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Archive for April, 2009

roby's war

photo by Roby DiGiovine

Solid piece by John Bell over at Digital Influence on the relatively new and ever evolving PR discipline of digital crisis management this week. This is pretty timely as I keep running into PR departments and firms just now starting to get comfortable with the notion:

It’s almost a joke amongst communication pros. The first step isn’t the YouTube video response. It isn’t evaluating whether the Twitter uproar is gaining velocity or dying out. It isn’t even pulling your comms team together for a crisis meeting internally to figure out what to do. The first step is, of course, preparing for the crisis before it ever happens.

Bingo. John goes on to list a simple 4-step plan to get your organization (or client’s organization) up and running:

1. Get a Listening post program in place immediately. If you are not listening to your public across the entire Social Web – blogs, Twitter, Social networks, opinion and review sites – then you are at risk.

2. Get the C-suite smart about social media as a communications phenomena and channel. Any significant crisis is going to bubble up to the CEO of President to make decisions. Sure, s/he will look for advice from the VP of Communications, legal teams and more but that CEO will want to make their own decision. If she doesn’t understand the power of the social Web, then s/he may make a bad decision.

John suggests creating a training session specifically designed for the top executives, setting up an RSS feed for them and reviewing it weekly (showing them how to add and remove feeds on their own won’t hurt), and inviting them to your regular Social Media training sessions and discussions.

Great advice. PR and Social Media shouldn’t be treated by executives as some distant dominion of legal and coms. Today more than ever, executives need to learn to take ownership of this particular skillset, particularly CEOs. Business leaders are expected to comment and intervene in times of crisis, and waiting until the proverbial fit hits the shan to get a C-suite exec ramped up on all of this is ill-advised, to say the least. Start a program now, make it digestible and convenient, and plan to help your C-suite’s practical grow over time. This doesn’t stop with introductions and cursory overviews. This is monthly training for the rest of their tenure.

Here’s more:

3. Build a list of likely scenarios. Chances are your communications team already does this. What if our product or service fails and injures people? What if an executive is caught doing something shady? What if a video portraying some terrible act in our stores is published to YouTube? What if a growing collection of customer bloggers start talking about a customer service-nightmare together? What if detractors organize online and begin to use social media to attack you or your client? You can’t imagine every scenario, but if you identify the most obvious ones including the platforms online where they could manifest you can start to imagine the responses necessary.

4. Create your digital crisis management procedures and integrate into your larger playbook. Two simple ideas here: A) Plan your use of social media to respond and B) make sure you integrate with your other means of response (e.g. traditional media, outreach to stakeholders, internal communications).

The idea being that having an actual plan, having run your department through crisis response drills even, and establishing a procedural framework will help you respond faster and better than not having a solid plan at all. Common sense? Sure! But how many companies have well-thought-out, current crisis response plans in place today?  Quick: Whose responsibility is it to manage your social media channels? Do you know who the influential bloggers are in your industry? Which ones can you reach out to for help and which ones will turn on you? How will you respond to conversations and questions on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere? Who does what and how?

This isn’t something John suggests in his article, but consider running your communications team and your organization through drills. You know, like fire drills. Create a mock crisis scenario and test your company’s response to it via traditional media, social web, internal communications, HR, IT, customer service, etc. Observe, find out what works and what doesn’t, note how disruptive (if at all) responding to a crisis is to the organization (as this is good to know) and conduct a post exercise debrief to help everyone absorb all of the lessons learned. Then make the necessary changes and repeat until you are satisfied that your crisis management procedure is tip-top.

Drafting a document that clearly outlines crisis management procedures for your organization – defining roles, steps to be taken, channels, tactics, timelines, etc. – will be extremely helpful in the event of a real emergency. Best practices in this area may warrant recruiting representatives of all departments and forming a crisis response committe that meets regularly to review crisis response planning, division of roles, internal training, and interdepartmental collaboration. (Companies that place the full burden of crisis management – digital or otherwise – on their PR departments usually find out pretty quickly that a PR department alone cannot handle most crises on its own. Companies that plan for crises, however, rarely have to worry about them when they do occur.

