Every time I see the word media in this post by Jeff Jarvis, I think associations. He talks about media’s business model: “building a pay wall around content because content is valuable, damnit.” And then says,

“I’ve been arguing to media that relationships are more valuable. Knowing people because you have their trust and give them value builds a rich and deep relationship — builds data about that relationship — that can be far more valuable for far longer than a mere transaction. The problem in media is that we are not built for that. We are built to serve the masses.”

He goes on to discuss advertising, paywalls, new models and new thinking. Good stuff.

Ray van Hilst at Vanguard Technology says, “Say NO to stock photography for association websites.” The examples illustrating his post crack me up — no wonder that guy always seemed a bit familiar! If you rely on stock photos, you must read his post. I’ve got to say I was really impressed by the photos my client Avectra uses. I love the photo on the bottom right of their conference website of an Avectra client (Rebecca!) and staffer (he’s wearing purple so I’m assuming he’s an Avectra guy). The photo looks completely natural and shows off their happy geekitude – yes, that’s a compliment.

The buzz on the web this week has been about another company manifesto, employee handbook, “diary of dreams,” this time from HubSpot, and it’s a real good one. For a company like HubSpot, this is also a great marketing piece, even though they don’t say that. We want to do business with companies whose culture we respect and admire. That’s what gets me jazzed about some of my clients, and, hopefully, they get jazzed about me, even though I don’t have a cool manifesto.

Let’s Talk About It

Every now and then, I come across a post that would make an excellent topic for discussion at work, assuming you work at an organization that serves members or customers. Last week, I suggested having a brown bag lunch discussion about Jeffrey Cufaude’s Cultivating Engagement series. This week, a post by Meredith Marie at Sliceworks about Gen Y “hot buttons” and “action cues” would make a fantastic basis for group discussion. What can you do differently to provide value to this younger (huge) crowd? Strangely enough, much of it would work for us older folks too.

Quickies

  • Don’t make the same mistake as Matt Haughey and accidentally send LinkedIn requests to 1,138 contacts. Oh lordy. (Kevin Smith, Business Insider)
  • Are you one of these? Or do you work for one of these? Light fare but fun: The 5 Stereotypical CMOs. (Giselle Abramovich, Digiday)
  • The demise of Google Reader is causing Geoff Livingston to pivot and purge. I love the looks of his reading list.

Curated post of the week

This will be a weekly feature until I run out of favorites. Two weeks ago, I featured Elizabeth Engel’s What I’m Reading series. Mitch Joel’s Six Links Worthy of Your Attention is another one of my favorites. His post is a bit of a conversation between three friends. He says, “I decided that every week or so the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person must see.” Now you know another one of my secret sources for good tweetable reads. More shall be revealed!

I keep thinking I’m due for a sci-fi book, and then I read this post by Annalee Newitz at io9: What Will Human Cultures Be Like in 100 Years. My brother-from-another-mother once predicted that we’d all end up in a group house together, again, when we hit our 80s. Howard Johnson’s would be great!

Happy Friday!

Old Howard Johnson's at Asbury Park, NJ(Photo by mbtrama/Flickr)

Old Howard Johnson’s at Asbury Park, NJ
(Photo by mbtrama/Flickr)

 

Although I didn’t participate in today’s #assnchat about ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference, it still inspired a blog post. Thank you, KiKi! Here’s why.

conference creativity rooms

I must confess I never went into the creativity rooms at Great Ideas. I peeked into one, but it looked like a dolled-up regular meeting room to me. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I missed it completely. I thought I saw toys on the tables. Or did my eyes deceive me? It’s a shame I didn’t go in and explore, but the timing was never right.

And table toys don’t do much for me. I swear I’m not that serious a person. I’ve attended sessions with group activities centered around toys or other building-block-type things. It’s forced fun for a while. People relax a bit and some get really competitive: “Ours will be bigger!” Perhaps playing with toys shifts our mindset from serious office mode to relaxed engaged conference mode. And, yes, we’re using our creativity, but it seems so forced. And passé, isn’t it? Ok, call me a kill-joy. Then, after a rousing round of construction, the hubbub dies down and we sit passively for the next 30 to 40 minutes listening to the speaker and sneaking glances at the silly-looking fort on our table.

