Monday, November 23, 2009

Today's Question: What Do You Think About the Dictionary's New Words?

Last week the New Oxford American dictionary announced that "unfriend" was the word of the year for 2009. I find it fascinating that our vocabulary is being dictated by our digital world.

In fact, I was interviewed in an article for The Columbus Dispatch.

So, what do you think about our word of the year? I guess I better add it to my online spell check!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Today's Question: Do We Really Need All This "News"?

Do you know what you were doing between 2-5pm EST on Thursday, October 15? Chances are you at least heard about Balloon boy--maybe that's because the online and news world lit up with the coverage...on CNN alone we got 2 hours of coverage of the UFO-like flying creation and interviews with "Balloon Experts" within an hour of the BalloonTrack 2009!

My problem is that as we, the (people) consumer, put demands on a 24/7 media watchdog, are we forcing them to make questionable decisions on what is or isn't news--do you know right now, you can find an article on how Dolly Parton and Jessica Simpson are tweeting about their bra size--you might think this is on but actually it's on the new!

I studied about investigative reporting that uncovered scandals and in-depth reports. Since it's all about supply and demand--why are we demanding more of this questionable news material? I'm afraid this is a shift that is here to stay...but maybe if we stopped demanding, we'd get a better supply!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's Question: What's So Great About Product Placement?

Although at times it can be a little annoying--notice how every teacher in the new show Glee has a Mac, or how every judge on American Idol drinks Coca-Cola from glasses that prominently displays the logo, or how about the Kenmore kitchen on Top Chef...well, in a nutshell product placement is a communications professional's dream. And what's more, we really appreciate those earned placements versus the paid ones.

Last week, my client Channellock reaped the benefit of one such unexpected placement on The Jay Leno Show.

What we did after the segment aired was nearly at important as Cookie's good tool sense. We made sure that every Channellock friend, fan and follower knew about the segment. Within 36 hours we posted it, emailed it, forwarded it and repurposed it to get maximum exposure. Because it's one thing to secure the placement and its another thing to make sure that people have seen it!

I hope you enjoyed my attempt to share it with you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's Question: Did I Run Out of Questions?

No, I have not run out of questions--it just seems as the days have gotten shorter, my time has gotten tighter. I've been busy with community service events, hanging out with my Little, standing up in weddings, teaching others about social media, oh yeah, and making O-H-I-O pictures on someone's lawn. (That's me on the left.)

Stay tuned for more questions about news coverage, product placement, leadership, time management, office politics, social media and communications! Don't worry, I will Keep Asking Questions!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today's Question: Why Should You Stop and Smell the Roses?

In the era of information overload, crazy work schedules and busy social calendars, it's easy to miss out on the little things in life--this hit close to home when I actually "emailed" my husband with my weekly schedule. The subject line stated: Monday night's the only night I have free--now granted, a few of my weeknight adventures would include my hubby in tow, but that's just because he's the type of guy that I can "drag" to my commitments. I realized that in my uber-busy schedule and my attempt to do everything, I was forgetting about making time for those I care we decided to take advantage of Monday night and have a nice dinner together. We had a lot of things to discuss that we have shelved over the past few months.

Dinner became a trip to Costco to pick up some items for one of my committee meetings and slices of pizza in the "food court". The funny thing is--we had a wonderful time. We talked, we laughed, we people watched and in the end, it didn't really matter that we weren't spending the time together over candlelight, but instead, we just needed to find the time to communicate one-on-one.

So, as I look at my busy schedule, maybe I'll pick up the phone and see how my husband's day is going instead of sending an email.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today's Question: Do You Pay it Forward?

We've all heard about the importance of treating others the way you want to be treated, what goes around comes around or the power of good karma. Last month SBC Advertising launched the Pay It 40Ward campaign in honor of the agency's 40th year in business. Each employee was challenged with doing 40 acts of random kindness in 40 days. When the program was first announced, I had my doubts--yes, I do a lot in the community and I tend to be a nice person, but did I want to publicize it?

Well, in order to support my company's celebration, I did start publicizing my acts of kindness...things that I would normally do, such as returning shopping carts to the designated areas or helping out a family member or friend. But in addition, I found additional things I could do in the community, like donating a pair of tickets to a local nonprofit event or taking the time to build a Habitat for Humanity House.

I'm not sure when or how I will obtain my reciprocal gift for doing this--maybe tomorrow I will play the lottery, or plan another activity with my Little from the local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's Question: Do You Fit in Your Company's Culture?

Finding your fit with a company is an important as finding a great pair of jeans. You don't want anything that stifles your personality, limits room for growth or clashes with your overall style.

Over lunch with some co-workers, we had a discussion about different company cultures. Two of the people at the table were commiserating over the tight, layered politics of a former employer--both came to the conclusion that SBC Advertising was a more complementary fit for their individual personalities and style.

So, here are some things to consider as you hunt for your fit:

  • How much structure do you need?

  • Is there room for growth?

  • Does your work ethic align with what is expected of you and your position?

  • Do you agree with the vision of the company?

Finding your "fit" is the first (and necessary) step on your career path. Don't be afraid to take a step back and make sure it feels right.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Today's Question: Are You a KIA?

