Every year, since I started this business, I write and publish an “annual report” for Fletcher Prince. When I look back, I realize David and I accomplished a lot. So here it is, our annual report: a great way to end the year on a positive note.
Fletcher Prince celebrates its sixth year in business. 2013 marked another year of delivering marketing and public relations services to clients and contractors, as well as community involvement, collaboration, and networking.
Client Work in 2013
Social media services and graphic design services were major project areas for us this year.
We worked with our existing clients Dominion Mechanical Construction, Keenan PR, and PRofessional Solutions, LLC. We also provided social media guidance to new clients Communications Ventures and Spark Media as well as graphic design services to Mopwater PR. Some of our interesting projects in 2013 included working on a 20th anniversary marketing campaign for PRofessional Solutions, LLC and creating a multi-million dollar client-garnering sales presentation for Dominion Mechanical Construction.
Community Involvement and Service
Conversations in Public Relations
As a service to the Washington, DC area professional communications community, Fletcher Prince continues to produce videos for the YouTube series “Conversations in Public Relations,” featuring interviews with local communicators and association leaders. The 113 videos have received more than 79,000 views on YouTube.
Social Media Week DC
Fletcher Prince was the first public relations agency in the Washington, DC area to offer sessions for Social Media Week DC, and we resumed our commitment to the area-wide event for the second year in mid-February 2013. With the addition of guest podcasting expert and friend Ray Ortega of The Podcasters’ Studio, we presented two free seminars in Falls Church to a packed room, one on getting started with podcasting and the other on blogging about your favorite interests. You can view these presentations, along with the full length videos, on Fletcher Prince’s account on Slideshare.
We continued to offer Network-and-Lunch events around the DC area, periodically. Special thanks go to Connie Rhind Robey and Leah Ibraheem for their ongoing support and organizing contributions! Make plans to attend our next event at Chef Geoff’s in Tysons Corner on Tuesday, January 28.
Fletcher Prince Marketing Efforts in 2013
We continue to be grateful to our supporters. Our Facebook Page Likes increased by seven and we gained 41 new Twitter followers. We also added our Social Media Week video presentations to our YouTube account.
The Fletcher Prince Blog is a labor of love and a big part of how we share our expertise and showcase our work. We surpassed 700 total blog posts in 2013. Despite our decreased blogging volume of only 38 new blog posts in 2013, we earned nearly 23,000 views in 2013, bringing our total views to just over 94,000. Our sincere thanks to guest bloggers Deborah Brody, Karen Hendricks, and Jay Morris for their contributions in 2013.
In Other News…
I attended the 2013 Washington PR Woman of the Year Awards as the guest of Fletcher Prince clients Kate Perrin and Melanie Jordan of PRofessional Solutions, LLC. I am so grateful to Kate and Melanie for their year-long support and friendship. Fletcher Prince had an ad in the program for the event.
Thank You for Making 2013 a Great Year!
David and I would like to thank our clients for their business and look forward to an exciting new year. I hope 2014 brings you much happiness and success. Happy New Year!
Today, at Social Media Week DC, the Case Foundation presented a session, “It’s Time to Be Fearless in Social Media.” The moderator, Michael Smith, did a fantastic job of presenting examples of fearless organizations, innovators, and creative talents.
He posed a question to the attendees. He asked something along the lines of “Who here is fearless in their communications?”
My hand shot up. It was a lonely hand, maybe the only one in the room. I looked around, abashed. Could it be that other people did not think of themselves as fearless communicators? Am I overly cocky to think of myself that way?
Maybe a lot more hands would have gone up if the question were phrased like this: “Who here feels the fear but does it anyway?”
I’m not saying I am braver than these people. I am scared of plenty of things. But the truth is, people who know me well and describe me on LinkedIn say I am a fearless communicator, also passionate and creative. It doesn’t mean I am the best communicator there is. That is just how I was described, and I own it. It wasn’t an idea I formed about myself. But it was a realization I came to accept about myself after reading those testimonials. And I know why people perceive me that way. I have been challenged by life, again and again, and have had to become resilient, just to survive. I’ve had failures, and I’ve come back from them. With that resilience, over time, I have become more comfortable with risk than some, and I have a perspective that would not occur to everyone. Because not everyone has had my tough luck! But more about that later…
The Case Foundation is launching a three-year “Be Fearless” campaign to motivate nonprofit organizations working for social causes to take more risks and tackle bigger challenges, for bigger payoffs.
