Recap: PRSA Digital Impact Conference Day 2

As promised, here is the recap of Day 2, of the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NY this week.  I was invited to cover the 2 day conference, and was happy to join the discussion with all the bright and interesting professionals that it brought together.

Unfortunately, I missed Jennifer Preston’s talk but fortunately for you, Eric Schwartzman has you covered.  You can watch the whole talk here. I heard it was really good.

The first speaker I caught on Day 2 was Carlos Dominguez.

He said that people don’t want to change, which makes it hard to change a process within a company. It usually isn’t the system that’s the problem, it’s the people in it. Once they become comfortable with a system, they don’t want to change it.

He went over a lot of the stuff you hear all the time.  Know your goals and objectives.  Measure…etc.

He mentioned that Cisco does a lot of reverse mentoring with their employees.  They host meetings and create an environment where the younger (Gen-Y) employees mentor the older employees on how to use the new tools.

You guys know where I stand on that one.  Reverse mentoring is great, and needed…but to assume that a young professional is more knowledgeable on how to use social tools for business than an older professional, is a mistake.  Gen-Yers grew up using these tools recreationally.  It’s very different than how businesses approach it.

Carlos also said, “Video is going to be the killer application”.  I think it already is.  Either way, he’s right, and he spoke a lot about how cisco is embracing video.

Next, I listened to Rishi Dave (Dell) speak.

"Forget the numbers. The impact of SM is this big"

Rishi had some good stuff.  Here are some gems:

“It’s all about who and how many you follow, not how many follow you”.  On twitter, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have.  What’s important is that you’re following the right people.  This way:

  • You can gather the best viewpoints in that space, and organize it for potential and current customers to consume.
  • The followers will come.

He broke down the growth of the web, and it’s purpose in terms of information, into 3 stages:

  • Internet Age: Used to send information (ie. Yahoo)
  • Information Age:  Used to find, or search for information (ie. Google)
  • Connected Age:  Used to follow, as in a stream of information (ie. Twitter)

Towards the end, I appreciated this line: “Successful companies in social media act like party planners aggregators and content creators.”

Next I watched Kevin Roderick – UCLA Newsroom

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed with this talk.  I really don’t have points to share with you because he didn’t say much.  He had great content, with a timeline of videos and images from the crisis they faced when Michael Jackson passed away, and mobs formed around the hospital.  In the end, it just sounded like they were in a tough situation, and had no idea what to do.

The talk was supposed to use this situation as a learning experience,  and show us how we can apply UCLA’s insights to developing a social media program that’s nimble and ready for anything.  It really didn’t.

Or maybe I’m just a bad listener.

Finally, I truly enjoyed a panel about “Where is PR headed?” with Kami Huyse, Clay Hebert and Jonathan Kopp.

The responses were a bit scattered so I’ll try to just list out a few key points from the panel as a whole.

Trends to look for:

  • Augmented reality is going to be huge.
  • Location is also going to be huge.
  • Social media overload is only getting worse.
  • Mobile will continue to grow and will probably be the most important platform for business.
  • End of privacy as we know it.  (The hot topic as of late)

Overall I really enjoyed this conference.  The speakers were pretty insightful and the crowd seemed to genuinely find value in the content.  Everything ran on time, the people were great, the food was awesome, the Day 1 networking after party was done really well and the location got the job done.

I’d like to thank the fine folks of PRSA for inviting me to cover the conference.

You can find all of the photos from this event here.

You can find the Day 1 recap of this event here.

Recap: PRSA Digital Impact Conference Day 1

I was invited to attend and cover the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NY this week.  It was packed with PR professionals and business owners looking to wrap their heads around the digital innovations that have warped the traditional field of PR in the past year.

The speakers that I listened to provided content that ranged from beginner level basics, to a sort of “mid-level” understanding of the social space.

Jeremiah Owyang kicked it off.

He covered 4 main points:

  1. Understand customers and focus on objectives
  2. This is a movement, get your company ready.
  3. Invest in Social CRM systems
  4. Develop an advocacy program

He was as helpful as always, and set the conference off right, as many speakers that followed him referred back to his talk.  I loved his idea in “Love yourself first then love your customers – get your company ready for social engagement”.  If you and your employees aren’t proud of your company, how can you expect your customers to be?

