My Brain Hurts: SoloPR Summit Recap, Day 2

“My brain hurts. In a good way.”

Think I wasn’t the only one feeling that after the LOADED second day of the Solo PR Summit.

Author, speaker, {Grow} blogger and former super model Mark W. Schaefer kicked off the morning with a compelling keynote on the Web, Social and Influence.

  • Ah the dread pirate Klout, but he makes you think about the social web in a different way.
  • Moving content is action, influence realized.
  • Mark “hits the nail on the head – it’s not about ‘more’ content; it’s about ‘better’ content.” – Jodi Echakowitz

someecards.com - If we can't solve it via email, IM, texting, faxing, or phone calls, let's resort to meeting in person Tom Martin told us how-to Painlessly Prospect for Customers, no cold-calling required and generally rocked the shiznitz outta the place. IIRC he snagged a couple marriage proposals too.

  • Cornerstones and Cobblestones. Brilliant content mapping, maximizing opportunities for content, ways to share it across different media and networks. Tips:
    •  Thank you page doesn’t end there, redirect them back to blog or home page.
    • Record presentations, convert to long and short vids for #2 search engine, YouTube.
    • Forget ‘vanity’ plug ins for ‘popular’ posts; recommend related content, targeted to reader.
  • Holy inbound content marketing, Batman! Your website (and its blog, papers, contact forms) are the Terminator – a 24/7 365 machine designed to help you lure, hook and ulitmately reel in top prospects by driving them through the filter system. And give you a valid email address.
  • Hails from New Orleans, land of food, drink and Mardi Gras so win.

Food for body and mind. We had a working lunch as we had our choice of guided discussion.

Karen Swim talked Client Management with her group; Profitable Media relations was hosted by Monique Caradine. Alas I couldn’t clone myself to be in three places at once, I joined the Specialist or Generalist panel, an interesting talk on both niche industries as well as skills led by Daria Steigman.

someecards.com - Let's discuss my freelance rateSetting Fees with Jenny Schmitt and Greg Brooks.

  • As I  hinted in the Solo PR Summit Day 1 recap, I outted myself as a cheap hooker (Greg’s joke/analogy). Bad me! We spend a lot of time, work very hard to develop our talents and skills, build our expertise and hone our creativity – we should be paid for it damnit!
  • Different ways to run the math, but it all added up the same: get paid what you’re worth. Pick the lifestyle, business you want and structure accordingly.
  • On hourly rates – Client: “My lawyer doesn’t cost that much?!” Greg: “Get a better lawyer.”

If you’re not measuring..  A highlight was Kami Huyse on the much needed Measurement for Solo PR, how to show value and success.

  • More than 400 measurement tools – some of the Solo PR (non-existant) budget friendly variety.
  • Real-time analysis of the SeaWorld Harlem Shake video.
  • Not one wisp of AVEs!

Adaption vs. Extinction. Bad Pitch Blog’s Kevin Dugan on how PR pros can ID trends and changes in the market – and capitalize on them.

  • If you’re worried about making Bad Pitch Blog, you probably won’t. Interesting: most pitches aren’t exactly bad, they’re irrelevant, off-target.
  • Stop fighting to hold on to old models that no longer work; evolve and adapt.
  • “One Size Fits (No One At) All.” ITA!

someecards.com - I need a time billing code for not doing shitMore Done, Less Time. In this case, time with Sarah Evans. As a multi-tasking efficiando, I say word.

  • Finally found some IFTTT shortcuts I’m comfortable trying. I can’t automate reading, vetting content – but the filtering and gathering, that will give it a go.
  • Workflows sans email and 27 different browser windows (it’s like she’s seen my desktop). She’s a Tracky champion but project management tool of choice will do. The idea is to stop bouncing emails around cyberspace; instead put all the tasks, deadlines, supporting files in one place where everyone can see, monitor, send.

From the trenches. Success stories from Kristie Aylett, Kellye Crane, Kelly Davis and Heather Whaling. Always nice to learn from the pros first hand what they are doing, what is and isn’t working. Everyone’s doing this their own ways, for their own reasons.

  • Age, experience, location don’t matter as much as expertise, skill, know-how and ability to get it done.
  • Different strokes – solo, subcontracting, virtual agency, boutique firm, group consortium – for different folks; find what works best for you.

Woefully incomplete. If you were there, let me know what you thought. If you weren’t and want more, just ask.

