Live and Learn…Social Media Style

Ever since the early days of the internet, you know back when we were all innocent, happily posting away, giddily anticipating as the square with the lightening (complete with sound effects) gave way to the one with the triangle…(or am I the only one who remembers the early days of dial up AOL?) There have also been warnings, few and quiet at first, becoming stronger and more dire as the years flew by…protect yourself and more importantly, your INFORMATION! Hackers are EVERYWHERE and they are looking for YOU!
As a college student I took the warnings with a grain of salt, taking the usual precautions: anti-virus software, awesome (I thought) passwords. Later as I became wiser and more involved with social media; I became a blogger, then later a public affairs officer and then a social media consultant; I became even more savvy to the evils of phishing, trojans, keystoke viruses and web/spider trawlers A.K.A. Hacker scum with nothing better to do than ruin your day, week, life…

However, as aforesaid social media consultant I had grown comfortable with my knowledge…a dangerous thing. I assumed I was safe..it would never happen to me…until it did.

Sometime yesterday my GMail account was viciously hacked. 623 emails (EVERYONE in my address book) was sent an untitled email with a link that appeared to be from Google but was actually a virus. Not only was this bad for my social life, but the emails that went out also went out to people I had sent resumes to, people that trusted me in my network (including government, politics, the military, social media and the entertainment industry) now all exposed for the world to see. The link was also conveniently posted to my Facebook, Posterous, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIN and FriendFeed pages just in case you somehow missed the email! I was not only angry I was mortified!
To top it off when I decided to be proactive and change all my passwords I discovered my Google account had been disabled for a violation of TOS (since my ADsense address is also in my address book, Google was also sent the virus!) And I guess they don’t appreciate that sort of thing.
Well I immediately contacted them, Facebook, Twitter and most of my other services to let them know what was going on. Thankfully Google did not take the most extreme measure which would be to ban me forever from all Google services, but I did get a really stern email about taking preventitive measures in the future which made me feel about two inches tall. And I of course had to send out about a million emails, tweets and posts to apologize for the hacking, which more than a few did not take lightly.
Well, what’s done is done. Did I learn anything? Hell yes. Am I a little humbled by my experience? Absolutely. Am I getting new virus software, changing passwords and encrypting the hell out of everything? Duh.

Live and Learn.

Advertisements

Should PR and Media Pro’s Offer Opinions?

I was recently contacted by Jess Todd about a particular controversy that I couldn’t help but weigh in on. For the entire encounter you can read over his blog, but in a nutshell he was basically lambasted for offering his opinions on a topic that he happened to know something about, rather than go the standard PR route. Those of you in PR know what I’m talking about, something  happens, or will happen and you send a release, the reporters call and you hand them off to an “expert” of some sort, or occasionally just someone else. Well what Todd did was streamline the process by contacting the media directly and simply stating that ” “as a media consultant, I have thoughts and opinions on the story and am available for interview or quotes.”

A few media outlets took him up on his offer and called him. Others however…went off calling his methods into question, accusing him of dictating what they should print, that it was their job to go find the “news” yada yada yada.

So this brings up a very good question. Is there a more efficient way to do things, some of the time? I have never been one to say that just because we have new methods we have to use them exclusively. However there have been many times when I knew I could make the reporter’s job a hell of a lot easier if I simply contacted them first with ALL the info they would need, rather than require them to have to go on a fishing expedition that they most likely don’t have time for anyway. So many story ideas get dropped for this very reason. Tight deadlines and stiff competition for space/time means that the days of the reporter who does all his or her own pounding of the pavement are long gone. PR professionals are here to help…so let us help. So to get back to the particular situation, which was his commenting on the resignation of Rep. Anthony Weiner, he shot me an email saying he wanted my take on the situation and my response to him was this:

“I think you are actually right on the money. I used to work in-house PR sending out the standard releases and when reporters would call, it was always me putting them in touch with someone else, one more step for them to take, and not because I wasn’t qualified but because that was simply how things were done where I worked. We were PR people, and treated by management as having little value – just get the right people to the reporters. Well, having been in the media business myself, having worked as a social media consultant, I too have an opinion on many subjects. Am I always the best? No. Am I an expert at everything I like to talk about? No. But then I don’t claim to be either. I am simply someone with experience that knows a few things about what is going on in the world, especially if it has to do with social media, PR or wildlife conservation.”

