Tuesday, December 29, 2009

January CCG Lunch: How the Department of Defense is Using Social Media

WHAT: Deploying with "New" Gear: How the Department of Defense is Using Social Media
Learn more about how the Department of Defense is using social media to connect with both internal and external audiences.

SPEAKER: Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Department of Defense

WHEN: Wednesday, January 20, 2010, from noon - 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: District Chophouse, 509 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Metro Stop: Gallery Place/Chinatown on the Red Line

COST: $28
Cash only. Exact Change Preferred.

RSVP required.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RECAP: December CCG Lunch, "It's All in the Spirit of Giving"

First off, let me just give a HUGE "thanks" to all my members who attended yesterday's lunch. We managed to collect 43 toys for Toys for Tots (plus one monetary donation) from our 37 attendees. Great job, everyone!!

Second note: Did you know that one of Toys for Tots biggest challenges is getting enough gifts for the 10-14 age range? If you haven't yet donated this year, think about choosing something for these older kids. (Even better, Tweet and Facebook this fact to your networks and help us start our own mini campaign to address this challenge.)

Okay. Now, on to the lunch recap...

December's lunch was about handling PR and communications for a charity or a charitable giving campaign. Our distinguished speakers were:
  • Sergeant Matthew R. Johnson, who is in his fourth year as a Toys for Tots Events Coordinator... and was looking quite dapper in his Marine uniform
  • Wendy Beach, Director of Communications, Global Impact. (In addition to raising funds to support international relief and development programs, Global Impact manages the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area and Overseas.)
Key messages from our speakers:
  • Evaluation is key: Before starting this year's campaign, Global Impact evaluated past CFC campaigns. Staff used that feedback when creating key messages, revamping collateral materials, crafting a new "theme," and creating goals for this year (such as generating more participation from the the younger government employees and new government employees). This is great advice. I think a lot of us focus so hard on a particular project, and when that project is complete we move right on to the next one. As a result, we often don't take the time afterward to evaluate the project, collect feedback, etc. And there's so much to learn from evaluating what you've done... both good and bad.
  • You Can't Ignore Social Media: I know. It sounds like a no brainer, right? But what do you do when you're in an environment that doesn't embrace social media, which is the case with many federal agencies that block access to Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Global Impact solved this dilemma by using the (social media) tools they knew government employees could access, such as GovLoop, which is a social media tool specifically for the government.
  • Know Your Audience: Global Impact realized it was important that any collateral materials created for the campaign be customizable by the volunteers so that materials would speak to particular communities.
  • Social Media Isn't Everything: For the Marine Corps, having Marines in blues on the street talking to people directly is the best advertising. So one of the top goals is to get as many Marines out there as possible. It beats any other advertising channel they could use. (Of course, my CCG members already understand the importance of direct person-to-person contact. After all, we're a group that thrives during our in-person monthly meetings.)
  • Coordination, Coordination, Coordination: Toys for Tots is a HUGE campaign that always gets national and local media attention. When that's the case, communication is key. You need to make sure everyone has all the information available... after all, you never know when someone might end up being an "unofficial" spokesperson for your cause.
So those were my biggest lessons learned from yesterday. Sure, some of them weren't exactly "lessons learned" -- because they were strategies I already knew -- but I love when our speakers reinforce conventional wisdom and remind me that sometimes I need to go "back to basics."

For my fellow CCG'ers who attended yesterday's lunch... what did you learn from our speakers?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Value of Professional Organizations

So maybe I'm biased as I write this -- seeing as I am the CCG President and all -- but the truth is, I love this group! The Capital Communicators Group is valuable to me. For one, I love that there are no annual dues. If I attend a lunch, I pay. If I don't attend a lunch, no money goes out of my pocket. (Granted, now that I'm President I attend most lunches, but that's not the point.) Also, I get a lot out of my membership and out of the monthly lunches, both from the perspective of the actual presentations and from the more "informal" networking that goes on before, during, and after the formal program.

But it's gotten me thinking...

For many, the start of the new year is the time when we start thinking about whether we're gong to renew our various memberships. We evaluate the cost of the membership and what we get out of belonging to the group.

So what is the value of the various professional organizations we can join? What is the true "value" of PRSA? Is it worth its annual dues? And what about IABC or WWPR? Or other professional PR/communications groups?.

That's where you all come in! I'm hoping to get some conversation rolling here about the professional groups to which we belong and what "value" we get out of these groups. What groups do you find worth the cost of membership and in which groups have you decided to let your membership go?

Let us know!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CCG December lunch: It's All in the Spirit of Giving

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
noon - 1:30 p.m.

It's All in the Spirit of Giving
Ever wonder about the unique ins and outs of running a PR/communications campaign for a charity or a charitable giving campaign? How about the challenges of doing so during a down economy? Come learn more from the experts!

  • Staff Sergeant Christopher Gordon, Coordinator, Quantico Toys for Tots campaign
  • Wendy Beach, Director of Communications, GLOBAL IMPACT. (GLOBAL IMPACT has the MOU to manage the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area and Overseas this year.)
Location: Bar Louie, 701 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Metro Stop: Gallery Place/Chinatown on the Red Line


RSVP to: capitalcommunicator@gmail.com
(You do not have to be a CCG member to attend. Cost is the same for members and non-members.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Non-CCG EVENT: Social Media & Consumer Protection: Finding a Balance

Social media is a way of life and here to stay. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn or twitter, businesses value these tools as a way to reach consumers and build trust, as well as increase their brand presence in a crowded marketplace. However, companies are grappling with how to best use these social media tools, while at the same time take into consideration the ethical and legal issues around consumer protection and privacy.

Three well-respected panelists in the social media and consumer protection areas will address the rise of social media tools and discuss the important issues in order to continue its growth and widespread adoption as a business tool. Attendees will gain a perspective on what their idea of social media is; the business, legal and ethical issues associated with making social media tools available to consumers; privacy-related considerations; and thoughts on best practices and behaviors to help ensure continued growth.

Moderator: Gerard M. Stegmaier, Attorney, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

WHEN: December 1, 2009, from 7:30-9:30 a.m.
WHERE: The Tower Club, 8000 Towers Crescent Drive, Vienna, VA

COST: Member: $ 45.00; Non-Member: $ 75.00; $10 more at the door

Walk-ins will be accepted on a space-available basis.

Register at www.nvtc.org/events

Monday, November 23, 2009

Five Speechwriting Tips from one of our November CCG Lunch Speakers

Jeff Porro, a successful speech writer and author of the story for the movie The Great Debaters, has a five step program for turning interesting executives into inspiring speakers. Here, he provides us with a few tips:
  1. Make the speech personal but not confessional.
  2. Use stories, not statistics.
  3. Find a theme and stick to it.
  4. Repeat yourself repeatedly.
  5. Give conflict a chance.
You can learn more about these or ask follow-up questions about Jeff’s talk by emailing him at jeff@porrollc.com or by posting your questions here. Also, make sure you're reading his blog, Tough Talk for Hard Times.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Job Opening: Senior Web Content Editor/Designer

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) seeks an experienced Web Content Editor and Designer to create and manage content across the agency’s various Web platforms. Responsibilities include visual design, usability testing, and identifying and creating content that effectively communicates the agency’s work to the Congress and the public.

This individual will work closely with all CBO stakeholders to continually harvest new content for all sites and to present CBO’s information and analysis in new and different ways to reach broad audiences across various platforms. The individual will work with CBO staff and others who are responsible for developing the sites and will develop and manage processes and schedules to update and refresh site content.