Why is this relevant to Brands? Because some day, your taco or soft drink might make someone sick. Your car may have faulty wiring that will cause injuries and deaths. Your delicious nougat chocolate bar or seasoned potato chips might cause unexpected allergic reactions in children. Your dog food will kill thousands of family pets. Your laptop batteries will explode and start house fires. Your yard chairs will collapse without warning. Your medication will turn out to cause severe internal tissue damage when taken with alcohol. Your product will become the principal target of environmentalists. Your CFO will be arrested in Argentina with tens of millions of your investors’ dollars. Your principal supplier will be featured on 60 Minutes for operating illegal sweat shops in thirteen countries.

The impact of these types of situations on a brand, your brand, can be severe. Not having a plan in place (and a solid plan at that) puts you in a terribly vulnerable position, and could sink even the most respected company’s image. (Think back to Tylenol scare in the 80′s, Nike’s sweat shop allegations in the 90′s, and Taco Bell’s decision to remove certain food items from their menu when e-coli and salmonella outbreaks in the US threatened to undermine the public’s faith in their food’s safety.) So take another look at these four steps, and put together a crisis response plan that involves digital media and the social web. The benefits may not be immediate, but someday, you will be glad you took the time to do it.

For John’s full article, go here.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone. :)

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Firemen

The topic came up in conversation yesterday: What grouping of skills and experience should a company look for in a Social Media manager or director? I have to confess that my answer sounded more like a list than anything: Marketing communications, PR, community management, blogging, account planning, business development, reputation management, brand management, brand insights and market research, web savvy, etc. And while I was going through my little skill mapping exercise, I suddenly remembered that we had touched on this topic about a year ago – not in terms of social media, but more along the lines of new marketing. Let’s run through it again:

You probably remember Tim (IDEO) Brown’s Strategy By Design article in Fast Company back in June of 2005. (You know, the one that mentioned T-Shaped people.) The article shed some light of the fact that innovative companies – or rather, companies who have shown an ability to innovate regularly – tend to favor hiring T-shaped people and fostering the types of cultures that work best for them, over hiring and managing employees the way our grandfathers did, which essentially consists of assigning specific linear jobs to people who were trained to perform the specific functions of these jobs – no more, no less. (The good old nose to the grindstone mentality.)

It went a little like this:

“We look for people who are so inquisitive about the world that they’re willing to try to do what you do. We call them “T-shaped people.” They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T — they’re mechanical engineers or industrial designers. But they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills, such as anthropology, and do them as well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need. That’s what you’re after at this point — patterns that yield ideas.”


Good stuff. Since IDEO pretty much pioneered the innovation by design business model, Tim knows what he’s talking about. And having suffered the rigidity and lack of flexibility of forethought commonly found in many corporate environments, I have been a BIG fan of the T-Shaped thinking concept ever since I first read about it. It has been my experience that when putting a project team together, opting for one composed of people with diverse backgrounds yields much better results than one composed of specialists in a specific field. Especially if the project involves solving a problem or improving a design or process.

But last year, Dave Armano, from the Logic & Emotion blog, gave us this, which proposed an exciting next step in T-shaped thinking evolution:

“Lately I’ve been wondering—is there another way to look at this? What if we took a more basic human truth. Most of us have some kind of passion in a specific area. For some—it’s a hobby or interest. For others, it’s directly related to their work. I fall into the latter category. If you were to ask me what my “passion is”—I would probably say that at the core, it’s creative problem solving. This is pretty broad and incorporates a lot of disciplines that can relate to it. But that’s the point. What if we start with our passions regardless of discipline, and look at the skills which radiate out from it the same way we think about how rays from the sun radiate warmth?”


Excellent point. The radial pattern is definitely an improvement on the theme of the T-shaped individual. We’re adding new dimensions here and painting a more realistic, accurate picture of the breadth and depth of talent required in today’s much more complex workplace.

