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Proposal Writer, SHPS - dmmwinfrey@gmail.com

Brogan: Social media a tool, not ROI

Social media is like the telephone, according to consultant Chris Brogan.

"Businesses want ROI from social media," said Brogan, a consultant and blogger on the subject. He was in Louisville this week to help lead a business boot camp, and he stuck around to speak to ~120 people at the Social Media Club of Louisville.

His blog, chrisbrogan.com, is in the top 10 of the Advertising Age Power150, and in the top 100 on Technorati.

Businesses would do well to think of social media the same way they do their phone or other commodity product.

"The phone is not a business plan," he said. Social media is a tool to be lined up with a strategy for reaching who you want to reach.

Speaking on What's Next? Brogan touched on a variety of topics. Here's two:

  • GPS-enabled data. The web initially won praise for providing borderless access to information. Now tools are providing more meaning to where you are.

    Brogan expressed interest in the growing number of iPhone apps and other tools that use GPS to network people and information. For example, rock band Nine Inch Nails has distributed an app that allows fans to open their iPhone and immediately find other NIN fans in their vicinity. Not a fan of Nine Inch Nails, you say? OK, take them out and put in your favorite band, hobby or passion, and the possibilities blossom.
    1. Say you're visiting a city on vacation. Imagine Food Network built a similar app. Suddenly you can Tweet/text other foodies within a quarter mile, seeking suggestions for the best local restaurants.
    2. Imagine a denomination or network of churches that helped people on vacation find affiliate churches.
    3. With GPS-enabled information, colleges could offer visitors self-guided walking tours based on their interests (prospective students, athletics, school history, etc.)

  • "Velvet Rope" social networks. Everyone loves the feeling of being whisked to the front of the line and past the velvet rope. The web and social media now are allowing people network in exclusive ways.

    Looking for $100,000+ talent? Visit www.theladders.com. It'll cost, but you won't have to wade through all those starting positions at monster.

    Doctors can join www.sermo.com for free, but they must show their credentials to gain access. (The tagline lures those attracted to insider information: "Know more. Know earlier.") Organizers make money by charging journalists and medical product sellers for access to this special group.

    Ultimately, the tools are designed to network people and open communication, not push ideas or products to them, Brogan reminded the audience. "Standing on stage is way different from sitting together talking."

He urged social media specialists to re-imbed themselves to help their organizations use the tools to their maximum usefulness.

"Equip the people all around you to do something with it," he said "It's not cool to be in the cool kids club. It's cool to do something."

David Winfrey (dmmwinfrey@gmail.com / @dmmwinfrey) is a freelance writer, editor, communicator living in Louisville, Ky. He is a former president of Baptist Communicators Association and is the current chairman of the Communications and Technology Committee for Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville.

POSTED: May 22, 2009

How to waste the next four hours

Visit the Academy of Motion Pictures web site, and you can't watch "No Country for Old Men." Visit the Grammys site, and you can't listen to full downloads of winning songs. But visit the site for The Webby Awards, and you can visit every winner for the past several years. By cruising the best of the best in a variety of categories, you can gain a lot of insights into how great communicators are using the Web in innovative ways. So look them up, and if your boss asks why you are browsing "Paper Critters," truthfully reply, "Um, research."

POSTED: May 6, 2008

Arizona Travel 101

Going in early or staying after BCA to visit Arizona? Here are a few links I've found:

  • Frommer's Experiences - This travel guide has a terrific online presence. This list will give you a few ideas about opportunities throughout the state.
  • Arizona Guide - This seems to be the state's tourism site. Here you can request an official visitor's guide and check the happenings for locations and specific dates.
  • NPS-Grand Canyon - Download a trip planner and learn what the National Park Service wants you to know before arriving.
  • GORP's Grand Canyon - Sponsored by Orbitz, this page offers the top things to do while visiting the "big ditch."
  • Visit Phoenix - If you're limiting your visit to Phoenix, here's the convention and visitor's bureau site with lots of ideas.
  • Play Ball! - The Diamondbacks are in town the weekend before (Rockies) and after (Padres) our BCA workshop.

POSTED: Mar 28, 2008

Computer monitors: Bigger is better

Looking for a way to convince your boss that you need a bigger computer monitor? Here's your evidence.

