Archive for March, 2011

Who Are You Missing? The Benefits of Live Streaming an Event

March 26th, 2011
Video camera in action.

Image via Wikipedia

This post is by guest author Jessica Piscitelli.

Next time you are hosting an event, consider the following question: who else would like to be here but can’t?

Maybe everyone who could possibly benefit from the training, conference, product launch, or awards program is in the room that day.  If that’s the case, stop reading and get back to work.  However, if you think there may be one or two individuals–or thousands–who would like to take part in the event but due to space, time, or money were not able to be involved, consider live streaming over the internet.

What is live streaming?

In laymen’s terms, it is broadcasting a video and/or audio stream through the internet, live.  It is also called video streaming or webcasting.

What are the benefits of live streaming?

The biggest benefit is that you can reach more people.  For training employees or sub contractors, everyone can receive the same training and information at the same time – which also ensures consistency.  The server that hosts the streaming can be set up so that people watching from other states can write in questions and receive live answers.  For a product launch, media and other constituents will all get to see the release at the same time.

What do I need for live streaming?

You need a video camera that can be run through a computer, a computer, an internet connection, and a streaming provider.  It is possible to do it yourself.  With devices like webcams, you can talk into your computer and stream that live.  DIY streaming is appropriate for some business transactions, but if you want the audience to be able to see and hear your event clearly, to the point that it’s almost as good as being there, you need a professional video company.

What services should a video company provide?

A professional video company can help you with every step of live streaming – from the video production itself through the streaming service, including pay-per-stream, dual screen streaming, and tracking hits.  On the production end, depending on the size of your event, you may need one camera with one operator, or you may need multiple cameras, lights, sound mixing, and live switching between cameras and PowerPoint to output to the stream.  There are many options and your video company can discuss which package best suits your needs.

If your event is a money maker – a conference or educational seminar, for example – you can arrange to have a pay-per-view stream set up.  Generally, the fee for watching via a computer stream is less than the in-person fee, but you can still make money by adding those additional attendees even after all your seats are sold out.

The next time you are planning an event, think about ALL the options.  You may find that offering live-streaming is a viable, additional revenue stream, and you may find it is a great way to save money by reaching more people in less time.

Jessica Piscitelli is the owner of Capture Video, Inc., a media production company specializing in online video since 2000.  During Capture Video’s first decade of business, Jessica has produced educational and promotional videos for such diverse clients as the U.S. Geological Survey, Georgetown University, and DC Superior Courts.  She has been named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s best videographers through her wedding video venture Jessica Pi Productions.  An accomplished writer and storyteller, Jessica is a regular commentator on WAMU, Washington, DC’s NPR station.

Social Media Revolution: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

March 23rd, 2011

People seem so determined to quantify the effects of social media.  What is it doing?  What difference is it making?  Who’s benefiting?  How can it help ME?

Malcolm Gladwell published a piece in the New Yorker asking if Egypt needed Twitter to overthrow Mubarack.  He claims Twitter didn’t cause the revolution in Egypt, but that it was merely a tool.  We didn’t innovate the revolution.  The underlying causes weren’t limited to technology, and the people didn’t rise against tyranny so they could try and get to 10,000 followers.   Gladwell goes out of his way to humanize us, and take the credit away from Twitter and Facebook.

The punishment from the blogosphere was swift and merciless.  Brian Solis actually titled his response “Malcolm Gladwell, Your Slip is Showing.”  You couldn’t open a social media blog without finding a post bashing Gladwell.  Everyone claimed Egypt needed Twitter.  That revolutionaries wouldn’t have been able to unite without Facebook.  That Gladwell had lost it.  Very cute graphs and charts showing how many tweets were made and profiles updated were pushing the raw, unbridled power of social media.