Assuming of course, that the said workplace a) recognizes the value of this type of individual, b) is able to foster an environment which takes full advantage of this potential pool of talent and innovation, and c) incites these types of people to want to keep working there.

Sadly, this still seems to be the rub in far too many offices across the US… Which is where smart marketing firms, think tanks, ad agencies and professional services firms can gain a definite edge over just about everyone else.

Here’s more from Dave:

“The majority of those reaching out to embrace this trend have their roots in the UI industry rather than industrial design. While traditional product and graphic design practitioners enter the field with a foundation based on design history, emphasis on form, method and process, those in the UI field come from myriad backgrounds such as software engineering, marketing, and brand strategy. Without a common heritage and education, these designers are more comfortable working with disparate client groups and in interdisciplinary teams.”

Food for thought.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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sbosm_badge3

When I was recently asked to join SmartBrief on Social Media‘s advisory board, I had no idea how many big names were going to come along for the ride as well. I feel truly humbled to be in the company of folks like Ogilvy Worlwide’s John Bell, Connie Bensen, Guy Kawasaki, Geno Church, Ann Handley, Shel Israel, John Moore and Valeria Maltoni – to name a few. With such an impressive team of advisors, I am pretty sure that SmartBrief’s foray into the world of Social Media intelligence will be pretty solid.

From SmartBrief‘s blog:

To keep stride with social media as it races ahead, SmartBrief has assembled an impressive list of social media thought leaders and practitioners as advisers and contributors to the daily SmartBrief on Social Media newsletter, accompanying blog and @SBoSM on Twitter.

In case you aren’t yet familiar with SmartBrief, the group provides must-read news and intelligence in 20 key industries to over 1.5 million thought leaders and high potential professionals. (That’s you, by the way.) Subscriptions are basically free, thanks to partnerships with 70 leading trade associations and professional societies. Find out more here. It’s pretty cool stuff.

The full list of advisors (with brief bios) is here. (Or you can just browse the list below.)

John Bell – Ogilvy PR Worldwide

Connie Bensen – Techrigy

Olivier Blanchard – BrandBuilder Marketing

Paul Chaney – Bizzuka, Inc.

Geno Church – Brains on Fire

Todd Defren – Shift Communications

Lindy Dreyer – SocialFish

Ann Handley – MarketingProfs

Shel Israel – Global Neighbourhoods

John Jantsch – Duct Tape Marketing

Mitch Joel – Twist Image

Stacey Kane – California Tortilla

Beth Kanter, Beth’s Blog

Guy Kawasaki – Alltop

Geoff Livingston – Livingston Communications

Valeria Maltoni – Conversation Agent

Drew McLellan – McLellan Marketing Group

Stephanie Miller – Return Path

John Moore – Brand Autopsy

Steve Radick – Booz Allen Hamilton

Andy Sernovitz – Gaspedal

Shiv Singh – Razorfish

Debbie Weil – BlogWriteForCEOs and WordBiz.com, Inc.

Morgan Witt – Red Door Interactive

Good times ahead. ;)

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nov082001gh

I was chatting with a friend about budget-conscious brand revitalization strategies, the importance of creating employee-friendly corporate cultures and how to drive more passionate employee engagement today, and I was suddenly reminded of something John Moore – over at Brand Autopsy – wrote on his blog back in 2007:

“Astonish employees and they will, in turn, astonish customers.”

Simple enough, right?

Yet so rare.

Most companies have fallen into a little bit of a rut when it comes to doing something special for their employees, except around Christmas time or when they’ve had a decent quarter. And even then, we are talking about a $25 gift certificate to The Home Depot or your choice of a company pen, T-shirt or flashlight. Nice, but not exactly stunning.

The term John used is “astonish,” which implies a little more effort and attention than just giving your employees an empty token of “gratitude” that is as bland as it is… (well, let’s say it) kind of insulting.

Note to all department managers: If you’re going to reward your staff with T-shirts, make them the types of T-shirts that you want your employees to actually get excited about. (Hire a hot local graphic designer to design something unique or fun or cool . It’s cheaper than you think, and the impact will be pretty phenomenal.)