Just for the record, I’m not referring to the Korean car manufacturer, but instead to a Know-It-All (KIA). Before you start yelling “no” at your computer screen, take a step back and think about how your approach situations with colleagues, friends and family. Are you open-minded, or do you have a tendency to feel that you already have the knowledge about nearly any subject—especially when it comes to your career field.

I think we all have a little KIA in us. It’s very easy to have the “been there, done that” type of attitude. I mean, how many different ways can I write a press release, conduct blogger outreach or set-up media interviews? Haven’t I already developed countless public relations plans, presented new business proposals and executed creative campaigns? And that’s when my inner KIA needs to stop taking over.

Instead of allowing your ego to get in the way—you must maintain a desire to learn. Younger colleagues know more about online research than I ever will. They don’t know what it’s like to use a card catalog and review books at the library to find information, or sort through microfilm for archived news articles! More experienced colleagues can provide guidance and mentorship during tough situations when dealing with difficult co-workers, clients and vendors.

The same is true for personal relationships. You can always continue to learn, as long as you don’t get in the way!

Now, if I could just get my dad to read this and believe in it…he is one of the founding KIA fathers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Today's Question: What Happened to the 9-to-5 Job?

Workin' nine to five, what a way to make a living
Barely gettin' by it's all takin' and no givin'
They just use your mind and they never give you credit
It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it
-Dolly Parton

The 9-to-5 job is dead…and if you have a 9-to-5 job, it’s just that, a job, not a career. As a communications professional, I’m always thinking about work—whether it’s how a retailer is going to promote the back-to-school season or by checking out one of my client’s Facebook fan pages, I continuously do these things 24/7.

It seems like even during my “free” time, I’m discussing the pros and cons of social media; or debating on the merits of a new ad campaign; or ridiculing a politician’s public addresses.

Maybe it’s because I’ve chosen a career that thrives on communication—and right now, the way we communicate seems to be constantly changing. But I tend to think it’s more of an illustration about how we want to stay connected…how many mobile numbers do we know see on business cards or people responding to email via mobile devices on the weekend.

Oh yeah, did I mention, my new business cards have my Twitter handle…next time, I’ll put my blog link on them!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today's Question: Are You Motivated by the Next Big Thing?

One thing that is pretty predictable about agency life is that fact that things tend to slow down in the summer. There’s a decrease in agency pitches, more people are on vacation and fewer products are introduced at this time. It’s easy to let your mind wander as you wait for the next big thing…

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I get more accomplished when I’m busy. My “to do” list needs to be jam-packed otherwise I get complacent. It’s also easy to get complacent when you keep revisiting the same client roster. So, how can you beat the summertime blues? Here are a few tips:

  1. Instead of “waiting” for the next big thing, go and find it. No one is keeping you from picking up the phone and meeting a respected mentor/peer or ideal prospect for coffee (or iced tea).
  2. Use the time to get acclimated with trend and industry changes. You can never stop learning; figure out how your new findings can translate into client campaigns.
  3. Lend a helping hand—either inside or outside your office walls. It might be the perfect time to get involved with a local cause or charity.

Most importantly, keep providing great results on the current work you do have—it might be slower, but that doesn’t mean that your clients are not talking to your competition—remember, they might have more time on their hands too!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Today's Question: Do You Ever Miss Being an Intern?

This week at SBC Advertising, we launched an exciting summer intern program. In addition to some field trips, our interns have been given a real-world assignment. Oh, and to add to the drama, a little friendly competition is involved. In three weeks, two teams of interns will be presenting to a group of agency executives!

As the ideas started flying around the conference room, I realized that I missed the opportunities provided by my internships. Some of the highlights include:

  1. Be a sponge. You get to absorb everything—take advantage of it.

  2. Experience things for the first time. Everything you experience is still exciting and new; whether it’s a photo shoot or writing a press release.

  3. Go beyond the “classroom” curriculum. Some things professors just can’t teach you, such as the importance of conference reports and change orders.

But for now, the heat is on for our interns…I just get to sit back and relax on July 31!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Today's Question: What's So Powerful About the Number 3?

We've all heard the expression, "It happens in threes." Many of the communications plans I develop have three objectives. In speaker training, I've learned to stick to three points and when developing key messages, we tend to develop three main thoughts. Why? Because it's memorable. Or is it?

In today's age of constant communications and connection, do we even remember three things anymore? It's almost as if evolution has started to decline. Our superior brains are being trained to process in 140 characters and communicate via smart text and wall posts.

Taking that one step further, the firing of our neurons (or the lack there of) is a result of the media. The 2-minute story package is replaced with the 10-second soundbite. In last week's unfortunate events, can you name the three celebrities that we lost? Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Ed MacMahon--for those of you playing at home. Yes, that's right, Ed MacMahon passed away too. According the media, we lost the King of Pop, that girl from the poster and that flat broke talk show sidekick.

For now, I'm going to try and adhere to the Power of 3: Happiness, Fortune and Fame. We'll see how well this works!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today's Question: Are You an Effective Leader?

