you that work at Yahoo we apologize in advance, and you can stop reading here :)

Work from home comic

Whether you think Yahoo made the wrong decision or it was all ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ it does help to raise awareness for the passion people have for telework — and we are no exception. With over 15 years as a virtual business we have deep experience on the topic. So without further ado — here are our team’s work from home tips for success.

Tips for staying productive when working from home:

  • Keep the “To Do” list handy. Knowing what you have to accomplish makes it easier to plan your day and there is a huge feeling of accomplishment when you cross things off the list.
  • Take advantage of the little perks you wouldn’t have in a traditional office and customize your environment however you are comfortable and productive; wear comfortable clothing, sit on a balance ball instead of a chair, play some motivational music – heck, light a candle. These are luxuries the office worker isn’t typically allowed, so go for it. Your work environment has a huge impact on productivity, so create a space that makes you feel good.
  • Take mini breaks. Get up and walk around to get the blood flowing; check the mailbox; throw in a load of laundry; take out the trash. Take advantage of your home setting and knock out a few quick chores throughout the day.
  • Have a daily routine. Have breakfast, followed by a big cup of coffee, work through the morning’s emails, plan out your day, schedule a walk at lunch and make sure you get out of the house.
  • Plot projects based on natural rhythm. For example, perhaps try to work on writing and pitching later in the day when you can focus and dig deeper without as many distractions.
  • Eat lunch. On busy days, it’s so easy to lose track of the time, but take a brain break and eat something healthy to give you that final push for the remainder of the day. When in doubt, chocolate helps then, too!
  • Give yourself a win. In PR, we’ve got a variety of projects and priorities and things are constantly changing, but start the day with a “win,” meaning tacking at least one smaller project to completion. There’s nothing as inspiring as crossing something off your to-do list early to get the day going on a positive note!
  • Get a sounding board. If you are an animal lover consider adopting a dog or cat. If not, you could always try a Talking Tom doll. Working from home can be isolating and everyone needs someone to talk to, even if they can’t talk back :).
  • Have a back-up plan. Just like an office that could lose Internet access, power, or be shut down for maintenance, know what your back up plan is and be able to get there fast. Working from home should be seamless even when inconveniences like power outages happen.

Still not sure you are ready to work from home? Here are some direct quotes from our team members to inspire you to explore the idea further:

“I absolutely love having the ability to work from home. There’s something so satisfying about being able to dig in and get work done more efficiently without the usual office distractions, and it’s given me a better quality of life overall.”

“At one point in my career, I was commuting three hours per day (round trip) – that’s 60 hours per month of “lost” time! So I’m not only appreciative to have that time back each week, but also grateful to be able to reinvest it in things that matter, whether it’s work, family, friends, hobbies or just recharging my battery.”

“I believe that happy, fulfilled people are more productive and creative in their work, and I’ve seen that firsthand at PerkettPR. Our colleagues are able to attend functions with their kids, run marathons, blog, cheer on their favorite sports teams, write books, win Maker Faire competitions, create art installations displayed in museums, and much, much more. It’s that kind of passion, perseverance and out-of-the box thinking that makes us more interesting as people, and is also allows us to offer a greater depth of imagination and resourcefulness in our daily work.”

“As a mom of three, working from home has allowed me stay in the workforce, contribute financially to my family, all while staying an active – and visible – participant in my children’s lives every single day. The idea of commuting to the city – two hours each way, not getting home until 7pm – I couldn’t imagine a bigger detractor to my productivity than taking away those hours with my kids.”

“I love working from home because with school-aged children, I feel better knowing that I am nearby and accessible if there is an emergency such as a call from the school nurse. I don’t have to worry about waiting for a train ride home or sitting in traffic. That is invaluable to me.”

“Life is way too short to spend a quarter of your waking hours sitting in traffic in a car. There is too much to do and too much to experience with all of those wasted hours. Successful people are successful no matter where they work: At airports, in an office , on the beach…working from home is no different. You just have to be diligent about eliminating distractions.”

We believe our team’s appreciation for a solid work/life balance has a direct impact on their contributions to our success. And as Jean Baptiste Su says in his above linked Forbes piece on the subject: Happy employees make great companies.

What are some of your work from home productivity tips?