But enough about T-shirts. We’re talking about “astonishing” your employees – not merely giving them a perfunctory nod, which is exactly what the folks at Macintosh did a while back when they surprised all of their US employees with a brand new iPhone.

In John’s words:

“Giving every full-time employee a $600 (retail value) iPhone is an astonishing act that will only help to feed the already vibrant evangelical corporate culture within Apple. (…)At Starbucks, we would also spend marketing money on employees. We knew if we could get Baristas jazzed, they would get customers jazzed.”

Think back to an experience you’ve had recently (or not so recently) when you walked into a store or dealt with someone who was absolutely in love with either their job or the company they worked for. How was your perception of that company affected by their enthusiasm? (How likely were you after that experience to a) recommend that business to friends and peers, and b) do business with that company again?)

Now think back to your last experience with a bored, apathetic grocery store cashier, or with an unqualified telephone customer service rep, or with a passive-aggressive waitress who REALLY needs a vacation. How different might your perception of that company be? How likely is it that you will make that business your first choice? How likely is it that you will speak well of this business and recommend it to friends?

All things being equal: Pricepoint, quality of the work or food or product, product performance, cool packaging, etc. – the quality of the experience surrounding human touch-points becomes primordial.

Two average grocery stores can have a radically different image or reputation based SOLELY on the way their employees behave. The same is true with any business in which people (employees) interact with other people (customers): Restaurants, banks, retail establishments, medical offices, auto mechanics shops, etc.

Employee behavior can be radically impacted by their managers’ positive or negative treatment.

Therefore, customer experience can be radically impacted by the way a company treats its employees:

Average treatment of employees = average customer experience.

Good treatment of employees = good customer experience.

Great treatment of employees = great customer experience.

… And so on.

So rather than tossing the occasional cheapo bone to your employees to maintain morale (or whatever,) start thinking of ways that you might make them feel special. Think of ways of rewarding them, or of saying “thank you,” or making them feel truly appreciated that kind of… well, stand out. Get them jazzed about working for you. Make them feel proud and excited and vibrant.

The point here isn’t to bribe them or buy their loyalty with expensive gifts. The point is to show genuine, profound, unmistakable appreciation for what they do and for the importance of their daily contribution. If you don’t have a budget for something like this yet, get creative. Give them Friday off, out of the blue. Give them an extra vacation day, on the house. Mail them a thank you card with a real message inside, not just some cheesy drugstore quotation. Offer to introduce them to people they don’t normally have access to. Bring them into projects they aren’t senior enough to have a voice in.

Though fancy electronics like iPods, Zunes, Flip cameras and the likes usually do the trick as well.

This isn’t “team building,” mind you. This is just saying thanks. This is just giving them a hug and a pat on the shoulder, looking them in the eye and saying “We’re really glad you’re here.” And meaning it.

Every once and again, you have to stop what you’re doing, put off fighting your daily little fires, and remember to make your employees feel that they aren’t just easily replaced pawns. (And if you’re hiring intelligently, they are most definitely not easily replaceable pawns.)

Make your employees realize that you truly understand their value to the success of the brand they help shape in the public’s eye every single day.

The way you treat your employees is the way your customers will be treated.

Perhaps this should be the very first rule of management.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. ;)

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According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the US in March was 8.5% (up from 8.1% in February). Not counting farm workers, the US lost 663,000 jobs last month alone.

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs increased by 547,000 to 8.2 million in March. This group has nearly doubled in size over the past 12 months. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose to 3.2 million over the month and has increased by about 1.9 million since the start of the recession in December 2007.

In other words, not good.

That being said, I have noticed a sudden little increase in positive churn: People landing jobs, positions coming open, requests for resumes and talent – all on Twitter. And today, two of my Twitter friends started new jobs with pretty solid companies. So you know what? Why not start up a new hashtag on Twitter with a greater purpose: Talking about people GETTING new jobs instead of losing them.

Even if you aren’t a fan of Twitter, perhaps you can get behind that kind of little movement.

