Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vanity Fair's misstep on the 2008 Green issue

While Miley Cyrus's photoshoot maybe the talk of the hallways over at Vanity Fair, I think they have bigger problems - that of leadership. This month every magazine had their version of a Green issue. Finally, it seems that the wake-up call to protect the environment and reverse some of the damage we've done is reaching the mainstream. Last year I was so impressed withVanity Fair's Green issue that I subscribed to the magazine. When this year's Green issue arrived in my mailbox, I couldn't wait to read through it. And now I'm completely confused.

In spite of all of the incredible innovation and creativity happening in the world of sustainability, this year's VF Green issue simply rehashed the same old topics and players that have been kicking around for years. I didn't see anything about entrepreneurs with green-collar jobs, young companies that are making a big difference (i.e., Method), the growing popularity of CSA's, or the locavore trend. All of these are timely, trendy topics in Green. Rather than the fine reporting I've come to admire in VF, this issue's features are pretty much the same as those found in nearly every mass media source. 

And then to add insult to injury, there's a double-sided, heavy stock coupon for cigarettes right in the middle of the magazine! I guess I'm supposed to feel better that at least the tobacco is "additive-free", the coupon is printed on recycled paper, and the executives at the tobacco company are "passionate about the environment" and have organic growing programs. Gross - the ad was an exercise in how many environmental buzzword the company could haphazardly throw together on one sheet of paper.  Their product still causes illness, and is not part of a healthy lifestyle. Healthy living is exactly what Green is all about! What was the VF advertising department thinking when they accepted and prominently featured that ad? Clearly, they weren't thinking at all. 

Here's to hoping that VF makes better choices in the 2009 Green issue and that the rest of us take-away the power of being genuine. The damage being anything less than genuine can cause is not something any company can afford.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blogging the competition: adver-blogging

On frogblog today, Tim Leberecht discusses a small group of corporate blogs that we are now seeing pop up. Brew blog is one example. It's run by Miller Brewing Company, and rather than promote Miller, the writers spend their time chronicling the fumblings of its biggest rival, Anheuser-Busch. Ick - is this what we're going to do with our new connectivity tools? Use them and spend our time bashing one another? I'd be disappointed in any company who engaged in this kind of activity, and what's more, I'd stop patronizing the brand doing the adver-blogging.

The theory of glass houses applies. I understand wanting to keep tabs on your competition. I understanding wanting to your own horn to drum up business. But just as it does so often with political campaigns, I think the people and companies doing the bashing will ultimately get bashed themselves, with a vengeance.

I hope that we don't see this emerge as a growing trend. I'm much more interested in hearing a company's own stories in their own words. See Tim's original post at

Monday, April 28, 2008

McDonald's attempts to answer the age-old question:

I love that companies are getting on the gaming bandwagon. I'm tired of company websites that don't make an effort to entertain me while I'm there. I was a huge fan of the Elf Yourself Christmas card from Office Max this past holiday season - I sent my elffed-self tap, tap, tapping along to everyone I know. These kinds of things can seriously amuse me for hours.

Now McDonald's has come out with a new and improved version of the elf game through it's website Concepted and designed by Steve Baer and the cool folks over at The Game Agency, the site lets you choose which side you'd like to be (chicken or egg), and then lets you put your face into the character, select the theme of the dance off, the genre of music, and then a series of five dance moves. "You" then face off with the character from the other side, and are scored by the computer. At the very top of the screen, you'll see a total collection of points for everyone who's made themselves a chicken or an egg, allowing you to unite with fellow debaters of this timeless question. Think of it as Dancing with the Stars for fast food. Thank you McDonald's for filling the elf void in my life! badabababa, I'm lovin' it!

Build your own sequence, and enjoy a litte boogie time courtesy of McDonald's. You deserve a break today.

What does "Curating a Creative Life" mean?

Many, many thanks to Janet Grace Riehl who left a comment on my recent post about how music and art can tap into a part of the mind that has been damaged to "re-teach" it. That post deals with a kind of therapy known as melodic intonation therapy. In a nutshell, the therapy teaches people to speak after a stroke by teaching them first to sing. Janet shared a very personal story about her mom, and I am very grateful for her comment.

She also asked if I could say a bit about the subtitle of my blog "Curating a Creative Life" and I realized that I may have always talked about this in a round-about fashion though never specifically discussed my philosophy on it. When I first moved to New York City over a decade ago, I was entranced by the window dressers of the department stores. And I was taken by set designs I saw in the theatres I worked in and by exhibits in so many of the incredible museums that make their home in New York. I wanted so much be someone who designs and chooses what goes where and how it all hangs together. I wanted to be a curator.

I went about my professional life thinking that design was beyond me, something that only the elite had a right to do as a profession. So, I put my business skills to work and toured with theatre shows, and later got into fundraising. I went to business school for my MBA, and now work for a toy company. All the while, I have been meeting interesting people in interesting places all over the world, and collecting their stories and my reactions to their stories. I recorded them in a journal for a very long time and now I write on this blog. In addition to my interest in curating, I am also intensely interested in narrative and story lines. I am a writer. And now I curate that writing.

"The hardest thing in the world is deciding what matters," says Susan Monk Kidd in The Secret Lives of Bees. She right; it is always hard to choose. There are so many amazing things to do and see and be in this world. Our job, our only job, is to choose which experiences, places, and people are the ones most deserving of our time. We are choosing, and therefore curating, the different pieces of our lives. Our lives are creations always evolving, morphing into something different than they were yesterday. With every new interaction, there is a new learning and we incorporate that, somehow, into how we approach the next interaction, and so on.

Like a museum curator chooses what to put in the exhibit and where to put it, we all choose where and when and with whom to place the events that make up our lives. We are all creatives, carefully weaving a tapestry of the events, people, and places that make up our lives, designers of the highest order.

Thank you, again, Janet!

The photo above can be found at

How to make, do, fix everything

There is no shortage in the world of people and their respective websites that tell you how to do something. A few months ago I found a site that is actually created by Barnes and Noble, Quamut. I've been poking around on it. Very well-written, very dense, and the number of topics is incredibly broad.

The New York Times did a piece on Quamut with some interesting insights. I won't steal their thunder and will just provide the link: Instead, I want to focus on the generosity of these sites. In an effort to virtually "strut their stuff", experts are on-line writing out more how-to manuals than ever before. All for free. If you want to learn to play the guitar, fix a toaster, or hike the Appalachian Trail, someone (and likely many people) want to give you instructions, tips, tricks of the trade, and their experience.

