Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Emptiness of Success

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

 At various points in your day to day life, I hope you experience a feeling of success – from an accomplishment, creating happiness for others or finding personal fulfillment.

I love feeling successful. Sometimes, I purposely seek out opportunities to feel good about what I’m doing. Lately, though, I am finding more satisfaction mentally, physically and spiritually from being relatively poor at something. That’s right. I am regularly subjecting myself to an activity where I am mediocre, at best. And it feels great!

Why? Because it’s both humbling and challenging, and it comes with tiny improvements that build over time. And when one small mountain is conquered, you get to the top, do a happy dance, and then realize you’ve only reached the top of the first foothill in a massive mountain range.

This thing – this sweaty, torturous, glorious thing I do – is yoga. Hot yoga, to be exact. I find it rather addictive from beginning to end, from the smell of the heated studio when I walk in right through to the fabulous shower I treat myself to when I come home.

At the beginning of class, most instructors ask participants to leave their stresses and worries on the mat and focus on something they want to acquire during class, such as strength, flexibility or balance. These things can be taken as physical traits or character and lifestyle traits. Depending on the day, I toggle between what I seek and how I view these gifts.

Now, I would not claim to be good at yoga. I have hip and knee issues that plague my practice and prevent me from getting the full benefit from some poses. I’m not very flexible or strong either. But, I keep trying, and I can say that I have improved in many respects over the nearly two years I’ve been practicing yoga. In the yoga realm, two years is not a very long. It takes time to physically adjust and change, and mastery of one pose merely opens the door to the next stage of the same pose.

And that’s what I love. There is a constant challenge staring me down, and I must once again push myself through attempts and failures until at last, I can hit and hold a pose for quick few seconds. Now I know I can do it … and I must continue to try until it becomes easier and better with time. Sometimes it’s just a little focused introspection about how I am positioning myself that makes the difference and makes me stronger, more balanced and flexible. 

I also like that yoga is referred to as a practice. It’s a good perspective to consider in the studio, as well as in life. If we practice something and try hard to improve, isn’t it just the best feeling when you feel you have made a difference?

I hope you have a “yoga” in your life to give you challenges, failures and successes. Otherwise, it might get boring and lonely sitting on top of a single mountain all by yourself. Press on – there’s an entire mountain range to conquer.

This article was originally published in Senior Voice America, June 2013.

Big Kids Can Play at the Zoo Too!

Friday, October 4th, 2013

zoofari-home-banner

Living in Tampa Bay, we are blessed with natural recreation in our gorgeous beaches, rivers, lakes and parks. I moved here from Ohio in 1994 and have never regretted my decision because there is so much to see and do – and I still haven’t done everything.

One thing I have done, though, is spend plenty of time at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, a nationally acclaimed zoo I can be proud of – a zoo once again recognized as the top family-friendly zoo in the U.S. by Parents Magazine.

No doubt, on a daily basis the zoo is an awesome place for kids, with over 1,500 animals, plenty of educational opportunities and fun activities. But the zoo also holds a lot of amazing cultural festivals and special events throughout the year, like ZooBoo for Halloween (runs from late Sept. – Oct.), complete with some haunted houses that I’ve heard are so terrifying I won’t go in. I stick to the kiddie ones, thank you very much. But still – it’s fun for kids and adults as well.

There’s also Wild Wonderland (during December), complete with holiday and winter themed animals, activities, food and events, but my personal favorite comes right in middle of the fall events: Zoofari. The tagline couldn’t be better. “Eat. Drink. Rock.” Well, maybe you could add “Dance” in there too?

Zoofari, scheduled for Nov. 2 this year, is the zoo’s oldest fundraiser, created 27 years ago to increase awareness and knowledge of the zoo and raise money for the care and conservation of the animals (90 species at the zoo are currently endangered). I always attend Zoofari as a participant and “eat, drink and rock” my way through the zoo – which is full of restaurants, dessert stands, coffee bars (and other bars) and bands, but every year I take note of all the people involved – the restaurants, the entertainment, the artists, the volunteers and the staff. It’s a colossal effort made by many to create a night of great tastings and fun for the guests, and I’m not surprised it was named “Best Festival or Event” by Tampa Bay Metro Magazine.

