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Transparency and the rise of the new spin doctors December 18, 2009

Posted by optimalrisk in Business, IT, relationships.
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Social media is introducing ‘forced transparency’ into the corporate world. Corporations are not always poised to deal with the speed of social media when it comes to incidents and complaints.  More and more companies are hiring social media ‘experts’. While some companies are seizing this opportunity to engage consumers, others are cringing in the corner wondering if they will be caught.  Whistleblowers, insiders, investigative journalists, and hidden cameras have been around for years.  However, the speed at which we can get information from these “primary” sources has not been experienced until recently.  Deep down, we know that many companies try to maintain ethical business practices while chasing their bottom line, but there some companies (in some instances, whole industries) that would be ‘misunderstood’ by the public if their inner workings were brought to life.  In come . . . the New Spin Doctors!

To be fair, there have always been marketing and communications professionals who make sure that the company is looking good, but this new breed has to develop new tactics.  The “press release” and “official statements” are slow ways to respond to an issue.  It is slow because they depend on traditional conduits like press conferences and media outlets.  Social media is about relationships.  If Bob and Sally are friends AND Sally and Jamie (and doesn’t know Bob) are friends, all it takes is for Bob to tell Sally something.  If it is interesting enough to share, then Jamie will soon know as well.  If Bob has a bad experience with Company X, it only takes hours before hundreds know (depending on network size). Also, the people in Bob’s network are less likely to believe the company when they respond after the fact.  The reverse is also true.  If Bob sends a message to the network praising or exonerating the company, then that bodes well for the company.  At best, it is now easier for an individual’s network to cause concern for a company.

I predict that the “New Spin Doctors” will have some adjustment time, but will soon create systems that make it hard for reputations to be damaged by a video of 2 stupid employee making ‘gross’ with the food.  Let me know if you can dream up or know ways that these spin doctors will let the company come out on top.


The top 4 reasons I use Twitter June 23, 2009

Posted by optimalrisk in Business, IT, Marketing.
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I’ve contracted something (not Swine Flu / H1N1) . . . The Twitter Bug!

I’ve succumbed to its promises of up-to-date, wall-to-wall information, low commitment time, and cool points (that also comes with a toaster).  That’s not why I’ve kept tweeting. Here are my top 4 reasons I use twitter.

I feel cool.
In the span of social media phenomena, it is hugely popular and relatively young.  I can quickly establish or re-invent my online persona.  I’ve been on Facebook and Myspace for years.  When paired with Twitter, it can make you look like you were cool all along.

It helps promote my other social media profiles.
There is a high cross-over of my buddies on my various social media platforms. When I’m on Twitter, I read the tweet and go to the link, if there is one.  I come back to the list and do it again.  When someone reads my tweet, they can only do a couple of things:  Re-tweet, direct message, reply or go to a link.  There are no games to play or photos to sort.

It makes me a better communicator
There’s a saying that goes “The key to good communication is brevity”.  It makes me think about how I can say something in 140 characters.

It makes me more productive
Some people believe that all these social media platforms are a big waste of time.  They usually are referring to when people play games or share American Idol videos.   I don’t tweet lies, so I have to do something cool enough to tweet about. By ‘trying’ to tweet daily, I am putting out quality information for my tweeps. Also, if you aren’t putting out enough or high quality tweets, people will unfollow you.  (I’ve learned the hard way)

The Aftermath: Event Continuity March 18, 2009

Posted by optimalrisk in Business, IT.
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Curiosity + Google search + Tech savvy = IT Coordinator

After an big organizational event (especially at a small non-profit),  everybody wants to go home and sleep.  Not so fast . . .

People who were not up late stuffing folders and collating packets want to know what happened.  Don’t they remember? They want pictures, evaluation results, who won what, etc . . .  On the operational side, vendors want to be paid, on-site registrations must be processed and receipted, final expenses must be tallied. How much did we net on this event?  On the I/T side (my side) registration numbers must finalized, the registration form should be taken down, the presentations should be put online, and award winners should be announced.

The importance of capturing what happened after an event cannot be understated.  It is important for external and internal reasons. Remember the reason you have events is to further promote your vision and mission or get funding to promote your vision and mission.  In order to know if you were effective in promoting, you have to know what happened. Here is your after event IT check list (besides returning the computer and A/V hardware).

  • Finish processing all pending, invoiced and on-site registrations
  • Make sure all sponsors have paid, that all vendors are paid and are shown as paid in your system.
  • Download and label pictures taken
  • Encourage your constituents to blog about there experience
  • Remove any pre-event info from the website
  • Post pictures, attendee list, award winners, presentation, or anything that people who missed the event would want to know or see.
  • Say “Thank you” to all sponsors on the website

I am primarily responsible for event registration, website, and making sure the presentations work.  In my particular position, I also coordinate with accounting to make sure that what shows up in the Blackbaud / Kintera CRM is the same as our books show.  This is crucial for accurate reporting.

On the website, you want the people who attended feel “cool”, and the people who missed out to feel “sorry”. Also, you probably garnered new constituents at the event, so they need to see you are on the ball.  In the database / CRM application, you want to capture the accurate amount people and money, so that:

  • You can justify any decrease or increase in budget for the event next year
  • Make accurate LYBUNT (last year but not this year) reports, so you can compare yourself to the previous year while “in the process”.

Overall, you want to capture an accurate picture so that the marketing / development can do the job of promoting with “the truth”.

Social Networking Wants to use our info for marketing purposes!? February 4, 2009

Posted by optimalrisk in Business, IT, Marketing.
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According to this article, social networks and companies want to monetize the marketing information we are giving them.  Not only do they want to bombard us with ads, but they want to use the information we are giving them to tailor their marketing schemes in general.

Granted, I feel as perturbed as the next person, but come on people.  I am learning how to program.  It’s just beginner JavaScript, but this stuff is not easy.  I know geeks that give their coding away for free, but that’s usually for street cred or portfolio building.  Now take something that is several times harder than JavaScript.  People are a little naive to think all the games and other applications are free because of the side advertisements.  We are telling them exactly what they want to know about our spending habits.  There are free things that are put out by social misfits, humanitarians, or open source communities, but Facebook is not one of them.