The 5 Things It Takes To Be Fearless
The Foundation identified five principles associated with fearless and inspirational innovators and game-changers, like President Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Gandhi, and other public figures…
- They make big bets and make history. Fearless people set big goals. They have big dreams.
- They experiment early and often. Fearless people are not afraid to be first.
- They make failure matter. They learn from their failures, and wear them as badges of honor.
- They reach beyond their bubble. Fearless people develop partnerships with new and diverse groups and people to accomplish their goals. They don’t stay with the comfortable same set.
- They let urgency conquer fear. Fearless people are decisive, are not hesitant, and don’t overthink every move. They have a sense of urgency about their causes and want to be a part of the solution, now.
Why Aren’t More People Fearless?
I thought about the possible reasons why most of the attendees did not consider themselves fearless, and even why the panelists, who were demonstrably able communicators, seemed unable to summon professional experiences that involved compelling risks, big dreams, spectacular fails, out-of-the box partnerships, and the kind of urgency associated with must-act-now causes. They had interesting stories, and communications best practices to share, they just weren’t “fearless” stories, at least by the Case Foundation criteria.
As I mentioned, fearlessness — it’s not really the absence of fear, although that is technically what it means! It wouldn’t be mature not to feel some fear. Fear is a good thing, in some situations. Fearlessness in this context, I think, is synonymous with courage. Courage involves being aware of the risks and feeling the fear, but not being ruled by it to the point where you do not take a needed action. It means taking all that into account. Having no fear is just denying risks, which is reckless and foolhardy. Fearlessness, or courage, is responsible.
Can You Make Yourself Fearless?
I pondered that fearlessness, in the way I think they are trying to promote it as a desirable attribute in communicators and organizations, is a quality that can be cultivated, just like creativity. I talked about how to enhance your creativity during my blogging session on Tuesday, and how that improved creativity will carry over into your professional work. And during this “Fearless” session today, several ideas occurred to me that might help a communicator flex and build their “fearlessness” muscles. Each everyday act of fearlessness emboldens you. I believe it can carry over into your work. Here are a few examples…
Cultivate generosity to yourself and to others. When you make sure your needs are met, you will have energy to give to others. You are creating a foundation of stability in yourself that allows you to reach out and give your best, when called to do so. Generosity is a strong and even brave act, when it is properly motivated and executed. Sometimes you can be fearless on behalf of someone else, more than yourself. For example, I find it easier (but still difficult) to advocate for my child in school, than to advocate for myself, sometimes. But becoming his strong and persistent advocate has, over time, made me a stronger advocate for myself than I was before he was born. Not all fearless people are generous people, but all generous people are fearless people.
When an opportunity to do good comes across your path, do good. You don’t let a lost child cry in Target without staying with them until his or her mom shows up. You don’t let a homeless person look for the dinner in a trash can if you have some way of feeding him or her. You don’t look the other way when you see a lost dog. You talk to a very old person in the grocery store line. This won’t happen to you with every poor soul you see that needs help. But you know it when it happens — that little prickle you get that says, it’s your time now: you can do something about this. Usually, it’s small, short-term, and almost always anonymous, right? Hold the elevator. Pick up a piece of litter. Smile at someone. Pitch in and help the committee. Help put away chairs after the meeting. Give blood. Leave a crazy big tip for someone who is working really hard. If you walk away from a situation you come across and you think, I wonder if I should have stopped and… STOP. And turn around, run back, and do whatever you were just called to do. That is your soul talking to you. Your soul is what enables you to be fearless, so don’t ignore it too frequently. Being a good person isn’t someone who thinks good thoughts. It’s someone who does good deeds.
Be your own biggest fan. Most of us, self included, are too hard on ourselves. Overly self-critical. So, it’s not a bad thing to be conscientious and to want to do better. But, do you keep track of the times people say you’re great? When I was at the Red Cross, I kept a binder that contained every thank you letter, thank you email, and compliment I received. I called it my Kudos binder. I kept another binder with examples of my best work. Right on my desk. NO ONE thought this was egotistical. It was helpful during performance evaluations and my exit interview. HR loved it. If you don’t know your own value, how can you expect other people to know it and appreciate it? So, chronicle your wins, and review them as much as you want. It’s proof positive that you can do whatever you set your mind to, which helps make you fearless.
Cheer on others. You can do this, if you can be your biggest fan, you know how to help others do their best. You can let it be about them, because you are strong in yourself.
