A Week of (Soggy) Marketing & Social Media Learning in Boston – Join us online or at IMS at 1 today!

If you’re in or around the Boston area this week, you already know that it’s a big week for new marketing, social media and business professionals. A flurry of events are taking place as IMS 2010 and FutureM are in full swing. If you can’t join live, be sure to watch the numerous sessions on livestream via The Pulse Network, catch the chatter on Twitter (hashtags: #futureM and #IMS10) or the many blog posts being written by attendees.

Today, you can catch PerkettPR’s Claire Russell presenting “The Power of Reel” at 1 p.m. EST at IMS. She’ll be partnering with Bettina Hein, Founder & CEO of Pixability, to showcase how easy and powerful video is – and how it can help you to not only tell your story but create stronger relationships and impact in your social marketing efforts. Case studies will include work and campaigns from businesses such as Old Spice, Livestrong, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and more.

Not in Boston at IMS today? Then considering joining me at 1 p.m., along with the American Marketing Association, Conduit (a PerkettPR client), John Jantsch, Author of Duct Tape Marketing and Sally Falkow, as we present “5 Must Dos for Social Media Holiday Marketing.” Focused mainly on how SMBs can use social media to successfully – and easily – expand their holiday marketing efforts. Not convinced social marketing is for you? Check out these facts from the press release:

  • More than 50% of the 500 million Facebook users log on to Facebook every day.  In total, they spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the service.
  • People are watching 2 billion videos a day on YouTube; every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to the service.
  • Users spend 22.7% of their time online on social networking sites.

I hope we’ll see you either at IMS, FutureM or on the webinar today. Looking forward to sharing insights, learning from others and continuing to merge our online and offline relationships.

Happy marketing!

 

Help for those “Vote for my SXSWi Panel” headaches

If you’re in technology, business or entertainment (music, film), you’ve certainly been exposed by now to a steady stream of “Vote for my SXSW panel” messages, blog posts and Tweets. With thousands of entries, not only is the noise deafening from your social buddies, but the time it takes to truly read the panels and give them the “thumbs up” is nearly impossible. (Bless the panel – they are certainly going to be doing a lot of reading.)

Why is everyone asking for your vote? Well, because votes – the community’s opinions – account for about 30% of the decision of who gets the much-coveted speaking slots. The Advisory Board (40%) and Staff (30%) make up the other percentages. SXSW is held every March in Austin, TX and is THE place to be to create new relationships, learn and share with the social media, business, tech, and entertainment crowd. It lasts a week, with a divide between interactive, music and film. You can read all about it, here.

With the deluge of panels and all the posts about them, you’re likely just to vote for your pals and they’ll vote for you and once again, popularity – not necessarily quality – will prevail. But one thing we’ve noticed that’s missing from a lot of the recommendations is the WHY. Why vote for these panels other than a friend asks you to do so? Seems a lot of the promotion is leaving out that crucial detail. So, we’ve chosen a few of our favorites so far, below, and a reason why we believe each is worthy of you clicking that “thumbs up” button. We kept our focus on the interactive side, FYI.

We’ll try to add more as we find them but feel free to leave your favorites - don’t forget the why – in the comments. There are so many, we’d love to learn about more great ones that we haven’t yet heard of, and from people we might not yet know (isn’t that what’s great about social networks?!).

  • Because we’re “inspired women who want to inspire other women,” we vote for Breaking Glass Ceiling(s) – Fearless Women Entrepreneur by Amita Paul, ObjectiveMarketer. We’re not crazy about the title but get past that and read the content – are there really only 13 women at the top?!
  • Turns out Carla Thompson of Sharp Skirts sees women everywhere – in startups, that is. We’re always interested in the gender gaps in business and again, empowering women. So we give a “thumbs up” to Where are the Women in Startups? Um, everywhere! and hope you will, too.
  • Noticing a theme here? Yes, we are all about supporting the ladies. But, this one is truly unique – focused on African American women and their use of the Internet for activism. Cybercrusading for Women by Gina McCauley, Blogging While Brown.
  • Speaking of powerful young women on the Internet, we’ve got to give a shout out to our industry colleagues at Sevans Strategy. They’ve got a PR panel – and as big proponents of ensuring a brighter, smarter PR industry – we highly recommend it for any PR executive. Spin Doctors: PR Best Practices for Social Media includes founder Sarah Evans, Jason Kintzler of Pitch Engine and Ryan Osborn of NBC News.
  • Sarah is also a part of this panel – which intrigued us as we continue to research the impact of social media globally ourselves. The Global Online Community – Improving Cross-Cultural Relations also includes Andrew Kneale, of the British Council.
  • Another woman we’re proud to know is Alicia Staley of The Staley Foundation. Alicia’s got an amazing story to share and we love her panel because it combines her personal experiences with cancer and the timely topic of crowd sourcing. Crowd Sourcing Cancer deserves a thumbs up because it’s got a higher purpose and can truly help many people above and beyond this event.
  • As PR executives, our daily work revolves around story telling – and story shaping. So we were interested when we read Storytelling in an Age of Industrialized Content by Upendra Shardanand of Daylife. We’re all story tellers now – do you know how to keep ‘em human?
  • And finally, we wouldn’t be very good PR professionals if we didn’t also ask you to give our panels a thumbs up. In The Networking Conundrum, I’ll analyze how people and businesses are building communities online and off – and whether or not both are important. Are they inclusive of one another? Why or why not? What if you live in a rural area – can you still build influence online as successfully as your city-dwelling competitors? And what behaviors are most effective in each? We think this is an important topic as social networks continue to grow and thus the world seems to simultaneously get smaller.
  • Our EVP Heather Mosley will take a look at who’s already done well in this vein – and what you can learn from them – in Dissecting What Really Works in Social Marketing Campaigns. What companies are doing it right and what have the results been? Is it possible to take elements of their successes to build your own – why or why not? She’ll help you understand what’s worked, why, if it can work for you – and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t.

