Archive for the ‘podcasting’ Category

FIR Book Club with Gini Dietrich TOMORROW

One thing that really gets me going is conversation with smart people. I’m very lucky to know some that I get to see face to face, and then there are the people who I don’t know personally but get to hear speak or converse with.

And tomorrow, I get to speak with Gini Dietrich, co-author with Geoff Livingston of Marketing in the Round as part of the FIR Book Club. If you’re not familiar with FIR, it’s “For Immediate Release.” I do book reviews for that must-listen podcast, and I host these online talks as well.

Gini Dietrich is smart, funny, and prolific. She’s the founding CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based communications company that describes itself as a firm that started as “a very traditional public relations firm” and is now “a company that helps clients monitor and measure online efforts against business goals…providing an alternative to their traditional marketing efforts.”

In addition to their many clients, Arment Dietrich is responsible for the cheeky blog Spin Sucks and the PR resource site Spin Sucks Pro. And Gini became a first-time author with the publication of Marketing in the Round, a highly useful book on integrated marketing and communications in a social media age.

I’m excited to have 60 minutes to talk with Gini about her book and the ideas she and Geoff brought to it, and to offer listeners the chance to join that conversation.

If you want a primer on the book, you could listen to my review of the book on the FIR site. Then, join us on Talkshoe as a listener or a caller at 2 Eastern time tomorrow, won’t you?

Talking FIR Books and Book Club

A reminder that on January 27, I’ll be hosting the first edition of the FIR Book Club.

This is an outgrowth of my position of Book Reviews Editor for the wonderful podcast For Immediate  Release, created by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson.

In a quick 30 minutes, we’ll have a chat with an author and a call-in so that you can ask the author questions.

Our first guest on the FIR Book Club will be Christopher Barger, author of the new book “The Social Media Strategist.”

Join us on Blog Talk Radio on the 27th.

And two other book-related notes:

  1. If you have a book you would like to hear reviewed — or if you’d like to do a review yourself! — get in touch and tell me about the title.
  2. If you’re interested in being a guest reviewer, let me know what book you’re thinking about. In the past, we’ve had folks like Shel and the mellifluous Donna Papacosta do reviews. More voices are better.
  3. If you’re a book publicist or an author of a book that is related to public relations, social media, communications, marketing — get in touch with me. I’d like to hear about your book and perhaps review it.

It’s a little surprising (maybe not very surprising, actually) that I don’t hear very often from authors or publishing companies asking me to review books. Try me.

FIR book club with Christopher Barger set for January 27

Christopher BargerChristopher Barger has found himself in some pretty hot seats — including leading the social media team at General Motors during its bankruptcy. In addition to being a senior vice-president at Voce Communications, Christopher is also a blogger for Forbes. But will all that have prepared him for 30 minutes in an entirely new sort of hot seat as the inaugural guest author on the FIR Book Club?

This is a new idea that I’ve been working on with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, the hosts of For Immediate Release (if I may say, the pre-eminent PR and social media podcast out there.) Since last year, I’ve been doing book reviews for FIR, and really enjoying the opportunity to get into some great (and maybe not so great) books on PR and social media.

So now we’re taking the book review idea a step further, and poor Christopher is our guinea pig.

Christopher is the author of the hot-off-the-presses book “The Social Media Strategist” from McGraw-Hill Ryerson.The Social Media Strategist book cover

According to the McGraw-Hill site:

Conquer the unique challenges of driving social media success within a large company

From the social media director who built successful programs at both GM and IBM, The Social Media Strategist provides the tools you need to meet all the challenges of building a social media strategy in a large company, which include corporate culture, legal barriers, and the kind of bureaucratic resistance that that are unique to large organizations.

The Social Media Strategist explains how to get legal departments to say “yes” to social media programs; get employees engaged without exposing the organization to risk; build “buzz” that parallels business goals; and avoid the internal turf wars that can doom new initiatives.

I am starting to read the book now, and will have an audio book review up sometime soon.

And on January 27, we’ll do the first FIR Book Club with Christopher as our inaugural guest, using the services of Blog Talk Radio.

In a fast-paced 30 minutes, we’ll talk a little about his book, and then give listeners — that’s you! —  the opportunity to talk with Christopher and me about his book. Listeners can call in or they can participate in a chatroom on the BTR site.