Qualifications: Candidates should have at least five years’ experience writing, editing, and designing content for Web sites, the ability to understand overall site identity and strategy as they relate to organizational mission, and an understanding of Web publishing software and other multimedia materials. Knowledge and understanding of current economic and public policy issues related to CBO’s mission are required, and familiarity with the legislative process is preferred. Superior project management and communication skills, strong initiative, proven experience meeting deadlines, and the ability to work with all levels of staff and the public also are required. Applicants should be committed to a customer service and team-oriented work environment.

Salary & Benefits: Salary is competitive and will be commensurate with experience, education, and other qualifications. CBO offers an excellent benefits package and an attractive work environment.

How to Apply: Please submit the following items using CBO's job application system:
  • Cover Letter
  • Résumé
  • Salary History
  • Contact Information for Three References
Find out more.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November Lunch Recap: Speechwriting

So if you missed yesterday's lunch, you definitely missed out!! Our speakers rocked... and I've heard nothing but rave reviews since the minute the program ended. (Heck, we practically had to kick people out because so many were hanging around chatting afterward!) As for me? I had every intention of tweeting via my Blackberry during the lunch, but got so caught up in the presentations that I forgot to do so.

First, our speakers:
Some of the highlights:
  • Always start with a bang... but make sure it's an appropriate one. (Your "bang" can be a joke, an anecdote, or a quotation)
  • Write for the ear... meaning short, simple, clear sentences. Also, use active voice.
  • Practice the rule of 3... all great speeches do. (This means using examples or phrases in groups of three.)
  • Repetition... it works. (Think about one of the most famous speeches in history: Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech.)
  • Write your beginning and your ending first.
  • Support each of your points with examples and stories.
  • Remember that the point of a speech is not to convey information. If you want to convey information, send a memo or writer a letter. A good speech is not someone reading a white paper or a person reading off a PowerPoint. A good speech is one that moves the audience to action!
  • Tell stories, not stats! No matter how dry the subject, you can always find a good story. (And people remember stories much better than they do stats.)
  • Research, research, research! Research should include interviewing the person who will be delivering the speech, but it also means doing independent research. (Newspapers can be your best friends, especially if they've done interviews or profiles with the person for whom you're writing the speech.) Internet is a speechwriter's best friend.
  • Learn about your audience and who it is. This is crucial.
  • A practical piece of advice: when you're printing out the speech, only include writing on the top 2/3 of the page. (If someone's reading off a speech at the bottom third of a page, he/she can't easily look up and connect with the audience.)
And this doesn't even delve into the mere entertainment factor from our speakers... like how Jeff compared speechwriting to making a stew. (You had to be there...)

I'd be remiss if I finished this post without a shout out to the folks running and working at The Darlington House in Dupont Circle. This was our first time here since the restaurant had opened up under this name. (It used to be Childe Harold.) The food was delicious... and affordable. The service was impeccable. The private room was gorgeous and truly private. They did a spectacular job! If you're hosting a private event, talk to them.

Looking for more perspective on our lunch? Check out a blog post on Denise Graveline's The Eloquent Woman blog.

Oh, one last thing. Jeff gave us a great quote about how marketing is like shaving... but you'll need to come back to the blog next week to read more about that.

-- Robin

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pimp This Job: PR, Marketing Manager with Qiagen

PR, Marketing Manager for Qiagen's Corporate Marketing & Strategy Department in Hilden, Germany, or Germantown, USA. The PR Marketing Manager will:
  • Manage all Life Science marketing related PR activities
  • Manage the creation and active distribution of all company information for the trade press including conferences and tradeshows
  • Build and maintain strong trade journalist network in Europe, the US and Asia to leverage PR placements
  • Support the maintenance of overall PR infrastructure
Position requirements:
  • Proven communications background in biotechnology or related fields
  • 2 to 4 years of related industry experience
  • Excellent verbal and written communication and organizational skills
  • Team player
  • University degree in related fields
  • Occasional overnight travel required (10% travel)
Additional details and information on how to apply.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Twitter-LinkedIn Connection

I've seen a lot of tweets today about how you can now feed your Twitter updates into your LinkedIn profile. (Here's the Reuters piece on it.) And a lot of people sound excited about this new development.

I'm not.

I also don't like that you can link your Twitter and your Facebook account. (Is it blasphemy to say that?)

Here's the thing... Yes, I often post very similar updates to one, two, or even all three sites. But I also often post Twitter updates that, to me, aren't "Facebook worthy." And I post Facebook updates that never make it onto Twitter. Ditto, LinkedIn.

For me, the three outlets -- and their uses -- are distinct, though sometimes overlapping. That said, in many cases, I'm friends with someone on Facebook, connected to that same person on LinkedIn and follow his/her tweets on Twitter. And especially in the Facebook-Twitter connection, having the same updates to both locations can be overwhelming.

I think one reason I feel this way is because Twitter seems like a much more "now" phenomenon. I may tweet updates from an event I'm attending. Or post random updates about what I'm doing or something I just read. In contrast, I look to Facebook status updates to promote events, post random thoughts, etc. I think of Facebook status updates as being a little less frequent because it's not as easy to stay up-to-date on new posts. (New tweets pop up in the bottom right corner of my screen. I can read them, click on them, ignore them, etc., while continuing with what I'm doing.) So when people link their Twitter and Facebook status updates, I often find that my "status updates" on Facebook become overrun with one person's updates at the expense of everyone else. And it's frustrating.

What say you? (Oh, and by the way, if you want to follow me on Twitter, it's @rferrier. As to Facebook and LinkedIn, I have to have some noticeable connection to you to connect on LinkedIn. And Facebook, well, that's for people I really know.)

-- Robin

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Climbing the Corporate Ladder... or Paying Your Dues... or the Importance of Work-Life Balance

So I just read an extremely interesting article -- Climbing the corporate ladder — uphill both ways -- from Jennifer Nycz Conner (@JenConner on Twitter), a reporter for the Washington Business Journal.

The article explores generational issues, and discusses how "younger" workers expect to achieve work-life balance at their jobs and how many older executives find themselves "frustrated by what they see as a youthful sense of entitlement." Conner also wrote: "Many senior-level women argue that they toughed it out and succeeded. Shouldn’t the younger ones have the mettle to do the same thing?"

Which is to say, her article got me to thinking, and here are some of my thoughts:

1. I think it's admirable that today's senior-level women toughed it out and succeeded and struggled to balance careers and families. Kudos to them... 100%. Without them, women wouldn't be as prevalent in the workplace as they are today. These pioneers definitely paved the way for me and those coming up behind me. But why would they want their struggles to be for nothing? I think it's a little bit selfish to have an attitude of "everyone else should have to fight as I did to accomplish the same things." Isn't every generation supposed to want to make life easier for the next? Aren't we supposed to want to leave things better than we found them?

2. Paying dues: Don't confuse what I said above, though. I still believe 100% in the importance of paying your dues and earning privileges. But there's a difference between earning the privilege of working on the more prestigious projects and earning the privilege of having a life out of work. We all DESERVE a life outside of work. We all DESERVE work-life balance. (And, if we're being honest with ourselves, we all work better when we have that work-life balance.)

3. Flex time: If an employee can work on flex time -- can leave at 4 p.m. to make their exercise class or take their kid to soccer practice and then log on later that night to finish their work and meet any deadlines -- then why do we care when it's done? There's too much focus on how long someone works vs. how well they work or whether they do their job and do it well. The focus should always be on the end product, not on how long it took someone to get there. And shouldn't there be some reward for being productive?

I'm blessed right now with a boss who understands all this and who I think would agree with my sentiments. She judges me by the value of my work, not by the hours I sit in front of the computer. (Though I will admit that, right now, I definitely work beyond my official "work day," it's just that often that work is at home.) But I've also had many who haven't. And I've encountered more than one (older) co-worker who has issue with bosses that give leniency to the younger workers... or, in some cases, to any workers.

So my point? Pay your dues. Work hard. Do your job and do it well. And if you're a boss? Well, think about making your employees' work life better than your own.

