Bridging Two Worlds

A conversation about online media and what it means to your organization

Archive for February, 2009

Final Skype Thought

Posted by AHA Creative on February 27, 2009

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies

Ruth, my fellow blogger and B2W associate, and I are planning to use Skype at our session at the upcoming Canadian Public Relations Society Conference being held in Vancouver on June 8th. I say “planning” only because you never know if something new and better will come along.

Ruth will be in New Zealand executing a social media campaign for one of our clients and I will be at the conference in Vancouver. Ruth will be brought in via webcam and Skype and will co-present with me from more than 11,000 km away. We’re having a great time developing a presentation that will cross timelines, technologies and, we hope, showcase the value and potential of online and social media. Skype will only be one of the technologies we will use to demonstrate how you can bridge two worlds in your communications programs.

Check out the CPRS conference here.  

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More Skype Talk

Posted by AHA Creative on February 26, 2009

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies

Oprah directs people to her website to advise on how to set up Skype.  If this impacts Skype like her book recommendations impact bestsellers, I can only imagine the number of hits to Skype as a result. (Check out the post on Skype’s blog about her webcast attracting 750,000 registrants from 139 countries around the world.)

In the communications and marketing world this is a dream testimonial.  Not only is Skype getting used and mentioned, their testimonial is even willing to tell you how to use the technology. What a great concept. It makes one think about how organizations can creatively get the word out about their product or service and link up to testimonials in the online world. For example, if someone is willing to give you a testimonial, will they also put a link on their own website about how to connect with you and your organization? Traditionally we have always thought of using the testimonial in a much more passive manner.

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Skype’s The Limit

Posted by AHA Creative on February 25, 2009

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies

Being away on vacation gives one time to thoroughly read the NY Times, watch Oprah, chat with friends and reflect on what is happening around you.  As I laze away my days in Palm Springs, I have been thinking about how Skype is and will continue to impact on communications.  So many people I know Skype with family members who live in other parts of the world or use it as a way to keep in touch while on vacation and, more recently, I am finding business associates willing to Skype while on vacation.  

Watching Oprah last night (a guilty pleasure that I never seem to indulge in at home) and seeing the range of people connect with her and her guest via Skype tells me that this mode of communications is fully mainstream. So that got me to thinking about the possibilities from a personal, business and environmental perspective.  

Reading the NY Times about a guy who had spent the last 30 years travelling for business and who had changed his life through the use of technology like Skype, I think it would be a great experiment to have a “Skypeful” week.  Try to hold all meetings via Skype – whether in town or out for one week and tally up your costs in terms of travel, time and impact on the environment.  I think I will send this idea out to others and pick a week in July for the trial.  

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Email Is Not Dead

Posted by AHA Creative on February 24, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

While there is a lot of talk online about the death of email – given the number of items to read in my inbox, I am not so sure. There seems to be a growing challenge with the use of email. We may have become so used to quickly sending or replying to emails, that we forget—especially in a business context—that this a form of communication. As quick and easy as it is, we should still be thoughtful about it.

We’ve all heard of the embarrassing emails that get sent to the whole company instead of just that one special person that the risqué message or picture was intended to surprise and delight. And there are lots of stories online and in traditional media about emails that were meant to be kept confidential within an organization but were leaked. It’s important to think before you hit send, that’s a fact.

This blog is a little reminder about those daily emails that we all send – to colleagues, clients, contractors, suppliers and to other stakeholders. The instant reply syndrome seems to have taken a little out of the thought process that should go into these pieces of communication.

I was looking to see if there were others that were feeling this challenged and came across an interesting article in O, The Oprah Magazine online. Mirabai Bush, a senior fellow at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in Northampton, Massachusetts, teaches a mindful email exercise to employees of corporations like Google. The goal is to make their exchanges more thoughtful and less likely to misfire. It’s worth a read.

Using email correctly is important – it showcases that you are a professional and it increases efficiency. Used properly, it can also help to reduce miscommunication and misunderstandings.

We did a quick outreach to a few friends and colleagues – from CEOs to journalists to customer service reps to ask them what they think. Below are a few of the tips to help you create effective email: 

  • Use spell check.
  • Keep your email short (if it is longer than two paragraphs, call the person and send a follow up email).
  • Understand how to use To: (the person that will respond), Cc: (those that should be kept apprised), Bcc: (the person you send it to in order to cover your butt).
  • Use a signature with your name, email and phone number on it.
  • Limit your use of smiley faces unless it is a personal email.
  • Remember that a person can’t hear your tone of voice in an email. What may seem funny, witty or smart to you as you write it, may come across as arrogant, sarcastic or just plain mean when read.
  • Use the subject line to reflect the content so that people can find the specific email again, if they need it. (This is one of the biggest pet peeves we heard!)
  • If you are emailing back and forth about a topic – use numbers. (For example: Corporate retreat, Corporate retreat – 2, Corporate retreat – 3 – change in venue.)
  • Don’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t say in person.
  • Don’t put anything in an email that you would be embarrassed about if it was forwarded to your boss, your staff, the board of directors, the CEO or the media.
  • Don’t forward jokes or chain emails.
  • Respond to emails within one business day (or sooner, if possible).
  • If you are out of town and will not be responding, set up an out of town automatic reply so people are aware of this.
  • Don’t write an email when you are angry.
  • Think before you hit send.