According to a recent news story, A study at University of Utah found that "upgrading a worker from an 18-inch to a 24-inch screen reduced the time it took to complete a task from eight hours to 5.5 hours. Researchers estimated a company can save $8,600 per employee based on a $32,500 annual salary, even after factoring in the cost of the new monitor and increased electricity use."

Two similar studies in 2003 and 2005 made similar conclusions. This makes even more sense if you have graphic design and/or desktop publishing duties. So, now that you have the research to back your request, go out and get a widescreen. Just don't let them catch you watching this.

POSTED: Mar 25, 2008

Will stress or money cause your next job jump?

Think most departing employees are leaving for more money? Think again.

According to a recent survey, stress, not money, is the primary factor for employees who change jobs.

According to a story in the Vancouver Sun, consulting firm Watson Wyatt found most employers thought money was the top consideration for someone considering quitting his or her job.

But when the same survey was given to employees, they cited stress as the No. 1 reason they might leave.

"It may be stress difficulty with a colleague, with the work environment or their immediate boss," said Liz Wright, a Watson Wyatt spokeswoman.

The survey found that employers ranked stress near the bottom of their list of factors that would cause employees to terminate their jobs.

Meanwhile, employees ranked money last on their list. After stress, they said they were more likely to leave a job due to:

  • A lack of balance between work and a personal life.
  • Lack of promotional opportunities.
  • Lack of confidence in their bosses. Last on their list was money.

A psychologist noted that employees should learn how to balance life and work, but added several ideas companies should consider for reducing stress in their workplace:

  • Employee assistant programs.
  • More flexible scheduling.
  • Maternity and paternity leave.
  • Better training for management.

POSTED: Dec 18, 2007

Keith Beene remembered

Talking to Ellen Beene at Keith's funeral, she thanked BCA for the tribute page that Cam Tracy had assembled and on which several members had posted their remembrances.

"Keith would be so proud of this," she said with a smile. "And he didn't have to pester anyone."

Nearly anyone who's been an officer of BCA in the past dozen years knows what it's like to get a phone call from Keith. He had a knack for gently prodding us to do the things we needed to do. And he was quick with praise as we completed our tasks. We at the funeral noted how Keith had adapted the same skills he used to parent Erik and Miranda to guide the leaders of BCA.

Keith's prodding and encouragement was just one of the many things we remembered at his funeral on Nov. 19. The event was distinctly Keith. Before the service began, baseball-themed music played. One of the wreaths at the church was adorned with a San Francisco Giants license plate and a Louisville Slugger. Near that was Joe McKeever's cartoon sketch of "Big Daddy," drawn during the workshop last year in Mobile.

BCA members came from Nashville, Florida, west Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama to pay tribute to Keith's influence and to thank Ellen for "sharing" Keith with us. Several more of you wanted to be there and many of you prayed for Keith's family as the funeral began.

As we celebrated his life and influence, we also celebrated the fact that Keith was reunited with his Dad, Sam, in heaven. And we celebrated that Keith was with his Heavenly Father.

Please continue to pray for Keith's family during this holiday season. And stay in touch by checking the Web page or the Facebook group page. BCA must address several issues in the coming weeks and months, but for now let's spend this Thanksgiving week being thankful for Keith's life and ministry.

POSTED: Nov 21, 2007

A bold new step for BCA

I wish you all could have been with us for the recent officers' meeting in Nashville. Not only did we plan for a spectacular workshop in April and handle the usual activities required to keep an organization like BCA moving. We also brainstormed about how BCA can use 21st century tools to serve members.

BCA is best known for its annual spring workshop, which combines education and networking to inspire and prepare members for the varied communication roles they fill. One of our challenges has been to continue that networking and encouragement throughout the year.

That effort got a major boost last year, thanks to Cam Tracy with the launching of this new Web site. But while it is an excellent took for spreading information, we didn't yet have a strong tool to facilitate conversation among members. The flow of information could be one sided, from BCA to the members. Now, with the help of new technology, I think weve finally found a way to connect members and start dialogues about our work that can spread around the country and beyond.

