Mark Ragan is CEO of Ragan Communicationsand someone I recently had the pleasure of meeting in real life last Friday in New York City @NASDAQ in Times Square. How I ended up there is a story worth sharing. One cold, rainy Saturday in March I was checking Twitter and noticed a “dm” (direct message) from Mark Ragan ( @MarkRaganCEO ) himself. I opened it and could not believe what the under 140 character message said: “Amy, I would love to have you as my guest to NYC to NASDAQ at our SM Summit, Anne too and we’ll ring bell.” He attached the link to the event and I knew immediately I had to go. He was referring to @AnneDGallaher(my good friend and one of the brightest PR/communications pros out there) and so of course I called Anne right away. We agreed to attend, communicated our gratitude and excitement to Mark and made our travel plans. This blog should be titled “Trains, Planes and Automobiles.” I flew to Harrisburg, PA where I was greeted–with a goodie bag–by the savvy Stepanie Gehman ( @airport_girl) who does social media for the airport ( @HIAairport ). Anne picked me up in her new @Ford Explorer (the one @ScottMonty made her buy) and we met the wonderful @MarisaCorserfor dinner where we talked about the amazing friends we are making through Twitter.
We caught the early train to NYC and arrived promptly @NASDAQ at 9:00 am. The efficient Ragan Team had our names at the door and once through security, we passed through the impressive doors of the Nasdaq facility where the Ragan “social media summit” was underway. We heard first from the brilliant storyteller, @JustinaYChen–speaker, author, former speechwriter at Microsoft. Justina reminded me that writing is an art, word choice matters and that nobody wants to read boring stuff. Next we heard from Jeramie McPeek ( @jmcpeek ), V.P. of digital for the Phoenix Suns. He told us how they are using digital to generate ticket sales and engage with fans. Jeramie was followed by @CarlosDominguez Sr. V.P. at Cisco. Carlos stressed the importance of getting the top executives on the same page when developing a digital strategy including the legal team. The “grand finale” for me was hearing @MarkRaganCEO give his message on the “influential communicator.” He provided many excellent points on the importance of communicators understanding the new digital tools that are now being used. The content from Ragan’s summit was some of the best I have read or heard and it’s available on his website.
As if all of this relevant content being shared wasn’t enough, the moment arrived when we all were told we were going downstairs to the studio where we’d be on live TV ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ. I had to pinch myself. The lights were on, cameras rolled and crowds of New Yorkers and tourists stood just outside the glass wall of windows to see us on the studio stage waving and closing NASDAQ. I think my heart was beating so loud I couldn’t hear anything. In a blink it was over and we all were photographed outside with Mark and his wonderful team. Staci Diamond who is @StaciTaraon Twitter is Ragan’s director of strategic partnerships, was there to help coordinate everything and did an outstanding job (as any Texas gal at heart should). Anne and I also met some other wonderful people like Paolo Tosolini ( @Tosolini)a former Microsoft executive, speaker and consultant; Ty Francis ( @welshwonder ), Publisher of “Corporate Secretary” in New York and many other fun attendees.
After the photo session, Mark graciously invited his team and us to have a drink at a nearby pub where we traded business cards, talked for a bit and soon parted ways as it had been a long day for all. It was time for me and Anne to check into the Millennium Hotel in Times Square. Now of course we found this hotel on Twitter @MillenniumPR and received a 20% discount if we mentioned Twitter. What a great hotel! We’ll stay there again, I’m sure. In search of some good New York food, we landed at an Italian hotspot named “Bond 45.” It was one of the best meals I’ve had–ever. Anne and I had a pear salad followed by 2 pasta dishes that I’d swear came directly out of a kitchen in Pietra Lunga, Italy. We were fast asleep by 10:30 and caught our train the next morning at Penn Station just fine. On the train ride back to PA, we talked about everything–content we were so grateful to have, new contacts and friends we made–and where our next steps would lead on this wonderful (and demanding) digital media path.
Thanks Mark Ragan, Staci Diamond and everyone for the very generous invitation to the Ragan Communication “Social Media Summit” for communicators. It was one of the best things I have ever attended and I will forever be in your debt and will promote and support you always. Further, I hope to be able to attend a future conference and bring a client or two.