Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Social Media, Basic Blunders Still Hurt

Being in the Social Media realm is no excuse for a slipshod presentation. If anything, given the SM universe's viral and omnipresent nature, it's all the more important to dot your i's and cross your t's.

In rendering judgment about your professionalism, people still look upon old-fashioned notions like proper grammar, correct spelling and otherwise efficient communication.

This came to mind today as I saw a Chicago-area company, over the last 2 1/2 days, had added one whopping fan on their Facebook Fan Page. Oh, and they are in the midst of a paid advertising push on Facebook.

In their information box, on the left side of the Fan Page, the company had this dubious trifecta: a misspelled street name in their address, a web site link that didn't hyperlink, and a sloppily noted phone number that lacked any hyphens, periods or anything that made it easy on the eye.

There's no telling what, if any, effect this slovenly style is having on their attempt to grow their fan base. But in full view of their existing fans, the miscues are a perpetual undermining of corporate credibility.

When's the last time you had a fresh, qualified set of eyes take a sharp look at the messages you are transmitting to the universe?

Monday, March 29, 2010

"PR Secrets From a Media Insider" Update

Since last August, I have held 10 "PR Secrets from a Media Insider" workshops, the past four months next to my current office space, in a conference room of 1111 South Blvd. in downtown Oak Park.

Based on the needs and wants of attendees, I tailor each program within the 11-page workbook that I've created. Small-business owners and entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries, including law, finance, insurance, a cleaning service, a handyman service and graphic design, are among PR Secrets' alumni.

The programs have transitioned into a monthly rhythm, on the third Tuesday, and the next one is April 20, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Attached is a flier you can click on for more detail, including the $39 fee. (For those who pre-register with payment in advance, there is a $5 discount.)

You can see a brief excerpt from my first PR Secrets session and you can also contact me directly at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Face(book) It: Go Where the Puck Will Be

Whenever I advise people to jump into the social media fray--often in relation to promoting their business or cause--there's always that look I get in return.

It's not a deer-in-headlights look, mind you.

No, it's much more dire than that: this is the patented deer-that's-already-been-run-over-by-a-Mack Truck-look.

It's the look of someone who is on the brink of declaring haplessly, "How on Earth do you think I'm ever going to find the time to fit this into my already-overcrowded schedule."

My response: anyone who is successful, or in the earnest pursuit of success, is full of to-do's on their list. Cry me a river. I didn't create Facebook, so don't blame me for this historic development. Oh, and the train has left the station--do you want to get onboard or not?

The question I then pose is this: do you want to go where the puck increasingly is going to be in the weeks, months and years to come? (That's an allusion to Wayne Gretzky's oft-quoted tip on his unparalleled success as a hockey player--he didn't focus on where the puck was, but on where it was going to be.)

If your target audience, present or future, is spending significant time on Facebook, then it only makes sense to meet them there. Unless, of course, you want to surrender all of that ground to your competitors. That is entirely within your rights, though it's hardly good for business.

Another tip I share to these Mack-trucked deer: if you're so leery of losing the best years and decades of your life to Facebook, then set a time limit on your forays.

You can get a ton done in five or 10 minutes, if you stay focused and don't get sucked into the whirlpool of links and trivia that lie in wait.

(Psst, a little secret between me and you: I'm one of those nefarious types that trains people to provide links and trivia designed to suck in others.)

More social-media pointers in a later post, but for now, here's a look back at an Inside Edge PR post about the "Five Stages of Facebook Grief."

Did you know you could become a Facebook fan of Inside Edge PR? Go to Facebook and type "Inside Edge PR" into the search box.

If you allocate five minutes to Facebook today, becoming a fan will leave you with 4 minutes, 56 seconds to spare.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Supremely Worthy Cause: `Fix Your Mortgage'

Amid all the possible products, services or causes to promote, some are supremely simple to get behind as a publicist.

One such example is an effort under way between the city of Chicago, volunteer real estate attorneys from Attorneys' Title Guaranty (ATG) and housing counselors from Neighborhood Housing Services.

On Saturday, March 27, they will team up to help qualified, at-risk homeowners modify their loans at a "Fix Your Mortgage" event at Morgan Park High School, 1744 West Pryor Ave (111th and Vincennes Avenue.) The event begins at 9:30 a.m. and goes untl 2 p.m.

To read more, see my Marketing & PR column at

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Recent `Tips of the Inside Edge'

Since early February, I have been posting a daily "Tip of the Inside Edge" at the Inside Edge PR Fan Page on Facebook.

(To visit the page, type "Inside Edge PR" in the Facebook search box.)

Here is the collection of tips from the past week:

Pick up the darn phone once in awhile. E-mail is a great complementary avenue, but there's nothing like actually speaking with another human being to build stronger connection and understanding.

Show, Don't Just Tell. In any endeavor, when meeting with prospective clients, find ways to show your value--and not merely talk about it.

The quality and quantity of follow-up questions help set apart outstanding connectors from ineffective or even average connectors.

When you hear "show up early, stay late" is the key to success, it might seem like a ton of extraordinary effort. Often, though, it just means five minutes on either side.

Write a sincere hand-written thank you note some time before you die. It'll shock the recipient. And leave a positive impression.

For other suggestions, visit my Recommended Links page at

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Day As `Census Count Crusader' in Oak Park

It had been 75 days since I last wore a red cape, but who was counting?

On Tuesday, I returned to super-hero action by playing the role of "Census Count Crusader." It was part of the Village of Oak Park's awareness-raising efforts for the 2010 Census.

With visits to Oak Park and River Forest High School (including a foray into the cafeteria, above photo) and Oak Park Village Hall (nearly two hours) for a Census Rally, I had more super-hero red boot time than my day's journey in standard, mere-mortal footwear.

That must count for something, though I've yet to quite figure out what.

The rally at village hall was part of the 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour.

Cruising around village hall during the rally to interview a variety of folks, I teamed up for some fun, informative interviews at the direction of Joe Kreml, the village's talented cable station producer and the brains behind the now-legendary Super Shopper Spotter commercial.

Thanks to Village Clerk Teresa "Terry" Powell for pulling me back into Superhero-land. Three months ago, I wore much the same costume as Super Shopper Spotter. The only change Tuesday was a shirt bearing the "Census Count Crusader" logo (left).

When asked about the SSS on my cape, I had a ready answer: Super Statistical Summarizer.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inside Edge Aboard to Promote Ride IV Reasons

This past Saturday night, I went to a former furniture store in Aurora to check in on George Hood, a world-class endurance athlete who since 2006 has been pushing his body to the brink in pursuit of the Guinness World Record for the spin cycle marathon.

Officially twice and informally once, I've publicized all three of George's prior rides, including the first one in January 2007 that attracted global media coverage and may well have spurred on some of the one-upsmanship that has ensued between George and other ultra-endurance athletes.

About five weeks ago, Inside Edge PR was brought aboard by the United Way of Fox Valley for George's next--and presumably last--effort, Ride IV Reasons.

George has captured the Guinness World Record twice--at 111-plus hours and then at 177-plus hours. Both times, he hoped the record would stick for a while, but both times they were toppled in short order. This time around, George is looking to extend the record to a mind-blowing 300 hours, even as he tries to spearhead $200,000in fund-raising.

You can read more about his background, and the great causes that he's riding on behalf, at

I've also set up a YouTube channel for his current campaign, Ride IV Reasons. One of the videos on the site, showing the gritty process of George subjecting himself to one of the all-too-brief naps that are allowed under Guinness guidelines, is below.