Inside PR 3.44: Getting Creative at South by Southwest V2V

This week, we’ve got a special episode of Inside PR live from the South by Southwest V2V conference in Las Vegas. OK, live to digital audio.

Just before we recorded, I’d attended a high energy and insightful panel on creativity and brainstorming and invited the panelists to continue the discussion on the show.

Note: We’re in one of the speaker lounges so apologies for the sound quality and background noise. Next time, I’ll travel with my portable IPR studio, that is, I’ll find a quieter spot.

Our guests are:
Helen Todd, co-founder and CEO, Sociality Squared
Adam Marelli, artist and photographer based in NYC
Jim Hopkinson, fellow podcaster at the Hopkinson Report, author and principal of Hopkinson Creative Media
Jey Van-Sharp, business strategist and market analyst/editor at My Uber Life

Here are some highlights of our conversation:

Adam Marelli says one of the best pieces of advice he ever received on creativity came from a Zen monk who said do just one thing at a time. For Adam, no matter how long the to-do list becomes, he finds he’s most creative if he focuses on a specific task without distractions.

For Jey Van-Sharp, it’s all about prioritizing your priorities. He starts by thinking of the objective as a big boulder you can’t move very easily. Then he breaks it into smaller rocks and easy to handle pebbles, with each pebble being one task. Each day he picks several tasks to work on, knowing he can’t get through them all at once, but will accomplish the project over time.

Jim Hopkinson believes you should really know yourself and references a Paul Graham post on maker’s and manger’s schedules and how the two are often in opposition. Being creative means being a maker and it’s important to find clumps of uninterrupted time for your work.

Helen Todd agrees you need to block off periods during your day to cultivate your ideas. Her advice: avoid productive procrastination – where you work on administrative projects or answering emails because it makes you feel productive, when you should be focusing on the creative challenge at hand.

Final word goes to Adam who says, there’s an art to failure and you get there by practicing it; the separation between failure and success is very thin.

Do you consider yourself creative or in a creative job? What challenges do you have coming up with fresh ideas? Is creativity something you live and breathe or do you try to compartmentalize it? Any tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.

You may also be interested in the interview we did with Festival producer Christine Auten.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.37: You can’t judge a presentation by its cover

June was a month of wall to wall conferences. And those conferences brought Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and me together in two cities – Austin and Ottawa – and pulled us to opposite ends of the continent.

So, you spend all that money and time to attend a conference. And now you’re sitting in a presentation and you’re deciding whether you made the right decision. What makes it worthwhile?

Gini applies the Chile Con Queso Test. She loves chile con quesos. And she judges a restaurant by their quality. If they’re great, she’ll keep going back for more. Gini’s Chile Con Queso Test for conference presentations? Does the presenter provide her with at least one idea for a blog post? “If I can go into your session and come away with a blog post idea, I’m going to think you’re the best speaker on earth,” says Gini. On the other hand, “If I can’t get at least one idea to create content around, I’m not going to think you’re a great speaker.”

If you’re a speaker, how can you deliver the goods for your audience? I saw Lee LeFever talk about this at the recent Fireworks Factory organized by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo. Lee, who is best known for the explainer videos he has produced through his company, Common Craft, says that you must start from a position of empathy for the audience. Focus on what we care about, not what you want to present. Frame your topic in terms to which we relate. Suggest a commonly experienced problem to which we all relate. You’ll know you’ve done this is you see our heads nodding. Once you’ve established the shared space, focus on “why.” Why does this matter? Why will you approach it in this way. And then, and only then, move on to the “how.” How do I do this. Think about the presentations you’ve seen recently. How many of them failed because the presenter plunged directly into the “how” section, providing minute detail of what they did, while you were still stuck at, “Why do I care about this?”

Martin calls this the importance of appealing to the audience’s emotional senses. He points out that this often can be achieved through story telling, in which a motive is established and listeners are drawn into identifying with the subjects and storyline. Gini agrees with the power of this approach, pointing to a 52N (five minutes to engage, a variant on Ignite) presentation delivered by Abbie Fink at the recent PRSA Counselors Academy Conference in Austin. Abbie’s presentation consisted of reading a letter to her recently deceased family dog. At the end, she left many in the room in tears and everyone considering the nature of relationships. A story that appealed to our emotions. That appealed to the pet lover in all of us. That didn’t explain the why, but relied throughout on it. (Pity the poor presenter who followed Abbie – Martin Waxman!)