If you want to experience something really special – a night under the softly lit, sidewalks of the zoo filled with great scents, flavors and music – plan on attending this year’s event. Or volunteer. Or become a sponsor. Event information is online at the zoo’s web site, www.lowryparkzoo.org, or you can call 813-935-8552, ext. 275 for tickets.

One final thought – wear your comfy shoes that night, because you’re certain to want to explore all corners of the event, which spans nearly every part of the zoo grounds. Go once, and you’ll go every year. I guarantee it!

 

 

How to Generate Grassroots Publicity

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

To understand the concept of grassroots publicity, you first have to dissect the terminology and get to the core — or  root — of the concept.

It might go without saying, but then again, if you want a grassroots campaign, you really have to start with some basic tactics. A high profile media campaign, full of ads, billboards and news features, is not grassroots. You have to think much, much smaller than that, laying seeds, sowing them, and making sure the roots of your new seedling grow deep enough to sustain all types of weather. You want your new crop to come up year after year. You want the figurative harvest to be bountiful.

All new businesses should start their publicity plans with some grass roots efforts — basic outreach, close to home — creating relationships, knowledge, awareness and respect that is intimate, meaningful and long-lasting. The big, showy stuff should come much later, when there is a higher corporate profile, an established brand, a reliable budget and enough activity going on to actually merit the attention of mass media.  And, then, even when you are a significant player in your industry, there is still a time and a place for grassroots campaign to garner solid support for new initiatives.

So, what constitutes grassroots publicity? You might be surprised, but here are a few basic elements that should be pretty easy to incorporate into a new or fledgling business. It’s all action, so if you’re tempted by little ads, flyers, pamphlets, and expensive online advertising when your company is young, don’t spend a dime until you’ve considered what you can DO, instead of what you have to print, distribute or post. 

  • Meet your neighbors. Where is your company located? Is it in an office park? A shopping strip? A residential area? It is very important to give face time and energy to meeting your neighbors. Host an open house. Go door to door and introduce yourself. Offer them tours. Look for areas of affinity in products, services or mission. Learn of their challenges. Offer solutions to problems when you can.  No matter where you are located, it’s important to know your neighbors, and your “neighborhood” should be defined to include those very close in physical proximity as well as regional influencers whom you’d like to meet, check out or win over.

 

  • Invest in your local community first. Yes, this means sprinkle a little cash around — and make sure you sprinkle where you want plants to grow. For example, spending sponsorship dollars at a high profile event is not worth the investment until you have established a reputation as a contributor to local schools, civic associations and other causes directly tied to your company, industry or community.  Also consider your customer before spending, and be sure they are impacted and aware of initial sponsorships you make. One final thought: you don’t have to spend a lot up front, but you should budget some money towards “goodwill” marketing so you can make appropriate donations at your discretion. And, although it’s an entirely seperate conversation, don’t be shy about asking for a little recognition in a newsletter or something to that effect in return for your contribution.

 

  • Join the business community.  As a business owner, this is challenging because your plate is already oh-so-full. However, you must engage in your local business community — meaning chambers, economic development councils, civic associations and professional associations. Spread it out over time if you have too, but again, spending real time with real people will be a very valuable exercise. Benefits include opportunities to promote your business (have your 10 and 30 second summary ready!), a chance to learn about and perhaps gather intel on competitors, and finally, a public good faith effort to impact decisions and keep up on industry and/or community concerns. Plus, its rare that you will engage in these activities and not gain valuable contacts who help in many ways (this would be networking, but I shy from the word because it’s so cliche these days). And, of course, you’re bound to just make a friend or two, and who doesn’t need more friends, really?

