It’s been one month since the Hispanicize conference, “the iconic annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in social media, journalism, marketing, film, music and innovation.” If you had the misfortune of following my Twitter feed for the five days of the conference, let me apologize to you now (a little bit late). I flooded my stream with snippets, quotes, retweets and tidbits from the sessions I attended. If the topics weren’t of interest to you, you were probably annoyed; if the topics were of interest to you, you might have been a little bit grateful. Either way, the sheer volume of tweets I managed to share impressed even me,
I had a lot of fun. The content was great. The social events were entertaining and memorable. And I was able to connect with people I’d only met online and meet people I didn’t know were on my list. I actually had face-to-face time with people throughout the conference, and that alone was worth the trip. I walked away feeling energized and inspired. I look forward to attending next year again.
About the content
This is the first of two planned posts. There’s going to be a second blog post to discuss what I take away from attending a Hispanic conference, especially as a professional communicator. This post is about what I took away from the conference as a communications event. I attended an average of five sessions a day for a five-day period. I have a lot of notes I’m still sifting through. This is just an overall recap.
Throughout the conference I heard four words over and over again. In the media relations panel, the state of journalism panel, the bloggers’ session, the brand success workshop, even the gaming panel I attended all had these four words interspersed in their presentations: relationships, relevance, storytelling, and consistency. After noticing the trend on the second day I would have a flash of amusement when someone would mention one of the “key” words in a session I was attending. Then I would write it down.
If you’ve been following any professional publications or reading industry blogs (as a public relations professional) then the words don’t come as a shock. They’re included in many articles and best practices studies about how to craft a successful campaign and connect with your audience. Since one of the partners behind Hispanicize is the Public Relations Society of America, and considering the level of expertise from the speakers sitting at the panel tables, it made sense that a lot of the advice being given on how to reach Hispanic markets was similar to what you’d hear for how to reach general markets.
Tell stories. I heard a variation of this throughout the conference, and the specifics of how to tell stories varied depending on who was presenting and the topic of the session in question. Some included the importance of video and images. Some stressed the importance of being a good writer, or becoming a better writer. Spotlight your customers. Spotlight your employees. Humanize your product. Show how your product solves the problem. And so on and so on. But the most important part of telling stories was….
Make it relevant. This was also presented as use culturally-specific content. This is the part where you make your message count to your market. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you use brown-skinned actors, give your story characters Hispanic names, or tie your message to a Hispanic holiday that that’s going to make it a success. If your story/your message isn’t actually relevant to your market, then it’s going to fail. Even if you present it in Spanish. And don’t forget that not all Hispanic markets are created equal; we’re a very diverse group of people. Find out what actually matters to your market, and speak to that. Once you find a message that works then…
Be consistent. Don’t present one message online and a different message on advertising. Don’t use images that tell a different story than the copy. Don’t use videos in which your markets are not represented. Don’t promise one thing today, then change your promise tomorrow. Be true to your brand and stay true to your message in all channels. And don’t forget…
Build relationships. One of the great things of the tools available today for interacting with customers is that they allow us to have conversations directly with our customers and to strengthen their brand loyalty. One of the problems with these tools is that it’s given us an entirely new field of opportunity where we can mess up these relationships. Ironically, the most frequent stumbling block seems to be just not interacting. Don’t build a Facebook page and fail to respond to comments. Don’t ignore Twitter questions. Don’t start a blog and turn off the comments. And, most importantly, don’t ignore what your customers (and your once-upon-a-time customers) are saying about you in channels you didn’t build.
There was so much more. If someone knows of a more in-depth article on the trends that came out of the panels at Hispanicize, please share it with me. You can also check out my Storify boards from the conference. I’m hoping to revisit them to write a few detailed posts… maybe.
I spend a lot of time online, updating social media accounts and monitoring conversations on them. As a result, I’ve become attached to the tools of the trade. I have my favorites for specific functions and tasks. I have favorites that I recommend to friends and strangers. I have tools on which I spend hours every day. TweetDeck is one of them.
It was through TweetDeck that I was first introduced to the “deck” model of monitoring accounts. I could build a deck to track several keywords, a Twitter list, or a specific account or people involved in a project. It proved to be worth its weight in gold… more so since it was free.
