Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If You Build It, Will They Come?

I know many of CCG members are interested in social media, so through my day job -- as Communications Manager at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus -- I've teamed up with Network Solutions to arrange an event in January focusing on just that. Details are below:

Event Title: If You Build It, Will They Come? An exploration of social networks, including what's working now and how to build and nurture a community

When: January 14, 6-8 p.m.

Speakers: Two local bloggers who have achieved Blog Stardom...
Hear their story on how they succeeded... What Social Media tools they used for their success... What worked and what didn't... And learn how communities are created.

Where: Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus, 9601 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD. Building 3, Room 121. Building on far right when you enter campus from Medical Center Drive. FREE PARKING.

Find out more about this event or register to attend.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Twitter Primer from a PR Colleague

Anyone in PR, communications, marketing, or public affairs knows that social media is the "thing" right now. And within that realm falls Twitter, a tool that continues to confound many.

One of my favorite PR people, Sarah Morgan from MCS Public Relations, recently wrote a post titled Twitter: The Primer. Great info. Great links. Good for Twitter virgins or the more experienced. Go read it. (And keep an eye out for an announcement in late January about our February lunch on Social Media featuring our very own Denise Graveline of don't get caught.)

Oh, and have a great holiday!

-- Robin

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pimp This Job: Director of Communications and Marketing, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business in the county, serving over 500 members as their advocate to government and the community to strengthen the local economy. If you have a passion for business and civic related issues, and you want to bring your writing and marketing savvy to a team of dedicated, hardworking professionals this opportunity may be for you.

The Director of Communications and Marketing creates and disseminates all messaging from the Chamber and supports staff with effective written and oral communications. You need to be able to thrive in a fast-paced, multi-tasking work environment, and enjoy working with a high-energy staff. The Chamber is a 501c6 business advocacy nonprofit membership organization with 60 Board of Directors and 9 staff.

Individual must be a self-starter with proven experience in mission-oriented message development and strategic communications. Must be member-services minded, organized, detail oriented and a problem solver. Public policy experience and knowledge of Montgomery County, Maryland issues preferred. Individual must be intellectually curious, possess superior verbal and written communications skills and be able to synthesize information quickly to produce summaries of that information for distribution. Ability to meet deadlines is critical. Ability to manage web-based, electronic communication is necessary. Individual must be energetic, outgoing, a team player and enjoy managing many projects at one time, primarily in an electronic environment.

Reporting relationships: Direct report to President and CEO. Direct Assist to Executive VP and VP Public Affairs. Supports Directors of Membership and Events, Programs and the Foundation.

Job responsibilities include:

-- Media Relations: Build and manage relationships with local media including web-based, print, television and radio. Secure coverage of events and strategic placement of quotes, editorials, letters to the editor opinion pieces and press releases.

-- Web-based Marketing and Communications: Manage marketing to and communications with the MCCC Membership, press and public through MCCC website and electronic communications.

-- Written Marketing and Communications: Manage content for website, press releases, speeches, interviews and event talking points for Chamber President, staff, Board Chair and Board members. Write persuasively consistent with the Chamber’s Vision 2030 economic development advocacy for print, broadcast or web posting. Create ‘Advertorials’ for The Business Gazette.

-- Event Broadcast and Visual Communications: Coordinate production of the COMCAST “Red Carpet” for each signature event. Work with other broadcast and visual media to cover events. Coordinate and secure all event photography for documentation, press and marketing uses.

-- Public Relations: Develop and execute strategy to promote Chamber programs and the newly formed Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation.

-- Event Marketing, Scripts and Program Books: Produce scripts for the Chamber’s three signature events: Public Safety Awards, Annual Dinner, and Business Awards Dinner. Manage receipt of event program book content including program schedule, bios, program elements, ads, photographs, etc. Assist Director of Events to coordinate event production consultants, as needed. Create PowerPoint presentations for event broadcast.

-- Program Support: Create event program guide for annual Congressional Procurement Conference and Expo and event flyers for electronic and print distribution including: Prospective and New Member Orientations, Legislative Breakfast, Chamber After Hours, Golf and Tennis Tournaments, GovConNet, Eco Committee and Health and Wellness. Photograph guests at monthly committee meetings. Retain and update Board of Directors photographs and bios. Receive and retain business logos for sponsors and partners.

Candidates must submit 5 samples of their writing, promotion and advertising work. For more information, visit our website or call President and CEO Gigi Godwin at (301) 738-0015, ext. 208.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Social Media & Science and Health Communications

I just read a great blog post from Aimee Stern about a recent meeting for public information officers held by AAASEurekAlert! news service. Aimee shared some great highlights and lessons learned... and the information is helpful for PR and Comms folks in any industry, not just those spreading the word about science and health topics.

(By the way, for those who can't get enough of social media, CCG's February lunch will focus on this topic. So keep an eye out for notices about that lunch in early February. Our last SocMed lunch sold out within 24 hours.)

-- Robin

The 24-7 Work Environment

OK. So I'm on Twitter -- ID: rferrier -- and usually I'm good about following and participating in the conversations there. At least, I am during the week. While I'm at work. But I admit it: I haven't been on Twitter since last Friday. That's what? 4 days? I've just been a) extremely busy; and b) away from my desk a lot. And since I don't have a Blackberry (yes, you can gasp now... a PR / Comms person without a Blackberry), it's not easy for me to get Tweets when I'm not at my desk. (I'm truly old school when it comes to my cell phone.)

And all this got me thinking about the current 24-7 work environment. It's kind of expected, right? That we'll be online, accessible, tuned in, linked in, etc., 24-7? Or, at least, while we're awake...

And I'm not so sure it's a good thing. (Is it wrong of me to say that?) I need my down time to feel like I function effectively. I get good ideas when I'm away from my computer, hanging out with friends or running my dog in the park. I also recharge my batteries during that time so I can keep going.

But what do you all think? Is the 24-7 environment a good thing? And if you are connected all the time, do you think it hinders your creativity or your sanity? I need to know whether there are others out there like me... Let me know what you think and how you deal with the 24-7 demands on your time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

TCM Features Two of Our Own in Jan. Networking Event!!

I'm excited to announce that the Tech Council of Maryland is featuring two of our members in its upcoming networking event.

One is Denise Graveline, President, don't get caught. If you've attended any of our luncheons, you've invariably met this fiery redhead... as she's one of our "regulars." (Even better, I'm moderating her panel. So if you have any good questions you want me to ask her, send them my way.)

Second is Kate Perrin, CEO, PRofessional Solutions. She's another one you've met if you've attended lunches... she's not only a "regular," she's also on our Executive Board.

Here are the details if you're interested in registering to attend:

TCM Presents: Power Networking Tips, Trends and Techniques
WHEN: January 15, 2009 from 8 a.m. - noon
WHERE: Johns Hopkins University, Montgomery Campus, A & R Building, Room 106-110, 9601 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850

DESCRIPTION: Whether you’ve been in business 20 years, 20 weeks or 20 minutes, building relationships through networking is one of the most important things that you can do to earn new business. Here's an opportunity to learn from four networking experts who will teach how to network more confidently and share NEW networking power tips, trends and techniques!

-- Kate Perrin, CEO, PRStaffing, will teach women in the audience the tips, trends and techniques for more effective networking in a male-dominated industry. The networking rules are different for women and Ms. Perrin will show you how to make the most of them!

-- Aaron Altscher is a small business expert who also learned networking from the best – Donald Trump. Mr. Altscher was a contestant on season six of NBC’s hit television series The Apprentice and will teach you how to stretch your networking comfort level and build solid relationships with easy-to-use networking tips, trends and techniques.

-- Denise Graveline, President, don't get caught - Creative Communications Consultant and Steve Radick, Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton and President Social Media Strategery, will teach you how to augment face-to-face networking with online networking through Social Media tools. Learn how to use Web 2.0 to follow-up with your new contacts and stay constantly connected.

Learn more about this event and register to attend.

-- Robin

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Madness... and Our Gift to You!

So the holidays are upon us, and party invites are rolling in... It seems every night a different organization is requesting my presence for cocktails and appetizers. And truth be told, with my work being "full steam ahead" and the fact that I've got evening meetings 1-2 a week for the next few weeks, I'm really not inclined to accept the invitations. Does that make me a bad networker? A bad PR person? I hope not!

So in light of how I crunched I feel this holiday season, CCG is giving its members the gift of time! We're not going to pry you away from your meetings, conferences, seminars, blogging, twittering, Facebook-ing, gift shopping, decorating, caroling, etc., etc., this month for a lunch, happy hour, or holiday party.

