Thursday, June 26, 2014

Two Great Events in One Month: CTA Women in Technology Conference and The Digital Summit Denver

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend two great events: The Colorado Technology Association’s Women in Technology Conference and The Digital Summit Denver.  Here’s recap of the highlights from both events:

Women in Technology Conference 

This sold out event was hosted at the beautiful Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield and had an attendance of over 500 women.  My main purpose in attending was to learn more about getting involved in the CTA and to network with the local women in technology. I had the pleasure of sitting with some very accomplished women who were not afraid to share their stories of both success and failure during our roundtable discussions.

My favorite session of the day was the luminary leadership dialogues. A lot of time was spent discussing the recent article in The AtlanticThe Confidence Gap which talks about how most women are not as confident as men in the workplace and how that affects everything from promotions to salary.  “The problem, argue the broadcast journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in The Atlantic’s May 2014 cover story, is that women are less self-assured than men—and that this persistent disparity between the genders is what keeps women from achieving at the highest levels……despite being just as qualified as men, women often hold themselves back.” It was very interesting to hear this discussion as it related to women in the male-dominated technology industry.

I always walk away from these types of events motivated to do more. It is amazing how easily I can feed off of the energy of others. This conference inspired me to focus on getting out of my comfort zone and to take more risks.

I will definitely be attending the Women in Technology Conferences in the future. Another bonus – at this event, I won tickets to the Denver Digital Summit the following week!

Denver Digital Summit 
 The focus on this event was on content marketing and the new tools and tricks of the trade. I loved the “Tech Media” app, which allowed me to easily follow the conference conversations on Twitter and see who else was in attendance. My main purpose in attending was to learn the latest strategies and also to network among my peers.

The highlight of the event for me was the keynote from Joe Fernandez, Co-Founder of Klout. I loved hearing his story on how the company began up to its recent acquisition by Lithium Technologies. He said many people ask him what the most popular social media sites are or what is coming next and his response is that the channels are constantly changing. Instead of focusing on the channel, you should focus on the people.  He also talked about Klout scores and his experience getting death threats from people who didn’t like their scores!  Unbelievable! He said the average Klout score is around 42, so I was pleased that mine is currently at 46, phew!

Another highlight from the event was the presentation by Skye Sant, UX Manager Consultant. She talked about “Navigating the Visual Social Sharing Culture.” One key take away was her slide on what a successful social campaign looks like:

My favorite tweet of the day was this one:
Jeff Perkins @jeffperkins8  ·  Jun 18 Official digital marketer uniform for guys at #DSD14 - jeans and a blazer.

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed!

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Evening with Katie Couric

My fellow PR colleagues and I with Katie Couric

As a communications professional, I work with the media on a daily basis and know what it takes to tell a good story and get someone’s attention.  I have a special appreciation for journalists and the demands of their job. One of my favorites is Katie Couric. I admire her passion, personality and ability to connect with the many people she has interviewed over the years.

I actually have a few things in common with Couric. I grew up in her hometown of Arlington, Virginia, went to the same high school (Yorktown) and pursued a career in the communications field. That is probably where the similarities end, although I think we are probably close to the same height too.

I would definitely say that meeting her was on my bucket list. So I jumped at the chance to join my fellow public relations colleagues and the Denver Press Club in honoring her as the recipient of the 20th Annual Damon Runyon Award

The Denver Press Club hosted an awards banquet in her honor last month and at the event Couric shared some great stories and advice from her career. She told us what one producer from Today wrote to her after she announced her move to CBS – “A boat is always safe in its harbor, but that’s not what boats are for.” 

I remember when I heard the news that she was leaving Today and that they had offered her all sorts of incentives to stay. Most people I talked to felt like she had it made and that she was crazy to give it all up. While I agreed for the most part, I also understood that underlying desire for change, to do something different or face a new challenge. 

I am sure it with this same determination that she will rise up while serving as Yahoo News Global Anchor. In speaking of her new position at Yahoo, Couric talked about how the online world is transforming journalism and expressed her desire to bring more depth to her stories. 
It was a great honor to meet Couric in person and I look forward to seeing much more from her in the future.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Top Social Media Moments From the 2014 Winter Olympics

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, I wrote a blog about the use of social media and how people were calling it the year of the “socialympics.” It was the first time that the use of social media was so widespread during an Olympic competition that it became one of the many channels of information for updates and activities related to the games.

