I am so glad that someone is talking about this topic! I've chatted with so many PR companies and also journalists who seem to be in denial of what is an enormous impact coming down the pipeline. The interdependency of PR and news media is undergoing a massive shift, which will ultimately lead to a serious downsizing in the PR industry.
I wish that the major PR pubs and organizations would step up more to take an active role in helping the industry prepare for the coming crisis.
Chief Marketing Officer
Its no secret that times are tough for many industries right now, and the American print media is no exception. It seems every time you turn around, another print outlet is folding
, slashing circulation
, going completely online
or even borrowing against its digs
to pay the bills.
Back in June, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicted that in as little as 10 years, all news will be disseminated online. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form, Ballmer told the Washington Post
Evidence of a shift from print to online news is unmistakable. Google recently announced
an initiative to bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publications like New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics and Ebony. Many magazines and newspapers are moving to 100% digital editions, and on these sites, user-generated content and social media tools are growing
at an enormous rate. Blogs like Newspaper Death Watch
and News after Newspapers
are devoted to the death of print, Twitter accounts like @themediaisdying
follow the trend and even the American Society of Newspaper Editors
allowing Web site editors to join its ranks.
So what does this mean for the public relations profession
? Our fate is firmly wedded to that of the news media, regardless of how the world decides to get its news. The definition and scope of the public relations profession has been in flux since Edward L. Bernays
, the father of public relations, founded the discipline. The latest topic of discussion is whether the very name of our profession will change as social tools become increasingly ubiquitous, will we all become social media practitioners, or will our new roles simply be absorbed into the old?
The path is not clear, but one thing is sure for those of us in print and PR the only certainty is change.
- Jamie Nolan
Warm wishes for a joyful holiday season from everyone at SpeakerBox. Hope you enjoy this year's Holiday Word Play.
- Katie Hanusik
As 2008 comes to a close, Ive come to reflect on all the great memories weve created here at SpeakerBox over the past 12 months. As weve described in previous blog posts in the past, the SpeakerBox culture is quite unique. We like to say our team is full of smart, happy people and while were working hard for clients, we always manage to have a little fun along the way. Here is a quick recap, highlighting some of my favorite SpeakerBox memories from 2008:Social Networking
Social networking isnt anything new to us, but we did create a Facebook fan page
this year, where you can read our latest news, check out our event appearances and sign up for upcoming SpeakerBox seminars. You can also follow us on Twitter
for a real-time feed on our blog posts.Staff Obsessions
- One of the great things about SpeakerBox is the variety of personalities within the office. We all have our own interests, many of which make their way into the office culture. Without naming names, a few of this years top office obsessions included Twilight
, Chocolate Rain
(and other YouTube obsessions
), Fallout 3
, and prank phone calls
all of which became regular conversation topics when we were taking a break from the action. While some may be more extreme fanatics than others, were always supportive of each others interests.SpeakerBox Day
- Who can forget about this annual event when we unleash our competitiveness and fight to the finish: Cougars v. Pirates style? (Yes, those are our team names, and lets just leave it at that.) This year we duked it out at a local bowling alley, realizing quickly that no one could compete with one of our newest team members, Jackie. (Who knew Texans were so good at bowling?)Iron Chef
As always, we partook in Iron Chef competitions here at the office. Most of us are pretty competitive, especially when it comes to kitchen duels. 2008 brought in a number of cooking challenges, the most notable of which was Crocktoberfest
. Another newcomer, Drew, took home first prize in his first SpeakerBox cook-off and the office is still split over whether it was his impressive chili recipe or vintage Crockpot that led him to victory.Growing Families
Maybe theres something in the water here, but 2008 featured four staff engagements, one marriage and one baby. Spouses and children of SpeakerBoxers are considered part of our corporate family, and were always happy to have these types of exciting milestones to celebrate. Welcome to the SpeakerBox family, Kate, Dave, RJ, Ben, Kristin and Baby Phillip!Mac Attack
We cleaned house this year, replacing our PCs with MacBooks. After adjusting to our new look and feel, were quite satisfied with our tech update. Were able to take our work with us on the go, allowing ourselves to be more accessible to clients throughout the day. (Of course, iChat, GarageBand and iPhoto are great perks too!)
