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Looking Back at 2013: The Fletcher Prince Annual Report

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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 seriesConversations 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.

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Network-and-Lunch Events

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.

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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.

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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!

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Get ready for 2014: events for your editorial calendar

New-Happy-New-Year-2014-WallpapersHappy New Year!

If you use social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, for your business, nonprofit or agency, you may want to review these upcoming dates in 2014 to create engagement and marketing messages for your brand’s profiles.

You may even be inspired by these dates and themes to create blog, photo, or video content, or even a marketing campaign, depending on your audience and your needs.  Have fun with it!  For example, on National Cookie Day last year, we created a cookie version of the Fletcher Prince logo and posted the image online.

Tuning into what matters to your customers or constituents throughout the year is an important way to position your brand as accessible, personable, and caring.

Some tips: remember to honor dates of remembrance with sensitivity on Twitter and Facebook — we are still seeing embarrassing social media gaffes in 2013 — and suspend auto-updates (for example, if you are scheduling updates on Hoot Suite) during times of crisis or tragedy. Also be sure you are not posting identical updates on Twitter and Facebook. Those are very different platforms that require different approaches.

There are many tools on this blog to help you develop an editorial calendar of content for 2014.  Hopefully, some of these 2014 dates will be relevant for your company or organization.  Need a hand?  If you would like me to help you with your social media marketing efforts and planning for the new year, contact me.  I’d be happy to assist.

January
Jan 1 – Happy New Year
Jan 5 – Downton Abbey resumes on PBS
Jan 6 – Epiphany AKA 12th Day of Christmas
Jan 7 – CES (Consumer Electronics Show) opens, Las Vegas
Jan 9 – Day first iPhone was introduced
Jan 11 – Inauguration of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (Richmond)
Jan 12 – Golden Globe Film Awards
Jan 12 – No Pants Subway Ride
Jan 13 – Restaurant Week in DC
Jan 15 – 13th Birthday of Wikipedia (2001)
Jan 16 – Oscar nominations announced
Jan 16 – Sundance Film Festival begins
Jan 16 – Cardinal Bank/George Mason University Annual Economic Conference
Jan 17 – Restaurant Week in Alexandria
Jan 17 – Michelle Obama’s birthday
Jan 19 – Birthday of Edgar Allen Poe (1809)
Jan 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Jan 20 – Fashion Week begins, Paris
Jan 22 – Washington Auto Show begins
Jan 23 – WWPR Annual Meeting
Jan 26 – Grammy Awards
Jan 28 – State of the Net Conference (DC)
Jan 31 – Chinese New Year

February
Feb 2 – Groundhog Day
Feb 2 – Super Bowl Sunday
Feb 4 – World Cancer Day
Feb 5 – Facebook’s 10th Birthday (2004)
Feb 5 – Digital Learning Day
Feb 6 – New York Fashion Week
Feb 7 – National Wear Red Day (women’s heart disease)
Feb 7 – American Cool exhibition begins, National Portrait Gallery
Feb 7 – Winter Olympics Opening Cermony, Sochi, Russia
Feb 7 – Debt ceiling deadline
Feb 10 – Westminster Dog Show begins
Feb 11 – French President Hollande visits U.S.
Feb 11 – White House State Dinner honoring President Hollande
Feb 14 – Valentine’s Day
Feb 14 – YouTube’s 9th Birthday (2005)
Feb 16 – American Intl. Toy Fair
Feb 17 – Presidents’ Day
Feb 17 – Social Media Week DC begins
Feb 17 – Random Acts of Kindness Day
Feb 18 – Free admission to Mount Vernon today (GW Birthday)
Feb 23 – DC Fashion Week Show
Feb 23 – Daytona 500 (auto race)
Feb 25 – Geneva summit for human rights and democracy
Feb 27 – Fortune announces World’s Most Admired Companies
Feb 27 – Scandal resumes on ABC
Feb 28 – Carnival beings in Rio de Janeiro

