A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

50 Reasons I Love My iPhone

  1. When I tell Siri I love her, she tells me “You are the wind beneath my wings.”
  2. The battery life is a champ.  I don’t need to charge it all day long like I did with my Android.
  3. I can move and delete my apps effortlessly.
  4. The camera is incredible.
  5. There’s an app for that. It’s actually true.
  6. I FINALLY have access to the “iPhone only” apps.
  7. I can group my apps into categories (love this about Apple).
  8. Find my iPhone. Need I say more?
  9. It is simple connecting to wifi.
  10. The GPS is 1000x better than my old Android GPS.
  11. When I type in a contact’s name, it pops up immediately (definitely did not have that on my last phone – the delay was very long).
  12. iMessage is AWESOME.  Such an easy way to talk to other iPhone users.
  13. Auto correct is REALLY good (it even knows to capitalize the “S” in HubSpot).
  14. Pocket MBTA – it actually tells me exactly how long it will take until the next bus arrives.
  15. It’s white. I’m a sucker for white phones.
  16. It syncs with my iPad and Mac. Thank you Apple; thank you iCloud.
  17. Privacy. Every time I have to open the App Store, it asks for my password. I like that I am the only one who will be able to download apps.
  18. The QR code scanner works.
  19. All it takes to clear my apps is double clicking the home button and deleting the apps currently running.
  20. All it takes to mute my phone is clicking a button. Literally one button.
  21. You can record much longer videos.
  22. All the Apple cords are the same to charge my devices.
  23. Getting the iPhone makes me look like this: 
  24. I get to have a Timeline that looks like this: 
  25. Facetime. I absolutely love Facetime.
  26. I have a camera on both sides.
  27. My apps don’t have to “force close” constantly.
  28. Downloading more apps doesn’t make it slower.
  29. If something happens to my phone, Apple Care will give me a new phone for $49.
  30. Posting pictures right to Twitter ACTUALLY works.  (Note the pattern of things ACTUALLY working on the iPhone)
  31. The phone automatically shows my updates.
  32. Siri recognizes my location and will tell me places that are nearby.
  33. Siri knows me by name.
  34. The notifications for Twitter come immediately.
  35. Streaming videos on YouTube is quick and easy.
  36. Flixster will find movies near me by location.
  37. I will get Foursquare updates before the Android and Blackberry users.
  38. My phone’s apps are sleek and organized.
  39. The games I paid for on the iPad are now on my iPhone.
  40. I’m finally part of the cool kids club (by having an iPhone).
  41. Deleting emails takes a second and does not have any delay.
  42. I can put as many accounts as I want in my apps.
  43. Siri can easily bring up my schedule for each day.
  44. I can simply tell Siri to text someone, give her the message and it sends.
  45. Running one app doesn’t kill my battery.
  46. I have many choices for accessories and apps.
  47. When I have notifications and my screen is locked, I can swipe the app icon across the screen to immediately go to that app.
  48. I have a pull down on the phone of all my notifications.
  49. When I pay for an app, it is worth the money.
  50. Did I mention I’m REALLY excited about having an iPhone?
What’s your favorite part?  Have any unboxing videos to share?

9/11/01 to 5/1/11

They say that you will always remember where you were when you heard breaking news.  My parents remember where they were when they found out about JFK.  I didn’t really grasp the concept of this until September 11.  I was in 7th grade, and I had no idea that anything was going on.  The administration at my school decided that we were too young to be told about the tragic events.  A lot of my classmates were pulled out of school, but there were just rumors flying around about why they were leaving.  My one friend supposedly “broke her ankle” and had to leave school.  When my mom picked me up at school that day, she told me what had happened.  It was my dad’s birthday, and we all felt awkward celebrating his birthday that day.  I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the situation until I went home and watched the footage.