The uprising in Tunisia was spawned by a street vendor who burned himself alive to protest the way authorities were treating him.  That is the power of the individual.  That is not technology.  Protestors took to the streets and were violently beaten.  As an Iranian-American I can tell you these are not uncommon events in the Middle East.  As few as five years ago, this could have been the end of this story.  Now, these incidents are recorded.  Video of the protests hit Twitter and within days a small protest in one town became a national cause.  TV stations were broadcasting the videos they pulled off social media.  There are no more veils of secrecy.  The world sees everything.  With all its benefits, social media also creates a much higher level of danger for the protestors.  If they had not been victorious, the government would know exactly who they were.  They would have paid with their lives.

Even in the recent tragedy in Japan, I’ve found many articles about how social media affected the response and news dissemination as I have about what actually happened there.  But I haven’t seen much about how social media is helping to reconnect victims, and groups are only starting to use social media for Japanese emergency relief donations.

Which brings me back to my original point.  Everyone is trying to jump on the social media bandwagon.  Everyone wants a piece of the action.  Everyone seems to have an agenda.  Everyone wants to give it credit for everything…or to diminish it.  The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.  Did Egypt need Twitter?  Need is a funny word.  They didn’t NEED twitter.  Would Mubarak have resigned without the power of social media?  Today?  Probably not.  Would he have been forced out eventually?  Maybe.

The power of social media lies with us though.  It makes all our thoughts, information, and events in our lives immediately accessible to everyone.  Like any form of power, it can be abused and used to our detriment.  If you’re new to social media, or just looking to get more out of it, here are some tips.

  • Be yourself – People often say you can be whoever you want on the internet.  If the person you decide to be isn’t you, you’re not helping anyone.  Winston Churchill used to say a lie got half way around the world before the truth put its pants on.  That is no longer the case.  The truth is right behind you, and it will catch up.
  • Be open – Not just with yourself, but to the ideas of others.  There’s plenty of room for debate, but just as social media strives for the truth, it doesn’t respond well to those it things are hiding it.  People will disagree with you.  Embrace them.  Teach them.  You’ll get your message across by appealing to the highest common denominator.  Try to quiet someone’s dissenting opinion, and you will be punished for it.
  • Be careful – The internet is forever.  Think about what you say.  You can’t take it back.
  • Be consistent – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t impact anyone in social media in that amount of time.  Keep plugging away.  People will pay attention if you have a good message.  They will care.  Probably not right away.

Could you imagine if the real world were like that?  With today’s instant video-capture,  global feedback, and the fact that social media gives EVERYONE a voice, that day could be coming.

Borzou Azabdaftari

Borzou Azabdaftari

Borzou is managing partner of Falcon Printing & Copying, a full-service printing and graphic design company in Tysons Corner, VA. His company focuses on building relationships and delivering the highest quality print materials, from poster to invitations to business stationery, to their clients. Passionate about printing to a fault, Borzou eats, breathes, and sleeps paper and ink, and his rare combination of intellectual curiosity, technical savvy, creativity, and interpersonal skills have transformed him from a print service provider only into a branding consultant as well.

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Grab the Attention of Your Audience With Your Story

March 12th, 2011
Charles Goodyear. Below the image it says &quo...

Image via Wikipedia

A story is the single most important thing you can share with an investor, a potential ally, or the talent you want to attract to your new venture.  Whether it’s on the stage of an investor forum or sitting in a coffee shop with an audience of one, the most important thing isn’t your business plan…it’s you!

What people forget is that any time you’re before an audience, even an audience of one, from the moment the first word tumbles from your lips, you’re in an interview.  Are they going to ask to look at your business model, your projections, your management team?  Of course.

But the most important influence affecting their decision regarding your business IS YOU.  You – because they understand that you’ve got to make that incredible transformation from inventor of the wheel to captain of the ship.  They’ve got to make a decision about whether they’re going to fund your expedition, sign on as crew, or wave from the docks as you sail away.  That transition from genius inventor to CEO and master of other people’s fortunes is important because you are all that stands between the opportunity they crave and the risk they fear.