March
Mar 1 – St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Alexandria
Mar 2 – Oscar Awards
Mar 2 – Read Across America Day
Mar 4 – Mardi Gras
Mar 5 – Ash Wednesday
Mar 6 – Birthday of Michelangelo (1475)
Mar 7 – South by Southwest Festival begins
Mar 8 – International Women’s Day
Mar 9 – Daylight Saving Time starts
Mar 11 – Special House seat election, Florida
Mar 16 – Mary’s Birthday (that’s me!) 🙂
Mar 16 – Freedom of Information Day
Mar 17 – St. Patrick’s Day
Mar 17 – Holi
Mar 17 – TED conference on Technology, Entertainment and Design (BC)
Mar 20 – First Day of Spring
Mar 20 – National Cherry Blossom Festival begins
Mar 21 – Twitter’s 8th Birthday (2006)
Mar 25 – Maryland Day
Mar 29 – Kite Festival (DC)
Mar 31 – Opening Day, Washington Nationals
Mar 31 – Hindu New Year

April
Apr 1 – April Fool’s Day
Apr 2 – World Autism Awareness Day (wear blue today)
Apr 6 – Volunteer Week begins
Apr 7 – U.N. World Health Day
Apr 10 – Smithsonian Craft Show begins
Apr 12 – National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Apr 13 – Palm Sunday
Apr 13 – National Library Week
Apr 15 – Tax Day
Apr 15 – Passover
Apr 15 – Birthday of Leonardo da Vinci (1452)
Apr 15 – Lunar eclipse
Apr 16 – 50th anniversary of the first album released by the Rolling Stones (1964)
Apr 18 – Good Friday
Apr 20 – Easter
Apr 20 – Virginia Historic Garden Week
Apr 21 – White House Easter Egg Roll
Apr 21 – Boston Marathon
Apr 21 – Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday
Apr 22 – Earth Day
Apr 23 – Administrative Professionals Day
Apr 24 – Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
Apr 25 – Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
Apr 26 – USA Science & Engineering Festival (DC)
Apr 26 – The 450th birthday of William Shakespeare
Apr 29 – International Dance Day
Apr 29 – Solar Eclipse today
Apr 29 – Tony Awards nominations
Apr 30 – Children’s Day

May
May 1 – May Day
May 2 – National Cathedral Flower Mart
May 3 – Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
May 3 – Virginia Gold Cup
May 3 – Kentucky Derby
May 3 – White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner
May 4 – International Firefighters Day
May 4 – National Music Week begins
May 5 – Cinco de Mayo
May 5 – Teacher Appreciation week begins
May 6 – Buddha Day
May 6 – LinkedIn’s 11th Birthday (2003)
May 8 – World Red Cross Day
May 10 – National Train Day
May 11 – Mother’s Day
May 14 – Cannes Film Festival opens
May 17 – Preakness Stakes (Horse Race) Baltimore
May 18 – International Museum Day
May 25 – French Open begins
May 25 – Indianapolis 500
May 26 – Memorial Day
May 27 – WordPress’s Birthday (2003)

June
Jun 2 – Fortune 500 America’s largest corporations announced
Jun 6 – 70th anniversary of D-Day
Jun 6 – Celebrate Fairfax Festival
Jun 12 – US Open (golf) begins
Jun 12 – World Cup (soccer) begins, Brazil
Jun 14 – Flag Day
Jun 15 – Father’s Day
Jun 20 – Last Day of School (Fairfax County)
Jun 21 – First Day of Summer
Jun 23 – Wimbledon begins
Jun 25 – Smithsonian Folk Life Festival
Jun 29 – Ramadan

July
Jul 1 – Monty Python reunion debuts, London
Jul 2 – Palio di Siena (1st race), Italy
Jul 4 – Independence Day
Jul 5 – Tour de France begins
Jul 6 – International Kissing Day
Jul 7 – Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
Jul 7 – Fortune 500 ranking world’s largest corporations
Jul 12 – “Super” full moon
Jul 14 – Bastille Day
Jul 21 – National Ice Cream Day
Jul 22 – First birthday of Prince George (UK)
Jul 24 – Comic-Con opens
Jul 28 – 100th anniversary of World War I
Jul 29 – Eid al-Fitr
Jul 30 – 89th Annual Pony Swim & Auction (Chincoteauge, VA)