That said, we do encourage you to go and take the two+ hours you'd normally give us and do something for YOU. Get a massage or mani /pedi. Play video games at home or arcade games at ESPNZone. Just do something for YOU. You earned it! (And when someone asks you what you're doing, just tell them you're enjoying your holiday gift from CCG!)

Happy Holidays, and we'll see you in 2009!

-- Robin

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oops... I Forgot my Second Nov. Lunch Recap

Sorry, guys. I got busy. I thought the week before Thanksgiving would be slow. I was wrong. It's been busy, busy, busy. But I'm squeezing in time this morning to share with our readers some of the information I shared during the November "It's Academic" CCG lunch.

Higher Ed Loves an Expert
This probably isn't that big of a surprise. But I've learned to embrace that as a rule. By which I mean, when I wanted my campus to start taking more advantage of the Social Media possibilities, I could have done a presentation myself. After all, I'm using Social Media (Facebook, Twitter -- rferrier, etc.). Instead, I brought in a consultant who is an expert on the topic and had her brief my senior team on the world of Social Media. And now, I'm getting ready to lead a planning session on how we can implement some of the tools she introduced. In the past, I would have cringed at having someone present on a topic I could talk about. But I've learned that it doesn't reflect poorly on me -- or my expertise -- if I bring in someone from the outside to present new ideas.

Media Policies & Higher Ed
Early on, I talked about implementing a media policy to ensure that calls from reporters went through me versus going directly to staff. And quickly found out that's not an option... the nature of universities -- or, at least, the nature of my university -- is such that faculty can talk to any reporters they want whenever they want. My solution: I've tried to make friends with my local faculty so that they see the value in keeping me informed and working through me whenever possible.

Nature of Working on a Satellite Campus
I'm at Hopkins Montgomery County Campus. Because of this, I end up being somewhat of a one-man shop. My job includes: web site, media relations, community relations (i.e., "town-gown" issues), newsletter (both electronic and print), marketing and advertising, special events, alumni affairs (very limited), legislative affairs (again, very limited), tour guide... you get the picture. This is great because every day is different ... and chaotic and crazy. But it's also difficult because you easily begin to feel like you aren't doing everything you should be. After all, I'm just one person.

So there's a little bit about me, my job, and what I presented on at our lunch. If you were there and I said something else "wise," feel free to post a comment. And if you have questions, ask away. I'm happy to answer anything.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advertising I Just Don't Understand

So on my way to the last CCG meeting, I took advantage of my Metro ride to read The Washington Post. And I noticed what was, to me at least, a very odd ad on the back page of the Montgomery Extra section. I'm hoping someone here can explain it to me.

The ad was for a local bank. The big verbiage at the top of the ad was: "MORE BANK. MORE FOR YOU." At the bottom of the ad was information about the bank... things like "open 7 days" and "legendary service" and "hassle-free banking" along with a listing of the current and new locations. All very normal. Except between the big verbiage at the top and the small information at the bottom was a picture of Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa.

I don't get it. How does the picture connect to the text? Am I missing something? Or is this just gratuitous use of celebrity images? How does this image further the ad campaign and the bank's message? And for the record, while yes, I remember the ad, I couldn't tell you (without looking at the ad again) what bank was being advertised.

So please, someone out there, help me understand this ad. Make it make sense!

-- Robin

Friday, November 21, 2008

November Lunch Recap, Part I

Thank goodness for private venues!

After last month's non-private private-room debacle at Mackeys, I was relieved that this month's lunch involved a private venue -- the George Washington University Alumni House -- that actually delivered on the "private space" promise. And lo and behold... Attendees could actually hear our speakers. (By the way, for those who attended yesterday and are reading this, yes, this month's recap is a little weird to write since I was one of the guest speakers.)

But back to the lunch...

Topic: It's Academic! Higher Education PR and Communications

Guest speakers: Tracy Schario, Director of Media Relations, George Washington University, and me (Robin Ferrier, Communications Manager, Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus)

First off, let me just say how impressive Tracy was. The stories she shared about her "day-to-day" life handling media relations for GW were crazy! It would be too difficult -- and long-winded -- to repeat the stories so I'll just share some of the wisdom she shared:

-- University PR is chaotic. (I can attest to that!)
-- Running GWU is like running a small city, and Tracy's job is like being the press secretary for a small city. She gets involved not just in media relations, but in labor issues, crisis communications, etc.
-- GWU's media relations department gets more than 600 media queries a year, and puts out more than 300 news releases. (Very impressive! She also said she's trying to whittle down that 300 count... which is a challenging thing to do in a university setting.)
-- At many universities, stories printed in the student newspaper stay "campus" news... at GWU, because of its location in D.C., stories from the student newspaper often become local news covered by larger newspapers, including The Washington Post.
-- The blogosphere has (not surprisingly) become central to what Tracy does. 52% of media coverage for GWU now comes from the blogs and 48% from mainstream media.

But perhaps Tracy's wisest words were her closing:

"I'm often asked what is PR? There are a lot of definitions out there. The one I adhere to is that PR's job is to protect and to promote responsibly."

So there are Tracy's words of wisdom. Tidbits from my presentation will follow next week. So stop back by Monday afternoon to find out more about higher ed PR.

-- Robin

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November Lunch: It's Academic! PR and Communications in Higher Education

November lunch details

TOPIC: It's Academic!: Higher Education PR and Communications
DATE: Thursday, November 20, 2008, from noon - 1:30 p.m.

-- Tracy Schario, Director of Media Relations, George Washington University
-- Robin Ferrier, Communications Manager, Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus

LOCATION: George Washington University Alumni House, 1918 F Street, Washington, DC (4 blocks from the Foggy Bottom-GWU metro stop)

COST: $25. Cash only. Exact Change Preferred.

RSVP to: CapitalCommunicator (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oct. Lunch Recap: Advocacy PR, take 3

And in our third and final installment, we hear from:

Martin Montorfano, Public Relations Manager, The Humane Society of the United States:
-- "Have a good mission statement. The Humane Society recently adopted 'Celebrating Animals & Confronting Cruelty.' That says it all in terms of what we do."
-- "Be aware of where your communications intersects with your organization's fundraising activities. Because we're a non-profit, donations always have to be back-of-mind in what we're doing."
-- "Know the other organizations in your area and how you stack up against them. Sometimes your job made be made a little easier if you're not seen as the most radical of the organizations out fighting for or against a cause."

Questions for our speaker? Advice he gave that you found particularly helpful? Share now...

And if you didn't see the earlier advice from our other two speakers, make sure you scroll down the page and read it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Looking for Part 3 of our Series on Oct. Advocacy Lunch?

It's coming tomorrow. I figure today people care more about election news. (See fun item below.)

A Decidedly non-CCG Post, But Hey, It's Election Day...

And no, this post isn't a rally for one candidate or another. It's just an interesting voting day fact I heard about on the radio this morning and investigated when I got into work... after waiting 1 hour, 20 minutes to vote. (And listening to some others' stories, I think that might have been a quick vote!)

So on to the fact... Did you know there are 7 states in the U.S. that don't allow liquor sales on election day? (Maybe they're afraid of the inevitable reveling and sorrow drowning that will occur... of course, it's not like people can't just buy their alcohol ahead of time...)

Anyway, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS):

-- Kentucky, Indiana, and South Carolina have a statewide ban on sale of alcohol at restaurants, bars and package stores on Election Day.

-- Utah and West Virginia ban the sale of alcohol at package stores on Election Day.

-- Alaska and Massachusetts ban Election Day alcohol sales, though local governments can provide an exemption from the ban if they choose.

-- Delaware, Idaho, and Utah all relaxed their Election Day sales bans earlier this year. However, while Utah allows Election Day alcohol sales at restaurants and private clubs, it still bans package store sales on Election Day. (I'm not surprised that Idaho relaxed its laws. One web site said that the law prohibiting the sale of distilled spirits on election day costs the state of Idaho $400,000 each and every election day.)

The ban apparently has its roots in the 1930s when saloons sometimes served as polling stations.

-- Robin

Monday, November 3, 2008

Additional Tips from Bill Malone

We're feeling lucky today! Because October speaker Bill Malone, Bread for the World, just sent us two more tips to post to the blog. So here you go:

1. In the practice of advocacy PR, you must do more than just inform an audience. You need to build partnerships so that others will act for and with your organization -- turning awareness into support, and support into action.

