Video

Show me how big your brave is!

Above is the latest music video by Sara Bareilles who is, by far, my favorite musician. According to Sara, the song was inspired by a friend of hers who was having difficulty coming out as a gay adult and Sara wanted to inspire her to be the brave, amazing person that she was.

The first thing I thought when I heard this song was that there are several of my friends who are struggling with self-confidence or finding themselves that I would love to share this song with. Then I got to thinking, why is it that we always want the best for those around us, but we never demand the same of ourselves?

I’m a 28-year-old female who is struggling with a lot of the same confidence, self-awareness, relationship and body image issues as the next young woman. Why don’t I ask myself to be the brave, assertive, confident woman that I know is deep down inside of me? Are we too afraid to practice what we preach?

A perfect example: For years, I’ve operated with two personalities – my personal self and my professional self. I have 2 blogs, 2 Facebook accounts, 2 different personalities.

After pondering this for several weeks, I am challenging myself to be the same breed of brave that I wish for all of my loved ones. I’m going to be me no matter what the situation calls for. That doesn’t mean I’ll be unprofessional in certain situations or stuffy in social encounters, it just means that I will be me.

I’m funny, confident, smart and witty. There’s no reason that the people in my life should be denied that just because I feel like I have to fit into a mold.

I’m always talking about authenticity and living a genuine life – and now it’s time to live it.

Also starting now, I will not have two websites. This will be both my personal and professional site. I haven’t decided how much I’m willing to share with the entire universe without the protection of a pseudonym, but I’m pushing myself to be more open and genuine with myself and my readers.

What do you guys think? Do you live an authentic, brave life?

New beginnings!

ImageI haven’t had a lot of time to update this website in a while, and for that I’m sorry. But, I am excited to announce that for the last 3-ish months, I have been working as the Digital and Social Marketing Specialist at Arizona Science Center and … I LOVE IT!  It keeps me busy and I love the mission – to inspire, educate and entertain people of all ages about science! 

It’s amazing to walk around the Science Center on any given day and see the excitement and inspiration in the children’s, and often-times adult’s, eyes! 

Do not worry, though. I won’t give up on pursuing my own passions and updating my own website. There’s been a lot that I’ve been thinking about that I want to share with you guys. Stay tuned! 

What I’m Reading Wednesday

I haven’t had a whole lot of time this week to write, so I apologize for the lack of intriguing, exciting posts. But, I have fun news coming up so stay tuned!

The second edition of “What I’m Reading Wednesday” is a doozy! There are so many good things going around the ‘net this week that I have to share a couple of them. What are y’all reading this week?

In my ever-loving online stalking of Post Planner, I found their Status Idea Engine. It’s really fun and gives you a ton of ideas for social media statuses. Even if you don’t use any of them, it’s worth a look. They’re pretty excellent!!

HubSpot has featured an awesome blog this week titled “30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore.” It’s amazing and full of great advice that everyone – especially those who are new to the social media scene and are looking for some guidance. A couple of my favorite “myths” in this piece are:

  • You need to be on every single social network
  • You don’t need email
  • You can automate all of your updates

A couple of other posts I’m obsessed with this week: Social Media Examiner’s “21 Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros” and Inc’s “12 Great Motivational Quotes for 2013.”  While you’re on Inc.com, also check out “10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day.”

What I’m Reading Wednesday

I just made up a new favorite day on my site – What I’m Reading Wednesday. 

I read so many things every.single.day. They may be industry-related news, baseball stories, new FB pages I found, photos, whatever. I have so many interests that extend beyond social media/marketing, so I’ll make sure to include all of these as well. Be sure to check back every Wednesday for more stories that are fun, exciting, enthralling and whatever other compelling adjectives you want to use! 

ImageI love this infographic from Post Planner. They use Caesar, Joan of Arc and other historical figures to illustrate how to rock Facebook one status at a time.  

From Edgerank to targeting different fans and getting the most out of every single post, this infographic covers it all. Super fun! 

Another jam-packed article from Post Planner is this one: Warning: these 58 Social Media Tips could Explode Your Content Marketing. We all know the over-used saying “Content is King.” This takes you step-by-step through every social media channel and tells you how you can optimize your keywords, posts, target audience, strategies, etc. for the best interaction from your community. 

