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    Online observations of public relations, marketing, advertising and social media; the occasional frivolity; and The Rundown show notes. Jump in, the water's fine.

    Please Note: Everything posted on this blog is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of my employer or its constituents.

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Toronto Wrap-Up & Comment

cupcrazy.jpgMy first (real) social media meet-up and unconference was an outstanding success. Pounding the pavement in the Hockey Hall of Fame was a nice addition as well. Pictured is me and my good friend The Stanley Cup along with Terry Fallis of Inside PR and The Best Laid Plans book podcast. Terry was a perfect gentleman and chauffeur all weekend. If you need driven around town by the president of a very successful international public relations agency, I suggest him. Tell him Luke sent you.

Podcamp was a mind-blowing experience. Unfortunately I was mildly distracted by the relative star power. Of course I still learned quite a bit with the sessions I attended, but I’m incredibly grateful for the video of the entire conference posted on the wiki. To quote Mitch Joel, “I can’t believe all this content is free!”

I, for one, am going to have to revisit every session taught by Christopher Penn of the Financial Aid Podcast/Student Loan Network one tidbit at a time if I’m going to retain anything he said. Here’s a fanatical tech guy who actually understands the technology, grasps the communication aspects of the tools AND can talk intelligently about it. A rare breed of genius, that guy. He provided great hacks on increasing the podcast audience and marketing, for instance. Mitch and John Wall dropped some creative ways to SEO and Google juice your podcast in my last Saturday session.

geekdinner.jpgThe geek dinner with Mitch, Donna, Bryan Person of the excellent New Comm Road podcast, the lovely Carin, and John Wall, with a rock star cast at the table behind, fed my mind and body. Donna, in exceptional geek fashion, set up her rig and recorded for posterity. Should be on a future Trafcom News Podcast if it turned out. The night rolled right into a rocking good time at C’est What? with Uncle Seth. I’m a converted fan. Chris Clarke finally woke up long enough to steal $20 from me and keep me up way too late.

Our Sunday morning panel (photo) (video) was recorded and the audio was inserted in Mitch’s podcast this week. Great minds surrounded me as we tackled the question, “Should your company be podcasting?” Awesome insights from Donna, Terry, and the ever articulate Michael Seaton, who, by the way, is the only person I personally know getting paid to produce a podcast (okay, sure he does a myriad of other stuff, but still). He detailed some great info in his session (link to his video) on how to get buy-in from a huge multinational organization.

Without reviewing the videos, the most concrete things I walked away having are some outstanding new tools like StumbleUpon, Twitter, Mobatalk (met Michael Bailey by chance in the elevator Friday night, I love this stuff), and MyBlogLog. Too much to mention, but I hope to be using some of it soon.

Check out the tagged photos on Flickr and Chris’s blog post. Thanks to John for posting this snap. Bob and Donna both have good recaps of events as do many others.
I’m still crying myself to sleep about missing David Jones, but I hope to someday get over it. Why, David, WHY have you forsaken me?

Thanks to all those who took the time to share insights and chat about their knowledge. Shout out to Brogan and Casey & Rudy from Galacticast (a hilarious geek-focused comedy videocast) hope to see you all again soon. Apologies to the dozens of great folks I never had a chance to meet. Special thanks to Leesa and Brent Morris of The Closet Geek Show, Jay Moonah of Uncle Seth and Online Music Marketing, and Julien of the In Over Your Head hip hop podcast, and Mitch for all their hard work.

update: added a few more links to posts I missed earlier

Greatest Event Ever, Podcamp Toronto

fallis.jpgAmazingly, it hadn’t even started yet when I thought this.

In the first 2.5 hours since I arrived in Toronto, I’d had the social media time of my life. Got picked up by Terry Fallis, from the excellent PR and agency-side Inside PR podcast and Thornley Fallis, at the airport. We drove straight away to the Imperial PUBlic Library to meet up with some folks. This is the sign he held up when I walked out of customs.

Holy cow, the pub was like the pantheon of social media superstars in Canada and the American NE. I was stunned, humbled, and awed. I can’t tell you awesome it was to talk shop with people I felt like I have known for years.

Key players were Mitch Joel, host of Six Pixels of Separation The Twist Image Podcast and John Wall, host of The M Show and his wife the lovely Corinne Carin (my apologies), Leesa Barnes, Mitch Joel from Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast, Michael Seaton – Scotiabank’s The Money Clip Podcast and The Client Side, and Bryan Person from New Comm Road.

Today I’ll be meeting Donna Papacosta – Trafcom News when I finally meander to Podcamp Toronto. More later.

Join me at Podcamp Toronto

Join me and hundreds of other people for Podcamp Toronto this weekend!

Not only will I be enjoying the company of some of my favorite podcasters, networking with other social media geeks, and enjoying the Canadian highlife, I’m also speaking on a panel Sunday morning.

The 10:45 Panel Discussion is entitled Should Your Company Be Podcasting? Moderated by Mitch Joel from Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast. Panelists will be Michael O’Connor Clarke of Thornley Fallis; me; Donna Papacosta – Trafcom News; Terry Fallis – Inside PR and Thornley Fallis; and Michael Seaton – Scotiabank’s The Money Clip Podcast and The Client Side.

Donna has written a detailed post about it too, wherein she refers to me as a “prolific blogger and king of podcast parody.” Great, wait until the attendees hear what I have to say about whether their companies should be podcasting:

“…and so the real test is whether or not your business podcast is funny. If it’s not, don’t bother. Does that answer the question?”

