Are You Too Boring To Be on Facebook?

September 11, 2011

I‘m Facebook friends with a former radio journalist turned PR pro. She shares almost nothing on Facebook, saying, “I’d rather report the news than be the news.”

I don’t get it.

A relative of mine does not have a Facebook profile because, as she says, “My life is not interesting enough to share it with the rest of the world.”

You’ve got to be kidding!

I am privileged to know lots of people. They represent rich diversity of age, race, religion, politics, economic status, education and even personality. Yet, they all have one thing in common: Each has an incredibly interesting life and each has a unique story to tell.

In college I remember a guest lecturer looked across the room where a hundred or so of us had gathered. Decades later I’ve forgotten his name, but his words remain etched in my mind. He said, “The biography of every person in this room would be a best seller if written by a good writer who knows you well enough to tell your story.”

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Reflections after Three Years of Being on Twitter

August 30, 2011

Three years ago today my Twitter handle @duanehallock was born.

First hearing of Twitter only four months earlier, I was proud to consider myself an early adopter of a new social media tool. Although I did not see the real value of microblogging, I welcomed the new opportunity and embraced the new media platform before any of my friends or immediate co-workers followed suit.

Three years hence, I have nearly 1,000 followers. While that’s not particularly impressive by Twitter standards, I am surprised that so many people have chosen to follow my erratic stream of tweets.

I’ll admit that, like many, I am still trying to figure out where Twitter is going. In an attempt to assess Twitter’s relevance in my ever-changing world, I came up with these two lists:

Five things I like about Twitter

  1. Brevity is paramount.  I once heard a great 15-minute sermon delivered in 45 minutes. I hope that speaker has since discovered Twitter and learned the sacred art of being succinct. I hate verbosity and think it’s a great discipline for someone to say something of value in 140 characters or less.
  2. Information flows in real time.  In recent days I’ve tracked others’ tweets to get real-time information on the devastation of Hurricane Irene. I’m writing this blog post while on disaster assignment for the American Red Cross. Ironically, I created my Twitter profile on this date three years ago on the same day I participated in a planning session for Hurricane Gustav.
  3. Hashtags and searches add value. At first, the Twitter stream can appear chaotic, random and cluttered. All that information can be filtered and organized, though, to make Twitter meaningful and relevant.
  4. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Years, 124 Posts and 10 Observations

August 18, 2011

Two years ago today I launched this blog. I began much like I did when I was a kid learning to ride a bike—having no particular destination in mind but somehow trusting that the ride itself would be the ultimate reward.

Now, two years into this journey, it’s time to take a moment and 1) celebrate the distance I’ve traveled, 2) recall the scenery I’ve enjoyed along the way and 3) reflect on life’s lessons learned.

Here are a few random thoughts and observations about my blogging journey:

  1. This is actually fun. I enjoy writing and I like being a blogger. I give myself enough editorial freedom to have fun, and I’ve never seriously considered monetizing this effort, though some bloggers make good money from their writing.
  2. This is also hard work. Like riding a bike, the fun comes only with the exertion of energy. I’ve mentored several wanna-be bloggers who started and then, for a variety of reasons, never continued. Maintaining a blog for two years is a worthy accomplishment.
  3. I blog best when I follow my own rules. I’ve read countless blogs and books about blogging. They all contain rules I’ve mostly chosen to ignore. For example, they say that success comes with frequency of postings. Well, I decided long ago to publish only when I had something to say and I refuse to be bound by an arbitrary, self-imposed quota. Last year, for example, I let several guilt-free weeks slide by without posting. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing OR Communications? If You Had to Choose, Which Would You Pick?

August 8, 2011

For years I have been amused when a nonprofit organization would label one of its key departments “Marketing AND Communications.” To me, that always seemed redundant. After all, you never hear a CFO claim responsibility for the Department of Finance, Accounting and Accounts Payable.

A university president once talked with me about leading his marketing and communications team. When I asked if he would consider shortening the title for simplicity, he emphatically declined. For that and other reasons, neither of us seriously considered forming a working partnership.