Fast forward 9 years, 6 months and 2 weeks later to Penn State’s Regional Activity.  We discussed the PR issues surrounding Osama Bin Laden.  How could a country as powerful as the United States not know where he was hiding?  With all the military intelligence, did we actually know where he was?  What are the PR issues surrounding this issue?  What would happen when he was caught?  Would he be killed or would his life be spared?  We toyed with the possibility that the country may know where he is but were not prepared to deal with the public’s outcry once he was captured.  We even suggested that there was a possibility that we have known his whereabouts for years.

Well we were wrong about the “years” part, but little did we know that Obama and his team were tracking Osama Bin Laden for a few months.

Fast forward another month and 6 days to May 1.  I’m on Twitter and all of a sudden my stream starts exploding around 10:00 with news that Obama is going to address the nation at 10:30 EST.  A little under a half hour later people start speculating that Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Obviously I don’t believe the news.  I basically have a rule that I don’t believe anything until the New York Times reports it.  Then at 10:44, the New York Times announced it, and my Twitter feed exploded even more.

As I sat and watched the news await Obama’s announcement and watched Twitter, I thought that unless you were on Twitter or Facebook or watching the news at night, you would have no idea.  I called up my family (who often doubts the power of Twitter) to see if they knew about the news.  They were already in bed and had no idea what was going on.  Another family member told me she was taking a walk the next morning and a neighbor shouted to her, “The bastard is dead!” but she had no idea what he was talking about.  It is amazing what the power of social media can do.  Obama’s speech finally came on around 11:45.

I completely support Obama, but I did feel like I was watching a campaign speech.  However, I do feel like he should take some credit for the decisions he has had to make in the past few months that led to these events.  And after a week of being tormented by Donald Trump (whose show was interrupted for Obama’s speech! +1 for Obama), the nation is now applauding Obama.  It is also amazing when you think about the fact that while Obama was planning on capturing/killing Osama Bin Laden, he was dealing with Donald Trump’s petty birth certificate issues.  When Obama said he wanted to show the birth certificate because he had other important things to deal with, who knew it was THIS important.

Even more amazing was some of the articles that came out the next day.  Mashable provided a timeline of the announcement of the news. Techcrunch showed the tweets of a man who tweeted the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden without even knowing it!  The New York Times posted one of the greatest articles ever posted called “Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden” that took you through the past eight months as the White House prepared for this raid.  Apparently, they had been following one of Osama Bin Laden’s most trusted drivers for months.  They also had to be very careful not to tell too many people that they thought they knew where he was in case his followers found out and helped him escape.  Everything had to be very carefully planned.

I did not participate in any of the celebratory rallies, but I do wonder what this will mean from a PR standpoint.  Already hundreds of people who lost family members on 9/11 are being called upon by journalists to see what this means to them.  Do they feel a send of revenge?  Do they feel like they have closure?  Does his death help sooth their pain?

There will also potentially be a retaliation against the country from Osama Bin Laden’s supporters especially if the picture of his corpse is released.  His body was already buried at sea to avoid his followers creating a shrine, but did Bin Laden have additional plans in case he was ever captured or killed?

And what does his death do for the image of the United States?  Does it show that we are a powerhouse?  Or will other countries look down upon us for celebrating with rallies across the country?

There are so many questions to be answered, and all we can do is wait as more details about his death are released and the months pass by to really see the reaction of the world.

Foursquare Day

A lot of people laugh at me that I check in wherever I go.  But ever since I got my smartphone in September, I have been addicted to checking in on Foursquare.  So when I heard that there was an actual Foursquare Day, I was obviously excited to celebrate.  Foursquare Day is on 4/16 every year.

For those of you who do not realize the connection:

Four = 4

Four Squared = 42 = 16

So, Foursquare Day is on 4/16.

To celebrate this holiday, I joined Allen & Gerritsen for a day of playing Foursquare in the Boston Common.  I had actually never played foursquare before (apparently I was deprived as a child during recess), but it was a lot of fun.  We ended up changing the rules a bit by allowing the mayor to make up a new rule.  That definitely added a twist to things and made it more exciting.  Check out more pictures from the day at Allen and Gerritsen’s Flickr for #4sqdayBOS.

