Archive for Blogging

Tips For Running a Brilliant Speaker Panel

How often have you attended a conference only to sit through poorly managed panels featuring speakers with interesting bios that should have been more effectively engaged by moderators?

I’m at a morning conference listening to potentially interesting people participating in a few poorly moderated panels. Here are a few tips for moderators running panels based on events I’ve organized and joined as well as a conference series I organized for a former blue chip client.

1. Creative. Creatively title the panel. Come up with something that captures attention and draws audience.
2. Pre-interview Panelists. A week prior to the panel, speak with participants by phone to determine their strengths and weaknesses, competencies, and relevant success stories and methodologies you can point to during the panel. Determine questions you might ask panelists from this pre-interview, and during the live panel, draw from a list of these questions.
3. Avoid Lengthy Intros. Rather than turn intros over to panelists who will likely waste valuable time regurgitating bio elements that are usually in print, write a script that excerpts 20 seconds of pertinent information from each speaker’s bio, and get that out of the way quickly so you can get into the topic of the conference.
4. Manage Time. Make sure you manage your time during the actual panel so that you can make it through your questions in ways that engage every participant. If one participant speaks too long and delivers information that is off topic and puts your plan in jeopardy, be proactive and politely cut off the speaker. You’re doing this for everyone’s benefit.
5. Interactive. You are managing time. Make sure the panel is interactive. Ensure that everyone has a chance to speak, and encourage cross-talk.
6. Q&A. Leave some time for audience questions at the end.
7. Twitter. Set up a hashtag (#) for the panel (i.e. #panelname) that folks can use to tweet questions, and announce it at the start of the panel. You might find some potential questions and useful comments from these Tweets from attendees during the panel and incorporate these into the discussion.
8. Inspire. Drive personal energy through the session in ways that inspire the audience.

What are your ideas?

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FTC Guidelines on Endorsements and Testimonials

If you’re a blogger getting paid to post, you’re now going to have to disclose it. The social Web is under Federal Trade Commission (FTC) scrutiny. I have worked with several mommy bloggers with very high integrity. A few, however, were running pay for post operations — printing product reviews in exchange for cash — without revealing payments. That is influence gone awry. Now the FTC has put bloggers on notice with a requirement to disclose payments or promotional consideration related to such reviews.

The Federal Trade Commission recently approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

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On Twitter, You Are Your Brand

twitterTwitter is the rage and I’m enjoying the conversation.

What happens when tweeters with great ideas, accomplishments, networks, etc., are followed? Some have turned the attention into a business. For them Twitter is a tool for honing their ‘name’ brands.

I kind of enjoy watching tweeters morph their conversation into a ‘brand.’ I enjoy the observers of social media behavior and trends who steer thinking. And the bloggers at highly read blogs who excitedly trumpet headlines about companies that might be important, let time decide.

For those involved in new media, social media and technology, Twitter can be an effective business tool. Its greatest achievement, to me, is as an energy nexus for Bay Area and other talent. It’s kind of like a Grateful Dead Concert with scores of great musicians jamming away; the generated energy is kind of organic, powerful, profound and its influence is already starting to be felt.

Yea, I do like this 24 hour a day short burst newswire. You can reach lots of eyeballs if you’re connected well and creative with 140 characters or less.

How and when it fully proliferates across the business/consumer mosaic is another question. Twitter is struggling to build a reliable platform that stays on. It’s a truly amazing online environment that has suffered chronic structural problems since its inception.

Can I live without Twitter? In a nanosecond. Right now, it’s kinda awesome in its own way.

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The Collision of Technology and PR, Music

19178163For a tech geek like me, rarely does a search for information, sharing of ideas, and conversation take place without technology – a laptop, desktop, iPhone, or desk phone – as an intermediary. And through social networking tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, AIM, Twitter and Jaiku, I’m in a virtual and constant presence with hundreds of key influencers and friends operating in my areas of interest. For technology — computers, software, the Internet and social networking — has touched my life and penetrated my consciousness.

I enjoy it. It’s good for my business, and it satisfies my need to grow and know. But it’s mere technology, not Nirvana. And I go elsewhere for peace of mind. I ride my bike, feel and appreciate nature, embrace a healthful diet and explore Spirit. I also play and write music that expresses my heart. And I meditate daily and seek my Soul. The latter comprise my personal satisfaction and make it possible for me to handle the former.

But make no mistake about it – technology has changed me and the industries I play in – like public relations and music, especially. This week, the San Francisco MusicTech Summit, organized by my friend, Brian Zisk, brought together the best and brightest developers in the Music/Technology Space, along with the musicians, entrepreneurial business people, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of culture and commerce. They met to discuss the evolving music/business/technology ecosystem in a proactive, conducive to dealmaking environment.

What was interesting about the conversation was the apparent gap between technology affecting the music industry and the ability of most traditional musicians to use it to their advantage. Social media expert Brian Solis talked about the collision between technology and public relations suggesting that new tech tools are changing the practice of PR and practitioners need to evolve their social media toolset. I agree. I think there’s been a similar collision between technology and music.

Technology has been creeping into the music business for decades. It really gained speed in the late 90s with the advent of digitized music, and, for better or worse, I helped make it happen — working with pioneers of the MP3 movement to help them elevate awareness of their technology and drive adoption. Today, MP3 is the dominant digital music technology, thanks largely to startups like MP3.com, eMusic and MusicMatch. Add to that the power of Steve Jobs and Apple who changed the face of music distribution and sales, with iTunes and iPods.

Brian’s summit brought together hundreds of people and I especially enjoyed the panel that explored the collision of tech and music, led by my friend David Katznelson, of the Birdman Recording Group. Music has taken a back seat to the technology, record companies are no longer the intermediaries between the artist and audience, and if you want to succeed, you better know how to work the tech tools and social networks to your advantage.

Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable, was also on site connecting with the digital side of the music business as his brilliant and popular blog is expanding beyond coverage of social web apps coverage into music and other diverse areas of interest.

Some folks at the intersection of music and tech have it down, like my friends, Jonny Kaps and Nat Hays, at +1. They tap the power of technology to their advantage. They have a strong social media methodology for promoting their bands like The Kooks, The Heavy, Kate Nash, and others. They’ve avoided the collision and monetized the tools.

Others are still trying to figure it out, hence a great opportunity for Brian to expand his conference in SF and in major markets across the country.

Ah, the weekend is almost here, and through the chaos I can hear the faint sound of seagulls down at the Marina calling me to take a bike ride, perhaps over the Golden Gate Bridge. Gotta leave tech and engage my soul. See you Monday.

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Bloggers Burning Out? Balance is Key

21062633I often preach to my staff and consultants the importance of quickly moving from idea to implementation. And I do see a spark of divine illumination in those who can see and feel ideas and immediately move them into manifestation. When that process is spiritually based, it’s often stress-free. When it is forced, it can be highly stressful.

That said, there is a core spiritual awareness that is fundamental to one’s peace of mind while working in a high stress world. In my case, I developed a deep inner connection to and I was blessed to spend some three decades meditating with and learning from Guru Sri Chinmoy. Among many illumining things, I discovered how and why Spirit can energize and replenish my physical, mental, intuitive and creativity being, and balance the 24/7 nature of my work these days.

Even, so, it’s a daily challenge balancing the insane pace of my own business and creative life with time for meditation and strengthening my own inner faith, spirit and awareness. There is a choice at every moment to sustain or burn out.

So I was not surprised to read Matt Richtel’s story in today’s NY Times about a burnout occurring among bloggers. The 24/7 nature of the always-on Internet and blogosphere combined with competition among leading technology sites for the ‘exclusive story,’ in particular, has affected the well-being of some leading writers like Om Malik and Michael Arrington, who report high stress, unhealthy lifestyles and heart attacks.

The issue here is one of balance: how do we balance the need to deliver to loyal readers and monetize our lives, with the need for peace of mind, health and wellness?

Spirit Fulfillment – from whatever your Source – is key. Maybe that’s the love of your family. Maybe it is a particular religious faith. Maybe it is atheism as a belief system. Perhaps it is studying meditation with a spiritual Guru. Maybe it’s Bikram Yoga. Or a nature hike. Or sky diving or surfing. However you get there, it’s important to try.

Exercise is instant wealth. Work out, walk, run, swim, cycle, and regularly. Exercise will energise and awaken you in every way.

Diet is key. Cut out the sugars, caffeine, processed foods, wheat, and meats and replace them with green foods. Drink wheat grass juice once a day. Go meatless and organic.

Discipline. Stay on whatever program you come up with and integrate it into your life, one day at a time.

Ultimately, by balancing through spirit, exercise, diet and discipline, your work-life will be enhanced, your stress will be balanced by all kinds of good stuff, and you’ll live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

For more ideas on health and wellness, visit Dr. Mark Laursen’s website.

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Blogger Social Rocked

collage_march_5_lowWhat happens when 80 bloggers — all experts digital media, marketing and public relations realms — gather from across the country and far away places like Belgium, Oman, and Australia? You get Blogger Social, and I enjoyed every minute of last night’s gathering. The room was full of brilliant and talented people I will collaborate with and know more deeply.

What is cool about this is all the people came together because they blog, through reading and commenting on each other’s marketing blogs, and a close community has formed. Most of the people in the room, and myself, also collaborated in the book, The Age of Conversation, essays by 103 bloggers on marketing and communications in a digital world. I blogged about that book last year.

So last night, the online community came together offline, and it was a beautiful thing. Eyeballs on computer screens became heart to heart connections that will last a lifetime. Thanks to all the wonderful people I met last night, and especially, to key organizers CK and Drew McClellan and the host of 20 volunteers who made the evening possible. That special gift from the City of New York was particularly cute!

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Jaiku is the Future Unfolding Today

My PR firm – Vineberg Communications – just signed Jaiku.com. We’re really excited about working with these guys.

Jaiku is where you can share your lifestream (personal thoughts, photos, blog, etc.) at one location and connect with friends doing the same. You can post “Jaikus” – thoughts about what you’re doing, what you’re feeling, where you’re going. You can comment on friends’ posts, track what they’re up to, and have a conversation. You can include personal feeds (FlickR, LastFM, Del.icio.us, Google, etc.) in your online presence. And if you use a Nokia S60 compatible phone, Jaiku mobile lets you receive personal location and availability updates and rich, presence information on friends and contacts.

I love so many things about this as I dig into it. Life moves so quickly these days that we lose our thoughts, we fail to record feelings, and life is a blur. And many people are challenged by the idea of writing long-form blog entries.

Now you can simply jot down a thought, an idea and through these Jaikus you end up with a dairy of the moment that’s easy to do.

screenshot_jaikuThere’s a terrific interview with co-founder Jyri Engeström at 606 Tech that gets into some of the sociological factors underlying the service. Jyri is a deep thinker.

Finally, DigitalCraig has a great roundup of tools you can use to make Jaiku more functional for posting from mobile devices.

What I’d love to happen is that you all get a free account on Jaiku. Add me as a contact. And get in the habit of posting what you’re up to. The cool thing about this is that Jaiku is the future unfolding today. And with each contribution, you can not only shape this technology and evolve it, but you can put your energy into the universe of thoughts and ideas.

So what are you waiting for?

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