So as this year ends, we say goodbye to 2008 and welcome 2009 with great anticipation. Heres to wishing that you and yours have a wonderful holiday and ring in the New Year with fun, laughter and success!
- Mary Evans
Darlene Darcy joined the Washington Business Journal (WBJ) in January 2008 to cover technology and government contracting. In this installment of the Sounding Board's Influencer Q&A, Darlene shares how she got her start in journalism, technology trends of interest, her approach to news reporting, including recommendations for pitching and press releases, and insight on the launch of the Journal's social networking community.-Lisa WellsCan you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in journalism and media? What made you decide to go into journalism?
I grew up in Chicopee, Mass., and graduated from Boston College
with a degree in economics. Before earning my Masters degree in business journalism from Boston University
, I worked in marketing and advertising sales for a media company and as a research analyst for an economic consulting firm. Both jobs offered interesting views of the business world and opportunities to do interesting types of writing. However, I wanted to focus more on writing and the ability to convey a broader, widely informed view of the business world rather than the perspective of a single corporation or client. Prior to joining the WBJ, I was published in the Cape Cod Times
and the Worcester Business Journal
What brought you to the WBJ and the technology and government contracting beats?
While finishing my last semester of graduate school at Boston Universitys
Washington D.C. Journalism Center
in Woodley Park, I worked as an intern at the WBJ and reported for the Cape Cod Times as a Washington correspondent on the Hill. A staff reporter position on the technology and government contracting beat opened before my internship ended, and I knew it would be the right opportunity to kick off my journalism career at a reputable business-centric publication. Moreover, if there is any beat at the WBJ that is particularly interesting because of the market/geographic location of the paper, its the technology and government contracting beat. The technology industry here is diverse and hugely successful. Government contracting is a business world unto its own, with interesting business models and fascinating strategic nuances. And its an industry upon which our countrys viability is reliant. Many mistakenly assume its a dry beat. On the contrary, its an extremely interesting business beat because of its importance to both the local and global economy.What technology trends do you currently find most interesting?
The intense focus on cyber security and the convergence of telecommunications technologies via the Internet that is prompting telcos and cable companies to further morph into diversified "service providers." Whats happening in both of those technology sectors is driving critical innovation in the health and financial industries, as well as really cool and lifestyle changing advances for the consumer end-user.What makes a good pitch? What do you look for when evaluating a technology, company, or industry professional to feature?
News, news, news! It has to be timely, affect change and is best if exclusive. If a company did something, its going to become dated information quickly, and chances are someone, maybe many, already know about it. If a company is doing something or will do something, the pitch should convey how that thing is different and how it will affect the company. A similar philosophy applies to selecting someone or some company to feature because we want to write about the role that people and companies are playing or played in news stories we are or have been following.Do you have recommendations for press releases and making them newsworthy?
The most important part of a press release isnt the background information or detail about how the company has had a bunch of success during the past six months, which has led to massive growth, for example. While the back story often is interesting, and can be central and critical to telling a good story, my job is to lead with the news and then ask, So what? What does that mean to the business today and tomorrow? What is changing or will change because of what has already happened? Will the company be hiring more staff, laying people off, opening new facilities, moving, making acquisitions, discontinuing a line of business, selling assets, signing contracts? What dont people know about what is about to happen at the company? Thats the news and the best first sentence of a pitch. For instance, Company X is going to be leaving next month; Company X just bought assets from Company Y so they could enter a new vertical market to make up for declining revenue on product/service Z. Then comes the Why. Keep press releases short and try to avoid passing along marketing and technical words. Reporters cant use them and are going to ask that things be explained in laymens terms. Anticipate that. Also, sending press releases out early, ahead of the news helps.bizjournals recently tapped into the social networking universe with the launch of networking.bizjournals.com (beta). Can you tell us more about the initiative? While in the early stages of exploring the new media frontier, do you see bizjournals reporters blogging their beats in the future?
Weve added the bizjournals Washington Community Network
to our Web site where readers can join group pages and post comments, as well as friend reporters and other readers in the WBJ community. Were creating group pages around various beats and sections such as The Back Page
and People and Community
. Sometime in the near future, Ill be managing a technology and government contracting focused group page. I dont think we can ignore that other reporters are blogging, but aside from posting stories and other content to the community group pages and letting readers drive conversation via comments, I havent heard that well be blogging our beats in the near future.
