Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ooph! Vampires and Zombies are the new buzzwords!

This has been an exhausting 2 weeks.  I've been holding my nose to the grindstone, my feet to the fire, my ears to the headset and my eyes to my laptop screen.  What am I doing with all the hours online?

Well, I went on a marathon, masochistic spree of signing up for marketing, coaching, article writing opt-in newsletters.  I found a funny trend.  Marketing people are writing of subscribers who get in the "sales funnel" and don't buy as "zombies" and "vampires."  Sounds like a little mud-slinging when people won't plunk down the greenbacks!  But those words do make for catch copy headlines. I guess I'm probably a first class vampire by now.

However, I did crack out my credit card today to purchase Apple's Quick Time Pro at $30 a pop.  Let's see how it does in helping make some podcasts to share. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Take a ride on the Google Wonder Wheel!

A fun and potentially useful tool, The Google Wonder Wheel!

Call me crazy, but I can't give up multitasking. I started the afternoon by attempting to listen to 2 webinars simultaneously, to whit:

1) PR Web's offering:
"The Key to Keywords: News Optimization For Better Results"
(click here for slideshow digest version)

which won out for my attention over:

2) Citrix's menu fare:
"Today’s Five Worst “Wish I’d Known That” Web 2.0 Trip-ups in Professional Service Marketing (And How to Avoid Them)

Maybe you can judge a webinar by its title. It should have been a tip-off that the substance of the presentation was inversely proportional to the length of its title?

Any, one of the best take-away's from the PR Web presentation was the nifty Google search enhancement.

Check out this easy description of how to access it during any Google search: How to Access the Google Wonder Wheel.

Here's a sample of what it will do, expanding a key word term like "time management" to related terms.

For the next show-and-tell session, I'll explore the meaning of two SMO (social media optimization) terms: "long tail," which I've heard bandied about, and a new one I glommed on today's webinar, "LSI" (latent semantic indexing), so that, yes, Virginia, too, can pose as a professional marketing jargonite at your next tweet up. ;-)

Wishing you a day of fun, learning, and discoveries in your cyber explorations!

PS...thanks to Elaine Chow at the blog with such a marvelous image of Santa Monica's 160,000 LED Ferris Wheel Powered By The Sun.

Monday, April 19, 2010

5 Picks from 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Michael Stelzner, executive editor of Social Media Examiner released a report this week (mid-April) from a survey of 1,900 marketers (which I was happy to participate in).

Here’s a list of 5 key findings for a quick read:

(you can view full PDF, with graphics, here.)

  1. Blogging is on the rise.
  2. MySpace is shrinking.
  3. Top 4 favorite social media tools, in order of preference: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs.
  4. We want to know more about social bookmarking.
  5. Most of us spend a min. of 6 hours/week on Social Media Marketing, but the more time you’ve been doing it, the more time you can expect you will spend on it in the future.
For good ideas for your social media marketing, click here.
(Michael's video interview with Chris Garrett.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Managing the Email Glut (how to weed an inbox)

Most of us have developed a love/hate relationship with our email account--loving the feeling of being needed, remembered and connected, and hating the feeling of being increasingly overwhelmed with the speed by which we're inundated with messages--messages that we need to open, sort through, make decisions on, and reply to.

There is often a false sense of urgency in checking email. A common tip from the gurus: Try to limit yourself to 2 or 3 times a day. However, most of us are more like rats in a lab, pressing the tab to feed ourselves little pellets of sustenance at repeated intervals all throughout the day (insert collective sigh here). (click on image for origin)

Process email in batches. Try a quick scan to see what are urgent or time sensitive. Open those first. Also, obviously look at the sender names. People you already recognize should come first, but try to ignore for now notes from known senders who send "fun forwards."

Any emails that are invitations to meetings, events, etc. should be replied to as soon as possible, and added by the email program to your calendar. Since I use Gmail, I usually need to copy the info into a calendar entry with cut and paste. Add email reminders to yourself if you like, with the option within the calendar.