What made TweetDeck so great was that I could connect several accounts, in different social media networks, and it gave me the option to decide which of them received any given update. It became my dashboard of preference, often staying open all day on a second monitor, updating info seamlessly while I worked off a main monitor. It became my second screen, my news, my connection — always on, always current.
For me, that ends today. At least to a certain degree.
I can’t say that I’m completely surprised. I had already been informed that TweetDeck AIR and the iPhone app would stop working soon. I realized a few weeks ago that I could not add or edit the Facebook accounts I have attached to the web-based TweetDeck application. So it was just a matter of time.
I am still a bit stunned, though. You can expect something to happen and still be surprised when it does. That’s the case here.
TweetDeck will probably remain an excellent tool for tracking conversations on Twitter. But the fact that I’m no longer going to be able to update Facebook from it limits its usefulness for me. Day by day, project by project, I’m going to end up switching over to another all-inclusive tool (such as Hootsuite) until one day I will wonder “when was the last time I logged into TweetDeck?”
This follows the announcement of the “end” of Google Reader, the scare that Google Alerts was being discontinued, and my continued dismay that my Instagram images don’t “show” on Twitter the way they used to. I keep having to mourn my favorite online toys… and I’m getting tired of it. Especially since these toys make it possible to do my job.
Goodbye, TweetDeck. We may not be parting ways today, but we will be parting soon. I just know it.
Unbeknownst to me, in February 2013 the online music streaming service Pandora announced that it was setting limits on the per-month mobile listening on free accounts. They introduced a 40-hour-per-month limit. According to their blog post, less than 4% of their total monthly active listeners would be affected. I am one of them.
I discovered this fact when I received a pop-up notice on my iPhone’s Pandora app when launching it a few days ago. The app’s message let me know that I had five hours of mobile listening left in the month of April. Apparently, my options were to use up my five hours and then stop for the month, pay a small fee for the month of April, or upgrade to a paid account. Of course, I was also welcome to stream online.
For listeners who do hit the limit, we have a variety of options available to keep the music you love flowing. Listen for free for as many hours as desired on desktop and laptop computers; pay $0.99 for unlimited listening for the remainder of that month, or subscribe to Pandora One for unlimited listening and no advertising.
As I’ve noted previously, I am very fond my Pandora. It’s my “radio” of preference at work, in the car and throughout the day. I “suffer” through the ads and every once in a while consider upgrading to a paid account. The new limit puts additional pressure on this decision.
I don’t fault Pandora for this decision. As they note, “Pandora’s per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years.” And these fees are expected to rise more over the next few years. I understand that someone has to pay for my free account. It looks like we’ve reached the point where my “suffering through” the advertising is no longer enough to offset the usage
The mobile listening limit is a necessity. It’s unfortunate that it’s one that impacts me directly, but I am one of the heaviest users. Now I have to decide if I continue being a heavy user of Pandora or if I’m going to dust off the 800+ songs in my iTunes library.
I spent last week at the 4th Annual Hispanicize. Described as the “iconic annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in social media, journalism, marketing, film, music and innovation,” the event brings together experts in these areas to discuss how to reach the Hispanic market.
I anticipate that at some point, soon, I am going to write several posts from my many many notes from the five-day conference. For now, I am sharing the links to the Storify boards I created in real-time at the panels and workshops I attended.
So, you’ve agreed to be on a panel at a conference. Maybe you submitted a proposal. Maybe a friend or colleague approached you. But the end result is the same: you are now committed to being on a panel with 2-3 people you don’t know to discuss a topic that (hopefully) you do know.
Assuming you never again want to be chosen to participate in a panel discussion (or for a presentation), here are a few quick and easy ways to help ensure that you are a failure in your role that day.
Don’t communicate with your moderator. Don’t talk to your moderator in advance. Don’t give a copy of your presentation to the moderator so she can review the content of your 10-minute slidedeck. And don’t make certain that any of the other panelists did that either. Assume that your moderator has, in fact, moderated a panel before, knows what she’s doing, and has prepared questions to keep the conversation going. Also, assume that your moderator has enough knowledge of the topic being covered to create the questions on site.
Ignore the other panelists until the day of the presentation. Don’t connect with the other panelists at all. Don’t find out who the other panelist are. When you do find out, just assume that they, in fact, also know enough about the topic of the panel to cover it with credibility. Don’t verify that you aren’t covering the same content as the other panelists. Pretend that you can carry the entire panel by yourself.