2. The key strategy of advocacy is encouraging others to "toot your horn" by showing them how they can benefit by doing so, providing objective, third-party credibility: "WE are not the only ones saying what we're doing is great. THEY also are saying what we're doing is great."

Great advice, if you ask me. What do you think?

-- Robin

Oct. Lunch Recap: Advocacy PR, Take 2

Part II of our installment on October's lunch. Today's words of wisdom come from...

Danielle Roeber, Deputy Director for the Office of Safety Recommendations and Advocacy, National Transportation Safety Board:
-- "Know your counter argument and how you will respond to it. Also anticipate -- and be prepared for -- questions that will be asked in response to what you say."
-- "Don't be afraid of 'I don't know.' Follow that up with, '...but I will get back to you with an answer.' And then really do get back to them."
-- "It's all about relationships. People work well with those with whom they've built a relationship. It goes what I said earlier. When you tell someone you'll get back to them with information, really do get back to them. You'll be seen as reliable."
-- "Find your partners. Find the grassroots people in your area who are lobbying the leaders. We work with a number of grassroots organizations such as MADD and Safe Kids."

And now, the same questions as yesterday:
-- Did I miss anything important?
-- Any questions for our speaker?

If you didn't see yesterday's advice from Speaker #1, scroll down and ready away. And don't forget that tomorrow will bring our third installment.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oct Lunch Recap: Advocacy PR, Take 1

For those of you who missed Wednesday's lunch, the topic was Advocacy PR.

And despite some problems with the location -- Mackey's told us we'd have a private room and the room was, well, less than private, which made it hard to hear our speakers with all the diners having their own conversations -- the speakers took it all in stride and shouted their advice to our 40+ attendees.

Over the next three days, we're going to post pearls of wisdom from our three speakers for those of you who couldn't make it. First up...

From Bill Malone, Press Secretary, Bread for the World
-- "I rely heavily on data and research to make my case."
-- "You need to reach out to like-minded groups who will help you make your case. Share notes. Share story opportunities. Share information. When you work together, the sum is greater than the parts. And your partners don't need to have the same motivations for you in what they're doing. They just need to want the same outcome."
-- "Look local. I rely heavily on my local people as an advocacy tool. It's crucial to find the right person at the local level who has a name and credibility with that audience."
-- "For every press release I issue, I write three op-eds."
-- "In terms of social media, I contribute to a lot of 'open' blog sites. I also thought I knew a lot about social media. Then I met the 20-somethings who work at Bread for the World and realized I knew very little."

Still to come...
-- Danielle Roeber, Deputy Director for the Office of Safety Recommendations and Advocacy, National Transportation Safety Board
-- Martin Montorfano, Public Relations Manager, The Humane Society of the United States

Keep an eye out early next week for the next two updates.

And to those who attended yesterday -- and could actually hear our speakers -- did I miss any important points from Bill?

Also, since there wasn't a lot of time for Q&A, what questions do you still have for our speakers? Let us know, and our speakers are happy to respond here on our blog so we can keep the lunch conversation rolling...

-- Robin

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tragedy = Good PR Opp? I don't think so

Okay. I just couldn't resist jumping in the fray on this one. But I'll be "polite," though I'm not sure it's deserved... I won't name names. Anyway, here's a quick background on what incensed me and my $0.02 on the situation:

There are a handful of companies out there using the tragedy concerning Jennifer Hudson's family as an opportunity to promote their companies. It doesn't matter the method -- social media, traditional PR, etc. -- bottom line: It's in bad taste!

Why haven't people learned from the past? Why haven't they figured out how to handle these sorts of situations? Tragedy does not equal PR. For anyone. At least, not if you have an shred of decency.

Which isn't to say you shouldn't be out in the public eye when a tragedy occurs. It just means there are tasteful ways to be HELPFUL in situations like these versus predatory. For example, when the Virginia Tech situation occurred, there was an organization I'm familiar with that deals with children and mental health. They wanted to know how they could HELP OUT THE MEDIA AND THE PUBLIC during the aftermath. Not how could they get attention for their organization. How they could HELP! That's the right attitude, people.

I advised them that the tasteful response would be to provide information to reporters about signs your child might have mental health issues. Just a nice simple list that reporters could reprint if they so desired that might help out parents who are concerned about whether their child might be in trouble.

So here's my lesson for the day: In the face of a tragedy, don't be self-serving. Put yourself in the public eye only if you can HELP and provide counsel that will be of use moving forward.

Your thoughts? Weigh in.

-- Robin

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wash Post Article: Fed Gov't Agencies Rated on Scientific Candor

One of my CCG colleagues sent me a link last week to a Washington Post article about federal government agencies being rated on their "scientific candor."

Apparently, the only government agency that received an "A" was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a surprising second place going to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (I don't know why, but I always think of "nuclear power" related topics as being secretive, and yet they're the second most "candid" agency in the federal government. Another interesting fact: The Occupational Safety & Health Administration -- whose mission is to "prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths" -- received an F. I would think it would be hard to prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths if you aren't allowed to share information about how to do so. I also think it's sad that the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the EPA both got a "D." Again, two more agencies that really should be focused on sharing what they know.)

The agencies were graded by the Union of Concerned Scientists based on their policies regarding the release of scientific information to the press and the public.

So as a communicator, especially one at one of these agencies that scored poorly, how do you react? And what can you do, if anything, to fix the problem and/or perceived problem?

-- Robin

Friday, October 17, 2008

Book Review: Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

For anyone who's sat through a painful PowerPoint presentation... or fought with a boss or colleague about PowerPoint slides filled with microscopic text... Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds is the book to read (or recommend to the presenter responsible for the bad presentation).

A colleague, Sarah Morgan, Director of Client Services at MCS Public Relations, received the recommendation to read this book from a fellow speaker at the Tech Council of Maryland's Social Media conference. I decided to check it out myself.

It's a quick read, and when you're done you'll leave behind the days of clutter-filled, text-heavy slides. You'll realize that a PPT presentation SHOULD NOT be able to stand on its own. And you'll realize that you should spend as much time planning your presentation (preferably on paper, sticky notes, or white boards, according to Reynolds) as you do actually creating the slides themselves.

Filled with great examples of "before" and "after" slides, Reynolds makes a strong case for the complete revisioning of how you and your colleagues use PPT. Now if I only I can convince those around me that he's right!

Read it yourself and let me know what you think.

-- Robin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Job Seekers' 60-Second Pitches

In what is the first of what I hope will be a weekly feature, I present elevator pitches from our members who are searching for jobs...

Mark Feldman
I am a marketing professional with over 20 years of experience in building brands and building businesses. My career has been very diverse having worked in different verticals including Internet, media and entertainment, real estate, an association and the agency business. My areas of expertise include branding, lead generation, customer conversion and integrated marketing and communications. I have particular strength in customer engagement. I am happy to connect and help people and organizations in any way that I can. I am currently doing marketing and communications consulting and looking for my next senior-level full-time career position. Contact Mark at MJFeld (at) aol (dot) com.

George Flett
With a unique blend of marketing communications experience in consumer branded companies such as Pillsbury, Sara Lee and Quaker Oats and recently in Higher Education (Boston University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute) as a consultant and senior administrator, I am a marketing generalist with experience in brand and marketing strategy, media relations, marketing research, print and web development, e-marketing and all forms of advertising. I've also spent several years with a government contractor that partners with federal and state agencies -- such as the USPS and Depts. of Transportation, Education and Health and Human Services -- creating marketing programs that take important information for citizens, make it more user friendly, and distribute it more efficiently.

My job goals are primarily to find a full time position in the non-profit or government arenas in the DC area that will take advantage of my background. Along the way, I would be pleased to find contract, temporary or part time work where I can make a solid contribution. My email address: gsflett (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Sarah Howell

I'm a senior communications executive with extensive international corporate experience directing media affairs for a Fortune 50 corporation. My career path is highlighted by ever- increasing responsibilities for public affairs and U.S.. press office teams where I created and implemented media strategies resulting in hundreds of pieces of favorable and well-balanced coverage in the most influential international media outlets. Over my tenure, I developed ‘trusted counsel’ relationships with C-level executives for interview preparation and guidance leading to optimal message development and delivery. My crisis communications skills have resulted in vital and effective media and reputation management at local, national, and international levels.

I'm looking for a position in a large firm that has a strong position on sustainability issues. I'm happy to send my resume and references. Send requests to sarahhowell100 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Mitchell Katz
I'm currently a senior public affairs specialist at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC. I'm coming up on 10 years with the agency and am looking for something in the public affairs/media relations/outreach area in the federal government in the DC area.