There was a definite buzz this week around social media predictions for 2009 and how brands should interplay. It was a natural topic of discussion for my Middle School Marketing
group. Jen Krupey
from Viget Labs
posted a nice recap
. Sitting at the intersection of traditional and social media, my prediction for 2009 is that we'll see a stronger push by big brands within social media communities. As with all things social media, you get what you give, and the result will be a few great case studies - but more than less of these brands will view social media as a low cost alternative to traditional advertising and will ignore the concept of community and embark on campaigns that will end up compiled in the 2009 volume of social media gone bad. I think mid-sized companies will continue to engage in social networking at a cautious pace next year. I believe they understand the concept of community and the bandwidth needed to engage authentically, but stressed maintaining this year, will ultimately will fall back on what they know (the more traditional stuff), while keeping their big toes in and waiting until 2010 to more fully embrace social networks (having learned from the mistakes of the big brands). It's probably no surprise that I think small business will continue to be "mavericky
" when it comes to connecting with their buying audiences and will serve up some strong case studies on how community engagement helped them buck the recession and get their businesses to the next level. What do you think? Where do you view your business or your client's fitting into this progression in 2009?
Ive always been interested in branding and Web design, and over the years Ive noticed that trying times and prosperous times alike can lead a company to re-evaluate or reaffirm its existing brandspecifically its online brand, since its usually the customers channel-of-choiceto stay competitive.
During trying times like during a recession a company may need to tweak or upgrade its existing brand to restore credibility, illustrate a change in leadership structure, or to represent any expanded product and/or service offerings. During prosperous times like when two companies merge a total rebrand may be needed to expunge existing brand identity and replace it with a completely new look and message.
Whatever your companys position during the current state of the economy, should you decide to rebrand and launch a new online presence note the value of consistency and simplicity in your design.Consistency. Keep the location and appearance the same throughout your site.
A unified, cohesive site makes your company appear organized and professional, enhancing credibility.
- Navigation. Determine an intuitively simple navigation scheme, and stick with it. If your site is hard to use, visitors will leave. A well-constructed pathway through your site will create familiarity, increasing the number of return visitors and page impressions.
Simplicity. Keep it neat and simplesimple ideas are easier to remember.
- Images. Pictures speak 1,000 words, so make sure whatever it is theyre saying is not only representative of your messaging and theme, but also your products and/or services.
- Search Function. Have you ever gone to a site looking for something in particular and left because you couldnt find it? Similar to navigation, providing a search function on your site it essential. Information needs to be easily found, and if visitors cant find it theyll leave and go looking somewhere else. In like fashion, dont hide your contact information. Closeting your contact information not only makes visitors skeptical about the legitimacy of your site, it can also severely damage your conversion ratethe phone wont start ringing if people dont know whom to call.
- Copy. People dont read they scan; they dont research they surf (I have no idea where I read and/or heard that). People also dont like to scroll, so dont overwhelm visitors with long blocks of copy they cant digest. Keep information and messaging clear, compelling, concise, and whenever possible use headlines, subheads, and bullets, and take advantage of white spaceit makes the message stand out and the site easier to scan. And, if you must incorporate a scroll bar, put the most important information above the fold.
- Animation. Keeping your site fresh and up to date is a must, however incorporating Adobe Flash Player into every component of your site doesnt make your company and/or its products appear that much more "innovative." Overusing expressive features and elements of motion can distract visitors from your content, not to mention annoy them. However, utilizing Flash elements in good taste, in the appropriate areas can significantly enhance the quality of a site.
A consistent and simple Web design. Screenshot of CampaignMonitor homepage.