August
Aug 1 – Congress recesses until Sep 8
Aug 3 – Friendship Day
Aug 4 – President Obama’s Birthday
Aug 6 – Arlington County Fair
Aug 10 – Day Smithsonian Institution opened
Aug 10 – “Super” full moon
Aug 16 – Palio di Siena (2nd race), Italy
Aug 25 – US Open (tennis) begins
Aug 25 – National Park Service Birthday (free admission)
Aug 30 – National Hard Crab Derby (Crisfield, MD)

September
Sep 1 – Labor Day
Sep 2 – Back to School (Fairfax County)
Sep 4 – New York Fashion Week
Sep 7 – Grandparents Day
Sep 8 – Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival)
Sep 9 – “Super” full moon
Sep 11 – Patriot Day
Sep 14 – 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner
Sep 16 – UN General Assembly
Sep 17 – Constitution Day
Sep 18 – Scotland’s Independence Referendum
Sep 19 – Talk Like a Pirate Day
Sep 21 – International Day of Peace
Sep 23 – First Day of Fall
Sep 23 – Yom Kippur
Sep 23 – UN Climate Change Summit
Sep 24 – Rosh Hashanah
Sep 27 – Museum Day (many fee museums will have free admission)
Sep 29 – Advertising Week begins
Sep 30 – Federal fiscal year ends

October
Oct 4 – Yom Kippur
Oct 4 – Eid al-Adha
Oct 5 – Fire Prevention Week begins
Oct 10 – World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, DC
Oct 10 – David Hyson’s Birthday – my Fletcher Prince buddy 🙂
Oct 13 – Columbus Day
Oct 16 – Boss’s Day
Oct 19 – Chemistry Week begins
Oct 22 – World Series starts
Oct 23 – Diwali
Oct 23 – 13th anniversary of the iPod (2001)
Oct 26 – Marine Corps Marathon
Oct 31 – Halloween

November
Nov 1 – All Soul’s Day
Nov 1 – Day of the Dead
Nov 2 – Daylight Savings Time ends
Nov 4 – Election Day, congressional elections
Nov 11 – Veterans Day
Nov 20 – Great American Smokeout
Nov 27 – Thanksgiving Day
Nov 28 – Black Friday
Nov 29 – Small Business Saturday

December
Dec 1 – World AIDS Day
Dec 1 – Cyber Monday
Dec 2 – Giving Tuesday
Dec 4 – National Cookie Day
Dec 6 – St. Nicholas’ Day
Dec 7 – Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
Dec 10 – Human Rights Day
Dec 13 – Congress recesses until 2014
Dec 13 – Army/Navy Football Game (Baltimore)
Dec 17 – Hanukkah
Dec 21 – First Day of Winter
Dec 24 – Christmas Eve
Dec 25 – Christmas Day
Dec 31 – US and UK to withdraw from Afghanistan
Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve

Have you created an editorial calendar? Here are some tips (video)

Today is Veterans Day (thank you, Veterans!) and many of you are off work. If you have some downtime, you may want to take a look at these editorial calendar tips, as you start to gear up your marketing, PR and social media plans for 2014. These are easy approaches that anyone can do.

For a free MS Word editorial calendar template, email me Mary@FletcherPrince.com

Fletcher Prince

A social media editorial calendar can help you organize your content marketing efforts.

In this Social Media Week DC presentation, Mary Fletcher Jones of Fletcher Prince ‪http://www.FletcherPrince.com‬ will talk about the advantages of creating a social media editorial calendar for your business, agency, or nonprofit organization.

Mary will suggest practical tips for selecting a format and creating an editorial calendar that is right for your goals and work style. She also provides advice on scheduling and frequency for various social media channels.