My experience includes planning, developing, and implementing strategic public relations outreach programs, drafting press releases, coordinating and staffing interviews with senior agency staffers, and coordinating and working press events for the agency. I'm looking for something in the GS-14 range. If interested or you would to see my resume or examples of my work, I can be reached at 202-326-2161, or via e-mail at mkatz415 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Gabriela Linares

I am seeking to work at an organization or company that has a notable mission and needs a versatile professional that is a strategic thinker and creative problem-solver. I am an international communications professional with 15 years of experience in developing and implementing strategic media, marketing and public relations campaigns via online and traditional channels.

My expertise is in performing research, crafting web sites, designing interactive campaigns, organizing events, generating business development, enhancing media coverage, lecturing at public venues, writing materials (fluent in English and Spanish), and fostering partnerships and sponsorships. For more info: http://www.linkedin.com/in/gabylinares

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Networking "Infomercial" – When an Event Masks Marketing and Sales as Education, Credibility is Compromised

A DC-area vendor held a "panel program" recently, and got gracious help spreading the word. You may have heard about it too. But did you know that if you could not be considered a "client or prospective client" of this particular vendor, you would NOT have been allowed to attend?

I should say I'm not surprised, nor naive thinking that a vendor would allow just anyone (like its competitors) to its event, but think when planning outreach and events like this, some more careful considerations and better words choices (we are communicators after
all) should be made to preserve credibility. Please consider these

1. Title of event and wording of invite
I'm not going reference the specific event here but will tell you that the publicly posted announcement said "Who: Washington DC PR Professionals and Communicators" with no mention that it would be "closed" if you're not a "client or prospective client" of the firm.

2. Second party endorsement
Because of this apparent openness, the invite was forwarded by a friend and colleague who did not know the invitation was limited and the vendor was "discriminating against potential attendees." That was a little awkward.

3. Colleague or coworker
The vendor used the word "colleague" repeatedly (See definition here) as opposed to coworker, encouraging me (and others I presume) to further share the invitation, only to rescind the invitation when it was extended to a friend and colleague who is their competitor.

4. Did the panel know?
I wonder if the professionals on the panel knew that the event is not open and that the vendor/host used the event as a tool to generate business? Would they have agreed? What does it say about the panel's credibility if they were willing to participate in a marketing event for a specific company?

5. Paying for a pitch
For those ("client or prospective client") that did make the guest list, the event cost $20. But I can't help but wonder if maybe some clients got in for free and prospects had to pay?

The bottom line is this seems to be a big, blurry blunder.

So here are my suggestions for other vendors: If you want to host an educational event and that's what the panelists agreed to, it should be open - treat your clients and friends, charge your colleagues and competitors. If you want to market you firm to make your company look good, invite who you want, charge who you want, put a bouncer at the door if you want, but don't mask education for sales and offer to share among "colleagues." Most important, make sure your panel knows which kind of event they're participating in.

Better yet, leave these kind of panels to impartial, credible, professional groups like IABC, PRSA, WWPR or this one, for example.

-- Joe

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Low-Tech Marketing At Its Best

OK, so the great new buzzwords in marketing and PR and communications are "social media" and "twitter" and "blogs" and "wikis" and all that jazz... and there's no denying that these new tech tools are definite ways to create community and keep people interacting. (I use them all in different ways.) But sometimes, I think we get so tied up in the new bling, that we overlook low-tech marketing tools.

What prompts me to write this? The realization that one of my strongest marketing tools on campus are the clear literature holders I've had my facilities team attach to the back of every bathroom stall and by the sinks and paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms.

Sure, it sounds silly, but these literature holders are wildly successful. The bathrooms are the one location that pretty much everyone visits while they're here -- be they staff, faculty, students, employees of our tenant companies, or employees of the companies who are renting space on our campus. And, even better, for those few minutes they're there, I've got a captive audience. They're all mine!

And so I know it's the best way to let people know what's going on around campus. Score one for old-school marketing techniques...

-- Robin

Friday, September 26, 2008

CCG Success Stories

Lest you think CCG is nothing more than a lunchtime social, three recent and/or potential CCG success stories:
  1. Through CCG, one member met a "social media" guru who is now coming into her office to train other employees on social media so that her office can start using these tools to reach its goals.
  2. Through CCG, another member got her new job. About her experience: "I got this job via networking with someone I met at a CCG event. Maybe not directly, but I had a chance to talk with the hiring person to find out more details, etc., about the job."
  3. Through a CCG lunch, communications professionals from two government agencies met and are talking about how they can work together on future projects.
I'm sure there are more stories like this out there. We'd love to hear them.

Sept Lunch: A Question

I want to know if the USPS and FONZ folks are better friends and perhaps going to work together after sitting across from each other at the lunch. It would be great to see if CCG can help more than just share insights and perspectives, but foster the start of some interagency deals to advance mutual communications goals.

-- Joe

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sept Lunch Recap: The National Zoo is about more than just cute animals!

OK, so this has nothing to do with the lunch, per se, but I just have to start by saying that before the lunch began I was joking with the Zoo and FONZ staff about how I'd never seen the orangutans using the zip line. And low and behold, halfway through the lunch, we hear children squealing. I turn around and there are 3 ORANGUTANS using the zip line! It was very cool.

Of course, my blogging about the warm and fuzzy orangutan appearance totally undermines one of the major points made by the staff yesterday. So everyone listen up...

The National Zoo is about a lot more than just cute animals!

Did you know that the Zoo has more than 100 scientists working beyond the zoo walls? These are people in other countries working on research about conservation and species preservation. How cool is that? I never knew that. I assumed Zoo employees were at the zoo. It's no wonder this is one of the Zoo's biggest challenges. After all, how many newspapers really cover science these days? I think the Washington Post dedicates maybe two pages a week to science. So spreading the word about the SCIENCE being done at the Zoo is a huge challenge for the staff there. The staff works really hard to try and use the "cute animal" stories as a foray into larger stories about wildlife appreciation and conservation. One way they do this is by making sure they have the right experts available to talk with reporters. (Any other suggestions for them on how to do so? I'm sure they'd be happy to hear them.)

Other lessons learned:

-- Stats are important. Even more important is having the right stats. When an animal passes, often the numbers that are given are the maximum life span of a certain species versus the average life span. And there just isn't reliable data for many species about life span. (To combat this issue, officials at the National Zoo are working with officials at the Lincoln Park Zoo to standardize language and data.)

-- It's very difficult to do strategic communications planning with a "living" institution. Between births, deaths, and the other dynamic aspects of having animals as your main topic, you can't really plan for what stories you're going to pitch when.

And totally unrelated to communications, but still a funny part of the presentation:

-- People are panda crazy! (OK, not that surprising.) On the panda cub's third birthday, the Zoo received 900 unsolicited birthday well wishes. (Seriously, people are crazy about pandas. The Zoo now offers panda alerts and have more than 2,000 people who are signed up. And 1,000 people paid to buy panda wallpaper for their computers. Not to mention the emails they received asking if the pandas in China were okay after the earthquake...)

And now on to my totally unsolicited sales pitch for the Zoo...

The Zoo communications team doesn't have a lot of money to accomplish what they do. Seriously, folks, they need help. The National Zoo hosts 10 major events during the year. There are family-friendly events -- like the Halloween trick-or-treat, "Boo at the Zoo," and the popular winter lights festival, "ZooLights" -- as well as events such as Valentine's Day's "Woo at the Zoo." Benefits are the usual sponsorship items -- logos on programs, banners, direct mail, web, etc.

You need to have your organization sponsor them. Anyone who's interested, contact Jackie Vinick, Corporate Partnerships & Promotions Manager, Friends of the National Zoo, at 202-633-3046 or vinickj (at) si (dot) edu. (And if you contact Jackie, let her know I sent you.)

-- Robin

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TCM: It's Not A Glass Ceiling... It's a Sticky Floor

Attended a great seminar this morning from the Tech Council of Maryland. (Wish I could have twittered about it, but with an attendance of only 30 -- the event was purposely kept to a small number -- I felt my typing away while the speaker was presenting might be distracting. Which is an interesting question for later discussion...) Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

The speaker, Rebecca Shambaugh, is President and CEO of Shambaugh Leadership and author of a book by the same title as the seminar.