Who says the world is a selfish place? Check out

Sunday, April 27, 2008

GEL 2008: Bridget Duffy

If there is any industry that needs a major make-over, it's health care. And if I or anyone I know ever needs a major procedure done, I am am likely to make the decision to choose the Cleveland Clinic as a result of Bridget Duffy's talk at GEL. She is an accomplished doctor, as well as the Clinic's Chief Innovation Officer. She's involved with everything from empathy projects to redesigning the hospital gown. Originally she wanted her title to be "Chief Empathy Officer" - that's how much she believes in empathy's value.

Empathy is a funny thing. Kids have tons of it. In our early adult years through midlife, we lose a large amount of it, and then as we move into our later years, we revert back to our empathic capacity from childhood. So we have it - we are born with it. And like the creative spirit, we bury it somewhere deep within our recesses, until some life-altering event brings it back. Our challenge is to find a way to keep our empathy from being beaten down in the wake our busy lives.

My favorite quote from Bridget's talk: "Everyone needs GPS - a guide to take them through every system. And companies need it, too."

GEL 2008: Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky is a professor who studies media, intently. During his GEL talk this year, he spoke about the changing role of newspapers, and all major media outlets for that matter. And his ideas are thought-provoking. Newspapers would be wise to follow his lead in order to stay alive.

Newspapers were begun as a way to disseminate information. Radio and TV have followed this same lead. Today, they are not so much information designators (bloggers can on-line news sources can do that much faster and much more conveniently). They are now taking on the role of being "places" where coordination is happening. Publishing is changing its purpose from printing to acting.

In his book, "Here Comes Everybody", Shirky discusses how individuals are using major media channels to organize themselves, be it for social justice, to demand better services, or to get the word out about a cause, even though they themselves do not belong to the newspaper staffs. Said another way, we as a society have moved from following news to the news following us, or creating and reporting the news ourselves. Mass media's challenge is to figure out how to best serve the people by providing new, more useful coordinating tools.

My favorite quotes from his talk, "Thinking is for doing." ~ William James and "If you have the same problem for a long time, maybe it's not a problem. It's a fact."

GEL2008 - making time for special moments

There are a pile of posts just waiting to be written about my experience at the GEL conference. They will be coming shortly. There are a few points that I think are worth making in a separate post.

I have never been to this type of conference - it's not focused on a particular industry, but a particular aspect of every industry. Good (G) Experience (E) Live (L). From the first female film maker in the UAE to the Chief Innovation Officer at the Cleveland Clinic to a Brew Master, this conference was filled with speakers and participants that are all interested in making time for and creating special moments for employees, for customers, and inspiring others by reaching out and sharing the stories. This is particularly interesting to me because of my early career in theatre, which was very much focused on experience and taking people out of their element by sharing a story with them.

The first day of GEL2008 was filled with different activities to choose from - I chose the game of Werewolf and a trip to a farmstead cheese farm in NJ. And then Day 2 had a slate of speakers, most of whom I had never heard of. I walked away inspired and energized. I felt like the creativity of the world was buzzing all around me. It was empowering, and made me believe that there is no end to the extent of the work and impact that impassioned people can have.

Posts to come on the speakers...stay tuned.

GEL2008: Werewolf - the best party game ever

My first activity for the GEL conference was learning and playing the game Werewolf. I m now obsessed and planning my first "Werewolf" party. It's a game of trickery, deceit, and cunning. It's also tough to imagine walking away from it. I learned it from Charlie Todd, a comedian and creator of ImprovEverywhere, and his team of highly skilled players.

What you'll need:
a deck of cards with two aces, a king, a queen, a jack, and as many numbered cards as needed to have a card for everyone playing
at least 8 people

The moderator (no card)
Two Aces - werewolves
King - doctor
Queen - fortune teller
Jack - hunter
Number cards - townspeople

Object of the game:
For the werewolves: to kill all the townspeople
For the townspeople: to kill the werewolves

There are two cycles to the game:
Night: everyone is asleep. at the moderator's command, each werewolf wakes up separately and silently points to choose someone to kill. (They must choose the same person in order for that person to die and be out of the game.) The fortune teller wakes up and may silently point to ask the moderator if any one person is a werewolf. The doctor wakes up and chooses someone to save - if that person has been chosen by both werewolves, the person survives.

Day: everyone's eyes are open and discussion along with accusations of werewolves may be made and voted on. The moderator will let the group know if anyone has died in the night. (If someone dies in the night, they do not reveal their card so the group does not know their role. The group discusses who may be a werewolf. Accusations are made. An accusation must be seconded and then is voted on by the group after the accused takes 10 seconds to defend their position and why they shouldn't be killed. Majority wins. If the person is voted to be killed, they reveal their role by showing their card. If the person holds the jack card, they are allowed to take another person out with them.

So while it may sound rather gruesome, the game is an absolute blast. Even with a group of strangers, it took one round and everyone was hooked.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

GEL Conference 2008 - Let the game begin!

Tomorrow I head to my first innovation conference - the GEL conference. I'll spend the day learning to play Werewolf, visiting a cheese farm, and then partying on behalf of Google with some of the best and brightest innovation minds in the country. We all have one common goal: to generate ideas that inspire and produce the best possible user experiences within our respective companies.

Then Friday, I will head to Times Square to hear from a mixture of artists, scientists, and business executives about their own creative endeavors. What could be better? - oh, yes, it's all happening just a few block away from my apartment, the weather is supposed to be summer-like, and my boss paid for it. I love it when it a plan comes together!

Check back here over the next few days for updates on what I'm learning and who I'm meeting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tom Peters - for FREE

Tom Peters is arguably the greatest mind out there in the field of innovation. I visit his site often and am as bowled over by his generosity as I am by his thinking and writing about innovation. After every talk, he posts his presentations. He makes his latest thinking available on his blog. Why would he do this? He could get a book deal at he drop of a hat. (He wrote In Search of Excellence, the book that some consider to be the best business book ever written.) So why give away the secret sauce?

There are a whole host of reason for giving away knowledge. For one, it creates community and opens you up to learn from others. Tom Peters is an authority on innovation, and authorities publish. And so you might wonder, if I can just read his thinking in a book why would anyone ever hire him? What he put out into the world through his book was his personal brand character. That's also what he puts out on his blog. Who he is and what he believes. People hire him for who he is and what he inspires in others. See sold a lot of books, and those books only helped him further to sell himself and his knowledge.

I highly encourage you to take advantage of all that is truly free in life - take a look at what Tom has to offer:

A stroke victim learns to speak through song

I find is fascinating that speech is formed by the left side of our brain, while singing, though it uses the same muscles, is formed on the right side of the brain. That division may have saved Mr. Harvey Alter, a stroke survivor, from never being able to speak again.

