Kami Huyse shares the lessons she learned from organizing the PRSA Conference blog

This year’s PRSA International Conference in Philadelphia was jam packed with sessions on social media topics led by the likes of Phil Gomes, Katie Paine, Josh Hallett, Peter Himler, Rick Murray, and John Bell.

But the social media action wasn’t just in the sessions. It was everywhere in the conference. A special conference blog was set up to host posts on the conference sessions. Eric Schwartzman roamed the halls interviewing speakers and participants for special conference editions of his podcast. The air was thick with Twitter traffic as participants posted their impressions of several simultaneous sessions. And of course there was the requisite bloggers dinner on the first evening of the conference which brought together over two dozen bloggers and podcasters.

The person behind this blogging bonanza was Kami Huyse from San Antonio, Texas. I had a chance to talk with Kami at the end of the conference about the lessons she’d learned from this process (you can never have too many bloggers; integrate Twitter into the blogging feed) and advice she’d offer others who are considering organizing conference blogging efforts (start with Josh Hallett’s conference blogging tips.)

The interview runs just over three minutes and you can watch it here.

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Pitching Mommy Bloggers

Danielle Donders is an avid blogger who has found herself on the receiving end of a growing wave of pitches from marketers for products and services. She shared her experience and insights with the Third Tuesday Ottawa attendees last night.

2007 10 15 010_edited-1 Danielle began her Postcards from the Mothership blog, which she referred to as her “online shrine to parental self absorption,” in January 2005. Nearly three years and more than 950 posts later, she’s still at it. No blog fading for her.

Why does she do it? “Self-indulgent narcissism. I started to talk about my life and people listened. They liked me. They really liked me. People care about what I say. And I’m totally addicted to it.”

And public relations practitioners and marketers definitely seem to care about what Danielle things and writes about. In just the last four months, she’s received pitches for skin lotion, shoes, coffee, head lice cures, three different cell phones, soup, Nestle Quick, recipe exchange site; public service site about breast exams, contests about writing, yogurt, Bounty paper towels, and books.

Why do marketers care about mommy bloggers? Mothers trust other mothers and look to them for testimonials and referrals to quality services and products. “The mom-osphere is very intimate. Everybody’s unique perspective on issues common to mothers makes it compelling reading for others.”

She says that she can really tell who cares about the bloggers they pitch and those that are just carpeting the terrain. For example, “I got an free pass invitation to go to a fitness centre for teens in Los Angeles. I’m a suburban mom in Ottawa with a 3 and 5 year old. They didn’t read my blog. So, I don’t care” about what there’re pitching.

2007 10 15 001 Advice for blogger relations: “Be a part of the community. That makes all the difference. Get to know the blogger. Show me that you care about what I’m writing, not simply about the eyeballs that come to my site. Follow up afterwards to let the blogger know that you read what they wrote and that you appreciated what they wrote.”

Danielle talked about one successful pitch to her – the Krazr blogger cellphone campaign. “I felt like they cared about what I was blogging about. One of their staff would follow up with me. He made a comment on a post I wrote about the phones.”

Does accepting a product oblige her to be positive about the product? “No. I’m obliged to be polite and reasonable and fair about the product. But if I hated the phone, I’d say so.” Danielle in fact indicated that before the trial with the Motorola phone, she had been offered a trial with a Nokia phone. She found it to be “too much phone and confusing” and she said so.

In her “day job”, Danielle works for the federal government. She has parlayed her experience as a mommy blogger into a full time assignment to help her department figure out the intersection between social media and government communications. She believes that social media can put a human face on government.

How should government approach bloggers? They should absolutely listen. … You’re not going to get an accurate impression. But do you get an accurate impression by reading the Globe and Mail.”

“Government is slow. It’s like turning around the Queen Mary. It takes some very strong evangelists. … They are so risk averse.”

A great presentation from an engaging personality. Thank you Danielle!

Darren Barefoot, David Jones, Danielle Donders and Joseph Thornley – your Third Tuesday October lineup

What do Darren Barefoot, David Jones, Danielle Donders and I have in common?

Third TuesdayWe’re speaking at the Third Tuesday social media meetups this week.

If you’re interested in social media and its impact on communication, marketing, community building and society and you’d like to get together with others who share this interest, register to attend Third Tuesday in Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver. And while you’re at it, why not join the Third Tuesday Facebook group to participate in the discussion before and after the sessions.