Hat tip to @triumphCIO for coining the hashtag 12 days before I thought of it.

How to use #hired:

1. Log in to your Twitter account.

2. Post an update/tweet when you or someone you know has been hired or is starting a new job. (Make sure that information is cleared for public release before posting) ;)

3. End your update/tweet with these characters:   #hired

4. Press SEND.

It’s that simple. Besides, spreading a little cheer by talking about new jobs for a change might help us turn this economic downturn around that much faster.

Thanks, everyone. :)

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1235991697_e4f2b25ba1_o

Here’s a sobering little bit of reality:

“A study by Bain & Company found that 80 percent of companies surveyed believed that they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But, when customers were asked to indicate their perceptions of the experiences they have in dealing with companies, they rated only 8 percent of companies as truly delivering a superior experience (James Allen, Frederick F. Reichheld and Barney Hamilton, The Three “Ds” of Customer Experience, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, accessed Nov. 7, 2005). Do you sense just a little bit of disconnect?”

(Thanks to John Winsor for catching this some time ago on Seth Godin’s blog, who himself had wisely nipped it from Jim Barnes.)

8% vs. 80%.

… Which is probably the same percentage of companies thinking their advertising, marketing, PR or Social Media “efforts” are solid vs. what the rest of the world thinks of them. (What some of us like to refer to as “reality.”)

Delusion to the nth degree.

By the way, statistically speaking, if you are reading this, you are 10 times more likely to be in the 80% group than the 8% group. Don’t blame me for the bad news. It’s just basic math.

A few pointers to help you figure out where you stand:

If you haven’t seen continuous double-digit growth for the last three years, you are NOT in the 8% category.

If you don’t know at least 10% of your repeat customers by name when you see them, you are NOT in the 8% category.

If you don’t know exactly how many people mentioned your company’s name on the web since the start of this month, your are probably NOT in the 8% category.

If you find it painstakingly difficult to get trade publications to write positive stories about you, you are probably NOT in the 8% category.

If your customer service people yell or complain more than theysmile or laugh when they get off the phone with customers, you are NOT in the 8% category.

If your executives are not being invited to speak at industry events on a regular basis, you are NOT in the 8% category.

If your customers are increasingly pressuring you to lower your prices to match your competitors’, you are NOT in the 8% category.

Starting to get the picture?

Time to do something about it, perhaps? ;)

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Making a point about finding your voice

Making a point about finding your voice

Hi gang! Thanks a bunch to all who attended our first WordPress Workshop Thursday. It was pretty exciting to meet all of you and have a chance to help you get more out of your blogging – both from a technical perspective (Doug’s piece) and a strategic perspective (my piece). Sorry if we went a little over the scheduled time. There was a lot to cover in just two short hours. :)

For those of you who couldn’t attend, don’t fret: We will be putting together a web version of the workshop very soon.

I also really want to thank Bobby Rettew and View for taping the workshop, The Commerce Club for taking such great care of us, StudioPress for co-sponsoring the event, Jim O’Donnell for taking some of these photos and all of you who helped us promote the event. You guys all rock. It takes a lot of people working behind the scenes to actually pull off events like this one, and I am as ever very aware of that. :)

Here are some photos of the event:

Our superfly registration (with free parking vouchers)

Our superfly registration (with free parking vouchers)

Gil Gerretsen and Hank Merkle causing trouble again

Gil Gerretsen and Hank Merkle causing trouble again

@HaroAvo and @XYBrewer before I bored them to death

@HaroAvo and @XYBrewer before I bored them to death

Yes, I talka witha my handsa. It isn't just an Italian thing.

Yes, I talka witha my handsa. It isn't just an Italian thing.

Joel Van Dyke and Hank Merkle - up to no good, as always.

Joel Van Dyke and Hank Merkle - up to no good, as always.

Doug Cone (@nullvariable) talking about CSS

Doug Cone (@nullvariable) talking about CSS

Yapping

Rambling about random blogging nonsense, I am sure...