In our business, early adoption of social media mechanisms is key to staying on the cutting-edge of relevance. Speaking from experience as a full-time teleworker, I know the value that social networks bring to my professional and personal community. The connections that are made, and maintained, online are invaluable to todays success.Apptix
, a SpeakerBox client, friend and partner, has recently launched Biztropolis
, a social network to connect small businesses, of all industries. Creatively built upon the premise of Apptixs value proposition hosted services power IT Guys to Superhero status Biztropolis is designed to create synergies between real people at small businesses, regardless of industry or rank. By devising a place for small businesses to connect and share information, Biztropolis creates a much-needed niche community. All Americans are aware of and affected by the economic crisis to some degree; for small businesses grappling with shrinking budgets, no time is better than the present to share best practices, ideas and strategies for survival.
If you are a member of a small business, I encourage you to become a citizen
of this community today.
-- Julie Buckley
For this installment of our Influencer Q&A series, I spoke with Mike Musgrove, a consumer technology and video game reporter with the Washington Post. Mike provided gave me the download on how he got his start in covering video games and his thoughts on PR and the local consumer technology scene.-John TerrillWhat made you decide to pursue a career in journalism, and how did you wind up being able to cover video games for a living?
I wound up in this career partly by accident; a college friend of mine got me a job in the mail room here years ago and I liked it so much that I stuck around. I ended up writing about technology and video games because they were topics that interested me, but I've written pieces for several sections of the paper over the years.How would you see the consumer technology scene in Washington as compared to its business and government side? Growing? Weak?
I don't know much about a consumer tech scene around Washington. As a class, the companies I'm aware of in this sector in the Washington area have neither grown nor shrunk.
On a side note, my editors are always more interested when I tell them some company I want to write about is locally based, so I always listen a little more attentively when I hear from a company based around here.
Whats your take on the shifting media landscape, as more and more readers are moving to getting their news online? Has it affected your coverage at all?
The shifting media landscape hasn't affected my coverage as much as it has changed how I do that coverage. It used to be that I would just take a notebook to events, but now I often take a digital camera and/or a video camera in order to grab some content to put up on washingtonpost.com
Other than not sending you pitches on government contracting and business-to-business technology, how can public relations professionals work with you best?
The PR folks that I have the highest regard for seem to be the ones that read the Post enough to figure out how a story they're pitching might fit into the sort of writing & reporting I've been doing. They also understand that sometimes I have an interest in writing about their client, but have to wait for some other piece to fall into place to make a story feel like the "right" sort of thing my editors will go for. Sometimes I know what that piece is in advance, sometimes I don't...
If a company is based in the Washington area, I like hearing from somebody in the Washington area, for what that's worth. It always seems odd to me to hear from a PR firm in NYC or LA telling me about a company based in Fairfax!
Absolutely - and I agree that the template is a great example and resource for those looking to add social elements to their newsrooms.
Of course, to your point, not every organization will have all of those elements, and not every journalist in every industry is necessarily seeking all of those elements. The important thing, in my opinion, is to be able to offer your content and resources in a manner that makes them accessible to all of those audiences. Perhaps not every journalist will use RSS feeds to stay up to date with your organization's press releases or blogs, but that does not prohibit you from offering a feed for those that do - and also a more 'traditional' archive of news and other items on your site for those who don't.
My two cents!
Federal Computer Week’s Fed 100
list is an annual recognition of the individuals from government and industry that have made a unique impact on the federal IT community. Each year PR pros across DC (and the nation, for that matter) slave over thoughtful nominations for their clients and their clients’ clients. The character limits for the essay responses are effective in helping level the playing field, but lead to some sentence structures that would make my 10th grade
English teacher cringe. Awkward sentences aside, as PR professionals we feel like we have a good handle on what the judges are looking for, but its always good to get a primer on award nominations.
This week, FCW editors posted a useful blog entry
on what it takes to win, especially when nominating individuals from industry. While the original deadline was today, they have extended the nomination period through December 23. This still gives you time to nominate someone in your network for this well deserved honor.
Ever looked at Shift Communications' Social Media Newsroom template? Some great ideas contained within...my question has always been - how do you direct journalists to such a site when many still emply old school practices, and don't quite yet understand the RSS concept?