Download the slides and notes for this presentation here: ‪http://www.slideshare.net/Fletcherprince

This session was recorded live at Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church, Virginia on February 14, 2012 for Social Media Week DC.

Please excuse the production quality; it is not up to our usual standard since this is a video taken from a Livestream broadcast on a webcam — but we promised to make…

View original post 58 more words

Spring Cleaning: 5 Fresh, Budget-Friendly PR and Marketing Tips

I’ve asked some of my favorite bloggers to guest blog and provide us with some of their favorite creative and affordable marketing tips. 

Check out what Karen Hendricks has to say about making the most of your social media platforms.

Broom,_sponge_and_towelSpring cleaning isn’t limited to dust bunnies under the bed. Did you know… you may have virtual dust bunnies lurking in your social media and marketing accounts? This is the perfect time of year to freshen up your marketing strategy, evaluate and consider adding a few new marketing tools—all with a budget-friendly approach. Here are five ways to put a little springtime sparkle into your marketing mix:

1. Facebook Facelift: Give your business or organization a fresh look on Facebook by uploading a new top image. This is a great rule of thumb to follow at least once per quarter or season. This instantly sets the tone on your account as a current, relevant source of information. According to a study by Vocus, Facebook fans are a brand’s most valuable customers, with 79% of your fans more likely to purchase your products/services as compared to non-Facebook fans… so give them a fresh “face” atop your latest content. Remember the dimensions for Facebook’s cover image are 851 x 315 pixels.

2. Blogging Bling: When is the last time you updated your company’s or organization’s blog? According to Blogging.org, 60% of all businesses have a blog, but a whopping 65% haven’t updated it within the past year.  A blog is the perfect example of content marketing at its best—especially if you take advantage of a free, easy-as-pie WordPress account. The only investment is your time spent writing and adding effective images—a key component to higher engagement rates.

3. LinkedIn Luster: It’s been about a year and a half since the professional networking site LinkedIn unveiled its Company Pages feature. Since then, 2.6 million companies have developed company pages, including all Fortune 500 companies. Many small businesses and non-profits have yet to take advantage of this free marketing tool, with valuable access to the 200 million professionals currently on LinkedIn. When you create a Company Page, invite your customers to provide endorsements, share your business news, and begin creating a buzz on a professional level. You can even advertise jobs or scout for potential new hires. For inspiration, check this post on the LinkedIn blog, with tips from the top 10 best company pages of 2012.

4. Add Polish with Pinterest:  Last summer, Mashable reported that Pinterest users were following more brands than Facebook or Twitter users. I think the main reason why boils down to Pinterest’s focus on images. It’s easier to “see” what you like rather than “read” about your favorite brands, causes or businesses. If you haven’t yet created a Pinterest account for your business or organization—or if you haven’t added new content recently, polish your image with a free Pinterest account. Make sure plenty of your pins link back to your core marketing presence, your website, to ultimately drive traffic to your doorstep.

5. Add email marketing muscle: Don’t discount good old fashioned email marketing! It’s still a wonderfully viable way to engage with and grow your core customer base.  See the Inbound Marketing blog for their recent “23 Tweetable Stats on Email Marketing Trends” and it’s bound to put some spring into your marketing step.

If you aren’t currently using an email marketing service, consider the following: one of the gold standards in the industry, Constant Contact offers a free 60-day trial period that’s especially helpful for small businesses since the initial free contact list is limited to 100 or fewer contacts. Otherwise, paid accounts on Constant Contact will not break your bottom line, and non-profits receive a 15% discount Additional budget-friendly options include Vertical Response, which has a free option for all 501 (c)(3) organizations, and Mad Mimi which offers a free base email program for up to 2,500 contacts and up to 12,500 emails per month. Make sure to dust off your writing skills as well — 64% of email recipients say they open an email because of the subject line.

Karen Hendricks, Hendricks Communications

Karen Hendricks, Hendricks Communications

Karen Hendricks, President/Owner of Hendricks Communications, focuses on public relations, marketing and freelance writing/photography. Learn more at HendricksCommunications.com and follow her on Twitter @karenhendricks9.