Later, when I taught marketing at another university, I spent considerable time talking about the relationship between marketing and communications. I never believed the two terms were synonymous or interchangeable, and I drilled into my students the concept that communications comes at the end of the marketing process.

Five years ago I left my position as Vice President of Marketing at United Way. Although communications was part of my portfolio, it always grated on me when my CEO referred to my department as “marketing and communications.” Although I appreciated his thorough description of my team’s role, I also thought he was being unnecessarily redundant.

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Marie – An Inspiring Volunteer and Storm Victim

June 21, 2011

Before the monster tornado struck, Marie was an active volunteer with the American Red Cross in Joplin. The night the tornado hit, Marie lost her apartment and most of her personal possessions.

Unhurt, she began driving through the debris towards help. Along the way, she helped others, even pulling an injured truck driver to safety. When the debris made driving impossible, she began walking. Along the way, she helped with the initial search and rescue efforts, checking to see if anyone needed help. Read the rest of this entry »

Things I’ll Look for When Selecting the Next Member of My Marketing Team

March 1, 2011

Hypothetically, let’s assume I’m looking to hire a new member of my marketing team. In reality, my public relations manager will be leaving in a couple of weeks, so I actually am making plans on how I’ll fill the void created by her departure.

Wait, though, before faxing me your resume. (Do people still do that? I hope not.) I have been asked to delay recruiting until the expense budget comes into better focus. The hiring process is frozen, but while we await the spring thaw, let’s return to my hypothetical situation.

As I think about the importance of building a strong marketing team, I have already updated the job description. The social media revolution mandates new expectations that are reflected in several bullet points on the revised list of job duties. Of course, I’ll also be looking for someone who meets a minimum threshold of necessary skills, talents and experience.

Above and beyond that, though, I will almost certainly select someone who:

  1. Has an impressive digital footprint. Before calling someone in for an interview, you can bet I will Google his or her name. There are so many people looking for jobs that I cannot imagine interviewing someone who does not have an impressive amount of information readily available on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, a personal blog, an online portfolio, or some other searchable platform.
  2. Is well branded. I want to know what a person stands for, both personally and professionally. A good brand makes promises and I need to have some idea of what I can expect from anyone who expresses an interest in being part of my team.
  3. Is differentiated. Does this person stand out from the rest of the pack? Quite frankly, I won’t even notice someone who blends into the vast, beige-colored landscape populated by thousands of job seekers whose clichè-ridden resumes were shaped by the same cookie cutter. (See my previous blog post about using Facebook as a tool to differentiate yourself in a job search.)
  4. Is savvy with traditional media. The ideal person will have a good understanding of traditional media—TV, radio and newspapers. He or she will also have experience in proactively pitching good story ideas and in building strong relationships with people inside the news media.
  5. Is savvy with social media. The right person will have moved far beyond the initial process of setting up profiles on various social media platforms. He or she will have demonstrated an ability to a) listen using social media tools, b) have sustained conversations in social media and c) create content valued by others who are swimming in the deeper end of the social media pool.

Three years ago when I most recently hired someone, the criteria were somewhat different. At that time I relied heavily upon two lists. One described my expectations for individual responsibility and the other focused on team performance. Though I’ve added criteria, both lists are still relevant today. So, here’s my question:

If, hypothetically, you are looking for a marketing job, how would you measure up?

How to Handle a Negative Comment in Social Media

November 17, 2010

Earlier this month, something happened that increased my respect for the city newspaper. Actually, the paper itself did nothing unusual. Rather, one of its loyal employees did something worthy of commendation.

What did he do? Well, he talked to me. He engaged me in a conversation. That’s it. Simple, yet profound.

Let me explain why I found that to be so significant.

Two days after the World Series ended, I noticed that the newspaper including Game 6 in its TV listings. On my Facebook status I wrote, “If anyone at the paper watched TV, they’d know the series ended a couple days ago.” I also made a snide remark about the “dead tree” medium, using a broad brush to make a fine point. That elicited a few comments, including two from Facebook friends who are former newspaper journalists.