Photo taken by Tina Yip (@tina_yip)

Thanks to the Digital Incubator at A&G, we also received a great deal at Boloco On the Common to celebrate Foursquare.  When you said “Digital Incubator,” you received discounted burritos.  (They pretended like they didn’t know what I was talking about at first so I went on and on about Foursquare Day, and they just laughed and said they knew what I was talking about from the beginning.  The staff there was really great and fun-spirited!)

To complete a day of recognizing Foursquare, the Explore feature that is part of Version 3.0 chose the places I was going to at night.  It was great to try a new restaurant and new bar in an area of Boston I had never really explored (aka Brookline Village).  I had used the Explore feature before, but I did not find anything I liked too much until this past weekend.  It was great to try out a new place especially on Foursquare Day.

I hope everyone had a great Foursquare Day this past weekend!  Til next year!

The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World (Penn State Regional Activity)

This past weekend I went to my last Regional Activity (very bittersweet).  But after working with Andrea Crawford all year, I was so happy to see the event come together.  The event was called The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World.  They had a great social on Friday night and a day full of excellent speakers on Saturday.  In addition to the speakers, they had an etiquette luncheon and networking reception.  Many schools from around the region came, and the committee made everything run very smoothly.  Congratulations on a great event!

Steve Manuel, Professor at Penn State University

In addition to being a former Penn State professor, Steve Manuel is also a former public affairs officer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Marine Corps spokesman.  His stories about his adventures doing photojournalism and other PR work were very interesting, and the engagement he had of his students was very inspiring (and reminded me of my PRSSA Faculty Adviser, Steve Quigley).  A few things that stood out in my mind when he spoke were the following.

  • 10% of people working on a group project will not pull their wait.  As students, we can definitely relate to that (or even say 10% may be underestimated).
  • We spoke about how it has been over 10 years since the 9/11 tragedy and we still have not found Osama bin Laden.  But what would happen if we actually found him?  What would the government do?  What would the public demand?  And who would become our new “#1 target?”  There will always be a new bad guy.
  • He also said you should always have a communications objective in your pocket.  And make sure you are clear about what your objective is.

After his presentation, we played PR Jeopardy.  There were questions about PR History, Agencies, AP Style the National Committee (I was an answer!) and Penn State.  My team won, and the Regional Activity committee gave us t-shirts, cups and a zip drive!

Michael Hinman, Account Executive & Media Manager at Environmental PR Group

The keynote speaker came all the way from Tampa to speak to us about environmental PR.  He started off by giving us some background about the work he does and some environmental PR issues.  Then he gave us some suggestions when dealing with media relations.  He cited Steve Jobs as an example of someone who has the ability to tell us what we want before we even know we want it.  That is how you have to treat media relations.  The Internet helps us create and own a conversation, but you also have to tailor your message to every audience.  Every target audience has their own wants and needs, and it is our job to figure out what that is.  Personalize your outreach by looking up every beat and publication of the people you are pitching to.  Utilizing social media is great, but you have to have followers and an established base or it will not do any good.

He also talked to us a bit about SEO news releases.  He showed us his own example that he did for Water Optimizer.  He told us that reporters have less time than ever before, and it is important as PR professionals to do anything you can to make it easier for a reporter to do research on your story.  They do not have the time to do in depth research like they used to so this is our opportunity to do it for them so we can still have the story published.

Ron Smith, Senior Lecturer at Penn State University

I next went to a technology session where they taught us how to use Illustrator.  It was a great refresher about some of the basic tools you need to know to use the program.  I thought this was an excellent addition to the Regional Activity.  They also had an InDesign workshop later in the day.

Jeff Boggie, Chef-Instructor at Penn State University

During lunch, we had an etiquette presentation.  There were some interesting tips he gave us about how to present ourselves in a business setting.