Social Media Tips from Debbie Friez of BurrellesLuce

Discovered this terrific Slideshare presentation from local social media expert, Debbie Friez, Vice President of Major Accounts at BurrellesLuce.  She offers terrific tips for getting the most out of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Check it out!

Ideas to while away a snow day

Snow day!   If you’re anywhere in the Washington, DC area, you’re probably snowed in today.  Maybe you’re still in your pajamas, drinking hot chocolate, and catching up on emails and blog posts.

You have my permission to be lazy all day if you want to.  I am sure you deserve some down time.  But if you find yourself catching cabin fever, here are some fun and constructive ways to employ your time.  Some of them are even quasi-related to marketing and PR 🙂

1. Just stay home.  It’s not really safe to go out, so if you don’t have to… When you drive on roads before they’re plowed, they get packed down and icy.  That’s not good.  Here are some ideas to work off all that nervous energy from Fairfax County

2. Learn how to get started with podcasting.  Watch Ray’s Social Media Week DC session   .

3. Order the nail polish inspired by the Pantone color of the year, Emerald from Sephora, $10.  Inspire a conversation on design!  How groovy would this be on toes?  And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, too!pantone emerald nail color

4. Check out Marie Dauenheimer’s blog post on Cezanne’s studio and be transported for a moment to the warm and sunny south of France.

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5. Register for a year’s worth of monthly networking lunches in the Washington, DC area.  Because I really would like to meet you in person, and repeatedly so.  While you have your datebook out, make two notes for March:  1. My birthday is on March 16 🙂 and 2. Cherry Blossoms are supposed to peak between March 26-30 in DC this year.

6. Catch up on the latest episodes of SCANDAL, the dramatic series about a DC area kind-0f-PR-agency.  Oh, who are we kidding?  It’s not even remotely related to PR!  But it IS fun to watch…

7. Discover your blogging style and persona in my Social Media Week DC session on YouTube.

8. Sing out loud to something really fun and intense, like Florence + the Machine (why do I never get invited to any wild parties like this?)  🙂 

and give it everything like you’ve got, like Anna Netrebko at 2:29 

Come to think of it, give EVERYTHING everything you’ve got like Anna Netrebko does at 2:29

9. Make a snow logo and tweet the photo, or put it on your company Facebook Page.  Bonus if you color it in, too (try food color and water in a spray bottle).

10.  Warm up for 10 minutes (dance, maybe, Pandora is playing your song!) and then get out your weights and do four reps each: 12 biceps curls, 12 arm raises, 12 sit-ups, 12 outer leg lifts, 12 inner leg lifts, 12 donkey kickbacks, 12 triceps kickbacks, 12 calf raises, 12 squats/plies.  Stretch.

Then call me and bug me to see if I have done them yet.

11.  Write a LinkedIn recommendation for David Hyson.  He is FAR too modest to ever ask for one himself, but if he has worked for you, you know he is terrific, and deserving of praise.

12. Do a Google +  Hangout with friends and brain storm video and blog ideas.

13.  Register for WWPR’s Brown Bag lunch on evaluation and measurement on Wednesday, March 20 (free for members $15 for non-members).

14. Follow PRofessional Solutions, LLC on Pinterest and get some ideas for your PR career wardrobe.

15. Plan your spring break. Where will you go?  What will you do?

16.  Leave a comment on this blog with a super idea of how to constructively use your down time.

Are you a fearless communicator?

IMG_1500Today, 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…

  1. They make big bets and make history.  Fearless people set big goals. They have big dreams.
  2. They experiment early and often.  Fearless people are not afraid to be first.
  3. They make failure matter.  They learn from their failures, and wear them as badges of honor.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

Social Media Week DC Report: Media Relations Tips from Synaptic Digital

Laura Pair, VP, Media Relations, Synaptic Digital

Laura Pair, VP, Media Relations, Synaptic Digital

I attended my first Social Media Week DC event this morning and it was very well done.  Synaptic Digital presented a panel of four experts at the National Press Club who spoke on various aspects of media relations, one of whom was their engaging Media Relations VP, Laura Pair.

