Monday, April 27, 2009

Give Cancer the Bird! Video for the Cause

I have had the pleasure of working with this awesome organization and event since last Aug/Sept of 2008. I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as I enjoyed making it and working with these wonderful people. Here it is... Check it out!

Planet Cancer, an advocacy and support community serving young adults with cancer, will be having their annual fundraising event, Flamingo-a-Go-Go, on May 2 in the courtyard atrium of the Monarch Luxury Living Apartments on 5th Street in downtown Austin. This event is expected to draw over 800 attendees, making it the largest fundraiser to date for the organization. Their signature plastic pink flamingos, pink boas, and pink flamingo-tini drinks will be tickling everyone pink.

Flamingo-a-Go-Go is a one-of-a-kind party and Planet Cancer’s only fundraising event for the year. Planet Cancer serves young adults with cancer between the ages of 18 and 40. This is the only cancer demographic that has not seen improvements in survival rates since 1975. Planet Cancer offers three program areas to support young adults with cancer: online support through its Web site (; face-to-face support through its exemplary weekend retreat programs; and advocacy and awareness efforts around the country.

"Flamingo-a-Go-Go is a perfect expression of Planet Cancer's irreverence and spirit," says executive director Heidi Adams. "It's an UN-gala—fun and quirky, and our own contribution to keeping Austin weird while raising awareness about young adults with cancer."

Local music icon Kasey Crowley, herself a young adult survivor of cancer, will perform live at the event, and DJ Manny will provide live entertainment. Catering will be provided by several local eateries, including Whole Foods and Moonshine. A silent auction will be held with an array of items, including a trip to the San Diego Zoo, complete with airfare and hotel accommodations; and a weekend at a Lake Travis lake house retreat.

The guest list this year includes Eric Shanteau, an Olympic Swimmer who learned he had testicular cancer just before the 2008 Olympics but, under doctor supervision, delayed treatment to participate in the games. On March 11, the rehabilitated Shanteau broke the pool record in the 200-meter breaststroke at the Austin Grand Prix. Other guests include, Tyler Sieswerda, nightly news anchor at KVUE Austin, and Paul Carrozza, founder of RunTex. This year’s party is sponsored by SKYY Spirits and Mix 94.7. Other corporate and media sponsors include Hulsey IP, Austin Ventures and News 8 Austin. The full list of sponsors can be viewed on the Flamingo-a-Go-Go Web site (

More details - including sponsor packages and online ticket sales - are available at, and the most current updates on the event can be found on Facebook at You can also follow the Flamingo on Twitter at #flamingoagogo.

About Planet Cancer: Planet Cancer is a non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas, that provides a one-of-a-kind community for young adults between the ages of 18 and 40 with cancer. It is a national leader in advocacy for this forgotten demographic. Founded by Heidi Adams after her own diagnosis with bone cancer at age 26, Adams experienced firsthand the void in support and resources for young adults. Planet Cancer is a founding member of the
Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF)-sponsored LiveSTRONG Young Adult Alliance, a national coalition of organizations working to improve survival rates and quality of life for young adults with cancer.

Credits for photos, music, and audio special effects are listed here and on the video. This is everything I used, but not everything made it into the final cut for class. I am still working on a longer version for the event, so this version may be edited at some point. I'll try to keep it as true to original form as possible!

Just a short note here: This video was made using Animoto. An awesome tool, but there are a few quirks. You can't see a preview of how it is going to turn out and you cannot control the timing of the picture placement. This was the 2nd program I tried and it turned out great, but the lack of control and editing can be frustrating! Good luck.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

So I'm working on my Video Project this weekend and I found this funny video. It made me laugh because my husband swears that a few months ago, he was getting out of his car, and the "Google" videographers were trolling through the neighborhood. Now when you enter my address, you see a blur of a person in front of my house that my husband swears is him, because he saw them as they were passing by.

How do you feel about Google Earth and Google Maps having a specific picture of your home for anyone in the world to see? What happens if they happen to drive by on an off week that you haven't mowed your lawn? How long with those images stay there?

For example, I was looking up an address for research on a potential business opportunity, and unfortunately, this was the case. The person's house was what seemed to be in a state of disrepair. It was not kept up and quite scary. Thank goodness my lawn was clean cut the day they drove through our neighborhood!! But what are the implications for Google? Are they putting innocent by-standers on the chopping block as they mosey on through your neighborhood? Have you checked out your lawn on Google Maps? Maybe you should. And what can we do to change the images if we aren't happy with those on the web? What if we don't want images of our homes on the internet anyway? What rights do we have?

