I’m serving on a panel to close the Ragan conference hosted by SAS in Cary, NC. The goal is to give participants a list of actions they can immediately implement as practical steps when they return home to work.
I was asked to provide six suggestions, and the other four panelists also are responsible for a similar number. We get a minute to describe each idea, so I’m writing this post to provide links to mine. I’ll likely add links with some of the other panelists’ suggestions after I hear them.
I’ve also included more than six ideas because I don’t know what the others will be offering, and if we have duplicates I don’t want to be left without something valuable to recommend. Besides, I can’t limit myself to just a half dozen.
1. Get a Flip video camera. This is the only recommendation of my main six that costs anything. You can get a Flip today at Wal-Mart or Best Buy or some Target stores. The Flip provides miniDV quality video and is completely portable. You copy files to your computer via the built-in USB instead of having to digitize tapes. And you can have video uploaded to YouTube within minutes, as I did with the David Pogue musical parodies. The cost of buying a Flip is less than a quarter of the cost of hiring a professional videographer for a single day, and you can use the video you shoot to pitch stories to journalists. Even better, you can make the video available directly to consumers.
2. Become a SMUGgle. In the Harry Potter books, a muggle is an ordinary mortal without magical powers. A SMUGgle is also an ordinary mortal, but one who wants to accomplish really amazing feats using social media tools. You become a SMUGgle by enrolling in SMUG. This will be a gateway to your learning about lots of other social media tools you can apply to your work.
3. Try Yammer. Yammer is Twitter for the enterprise. It offers a way to take advantage of the functionality of Twitter, but to limit the participants to employees of your company. The big value is trying before buying, so you can see whether you get user adoption before you sink a lot of money into a tool that people may not use. It seems to have potential for powerful collaboration, allowing coworkers to opt-in for e-mails about subjects they find interesting, and also can serve as a massive General Reference database of facts, links and other information employees have found helpful. I did a Yammer 101 course and expect to be doing more on SMUG.
4. Start a WordPress.com blog. It’s free and you can do it in 5 minutes or less, as my Dad did. If you’re a coward, you can make it a private blog invisible to anyone except users you invite. Then just invite your communications colleagues to have access. Getting this hands-on experience will show you how easy it is to publish content to the world. You also could use WordPress.com to publish your Web site, having it serve as your content management system. The SMUG blogging curriculum will help you learn.
5. Create your own free personal podcast. The SMUG Podcasting curriculum takes you from the very basics to having a podcast listed in iTunes. When you’re familiar with the process, you will have complete confidence to recommend doing podcasts for your organization with higher production values, better microphones, etc. The mystery will be eliminated.
6. Join a Social Network such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Or both. It’s essential for professional communicators to understand how social networking sites work.
- Build your own on-line newsroom. See our Mayo Clinic News Blog for an example.
- Get a YouTube account. If you’ve only watched YouTube videos, you haven’t understood full potential. And if you work for a nonprofit, starting a branded YouTube channel is a no-brainer – it’s free. A Flip camera makes it easy for you to produce and upload videos
- Get an iPhone. This is another one that’s not free, but professional communicators need to understand potential of phones and applications.
- Try Dropbox. Its main purpose to sync files across multiple computers, letting you store your precious documents and files “in the cloud” so you have safe backup. The neat feature, though, is that it is a way for you to have the equivalent of an FTP site without the annoying hassle of log ins and passwords. You get two GB of storage free, and the paid option is something like $50 a year for 50 GB.
- Read a good book. Here are three must-read books that will change the way you work and live, and you could perhaps read one by the end of the weekend.
- Rules to Break and Laws to Follow – Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. I haven’t reviewed this yet, but plan to do so soon. I have been listening to it through Audible.com. It’s an excellent book about how a focus on short-term results can’t be the only measure of business success, because you may be draining or harvesting customer equity, and therefore actually reducing the value of your business.
- Getting Things Done – David Allen. I have several related posts about the GTD subject matter.
- The Reason for God – Tim Keller
Updated: My fellow panelists are
Here are some of their ideas:
- Becky – Embrace individual customization on the intranet. Let employees upload and display their own photos instead of the staff photos.
- Bruce – Look for Alliances. AP came from this concept. Use a similar approach to find like-minded sites with which you can share.
- John – Have interns start a blog. “Outsiders’ view from the inside.”
- Mark – use LInkedIn journalistically. Send out requests for quotes or sources.
- Becky – Don’t overlook interns. They understand these technologies naturally and can give you insights. SAS has a student intern site.
- Bruce – Anonymity is dead. Make identity work for you on the internet.
- Customize your name. There are 266 John Mims in the U.S. The guy to my left uses his middle initial to identify himself. Good thing Lee Aase is relatively rare.
- Mark – Sign up for Google Alerts on your name or your company.
- Becky – Google your stuff to see if it shows up. If not, use titles and tags to optimize your content.
- Bruce – Get blog aggregator/RSS reader.
- John says you should have your posts published on days when people are reading. Write on the weekends, but set them to post on the weekdays. Here’s how.
- Becky – Use blogs to come together during difficult times. UNC Chapel Hill with student body president being killed. Created a blog to share special memories. Print all the comments and share with the family.
- Bruce – Create a wiki approach to document creation. Bruce had a colleague create a wiki certiori petition in the 9th Circuit.
- John – Comment on other people’s blogs. Make meaningful comments which will get people to visit your blog.
- Mark – Try Blog Jamming. Spend 48 hours in intense blogging about a particular issue. Then have the blog go away.
- Becky -Hand over the reins for Web 2.0 video. SAS hands employees Flip cams. Let them duct tape to handlebars during bike to work day.
- Mark – Search for Bloggingheads on NY Times.
- Use RSS feeds for internal news, just as you do for external.
- Mark – Check out everyblock.com. Everything that has happened on your block. It’s in beta now in 6 cities. News at the block level.
- Bruce – Beware the privacy trolls that may require encryption through legislation that is being adopted in various states. This will slow down all of your on-line transactions on your Web site. So what can we do about it?
- Mark – If you’re an editor, use Bullfighter or mystery matador.
As I count it, that makes for 34 ideas including my two extra books, which means we exceeded our quota by 13.3 percent. And I know I didn’t get all of my fellow panelists’ ideas recorded. I hope you see some things here you can apply immediately in your work.
I’m happy to have participated in this event, and would love to connect with others who are interested in these issues. You can get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
I’d also welcome any comments you have, or other ideas you’d like to share.