Determine a reasonable-for-you threshold of retained email. Initially, my "magic" number was 500. If my email queue of emails, including read and unread tops 500, I will force myself to do a Clean up. (Note, I tend to keep many older emails related to prior PR jobs for clients. Your own magic number might be 30, but then you probably won't need these tips.) I feel a little guilty about this high number of retained and still-to-process emails, but considering I get about 75 emails a day, by no means large in today's plugged in society, this number works for me so far.

In Clean Up mode, when you identify a sender or key word that you know you can part with multiple emails from, do a search and look for obsolete or out dated emails and group-delete them.

When I get involved in Clean Up mode, I go through some of my older emails and convert any information they contain that may prove meaningful again in the future to either Word documents, or I copy and add contact information to my Gmail contacts.

Try to read and act on emails that require action right away. You may find some that are worth reading later on a slow time. Some that may be read later include newsletters.*

As I gotten more proactive about cleaning up emails, I've whittled down my target range to 400 messages. However, when I get lazy about regular maintenance, this number can bloat to 500, which is my threshold to schedule Clean up.

Either schedule or get in the habit of performing "clean up" sessions to review what you've stockpiled. (You can make it a bit of a game to see how many you can delete in a quarter of an hour, much like my mother had my brothers and sisters and I see how many toys we could pick up and put away in our rooms in a short period of time.)

Also, try to leave the perfectionist's tendency to need to review/save/archive or otherwise memorialize all information. Mostly, anything you receive via email you could actually live without revisiting ever again, without majorly affecting the quality of your life.

It's great to sign up for newsletters but I try to evaluate them on an ongoing base and unsubscribe if they are not continuing to deliver really helpful information.

Another observations...I recommend checking your email DRAFTS folder only at planned intervals to see what you have cached there. Sometimes an important message might be stowed there--out of sight, out of mind--that needs to be updated/finished and sent on to a recipient.

*Some newsletters I've found that are worth keeping:
Sarah Sevens Commentz
Rain Today

(since this post is soooo long already, and was supposed to be about brevity and streamlining, a complete list of my recommendations and links will be a later post!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sick Time's Not Necessarily Down Time

While suffering from a nasty cold, I determined to hit the sack in a seriously nonsocial way. After my first two days of being catatonic, I roused myself enough to get to my friendly neighborhood library to see what goodies from my online requests had come in.

(In case you don't use your library system, it's a great source of free entertainment and education, and you can search by topics. Just watch the overdue fines on DVD's!)

My two items being held were on both NLP. Having worked with a life coach for a couple of months, I'd recently determined that I want to know more about this Neurolinguistic Programming mumbo-jumbo that seems to have so many secrets for the people who've trained in it. A lot of them are pretty bright people by the way, even though it's pretty out there.

One item was a set of 8 CDs on the topic. I started listening to the first CD on the way home, but it said it's not recommended to listen to in a place that you can't go into a trance-like state. Well since the librarian told me that other item, "Neuro-Linguistic Programming Workbook For Dummies," was a "high-demand" item, and therefore due in 1 week, instead of the regular 4. So I decided I would read as much as I could while sick. I ended up reading it cover-to-cover in a day, and probably have a better handle on the topic from a Gestalt point of view than if I'd read it in small chunks.

Yes, I did do an inordinate amount of Sudokus the past couple of days, but my point is, sick time can be a time to recharge your brain since you're plunked down in one place with people wanting to leave you alone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What a blog can be...