The association professionals in today’s Twitter chat had plenty of great ideas (heh heh) for conference creativity rooms and I even have a few of my own.

Exercise: @AssnMetrics would include “some piece of exercise equipment to put my body in a different state from just sitting.” That reminded me of the Snap Learning Spot sponsored by the Canadian Tourism Commission at Great Ideas where my friend Rob Barnes rode an exercise bike for 35 miles while listening to a micro-learning session. His miles on the bike also raised money for charity. I can imagine a creativity room with a bunch of exercise bikes (or treadmills or ellipticals) for people who want to chat while firing up their mind and body. Maybe some air hockey too. If you rather get outside, the room could be a meeting place for people who want to take scheduled or random walks or hikes.

F&B: The Canadians also served poutine at one point during the conference. I’m sorry I missed it! But, that leads me to my second creativity room feature – food and beverages. @SarahJanetHill and @strattonpub had the same idea. Definitely provide coffee, tea, water and other healthy beverages. Our brains need fuel. Have sign-ups for sommelier- or Cicerone-led wine and beer tastings at the end of the day. The food for the room could be made by people attending mini-cooking classes.

Mini-classes: Why stop at cooking classes? People can sign up in advance to teach people how to knit, play Texas Hold ‘Em or the acoustic guitar, or whatever. 

Arts and crafts: @SarahJanetHill said she likes “playdoh or pipecleaners or something to keep my hands busy. Helps keep my brain engaged.” @ASegar added, “craft paper, scissors, glue.” Who doesn’t like arts and crafts? Let’s make lunch centerpieces, art projects, lanyards or badge decorations – it’s like camp!

Puppy room: @k8doyle suggested this brilliant idea. But where do the puppies (or kitties) come from? Why the Humane Society or SPCA, of course! They can talk to folks about fostering pets, pet care, and other topics.

Music: @ToeKneeRay wants music and I agree. Even at a low (and adjustable) volume, it will energize people. Live music throughout the venue would be even better, if you can afford it. 

Furniture: @strattonpub requests “comfortable seating for solo and group work, lots of natural lighting, warm colors/décor.” I’d add all kinds of plants too – ferns, cacti, succulents, leafy plants, etc. @craigsorrell would like “a room of rocking chairs so you can sit and chat with attendees.” I envision a big room with some private spaces for those who need a bit of solitude. A room with a view would be ideal. Or a few rooms scattered throughout the venue, each with their own character.

Shazam: Wouldn’t it be cool to go somewhere and let your creativity and intellect go crazy in conversation with other attendees? Maybe speakers would pop by and ask questions that encourage wild thinking and wondering. Or whoever is staffing the room would come armed with provocative questions and topics, and not just professional ones.

Tools: @ASegar would stock “flipcharts, postable walls, sticky notes, pens” and @strattonpub would include a “whiteboard or chalkboard.” Make it a good place to let the mind wander and work out issues. Provide magazines and iPads too – tether them if you wish. Who knows, maybe you can get a group visionboard activity going.

Introvert-friendly: @bussolati said “My ideal creativity room would be just me… Introverts unite!” She wasn’t alone in that sentiment. We can create creativity rooms that include quiet space where we can recharge alone.

@ThadLurie shared an article by Susan Cain, The Rise of the New Groupthink. “We need to move beyond the New Groupthink and embrace a more nuanced approach to creativity and learning,” said Cain. “Our offices should encourage casual, cafe-style interactions, but allow people to disappear into personalized, private spaces when they want to be alone.” Replace offices with conferences.

I know we’re at conferences primarily to meet and deepen relationships, oh, yeah, and to get an education too, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more downtime or white space, even if it means extending the conference. I hate having to skip a session just so I can go for a walk while it’s light out.