After his stroke, and the resulting Broca's aphasia that is caused, Mr. Alter could say only short words after month of therapy. Now, the conversation is flowing with much less difficulty thanks to melodic intonation therapy, a therapy that helps stroke victims learn to speak again by first teaching them to sing.

In today's New York Times(, the details of the therapy, as well as Harvey Alter's dramatic recovery are both touching and inspiring. "Happy Birthday" opened the door to a new life for him, the confidence to believe that he could heal himself. So while music may be good for the soul, melodic intonation therapy makes it also good for the mind.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Scruppies unite!

We couldn't let Earth Day go by without another new vocabulary word in the lexicon of sustainability. This one is actually fun to say! Scruppies is defined as "socially conscious upwardly mobile persons." Me (God-willing on the upwardly mobile part), for example.

I grew up in a rural area where being Green was just the way we lived. We'd never pollute the land we had to live on because, well, we had to live there. We bought food at the farmer's markets because we were friends with the farmers. We shut off lights and rarely had air conditioning because it was just too expensive. We used items until they wore out, and then had them repaired rather than tossing them because that makes economic sense.

So now that I'm college educated twice-over and have a good job, I want to be financially independent and successful while also hanging onto my roots of only using the resources I absolutely need and doing my part to make the planet a cleaner, healthier place. Simple enough. Apparently, I'm not alone. There are so many of us who fit this category that we have numbers large enough to justify our own demographic segment: scruppies.

Persistence pays. Happy Earth Day to all!

The photo above can be found at

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Derek Paravicini - a musical marvel

I receive a daily email from an organization called Daily Good. I've blogged about them before - they're about sharing inspirational stories across many different topics. I believe they provide a greater service than their humble mission statement states - they give me a big fat wake-up call, jolting me out of even a twinge of self-pity I may be feeling. They make me grateful.

Today, Stephen Moss writes about an incredibly special musician, Derek Paravicini. 27-years old, Derek has severe mental challenges that make him incapable of caring for himself. Still, his musical creativity is not only intact but far superior than nearly the entire human population. Play him a song, any song, once and he will repeat it back through the piano perfectly. 

Can technology self-adjust?

My friend, Jon, recently sent me an article from The Telegraph on websites that "grow and develop", just as humans due, raising the question of whether or not technology can abide by the laws of Darwinism. Can websites be programmed so the ones that are most adaptive to change survive, and those that are rigid and "set in their ways" perish? This takes the idea of user-generated content to a whole new level.

Human creativity, collectively, is able to alter technology over a number of iterations with these websites. The colors, fonts, and usability changes as the technology collect information by users of what they found appealing or unappealing, the links they clicked (or didn't click) on. Think of what this could do for blogs or mass media information sources? Bloggers and reporters are constantly guessing what type of content would be most interesting and provocative to readers. Imagine if the readers could play direct hand in the alterations?!

This technology is in its early stages, though it's easy to imagine all the different paths this type of innovation could create for us, or rather the paths we would be able to create for ourselves. What technology could human creativity synthesize using the same process that nature has followed for so many centuries? This invention could be the very height of biomimicry. Learn more at about the project and Matthew Hockenberry, the director of the Creative Synthesis Collaborative at

Friday, April 18, 2008

Google-Powered Search Engine Goes Green with

"Green is the new black" is all over NYC lately - t-shirts, bags, TV commercials, street posters. Saving the environment is coolest hobby these days. Now Heap Media has partnered with Google to take a creative bent on search making "Black the new Green" with

Instead of Google's traditional white search window,'s window is black with white type, saving about 15 watts per search. I learned about through the Centerfor Biodiversity's weekly newsletter that I receive each Friday. One blogger has estimated that if is widely adopted, it could save the world 750 megawatts / year. (This amount of energy would power 500 US homes for about 2 years!) In additional to savings energy, and ultimately money, the search engine is also a powerful reminder that protecting the environment is important. It keeps the cause top-of-mind.

Check it out at
To subscribe to the Center for Biodiversity's weekly newsletter, visit

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meet Randy Pausch

If you haven't heard of Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, you need to. Via his book (just released this week), his blog charting his fight against pancreatic cancer, and his You Tube videos, he is by every measure a man of great character, charisma, and strength. He will inspire you to squeeze every last drop out of life; his story will make you grateful for your health, your family, your friends, and your work.

Shortly after being diagnosed, Dr. Pausch gave what he called "The Last Lecture", which is also the title of his recent book. With such little time left in his life, he wants to spend as much of it with his family as possible and he was worried that the task of writing a book about the lecture would consume too much of his energy. As with all worthy projects, if there's a will, there's a creative solution to get it done. Dr. Pausch literally spoke the lecture and the story behind it to his collaborator, Jeff Zaslow, on 53 one-hour bike rides. He rides his bike daily to keep himself in the best shape possible.

"The Last Lecture" is a 75 minute talk that dispenses the wisdom he's gained that he wishes he had time to pass on to his children. The subtitle is "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". To date, 10 million people have logged on to watch the video on You Tube and through the Carnegie Mellon site. Join them!

Lecture on the CMU site:
A recent article in the New York Times Health section about Dr. Pausch:
You Tube:
Randy's blog:
Buy the book:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Omnitasking: the latest buzz word to feed our frenzy for efficiency

I'm scared. Really scared for all of us. Instances of insomnia are rising, stress levels among Americans are at an all-time high. At this rate, burn-out may actually become a diagnosable disease. In my bio on this blog you will read that I am a "recovering multi-tasker." Like most people recovering from an addiction to anything, it's my continuous commitment to myself to not get caught in the trap of always thinking I must do 18 things at once.

So imagine my horror when I learned about the latest term in task-ology: omnitasking, meaning that you are working on tasks at every moment from everywhere. I was almost seized by tremors and an enormous migraine just thinking about being an omnitasker. Zippo downtime. Frightening.

I also think this may be the universe's reminder to me that it's time to back away, slowly, from the frenzy and the pressure that reading posts like cause me. With omnitasking, there is no time for reflection, or even enjoying the task at hand. You must always be looking ahead, to the next task that needs completion. And that kind of behavior kills creativity, literally forces you to ignore any kind of intuition senors that we may have.