Where is the best place for those of us who have become hybrids at what we do? Is there a time when being efficient becomes overstepping our bounds as PR and Media professionals? Professionally I find nothing wrong with what Todd did or the idea of offering our services straight out whether they be quotes, opinions, whatever help we can provide to reporters so that they can get their job done faster, better and with better quality. Isn’t that after all one of the core responsibilities of public relations?

I applaud Todd for staying on top of the newest methods of breaking through to media. In today’s lighting quick world, when a plane crash is faster tweeted than reported on the six-o-clock news, it is all too important that people like him, people like me even continue the all important work of media and social media research to make sure that the public is always well-informed.

Think I’m wrong? Right? Have your own opinion you’re just dying to share? I welcome your comments.

(image courtesy of PRtalknow.com)

Using your Backstory to Shape your Online Persona

“Everyone is a storyteller”  –Michael Margolis

I recently had the privilege of listening to a webinar broadcast from SXSW 2011 (where I so wish I could be right now) by the author and master storyteller, Michael Margolis. Despite tuning in a little late, the first comment I caught really made me sit up and pay attention; and that was that as social media entrepreneurs we are all essentially storytellers, that our success or failure depends on our ability to relate our story to our audience.

As a trained journalist, Communications & Outreach Specialist, PR pro and freelance writer by trade this totally made sense to me. after all, isn’t it my job to relate to those who I am working with by finding the common ground, by sharing my story in the hopes that there will indeed be a shared empathetic connection?

I think his primary point was to use your “back-story” to shape your online persona, the parts of yourself that you put out there for others to either accept, judge or completely ignore. The idea that we can reinterpret a past event through new perspectives and may even learn something new just made total sense to me. After all, don’t we all live according to a certain revisionist history to a point anyway? Seems to me that as we look back on what made us who we are, we may even learn something new to add to the story.

So what’s your back-story? I’m thinking that I can totally be a superhero if I want to be. I did after all graduate early, make it through college with honors while a single parent (at least in the beginning) and then became known for my social media knowledge through rigorous self tutelage (thanks @blogbloketips, @socialmediatoday, @socialguide and @HollyHoffman for that!)

So maybe from now on I am going to work on developing my back-story. Interested? Well you don’t have to take my word for it. You can download the free e-book “Story Manifesto” or buy your very own copy from the Get Storied website.


So What’s your back-story and how do you use it to engage with your clients? I’d love to hear all about it!


Innovative Use of Color, detailed line work make Sacred Heart stand out from all the rest

If you are prone to believe in stereotypes, you might not automatically think of warm friendly faces and a laid back comfortable environment when you think of a tattoo parlor…I know that I didn’t used too…until I met Joe.

Joe Reyes, owner of Sacred Heart Tattoo in Austell can put anyone at ease. He may be covered with the obligatory markings of his craft but he lacks the knife-like edge that people so often assume comes with the tattoo-artist’s lifestyle. In short, Joe is just a really nice guy, a sentiment reflected by the following that appears on the shop website:

“This is first of all the most friendly shop I have ever stepped a foot into. We met Joe and it was like meeting someone you had known forever. He listened to our ideas and came up with some great artwork! They are very flexible and have always been able to work us in. We will never consider getting work done by any other shop! These guys are amazing!” – Ashley Crews

Being a friendly guy doesn’t automatically make you a great tattoo artist, so it helps that Joe and his crew are a pretty talented team. This is obviously a pre-requisite, especially since Joe learned from one of the best, world-class artist Tony Olivas, founder of Sacred Heart Tattoo. Of course you don’t have to take my word for it. Take a look at some of his work and you can decide for yourself. Joe has a touch that is extremely light, which was nice for me, having sensitive skin and a tendency to scar easily. Definitely something to consider when contemplating a tattoo. Also, anytime people see our tattoos they always comment that they must be very fresh, this is because the tattoos that my husband and I have received from Joe look brand new, just like the day they fully healed. The ink he uses sets in so deep and rich that people never believe that some of the work is several years old.

