Clients

I’ve been too busy to blog. But that’s not a good excuse. So, here you go!

One of the pieces of advice I always give to clients is that if they start a blog, they regularly need to attend to it, keeping content fresh.  There are a few reasons for that. For starters, it keeps people coming back to hear what you have to say next. It also provides greater SEO value — the Google spiders like to see new content!  If your page gets stale, the Google believes it is less relevant for your key words.

So, it is with great remorse that I find myself violating one of my own rules!  There are, however, good reasons for my lapse!  Chief amongst them: clients.

In the past month I’ve landed as clients a leading Congressional candidate (Steve Heacock), a leading Christian publisher (Zondervan), a new furniture company to be launched (announcement coming soon!) and, very likely, a leading health policy non-profit in West Michigan (also to be announced, if it happens!).  I’ve still been writing about The Rapid for RapidGrowthMedia.com, and writing profiles for Grand Rapids Magazine. There are a couple other proposals out there that look promising, too!

At the same time, I know that with each of my clients there are end goals in sight, even if they are a few months off, so I cannot stop reaching out to potential new clients.  As President of the West Michigan chapter of PRSA, I have a number of built-in networking opportunities per month.  I also have been quite active in going to events sponsored by organizations like the Econ Club of GR, aimWest, RapidGrowthMedia, and more.  It is my sincerest hope that anybody looking for quality representation by an independent PR practitioner will consider me. If they’re not considering me because they don’t know about me, I need to network even harder!

So, because of all that, I’ve been a little lax on the blogging front.  But, here I am.  I promise to do better!  Meanwhile, are you looking for PR help?  If not me, call me anyway because I also know lots of other great pros who can help you out!

Spring in the Air

Recap of the last two weeks

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve last posted here. I’ve been very active, you see! Lots of networking, going to events like the Addy Awards and the aimWest Tech Trends event and WMPRSA’s “Meet the Media” event and so much more.  Plus I’ve had lots of meetings with people.  Some were people I worked with a long time ago but with whom I had lost touch. Some were people who have offered to help me in various ways.  Some were students I’ve offered to help.  And a few were even potential clients.

After a long cold winter, this week has seen a thaw in West Michigan. Snow is melting away in the balmy 40+ temperatures. Spirits are lightened as Michiganders head outdoors in their t-shirts. :-)  People around here rejoice as America took home the top haul of Olympic medals. I took special pride in Canada’s top haul of 14 golds and, in particular, the men’s hockey gold. After losing to the U.S. in an earlier round, I just knew the Canada squad wouldn’t let themselves lose another game.

And my prospects for new work are also very good. Today I accepted one assignment that will likely keep me busy through November.  Two other projects I bid on seem very possible and, if I get that work, I will be very busy through the summer.  I have agreed to join the Festival of the Arts communications team as a volunteer, which also will be very fun. And, of course, I’m still writing for Grand Rapids Magazine and for RapidGrowthMedia.com

When you add in serving as president of West Michigan PRSA, serving as secretary of the deaconate for my church, and writing assignments for the New 2 You Shoppe (my wife serves on their board), there’s not a lot of free time!

So, that’s my excuse for not blogging the last few weeks.  Next week begins the “Nine Days of Celebration” in the Luymes household. First it’s my birthday on the 9th, then my wife’s birthday on the 14th, and then our wedding anniversary on the 18th (21 years). So, maybe I’ll be too busy partying down to blog. Or too busy working (which is just one more reason to celebrate)!

aimWest, young man

aimWest ConFab was chocolaty social media goodness through and through.

Yesterday was the 1st Annual aimWest Social Media ConFab, featuring keynote Laura Fitton, aka @Pistachio in Twitter, who co-authored Twitter for Dummies. Like many, Laura thought Twitter was kind of dumb when it first came out.  I know I also blogged about it a few years ago, questioning its value. Laura gave it a chance (as did I, eventually) and immediately saw her leads increase.

There’s a great Grand Rapids Press story about the conference today, and #aimWest was a top-1o trending topic yesterday as conference attendees twitted their thumbs away. Congratulations to aimWest for pulling together such a great event!

I was a panelist for a morning session on social media boosting productivity and collaboration in the workplace.  With me on the panel were Melissa Chiaramonti of Meijer (@mgenta on twitter) and Harrison Withers of Media 1. 