A few of the tables at Greenville's WordPress Workshop #1

A few of the tables. Check out all the hardware! We need more power sources.

Have a great Good Friday, everyone!

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Little impromptu interview with Doug Cone (@nullvariable) about advertising on your blog. (Part of a prep chat for Thursday’s WordPress Workshop.

I know… the hair is a little crazy. It was windy outside. What can I say.

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The Channel 7 interview

Doug Cone (@nullvariable) and I chatting with Amy Wood (@tvamy) about the importance of blogs and our WordPress workshop this Thursday.

Suddenly rethinking the glasses and blazer look. I am not the Professor, for crying outloud. :D

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register

Hi kids! So we’re just a couple of days from Greenville’s very first “Working With WordPress” spring workshop, and I thought now would be a pretty good time to go over a few reasons why you might want to consider attending our event (if you aren’t signed up already).

And assuming you are going to be in the 864 area code on Thursday 9 April, that is.

First, let me break down the event for you real quick:

Hour 1: Doug (@nullvariable on Twitter) will run you through the technical “how do I do XYZ” with WordPress. If you are a beginner and have absolutely no experience setting up a blog, Doug will teach you how to start a WordPress blog from scratch, how to use it, how to tweak it, etc. (It’s pretty simple when you have someone guiding you through each step, so it won’t take long.) Once that is done, Doug will show you how to use widgets and other tools to customize your WordPress blog and make it remarkable. That part of the workshop caters to beginners, intermediate and advanced users.

Hour 2: I will teach you how to create relevant content, build an audience, and turn your blog into whatever you want it to be – a business development tool, your very own online publication, an community hub, a multimedia journal, etc. (We’ll chat about what you want to accomplish with your blog and I will tailor my session to fit your specific needs.)

We will have lots of time for Q&A and one-on-one attention, so bring your laptops and as many questions as you want. :)

Okay. That was the what. Now let’s talk about the why. To that end, let me give you a few examples of who might benefit from attending our workshop:

Marketing Managers, Community Managers and Business Owners:

If your company, church, school or organization doesn’t have a blog yet, your website probably isn’t getting the traffic you would like. And chances are that you aren’t generating a whole lot of net new customers either. Adding a blog to your existing site creates a dynamic online presence that will enhance – maybe even revive  – your website. For starters, it will help you link up with industry peers AND connect with your customers in a way you haven’t before. We will cover more at WPgreenville, but that isn’t a bad start.

If you already have a blog but it isn’t getting the traffic or activity you hoped for, or it just doesn’t look or work the way you want it to, we will show you how to fix that as well.

People just looking to get the most out of their blog:

Maybe you’re completely new to blogging. Maybe you’ve dabbled but got stumped because you aren’t technically savvy when it comes to computers. Maybe you’ve mastered most of the technical pieces of the blogging puzzle but have no idea how to create content, find an audience or even get noticed by the people you are trying to reach. Whatever your stumbling blocks may be, we will identify and address them right there and then. You will walk away from the workshop with your questions answered and your problems solved.

Bloggers looking to tie their blog to all of their new social media destinations:

Okay, so now you have a blog, a Facebook page, a Myspace page, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plurk, Tumblr, Seesmic, Youtube, Skype, oovoo, 12 Seconds, Buzznet, PingFM, etc. How in the world do you tie all of these things together with your WordPress blog? We’ll show ya.

Professionals currently between jobs – or planning to find themselves there someday:

If you missed J.T. O’Donnell’s presentation in Greenville last week, here’s a nugget of insight for you: 1 out of 12 Americans is unemployed right now. That means that you are one little drop in an ocean of potential employees. Resumes are piling up in stacks, and statistically, chances are that yours won’t get noticed. (It’s just a numbers’ game.) How do you turn the odds of being discovered in your favor? Simple: Make yourself easier to find on the internets.

Fact: 4 out of 5 recruiters use Google to research applicants before inviting them to their first interview. Consider applicant A who has no internet presence to speak of vs. applicant B who has a well designed blog with interesting, smart, actionable content that is relevant to his/her line of work. Which of the two do you think will be more appealing to an employer?

