Doreyne Douglas – SMB Executive, Mom & VP at PlanetMagpie – Shares Insights on Tech, Design and Advice for Entrepreneurs

PlanetMagpie is a technology and design partner of PerkettPR. They specialize in delivering IT Consulting, Web Design, App Development, Web Marketing, Hosting and Comprehensive Network Support.

Where did the name PlanetMagpie come from?

Our dog Magpie, a black lab, was the company’s mascot. She embodied all the traits we believe any good business should have.  She was fun, smart, a great friend, incredibly loyal and worked really hard to please us. That’s what a true partner should be.

What do you like about living and working in the Bay Area?

I love that there are a million things to do here – plus the lack of mosquitoes and cold weather!

How did you get into tech?

My husband Robert incorporated PlanetMagpie in 1998. Five years ago the business had grown to a size where he needed additional support in marketing so he recruited me to help out. Prior to that, I was in legal marketing and recruiting for 15 years, most recently with the second largest law firm in California; Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, probably best known for representing President Bush in Bush v. Gore.

What are three things small business owners and entrepreneurs should be sure to have in place when launching a new company?

1)      A solid IT infrastructure that can grow with them

2)      An identity and brand that inspires employees, customers and partners

3)      A customized, professional website that captures who they are; custom sites are not that much more expensive than template sites and are worth the investment.

What sticks out to you like a sore thumb when you see a badly designed website?

1)      The site is disorganized and all over the place

2)      There isn’t a clear message of who they are and what they do. That is particularly frustrating to a marketer because what they don’t realize is people will leave immediately if they can’t get a feel for what you can offer them.

What are some of the pitfalls or security risks businesses should be aware of when setting up their IT infrastructure?

Be sure to consult with an expert. Just because Microsoft (or any vendor) says a certain software or system will suffice for your business “up to 50 people,” doesn’t mean it will perform equally fast whether you have 1 or 50 people using it.  We see systems meant for 50 slowing down at 20, and that can hurt your productivity.  Build your systems based on your planned growth and be sure they fit your needs for the foreseeable future.  Consulting with someone who has built/used/implemented these systems in the past is your best bet for ensuring you are set up for success.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting their own business today?

After “Don’t do it?” :)

I think the most important thing to remember is what starts twisted will stay twisted. If you don’t have a vision and a plan in place to execute on that vision in an organized way you won’t succeed. Ask yourself, “What is the right way to do this?” – then plan it out from there. A lot of entrepreneurs will just take it as it comes and roll with the punches but they need to develop a plan first.

Secondly, I would say find the right employees and partners. No one gets there alone, and you need to have good people you can trust, that are reliable and loyal to move your business forward. Once you find those people hang on to them. They are the ones that will help you protect your company.

As a working mom and business executive/owner what do you find gets lost in the shuffle most?

Working on our house, which we love to do.  When the economy started taking a turn, we had to abandon our house renovation project mid-stream and devote all our attention to the company.  That was about 2-1/2 years ago.  When we start working on our house again, that will be proof positive to me that the recession is behind us.

What is your favorite tech gadget and why?

If I could only have one tech toy for work, it would be Microsoft Office Communications Server.  The “presence” and “IM” features of OCS are indispensable. My web development team’s collaboration and work efficiency went way up after we implemented those tools.  We can’t work without them anymore.

What inspires you to work as hard as you do?

I guess it’s the midfielder in me.  I don’t stop running until the referee blows his whistle … and that’s usually around 1 a.m.!  But seriously, I do it for Robert and the kids.  For Robert, because I’ve never met a harder working person more deserving of success.  For our kids, because I want to be able to leave them something tangible when we’re gone, to make their lives a little easier and to make sure they have a common place to gather and call home.

What are your favorite blogs?

I like Women on Business, The Business Insider (Silicon Alley Insider), and ReadWriteWeb.  I’m still trying to find a favorite blog on web design/development.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in tech?

If I could do it all over again, I would be a professional soccer player. I play on three soccer teams and absolutely love it.

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If you are interested in learning more about PlanetMagpie’s services visit PlanetMagpie or contact Doreyne directly at: doreyne [dot] douglas [at] planetmagpie [dot com]

How even a dog walker can benefit from social media

The term “social media” continues to be subject to interpretation by many. Ask a room of 10 people what social media means, and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. So it’s no wonder that many businesses and individual entrepreneurs are unsure how social media can play a role in their marketing communications strategies.

I asked on Twitter today, “What’s one business you think would NOT benefit from social media initiatives?” Here are some of the answers I received:

While some of these were given in jest, let’s take a look at a few examples of businesses that might not think social media is appropriate for them – and how we think it in fact could help raise awareness for their brand and company.