Friday, October 30, 2009

WWPR PR Woman of the Year Award

Today -- FRIDAY -- is the last day to pre-register for WWPR's 20th anniversary of the PR Woman of the Year Award on Wednesday, November 4.

You can buy tickets via the WWPR web site.

November CCG Lunch: Speechwriting

It's Not Just What You Say, but Also How You Say It
Some would say that the hardest task within the world of PR and communications is speechwriting. And with that in mind, this month we're welcoming some veteran speechwriters to share some of the unique challenges of speechwriting as well tips of the trade.

WHEN: Thursday, November 12, noon - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Darlington House, 1610 20th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Metro Stop: Dupont Circle on the Red Line

Cost: $20

You must RSVP to attend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NON-CCG EVENT: Meet the Press Event with Walt Mossberg

WHO: Tech Council of Maryland

WHAT: Meet the Press: Leading Journalists Speak on What's News, What's Not and Changes in the Media... with keynote speaker Walt Mossberg, personal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal

WHEN: November 2 from 8-10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Walt Mossberg will share his thoughts on the Cell Phone and the Future of the Internet. Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column and is one of the most widely-read columns on technology products and services in the world. He is also the co-creator and co-producer of the technology industry's most prestigious annual conference, D: All Things Digital, and is the co-executive editor of the technology web site, allthingsd.com, which extends the experience of the D Conference to the Web.

You will also hear from a panel of distinguished journalists that cover technology, biotech, telecommunications and general business issues to help explain what they cover, how they do it and educate us on the changing world of journalism.

More info or to register.

Monday, October 19, 2009

SPACES REMAIN for Oct. lunch this Wednesday

Designing Websites for Action or Advocacy
Learn the art -- and science -- of designing websites for action and advocacy.

SPEAKER 1: Len Johnson, President & CEO of JDG Communications, will talk about creating a site that is a research-based solution, using as an example his experience creating the FTC kids web site YouAreHere, where kids learn to be smarter consumers through games, activities and online conversations. Learn how Len's team conducted interviews with kids, parents and educators; how they tested the site; and how they evaluated the outcomes.

SPEAKER 2: Stephanie Dailey, Senior Public Affairs Specialist, NIHSeniorHealth.gov, National Institute on Aging, will talk about the unique aspects of making a site for an older demographic.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 from noon - 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Topaz (in the Enlightenment Room), 1733 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Metro Stop: Dupont Circle on the Red Line

Cost: $26

Please RSVP.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Old School Marketing?

About a year ago, I blogged about my "old school" marketing technique of promoting events through signs in bathroom stalls. In light of a recent conversation, I thought it was time to revisit this idea of old school marketing techniques that work with another post. This time, it's about an old school technique that, truth be told, I did not first undertake with marketing in mind.

Last year, the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus marked its 20th anniversary with a big event that traversed two buildings. Our theme for the event was "Connect the Dots," so in keeping with that theme, I created a series of large dots with facts about the campus that I stuck to the sidewalks leading between the two buildings. Our own version of the yellow brick road. The intention was to remove the dots after the event. But a funny thing happened...

People loved them! I know because they took the time to tell me and my colleagues just that. Plus, I could look out my window and watch people walking from dot to dot reading the facts. So we left that batch down for 6-7 months.

Once they were gone, people started asking when we were going to put new ones down.Why not, right? So I created a second batch with new facts about the campus, the companies located on our campus, the JHU schools located here, etc. And once again watched people stop to read them and comment on how great they were.

But perhaps the best testament to their popularity? One of the dots is now on Flickr! (And no, it wasn't me who posted the picture. It was a visitor to the campus.)

Just another reason we need to make sure that, as marketing and PR professionals, we're using all of the tools in our toolbox and not just focusing on social media.

-- Robin

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pimp This Job: NIH Short Term (6-8 month) Communications Gig

Just got an email from a colleague at NIH. There's an interesting opportunity there for a communications detail for 6-8 months. They're hoping to fill the position sometime this month, so if you're interested, respond quickly!

The National Children’s Study (located in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health) is searching for a qualified individual for a communications detail in the Program Office (main office of the NCS) for 6-8 months.

This person would fill the position held by the Outreach and Communications Coordinator who will be out of the office for an extended period, and would also overlap with the Coordinator for a few months on either side.

We’re hoping for a start date of October or November, but the timeframe is flexible. Aside from the regular communication and outreach activities this position entails, there are a few large and challenging upcoming communications/outreach projects (i.e., work on revising the NCS communications plan, launching a marketing campaign) which could be of special interest to a potential detailee. A detailed position description is available upon request.

Please direct questions to Kate Winseck, Outreach and Communications Coordinator, NCS, 301-594-8625, winseckk@mail.nih.gov.

An aside... The National Children's Study is a really neat project. I know about it because Johns Hopkins -- where I have my "day job" -- is involved in it. The Study is going to examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. The goal of the Study is to improve the health and well-being of children. What better cause to get involved with? Seriously, for anyone looking for a short-term project, this is a great opportunity.

-- Robin

October lunch: Restaurant Search

So I'm breaking our "no presentations" rule for the second month in a row with our October lunch... with good reason. Our October lunch is focusing on a website development topic, and it only makes sense for our presenter to be able to reference the actual web site. This, of course, has put a wrench in our plans... because "Internet access" is not one of our usual lunch location requests. So here's where you come in. We need your help finding a location. I'm including our qualifications below. Please send me your location suggestions.
  • private room that seats 40-60 but doesn't charge to use the private room
  • in D.C. and metro accessible
  • as I mentioned above, must have Internet access
  • food cost: approx. $20 for sandwich + drink
Thoughts? Please, please, please send some suggestions my way!

-- Robin

Thursday, October 1, 2009

GrowSmartBiz Conference: Take 2 -- The Expert Answer Booth

So the brains behind the GrowSmartBiz conference did something very interesting during the conference. They created an Expert Answer Booth and recruited people from all walks of life -- PR, social media, finance, legal, etc. -- to staff the booth. Yours truly was one of the experts they recruited. (Looking back on it, I feel a little like Lucy from the Peanuts...)

The concept was that any of the attendees could get free advice from a pool of talented professionals. What a cool concept! And what a value add for attendees.

Truth be told, the booth didn't work as well as it could have -- great staffing, but poor use of the talent by attendees -- and there are a number of reasons way. Maybe it was lack of advertising to the attendees... Were there signs at check-in promoting our services? (Truthfully, I didn't see any. And I asked one of the people where the booth was when I checked in, but she didn't know.) Did the emcee mention us during his various moments at the podium? (Not while I was in the room, but I was also staffing the booth for some of the time, so perhaps he mentioned us when I wasn't there.) Maybe we should have been part of the program -- before each session, we could have come up on stage and answered a question in front of the whole group. But that doesn't change the fact that the concept is great.

I suspect there are things conference organizers will do differently next time to promote our services. OK, I'm sure there are things they'll do differently. That's the kind of team we're dealing with.

But the point of this post isn't to talk about what was done wrong... but rather, what was done RIGHT. And the idea of this booth had "RIGHT" written all over it. What a great value add to attendees... if they take advantage of it.

My point here? Next time you're planning a conference, think about implementing your own Expert Answer Booth. And thank the brains at NetSol for coming up with that great idea.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GrowSmartBiz Conference: Takeaway #1

So yesterday I attended Network Solutions' GrowSmartBiz conference. And now I have the hard task of figuring out where to start as I blog about it. The fact is, despite not being a "small business," I left with a lot of "takeaways." So here goes with my first one...

"I'd rather work with a passionate amateur vs. a bored professional." -- Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail and Free

OK, that quote may not be word-for-word what he said, but it's pretty dang close.

