Georgia Sapounas on Canada’s Digital Olympics Strategy

Georgia Sapounas, the Canadian Olympic Committee‘s (COC) Digital Media Director, came to Third Tuesday Toronto last night to talk about the COC’s social media program for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. And like the participants at Third Tuesday Ottawa the previous night, the Toronto attendees posted their observations and thoughts on Twitter. Here are the highlights of the Twitter stream that was posted to the Third Tuesday Toronto #3tYYZ hashtag.

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Georgia Sapounas sees Social Media on the Olympic Road to Sochi

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s Digital Manager, Georgia Sapounas, traveled to Ottawa yesterday to provide the Third Tuesday Ottawa participants with a glimpse into the Canadian Olympic Committee’s plans to use social media during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. And as always, the Third Tuesday participants tweeted extensively about what they were hearing and thinking. I’ve captured some of the highlights from the #3tYOW Twitter stream.


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Everything you need to know to publish a book

So, you want to publish a book.

You know that you have something to say. You produce and regularly publish great content to your blog, Tumblr or podcast. And now you want to go the next step and publish a book.

The book publishing industry is being transformed by technology and shifting media consumption habits. And as this happens, it is becoming possible for anyone with something to say to publish it in book form and to reach an audience.

If you think you have a book in you and you are wondering how to publish it, you must read two posts: Jay Baer’s 25 Secrets – How I Wrote and Marketed a New York Times Best Selling Business Book and James Altucher‘s How to Self-Publish a Bestseller: Publishing 3.0.

Jay is the author of Youtility, which charted on the New York Times Business Book bestseller list. James is the author of Choose Yourself, which ranked on the Wallstreet Journal bestseller list. And both authors share generously, not just about how they wrote and produced their books, but also about the savvy marketing and promotion programs they conducted to earn their place on the bestseller lists.

Jay Baer obtained a deal with a traditional publisher and then put together and ran his own promotion campaign. James Altucher self-published, but relied heavily on marketing pros to promote his book. Two different paths. One common element – success.

A few highlights to whet your appetite for reading their complete posts.

Jay BaerJay Baer

“Always go with the most enthusiastic publisher, even if the terms are not quite as good.”

Recognize that you, not your publisher, will sell your books. So, put a lot of time into your marketing plan.

Signing with a major publisher brings credibility, but not necessarily more money.

Develop your ideas in advance of the book through presentations.

Establish a schedule for your writing and stick to it. 1,500 words per weekday and 5,000 words one weekend day per week enabled Jay to write Youtility in six weeks. You can do this too. But it takes discipline.

Covers and titles matter. Invest in producing great ones and test them on your social networks. Your followers will tell you what works best.

Build your own bookstore to sell your books. It gives you more control and data on purchasers.

Aim for the most sales you can get on day one. It’s your best chance to chart on the bestseller lists. Offer incentives for pre-orders.

Be clear-headed about the effectiveness of advertising. Pre-order ads drove awareness but few direct sales.

Publicists can produce results for you. Working with a publicist as well as his own outreach, brought Jay over 50 interviews and podcasts.

Help bloggers to cover you. Reading and reviewing a book may be more work than all but the most dedicated are prepared to do. Many will gladly take a guest post. So, develop topic-specific posts from your book that you can guest post on popular blogs.

Don’t stop with the book. “Atomize” its content for things like an ebook with the 25 best quotes. You can get much more life for your content in different forms.

Promote. Promote. Promote. Speak at events that will sell books. Produce a video. Produce related content as a bonus for book buyers. Conduct contests. Remember, you are responsible to sell your book.

James AltucherJames Altucher

“The distinction now is no longer between “traditional publishing” versus “self-publishing.” The distinction now is between professional versus unprofessional publishing.”

Self-publishing will enable you to maintain more control over your content rights (think international markets) and also the content in your book. It also will enable you to bring your book to market much faster than you could through the traditional publishing system.