Don’t research your audience. The easiest thing for you, the least work, will be to believe you know who is going to be at the conference, who the attendees are, without checking into it. Look at the logo and read the brochure, but don’t ask any questions about the goal of the conference and the panel.
Hashtag the wrong keyword in your promotion and live discussion. Assume that the hashtag given to you by your contact in the local organizing committee is the one that’s being used by all the official channels. And don’t realize that you were wrong until the day is over. That way all your great snippets of info (prior to and during) will be invisible to anyone following the conference conversation on Twitter.
Don’t promote. Do not tell the people in your networks that you will be speaking at the conference. Do not tell the conference attendees (via social media) the time and place where you will speak, and the topic you will cover. Do not tell anyone why they should care that you’re on the panel.
I’m sure there are many many other ways to ensure that you will be a failure. (For Example, agreeing to be on a panel about a topic on which you are not an expert.) These are just a few to get you started.
Of course, if your intent is to actually be successful as a panelist, then you might want to do the opposite of the suggestions above.
A great post on how to prepare for a presentation: 20 Things to Do After You Accept that Speaking Gig. Their suggestions include: Know yourself and your presentation style; Know your schedule; Know when and how you are eating; Make a check list; Dress to impress; Show up early; Share your slides; and, Send a thank you. Let me repeat that last one: Send a thank you!
I started taking freelancing projects because I wanted people to stop asking me for help.
Ok, I know that sounds harsh. I need to put this into context. This was approximately 15 years ago and I had a skill that seemed to be in high demand: I knew how to create websites. Though I wasn’t a website designer, I knew enough that I had created some very nice sites for work… and myself. And once word got around about this, I was inundated with requests from friends who “just needed a little help.” And, somehow, I ended up politely doing a lot of free work.
It had to stop.
It didn’t take long before I had the brilliant idea that if I started telling people that I now charged for this kind of work, well, they’d go away and stop asking. Instead they asked how much I charged.
Huh? I had to figure out pricing now?
So, instead of just saying “no” to the projects, I calculated a polite cost and quoted that (i.e., I charged something that I thought wasn’t too much). Unfortunately, more often than not I lowered it when they balked. And I still took quite a few pro bono projects.
The result was that I was still doing a lot of projects, but now I was in “business.” Now the projects were for clients instead of friends.
I eventually had to make the mental leap needed to take my freelancing seriously. What gave me that last push was a rash of “project creep” incidents that resulted in hurt feelings and broken relationships. I learned that, in the long run, underpricing actually hurts.
Fast forward 15 years. I flatter myself that I’ve learned a bit about running a business. The type of work I do as a freelancer has changed. My approach to the work has changed. What hasn’t changed are the “can I pick your brain?” requests.
It never fails that someone will invite me to lunch or dinner with a very casual “can I pick your brain?” situation or question. These are basically (and frequently) a request to have me give them a complete communications plan over the course of a meal, for free. Of course, it’s never couched in those terms. Often it’s presented as something that’s not that big a deal.
I find myself having these conversations more often than I’d like, explaining to people why I can’t just “give them some recommendations” over lunch. But I don’t think I could have explained it as well as Shonali Burke did in her recent post “If You Pick My Brain, I’ll Have a Hole In My Head.” Of course, I don’t offer as much free advice and support as Shonali does (read her post, it’s a lot), but I do participate in online forums, conversations and other discussions that provide suggestions, information and ideas to others. I can improve. I will improve. And I will endeavor not to end up with a hole in my head.
Have you ever watched a zombie movie (or classic horror film) and seen the world imploding on the fringes of what the heroine sees? People die, unexplained things happen, and the news comes on… and she turns off the TV or changes the radio station. So, she doesn’t kow that the zombies are attacking, that they even exist, because she’s not catching the news. Then, out of nowhere (for her), the world as she knows it ends.
And it’s in this way that I’m going to be amongst the first victims in the zombie apocalypse (or whatever brings the ends of the world). I don’t stay up to watch the evening news. Even if I happen to actually be in front of a television at that specific hour, I don’t tune in to an actual newscast. It’s more likely I’m going to catch the headline list off my RSS feed later or pick up a headline from Twitter.
It’s not willful disregard, or a plot twist (as it would be in the movie), just that my consumption of information is much different than a decade ago, five years ago, even two years ago. “Live” broadcasts are not what I use to keep connected to what’s happening in the world.