And I think his point has a lot of merit. It reminds us that when we're going to work with someone -- be it forging a business partnership, hiring a new employee, or creating an event -- we need to look beyond resumes. Why?

Because even someone is the smartest person in the world (or the room), if they're not passionate about what they're doing, they may very well be ineffective... or, at least, less effective.

And just because a resume or a person's experience may not match every criteria you're seeking doesn't meant they aren't the perfect person for the job. Because someone who's passionate -- and eager to learn -- will easily outperform the person who's become complacent.

(Just a few reasons why I so enjoy working on projects with Shashi Bellamkonda from NetSol; Mayra Ruiz; and Bob London of London Ink.)

What do you think? Can passion overcome experience?

-- Robin

Monday, September 28, 2009

socStardom4 w/ Jibber Jobber Creater Jason Alba

So I could sit here and write a nice recap of the socStardom4 event, but I've already done so. I just didn't post it here. It's over at the Network Solutions blog. So curious what socStardom 4 was all about? Then read my recap.

Interested in staying "in the loop" on future socStardom events? Become a Facebook fan. Or send me your contact information.

Friday, September 25, 2009

September Lunch Recap: Handling Communications Surrounding Controversial Projects

So for our September lunch, we were lucky enough to have Michael E. Newman from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Michael is NIST's Senior Communications Officer and served for six years as Communications Director for the agency's technical investigation of the collapse of three World Trade Center buildings on 9/11. Needless to say, he had a lot to share... so much so, that we even allowed him to break our "no PowerPoint" rule so that he could show some graphics. (Big thanks to the D.C. location of the Greene Turtle for helping us make this happen!)

So what did I learn:
  • For a high-profile, long-term project like the WTC investigation, it's important to have one point of contact for the media. (It helps prevent confusion.)
  • Whenever possible, it also helps to have one primary expert or project leader handle the majority of the media interviews.
  • As a PR/PA/Comms professional, you have to make sure you or someone from your team is a member of any task force supervising the project so that you can provide input on strategy and plans. (i.e., Communicating what your company / org is doing can not be an afterthought.)

Michael also had some great advice on how to deal with those who may (very publicly) oppose your work:
  • Be respectful and respond to their correspondence, but realize you don't have to get into an active debate. (It's too easy for those of us in the communications realm to feel like we have to respond to every media query, every letter, every invitation. Sure, we do need to respond. But responding vs. debating are two very different things.)
  • Don't condemn or criticize those who oppose you. (i.e., avoid "we're right and you're wrong" debate.) Instead, address opponents' claims directly and without judgment.
  • If you do respond to the opponents' claims, do so with the right goal in mind: to provide balance for others who already have heard the opposing viewpoint. Don't respond intending to convince the opponents to see things your way.

So there's my take on our latest lunch. Did you attend? What did you learn from Michael? Let us know.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Job Opening: NIH Information Development Specialist

Wanna work with Joe? Now's your chance.

Joe just sent me information about an Information Development Specialist position in the OCPL/News Media Branch.

Link to more info for all candidates.
Link to more info for status candidates.

-- Robin

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NON-CCG EVENT: socStardom 4 with Jason Alba

Don't miss this opportunity to hear social media superstar Jason Alba talk about how to use social media to grow your business!

Jason will talk about how he's used social media to grow his business, and share examples of success stories with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging, Yahoo Groups, etc.

DATE: Tuesday, September 22
TIME: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus, 9605 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850

Read more about why you don't want to miss this opportunity to chat with Social Media Superstar Jason Alba

(Psst... if you don't know who Jason is, here's the quick version: Jason is the creator of JibberJobber -- an online tool that can be used to manage job searches... and your entire career. He is also the author of I'm on Facebook -- Now What?? and I'm on Linked In -- Now What??)

Let us know if you're planning on attending. (We want to make sure we have enough food!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Lunch: Handling Communications Surrounding Controversial Projects

WHEN: September 22, 12-1:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Greene Turtle, 601 F Street, NW, Washington, DC
METRO STOP: Gallery Place-Chinatown on the Red Line


MORE INFORMATION: After the collapse of three buildings at the World Trade Center in NYC on 9/11 (the Twin Towers and WTC 7), the National Institute of Standards and Technology was tasked with the technical investigation to determine what caused the structures to fall. And NIST Senior Communications Officer Michael E. Newman was tasked with handling the communications around this investigation, an undertaking he describes as "a unique experience in public affairs."

During September's lunch, Michael will talk about this long-term, 6-year project, from the process of keeping the public informed to the challenges of dealing with the "9/11 Truthers," who attacked Michael for merely doing his job.

RSVP required.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Making Your Out of Office Message Work for You

I sent an email to a colleague this morning. A few minutes later, his out of office message bounced back. Not a big deal, right? I ignored it at first. When I finally clicked over to see when he'd be back, I saw the following message:

I am out of the office till Tuesday 25th August. If you are at GnomeDex or at #Tbash please say hello.

Hope you are registered for the GrowSmartBiz conference Sept 29th in Washington DC - more details http://tinyurl.com/gsbiz (use coupon FRIENDOFSHASHI to get a amazing discount on the conference fee.)

You can reach the Social Media team at Listen@networksolutions.com.

If you are a small Business or small business related expert please visit http://GrowSmartBusiness.com and read the Second wave of the Small Business Success Index.

Have a few minutes? Read our Blog http://blog.networksolutions.com. Check out http://growsmartbusiness.com, http://womengrowbusiness.com. We love feedback. Thanks.

And I realized something... all this time, I've been wasting my out of office message with just details about when I'd be back and who to contact in my absence. Why hadn't I realized that my Out of Office Message was yet another marketing tool? It seems so obvious now.

Yup, just another reason I'm so pleased that I've met Shashi Bellamkonda, the genius behind this craft message. (He's always teaching me something... even when he isn't intending to do so.)

So you can bet that the next time I'm out of the office, my message will be promoting a CCG lunch, or my next socStardom event, or maybe just JHU's classes. Who knows. I just know it's time my Out of Office Message started working for me... that way, I'm working even when I'm not. (Hey, do you think if I do this, I can start taking vacation days and not counting them as vacation since I'll still be marketing and promoting the campus? Well, maybe that's taking it a little too far...)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NON-CCG EVENT: GrowSmartBiz Conference

So there's this guy, Shashi Bellamkonda. If you don't know him, you should. He's the Social Media Swami at Network Solutions and he's amazing... he knows a ton of people, he's super knowledgeable, and he's all about sharing that knowledge.

His latest undertaking: the GrowSmartBiz Conference.

The keynote speaker? He's snagged Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of two New York Times bestsellers. (Shashi also calls him "the most insightful and articulate voices at the center of the new economy.")

So for all our small business owners and entrepreneurs... think about attending the GrowSmartBiz conference to learn how to overcome challenges that all small businesses face.

-- Robin

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nurturing My Professional Network... or the Top 5 Things I Learned During a Month of Networking

So I did it... 30 days during which I was supposed to focus more intently on helping others within my professional network. It was a long road... partly because sometimes I got so busy in my day-to-day that I didn't feel like I was really focusing on this challenge as I should, or, at least, as I promised myself I would. That said, in response to one of my followers who sent me an email message, I thought I'd post some of the networking lessons I've learned both from this challenge and from my own networking experiences. They may not all be new ideas, but those I repeat, I repeat for a reason. (Kind of like the idea that cliches exist because they are, at least in part, true.)
  1. Play on your strengths. I'm a communications / media relations / marketing person. I am on a lot of list servs and hear about a lot of media queries. So it's not surprising that the place where I did much of my "nurturing" was in forwarding on media opportunities to others. The point: There's no reason your networking activities need to be outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Approach every networking situation from a "What can I do for you?" perspective. You aren't an effective networker if you're always looking for how a relationship will benefit you or to find someone who can do something for you. Your first priority should be how you can help others with their goals. Then, when you do need something from your network, they'll be ready and willing to help you out.
  3. Don't approach networking with tunnel vision. Every person you meet may not have an immediate and obvious connection to what you do. But you never know how your job, your goals, your responsibilities, and your needs will change over time. So keep an open mind.
  4. Always network. This was really the purpose of the challenge. You may not have a need for your network today, but if you aren't nurturing it now, when you don't need it, then it won't be there for you when you do need it.
  5. Follow up is everything. After you meet someone, find a reason to follow up and reconnect with her. Send a link to an article or blog post you think he might find interesting. Ask if she wants to get coffee to talk about an issue or project in which you both are invested. Invite him to an event you think he might enjoy. Relationships are all about ongoing communications.
As I started writing this post, I thought about some other networking tips -- not necessarily related to this challenge -- that I want to share. I'll post those later this week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 29-30: Nurturing My Professional Network concludes...