A traditional publisher will want to see evidence that you can be successful in promoting your own book sales. “But if you already can hand-deliver the customers, what do you need the traditional publisher for?”

You can become your own professional publisher because the professional resources you need are available to you. “…for the first time, the best editors, designers, marketers are no longer working at the big publishing houses. Instead, they are striking out on their own and independently charging for their services.”

Edit. Edit. Edit. James and his editor went back and forth more than fifteen times. And then, after Altucher read his book for the audio version, he edited again for the things that didn’t work when read aloud.

Like Jay Baer, Altucher obsessed over the right title and the right design. And he also hired a publicist who delivered results.

In this new publishing world, “ I am not limited to who is on the publisher’s staff but I can pick the absolute best people in the industry. With millions of books out there, the competition is incredible. … Hiring the best editor, design firm, marketing firm, and audio firms were all part of that. Not just the best around but who I felt were the best in the world.”

You can do this too

So, you have the content. You have the writing talent. Can you publish a book? Yes you can.

What are you waiting for?

Bonus Content

Are you struggling with writer’s block? Mitch Joel tells you how to End to Writer’s Block.

Still reading? Let me leave you with one final bit of inspiration: the story of Terry Fallis, the PR executive who self published his first novel in his late forties, only to win a series of awards and become a serial bestseller. You CAN do it!

Goodbye Mouse. Hello Touchpad.

I love technology. Not so much that I crave every new shiny object. But I do love to get new things that make my life easier or extend my reach.

While I love learning and mastering new things, I know that not everybody is like me. As a business owner, I have to be pragmatic in what technologies I introduce into our workplace. I have to respect those people who would rather keep working with something that does the job just fine than spend time learning a new way of working for what might turn out to be a marginal improvement in productivity or capability.

And that brings me to Windows 8. On one hand, I see the promise of the first major upgrade in the  personal computer interface since Windows 95. On the other hand, I am concerned that the effort to learn a new user interface will far outweigh its potential benefits. So I’m going to make myself the test dummy for Windows 8 at Thornley Fallis and 76design.

I’ve ordered an initial Windows 8 notebook computer to test Microsoft’s new operating system. It’s a Dell XPS 13, a truly sweet Ultra book. I’ve been using one of these systems with Windows 7 since last spring and it’s the best notebook I’ve ever owned. Thin. Light. Capable. So it’s a natural platform for my first test of Windows 8.

From what I’ve read, Windows 8 is a much different experience. It’s built so that I can navigate using gestures on a touchscreen. That works when I have the notebook sitting on my lap. But when I’m at my desk, that just doesn’t work for me. My notebook is hooked up to a larger second screen and it sits behind a wireless keyboard. A surefire recipe for back trouble if I’m constantly reaching across the keyboard to touch the screen.

I want to replicate the touchscreen gestures on my desktop, without the need to lean forward to reach my computer screen.

So, it’s goodbye traditional mouse. Hello touchpad.

In anticipation of the launch of Windows 8, I ordered one of Logitech’s brand-new T650 Touchpads. This touchpad promises to let me use all of the gestures I would use on the screen itself, but on a glass trackpad sitting on my desk beside my keyboard where the mouse traditionally would be.

It arrived this morning.  And within only a few hours of use, I realized that I will never go back to a traditional mouse. Even on my current system operating Windows 7 it makes everything on the computer easier. Scrolling. Selecting text. Switching between programs. It’s all just so much more fluid using the touchpad. Even if I ultimately don’t move over the Windows 8, Microsoft has done me (and Logitech) a huge favour by prompting me to look for a modern alternative to the mouse.

What about you? Do you still use a mouse? Have you tried a touchpad? What do you think of each?

IABC launches online social media workshop for communications professionals

International Association of Business Communicators

Professional communicators who want to extend and deepen their knowledge of  social media will be interested in a new online social media workshop being offered for the first time this month by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

The course, Develop and implement an integrative approach to social media, will be delivered through online training modules that participants can review at a time convenient to themselves combined with live sessions with the instructors. The program material has been prepared by Shel Holtz and me – and we will be the live instructors for the first set of sessions.

