The end of a month means the end of another food competition here at SpeakerBox. Aprils challenge was to craft the tastiest, most creative, sweet tooth satisfying homemade dessert. Although some competition requirements stump us more than others, this months duel seemed to be right up everyones alley. I mean really, who doesnt have a favorite dessert? Whether it was a family recipe, cookout favorite or all-around classic, recipe ideas seemed to flood our heads the minute the challenge was announced.
I think I speak for everyone when I admit that participating in these challenges is fun on two parts. Its naturally exciting to pick a recipe and put our best feet forward in the kitchen the night before, however the day of battle is what we look forward to most. Not only does the idea of winning get our blood circulating, but the sheer idea of a conference table covered in homemade food quickly becomes the talk of the office. Especially when that food is dessert. Having personally planned my lunch portion carefully that day, I was prepared to devour my colleagues creations...and I wasnt disappointed.
Battle Dessert brought forth a variety of impressive platters, but as the rules go, someone was bound to be declared the winner. Coming in at third place was Sarah Cower (pudding layer dessert), second place was tied between Ali Smith (cranberry granita) and myself (scotcheroos) and first place was Caroline Skelton. Caroline closed the door on the competition with a beautiful and tasty fruit tart.
Congratulations to all on a superb competition! Heres to another great duel next month when we duke it out in Battle Tailgate!
- Mary Evans
Great points to make John (although I had to look up apocrypha...gulp). The ever-evolving dynamic between PR and media still gives me pause. Aren't we all communicators at the end of the day? Great to get back to the basics of the importance of words.
With the proliferation of Twitter, blogs and other assorted social media armaments, the relationship between PR and the media has changed dramatically.
Thats the distillation from the 40,000 plus blog posts and articles written in a post-social media world describing the ever-evolving love/hate tryst between public relations pros and the media (define that as you will). This isnt a blog post about whats changed. Good Lord its not about what has changed theres been enough ink
and otherwise, written on that subject to wallpaper my house. (Clarification: The pre-existing viewpoints devoted to the changes in PR aren't bad or wrong, and the above two links are both excellent, well-done examples.)
I want to talk about what hasnt changed: the words. This isnt a good thing, especially in technology. For an industry that prides itself on wordsmithing, too many PR professionals take the lazy route with technical data they simply repeat what their clients tell them, no matter the clarity of said message. You can push a message out a thousand different ways Facebook, email, Twitter, blogs, social news aggregators, and so on but if it is nothing more than gibberish
, why even bother?
Fact: We arent hired to regurgitate technical messages word-for-word. Public relations is a value-add service, meaning that it should add value to whatever it touches. By mimicking existing information verbatim, that value disappears like a snowball in an oven. Most PR pros arent technical, or at least not in the same manner as our clients so what turns hardcore techie information into usable, media-friendly messages?
- If you dont know, ask. Theres a difference between looking bright in a meeting and completely failing behind the scenes. Pretending that you know more than you do is a surefire recipe to tank, whether to a client-side expert or, even worse, to a tech-savvy member of the media. When it comes to fully understanding a client technology before undertaking a campaign, very few questions are dumb.
- Learn, dummy. Wikipedia. You should use it. Dont take granular details from the resource as fact, but getting more information on general trends is extremely useful, especially if youre faced with a screen full of esoteric acronyms.
- Analogies are your friend. Trying to explain extremely back-end/high-tech/emerging technologies to a wider audience can be daunting, so its far easier to compare and contrast it to a piece of technology already in existence. Thats not to say you should compare a SOA platform to a toaster
but if youre doing that, you need a different blog post.
- Jargon must die. Buzzwords and popular technology phrases should be avoided at all costs why are you filling your message with something thats already been said? Find a unique way to describe the product or at least prove differentiation to competitors unique and different make news; the crowd just watches the news.
This is not an indictment for technical news items every industry and field has watchers that will understand each buzzword or jargon-laden phrase in a release. But once you go beyond that handful of publications, you need to adapt your message or risk being ignored. Or worse, mocked.-John Terrill
(Photo Courtesy of David Reeves
Came a cross an inspirational post
filled with ideas on how to create and repurpose content. While the objective behind the post is to show how to use content to create new revenue streams, any of the ideas could be given away for free and still end up driving bottom line revenue. Thats the idea behind content marketing -- creating and delivering information that is useful to your audience/buyers. Content marketing is not about creating sales sheets on your products, it is about using the expertise youve gained in building your business to inform and educate your audience about issues and solutions that they care about. By becoming a resource, you build a trust with your audience that will lead to sales and bottom line growth that is more valuable than an extra line item of newsletter subscription revenue.
