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Talking Points Podcast: Stop Saying Content is King

We’re back from a short holiday hiatus–that’s right, the Talking Points Podcast is back! Hold all applause, please :)

In this week’s episode, we discuss internet trolls, burnout, and one interesting topic that was blogged about by Augie Ray late in Dec. In the post, Augie says “Stop saying Content is King. Start focusing on customer experience.” That sparked a good debate between Kevin and I–would love to hear your thoughts. Hope you’ll pop in and give a listen this week.

SHOW NOTES – January 8, 2015

“The Troll Hunters”


“Trying to Swim in a Sea of Social Media Invective”


“When Your Job Is to Moderate the Internet’s Nastiest Trolls”


Allstate: Project Aware Share


Allstate: Mayhem Sale


“Allstate’s Mayhem Sold The Entire Contents Of This Couple’s House While They Were At The Sugar Bowl”


“Allstate Warns Social Over-Sharers with #MayhemSale”


“Allstate’s Mayhem Is Back and He’s Watching Your Social Media Profiles”


“Are Social Media Jobs About to Disappear”


“Will first gen social media marketers start to burn out in 2015?”


“Five Tips To Help CMOs Improve Social Media ROI in 2015”


“Is “above the fold” design dead?”


Why it pays to stay connected to your college alumni group

Last year, I accepted a role on my alma mater’s (Winona State University’s) alumni board. I did it for a few reasons: 1) To give back, plain and simple, 2) It gives me a chance to travel a couple hours down to Winona every year (for those not living in Minny, Winona is a beautiful river town right among the bluffs), 3) I wanted to meet more Winona St. alumni–I don’t know as many people as I would like.

So, a year later, that decision has paid off. I’ve met a TON of Winona St. alumni–both at events (Minnesota Twins games, alumni events, scholarship breakfasts) and through more informal networking.

WSU shot

And, just this week, I helped organize a Winona State Mass Communications Department Reunion event that was a smashing success (we have ZERO no-shows and more than 50 attendees–ZERO no shows!).

During that event, I had the chance to catch up with a bunch of class of 1996 friends I haven’t seen in AGES (those are some of them above!). We laughed. We drank. We ate. And then we laughed some more. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. It was so much fun.

After the night was over, I got to thinking: This is why I invest so much time in our alumni group.

And, I think you should do the same (if you’re not already).

Here’s why:

You’ll find new jobs/opportunities

At this week’s event there was a recent grad who I’ve gotten to know a bit better recently. Really good guy. He had been looking for a job in MSP for a while with little success. Then, boom–he found a gig. I can hardly take credit for this young man’s new job, but he claims the advice I gave him a number of months ago changed his mindset a bit. On the flip side, one of my class of 96 classmates was also at the event the other night (Shelli Lissick). Shelli (along with Brian and Jen Bellmont) were directly responsible for me getting my start as an independent consultant (they were one of my first clients–partners, actually). So, through our college connection, I got my jump-start in this wonderful world of consulting. Opportunities abound through your college connections–yet we often forget about this group as a primary professional network. Why?

You might just make a new friend

I met a gentleman at a WSU event this summer. Never met the guy before, but we had a few common friends, so I sent him a message on LinkedIn and invited him personally. Turns out, that made a difference, because he showed up. We talked for a bit and agreed to meet up later one-on-one. That meeting went well. He called again. We met up again–this time for a drink. I connected him with another friend who I think might be able to help his business. We talked about kids. We talked about our businesses. And suddenly, I started looking at this guy less as just a fellow WSU alum, and more as a friend. You never know where your next friend is going to come from. And, given the common bond you have with your college alumni (from any year–this particular gentleman is a good 8-10 years younger than me), it only makes sense that these folks would become good friends.

You’ll feed your soul

Another classmate of mine had a comment that summed up my thoughts well the other night. She said: “I haven’t stopped smiling all night.” Boom. As I left the event, I was STILL smiling. I laughed as I thought about the jokes and stories we had told that night. I was still laughing the next day as I sent texts and messages to friends and new folks I had met. Reconnecting with your college classmates is a special thing. Since those are some of our most formative years, these people know you better than anyone (even almost 20 years later, in my case). You have a special connection with these folks. Feed that connection. Feed your soul. There’s no direct professional connection here–but you’ll feel a whole lot better after each time you meet up with these people. And happiness has all sorts of professional benefits, right?

So, next time you get that direct mail piece asking you for money from your alma mater, don’t immediately dismiss it. Instead, think about how you could reconnect with your alumni.

It just may lead to a new job, a new friend or a renewed sense of happiness.


Should you take conference calls in a coffee shop?

As many of you know by now, I’m an independent consultant.

And, I don’t have an office. I work from my home, by and large. I just have never seen the need for an office. Seems like an additional expense for no real solid reason.

But, I know many independent consultants who have offices. They love them. So, to each his/her own. No judgment here. It’s just not for me.

Coffee Shop Phone call

But, that also means I tend to work from a lot of different places.

From client sites.

From restaurants (Bryant Lake Bowl is my fave here in town).

And, from coffee shops.

The coffee shop thing is pretty interesting. You see a lot of solopreneurs working during the day. They set up shop, as if the coffee shop was their office. Not my style, but you do see this.