There have been a lot of scientific studies that come to the conclusion that multi-tasking beyond a certain point actually lowers our IQ. Taking that one step further, does omnitasking do away with our intelligence altogether?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Live Bloggers on the Inside: the Iraq Hearings

Photographers, main stream media journalists, and videographers have a tough time getting into some spaces and collecting the information for their stories in real time. This past week, General Patraeus testified in front of Congress at the Iraq hearings. Though film crews could not immediately get the scoop into stations across the country, bloggers in the court room were getting the information out into the streets on cyberspace as the testimony unfolded. The Lede blog from the New York Times did a terrific job covering the conference. Check out the coverage of the Lede blog at

I am especially interested in this kind of coverage because of my experience in live blogging. This is just one poignant example of the power of immediate publishing. While newspaper and magazine articles, as well as newscasts, have some time to work through the material and polish it up,l live bloggers give the story and the feeling of the event as it's happening. It's the next best thing to a ringside seat at any event.

All of this leads me to believe that it's possible that live bloggers are the go-to journalists and archivists of the future. Why wait for the nightly news, or for the morning paper, when you can virtually be at the event yourself? Even old world media is adopting what many companies in other industries have known all along: speed is life. And if the largest of the media institutions are to survive, live bloggers may be just the lifeline they need.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The occupational hazard of blogging and other creative outlets

This week, the New York Times ran a story on three prolific bloggers who, it is believed, blogged themselves to death. ( The stress of the constant need to publish as quickly and as often as humanly possible caused them to fall into poor health. Several friends immediately sent me the article, knowing that I try as best as I can to publish daily on my own blog. I don't always make it, though I am always on the look out for new content and new ideas.

I feel terrible for the families and friends of these writers, the oldest of which was only 60. It is always tragic to see anyone consumed by what they love. I read the article closely, several times, and there are a few things that on the surface I feel may have saved these people. I hope by sharing them with you that they may help other people who feel obsessed with their jobs for whatever reason.

I completely understand insomnia - I've suffered with it for most of my life. I understand anxiety about money - I grew up in a family with very little, and only recently have been able to breath a bit easier about my finances. There were a few huge things in my life that have made a difference in my level of anxiety - I consciously decide to not be a workaholic, and I practice yoga every day, no matter how short an amount of time.

When I worked in DC, some of my office mates would make fun of me because at 5:30, nearly every day, I was out the door. I would feel angry about their teasing sometime, though most of the time I let it go. My mom works herself to the bone. I mean to the absolute brink. It was painful for me, as a kid, to watch her. A year and a half ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and from her recovery bed, she was on her computer. Some call this dedication. There's no denying my mom is a dedicated woman; unfortunately, she is dedicated to a fault. A very large fault, that very easily could cost her, and her children, her life.

Even today, I will come in early, I will work on things at home at night, but I never, and I mean never, allow myself to fall into the habit of staying in the office past 5:30. On occasion, I get it - deadlines pop up, and an occasional late night is necessary. When I went looking for a job after business school, I was adamant about finding one that afforded me a life and time to live it. This is a conscious choice - I ALWAYS have more work, I could always be doing more. I choose to let it lie for the next day. I could very easily become a workaholic; it's in my blood. I fight that temptation every step of the way, and I refuse to back down in the face of my impulse to work "just a little bit more".

Yoga, quite honestly, saved my life. It helped me forgive a lot of sadness and disappointment. It helped me cope during times of extreme stress. It gave me the strength to get up, again and again, with an open heart. It is a discipline. After years of practice, I can sleep, in relative peace. And when I can, where I can, I am out in the world singing yoga's praises, sharing my knowledge about it. Everyone needs a healthy release - yoga is mine.

Anything in the world can get the best of you - food, drugs, gambling, smoking, love, an obsessive hobby, and yes, work, no matter what field you're in. You have more control over you than anyone in the word, whether you realize it or not. At every moment we have a choice. If we are doing something, anything, that harms us, it's easier to blame someone else. Our boss, our romantic partner, our friends. The truth is others control us when we allow them to. Ultimately, our happiness, the very activities that compose our lives, are all choices. And choosing what to do among many options is the hardest, and most important, task we have. I consciously remind myself every morning that my time is the most valuable resource in the world, and I treat it accordingly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Let Crayola Eat Cake: Chef Duff from Ace of Cakes Visits Toys R Us Times Square for the 50th Birthday of Crayola's 64-count Box

My grandpa was a candy maker so loving sweets of all kinds is in my blood. And my sweet of choice: cake. So when my boss, Bob, mentioned that I could join him at the Toys R Us Times Square store for the 50th birthday of Crayola's 64-count box, I was ecstatic. Chef Duff from Ace of Cakes would be there presenting the centerpiece of every good birthday - the cake. It took 15 people two days to craft a perfect over-sized replica of the 64-count Crayola crayon box. And I can verify for you that after meeting him, he is as much fun and as down-to-Earth as he appears on the show, one of my favorite programs on TV. 

I arrived slightly before 9:00am, and the second floor of the store was already buzzing. PR, cameras, lights, even Dr. Crayola! And in the middle of all those glorious spotlights, this stunning cake and Chef Duff situating it to make sure it looked absolutely perfect at the unveiling. Bob did some b-roll prior to Dr. Crayola taking the stage, and then we had to hurry off to get Bob back for a meeting at the corporate office. 

The golden anniversary of Crayola's 64-count box was a smashing success - a PR manager's media dream: all the major networks, happy kids, and smiles filled with cake. To celebrate the occasion, Crayola held an on-line poll of kids to choose eight new Crayola colors. Looking at them, you have to smile. After all, they have names like "super happy", a bright, sunny yellow. Who doesn't have happy, creative memories of spending childhood hours coloring? (Fun fact - every year, U.S. children spend a collective 6.3 million hours coloring!) And what better way to celebrate than to let them all eat cake with Duff?!  

If you'd like to check out some pictures of the cake in the making at Charm City Cakes, visit

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What we can learn about creativity from those who suffer from FTD

Today's Health section of the New York Times explored the case of Dr. Anne Adams. She had a rare brain disease known as FTD, frontotemporal dementia. The frontal cortex of her brain, which controls reasoning and planning, began to deteriorate while her right posterior brain, the part that controls creativity, blossomed. Her art, like that pictured at the top of this blog post, grew in complexity.

Just as someone who is blind develops a more keen sense of hearing, Dr. Adams's creativity grew at the expense of her reasoning. An extreme case, the more Dr. Adams let go of her rational mind, the stronger her creative senses became. Eventually FTD overcame Dr. Adams, though the experience of her last few years has much to teach us about the artistic capabilities that lie dormant in all of our minds.

What if we could put reason aside, temporarily? What if we could silence our inner critic, what if we could put aside judgements and inhibitions, and just pick up a guitar, a paintbrush, a pen?Create whatever it is that floats in and out of our minds, without trying to connect the dots. What creative possibilities do have within us that we, unconsciously, silence every day for the sake of reason? Dr. Adams provides a strong example of our potential.  