What do you think? What’s in your ideal creativity room? And how do you recharge when you’re in the midst of a conference?

contents of a conference creativity room

Photo by laffy4k (Flickr)

Google Reader is where I go first thing in the morning for my professional reads about associations, marketing, digital media, technology, etc., and at the end of the day for my personal reads about food, culture, etc. I have hundreds of RSS subscriptions in dozens of Reader folders. Yes, I find a lot to read on Twitter, but its randomness, although appreciated, is no substitute for Reader. I rely on Reader to catch up on anything I missed from my favorite blogs and sites.

When I heard the news yesterday about Reader’s demise – is “murder” too strong a word? – I tweeted this:

“I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for Google Reader. Dramatic but true. Reading changes lives.”

My fellow Reader addicts, we have a few months to find a replacement. So far, Feedly is in the lead for me. What’s looking good for you? Ernie Smith at Associations Now plans to write about post-Reader life on Tuesday. In the meantime, you can start your hunt for a Reader replacement with these posts:

Wednesday night, I returned from ASAE’s Great Ideas conference and hiking in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. I hope to have time this weekend to review the tweetstream of my favorite hashtag of the week, no surprise, #ideas13.

The SXSW tweetstream is too vast to explore, so here’s an alternative: the official audio recordings.

Katie Bascuas at Associations Now writes about the four friends every content marketer needs. When I first read this, I thought, what about me!? But, no worries. In his comment, my friend Scott Oser suggested adding a fifth type: writer/subject matter expert.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a market research consultant, Katya Andresen provides advice on how to do a little research on your own. Just be sure not to rely solely on anecdotes – data is your friend. Also, although it’s tempting to talk to your board or other volunteer leaders about their needs, remember, they may not represent the views of many of your members or constituents.

Association folks, are you reading Jeffrey Cufaude’s Cultivating Engagement series? Here’s yesterday’s post: Let’s Talk About Connections. I’ve lost track of the number of good ideas he’s suggested in this series. Each post would make an interesting and productive topic for a brown bag lunch.

If your company or organization is just getting started with a blog, or even if you’ve had one for a while, check out this eight-point blog analysis by Daniel Burstein at Marketing Sherpa. You’re bound to find something you can improve.

In his New York Times Bit column, Nick Bilton writes about the development of a new digital etiquette as we adopt new tools and adapt to information overload. He says, “Many social norms just don’t make sense to people drowning in digital communication.” Careful, it’s a fine line between trying not to waste someone’s time and appearing rude or ungrateful.

It’s getting harder and harder to turn off the laptop or iPad at night. Google recently announced the launch of Art Talks: “a series of talks, hosted on Google Hangout, with museum directors, curators, historians, and educators. It’s an online series that aims to educate art lovers on famous masterpieces and share the insights of some of the art world’s greatest minds.” Even though I love this news, I’m still mad at Google.

Use your social media powers for good! Find out if a local charity needs social media ambassadors to help share their stories and news. I’ve been helping my local food bank in this way. It’s an easy way to contribute without getting off the couch.  

Happy Friday!

Photo by Striatic (Flickr)

Hmm, is she relaxing or volunteering?
Photo by Striatic (Flickr CC license)

I’m not the only one who likes being a content curator. Elizabeth Engel is always an excellent source for interesting reads. Check out her weekly What I’m Reading series.

If your job involves engaging members, customers, constituents, donors or volunteers, you must read this post by Jeffery Cufaude, Cultivating Engagement: What was the Catalyst? He says, “If we want to cultivate relationships that invest people in our community, cause, or organization, we must remain curious about them: how might what I’m learning about you now alter my next interaction with you?” Grab your team, make them read this, and figure out how you’re going to start doing this next week.

Andy Freed captures why I like reading all kinds of things and making odd connections. He was heading to TEDActive (the live Palm Springs simulcast) where he anticipated learning about association management from a dolphin researcher. And why not?

When’s the last time you picked up a phone and called a member you don’t know? I know. I never did it either, except when we were desperately promoting our trade show in the midst of the housing implosion. Eric Lanke has some ideas about the real reasons we don’t pick up the phone.