Next came Paul Gillen and Dave Balter, two guys who really know how to work a crowd.

They were witty, to the point, and actually pretty damn insightful.

Paul went first, sharing his thoughts on the term “ambassador”.  He explained, “An ambassador can be a friend, a relative, a blogger…” making the point that really, anyone can be an ambassador for you or your brand.  Start by looking around you at the people you’re close with.

Paul also made the point that you don’t have to pay someone to be an ambassador.  In fact, it’s probably best you don’t.  Dave then drove that point home with an example that I loved.

He asked, “If you were my good friend, and I offered you 5 dollars to come help me move my couch, would you help me?”  A few hands went up.

Then he asked, “Now what if I made this awesome pizza with all this good stuff on it, and asked you to come over to help me move my couch, while we hang out and eat pizza?”.  Almost all the hands went up. (probably some veggies in the crowd).

It really nailed a huge concept in social media.  People don’t want to be bribed or manipulated into doing something.  Give them something they can appreciate, act like a person, and they’ll be happy to help out.

A few more gems from Dave:

  • If you get one person to share content in the best places possible, that’s better than 50,000.
  • Influence is a “topic state”. You can be influential in coffee, and not influential in sneakers.
  • Seek out ordinary influencers, not just the “influentials”.

Next I sat down to watch Heidi Sullivan and Shashi Bellamkomda speak about crisis management on the social web.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Be active and be present so that when a crisis hits, you’re there, and you’re ready.
  • Try to spot a “crisis” situation early.  If you see several tweets come in at once about a particular issue, look into it immediately.  It can spread like wild fire on the social web.
  • Respond to every single complaint.  If there are too many complaints, you’re probably facing a crisis.  Put up an official statement that will answer a lot of questions, and make sure that it’s clear for your customers.
  • You can manage your online reputation, with offline events.

And now we arrive at the second keynote with Google’s communication manager, Gabriel Stricker.

The talk didn’t really give you much actionable content, but it really did give you a lot to chew on.  He touched on the concept of crisis management as well, acting as a good follow up to the previous panel.

Using a blog post from Jet Blue as an example, he explained how effective it can be, in a crisis situation, to just get out a message that speaks to your customers on their level.  Don’t put out an over-worked, dry press release.  Speak like a human, because humans are the ones that you have to convince.

Stricker also spoke about Google’s “launch and iterate” process of doing things.  It’s how they launch their products, and also how they approach their communications projects.  Everything doesn’t have to be perfect when you launch it.  It’s better to get something out there, and rework it based on customer feedback and testing.

Next I watched Deborah Schultz (Altimeter group) speak.

Her message was simple…

Like the tagline on her blog says: “Technology changes, people don’t”.

Be present consistently, and be genuine.  Don’t “ignore ignore ignore” and then reach out when you need something.  To build a connected, and strong community, you have to create an “ongoing experience”.

And finally, I watched the wonderful Deirdre Breakenridge

She rocked out for an hour on the topic of “Building a Social Media Strategy”.  Certainly a tough topic to cover thoroughly in an hour…or at all.

I won’t get into the whole strategy that she lays out.  You can find her slides online.  I did want to touch on one aspect of her talk and that’s research.  She put A LOT of emphasis on doing research before hand, and I couldn’t agree more.

The term “social media SWOT analysis” is something that anyone looking to get involved on social platforms should get to know well.  Understanding the environment internally and externally will really help you understand what you need to do.

Do research before you start a facebook fan page “just because”.

You can check out all the pictures from the event here.

Stay tuned for the Day 2 recap.

13 Tips For Your First Networking Event

Kelly Samardak (@socialmedium)
Mashable NYC Event Photo cred: Kelly Samardak

I recently attended the Mashable NYC event which was in fact my first professional networking event (not counting those completely useless job fairs).  As a first timer, I had no idea what to expect.  Is this going to help me? Are people going to take a college student seriously? How should I dress? Am I going to know what to say?