Day 29 (Aug 13):
  • Forwarded media query to a colleague.

Day 30 (Aug 14):
  • Forwarded media query to non-MCC JHU colleague.
And tomorrow, I'll do a wrap up. What I thought of the experience. Lessons learned. All that good stuff.

-- Robin

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Days 20-28: Nurturing My Professional Network

It's been a busy few weeks for me so I haven't been updating on my "nurturing your professional network" challenge. Sorry! Here's the latest:

Day 20 (July 29):
  • Forwarded media query to non-Hopkins colleague for colleague's pro bono client
Day 21 (July 30):
  • Forwarded media query to non-MCC Hopkins colleague
  • Got a call from an MC businessperson looking for Hopkins connections re: an event she was hosting. Connected her with two colleagues. (If she wasn't part of my network before, she is now. She was extremely appreciative of my help!)
  • Helped a friend/colleague with a personal issue by calling on an "expert" I knew in a particular area to lend some advice. (Of course, I would have helped her even without this project being underway!)
Day 22 (July 31):
  • Met someone at an event at the Washington Business Journal offices. She heard I was connected to Hopkins and asked if I knew of anyone looking for engineering work. Gave her my card. She sent me the job descriptions. I forwarded them to a colleague in JHU's Whiting School of Engineering. (Again, expanding my network by doing this woman a favor...)
  • Colleague asked for a connection in another part of Hopkins. Made that connection for her. (And was happy to do so! She's done so much for me in the past!)
Day 23 (August 3):
  • Worked for my "pro bono client" on their print newsletter (Does that count?)
Day 24 (August 4):
  • Forwarded colleague some intel I read in a local publication that might have significance for his job
  • Sent a friend a link to an online article that will help her with a grad school class she's currently taking
  • Forwarded two media opportunities to colleagues
Day 25 (August 5):
  • Set up a dinner for later in the month so a friend of a colleague can "pick my brain"
Day 26 (August 6):
  • Forwarded media query to a colleague
(I was out of the office on August 7 and 10.)

Day 27 (August 11):
  • Forwarded a friend's resume to someone who may be able to help him get a job... or at least connect him with some people in the industry
  • Made a lunch date with a colleague's colleague who'd like to "pick my brain" on some PR/promotion ideas
  • Forwarded media opportunity to a colleague
Day 28 (August 12):
  • Forwarded a media query to two colleagues
  • Helped a colleague respond to a media query
  • Connected a friend with a colleague who may be able to help him with an event he's planning
  • Provided some insight on a media-related matter to a colleague
So there it is. The latest. I'm in the home stretch. Two days to go. I can't wait to reflect back on the month when I hit Day 31...

(P.S. -- to my reader who commented via Twitter on liking this series and taking on the challenge herself, it's nice to know I have readers who appreciate some of my theories, thoughts, etc. Thanks! And let me know how the challenge goes for you!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NON-CCG EVENT: Social Media for Crisis Communications in Government

Social Media For Crisis Communications in Government: How To Integrate The Latest Web 2.0 Technologies To Maximize Effectiveness Before, During, And After A Crisis

WHEN: November 2-5, 2009 – Washington, DC

Attend this conference to learn how to incorporate the power of social media into your organization's crisis communications strategy, along with helpful tools, tips and techniques to get started. Hear practical advice, firsthand, from leading experts including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, City of Plano, Texas, University of Oklahoma, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and many more.

Conference Only: $1299+
Conference Plus One Workshop: $1699+
Conference Plus Two Workshops: $1999+
Conference Plus Three Workshops: $2199+
Conference Plus Four Workshops: $2299+

Conference Hotel & Venue: TBD. (Shortly.)

Presented by the Advanced Learning Institute.


Sorry I've been so delinquent lately. More (interesting) posts coming soon. I promise.

-- Robin

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Days 17-19: Nurturing My Professional Network

Day 17 (Friday):
  • Finally offered up a blog post topic for a colleague's blog... I've been promising said colleague for months now that I'd write something for him. (Unfortunately, before I could write the post, some other factors prevented it from happening... so now I have to come up with another topic!)
Day 18 (Monday):
  • Had coffee with a colleague. Connected her with another colleague because their two pet projects complement each other. (I think it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship for these two... Sorry for the cheese factor there! I just couldn't help myself)
  • Recommended some important VIPs for an event being held by a colleague. (They weren't on her original list.)
Day 19 (today, Tuesday):
  • Helped facilitate a meeting between two people in my network, one of whom really wanted the connection and the other of whom I think will benefit (a lot) from the connection
  • Lunch with the ever fabulous Shelley Ducker from Qiagen. (Of course, this was about nurturing both of our professional networks. And also just because, I think it's safe to say, there's mutual admiration going on between us. And she's just cool...)
  • Forwarded media queries to two non-Hopkins colleagues
  • Did a RT (have I mentioned my Twitter name -- @rferrier -- before?) for a colleague having to do with making a 7-year-old's day by voting for her dance team in an online competition
(Oh, and for those "new to the show," the original blog post with the story behind this whole "Day 17-19" / "Nurturing My Professional Network" thing is available here.)

August Lunch... er.... Happy Hour

As is our tradition, we skip hosting a CCG lunch in August in exchange for a happy hour. And this year, we decided to partner up with Washington Women in PR and hold a joint happy hour.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 18 from 5:30-8:00 p.m.
WHERE: RFD, 810 7th Street, NW, Washington DC (metro red line)

COST: That's up to you. It's pay as you go for food and drinks.

WWPR has created a Facebook page for the event. (Thanks, WWPR friends!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

7 Deadly Sins of Networking: A Response

I just read a great blog posting at Communication World about the 7 Deadly Sins of Networking.

The sins ranged from being "all about you" to scanning the room to see if there's somewhere else you'd rather be. And while I agreed with most of them, I think I have to strike their number four -- He belongs on What Not to Wear -- and replace it with my own number four:

He only talks about work.

I think this is actually one of the biggest sins that I see people -- including some of my less socially comfortable colleagues -- committing ALL THE TIME.

First off, let me make it clear: When I want to network and make new connections, I want to connect with a person, not a title. I want to know about your kids and pets, your hobbies, your travels, that great new (or old) restaurant you just tried, or anything else interesting that will make you stand out and be memorable...

And when I get in a "social" networking situation -- a networking lunch, a happy hour or an annual dinner for a professional organization -- I don't want to only talk about what I do, what you do, or a specific work-related project. Sure, if I'm just meeting you we'll swap titles and organizations and maybe a few lines about what our jobs entail or how our work might overlap. And yes, maybe one of us will mention a project -- and maybe we'll even have a conversation about that project -- but the work talk is (a) always secondary, (b) hopefully after I've made some sort of personal connection, and (c) usually curtailed with a statement about our having a follow-up conversation at a later date. Because I want you to remember me -- not the project I happen to be working on at this moment -- and I want to remember you. And the way I think you make that happen is through the personal connections.