  • Deliver a firm handshake.
  • Stand when introduced or being introduced.
  • Travel light (you need both hands).
  • Don’t go in cold.  Have a purpose, be prepared and visualize.
  • Walk the walk aka be confident.
  • Follow up with questions about them.  Show you are interested in them.
  • Don’t arrive hungry.
  • Do not treat staff poorly.

He also displayed the following diagram to show us what utensils are used for the different courses.

Mindy Bianca, Public Relations Director at Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Cara O’Donnell, Associate Vice President of Public Relations at Tierney

The next session I attended was about tourism PR.  This session was the most engaging session of the day.  Both Mindy and Cara are former journalists so they understand PR in a unique way.  They stressed the importance of having a background in journalism or at least interning in journalism.  When you have this background, you understand what the media is looking for and can tailor your news releases to that.  You also learn the structure of a news room and know who to pitch.

They spoke about the tourism and travel industry being more proactive than reactive.  It is also built on relationships that take years to develop. They told us some funny stories about some of the ways they have developed these relationships with journalists.  Even though they were funny, they proved to be successful relationships for both parties.

Even though travel and tourism PR seems very glamorous because of all the traveling, they did stress the long hours.  When you are traveling during the day, you have to do work all night that you didn’t get to finish during the day.

They also gave us some interviewing advice.  Present yourself well from the moment you walk into a building because you are interviewing with everyone from the receptionist who welcomes you to the recruiter.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Have inner-confidence without being arrogant.

Meredith Topalanchik, Vice President & Director, Client Services at CooperKatz

This session was about agency life and a lot of the decisions you need to make when you are in an entry-level position.

  • Don’t accept a job on the spot.  If they want you, they can wait.
  • There is no other place you can get as much experience right out of college than a PR agency.
  • Most work is in media relations.  It is very valuable to learn how to pitch.
  • Your organizational style will change within the first year.

Patricia Whalen, Assistant Professor at DePaul University and Board Member of the Board of Ethics and Professional Standars of the Public Relations Society of America

To end the day, was the Ben Bronstein Lecture called “Can PR Pros Act as the Corporate Conscience.”  It was all about the ethical dilemmas that PR professionals face.

Whalen emphasized the importance of standing up for yourself.  Don’t be afraid to speak the truth to power.  It is better to get fired and find another job than engage in unethical actions.  She said to do the right thing because there is a huge benefit to both you and your organization.  By doing this, you can build up trust which will come in handy long-term.  Every organization will make a mistake at one point, but if you have built up a trust bank, the people will forgive you.

She gave us some interesting facts about the people who are practicing PR.  Many have not been trained in PR so do not always know how to work in PR.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 500,000 people practice PR but only 32,000 are in PRSA (less than 7%).

A lot of times there is a question between whether PR people or lawyers should be the ethical conscience of an organization.  But there is a difference between being legal and being ethical.

She told us to focus on strategic advocacy and enlightened self interest.  She explained that enlightened self-interest means that an organization is a member of society.  So corporate citizens benefit in the long run in reputation and profits.

Networking Reception

To conclude the day, we had a networking reception where we talked to some of the speakers and students from different schools.  Overall, Penn State did a great job putting on this conference, and I’m so glad I was able to attend!

With the Penn State Nittany Lion, Dana Bubonovich, Immediate Past President of Penn State PRSSA and the FIT PRSSA Chapter

 

80 Seconds Campaign

Did you know that every 80 seconds there is a house fire?  When I was younger, I had a tremendous fear of fires.  For some reason I was convinced that my house would catch on fire.  Fortunately, nothing like that ever happened, but many people aren’t as lucky.  When Hana Yi told me about this virtual campaign, I was blown away by the creativity and innovativeness of it.

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago launched a virtual campaign to raise awareness for the dangers and abundance of house fires.  They wanted to show people who have not been victims of house fires about the pain that it can cause.  Users will connect to Facebook and watch six of their most precious Facebook pictures virtually burn.  I can honestly tell you watching some of my most prized pictures burning (even though it was virtual) gave me the chills.  The pictures the campaign chose for me included pictures of my family trip to Europe and other pictures taken during college.  It was terrifying to think of my memories burning away.