We’ll continue reading through the panels and let you know what else catches our eye. What have been your faves so far?

See you in Austin!

 

BDI’s Social Convergence & The Enterprise – Advice, Insights & Lessons Learned from Jet Blue, Unilever, Century 21 and more. What’s Your Best Social Advice?

On Wednesday we attended and moderated two round tables at the Business Development Institute (BDI)’s Social Convergence & The Enterprise event in New York City. I was happy to attend an event with the not-so-usual suspects – fresh networking and opportunities to expand our community are always exciting.

The speakers at the 1/2 day conference ranged from companies such as Harvard to Jet Blue, Unilever to Century 21. Attendees held positions in HR, marketing, business development and other areas of business. I have to say that, having attended a lot of networking and social media events over the last few years, the topics can grow tired. The presentations can all begin to look the same – even infamous Tweets, photos and charts are often reused. But, for the most part, this event was a fresh take on a much-discussed subject: social media in business. I would definitely attend again and encourage others to check out BDI’s events.

The format was three hours of case studies followed by two sessions of round tables where attendees sat down with moderators and discussed pre-determined subjects. I found this of interest because often the attendees have interesting insights and lessons learned to share as well, and typical conference formats don’t usually provide the opportunity for an extended, interactive discussion between panelists and audience. Allowing a few questions from the audience is much different that sitting down with each other after the presentations and really digging into the topics. And, asking the presenters for case studies is a good way to ensure they’re sharing insights and lessons learned – not just observations and opinion like so many of today’s speakers on social media.

Some of my favorite tidbits from panelists included:

- How Jet Blue opened up its communications – and rebuilt its brand – after a crisis in 2007. Speaker Jenny Dervin shared interesting insights into their culture (“we all help clean the planes”) and how they handled customer communications more proactively thereafter – despite knowing it would frustrate in the short run but build loyalty in the long run. Strategies included a video message to crew members and customers from the CEO, as well as a letter to every customer who had ever flown Jet Blue – all in the name of “We’re sorry… please give us another chance.”

 

- “You cannot be successful in social unless you involve the whole organization – let employees engage in social media” – from Paul Hernacki of Definition6. He advises that the entire company needs to be on board for success.  He asks, “Are your employees fans of your brand?” And suggests, “Eat your own dog food – social and the digital lifestyle needs to be part of your company DNA.” He also implores CIO’s to help make it happen by stop blocking of social sites and blogs. “You’re not solving the problem by blocking.”

- “We don’t own our brands anymore, consumers do.” Stacie Bright of Unilever talked about how to handle this new Wild West frontier of social media. “There are good conversations and brand conversations – but we can choose to be a part of those conversations.” Amen. Ignoring the conversations and not making social media part of your business is like my 5-year-old putting a towel over his head and telling me I can’t see him. We also found ourselves nodding in agreement when she said “Have a calendar [for social media initiatives] – anyone can be a one-hit wonder.”

- Consumers want engagement, so humanize your brand – let your employees have real conversations with your customers (what a concept!). From Matt Gentile, Director of PR and social media content strategy for  CENTURY 21. Another great thought from Matt – and one that we have always used with PR campaigns: “‘Measure for success and then adjust for optimization.”

After panels, I moderated a round table called “The Rule in Social Media is that There are No Rules.” Of course, this isn’t completely true – as Doug Chavez, who leads digital marketing for Del Monte, recently told me: “I believe thereare rules. First is that a brand has to listen, second is to engage when appropriate and [value] additive to the conversation, third is that brands need to always be transparent and authentic.” Ok, so he’s right, there are some rules, but the genesis of the “no rules” sentiment is that some companies get too caught up in the rules – instead of thinking about what’s right for their company, they try to find a pre-written playbook or follow only the basics (I don’t know what we’ll do but we must be on: Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook). They fail to create a strategy based around their business goals and often forget that social media is still so new – that while there may be guidelines, the results are still largely unproven. And thus, any “rules” could change tomorrow – or change today if you’re the company willing to take that risk (an example: Ben & Jerry’s abandoning email marketing in favor of just using social media. Will it work out for them in the long run? We’ll have to wait and see).