(Oh, and for those concerned about committing Sin #3 -- He’s talking to you, but he’s looking over your shoulder -- Jennifer Nycz-Conner from the Washington Business Journal recently wrote wrote about Mastering the Conversational Exit When Networking.)

-- Robin

July CCG Lunch Recap: Voice of America

I'm a big proponent of not reinventing the wheel. With that in mind, this month, instead of writing a recap of our lunch, I'm going to direct you to The Capital Buzz, where Capital Communicator Group (CCG) Member and Deborah Brody of Deborah Brody Marketing Communications posted a recap of the lunch.

Just click here.

-- Robin

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Days 14-16: Nurturing My Professional Network

A three-day recap.

Day 14 (Tuesday):
  • Scheduled coffee with a colleague -- with whom I have no projects right now and on whom I had to cancel numerous time and got too busy to reconnect with until yesterday.
  • Sent media query to a non-Hopkins colleague
  • Offered to help a colleague with a new non-profit he's starting. Not sure yet what shape my "help" will take. I have to wait until he has a chance to brief me more on the project.
  • Sent media query to a non-MCC Hopkins colleague
  • And had one of my colleagues do something for me by handling the CCG meeting because I was feeling extremely ill...
Day 15 (Wednesday):
  • Met with a new contact who is looking to transition into communications and community relations to give him some Robin Ferrier "words of wisdom"...
  • Took the lead on planning the CCG August happy hour even though one of my colleagues (ahem... you know who you are!) was supposed to handle this one.
Day 16 (Thursday):
  • Talked with a colleague about helping him with his personal passion because I have a work colleague who is connected in that particular field
  • Forwarded a link to a blog post about using Facebook to promote your small business to a colleague who owns a deli / catering business. (Shout out to Mitch and The Bean Bag in Rockville, Maryland. Great cookies! Great gazpacho... I tried it for the first time recently! Great chicken salad... his chicken salad has ruined me for all other chicken salads!)
  • Sent information to a reporter for her blog that came from a non-MCC Hopkins colleague
And so the challenge continues...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

8 Sources of Media a Day??

According to a recent tweet from @PublicityGuru -- FYI: The average person sees or reads eight sources of media on a given day, according to the Pew Foundation

Let's see if that's accurate for me...

1. The Washington Post
2. The Gazette
3. Yahoo.com... which really should count for more than one since it sends me to so many other outlets
4. Television... I don't have one specific station or news program I watch, so I'm grouping these all together
5. Washington Business Journal
6. Twitter... yup, it's a "source of media" now since it links me to news articles
7. Facebook... ditto what I said above

And then, on more of a monthly basis I look at:
-- entertainment websites (like E! Online and TVGuide.com... what can I say but we all need a little downtime now and then)
-- Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and other "housewife-y" publications
-- PR Strategist, and other PR-related publications
-- Pink magazine, a great biz mag for women
-- Real Simple, one of my favorite magazines EVER

So yes, I guess that's pretty accurate... or even low for people in our biz. What about you? What are your go-to media sources? And do you hit that "magic" 8 number? And do you have a favorite?



In the next 1-2 weeks, the CCG Executive Committee will be planning lunches for Sept-Dec. With that in mind, please forward us the following:
  • ideas for good speakers
  • ideas for topics you'd like to see covered
  • lunch location suggestions
Forward this information to the CCG email account.

Looking forward to seeing your suggestions!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

DAY 13: Nurturing My Professional Network

I was out of the office on personal matters -- a friend's wedding -- on Friday, so yesterday was my Day #11... and I must admit, while I like the nature of the challenge, it's getting more challenging to fit in these "nurturing" activities among all my daily work and personal life obligations.
  • Helping a colleague formulate an idea for potential media coverage
  • Suggested two people meet each other because I think they can be mutually beneficial to each other

Thursday, July 16, 2009

DAY 12: Nurturing My Professional Network

Today's accomplishments:
  • Forwarded two media opps onto to colleagues
  • Helped a colleague get her membership accepted for a listserv that she was having problems joining
  • Forwarded relevant article to a colleague. (She probably wouldn't have seen it otherwise.)
FYI: I'm out of the office tomorrow, so no updates -- and no "nurturing" activity -- until next week.

Resume Advice... and Survey Info

I love the Washington Business Journal and the reporters I work with there, but I have to point out something funny from yesterday's daily email. They recently posted to the site an article titled, Survey: Resume typos can hurt applicant, based on a survey by Accountemps. (Sorry to those of you who can't see the article because it requires a subscription.)

I was amused because I just assumed it was common knowledge that typos and grammatical mistakes on resumes were a bad idea. It hardly seems like news...

But maybe I'm wrong.

Or maybe the news is that only 76% of executives said one or two typos would remove applicants from consideration for a job. (I would have thought the number would be higher.)

So what about you? Do you throw out a resume at the first sign of a typo? And what resume advice do you have?

My number one piece of advice: Show results of your work, not just a list of your job responsibilities.

DAY 9-11: Nurturning My Professional Network

DAY 9 (Monday):
  • Arranged coffee with a new acquaintance who's looking to transition from his current position into communications. Wants my advice on how to go about doing so. (And yes, I am going to cheat a little bit here and count this now, when I arrange it, and later, when I actually have the coffee. Sorry!)
DAY 10 (Tuesday):
  • Provided a list of job search resources to a colleague for a friend
  • Acted as a liaison for someone looking to connect with our biotech department for career opportunities (Does this count? Not sure. It's not officially in my job description, but they called me looking to connect b/c I'm with Hopkins and I'm the most visible name on the MCC web site)
  • Forwarded blog link to a colleague who may want to start following this blog and commenting on it to raise his profile

DAY 11 (Wednesday):
  • Took over planning the CCG / WWPR joint August happy hour -- even though it was assigned to one of my CCG colleagues -- because he just didn't have the time to do it. (Details forthcoming.)
  • Forwarded media query to non-MCC JHU colleague

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Call for Speakers: Social Media for Government Conference

Call for Speakers: Social Media for Government Conference
December 7-10
Washington, DC

Looking for speakers to share best practices and successful case studies on the use of social media in government.

December 7-10, 2009 in Washington, DC

Organized by the Advanced Learning Institute.

Interested? Please contact Amy Gerstein at amy.gerstein@aliconferences.com or 773-695-9400, x20.

Speaker referrals are welcome and most appreciated!

Monday, July 13, 2009

DAY 8 (last Friday): Nurturing My Professional Network

Introduced two people. One was potentially looking for a new firm to do some work. The other was a colleague who does fantastic work in that specific niche area. The two are going to meet and chat in a few weeks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Resumes: Questions about Do's and Don'ts...

So one of my neighbors sent me his resume recently to forward on to a contact I had a company in which he was interested in working. I was happy to do so. However, when I looked at his resume, I had some concerns... things that I thought needed improvement. I made suggestions on those items where -- forgive me -- but I knew I was right. On other items, though, I wasn't sure whether my opinion was right... or just my opinion. So I'm writing now to the blogosphere to get some other opinions on these issues:

The OBJECTIVE statement at the top
I've never been a fan. I think this needs to go. How often does it say something that makes an employer decide to hire someone? I know when I was hiring people, I barely read an "Objectives" statement. I think it just takes up room. I tweeted this morning about this to see what the Twitterverse would say on this issue. So far, I've gotten one result:
  • @dariasteigman @rferrier I don't like obj statements, but think sometimes they're needed for keywords, robot searches.
Computer Skills
I've always included a list of all my computer skills, including the mundane ones like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. But recently I heard someone say you shouldn't do that anymore. That certain skills -- like Microsoft Office -- were expected. Is that true? Are certain computer skills "givens" now? And if so, which ones?