But if it’s a tattoo from Joe you’re interested in, you had better call first, he just might be on set. You read that right. Mr. Reyes has kept himself busy stacking up credits in his free time, whether making an appearance in Fast and Furious 5 which recently wrapped filming in Atlanta or appearing as one of the lead actors in an award-winning music video, Transistor, produced by Players Royale Productions for the Atlanta band The Julia Dream, you can expect to see lots more of his smiling face. Even if it’s not in the movies, once you get a tattoo from Joe, you will probably be going back for more.

Don’t forget to visit the official Sacred Heart Tattoo Austell Facebook Fan Page !

Use Social Media to Work Smarter Not Harder…

During tough times such as now doing more with less has become the norm’ rather than the exception. Therefore, why should your social media strategy be any different. Many organizations are hesitant to allow workers to have access to social media applications at their work-stations even now amidst all the positive and compelling  evidence of the amazing things being accomplished. This is due primarily to the fear that employees will become distracted by the inherent social factor, the farm town gifts, mafia wars, pokes, super pokes and redundant quizzes. However by cracking down it’s possible that they are missing prime opportunities to optimize their brand, content and social currency.

Employee Evolution claims that the best strategy is to make every employee a social media representative, a tool for furthering the needs of the organization rather than a weight around the neck used to slow momentum.

I tend to agree with this view point. By allowing employees to take part while on the clock, you are giving them ownership of the brand, creating a sense of pride and loyalty that will ultimately serve to benefit the organization. Want to convince your supervisor? Here are a few key points to remember when presenting the case for social media at work:

  1. Empower by encouragement-Give a person ownership and you will create a sense of pride, empowering them and also helping to ensure that they will be good public representatives of the organization. If you have ownership then you feel loyalty towards the organization that creates that feeling. Simple right?
  2. Make everyone an equal-This is a big one. Rather than getting caught up in silo-type thinking, allowing only either the top reps or the grunts to speak out, let everyone be on equal footing. This supports the first point about empowerment. Doing this helps to humanize an organization making them appear to be much friendlier and appealing to the public.
  3. Build creativity while cutting costs-Allowing everyone to participate means that an entire collection of creative minds with different skill sets will be utilized rather than a select few. Creativity tends to stagnate if not poked occasionally with the big fork of distinction. You also save money by taking advantage of existing resources, and who doesn’t want to save money?

Do you work for a progressive organization? Share your story about how you engage with the public via social media at work. Is it working for your company? Or do the employees take advantage? If you are banned from using social media while on the clock, why do you think that is?

 

 

Want to Help Fix the Economy? Be a Scrooge!

I read a great post this morning that totally fit in with what I was feeling. I tend to dread the holiday season. Not that I don’t enjoy spending time with the family, watching old Christmas specials like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (my FAVORITE) and a Charlie Brown Christmas (2nd FAVORITE), eating my dad’s awesome Yule log (a lovely chocolate cake thing with maple flavored whipped creme…..aaahhhhhh……sorry having a Homer Simpson moment there) and sitting in front of a roaring fire. No, all those things are the essence of the holiday season for me.

What I hate is the shopping, the expectations, the greed, the consumerism, the obsession with STUFF we don’t need. Here is an excerpt from the blog that sums it up better than I ever could.

Go ahead...be a Scrooge for the planet!

Go ahead...be a Scrooge for the planet!

“We are in a mess. Actually we are in a bunch of messes. The financial collapse was caused in large part by our greedy and over consumptive nature and practices. Markets will not hold when so many people live lives based on an ever revolving line of credit, made necessary by the need to own more than one can afford.