We’ll start with an orientation session on January 9 during which Shel and I will outline the course content and answer questions from participants. Following this orientation, the first two of eight learning modules will be available to participants to review at their convenience. Then we begin the weekly live sessions on January 19 and they will run through February 23.

Each module will focus on a different aspect of social media:

  • Module 1: Social media’s role in communications and PR
  • Module 2: The key categories of social media
  • Module 3: Monitoring social media
  • Module 4: Strategizing and measuring social media
  • Module 5: The core skills communicators need to acquire
  • Module 6: Social media behind the firewall
  • Module 7: Adapting corporate culture to embrace social media
  • Module 8: Social media during a crisis

So, in just eight weeks, you will acquire up to date knowledge on how social media is being integrated into corporate communications and the best practices you can apply in your organization.

Does this sound like something you can use? If so, click over to the IABC site to register for the IABC’s social media online workshop.

This will be only my second experience offering online training. So, I’m very much looking forward to sharing what I know with the participants and learning from their feedback.

 

Be creative by listening like a jazz musician

Spontaneous creativity is the beating heart of jazz music. Fans of jazz delight even more in the live performance than they do the studio recording. Why? Because no two jazz performances are alike. Jazz musicians are constantly improvising, building new ideas into what they play, finding inspiration in the moment.

How do great jazz musicians create something coherent and fresh each and every time they step onstage? In a recent TedTalk, Jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris illustrates how attentive listening by individual players can spark creativity in an ensemble.

Business can learn a great deal from the spontaneous improvisation of jazz. All too often, we pay lip service to listening. In fact, many apparently skilled managers have made a fine art of the seemingly sincere, but ultimately empty acknowledgment of  others’ ideas. Harris and his group drive home that actually acting on the new and different idea can lead to something remarkable.

I’d recommend showing Harris’ TEDTalk to your team at the beginning of a brainstorm. It’s a great message that will surely put an end to the “yes but” mentality that can stifle creativity.

 

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Also worth reading: Dannielle Blumenthal approaches the importance of being open to listen to different perspectives in her post, Are you secure enough to handle an engaged employee? Good advice for anyone leading an employee meeting.

It's HOW you play the game that matters

When Terry Fallis and I founded Thornley Fallis, we were two guys working on folding banquet tables in borrowed space. And we set out to create the kind of company that we’d really like to work at. A place that reflected our values.

Well, it’s 16 years later – and I just had one of those “back to the future” moments.

I was part of a team pitching a potential new client. We really wanted the business. But we also saw that there were problems with the way the potential client had spec-ed the Request for Proposal. So we proposed an approach that we thought was right for them. And it didn’t match 100% the things they had said they were looking for in the RFP. The senior officer at the table called us out on this and we had a good discussion about why we had proposed the approach we had. A really good discussion. At the end of it, he said our approach would make demands on his organization that he wasn’t sure they were ready for. He didn’t say that we weren’t going to be selected. But he did give us an honest response to our honest advice.

And then it happened. The other client representative in the room leaned forward and told us that he recalled reading our founding principles many years ago (when he worked for us; yes, it’s a small world.) He remembered that one of our founding principles was: “Give the client the advice they need, not the advice they want to hear.”

Whuff! One of those moments that remind you it’s about walking the talk. Doing what you say you want to do.

I’d love to win the account. I don’t know if we will. But I do know this: You have to really believe that it’s HOW you play the game that matters. Be true to your principles and have faith that you’ll get your fair share of wins in the long run.

Are you a .ca? Show your pride

Third Tuesday has a new sponsor – the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). CIRA is responsible for Canada’s top level web domain.ca. CIRA’s sponsorship will enable third Tuesday to expand and do more programming. (I’ll write more about this in a future post).