After you watch your pictures virtually burn, you are brought to a page where you can donate to the Red Cross.  Then you can tweet about it, post it on your Facebook wall or write about the campaign like I am doing here.

This campaign is truly genius.  Targeting their audience online was very smart of the Red Cross, and incorporating Facebook into the campaign was even smarter.  People cherish their Facebook pictures and love looking at them.  Everyone always asks “Did you put up the pictures from last night yet?” or “Did you see the picture that was just tagged of me?”  “Burning them” over the Internet and having people imagine that their prized pictures are gone forever is the perfect way to show how much pain can come from house fires.  A good friend of mine lost most of her prized possessions and photographs due to a house fire many years ago and is still saddened by her loss.  Showing people what it would be like to lose as much as she did is the perfect way to get people to understand this harsh reality.

For more information about the campaign, check out the news release from the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

What do you think about this campaign?

Chris Brogan

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to hear Chris Brogan give a presentation about branding at Boston University.  He was extremely entertaining and informative and provided the audience with a lot of information about marketing and public relations.

He started off by asking everyone who was a marketing major, public relations major (there were only four of us, surprisingly), etc.  Then he asked who was in sales and few people in the audience raised their hands.  Then he told us that if we were in these fields, we were all in sales and customer service.

He told us a world class brand has velocity, distribution, relationship skills and true measurement.  Nobody cares how many Twitter followers you have or what your Klout score is.  These four items are what matters when working in these disciplines.

As companies adjust to using social media in their marketing strategies, it is also important to remember some of the older tactics.  Citibank conducted a survey of people 18 and older to see how they had a relationship with brands.  Four percent said their relationship was through Twitter, 15 percent by Facebook and 93 percent still claimed that they used e-mail.  Brogan did say that if e-mails from companies are sent from a “do-not-reply-I-don’t-want-to-talk-to-you” address, they are not doing e-mail marketing the right way.

When pitching a product, service or brand, remember that brevity rules.  200-500 words in a blog post and e-mail works.  People do not want to hear everything that exists on a topic through these mediums.  And they most likely won’t read everything.

Marketers often forget to LISTEN to what people are saying.  Brogan said to stay topical and current, you have to listen to what people are saying they want.  Comcast did a great job of this through their Twitter handle @ComcastCares.  They listened to customer complaints, responded to them, fixed many of them and had increased revenues as a result.

Many people think marketing campaigns can be measured by how many people like a page on Facebook or follow a company on Twitter.  The real opportunity is to make the next thing happen after the like.

In terms of networking, Brogan referenced the Dunbar Effect that says that you only have 150 people in your network.  He said to try to be part of everyone’s 150 network.  And the best time to keep your network alive is when you do not need the person’s help.

Marketing should never be safe.  The best campaigns are often the most risky ones.  Brogan said the cool, awesome thing with many of the new tools out there is being flexible and trying something new.  Coke had a very successful campaign with user generated videos, but they will not be able to do something again.  Marketing is about fresh, new ideas and keeping a brand alive.  He did admit though that Geico’s Gecko can be used repeatedly without being stale.

When keeping in touch with people, interact with them through multiple mediums.  Brogan has a huge network and keeps in touch with people by posing questions at the end of his blog posts, commenting back to comments on his blog and even commenting on other personal blogs.

Some other interesting facts he said included:

  • 40 percent of business do not have a web presence.  They live by what other people write about them.
  • The #2 search engine in the world is YouTube.
  • 1 in 6 Facebook users is a Facebook fan of Disney.
  • The Will It Blend campaign was created by the person in charge of the agency (not an advertising agency) and led to a 500% increase in sales.

Thank you again to Chris Brogan for an informative and entertaining lecture.  What did everyone else think?