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Big Ideas, Small Package: Solo PR Summit Recap, Day 1

Table for One. Or a Hundred.

The quality and calibre of the content at the 2013 Solo PR Summit - Second. To. None.

One standout for this event for me was relevance: this wasn’t pie-in-the-sky luxury available only to global brands, these concepts are scalable to many of the small and medium businesses we advise. Even more, much of what was presented – the need to be nimble, flexible, adaptable; the focus and human touch - cuts both ways.

Wish You Had Been There

After fearless leader Kellye Crane kicked things off, we got two days of smart, insightful and best of all, take-this-home-and-actually-USE-it! presentations.

Personal Branding. Even though I’m not a big fan of the term, Amanda Littlejohn and Mary Ellen Miller brought it home. Key takeaways:

  • Professional means just that. Think professional – doesn’t mean boring, stuck-in-the-mud stiff! – headshot, social profiles, brand image.
  • Website, blogs and branded, professional business email address.
  • ” Waiting to build your personal brand until you need it is like waiting until you’re cold to build a fire.” – Kevin Dugan

meetingsdemotivator

Online meets Offline. Great collab with Arik Hanson and Heather Whaling, showing how this is works together. Key takeaways:

  • It’s not about traditional vs. digital; it’s about how those can layer, build and support each other – creating value.
  • Solve clients biggest problem: no time to keep up. Be resource, share info.
  • “Don’t tell, beg, or ask people to follow you/engage with your content, show them why they should.” – Lucas Miller

Proposal Secrets: Revealed. Love when I get a chance to know people better, this time it was Natalie Ghidotti. Key takeaways:

  • Creativity Works. It’s not about the boilerplate and formula; use visuals, match presentation and format to the client.
  • Start at the right place by asking the right questions – H/T to Mary Barber for great list of questions – in order to give them what they need (not just want they want).
  • I need to start watching Mad Men DVDs.

Learning from Biggest, Brightest, Bestest. Jeremy Porter, Definition 6/Journalistics; Aimee Ertley, Sage North America; Ashley Callahan, Coca-Cola; Candace McCaffery, Independent Consultant. Key takeaways:

  • Interesting case studies on the use of social, the rethinking of web, traditional and new media, convergence of content, CRM and more.
  • Solo or Independent isn’t limiting; much of this is scaleable, adaptable at the SMB level.
  • Think Different. There’s more than one way to tackle issue or position a client. “Any business can be interesting.” – Aimee Ertley

And that was just a half-day! So much was shared, this barely scratched the surface.. and one of the days I’ll get a handle on embedding these awesome tweets.

For a first-of-its-kind event, the Solo PR Summit really hit a home run. Big time all caps bold KUDOS to Kellye Crane for making this happen. Look for Solo PR Summit Day 2: Electric Boogaloo next week when we do the Harlem Shake and expose someone as a cheap hooker. Stay tuned.

What did you think of Day 1? Please share.

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“Let ‘em eat cake” and other terrible PR advice

When Ms. Antoinette was getting mouthy and losing her head, she forgot to empathize and relate to her audience. Maybe she had bad PR advice?

Rant Alert: somewhere in the neighborhood of a Code Yellow on the Dammit! Jack Bauer scale.

So Carnival is in a PR and social pickle (again). This time it’s the Triumph (I’ve known people who’ve sailed and enjoyed that ship) losing power and having to be towed back to Mobile. This isn’t the first time a ship has lost power due to fire, and it’s not a problem exclusive to Carnival.

Now I’m sure the apologies will come fast and furious. Reports already indicate guests will get a full refund and a credit for future cruises, if they want to take their chances again. Emergencies will happen, especially in a business that operates practically 24/7, 365. Put that operation on water, you better believe the contingency plans get complicated.

But that’s not what’s got me steaming mad.
someecards.com - I give great wrong advice.
Take this bad advice, call me in the morning

USA Today ran a short piece with industry experts doing a Q&A on the Triumph fire. At the end there’s some good advice from a VP at a ‘strategic communications firm’ in which he talks about damage control, crisis communications and being proactive with updates with passengers.

Now I’d go much further, also include their families, the media, target social networks. Make every effort to keep people in touch, waive cellular fees, help with travel arrangements and expenses, even for those sans insurance. Mixed in with all the apologies, assurances to figure this out, take better steps to prevent this from happening again. But that’s neither here nor there.