Fast-forward two years later and social media was center stage at the 2014 Winter Olympics. So much of this year’s games were played out on social media and the updates featured not just the results, but many of side stories that became headline news.

USA Today sports reporter Kelly Whiteside, wrote this article “If London Was the Twitter Olympics, Sochi is the Viral Games,” about how the earliest news from the games was not the first athlete to earn a gold medal, but rather the horrible conditions reported by the media as they arrived in Sochi. The hashtag #sochiproblems quickly began trending on Twitter.

It is probably safe to say that many of us first heard about the wardrobe malfunction of Russian skater Olga Graf and the bobsledder Johnny Quinn getting stuck in the bathroom via Facebook or Twitter.

And there was another role for social media during this year’s events – security. BAE Systems partnered with Homeland Security Magazine for a daily analysis of social media to find “trends in the public dialogue around security, infrastructure, transportation, cyber events, and environmental concerns.”

As the world watched their favorite athletes compete, they also witnessed many other events unfold via social media. I believe these types of events underscore power of social media today and how easy it is for something to go viral whether we want it to or not.

Social media is no longer a separate tool in the public relations toolkit. It is an integral part of sharing our messages and communicating the most important and interesting things to among our key audiences.

Friday, April 12, 2013

After You Die, Life Goes on in the Digital World

Well, this is a bit of a morbid post for a Friday afternoon, but I’ve been reading the headlines about Google’s new Inactive Account Manager feature. It lets you decide what you want to happen if your account is inactive for a certain period of time, such as after you die. It sounds crazy to even think or worry about this sort of thing, but I have to say that it has been an issue with other social networks, especially Facebook.

I remember a few years ago when a colleague passed away, but his Facebook profile lived on. I kept getting “People You May Know” updates when I logged in and it was a constant reminder that he was no longer alive. At the time, Facebook didn’t have a very good solution for this. Unless someone had access to his password, they couldn’t take the page down or inform people that the person was deceased.

It looks like Facebook has since taken measures to deal with this issue, (see: Report a Deceased Person.) But, this brings to light some of the foresight that needs to go into launching and planning new social networking services. I’m sure the death of its members was the last thing Facebook worried about when they launched the social network several years ago, but it became a customer service issue and one that got more public attention then it needed to.

Now that so much of our lives are lived out online, we need to plan for this. Just like estate planning and living wills, we need to think about our digital life too and what happens to that after we die. I believe Google is taking a step in the right direction by being proactive with this new feature. I love having the option of being able to make my own decisions now about what happens to my information online when I die.

Since it is Friday and the weekend is almost here, I’ll quickly get off my soapbox on this topic and move on to more positive and happy thoughts of spending time with my family in real time. As for my digital life, I’ll make sure to get my plans in order soon, but let’s hope no one needs to implement them for a long time coming!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lie Strong: Can Lance Armstrong Save His Tarnished Brand?

The news of Lance Armstrong’s admission to using performance-enhancing drugs spread like wildfire today. Not only was it the top story on CNN, Armstrong was trending like crazy on the social networks with people sharing their opinion on the news. 

There is no doubt that Lance Armstrong is an amazing person. To battle testicular cancer and not only live to tell, but go on to become a professional cycling champion and raise millions for cancer research is no small task.  However, he not only broke the rules by taking performance enhancing drugs, he spent years lying about it.

So, can the general public overlook this and will Lance Armstrong rise again? My guess is yes, he will, just as some of the other famous public figures that have made unwise decisions in the past.

Armstrong’s story is a lesson in Crisis Communications 101.  The most fundamental rule is to be honest and not to cover up any details. The bottom line is that the truth will come out eventually and your reputation will suffer less damage if you are up front about the situation.   It is quite simple, admit fault, apologize, and explain what you will do to make up for any wrongdoing, and the sooner better.

We’ve seen so many other celebrities and public figures fall from grace by their actions. Despite the fact that we all see what happens when people try to cover things up, we are all human and don’t want to expose our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  Bill Clinton is a prime example. At first he denied any type of relationship with Monica Lewinsky and then once more evidence was disclosed, he later admitted that he did have inappropriate relations with her. Martha Stewart initially denied being involved in insider trading, only to admit it later and serve jail time.