That night, long after I’d gone to bed, another Facebook friend wrote something I found quite profound. He said, “The section where TV listings are located prints early, but point taken. As someone who still loves to read the ‘dead tree’ and who also is marketing the media company that makes it, what advice would you share?”

Why was his two-sentence comment commendable? Here are six reasons I valued his response:

  1. He did not ignore my negative comment. Instead, he talked to me. He listened and responded.
  2. He communicated with me on the same social media platform I originally used. He did not redirect me, suggesting that I call customer service or write a letter to the editor.
  3. He did not take my negative comment personally. He responded in a sincere, professional manner. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 25 – Social Media Plan – Personal

November 5, 2010

Define how social media can help me to blend the personal and professional facets of my life.

A couple of decades ago, workers were encouraged to compartmentalize their lives. “Don’t bring your work home,” admonished spouses of workaholics. Meanwhile at the office, supervisors would counsel employees, “Keep your personal life separate from your work.”

Today, things are different. We live and work in a 2.0 world where our personal and professional lives are inevitably blurred. It’s now impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.

I’m okay with not having a clear line of demarcation between who I am as a person and what I do to earn a living. There are key advantages to not having to role play and to compartmentalize the various dimensions of my life. I’m at ease living in a 2.0 era that demands transparency because I can always be my authentic self. I can live and work comfortably “in my own skin” without trying to pretend to be something I’m not.

The social media revolution invites us to live with greater integrity—with transparency, authenticity and openess.

On a personal level, I will continue to be authentic and purposeful as I connect with others using the various social media platforms at my disposal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Day 24 – Social Media Plan – Business

November 4, 2010

Develop a social media plan that integrates new and traditional media.

Some people are so obsessed with social media technology that they overlook their communication strategy.

They are so focused on gadgets, applications and tactics that they completely miss the obvious:  These are only tools!

Tools are used to create or build something. Tools, technology and tactics are all a means to an end. The “end” is often defined in a well-written marketing goal. A goal articulates what success will look like and offers a clear, measurable definition of the desired outcome.

A communications plan should 1) target a specific audience, 2) define key marketing messages and 3) select the appropriate channels to deliver the right message to the right audience.

These communication channels should include a mix of traditional and new media. I define the two this way:

Traditional media primarily push information outward from a centralized source. They “broadcast” information in one direction. Examples are television, radio, newspapers, direct mail, newsletters and brochures.

New media (sometimes called social media) work best when the content is user-generated. Rather than broadcasting outward, new media rely upon interactions and conversations. Examples of new media are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress and other social networking platforms.

Traditional and new media must be integrated if you want to build a strong and effective marketing communication program.

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A Manifesto for Marketing Success

August 18, 2010

Marketing is not as complicated as some want you to think. Good marketing is based upon common sense, though such sense is uncommon.

With a commitment to successful marketing, I invite you to join me in believing  that:

  1. Marketing will flounder when not in pursuit of a measurable goal.
  2. If a product, service or even a person cannot be differentiated, it cannot be marketed.
  3. Marketing will fail unless strategy drives tactics, not vice versa.
  4. Marketing must be based upon the concept of exchanges. Without a quid-pro-quo exchange, we will never have a solid marketing program.
  5. Value can be defined only by the customer, not by the company producing the product or service. (Nonprofit organizations especially have trouble with this.)
  6. The social media revolution is the best thing to happen to marketing in a long, long time, even though the tools for achieving marketing success have forever changed.
  7. Old-school marketers who try to control the message will become increasingly frustrated, disoriented and ultimately obsolete.
  8. You are still functioning in a 1.0 world—even if you’re using 2.0 tools—when you are not creating community and engaging people in conversations.
  9. If we aim our message at no one in particular, we shouldn’t be surprised if no one in particular responds.
  10. Communications comes at the end of the marketing process, not at the beginning.


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