Read the original article at

The Roundabout Theatre Company Connects the Dots: Sunday in the Park with George

The Roundabout Theatre Company was my first professional theatre job. I stayed for about a year, fresh out of undergrad. I have continued to follow their climb, and smile at their continued success. Todd Haimes is without a doubt a brilliant and masterful artistic director.

Though they don't blog, they have begun to venture into the world of social media with videocasts and YouTube pieces. Their production of Sunday in the Park with George is currently playing at Studio 54. The show's book was written by James Lapine, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical was inspired by the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat.

Composed of many tiny "pixels", the Roundabout has invited anyone and everyone to contribute their own photograph to be one of the many tiny images that will make up a re-creation of the painting's dots, a la Chuck Close. I love this because it asks people to contribute something specific and personal. As a community, we build something together and the Roundabout will send updates periodically to let us know how the progress is going. You can also leave messages for people who have contributed their photos.

In social media, there's a place for everyone to play, an opportunity for all of us to contribute to the conversation. It's all about telling your story in your own voice, in a way that makes sense for you organization. To contribute your photo to the Roundabout's project, visit

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Live Blogging Muscle

All new activities have a learning curve, and live blogging is no different. I was so charged up for day 1 of the BlogHer Business Conference that I was having a hard time focusing enough to live blog the small section that I was responsible for on Day 1. I went home that night and I was scared. Granted, this was not a life or death situation. Still, I had volunteered to do this for the kind people at BlogHer and I really wanted to make sure I captured the information that would be helpful to those who weren't able to attend and for those who couldn't get down every concept in every talk.

For Day 2 of the conference, I refined my outlines making the actual blogging easier. I was also in a smaller room which was incredibly helpful. And rather than focusing on my nerves, I focused on the speaker and the information. I wasn't trying to get every single word - I put my effort towards getting every single concept and the big golden nuggets that were being given by the panels and the audience. And with every post, I felt a little more confident, a little more helpful.

This was a great lesson for me in so many ways. When tackling a difficult or new task, we forget that we need to be kind to ourselves, to make sure that inner voice of encouragement comes shining through. We're so qick to let that inner critic have its say, shouldn't our inner champion have the same chance to be heard? And just because a task is hard at first doesn't mean that we throw in the towel or assume that the task will always be hard. There is something to be said for the wonder and magic of practice. I am grateful to BlogHer for the opportunity to challenge myself and learn some valuable lessons, about blogging, and about living.   

The above photo can be found at

Saturday, April 5, 2008

BlogHer Business Conference 2008 - Closing Keynote: You Can't Manufacture Buzz...or can you?

4:30-5:30 PM

Closing Keynote: You Can't Manufacture Buzz...Or Can You?

Synopsis: Admit it: You work with people who think social media is like magic, don't you? If you build it, they will come; you will leap to #1 in search rankings, and everyone who checks out your blog will want to write about it in theirs. The truth is that that elusive brass ring, "buzz," is usually not magic or an accident, but the result of thoughtful strategy and effective execution. Hear about a variety of ways that you, too, can become an "overnight sensation." 

BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page moderates this discussion with some women who have a pretty clear idea on exactly how much work goes into creating the effortless, viral spread of a message:

Melissa Anelli is the webmistress behind prominent Harry Potter fan site, The Leaky Cauldron. She has overseen the site's development as the premier source for Potter info, community and fanfic, and as a validated media outlet that gets the same access and treatment from the publisher, author and studio as more traditional outlets (if not better!) Lots of fans have started and maintained sites, but what has allowed this one to become the sensation it is? Content, community, charitable tie-ins...and an absolute passion doesn't hurt.

You may know Kathryn Finney as The Budget Fashionista. She has leveraged her "love of fashion and lack of cash" into a book and into features and mentions in over 300 major print publications (New York Times, InStyle, Redbook, Wall Street Journal), and over 50 television segments including multiple appearances on NBC's TODAY Show, Good Morning America, and CNN. Now, that's some buzz!

Kerry Miller leads a double-life. By day she is a BusinessWeek reporter, covering small businesses and start-ups...many of them web-based. But she is also the proprietress of A side project that she has grown to a million page views a month by concentrating on content, community...and by getting some well-timed bumps in traffic from influential sources. Kerry believes we all need that devil's advocate who will ask: If you build that, will anyone really want to come?

Live Blog Post Begins:

Elisa – some think blogs are magic. But it needs attention. Hat’s underneath that success?

Melissa – Leaky Cauldron is focused on meeting the insatiable appetite for Harry Potter. The site started in 2000. A couple of friend who realized how popular HP would be. She was trying to be a reporter. But she wanted fans to do their own reporting. In her spare time, she would nag everyone in the HP franchise to talk to them. Media companies eventually saw that this collection of fans was powerful. 

Then started becoming a general purpose site as well. Can’t ever fill the customers’ wants. 

Kathryn – loved fashion, lacked cash. Mom was earliest audience and the only one who logged on. Started using Grey Matter platform. Then diverse audiences started finding her. Mature fashionistas started logging on. Everyone was sort of broke and couldn’t spend so much on clothes and accessories. Remembering your roots is important. Core message is the same – fabulous for less. How to shop a Target, for example. Started in 2003.

Elise – blogs have exploded since 2000. Is the blogging world different? Can you stand out? 

Kerry – started blog in 2000. Media day job. New to blog space. She found a niche very recently that helped her stand out. is a photo blog of a collection of notes from people. Funny, read between the lines kind of notes. Grandmother sent her a note with cookies “Enjoy, but don’t eat too many!” Had been a blog reader for a while. Had a Diary Land page back in 1998. Started her note on a lark. Was on a bad date. Autopilot conversation. Roommates had gotten so bad that they only communicated through post-its. Started it as a joke and mentioned to her date that she should put these notes on-line. And the date said she should. So she did. 

Elise – attribute some of the success of these blogs through luck. 

Kathryn – well, it was luck and SEO. First big break was in January of 2004. AP reporter contacted her after finding her on Google. And then the article was in 150K newspapers. Husband is in tech field. Google wasn’t as huge anymore. Put in key words like “sample sale” increased her traffic ratings on Google. 

Elise – blogs are good for SEO, but keywords and hyper-linking are the keys to making blogs successful. 

Kathryn – content is key. Don’t change it so much that it effects your ability to relate to the audience. 

Melissa – Community helped create the lucky moment. Didn’t know what SEO was until a year ago. Summer before the first HP film was going to be released. Didn’t even have comments on the blog yet. A community member leaked the trailer to the first movie. Their blog was the first to post it. It catapulted the blog. Now there are tons of HP blogs. 5 – 10 minutes can make a difference in who gets the best hits. 