Posted in Demystifying Online Communications | Leave a Comment »

Great Resources Online

Posted by AHA Creative on February 23, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There are many resources online to help communicators that would like to learn more about social media. PR News has just launched PR Peeps, an online communicators’ network created to bring together communications professionals across all aspects of the industry including agencies, corporations and non-profits. Membership is free and while the site is pretty new (it only launched a week or so ago), it looks like it might be of value.

One of the best sites online is While it is U.S.-based and tends to be a little U.S. centric, there is an abundance of great information available here – from case studies to articles to blogs to videos and other resources to help you do your job. There are two levels of membership – free and paid. While the free has some great content, we subscribe to this site and it’s well worth the cost.

There are of course many blogs that focus on communication, PR and social media as well. Some of those are listed on our blogroll and still others are out there waiting to be discovered.

If you know of a good online resource, please let us know!


Posted in Social Media | Leave a Comment »

Building Credibility

Posted by AHA Creative on February 19, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Our friends and colleagues over at Beaupre recently posted an interesting piece on what PR isn’t. They hit it right on target – and the article is worth a read.

One of the reasons that social/online media is so interesting and exciting to us is that it provides the opportunity for conversation and discussion. Great PR is and has always been about two-way communication.

One of the points made in this article is that good PR can bring credibility – as opposed to just creating awareness. There is huge value in awareness, don’t get me wrong. And there is huge value in credibility. The social media world is based on credibility – and building relationships with stakeholders is at the core of this. I sometimes think the term public relations is a little “old school” and we describe ourselves as communicators, but I think there is some value in remembering that what we do is assist organizations in building relationships with their public(s). And like any good relationship, it’s not just what you say that counts, it’s what you do. It’s that you live up to your promises and when you don’t, you acknowledge it and explain how you are going to make it right. Social media demands this – and as a communicator, I am excited about this.

Great organizations have huge opportunities online and not-so-great organizations have the chance to hear what their communities think about them and create positive change to become better and grow.

Read the article, it’s good.

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | Leave a Comment »

Twitter Brings The World Together For Charity

Posted by AHA Creative on February 13, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

A Twestival took place yesterday in Vancouver. It is a strong example of the power of Twitter. More than 20,000 people from around the world came together to raise money for charity: water, a non-profit organization bringing clean drinking water to people in developing nations.

In one short month—with only volunteer effort—the global charity work is expected to raise $1 million for the 1.1 billion people in the world who cannot access clean drinking water. The event took place in more than 175 cities around the world.

This is a great example of using Twitter – the online world helped people to reach out and share the message on a global basis and then locally, people came together in person. In Vancouver, they met at the Opus Hotel. From all accounts, the event was well organized, fun and it raised money for a good cause.

It’s important to reiterate that the Twestival combined global and local, online and in person. One of the concerns that I hear quite often from clients is about losing the personal, face-to-face time that is so important. Great communication embraces many ways of outreach and, just like we tell clients, nothing can replace the in person component. Online communication is a piece of the communications puzzle, an important and growing piece, but it needs to blend into your overall communications strategy.

On another note, I am always looking for the inside scoop on how Twitter is going to make money. One of the challenges of recommending a free service to clients is that if it’s not making money, you have to wonder how long it can last. Not that I am saying I don’t think Twitter will last, I do think they need to find a way to make money so they can last a long time.  According to a TechCrunch article, Twitter is out raising additional money through the venture capital market. It looks like they have raised more funds, this time with a $250 million valuation.

Twitter is highly popular right now – and according to Robert Scoble on his blog – with this valuation and with about six million people on Twitter, each customer is worth about $40.  In looking at monetizing Twitter, it brings up interesting questions for the six million users. Would you pay for this service? If yes, how much? 


Posted in Marketing Communications, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection | Leave a Comment »

Best Business Books Of All Time

Posted by AHA Creative on February 9, 2009

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies 

Last week a friend and colleague suggested I write a column in one of our local papers and do reviews of the business books I read.  I was flattered but thought I barely have time to write blog posts about books I have read. I am a bit of a biz book junkie as I find I always learn something.  Now, thanks to Seth Godin’s blog post, I found the answer for my friend – The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. A “Coles Notes” to business books – what about that?  You might not pick out something salient from your own perspective but at least you get a quick hit and can go buy the actual book if it intrigues you. And, just for the record, I have read all of Seth’s books.

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