Thursday, September 27, 2012

The New Period

Exciting News: I recently learned that I will be the new Web & Social Media coordinator for Phoenix Art Museum, starting October 1st!

Check out @phxart!
There are so many things going through my mind at this moment. I cannot wait to get started!

Phoenix Art Museum is an amazing place, with galleries galore and large conference rooms for events, and a vision for enriching the lives of people at any stage of life, through a connection to great art. That's something I can really get behind, and I'm proud to be a part of the team.

So many people have helped me get to this point, and I would be lame not to acknowledge their love and support. Thank you sincerely to all of my family, friends, Creative Priority (you know who you are), and mentors who have been there for me - encouraging me, pushing me not to give up and even proofreading when I was freaking out about the wording of an email.

I could not do anything, would not be anywhere, without you.

I'm looking forward to the growth and challenges that lie ahead!

P.S. I have a new pet friend...

Art is not a crime!

This will be a great adventure!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Recent PR Grad's Introduction to PR Measurement

Our journey begins with an email. I've been "freelancing" since I graduated, working with a couple of early stage startups to brand their new companies and position them in the appropriate space in the web where they fit best.

One of m
y clients emails me about a quote/estimate of media relations work for the next few months. Not an absurd request, but it's also something I haven't had to do before. I take my best stab at it and the response is positive but they make a couple notes:
  1. Please break down the individual tasks by month. Be as specific as possible. 
  2. Please make each task measurable.
Dealing with that kind of specificity on a task level made me think: How do PR pros with more experience measure the outcomes of their efforts? How do they present them to clients? A call to my friend who handles this sort of thing for a large sports franchise pointed me in a good general direction for getting started. Granted, media relations for the sports and startup markets is incredibly different, but as my experience lies mostly in social media strategy and copywriting, anything would have helped. 

I knew from osmosis that AVEs were generally shunned by the PR community at-large, but I didn't really understand why, as I'd never had to use them. In fact, I'd never had to measure the results of media campaigns I'd worked on, largely because as a PR intern your responsibilities primarily lie in watching, learning, and gaining basic experience, so I'd written my own pitches, pitched clients, created media lists etc. but that was all from a tactical POV. Measuring the results, especially against business goals, was the job of my managers/bosses. Not that I wasn't interested, but it just wasn't something I needed to know right off the bat. My thinking then was that with time and experience in either an agency or corporate setting, I would learn measurement on the job.

Turns out, that's only half true. I am learning on the job but on my own, not from a mentor or boss. 

So with my new task and a revised quote to send in two days, I've put together this intro to measurement, so we can all catch up with the leaders of our industry. Just a warning, this may get lengthy. Sorry in advance.

What Not To Do

In order for our generation to continue the fight for making our jobs harder, we have to understand where we're coming from. That means knowing what AVEs are and why they're lambasted. I'll keep this section short.

AVE - Ad Value Equivalence (aka Earned media value): This is a "measurement" of unpaid press coverage to it's suspected equivalent in the form of paid advertising. So based on the given cost of an ad (per column inches, clicks, page views, etc.) adjusted with a multiplier for potential viewership, you get a number that is supposed to show what a placement is worth. As Prof. Sean Williams notes in the comments of this post, the four main problems with this are: 

1. It assumes value based on cost. (But didn't cost anything, directly)
2. It assumes that the receiver interprets your message as equal to advertising. (Your message may be worth more, or less depending on the medium, quality of production and of course, connotations of each individual receiver)
3. The math is too often fuzzy (published rates rather than negotiated.) (For instance, you might negotiate a lower price for your ad placement that other's can't get, thus making your AVE worth less automatically)
4. Devalues reputation as it privileges revenue. (A strong reputation can't come from just having good ads. Every part of the customer/vendor/employee experience ties into a company's reputation. Building it happens over many instances of interaction, making it invaluable)

 So with AVEs nixed, what can you use? This is where the fun starts.

What To Do

My friend got me started by telling me a bit about the Barcelona Principles and pointing me to the PRSA blog to learn more. If you'll notice, those links are from June 2010 and March 2011, respectively, so as a student or recent grad, there isn't too much to catch up on. Great, cause I only have two days. I'm not going to re-write the Barcelona Principles because they did it well enough the first time (and you can read) but if you want a simplified version, Jay O'Conner did a great job here.