While we’re talking about Post Planner (can you tell I spent some time cyber stalking their posts this week?) here are a couple more articles worth a read: 7 No-Brainer Tips to Write an Awesome Facebook Post and 9 Surefire Ways to Get More Likes on Your Facebook Page

I’m a huge Jason Falls fan, so I read Social Media Explorer frequently. I like this post a lot: “Great Social Media Requires a Bigger Trash Can – It’s time to start throwing away more content than you publish.” Here’s a great quote from the article: 

“… at the end of the day the social media network doesn’t matter. That’s right, I said it. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Vine or any other social media channel you are using will NOT generate success for your company. Ridiculously amazing content is what generates success.”

And here’s your friendly reminder that BASEBALL SEASON STARTED this week with pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. As my friend likes to point out – “it’s cold, it will be warm, and then cold again before baseball season is over.” I love the long season – how about you? Go Tigers! 

Random ending: I’m really digging this song by Eli Young Band.

You gotta fail a thousand times
before you see it through.
you gotta spend your last dime
before you ever make a million.
you gotta know what brought you here
and you gotta lose to persevere.
but it’s the way the sun will rise
through the darkest night.
yeah it’s always been worth the fight.

Define: authenticness

I make up my own words. I’m funny, inappropriate, kind, intelligent, driven and nothing if not genuine.

These traits define my authenticity.

crushitI am deep into Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Crush it!” I’ve had the book for about a year, but have never gotten around to reading it. I think I was waiting until I could really devour and understand the principles. It may be what I’m going through right now (read:  starting my own consulting business), but I think it has more to do with my “life stage.”

I hate to get all hooey on you, but I think it’s true. A year ago, I wouldn’t have had the guts to do what I’m doing today. I wouldn’t have had the drive or the desire to do something outside of my comfort zone.

Today, I’m ready to make a change. I’m ready to live and breathe my passion and “Crush it!” is helping me do so. One of the major takeaways from the books is that no matter what, you need to be authentic and true to yourself. I’ve gotten so caught up in doing what’s right, politically correct and what’s expected that I forget to infuse my writing, my brand and my life with my charm and wit.

So, I’m making this promise to you – no matter what I end up doing “for a living” and no matter what I post here, I will be genuine and authentic.

Here are a couple of my favorite passages from “Crush it!” so far:

“Did you jump up every morning eager to go to that job you lost? If not, why are you looking for another one just like it? You have an unbelievable opportunity. Use this extra time you have to reinvent yourself or follow a totally different path from the one you were on before.”

“Do what makes you happy. Keep it simple. Do the research. Work hard. Look ahead.”

“There no longer has to be a difference between who you are and what you do.”

“Authenticity is key.”

“Honesty has got to be at your core.”

“Opportunity lies in transparency.”

“Your brand will be unique and interesting because you are unique and interesting.”

Connecting with the Community & Media via Social Media

Guest post for www.ConnectedCops.net

So your agency has decided to participate in social media. You’ve sent out a couple Tweets and Facebook updates but there’s been no response. Is anyone listening?

Many law enforcement agencies use social media as a one-way, notification tool, but Screen shot 2013-02-04 at 3.40.55 PMthere are other agencies that are successfully using social media as a communication tool. The three keys to law enforcement communication through social media are:

  • content
  • consistency
  • sharing

Content 
Content is the most important factor in your social media efforts.
Content can include traffic alerts, breaking news, event postings, department news, press releases, crisis communication, photos and videos from in the field and responses to questions or comments from the community and the media.

Once you decide what you’ll be saying you need to consider how you’ll say it. As a former reporter, I can tell you that I wanted and needed frequent communication with my sources. Social media has become a place where reporters can get information and ask follow-up questions. Think about it: instead of fielding a dozen phone calls from local reporters, post a link to a media release and answer a couple questions. This saves you and the reporter time and energy. And, it’ll build your credibility with the media and show reporters that you care about getting out timely information and fielding their questions.

Also, don’t be afraid to become more personal with reporters via social media. If they ask a question or post something interesting, don’t hesitate in responding. This gives your agency a human face and makes you much more approachable for questions or media requests.

And while you’re answering questions, make sure to post a few of your own. Setting up polls or posting questions or quizzes will drive discussion and will encourage feedback. Agencies should also be prepared for unwelcome communication. Lynn Hightower, communications director for the Boise (Idaho) Police Department, says being prepared for any type of question or comment is key in your social media planning. “Even if you don’t ask for interaction, citizens will have questions and comments on community issues and they will try to reach out to your agency for answers and feedback,” she said. “To ignore those inquiries would not send a positive message. Agencies using social media should plan ahead for the types of interaction likely to come their way and be prepared.”