Now, if only there were a seminar
that would explore this issue in depth and a company
that could help you execute
SpeakerBox is involved in two great upcoming events next weeks Women in Technology event on Politics and Technology and a SpeakerBox event, entitled Got Content? Get Customers. Details are provided below. Hope to see you there.Women in TechnologyPolitics & Technology: Lessons from the Obama Campaign
Time: 7:30 a.m. 9:30 a.m.
Location: Viget Labs
400 S. Maple Avenue,
Falls Church, VA 22046
Cost: Members: $25, Non-Members: $35Register Here
President Obamas campaign forever changed the election process. For the first time technology took center stage. The use of databases, text messaging, online video, Web sites and social networks allowed the Obama campaign to:
Raise more than $6 million in donations of $100 or less
Mobilize 35,000 volunteers
Send out billions of personalized email and text messages
Post more than 1,800 official videos on YouTube
Generate more than 112,000 followers on Twitter and more than 3 million friends on Facebook
Join us for a discussion of how technology is changing the face of political campaigns and what todays businesses can learn from this example.
, External Online Director, Obama for America
, CEO, Distributive Networks
, CEO, NGP Software
--------------------------------------------------------------------------SpeakerBoxGot Content? Get Customers.
Date: May 13th, 2009
Time: 7:30-9:30 a.m.
Location: Viget Labs (location sponsor)
400 S. Maple Ave., Suite 200, Falls Church, VA
Join SpeakerBox for an event that may change the way you think about marketing. During this session you'll get expert advice on how you can use content marketing to deliver relevant, valuable, and compelling information that turns prospects into buyers.Register Now!
So what the heck is Content Marketing?
Here's what Joe Pulizzi, our featured speaker, has to say about it:
"Content Marketing is the art of understanding exactly what your customer needs to know and delivering it to them in a relevant and compelling way."
Here's another perspective from KnowledgeStorm
"84% of technology buyers said they want content that educates. They want content specific to their jobs and industry."
So what do we think? If you don't have a Content Marketing strategy in 2009 you're losing an important opportunity to drive revenue for your company.
Featured Speaker:Joe Pulizzi
, Junta 42
. Author of Get Content. Get Customers
Everyone who attends this event will receive a free copy of Joe's book
Hope to see you there.
- Katie Hanusik
Our very own Piper Conrad
has been named as a finalist for the 10th annual Women in Technology (WIT) Leadership Awards
in the WIT Champion category. WIT
is an organization that offers women in all levels of the technology industry a wide range of professional development and networking opportunities. Piper
has been actively involved with WIT for six years and is currently serving as the vice-chair of the membership committee.
We are proud to have one of the exceptional, trailblazing women in the local technology industry (according to Sue Liblong
, President of WIT) as a core member of our team.
The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on May 21, 2009 at the McLean Hilton. Our fingers are crossed for you!
Fridays Summit Series
was exhausting yet exhilarating. So many spectacular people! 115 young entrepreneurs under the age of 35 gathered in one resort in Aspen, Colorado. This included four social entrepreneurs young leaders of very successful non-profit organizations. They each served on a panel talking about their missions, and participated in an interactive session where they were able to benefit from audience perspective on how they can be more effective in spreading the word about their respective causes.Lauren Bush
: 25 years old and niece of George W. Bush, together with Ellen Maura Gustafson, co-founded the FEED Projects, which in its first year, raised $4.5M, enough to fund the school-feeding program in Rwanda for the entire year! Beautiful, kind, and a very articulate speaker, Lauren went up against all odds to bring her sustainable FEED bags to Whole Foods Market
: a great, funny speaker we had walked around town earlier in the day, and he talked about what inspired him to get involved in AIDS/HIV testing and awareness. After he spent time in Africa for the TV show Survivor: Africa (and winning the million dollars), he said he saw first hand how HIV/AIDS affected the region, and decided to incorporate a passion of his into a campaign to educate and evangelize. As a former professional soccer player, he launched the concept of Grassroot Soccer
to help spread the word.Bobby Bailey
and Ben Keesey
spoke about Invisible Children
and its efforts to bring to light the longest running war in Africa. The guerilla movement by northern Ugandan Joseph Kony
involves numerous accounts of abductions (1.4M estimated) of children as young as 8 years old who are forced into military service for his army. Bobby is a filmmaker, and uses his talents to express his outrage and shed light on the human rights violations that are taking place. April 25, 2009 is the date of their next big demonstration to help build awarness.
Tomorrow night (Saturday) will be Elizabeth Gore of the UN Foundation and the Nothing But Nets
campaign it was her idea, along with Elliott Bisnow, founder of Summit Series, to pull together this impressive panel. Stay tuned
Other great attendees I had the pleasure to get to know better include:Owen Cook
: 29, CEO and co-founder of Real Social Dynamics
was a hoot he got altitude sickness his first day here and was spotted thereafter inhaling oxygen from the micro-canister you can buy in your room. His co-founder Nicholas Kho was there too an Ironman triathelete and they both talked me through the benefits of alcohol-free living. Their company helps guys figure out how to attract women--no kidding--and Owen is known for being, in his own words, quite the pickup artist. He still manages to teach courses every weekend! Very charming.
