Spacey Interview Leads to Thoughts on Modern-Day Mentoring

“Send the elevator back down.”

Those words were spoken by House of Cards star Kevin Spacey in an interview on the Studio 360 radio show Saturday. He was quoting the late Oscar-winning actor Jack Lemmon, who served as a mentor to Spacey, who played his son in the film Dad. Spacey said that Lemmon was very concerned with helping the next generation of actors.

This morning I heard a similar sentiment from Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells in an interview on ESPN radio. He recently advised Steve Kerr, a current NBA announcer in line to become the next coach of the New York Knicks. Parcells said that he was helped as a young coach by luminaries of the day like Tom Landry and is proud to pass that on.

One always-pleasing picture at a conference such as SIPA 2014—exactly a month from today!—is the conversation between an experienced publisher or marketer and an up-and-coming person in that field. That’s one reason why it’s so important to send people of all levels to the conference. It’s a chance for them to establish relationships with peers and professionals from other companies. (And perhaps attend a great Marketing Boot Camp!)

But the idea of mentoring relationships has been flipped a bit in our industry. So much of what we do relies on technology—and to a growing extent, social media—and it’s younger people who have lived that world. When I think of young people in this business I’ve gotten to know—a Rachel Yeomans, Jenny Fukumoto or Nancy Brand—I do offer advice, but easily get that back in information on Twitter, mobile and SalesForce.

I came across a good article Friday on the CNN Money site titled “5 Mentor Mistakes to Avoid” written by award-winning journalist Katherine Reynolds Lewis. She comes at it from the viewpoint of a person-seeking-a-mentor, but there’s good advice for both sides.

Her #1 mistake to avoid is having a mentor just like you; that’s a good concept in general for meeting people at a conference. Seek out colleagues in different areas. Of course, you’ll talk to your friends, but tell yourself you need to return with 5 new connections.

#2 is avoid asking for general help. If you approach a speaker after a session, come with a definite question or purpose in mind. Reynolds Lewis also wants you to share outcomes, so you can ask that speaker, “If I try this, can I check back with you to get your feedback?”

#3 is avoid wasting time. “The time is the biggest issue and the commitment. It is a big commitment,” says Roz Alford, principal of ASAP, an IT solutions company. “There has to be accountability on both sides.”

#4 is what I mentioned above: Avoid thinking it’s a one-way relationship. Jack Lemmon got a deep sense of pride from seeing Kevin Spacey succeed and similarly, Season Crawford of MMI, in a recent Member Profile, credited the people she first worked with for the entrepreneurial nature they instilled in her. But today, good business relationships are a traffic-heavy, two-way street, no matter the ages. Get to know a Joe May from Pro Farmer (presenting a session on mobile), Brand from Chartwell (onboarding and retention) or the young and entrepreneurial Andy Swindler, president of Astek (optimizing your CMS).

The #5 mistake is forcing the relationship. Talk, exchange cards, then emails, maybe run into that person again. And perhaps you’re in a modern-day mentoring relationship before you even realize it.

Send the elevator back down? Probably meet on the third floor in appliances and computers might be the better line for today—though it’s not nearly as lyrical.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 .

Audience Info May Give You Best Social Media Advice

Yesterday, I was going through LinkedIn’s new Facebook-like homepage and saw a few great posts from a colleague/friend who I had emailed a couple weeks ago and heard nothing back. So I wrote her through LinkedIn and received a nice response back in about an hour. Another friend I see on Facebook all the time—guess where I’ve had the most luck reaching him?

The best thing you can do is get information from your audience, Rachel Yeomans, senior marketing manager for Chicago-based Pear, told me late last year. What platform(s) are they on? What do they look to get out of social media? How do they use it? Do a survey, poll the group on your forum, put a link on page one of your publication, call them up.

“It’s a much better way to be confident about your decisions,” she said. “That will then define who you are as a company [social media-wise] and the audience you’re trying to reach.” Here are some fairly surprising social media success stories from SIPA members for four of the big platforms: [Read more...]

What really impacts your audience?

What makes an impact on us today? Over the weekend, the email of an arts administrator I know went nuts bombarding me with the same email. That caught my attention. As of today, the head of a large former member company is now following us on Twitter (@sipaonline). That caught my attention. And a Reflections of a Newsosaur article on Friday slammed home the urgency of mobile—Alan Mutter writes that even if you aren’t fully aboard yet, you get a “rare do-over.” Just don’t miss it again.

“Because the mobile universe is largely a work in progress,” he writes, “there is time for legacy media companies to create transformational products to delight consumers and attract a host of advertising, subscription and transactional revenues.” That is also attention-catching.

A high-quality email provider. Social connections. And your mobile platform. Those are three areas that impact your audience each day. Here are the action items:

1. Integrate at least one form of social into everything you do. How am I best going to reach that CEO of a former member? By tweeting out these articles and other valuable information. But it can no longer be an if-I-have-time thing. It has to become part of the process. What is the social media that your audience is on the most? Starting this week, be there. [Read more...]

Crafting a blueprint for constant improvement

One reason for the success of Twitter, according to a recent article by D.T. Max in The New Yorker about one of its co-founders, Jack Dorsey, “is that its very basic interface lent itself to all sorts of purposes, many of them unforeseen by its designers.” Retweets, hashtags and the @-reply were created outside of the Twitter founders.

I thought about this when writing yesterday’s column about excelling at mobile in 2014. On Social Media Explorer, Tracey Parsons said that Generation Y—which she prefers calling the On-Demand Generation—wants to improve on and add to existing structures. So much of their life has been in real-time and participatory. They’re used to commenting, “like”ing, downloading and reinventing, rather than just observing.