If you’d like to listen to the panelists and their full presentations, you may do so at BlogTalkRadio.

If you’d like to hear what some of the attendees and online followers have to say about social media, visit our Sweet Marketing Advice site, created to capture advice not only from the attendees of the BDI show, but of our network as well. We wanted to share our offline experiences today with our online community as well. And, as a thank you to those who took the time to share their best tips, we created a voting mechanism for the community to choose the “Sweetest Advice” – the author of the advice that the community votes as the best by 5 p.m. Friday, July 23, wins an iPad. So please visit the site to not only learn some great tips, but to vote on your favorite. You can submit your own advice too, if you’re so inclined, and see what the community thinks of your expertise.

As an aside, we listen to our community and some of the early feedback on our Sweet Advice Contest is that it was just another Twitter popularity contest. That was disheartening to hear but we re-evaluated our contest rules and text after this feedback. Let me be clear that the intent was to open up the experience for those not in attendance, to capture a variety of “best tips” to share with all of you, and to learn not only from the panelists and speakers, but from the attendees themselves. We thought it would be fun – but also useful – to have both the BDI attendees and our online community share their best social media convergence and marketing ideas, and to have the community vote on which advice was best. We changed the auto-tweet button on the site to share each tip as part of the Tweets – in an effort to make the Tweets more valuable.

Of course, entrants are also inclined – and yes, encouraged – to ask their community to vote for them if they like the advice, and they may choose to write what they want in order to get them to do so – but our intent was to entice people to give advice, aggregate it in one spot, ask the community to vote on the best advice and offer an iPad as both an incentive and a thank you for sharing. The advice voted the best – highest number of votes by Friday at 5 EST – will win an iPad from us, and the community benefits from an aggregated spot of great social media and marketing advice. Enjoy.

Special thanks to BDI and Steve Etzler for the wonderful conference and the opportunity to participate. We learned a lot and met some really great people. Great job on the conference.

 

Mobile apps, free conference calls, online health, kids with cameras, free iPads and more – it’s a busy week!

It’s a big, busy week at PerkettPR and I’m acting as our own reporter because I’m so excited to share some client developments taking place. We’ve got product launches, mobile apps, a “kid’s cam” and more. Take a look and let us know what you think. Thanks for reading!

Powwownow – Europe’s largest free conference call provider launched today in the U.S. and unveiled its first iPhone app. You can download it for free here, or at the iPhone App Store or on iTunes. We’re at Think Mobile in New York City today and celebrating the launch with a fun contest where we’re giving away three iPads. Folks here are having fun with our “Powwownow app rap” video contest - check them out (including, embarrassingly, yours truly – although I can’t win!) and click here to learn how to enter for your own chance to win through April 23.

HealthLeap – a free and effortless way for patients to schedule health appointments (ex: doctors, dentists) and stay on top of their health. In turn, it also empowers doctors who want to increase their visibility and interactivity among a new breed of Internet-savvy patients in a measurable and effective way. The net net – HealthLeap makes  scheduling appointments a breeze for the patient, and helps doctors to showcase their practice, extend their brand awareness, fill available appointments and last minute cancellations, and more. Read the full news release for details.

Also today, client St. Louis Children’s Hospital launched their first “Kid Cam” production, where an eight-year-old brain tumor patient turns the tables on his caregivers and examines them to provide an inside look at the SLCH hospital experience. The goal of the video is to offer more personal insight into the hospital from a kid’s perspective so that others in the same situation understand they are not alone. The footage shows some of of the patient’s scarier moments – like accessing the port used to deliver chemotherapy medication – as well as lighter moments such as visits from the music therapist and the adorable therapy dogs. Watch now:

Our newest client, WaveMarket, launched their Veriplace Developer Community “LocationNation” last week, as well as a Developer Contest, awarding two cash prizes of $5,000 and iPads for all second place finishers. The contest encourages developers to create location-based services and applications that can be deployed across the Veriplace platform and remotely locate over 150 million phones in the U.S. Prizes will be awarded for Best location-aware Advertising or Marketing, Best Social app, Best Enterprise app and Most Innovative. The contest runs through July 1 and winners will be announced on July 26. Check out the contest site for details.

 

Love Your Accountant? PR Firm? Vet? Last Day for Make A Referral Week to Help SMBs!

As a small business, and one that often promotes relevant technologies, product and services, we are passionate about supporting the SMB community. Small businesses are the crux of our economy – stimulating new ideas, new jobs and new creations every day. So we wanted to remind you that today marks the last day to make a referral on “Make a Referral Week” -  an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small business economy one referred business at a time.

“The goal for the week is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses in an effort to highlight the impact of a simple action that could blossom into millions of dollars in new business,” writes John Jantsch, creator of the effort and author of Duct Tape Marketing. We couldn’t agree more, so please, join the cause – show the power of referrals and make one here, today.

 

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