One morning before one of the books was released, they were the first by a few minutes to get a news story and that helped them get quoted in many of the morning papers. Being obsessive about email helps. 

Kathryn – early last year they heard last year that Sarah Jessica Parker was doing a line for Steve and Barry. They got some photos of the clothes. Held the info until they knew that the article was coming out in the newspaper the next day. So they scooped them. But it was just another celebrity with a line. Readers weren’t so psyched. 

Then a few days later, Steve and Barry’s asked for the photos. It became a big issue for them. So the put the question to the readers about whether to take down the photos. Turns out the photos were promised to Oprah and O Magazine. They did take the pics down. When SJP went on Oprah, the blog came up as the number one Google hit, all because of SEO. 

Kerry – also had a lucky moment. A lo of user generated content – she curates it. Less than a 100 page views on May 20th, to 150K then next day once the site was featured on Boing Boing. She knew she wanted to get on there. She had a list that she wanted to get on there. The content is really what’s key. It’s not the technology. 

My site is something that people go to when they’re bored and they want a break, a quick laugh without too much investment.

Melissa – doesn’t post too often anymore. She does other administrative work now. The HP culture is everywhere. We keep the average HP fan informed. 

Kathryn – my site is to let people know where the sales are. Balance the need to want fashion regardless of age, shape, color and not pay a ton for it. We started before the budget trend was big – same year as Isaac Mizrahi went to Target. She also like the forum part and she loves the readers. She’s learned more from them than they learn from her.


Kerry – does one post every week day. Have a backlog of 2000 notes to post. But wants to post slowly. One new thing per day. Don’t want to go crazy and burn out. Have people want more; don’t overwhelm them. 

Jory – there is a pressure on curating, editing, selecting. 

Kathryn – my blog became bigger than me.  Teaching people how to live great lives for less. Truthful, honest opinions. For them, it is all about the readers. 

Melissa – when she allowed the staff to build and let go a bit, it runs like clock work. No one person can do everything. 

Kerry – blog has changed and her writing has adapted to what works and what doesn’t. Hidden jokes. A little intro for each. People come back for the comments. First, had a bar with the most frequent posters. Now, she highlights the best comment every day. 

Question – a good blogger is someone who tends to be hard-headed. What lessons have you learned. 

Kerry – don’t get discouraged by the tyranny of the minority.

Melissa – there is a poll on the blog. Polls are changed fairly often. The comments on the poll are like a chat room. And we just left it alone. And then we changed it so you had to refresh the whole page, not just the comment section and people went nuts. Stay calm. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t engage in the anger. Step back and just let it go. 

Kathryn – now some guys want to get into this space. We had to learn how to communicate to different groups. Fashion bloggers know each other, we’re friends.   

Jory – As you get bigger, there’s a bigger financial interest. What are the pressures that have come along with that? Have people wanted to take advantage of your audiences?

Kathryn – I always put my readers first. They get an opinion. Readers want you to be successful, especially if you are true to who you are. Make money, sure, but be consistent with who you are and what you write about. TJ Maxx sponsored my book tour. Great! If Saks had sponsored it, that wouldn’t make sense. I am about budget fashion. The people who read my blog made me who I am. 

Melissa – No one who works for the site is rich. Everyone has day jobs. We only added ads recently.

Elise – how did you ever grow these sites that allows you to make money to keep supporting them? Content, community, and technology working together. Can you rank the importance?

Kerry – can’t separate them out. You need all three. Get the word out as cheaply as possible, adapt, and be fast to react.

Melissa – Content and community are even. Technology is after those two. 

Kathryn – Content and community are the top two. Blogging platform can come from anywhere.

Kerry – started blog anonymously. Didn’t put name up here because of work at first. Assumed she was a man at first. Because it’s a humor site, people assume it’s a man. Putting her name on the blog has been a positive thing. 

Melissa – put out donation drive when server got so crazy. In one day we got $12,000 from our readers. And then we put up ads. 

Kerry – I didn’t start my blog to make money. Some friends are blogging because they want to show that they have web experience or because they want a book deal. Saying that you know social media can have a value. That changes the ROI.

Kathryn – got book deal in 2004. Did blog and book at the same time. Gained 30 pounds and didn’t sleep. It affected my health. Assess how much your voice is needed on the blog. Writing a book is not an easy process. Probably need to cut down on writing the blog while you’re writing a book.

Melissa – when she was writing a book proposal, she also wrote the blog and had a day job. She quit her job. The day before she left her book sold. 6 -7 months lead up to book, I wrote in the blog, and then as it got closer I stopped writing in the blog.

Elise – passion and dedication and commitment is critical, too.     

Friday, April 4, 2008

BlogHer Business Conference 2008 Day 2 3:00 - 4:15: Beyond Blogging

Title: Beyond Blogging

Track: Social Media Creation Best Practices 

Synopsis: Can companies leverage apps like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on and on? Or are they destined to be considered "creepies"? Apps like these hold tremendous promise, but most of us feel like we're flailing about in uncharted waters. We'll talk with a few folks who have managed to catch lightning in a jar and find a way to authentically generate interest, community and even viral buzz...using these social networking and micro-blogging tools. 

Anna Farmery has focused all of her marketing efforts in social media and seen real results. 65% of her 2007 income can be tracked to contacts who found her via her podcast. Moreover her client base used to include zero customers outside the UK, while now 40% of her customers are global. Adding social networks and microblogging to the mix is only amping up her results even further. Anna will be moderating the discussion with these other power-users. 

Connie Reece is one of the women behind the recent Frozen Peas Fund phenomenon on Twitter. This is an amazing story of social media in positive action. Dawn Foster manages Developer Relations for Jive Software and is an active organizer of the thriving Portland tech community. Between those two jobs she finds using Facebook, Twiiter, Blip.TV and other social apps to be instrumental in helping her foster and maintain engaged communities. 

Shay Pausa is a video expert who can speak to best practices on everything from content to technology to distribution. 

Finally Trisha Okubo can answer that all-important question: Is it worth it for your company to create a Facebook application? She has created three in her role at eBay and has a lot of learnings to share. These are real people representing real companies making real things happen via these tools. It's not all playing around!


Live Blog Post Begins:

A panel full of web stars!!

Connie – uses Twitter to promote her work.

Dawn is a community specialist. On-line and link to real world communities. 

Trisha – a disruptive innovator. 

Shay – Executive producer of “She Knows TV.” A video expert.

