On June 28, Hoboken will host its first TEDx event. I’m proud to announce Rose Communications will be one of the lead sponsors, joining the likes of The Cake Boss and hMAG.
For those who are not familiar with TED, it is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Sharing. They hold events every year featuring incredibly notable speakers who each have 18 minutes to move the crowd with their stories or big ideas. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
Our message to TEDxHoboken attendees will be, “If an idea exists without a story, does it still make a sound?” As part of our sponsorship, we’ll give attendees a chance to win prizes from our clients whose brand stories are compelling.
The organizers have an impressive roster of speakers ready to inspire, including Peter Shankman, creator of Help A Reporter Out and Dave Carroll, the guy who became famous when United Airlines broke his guitar. Their readiness is, at least in part, the work of John Bates, a trainer who specializes in running TEDx speaker boot camps.
John and lead TEDxHoboken organizer Elizabeth Barry
John was in town from the West Coast a couple of weeks ago for a TEDxHoboken salon event and I had a chance to sit down with him. We often prepare our clients to talk to media and I wondered if any of his best practices could be applied to our craft. Here’s what I learned:
- Make people care about you first. Facts don’t matter until they care. John’s approach is based on neurophysiology and he told us the part of the brain that “lights up” when someone says, “Let me tell you a story,” is the same part that expects a reward. This is the opposite of what we advise clients to do in media interviews. We always tell them to make the journalist a believer first with data and then share an anecdote, which I still think is right for that context.
- Be with your audience. This is a more realistic variation on “Imagine your audience wearing underwear.” John said not focusing on yourself and instead focusing on the audience is the number one secret to speaking success. He said conductor Ben Zander is a great example: “Within 20 to 30 seconds, you know who you’re with and you’re thrilled about it.” Sometimes, he added, this means telling the truth about yourself even when it doesn’t make you look good.
- Don’t talk about the speech in the speech. My mentor always told me to watch out for this in new business pitches. John said he’s seen TED and TEDx speakers spend time saying their name, their title, the name of their speech and how long they plan to talk — information the audience already knows. When you do this, you distance yourself from your audience. He also said it’s important not to be locked into sharing events in chronological order; it’s frequently not the best way to build the arc for your narrative. He’s posted a couple of “Speeches to learn from” on his YouTube channel.
We’ll share more TEDx news as the event draws near.
, Peter Shankman
, The Cake Boss
Scarlett and Kyle Present their News Stories
A few months ago, my 5-year old daughter said to me, “Do they have ‘take your kid to work day’ at your company?” When I explained to her that Rose Communications was my business and I could decide to do that, she said, “Can you? PLEASE!”
Today was the big day and she was joined by my colleague’s son who is also in kindergarten. I logged onto the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work website for ideas on how to occupy their time. They imagined their futures and the accomplishments that might garner news coverage. They drew pictures and we helped them craft headlines. My colleague’s son plans to discover a rare dinosaur fossil while hiking in Pennsylvania. My daughter will become famous for blowing a bubble shaped like a dog.
We also asked them to redesign our company logo and plan our 10-year anniversary party. They really got into their designs and could hardly wait to present them to us. We had to explain that it was important to eat lunch first — you never want to present to hungry people.
I think both kids learned a lot from their experiences. And it was a good for them to see their mothers at work. As we walked through the park on the way home, Scarlett turned to me and said, “I can’t wait until next April.” Neither can I.
tags:Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
I stumbled upon Susan Spencer-Wendel’s memoir “Until I Say Goodbye” while browsing new bestsellers on my iPad, to see if there was something to tide me over until my next book club gathering. When I read the overview, I felt like I had to download a sample. I’ve had an indirect connection with ALS for sometime (a distant relative died from the disease before I was born as did the father of a very dear friend). More importantly, I felt an instant connection with the author for other reasons: she’s a working mother in her 40s, a lover of travel and a loyal friend. The disease she faces gives her a new lens on a life that is not entirely different from my own. Before I finished the sample, I knew I was committed.
I learned so much from her beautifully crafted words. She chooses joie de vivre over despair in the face of what is arguably the most horrific medical diagnosis a woman in the prime of her life could receive. She makes difficult, yet admirable choices about how to live her last year of relatively decent health. I’m not sure I could leave my children to explore my heritage or parts of the world I’d not yet seen, knowing the end is coming and my choice is accelerating the process. Bold.
On the flip side, her decision to live her life with joy and chronicle that journey has made her hours of solitude more peaceful. There’s only so much participating she can do with three active children and a husband chasing them around. The book gave her a sense of purpose. And Steve Jobs gave her an iPhone to create it with the only digit she could still use: her thumb.
This memoir is not about sadness and loss. It’s not about being sick. It’s about living. It’s about choices. Those lessons will stay with me forever.