I talked a little about my experience within Amway and use of sharepoint sites and the like.  For teams, sharepoints and wikis can be great, but it requires full participation in order to be truly successful.  Key voices missing from the conversation might result in a flawed collaboration.  My “Beatles Social Media” example was that, if that four-person team had made collaborative decisions via social media, the outcomes resulting from dialog that only involved George and Ringo probably wouldn’t have made the band the success it became.  John and Paul’s inputs were necessary for the true success they eventually achieved, not to mention the voices of others such as their manager and their producer.

My main point, I think, was that organizations need to get intentional about their use of social media internally, just as many already are for external audiences. Within the company, people already are using social media tools but there’s little measurement occurring to determine if it’s effective — largely because most companies don’t even know it’s happening to the extent that it is.  Rather than having social media “just happen,” I think an organization will reap more benefits by planning and supporting the social media tools internally.

Melissa and Harrison — both of whom are true experts on this topic — really brought great ideas of what to do and how to do it to the audience.  While they were talking, I was scanning the #aimWest tweets on my laptop. It was almost like I could see thought bubbles rising above the heads of people in the audience, and it led to some of the questions we addressed as a panel.

I went to the social media “slam” session after that, where attendees shared experiences and questions “open mic” style. I’d been to a Social Media Slam conducted in a similar way this summer, which led to a YouTube video about my experience at Amway and how my 80-year-old dad met his wife online.  This one was much bigger and people did their little talks from where they sat, which gave it a different feel, in my opinion.

There was a great panel on Power Networking, but most of that session really focused on Facebook, since one of the panelists was Tom Chisholm, a Director at Facebook. The most excitement was generated over the question from the audience about when Facebook would add a “dislike” feature to go along with its “like” button. Tom started to say the “hide” feature was sort of the same thing, which aroused a Joe Wilson-like response from the audience (thanks @Maniactive).

Late in the afternoon, I was very proud of the great presentation by Cindy Droog of Amway, who was part of the panel discussing social media measurement.  She did a great job and received a lot of twitter love from the live tweeters. 

Between the Wednesday evening Tweet Up and the all-Thursday conference and the necessary follow up on emails and tweets today, the ConFab really chewed a big hole into this week. BUT, that hole was filled with gooey, chocolaty social media goodness, and area companies that didn’t send their PR/Social Media/Marketing staff to participate and learn really missed out!

Social Media for Internal Collaboration

This Thursday is aimWest’s first annual Social Media ConFab at the JW Marriott, at which I will be a panel moderator.  According to my source, the numbers of attendees were still creeping up this week (she’s still hoping for 300) and yesterday’s GR Press story might help reach that goal!

The panel I’m moderating is about how social media is helping (or can help) internal collaboration within companies and organizations. The panelists will be Melissa Chiaramonti of Meijer and Harrison Withers of Media 1.  Most often in the past I’ve spoken on web reputation, with social media being an important aspect that companies and organizations need to monitor and manage.  Too many people don’t actively monitor what people are saying about their companies and brands online and, as a result, suffer reputational damage that could have been neutralized earlier just by becoming part of the conversation.

I am less of an “expert” on social media as a collaboration tool.  Or am I?  I used and participated in sharepoint sites while at Amway, which is the first thing that came to my mind on this topic.  Thinking more broadly, with Independent Business Owners (IBOs) an extended part of Amway’s “internal” communications, I blogged for five or six years in ways to educate and seek the support and engagement of that key audience.  I created content for the Web, including leading the “Interns Expose Amway” project that got our younger staff involved.  Even the way we obtained approvals for communications was a form of social media.  I was even part of the first (and probably last) virtual meeting held by Amway employees in Second Life.

I spent some time the past few days researching the topic of “internal collaboration” and, amazingly, I didn’t find a lot that really excited me.

To me, the biggest barrier to the success of social media as an internal collaborative tool for a working team is the weakest link.  The one who just doesn’t get how to use social media tools or the one who needs to see the actual facial expression accompanying the real-time feedback they get from a peer. 

I’m not one that would like to see an end to meetings because I do think they can contribute to quick collaboration and ensure the entire group is clear on direction or certain agreements.  But these days, with far-flung teams, business travel and so many other meetings competing for everyone’s time, the use of social media can keep collaborative conversations alive that might have been stymied otherwise.  And, after awhile,  you get to know others’ writing styles and understand their tone of voice and those “facial expressions” aren’t even necessary anymore.