I think they should at least be required to notify the home owners, renters, tenents, etc. prior to the "drive by-s" that result in permanent (?) images being available on the web.

Take a peek...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blogging Busy

One thing (among many!) for sure that COMM4352 has taught me is that blogging on a weekly basis is hard. I completely understand the excercise of blogging on a regular basis. I totally believe in the necessity of it in the PR field and in just about any field these days, but dang, it is hard to do if you aren't already in the habit of doing it all the time. It gives me a better insight to the time commitment of bloggers, too; and a greater understanding of how we, as PR professionals, need to appreciate their time and effort in publishing meaningful information.

The power of the effective and popular blogger is an important thing to keep in mind, especially if these are the people to whom we need to be able to reach our target audience. They hold the key to distributing meaningful information, but their sensitivity to being "pitched" to is a little confusing and daunting.

I get that blogging and commenting is about joining the conversation, but at the same time, don't bloggers have a responsibility to their audiences? Don't you think that they should be more accessible? There are so many "rules" about reaching out to bloggers, I have to wonder how much valuable information is being lost because bloggers are too sensitive to being pitched to so no one really tries? I think that if in the future, I become a popular enough blogger to have a large audience, I will advertise that I am approachable, and pitch-to-able. Let them pitch to me and I will accept and decline that which I choose, just the same as other writers do. However, at the rate I'm going, I'm lucky to get my 2 posts in for the week. I'm just too blogging busy!

Sorry Second Life, My First Life is Already Too Full

I don't get it. And I'm not sure that many other people do either. With technology moving and evolving at lightning speed, and life as we know it is more productive and efficient as a result, who has time to have a Second Life? My first life is already so full, that I can barely keep up. That and it seems to me that you sort of have to have a forum of people to really do anything on Second Life, but not a single person I know is on there. The population on Second Life are supposedly gamers and the (highly) technically savvy, but my husband is a gamer, he makes video games, and I have had to tell him what the heck this is all about. He doesn't know anyone on Second Life either. Maybe it's a generation gap, but really? We aren't so far out of the younger "Internet" generation that we don't have a lot of friends that would supposedly be on Second Life. We are also not at all so technically un-savvy that Second Life would be one of those elusive technologies that we would never grasp, except that I really am not grasping the full reasoning or so-called popularity of it.

I think with the popularity of Facebook and Twitter growing by leaps and bounds, I'll stick to the conversations I have with my friends, over conversations that I may have with "furry" people or Avatars that may or may not look like the person with whom they are associated. It seems a little weird, and maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. But I like my normal conversations with my friends and collegues. At least this way, I know with whom I am talking. See ya later Second Life. I'll keep my first.

Let me know if anyone can give me a real life example of how Second Life can help me or make my life easier. I'm all ears.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Is that a Buzzing in My Ear?

So I took a couple of weeks off from Blogging. I know, I'm not supposed to, but with Spring Break and a schlew of things to do, I didn't have much time to think about what I was supposed to be thinking about. My brain just couldn't fit it in.

This week though, I have been working on our class podcasts. Did anyone else feel like they were discovering a hidden talent? Like you were breaking into an unknown realm of sound editing and mixing? It was kind of fun. I can even tell you know what the word "um" looks like in its audio state. I am the mixing / editing queen bee. Or is that just the audio still buzzing in my ear?

We interviewed Cynthia Baker of Accolades Public Relations. As one of the forerunners in the realm of using Social Media in PR, the information was insightful and full of useful information. I hope you think so too. Enjoy!


PODCAST: How Social Media Can Benefit Corporations in Their PR Strategies

Produced, Directed, Edited and Recorded: Alejandra Gonzalez, Monica Hampton, Jaime Masterson, and Ailynn Skinner

00:07 INTRO: Jaime Masterson & Alejandra Gonzalez
00:30: WELCOME: Ailynn Skinner & Monica Hampton, introducing Cynthia Baker
00:46: Overview of Accolade Public Relations
01:25: 1st QUESTION: What are the first steps you advise a client in entering the social media realm?
03:40: 2nd QUESTION: What is the most important social media component for companies to use
04:56: 3rd QUESTION: Who should be blogging within the company?
05:45: 4th QUESTION: Business Strategies, not just PR Strategies are incorporating social media
06:49: 5th QUESTION: How do social media plans differ between sizes of companies?
07:48: 6th QUESTION: How has social media has changed the PR industry?
10:04: OUTRO

Music by: Ariyasamade
Song: Just Relax
Found on

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Customer Dis-Service with Facebook

This is a rant, so I apologize early if I ramble a bit.