With ten years of media relations experience (in addition to other career experience), Laura shared ten lessons learned about media relations.

Her first point was that media relations professionals serve as a bridge connecting the needs of two “masters:” their clients and journalists.  “We need to help [clients] craft their message and we need to craft the message to suit the media,” Laura stated.

In her second point, she mentioned that it was the media relations professional’s job to help the client define their goals:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the crux of your messsage?
  • What do you want people to do?

The third lesson she cited was the importance of consuming the media you are pitching. With online access these days, there is no excuse, says Laura, to not thoroughly examine tv and radio broadcasts, and newspapers before you pitch them, where ever they may be located.  “You can go online and watch the clips from a station in Alabama.”  There are several good media relations reasons for this approach

  • Helps you think like the journalist
  • Lets you see how much time was devoted to the topic in the broadcasts
  • Understand the weight given to the topic by the journalist
  • Observe how the stories about that topic are handled and “teased.”

“What’s the headline and the subheads?” said Laura. “Once you know how they are teasing the audience, you know how to pitch them; you can mimic it.”

“Less is more” was the pithy lesson #4.  A good media pitch should be no more than two-three sentences long.  Craft the email subject line like an attention-grabbing headline.

When pitching on the phone, keep the voice mail message very short. “If they are interested, they’ll contact you for more.”

It’s important to learn everything you can online before you pitch — the lesson #5.  “Look up everything for the topic you are pitching, especially if you are a freelancer,” said Laura, as freelancers may  not be as knowledgeable about the topic as agency staff or corporate communications departments.

Also, research the journalist online before you pitch him or her.  Look at previously written articles and Twitter profiles.  You will be able to learn how they approach certain stories and how they have covered angles in the past.

Lessson #6 was about making full use of multimedia.   TV media needs video, radio needs audio, and print media needs images.  Really, all media need video, even if they do not incorporate it in their stories.  Laura urged the audience to ask their clients for all the multimedia assets they can find before pitching the media.

One idea is to have the client produce a 1-2 minute video — not b-roll — that promotes the idea of the story to be told.  Laura said this was an especially good asset to provide to bloggers but that all journalists would find it useful as background information.  She also mentioned that b-roll was a good asset to provide to TV stations, as well.

Appropriately, lesson #7 was about social media.  Make sure everything you distribute (e.g., news releases, websites, online news rooms) can be shared socially, through hyperlinks, shareable multimedia assets, and share buttons.

Journalists are not the only conduit for your pitch and lesson #8 was about taking your client’s story directly to the audience.  For example, said Laura, if you are doing a broadcast interview, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince your spokesperson to also do a Facebook chat, Google + Hangout, or Twitter chat. “Don’t just do one-off  interviews; put your spokesperson on social media.”

Not all stories will be picked up by the national media, but local placements can make a big impact, too.  Lesson #9 was about remembering to find the local angles of your story.  “Journalists in local markets have an obligation to provide information about their community,” said Laura.

One tactic is to obtain local data (e.g., from a government source) and provide that to a reporter, such as “how many people are unemployed in Cleveland.”  Laura emphasized how journalists rely on media relations professionals to provide this type of useful information.

In her final  point, for lesson #10, Laura said that remember you are pitching to a human being.  Above all, be nice!  Respect the reporter’s time and keep your pitches short and to the point.  Learn their deadlines and get to know them. Always keep in mind that the media is your “other client.”

Laura’s presentation was very useful to me and the audience was clearly appreciative of her tips and anecdotes.  Watching the presentation was a great way to start Social Media Week DC.

 

 

 

Blogging Your Enthusiasm – Social Media Week DC Presentation

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

Fletcher Prince Facebook Services

Do you know why people like brands on Facebook? Learn why in this short video that also highlights Fletcher Prince Facebook services.

For more information about using Facebook for your business or nonprofit, visit Fletcher Prince http://www.FletcherPrince.com or contact Mary@FletcherPrince.com

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