PR Advanced: Be the Change (Boston University’s Regional Activity)

Every year Boston University hosts a conference, and every year I have been impressed by the dedication of the conference committee, caliber of speakers and involvement of professionals, agencies and professors.  This year my expectations were completely surpassed under the leadership of conference coordinator, Ginny Soskey.  I have had a different perspective of the conference this year as I worked with PRSSA Nationals to oversee the Regional Activities across the country.  But it was nice to be at Boston University to see the process throughout the past few semesters.  I saw as Ginny dedicated her life and put her heart and soul into this event.  Not a day went by without her working to make it a success, and it was better than I could have imagined.  I’m truly excited to see all the wonderful things Ginny (who is only a sophomore) is going to do in the future with BU PRSSA and beyond.

For those of you who were not able to attend PR Advanced: Be the Change, there were many fantastic speakers who I was able to listen to.

Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, IBM


Jon Iwata started off by discussing the strengths of public relations: listening and adapting.  He then spoke about the marketing funnel:

He then split his talk into four sections: Forge a shared belief, Spur people to act, Sustain Behavior and Enable advocacy.

In this digital age, people find out about things almost instantaneously.  During his presentation, he admitted that people were probably posting about his presentation, and he didn’t know what they were saying.  It could be bad things, but he has no control over that.

He spoke about why belief is important.  He used a scenario about bottled water as an example.  It used to be the belief that bottled water was better than tap water, but we now know that isn’t true.  He said, “We ought not to confuse fact with what people believe.”  Belief matters in the public relations field, and it is over predetermined by customers.  It is the job of public relations professionals to distinguish beliefs from fact.

People don’t like change.  Iwata suggested to not try to convince people to change but eliminate the inertia that is preventing them from changing.  He gave the example of hotels trying to convince people to reuse towels.  There was a 26% increase in people who used towels in hotels for more than one night when the signs said “Hotel guests use towels more than once” instead of telling people to use towels more than once to help the environment.

He continued by quoting The Social Network:

He spoke about the multiplier effect and how Facebook was able to grow so quickly.

Finally, he spoke about something everyone was waiting to hear about: Watson.

He told us that he actually competed against Watson (and lost) before they went public with him!  We watched a clip from Jeopardy and spoke about the benefits to Watson.  During questions, he said the next step for Watson would be health care to help physicians stay on top of all the literature.

And did I mention “Jon Iwata” was a trending topic in Boston almost immediately?

The conference continued with two breakout sessions.  I attended both agency panels.

Session 1 – Opportunities Worldwide

This panel covered topics from skills and personality traits to getting your first job to client relations.

Barri Rafferty, Senior Partner and Director, Ketchum New York

She spoke about the importance of being able to translate social media skills to the corporate role.  You might be able to use Facebook and Twitter, but can you use it in a professional setting?  You also need to be a good communicator verbally and orally.  Finally, be open to trying new things.  Don’t be afraid of doing something you have not previously worked on.

Meaghan Smith, Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman New York

When you start a new job, you need to learn other people’s working styles and be organized.  Keeping up relationships when searching for your ideal job is important.  Something may not be available right away, but in a few months you could get something you are looking for.  It is also important to give a business case to clients to convince them it is worth investing in your company.  That’s where business classes come in handy.  Finally, there is not a line between personal and professional social media.  You always represent your company so be careful what you say about the company and its clients.

Katherine Wilburn, Consultant, Gagen McDonald

Resiliency is important.  You may finish a plan for a client and have to redo it.  It is important to try to make clarity out of chaos in an agency setting.  Remember to listen and ask the right questions to arrive at a solution.  Keeping in touch with people is important.  If you see an agency is in the media, show that you saw the article and congratulate them (if appropriate).  Take as many business classes as possible, especially negotiations.  It may come in handy when working with clients to tell them what the consequences of their decisions may be.

Session 1 – Opportunities in Boston

This panel focused more on the Boston market.

Sarah D’Souza, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Edelman

Agencies never know when they will need to hire so it is important to keep in touch with people.  They are looking for interns who will get their hands dirty and work on multiple accounts.  It is important to learn to juggle multiple projects at the same time.  Internships are like long job interviews so it is important to show your best work.