Lots of interesting things to write about, but I think I'll focus on what she calls the 7 "sticky floors" for women:

Managing Work/Life Balance, or what Becky would prefer to call "Work/Life Integration."
-- Know what is good enough. (You can't be at 180% in everything you do all the time. More on this point later.)
-- Set your top 2-3 priorities. How do the items on your to-do list feed into those priorities. (I admit. I'm not good at this last point. I feel the need to do everything on my to-do list whether they feed into my larger priorities or not. I need to work on that.)

Driving for Perfectionism
-- You don't have to get an "A" at everything you do.
-- Your employer is paying you for your strengths, not to be perfect.
-- Seek feedback from your boss, customers, clients, etc., as to how they define success and calibrate your performance standards to match.

Building Your Strategic Network
-- Create your own personal "Board of Directors" made up of people you know, people you trust, people who will challenge and test you, people who you can learn from... (I love this suggestion. I've already started thinking about who would be mine.)
-- People get business done through people, not organizations. (Another critical point.)
-- Be a value to others. Your network needs to be what you can provide to people as well as what they can provide to you.
-- Remember 6 Degrees of Separation. The person sitting next to you on the plane or on the treadmill next to yours at the gym may become an important business contact down the road.

Making Your Words Count
-- As communicators, we love this point. And these bullets may be preaching to the choir...
-- More than 80% of day-to-day life is spent communicating, and 60% of that communication is misunderstood and requires repair work. (If only more of our non-PR/Comms colleagues would come to us for guidance...)
-- Sometimes less is more. Give the bottom line up front, then support with details. (An important lesson in pitching story ideas to the media.)
-- Know your audience. Choose the right (relevant) data to make them believers.
-- Be aware of non-verbals.

Staying In One Place Too Long -- The Loyalty Factor
-- Know when it's the right time to stay somewhere and when it's the right time to leave.
-- Ask yourself: "What is the worst that could happen?"
-- Be willing to take a job for which you feel underqualified and then work like crazy to figure it out.

Asking For What You Want

-- Know what you want and what you're entitled to and ask for it.
(Apparently this is a common challenge for women. I'm one of the few that can say it isn't. I guess I was unusually bold in the early stages of my career, thanks in part to my unofficial "career counselor," my father. At my first job out of college, after a year I wrote a memo about why I deserved a raise and started the conversation. And got the raise. And at my second job, I found out that someone they fired was making significantly more than me prior to being fired. All her work had been given to me and I was told that the client was thrilled with the work product. I used the opportunity to write a memo about why I deserved a raise. The boss, a woman, apparently was angry I had the guts to do so after only being there a few months. Regardless, I got the raise.)

Capitalizing on Your Political Savvy
-- Understand organization dynamics and how decisions get made.

You can read more about Becky's Sticky Floors and other advice at her blog.

-- Robin

Monday, September 15, 2008

We've been scooped!

Our communications colleagues at WWPR will be doing a Professional Development lunch this week about what it’s like to work in different venues: "PR professionals wear many different hats, and often times their tasks are different depending on whether they work at an agency, a non-profit, a trade association, in academia or in a for profit. Come hear what it is like in the day of the life of a PR professional at these different places!"

Great minds think alike: CCG planned a similar "Is the Grass Greener?" sort of subject for early ’09 which begs these questions:

1. Are you attending the WWPR event and, if so...

2. Will this event make you less likely to enjoy our CCG lunch if we stick to our similar topic?

Comment away!

-- Joe

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Job Opening: Director of Communications, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

This individual will report directly to the President and CEO. Individual must be a self-starter with proven experience in mission-oriented message development and strategic communications. Must be member service minded and detail oriented. Public policy experience and knowledge of Montgomery County, Maryland issues preferred. Individual must possess superior verbal and written communications skills and be able to synthesize information quickly and produce summaries of that information for general consumption. Ability to meet deadlines is critical. Individual must be energetic, outgoing, and enjoy managing many projects at one time.

Job responsibilities include:
-- Build and manage relationships with local media including print, television and radio. Secure strategic placement of quotes from members of the Chamber’s leadership team in various media outlets.
-- Manage internal communications with the MCCC Membership through bi-weekly newsletter, MCCC website, and other communications alerts as necessary.
-- Write speeches for Chamber President and CEO and Chairman of the Board for various events including press conferences, award ceremonies, ribbon cuttings and media interviews.
-- Produce scripts for the Chamber’s three signature events: Public Safety Awards, Annual Dinner, and Business Awards Dinner.
-- Coordinate production of the COMCAST Red Carpet and event photographs.
-- Write and secure placement of letters to the editor in local papers in order to influence decision makers on issues of importance to the Chamber.
-- Provide public relations outreach for the newly formed Montgomery County Chamber Foundation and GovConNet programs.
-- Assist Vice-President, Public Affairs with other communications tasks as needed including media efforts in Annapolis, press releases on committee meetings, etc.

Applicants must submit at least three writing samples.

If interested, please contact Vice-President of Public Affairs Lisa Fadden at lfadden (at) montgomerycountychamber (dot) com or (240) 403-3505.

September Lunch: PR & Comms at the National Zoo

Details as promised...

WHEN: Wednesday, September 24 from noon - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: National Zoo
COST: $15

DETAILS: Join us as the communications team from the National Zoo and FONZ host a roundtable discussion about Zoo communications -- from media relations and marketing to publications and the web site.

You must RSVP to CapitalCommunicator (at) gmail (dot) com. (Space is limited to the first 40 who respond. After that, names will be placed on a waiting list.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Panel #5: Social Networking Superstar Case Studies

I won't be able to blog during Panel #5 because it's my panel -- though Sarah Morgan and I are talking about continuing to Twitter (@rferrier for me and @sarahmorgan for my co-panelist) while we're up there. But I'll try to post a recap later today.

Other speakers:
-- Chris Frew, Scientific Recruiting Manager, Tech USA
-- Chuck Kramer, Sr VP & CTO, Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.
-- Sarah Morgan, Director of Client Services, MCS Public Relations

-- Robin

TCM: Panel #4

Panel #4: How to Add New Media to Your Existing Media and Communications Department

-- Shashi Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami, Network Solutions
-- Marc Hausman, President & CEO, Strategic Communications Group
-- Alice Marshall, Founder & President, Presto Vivace

First up: Marc Hausman
-- Most companies have really good content sitting on shelves. Repurpose content. (Gee, we've heard this message before when Joe Balintfy spoke about his podcasts and vodcasts for NIH.)
-- Social media all about creating searchable web content.
-- Aligning sales and marketing. When someone tells a salesperson why they buy, that's excellent content for social media.
-- Don't join social media groups and use it to spam marketing messages. Participate in conversation, but not with marketing messages. If you make good contributions, people will naturally visit your site to see what your company has to offer.

Second: Alice Marshall
-- Popularity of Google News Alerts means you don't have to get in newspapers to get your news out there.
-- Empower your employees to blog. Remember you hired people with brains.
-- Big nightmares going on aren't going on because someone was idiot on Facebook. Think rationally about what's going to really affect the business.
-- Communication department shouldn't be blogging. The employees (doing interesting things) should be blogging.

Third: Shashi Bellamkonda
-- First off, this guy has the coolest title. I mean, come on? How many of us wouldn't want the title of "Social Media Swami"?
-- More important to listen to what others say about you than what you say about you.
-- Listen first. Find out who is talking about you. Where talking about you. What saying.
-- When people realize you're listening, goes from frustration for customer to willingness to provide feedback.

TCM Panel #3

Panel #3: Using Social Media to Generate Press Coverage

-- I.J. Hudson, Director of Communications, Garson Claxton (used to be with local TV news)
-- Adam Van Bavel, Special Events Coordinator, Komen Maryland
-- Jiyan Wei, Product Manager, PRWeb, Vocus

First up: I.J. Hudson
-- Everyone is a reporter. Treat everyone as such.
-- Can only control original distribution ... not where it winds up or how presented. (Followed up by "Merry Christmas.")
-- Must first have compelling story to tell. Put not-so-good story out and gets picked up and criticized for it. (Think BadPitchBlog. If you're a communicator, you need to know about it and be reading it.)

Second up: Adam Van Bavel (talking about awareness and branding)
-- Awareness creates brand coverage. Brand drives brand coverage.
-- Speaker wears a lot of pink. He's the "pink wardrobe guy." Says he gets a lot of questions about it b/c of how much he wears. Interesting...
-- First social media focus: He chose YouTube page for Komen b/c Komen is an emotional topic and you can connect on emotional topic by showing emotion. (Can't show emotion as well on MySpace, Facebook, etc.) Says the video has led to more interaction with audience. And they use YouTube for fundraising as well. (Didn't know YouTube made fundraising so easy.)