So first is the reading list:

Caught up? Good! 
Next we'll get into establishing your metrics. I'd say start with this Barcelona Principles checklist. You're going to need: 

  • Microsoft Excel or a Google Spreadsheet
  • Benchmarks or Initial data (if you don't have any that's OK. Since 0 is where you're starting, measuring should be even easier)
  • Data collection service (Google Analytics, Comscore, Compete, Facebook Insights, tracking etc.)
  • Your project's individual objectives. You'll need to rewrite them if they aren't measurable. (luckily I at least knew this part two months ago, when I wrote the campaign strategy)
Since this is for an estimate, I'm going to stop there. Beginning a campaign with the right approach toward measuring is a lot easier than having to go back and figure it out, because you can set everything up on the front end. Metrics should also differ depending on the objective. Great post on metrics for non-profits here, and you can make them applicable to whatever industry you're working in.

If you're freelancing, you can calculate estimated ROI by the cost of your hourly/fixed rate x number of hours you estimate the time will take + press release distribution services, tracking services, etc. This number is first subtracted from the potential value of coverage and then divided by the cost of the investment (total cost of your time + tools). Or something like that. @KDPaine says it better here.

More information on AVEs and their demise, as well as PR's rise to true measurement is sure to come out daily. Check the #measurepr hashtag for updates from leaders in the industry daily, and participate in the discussion (bi-weekly on Tuesdays, 12-1 pm ET).

This all took me about 6 1/2 non-billable hours, but it's certainly worth it. Hopefully I've save you some time in the near future.

Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

10 Things I Want To Do Before I Die

I'm a big fan of Gini Dietrich's Spin Sucks blog. Her latest post talks about the 10 things she wants to do before she dies, and it's a great list.

I hadn't planned on doing a blog post today, but this seemed like a great little meme to participate in so here goes!

  1. Achieve Sommelier certification
    • There are only 200 or so in the WORLD! I'd love to have the time to really put toward my studies ;)
  2. Complete a drop-in on a skateboard
    • I used to do some light aggressive in-line skating as a kid, and always admired the skateboarders. I've never been good at skateboarding, so being able to do a real drop-in without dying would be huge!
  3. Publish a song or write a popular song
    • I've been writing songs since my junior year of high school (actually before that with my nutty sibs). I hope one day I can pen something true and catchy, but not necessarily pop. I'd like it to have some depth but you never know what people latch on to. 
  4. Live on the same street as my siblings
    • This has always been a dream of mine. Being able to go down the street and kick it with my brothers and sisters would be epic, especially if we all had a lot of kids (3 max for me!)
  5. Climb to the top of Camelback Mountain
    • Last summer I made it halfway. This year I want to reach the top, bees, snakes and lung capacity allowing.
  6. Drive a Koenigsegg on the autobahn
    • I've been lightweight obsessed with Koenigsegg's cars since seeing them on TV years ago. I hope one day I can either afford one or know someone who wouldn't mind me test driving it a little bit hehe.
  7. Own a Keith Haring original, preferably this one
    • He was an amazing artist. R.I.P.
  8. Help the homeless in the U.S.
    • This one's something I think about often, especially when visiting a new city. Lots of people do work in other nations and that's great, but my heart is really for the U.S. and our citizens. I hope one day to be able to effect real change in this area of American life.
  9. Beat Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    • Sticks in my craw to this day that I haven't gotten past Morpha on my own. Lame, I know.
  10. Beat @sjhalestorm in Words With Friends by 100 points or more!

Well, that's my list. How about you? What are 10 things you would like to do before you die?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Eternal PR Student

There are quite a few quotes that I've heard over the years that inform the way I choose to live my life. If someone has said something that I've felt, and in a way that speaks to me, I add it to my list of mantras (why have only one?). 

At some point in his life Bill Gates said "Never stop learning," and that is one thing I try to keep in mind. There will always be something I don't know the answer to or how to do, but the key to continuing to grow as a person and as a professional is to never think I know all I need to. One of the ways I continue learning is by not being afraid to ask questions. I've learned that a large part of whether a question you ask is answered helpfully or dismissed as stupidity is in the way it is phrased, and I've grown comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to ask almost anything without worrying so much about perception.