This issue I think I'm right about, but I'll still ask. The typical "References available upon request" line. My response: Of course references are available upon request. You have to have references -- even if, truth be told, I think they're worthless. (Because only an idiot would use someone who would give them a bad referral.) Why even say that?

OK. So there are my current resume questions. Post your answers. Or your own resume questions that I or others might be able to answer.

(By the way, a total aside, but when you're writing "Do's and Don'ts" is it: "Do's and Don'ts" or "Dos and Don'ts" or "Do's and Don't's". Anyone know?)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

DAYS 5-7: Nurturing My Professional Network

Seriously? Blogging every day? How do people find the time... even if they have the great ideas? So you're getting three updates in one post.

  • Helped to promote a colleague's self-published art book
  • Alerted a non-JHU MC colleague to a new blog he should be following and commenting on as it relates to his area of expertise and he'd like to raise his public profile

  • Had lunch with a colleague who recently went out on his own and made some suggestions as to potential clients. I told him I'd follow up with a few who benefit from his services and have already followed up with one of them.

  • Sent a media query to a non-MC based JHU colleague.
  • Wrote a LinkedIn recommendation for a colleague. (I actually think it might have been the first LinkedIn recommendation I've ever written.)
  • This isn't my nurturing my professional network, but I had two people today nurture their networks by doing something totally unselfish for me. And I think I was more aware of it because of this challenge to myself. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

DAY 4 Report: One Day Late...

So I didn't get around to posting my DAY 4 report yesterday. Short version... I did two things for my network:
  • Sent a colleague (not on my campus) a media query. Not sure if he followed up with it or not, but it had the potential for big exposure for him.
  • Sent a reporter information about an organization with which I have no affiliation. (I have a colleague / friend who is doing some pro bono work for the organization and I thought I'd help her out because the organization has such a great mission and I know the reporter who covers the appropriate beat.)
More later on Day 5...

Monday, July 6, 2009

From the Influential Marketing Blog: 10 Stunning (And Useful) Stats About Twitter

Rohit Bhargava -- who graced JHU with his presence at one of the first socStardom events we hosted -- has a great blog, the Influential Marketing Blog. You should read it. I became especially interested in today's post about a recent Twitter report from social media analytics provider named Sysomos. You need to go to his blog to read the whole thing, but here are a few of the stats Rohit pointed out that got me thinking...

[note: bolded text is quoted directly from Rohit's blog.]

1. 21% of Twitter accounts are empty placeholders. These are the percentage of Twitter accounts that have never posted a single tweet.They may either be registered simply to hold a username for later use, or be experimental accounts started up but never used. I disagree on the idea that these are all "inactive" accounts. (Or maybe I just disagree with the definition of active. Or don't understand what they mean by placeholder.) I know of many people who are on Twitter because they're interested in following certain people or certain issues. For example, I have a neighbor who found out a sports columnist he likes tweets. He wants to get the tweets. So he wants me to set him up with a Twitter account so he can follow people, even if he doesn't ever plan to send out a tweet. So how many of those 21% are "active" in terms of following the conversations, even if they don't ever tweet themselves.

2. Nearly 94% of all Twitter accounts have less than 100 followers. Personal note: I currently have 186 (@rferrier). Yay! I'm above average!

3. Tuesday is the most active Twitter day. One of the most useful data points from the report is that it clears up the common question of which day of the week is the best day to tweet something. Sysomos found that Tuesday stood out as the most popular day for tweets and retweets, followed by Wednesday and then Friday. It's interesting that the assumption here seems to be that if Tuesday is the most active day, it's the best day to tweet. I'd argue you're better off tweeting on Wed. or Thurs. There's less competition for your followers' eyes on those days because, according to the report, you're followers are getting fewer tweets from others.

Just my thoughts. Go to Rohit's blog and read what he said. Post a comment there. Or post one here. Either way, keep the conversation going.

July lunch: Voice of America

Voice of America: A Look Inside U.S. International Journalism
Tuesday, July 21, noon-1:30 p.m.

Did you know that there is a U.S. government agency charged with providing news overseas? That agency is Voice of America, which broadcasts in 45 languages and reaches 138 million people each week with approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming!

While VOA is well known around the world, this multimedia powerhouse is virtually unknown in the U.S. Our July lunch will change that!

Come learn more about VOA's journalistic mission, and how they promote it both domestically and internationally. Plus, take a tour of the VOA facilities.

  • Steve Redisch, Executive Editor, Voice of America
  • Joan Mower, Director, VOA Public Relations
  • Language Service broadcaster TBA
Location: VOA, 330 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC

RSVP required

Thursday, July 2, 2009

DAY 3: Nurturing my Professional Network

Day 3. 8:30 a.m.
  • Came across a query from someone who is working on a documentary about Artomatic and looking for sources to interview. Happen to know someone -- a recent connection via a neighbor -- who is involved with the event. Sent her an email this morning so she can contact the filmmaker and potentially be in the documentary.
The good news? So far, everything I've done are things I would have done regardless of the challenge. Does that make this challenge any less worthy? No. After all, it's only Day 3. There's no guarantee it will be quite so easy to continue at this pace...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

DAY 2: Nurturing My Professional Network

Day 2. Day 1 made it look so easy. I had four items on my list!

Then I started wondering... what counts as "doing something for someone." Does it count if it benefits me as well? And relates back to my day job? Or does it only count if it's more selfless. (And this made me think about the Friends episode where Phoebe and Joey are debating the idea of the "selfless" good deed...)

Regardless, here's what I've got so far that falls within the more "selfless" category:
  • Coordinated a visit for some South Korean students to JHU's School of Advanced International Studies. One of my on-site corporate partners asked if we could help make this happen. Technically, it's not something that directly benefits me... but I made it happen. Everything was confirmed this morning. Yay!
I think that's a good start for Day 2.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

UPDATE: Nurturing My -- and Your -- Professional Network

Just a quick Tuesday update on my cause...
  1. Saw some back-and-forth between my JHU colleague and the reporter who was looking for a source. Not sure if my colleague will end up being included in the article, but at least I generated some conversation there. And perhaps it will lead to media coverage for my colleague in the future, if not this time.
  2. Reviewed the new "look and feel" of the NetSol web page. (By the way, I like it.) I didn't give it as much of a once-over as I'd like, but I plan on giving it a closer look... soon!
  3. Found out one of my referrals (from earlier this month) resulted in a gig for a colleague. (Yay, Denise Graveline!)
  4. Agreed to help a colleague with some training he's doing this fall.
I think I'd rate Day 1 of my Challenge a success. Yay!

Nurturing My -- and Your -- Professional Network

I read the Washington Post Jobs section every Sunday, but I don't read it for the classifieds. I read it because I enjoy the Jobs column. This week's piece was about fostering your professional network, in this particular case, your alumni network. (Particularly fitting since I work for a university, but not really my point here...)

What caught my eye the most from this article -- and what stuck with me and inspired me to write this post -- was the following sentence:

"'You have to do something for someone every single day. That's how you maintain and keep expanding your network,' said [Lee] Dudka, [president of the Princeton Club of Washington and a pharmaceutical and technology consultant] who's finishing a book on networking."

I'd like to think I follow the spirit of this advice. I make referrals for colleagues I respect. I run this group and help coordinate monthly lunches. But do I do enough? Do I do something every day? Probably not.

So in the honor of Dudka's sentiment, I thought I'd try a little experiment for the month of July... plus today. Each day during the work week, I'm going to aim to "do something for someone" to help maintain and expand my professional network. And I'm going to post here about what that something is. (If it goes well, maybe I'll keep doing it through August... or expand my self-challenge to a whole year. But sometimes it's better to start small and succeed before promising something bigger.)