"A leader is a dealer in hope."
-Napoleon Bonaparte

At times, Napoleon might have needed to be reminded of this fact, but don't we all? The measurement of a true leader should be in the innate ability to instill trust and hope in those you are leading. The other day I was quickly reminded that as a leader, it is my responsibility to do these things.

We all know the saying "S*(& rolls down hill." I'm here to say, that it shouldn't. A true leader knows that both the good and the bad are a direct reflection on how he/she leads the team. I made that mistake this week and informed my team that I got reamed for something that had happened while I was out of the office...WHAT WAS I THINKING?? This is not way effective leaders handle things; I did not need to bring my team down with me-but I did!

For the rest of the week, I received apology upon apology from them...and why? They did nothing wrong. Instead of addressing the situation directly and letting it go, I needed to talk about it. I wasn't being hopeful, I was being hopeless.

From one leader to another. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Be humble.

2. Offer guidance.

3. Share praise.

Hopefully, I will remember to follow my inner leader in the future!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Today's Question: Do I Have Enough Blog Cred to Repost an Old Blog?

Well, I might not be established enough, but I'm going to do it anyways. I've been meeting a lot of "social media" posers lately. After being engulfed in the world of Social Media, I no longer feel like a poser. I have a decent understanding of how businesses can and should use social media, I'm expanding my personal brand via social media, and I'm able to measure these results for clients and put them in terms that make sense--drive Web site traffic, increase awareness and ultimately, have a positive result on sales.

Posers, beware! There's a new social media enthusiast around!

Original Post March 2009:
I think I might be. I've been trying this blog for about a month, I try to Tweet nearly every day, I update my Facebook status, I accept Linked In invitations, I watch videos on YouTube (and have even downloaded some), I subscribe to RSS feeds, I download widgets, the list goes on and on--but I still kind of feel like I'm faking my way through it.

I feel this way because every time I turn around there are new social media "experts", "mavens", and "gurus"--it's quite humbling to think that I just recently added my blog (with 18 admitted followers) to Technorati--I'm nowhere near this coveted, self-proclaimed expert status. Heck, at my first job we didn't have the Internet...I guess Al Gore hadn't gotten around to inventing it. I would have to go to the library to look up old newspaper articles.

Because this form of communication is changing all of the time, maybe we are all posers or experts. The ability to share and connect with others is available for nearly everyone.

For now, I'll continue to post, update, download, share, connect and communicate--just try and stop me!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's Question: Why are Mentors So Important?

Yesterday was my last day as a mentor in a school-based program with Big Brothers Big Sisters. For our last session, I had to write a letter to my mentee--I thought about how to provide great wisdom to her as she enters high school and reflect on the 50 minutes per week that we spent together during the school year, etc. Instead, my letter discussed the things that I learned from her--junior high is difficult, getting along with your mom is rough, dealing with peer pressure can be challenging and trying to fit in isn't always so easy.

Sometimes you just need someone (who you trust) to talk to--whether it's about personal or professional road blocks. Your mentor does not have to be exactly the same as you--in fact, it probably works better if they have a different perspective on things from time to time. The key is respect each other's opinions. My time with a 14 year-old middle school student inspired me to find pleasure in the little things in life that are often overlooked. My weekly visits gave me time to decompress and talk about geometry and boyfriends, movies and weekend adventures.

I guess at the end of the school year, I realized that I learned as much from my mentee as she did from me. Maybe it should be called Project Friendship instead of Project Mentor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's Question: Why Do We Have a Problem with Delegation?

No matter where you are in your career, you're probably struggling with (or have struggled with) finding the right balance of delegation.

When you're cutting your teeth at the start of a career, you're trying to accomplish everything, be an invaluable part of the your team and sometimes have a problem saying "no." You want to take on the world, even if you're challenged by both physical and mental limitations...the last thing you want to do is admit that you might need some help--and delegating the project to someone else seems like it's more work than it's worth. Oftentimes, I hear from team members that "explaining a project to an intern will take more time than if I just do it myself."

As your career matures, sometimes managers fall into the trap of delgating too much! Instead of taking on the work as a team, they have the tendency to assign the majority of tasks to more junior-level professionals. They have a hard time finding balance between the activities that others can manage and which ones they still need to remain "hands-on" with...although not always spoken "it's not my job" tends to be written all over their face.

Here are a few steps to help balance the right amount of delegation:
1. Look in the mirror. Decide where and how you need to get involved with projects and understand that you can only accomplish a limited amount of work in a certain amount of time. Also, determine the reasonable amount of involvement on your part.

2. Evaluate your resources. Make sure that each team member is used to their fullest capacity and help capitalize on his/her strengths. If you need to delegate tasks, make sure you are aligning the needs with the natural talents of the individual.

3. Communicate frequently with your team. Remember, you're all working towards a common goal--so if you've called in additional resources, make sure your communicate the expectations and deadlines for the project. If the project requires an extended amount of time, have check-in milestones built into the timeline.

Remember, delegation is necessary in both your personal and professional life, so you better embrace it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's Question: Are All Media Impressions Created Equal?

As the landscape for PR professionals continues to change, we are faced with how to measure our results. Traditional metrics including impressions, CPM and Web site traffics have made way for positive blog posts, Tweets and online recommendations. With that said, many of our programs are still evaluated on impressions--how many people can we reach; how many eyeballs will see our placements. The new question becomes--how many of these impressions are engaged and will result in action?