Because of this, Parsons believes that businesses should build “responsive experiences, platforms, products, and brands…” and need better feedback loops. This generation is “going to want to not only engage with the products and services you’re offering, but they also want to impact their design and development. This group has more ideas than they know what to do with and they have been given tools to indulge that creativity.”

This theory begs two questions:
1) Are you opening new product development to your entire staff?
2) Are you designing your processes in an open-ended way?
It doesn’t make sense anymore to delay releasing new products until they’re perfect. Better in today’s world to get it out there, see what people think, and more importantly, see what they suggest to make it better. [Read more...]

Keys to your 2014 mobile initiative

How do your emails and website look on mobile platforms? Are they engaging, responsive? These questions are only going to get more poignant as we head into 2014. Standing on the subway platform this morning, I quickly glanced around and saw all 11 people looking at their phones. And I think we’re actually past the point of this being an age thing. Mobile is consumed by everyone now.

Here are 10 suggestions for improving your mobile delivery in 2014:

1. ‘Hour’ Town. Kevin Allen at SIPA member Ragan’s PR Daily reminds us that the first hour of when you post something is the most important. “Start asking yourself: Where is my audience going to be in the hour or so after we post this? Is there an opportunity to capture them where they are at that moment and inspire action or tap into an emotion that you know a large number of your fans are experiencing at that time?”

2. Easy Does It. Allen also notes that people don’t like traveling around from site to site as much on mobile. “Keep your posts simple and undeniably specific to your brand.”

3. Be Responsive. To deal with what Tracey Parsons on Social Media Explorer calls the On-Demand Generation, she advises you to build “responsive experiences, platforms, products, and brands…” She also says you’ll need better feedback loops. This [younger] generation is “going to want to not only engage with the products and services you’re offering, but they also want to impact their design and development. This group has more ideas than they know what to do with and they have been given tools to indulge that creativity.” [Read more...]

Social media rewards quality and effort, not what’s easy

“Realistic is a really big word,” Rachel Yeomans (pictured here), a principal at the SIPA member consulting firm Astek, told me this morning. “Being realistic about your resources, knowing what are your resources.”

The topic we were discussing was social media. I was looking at a chart that eMarketer posted this week on social media effectiveness. The chart shows a list of tactics with a percentage of the people who use them. Next to it is a percentage of “effectiveness.”

For instance, although about 75% of people put Facebook buttons and links on their website and marketing emails, only about 40% deem them effective. Whereas while only 34% publicly answer customer service questions on Facebook, 69% feel that it is effective. For Twitter, just 27% publicly answer customer service question but 60% deem it effective. It seems like one person’s question could be that of many, so being public with your answer could build engagement and loyalty. [Read more...]

SIPAlert Daily: Working backwards can be forward thinking

There’s a play now on Broadway called Betrayal starring Daniel Craig, his Oscar-winning wife Rachel Weisz and the British actor Rafe Spall. The play starts at the end of a seven-year affair and works its way back in time so you can see its undoing and doing. The last scene on stage is the first for the affair.

I thought of Betrayal this morning while reading an interview with Lisa Barone, vice president of strategy at Overit, an Albany, N.Y., web design and development company, on the exploreB2B site.

Asked the greatest SEO/SEM challenges we currently face, she replied: “…the biggest challenge for most business is prioritization, especially if you’re a small business. There’s so much to do and so much that you COULD do that it’s easy to get lost in the possibilities (or go broke trying everything). Everything you do to your site should be done with purpose and with a clear benefit in mind. Map out your site and business goals and work backwards to how you’re going to get there. If you’re doing something that doesn’t have a fat line leading back to its purpose, don’t do it.“

There is something illuminating to starting with your result—in this case a desired one—and then working back to see the steps involved. Like Betrayal, you know the ending; now it’s just a matter of plotting the scenes.

So if your desired result is a new vertical with a new product—let’s say a webinar—you would plot backwards something like this:

12. Carry out a well-attended new webinar.
11. Promote webinar on social media – “Blogs and social publishing platforms are access points to your customers,“ says Barone.
10. Blog about an aspect of the information from the webinar.
9. Announce the launch of a new webinar.
8. Create a powerful landing page for the webinar.
7. Build a social media community around your vertical – “We know that Google is using social signals as part of its ranking algorithm,“ says Barone.
6. Start a blog – “If you’re not blogging, you should be. And you should have started yesterday,“ Barone says.
5. Write valuable content using that research.
4. Do SEO and keyword research.
3. Get every department involved.
2. Build a website for that vertical.
1. Research your customer and subject data to develop a new vertical.

Maurice Ashley, a chess grandmaster, also spoke about this during his talk at TEDYouth 2012. He called it “retrograde analysis” which states that “in order to look ahead it pays to look backwards.” He said that chess players will examine their end games to see how they got to that point and what they can improve upon next time. He also posted this for the audience:

After reading this sentence, you will
realize that the the brain doesn’t recognize
a second the.

“There’s something about the human mind,” he said. “We’re very logical creatures. If you read this sentence backwards, you would automatically catch it. But forward…” He said that’s also a good reason to proofread backwards sometimes. (I’ve said that before as well, but my reason is that we get tired near the end. Someone should start reading fresh from the end.)

He also gave this example: 6 cards are face down on a desk with one of the numbers 1-6 on them. The idea is to pick the highest card. You pick a 2. I pick a card and ask you to trade. Should you trade your 2? At first, it seems logical to do so. But working backwards it doesn’t. (I wouldn’t trade a 6, 5, 4 or even 3, so I most likely want to trade a 1 .

Ashley said that “Retro-Analysis” is also used in law, science, medicine, insurance and investing. In other words, it’s good for the SIPA world.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 as managing editor. Follow Ronn on Twitter at @SIPAOnline


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