When you think you can’t do it, remember the times when you overcame obstacles. I have this thing I say to myself: is this harder than waiting tables at the 3rd Street Diner or Joe’s Inn? Those were tough jobs. Almost nothing I have done is more physically demanding or exhausting than waiting tables when I was working my way through college — except, parenting of course. Nothing tops parenting for sheer exhaustion. If you can handle serving at the 3rd Street Diner, though, there’s not a whole lot life can dish out that you can’t tackle. What’s your 3rd Street Diner?
Be strong in your character, even when it doesn’t matter. For example, I teach my son not to cross against the light. And I don’t cross against the light, even if I’m not with him. Even if I’m the only one on the curb. I think about how my actions impact others, even in small ways. I know jay walking makes it hard on drivers. So, I can deal with standing on the sidewalk a few more seconds until the walk light comes on, even when all the other pedestrian Washingtonians are venturing into traffic 🙂 Even when my boyfriend crosses without me. I stick to my guns. Think it doesn’t matter? It does, really. The small stuff matters. Erode away too many small things and then it get easier to cheat on the big stuff. Obeying your principles and rules, not just when someone is looking, is a character-builder. And when you have a strong character, it’s easier to be fearless.
Honor your word, especially to those younger, weaker, or more vulnerable than you. When I make my son a promise, I stick to it. Sometimes, it becomes inconvenient. Sometimes, maybe it doesn’t seem that important. Well, it is. That is my problem, not his. Have I been tempted to make excuses and get out of it? Yes, but I don’t. If I want to raise a child with good character, he has to see that when I say something, I mean it, and when I promise something, I will do it, to the best of my ability. Children understand actions better than words. We all do. When you know you are a person who stands by your word, you learn to trust yourself enough to be fearless when it counts.
Be fiercely beautiful. Beyonce created this persona for herself called Sasha Fierce, a strong woman to be reckoned with. I think about that sometimes. I am not the most confident person in the world. Sometimes, I feel VERY shy. At those times, I sometimes self-talk to myself. As I walk into a room, I say “Work it, own it!” That is from the movie, Pretty Woman. Remember that? Kit is encouraging Vivian as she approaches her next john. It’s kind of a silly thing to make me feel braver, but it works.
So, allow yourself to be as beautiful, and by that, I don’t mean, a model. I mean inside, and creative, and as fierce as you dare. Wear a red dress instead of a little black dress. Smile, big. Give yourself flowers. Sparkle when you walk into a room. Light it up like a Christmas tree. Appreciate how magic you are, just because of all the completely ordinary but divine things you can do. When you realize, just by being human, that you are pretty darn special, then you can be fearless and open to all kinds of possibilities. But girl, you got to own it.
Let the waiter decide. You know, it takes courage to give up control, and be in the moment, and just accept what life gives you and see the good in it. So, the next time you go to a restaurant, just order the special, whatever it is, no substitutions. Or let the waiter or your date or your child decide what you eat, or where you go on vacation for a week. Let the interns handle the project. Give the hair stylist carte blanche. And no arguments, amendments, or complaints! Just give up control and enjoy what you are given, as much as you can, in the moment that presents itself, even if you are given knowledge about something you now know you don’t like. You’ll come to appreciate even this small act of resilience.
Tell the truth, even if it makes you uncomfortable, sometimes. As a communicator, it’s our mandate to say when the emperor is wearing no clothes. It’s not our mandate to make our clients feel good about themselves. We can do that after we accomplish our objectives. I do try to be tactful, most of the time, but if I have to be blunt because a client is not moving forward, and I know it is in his or her best interests, I will be. I told a client once that her website looked like a yard sale, and she needed to focus her resources on improving it. It is better if they hear it from me than lose another contract or sale because of something that can be fixed, like a messy website. I am not honest with them because it is in MY best interests; I have LOST clients this way. But I know they don’t pay me to tell them what they want to hear, or already know, and the ones who stick with me are the ones I work my heart out for.
Embrace your uniqueness. Stop trying to be everybody’s friend, stop trying to please everyone, stop trying to be one-size-fits-all. You can’t. Laser focus on your goals and what you can make happen.
Connect with different kinds of people. Don’t just work with, network with, learn from, or be friends with people who are your same age, color, ethnicity, religion, professional level, educational background, or economic background. That’s a very human tendency — to flock with birds of your own feather. If all the people you know are just like you, you may be playing it too safe. Too safe and fearless do not go together.