If you haven't joined Facebook, please do so. Then search for "Baptist Communicators" and ask to join the Facebook group. Because it is a closed group, available only to members, you won't have to worry about who will be sending you messages.

One of the reasons I'm excited about this is because it finally gives us a way to talk about our work with other communicators who share the same passion for our messages and our audiences. A lot of BCA members work in small shops and wear a variety of hats. (Let's see, there's spokesperson, photographer, video specialist, web master, writer. Need I continue?) This networking tool will allow us to bounce ideas, share resources we've found and discuss the topics that are important to us.

The exciting part of this during our officers' meeting was the way new leaders were using Facebook and other software, applications and Web sites as a springboard to further the mission of BCA. I believe the future of BCA is strong because of the forward thinking leadership represented in that room. I hope you will do your part and get involved with Facebook and any other resources we use to connect you with your peers.

This is your organization. It only works if you take part. Go to Facebook and check it out.

POSTED: Nov 6, 2007

4 Things We Need From You

If you attended BCA's annual workshop in Mobile, there are 4 things this organization and your fellow Baptist communicators need from you:

  1. Talk back. Fill out the evaluation form for the Mobile workshop. Tell us what you liked most from the program Doug Rogers and his Alabama team put together. Let Elizabeth Young and her team in Arizona know what you want to see next year. Every year, workshop organizers try to develop the right mix of inspiration and education. If you're really ambitious, give us at least one idea for workshop topics on the technical skills as well as the broader issues we face as communicators.
  2. Stalk someone. Chances are, you made some new friends in Mobile. But if you don't talk to them until the next workshop, what good did it do you? Every month, for the next year, why not call or e-mail someone you met through BCA? Talk about life. Talk about work. Talk about projects. Ask for ideas or for a peer review of a piece you're working on. Expand your circle of influence, and it will benefit your work and your psyche.
  3. Get published. Not in a publication, but on this BCA Web site. Cam Tracy at Union University had done a great job of building a site that's designed to help BCA be a professional development organization throughout the year. But it won't reach its full potential if you don't share what you know.
  4. Pull a pre-emptive strike. If you have return to work from Mobile and have never shared what you learned, your boss has no idea that your membership in BCA is worthwhile. Please, before the day is done, write a one-page memo outlining two or three things you learned at the Mobile workshop that will improve your performance at your current job. Then, when the Phoenix workshop comes around next year, you already will have laid the groundwork for getting approval to go.

POSTED: Apr 26, 2007

Learning to say 'No,' part 3

Do you ever find yourself taking on more than you can handle?

Do you feel sometimes like you're saying 'yes' to other people's requests but not leaving time for your own interests?

Have you agreed to a project, only to find yourself immersed in it later, saying to yourself, "What am I doing here? I don't even like basket weaving."

My wife and I joke that I have "the responsibility gene." Somebody asks me to do something, and my first impulse is to jump up, agree to take part and help be responsible for whatever is needed.

Responsibility isn't bad. One guy says that's what keeps the planes in the air. But unchecked, and the tug of responsibility can lead to basket weaving and other unfulfilling pursuits. That's why I really resonated with Mark 1 when a speaker pointed out an important truth.

Jesus was at the beginning of his public ministry. He had performed some of his first healing miracles in Capernaum. He'd also driven out some demons and was really beginning to draw a crowd.

But right after all this attention, Mark 1:35-37 reads:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" (Today's New International Version)

Now if Simon came looking most of us and shouted, "Hey, everybody's looking for you!" our first impulse would be to say, "Oh, sorry, I'll be right there."

But not Jesus. Verses 38 and 39 read:

Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

With everybody looking to find Jesus so He can heal them and teach them and drive out their demons, Jesus basically responds, "That's OK, let's go someplace else."

See, Jesus knew something very important that we need to realize as well: The need is not the same thing as the call. Often Christians equate a request with God's calling. Maybe it is, but if it doesn't match the gifts God has given you, or a very specific direction God is sending you, maybe it isn't.

Jesus spent enough time with God in prayer to understand God's distinct call on His life. And as a result, amid the pressing needs of others, Jesus was still able to stay focused on that call and act in response to that call, even if it meant disappointing others.

Understanding God's call on your life requires two distinct knowledges.

First, how has God gifted and equipped you for service? Often your call can match those gifts.