Third: Jiyan Wei
-- 80 million Americans get their news online daily (40% use news portals and search engines)
-- 23 million Americans read blogs daily
-- 27 million Americans visit social networks daily
-- 20 million Americans produce content
-- Static release isn't enough. Must be interactive and easily shareable.

(Side note: TCM posted a YouTube video to promote this conference. They got 25 registrations. Out of a little over 100. Not a bad endorsement for YouTube.)

TCM Panel 2: Using Social Media for Lead Generation and to Find New Customers

Second presentation: Using Social Media for Lead Generation and to Find New Customers

First speaker: Tie Wong, CEO, Lore Systems and Opus8
-- Social media is a communications "channel"
-- Not a replacement for interpersonal connections.

People miss that second point a lot. Even I do sometimes.

Also claiming people are more responsive and open online. True? Not sure. What do you think?

TCM: Jeremy Epstein, Take... not sure what number

By the way, also tweeting on this (@referrier)

Go check out PollEverywhere. Very cool device Jeremy is using right now. It allows you to poll your audience using text messaging.

-- Robin

TCM: Epstein, take 3

Jeremy Epstein is now talking about embracing your brand fans even if they're product is:

-- branded a little differently than what you would do
-- "homemade"

Because 1 endorsement from a "raving fan" = 50 traditional impressions.

Another tip: Be the connector. Even if doesn't benefit you right away. (Personal addition to this point: Do this with the media as well. Tell your media contacts when you hear a good story idea that has nothing to do with you, your company, your client, etc.)

TCM: Jeremy Epstein (cont.)

Jeremy says we should go find people who love product already. Create more customer evangelists. They'll find new customers. More cost effective than finding new customers on your own.

I agree. In my day job at JHU, I am the biggest promoter of using our alumni (and current students) to find new students. That's how I found JHU's graduate program that I took (and loved). It's always nice to have reinforcement of your ideas by experts.

TCM Social Media Conference: Blogging as I Listen

So I'm taking this opportunity to practice social media. At the Tech Council of Maryland Social Media conference. Thought I'd blog about it. Hope there are readers.

First speaker: Jeremy Epstein. Title: Marketing Navigator. (Much cooler than my "Communications Manager" title.)

Background: 6 years at Microsoft. ("Laptop intensive culture." Not surprising...)

Interesting take on meetings and blackberries. Said if he can't keep our attention, we should keep doing what we want to do. Read emails, blackberries, etc. Said if I'm paying attention to email, he needs to do a better job. Interesting point... I've always hated people reading blackberries. May look at it different now.

September Lunch: PR and Communications at the National Zoo

Details being finalized. Here's what we do know.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 24 from noon - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: National Zoo
COST: $15

We'll let you know when you can start RSVP'ing. (It will be later this week.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain's VP Pick & PR

Like a lot of us, I've been scouring the web this morning for information about McCain's little-known VP running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. In some ways, Palin may seem like an odd choice. But in terms of the PR / media side of things, I think it's pretty smart.

Had McCain chosen a well-known politico -- like, say, Mitt Romney -- the result would have been rather "ho-hum," I imagine. Surely no one would have been surprised. And there wouldn't have been that much to say or write about him. People know where he stands on issues. They know who he is. Sure, there would have been media coverage. But nothing like what McCain's campaign is going to get by tapping a relative unknown.

Everyone's going to be talking about McCain's choice (was it good or bad?), about what she believes in (how does she vote on issues?) and stands for (what are her causes?), her background (both in and out of politics), her family life... There is so much to write about as a reporter covering this story. (A testament to this: The announcement was this morning and the 1:23 p.m. edition of Help A Reporter Out already had a query from a reporter seeking sources to weigh in on whether McCain made the right choice.)

Will this choice be a good one in the long run? Not sure. I don't know enough about her yet. (Though I'm sure by the end of the weekend I'll no longer be able to make that claim.) But from a purely PR perspective, I have to say it seems like a pretty smart move.

-- Robin

NON-CCG EVENT: TCM Social Media Conference

So I just sat in on a conference call to prep for the Growing Your Business Through Social Media mini-conference that the Tech Council of Maryland is putting on September 10. I think this is going to be a phenomenal event. And for the Tech Council, it's going to be a great case study on using Social Media. They're doing a lot of cool new things and have some great plans for how they're going to use event to launch other social media activities for the TCM.

I know a lot of our members are interested in this topic, and think there's going to be a lot that can be learned at this event, even if you work outside of the tech/biotech/healthcare arena.

So if you haven't looked into it and considered registering and attending, you should before it's booked full.

-- Robin

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Hour Recap

So last night was our CCG happy hour...

I originally posted about the Happy Hour asking our members to weigh in on their thoughts about CCG happy hours because we "only" had about 10-15 people show up. I was concerned that turn-out seemed scant and that perhaps the new members who showed up might have been disappointed. But after hearing from two people last night, I guess I'm wrong.

My co-conspirator, Joe (our VP and Treasurer) had this to say in response to my (now edited) post: "I'm pleased with the turnout: I think it's better that we had an intimate gathering, rather than if all 600 of our members had shown up. I'm certainly not trying to 'spin a spinner' as one member warned against last night, but we have a couple new members after last night, some coworkers came all the way down from Bethesda, a dozen or so people did come, and the beer was good. What's wrong with that?"

And a member -- who shall remain nameless because I didn't tell her I was quoting her -- said: "Maybe we should do the happy hours a little more frequently to build a following. Good location anyway, which is huge with me."

Maybe my first instincts about the evening were wrong. After all, I'm usually the first to say: Small crowd who is engaged has a good time is better than a large crowd who is bored.

So I amend my earlier thoughts. Last night was good. I had fun. Met new people. Talked with some active members who gave some great advice about both business and personal matters. Had a good Belgian white beer. What more could you ask for, right?

And for those who didn't come, I'd love to know: Was it the location? The date? Lack of interest in happy hours? And should we hold CCG happy hours more often?

-- Robin

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CCG August Happy Hour

As is our tradition, this month we will forego our lunch and instead convene a happy hour.

So drink -- and eat if you want to -- with fellow CCG members and get to know us better. Non-members welcome.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 from 6-8 p.m.
WHERE: RFD, 810 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC

COST: No set fee. Pay as you drink (or eat).

NO RSVP NECESSARY. We hope to see you there!

Monday, August 11, 2008

NON-CCG EVENT: TCM Social Media Conference

So I've been asked to help "spread the word" about a local conference in which I'm participating.

ORGANIZATION: Tech Council of Maryland
TOPIC: Grow Your Business Through Social Media
WHEN: September 10, 2008 from 8 a.m. - noon
LOCATION: JHUMCC, 9601 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850

Being included on the list of speakers with some of these pros is daunting to say the least... So it would be nice to see some friendly faces in the crowd.

Cost: $49 for TCM MemberPlus; $60 for TCM members; and $129 non-members.

Go the the TCM web site for more information about the event, a list of speakers and topics, and to register to attend.

-- Robin

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

NON-CCG EVENT: AWC August Power Tea

One of our members emailed me to post about another NON-CCG event. This time, it's AWC's Annual Power Tea at the Willard.

WHAT: Formal tea + networking
WHEN: Wednesday, August 13 from 4-5:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Nest, Willard InterContinental Washington, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC
COST: $40 for AWC members, $50 for non-members

Register Online.

** Please note that CCG does not endorse or in any way verify the quality of this event or organization.

Monday, August 4, 2008

NON-CCG EVENT: AWC Annual Conference

We promised more content on the blog... and now, we try to deliver with some information about an upcoming event that you may find interesting.

WHAT: Association for Women in Communications Annual Conference
WHEN: September 25-27
WHERE: Doubletree Crystal City Hotel

Topics include community engagement, social media, customer relationships, brand voice, email communications, multi-cultural communications, and a trip to the newly reopened Newseum.

If you've gone in the past, we'd love to hear if you found it helpful. Just post a comment!

** Please note that CCG does not endorse or in any way verify the quality of this conference or organization.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Resources: Podcasting, Vodcasting, and Social Media

During July's lunch, we talked about sharing resources on where members can learn more about vodcasting, podcasting, and social media. In that spirit, below is a list of some upcoming events -- and other resources -- that you may find helpful.