Have the courage of your convictions. Own your informed opinions. But you can only do this in good faith if you are also prepared to give credit where credit is due, and humbly accept and admit being wrong time to time, because no one is right all the time. It’s a relief, sometimes, to be wrong. And being able to say sorry and be forgiven with grace is a real gift.
Effort, effort, effort. Fearlessness is not just about attitude. It’s about seeing it through, to completion, and if that means digging ditches, you dig ditches. Don’t phone it in. If you’re presenting to people, wear your interview clothes. Show them how much you respect them and their time by putting your best foot forward. Make killer Powerpoint slides and handouts. Ask for help when you need it. When you do whatever it takes, and you succeed or make progress, you know you are a person who accomplishes things you set out to do, and does self-concept ever make you fearless!
Stop trying to be perfect. Forgive yourself for being imperfect. The one main thing that stops people I coach from blogging or taking on other communications projects, other than lack of time, is perfectionism. You can aim for excellence as long as you keep working toward your goals, but perfectionism tends to get in the way of results. Procrastination and perfectionism are linked. And if you don’t take actions, you can’t be fearless.
Learn to laugh at yourself. You know how you do that? You try and do things that make you feel foolish, and you don’t give up when you feel your cheeks turning red and hot. It’s hard and you feel silly when you first learn how to speak French, learn how to belly dance, or get up and sing Karaoke in a crowded bar (a whole song…by yourself…without drinking alcohol!). You’re always trying to improve right? But the dichotomy is you also have to cultivate some self-acceptance to get there.
I remember when Rollerblades first came out and I really wanted to learn how to roller blade. I took a class and I was, by a wide margin, the worst and most uncoordinated student in the class. But you can see the success in your failures. For example, I got really good at falling over, in my protective gear (I wore more protective gear than anyone else). Falling well is important. It keeps you from having a serious injury. By the end of the class, I was given the dubious award of “most-improved” which was a nice way of saying, you’re still the worst but you have come a LONG way. And you know, with practice, I got really good at rollerblading! I could do it for miles and miles. But I could do it because I could laugh at myself when I fell down, and I could really appreciate my “most improved” award. It made me fearless on the W&OD Trail, later! Of course, that physical confidence I obtained carried over into other areas of my life.
When you can take things on with that kind of spirit, when you learn that failure is just a step, and sometimes a fun step, to becoming a better person, and that you don’t necessarily have to be the best or greatest at every single thing you take on, in order to enjoy it and benefit from it, then failure loses some of its power to make you afraid.
What do you do to cultivate your personal fearlessness? Has it carried over into your professional work?
I hope to see many of you at our presentation on blogging and podcasting today. But for those of you who cannot make it in person, you can watch it on Livestream at noon today.
Here is the blogging presentation. If you download this presentation from SlideShare, you can see the notes.
And here is the handout for today’s session on blogging
What’s the one thing you enjoy talking about more than anything else? Some call it a passion, a hobby, a career, a cause, or special interest. Have you thought about sharing that interest online? You can, of course, with a podcast or a blog.
Shared passion creates community, untethered by geographic boundaries. In this free, Social Media Week DC session, full-time podcast producer Ray Ortega and blogger yours truly will show you how to translate your enthusiasm into a blog or podcast.
The event takes place at noon on Tuesday, February 19 at Thomas Jefferson Public Library (main meeting room), 7415 Arlington Boulevard, Falls Church. For those of you who don’t live in the area, I will make the session available live on Livestream — and if the time isn’t convenient for you, I’ll videotape the session and upload it to YouTube.
Here is a little about Ray and me, and our podcasting and blogging backgrounds.
Ray launched his first podcast in early 2007 (Produce Picker Podcast), a video podcast about how to identify, select and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2008, Ray and his podcast were featured on celebrity chef Emeril’s television program for the Planet Green channel.
In 2008, he began work with the American Society for Microbiology to help with their audio and video podcasting efforts and has spent the past five years producing both audio and video podcasts full-time.
Ray speaks frequently about podcasting and was a featured speaker at Blog World and New Media Expo 2012. He has also been interviewed for the following programs and articles
- David Jackson’s – School of Podcasting
- Max Flight’s – Podcasting Passion
- Steven Lee’s – Waves of Tech
- Q&A on the Spreaker blog
- Examiner.com’s – D.C. blogger profile
Mary Fletcher Jones has produced dozens of blogs, YouTube Channels, Facebook Pages, podcasts, and branded Twitter profiles for clients and for her own interests. She has 27 LinkedIn recommendations for her social media and marketing work.