Here’s the line that’s got my knickers in a twist:

“they understand what happened, provided they’re being communicated with and given food and water. Maybe (management) should break out the band.”

Seriously?! That’s the recommended message? “We’re still feeding you and hey, MUSIC?!!”  Next thing you know, someone’s gonna want their life back.

“Break out the band” is dreadful advice, an even worse attitude for damage control.

Of course the crew shouldn’t overreact and cause additional panic; and yes they need to do make steps to comfort guests, help passengers pass the time.

But going on as if nothing’s happening? Making it a party? I don’t think I’d be in the mood for a limbo if I hadn’t showered for two days. There are times levity can ease tension, calm the storm — but adrift at sea with limited resources and terrible conditions isn’t one of them.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill, or is this not exactly the best crisis PR advice?

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Blogging: Fortune Cookie Wisdom Style

“Do not wait for others to open the right doors for you.”

Not much of a fortune – don’t ya hate that?! – but certainty good advice, even if from a cookie.

Stop Waiting

Yes there are nice, courteous people everywhere but one thing I’ve always loved about The South, the manners. More than a few times a nice gentleman has waited – a long bit – for me to get to a door so he can hold it open for me. If only everything was like that.

If you want to open some doors, here’s what you do:

i_hilarious_fortune_cookie_notes_002_50b4e4874717f

  1. Stop waiting.
  2. Develop a plan for success.
  3. Work hard, find your right doors.
  4. Open the doors your damn self.

That’s what good public relations and content marketing and social media are about. It’s why the myths about blogging are b.s.

YOU have to do it.  

No one else will do it for you. You open the doors by doing the work. You hire the right team, talk to the right experts. You research and plan, you study data and numbers, you find your doors. And find ways to open them.

You open the right doors by doing your homework. Research, targeting, relationships with strategic stakeholders. You know your story better than anyone, what you can do for others; so tell it.

You open those doors by creating content. It takes a team, so you get leaders and management involved to write blogs and post videos, produce content of value that people – your audiences – can actually use.

You open those doors being genuinely social and find the right doors getting out of your own house. And sometimes, out of your own way.

Here’s to not waiting, finding inspiration anywhere, shorter posts (personal victory!). Here’s to doing the WORK and opening doors for ourselves.

Photo courtesy: Humorsharing.com.

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Think You’re Irreplaceable? Keep Dreaming.

Customer. Service. It’s not that hard. Put the two together, snicker at your ‘service the customer’ joke and then get it done.

Mistakes are not the problem. You are.

  • You are the problem – if you’re the hotel manager that ignores valid, negative criticism. (And yes, you totally should reply to bad reviews.)
  • You are the problem – if you don’t make it right.
  • You are the problem – if you run a restaurant and your SM strategy is bashing the competition, fake Yelp reviews and buying Likes.
  • You are the problem – if you don’t stop, listen and learn from it.

Latest on my “I won’t be going there again” list: alterations service. Nice woman, helpful, good if a little expensive – I’d been going to for years. I’ve referred F&F, been a reliable customer.

What happened:

When picking up one (very pricey) job, I dropped off another quick, easy one. I returned more than a week later to get it and.. she totally forgot. Strike one. She hemmed and hawed, rushed apology.. later today, no maybe tomorrow. Strike Two. When I picked it up the next day, she coupled a mild ‘sorry’ with a grand gesture of $2 off. Strike Three, way outta there.

I can have another you by tomorrow. So don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.”

You tell ‘em Beyonce.

I didn’t make a big stink but my body language was clear that I was displeased. I don’t think I’ll be back.

The next time I need something hemmed or tweaked, my fingers will do the walking. Right over my keyboard or flip through some apps on my iToys, find a new place. (BTW Fingers already made a stop at Kudzu, to post a this cautionary tale.)

Not only was a stronger apology in order, I don’t think they should have charged. At all. Even better, why not – to show me they can and will keep doing it right - a 20% off coupon for the next time?

My dry cleaner did that; they fixed their mistake with customer service and that made all the difference. Why? Because they know that they may not get three strikes. They know that paying will cost, but not paying will cost more. They know that I can all too easily bring my business elsewhere.

A hotel, a restaurant, or dry cleaner, so many businesses – they are all very replaceable. What’s irreplaceable? Service that’s good for the Customer.

What should they have done for my time and trouble? What does your business do to do right by your customers?

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