I attended a presentation recently by a speaker who gave me not just one good takeaway, but nine. Nine takeaways in an hour long presentation. And that speaker was … Gini Dietrich! Perhaps because Gini listened for takeaways in other speakers, she deliberately packages takeaways in her presentations. “When I write presentations, I write them long form. But as I do it, I write sound bites that I know people can tweet. You have to think about the key takeaways. Is someone going to get enough to pass the Chile Con Queso Test? And are they going to be able to tweet about it?” If you achieve these three objectives, people will come away with something to think about over the long term as well as content that will prompt immediate tweets and conversation.

Finally, there’s one huge no-no for conference presenters. What makes the audience groan and flee the room in droves? Martin calls it the “You can’t judge a presentation by its cover” problem.” You  decide to attend a presentation on the basis of the description in the program only to hear the speaker lead off with the statement, “I’m going to talk about something different from the advertised topic…” Sadly, that’s not uncommon at conferences. Not just the small regional conferences, but even larger conferences. The kindest interpretation I can put on this it that because of the long lead time between the time that the conference topics were set and the actual presentation, the speaker decided that the topic was outdated and decided to offer more up to date thinking. The unkind interpretation is that the speaker just said yes to the organizers’ invitation and then realized that he didn’t really have anything worthwhile to say about the topic. Either way, it can be a real let down if you showed up keen to learn and discuss the advertised topic.

Gini sums it up: ”We’re all busy. We all want to find value in the things that we are attending. We’re spending money to attend these things. And if we can’t get something out of it to bring back to our careers or organizations, then it’s not worth the time.”

So, after a month of conferences, these are our takeaways for presentations that are worthwhile. What are your thoughts? What makes a presentation worthwhile for you?

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Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.29: Google Reader, Feedly, and the perils of a dominant competitor

We could call this episode of Inside PR, the “Joe goes on a rant about Google, Reader, single competitor dominance and the viability of RSS feeds” episode.

Google Reader’s pending demise is a big deal for us. Like many writers, we use RSS feeds to be sure that we don’t miss content that passes in the flow at times when we aren’t paying attention. Gini and Joe have shifted to Feedly. And what did we discover? That a Feed Reader could be much better than Google Reader, like switching to full colour from black and white. That the emergence of one dominant provider of any service does not foster innovation.

Joe also wonders what impact does the shut down of Google Reader have on the trust that Google’s most passionate fans have on the company.

Finally, for those who thought that RSS fees are dead, the reaction of the heavy users shows that there is a deep, dedicated user community.

End of rant. (And thanks to Gini and Martin for patiently hearing me out. :) )

Finally in this episode, Martin gives a shoutout to Daniel Davidson and his Pitchin’ Ain’t Easy video.

 

If you’re a PR person, watch it and have a chuckle.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson.

Inside PR 3.19: Lots of news in the social space

In this week’s episode of Inside PR, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley talk about a number of things that caught our eye this week.

Google+ Communities

Google has added Communities to its Google+ Network/layer/thingamabobby. Think Yahoo Groups. Discussion groups you set up to discuss specific subjects.

We’ve set up a Community for Inside PR listeners on Google+. If you like the podcast and would like to suggest future topics or discuss each week’s episode, click over to our Google+ Community and join the conversation.

Twitter upgrades(?) with Filters on Photos

Gini Dietrich points us toward Twitter’s move to add filters to photos.

Both Martin and Gini wonder whether Twitter is on the right path – or undercutting itself by moving away from the universal publishing platform to one that emphasizes its proprietary solutions and services.

Facebook drops its commitment to user democracy.

Does anybody care? Was this ever a real thing or did Facebook’s thresholds so high that it simply fed a feeling of powerlessness from the outset?

Lots of questions in a great discussion.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson.

Inside PR 270: We talk about Intranets and the changes to Facebook

In this week’s Inside PR, Martin WaxmanGini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley talk about Intranets and the recent changes to Facebook.

Joe’s company’s Intranet is built around a Wiki to host content, Present.ly to support publishing and linking to content and Windows Live Messenger to enable one to one video calls. He encourages people to use these three tools to divert content from emails (we all suffer from inbox glut) and to channel communications from broad publishing through to one to one communications via video.