And, similarly, you see a lot of people taking client calls right in coffee shops.

That’s always been one that bugs me.

Why does it bug me so much? A variety of reasons.

#1–It’s just rude. It’s similar to my rule of not taking phone calls in a restaurant (or really, not even looking at your phone, if you’re with people). It’s just rude. Even if you are by yourself. Step outside and take the call. Even if it is 20 below (in that case, hop in your car).

#2–You never know who’s listening. I posted this same topic on our Solo PR Facebook page last week, and this was one of the over-riding themes I heard back from the crew. One person talked about how she had a friend who over-heard someone saying “no one gives a sh*t about those Twitter idiots.” And, she tweeted it. Would you want someone tweeting your coffeehouse conversation?

#3–If you work for a publicly-traded company, this is a big no-no. Now, I know you’re probably not discussing proprietary information every time you’re on a call in a coffee shop, but you may at some point. And, if that’s overheard, you could face serious consequences if you work for a publicly-traded company. If you’re out of the office, you need to watch your conversations. Just think about it like you’re on an airplane. You wouldn’t discuss company information loudly while sitting next to someone on a plane, right?

So, my approach has always been to avoid taking client calls in open spots like coffee shops. I will avoid scheduling calls during ‘work time’ where I know I’ll be in an open environment.

If I do happen to get a client call in a coffee shop, I’ll hop outside, or better yet, jump in my car. No chance of anyone overhearing me there.

What do you think? Am I over-reacting here? Maybe it really is OK to take con calls in a coffee shop.

You tell me.

photo credit: Mike Goldberg via photopin cc

Will first gen social media marketers start to burn out in 2015?

Last week, blogger, author and consultant Jay Baer wrote a post about how he thinks social media jobs may be about to disappear. Good read, if you have the time. I’m not sure I’m 100 percent with Jay on this one, but it’s an interesting notion to consider.

However, it does play into what I see to be a more plausible trend in 2015 (and subsequent years): Burnout for early adopter social media marketers.


You know, all those folks (if you’re reading this, chances are you’re in this group) that either created or accepted social roles when they first started popping up 3-5 years ago. Those people.

And, the fact is: It’s already happening.

I’m basing this “prediction”, for lack of a better word, on two things:

* Anecdotal feedback from a number of people I know in these roles locally here in Minneapolis.

* The simple fact that most people burn out on any job after 3-5 years, or more specifically, after they’ve essentially ramped up, learned the job and come as close to “mastering” it as they can.

I’ve heard many friends and colleagues say things like the following relatively recently:

* I need a change–and not just a change in companies

* I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as the “social” guy/gal

* I want to grow in my career, and social may be a limiter

Also, consider this: How many senior-level social jobs are there in any given market? I can tell you here in Minneapolis, I can probably count them on two hands.

So, if you are in the mid-level social category and you’re looking to make the jump, that’s going to be difficult in the social arena, because there simply aren’t that many jobs (specifically in social, at least).

Which is why I think you’re going to see some of these people broaden out a bit.

Again, you’re already starting to see it.

We’re seeing people take on more diverse leadership roles (overseeing areas like Corporate Communications, PR and Integrated Marketing).

We’re seeing people pursue advanced degrees in order to obtain those more senior-level jobs (also a big sign of boredom in the workplace).

And, we’re seeing people get increasingly antsy with their current jobs. Right now, that has meant people start “looking”, which eventually leads to either a new job or a bigger, better offer from their existing employer. Either way, these people are going to get complacent quickly and start thinking of ways to broaden their horizons.

This is just my opinion, keep in mind. But, I think there’s a bigger trend here than Jay’s outlook that social media jobs will disappear.

We’ll see as 2015 rolls out…

photo credit: bdunnette via photopin cc

Twin Cities PR This Week – Dec. 15

I don’t know about you, but WOW, what a busy week! I broke away from work for a bit to celebrate with my MIMA friends Wednesday night at the annual MIMA Holiday Party at Aria. An excellent time as always catching up with old friends and new.

Since I know everyone is eager to get on to the egg nog and yule logs, let’s get right to the latest job changes, promotions, events, new account wins and awards in Twin Cities PR in the last week:

Fenced In, Part 3


Debbie Friez recently accepted the role as social media lead at Top Rank Marketing. Congrats, Debbie!



Nice opportunity there–Life Time Fitness is seeking a PR specialist to join its team. Chance to work with one of my very favorite people (and long-time college friend), Natalie Bushaw.

Thermo King (client) is seeking a senior-level communications manager to work in its Bloomington location.

Get paid to gamble? Mystic Lake Casino and Hotel is seeking a social media manager to join its team.


Big congrats to Danny Olson at Weber Shandwick for winning “Digital Communications Leader of the Year” as part of the 2014 PR People Awards.

Really excited to welcome three new members to the MIMA board just this week: Brad Spychalski (Target), Bryan Vincent (United Healthcare) and Nick Lipetsky (Lumen8) will be joining the board in January. Congrats fellas!

And finally,  HUGE congrats to my good friends over at Bellmont Partners PR on winning PR Agency of the Year in the Ragan/PR Daily ACE Awards. Crazy to see how far my friends Brian and Jen Bellmont and Shelli Lissick have come in the last five years. Congrats!