So, in the spirit of this post, I'm happy to say it's 8:40 a.m. and I've already done two things for others:
  1. Sent a media query on to a (non-Hopkins) colleague I know through the Leadership Montgomery program that could result in some nice media coverage for him and his business.
  2. Sent a media query on to a Hopkins colleague (who isn't on my campus) with an offer to help him fine-tune his answer before he responds to the reporter.
I think those two activities should count as today's "good deeds."

Come back here each day to find out what that days "somethings" are. (And I'll post updates as to any results of my efforts.)

In the meantime, happy networking! (And wish me luck!)

-- Robin

Monday, June 29, 2009

June lunch overview: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!!

Earlier this month we hosted our June lunch: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!!

Our amazing speakers gave so much information, I'm not even sure how to recap it here. It would just take up too much room. So I'm going to give you some of what I thought were the highlights, and I'm hoping others who attended will chime in with their take-aways.

From Kate Perrin, Founder and CEO, PRofessional Solutions
  • The most important thing in any job hunt is networking! If you know the right people, they can hand carry your resume to the HR department, making sure your resume makes it to the front of the line.
  • Get personal: Those people you know through your neighborhood, church, synagogue, ski club, etc., may be great contacts when you're looking for work. They may be able to get your resume to the HR department of companies in which you're interested.
  • On your resume, adjectives = bad. Show, don't tell, what you did. Results, results, results.

From Suzy Howard, Principal, McCormick Group
  • Stay current with what's going on in the marketplace, even if you're in a steady job and not looking for work.
  • Ensure you have the "basics." People in communications often think they have the best resumes, the best cover letters, etc. And often that's not the case. Make sure others have reviewed your materials.
  • Make sure your materials (cover letters, resumes, etc.) show how you're a value add to the company.
  • Volunteering for a professional society is a great way to fill out your skill set and get experience in areas of communications that you may not work with for your day job.

From Katherine McHale, Senior Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Top reasons resumes get tossed: grammar and spelling errors. Also, realize it's possible to "over produce" a resume.
  • Demonstrate flexibility. Companies want the best employees. In the case of Booz Allen, Katherine hires the best people, not people who will fill certain contract needs.
  • Realize that writing assignments can be about more than just your writing. They can be "culture" tests. How you respond to having to take a writing test can tell a company whether or not you would fit with their culture. (Also, people who are the most overconfident about how they did on a writing test are often the ones with the lowest scores.)
And that's just a quick sample of what was shared. (Please, attendees, weigh in with your thoughts on the lunch. Or maybe our speakers will share what they felt was their best piece of advice from the day!)

Oh, and I should mention, this is our second time at Bar Louie in D.C. And once again, they did a bang-up job of hosting us. The food came out quick. The wait staff was professional and attentive. The private room was, in fact, private. Thanks to Steve Centrella and his team for the great job once again!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Beauty of Twitter: Being Human

I'm inspired to write this post after reading "What's the Point of Twitter" on (non-DC based) communicator Sarah Morgan's blog. I hear people complaining all the time about Twitter... "what is it?" "why should I use it?" "why do I care what you're doing?" "people write about so many mundane, stupid things" and on... and on... and on...

Sarah captured the point of Twitter beautifully. With one word.


Her point...

With Twitter, we see the human side of our colleagues, co-workers, and perhaps online-only friends. It allows us to see sides of people that make them who they are, not just what they do. It's relaly no different than the small talk you make when you attend a networking breakfast, formal dinner or other work-related event. Or one of our CCG lunches. Does your every conversation in these forums revolve around work topics? Probably not. You talk about what's going on in your personal life, a good book you read, a movie you disliked, a recent recipe you tried out and loved... any number of things. And after the lunch, you probably remember better the personal connections.

The point? If you're on Twitter, be human. Talk about your life, not just your work. People will remember you for it. And appreciate the "human" in those you follow. (It's a sentiment I've heard talked about not just by Sarah, but by our own CCG social media guru, Denise Graveline of don't get caught.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Non-CCG Event: Communicating Pandemic

Communicating Pandemic: Lessons for the Future
The Communication Roundtable Series
The recent H1N1 scare reminds us that it’s just a matter of time before another pandemic — perhaps as lethal as the 1918 influenza outbreak — strikes again. Will we be prepared? Learn how scientists, journalists and public health advocates have worked to keep the public informed during this latest health scare, and what we’ll all need to do when the next big pandemic strikes.

Monday, June 29, 2009
7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C. Center
1717 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Lower Level Room 7

SPONSORED by The Johns Hopkins University M.A. in Communication Program

Jane Twomey, PhD Master’s in Communication program, The Johns Hopkins University


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Making Meetings More Efficient, Useful, etc.

First let me say this blog entry is inspired by @dariasteigman who tweeted the following earlier today:

Better, more useful meetings (introduce everyone --in context): http://bit.ly/Met5w. Some solid advice.

My (Twitter) response (I'm @rferrier, by the way) was to tell Daria that the favorite piece of meeting advice I've read is to hold your meetings in a place where everyone has to stand. When people have to stand, they: (a) say less; (b) edit themselves so they only say what's important; (c) make sure they don't repeat those who came before; and (d) are much more to the point with their comments. You end up "wasting" less time in meetings.

@dariasteigman tweeted back the following: "LOL So true. Flip charts can be useful too, b/c you can point to fact that 3 people have already said same thing."

Which got me thinking... we all have our tricks and tips for making meetings more bearable... er, I mean, efficient, useful, etc. And I think we'd all benefit from other's words of wisdom on this topic. So start sharing yours! Comment below...

Friday, June 5, 2009

AWC Event with Washing Post-featured speaker Sam Horn

The DC Chapter of the Association for Women in Communications presents...

POP! Your Communication with The Washington Post-featured speaker Sam Horn
You believe in your skills and ideas, but how do you get your boss to listen, convince an interviewer, pitch a project or even just work a room? Nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant Sam Horn will share the secrets of how to command interest and respect for your ideas and projects.

Tuesday, June 16
Topaz Bar

More about Sam:
With 15 years of understanding in the art and science of communication, Sam's books What's Holding You Back, ConZentrate, Tongue Fu and Take the Bully by the Horns explain how to use verbal skills to gain confidence, to develop focus and to deflect difficult people and situations.

Her latest book POP! tells you how to express yourself in a Purposeful, Original and Pithy way that intrigues people, so they want to know more about your idea, project or company.

$20 AWC members
$25 nonmembers
(includes hors d'oeuvres and one drink)

Register online.

For more information, contact Elaine Graves.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

socStardom3 w/Ten Golden Rules CEO Jay Berkowitz

I just realized that I never posted to this group about our upcoming socStardom3 event with Web Marketing and SEO expert Jay Berkowitz. Here are the details:

WHEN: June 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: JHU Montgomery County Campus, 9605 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD
COST: Free

Wondering what Jay is all about? Trying to decide whether or not you're attending socStardom3? Listen to this podcast with Jay!

More details about the event.

Please RSVP if you plan on attending!!

Job Seeker

Mark Ringwald
Another member looking for a job. Here's the scoop on Mark, straight from him:

"My most recent position was as AmericanLife TV Network’s Vice President of Programming. AmericanLife TV is a basic cable network targeting Baby Boomers and available in over 13 million households nationally and on Verizon, RCN and Cox locally. The company was recently sold and moved it operations to Dallas where they already had a staff in place.

"At AmericanLife TV I was responsible for the look and content of the network from program acquisitions, to scheduling the network, to operations including uplink, master control, on-air promotions, traffic and the website. I also supervised all original productions. It also means that I have a lot of management experience in almost every facet of the cable and television industry. Right now, I am open to using my skill set in the same or even a different industry. I like to think I am adaptable to new situations and have always been a quick learner."

Interested in learning more about Mark? Contact him.