Facebook is my nemisis these days. I have a project in which I am supposed to be the Facebook Guru, except that I just signed up on Facebook about 2 months ago, and I'll be damned if I can get a real person to help me. I know, I'm probably old fashioned, but I really, really, really like that personal interaction.

I was in retail during my pre-college days, and I require good customer service. All the time. I am a stickler for it. I refuse to go to Blockbuster any more, because their customer service is the worst. I haven't been to one in over 10 years. I swear. I have a baby, but I refuse to go to Babies 'R Us anymore, because they made me so mad the last time I went there. There are several restaurants of which I LOVE their food, but the service has been so bad on multiple occasions, that I refuse to return. (Note: I do advocate good customer service, too, but my rant today is on the flip side).

So when I needed help with Facebook applications. And I am talking about a lot of help, I did not want to have write a book of all the questions I had in the "forum" just to have to wait for answers individually. In general, I really don't mind asking questions via email or discussion forums for the most part. I do it all the time. But when I need to talk to someone. I really, really need some personal connection. And I don't get paid to sit there and have to filter through all of their "FAQs" or type my question a million different ways, just to get their search feature to figure out what the heck I am trying to do!

So I was working with the Causes people on Facebook, and because I am new, I didn't understand that "Causes" is an application and they are not part of Facebook. I was getting really frustrated that they can't help me get an application onto my Causes page. The good part was that I was talking to a real person at the Causes offices and her customer service was AWESOME! (Thanks Sarah!).

But back to Facebook, I need a human voice. Except that at Facebook, it seems is the except to the rule. Facebook is #1 on the Social Media Scorecard and they don't care that they don't have ANY customer service. 750 employees and not a single human voice to talk to. YUCK! I'm stuck.

Now for some personal advertising... Check out my awesome Causes page and join the cause! (

What the "F"?

In Chapter One of Citizen Marketers, citizen marketers are defined by their actions:
“Citizen marketers create what could be considered marketing and advertising content on behalf of people, bands, products, or organizations…They don’t often represent the average person, member, customer, or citizen. They are on the fringes, driven by passion, creativity, and a sense of duty. Like a concerned citizen.”

Here is where the “F” word comes in… Actually, there are 4 of them. Citizen marketers are categorized by the 4 “F”s.
1. Filters
2. Fanatics
3. Facilitators
4. Firecrackers

The Filters are the “human wire services” because they are the ones that collect all the data, stay unbiased for the most part, and often regurgitate the information back out to the public in a summarized, collective format that the general public can read and understand.

“The Fanatics are true believers and evangelists.” They are similar to the filters, except that they also analyze and criticize, debate over topics, and often create hype and action about a brand or product.

Facilitators are the creators of communities. Citizen Marketers refers to them as the “mayors of online towns” for good reason. They bring like minded people together and form that common bond in which everyone can connect.

Firecrackers are aptly named because almost as soon as they come along and start making a lot of noise, the show is over and all you have is a smoke pattern of where they were. These are the people that for whatever reason, decide to make their presence known on the Web, but don’t really establish themselves as a long term presence. They feel that they have something to say, they say it, then they disappear.

So what the “F”? Which “F” word are you? Are you a citizen marketer? What makes you get up and blog? What makes you tell all of your friends about a product or person or something you have experienced? And how do you do it?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To Pitch or not to Pitch. That is the "blogging" question.

Brian Solis covers a wide range of topics in his series "The Art and Science of Blogger Relations". As aspiring PR professionals, we all need to take heed. Really. This stuff happens every day and as a matter of fact, a PR firm right here in Austin got black listed about 2 years ago from several prominent bloggers because they did not care to think these things through. No names will be mentioned, but this stuff happens all the time and this is why Solis places so much emphasis on building relationships.

The old PR cold pitch approaches don't work any more (did they ever?) and the new ways are writing new rules all the time. The only way to keep apprised of these new rules are to follow blogs like Brian's. Read them over and over and over. Read the comments, read the stories, find out what blogs he follows and follow those.

One comment that resonated with me and that I personally call the 95% rule: Solis quoted Chris Anderson in saying that "Common sense is all to uncommon in almost everything we do these days." I state that the human race is the only race that natural selection doesn't work most of the time because technology keeps allowing the stupid to survive. At the going rate, there are only 5% of us that have any common sense. Be a 5 percenter and use your brain.

