Monday, March 1, 2010

Big Things, Friends...

Whew, it's been quite a week.  My apologies for being a little out of the loop the past week.  The new website is up, you can visit it at www.cgcommunicationsonline.com.  It still has a little work to be done on it, but the front page is up and you can get information on the upcoming PR/Social Media Toolbox seminar. 

Speaking of which, just a reminder, if you are a small business owner or work with a non-profit, please sign up for what will be a great four hours of learning, fun and growth.  If you know someone who you think would benefit from the seminar, please pass this on and let them know about it.  I look forward to seeing many of your smiling faces on Saturday.

Here are the details:

Saturday, March 6th, 2010 from 10am to 2pm
The Avenue Theater
417 E. 17th Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80203

Cost $50 for two participants.

Food and snacks provided as well as handouts and collateral.  A talkback with working journalists will take place at the end of the seminar.

Meanwhile, there's been a lot of interesting stuff taking place in the world of social media and public relations.  Most notably the earthquake in Chile and the Vancouver Winter Olympics have been boons to social media outlets as people attempt to keep up to date with the events taking place in those two regions for very different reasons.

Here's a story from www.gigaom.com about how social media has become THE information source for folks looking updates from Chile and attempting to help those in need.  Click on the website to read the entire story.

Use Social Media to Track the Chilean Earthquake

"As with the earthquake in Haiti, social-media tools such as Twitter and other web-based resources have been a key source of information about the disaster, helping family members find out about their loved ones as well as letting authorities know where there are problems that need to be dealt with. We’ve collected some of the places you can look for further data and in-person reports, as well as ways of helping Chile recover from the quake. If you have any other resources you think people could use, please post them in the comments or email them to mathew@gigaom.com."

Clearly social media, including blogs, vlogs, podcasts, as well as the usual routes of Twitter and Facebook are being used to connect the world in ways that we couldn't have imagined just a few short years ago.  It's become so prominent that major news networks are using social media on a daily basis to gather and disseminate information, conduct interviews and track the progress of the cleanup. 

This allows nearly anyone to become a reporter on the scene, just like the recent school shootings here in Colorado.  Individuals inside the school were Twittering details and information to not only friends and family, but to news outlets and the authorities.  With this kind of reach and usefulness, is it any wonder why social media has become the powerful tool it is today?

Here is another story on how social media has swept over the Vancouver Olympics from the Seattle Times.  As always click on the link for the entire story.

Social media and the Vancouver 2010 Games

Posted by Meghan Peters

"Vancouver 2010 is the first Olympics to experience social media in full force.
With more people connected on Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites than ever before, real-time updates about all things Olympics have been rampant. Games news has been coming from athletes, organizers and spectators across the globe and around the clock.
Here are a few notable ways social media has been used by key players:"

A thought hit me on Saturday night while I was talking to a friend about the US Men's upcoming Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Game.  There's been a lot of talk about the 30-year anniversary of the "Miracle on Ice" game at Lake Placid and how that team compares to the current team.  Outside of all the hyperbole and comparisons, I wanted to relate a little story that I think illustrates how the world has changed since those glory days of 1980.

I was ten years old in 1980 and I remember being in Winter Park, Colorado when the US beat Russia.  Of course, this was well before the cable explosion and the 24-hour news networks and ESPN and the information overload we enjoy today.

The game had been played earlier in the day and was being broadcast on tape-delay in Colorado that evening.  We were at a little restaurant after a full day of skiing (We were at Ski Idlewild, a place for beginners to learn before moving up to the Mary Jane slopes down across the way).  The restaurant was named the Bennedicts Inn, or something like that, I think it's long since closed its doors.

I was there with my mother and her boyfriend, and we were eating and I remember the little tv in the corner of the restaurant was showing the game.  As the meal progressed, a buzz started to sweep over the patrons and by the time I had finished my baked salmon with almonds, every eye was glued to the tv, wondering, hoping, watching in disbelief as the clock ticked down and the impossible happened. 

A cheer rose up throughout the place and if I remember correctly, the owner of the restaurant bought a round of drinks for everyone at the place.  Kids got a free desert.  I had a cheesecake.  I didn't realize the implications of the game at the time, I just knew people were really excited about it.  I knew the U.S. had beaten the hated Russians, that much I understood, I just didn't get how big the victory was, not then.

I never heard the famous Al Michael's call of "Do you believe in miracles?!"  The tv was too far away and the crowd was way too loud.  It would be another ten years before I'd have a chance to watch that game in full, with the knowledge of the real meaning of what the win meant.

Fast Forward to Vancouver 30 years later.  The US Men's Hockey Team was taking on the vaunted Canadian Men's Hockey Team in a game to decide seeding for the medal rounds.  I could have watched that game live while I worked away online that day, but I didn't.  I missed the game.  Didn't matter.  Within seconds, literally, the world knew the US had upset the Canadians.  I got an AP update on my iPhone.  Twitters were flying out of the hockey arena like balloons at a Superbowl pregame show.

There were pictures taken with phones being emailed and Twittered and posted online.  Status updates on Facebook let everyone know what they felt about the win.  By the time the game was rebroadcast on NBC later that night, it's a safe guess that nearly everyone watching already knew the final outcome.

It's hard sometimes to wrap your mind around how much has changed since 1980, but that little scenario kind of puts it all into perspective.  Social media has changed the way we get information and, perhaps more importantly, what we do with that information.  The facts and figures and wins and losses and basic news that we used to get at regular intervals from newspapers and networks are available at any time, right at our fingertips. 

That means papers, magazines, newscasts, basically any information outlet has to do more to grab your attention.  They have to lure you to them with feature stories, in-depth reporting and reliable insights, analysis and editorials.  We've moved into an age of not just getting the news, but trying to break down the news and put it in context and make sense of it all.

What this means for you:

This is a wonderful time to be a business owner.  Not because of the economy, but because you are a valuable asset to all of these news organizations that NEED people like you to be their experts, to help them analyze what is going on around us.  When an opportunity arises to speak about something you know in regards to a news event, you have to be ready and use social media to improve your pr efforts.

This means, of course, you have to stay on top of the news of the day on a regular basis.  Fortunately, there are programs designed to help you do just that.  They'll give you constant updates and keep you in the loop every minute of the day.  Once you see something you can speak about or help a news organization with, you have to jump on it and let them know you're available for interviews or as an information resource. 

It's a new technological world we live in, and isn't it grand?

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