If youre like me and have stumbled upon the website for PitchEngine, youll quickly realize youve found a new PR tool worth exploring. Billed as PR for the social web, PitchEngine is a web app and hosting service that automates the creation of Social Media Releases (SMRs) and Social Media Newsrooms. A concept first developed in 2006 by Todd Defren, the SMR has taken on several iterations and pushed the major wire services to incorporate social elements into their core service offerings. As Jason Baer points out, however:
The hang-up with social media releases has been actually getting them built. Most PR folks are not Web programmers, and the very nature of what makes a social media release useful (tags, links, multi-media) makes it tricky to execute if your definition of high tech is inserting a footer in Microsoft Word.PitchEngine is the answer to easy SMR creation. Using PitchEngine, organizations can create and share SMRs for free. The site can also archive your brands releases, and offers a customized newsroom option as well (these features come with a nominal fee). Instead of pointing you to the PitchEngine site for more information, we went straight to the top and PitchEngine founder Jason Kintzler was kind enough to answer our questions about his site.
-Stephanie Stadler1) First, can you share a little about your background and the genesis of PitchEngine?
I'm a former print journalist and broadcast news anchor turned PR and brand guy. I love the media industry and wanted to make it easier for both to share PR content and information. That is where social media and PitchEngine come in. Journalists need more than a bunch of printed paragraphs - they need flexibility of high-res images, cut-and-paste quotes, related links and contact info.
Brands need to share more than marketing, they need to share their culture and personalities. With PitchEngine, they can incorporate social links, video and other things that help give the brand (or your client) more authenticity.2) I know there are a few different facets of PitchEngine. Can you break them down?
Sure. First, PitchEngine makes it possible for PR pros to share all sorts of PR content and assets with their media contacts for free via the Social Media release - it's like a micro-site for a PR pitch.
Second, PR pros can share their social media release with their media contacts via email, or through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and more. We share your release with Google News, or PitchFeed subscribers, and more to come...(all that is still free!) We host each releases free for 30 days, after that you can subscribe to archive and host it. You can also get a custom newsroom to feed your website all of your SMRs.
On the media side of things: Journalists and bloggers can filter your news by keyword, search by category and create a personalized feed of the stories they want to see. They subscribe to it and every time someone posts a new story, they'll see it!3) For our readers who may not be familiar, what makes the Social Media Release and the Social Media Newsroom different from their "traditional" counterparts? Why are they valuable?
The social media release allows for so much more flexibility. The word doc is for lawyers, email attachments suck and press kits are old school. How's that? No seriously, it gives you the ability to deliver your media contacts (not just a select few) all of the goods. It's like a press kit packed into a link - nice, huh? Media love it, because it is clean, consistent and concise!4) How does PitchEngine compare to all of the household name (in PR and marketing) distribution methods and wire services? Is PitchEngine designed to replace or supplement these distribution methods?
I think it can supplement them now. Eventually, I think they'll all be like PitchEngine. You can pay to send your press release out and hope it gets picked up, or you can share it with media contacts, engage with them (through comment-enabled Social Media Releases, Twitter and more), and impress them. You decide which is the better approach.5) For the company that has never created a social media release, or thought that they needed to build a Social Media Newsroom - what's your answer? Why should they do it, and do you have any best practices to recommend as they get started?
Um, here are a few "twestimonials"
that might help convince you. The best thing to do - get on PitchEngine
, sign up, create and share a release. It's free and you'll love it, seriously.6) What's next for PitchEngine?
We're adding functionality by the minute. Translation, localization and Asian distribution are coming soon, lots of new SEO benefits and more and more places we'll be sharing to. We want to be known as "PR for the Social Web" and we're going to get there, just a matter of time. :)
Last Thursday I sat in on a class taught by Mike Dickerson at George Mason University
. Along with a few other working professionals, I was a guest judge for his students advertising campaign presentations. Over the course of the semester, his students came up with a product and a campaign that they then pitched to their classmates and us. It was great to see the amount of thought the students put into the details of each campaign, and it also reminded me that sometimes we need to get back to the basics.
Even though advertising and PR are different, there is one thing that is key in both sectors target market. Who are you trying to reach? What effect do you hope to have? How exactly are you getting your message out there? Answering these three questions with background knowledge and creativity will most certainly point any campaign in the right direction.