So my self-designated title of "Eternal PR Student" is more aspirational than anything. I'm aware that I've graduated, and can no longer live the virtually worry-free life of a student. I'm also aware that I don't know anywhere near all that I can about this business and business in general. There are plenty of things that I look forward to learning more about that will help improve my abilities as a PR professional, like pulling consumer insights from analytical data, perfecting the art of mea culpa, getting even better at pitching and so much more! 

My hope is that I never tire of my chosen profession and growing more as a professional. There's always something new to learn.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Welcome to Graduation

I graduated college last Sunday.

It was a long time coming, and honestly during the early parts of the semester I could have cared less about attending the commencement ceremony, but I'm glad I did. 

The address by Clay Mathile was really insightful to me, and looking back, I find myself wishing I had taken notes. His story is awesome, and there are parts of it that align with how I often envision my legacy: rich in experience, love and humility.

He had 4 points that were supposed to be the highlights of his speech, but like always I had to glean my own wealth from his words. His points were:
  1. Dream no little dreams
  2. Be a life long learner
  3. Love what you do
  4. Have faith in people

And while those are great points and certainly inform my life, I found these jewels to be the most poignant:

  1. Hire/work with people smarter than you
  2. The best ideas often come from the "lowest" (in terms of title) places
  3. Pick the job that challenges you the most, not that pays you the most
At times during the speech it felt like he knew my life. Mathile spoke about staying true to roots, loyalty and the value of friendship over the course of life. The first point is something I've heard from other entrepreneurs, but it's stuck with me because it's a mentality that requires quite a bit of selflessness, which in my short experience is rare in business. People who truly live by this mantra don't worry about who gets the credit, just how great the work is.

The second point resonates not just from the humility aspect, but also there's a practicality in seeking out objective perspectives. I always try to give myself enough distance from my work, so that I'm not "too close to the situation" but often it's unavoidable, and it really helps to seek other opinions and especially that of the "man on the street." Not all ideas have to be colloquial, but there's value in simplifying a problem to find a simple solution.

The last part hit home, hard. There's plenty of things I can do now that I've graduated. I'm single, childless  (hehe) and I'm currently subleasing so I can move wherever, whenever. And for the past few years I've seen dozens of my friends and associates graduate and settle into either the jobs that they dreamed of or a job that pays them, and the outcome has always been the best for those in the first category. I have friends who have taken enormous leaps of faith to follow their dreams, and as they've been challenged in their work, their quality of life has improved. I want that. One project I'm working on uses the motto "dream bigger" and that's really where my head is at, as far as seeking employment. I'm a simple dude; I don't need a lot of stuff. But I do need to be challenged.

All in all I'm excited for the rest of my life to start and I can't wait to see what the future holds. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Open Letter to Facebook Regarding Your Recent Acquisition

Dear Facebook,

Congratulations! Acquiring Instagram is a huge step forward for your company. You should be proud.

I've been an Instagram user for about a week now (Android user) and a Facebook user for 6 years (7 in November!) and while I am still learning the ways of Instagram, I do know what I like about it. Instagram is light, and fast. On my mobile, it's the easiest, quickest and most personable way to share photos with my friends and family. And thanks in part to the filters, the photos really tell a story, and demonstrate well the mood of the moment they're taken in, be it pride, frustration or facetious.

I'm writing this to warn you. I don't know what your plans are for Instagram, if this was a talent acquisition (oh God please no!) or a way for you to more closely integrate Instagram with your own offerings. What I do know is that there is an established community there, one that shares and cares. It has a huge heart, and as the new owners of that technology, it is your duty to care for and nurture that heart.

See, I've seen this kind of thing before. Remember when Myspace Music bought Imeem? I was one of those heartbroken Imeem users who felt lost and disillusioned by the purchase, like my opinion on it didn't even matter. I intentionally left Myspace in 2006, because something didn't feel right. I didn't feel I could really represent who I was there, and I felt like I had a better option to share with more of my friends and family on a different social network, namely, Facebook. Plus, I used Imeem primarily for the playlists feature. I even made a playlist for my 21st birthday party. We hooked a laptop up to the speaker system and I played my Imeem playlist the entire night. Best party I ever threw too.