Anna – podcaster and blogger. Founded a company called “The Engaging Brand”.

Shay – really important to know that there is so much user-generated video content out there. Recognize that what is looked and what people virally syndicate is the story itself. Now everyone can be a video producer. 

Anna – The thought of producing a video is daunting. 

Shay – what TV through a different eye – watch what they’re shooting. Any guest is only on for seconds at a time. With a series of pictures, you can put together story. This is as sample as getting some movie software. Add visuals to what you’re already writing. 

Anna – does video suit everyone?

Shay – Watch TV and see what you’ll need to produce on the net. There’s a video component that works for everyone. You just don’t want to be boring. Yes everyone has a book in them, but who wants to read it? It’s an important thing to look at. 

Anna – I know how to press record, now what do I do when I get home. 

Shay – need come software to capture it. Pinnacle is a very inexpensive product. Can download for $29.95 onto computer. And then you drag and drop, and cut and chop, to edit. Very easy to use. 

Shay – good sites to publish video are Voxin, Bright Cove (SEO friendly), You Tube, videos on My Space. The general ones you know are good. I recommend Bright Cove. Distribution is phenomenal. Video bio make people feel like they know you – don’t script it. Make it real. 

Michael Eisner said, “The reason that TV production companies are having a tough time on the internet is because it’s difficult to monetize the internet. Networks need 4 people to do craft services. Internet takes 4 people to do the whole project.”

TV production is too cost prohibitive. On-line video is much cheaper. Shay’s site is (4th largest site for women). She owns

All profiles are on the BlogHer website. 

Trisha – works in eBay’s disruptive innovation group. Has been exploring commerce in Facebook. You can learn form mistakes quickly, easily, and cheap. Created my eBay on Facebook to see what friends on Facebook bought. People go to Facebook to hang out, not shop. Shopping is not the reason for going there. More value in putting social aspect on commerce site. Vice versa doesn’t work so well.  

Dawn – can write code and was a developer once. And now has a social and community aspect as well.  Really know your audience and how to reach them. Give them a chance to participate. Done a lot of work in nonprofit area. Can promote events virally. Bring in as many as 800 people advertising on Twitter and Facebook. Incredible response!

Trisha – metrics for Facebook were how many people joined the community. Comments are more valuable though. Some sellers had a community that buys form them on eBay on their Facebook page. 

Connie – tapped into a community that she knew to tell a personal story through twitter. Frozen Pea Fund. Very active in Twitter. She is a social media consultant. Her business partner, Susan, and she met on-line. They were about to launch a company and Susan learned that she had breast cancer. Very serious. Immediate operation. A lot of pain. And Susan took a picture of herself with frozen peas as an ice pack. She shared it all on-line. Her blog was called Someone else put a pkg of frozen peas as their avatar and then the peas went viral. 

A comedian, Kathleen, suggested that wouldn’t it be great if all women donated the cost of a pack of frozen peas to a breast cancer nonprofit. Built flickr group, built pea-vatars. December 21st the frozen pea fund launched. $3500 raised in 15 hours from 3 continents. Raised $8000 in the next few months. 

A journalist tracked her down through Twitter to do a story. All done with no organization, no planning. Here’s a compelling story. Everyone knows someone with breast cancer. Especially men come out to meet Susan every time she appears in public. They trust her even though they only know her on-line. It’s like a reunion to meet people on-line. There is a real community out there.

Anna – how can commerce use Twitter?    

Connie – you have to be careful. You have to limit the use of twitter to make sure you don’t wear out your welcome. She never talks about anything she can’t endorse. You only have so much social capital. So be careful how you use it. The community will give you feedback. When forwarding links, make sure to include a headline.

Trisha – recommends a Profile Page over a Facebok page on Facebook. Put a person behind the page, not just the business. Make it human. Gives context. What can you do for the community on Facebook rather than always thinking vice versa. 

Connie – Facebook sometimes isn’t the best place for companies. Explore social networks where your target audience is. All social networks are not created equal. 

Trisha – aspirational brands, brands that don’t belong, brands that people directly relate to. Go to the network that best speaks to the kind of brand you are. 

Dawn – make sure there is conversation that doesn’t necessarily relate to your brand to make the profile authentic.     

Anna – About 70% of my business comes from my blog and podcast. Facebook didn’t work for me. My customers weren’t there. They want to deal directly with me, not all my other customers. 

Connie – lifespan of something on Twitter is very short. Not as effective as it once was. 

Trisha – There will be another Facebook. Friendfeed is great, it centralizes all your data. It allows you to take all of your services across the web and puts them all together. 

Dawn – Friendfeed is an aggregator and fragments the conversation. 

Connie – something beyond Twitter is coming soon. Sesmic just bought up Twirl this week. Utters is great because it’s portable. But threading these conversations and keeping track is tough.   

Dawn – Some of these social networks are generational. Twitter is 30-somethings. Facebook is college and older. I wonder if our next social network will be centered around another generation. It will be fun to see what happens. 

Connie – ConnieReece on Twitter. is the blog. Frozen

Dawn - Geekygirldawn,

Trisha –

Anna – the, on Twitter as Engaging Brand.

BlogHer Business Conference 2008 Day 2 1:15 - 2:30: Overcoming Internal Objections 101

1:15-2:30 PM

Break-Out Session #2


Title: Overcoming Internal Objections 101

Track: Social Media Creation Best Practices 

Synopsis: As the head of all of Google's internal and external blogging efforts, Karen Wickre has seen and heard it all. Every objection, every concern, every barrier. Karen will moderate a discussion about how to answer the objections and concerns that arise when trying to sell a social media program internally. She'll be joined by experts who have successfully made the case for blogging at companies large and small, bureaucratic and free-wheeling, including: 

Yvonne Divita, who has gotten Purina dipping a toe and then diving right into blogging 

Lena West, an expert on helping companies figure out how to manage their time and resources to enable a social media program. 

Margaret Gurowitz will talk about managing her blog Kilmer House, a company blog at J&J, a company with a policy of no company blogs! 

Social Media Creation Best Practices Track is brought to you by Ogilvy's

Live Blog Post Begins:

Margaret – No blogs policy at J&J. 3 external blogs. 

Yvonne – felt Purina should be blogging. Lawyers wouldn’t let them. Yvonne was allowed to blog “under the radar.” So she did. They are now above the radar. It’s been very successful. 

Lena – CEO. “If you’ve heard and objection, I have an answer to it.”

Margaret – Consumer products and pharma side. Enables us to go back to the way we used to talk to people directly 100 years ago. 2006 was the anniversary of the San Fran Earthquake. J&J wanted to blog about the effort they put forward in San Fran. Idea was squashed. Privacy concerns. Legal concerns. Yet they had so much history to tell a great story. So they decided to blog about their history. 