Mary has spoken about blogging for Social Media Week DC (view blogging presentation), the DC Government Video Expo, Digital East, TIVA-DC, the UNCF, Capitol Communicator, the DC Podcaster Alliance, the Regatta Hospice Alliance, and George Mason University.
Some of her personal blogs include
- The Fletcher Prince Blog: a blog about marketing, public relations, and social media tips, as well as company news (669 posts).
- Conversations in Public Relations: a blog featuring more than 100 video interviews with Washington, DC area marketing, advertising, and public relations professionals (159 posts).
- Cool Yule: A Christmas Blog: celebrating all things Christmas (125 posts).
- Autumn in Virginia: a blog about Halloween and fall traditions and celebrating ideas (76 posts).
- You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: a life-blog of personal anecdotes and musings (71 posts).
- Human Rights in Bahrain: a blog supporting democratic reforms in the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain (56 posts).
When she is not blogging or producing YouTube videos, Mary manages Fletcher Prince, named one of the Washington, DC metropolitan area’s top 25 public relations firms by The Washington Business Journal in 2012.
A mother of a teen with autism, she also produces Living Well With Autism, a free online parent support site featuring a website of tips, printable visual schedules and social stories, a Facebook Page, a YouTube video Channel, and podcast.
Before launching Fletcher Prince in 2007, Mary worked in marketing and public relations positions for the American Red Cross, Greater Reston Arts Center and Wolf Trap. She is a member of Washington Women in Public Relations, the Social Media Club, and the DC Podcaster Alliance.
For those of you who are attending our free Social Media Week DC seminars tomorrow by watching on Livestream, and those of you who are just curious! Here are the handouts. And would you mind responding to our 1-question poll, below?
Schedule for February 14, 2012 PLUS SlideShare Links!
1 p.m. Blogging Tips Presentation
Optimizing YouTube videos is an important part of getting a return on your investment for this marketing and engagement tactic, yet, so many companies drop the ball on this step. It’s not difficult to learn how to optimize your videos for search and more views, and I’d like to show you how.
Attend my free seminar on Valentine’s Day
As part of Social Media Week DC, I will be giving a free seminar on how to get more views for your YouTube videos on Tuesday, February 14, at 11:00 a.m. at Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church. That’s almost a month away, but I want you to register early, please, because we already reached 1/3 capacity in the first two days of registration! This is the basically same presentation I gave at Digital East in September, which was well-received. Only this time, there will be more time for questions and contributions from you. Register here to attend.
The event will also be available live on the Fletcher Prince Livestream channel for those of you who can’t attend in person.
Good to know: There is free parking in the library parking lot. Although the library will be closed, the meeting room will be open for our event. There will be Valentine’s Day treats! Bring your lunch and stay for the next two free sessions (brand-new presentations!), “Organizing Your Social Media” (Editorial Calendars) at 12 p.m. and “Jump-Start Your Blog” at 1 p.m. The library is located between two complexes of garden apartments just adjacent to Loehmann’s Plaza (shopping center with Giant and other stores), on the same side of Rt. 50. There are some places at Loehmann’s Plaza (McDonald’s, Subway, Giant) where you can grab a quick lunch to go, if you need to.
Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Boulevard, Falls Church, VA 22042
From the Beltway:
- Take Exit 50B (old Exit 8E), Rte. 50 East (Arlington Boulevard).
- Go through the first light (Jaguar Trail).
- Go 0.4 miles to library on the right, just before the traffic light at Allen Street.
- The library is a new, modern-looking brick building surrounded by garden apartment buildings (there is a service road in front that runs parallel to Route 50/Arlington Boulevard).
From Seven Corners:
- Go 1.3 miles west on Rte. 50 to the third traffic light (Allen Street).
- Turn left on Allen Street, then immediately right onto service road that runs parallel to Route 50.
- The library is a new, modern looking building surrounded by garden apartments; the second brick building on the left.
Metrobus Route 1B and 1C travels between the Dunn Loring-Merrifeild station Metro Station and Thomas Jefferson Community Library. For more information, visit the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Virginia Bus Schedules. Fairfax Connector Route 401 travels between the Dunn Loring Metro Station and Thomas Jefferson Community Library. For more information, visit the Fairfax Connector Home Page.