“Influencers Who Inspire” with Sarah Evans

This week’s influencer interview is with the ever-popular Sarah Evans. Sarah Evans (@prsarahevans) is the Chief Evangelist at Tracky (www.tracky.com), an open social collaboration platform, and owner of Sevans Strategy, a new media consultancy.  It’s her personal mission—to engage and employ the use of emerging technologies in all communication—that connects her with a rapidly growing base of more than 120,000 people.

A self-described “social media freak,” Sarah initiated and moderates #journchat, the weekly live chat between PR professionals, journalists and bloggers on the microblogging platform, Twitter.

Sarah shares her social media and tech favorites on Sarah’s Faves (sarahsfav.es) as well as a daily resource for PR professionals called Commentz.

Sarah previously worked with a local crisis center to raise more than $161,000 via social media and is a team member of the Guiness Book World Record-holding team, #beatcancer.

Sarah can be seen in Vanity Fair’s America’s Tweethearts, Forbes’ 14 Power Women to Follow on Twitter and Entrepreneur’s Top 10 Hot Startups of 2010.

We caught up with this busy entrepreneur and asked her some questions about her favorite social networks, how she grew her business and what she is passionate about.

If you had to choose one social network to use which one would it be and why?

I prefer Instagram (with a direct feed to Twitter and Facebook, LOL). I’m a visual learner and also feel more connected to people through their photos. Instagram allows me a way to share photos in a fun way, let people know where I’m at (i.e. location), add a caption and share the post across other networks.

And, although, it’s not a social network, my employer Tracky (www.tracky.com) is ahead of the game in celebrating all that is good in open, social collaboration.

You have had some interesting clients. Which one has been your favorite and why?

I’ve loved working with all of our clients, most recently taking on the role as Chief Evangelist of Tracky, an open social collaboration platform. Asking a PR person to choose a “fave” is tough! I have to go with my current role. I’ve spent so much time promoting and writing about tech startups that I ended up working directly with one. In fact, I’m relocating my entire family to Las Vegas to take on this latest adventure. That’s how much I believe in the platform. In my life, I don’t do anything unless it’s 100 percent. Tracky is my favorite because co-founders David and Jennifer Gosse not only eat, breathe and sleep the platform, they are passionate about creating a better way for people to get things done (#GTD).

What blogs/newspapers/magazines do you read daily?

If I gave you the entire list, it might make your head spin. ;) I keep a blog roll over at Sarah’s Faves (http://sarahsfav.es) where people can see my favorite media outlets. Here are a few:

How do I keep up with all them you might ask? For each, I use a combination of its tasks, emails and mobile Twitter alerts. All of these outlets are set up so that I see what they post real-time from my phone.

You grew your PR consultancy pretty quickly. What was your strategy and how did you make it happen?

From the outside (or social side) it probably appeared “very fast.” However, a lot of work was put in behind-the-scenes for a few years. In fact, for at least a year I was both working a full-time day job and freelancing in the evenings and on weekends.

My strategy?

1. Build a network when I don’t need one.

2. If I couldn’t get experience I needed in my day job, hustle to get it off the clock.

3. Have at least three clients on retainer by the time I started the business.

What PR campaign in social media has been successful this year? Why and how did it become successful?

There are so very many. Is it cliché to once again say I can’t pick one? What I can do is share the attributes I believe made many successful:

  • They disrupt. Think a bit of “not playing it safe,” mixed with a different or better way of doing things. Even klouchebag.com challenged the status quo and got some good press.
  • They allow people to do these three things: personalize, participate and portable (i.e. available on mobile).
  • They have a lot of time and money behind them. The most successful integrated marketing and communications campaigns typically have either a lot of time or money (or both) backing them. Granted it takes talent to put them together, but again that means time and money.

Can you tell us a little about Sarah’s Faves?

Boy, can I. Sarah’s Faves is my latest passion project. I think my tagline sums it up, “All my geeky favorites, in one nerdtastic place.” I only write about things I really like and think others would, too. It’s a personal recommendation site.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

My family, including my husband, 10-month-old son and our two furry babies. Sleep. Fashion.

What is next for you in 2012?
A big cross country move to Las Vegas.

More speaking and interacting with others passionate about social media and technology.

A new web show called Track Stars I’ll be shooting inside the Switch SuperNAP.

A few surprises I can’t mention right now. ;)

 

 

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!

 

Are You A PR Influencer?

Even though 99% of everything you do in PR is on behalf of your company or your client, are you working on becoming an influencer yourself? Our own @missusp spoke last Friday afternoon at the PRSA Technology Conference in New York on the topic of PR professionals as influencers and shared her insights into how our role is changing. She highlighted several PR & digital marketing professionals turned influencers including: Chris Brogan, Kelly Cutrone, Steve Rubel, Peter Shankman, Brian Solis, Scott Monty, Ann Handley, Sarah Evans and more. You can see her full presentation on SlideShare or check out some of the key tips and takeaways below:

  • It’s about YOU – PR professionals aren’t just "flaks," we’re tastemakers — choosing to work with the best and brightest upcoming brands, products and services. Embrace your role as an influencer and share your thoughts, insights, opinions – we have a better chance than ever to show how intelligent we really are.
  • Build your personal brand – YOU are your personal brand  and guess what – it lasts forever. Put some care into making sure it’s a brand you’re proud of. Great examples of personal brands include Gary Vaynerchuk, Julia Roy and more.
  • Do what you know and do it well – especially in PR! Bad pitches are now public – often the subjects of a reporter’s wrath – so “do what you already know how to do” but do it well because the footprint you build now will stay with you forever.
  • Share, Share, Share (with your networks) — the difference between simply being a member of a social network and being an influencer is sharing valuable content. Think about how you can help others.
  • Write a book — or at least a blog! PR executives need to be great writers and that means doing it well and doing it often. Blogs also give you another platform for sharing insights and opinions – embracing that role as a tastemaker -  as do Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks where you can be a resource with answer, opinions and thoughts. The point is to write – it keeps your skills sharp and increases your credibility as a PR professional.
  • Don’t say you are (just) in PR — our role has changed and we are so much more than PR pros now. Know the new terms used to describe our profession and make sure you are referring to all of your expertise, as it has now evolved to include digital and social media marketing, for example. As a leader, you should recognize when to change your messaging to meet the growing demands of our industry. You’ll notice many of the best-known PR leaders don’t even have "PR" in their company descriptions anymore. Some do – but regardless, all the strongest marketing influencers today include terms such new media, social media and digital marketing in their expertise description.
  • Make your own rules (within reason) – be bold and innovative. Take risks. Try new things – the best PR and marketing often comes from throwing out the old rules and making your own.
  • Remember it’s all about you (but really it isn’t) — we are all well versed at building relationships online and off and we continue to find new ways to leverage our communication skills for the better good of our companies and clients. Building your personal brand is important, but remember; you are doing all of this for the betterment of your clients and ultimately positive exposure for them. Your own influence on social networks is becoming directly related to how successful you will be with generating buzz for your clients.

Thanks to all who attended the session on Friday and for all the #TechPRSA tweeting. It was a great event!