  • a list...a poetic list,
  • Or simply INterresting, ARRESTING prose, taking lovely lilting, lifting leaps with rhyme, or none.
  • A running to-do list for personal goals.
Note to self: + Update LinkedIn profile
+ Follow up on last public event and clean up emails
+Call life coach and clarify our relationship
+ Upload videos to YouTube for promotion
+ Work on Power Networking presentation to give away more of my time without charging for it ---
+ Analyze what is wrong with my relationship with money and why I don't want to charge people for knowledge
+ Minimize time on facebook and spend more time on what I perceive as having more lasting value, to whit: (add parenthetical list(within a) list below)
  1. improve dance
  2. learn languages
  3. share knowledge
  4. write REAL snail mail letters, especially to nice people, or complimenting excellent customer service
  5. create beautiful art with color, balance, and a joy to behold by myself most importantly but consider others too.
  6. work on being an angel (i.e., work to mitigate my tragic flaws--write me an email if you want to know them)
List above continued....
  • a public declaration of passions.
  • an instructional manual.
Yes, another I DARE to post without censorship. Getting pretty good at this blogging, with frequency, originally, self-express...Oops those go on the list, which also includes bragging, showing off, entertaining, making cyber friends, okay, back to my "real work," which, believe it or not is communications, though the best communicators listen more than they talk, which means some of my REAL work is dedicated to READING other people's blogs, enjoying discovering their websites, and most of all, meeting the gazillions of fascinating people there are to be known through TWITTER and other sometimes frivolous websites, like Wikipedia and the zillion of special interest forums. Might I add a compliment in general to the people who stoically man help desks and provide customer service by TELEPHONE...OUCH...hats off to you all.

101 tweaks & tips for Gmail

One thing I've learned in the past couple of weeks through working with a professional life coach is to commit to goals and action intentions verbally, as well establish clearly defined and somewhat ambitious goals for ourselves and others. I also learned another individual (a well known professional speaker and social media "guru", ___________, if you want to market information and get people interested in what you have to say, promise them a hand number, like 10 easy steps, or FIVE most important principles. They don't have to be rocket science, either. A good mix of common sense and brilliance suits most tastes best.

Finally, in no particular order of counting, a revelation that gave me great peace as I pondered it absolute that seems to stand true, a logical paradox, a double negative...There is no problem that we cannot solve. Individually or collectively, if it cannot be solved, it is not a problem. A logical paradox, probably even a proof of the existence of God, if nature's miracles and might are not sheer force enough for the logical skeptics that lurk out there, annoying us believers with their stubborn arguments based on proofs.

There is no better joy than belief. This is another handy mantra, and joins my growing stable of conceptual themes that give me delight, chomping the intellectual and spiritual hay of my mind, along with that dear steed, Kaizen, as I desire to rope people maniacally into my scheme of improving the world one person, situation, idea at a time.

Okay, this is the quasi intellectual bullshit I was afraid of when I started this blog. Forgive the self and ego, and don't edit too much. A good blogging guideline...let's see if I can endorse it, though we do recommend editing at a second visit to consider whether the advise is really sound enough, grammar is correct, and spelling close enough to perfect to pass as an intelligent blog entry worthy of someone's too limited time online or possibly worth honing individually or collectively into some sensible, carefully crafted text or prose or manual or webpage more worthy of the space without the annoying run-on sentences of a one-fell-swoop entry, or the vapid dryness of a business or professional blog which might get sapped dry from all sense of individuality, trace of uniquenesslikeness, snipped free of ego. Now Cynicism, get back to your manger and leave the other emotions free to express!

[Ann, I DARE you to keep this blog as is...what if someone discovered it and really questioned whether you are always in your right mind, as opposed to letting the left hemisphere have a nanosecond of say in your thoughts?]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Learning to Love Cold-Calling

Cold calling leaves many of us cold. Especially perhaps in public relations. I'm drawn to the field because I care about people and enjoy helping others, talking to others, and connecting others. A late bloomer, who used to be painfully shy, I love the limelight, and have to curb the tendency to grab the podium and make an audience of whomever will listen. I suppose that's part of the beauty of blogging. One presumes the audience is 100% voluntary.

So, that brings me to one of the areas of my PR duties that I don't always feel warm and fuzzy about. That's cold calling. I am predominantly a writer, before being a salesman on the stump. I would prefer to select and hone words and let people pick through them at their own leisurely pace. Like the rest of us, I loathe unsolicited telemarketing calls. I appreciate the serene silence of no phone calls, no matter how adorable the ringtone.