Second, what is God saying to you? Jesus got away so he could hear God's voice. When we do the same, we might get the sense that God is asking us to do something very specific. If not, then spending time with God can help us evaluate our current direction and remind us that God loves us just as we are, not because of anything we do.

I wish I could tell you that if you spend some time in prayer and Bible reading each morning that your life will slow down and your schedule will be bliss. But it probably won't.

What time with God can do is give you a sense of what God expects of you. And given that knowledge, maybe it will be easier to say no the next time youre asked to help with basket weaving.

POSTED: Mar 20, 2007

Learning to say 'No,' part 2: Determine what's important

I was in grad school for maybe five months when I was relating something from class to my wife, Mary Marcia.

I don't recall what I was saying, but I won't soon forget her turning to me and asking, "Why do you seem to have time for everything except me?"

That night, thankfully, the conversation took a different turn. With 40 hours of work, two nights of class, endless studying and a few other projects, I had been taking Mary Marcia for granted, and it needed to stop.

M&M wasn't asking me to quit grad school and she didn't expect me to resign my job at the Western Recorder newspaper. What she did expect me to do was to show her (not just tell her) that she was as important as those other two commitments.

What about you?

Are you finding too few hours in your day for everything you are asked to do? Maybe the pressure is internal, not external. Does your own professional drive leave you little time for leisure, church, or relationships?

You're not alone. Today's busy culture provides endless time-eating opportunities that can leave you tired, burned out and frustrated, if you let them.

Some refer to it as sacrificing the important on the altar of the urgent.

One of the best things you can do is decide what handful of things are most important to you and guard them tenaciously against anything else seeking your attention.

That means you're going to have to politely tell some folks no.

But first you should sit alone or with your spouse and decide what are the most important pursuits in your life and which ones to trim away.

Jesus gave us a terrific example of this, one we'll look at in a future blog entry. But first back to my story.

After talking with Mary Marcia, we decided that one way I could show her my commitment while in grad school was to have a date every week. Sometimes it was as simple as eating dinner out before getting back to studies. But that weekly ritual reminded me what was truly important and showed her that she wasn't being overlooked amid the other host of activities.

Today, I can count on one hand the time commitments Im saying "yes" to. They are (in no particular order): family, work, church, BCA and the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

What's on your list?

POSTED: Mar 6, 2007

Learning to say "NO"

This week, I joined the "CRACKBERRYS" of the world by purchasing a PDA.

My handy-dandy personal digital assistant can ...

  • Send e-mails about BCA business to Keith Beene in Nashville.
  • Hold digital photos of Jake after trying to feed him rice cereal and mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Store all my friends - and contacts - phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
  • Keep my personal and office calendars from scheduling me in two places at the same time.
  • Remember my wife's birthday (while reminding me not to mention how many).
  • Transport documents between work and home.
  • List of all the tasks I have at work and all the chores I have at home.
  • Call my wife to tell her I've missed the bus because I was too distracted playing with my PDA.

Whether I become an addict is yet to be determined. What already is evident is that my faithful paper-based "organizer" is no match for the multitude of meetings I have to keep up with.

Time management specialists will tell you to keep only one calendar with all your appointments. That explains why I was losing the battle trying to keep straight a paper-based organizer and the Microsoft Outlook calendar on my work computer. I never remembered to combine the things I'd said "Yes" to at work with the other things I'd said "Yes" to at home and elsewhere.

Now every day my PDA will "synchronize" my appointments from work, home, church, BCA, a non-profit board and the commitments I make to friends and others, assuming I don't misplace it.

One thing it won't do, however, is tell me when to say enough is enough.

I have to decide to quit trying to pack more into my day and instead remember to leave time for Mary Marcia and Jake, as well as the time to recharge my batteries with rest, reading and casual pursuits.

I was in my first year of grad school when a professor gave me some of the best advice of the whole program: "You need to decide now what you're going to say "No" to, because you can't do it all."

She was right, and it helped me set boundaries for my two years of study, focusing almost exclusively on work, school and family.

Now I'm finding that I need to rediscover that ability to say "No."

Maybe you're finding yourself in the same boat. If so, join me for my next few blogs, as I'm going explore a few ideas on how to get ones schedule under control.

