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February 24, 2011 / assembled

Seat at the Table

The changing media environment has a significant impact on the role of professional communicators. A crucial aspect of our job as communicators is to use words to construct messages that move people to action. However, the medium in which we deliver these messages is changing. It has already changed, and it will continue to evolve into a direction we have little control over. Our job now is to ensure that our messages adapt to new mediums that reach our audiences in an impactful way. But that’s not all. In addition to successfuly sending our messages, we need to listen, and we need to participate in the conversation.

The one-way communications channels of the past are long gone, but they have given rise to a two-way street, where participatory dialogue is not just expected, but required. People want to share their opinions and voice their concerns. They also want to complain. Not only do they want someone to listen, but they want someone to respond.

For a brand, this presents a huge opportunity. Finding these conversations, participating in these conversations, and influencing these conversations will be a challenge, but with this challenge comes a great opportunity. As a communications professional who understands the changing media landscape, it will be increasingly important for us to find, listen, and respond to what consumers are saying online. Using these insights will prove to be very important in driving a business strategy. Public Relations has had to fight long and hard to earn their seat at the table, but as companies begin to respond to the changing media environment, it is becoming increasingly clear that communications professionals need a seat. Maybe even two or three.

February 13, 2011 / assembled

The Science of Motivation

Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

Every once and a while there is a TED talk that really stands out – this is one of them, and I highly encourage that you watch it. Not only is Dan’s message poignant, but also very relevant. In the midst of job searches and applications, transitions, and restlessness, it is important that we return to a very basic understanding of what work should really be…

“People motivated by monetary success aren’t as successful as people who are motivated by other things like autonomy, purpose, mastery; work that matters. Don’t waste your time trying to be successful, spend your time creating value. If you are valuable, then you will attract success..”

– Dan Pink

February 10, 2011 / assembled

Social Media Week

Social Media Week is one of the most exciting times of the year for someone like myself, whose job and schooling revolves entirely around using and understanding social media. Based on the three events I have attended, there seems to be a universal acceptance that we are truly in the presence of something much larger than ourselves, and certainly much larger than anyone anticipated.

There are several best practices that I have noted, and I would like to share them with you.

First, and perhaps most important is the need to refine and refocus our social media efforts going forward. Ask yourself the following four questions the next time you are forming your social media campaign:

  1. How do we drive consumers to the brand?
  2. How do we drive brand to consumer engagement?
  3. How do we drive consumer to consumer engagement?
  4. How do we extend the dialogue?

Second, it is official: e-commerce is out and social commerce is in. What does this mean? It means that commerce is becoming a social, sharing activity. With commerce platforms integrating into Facebook, we now have the ability to share our purchases or link to point-of-sale platforms. And there is a really unique overlap, in the sense that geo-targeting and QR codes can be used digitally to push consumers into brick and mortar shops. In terms of “what’s next,” the answer is clearly mobile. But it has already arrived.  Commerce is rapidly moving to our mobile devices and soon, our mobile device will become our wallets.

Third, social media is all about story telling. Our campaigns need to be good stories. In the midst of all the content, the good stories rise and the clutter disappears. Avoid disappearing by incorporating the following elements of a good story into your social media campaigns:

  1. Informative
  2. Entertaining
  3. Conversational
  4. Useful
  5. Inspiring

Fourth, national brands with local audiences need to create some sort of continual feedback loop that uses consumer insights at the local level to make decisions at the corporate level. This needs to be refined and perfected. The business that wins will not only have a continuous feedback loop, but will take the notion of social business and incorporate it into its design. Companies (especially national organizations) really need to think about the need for a new function called Social Customer Relations Management (Social CRM).

Fifth, The unanswered question that keeps getting passed around is this: How do we measure success? What is a successful social media campaign? We are starting to hear the word “engagement” but no one really knows what this means or how we can turn it into quantifiable information. We have to completely forgo our instinct to calculate the “value” of a Facebook fan or follower. Starting now, we need to focus on defining and understanding the value of engagement.

Everyone is talking about the future of social media. Because the web is participatory and thrives on two way conversations, the future of social media really belongs to us. We can help shape the direction of social media based on the tools we really want and need. This thought is empowering, frightening, and terribly exciting, all at the same time.

February 10, 2011 / assembled

Into the Wild

“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to do boldly the things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”

-Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

February 5, 2011 / assembled

Words for Change









Image: Bay Bridge- San Francisco, CA. USA

February 4, 2011 / assembled

The Power of the Mind

The Tinkerbell Effect: The cause of things to exist or become reality only because people first believed in them.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: A prediction that directly or indirectly becomes true, by the very nature of believing a prediction, as a result of the relationship between belief and behavior and the power of thought in transforming molecules and energy, and therefore human behavior.

Keynesian Beauty Contest: A study of rational free agents in a free market and their subsequent actions based on a fictional newspaper contest, in which people were asked to decide which photographs of a woman’s face were “the most beautiful”. Those who chose the most popular answer (face) would be eligible to receive a prize. In the end, it was not about choosing the face that one personally believed to be the prettiest, nor the face that average opinion thought to be the prettiest. There exists a third degree, where we actively devote our intelligence to anticipating what the average opinion expects the average opinion to be.

Image: Street Art- New York City, NY. USA
February 4, 2011 / assembled


The self proclaimed “folk, americana, pop band” hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota by way of Belfast, Ireland is made up of singer/songwriter Ben Kyle, along with Luke Jacobs, Tony Zaccardi, and James Orvis.

Why the name Romantica: According to singer/songwriter Ben Kyle, “I really liked the sound of the word, I liked the depth of the word, too, and the multiplicity of meanings. It sounds foreign and familiar. It has a gravity and seriousness about it (like the passion and sincerity of the Romantic movement), but it also feels light and there’s maybe a hint of jest.”

Image: Romantica live at Cafe Barbette- Minneapolis, MN. USA