Archive for the ‘self-promotion’ Category

How to be richer and more successful than most people

Apparently, the key is to dress like a fool and say a lot of really obvious things very quickly, punctuated by irrelevant personal anecdotes.

David Shing, AOL’s “Digital Prophet”, a/k/a “Shingy”, nails it.

Live interview technique tip: keep talking (updated)

I was asked by the organizers of next week’s Social Capital Conference to join organizer Lara Wellman on the local CTV morning show to talk about the conference, keying in on a tart little infographic they published recently: 10 Ways to Suck at Social Media (I’ve put the infographic at the end of the post, if you want to check it out).

The interview, done with cohost Jeff Hopper, reminded me that live TV interviews are a unique experience for even experienced interviewees. Cameras (in this case, one robotic and one human-operated), lights, a computer monitor behind us — distraction is easy and time is short. In this case, I think (THINK – always hard to KNOW) the interview went well, in great part because Jeff Hopper was already knowledgeable about social media, and because he had an obvious personal interest in the topic.

So here’s my tip for today. When you’re doing a live interview, either on TV or radio, KEEP TALKING. The host will find his or her way into your chatter to ask questions, get clarification, or take the interview in a new direction. What lies behind the dictum KEEP TALKING means you should be conversant enough with your topic to theoretically deliver a monologue for the length of the interview.

The easy way to KEEP TALKING is to have a set of key messages in your head and ceaselessly repeat them. This is not ideal. People know “key messages” when they hear them, thanks to politicians who seem to think we won’t notice them robotically repeating them. Here’s probably the most egregious example ever, courtesy of ex-Member of Parliament Peter Penashue:

The key here is to balance out your ability to KEEP TALKING with your ability to be a gracious part of a conversation. It’s a skill that takes practice to develop.

I won’t be talking about media training at Social Capital, but I’m happy to talk to you about it, or to meet you at the Social Capital conference, where I’ll be doing a talk on “Why You Are Stupid.” (pssst: The “You” in my title also includes me.) It’s not too late to register and hear from some truly un-dumb people, including Gini Dietrich (Chicago-based owner of Arment Dietrich and co-author of Marketing in the Round), and Danny Brown (cofounder of ARCompany and author of the hot off the press book Influence Marketing) (affiliate links).

And if this is something you need heavy-duty help with, you might want to check out Brad Phillips, a New York-based media trainer, and his Mr. Media Training blog. He has tons of great tips, techniques and case studies that he updates pretty much daily on his site.

UPDATE: Here’s the interview, as uploaded by CTV Ottawa Morning Live.

And here’s the infographic:

Social Capital's 10 Ways to Suck at Social Media

Social Capital’s 10 Ways to Suck at Social Media

The value of awards programs, punk style

Punk views logoI’m blogging today over at Punk Views on Social Media about the ethics, costs and value for not-for-profits of entering awards programs like this one, from PR News.

Head over there and join the conversation, whyncha?

Milestones, fake relationships, and continuity plans.


We all pass milestones from time to time. I figure the best thing we can do is note them and consider what we’re learning on the trip.

I took a  bit of an abrupt break from blogging. Two things conspired. One good, and one bad.

On the good side, I got busy , and took some time for vacation. That led to the first hiatus. But then, the bad thing. Shortly after I returned from vacation, my dad passed away, and I’ve been trying to juggle work and the myriad details that immediately follow a death.

The good news is that my mother is a very strong woman. The other good news is that she’s receiving moral support and paperwork from both of her children and their partners, her grandchildren, and being entertained and diverted by her great-grandchildren. So things are progressing about as well as they can in the wake of an event that was expected, to an extent, but still a terrible shock and a cause for mourning.

But enough about me. What’s on my mind when it comes to communications, social media, and PR. And there are two things that I want to highlight that relate to social media and to business that the last several weeks have impressed upon me.

First, a succession plan and an interruption of business plan is a necessity, for businesses right down to the micro level. I like to have discussions with friends and colleagues so that if something comes up that makes my participation in a project difficult or impossible, I have someone who I can slot into the project with a minimum of prep time. If you’re a SOHO, or a small retail business, what would you do if there was a death in the family, or if you were incapacitated by an illness or injury?

Second, it’s easy for social media to be criticized as creating false or inauthentic relationships, relationships which aren’t important. But when I got the call on a Saturday morning from my mom that my dad had died, I got support from my partner and my real-life friends. But I ALSO got support from people who I know only online. Cards. Memorial donations. Other gestures of caring.

Those gestures were meaningful. While I can’t prove it or quantify it, I know it. And last I checked, there’s no shortage of inathentic or fake rleationships in real life.

So those are two lessons that I’ve been thinking about since August 11. That, and that hugs are good. Give one to someone you like at every opportunity. It’s hard to imagine a bad outcome from a good hug.

And finally, one of the thing sthat I had to postpone when my dad passed was my webinar in the Think Tank Summer E-learning Series, organized by SocialFish and CommPartners. Instead of August 16, I’ll be presenting “Your New Content Strategy” on September 27. You can find more info and sign up here.

Fish where the Socialfish are.

I’ve been more and more interested in smaller organizations lately. Many small businesses and associations are using social media very well. But many others — among them people who I’ve worked with or who I’ve taught social media courses at Algonquin College — find social media to be a perplexing challenge.