, Susan Spencer-Wendel
, Until I Say Goodbye
Dear Friends of RoseComm,
As I am sure you’ve seen in the news, Hurricane Sandy devastated Hoboken, NJ, where our office is located. I am writing to give you an update and provide you with additional contact information for our team. Our office is located across the street from the train station, which was completely flooded. We haven’t yet heard from our property management company regarding how our building was impacted, but we do know that as of now, phone lines and power are down. The roads are largely closed (some still flooded with two or three feet of water) and the National Guard continues to work to rescue people trapped in their homes. Many of our team members live in New Jersey and New York and are still without power. Estimates for recovery range from Monday to Friday of next week.
We are all working remotely to keep our business moving. You can reach us via email and cell phone. Those of us without power and childcare may not be as responsive as we usually are, so we are providing contact information for our entire team below. Please feel free to reach out to any RoseComm team member for assistance.
Hurricane Sandy took a major toll on our area. We are fortunate that the worst our team and business suffered was minor property damage and power outages. Many others cannot say the same, and our hearts are heavy as we think about their loss. We also want to extend our support to those of you who are experiencing storm-related hardships personally or among your loved ones. Our thoughts are certainly with you as well during this difficult time.
Thank you for your concern and support over the last few days. We will stay in touch and let you know just as soon as we are able to open our office again. We are all anxious for life to get back to normal.
Rosemary Ostmann email@example.com 201-615-7751 cell
Victoria Grantham firstname.lastname@example.org 917-328-3287 cell
Tracey Cassidy email@example.com 917-741-6246 cell
Lisa Trapani firstname.lastname@example.org 410-245-0094 cell
Jennifer Leckstrom email@example.com 215-681-0770 cell
Ariel Abramowitz firstname.lastname@example.org 917-733-4095 cell
, Hurricane Sandy
Last week I took my first vacation since joining Rose Communications. My bucket list includes visiting as many, if not every, baseball stadium in the county, so with that in mind, I headed off to Chicago with my Dad. There were plenty of other items on the agenda (eating deep dish pizza, visiting the Bean, heading to the top of Sears Tower) but our trip was planned around Wrigley Field and the Cubs’ home schedule.
Thursday morning I caught up on emails and social media before heading out for a day of sightseeing and tourist attractions. I saw that a key influencer in the communications industry was in Chi-Town for a business meeting and a speech. He asked if anyone was interested in grabbing coffee before he headed back to LGA.
Most of the time, I’m convinced my parents have absolutely no idea what I do for a living. Wednesday night at dinner my dad asked if I was posting pictures to Twitter of our carrot cake. The only reason he cares about Facebook is because they are now a publicly traded company and he owns shares of Zuck’s stock. So when I asked if he was cool with me meeting an older guy from the interwebs for some coffee, I was expecting a pretty chilly reaction. Much to my surprise, he asked if this was important to me. It was. Off we went.
I’d like to thank Peter Shankman for sitting down with me to talk PR and life in general. There is nothing comparable to meeting someone you respect and admire for their success, especially when your passions align. I even had the chance to pitch a client’s new product. I left the Windy City with great Instagram photos, a stomach full of Chicago hot dogs, and a new connection under my belt. I’d consider that a successful four-day trip.
What did I learn about this situation? Maybe it’s not that important to be entirely offline. Disconnecting is always healthy and a way to stay refreshed, but you never want to be so isolated that you miss opportunities that can happen outside of a cubicle. Another important lesson for professionals my age: there are people out there willing to chat with a newly minted graduate. Put down the cell phone. Nothing beats face to face networking.
, Peter Shankman
, staying connected
, young professionals
When I learned about President Obama saying that entrepreneurs don’t build businesses on their own, I was floored. I was in the process of interviewing a new client who happens to be the founder of a start-up company. He answered a question I asked about how he started the company by saying something about the President’s comment and how he guessed he really didn’t build it himself.
I started Rose Communications in 2003 with zero help from the government. I pay a lot of money in taxes — as a corporation and as an individual. I also pay in three different states because of where my employees are based. I took a lot of risks. I worked (and continue to work) a lot of hours. I taught myself how to start and run a small business. I take great pride having created a sustainable business in a time of economic uncertainty and a work environment that gives people the flexibility to devote time to their families. The President — the one I voted for — has some nerve suggesting I didn’t build this business myself!
After my meeting, I took the time to read about his comments and their context and I quickly realized he wasn’t referring to the actual business when he said, “You didn’t build that.” He was referring to the government-funded infrastructure (like roads, education and research) we all need to be successful. Last night (more than a month later), the speakers at the Republican National Convention continued to hammer this misrepresentation of his words. I guess it’s smart campaign strategy, but as an entrepreneur I found it hard to stomach.