Well I set my doubts aside (big step), signed up for the event, attended and could not be more happy with my decision.  I can now provide you with some answers based on MY experience. Of course, everyone’s experience is different.  This will apply more to younger professionals, specifically college seniors, who are looking to expand their network in social media. Here are 13 things I learned…

  1. Make connections before the event. My night would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t connected with attendees before the event.  Most events will have a list with contact info for anyone attending the event. Don’t be afraid to send them an email or look them up on twitter and tell them you’re going to the event and wanted to connect with some people before hand.  It’s a huge confidence booster to see some familiar faces when you first arrive.
  2. Dress semi-casual. One of the things I love about the social media / interactive industry is how laid back it is. Don’t show up in a t-shirt and jeans but you don’t have to wear a shirt and tie either. A nice, clean sweater or button down and khakis or nice jeans will do just fine.
  3. Get there early. If you walk in late, you’ll find it harder to meet people who are already engaged in conversations, and you’ll miss out on whatever free promotions are provided (Peroni sponsored the Mashable event).  Everyone likes to have a drink to take the edge off at these events and if you miss the free drinks, be ready to pay (a lot) for them.
  4. Go Alone! This is something that I was torn over when going to this event.  Now that I went alone, I can say with full confidence that you should not bring a friend with you to a networking event.  It’s tough going to a social event without a wingman but if you bring one, you’ll find it is nothing more than an excuse to talk to them instead of meeting new people.

    wearenommashev
    Photo cred: Kelly Samardak
  5. Be creative. Think of something creative that will make you stand out and help break the ice, commencing conversation. The best example I saw was Arthur Bouie representing We Are Nom who carried around a basket of cookies to give out. They were a hit…and delicious.
  6. State your goal first. Everyone at the event is there for the same thing you are, to make some new connections that may provide future business opportunities and share ideas.  Whether you’re there to look for job, hiring, or collaborative opportunities, the first words out of your mouth should be your name, what you do and why you’re there.
  7. Pick up a nametag. duh right? Well I didn’t even notice the nametag table since it was so crowded until Colleen Eddy was kind enough to point it out to me. Here’s a tip that combines #5 and #6: Write what your goal is on your nametag! I simply wrote “I NEED A JOB!”nametag2 under my name and it worked like a charm. The name tag is the first thing everyone looks at when walking around and people started approaching me!
  8. Be prepared to tell people exactly what you can do for them. This was one of the most common questions I was asked and I regrettably have to admit that I wasn’t fully prepared for it.  As a college student, I expected to only be qualified for entry level jobs where you’re pretty much told what you need to do.  There were a lot of people however that wanted to know what services I would provide for them.  You may know what you can do for companies but you have to be able to convey it to them in a clear and precise manner.
  9. Relax! I don’t know how networking events are in other industries, but the social media crowd is typically very friendly and obviously loves to talk!  Don’t be afraid to go right up to someone and say hi! You will only be received with a big smile and a hand shake.  I had some great, in depth conversations that stemmed from a simple, “hi, I’m Dave =D”.
  10. Bring business cards and a pen. These are really the only things you need on your person.  When someone gives you a card, after you’re done talking to them write a note on the card to help you remember who they are and what you spoke about.  I didn’t do this and found it difficult to match faces to cards from memory when I got home.
  11. Know when to stop talking. Some people you meet will want to have long, interesting conversations with you.  Others will want to know who you are, what you do, get your information, and move on to the next person.  It’s not hard to pick up on the vibe that someone doesn’t want to talk to you anymore.  Say “it was great to meet you” and move on.
  12. Send e-mails the next day. I’d say that you have about 2 days before someone completely forgets about you if no further communication is attempted.  While you’re fresh in your new contacts’ minds, drop them an email.  Keep it short and sweet, tell them how great it was to meet them, and if you’re looking for a job, attach your resume.
  13. Don’t wait until after graduation! I very well may have been the youngest person at the event, but I received only positive feedback.  People thought it was great that I was networking before I graduated.  Most professionals were impressed and commended my enthusiasm.  I made some great connections with some amazing people and created job opportunities come graduation in May.  It’s never too early to start networking. (Well you have to be 21 to attend most networking events but you can still network in other ways!)

If you’re a college senior and you’re thinking about attending a networking event but can’t bring yourself to go, then please just trust me and GO!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain from connecting with like-minded professionals.

Feel free to comment with your own tips and experiences.  Would love to hear about YOUR experience at your first networking event!

You can find the rest of Kelly’s picture set from the Mashable event here.