I use a.ca domain for my blog, ProPR.ca. I want to speak with my community of interest wherever they are in the world. But I’m also proud of where I come from. Signalling that I’m Canadian provides people with a reference point. It anchors me in my home community.

We have a lot to be proud of in Canada. Now CIRA is giving us a chance to recognize and celebrate some of the best initiatives that use a .ca domain.

CIRA has launched the .ca Impact Awards. The awards will recognize people who are using their .ca websites to make a positive difference for their communities. Awards will be given out for each of four categories: e-learning, small business, not for profit, and web technology. The winners will receive a prize of $5000 and be recognized at an awards ceremony at this year’s Mesh Conference in Toronto on May 24, 2011.

The deadline for award submissions is March 25. So if you think that your .ca website has had a positive impact on your community, why not submit an entry to the first.ca Impact Awards? You’ve done something remarkable. Now be recognized for it.

Interested in more information? Take a look at this video.

(Disclosure: not only is CIRA a sponsor of Third Tuesday, but they also a client of Thornley Fallis and 76design. To paraphrase the old commercial, I liked using the domain so much, I went to work for the people who run it.)

 

Don't be afraid of criticism. Use it to become better.

One of the realities of social media is that people talk back. They tell you if they like what you are doing. But they are equally quick to tell you what they don’t like about what you are doing.

This can be a painful thing. Anyone who has ever performed in public – and that includes all of us who lay out our ideas on blogs and social media sites – knows the sinking feeling of starting to read a comment when someone says your performance sucked or your ideas were just plain wrong.

For many of us, our first instinct is to run from that type of commentary. We rationalize that paying attention to critics will cause us to have second thoughts, to be timid, or to pull back from taking risks in the future.

Don’t be that person. Don’t shy away from reading and taking criticism to heart.

Photo by Jeremy Lim

Listening to and embracing criticism is one of the secrets of the true high performer.

This week, I saw that graphically illustrated when C.C. Chapman came to Canada to talk about Content Rules, the book he co-authored with Ann Handley, at Third Tuesdays in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver.

I had seen C.C. present at conferences over the past couple years. He’s one of the best. And he met my expectations right from the beginning of this week.

C.C. started strong with a great presentation in Montreal. He hit all the right notes and the audience loved him. In fact, his presentation and the question-and-answer session stretched over 90 minutes before it could be brought to an end.

The next night in Toronto his performance was again strong. But there was some chatter in the back of the room as some people’s attention drifted. I wondered what was going on, why the presentation wasn’t gripping this group the way it had the previous night.

We use Meetup.com to host the Third Tuesday event sites. Meetup has built-in questionnaires to ask users to rate and comment on the speaker’s performance. Overwhelmingly, the comments about C.C.’s Toronto presentation were positive.  But there were some criticisms. Some people were looking for more structure in cc presentation. A few event said they hadn’t found the content they expected from C.C.

The next night we were on to Calgary. As he started his presentation, I saw that C.C. had made some changes to it. He added an introduction that provided a quick overview of the content of the book and identified some particular points that he would highlight. In effect, he provided a structure and roadmap to his presentation. It appeared to me that C.C. had read the comments and used them to refine his delivery.

Thanks to the Meetup software, we received a fresh batch of comments after the Calgary event. Again, almost all were positive. A few made suggestions about how C.C. could improve his presentation.

On the final night in Vancouver, C.C. further tightened up his presentation, focusing on a few ideas that had made the most impact on the previous nights. He had again addressed all of the critical comments that had been left on Meetup or in tweets.

I had watched this unfold during the week. But I hadn’t said anything because I thought C.C. was in full flight and he didn’t need any additional kibitzing from me. However, in the taxi after the final event was over, I asked C.C. if he was reading the comments about his presentations as we went along. For sure, he responded.

Over four days and four presentations, one of the best presenters around listened to the criticisms and embraced them. By doing this, he turned an already great presentation into a presentation that received one of the highest ratings achieved in five years of Third Tuesdays.