Having a well crafted blog filled with solid content can and will make you more attractive to future employers. We will show you exactly how to build your personal brand online, make yourselves search engine-friendly, and make sure you never stay out of work for very long.

Professionals wanting to further their new media skills:

Most professional courses cost a whole lot of money and don’t always give you skills you can take to work the next day… or take to your next job and actually do something with. How cool would it be for you to be the only person at your office who knows how to build a WordPress blog from scratch, make it do whatever you want, and then grow an audience where none existed before? Do you think that might be a worthwhile little notch on your belt? This workshop will accomplish just that.

That’s basically the jist. For full details about the event (when, where, etc.) go to www.wpgreenville.com.

The event only costs about $50 so you will definitely get your money’s worth. (Besides, it isn’t exactly being taught by chumps.) ;)

Oh, and as an extra little incentive, one lucky attendee will win a FREE  StudioPress theme (a $59.99 value)! Plus, all attendees will will receive a discount code for 25% off of any StudioPress theme on top of that. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Be sure to register today and to pass this on to anyone in the 864 you think might find this valuable.

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networkbash-vid

Thanks to Bobby Rettew and View (these guys do an awesome job with anything that touches video or event coverage) for organizing the event, mediating the panel and also covering the event. Talk about multitasking! (All we had to do is just sit there and answer questions.)

On the panel (left to right): Me, Steve Gonzalez, John Warner, Phil Yanov and Trey Pennington. Lots of Community Management gravitas and Social Media savvy on that panel.

Click on the image (above) to go check out the videos. You’ll notice that there are three: The first is the intro, the second is the panel discussion, and the third is the Q&A session.  Enjoy.

Follow-up to this post.

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J.T. O'Donnell speaking in Greenville, SC

J.T. O'Donnell speaking in Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC got a big treat today: Career expert JT O’Donnell was in town to speak at Linking The Upstate‘s inaugural event at the historic Westin Poinsett Hotel. Two words for you: Awe and some. I knew JT was pretty savvy when it comes to career advice, but I had no idea just how smart, engaging and approachable she was. If you guys aren’t familiar with her work yet, check out her website, her Careerealism blog, buy her book, and go ahead and start following Careerealism on twitter. And if you ever find yourself unhappy with your career or uncertain about your professional direction, do yourself a favor and reach out to her. You will look back on that email, tweet or phone call someday and realize it was one of the smartest things you ever did. Trust me on this.

By the way, if you missed it, you can check out some of the event’s coverage via Twitter hashtag #careerealism. Look for my avatar (ahem).

And as an aside, I have to give BIG kudos to Thomas Parry for launching Linking The Upstate so quickly… and so well. What a way to kick it off. Very well done. The group’s objective is to connect all of the 864′s business groups together (chambers of commerce, technology, HR, creative, networking, business groups, etc.) to leverage their collective economic, innovative and intellectual potential. A lofty and timely goal that I will definitely help support in the coming months.

Here are a few pictures from what turned out to be a pretty social day (even for me):

 

The pommes frites I ate

The pommes frites I ate

 

 

Thomas Parry, J.T. O'Donnell, Trey Pennington and Doug Cone at The Lazy Goat restaurant

Thomas Parry, J.T. O'Donnell, Trey Pennington and Doug Cone at The Lazy Goat restaurant

 

 

Yes, I take pictures of stuff I eat

Yes, I take pictures of stuff I eat

Thomas Parry at the Westin Poinsett Hotel introducing Linking The Upstate

Thomas Parry at the Westin Poinsett Hotel introducing Linking The Upstate

J.T. O'Donnell presenting at Greenville, SC's historic Westin Poinsett Hotel

J.T. O'Donnell presenting at Greenville, SC's historic Westin Poinsett Hotel

I don’t want to leave you guys with just photos and no takeways, so here are a few nuggets of information I grabbed from JT’s fantastic presentation:

 

 

4 out of 5 HR professionals will google an applicant BEFORE inviting them to interview. What will they find? (Hint: Have you googled yourself lately?)