Martin points out that we have so many “places to go,” so many channels of communication, that managing these different channels can become a challenge unto itself.

And then there’s Facebook. We received a comment from Liza Butcher, who suggested that, “With the changes made this past week, I believe facebook it is trying to be too many things in one space, and ostracizing generations of people that may not be as tech savvy as others. … Facebook was a place for everyone, and now it is becoming too technical for the masses.”

Gini and Martin talk about their impressions of the most recent Facebook changes. Gini points out that it will be important to decide what you want to include in your timeline. Sharing everything won’t be for everyone. And it’s important to be aware of what the timeline automatically shares so that you can filter out the info you wouldn’t want to see there. Martin suggests that we all should become familiar with the “view activity” panel that will enable us to remove content from our timeline. Other neat features: the cover photo we can add to our Facebook profile and the ability to add “milestones” to fill in our timeline.

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Reminder: Inside PR will be recording live from the PRSA International Conference in Orlando on October 16 and 17. We’ll also be interviewing speakers and participants. So, if you’re planning to be there, let us know and we will grab a sound bite with you.


Inside PR 2.56: Key Learnings from Conference Season

The spring conference season has ended so we’re all back in our offices, podcasting from our desks, and talking about what we’ve learned the past couple of months.

Before we get to that, though, a HUGE congratulations to Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. They just recorded their 600th episode. I did the math. If they recorded once a week, that would take 11 years to achieve. But they’ve cut that in half…six years; 600 episodes; twice weekly podcasts.

It’s no easy feat, either. They use Google Wave to begin brainstorming each session, adding commentary, links, and other information to enhance the story. They spend a lot of time bringing you relevant and valuable information. And that’s why it’s one of the most respected and highest listened to podcast in our industry.

If you’re not already subscribed, do it now by clicking here.

If you missed it, there was a really good comment from Keith Trivitt, associate director of public relations at PRSA, on the Burson-Marsteller/Facebook issue.

We talked for a couple of minutes about Keith’s response and the responsibility of all PR professionals, no matter their PRSA membership.

And on to the show!

A few things each of us learned throughout conference season:

  • The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, Mike Michalowicz, talks about not calling yourself a PR firm, but to focus on what makes you special. That allows you to take yourself out of the rate discount discussion and get paid for your expertise.
  • Bret Werner talks about really understanding your niche, figure out which companies you really want to work with, and which clients you need to take to get you to those gold star companies in the next three to five years.
  • Jay Baer is a great speaker, who also knows how to speak in tweets, he said the goal is not to be good at social media, but to be good at business using social media.
  • Jay also said, if you suck, Twitter is not your problem.
  • Jen Prosek, author of Army of Entrepreneurs, has a great philosophy on training and onboarding new consultants.

One more thing: Barbara Nixon, we talk about the difference between Facebook groups and Facebook pages for you!

Do you have an idea for a topic you would like us to discuss? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.

Inside PR 2.47 – We ask Facebook a question…

This week, we record on Monday rather than Friday which gives us an extra two days to make the podcast even more timely…

Gini starts off by noting Twitter is planning to cut down on spam, and that includes those #FollowFriday or #FF tweets with long lists of @names and nothing else.  She says people will have to look at new ways to approach #FF. She chooses to write a weekly blog post featuring reasons to follow someone, like this one for Shel Holtz.

She goes on to mention Facebook’s new questions app, which apparently everyone has but Martin. Joe asks a question on FB and within four minutes gets 11 responses. (Note: by responding to Joe’s FB Q, Martin’s feature is enabled).  The way it works is you can pose a question, add answers folks can select, or let people provide their own answer. Gini feels it could be a good tool for market research and points out one change similar to a Quora feature: no one should be able to edit your question or answer. Currently, Facebook questions allows other users to edit the question and answers, this can result in your question longer representing your original point. Joe says he likes the social element of Quora and isn’t sure about the value of the FB experiment.

Martin recaps a recent post about what to look for – and what to avoid – when you’re choosing an agency. Joe mentions he feels the post points out that social media is in the broader context of overall effective communications, which is where it should be.

Joe announces that (sadly), our talented producer Yasmine Kashefi is leaving Thornley Fallis to go client-side. Yasmine has done a superb job on the show and we all want to thank her and wish her all the best!  We’ll miss you and hope you’ll send us some comments and thoughts.