Twitter is my newsfeed
Unless I happen to be in front of a computer monitor, with an updating Twitter feed, I’m not getting a live update of the news. For several years now I’ve come to rely on Twitter to stream on a second monitor, or in an open screen, to keep up with what’s going on in my network. I’ve subscribed to credible sources, media outlets and channels, that give me the most relevant news. Whether it’s a notice that a Texas college has been evacuated because of a suspected attack or a shooting in a school, whether it’s a highway closure due to an accident or an announcement of an award won, someone will post the headline. More probably, several people will post the info and then it will be retweeted.
Of course, this only works if you are looking at a computer screen of some sort, even a mobile one. And so, as so often happens in horror films, driving home after work I won’t be checking my feeds. Or at least, let’s hope I’m not checking my feeds driving 70 miles an hour down a Texas freeway.
My friends and family curate the world for me
I find new restaurants, products to buy, shows to watch, and movies to download because my friends and family post little snippets and “stories” about them. These are the fluff pieces, the human interest stories, the special sections that would run in traditional news outlets. I get the fashion news from my fashionista friends, the restaurant reviews from my foodie friends, the book recommendations from my fellow readers, etc.
And, because I know them and (theoretically) trust their opinions, their recommendations mean all that much more than those coming from a stranger.
Netflix, Hulu and Xfinity on Demand are my Television
Once upon a time I watched actual television. Sometimes that meant watching shows and news in real time (that is the actual time it is broadcast “live”). Sometimes that meant treating television like an appointment: I rushed through other things to be on time to the broadcast.
That’s not the case any more.
My selection of which shows to watch are based on several things: what I like, whether the storylines are good, and whether I can catch the lastest episode on my ipad. (Just a note: not a lot of newscasts out there putting the entire newscast on mobile.) What this also means is that I watch the show when it’s convenient to me. I don’t think the zombies are going to wait until I have time to watch tonight’s top news segment, probably tomorrow mid-morning.
Podcasts and Pandora are my Radio
Can I confess that I find morning drive-time and evening drive-time DJs a little annoying? It’s the banter. There’s something a little depressing about it.
When I bought my first iPhone I realized that I could take my topics, my radio shows, with me via podcasts. So they load to my iphone and once or twice a week I work my way through them. The business shows, the industry conversations, the discussions about finances, and the lifestyle shows all accompany me everywhere. Hours of entertainment in the palm of my hand.
Even with that, I did still listen to live radio with relative frequency, then every once in a while. But I’ve realized that sometime this year I stopped. I don’t turn on the news radio station in the morning. I don’t tune in at work. Instead I have a very customized group of Pandora stations that soothe me, entertain me and make me want to dance. All in all, they play music that makes me feel good. Feeling good for a 45-minute commute (in regular traffic) is something that should not be underrated.
I still get the news from local media, it just comes to me in custom Google alerts or in the previously-mentioned RSS feeds.
What this means to me as a communicator
Putting aside my lame jokes about the zombie apocalypse, this shift in how I consume entertainment, news and information is one that many of my friends have made as well. If you want to reach out to me then traditional advertising and earned media aren’t going to work. What might work? Pandora ads, ads in my Facebook newsfeed, ads in the beginning and ending of my favorite podcasts (or in the middle).
This also means that the role of mainstream media in keeping me updated has changed. While it’s still a resource I use, it’s not one I use as a primary and immediate source of “hot” topics.If I do access a breaking story when it’s “published” it’ll probably be because one of my friends posted it in one of our shared networks. And they probably got it because the media outlet posted the headline on one of their shared networks. And so on, and so on, and so on…
It’ll be interesting to see what the next few years hold for “broadcast” news. As I read about the expected wave of online services to provide “streaming” live television, that may once again impact my news consumption. Or not. We will see.
I’m not sure if that’s a saying in English or Spanish, but my family uses it (or a variation thereof) quite a bit when trying to say that the child is very much like one of his/her parents: “He is so her child!” “You are completely your father’s daughter.”
I am my father’s daughter.
In the aftermath of attending the Dad 2.0 Summit I’ve been thinking about that, about how like my father I can be, how he influenced the person that I am. Growing up you rail against your parents’ influence, over their perceived power in your life. And many of us didn’t want to be like them, used that as a goal. My father and I bumped heads a lot, both of us were very strong-willed. And alike, let’s not forget that we were very alike. I learned a lot from him, some of which I try to pass along to my nieces and nephews.