There are standard multipliers for evaluating a paid versus earned placement, but how do we rate a blog placement or comment on a message board. Aren't these more engaged placements? The overall numbers are smaller, but the direct feedback from purchasers is much more meaningful, so isn't it OK that the volume is less?

It really comes down to a better understanding by professionals on how to evaluate today's programs. So, all impressions are not created equal and they shouldn't be!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today's Question: Do You Have a Personal Social Media Policy?

Even if your employer doesn't have a social media policy--it's important that you have a personal one. I'm not suggesting that you need to "hide" the person you truly are, but you might want to consider the things you are sharing with the Cyberuniverse. There are plenty of options for privacy blockers that you can use.

You can still participate in the local Sunggie Pub Crawl, just make sure that your photos are "untagged" or blocked from certain connections in your social network!
It's also important to set goals for why you are using social media--entertainment, professional, personal, etc. That way you can determine how you are using the media and decide on the best online persona for you--but don't try too hard. Just because you have a review coming up and your supervisor follows you on Twitter, you don't need to tweet that your work day finally ended at 9pm!
Just make sure that you are comfortable with your social media policy--remember, you might actually have the opportunity to meet or work with some of your friends and followers!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today's Question: What if Hiring PR Professionals was Like the NFL Draft?

I'm about to propose a very unconventional hiring process for PR pros. What if we were able to hold an annual PR draft for entry level positions? Here's how it would work:

First, we'd get a media partner. This would be a great weekend event broadcast on PPRN (Professional Public Relations Network). The live draft would need to be held in a high traffic area--every PR pro loves New York--so we'd, of course, be in Times Square.

Next, we'd host a Scouting Combine about 1-2 months before graduation. The draftees would go through a series of skill tests--how fast can you write press release; how long can you stand on your feet during a special event; how well do respond in a crisis situation; and how well do you multitask.

After that step, agencies and companies would host in-person meetings with our top prospects. Graduates would visit offices, get a tour of the facility and meet a few key team members.

Finally, it's draft day. Agencies and companies from around the country would have the opportunity draft their top picks. Based on national rankings, these organizations would be put into the draft order. Like the NFL, the lower the ranking, the higher the pick. Of course, trades would be allowed...I'll give you that seasoned crisis communications professional for the second pick along with free media monitoring services for one month.

I'm sure this would break a number of HR rules, but it would be kind of fun. Oh yeah, did I mention that my agency is looking for a top graduate to fill a temporary summer position? Email me directly at if you're interested.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's Question: Are You a Facebook "Fan"atic?

With the new changes made to Facebook, have you noticed that you can become a fan of nearly everything from a local bakery to your favorite retailer? I personally have a tendency to become a fan of places, people and things that my friends have chosen to become fans of.

OK, I like pizza, but do I really need to be a fan of a local pizza place? I'm originally from North Dakota--yep, there's a fan page for that too! I feel that there is a responsibility with identifying myself as a fan. It's not like I paint my face red and white for a trip to Target, yet I will sign up on their fan page and comment about the Spring sandals I just found there. And I don't start a "Be Aggressive" cheer when I distribute a release through PitchEngine, but I will recommend their services to colleagues and Twitter followers. I suppose the real responsibility comes from wanting to associate myself with the various brands. These connections illustrate my interests and provide insight into my personality.

So, show your pride by becoming an online fanatic--and if you can't find the perfect fan page, you can always create a new one!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today's Question: Have You Ever Had "One of Those Days"?

All of us have had "one of those days". The day where you just should have stayed in bed; when nothing seems to go right; you can't clearly communicate your thoughts and you usually end up feeling unproductive.

I started doing some research on this phrase--what I found was pretty uneventful. I guess I was looking for an elaborate story to connect to the phrase or maybe trace it back to a famous author, philosopher or great communicator. Instead, I found this:
A day when everything goes wrong, as in The car wouldn't start, I lost my glasses it was one of those days. This expression was first recorded in 1936.

I couldn't even find satisfaction from the origin on the phrase...I guess the first person to utter these words was just having one of those days!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Today's Question: Why is Optimism so Important?

Today Michael J. Fox was interviewed by Larry King. Fox talked about his new book Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. His strength and passion are evident even as his body shakes from Parkinson's Disease. Being an optimist is second nature to Fox--as it should be to all of us.

During challenging times, we need to remain upbeat and optimistic. The economy, job losses, and the tumbling stock market are more than enough for anyone to become pessimistic about the future.

Maybe we could take a lesson from Bhutan, a country in the Himalayas--the government measures gross natural happiness as well as GDP and embraces programs that help grow the happiness of the country! In addition, the other day I met a "Chief Optimism Officer" of an online marketing company--how can you not be happy with a title like that?

So next time, instead of shaking your head at the incurable optimist, take a second and smile.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Today's Question: Can We Function Without the Internet?

I just spent the past 7 hours without Internet access. Of course, I did have my Blackberry, but have you tried typing in a long email on a micro-keyboard? It's not fun. I've had emails that need to be responded to, emails to develop and Web sites to check--I feel like I've lost the past 7 hours of my life!