- Ali Smith
As the Small and Emerging Contractor Advisory Forum (SECAF) enters into its fifth year of providing a resource to the government contracting community, I took a few minutes to speak to Shiv Krishnan, the new SECAF Chairman, who also serves as founder and CEO of INDUS Corporation. He shares his perspective on the contracting community, the upcoming administration, and advice for growing businesses.- Elizabeth SheaQ. You are the incoming Chairman of SECAF. What exactly is SECAF and how long has it been around?
SECAF was started five years ago, by a small group of very passionate people who all cared about building a community that catered directly to the needs of small and emerging businesses in the government contracting industry. They identified the existing need for an association that spoke directly to the small and emerging contractor, in a way that other organizations do not do.
SECAF was founded to address critical questions such as: Where are the opportunities for small businesses? How do I grow and become a large business in the future? What regulations or restrictions will limit my growth?
Now, SECAF caters to 250 members; the bulk of our members are companies in the range of $1M to $25M in annual revenue. The Founders, CEOs, and CXOs from these small and emerging Government contractors actively participate in SECAFs events. Larger companies interested in partnering and teaming with small businesses, and professional services firms (law firms, accountants, bankers), supporting the needs of the small business community make up the balance.Q. You run a very successful, $100M government technology services firm yourself. What do you and INDUS see as a benefit to being involved in SECAF?
Well, there are many things, both personally and professionally. Personally, I grew INDUS from being a small business and saw first hand the benefit of being involved with many organizations that helped me along the way. I personally enjoy the part of this role that enables me to give back to the small business community, and help them grow.
Professionally, the opportunity for me and other INDUS representatives to get to know the small business community is invaluable. More than 20% of government contracts go to small business, and there is legislation on the table that could increase the number to 30%. INDUS needs the small business community, and the small business community needs us. Similarly, I can help the larger integrators in the same way, by being a subcontractor to them. In this business, it is all about partnering and relationships. We are about creating a win-win for everyone, and SECAF helps nurture those relationships in both directions.Q. What do you see in the upcoming years for the government contracting community?
I see many changes, some positive, some not-so-positive.
On the positive side, the push to increase contracting dollars going to small businesses is good for our community. More integrators will have incentives to partner with small business, which in turn could help stimulate a critical part of our economy.
On the not-so-positive side, there will be challenges, including:
1) We have to wait and see what will happen with budgets in 2009; so much money has been spent on the war effort, that other national priorities and domestic program budgets have suffered for the past two years. The declining budget trend combined with the changes from a new administration with new initiatives, could delay new program allocations for 6-12 months. Most of us are looking to the Governments FY2010 budget and are optimistic that our businesses will be able to fulfill the Governments new program initiatives.
2) The M&A landscape will be affected in the government contracting industry, as company valuations are being lowered due to SBAs new regulatory changes related to re-certification. If a small business wants to sell to a larger contractor, that business has the risk of losing valuable small business contracts, which made the valuation higher in the first place. Small businesses may not see their true valuation in the eyes of the buyers. The current global economic crisis also adds fuel to that fire.Q. What advice can you give a small- or medium-sized government contractor in this market?
Given the challenges we all face because of the economic turmoil, but particularly with all the changes we can expect in the next 6-12 months, it is critical that the small and emerging contractors work hard to get through the next year. Several small businesses are really struggling right now because of the credit crisis.
I have three pieces of advice, all equally important: 1) Continue to do an excellent job of taking care of your customers. Help them understand what other services you can provide which they may need. Your customer may be inclined to give you that work under your existing contract if they arent able to issue a new contract. 2) Continue to focus on cash flow and receivables. It is as important as anything else you do. The government is the best payer in the world, assuming you have your paperwork in order. If you get it wrong, the clock starts over if they have to send it back to you. Having access to cash in the next 6-12 months is critical, and even more so when credit is so hard to get. You cant expect your bank to always come throughthey are in a crunch themselvesno matter how great a relationship you have. 3) Focus on positioning yourself for new opportunities in the next 6-12 months. When they arise, you want to be ready.Q. You applaud and mentor entrepreneurs. What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Focus, Focus, Focus! I would tell entrepreneurs just starting out in this industry that they should look inside to see what they do really, really well, and be laser-focused on their strength. The government customer is not taking chances right now, so one had better be the best at what he or she does and deliver flawless, high quality service. Once entrepreneurs gain experience by doing what they do best, then go out to expand to other agencies, rather than trying to add on services where you arent the best.Q. What SECAF programs are you most looking forward to this next year?