Keep watching this space and the FIR site for more promos and information as we get closer to the 27th.

The 5Ws:

WHAT: FIR Book Club #1
WHO: Christopher Barger, author of The Social Media Strategist, with Bob LeDrew, FIR book review editor
WHEN: 2:00-2:30 pm Eastern time, January 27, 2012
WHERE: Blog Talk Radio
WHY: For lively chat with a leading social media thinker


Looking forward to 2012

So it is New Year’s Eve2  (New Year’s Eve Eve, that is) and the time for all bloggers to either post a “best of whatever”  or a look-forward list.

I am of the opinion that Mark Blevis is on to something when he talks about someone aggregating all the best of, top 10, etc. lists that people create, so you can save time and read the “best of the best of” and save time.  But it won’t be me.

So I guess that leaves looking forward, mostly.

What am I looking forward to in 2012?

BobCat House Concerts' first anniversary cake

First anniversary cake -- what will the fifth anniversary bring?

  • In 2011, I found myself in the “smorgasbord” period of my life. I saw an even better description of this this morning, when Stuart Bruce in the UK describes himself as having “‘gone plural’ and decided to pursue a portfolio career.” I love the idea of a “portfolio career” as a descriptor of what he’s doing, and of what I’m doing — PR & social media consulting + podcasting (hopefully as a part-time sources of income) + part-time teaching at Algonquin College + private training + handling membership services for OCFF + doing promotion and media relations for musicians I love. Sounds more professional than smorgasbord (unless you’re Scandinavian, maybe). In 2012, I want to get a better handle on managing every part of this “portfolio career.”
  • As I have for the last five years, I am looking forward to more house concerts. When I first got bladder cancer (and turned 40) five years ago, I went through a bit of a struggle to figure out ways of pursuing what made me feel fulfilled and happy. At the top of that list was music. Thus was born BobCat House Concerts, with the support and patience of my partner Cathy. We are going to celebrate five years of those concerts, which bring amazing musicians to our house to perform for us and our guests, in February. It has been wonderful to expose people to the musicians that I love, and to have become friends with so many talented people. I have to single out our friendship with David Ross MacDonald, which has become really important to us. It helps that he’s a musical treasure. But even if he never wrote another song, I’d still want him in my corner.
  • And that initial splash into the “music industry” has led to a recently-ended term of service on the board of the Ottawa Folk Festival, to working with OCFF, and to the plans I currently have underway to launch a new “commercial” concert series in Ottawa.
  • I’m looking forward to inaugurating the FIR Book Club this coming January. It’s been a real pleasure reviewing books for the For Immediate Release podcast (and hopefully the authors would agree), and I’m hoping this new “talk-radio” call-in with authors of interesting PR and social media books will be lively and entertaining and informative.
  • I’m looking forward to finding out if a podcast about Stephen King can actually make its owner a little money. I suspect that the “nichiness” of my podcast the Kingcast may make it an attractive enough target for people seeking to find and reach Stephen King and horror fans that they’ll be willing to pay for it. Time will tell.
  • I’m looking forward to continuing my conversations with friends and podcasting partners Mark Blevis on PR and other Deadly Sins and with Joe Boughner and Susan Murphy on The Contrarians. Sometimes you don’t know what you think about something until you write about it. Or talk about it.
  • I want to spend a little more time on fiction writing. I’ve spasmodically worked on fiction projects. But I’ve got finishitis. So I want to FINISH some fiction and see if anyone other than me thinks it’s any good.

Andrea del Sarto (subject of Robert Browning's poem)

Man. Sometimes I get a little stressed out working on all these different projects. But when I write it out like this — that’s a lot to look forward to. I hope your lives are as full of fun and potential as this.  And if not — why not do something to make them that way?

As Robert Browning put it:

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?
Happy 2012. Reach for something out of your grasp, why don’t you? And just because I like it, here’s a YouTube video that is quite sweet.   

Book reviews in print and in your ears

booksShockingly enough, I appear to have missed an opportunity for self-promotion.

I started off 2011 with yet another contribution to the world of podcasting. Not happy with doing The Kingcast, The Contrarians with Joe Boughner and Susan Murphy, and PR and Other Deadly Sins with Mark Blevis, I’m also the new “book review editor” for one of my absolute favorite podcasts, For Immediate Release.

Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, the hosts of FIR, have been pioneers and examples of how business can use podcasting to inform, to engage, and to entertain too. Now approaching their 600th episode, they’re respected and followed by many people. Their past and present columnists, including Lee Hopkins, Sallie Goetsch (rhymes with sketch), Michael Netzley, and Dan York offer great content — to the point that I’m still a little intimidated to be sharing the webspace with them.

But never having been one to let my own inadequacies hold me back from grasping the coattails of the great and good, there I am.

You can check out my audio reviews of Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter, UnMarketing by Scott Stratten, and most recently Resonate by Nancy Duarte on their site. For a permanent fix of these reviews, there’s an FIR Reviews feed you can subscribe to. Or you could just subscribe to the For Immediate Release “Everything Feed.” If you work in public relations, communications, marketing, social media, or have a professional interest in those fields, you will find it a source of great news and analysis.

I’m looking forward to continuing to review books for FIR as well as posting new entries to the Translucid Bookshelf, and I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I do making them. If you have books you think I should review (even if it’s YOUR book), please let me know about them.

Are multiple lives the norm?

I had a coffee with Vincent White of Canada NewsWire today, the first time we’d had a chance to chat in person. He’s a recent transplant to Ottawa from his home town of Montreal. As we chatted about a number of things, with a special appearance from PR and Other Deadly Sins cohort Mark Blevis, an idea came up.

I had also met today with Kel Morin-Parsons for the first time, and while we were getting to know each other, I was able to introduce her to Kym, who photographed me earlier this year. What do Mark, Kym, and Kel have in common? Multiple lives. Not the reincarnated type.

Kel works with a national association. She works with other smart communicators. She writes academic papers. She acts, writes, and directs. She has her own theatre company.

Bob, shot by Le Mien

How an "amateur" can make a silk purse of a sow's ear

Kym is a public servant. She is a travel addict. And she’s created a web site where she takes pictures of people (quite artfully making them look fantastic and catching a sense of who they are seemingly effortlessly, from the subject’s point of view.)

Mark is a public affairs professional, a podcaster, a musician, a conference organizer

It occurred to me that these folks are far from unique in my life. Ryan works with Kel, and is a blogger. Kym has taken photos of Emily, who is a graphic designer, a t-shirt entrepreneur, and a fundraiser against cancer with her art. Rob is a singer, a revitalizer of community associations, a public servant, and the organizer of a great fundraiser. Andrea is a singer-songwriter whose work I love and who does media monitoring in the early mornings. Suze is a maker of videos, a teacher, and helped create a super web site with Cheryl, who is a videotape editor, an organizer of songwriting circles, and more. And I have this job as a public relations guy, in addition to helping to organize meetups, serving on a board, doing house concerts, podcasting about Stephen King, trying to write a novel…

This isn’t the way my parents lived. Not sure it was the way ANYone’s parents lived. As Vincent and I talked about that, he wondered if this was an Ottawa thing. One of the things he’s noticed in his time here is that this is a “community” thing that may be unique to Ottawa. (He also pointed out that when we Ottawa types go to a 5 à 7, we leave at 7 and go home, instead of heading to a restaurant and continuing the evening. That is a Montréal thing, along with the best smoked meat and Sicilian cannoli…)

So I’m asking you: is this an Ottawa thing? Are we doing this more than other people? Or is this the way we all live now?

Happy weekend, everyone.

Audio from my Cafe Scientifique panel discussion

Last night (Tuesday, May 25), Ian Capstick, Erik Hagborg and I were the panelists for a hugely fun (at least for me) panel discussion on social media and its effects on more “traditional” communications. The discussion was part of the Cafe Scientifique program. This discussion was organized by The Canada Museum of Science and Technology and the Canadian Museum of Nature. Particular thanks should to to Isabelle Kingsley, who organized the event.

Here’s roughly the entire evening in audio format. It’s about 100 minutes long, and it ranges from the future of cursive script, to the “art should / shouldn’t be free” debate, to the fundamental disadvantage of the e-book (hint: “Hey! Read this!”) to how we preserve the important things in a digital age that doesn’t preserve things in tangible format.