That’s how C.C. has become a great presenter. Never get mad. Never run away from criticism. Grab it. Use it. That’s how it’s done. That’s something we should all do. In our presentations. In what we write. In our jobs. All the time.

Three questions to ask before accepting a controversial client

Have you ever been found yourself  presented with the opportunity to work for a client who might be controversial.

Recently, my company was asked to work for an organization that many would consider controversial. We struggled with whether we should accept the assignment and, ultimately chose to decline it.

Even though we encounter this type of situation many times in business, it is all too easy to become mired in the specifics of a situation and to lose sight of your longer term objectives.

So, as we deal with these kinds of issues, I’ve written down three questions that I think will always guide us to the right outcome. I’d like to share them with you and get your feedback on this approach and what you do in your own company when confronted with this type of situation.

Business should not be value-free; But it’s complicated

As the CEO of a company, I have to be concerned about the impact our roster of clients will have not only on our public image, but also on our self-image and our internal culture. People should spend their time working on things they believe in. They shouldn’t be compelled to work on assignments or for clients they disagree with.

In the 1980s and early nineties, the CEO of the firm I then worked for famously declared that we would not shy away from taking on controversial clients because “just as every person is entitled to a vigorous defence in court, they also deserve a vigorous defence in the court of public opinion.” Well, I disagreed with that position then and I disagree with it now. There are some bad people in life and they don’t deserve a vigorous defence – at least not from me.

But that’s easy. The “clearly bad” are at one extreme. But we don’t live life in the extremes. We live them in the mushy middle, in shades of gray.

We can’t expect everyone to agree with us or believe in the things we agree in. But we also can’t shy away from supporting a cause or belief that not everyone supports. If we did that, we’d lose ourselves in the depths of political correctness and we’d never do anything.

How do you decide whether to take on a client that may be controversial?

First, avoid the trap of believing that you have to make the decision on your own. I lead a company. But I also work as a team member in that company. The route to the right decision about accepting a potentially controversial client lies first in remembering that we all have a stake in this decision and involving more people than myself in the decision.

Once past this hurdle, I have three questions that will get you to the right outcome for our organization:

1) Do we support the objectives of the potential client as well as the way they go about attempting to achieve them?

The world is full of business opportunities. Why not look for those whose objectives and methods we applaud? Conventional management wisdom advises against grabbing every business opportunity which presents itself but which is off strategy. Similarly, why not focus on bringing in business from organizations and companies that you can easily support. In our case, ff can’t say with pride that we work for a client, we will walk away from the opportunity to work for them.

2) How will this affect the culture of your company?

The answer to the first question cannot be fully provided without reference to the entire organization. Are there people within your company who feel strongly about the potential client? Will it create division and alienation?

This doesn’t mean that anyone individual (including the CEO)  should have a veto. Don’t be afraid to have a vigorous internal discussion. It can lead to an understanding and respect of the different perspectives held by people. Reasonable people should be able to understand another’s point of view and respect that point of view.

Ultimately this is the issue on which management must make a call. Can the normal and healthy differences in opinion be accommodated or is this a situation in which the cultural cost will be too high? If the latter, take a pass on the potential client.

3) How will this be perceived by the external world?

This question comes last because, if you’ve answered the preceding two, you will be ready to weather the disapproval of those who disagree with your decision. And there will always be those that disagree. That’s the great thing about an open and liberal society. We hold different views and we are free to express them.

My objective is not to stop people from criticizing us. My objective is that we appear reasonable and reasoned in our defense of our decision. And if we do that, it will loop back into our internal culture

Bottom line

While we can’t eliminate controversy from attaching it to our businesses (unless we are prepared to be so nondescript and bland that we leave no footprint), by answering these three simple questions we can be true to our essential nature, build a stronger culture, and be ready to respond to comments from the outside world.

How do you handle this kind of situation?

I’d welcome your views on this. What practices do you follow in your company to manage potentially controversial situations?