I wonder how much productivity decreases when connectivity is low or non-existent--or can productivity increase? Remember when we used to call people instead of texted them; or have an actually meeting with people instead of a Webcast to communicate with one another; or read a newspaper instead of skimming the online version.

I think the Internet has done a lot for us--it makes the world so much smaller because we can connect with others in the next room or across the ocean; we have news at our fingertips and we can easily access information on companies and brand 24/7!

Maybe the question isn't can we function without or do we really want to?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's Question: Are You Up for the Challenge of Swimming with Sharks?

I mean this question more figuratively than literally, but as a certified SCUBA diver, I have encountered some sharks during dives. Swimming with sharks can be both thrilling and challenging--and quite similar to the business world that many of us survive in each day.

Swimming with sharks requires three basic steps:

1. Anticipate their next move-The key to many business relationships also requires a bit of anticipation. We try and outline the next steps to get projects approved and to keep them moving.

2. Always keep them in your line of sight-Overall business goals cannot be overlooked. It's important to keep your eye on the big picture and to not get sidetracked by distractions. If you take your eye off the goal for even a second, it could bite you, right in know where.

3. Don't become the bait-Remaining a team player is an important part of survival. The ability to adapt to different situations and roles is necessary in our changing business climate--besides it's been documented that sharks have been known to eat their own.

So, let's dive in, the water's just fine.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today's Question: What Words Do You Hate?

I found a really cool Web site developed by one of the original team members of Blogger. Each day a new prompt is provided to get people to start communicating online--sometimes the prompt is a question or something for you to reflect and comment on. When you have a chance, check out and start sharing with others.

"What Words Do You Hate?" came from a recent prompt. Right now, I hate the words: expert and guru. These words are completely overused and have lost their effectiveness. Besides, If you truly are an expert or a guru-do you need to overtly state it?

Maybe we could replace these words with enthusiast, devotee or believer?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today's Question: Do You Manage with Intensity?

Today's question is inspired by a recent management tip provided by Harvard Business School. The tip read: "management intensity" is a crucial response to the accelerating speed at which things are changing. Big-picture strategic thinking is important, but right now leaders need to be involved, visible, and communicating all the time.

Well, I think I've been getting management intensity wrong (or have I?)--while I believe I have an innate ability to think about the big picture and can be a real asset in strategic planning, I also realize that at the same time, I'm a manager that gets in trenches and becomes involved with the tactical execution of projects and programs--and I was doing this before the recent recession.

Maybe if the leaders of AIG, Fannie Mae and Merrill Lynch were managing with intensity before the collapse of their companies, our financial and banking infrastructure wouldn't require government intervention.

My only conclusion is that management intensity is just as important in a good economy as it is during a bad one!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today's Question: Can Key Messages Kill The Messenger?

It's been a few days since the "Brawl Street" special on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with John Stewart. Prior to last Thursday's episode a very public feud was brewing between John Stewart and Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money for several days--and it was making its way to mainstream media like The Today Show and The Martha Stewart Show.

If you saw the episode (and even if you didn't)--John Stewart was declared the victor in the battle of wits. What I saw was Jim Cramer--a guy with a larger than life personality--reduced to a shell of a TV host--it made me wonder if he was pinned as the scapegoat for CNBC? Absent from the interview were Cramer's constant ravings, explosive body language and in-your-face jabs. His key messages were reduced to "I made mistakes" and "I was lied to"--these were the repetitive key messages that were uttered as he asked for forgiveness and vowed to become a better advisor. How could the media relations experts at CNBC allow Cramer to make such a fool of himself--unless it was intentional.

I think that key messages can kill the messenger--especially when that is their intention.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today's Question: Do You Have a Connection Obsession?

Hi, my name is Krista Holloway and I am a connection addict. I spend most of my time online, reading, sharing and communicating with others. While being connected with social media is important for my profession, I think this obsession might be a problem. I actually posted a tweet that stated "my day job is interfering with my social media time."

What is happening? Before the proliferation of social media, I hadn't heard from people from college, high school--or even elementary school--now, I'm seeking these people out--looking at their photos and asking about their kids. Even though I have the NHL Center Ice cable package, I read Red Wings' game feeds over Twitter instead of watching the game on TV! Last night, I updated my Twitter status through my new Blackberry Storm at my book club. And I'm the first person to make fun of the pregnant woman who was tweeting while in labor...I don't think I'm that far off.

Is this going too far? Is it time to seek professional help? Well, I'm not a quitter, so I will continue to Twitter!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today's Question: What is Really Meant by Active Listening?

I learned about "active" listening in one of my college communications courses. Active listening means that the listener is completely focused on the person delivering the message; at the end of an active listening exercise there should be a mutual understanding of the subject matter.

The word "active" implies an action--so why isn't listening action enough, why do we feel compelled to do something other than just listen--such as take notes or have a pre-existing list of questions that we are going to ask regardless of the information presented?

Oftentimes we feel obligated to take notes during an important meeting or presentation. In order to prepare for the meeting, we have developed questions to ask to appear engaged. We'll concentrate harder on these activities than actually taking a moment to listen when we need to. In these situations, our active listening gets confused with taking good notes or asking good questions.