Maddie Grant

Maddie Grant, series creator

I think one of the biggest parts of the social media challenge for small businesses and not-for-profits is to create a strategy that allows them to be confident they can meet the demands that social media place on an organization. I think it’s crucial that organizations without giant budgets or staff have a chance to create and maintain an effective social media presence.

You’ll have a chance to learn how to create a content strategy as part of a small organization from… well, me, this August. I will be part of the Summer Think Tank Series presented by SocialFish and CommPartners. This series of webinars is bound to be useful for people working in associations, not-for-profits, or any small organization. Maddie Grant has led the development of this series of webinars, and she has done a pretty impressive job.

Check out this lineup:

Each of the webinars costs $129 US, and the whole series can be purchased for $499 US. And if you drop me an email, I might even have a discount code for you.

It’s a real honour to be in the lineup with these talented communicators who I like and respect. And I’m looking forward to finishing the presentation and doing it online, hopefully with you in attendance.

Partial PAB presentation

It gave me great pleasure — and more than a little nervousness — to have my presentation idea accepted by Mark and Bob for the final PAB conference in Ottawa.

I wrote a bit about the conference earlier. But here’s an edited version of my presentation from PAB, which was an attempt to argue that bloggers and content creators could steal a technique and a principle or two from more traditional forms of content creation (like… journalism). Hope you like it. And feel free to argue with me.

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.   

Some worthy advice for new politicians… and others.

BlogIn Ontario, new mayors and councillors are settling in for a four-year term that began last night.

Here in Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson was sworn in, along with the 24 city councillors, 10 of whom were new to council. That’s a big turnover in municipal politics, where incumbents are generally thought to have a great advantage in election races.

The ceremony was marked by a couple of interesting symbolic actions. First, instead of City Hall, the ceremony was held at the Shenkman Arts Centre, a new city-owned arts facility in Ottawa’s suburban east end. And second, rather than a wine and puff pastry reception, Watson ‘called a friend at Tim Horton’, and the ceremony featured donated coffee, cookies and donuts from the company. Apparently that saved taxpayers $25,000. Yay, I guess.

Eric Darwin of the truly excellent West Side Action blog attended the swearing-in ceremony. One paragraph way down in his post about the ceremony really caught my attention(emphasis mine):

While chatting with a new councillor and a few other residents, someone pointed out I wrote the West Side Action blog. The conversation then turned to the blog, recent posts, the value of the micro-reporting on neighborhood affairs … and I noticed the councillor had drifted away, no longer centre of attention. Conclusion: Councillors, start a blog today, blog daily, if you don’t write it yourself get a staffer to do so, and write in plain English and not bureaucratese. Get someone who can spell better than me.

Compare this with some similar advice given to Carleton University by David Reevely, the “Greater Ottawa” blogger (also truly excellent, by the way) at the Ottawa Citizen yesterday(again, emphasis mine):

People want to talk to people, not to Carleton as a corporate entity. There are no people [on Carleton's new community engagement site]. It’s just an empty room. Maybe Katherine Graham could blog. Just her — no committee approving the posts and making sure they all align with Carleton’s strategic plan and have enough Latinate words in them. Just be a human being talking about work she’s proud of.

Sensing a theme here, folks? Is it a sign of a collective failure that 10 years after Pyra Labs launched Blogger, this advice still has to be given? And attention Rob Ford: it’s not free, but it’s pretty close, and I’m sure we’d all be entertained.

Igniting the fringe by combining art and business

The Ottawa Fringe Festival, one of the seemingly dozens of annual events that make life in Ottawa in the summer fun (and sometimes exhausting) has been holding a series of lunchtime events that have ranged from bloody debates on the future of theatre to… an Ignite event.

With the help of theatre and communications guy Ryan Anderson, the Fringe folk put together a roster of artists (not including me) and business types (yeah, that was me) to do Ignite presentations with the loose topic of the intersection of art and business.

For those of you not familiar with Ignite, it’s a movement where people put together 20-slide presentations that are the visuals for a five-minute talk. The slides advance mercilessly, every 15  seconds, so it’s like “The Pit and the Pendulum” for speakers.

The good news is that  all the presentations were great.

The presenters were, in order of appearance:

Tyler Cope, co-founder of Overlay.TV, a local tech startup and general good corporate citizen in Ottawa
Nancy Kenny, a peripatetic young actor, writer, and marketing guru
Sterling Lynch, another hyphenate (actor-writer-only-guy-wearing-a-tie).
Ram Kanda, creative director at Fuel Industries, a seriously big advertainment and online company here in Ottawa
and Barry Smith, a Colorado newspaper columnist here with a show called “Every Job I’ve Ever Had

Anyway, I thought that since I’m in the business of shameless self promotion, I should record my audio and match it up with the slides for you.

The presentation, which I called “If your art falls in a forest was it really art?” is only about five minutes long, so at the very worst you won’t have wasted much time.

I’ve put up the audio from the presentation, as well as a PDF of the slides. I tried to marry the slides with the audio, but sad to say, couldn’t get the timing to work the way I wanted it to.

UPDATE: Or… you could just wait a little bit for the enterprising folks at Ottawa Tonite to put up the video (which I thought was just being streamed). I’m really not that smart.

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