As time passes, we seem to be more forgiving of these people. While these celebrities have managed to do a good deal of damage control, their images will remain tarnished forever.  No matter how great their contributions to our society and how, over time, people seem to forget, their past will always be there to haunt them.

Many are saying that Armstrong’s contributions to fighting cancer are his legacy and you can’t deny that he has not only raised awareness, but also millions of dollars to help this cause.  It will take time for him to rebuild his brand and gain the public's trust again, but in the end, I believe Armstrong will come out ahead.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kicking Off the 2012 Summer Olympics Social Media Style

It’s just a few hours from the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics (airing here in the U.S.) and I can’t help but get sucked in already.  I just saw an image on Facebook from the New York Times of a group of Mary Poppins look-a-likes descending upon the stadium, I can’t want to see the entire event later this evening.

Many are saying that this is the year of the “socialympics.”  Social media has exploded over the last four years with millions of people now sharing their updates, photos and locations on various platforms.

This means great things for this year’s Olympics – up-to-the minute updates on results, events, stories, etc. not only from the traditional media but from the thousands of spectators sharing their views of the events on their own social networks.

However, it also means huge spoiler alerts for those of us on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.  The man behind Friday’s Opening Ceremonies, Danny Boyle, was so concerned about people sharing too many details from rehearsals that he created and promoted the hashtag #savethesurprise to discourage people from sharing details of the big event.

Social media also poses new challenges with what is appropriate and not appropriate to share. The IOC issued some strict social media guidelines for athletes this year. And, these are not to be taken lightly. You probably heard about the athlete from Greece who was expelled from this year’s games after posting a racist remark on Twitter.

For those of you wanting to get the full social media experience surrounding this year’s Summer Games, here are a few sites to help you do that:

The 2012 Olympics Social Media Guide
Your Complete Social Media Guide to the 2012 London Olympics
NBC Olympics’ Social Guide to the Summer Games

As the official media sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics, NBC has set up a slew of social media properties for sharing and posting information including:

Instagram: @NBCOlympics
Google+: NBCOlympics

It also includes Twitter handles for all of the reporters covering the Olympics, some of which are even broken down by the sport they cover so you can find out all about soccer by following 10 different correspondents.

I know I won’t be able to watch as much of the events as I would like to but I look forward to seeing updates and getting details via social media this year.  How will you experience this year’s Olympics?

Friday, February 17, 2012

How The Social Web is Sucking Us Dry: Pinterest, Words With Friends, Facebook, Oh My!

I remember when I first joined Facebook one of my new Facebook friends said to me “welcome to the ultimate time suck.”  He was right. I soon became fascinated with Facebook and all of the long lost friends and acquaintances I was reconnecting with every day. I felt the need and desire to check in and see what everyone else was up to on a regular basis.

I’ve managed to inflict some sense of self-control and am no longer obsessed with Facebook, but I admit I still check it quite frequently. 

Isn’t it funny how social networking has in some ways made it easier to connect with people but in other ways it has made it harder because we feel the need to update our friends with so many details of our daily life?

Pinterest just opened another forum for sharing and exchanging information among people with similar interests and it is exploding in popularity. I admit, I am curious about this new social network. I’ve read a lot about it, heard the buzz from my Facebook friends and have joined the group and started to dabble with it. However, I feel as though I don’t have time for another social network, much less one that is going to distract me with delicious recipes and crafty things a person like me was never meant to attempt to make.

Words with Friends is another example of what appears to be a fun social game, but will also bring out the obsessive compulsive person in you. I had lunch with a good friend the other day who couldn’t stop talking about Words with Friends. I again had heard the buzz but hadn’t taken the bait.  She said it was so much fun and that she would invite me to play with her.  I flat out refused. While it did look like a lot of fun, I told myself I cannot have one more thing distract me from my day to day activities.

As a public relations professional focused primarily in the high tech industry, I feel compelled to keep up with the latest technologies and play around with the newest social tools.  In fact, I use a lot of these tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on a regular basis for my job.

However, with more personal social media tools, there is a line between exploring and jumping in feet first.  For now, I’ll continue to pick and choose where and how much time I spend on social networks and hope that I don’t miss out on a wonderful crème brulee or creating a fabulous new word with my remaining tiles.