Were making a couple of changes this year that Im very excited about: 1) we are expanding the ever-popular Procurement Forum, being run by Tiffany Gates, Board member and Chair of our Programs Committee. This year it will be especially interesting given all the changes in priorities from the incoming Obama Administration; 2) we are also excited about the first-ever SECAF Awards Gala, the only one of its kind focused on the small and emerging Government contractors, to be held on April 16, 2009. Most of the awards banquets around town recognize large businesses, and we want to showcase some of the best businesses in the $0-$6M; $6M-$12M and $12M-$25M categories. We look forward to celebrating their success!Q. How can contractors get involved in SECAF?
Becoming a member is easy; $200 a year enables your entire company to become involved! To be a member company, you must sell directly to the government community, and then anyone from your company can attend events at member prices. If you provide services to the government contracting community (professional services firms), the price is $400 and we ask that you bring in at least two government contractor companies to keep the ratios in favor of contractors.
Once you are a member, however, you can do more than just attend events. I encourage everyone to get involved. There are four committees interested in your support; its a great way to get to know the SECAF Board and other companies in this region. The four committees are:
1) Membership: help reach out to other potential members and grow our organization to be even stronger.
2) Programs: help make suggestions on speakers. The program content is what keeps people coming back.
3) Legislative affairs: be involved in the process of examining and communicating what legislative issues are affecting our community
4) Communications: help spread the word about SECAF and make it the Voice of Small Business!
Last night, a few of us (Lisa Wells and I) headed downtown to kick off the holiday season by attending The One Party
. Co-hosted by the Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington
, Advertising Photographers of America-DC Chapter
, American Marketing Association-DC Chapter
, Capital Cabal
, Capitol Communicator
, Potomac Tech Wire
and Production Club of DC
, both levels of Eye Bar
were filled with holiday cheer, and in lieu of presents attendees participated in the exchanging of business cards. Donning festive name tags, where attendees could dress them up with Santa, snowman and snowflake stickers, the networking event was a sure-fire way to mix and mingle with many of the DC area's premier advertising, marcomm, technology, public relations, media, interactive and design organizations.
In addition to hearing "wow, SpeakerBox is everywhere," I also got to meet someone who volunteers for DC Central Kitchen
and she'll actually be joining DCCK to do design work on the Web site, as well as graphic design and fundraising/event planning (talk about a jack of all trades). Her passion for the main cause of the organization: defeating hunger for the homeless in DC--has inspired me to do the same! In our e-mail exchanges this morning, I've learned that I can participate in an evening co-op shift
, during which I would chop vegetables and get to meet other volunteers and a lot of the rotating cooks in the kitchen that graduated from the culinary training program.
Paul Duning, Capitol Communicator's very own, got a snapshot
of us at the fun-filled event (From left to right: Jessica Rhodes, freelance PR professional; Jackie Gilbert, SpeakerBox; Lisa Wells, SpeakerBox)
Thanks for having us!
- Jackie Gilbert
Last month, I attended an event at the Tower Club sponsored by Erickson Barnett
on building online communities
with a few of my colleagues. With a focus on social media, and bridging old fashioned marketing with that of the new age, the event offered up tips for building communities, including how to get started, potential pitfalls, useful tools, what works, etc. Four panelists (TANDBERG
- Margie Agin, Director Online Marketing; iBelong
- Bob Smith, Chairman; Clearspring
- Justin Thorp, Developer Community Manager; and SourceFire
- Michele Perry, CMO) shared their advice on building communities, and the theme that resonated with me the most was this...
If you are going to see a community (coordinated, blended effort to include presence on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, etc.) really work, you have to make sure you (your company) is ready. You must be ready to commit, ready to evolve in this new direction, ready to support the probable new leads, interest, and/or inquiries that will come with establishing an online community. There is much coordination involved - between pinning down dependable thought leaders, monitoring feeds for mentions and places for needed replies/comments, responding to inquiries (a big one!, tracking lead generation as a result, or whatever the drivers are for the community's purpose). In summary - building an online community will bring tremendous value if you have the commitment and passion needed to support one.