Third Tuesdays are community driven free events organized by volunteers with support from CNW Group, who underwrite the cost of presentation equipment and venue fees, and Society for New Communications Research. Thank you to both our sponsors. Your help to make these events is greatly appreciated.

Want to learn more about this month’s Third Tuesdays? Follow these links:

Third Tuesday Ottawa gets Postcards from the Mothership

Darren Barefoot launches Third Tuesday Toronto season

Third Tuesday in bigger and better in Vancouver

CNW Group and SNCR sign on to support Third Tuesdays

Talk is Cheap – a social media conference for communicators

Talk is CheapGary Shlee, the social media-savvy coordinator of the postgraduate Corporate Communications and Public Relations program at Toronto’s Centennial College has just pulled the wraps off Talk is Cheap – a social media unconference that Centennial will be hosting on November 15.

Visit Gary’s blog post for more info and then hop over to the conference Wiki to sign up as a participant or propose a session.

Congratulations on the initiative Gary. A great opportunity for experienced PR practitioners to share with PR students and the practitioners of tomorrow.

Toronto Star afternoon edition in PDF format. What were they thinking?

Toronto StarJust over thirteen months ago, the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, launched a special afternon PDF format edition of the newspaper that was targeted at commuters who might want to download and print a hard copy to read on the way home. At that time, Michael Goldblum, then-publisher of the Star said, “Star P.M. is designed to satisfy people’s craving for breaking news and the up to the minute information they need, in a format that meets their needs at the end of the day.”

My take at the time:

Add to the current mix downloadable podcast content, the ability to take emails and web content out of the office on BlackBerries and even to use these devices to surf the web for up to the minute content – and it seems to me that the Star is chasing a miniscule set of readers.

There are many innovate people at the Star and in the newspaper industry. And they will evolve the medium to compete with the new media. But this initiative by the Star isn’t really a step forward. It smacks too much of simply trying to apply the old model to a new medium. And I can’t believe that will work.

Well, news today that the Star has thrown in the towel on the PDF experiment. They’ve replaced it with a mobile edition that will offer the full text of Star stories formatted to be read on the small screen of a mobile device. The main content will be published at 3:30PM “and updated with breaking news and closing market numbers until 4:15.” Readers can subscribe to email alerts that will be delivered to their email boxes at 3:30 and 4:15.

OK. This is better. But not quite as good as it could be. Where are the RSS feeds? In the era of smartphones like the Nokia N90 and the iPhone. I can’t understand why the good folks at the Star don’t slap an RSS feed on all of their content. (Yes, I can find RSS feeds on the main thestar.com site. But why make me look on a separate site?)

So, to the Toronto Star, my compliments for learning from the PDF experience and moving to a mobile platform. But don’t stop there. Add those RSS feeds so that I can receive your news in the mobile format of my choice.

I'm speaking Thursday night at an IABC Toronto AIP Seminar

IABC TorontoIf you’re in Toronto on Thursday evening, let’s talk about social media and blogger relations. That’s the topic that IABC Toronto’s Independent Practitioners group have asked me to address at their “Old Media vs. New Media” seminar.

When you visit the event page, you won’t see my name. But don’t worry, I’ll be there. I’m the “panel members (TBC)” :-)

If you read my blog, I’d love to see you there and to hear what you think about blogger relations and whether they matter when compared with traditional media relations.

Student PR's Chris Clarke on getting a job in public relations

Chris Clarke joined Thornley Fallis straight out of school. He was the first person we hired primarily because of his experience in blogging. He’d begun his Student PR blog while studying public relations at London’s Fanshawe College. I subscribed to Chris’ blog and read his posts. Over time, I thought that Chris demonstrated passion for PR and a distinctive perspective and voice that would mesh well with Thornley Fallis’ exploration of social media.