They have to know that in a world of adversity, they’re investing in someone who will not flinch at the rush of misfortune.  When you step onto the stage, the one question that a slide deck and business plan cannot answer is: When the body blows of a recessionary economy knock you to your knees, will you have the passion to get back on your feet?

Passion.  Vision.  Brilliance.  That’s your toolkit.

Passion because no one wants to bet on the apathetic horse.  Vision because no one wants to take on a partner whose motives are unknown or uncertain.  Brilliance because no one wants to invest their time and their sweat and their money in a black box.  They have to understand the nature of your innovation.

Share these with your audience using the power of a good story.  The most important and impactful story you can tell is the Eureka Story–that brilliant moment of inspiration that allowed you to bring something new into the world.  It’s a powerful story because it locks in perceptions of your expertise and authority right from the start.

In 1839, in Woburn, Massachusetts, a man named Charles had been researching rubber for five years, certain it had useful properties. But his friends, surrounding him in his family’s general store one day, begged him to give up the research that had consumed him and drained his family’s fortune. In a fury, he threw a ball of raw black India rubber into the wood burning stove. It hit the stove and sizzled and came away changed.  Charles Goodyear realized in that moment that he had discovered vulcanization,a process that ensures that rubber won’t melt in heat or crack in cold. Soon Charles Goodyear had earned enough to repay his family’s debts and create a company that would make his name famous.

Stories are powerful tools, not just on stage, but off, too.  Stories lead to conversations, to relationships, to long-term allies and partners.  That’s the gold.  People who can fund you learned a long time ago that this is the stage where the idea is inseparable from the creator.  We’re not working in a lab anymore… we’re in the real world where you have to get people to believe what you say before they buy what you do.

“Listeners seem to pay the most attention to founders who tell a story about their company: where it’s headed, the dragons it’s going to slay, and the pots of gold it’s going to unearth.

— John May, distinguished angel investor and the author of Every Business Needs an Angel.

Guest contributor Khris Baxter is founder of Baxter Baker & Associates (BaxterBaker.com), a presentation and communications consulting firm that offers one-on-one coaching and presentation workshops for entrepreneurs, executives, and trial lawyers. Khris is also a screenwriter and producer whose body of work includes numerous optioned screenplays and one produced film. He’s an adjunct professor at the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University in Charlotte, NC, and a member of the Virginia Film Office.

Google Is Your New Home Page!

March 10th, 2011

The idea that Google is your new home page stems from a presentation by the search guru Vanessa Fox at 2 training events I organized in DC.   She made 2 very profound points about how search engines have changed how you need to think about your website:

1. Google is your new home page.
The blurb in the search engine page represents your website to potential visitors.  It is your first opportunity  to connect with what the searcher is looking for.

2. Visitors often do not necessarily visit your home page first

A search engine directs a visitor  to the most relevant page relative to the search term entered. This is an opportunity to understand your audience based on how they search and tailor your message to these audience segments if you know where they enter your website from search. (If this is not true and all of your website visitors enter from the home page then it means your other pages are not as visible in Google and Bing as they should be.)

How can I use this to my advantage?

Lesson 1: Know your blurb.

Does it engage visitors and encourage them to visit your website?

To illustrate this point, let’s search for “shoes”.  This is what we see:

This search result shows you some benefits to doing business with Zappos.  You get their phone number without even going to the website and a brief blurb on their awesome return policy and customer service hours.  Definitely worth a click!

But what if it looks like this?

Though it’s the same company, this time I searched for “men’s shoes” and got different results.  It’s great they have a high ranking but it doesn’t engage as much as the first posting.  I would be curious to see their statistics, because I would bet that people who see this search entry do not convert to vistors as often as the first one.

Lesson 2. Tailor your content for the searcher.

Do keyword phrases send people to specific pages on your site based on their search?

Let’s try out the search term “executive search firms for non profits”.  We see one entry that takes us to executive search services at Beyond the Bottom Line.