“But I own a funeral home…”

“Were you not listening? Funeral homes are goldmines for funny. You should podcast, consult me on the side about how to make that hysterical. Next question…”

You can listen to a few of my travel plans as detailed by the hilarious and knowledgeable jokers David Jones and Terry Fallis from Inside PR, the Canadian PR podcast on these audio clips I stole from their shows here and here.

It’s going to be quite a weekend and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re going to be in town, drop me an email or come to the panel discussion and lob softball questions at the panel. Actually, ask the tough questions, with this star studded cast, we just can’t go wrong. I might even ask a few questions of the esteemed panel myself!

Oh, How Small the World has Become

connections.jpgPhoto by Daycha Kijpattanapinyo

Here’s a little story that demonstrates the connections we’re all making online through this crazy social media network. It never ceases to amaze me.

Follow along closely, ’cause this is intricate.

Most of you know that being a part of the blogosphere means you’ll run into the same characters over and over again, especially in niche corners of the blogsphere’s web such as communication pros, cat fanciers, and lactivists. So I knew of Erin online about 18 months ago and met her online shortly before she started Forward. She invited me to contribute to the Forward blog not long after. Somewhere along the line I met Paull. It wasn’t long before I knew Erin and I shared the same passion for PR and social media and that Paull and I had the same questionable sense of humor.

Fast forward to my job, where we hire a young woman who finds out I’m a social media freak. She tells me not long after her hire that her former professor started a blog. So I checked it out. His name is Bill, his blog is ToughSledding. I check him out, I subscribe. I mean, he’s the only other NE Ohio PR blogger I know of.

Fast forward to Paull’s world tour, where he leaves Australia and travels the world, New York, Washington DC, Toronto Canada, Ohio, Norway, Denmark and more. He and Erin spend some time with me here in Ohio. It is amazing to think how it all transpired for them to be sitting in my living room one day. But then he and Erin headed out and things were back to normal here.

Then I get the following email from Bill at ToughSledding:

I’ve been conversing with Paull Young (through Facebook) and learned that he’d been in the area to visit his “mate” in Ohio. Thought maybe it was time I introduced myself, since we’re both blogging on PR topics and we’re both in the neighborhood.

I was floored. Kent State University is about 50 minutes from my house. Bill had made a comment to a post at Forward, started chatting with Paull on Facebook. Paull sent him a video of him speaking at a college in Toronto and Bill emailed me because of Paull.

I tried to get people at work to recognize the sheer brilliance of a medium at work when a fellow visiting the states from Australia can meet up with a guy in Ohio who works with a graduate of a school whose professor happens to have begun a conversation with said Australian, causing the professor to email the guy in Ohio who lives/works nearby. Bill understood the complexity of it. We agreed to find a time to meet up, but had never found time.

So I went to a PRSA luncheon in Akron on Thursday to watch Sage Lewis teach PR folks about SEO and Web 2.0. I got there a little later than most and there were only a few chairs left. I found a seat, went to introduce myself to the table when it dawns on me that the person I’m about to shake hands with is Bill from Toughsledding.

Absolutely amazing. It came full circle around. Bill thought it was amazing as well, and told the assembled crowd about it. It’s a medium at work. Always. Recognize it. Realize what it can do for you, your business, and your clients.

Sensationalist Ad Hater Headline Here

Super Bowl season is right around the corner as everyone who doesn’t live under a rock or in a perpetual hallucinatory state knows. Even me, a staunch hockey-only fan, can’t escape the ebb and flow of the communication efforts that surround the Super Bowl like a pr/ad gravitational pull. Uh, within limits, of course, I actually have a hockey game Sunday night that I’ll gladly be lacing my skates up for.

But my real reason for writing is this. I just wrote a seemingly anti-ad post, followed by a rather defensive comment. But it wasn’t the ads or concepts of ads I was opposing; it was the obnoxious way in which they’re forced upon us.

Truth be told, they can work. Julia Hood from PRWeek US wrote a great article (subscription required?) titled It’s not taboo for PR to admit that ads do work sometimes. Which, besides being a fantistic title, is also true. She goes into detail about buying a pair of Bose headphones. In addition to telling us how much Julia is willing to pay for a pair of headphones, it also tells us that PR pros are capable of paying attention to ads. She writes:

“What drove me to Bose’s online ordering page wasn’t the ad alone. It was the brand’s power, as understood through multiple channels over time, including product placement, ads, word of mouth, and media mentions.”

And that is the power of PR to which I was referring in my aforementioned blog comment. It’s a complicated network of messages over time. It’s no wonder ROI is so crazy and unpredictable. You can only really ever bet on the largest category of subjects to respond to any certain mix of stimuli at any snapshot in time. And what a ridiculous bet that would be! You’d never take those odds in Vegas, ever.

And this is also why I think an integrated marketing approach is the best, most solid, and respectable approach to the bottom line of any organization. Ads alone won’t do it, PR alone may won’t do it, R&D won’t do it, the brand alone won’t do it. C’mon, if it were that easy, wouldn’t we have already done it?

And I hate to admit it, but blogs and podcats aren’t the answer either. New tools are fantastic resources and present outstanding opportunties to convey messages in different ways, but it comes down to the message and the audience. And that’s another great power of PR, it should be the steward of your organization/brand message. PR is more than publicity, it is the champion for your communication efforts. Call it marketing communication if you want, but you’re missing something. It’s the whole process of communicating to every possible public (think target audience) that needs to hear your message. I also feel that PR folk need to be able to be the unpopular kids at the table and keep the strategy on track, regardless of how new or cool something is. If it doesn’t fit the message, don’t do it. So, in conclusion, I’ll wrap up with Julia’s concluding statement:

“Don’t be afraid to admit that ads sometimes work and blogs sometimes don’t. In order to secure their future, PR pros need to be the bravest people in the room and tell it like it really is.”