Well, today is Chris’ last day at Thornley Fallis before he leaves us to join another firm that recruited him away from us. We sat down to chat about the highlights of his first PR work experience, what he learned and what advice he would offer to students who are thinking about a career in public relations. Some of Chris’ observations:

  • On the job discovery: PR is a small community. Everyone in the business know one another. If you want to build a career in PR, get out from behind your desk and network. “It’s a nice, small tight-knit community, so the sooner you get to know people, the better off you’re going to be… Networking is one of those things that I picked up early on and hung on to because it’s so important to advance yourself professionally.”
  • On the job lessons: “You’ve got to listen. Always listen. Write things down. Try to take on as much as you can. … you try a little bit of everything and you learn a lot.”
  • Advice for students hoping to break into PR: “Start blogging. Get out there and get involved in the social media community and blog as much as you can.”

You can watch a five minute video of my interview with Chris Clarke here.

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Third Tuesday Ottawa has Postcards from the Mothership

Danielle DondersThe next Third Tuesday Ottawa has been confirmed for October 15. We’ll hear from Danielle Donders, author of Postcards from the Mothership.

Ian Ketcheson will moderate the session. In his description of Danielle and the session Ian says:

Danielle is an Ottawa communication strategist, social media junkie, and mother of two boys. She’s also a popular “mommy blogger” and has some unique insights into how marketers are approaching the mommy blogging crowd.

Danielle will share with us her perspectives from both sides of the PR pitch. As an influential mommy blogger, she has been aggressively pitched everything from soup to cell phones for kids. But, she also sees the world through a Public Relations lens, as her day job is as a communications and social media strategist with a large government agency. Danielle will discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of how marketers are approaching the influential demographic that some are quick to dismiss as the “dirty diaper diarists.”

Should be an interesting discussion.

As always, Third Tuesday admission is free. But please register at the Third Tuesday Ottawa site so that we know that you’ll be joining us and so that you can see who else will be attending.

A time to say goodbye

This is a week of change for Thornley Fallis and our family of bloggers.

Chris ClarkeStudent PR’s Chris Clarke is leaving us to see what another organization has to teach him.

When Chris joined us in May 2006, we were still relatively new to blogging and social media. Thornley Fallis had just over a year of experience with Wikis and blogs. Pro PR was still less than a year old. And Chris had been posting for about three months at Student PR.

During his time with us, Chris was one of the founding organizers of Third Tuesday Toronto. He also took up the task of producing Inside PR. And he shared his learning experiences through his blog. His posts were often provocative, sometimes controversial, but always worth reading.

Of course, even if his day job will be on the other side of town, Chris will never be more than a click away from us here at Thornley Fallis. Chris’ Student PR blog will move from Our Community to TF Alumni on the ProPR and Thornley Fallis sidebar. I know I’ll continue to subscribe to his blog and comment on it. And I’m counting on Chris to continue as one of the founding organizers of Third Tuesday Toronto.

I was proud to have Chris Clarke as a member of the Thornley Fallis team. And while he’s leaving us for another day job, he’ll continue to be part of our social media community. And a friend.

So, here’s wishing good luck to you, Chris. It’s been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot by working alongside you. And I’ve enjoyed it from beginning to end. May the future bring you only success and happiness.

UPDATE: Chris has posted about his plans post-Thornley Fallis.

BlogOrlando demonstrates the culture of generosity

I just returned home from attending BlogOrlando.

It was a great experience. I had a chance to learn from presenters like Shel Israel, Tom Biro, Chris Heuer, Geoff Livingston, Laurie Mayers, Jake McKee, Annie Heckenberger, David Parmet, and David Coustan. It also brought me face to face for the first time with people like Connie Reece and Constantin Basturea.

All in all, BlogOrlando was one of the best sessions on social media I’ve attended this year. And remarkably, the registration fee was zero. Nothing. Nil.

Josh HallettThe conference was organized by Josh Hallett and a team of volunteers. The speakers donated their time and covered their own expenses.

Truly, BlogOrlando embodies the culture of generosity that underlies the pure spirit of social media. The urge to share with others. To connect. To contribute to the common good.

So, a big thank you to Josh Hallett and all the organizers of BlogOrlando and other community driven events like Podcamp, CaseCamp and DemoCamp. You keep the gift economy alive in social media.

For more about what happened at BlogOrlando, check out these posts:

Geoff Livingston on Chris Heuer’s wrap up

Jake McKee’s takaways

Alex Rudloff on BlogOrlando’s social activities

Jessica DaSilva reflects on what she heard

Laurie Mayers’ overview

BlogOrlando photos on Flickr

Geoff Livingston on Josh Hallett’s actions