Barry Feldman wants you to take a hard look at your website after reading his post, 11 Reasons Why Prospects Don’t Convert Into Customers. He gives you the eleven reasons, good advice and a quick checklist at the Convince & Convert blog.

I just LOVE this post about a dying restaurant by Ken Mueller. I can feel for them because for eight years I was the general manager of an independently-owned (and very successful) restaurant, long before the days of social media. But we’ve all seen this story – lots of attention, but a little too late. Let’s all pledge to honor Ken’s words:

“I will continue to support small, independently owned family businesses whenever I can. I will also go out of my way to let them know I appreciate and support them. I will reward them for their humanity by spending my money with them, in hopes that they will be sustainable and profitable.”

Are you texting and using LOL like an old fart? Luckily for me I got tired of LOL long ago. And it’s a good thing because it no longer means what you think it does, if you’re of a certain age. Not my age. And if you’re one to lament the decline of the English language because of texting, fear not. “Anyone who says that text language is chaotic isn’t paying enough attention to the system of rules that users have developed to move real-time conversation into written form,” says Anne Curzan in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At ProBlogger, Thomas Ford explains what you need to know about using free images from the web. His post will help you understand copyright rules, rights and different types of Creative Commons licenses.

Here’s one to bookmark and hope you never have to use. Tia Fisher at Social Media Today shows you what to do if your Twitter account has been hacked.

Steal this idea from Association Media & Publishing: sponsored small group dinner discussions.

Steal this idea too for your next trade show:

vendor twitter game tweet

The only infographic I looked at this week, thanks to Stowe Boyd.

This is conference week for me. I spent Sunday through Tuesday at the Avectra Users & Developers Conference where I wrote a few blog posts:

I got back Wednesday afternoon and today I’m heading to Colorado Springs for the ASAE Great Ideas Conference. Be sure to check out the hashtag #ideas13 if you want to follow along.

Pretty soon we’ll all be Dr. Doolittles. Vince Cerf “envisions an interspecies Internet” where we’ll communicate with animals and aliens.

Happy Friday!

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”
Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

 

On Monday, it looked like all the smarty pants in DC were tweeting from the xPotomac conference. Search for the #xpotomac13 hashtag to get a taste of the brain candy, or check out Jay Daughtry’s notes and links to other xPotomac posts.

Hopefully, if your job requires you to develop relationships with the media, you use Twitter to do that. If not, start by creating Twitter media lists. Lauren Bubser at NPtalk explains how.

As you can tell from my baby blog, I’m pretty basic when it comes to websites. When I do graduate to a big girl blog, I know I’ll have to brush up on Google Analytics which is why I’ve bookmarked this Guide to Getting Started with Analytics from Dave Davies at Search Engine Watch.

Have you heard about the Copyright Alert System that was launched this week? Those darn kids and their Napster, look what they’ve done! Mario Aguilar at Gizmodo explains how it works.

One of my favorite posts this week is by Kivi Leroux Miller, a nonprofit communications consultant, author and trainer, who also happens to be a North Carolina gal. She writes: 

“As I have been interviewing nonprofits for my new book on content marketing, it’s become crystal clear to me that the organizations that are most successful at using content to engage their communities consider the combination of a good CRM (customer relationship management software), CMS (website content management system), email, and e-commerce technology to be just as important to their success as having thoughtful and creative staff members who can write well.”

Kivi goes on to say, “If your choice is between more staff and this kind of technology, seriously think about the technology over the additional staff.” I agree. By wisely leveraging technology, your organization can go so much further than you can imagine. Read her post to find out how.

You may think you know, but do you really know how technology is transforming associations? We’ll all know once Digital Now’s Technology Leadership Survey is released. Today’s the last day to participate in the survey if you want a chance to win free registration to next year’s Digital Now conference. The survey takes five to ten minutes. I’m so excited that I’m going for the first time to this year’s Digital Now conference in April. Are you?

Long ago, when I first started reading blogs, I found one about a guy’s experience studying for his Certified Association Executive (CAE) exam. I was years away from considering the CAE exam, but his blog, and those of a few other early association bloggers, reignited my interest in my profession. Good news, fellow association geeks: Ben Martin, CAE is blogging again!

