Using social media to further your passions

Author with dog

David Jensen and Layla (Photo by Cynthia Price)

David Jensen has a passion for dogs (whom he calls animal companions) and photography.

To further these passions, he turned to social media because he wanted to publish a book of dog photography but did not have the funds to do so. At the time, he wasn’t even on Facebook.

He began by setting his one, five and 10-year plans, which included raising funds to publish the book.

He knew he couldn’t just jump on Kickstarter to crowdsource funding so he began with Facebook. He quickly realized he had made a mistake when he created a personal page on Facebook instead of a business page. He has since corrected that.

Once he had the business page in place, he found it growing faster than he could have imagined. Part of that was due to the adorable images of dogs. He would post a new photo every day.

He also spends considerable time engaging with his followers. “You have to connect with your people,” Jensen said. “You need to keep it real.”

He also offers contests about three times a year. He continues to boost his Facebook page by purchasing ads, also about three times a year, which, Jensen said, is necessary to expand one’s reach.

Before long, he was ready to launch his Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 to print his first book. “I had to do that. I didn’t have the money.”

He used Facebook to try to focus his audience to transition to Kickstarter, where he had 60 days to complete his campaign. He knew his audience, and he had a specific goal. He found it helpful to create pledge levels with each level receiving a gift such as a signed copy of the book or a photography session.

Jensen said updating at least once a week on Kickstarter kept donors engaged. As he drew closer to the end of the campaign he tapped into social media more frequently. With Kickstarter he had to reach his full goal, or he would receive nothing.

“It all ties into people believing in you,” Jensen said. His donors believed in him because his business page on Facebook enabled them to know him.

Have you done your post-conference homework?

You’re back from a week away from the office having attended a conference. Now you are busy catching up on everything you missed at the office. Don’t forget, though, to do your post-conference homework. Much happens at a conference, but much more can happen following a conference. Below are five homework assignments –

Have you done your homework following a conference? (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Have you done your homework following a conference? (Photo by Cynthia Price)

File business cards. I always connect with people I meet on conferences on LinkedIn. I also save their business cards, grouping all of the ones from a specific conference together with a sticky note. Sometimes I just can’t remember a person’s name, but I can remember where I met him. Then I simply grab my business cards from the conference and sort through them until I find the correct one.

Send thank yous. These can be an email, a tweet or a more formal note. If a speaker was particularly good, I always like to let her know how much I enjoyed the presentation. If specific hotel staff did an outstanding job, I let management know. If the conference met or exceeded my expectations, I send a short note of thanks to the organizers.

Read the books and articles. Most likely during the conference, speakers or attendees referenced books and articles. Ideally, you took note of them. Now it’s time to read them, or, at the least, skim them. I always return from conferences with at least two or three books I would like peruse. It often takes me six months to get to them, but I eventually do, and I’m always glad to have done so.

Review your action list. Conferences provide me with space, time and learning. The result is that I inevitably come up with several assignments I need to complete when I return to the office. Some turn out to be full-scale projects. Others are more about my personal development such as taking a class in editing videos on my phone. Whatever is on your action list now is the time to review it and mark the items on your calendar so you actually do them.

Share your learning. If what you learned at the conference is relevant to your colleagues, share it with them. You can do this in the form of a briefing memo or email. Better yet, schedule a lunch and learn where you can provide an update on what you learned, and they can ask questions or add to what you have learned.

Tips to build the best internship experience

While I want to teach my student workers, I often learn just as much from them. They inspired me to write an article for PRSA Tactics and to write this blog.

While I want to teach my student workers, I often learn just as much from them. They inspired me to write an article for PRSA Tactics and to write this blog post.

I was fortunate early in my career to land internships that taught me valuable job skills, as well as life lessons. One day I hoped that I could offer internships, and I have been fortunate to do so almost everywhere I have worked. If the company didn’t have a formal internship program, I pushed to start one.

Working with interns, though, requires lots of preparation and effort if the experience is to pay off for both the intern and the company.

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Develop a list of assignments that add value to the student’s career. As the director of a media and PR team, that means assigning the students media releases to research and write. I also ask them to compose tweets and conduct online research.
  2. Don’t just mark up the text and return it to the interns. Instead take time to explain the edits and why they were made. Discuss AP style, good grammar and your in-house style. Help them to write strong leads, headlines that capture a person’s attention and quotes that add clarity to the story.
  3. Create learning modules. Each module should provide a high-level overview of an area in which they will be involved. Examples include “Nose for News” and “Creating a Newsworthy Tweet.” These modules provide the basics from which they can build.
  4. When you are responsible for special activities or campaigns, involve them. For example, we recently held a news conference and had our intern join us. She handed out media kits. She also learned about the preparation that goes into a news conference and what considerations are needed for media, including camera angles. The most important lesson was to not leave anything to chance.
  5. Students need to understand the importance of being on time, keeping supervisors informed and meeting deadlines. Discuss best business practices with interns so they understand the implications if they don’t deliver.
  6. The best tip is to learn from them. While I want to teach students strong communications skills and best business practices, I also enjoy learning from them. Students offer a unique perspective. During one discussion about Twitter and how photos are good to include with tweets, one of my students noted that when we tweet about an expert’s work, we should include a photo. Why didn’t I think of that?

Anatomy of a Crisis: Ebola at Emory

Emory University became the focus of worldwide media attention – and social media vitriol – when two of the first U.S. citizens to be treated for the Ebola virus in the U.S. arrived at its hospital.

During several weeks of the 24/7 media siege, the Emory communications staff strategically applied traditional and innovative public relations practices to change negative perceptions, practice transparency and communicate effectively with numerous constituencies.

One of the people managing the communications efforts was Nancy Seideman, associate vice president for Media Relations at Emory University. The university messages focused on safety, expertise and protecting patients (the Ebola patients and others at the hospital).