Apologies for any rough audio — it was a big room and I was recording only with my Edirol. Mostly pretty good, I think. The audio begins with Erik Hagborg’s opening remarks. Download it here, or use the player below.

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  • 00:00 — Opening statements. Erik takes us back to the beginning of communications with the run at Marathon, then moves on to the four questions of the evening: Are we conducting too many of our relationships via tech? Why do we choose to use technology to communicate? Does tech facilitate or impede face-to-face communications? Are technology and f2f interactions complementary or exclusive? (Bonus from Erik: The difference between a “friend” and a “good friend”?)
  • 05:45 — Ian Capstick talks about his earliest experience with technology and F2F communication, when he was a teenager and met online friends in Ottawa at a choral conference.
  • 09:20 – Ian’s train of thought is briefly interrupted as his dinner arrives.
  • 11:40 — Ian recalls the phone phreakers as one of several examples of how humans hack technology for good and ill.
  • 15:25 -- Bob acknowledges that concern about social media is fair, but fear is unreasonable. People will use technologies in the ways that best suit them, and that one of the tension points with social media is that they are changing and growing so rapidly that our collective, unconscious agreements on what’s proper — the norms of using the medicum — are being left behind. Social media killed geography as the defining limit of friendship.
  • 23:00 — I inform the audience that Mel Blanc was allergic to carrots (as is Ian Capstick)
  • 24:00 – Discussion kicks off with an anecdote from moderator Isabelle Kingsley about texting as distraction
  • 26:00 — How to sift through “all the crap” on the Internet, and whether there’s more crap on the Internet than there was before, with a slight detour into Internet dating
  • 34:00 — Ian recommends Andrew Potter’s “The Authenticity Hoax
  • 37:00 — Discussion about the idea of digital legacy, in which I deftly pimp out PAB 2010. Adele McAlear and Derek K. Miller, come on down to pick up your name-checks! Ian argues that the problem won’t be a lack of information left behind but TOO MUCH.
  • 40:00 — Erik talks about the craft behind communication — the calligraphy and the content of handwritten letters, for example. We won’t lose the CONTENT; we’re going to lose the style and soul. Ian counters by saying “the pen stole oral history,” polls the audience on the use of cursive handwriting, and nominates Isabelle Kingsley as the leader of the future handwriting guild.
  • 46:00 — Where will obsolete media be preserved? Punch cards, 8-inch floppies, 5.25s, 3.5s… Erik suggests most technologies will be backwards-compatible and that this is not a huge worry. He also admits to, as a child, ruining his father’s punch-card programs on their home mainframe (parenthetical note: Erik had a mainframe in his HOUSE?!)
  • 49:00 — Bob shouts out to Project Gutenberg and Librivox as examples of how people are preserving ‘outdated’ content
  • 51:00 — Do people have opinions on e-books? Ian is conflicted and thinks there’s a generational shift involved with the shift from paper to pixels. Bob hates the DRM, the lack of pass-on-ability and marginalia and mourns the loss of craft in e-books as well as the LP-CD-MP3 transition.
  • 55:00 — Erik jumps on a DRM soapbox and ventures the “art wants to be free” argument, to be countered strongly by Ian and audience members, and weakly by house-concert presenter Bob (yes, I’m shamelessly whoring myself; it’s my blog.) Erik maintains that examples of commercial success exist.
  • 59:00 — Ian begs to differ and betrays his proud socialist heritage by arguing creating content has to be valued and compensated (shoutout, Cory Doctorow)… “we must find alternative funding models!”, and takes a run at Robert Bateman (f-bomb warning)
  • 1:06 — Discussion of the power of social media tools to connect people and to foster awareness and action internationally, with references to Iran, to Burma, Michael Jackson, balloon boy, and to the local experience of Ian and my blogging about Cornerstone.
  • 1:16 –  Does reliance on specific ways of communicating leave you excluded from some people because they don’t use the same channels? Discussion of how to get out of your “comfort zone”, how Bob’s next-door neighbour reached out using Facebook to make the introduction (thank God), and how Ian met his condo-mate at a ChangeCamp.
  • 1:27 –  Does the desire for texting / tweeting / constant “communicating” mean people miss out on genuine interactions?
  • 1:30 — The difficulty of sloppy communication, and how interpretation of communication tells as much about the  interpreter as about what is being interpreted.
  • 1:34 — after an awkward jump-cut where I muffed the recorder, Ian gives his online parenting advice, which incorporates a story about his own adolescent online adventures in the land of shirtless men. Bob talks about tailoring communication media to the audience, whether family or not.