I encourage you the next time you have an important meeting with someone to stop taking notes, start listening and keep asking (relevant) questions!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Today's Question: What Can We Learn from The Girls Scouts?

Girl Scouts and more importantly, Girl Scout Cookies, are American icons. I say this as I enjoy a Tagalong and cup of tea. For more than 80 years, the Girl Scouts have been baking and selling cookies across the country--and their business model continues to evolve.

The Girl Scout Cookie business model has the key ingredients that make a company successful:

1. Research and Development-each year the Girl Scouts introduce a new cookie or two
2. Consumer Insight-based on sales, cookies become staples in the annual line-up, or they get phased out
3. Logistics-troops go door-to-door selling the boxes; parents help with the delivery of the cookies a few weeks later
4. Price Point-$3 a box still seems like a bargain
5. Community Outreach-the sales of the cookies help fund the local projects of the troops
6. Marketing-any marketing expert will tell you that cute kids can help sell products

Due to their consistency and quality, Girl Scout Cookies are a fundraiser that can withstand recession and tighter budgets--who can't find a few bucks for a box of Samoas at the grocery store?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Today's Question: Are We Really Communicating How We Feel Through Social Media?

Social media has given us a new forum for communicating our feelings and thoughts. When I first started out on facebook, I would carefully craft my message and consider who might be looking at my updates. Well, the other day, I realized that social media didn't effectively communicate how I felt and caused quite a stir among my family and friends.

Last week, I was having "one of those days." Instead of blowing up at anyone or even internalizing it--I posted on facebook: "Krista is thinking that if the world ended right now, I'd be OK with it." I wasn't depressed, just really frustrated. I thought I was being clever--anyone that knows me understands my sarcasm, right? I got caught up in the moment and posted without thinking--big mistake.

A few co-workers laughed about my post and agreed with of my friends emailed me to make sure I was OK...when I got home, my husband was upset. He got called by his family to make sure that everything was alright with us, with my health, with our dog, etc., etc.

Now, if I had "said" that statement to my husband, a family member or friend, there wouldn't have been a problem--but a status update without inflection, nonverbal cues and a laugh caused panic and concern.

I think I'll take a little more time with my updates in the future!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Today's Question: Have You Heard of PitchEngine?

PitchEngine is quickly becoming a public relations pro's best friend. Many of us have been waiting on the sidelines trying to figure out when and where to introduce social media into our annual client campaigns...especially when they are more familiar with conservative outreach.

Well, now is the time to embrace the SMR (social media release) and pitchengine is a tool to help us do just that. Our traditional media outlets are dwindling. The Baltimore Examiner, Rocky Mountain News, O at Home, domino and other print publications have recently stopped publishing and additional layoffs are being made across both broadcast and print platforms.

Social media releases offer us a new frontier to explore. Not only can PR pros push the news, but we are giving both journalists and consumers the opportunity to react, support and act on the information we are providing to them!

If you're a PR pro, get to know PitchEngine and if you're a consumer (we all are) continue to share, comment, endorse and even criticize.

Our opinions matter now more than ever--and companies, representatives and brands are (or need to) start listening!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Today's Question: Can a Liberal Arts Education Prepare You for Your Career?

Today's post is really just for fun.

Check out this article from Business First of Columbus. I believe that my liberal arts education from John Carroll University prepared me perfectly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's Question: How Did You "View" the Presidential Address?

Whether it was on a major network, over a cable news station, online or even via facebook, chances are you "viewed" last night's Presidential Address. And if you didn't watch it, you will still be surrounded by the ongoing media coverage--in newspapers, on the radio, in conversations with friends and co-workers, via email, through status updates on social media sites--the list goes on and on.

When a major national event happens--we "view" it. Although the way we view these things has changed dramatically. Can we actually imagine gathering our families around a radio and listening to fireside chats? It sounds so archaic and time-consuming.

And now we do more than just watch or listen--we participate! We watch the Address on facebook while twittering about the President's comments; we text our friends while we listen to the Address on the TV; we attend virtual events to show our support for the President's message; we vote in online polls rating his performance--heck, some of us even blog about it!

So, it's time to stop viewing and start acting--you can try not to, but it's nearly impossible--and would we really want it any other way?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Today's Question: Isn't it Really Just About Common Sense?

There's been a lot of online and offline chatter about the do's and don'ts of social media. You can find the five things to do on Twitter to get 1,000 followers in 36 hours, as well as the rules of engagement with friends and colleagues on Facebook.

We struggle with who to friend, who to follow and who to link to...we seek information on how to use this extremely addicting and completely transparent form of communication. Should a colleague really see that I had a few drinks over the weekend, would a client be upset if I tweet about an upcoming event, do I really want my boss to see photos of me from high school.

I think that it just comes down to common sense. If you wouldn't complain about a colleague to their face in the office, why would you use your status update to vent your feelings when he/she can see it later--and what's more, comment on it!

Social networking can be fun because you will probably learn something about others and yourself along the way.

Just remember, think before you type!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today's Question: Given the Choice, Would You Rather Play Offense or Defense?

