Are you a social media addict?

I have a confession to make: I think I am.

And I wonder if you may be one too.  Worried? Not sure where to turn? Do you want to know the signs?

If so, please check out the guest post I did on the Spin Sucks blog.  Anonymity is guaranteed; no one will know you read it…

And by the way, I hate to admit it, but  even though it’s a holiday in Ontario, I’m still online writing about it.

Special thanks to @ginidietrich and @danielhindin for asking me.

Let me know if you have any more symptoms to add – and if we should start a virtual 12-Tweet meetup.

Recent thoughts on social media

I’ve done a couple of interviews on social media in recent months: Barbara Nixon’s Public Relations Matters (skype video interview); and Andy Donovan’s Tweep in Profile (‘old-fashioned-new-fashioned’ print).

And I want to say a big thank you to both of you for thinking of me!  It’s much appreciated.

And… if you want to hear more (watch out for the plug), I hope you’ll check out Inside PR, the weekly podcast where Gini Dietrich, Joe Thornley and I talk about what’s happening in PR and social media.

I’m always interested to hear what you think.

The other side of the coin

I feel privileged to be of the Toronto folks selected to spread the word about Virgin America’s new TO/LA or SF flights. Actually, when I first got the email offerng a ticket, I thought it was a scam.  It wasn’t!

So here I am, in-flight, and posting from 30,000 feet (or so). OK, I know this is no moon walk, but it’s feels pretty amazing being connected up on high.

What do I think of Virgin America?

Well, they’re friendly and helpful – from check-in to the gate to the plane – and they have a more casual and humourous attitude than some of the other airlines I fly. You see it in the FAA-required info video, produced as a quirky animation (‘if you’re one of the .00001% of the population that doesn’t know how to buckle a seatbelt, here’s how you do it…’).  From a design perspective, the interior reminded me of an old house renovated and modernized with stylish colours and accents. I liked having the option of chatting with people in other seats via the AV system – not that I did.  And of course, there’s the wi-fi… Would I fly it again? I guess I should really wait till we land before answering, but I so far absolutely. Would I recommend it to people? Yes.

As I was sitting in the airport waiting to board and thinking about my post, it occurred to me that it would be the result of being pitched and, like a media person PR firms invite to an event, there was a reciprocal, if implicit, expectation in place.  I would receive the free trip and, in exchange, hopefully be motivated to share my experience.

I first heard about this concept of reciprocity from author and psychologist Robert Cialdini. The essence is simple: if I give you something, you will feel an obligation to give me something in return.

And really that’s the core of media/blogger relations.  We provide a story/information/news and hope that we get editorial coverage.  I also wondered whether the reciprocity might make me (or anyone) a little kinder in my review (they gave me something after all).  Probably.

Because so many PR people are blogging, we often find ourselves on the other side of the request.  (We talked about this on Inside PR 2.13.)  And this gives us an opportunity to experience what a pitch feels like.  I always suggest that young practitioners try their hand at being published (and yes blogs count!) so they can gain an understanding of a journalist’s perspective more clearly. And hopefully, by empathizing and learning we will improve our approach.

But back to the matter at hand.   I’m ready for more pitches and I sure do like cars :).

There’s no business like PR business

OK, there is… there is…

But the business part of running an agency is often considered second to the practice of PR.   It’s been said that communicators don’t understand the intricacies of business goals and this lack of knowledge has been one of the things that’s relegated the industry to a seat at the kid’s table (as opposed to the grown up table in the C-suite).  And perhaps this is reinforced in PR schools,  where the emphasis is on communications (of course) but few, if any, classes cover business.

So where can we find the expertise we need to successfully understand our client’s businesses and run our own?

I get it from PRSA’s Counselors Academy’s annual spring conference, happening May 21 to 23.   I’ve blogged about the organization before and am the Canadian rep on the executive committee.  Counselors is my annual PR agency business summit – three days of learning, sharing and socializing that provides me with the tools I need to improve my firm.

This year’s theme, ‘Looking Up: Lessons and Conversations to Move Your Business Forward’ explores strategies we need to do to emerge from the recession and once again build businesses focused on innovation and growth.  And it fits in well with the locale – the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina.

Here’s a link to the program.  There will be keynotes by PR 2.0 author and thought-leader Brian Solis and leadership expert Randy Hall; a pre-con session geared to creating a smashing social media plan by Jay Baer; and many first-class sessions and roundtables including how to grow leaders within an organization, a panel on the new listening and monitoring, strategies to successfully add social media and digital capabilities to your agency mix, Darryl Salerno’s fourth annual English as a Second Language (you really aren’t smarter than a fifth grader) and much more superb content.   It’s also a wonderful time to network, get answers to tough questions, and meet and become friends with an incredibly sharp, insightful, friendly and open group of people.  I’ve said this before but it’s the highlight of my PR year and I come back energized and excited to be in the profession.

Here’s where you go to register.  Hope to see you there.

Note: My Ex-Comm buddies Abbie Fink and Roger Friedensen suggested I also include Counselors’ Facebook and Linkedin pages to give you a bit more flavour.  (Thanks.)

Southwesterly pilgrimage – testing

I feel like I’m on a pilgrimage of sorts, heading to SXSW for my first time. And, sitting at the airport waiting to board an early flight (having braved the March break crowd), I figured I’d test the mobile WordPress app I downloaded.

It works fairly smoothly. Not sure how to embed URLs yet. I may have to do that post-publishing. Any tips are welcome.

I’m hoping to do some mobile blogging during the Festival, alternating that with Twitter.

We’ll see…

Two Ps in a PodCamp (Toronto)

That’s people and programming.

And at PodCamp Toronto 2010, the two are inextricably intertwined.

For anyone who hasn’t been, the annual event takes place February 20 and 21 at Toronto’s Ryerson University. It’s an energy-filled, somewhat entropic, fun exchange of social media ideas, applications and conversation – a place where all the Twitter avatars you’ve gotten to know meet IRL.

The eclectic line-up of sessions – with more being added every day – ranges from business and mobile case studies, to a walk through social media marketing ecosystem, tips on editing an interview as if it were music, death and your digital legacy, saving newspapers…  There’s even a live recording of Inside PR (I hope you’ll drop by with questions…).

Here’s where you go to register.

My big questions is: will anyone have an iPad to preview?

Hope to see you there.