You will be joining this PR arena soon. You have the unique ability to learn from other's mistakes, but you also have the challenge of overcoming the preconception that "PR is too stupid to participate in Social Media" and that your predecesors have placed you in a preconceived category with those the likes of "used car and snake oil salesmen".

Heed Solis' "Advise on Media and Blogger Relations". Copy it, laminate it, keep it in your pocket. You will need it, you will use it and at some time you will need to remind yourself of it. There are 10. Think of them as the "10 PR Commandments" and you'll do just fine.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

YouTube, You Do?

I learned a lot about YouTube in the Citizen Marketers reading this week. I have used it a few times, but mostly when someone else has sent me a video of something funny. I have searched for a few videos when I had something specific in mind, but I had no idea how fast it grew, the full capacity of its functionality, or that it is also considered and actually quite successful at being a social networking site.

According to McConnell and Huba, YouTube "...came out of nowhere in November of 2005...[and] by its six-month anniversary [it] was reportedly reaching more people than the Web sites of all the major television networks and popular yet traditional media like the New York Times. It was serving 100 million videos each day to 6 million people."
McConnell and Huba use YouTube to profile a case study organizations considering creating their own democratized community. Here is a summary of the 6 lessons to be learned:
  1. Community is the founding principle behind YouTube, and social media tools democratize involvement. Private email system allows people to link to one another without the fear of receiving spam-a-lot.
  2. Sharing videos is easy as pie. Watch a video, and press a button to share.
  3. Statistics, statistics, statistics. You get to instantly know how many viewings your video receives, how many comments have been posted for each video, the number of "favorites" each video receives, and any "honors" it has won. "Data transparency has been one of YouTube's strongest attributes. It doesn't hide data; it flaunts it."
  4. Upload a video, get your own personal page, just like Facebook, or MySpace. Now anyone can follow any more videos you post.
  5. Design was simple and unassuming. It appeals to all ages and is easy to use.
  6. Search functionality is actually better than Google Video. Again. It's super easy to use.

I love it. I am YouTube's newest fan, and I haven't even uploaded a video. But you know what? This is a site that even my parents will love, especially when I start uploading videos of my daughter. :)

"All the Little Birdies...

...on Jay Bird Street, love to hear the Robin go Tweet, Tweet, Tweet..."

Welcome to Twitter!

I love the idea of Twitter but to be honest, I'm a little afraid of getting completely addicted to it. My main concern is that I have enough to do with my day. I have deadlines, I have phone calls, I have a projects that are waiting for me to complete. Maybe because I am social, opinionated, and well, probably a little A.D.D, that I think I am going to have to fend off Twitter for a while. I'll be on that darn thing all the time and saying way too much.

I already have to turn off my IM and not log into Facebook during the day, because if my friends see me online, then I'll be getting messages all over the place. I like the concepts of it being useful in PR and Customer Service of companies. I have even observed it being used during a conference, and I thought it was pretty cool. But really, what do all these "Twitter"-ers (?) or Tweeters - maybe just bloggers, then - do for a living that allows them to be on Twitter seemingly 24/7?

It almost seems like the most popular Twitter feeds are populated by people that get paid for doing this. In the real world, I have deadlines to meet, clients to impress, and all sorts of other things that, if I were Twittering all day, would probably not be getting done.

I think I'll just observe for a while longer. Limit my interaction. My A.D.D. will probably lead me back. Someone else will probably peer pressure me into twittering anyway, and then I'll be doomed. Oh well. As long as I keep that song stuck in my head.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mashup Facebook and A Call for Programmers.

I am fairly new to Facebook. I signed up about 2 months ago. I just never thought it was something that I would use. I have been on LinkedIn for several years, so I thought of it as more of a distraction than anything. But a project came up at work that required me to be the Facebook go-to person, and I couldn’t really be answering questions and solving problems unless I had some first-hand knowledge about it! And, of course, I was giving into peer pressure, as well. All of my friends kept telling me that is was addictive and fun and I really needed to get into this century and sign up already.

So now, I have about 60 friends (meager in the eyes of many of you Facebookers out there), and yes, it is fun. I admit it. But while I do like to check my account when I’m on my computer, I wouldn’t say I’m “addicted” yet. I don't have it on my mobile phone, and I don't run to my computer every chance I get.