The environmental mess we are in, is a direct result of over harvesting the planets resources to supply our consumptive society.

We are running out of nature… fish, forests, fresh water and minerals. We are running out of clean air, water and soil.

It’s not just about saving the planet though. It’s about returning to relationships that aren’t based on material gratification.

There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.

It will take a massive mind-shift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 27th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Year’s resolution to change your lifestyle in 2010.” – Twilight Earth

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give gifts to those we love, but what happened to homemade gifts, baked goods,  offers of services and other intangibles? Therefore I am not participating in the madness that is Black Friday. I will not step into any stores and will ignore the plethora of ads blasted at me from every direction. For once I am so glad I live in the boonies, have no TV and few radio stations that come in clear. Less media means less commercials to tempt me, or my children.

If you are a green organization trying to figure out how to convince people we need less, then definitely read the post I linked too and then try to help promote green gifts. Memberships and donations to green organizations such as your state government’s nongame wildlife program (which in Georgia relies entirely on donations and the sales of license plates), Green America, The Sierra Club or the Arbor Day Foundation who will plant a tree in honor of every donation, are all examples of gifts that not only reduce your carbon footprint, but will help to preserve the planet’s beauty for generations to come.

Another idea for green gifts – potted plants, framed comics from your local newspaper (print or online) that have special meaning, hand-made toys, blankets or scarves, and the list goes on. Last year a friend received a set of coasters made out of pop tops (mostly beer I admit) but they were so cool, and were an excellent form of recycling since many places that take bottles do not recycle the lids.

Want to help get us out of the greedy consumerist mess we are in, try not using your credit cards this holiday season. Be a scrooge, and save the planet.



“World of Mouth” – a clear example…. It always comes back around.

In my last post I mentioned Erik Qualman’s book “Socialnomics” – in chapter five he goes into detail about how more and more we care about what our networks have to say about products and services than what we hear from commercials, print ads and so forth.

However, we can’t completely discount great customer service when it happens – know why? Because a good review has the same opportunity to go viral as one simply spoken about at the water cooler.

Earlier this week, my division at work put in orders for out business planner refills for the 2010 year. I had decided the one I was using was really not suitable and really wanted to go with the super “Master Planner” 2-page per day organizer designed by Franklin Covey. So I get my order and it is only the pages, no binder….I was a little miffed, checked the catalog and sure enough, the product number only indicated the refill. So I thought, ok, no big deal, I will just look through the Staples catalog (my org is contracted with them) and find the planner. Let the frustration begin.

First I checked the catalog – no planner big enough…then I checked the website…no binder. At this point I was very, very frustrated and felt entirely PISSED off that a company would carry refill pages for a binder they did not carry. On a lark I went on the Franklin Covey web site and guess what….they DON’T carry one either!!!!! Can you believe it? Franklin Covey, a huge name in personal organizers sells an AWESOME refill but not a binder that it will fit in.

I called Staples and talked to a wonderful young woman who seemed as perplexed as I was. Guess what she did. First she did her own search, then she took down my info and promised to call back. I admit I was skeptical but let it go…until 15 minutes later she called back. She had scoured the web and found a binder that would fit my refill – on Daytimer.com…now that is awesome customer service.

Not only did she seem genuinely concerned, but in order to help me sat a satisfied customer she checked her competitors web sites to  help me find what I needed.

Maybe Staples and Franklin Covey as organizations messed up…but that woman provided excellent customer service, which speaks volumes about the organization she works for.

Thanks a million and thanks to Staples for hiring such great customer service reps.

So as an addendum, you can bet that although I was disappointed with the product availability, I was very happy with the service and would definitely recommend Staples to others.

Next time you are answering a question from a potential client or customer, when you know you have to give them “bad” news – consider the method of delivery and how else you might help them. It can mean the difference between someone having a bad experience and passing that on, or someone maybe not getting what they want, but passing on good word of mouth about how well they were treated-which ultimately is more important than a product or service anyway over the long run.