: CEO and founder of SecondMarket
was the fourth or fifth former Wall Streeter-turned entrepreneur that I met this weekend. Barry has a brilliant business model, and hes incredibly bright and unassuming. After spending time on Wall Street as an investment banker, he saw a growing need for companies and markets with distressed assets - a common topic these days. He helps bring them together with folks who want to buy. His company now boasts an impressive management team
, 100+ employees, fast growth, and new sectors opening up every few months. Hes young, driven, and very easygoing. I am in awe...Jessica Scorpio
: arriving in on Saturday like a breath of fresh Canadian air, Jessica inspired me by how much she has accomplished in such a short time! When she was 18 she founded a leadership network for Canadian entrepreneurs called IDEAL
, which brings together young talent with recognized leaders in their field in a matchmaking sort of venue. Its a great way for the different generations to learn from one another, and participate in her social networking site www.idealmesh.com. Now at 21 years of age, she holds a full-time job supporting the Prime Minister of Canada, and just happened to make time to freelance and launch Canadian company Gazaro
this year. She told me she can only keep up by working 20 hours a day. Wow. Wonder what her 22nd year will bring?
Brian Smith: Principal at In-Q-Tel
: As an strategic investor, Brian sees many kinds of technologies and startups. Brian is a great guy, and seems to love his job even though he travels quite a bit to the west coast. In a small world story, Brian shared that he knows my SpeakerBox co-founder Kristi Hedges
, and her husband Mike Graninger, also at In-Q-Tel, really well! It sounds like things are going great for him, and he also gave a shout out for SpeakerBox friend Carahsoft
, who holds some of the GSA schedules for In-Q-Tel portfolio companies.
: wow, what a bundle of energy! This woman is amazing. She is the founder of I Am That Girl
, which is a non-profit entity dedicated to the empowerment of girls. Smart is Sexy and Death to the Comotose Barbie are mantras of hers. She conducts leadership courses, empowerment groups, and creates an online magazine for Gen Y women and girls. She can add professional model, Survivor contestant, Masters degree recipient, and co-creator of a new television series entitled "I Am That Girl" to her bio. She is producing a new series with her great friend Bryce Dallas Howard,
also in attendance at Summit. Bryce was delightful, almost shy, and demure in a wonderful inauspicious way; its no secret Im a huge fan of her work in M. Night Shyamalan
s The Village
and Lady in the Water
. Her support for the I Am That Girl movement will help put them on the map. Just see her endorsement
! A little anecdote here: when Alexis told her agent she wanted to pursue her Masters' degree, and thus, would be leaving a lucrative modeling career, he told her, "that's a good waste of pretty." Come on! Smart is Sexy, Alexis! Go girl.
A special mention of three sponsors that were in attendance that were awesome: Steve Burman, our realtor from Jones Lang LaSalle
, who was great to spend time with and get to know better. This is his 2nd or 3rd Summit Series - he's known Elliott Bisnow for years. It's thanks to him that I was introduced to Summit Series. Glad you are my commercial real estate guy! For any of you out there that needs a smart agent...
James Bogart from RBC Wealth Management
, who at 21 has a sense of goal-setting and ambition like I've never seen! He's terrific. I hope he earns his watch.
And the monster of all sponsors, Staples
, who brought us Bill Peterson, who was super enjoyable, especially when he opted to stay out late. He paid for dinner for 125 folks, left great jackets and treats in the room, and whooped it up when Michigan won Saturday night. I love ya Bill.
It's been great getting to know such great people!
- Elizabeth Shea
My first night in Aspen, Colorado, at the Summit Series Aspen 09
Conference, and Im inspired! 115 ambitious, creative, brilliant minds in entrepreneurs
under the age of 35. Every person here is making a significant contribution to their community, society, and the teams they lead.
Many are Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year
winners or finalists. Even more have made BusinessWeek
s Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25
. Most have multi-media businesses, or are on their way. Some came with bodyguards, and others have appeared in major motion pictures.
With representatives from healthcare, technology, venture capital, retail, entertainment, philanthropy, and much more, Summit Series Aspen 09 has surpassed my wildest expectations.
There is no way to get through all the great entrepreneurs that are here, so I thought Id highlight a few that Ive gotten to personally know thus far, with a tidbit you wont find in their bio. Most exercise humility, generosity in their giving, and a no-is-not-in-my-vocabulary tone. Join me in celebrating their success!Michael Simmons
: A BusinessWeek
Top 25 Entrepreneur Under 25 winner, Michael, CEO of The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour
, stands a good foot taller than me, so I am grateful when he and entrepreneur Adam Witty, CEO of Advantage
, also 6-foot something, both let me stand on the stairs while we chat. Gracious, brilliant, and savvier than the number of candles on their birthday cakes might suggest, I am intrigued by how they got their start.