We'd love to add resources you may know about as well. So let us know about other conferences, events, books, web sites, etc., that will help our members become social media gurus.
  • Podcasting Courses from EEI: Courses for beginners and podcasting pros
  • YouTube: we've been told there are "how to" videos on YouTube for podcasting and vodcasting. You'll need to do the searching on your own to find them. (Sorry! We do have day jobs!)
  • Ragan conferences: Offered across the country on numerous topics, including social media, podcasting, vodcasting, etc.
  • Member Jim Onder's courses: CCG member Jim Onder offers a variety of media relations and social media courses through the USDA Graduate School. Explore his courses and others...
  • Advanced Learning Institute: Offers conferences on Social Media for Government. There will be another one in D.C. in December though it isn't yet on the ALI web site. (CCG VP Joe Balintfy presented at the last one in May. We'll have to see if he's been asked back for an encore presentation.)

So what resources might your fellow CCG members find useful that we're missing? Let us know.

** Please note that CCG does not endorse or in any way verify the quality of these resources.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Lunch Recap: Podcasting and Vodcasting at the NIH

First of all, if you didn't come, boy did you miss out. Not only was the talk good -- and more on that later -- but the NIH meeting rooms are pretty swanky. Comfy chairs. A mic at every seat. Four flat panel TVs spaced throughout the room so you can see the presentation no matter where you sit... Seriously, it was our most upscale (and official) location yet.

But, of course, what people really care about is the talk. Joe Balintfy, our esteemed CCG VP and a public affairs officer at NIH, was great. His talk was concise and informative. We learned about what NIH is doing in terms of audio reports, podcasts, and vodcasts. We heard samples of his work. And he provided some of his "lessons learned."

Some tips:
  • Be consistent. If you're going to start distributing podcasts and vodcasts, set a schedule and stick to it.
  • Be realistic. Realize how much of a time commitment this form of social media takes and don't tackle it unless you can make the commitment.
  • Be smart. Vodcasts and podcasts don't have to tackle new material. Use can use these outlets to repurpose content you've written for other media.
  • Set goals. One of the more interesting conversations revolved around setting standards for success. NIH is still doing this. Right now, they're measuring success in terms of growth of viewers and listeners, but Joe will be evaluating success metrics in the coming weeks.
Want more details about NIH's activities? We're happy to share. Just email us and we'll send you Joe's PowerPoint presentation.

For those who attended, what did you learn? What information did you find particularly useful? Let us know!

-- Robin

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NON-CCG Event on Social Media

Let me just make one thing clear: The event I'm about to write about is NOT a CCG lunch.

However, the keynote speaker is a CCG member, and the topic is relevant, so I wanted to give everyone a head's up.

On Thursday, August 14, Denise Graveline, president of Don't Get Caught Communications, will be presenting for the DC chapter of IABC on "The (Social) Medium is the Message." Denise is going to talk at how social media is shaping communications today. Read the full description of the presentation at her blog.

Personally, I'd go myself, but I'm going to be out of town. If any of you do go, I'd love to hear how it went and what Denise had to say.

-- Robin

Monday, July 14, 2008

Read More About the June Lunch...

... at the Capital Buzz blog. One of our members gave us some much-appreciated attention over there.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July Lunch: Podcasting and Vodcasting at NIH

Topic: Podcasting and Vodcasting at the National Institutes of Health
When: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 from noon - 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: Joe Balintfy, Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Communications and Public Liaison, Office of the Director. He is currently responsible for NIH Radio News Service content, a bi-weekly audio podcast and a monthly video podcast, I on NIH.

More details forthcoming.

RSVP required: CapitalCommunicator (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, June 27, 2008

Play Ball! Lunch Overview

So for those of you who RSVP'ed and didn't show -- or decided not to RSVP to the June lunch -- well, it was your loss. Seriously, this month's panel was phenomenal. The questions flowed freely and the speakers were candid with their responses. And I didn't get out of the lunch until 2 p.m.

Some highlights:
  • From Matt Winkler, Associate Dean, Sports Industry Management, Georgetown University: If you want to market to and reach 20-somethings, you'll need to think like that generation. That means: Think online. Think YouTube and Facebook and Twitter.
  • From award-winning sports columnist Christine Brennan: For those of you thinking about going into journalism who are excited by the idea of television, "Write 20 years and then try to get a TV job." Christine went on to talk about the challenges of television reporting, concluding that while she likes TV, there's nothing quite like when it's just her, her notebook, and her computer.
  • From Chartese Burnett, Vice President of Communications, Washington Nationals: Don't be afraid to try something different. After years of working in sports, Chartese took a stint working at NASA headquarters. An invaluable experience, she said. And a challenge. (Chartese is a big believer in making sure every job is a challenge and offers something "new" to learn.)

Of course, that's just what I remember. For those who attended, I'd love to hear what you thought was most memorable.

Was it Christine talking about Title IX and women's sports and being one of the first women in men's locker rooms? Was it Chartese talking about the challenges of marketing baseball to D.C.? Was it Matt talking about online marketing and sharing that England soccer team Manchester United has 1.1 million residents of China in its fan club, all thanks to watching games online?

Let us know!

-- Robin

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pimp This Job: Census Bureau, Audio Visual Production Specialist

Another job opening...

WHERE: Census Bureau
JOB TITLE: Audio Visual Production Specialist, GS-1071-09, CENSUS-D-FE.

The AV Production Specialist position is part of the Census Bureau's in-house media production team.

Job details and application instructions can be found at the USAJOBS Web site. Direct link here.

Or go to the Census Bureau homepage and click on Jobs@Census.

This job opening closes on July 11, 2008.

"Come join the Census Team, where everyone counts!"
The Census Bureau produces quality data that helps Americans better understand our country -- its population, resources, economy, society and culture.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Speaker for June Lunch

We've added another speaker for our June lunch! And it's an exciting one.

So welcome to our newest panelist, Christine Brennan, an award-winning USA Today sports columnist, best-selling author and commentator for ABC News, ESPN, NPR and Fox Sports radio.

Does her presence make you want to attend. Email us. Let us know you want to come.

Monday, June 9, 2008

June Lunch: Play Ball!: The Unique Challenges of Sports Communications

A little sneak peek at the June lunch. The email to members will go out tomorrow, so those of you reading the blog today can RSVP early and secure your spot.

WHEN: Thursday, June 26, 2008, from noon - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: McFadden's, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave.

  • Chartese Burnett, Vice President of Communications, Washington Nationals Baseball Club, has worked in sports for 20 years. She spent time with the NFL Players Association, the NBA League Office and got her start at her alma mater, Georgetown University.
  • Matt Winkler, Associate Dean, Sports Industry Management, Georgetown University, has worked in sports for more than 15 years. Winkler developed the national sports career conference - the Sports Events Marketing Experience (SEME), which he has co-managed for five years and expanded to include events in D.C.; L.A.; and Chicago.
RSVP required: CapitalCommunicator (at) gmail (dot) com

Cost to attend: $17
Payment at the door. Cash only. Exact change preferred.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pimp This (Temporary) Job

Yet another job listing coming in from the membership.

Southeastern University seeks experienced publicist immediately to promote June 22 commencement at DAR Hall, and graduating students in Greater DC region media (DC/MD/VA). Media list, priorities and content leads provided. Please send a sample news release and resume with cover letter indicating media placement capabilities. Hourly ($40) or project rate negotiable for work to include post-event follow-up and placements.

E-mail to Lydia Austin, Director of Human Resources, by COB Tuesday, June 3.

laustin (at) seu (dot) edu.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pimp This Job: AIBS Public Policy/Affairs Associate

Two posts in one day?! What is this world coming to!

I post this job with reluctance, only because it means CCG is losing one of our esteemed Executive Committee members to Ithaca. But she's excited about the move, so we'll be excited for her. And now, the job...

Public Policy/Affairs Associate for the American Institute of Biological Sciences
The American Institute of Biological Sciences, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit scientific association with individual and organizational members seeks a Public Policy/Affairs Associate to join its energetic Public Policy Office.

The Associate will work to develop and help advance science policy and media relations initiatives.

Responsibilities will include working on legislative and regulatory policy issues; developing and maintaining communications and media relations programs; writing press releases; writing policy analyses for online and print publications; making public presentations and representing AIBS in a variety of settings. Travel and occasional work on evenings, weekends, or holidays is required.

Read the full job description.

