Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Right Tech

Okay, so, I took a day off from posting.  Not because I forgot about the small businesses and non-profits out there waiting desperately for more insight on public relations and social media.  But I missed because I was much more engrossed something completely nerdy.  Truth be told, I spent a lot of Wednesday following the release announcement from Apple about their new iPad.  Plus, I took part in a social marketing webinar, hosted by Cisco, to get a little insight from marketing professionals about the impact of social media on small businesses.  I was also curious if there would be any conversation about the iPad at a webinar just hours after the new device was announced to the world.

Certainly, there was buzz.  People were talking about it.  People are still talking about it.  People will be talking about it for some time.  Already the internet is ablaze with analysis, and not everyone is impressed with Apples latest gizmo.  Funny that the same social media that Apple helped explode over the past few years with its iPhone and iMac is the same social media that's hammering it right now. 

But this isn't a review of the iPad.  Let's face it, most of us won't be owning one anytime soon.  And to be honest, none of us really need one, at least not right now, at least not until the bugs get worked out and the next generation changes the way we work, but that's beside the point.

There ARE some technological toys that you should be using if you're considering handling your own social media and public relations campaign.  Before I go further, a disclaimer.  I am not being paid by anyone to post these entries or promote a product.  You also have to know that I am a huge Mac fan, but, sadly, they're not paying me either. 

Here is a short list of the technological essentials you really have to use regularly in order to make your outreach efforts a success.

1.  A solid, dependable, desktop publishing program - I use InDesign.  It's a fantastic program, but you can get away with a more affordable program.  You need to be able to design and export your own press releases, pamphlets, brochures, any kind of collateral you'll need for both in-person outreach and online outreach.

2.  Basic video recording and editing tools - We've talked about the need for visuals in your campaign efforts.  This includes video.  As I've said before, you don't need to buy a TV-ready camera.  You can get by with a basic video recorder, a flip recorder, even your cellphone.  The point is, you need video to enhance your online platforms.  As for editing programs, well, we're not making Hollywood movies here.  I use Final Cut, and I love it, but that is likely too much program for most small businesses looking to put together short b-roll clips or event videos.  Mac has iMovie, which is pretty basic, easy to learn and simple to use.  For PC's, there's always Premier.  EditXpress, etc.  The point is, you can find some basic video editing programs that will meet your needs without breaking the bank.

3.  A Photo editing program - This ties into the same reasons why you need a good desktop publishing program.  You'll need to design eye-catching collateral.  Again, you don't need to be a master of design, and you don't need to have an expensive program.  Just something that allows you to edit, manipulate and create using existing images.

4.  Mobile access - In today's hustle and bustle world it's essential to keep up with what's happening around, not only in terms of getting and placing phone calls and emails, but staying up to the minute in terms of information.  Whether you're using a phone, a netbook or PDA, your ability to stay connected is more important today than ever before.

You may already be using some or all of these technologies every day.  In some cases, you may be using them as part of your outreach efforts already.  If so, good for you.  If not, get started.  It's never to late to start using the techonology available to help your business become a success.

A New Reality:

Speaking of technology, staying on top of the latest technological trends will help you stay on top of your game in terms of raising your organizations' profile.  Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, Digg, FindIt...all social media and online environments are constantly changing and updating to be bigger, faster, stronger...all looking to be the six million dollar man of the internet.

For instance, here is an article from the PersonalizeMedia site.  It's about a new program called "Augmented Reality".  For small businesses and non-profits, it's a kind of technology that could truly enhance your sales and or donations. 

Here is a short excerpt from the article.  For the entire article, click on the link above.:

New Playgrounds: Augmented Reality Story Worlds

by Gary Hayes · 15 comments
Was going to call this Augmented Reality Story Environments but…:)
It is fascinating to see how quickly Augmented Reality (AR) is permeating our lives and the blogosphere. But what will the mass adoption of mobile devices that allow you to layer ‘virtual story worlds’ over the real world mean for new forms of entertainment & marketing? Also what will it mean when celebrities and audience/users, begin to merge – avatars appearing in broadcast TV and film/gamestars composited into our homes?
I have posted about the cross-reality evolution over the last 3 years on this blog under a general mixed-reality umbrella. Now we have every blogger & journalist talking about their AR engaged iPhone, DSi, PSP or smart mobile as if they have discovered some advanced alien technology. But is it really is a game changer, a new playground for storytellers? A window to another world at one end through to a simple layered utility at the other. Actors and fantasy characters deliver lines, embedded in real world scenes, you find the hidden virtual treasure, the historical or future backstories and clues, video, sound, images – even fellow ‘players’ morph into strange aliens or dissapear, you leave red herrings or leave help for other players the possiblities, endless.

There are other programs out there, such as "Kick Apps," "UberTwitter" and, well you get the idea.  It's hard work staying on top of all the new technologies out there.  This is where you can sign up for search engines to do some of the work for you.  Getting google alerts in your email will allow you to keep up with at least some of the latest technological advancements. 

Just like everything else, you don't have time to spend testing out every single new program.  But make a list of the ones that realy catch your eye.  Note the ones that you think might be able to help you be more efficient in your efforts or help you reach an audience you've been struggling with.  Then take an hour or two a week and try them out.  See what the fuss is about.

Also remember that not all new technologies will be successful.  Most will disappear into oblivion after a short time.  And, like the iPad, some will need a couple of generations to get it right before they'll be truly useful to you as a small business or non-profit.

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