The two worst things that can happen when a prospective employer googles you: 1. They find something embarrassing or not particularly positive (that may make them reconsider your application). 2. They find nothing at all. Lesson: Start managing your online presence better. Create a positive, professional, consistent and factual footprint for yourself online.

College students graduating this year will have an average of 9 different careers before they retire.

The average duration of a job in the US today  is only 18 months. (We are all glorified temps.)

Currently, 1 out of 12 Americans is either unemployed or underemployed.

Job boards are 60% down right now: The demand for jobs is so high that the volume of job applications via job boards is overwhelming HR departments. Result, they are turning to other sourcing methods to find quality applicants.

80% of open positions in the US are filled via referrals.

Whatever you may hear or believe, in this day and age, not having a blog and a presence on LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter can and will absolutely stall your career. (Management level folks.)

Tip: Don’t wait until you are unemployed to start building your networks. The sooner you start and the more you nurture them, the easier it will be for you to find your next gig when the axe finally falls. (Better yet, if you do this right, you will probably be recruited right out of your current job.)

Again: The easiest way to stand out from the crowd of people competing against you for your dream job is to have a well designed and solidly crafted blog. If you don’t have one yet, start. If you have one but it needs help, get help. (Incidentally, if you are in Greenville next week, we are putting together a WordPress Workshop specifically geared towards this. Check out www.wpgreenville.com to sign up.)

For more great advice, go check out the Careerealism blog and be sure to drop JT a note.

Have a great Friday, everyone. ;)

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gilgerretsenmasterFor the first time ever, I am opening up my blog to a guest contributor… and it’s about time too. I should have started doing this years ago. Today’s guest post comes to us from local business and strategy coach Gill Gerretsen, who is arguably one of the most recognizable (and some might say influential) business figures in South Carolina.

Through BizTrek and Power-Note, Gil  has both helped and connected hundreds (if not thousands) of SC business owners over the last few years, and his community is still growing by leaps and bounds. (No big surprise there.) Aside from being brilliant, Gil happens to be a super nice guy, which goes a long way in my little world. We’re lucky to have Gil share some of his business insight with us today.

And as a bonus, Gil makes his point a heck of a lot faster than I do. (There’s a lot to be said for that.)

Fast Thinking

Most corporate executives spend less than 2.4% of their time actively thinking about the future. But the ability to anticipate is one of the key ingredients of success.


If you race ahead without knowing where you are headed, you may get there fast, but it will probably not be the place you wanted to end up. We see that happening a lot in today’s economic environment. Far too many business leaders never thought or planned for a serious economic realignment. For many, the possibility never even crossed their mind!


In contrast, entrepreneurs spend the majority of their time trying to imagine and anticipate the future … and then try to figure out how they can operate effectively in that environment. What steps can you take to better understand and predict the future?


1. Begin by looking backward. Studying the trends and cycles of the past will improve your ability to imagine the future. Remember the slinky? Eventually, the other end makes a landing. It is not in exactly the same place, but the patterns ARE predictable.


2. Figure out the next life cycle for your business. Every revolutionary idea unfolds in five phases. First, the idea is invented. Second, key enabling technologies allow the innovation to spread. Third, a key insight turns a technological possibility into a commercial application. Fourth, a business process emerges to generate profits from an unmet market need. Fifth, the product or service eventually becomes a commodity and price wars erupt. Then, consolidation shrinks the field of viable market contenders to just a few suppliers (often three).


3. As Michael Gerber taught in his book, The E-Myth, work ON your business, not IN your business! Spend at least one day per month out of the office to think and anticipate where you might be able to take your business.


What are YOU thinking about the future?


Gil Gerretsen

BizBullet.com


Have a great Thursday, everyone. :)


Speaking of Thursdays, today happens to be Power-Note’s April luncheon, so I will undoubtedly see several of you there.


PS: If any of you are interested in becoming a guest contributor on the BrandBuilder blog, send me an email or shoot me a direct message either on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook (links are on right hand side of page.)

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