The truth is without the government, I wouldn’t be here. My education at the University of Maryland has played a key role in my success. It was financed entirely by my parents. My father fought in Vietnam and spent his career as a hard-working employee of the United States Department of Labor. I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. The livelihood of many of my family members was and still is tied to the federal government.
Since founding Rose Communications, we’ve won three federal government contracts: two with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and one with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We’ve also done work for the Maryland and DC 529 college savings plans. Not only do those contracts help employ my team, but they are among the more meaningful and interesting assignments we’ve had.
My business is also not unlike a retail store or restaurant in that we need government-funded infrastructure to survive and thrive. Simply put, clients need roads and bridges to drive on to get to our offices — and we need the same to get to them. I also need talent educated in our nation’s public schools in order to serve our clients and grow in the future.
Our system is far from perfect. There’s abuse all over the place. And I am open to voting for anyone from any party who can show HOW they’re going to fix it without demolishing what works. But I am not sitting here anticipating the 10-year anniversary of my business because I did it alone. How could I be that arrogant?
, Republican National Convention
About a week ago, my colleague Ariel and I attended BlogHer ’12, an annual two-day gathering of 5000+ bloggers, most of whom (as the name suggests) are female. It was her first time and it proved a valuable learning experience, as you can read from her post.
My first BlogHer was in 2006, when I went on behalf of our client Weight Watchers Online, who sponsored the event based on our recommendation. there were 750 bloggers in attendance that year and we barely took up the conference space at a small hotel in San Jose. But still, I was impressed by the force of the burgeoning group of influencers.
As I sat at BlogHer ’12, it occurred to me that Ariel was a junior in high school in 2006. I didn’t walk miles barefoot in the snow to get to the conference, but my how things have changed. In 2006:
- No one talked about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. We had to wait until the evening to see what the bloggers were thinking about the event. I recall that they didn’t even offer Wi-Fi (which, of course, was the subject of many posts). In 2012, every session was live tweeted by multiple bloggers using dedicated hashtags.
- There weren’t many brand sponsors. At BlogHer ’12, a session on Brand-Blogger connection played to a packed room as well as an overflow space. I was stunned to hear panelists from Huggies and Hershey speak as though bloggers had to come to them to pitch ideas on how to partner. While they spoke of the importance of “value exchange,” I also heard phrases like, “We use bloggers to … ” and “You are the vehicle to get our message out.”
- Arianna Huffington was the keynote. Now she’s a big deal, but back then the HuffPo was only a year old. This year, there were multiple high-profile speakers, including Martha Stewart, Katie Couric and Soledad O’Brien. Even President Obama addressed attendees live via satellite. I am sure the other speakers were paid top dollar to be there; but, the upgrade speaks volumes about the power of the event and its attendees.
We attend this event to understand how the growing influence of bloggers is impacting traditional media consumption as well as to hear the latest on how brands can navigate the ever-changing landscape to garner exposure. I can’t think of an account we’re handing that blogger relations isn’t part of the mix. And from the looks of BlogHer ’12, that’s not changing any time soon.
, Barack Obama
, BlogHer '12
, Katie Couric
, Martha Stewart
, Soledad O'Brien
Attending my first BlogHer conference a little over a week ago gave me terrible flashbacks to the first day of high school. What if no one talks to me? What if I get lost? What if I sit at the wrong table?
As a young, single non-mother at the largest conference for female bloggers, I definitely felt like a fish out of water. BlogHer does a great job at creating a positive environment for moms who blog. It gives them the resources to make connections with scores of impressive companies who want people to publicly review their products. The expo halls gave me the chance to learn which brands are most effective at marketing themselves to their demographic, but I quickly realized there wasn’t much there for me. Single bloggers have no interest in learning about the benefits of organic baby formula or bringing home samples of Huggies. BlogHer has taken strides to acknowledge that bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, with parties like Social Fiesta for Latinabloggers and the Queerosphere for the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a gaping hole for those looking to connect with other twenty-somethings who write about dating or finding a job after college or trying to become financially independent.
The Voices of the Year community keynote is a must attend for anyone at BlogHer and it didn’t disappoint. I laughed and I cried, but I could not empathize with someone reading her blog posts on lactation. It will be many years before I can understand the complaints of menopause. In the future, I would love to see BlogHer feature one of the incredible young women that are using their blogs to write about life after a tragic accident that left them paralyzed or the importance of living a life filled with happiness. I may even nominate one myself.
BlogHer is so successful, in part, because it provides countless networking opportunities. I tried to have an open mind, hear what others were passionate about, and start conversations with those around me. I may not have children or fully understand the concept of a “crunchy mom,” but I could definitely talk about the importance of a brand-blogger relationship. I had plenty to share and was eager to learn about what these women had learned from working on a blog.