Errata: I talk about Librivox at about 48-49 minutes in. But I screwed up: it’s Hugh McGuire, not Hugh MacLeod, who created Librivox. Hugh MacLeod is also a great human being, but for other reasons.


Erik Hagborg is a VP at RealDecoy

Ian Capstick is the owner of MediaStyle

Canada Museum of Science and Technology

Canadian Museum of Nature


Project Gutenberg




New podcast is LIVE!

I’m really excited to announce that the new podcast PR and Other Deadly Sins is LIVE.

Mark Blevis is someone that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, as well as someone I like a lot. So it’s a kick to think that we’ll be doing this as often as we can. How often that is, we’ll figure out as we go. But for now, it’s just a thrill to get the first one out there.

Grab it at the new site PR and Other Deadly Sins. As always, thanks to Tom Hofstatter for holding my galumphing WordPress hands throughout the process.

My take on the Coulter-geist

I’ve got a bit on the tumultuous visit of Ann Coulter to the University of Ottawa in episode #538 of For Immediate Release. You can check it out on the site or subscribe using iTunes. I’m not gonna make you listen to the whole thing (but you should) — I’m at the 42 minute mark, so you can fast forward if you want.

UPDATE: Here’s the audio of my comment only. But you should really listen to the whole podcast.

If you’re in PR you should already know about Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson‘s podcast. They’ve been producing a minimum of two hours of great content per week on the main podcast for about the last five years. Add to that FIR Live and the many interviews they toss into the feed, and they are examples for all of us.

Speaking of which — we (being Mark Blevis and I) are THIS CLOSE to releasing the first episode of our new podcast, PR and Other Deadly Sins. Soon, soon.

Thoughts on PAB 2008

A couple of quick thoughts about my first Podcasters Across Borders:


One of the coolest parts of PAB 2008 were the “Jolts”, or short ‘in-betweener’ sessions between the main sessions.

Among the people doing jolts were Tim Coyne, Linda Mills, Todd Tyrtle, Julien Smith, Chris Penn, Chris Brogan, among others.

What I loved about them was that the need to concentrate on time forced the presenters to concentrate their messages. What I also loved about many of them was the unvarnished honesty and willingness to confront emotional issues in front of 80 people.

Not to say the full sessions weren’t great, but sometimes the greater the constraint, the greater the creativity necessary to overcome it. Think about a sonnet, or a villanelle, compared to free verse. When you have a VERY well-defined structure, you have to work to fit your words within it. When anything goes, well, anything goes.

Audio drama.

As a longtime fan of radio drama, the discovery that people are (purely for the love of it) doing audio drama was a revelation for me. I am REALLY looking forward to exploring Quirky Nomads and The Sonic Society and using them to find other sources of audio drama.

Pushing the limits

There’s a belief that social media (including podcasting) can be a bit of a mutual appreciation society. I was quite happy to see a LOT of viewpoints on some issues get expressed at the conference, from bill C-61 to the M-word (monetization, GASP!).

If you don’t have sensitive ears, you can check out Chris Brogan’s jolt on that last topic.

Stage fright.

And speaking of Brogan, I owe him thanks for finding some gold in what was a rather unbelievable set of circumstances for me on Saturday night. I, as well as other folks, had decided to participate in the open mic on the boat cruise, but I had a total brain freeze. I couldn’t remember lyrics. It was FRICKING HORRIBLE! In the end, I managed to get through a few songs. But man, I felt humiliated.

Until Chris wrote a blog post late that night about how HE saw it. That post reminded me of two things: (1) that you’re only the star of the movie of your life in YOUR head; and (2) that few things are as bad as they seem.

And it also reminded me that I need to do some work on that nasty stage fright. Otherwise I’ll end up like Streisand or Robbie Robertson, or Carly Simon. Wait a sec. That wouldn’t be totally bad. But still.

In the end: a really great conference for me to have attended. I met great people (for the first time face-to-face or for the first time period), and learned some cool new things. Thanks to Mark and Bob and Andrea and Cat for being the driving forces.