With the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup heating up, what's your role on the team? Do you prefer to be the superstar or the protector of the goal?

The offense, the center and wings, are always on the attack and look for the next opportunity to break away and score a goal. These players are always in on the action looking for the next one-timer or perfect shot that gets by the goalie. These skilled players have speed and precision on their side. They have to think on their toes, lead the team and are often the center of attention.

On the other hand, the defense, the defensemen and goalie, hold the team's position. A good defense is often the key to victory. These players are dependable and reliable. It might appear that they are hanging back from the action, but they are always in the right position to help their team stay ahead.

In business, you need to be able to play both sides. Sometimes you need to lead--your ideas and skills will result in a win. And other times, you get forced to react--you have to defend your position, your brand and your budget.

You have to be ready for anything, especially when the puck's about to drop!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's Question: What's so Great about Orange Fireworks?

In my opinion, absolutely nothing. Orange fireworks lack a certain creative element--come on, fire is already orange, so what do orange fireworks bring to the display?

Without your own creative element, you run the risk of not bringing much to your company or future company. Creativity is especially important in today's economic state. A little creativity can do anything, such as help your company save money through a recycling program; produce stronger communications results for your clients by reaching target audiences through social media; or develop your personal public relations plan by spending time exploring new opportunities and networking with new people.

Creativity can come from anyone--you don't have to have a "creative" job description to be creative. Your unique point of view can be creative. Think of your interests and inspirations and draw creativity from those things.

Just please, don't allow yourself be orange fireworks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's Question: What is Your Facebook "Face"?

I'm not a self-proclaimed expert at anything, I am, however, a self-proclaimed student of everything. As I explore and practice in the social media world, I've been trying to figure out my face. How am I using the social media, what image am I portraying to others, am I doing it right?

I thought I would take a look at the "faces" of Facebook that I've noticed along the way.

1. The Therapy Seeker-This person provides status updates on everything--from break ups to break downs. You know the status "can't believe the day I'm having, and it started with my dog eating my plane ticket" or "Hope I make it through the day" or "I've been up for 68 hours straight." Sometimes, it slightly crosses the line of TMI.

2. The Self-Promoter-This person is using facebook to promote their cause, their views or their personal brand. The status updates read "Check out my blog to see what I think of the stimulus package" or "Come by my office and I'll give you 20% off of teeth whitening if you say, 'Super Duper Day'" or "It's tax time-let me help you."

3. The Incognito-Not much to say here--no updates, no photo, no online personality.

4. The Social Butterfly-This person floats from one social engagement to the next. Common updates "Heading out to the movies with my girls" or "Running to the gym" or "Doing lunch with my bff, movie with my mom and dinner with a new guy."

But, here's the beauty of social media and online interaction--you can start your day as a self-promoter and end as the social butterfly.

Right now, I'm a social promoter seeking to be incognito. What's your face?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Today's Question: Really?

Today's post is just for fun. I'm a huge SNL fan and thought this was a great skit.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Today's Question: Can You Turn Lemons into Lemonade?

Yes, we can all turn lemons into lemonade--however, sometimes it takes some sugar to make it drinkable.

Last week, one of my clients had to deliver some bad news--a trade show was cut from the budget. While this is a setback for our media relationship development, we actually have another opportunity this year to engage media. When I reminded my contact of this he said that I can "turn lemons into lemonade." And I said, "Sometimes, we still need sugar."

Sugar to me is collaboration. The key ingredient to making any agency-client relationship work. Whether it's developing an annual plan, setting a project's scope of work, developing the measurement and goals, or just working together each day--collaboration is necessary. It also leads to long-term relationships.

So, set up the lemonade stand and let's get to work!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Today's Question: If You Build it, Will They Come?

The communication manager's answer to the this question is a simple, "No." Sorry to disappoint farmers in Iowa, but multiple communications touchpoints are what drive target audiences to what you build--whether it's a bricks-and-mortar location or a virtual destination.

With any building you need a strong foundation. For marketing that foundation consists of research which provides insights into your target audience. This needs to be more sophisticated than general demographic information; explore the habits, feelings and beliefs of your audience.

The real dilemma then becomes how to reach these audiences. Some audiences still respond to traditional methods, I'm not talking smoke signals and carrier pigeons, but rather print ads, direct mail and earned rint and broadcast media placements. Other audiences might consume their information online, so email marketing, Web banners, blog postings, YouTube uploads and microsites are necessary. Finally, your audience might be tech junkies and they probably aren't the tech nerds you automatically think of..the world of Twitter, Wikis, Widgets and mobile apps has no audience boundaries!

Maybe it's time to change the mantra to: If you market it, they will come!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today's Question: Has Shoe Throwing Become the Latest PR Tactic?

It all started with the shoe thrown at former President Bush by an Iraqi journalist--an offense that can carry a hefty prison term. In less than one week, Bayden, the shoe's cobbler, needed to hire 100 additional employees to keep up with the orders. The style was renamed the "Bush Shoe"; the incident launched a political fashion trend as videos of the shoe throwing act were posted on YouTube. And, one Saudi offered $10 million for the pair of shoes thrown at George W.