I left the weekend feeling relieved that I had survived my first major blogger conference, with new insights into web analytics and search engine optimization under my belt. I just couldn’t help wishing that I had more of an opportunity to connect with bloggers who were single, unmarried, and without children.
Have you noticed that some conferences and brands still struggle to engage the “non-mom” blogger?
After my third (and progressively worse) bad customer service experience yesterday, I felt compelled to write a post about it. These weren’t complex situations, so I am left wondering why companies still struggle with basic customer service best practices.
First of all, I received a letter from my telephone service informing me that my business credit card was about to expire and I needed to log onto my account and update the info. I never quite understood why Optimum Business needs to charge my credit card in order to make international calls as opposed to including them on our bill with the other services. Perhaps they outsource the capability? Regardless, after I found my username and password and logged onto the site, several attempts to update the information resulted in “credit card not valid” messages. So I called the number on my bill; there was no number on the letter. They had to transfer me two different times to get to the right person who could help me. Ten minutes later, someone was finally able to make the change. That doesn’t include the time I wasted online. Sigh.
Then I called a Marriott hotel in North Carolina to inquire about suite set-up and availability. I am traveling there next month with two colleagues and we always try to be mindful of clients’ budgets by sharing rooms. They transferred me to central reservations where I had to start all over. The person wanted to know which hotel in Raleigh I wanted. I told him the one I called. Okay, maybe my tone was less than patient, but I really didn’t know what it was called. My client recommended the property and simply gave me the phone number to call. Rather than help me figure out which one, he waited for me to offer more information. When I said it was on Sumner Boulevard, I realized he hung up on me. I used to have his job in the 80s when I was a reservationist for Choice Hotels (Quality Inn, Comfort Inn, et al.). Apparently the technology hasn’t changed much, as it seems he should have known which location sent him the call. And my supervisors used to listen in on my calls and critique me. I never would have hung up on a customer. Period.
Then I received an email yesterday from a company I am renting a bouncy house from for my daughter’s birthday party next month that put me over the customer service edge. Now this situation is different because I believe hers is a small business. But I am not sure if that means I should expect more or less. The email was an updated invoice, which included a more expensive product than the one I ordered, with no explanation. When I inquired about the change, she informed me that the original unit came back damaged and the new one was the closest match. It was more expensive because it has a basketball hoop attached. Overlooking the fact that she should have explained the change and not just sent an updated invoice, I asked her why I wasn’t getting the comparable product for the same price as the item I originally ordered. She explained to me that there was another product at the same price still available and I could have that, but it features a theme that doesn’t work for the party. Or I could get a “Good Neighbor” discount if I could prove to her that I do things for my community with no compensation or benefit. What? Isn’t that discount both compensation and a benefit in and of itself? And besides, what does that have to do with the fact that I am paying a surcharge for a customer damaging the product I originally ordered? When I made those points to her, she insisted she was in the right. She even went so far as to say they fixed the original unit and I could now have it for the lower price … although they won’t sell it as a “premium product.” Seriously? Is this really worth $25? No, so I am letting it go.
Are companies skipping customer service class? Or do they need a refresher? Considering I found myself frustrated three different times yesterday over customer service issues, perhaps it’s me.
, Optimum Business
As a recent graduate and relative newbie to workforce, I consider any opportunity to learn more about this industry worth my time. Last week I attended my first PRSA-NY event as part of their “Meet the Media” series.
I was looking forward to hearing what a panel of technology journalists had to say about their experiences with PR people, especially their biggest complaints. I figured I might as well learn what they hate now, instead of ten years into my career.
As I listened, it became clear how lucky I was to have professors in college who had spent years in this industry. Because I had to take current events quizzes, I developed a habit of staying on top of the news, even while living in a collegiate bubble. One recurring piece of advice from the panelists was to read as many newspapers as possible. There is no comparison between the blurb from a media database that describes a journalist’s beat and actually reading the articles they write. If the number one, unanimous pet peeve reporters have is when public relations people pitch them stories that aren’t relevant, then the simple solution is to start paying attention to their work. This may mean following more people on Twitter, or adding more publications to RSS feed, or adding morning shows to my DVR queue, but I think the extra time spent devouring news will be extremely beneficial.
A good majority of their recommendations can be applied to what we do at Rose Communications. It provided great fodder for discussions over lunch in the office (are journalists still attending trade shows? do they want to receive pitches via social media? is the embargo dead?) and proved that face-to-face meetings are still invaluable.
I look forward to the next Meet the Media event – Morning Shows. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to meet Anderson Cooper.
, media relations
, meet the media