Ben’s a master of online community management and is now sharing his wisdom on his Online Community Results blog. This week he answers the question: what kind of content strategy drives community engagement?

Since I’m heading to Avectra’s User & Developers Conference this weekend and then, after a day and a half at home, to ASAE’s Great Ideas, I’m sure to see a Speaker with Jazzy Socks and The Guy who Tweets Everything. Heck, these people are my friends! I think you’ll enjoy seeing the other conference types that Kristin Kovacich at Digiday identified.

I read far too much good stuff this week, so here’s a quick list of other useful and interesting reads:

  • Microsoft, damn them, is limiting Office 2013 installations to one per computer, meaning, if your computer crashes or you have to reformat, you’re SOL. (Digital Trends)
  • I love Waze. It’s my go-to app for navigation while driving. It talks to me about traffic jams and other hazards. And it keeps getting better. (Wired)
  • Is there anything more annoying than auto-play video? You end up clicking on all your tabs trying to find the obnoxious page. Soon Google Chrome will let you know which page is the offender. (The Next Web)
  • This is the most accurate (and scathing) review of the irrelevant Oscars that I’ve read. And just so you know, I love Seth McFarlane. Yeah, he’s sophomoric and offensive, but Family Guy has genius moments. Lighten up, people! (Lefsetz Letter)
  • One of my favorite movies of all time, “a modest masterpiece,” is Local Hero. I love it because it’s about community. And it’s set in Scotland. Rent it. Bonus: Mark Knopfler does the score. (The Economist)
  • I once spent a night in Portugal riveted to the TV because the bull fights were on. I couldn’t believe the bravery (craziness) of the pega guys. Watch the video that accompanies Andrew Sullivan’s post and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t worry, they respect the bull in Portugal; they don’t kill him. He retires to a satisfying life with a harem of cows. (The Dish)

That’s all, folks, happy Friday!

Photo by Alex Brown (Flickr)

Photo by Alex Brown (Flickr)

Last night I went to Ignite Raleigh where the speakers, including a few of my friends, delivered a mix of inspiration, entertainment and education. Even better, the nonprofit partner for the evening was one of my favorite organizations: the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

One of the original founders of the Triangle’s Ignite movement is Jeff Cohen. Jeff holds a special place in my heart because he arranged a welcome lunch for me when I moved to Raleigh. The power of Twitter! In one of his latest posts, he explains how to use social media to reduce the power of silos in your organization. He says “B2Bs <like associations> approach social media the same way they approach other parts of their business. With silos…Social media starts in a silo, usually in the marketing or PR department. And don’t even get me started on technology silos where company data lives in different systems depending on the function.” Sound familiar? He’s got some great ideas on how to tear down those walls.

Here’s more advice on how to help your organization’s content marketing efforts by encouraging more collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. Mark Sherbin at the Content Marketing Institute writes, “Marketing’s role is increasingly about managing the conversation with an audience — with content serving as the catalyst. Sales has been having these conversations face-to-face for decades, so who better to tap as a resource to inform your content marketing strategy and tactics?” He tells you how to start that collaboration and provides several questions to ask your sales team.

Wacarra Yeomans at MediaPost provides tips on building a 12-month editorial calendar. “While the imperative to respond to trends and conversations as they pop up prevents us from ever setting the calendar in stone, taking the time to plan can help us avoid roadblocks – and writer’s block – throughout the year.” If you feel like you missed out on Valentine’s Day, you should definitely check this out.

Thank you, Augie Ray, for introducing me to The Secret Door. Oh, the places I have been! The Secret Door “is earning media and consumer attention not by begging for likes on Facebook but by giving them something to talk about.” The window and door company Safestyle UK (and their creatives) are the geniuses behind it. “The Secret Door demonstrates that even a company in the relatively mundane category of home supplies can still become buzzworthy with a little creativity.” Because of this cool marketing campaign, the next time I’m in London, I am finding Gordon’s Wine Bar.