The trend seems to be catching on, yesterday a protester hurled a shoe at the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. People around the world tweeted about the event and the media reported the incident immediately via online sites. In fact, an AP photographer quickly snapped a shot of the shoe which will be available through AP images for people to upload, download, publish, etc.

With a little bit of spin, this has become a great media outreach tactic. How else would this basic clothing staple get international coverage? And what's more, double orders and open up companies to a global marketplace.

So, even if the shoe fits, throw it!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Today's Question: Is NBC bringing the "Super" back to Super Bowl?

With an estimated 100 million people watching tonight's match up between the Steelers and the Cardinals, NBC is doing whatever they can to keep viewers all day long. The network is planning on 8 hours of pre-game coverage--a special edition of The Today Show, a Road to the Super Bowl special and then Pregame starts at 1pm! Eight hours is twice as long as the game itself, including the half-time show. Oh yeah, and I nearly forgot the super-sized episode of The Office which follows the game.

With that being said I got sucked in, I watched the segment where Meredith got dressed up as a Buccaneer and the one that included a chippy dialogue between the governors of Pennsylvania and Arizona.

And, of course, the highlight (sometimes) of the Super Bowl--the ads! At the asking price of $3 million dollars, the ad spots have sold out. Many experts will provide commentary on these ads before, during and after the game--and you can too through a Twitter survey. This might be the first year I watch the game with my laptop!

So, is "Super" back? Put the beer on ice and spice up the hot wings, let's get ready for this Super Sunday!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today's Question: Did Curiosity Really Kill the Cat?

Well, if it did, then Mr. Whiskers has 9 lives. Curiosity is a driving motivation for nearly everything we do--what's more, the rise of social networks is helping us be more curious nearly every day.

Remember a time when we had brief and fleeting relationships with people? Maybe it was someone you met at a convention or on a family vacation; now we stay connected with these people through facebook, twitter, friendfeeder, myspace, linkedin etc. Why do we do that? Curiosity.

We now post photos of children, holiday parties, friends, relatives, random old school photos on our online pages. And we look at others' postings--even the "New Home" photos from the kid you sat next to in third grade. Why do we seek these people out? Curiosity.

We hate watching the news because it is filled with gloom and doom--recession, murders, fires, fraud, impeachment, etc. And we can now get it streamed to our laptops, sent to our mobile devices and emailed to our in boxes. Why do we keep watching 24/7? Curiosity.

This is an excitingly, curious time. Here, kitty, kitty!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today's Question: Is Pitching New Business like a Snow Storm?

OK, it's obvious that snow is on my mind--we did receive a few inches in Central Ohio recently, but I started thinking--the process of pitching new business (whether you're at an agency or in a corporate setting) is similar to the strike of a snow storm...

We all wait in anticipation for the storm to start--meteorologists and local reporters diligently track the storm, trying to anticipate the storm's next move and getting viewers ready for the onslaught of snow, freezing rain and hail; in a new business relationship, we are excited for the opportunities that the new prospect will bring, the team anticipates the needs of the new client and prepares for the arrival date of the presentation.

The storm hits and it's often chaotic, typical, daily activities get suspended; getting ready for the initial meeting is always crazy--we stay at the office late, get little sleep and try not to put "normal" activities on hold, which inevitably happens.

The storm passes, some of us get the day off to drink hot chocolate in our PJs or make snow angels with kids; if we are successful in the new business pitch, we take a moment to enjoy the win--and then we do it all over again. I say, keep the snow storms coming!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Today's Question: Does Your Job Make You Happy?

Or are you just happy to have a job? Especially when you think about the 70,000+ Americans that have lost jobs in the past 48 hours. I am fortunate to both have a job and have one that makes me happy. I've been at SBC Advertising for two years. It's a great place to work with great people. As a member of the Public Relations department at this full-service agency located in Columbus, Ohio, I have the coveted opportunity to work with national brands every day!

And, every day I learn something new--and that's extremely important to me, because when you stop learning, what's left? It never ceases to amaze me when and where I learn new things--reading online articles, during meetings or even in the employee cafe. You just need an open mind and open ears!

So, what about your job make you happy?

Getting Started

After contemplating starting a blog, I finally decided to take the plunge--and I'm stuck at the office due to a massive snow storm that is hitting the Ohio Valley--so, there's no time like the present.

"Keep Asking Questions" came to me during my commute this morning. As I reflect on my 13+ years of public relations experience (which have been at various pr/ad agencies)--I've been struck by the fact that smart people are often the ones that "Ask the good questions". Whether it's preparing for a new business pitch, a client presentation or during the discovery phase with a new client, we're are constantly anticipating questions: How will you measure our PR program? What other experience do you have? What are your thoughts on social media? How about those Super Bowl ads? And in turn, we prepare questions to show interest in another's business model: What are your distribution channels? What marketing communications programs have worked in the past? What are your business goals and objectives?

Yet, the funny thing is, we've been stifled of asking too many questions. Remember how annoyed parents and adults got during your inquisitive phase--or perhaps, how annoyed you get now with your own children when they ask too many questions.

It seems to me that the questions keep the world running and keeps us all developing new programs, ideas and, keep asking questions.