  • Fisherman – as @YuliZ says above, perhaps fishing is not a business that one would think is appropriate for social media promotion. But let’s step back for a minute and remember one of the most wonderful things about social media – we are all publishers now. What does this have to do with fishing? Ever watch Deadliest Catch? If you have, you already know that fishing can be a much more interesting career (or hobby) than you ever imagined. So maybe your type of fishing isn’t life or death – say you’re a commercial fisherman. Scale it down, take your camera out, video the crew before your next trip. Ask them questions about the different types of lines/bait/tactics used. Ask them their top three tips for a successful trip. Ask them how long they’ve been in the business. Turn it into an ongoing series that involves a) encouraging people to ask questions on Twitter b) have your crew answer on video c) post it on YouTube, Facebook, etc. I think you’ll be surprised by how many people would soon want to learn more about “Fred’s Fishing Factory” – whereas before social media, they may never have thought to even listen.
  • Fashion Stylist - okay so your job is usually conducted in-person and you can’t think of how to drum up business through social media. Sure, you can talk about fashion and clothes and related items on Twitter, but how does that help you when your business is in Phoenix and you’re talking to people in Prague? Think credibility, awareness and maybe even expansion. Create a Twitter presence and a blog. Connect them together – use sites such as Polyvore to pull looks together and showcase your talents by posting looks on the blog and promoting them on Twitter. Tweet about “looks of the day” or style tips. Encourage followers to ask for “online consultations” based on a certain event they’ll be attending – you can pull looks together, post them on your blog as examples and eventually even begin charging a nominal fee for it (perhaps through Etsy). You may decide to incorporate video by taking the camera to your gigs and showcasing how you pull a look together. You’ll soon find that not only are you honing your skills but you’re building your offline brand online, too.
  • Dog walker - this one’s easy! Get a camera phone, Twitpic photos of your walks and write a “doggie blog” about your daily adventures. Add humor and begin building a community by sharing tips, tricks, facts and figures about dog care. Localize it by sharing insights on where to find quality day care or vet services in other cities. Post funny videos on your Facebook, blog or YouTube that come from your every day job – you know people love funny animal videos! Again, the point here is to engage – and to build credibility. If I can see videos and blog posts about how much fun you have with your charges, I am way more likely to hire you than the person who placed a text ad in the back of the phonebook. You could even begin to include short snippets of happy customers providing testimonies about how wonderfu you are with their dogs.

Of course, these are not in any way full strategies but rather just a few quick examples of how different types of busineses can engage an audience and expand online brand awareness and credibility through social media. If you think that your customers aren’t on these social community sites – ask yourself if you think they Google. When I’m looking for something, it’s the first place I go. Use intelligent tags and post your content to as many social community sites as you can and you’ll begin to see that potential customers will find you even if they’ve never heard of Twitter.

Uncertainty Equals Opportunity for New Leaders

With the frightening economy, massive layoffs and a new focus on personal branding, employers need to work harder than ever to keep employees motivated and working together. Leading teams in a time when uncertainty abounds is not an easy task.

Yesterday in our staff meeting, I shared this sentiment – we’ll continue to be successful by working closely together and showcasing our ability to not only survive, but to thrive. I am also adamant that just because we’re being vigilant about smart spending, we don’t have to put a hold on growth. I don’t only expect our agency to continue to innovate and grow, I insist upon it.

You may be thinking, “Growth?! Who is trying to grow during a time like this?” But let me explain.

When I say growth I don’t always, or only, mean in the physical or financial sense. I mean in the sense of continuing to challenge each other and our clients, push our creative limits and bring new possibilities to the table. Growth of our ideas and improvement in the way we run our agency is something that should never stop. This can be applied to personal career growth as well. Down economies often spawn a new generation of businesses founded by unemployed but tenacious entrepreneurs – or open up new possibilities within your company when vacancies need to be filled. Step up and show your strength to deliver results and lead your colleagues when times are tough – I guarantee this is a time when those who shine, shine bright.

On that note, I have been so impressed with the results from the staff here at PerkettPR, and the loyalty and faith that they have shown in each other and in me, that I had to shout out to them today. We elect and honor a monthly MVP and choosing just one yesterday was hard to do! Times are certainly uncertain, but with a strong and intelligent staff that continues to turn out amazing ideas, valuable insights and a darn good sense of humor, I couldn’t feel better about our future.

How about you? How are you embracing these times as an opportunity to stand out as a resilient leader either at your company or on your own? We’d love to hear your inspirational stories, ideas and comments.