POSTED: Jan 23, 2007

How Important is Communication?

If you're an old married guy or gal, like me, you can skip to the next blog.

But if you're still in the dating scene, you might want to pay attention to a recent article in The New York Times. The story, which is actually a sidebar about pre-marital counseling, is a month old, but recently was still ranked among the top 10 e-mailed stories of the day.

In it, marriage counselors offer 15 questions that couples should discuss before marriage. Some are amusing: "Will there be a television in the bedroom?" Others more serious: "Does each of us feel fully confident in the other's commitment to the marriage?" But each illustrate the importance of good communication to a successful marriage, even before it starts.


POSTED: Jan 19, 2007

In Defense of Creativity

"Don’t ask what the world needs. Rather ask – what makes you come alive? Then go and do it! Because what the world needs is people who have come alive" — Howard Thurman

Did you get into communications so you could edit news briefs, proofread your boss’ column or review B-roll video until your eyes bled?

Of course not.

But wherever you are and whatever your job description, you’re probably spending lots of time at work today on stuff that isn’t the real reason you got into this business.

That’s not necessarily bad. Every job has “chores” that must be done. Baseball players do fundamentals drills to get ready for games. Chefs still have to make stock before they can open the restaurant. The key is making sure you don’t spend so much time on those chores that you look up in 10 years and realize you’ve mastered the tiresome details of a job that no longer lets you do what you love.

Whether your title is staff writer, Web designer, editor, videographer, photographer or marketing director, you probably got into communications because it gave you a chance to be creative.

We like to be told, “Cool cover,” “Fun read” or “Wicked Web app.”

But too often, we find ourselves buried under the day-to-day details of our jobs, especially in small offices where we don’t get to concentrate on the creative side of what we do. If you’re feeling burned out, bummed out or ready for a change it’s likely because you aren’t getting to be creative in your current role or because your attempts at creativity aren’t being affirmed by the coworkers around you.

The flip side is that the less creative you are at work, the more your audience suffers, or simply tunes out.

So what are YOU going to do about it? Truth be told, most of our bosses aren’t going to push us to spend more time being creative, especially if there are lots of deadlines in our work. No, you have to decide that it’s important enough to carve out time being creative.

If you’re there, here are some ideas:

  1. Study creative people. Who are the most innovative writers, performers or comics you know? Take an analytical eye to dissect what they do and try to discover what makes them effective.
  2. Finish early and revisit. Working on deadline might get your adrenaline flowing, but it doesn’t always result in the most creative work. After you’ve done something, set it aside for at least 24 hours so that when you come back to it your eyes don’t glaze.
  3. Focus on the beginning and the end. Maybe you don’t have the time to inject creativity into all of a project because the deadline is just too tight. If so, spend what creative time you can on the front page, the lead of the story, the first 30 seconds of the video, and (when possible) the last portion of the project. At least the reader might get engaged in the subject because of an interesting opening. And a good closing gives the audience a final punch.
  4. Learn tips and tricks. If you’re a graphic designer, find a magazine, book or Web site that helps you keep up to date on the latest features for your software. Try to learn one trick each week to put into your skill set. The more technical skills you have, the more your creative juices will flow.

Now get out there and be creative.

David Winfrey is news director for the Western Recorder, the weekly newspaper for Kentucky Baptists. His new son, Jake, is the coolest thing in the whole wide world.

Creativity resources

  • “A Whack to the side of the Head” & “A Kick to the Seat of the Pants,” books on creativity by Roger Von Oech.
  • “The Creative Leader” by Ed Young Jr., the pastor in Texas who once preached from the top of a tank.
  • “The Art of Innovation” and “Ten Faces of Innovation” by Tom Kelley, general manager of IDEO, one of America’s leading design firms: http://theartofinnovation.com/
  • 10 ideas to boost your creativity: http://www.jpb.com/creative/creative.php
  • Society for News Design. www.snd.org. If you work at a newspaper or regularly edit a publication, you should check this group out. For $100 a year, you get magazines and newsletters that review the latest in news design and you get a thick glossy picture book, “The Best of News Design” which can give you inspiration throughout the year.

POSTED: Sep 6, 2006

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