And I suppose a wee bit of that vestigial shyness kicks in before I pick up the phone--or these days cut and paste a number into the Skype calling number field. But once I get on the phone, it's actually a pleasure, meeting that real person on the other end. Before long, I've got a new friend, and I'm volunteering to help them with their mission, whether an editor I want to help save the dying industry of newspapers or a librarian I'm secretly in awe of for their commitment to this misunderstood profession, or a fellow blogger that I end up chatting with about what's going on in their neck of the world. Like working out, or other habits that take getting used to for us to enjoy, I suspect I am going to start loving cold calling. Achoo!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kaizen: It's not just for rocket scientists

One of my favorite words is a Japanese concept that has wound its way into the English language—kaizen. It's like a little mantra I come back to now and then to remind me that, though my life and habits may not be perfect, I can always take incremental steps and make better at whatever I want to change.

It's actually a pretty simple formula:

改 ("kai") meaning "change" or "the action to correct"
+ 善 ("zen") meaning "good"
= 改善 kaizen, Japanese for "improvement"

All of us at times find ourselves frustrated when we arrive at situations in which we realize our abilities or coping is limited by our current knowledge or experience. At these times, it's helpful to summon the magic of kaizen.

Kaizen can be an attitude, where we realize we can incrementally tackle our ability gaps. Combined with resolve and patience, kaizen can help us master new languages (learning three words a day in a foreign tongue), commit to a new fitness regime (add 5 minutes to a work out on a treadmill when you want to recommit to the gym), or develop a technical competency like working with a digital camera or web design program.

While similar to "practice, practice, practice," the kaizen outlook allows us to approach our desired behavior or problem area with secure knowledge that continuous, incremental improvement is our goal. It's the attitude set that makes the difference between grudgery and a delightful personal challenge.

Pat yourself on the back on that new task with a newfound kaizenitude.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Keeping it up...Got the blog blahs?

It's just past Christmas. On blogger, on dasher, and vixen. Actually, it just past new year's. Time is flying by! And many of you are found with some type of blog-related activity on your list of resolves.

As I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog, sometimes it's better to call new year's resolutions intentions rather than resolutions. My intention is to add a little to my blog, if not every day, then not let too many days pass without sharing here. My goal is to help others and inspire YOU to make the best of your time here on the planet. To achieve YOUR goals.

If one of your goals is keeping up with YOUR blog, read this and take heart. Commit to your blog. Like a real relationship, it takes commitment and communication. A blog is much like a plant or an infant, and thrives with care, thought, and the nourishment of your attention. Like a journal, it can help you be being a repository for thoughts. Hopefully it doesn't become much of a dumping ground for your discontent, but if need be, so be it. Blogs can be sharing places to group-vent at times, and perhaps in doing so, to problem solve through the synergy of shared ideas and experiences.

Some reasons to blog? Blogs are great open-door cocktail parties for networking as well. Unless for some reason you've decided to make your blog a private, secluded affair, you can meet incredible folk that cause your synapses to sing.

One of my favorite reasons for blogging is to share all the groovy, yummy, funny, motivating, an/or entertaining tidbits and resources I discover as I surf from day to day.

Today's show & tell offering is a kick-in-the-pants list of the Dumbest Excuses for Not Blogging from Joan Stewart's "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," an ezine featuring tips, tricks and tools for generating free publicity. Subscribe at and receive by email the handy cheat sheet "89 Reasons to Send a Press Release."

If you aren't blogging yet, or you've stopped blogging, you can't use these three excuses:

  1. --It takes too much time.
  2. --I don't know what to say.
  3. --Nobody comments at my blog.
Joan addresses these laziness rationalizations one by one:

1. Of course it takes time. She says if she'd have to choose just one social media tool, she'd probably choose a blog. It positions you as an expert in your field far better than noisy sites like Twitter and Facebook can.

2. You don't know what to say?
Finding content is one of the biggest complaints I hear from Publicity Hounds. But once you know about shortcuts like creating Google Alerts and checking them each day for topics you can write about, you'll have more content than you'll ever need. That's what I do.

3. Nobody's commenting at your blog? It could be because your content isn't compelling. Or perhaps you aren't feeding your blog into sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where thousands more people can share your information with friends, followers and fans. Or maybe you aren't ending your posts with questions like "Am I wrong?" or "What's your take?" or "Share your best tip here and let's see how long a list we can create."

Good luck with your blog, and keep checking back here on Catapult when your motivation lags.
PS...thanks to www/