Rather than go through the central authority, they wrote a business case and went to people one by one. “What are your concerns?” And one by one, they answered them. 

Kilmer House launched in the summer of 2006. Massive horrible things didn’t happen. Paved the way for “J&J by the way”. More approval was needed, but it happened. First pharma blog also just launched. 

There is brand value in the information that is put out on the blogs. Corporations love stuff they can measure. Reporters are finding them and their stories through the blog. 

Yvonne – went to interactive media director at Purina and convinced them to let her blog. The majority of pet owners are women. She has a background in veterinary medicine. She created a proposal and Purina sat on it for a while. “I got to be careful of lawyers.” So she went under the radar. And she said, “if you don’t do this, I’ll take it somewhere else.” And that got their attention. 

Clear cut guidelines were established. Some topics were off-limits. And that was fine. Press releases were modified and she talked about the content of what was in the press release. She begged them to let her talk to someone about it. She wanted to put something up on the blog. She couldn’t get someone to give her info from the company. Not a single bad comment was critical of Purina with the recall.                     

The blog has been up for a year and a half. Went to Purina’s interactive marketing summit. Each brand in Purina is its own little company. The success has helped to support other social media efforts. She is not an employee of Purina. 

Also now blogging for the Simon School at University of Rochester. Hugely successful. 

Lena – felt that the site for Women’s e-news needed some revamping. So she offered up her help. July 2007 started talks. Still just starting to move on the suggestions now. Their hesitation was journalistic integrity. Fine with the board and getting legal on board. They wanted to remain journalists. 

To move the social media agenda forward, someone needs to get the guts and get out there. It takes courage. 

Karen – objections are drawn from the worst case scenarios. It’s basically a fast publishing platform. “Speed is life.”

In the session there are a mix of people within companies who work on social media and people who are consulting to companies on social media. 

Karen - Google has about 110 blogs. About half are not in English. Each post is reviewed by someone in PR, though not legal. Legal has embraced blogging from the get-go. Education needed internally on how to create a personal, informal post. 

Lena – we work with multiple blog authors within the company. Anticipate objections and have an answer to them. Sometimes objectors in blogs can smell fear. Don’t give them the space to object. Think of scenarios and have answers. Maneuver in the situation. Fake it ‘til you make it.      

Yvonne – a lot of people want me to blog about them and their pets. Sometimes do – for example with rescue organizations. She did help one woman who wanted some PR for her rescue organization. A few months later the woman was furious that the picture of her pet was up on the site. Turned out the woman was upset because her dog had recently been hit by a car and died. Yvonne stayed open to the anger and discovered the problem, remedied it right away, and now the woman is a friend of hers. Staying level-headed helps. 

Margaret – serial blogs can drive lots of traffic – just like reading a great book. Discovering underlying reasons for objections helps.

Lena – do not get every objector in one room together. Have separate rooms and answer individual concerns. Create a checklist of what everyone wants, check that off, coach the objectors, and at the end you will have a sign-off list. Present copies to every single person in the meeting at the kick-off. Strategize on approach of the pitch as much as you do about the design and content of the blog. 

Karen – domino effect will help. 

Lena – do what you need to do to sell this idea. Whatever it takes. Best defense is a good offense. 

Yvonne – a new blog for Purina is about to launch. “Send me in writing what you are worried about.” 


Yvonne – she builds a lot of blogs for small businesses. If there’s no one who is going to be devoted to it on a regular basis, then blogging won’t work. If you’re fighting the company with the objections, then it may be better to just participate with comments on other sites.

Lena – you can be short on time or money, but not both. Lena’ company will coach, help, guide you, but they will not drag you kicking and screaming. 

Karen – start a site internally and see how well it goes. That is a good test.

Lena – won’t work with a company unless they are ready for success. 

Yvonne – here’s a question. “If you started a blog, would you get in trouble? And if so, why? And if you know why, then how could you remedy that?” Show them blogs that are out there. Look at comments, look at blogroll. Phrase it as “you’ve got to keep up. We can do this better than these other folks are doing it.”

Lena – draw up a huge proposal, in the hopes of getting even just a small piece of it. And it becomes the boss’s idea.  

Lena – shows company blog stats from companies. Yes focus on return is fair but drive home the point that what we invest is in direct relation to what we get in return. 

Yvonne – dozen Google alerts on Purina. People are out there talking about Purina, even if not on the company blog. Pet communities comment all the time and ask to link. It is seen as Yvonne’s blog, not necessarily Purina. Dr. Larry writes about pet ailments on the blog. 

Yvonne – feed burner, Google stats, etc. are used to monitor stats. And how many people comment by email. The more valuable part is how many relationships have been built as a result. 

Margaret – having another blog link back to yours is incredibly valued. 

Lena – it’s true that what doesn’t get measured gets forgotten. Figure out what metrics dictate success and how you are going to measure them. This is critical. Have goals in metrics, and an agreed method of what goes into measuring them. Focus on the basics. You can only focus on three things at any one time. A massive spreadsheet is too much. 

Yvonne – Purina occasionally asks about an incident that there is something going on and wants info.

Margaret – J&J’s .com site platform didn’t support blogging software. They went out to an open source platform and it does what we want. Didn’t go through IT. Communications function, not IT. 

Yvonne – use Typepad because it’s point and click. It’s fully-functionality and it is easy to use. Any design can be used for a website. The goal is to turn it all over to the client to manage it. 

Lena – product agnostic. Get the solution that is best for the company. Largely we use Wordpress. Allows other people to run it because open-source is portable and scalable. Open-source vs. home-grown can be a valid argument. Send out an RFP to a few companies, show how much it costs to have a homegrown application, and then show them what it costs for an open-source platform. They’ll change their tune.

Yvonne – blogs are small sound bites on the internet. The pieces need to be short. Journalistically, use proper English. Few acronyms. Personal voice that is written with the same professionalism as with magazines. You have to track-back, link to sources. Make sure you are 100% accurate. Fact checking is important. 

Karen – let the linking do the heavy lifting. Open link in a new window. We have some blogs with comments and some without. 

Lena – it’s called social media. It’s supposed to be social. If you’re wondering if there is any question on fair usage, make sure you give credit. If anything, over-credit your sources. You would want to be quoted, so quote others. You build a brand, and others to. Make sure to give them credit for that.     

Margaret – always attributes. 

Yvonne – Creative Commons is a great resource. 

Lena – software called Copyscape can help you monitor how your comment is being used in other places.