The thing about Facebook that I find bizarre though, is the number of people that have sent me friend requests that I really wouldn’t consider to be friends. People that I either haven’t talked to in 15+ years, and that 15+ years ago, I wasn’t really that good of friends with anyway; or people that I have never had a conversation with. I have had several people from a previous employer that sent me a friend request, but that I have never had a conversation with. It’s weird, isn’t it? It's probably weirder that I feel guilty when I decline the request. Like I am going to hurt their feelings or something.

Are the number of friends you have a status symbol of your popularity? Is it a need for people to feel accepted if their friend count is over a certain number? I just don’t understand the people that send friend requests to anyone and everyone with whom they have ever been cc’ed on an email (think mass distribuion from the HR department of a major corporation)? These are people that I would not be able to identify in a line up, even if someone paid me.

When I signed up on Facebook, I didn’t even send friend requests to everyone in my personal contacts folder. Maybe it’s me, but while I am embracing technology it doesn’t mean that I want everyone I have ever met or been introduced to know what is going on in my daily life. The thing is, in my line of work (PR), I really need for people to have more access to me and to what is going on. In other professions, like sales, real estate, politics, and other public figures, Facebook is an awesome tool, to keep your name and your face in front of people you may not know, or may have only met once or twice. It can be reinforcement of facial recognition so people will remember who you are, even if you don’t necessarily remember them.

So where do I draw the line? Where do I start accepting “friend requests” from people I don’t really know? Maybe the answer is to send them to LinkedIn. I sort of wish there was a polite way to decline their “friend” invitation and refer them there instead.
Or maybe there could be a "back door" acceptance that just moves them your LinkedIn account.

Here's an idea... Someone should come up with the "Not so much" friends of Facebook or maybe add a function of Facebook so you can tag your friends, like you tag your bookmarks on That way, you could move all those people you really don't know, or maybe those people you sort of know, but don't really like, into specific folders so you get to choose what information you want to share with them. That way you can still keep in contact with them if the need should arise somewhere down the road. Now that site, I would not hesitate to sign up for!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Social Bookmarking - My New Google

Social Bookmarking is a new term for me. I am still trying to figure out what all I will use these pages for and which one(s) I will choose. First, there are so many from which to choose that making that decision is difficult. They all seem to be too similar to make any distinction besides a few minor functionality differences. Second, it seems a little creepy that other people can be spying on my surfing and saving of pages, I know I can make my bookmarks private, but will I remember to click that little button? And third, since this is still a fairly new concept to me, I think the full functionality of is still to be seen.

My first impressions on their usefulness are optimistic though. At their base, the first and foremost reason that anyone would want to use one of these sites is to be able to access your “Favorites” from any computer.

Social bookmarking is the way to solve several problems that can arise from keeping your “Favorites” on just one computer. Have you ever been at a friends’ house and wanted to show them a new site you had found or an article you had come across, but couldn’t remember where it was? Have you ever had a computer crash and were not able to retrieve all of your data, namely your “Favorites”? (If this hasn’t happened to you, beware, it probably will someday.) Have you worked on a project or paper that required doing research online? You probably browsed a million sites, but didn’t want to mark them all as your favorites. Or have you been at a friends house, surfing and found a site you really like? Social bookmarking is a way to store all of these sites, without having to remember what they are, write them down, or have a drop down list a mile long.

Another use for these sites is research. When you Google a topic, you are at the mercy of Google’s random search abilities or the price tag of a company’s desire to be placed at the top of a search list. With these social bookmarking sites, you can do a search, the same as you would with Google, but you get the wisdom of the membership base, versus the revenue generator that Google uses to push companies to the top of the search list.

The “Perfect Match” exercise wasn’t really for us to find some random person for the sake of finding our “Perfect Match”, but rather a way to help with researching a topic or finding someone with similar interests. By utilizing the tag clouds of people with similar interests, you can use them to help you do your searching on topics of interest that they share. When you find that “Perfect Match”, it is sort of like having someone else do your research for you.

Even if you aren’t doing research, if you find someone with similar interests, you can use them as a filter for articles you might be interested in or sites you may want to check out. It’s like having a friend tell you about a great new site they found, except that you really don't know the friend, just their tag cloud.

The biggest decision I have now is which one do I choose? In reading the article by Michael Pick and comparing the sites, I have at least narrowed it down to 2 ( and digg,com) with a standby backup ( if neither of these suits my taste.

I think the distinction, between the first two at least, is that I will use one for work, school, and research ( and use the other for more personal things ( and if I feel like randomly (sort of) searching for articles, then I’ll try my luck with