Seideman stressed during a conference presentation that from day one, messages were first shared internally, and later with the media. Internally, Seideman said, “People needed to feel safe and have confidence.” In addition, no media interviews were done without first prepping the speaker and ensuring that an Emory media rep was present for the interview.

Another consideration was ensuring that the university stayed within its own lane. ”What is yours to own?” Seideman asked. “What is appropriate for you to talk about and what should others talk about?”

Despite the viciousness of social media, Emory stayed above the fray. As Chief Nurse Executive Susan Grant emphasized, “We must care in both senses of the word.”

She and others emphasized that to eradicate deadly diseases, hospitals must first treat the patients who have the diseases. This led to the mantra of “We can fear or we can care.”

“We can fear or we can care.”

Surviving the crisis entailed finding a way for Emory to tell its story. It created a content development and approval process in which all content and messages were posted to a list serve where individuals who were authorized could review the materials and edit and approve.

Emory also focused on its numerous audiences, and always began with internal communications. It employed a variety of media tools.

“The risk of making an error was very high,” Seideman said. “We had to be really careful.”

Despite being out in front, it was clear that the media was not going away so Emory brought in an outside PR firm to assist. Seideman said fatigue was beginning to set in with staff working 18-hour days. The PR firm could assist, particularly with proactive messaging.

Media relations efforts focused on local and national media, and Seideman was quick to caution to not forget about the local media. Social media and news conferences also were important, as was day-to-day contact with news media. The daily contact became part of the Emory media team’s tent tour, where they provided regular updates and images as needed.

Among the lessons learned was the importance of reviewing protocols and processes regularly. “Our eyes glaze over when we need to update our practices and protocols for a crisis, but we must do it,” she said.

Also important, Seideman said, “Message discipline is key in a crisis.”

While the story has faded some, “The story is never really over,” Seideman said. Emory staff continue to give presentations on the topic. A website was created that includes video, recent news and resources.

Seideman continues to stay on point. When she ended her presentation at a recent conference, one of her last slides includes a list of the individuals who had worked during the crisis, from doctors and nurses to media staff.

Why I like Twitter at conferences

Conferences can be overwhelming. You’re networking. You’re learning. You’re managing your work from afar. It can be a bit much keeping up. That’s one of the reasons I rely on Twitter at conferences.

Twitter birdMost conferences now define a hashtag for a conference. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. At a recent one it was #cmcDC. One I will be attending soon will be #NFPW15AK.

Following the hashtag on Twitter, I can read what other conference attendees think about a speaker. Attendees also often tweet a nugget that I missed while I was scribbling or typing another key point. And they often add their own insight and experience to the conversation.

Throughout the conference I can discover who the heavy users are, and I often make a point to find them and talk with them. It’s fun to meet the people behind the Twitter handle.

I often will follow the individuals so that I can continue to be exposed to new ideas and insights.

Twitter is simply one more means for me to ensure that I have a #SuccessfulConference.

Editor’s Note: AdWeek ran a story on tips for tweeting during live events. It’s worth checking out.

New school year, new dreams

College building with fountain in front of it.

A new school year always makes me reflect on my hopes and dreams. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Students are back on campus. I love their energy and expectation.

And because I work on campus, that energy and expectation spills over. I think about this time of year as a new beginning.

If I was just entering college, what would I want to be when I grow up? What experiences would I want to have?

It’s a great exercise and provides me an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve done and what I still aspire to achieve.

When is the last time you reflected on your dreams?

The other weekend I saw the movie “Ricki and the Flash.” The main character was talking with her ex-husband who said he thought family was her dream. Ricki, of course, also wanted a music career. Her response? “Why can’t I have both?”

I love that line.

If you have not been fortunate to reach your dreams or have the experiences you thought you would have, now is as good a time as any to recalibrate.

Maybe you need to set some funds aside for that dream trip.

Maybe it’s time to sign up for a class to learn how to start your own business.

Maybe it’s time to drop an activity that is not bringing you any pleasure.

The start of the school year is filled with the promise of expectation. We are never too old to start learning or dreaming.

Tips to shoot great video

Video inspires and engages the viewer. Video also distills a large amount of data/information into digestible information.

So how do you go about creating a great video?

Jarrad Henderson and J. Scott Parker prepare to shoot a video on how to eat a cupcake. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Jarrad Henderson and J. Scott Parker prepare to shoot a video on how to eat a cupcake. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Great videos don’t just happen. They require advance work, known as preproduction. During preproduction you write a script and prepare storyboards. It’s important to know the audience and the purpose of the video. Finally, it’s important to check your equipment in advance of shooting.

Once you are ready to shoot, you are in the production phase. Jarrad Henderson and J. Scott Parker of Virginia Tech shared several tips at a recent workshop I attended.

  1. Most of us are a bit shaky so their advice is to use a tripod or other means of stabilization such as leaning against a wall.
  2. If sound is critical to the video, then use a lavaliere microphone for interviews. This will ensure higher quality sound.
  3. When shooting it’s important to record each shot long enough to assist with ease of editing. Jarrad recommends staying in one spot for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Shoot in sequences. This means shooting a wide shot, then medium and then a close-up. Doing this enables you to provide context followed by more detail. Finally, you are able to go close-up and provide a poignant moment.
  5. Think about the beginning. Jarrad said, “You want to make the first 10 seconds count.” He noted that across the internet, video finish rates are poor. With that in mind, he also recommended skipping the title card, which takes up valuable seconds. Instead, to get your name included have individuals wear branded shirts or have appropriate signage in the background.
  6. As with any project, once you have finished shooting, be sure to transfer your footage to a backup drive. In fact, J. Scott urged using multiple digital storage solutions.