Dionne Waugh, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for the Richmond (Virginia) Police Department, said her agency has gotten a lot of positive reaction to their Daily Good News Item and the Officer, Sergeant and Civilian of the Month videos and notes. “I think this is because they give people insight into the department and the great work of employees they normally wouldn’t hear about,” she said. “On the flip side, we’ve seen a lot of debate when we post mugshots from our prostitution stings. Depending on the operation and manpower, we post both the prostitutes’ and the johns’ photos. I don’t consider this a negative reaction. I think it’s a good thing when we can generate debate between people about the best way to reduce crime.”

Consistency
Almost as important as content is the frequency which you post to social media. As Waugh said above, Richmond PD gets a lot of great response to their regular features and Boise Police Department has gotten great response from its daily Twitter traffic tip. People come to rely on these daily, weekly or monthly nuggets of information. And, as you can see, they don’t need to be huge, breaking news stories. They can be something as simple as a profile of an officer or a construction update. Each of these regular postings leads to increased agency visibility and better recognition as a trusted source of information.

Also, think about the timing of your messages. If you have a message you really want the community to read, make sure to send them at peak social media traffic times – 7 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. These are the times people are waking up, eating lunch, winding down at work and settling in for the night, and they are much more likely to see your message at the top of their news feeds, instead of wading through hundreds of messages before seeing your hour-old alert.

If you have a really big story you want covered by the media, try thinking of when a reporter is most likely to need a story to cover – at the end of the week. On Thursdays and Fridays reporters are trying to find stories to fill the weekend editions.

Sharing
Retweeting on Twitter or reposting information from reliable sources will help your cause two-fold – you’ll be seen as a consistent, reliable source of interesting information and the community will start coming to you for updates. You will also be seen by those who originally sent out the information and your information is more likely to be retweeted and reposted by those people. It’s another important tool in the social media toolbox for communication and information sharing.

Apply Business Strategies to your Agency’s Social Media Plan

Guest post for www.ConnectedCops.net

connected copsSome of the biggest hurdles in building an agency’s social media strategy comes right out of the starting gate: How do you get started? What are you supposed to post? How are you supposed to interact with the community?

By applying business strategies to your agency’s social media plan, you define clear-cut goals and objectives and develop relationships through social media communications.

Step one: Define and analyze your target audience
Your first step is to define your audience. Will your agency target the public? Other law enforcement agencies? Prospective recruits? The media? By narrowing your focus to one or two of these target audiences, you will help your agency craft more meaningful communications. If you target too many different audiences, your messages will seem random and insignificant.

In this research phase, you will also need to analyze how your audience uses social media. You’ll need to determine what mediums they use and how they use them. If your audience is primarily using Myspace and Twitter to talk about local news, you’ll not be serving your target audience’s best interests if you decide to use Facebook and Nixle to give them the weather report. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience for input – create an online message board to ask which mediums people use and why they use them, or ask citizens face-to-face while you’re patrolling the community.

Step two: Define your brand
A brand is an image, slogan, symbol or anything that can be used to define a business, agency or organization. Your agency’s social media brand is going to be what your audience should and will expect from your agency. You should start defining your brand by asking, “What sets us apart?” You can’t be all things to all people on social media, so a best practice is to pick one or two things to focus your efforts on. Your focus becomes your brand.

Will your agency’s brand be public safety? Traffic problems and patterns? Emergency management? Community events and issues? By choosing a focus, your agency brands itself as the authority on tips for avoiding that messy construction zone or a resource for reporters with public safety questions.

Step three: Define your message and personality
Once you define your agency’s brand, you should be able to craft messages fairly easily. The key to connecting with people is to remember that social media is just that – social. Remember that people connect to people – not businesses or agencies. Your social media sites should include the name and photo of the person maintaining the account. Separate accounts for officers or other departments can also help your audience relate to the agency.

It’s also a good rule of thumb to include one personal or anecdotal post for every four official posts. This will show your followers that not only do you have a lot of great information, but you’re also a person with a life, just like them. Try asking them how their weekends were, or what community events they’re taking part in this week. Not only will you gain information about what people in your community are doing and where they’re going, but you’ll also be surprised at the personal interaction you’ll get.