Do you have comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini Dietrich, Joe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de Szegheo; Roger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.

Inside PR 2.45 – On the Internet, Sharing is Forever

Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley are all here for this week’s Inside PR. We talk about a couple things this week – community-driven events and online sharing.

Are unconferences and community-driven events dying out?

We look back one more time at our great experience at this year’s highly successful Podcamp Toronto. It takes a huge amount of effort to organize this type of event. And as professionally organized events have moved into the social media space, have they lessened our appetite and the pool of volunteers willing to organize unconferences? Do the professionally organized conferences cause us to have expectations of a conference that a community-based, volunteer driven conference can’t meet?

What’s happening in your community. Are there still vibrant unconferences or other community-driven events where you live? Are they becoming more frequent and more successful? Or rarer? Less well attended? We’d love to hear from you about this.

Sharing is Forever

We also talk about online sharing – or over-sharing. Martin starts the conversation by pointing to two sites that let you share your clickstream. Wow!

Would you want to share with others all the sites that you visit? Do you use the Web for work-related research? Is this an idea for a business that simply won’t work – at least if people appreciate the value of making conscious decisions about what we share.

Often, a choice to share is forgotten or poorly understood. We’ve already seen how Facebook’s frequent changes of their terms of service leads to people sharing information they hadn’t consciously realized they were sharing. Or think of Tumblr. How many people shared information on Tumblr, became bored with the platform and forgot that it is still spewing information about them. As Gini says, The Web doesn’t have a “Forget” button. Sharing is forever.

Do you have comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.42: The Ten Commandments of Positivity

David Jones (and so will you) will be very happy that Gini Dietrich got a new recorder. Now MUCH better sound for you!

A few newsworthy things we discuss: The ban on UberTwitter (which has now been lifted) and this image of the social media Bermuda Triangle that Petya Georgieva sent to us.

This week, Martin Waxman talks about his 10 commandments for public relations, which Joe Thornley notes we tend to forget. These are eternal truths and include:

  1. Don’t lie
  2. Don’t spam
  3. Don’t overpromise
  4. Don’t pretend something is what it isn’t
  5. Be creative
  6. Remember yours isn’t the only story out there
  7. Know where you stand in the grand scheme of things
  8. Do what you say
  9. Smile
  10. Say thank you

These commandments are ethical-based and are a great reminder that spin sucks and bad PR is bad PR. Smiling goes a long way, which Gini discovered when a University of Michigan study was released showing bad moods are as contagious as the common cold.

It’s so easy to spread your bad mood around through email and the social web and we talk about how, as leaders, we need to be very cognizant of how we behave not only affects the people in front of us, but also morale and culture that can have a last effect. When is online conversation appropriate and when is it better to get out of your office and actually talk to people?

Don’t forget we’re recording live at PodCamp in Toronto THIS Saturday! We hope to see you there.

Do you have comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, or message us @inside_pr on Twitter. Or connect with Martin WaxmanJoe Thornley, and me on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.38 – Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Martin, Gini and Joe talk about the three questions that need to be asked before accepting a controversial client.

0:27 Martin opens the show.

0:49 Joe is recording from Calgary as he is accompanying C.C. Chapman on the Content Rules Third Tuesday digital media meetups across Canada.

2:04 Gini has been following along and recommends that everyone check out Joe’s blog for interviews with C.C.

3:27 Joe starts off this week’s topic: how to approach controversial clients.

5:01 Martin believes that everyone deserves to have their voice heard, however, he feels he has the right to decide which clients he wants his agency to represent.

6:43 Gini draws from experience earlier in her career on working with tobacco clients. However, she notes that as an agency owner, she has a say as to who she wants to work with and is in a unique position.

8:15 Gini adds that it’s also incredibly important to look at the entire organization when taking on a new client because you want to benefit the company as whole.

9:25 Martin feels culture and leadership are also important things to consider when taking on a controversial client.

12:01 Listening to your organization as a whole is important. Early on when Joe had first started his agency with Terry Fallis, they chose not to work with certain businesses for personal reasons. As the agency grew, there were other opinions to consider.

12:30 Joe recently wrote a blog post on three questions you need to ask before accepting a controversial client. He talks about them.

15:06 Martin closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.