Beyond the Bottom Line screenshot

This site visitor who searched for “executive search” is rewarded by clicking on the link.  Their need is immediately addressed when they go directly to the page on the Beyond the Bottom Line website that addresses their search term. If this search sent them  to the home page, the content of the page would not address their needs as clearly.

Ken Fischer

Ken Fischer

Ken Fischer is the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) for ClickforHelp.com Inc, a web-based software and social media strategy company. At CFH, Ken has led over 100 software and web projects, including creating online communities, tools to measure the effectiveness of public service announcements, web based messaging, and online collaboration tools with unique search capabilities. Ken has also led software development projects in a wide diversity of industries such as finding new way to better deliver reliability centered-maintenance, to onsite visual iAHAection to creating online communities. Ken is also the founder of Gov20Labs and Director of Gov 2.0 Events for Potomac Forum. He has been involved in the Gov 2.0 movement to create continuing education workshops, as a sponsor, and as a solutions provider for over three years. Ken is especially interested in using technology to make Government more effective, efficient, and accountable through transparency, participation, and collaboration. He actively blogs on Open Government and creates training programs for the planning and implementation of Open Government. (He does not speak on behalf of any federal, state or local governments.) Ken also blogs about the commercial side of web 2.0 at web20blog.

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5 Ways to Avoid Business Strategy Pitfalls

March 5th, 2011
Raven pole, One-legged Fisherman pole, and Kil...

Image via Wikipedia

This post is by guest blog contributor Emily Richards.  

People, regardless of their rank on the corporate totem pole, love the concept of strategy. It gives them a sense of organization, direction, and an understanding of where they are, where they are going and how they are going to get there. When I begin developing a strategy for a client, I feel the same the exhilaration an artist feels when viewing a blank canvas. The project is our oyster we are going to cultivate, perfect and ultimately revel in its beauty. This, in my humble opinion, is the easy part.

But there is often a disconnect between the desire for strategy development and actual implementation. All too often excellent strategies sit on shelves and collect dust. The strategy’s potential and impact are lost due to the very people who initially request the strategy. Don’t join the ranks of those who crave a road map and then fail to pull it out and consult it once they get into the driver’s seat.

There are several ways to overcome death by strategy.

1) Be realistic. The scope of your strategy should be obtainable. If you have short term goals, request a strategy within a reasonable time frame. If you set goals that you can’t meet, you will be behind before you are out of the gate. Reaching the first several milestones in a strategy make or break buy-in and affect implementation of the rest of the strategy.

2) Don’t become overwhelmed. Some of my clients can’t handle a one page proposal much less a 12 page strategy. Understand how a client, boss, or decision maker best understands a concept. Design your presentation in a way that they will be attentive to and, in return, receptive to approving. If they aren’t receptive to how you present the material, your strategy won’t leave the board room projector.

3) Keep perspective. Once a strategy is approved, map out a game plan. If you try to tackle every step in the strategy at one time, you will most likely experience an epic fail. Plan out your timeline and take one step at a time.

4) Be flexible. Strategies must be flexible to accommodate the ebbs and flows of market conditions, corporate initiatives, and other unforeseen challenges. Create a strategy that is flexible to accommodate and evolve regardless of what may come your way.

5) Keep the momentum. This is the most common reason a strategy fails. Time, effort, and energy are put into creating a strategy.  The concept is presented, and then it is placed on a shelf and forgotten. When developing the strategy, determine a game plan for execution to keep the momentum once it is finalized.

Effective strategies help maintain a proactive approach, eliminate unnecessary stress, and diminish last minute fire drills, which ultimately will make your job, and life, more enjoyable.

Emily Richards is President of Drew Consulting, LLC, which provides comprehensive strategic and tactical marketing solutions that encompass demographic targeting, market research, feasibility studies, competitive market strategy development, and environment analyses. She is well versed in traditional marketing, public relations, and advertising, and her clients range widely across industries and service/product lines.