Never let anyone tell you you’re wrong when you’re right. He taught me to stand up for myself. To defend what I believe and know to be true. That sometimes the cost is worth the argument. That you can’t let others abuse you or abuse their power over you.
It doesn’t matter what other people think. Brene Brown often says “you aren’t the jackass whisperer” (or something like that). If someone is determined to have prejudices against you, to think that you are dumb because you speak with an accent or have brown skin (and treat you accordingly), you’re not going to change their minds. Focus your energy on doing your job, do it well, and move on.
You can get anything you want, if you work for it. My father believed that all you need is drive, determination and hard work to get the life you wanted. He made choices based on those goals. He taught me that there aren’t any shortcuts, and very often you’ll think about giving up long before you achieve what you wanted.
And so on, and so on and so on… I learned a lot from my father. I am the person I am in large part because of his influence, his lessons. It’s nice to remember that.
About the conference
I’m not sure I would have attended the Dad 2.0 Summit if it hadn’t been held in Houston. I don’t think I actually believed that a “daddy bloggers” conference is something I would find interesting, or useful. I was wrong. I was very very wrong.
The conference was well-attended with some fabulous bloggers from across the country. A few hundred men, and (yes) a few women too, who were passionate about their topics, good writers, good conversationalists and wonderful people. Many of the bloggers were clear that they were “a blogger who happens to be a Dad.” And many were were articulate on topics that I usually hear from the Mom’s side.
There were conversations happening about the focus of brands on mothers when fathers have a lot of say in purchases, the reality that there’s a big group of primary-care fathers out there that hadn’t been represented, and the concerns they all have about raising children who are bright, happy and healthy. It was wonderful.
And the speakers, I could actually gush like a fan-girl about the speakers. I summarized my favorites via Storify (see the list below), but there just wasn’t enough time to attend all of the sessions I wanted to attend.
The biggest takeaway was the level of commitment these men have to being fathers, and to being good fathers. Mainstream media and news so often glorify the opposite, the deadbeat dads and the criminals and the louses. It was an enlightening experience to see a large group of men who exemplify and are ambassadors for the wonderful qualities of fatherhood that I see in my brothers-in-law, and saw in my father.
I think I would go to this again, if my schedule and resources permitted attending.
Some Storify conversation summaries you might find interesting from the conference:
Do you have a crisis communications plan for your company or business? I’m frequently surprised by the amount of people who tell me that they don’t have a plan in place for their small businesses, and big businesses, in the case of an emergency. Many rely on institutional knowledge to determine what needs to be done when an incident, of whatever magnitude, happens. That’s a very imprecise way to operate, especially in a moment of crisis.
I’ve been revisiting the topic of crisis communications lately, which has prompted a lot of notes and ideas for posts. This is the first, addressing the basics of what should be in your plan. Your plan should include:
Who is in charge?
The crisis communications plan should name the person in charge who is going to make decisions for your business or organization. This might be a position listing (i.e., president, director, shift manager or manager in charge) or actually identifying the person by name.
The plan should also include a backup name to identify who is in charge if the first person listed cannot be contacted.
How do I contact the person in charge?
The plan should include all relevant contact numbers and digital addresses for the people who need to be contacted. Be sure that personal information is included, including home phone and personal cell phone numbers.
Who needs to be contacted and in what order?
The plan needs to include the names of everyone inside the organization who must be contacted, when they need to be contacted, in what order, and their contact information.
What’s the contact strategy? i.e., do you need to leave messages and move on to the next person in the list or do you need to leave a message and keep trying the numbers until you manage to communicate directly with the person listed?
You need a similar list for people outside the organization: who needs to be contacted, when they need to be contacted, in what order, and their contact information.
Who speaks on behalf of your company?
The plan needs to name the designated spokesperson to speak for your company or organization. The spokesperson is usually the public relations professional. It’s important that the plan also includes a chain of command establishing that all information, responses and facts be released through one person or one source; this source will usually be the designated spokesperson.
However, if the incident happens in the field, someone may need to be on hand in the field to address media and community questions before the designated spokesperson can arrive. Media training will be an essential component of your crisis communications plan if you need to designate on site spokespeople in your plan.
This is just the beginning
Of course, every crisis communications plan is going to be a little bit different (or a lot) depending on what your business actually is and what the incident may be, but this will get you started.