Myspace wasn't a part of that, and they couldn't force their way into it with an acquisition either. I got the emails saying I could rejoin Myspace with my Imeem login creds, but why should I? Not when I had consciously left to begin with. And certainly not when I felt they had taken something from me that I could never get back. I felt powerless. You never want your users to have that experience.

I'm sure by now you're wondering how this applies to you, and the point is simple: don't make that same mistake. Now that you have access to Instagram's analytics data, take the time to really see how people use it, to really understand the platform. Heck, assign a whole team. I'm sure most of you use it, and have your own perceptions but everyone doesn't use tools in the same way. Figure out what gives Instagram its soul, its heart, and figure out how Facebook best aligns with that. And if theres no alignment, take heart in the fact that you own it, and leave it alone. Don't just shut it down to be rid of a competitor. That will not endear Instagram's users to you, and since this is a very public acquisition, people will know who to blame if their favorite app doesn't continue to serve their needs.

This is not a threat mind you, but I implore you, take the time to understand it. Be slow to act, because in this case you're not just taking a new company. Some people have put lots of time and energy into their Instagram'd photos. As a lover of both services, I want you guys to take the more thoughtful approach, before pulling the trigger on any plans you may have.

Don't repeat #RIPimeem.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Killed the Twitter Chat

I used to love them. Signing in to TweetChat at a certain time and instantly being in a conversation with people all interested in the topic of the day. I thought Twitter chats were the best thing ever, being such an easy way to connect with others on Twitter, find new and unique people to follow and a great way to share and discover new ideas. I loved them.

We had some good times too. Remember when #PRstudchat (PR student Chat moderated by Deirdre Breckenridge and Valerie Simon) went trending for the very first time, but other twitter users thought it was a chat about Puerto Rican "studs?!"

But then it got old. I'm not sure where, I'm not sure when, but some time between starting my first job and moving from the eastern time zone, we fell out of love.

Maybe it was me. Maybe it was my lack of effort, because I could easily have set alarms to remind me of when a chat was, or let my coworkers know that participating was essential to me learning and growing while working in social media, so I could take that hour to tweet. I should have submitted topics to the chat mods. I should have used the hashtag more, posted new finds too it and told my friends about it.

But maybe it was them. Maybe it was the same answers to similar questions, over and over with little real solutions. Maybe it was the lack of creativity, or the fact that the UX for Tweetchat feels like a 90s chat room. Maybe it was the bickering, the feel of communities that almost seem to have spent too much time together. Maybe they just became overwhelming, I mean, have you seen this list?! There's always one going on that could be interesting, and sometimes more than one at the same time.

Whatever the reason, I've noticed that due to lack of participation, they seem to be dying off. Sure, a couple of staples are hanging in there, and good for them! Others have moved to a different platform, and it's not only working out, they're thriving . And sadly, others are now the twitter version of link farms. Or better yet, link morgues.

Regardless, I'll take full responsibility. It's not your fault twitter chat, you did nothing wrong. It was me. My apathy did this to you. I took you for granted, and when you weren't giving me what I felt I needed, I stopped showing up for you. I'm sorry, but alas, it's too late.

I'm sad we had to end this way, Twitter chats. Rest in tweets.

Update: I recently gave a Twitter chat another shot and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Maybe it's the chatters, maybe it was the topic, but I think I may have been to eager to kill this particular phenomena. At least, I hope I was. Tweet strong my friends.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My New Twitter Background a.k.a. Linklove

I've been meaning to brush up on my Photoshop skills and my all white Twitter background provided the perfect opportunity to do so. I'm no designer by any stretch of the imagination, but I can follow a tutorial as well as the next person.

I love these pajama pants!

I used this tutorial: with the template from  and the social media icons are from the genius of @alexpeattie and can be found here:

The texture is from the concrete walkway outside of my apartment. I used this picture, taken this morning and was going to use it with my legs in the photo cause I like my pajama pants (Christmas gift from my lovely Aunts!) but decided it would be odd for the few people using Twitter web to visit my profile and suddenly appear to be between my legs. 

And of COURSE my twitter avatar was created by the amazing @wendylyng who I can't wait to see again!

Let me know what you think of the final product.