 

  • Meet local government officials.  This might prove to be the most challenging area of relationship building you face, but it is wise to meet (and keep up with) local decision makers and policy influencers. And, it is very prudent to meet them before there is an issue or concern to share. In fact, meeting them once is not enough. Once you meet, send a note, leave a message or send a reminder or follow up invitation of some sort to move the relationship beyond a handshake. You may never need anything from anyone, but then again, you might have to fight hard against a regulation, a policy change, a budget cut or a zoning rule at some point. Do you want to face those scenarios as an unknown entity, or would you rather have some rapport with the decision makers?

Now, I know you might be wondering why I have not thrown in social media, community newspapers and other more “expected” and “traditional” components of a grassroots publicity campaign. Well, these things are important too, but without some initial legwork and facetime, these other efforts loose their impact. Better to wait until you’ve grown a real-world fan base, gained real “friends” and built a true community on the ground before you take your show on the road.

 

7 Deadly Media Spokesperson Blunders

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Why are so many people intimidated by news media interviews? Maybe they are not prepared. Maybe they don’t know what to expect. These are both treacherous situations, but many times, people are afraid to make a mistake.

Whether you find yourself in the position of coaching someone to speak to the news media or you become the lucky spokesperson yourself, avoiding these blunders will help with a successful interview outcome. Several of these blunders result from an inappropriate attitude (a defense mechanism, perhaps) but I’ve encountered all of these scenarios as a media coach at one time or another.

Blunder #1:
“Don’t insult my intelligence.”

  • Spokesperson will not accept coaching on proper media interview or taping guidelines & recommendations.
  • Spokesperson becomes frustrated or offended when tips or suggestions are provided.
  • Spokesperson cannot speak in common “layman’s” terms to simplify explanations in non-industry terms.

Blunder #2:
“This is really inconvenient and I’m doing you a huge favor!”

  • Scheduling problems: lack of spokesperson appreciation for media deadlines cause you to miss a story (and sends the reporter straight to a competitor).
  • Preparation: spokesperson agrees to interview, but takes no time to prepare.
  • Inattentive: spokesperson agrees to interview, but is obviously rushed and thinking of other things during allotted interview time.

Blunder #3: No style!

  • Jabbermouth: doesn’t grasp the concept of “soundbite.” Is too longwinded and cannot provide simple, succinct answers.
  • Pottymouth: doesn’t maintain proper level of professionalism during the interview, allowing questionable language and stories to seep through.
  • Monotone: no voice inflection or enthusiasm (opposite: too animated/hyper).
  • Tech-speak: cannot avoid use of industry jargon and acronyms.

 Blunder #4: Dress Code Violation

  • Spokesperson unwilling to “look the part” to suit needs of desired portrayal.
  • “Pictures are worth 1,000 words,” so appearance is important.

Blunder #5: “I’m in charge here!”

  • Spokesperson dominates the interview and surrounding settings.
  • Spokesperson frustrates reporter by interupting.
  • Spokesperson will not accept advice from PR staff on do’s and don’ts of appropriate topic control, direction, positioning, & messaging.

Blunder #6: Me, me, me!!!

  • Spokespeople should represent their company/organization first and foremost and leave personal opinions out of their commentary.
  • Sometimes media interest is about individual accomplishments and skills, but spokespeople should appear humble yet confident.
  • Anyone overly arrogant or self-centered will not represent their company well and will loose credibility with the audience.

Blunder #7: Marking Your Territory

  • No understanding of PR process: PR department/agency pitches stories with specific experts in mind. The limelight must be shared. This should not become an internal political power struggle.
  • The goal is to portray balance & diversity across companies appropriate to each situation.
  • Uncooperative/Jealous/Offended: grown adults in high positions have been known to act like 5-year-olds and refuse opportunities because they were not chosen to participate in media interviews in the past!!

The bottom line is that public relations teams walk a fine line between giving news organizations what they’ve asked for and making sure their client/company is well-represented. Preparing a spokesperson properly is a huge component of any media relations program, so, in the interest of giving the best interview, be sure to avoid these seven spokesperson blunders and, of course, always be prepared.