Michael spearheads entrepreneurship on college campuses, and has touched more than 60 schools nationwide. He just wants to help young people succeed--it oozes from him. Adam joined him early in the effort, then spun off his own business, Advantage. They let the little detail slip that they used to be partners, and still have a terrific friendship. Adams company helps CEOs publish books that will help them market their ideas, their company and their expertise. A hybrid between a traditional publisher and self-publishing, Advantage seems like a no-brainer to me for a person wanting to leverage the power of authorship to communicate your vision. As you might assume, both Michael and Adam have authored successful, well-marketed books.
, co-founder & CEO of ScanDigital
has what everyone needs: an easy way to transform old hard copy slides, photos, and videos into digital format. Hes one of many entrepreneurs who I met who got their start on Wall Street, and turned that great experience into entrepreneurship. I think its a trend
Anderson is so likeable, affable, and focused; his business is one to watch. This may not be for you, but it might be PERFECT for your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. who are sitting at home wanting to immortalize reel-to-reel and VHS tapes. As an aside, I was going to talk about the fact that according to his roommate, he is quite neat, and doesnt snore, but he has a more compelling passion to share: bananas. He'll eat (and drink) anything with bananas.Keith Lemer
, President, WellNet Healthcare
talk about a man on a mission! Hes articulate, sharp as a whip, bold, and determinedthus destinedto change the face of healthcare management. Hes staking a claim in a new territory self-described as Healthcare Performance Management (HPM)a way for CEOs to take control of their own healthcare programs. Watch out for him
, director of private equity company Zynik
: Nadeem sneaks up on you
he has an aura of success about him but you have to drag it out of him. One might think his successes would place him in his mid-30s, especially since hes started seven (or was it eight?) companies, including two in college before he was even a sophomore. Thats when you realize what a huge impact hes made at a very young age. After making many investments with other peoples money, hes now proud to make private equity investments with his own, which gives him a greater connection to the entrepreneur. Oh, and he hasnt revealed his age, but Im guessing the first number is a two.Ryan Allis
, Co-founder, CEO of iContact
: Ryan and I found each other like any good virtual networkers would do on Twitter before the conference even started. But he should be good at connecting he owns a $10M email marketing firm that is heralded to be one of the best email campaign tools in the business. Watch for a switch to iContact here at SpeakerBox. Another BusinessWeek
Top 25 under 25 award winner and 2008 E&Y Entreprenuer of the Year, he wrote a bestselling book Zero to One Million
after he had done it himself three times.Jay Gibb
:, Co-founder of ArizonaBay
: theyre baaaack! The technology incubator model is back in full swing with ArizonaBay. Talking to him about the companies they select, they take on about 1 out of every 20 companies that approaches them, primarily to be selective to their mission. ArizonaBay has 40 technical staff members who bring a product to market in return for an equity stake in the company. Jay believes his biggest asset is the ability to talk geek and street to make sure there is alignment on projects. Inc. Magazine
recently ran a story that I found on my own about ArizonaBay
take a look
Other notables (running out of space) that I have enjoyed getting to know: Bo Fishback,
VP of Entrepreneurship, Kaufman Foundation
: an entrepreneur himself and a person who travels the world advancing innovation and a winner of the BusinessWeek
Under 25 accolade; Jeff Fissel
, Co-Founder KZO Innovations
, a DC-based success story, and an attendee to the Summit Series White House Summit; Brain Smith, Principal at In-Q-Tel
who is looking for great companies to bring into their portfolio.
- Elizabeth Shea
For the third year in a row, one of our clients, ScienceLogic
, polled attendees at FOSE to get a sense for trends in government IT. At FOSE 2009
, one of the big themes at the show was cloud computing, with the co-location of CloudCamp Federal
as well as several vendors and conference tracks
focusing solely on the cloud. Cloud computing was also one of the technology topics covered by the survey
so what did attendees have to say about it?
In short, the cloud is still a bit of a mystery for federal IT professionals 42 percent of them think its important, 19 percent think its NOT important
and 40 percent just dont know enough about cloud computing to make an informed decision. Coupled with only 11 percent of agencies actually using anything cloud-related right now, and its safe to say that the year ahead looks like it will be very important in shaping the federal perception of cloud computing.
of ScienceLogics 2009 Government IT Trends survey are available now, as well as a trends document
that compares the results from this year to 2008.
Also be sure to check out the additional findings
from this years FOSE survey, which focused on federal ITs reaction
to the Obama administration and the economic recession.