Jason Glashow, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Fleishman-Hillard

The Boston market has an entrepreneurial environment that creates a lot of opportunities.  There is an untapped opportunity as some of these companies try to figure out their social strategies (which will be very important in the future).  Things change very quickly and constantly which is important to get used to in an agency.

Christine Perkett, Founder, PerkettPR

The ways you can reach reporters are now different.  Twitter may be a great resource, but sometimes reporters want to be reached in the “old fashioned ways.”  It is important for interns to learn how to juggle multiple clients.  Interns should take initiative and walk in with ideas.  If you can talk through a strategy for a class project and show you understand strategic thinking, that is great!

Margery Kraus, Founder, President and CEO, APCO Worldwide

The afternoon started off with another keynote address.  She told us about the way APCO has survived and made a name for itself.

  • Be the partner of choice with clients.
  • Push the boundaries of communication.
  • Provide a global service, culture by culture.
  • Do not build an organization by yourself.  Build it with a team of people.
  • Help companies, organizations and governments build, defend and monetize their reputation.

Clients often are looking for a solution but do not know how to get there.  It is the job of the PR agency to think about what they need and how it can be achieved.

The formula that APCO lives by is ROR (Return on Reputation) + ROI (Return on Investment) = Market Share.

They also live by the word passion.

  • Passion provides the fuel for our souls and minds.
  • Passion makes us work better and smarter.
  • Passion makes it more than a job.
  • Passion builds relationships that live beyond the project.
  • Passion is our secret weapon.

Ginny Soskey, Regional Activity Coordinator

I then had the honor of recognizing Ginny for all her hard work on behalf of the National Committee.  Mike DeFilippis recognized her on behalf of the conference committee.

I should also mention that by this time #pradvanced, Jon Iwata and Margery Kraus were all trending topics in Boston on Twitter.  And #pradvanced was a trending topic in the United States on Twitter.

Career Panel

Stephanie Deitzer, Founder and President, Style at Work

She gave advice about what to wear in an interview.  Know your audience when deciding what to wear.  Think of it as a first date.  What impression are you trying to make?  And she said you can never fail with the blazer!

Kate DiChristopher, HR Manager, Marina Maher Communications

When you go into an interview, show that you are passionate about the agency.  She is looking for people who know a lot about the company and are digitally savvy.  Also, be prepared to talk about the ways you consume media.  You should be able to name a few blogs you read and talk about why you read them.

Eric Leist, Emerging Technology Strategist, Allen & Gerritsen

When people come in for an interview, they are asked three main questions: Are you curious about technology?  What are you curious about?  How do you fulfill your curiosity?  It is good to ask questions that show you know what’s going on in the industry.  Look at your skills and passions and think about what you want before choosing a job.

Maggie Van der Leeuw, Manager of Human Resources, Burson-Marsteller

Show your personality during your interviews.  Does your personality online match with your personality in person?  It should!  It is good to show that you have a life outside of the industry, but also show you have industry knowledge through Twitter.  During the interview, show that you went beyond the basics of the website.  Don’t settle.  As an employer, they want to know you are going to dedicate yourself to your job.

Other Parts of the Conference

There were also many other speakers that I did not get a chance to see including Mariana Agathoklis, Director of Communications, MTV, Peter Stringer, Director of Interactive Media, Boston Celtics and Jamie Thompson, Founder and CEO, Pongr.

Additionally, Twitter was a constant throughout the conference.  Students were tweeting the entire time, but they also were asking questions of the panelists through Twitter.  Questions were answered by people raising their hands but also taken right off Twitter.

The day ended with a career fair with companies including 360 PR, Allen & Gerritsen, Boston University College of Communication Graduate Program, Burson-Marsteller, Cone, LLC, EMC CorporationFleishman-Hillard, Hill Holliday, Ketchum, Lewis PR, Marina Maher CommunicationsMSL Group, NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Porter Novelli, PRSA Boston and the Publicity Club of New England.