Small Business Resources & Tidbits

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Two things worth sharing come to mind this week.

First, check out The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz. Mike is a smart guy, and in addition to running a very well-honed marketing program, he collects and freely shares good insight and advice that many business people can benefit from. He is entertaining, too.

You might think I know this guy, or he’s a new client or something, but that is not the case. I just enjoy submitting thoughts from time to time, and you can do it too. Visit his site and sign up to submit information. He sends readers right to your site if they like what you say. Here are two of my recent contributions — always short and sweet.

Next up, I received this interesting list from a LinkedIn group called Social Media Marketing this week.  

12 new free Social Media white papers, webinars and helpful resources… check them out but move fast, some expire soon!

1. “How to Use Twitter for Business: A Beginner’s Guide” – an excellent starting point for understanding the true power of Twitter.

Click here: http://bit.ly/ltpMv2 Inc.

2. “Marketing Imperative: Balancing Paid vs Earned Media” – A powerful On Demand webinar in which you will learn how to gain more Earned Media by tapping into a large segment of your highly satisfied customers, integrate Earned Media into existing marketing efforts and how to measure the impact of Earned Media

Click here: http://bit.ly/iCvLTI

3. “Speed Kills – Tips for Managing Crisis in the Era of Social Media” – Information on the web spreads faster and farther than ever before, and never goes away. Incorporating social media into your crisis response plan can help keep your organization out of trouble!

Click here: http://bit.ly/lFw4TD

4. BRAND NEW – “The Evolving Uses of Social Media” – the latest white paper looks at how social media changes can benefit your organization and how you make it work for you.

Click here: http://bit.ly/kEIR2c

5. “How can you influence up to 50% more cross-sell in a business-to-consumer environment? “ – Reducing churn and retaining your existing customer base are critical. This recorded webcast discusses customer cross-sell, up-sell by highlighting the critical importance of customer data and analytics.

Click here: http://bit.ly/mzEtGm

6. BRAND NEW – “CMO Perspectives on Social Marketing ROI” – A how to on monetizing social media marketing. This benchmark study shows how CMOs are overcoming the challenge of social media ROI and measuring it.

Click here: http://bit.ly/kMbTLB

7. “Emerging Technologies B2B CMOs Should Watch in 2011” – New Forrester Research report overviews new technologies marketers us to improve customer acquisition and engagement. It covers content curation, listening platforms, brand advocate platforms, as well as appointment routing and scheduling.

Click here: http://bit.ly/miwpXh

8. “How to Leverage Social Media for Public Relations Success” – Handling publicity in social media is entirely different in social media than it is in traditional media.

Learn more here: http://bit.ly/iOiiQJ Inc

9. “The 21st-century CMO: How digital marketing is driving organization transformation “ – This paper highlights advances in closed-loop marketing for measurement and optimization of digital marketing efforts and how next-generation WCM solutions overcome those challenges.

Click here: http://bit.ly/kb8K7A

10. “The Top 10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Sourcing New Prospect Data” – Do you feel like you are rolling the dice every time you buy a new prospect list? By starting with better business data, you’ll end up with more qualified leads, better conversion rates, and be more profitable.

Click here: http://bit.ly/jqXx91

11. “Drive Sales Faster: Guide to Smart SMS Marketing -Sell more in 160 characters or less” – Lean how SMS can help retailers disseminate calls-to-action quickly and to a wider base of population, driving traffic and increasing revenue.

Click here: http://bit.ly/lHS1iu

12. “Top Takeaways: Best Practices for Doing Business in Emerging Markets “ – G+ convened a panel of senior executives to share their best practices and strategic insights for doing business in emerging markets.

For more, click here: http://bit.ly/jEWAqi

And, as always, you can find the Top 100 free social media resources here: http://changetheworld.tradepub.com/free
http://bit.ly/imILWl . There is a real treasure trove of valuable tools, research, white papers and more.

Thank you, Mike Crosson, Moderator and Publisher, www.SocialMediopolis.com, for sharing these resources with us.

Happy Reading!