Pimp This Job: Marketing and Communications Associate for Gorman Health Group

First, apologies to my colleague who sent me this "Pimp This Job" listing earlier this month. I've been crazy busy with my full-time job and my CCG blog duties got pushed to the side. Apologies! Hope this listing helps.

Gorman Health Group, LLC, is currently seeking a Marketing and Communications Associate responsible for providing editorial, strategic and implementation support to ensure the timely and accurate delivery of GHG's marketing and communication deliverables to both internal and external audiences, with the ultimate goal of supporting GHG's sales initatives. Read the full job description.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The CCG Blog Paradox

It seemed strange to me that the Capital Communicators Group should have a blog - here's a group founded on the idea that "In the age of faxes, phones and e-mail, [and blogs!] a lot of our work is done indirectly and impersonally." So the CCG started as a way to meet face-to-face, yet now we have a blog.

Well, I'm finally starting to warm up to the idea. There are several hundred members in the CCG. Yet, we only meet 30-40 at a time. I still think the small size of our lunches is key. But I'm beginning to appreciate the blog as a way to "fill in the gaps" - I see the potential of this blog to continue and then expand conversations started at the lunches, share with those that missed the lunch what happened, and keep pulse on what we as a (very big) group want.

So what do we want? That's anther topic, do be covered in another blog.

-- Joe

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May Lunch: Museum PR

So yesterday was our May lunch, An Inside Job: Holding the Communications Keys to a Museum.

We had two fabulous speakers: Jessica Hall, a producer at the newly reopened Newseum and Tim Clarke, Jr., a public affairs officer for the National Museum of Health and Medicine and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

A few highlights:
  • I got to hold a plastinated (real) human heart. Seriously cool. And a little creepy. Tim brought it in a plastic bag.

  • I learned that the Newseum had 11,000 visitors its first day open in the new location. (And I thought attendance of 250 at my campus' 20th anniversary event was a lot to handle!)

  • I learned a cool new response when people ask me what Twitter is: "Blogging for people with even shorter attention spans." (That courtesy of Jessica.)

  • The National Museum of Health and Medicine has what I think will be a pretty powerful exhibition opening this summer that includes the floor from one of the operating rooms in Iraq.

  • The National Museum of Health and Medicine opened in 1862 with a staff of one and three objects on display. (Their current collection includes 24 million items!)

We also talked shop: The challenges of promoting a museum that is located on a military base and has no dedicated funding stream on one hand vs. the challenges of promoting a topic that some people may perceive as boring on the other. Got some great insight from our guests.

Seriously, folks, I'm not in Museum PR, but I found this lunch really interesting. So next time you get your lunch invite, don't just think, "Oh, this isn't my field. I don't think I'll go." It's worth it to expand your horizons. You never know what you might learn... or what cool things you may get to hold. (Seriously, folks, a human heart!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pimp This Job

Could our new "Pimp this Job" feature really be working? Rumor has it, the answer may be yes.

I hear one of the jobs that we mentioned on this blog has had more than 200 applicants. (Yea!) Sure, the applicants may have heard about the job from one of a myriad of other avenues, but I like to think our community did its part to help.

So keep the job openings coming!

-- Robin

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pimp this Job: The Coast Guard

From one of our readers:

The two vacancy announcements linked below are for one position. Please read both listings to determine if you are eligible to apply under each announcement.

This vacancy is open to Federal Employees with competitive status and reinstatement eligibles who reside in the local commuting area. It is also open to applicants eligible under the Veterans Employment Opportunity Act, and applicants who qualify under special appointing authorities for persons with disabilities, and 30% compensably disabled veterans, who reside within or outside the local commuting area: http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=70101588

This vacancy is open to all United States Citizens: http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=70101803

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Feature: Pimp This Job

Welcome back to our few readers. As mentioned during yesterday's fabulous lunch at the Supreme Court -- for those who RSVP'ed and then couldn't show, you missed an amazing event -- we're starting a new feature on our blog. I'm calling it "Pimp this Job."

Basically, if you know of an open position, send us the details and we'll post it here. So, without further ado, the first job to be pimped:

EMPLOYER: National Institutes of Health
LOCATION: Bethesda, MD
TITLE: Public Affairs Specialist- OD/OCPL-DE


Some extra words on why you should apply:

* Position is one of two point people on all NIH media activity. (Last year saw more than 3,000 interview requests.)

* Great career post for news junkies. One of the people in the office has been doing this for 30+ years! Every day is different.

* Always interesting. It's a fantastic opportunity to be "on-the-pulse" of a medical research agency's news and discoveries.

* Requires fast thinking and cooperation. Key challenge is balancing priorities of multiple constituents.

* Perfect combination: Active public affairs shop in stable and secure government office (with great benefits!)

* Once you’re in, there are always other opportunities within News Media Branch, Office of Communications and Public Liaison, NIH and government.

The person in the position now would stay, but he is being promoted/transferred to another role within same branch. Right now, he's doing both this and his new job at the same time so he begs of you... Apply today! [The position is open until April 10, but applying for a federal job takes a little time.]

Friday, March 14, 2008

What do CCG members want?

The question came up lately, what happened to the name tags at CCG lunches? I was reminded that at most (if not all) networking events, I've been asked (forced?) to wear a name tag. While I like being able to see other people's, I never liked wearing one myself. So one of the reasons we don't wear name tags at CCG lunches any more - in addition to not having any - is that I didn't really want to bother with them.

But I turn the question to the group: Should we bring them back?

There are a few dollars in the CCG coffers now. I could buy some tags and a few markers. But do you, CCG members, really want to wear them?

Chime in, share your thoughts. And while you're at it, let us all know what topics we should cover next, where you want to eat next, and anything else you want from your free CCG membership.

-- Joe

Head's Up: March Lunch at the Supreme Court

For those who are faithful readers of our blog, a little advance warning...

The email notice for the March Lunch -- which is at the Supreme Court -- will go out at 10:05 Monday morning. This lunch typically fills up within an hour! So if you're interested, make sure you're online Monday morning so you can respond quickly

Monday, March 3, 2008

So What Makes a Good Radio Promotion

After our February lunch, Tammy Lemley, Vice President, North American Network was kind enough to provide 8 tips for running a successful radio promotion. Read below and let us know what you think about her advice ... or add tips from your own experience with radio promotions.
  1. Be creative!
  2. Choose prizes that you’d want to win! Gas cards, gift certificates, electronics, a behind-the-scenes tour, early release of a new product, cash, trips & tours. Remember, you can partner with another organization to secure prizes. Or combine smaller prizes to create a “prize package” where the sum is greater than the parts!
  3. Provide enough prizes so that stations can do a week-long giveaway. They typically like to give away one prize per day, Mon – Fri. If you have prizes of varying value you can give away the smaller prizes earlier in the week & build excitement for a “Grand Prize” giveaway at the end of the week.
  4. Think about your timing… do you want to tie in to a certain event or holiday? Holidays can be a very competitive time to get on the air, but they can also be a great time to do a giveaway, if you plan ahead. Pitch stations 8-10 weeks in advance & get prizes that will be especially hot items during the holidays. For ex: a Wii or Playstation 3 game system.
  5. Give stations contest ideas, but also give them some flexibility to adapt your giveaway to their station.
  6. Give stations the tools to post your contest online! Radio stations are using their websites! They’ll often promote your contest on-air and online. Be prepared to provide a logo & link for their website, as well as web copy & images of the prizes.
  7. Consider market-exclusive promotions – stations prefer exclusivity!
  8. Get it in writing! Station agrees to provide a recap with number of on-air mentions, estimated ad value and an aircheck!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

February Lunch: PR Stunts and Radio Promotions

Yesterday we had a WILDLY successful CCG lunch on PR stunts and radio promotions. The feedback was phenomenal. People loved our speakers:

-- Peter Shankman, entrepreneur, author, speaker, TV commentator, and CEO of The Geek factory, a boutique Marketing and PR Strategy firm located in New York City.

-- Tammy Lemley, Vice President, North American Network, who has been coordinating successful radio promotions and PR campaigns for more than a decade.

Tammy was informative. Peter was dynamic. And our audience learned A LOT.

For those of you who missed the lunch, I recommend you go out and buy Peter's book, Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work--And Why Your Company Needs Them, which can be ordered online from his website, Amazon, or B&N.

And make sure you come back on Monday when we'll post some tips from Tammy Lemley about how to run a successful radio promotion.

As always, I'll end my post with my usual plea: Let us know (via email) what topics we should cover, who you want to hear speak, where you want to eat, and anything else you want from your free CCG membership.

-- Robin