Once again, congratulations to Boston University and the entire conference committee!  Another job well done!

SCVNGR’s Beantown Challenge

Every year, Boston hosts its famous college hockey tournament, the Beanpot.  Every year, Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University and Northeastern University battle it out on the ice to be Boston’s #1 hockey team.  SCVNGR decided to take this to the next level and created the Beantown Challenge.  Since Harvard didn’t answer them (I guess they were afraid to lose), Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University and Emerson College came together to battle it out and prove which school was the best at social gaming.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with SCVNGR, they are a location based service similar to Foursquare.  SCVNGR allows you to check into locations and play challenges at the particular venue.  Challenges include answering a riddle or taking a picture at the place you are at.  Certain challenges lead to rewards (Zipcar has a reward for free driving dollars).  You can earn badges and points and compete against your friends.

Mike DeFilippis, Alex Shuck and I immediately enlisted the help of Dean Elmore and John Battaglino when SCVNGR approached us about this competition.  Of course, they put their full support behind us, and we immediately recruited other students to help us in the competition.  We had about 15-20 other students helping to promote the competition, play the challenges and ultimately prove that Boston University deserved to win the Beantown Challenge.

The competition lasted from February 7-14.  During this time, 15 challenges could be active at a time.  We put up the challenges in the School of Management, College of Communication, College of Arts & Sciences, Warren Towers and the George Sherman Union.  People who played the challenges had to either submit pictures or answer questions.  Some of the questions asked about favorite foods or types of coffee or questioned the types of social media people use.  People also had to snap pictures of parts of campus.

By 12:00 pm on Day 1, we had already surpassed 1,000 points even though the other schools barely had other points.  By the end of the day, we had between 3,000-4,000 and kept going strong.  Throughout the week, we gave out various prizes as incentives for students to play (even though the incentive to beat the other schools was enough for some people).  The most active player on Day 1, Emma Tangoren, won tickets to the Beanpot AND had the chance to go to pre-Beanpot parties with Dean Elmore.  Throughout the rest of the week, Celtics tickets and tickets to see Kylie Minogue.  By February 9, three days into the game, we had reached 10,000 points.  We ended the competition with 14,116 points.  Emerson had 2,892, Northeastern had 1,166 and BC had 1,029.  Other prizes that SCVNGR awarded us included black SCVNGR t-shirts, SCVNGR water bottles, $800 in Student Universe travel dollars, SBS Varsity Cards and 10 Celtics tickets.

So how was BU able to get so many points so quickly?  With the help of the administration and the SCVNGR ambassadors, we took the following measures:

1) Constant tweeting.  Under the hashtag #BUSCVNGR, we constantly tweeted about the challenges, prizes and opportunity to beat BC off the ice.  We got the attention of many BU students and BU organizations.  Even professionals in the area began to ask about #BUSCVNGR.  When they saw us racking up the points against the other schools, they showed their support for this BU effort.

2) Utilization of Facebook.  We created a Facebook event page to update everyone about the new challenges.  We used Facebook groups to help the ambassadors communicate.  We created a Facebook Fan page for Dean Elmore to spread the word.

3) Traditional media.  We were interviewed by the BU Quad in an article “#BUSCVNGR: Don’t Get Mad, Beat BC” and the Daily Free Press in an article, “Students Show BU Spirit and Win Prizes in Beanpot Scavenger Hunt”.  These articles highlighted our ability to gain support from the students, and the lead we had over the other schools.  (After the event, we were also featured on BU’s Social Media blog in “Social Media Communicators Meeting 02/15/2011: SCVNGR, BU Culture Shock, Facebook Pages, Upcoming Events.”)

The amazing part of this campaign was that there was actually little planning.  We took the above measures, but word spread so quickly around Twitter and BU’s campus that it was pretty easy to make everyone aware of the competition in such a short period of time.

Stay tuned for another blog post by co-coordinator, Mike DeFilippis.  In the meantime, thank you for playing SCVNGR and helping us win BU!