Feeling a little vulnerable with all the hacks going around? Oddballs taking over the Twitter accounts of Jeep and Burger King. A building in Shanghai full of hackers attacking Apple, newspapers and god knows who else. Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic tells us “how to avoid getting spear-phished by China’s hackers.” You don’t have to be technically savvy to follow her advice, just aware and suspicious. As one malware expert said, “Users are the front line defense. We need every user to have a little paranoia about email.” 

Are you bold and creative? Do you want to be part of the select group who tests an early version of Google Glass? Get in your application, along with $1,500 to Google and maybe I’ll see you walking around town looking like a cyborg. 

It’s National Sweet Potato Month. I love sweet potatoes. I’m in a good state to love sweet potatoes. North Carolina produces about half the sweet potato crop in the U.S. We’re number one, yeah! Last weekend I made a delicious sweet potato and turkey shepherd’s pie – healthy comfort food. Give it a try!

Ooh, look, it’s The Secret Door!  

The Secret Door

The Secret Door is presented by Safestyle UK

Everyone (well, most everyone) knows the benefits of content marketing. But you can’t just say to your staff, “Yeah, good idea, start doing social media.” Valeria Maltoni says, “There are three crucial challenges to overcome if you want to implement a successful content strategy” – resource allocation, workflow planning and governance.

Over at Copyblogger, Barry Feldman shares nine ways you might be losing your audience’s trust without even realizing you’re doing it. Take a look at his list. How does your online behavior match up? I love his parting advice:

“So be good. Be ethical and honest. Be present. Be like the people you trust most — the ones who are happy to help you. Emulate the people who help you, because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it’s lucrative.”

Geoff Livingston writes about wearable computing, specifically Google Project Glass which “empowers two things: sharing and accessing information anywhere.” How will this impact marketing? He speculates that we will rely less on the written word (no!) and mobile platforms, and more on visual and audio communications.

“It is happening again,” says Augie Ray. “New technology is coming. We’ve all seen it and many are dismissing it as creepy, unnecessary or unimportant, just as many once mistook PCs, the Web, smartphones and social networking as creepy, unnecessary or unimportant .” He’s also talking about wearable technology combined with social media, and explains how marketers can prepare for these changes.

Anthony Ha at TechCrunch reports that Hearst, “a publisher that was previously known for a contrarian strategy that kept the Internet at arm’s length,” is revamping all its online magazines with a responsive, personalized design. This is what we will all come to expect – responsive and personalized. Is your organization keeping up? 

Back to basics for a moment. If you’re new to Twitter, be sure to read this piece by Nonprofit Tech 2.0: Eight Common Mistakes Nonprofits Make When They First Join Twitter. And if you’re not a nonprofit, read it anyway, the advice applies to any individual or organization.

The Angerosa Research Foundation is asking association executives to participate in the Association Publishing/Media Nondues Revenue Study. This benchmarking study will:

“Gauge how association publishers are building new and existing revenue streams in their publications and e-media. The study investigates advertising and paid sponsorships across all types of media, including periodicals, books, digital publications, websites, social media, and apps. It aims to breakdown revenue by media type, assess staff compensation practices, determine sales policy best practices, and much more. Results from the study will be used to develop benchmarks for organizations to compare their own practices and identify new areas for revenue expansion.”

The findings will be released in the spring. As a former association magazine publisher, this is a fascinating topic for me. I’d love to see and write about some of the results.

If you’re a hiker, you must put the Grand Canyon on your bucket (or backpack) list. A few years ago, we were lucky enough to get a reservation for a night at Phantom Ranch down at the bottom of the canyon. The hike down the South Kaibab trail was unbelievably beautiful. The hike up the Bright Angel trail the next day was grueling, but also stunning. You can get a taste of the true awesomeness on Google Map’s Street Views.

The best Valentine this week (besides the one from my honey and the heart-shaped pizzas I made): the American Cheese Society’s heart-shaped box of cheese. Cheers for cheese!

Happy Friday!

Photo by the American Cheese Society

Photo by the American Cheese Society

 

 

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