Community Driven Hashtag Tells the #memstorm Story

April 27th, 2011   •   no comments   

Over the past 48 hours, Memphis and the South has been hit with some pretty bad weather including hail, straight-line winds, torrential rain (almost 6 inches) and destructive tornados.  It was so bad last night that @jimcantore himself decided to go to Tupelo instead.  The weathermen and women of Memphis have had no sleep along with most of us who have spent some time in the closets and basements while the sirens wail.  Not a pretty picture–and certainly a crisis for a community, especially when tornadic activity spins it’s evil path of destruction. 

Once again, our community used the hashtag #memstorm to communicate the latest news and report real time information during the potentially deadly event.  #Memstorm has been brewing for awhile and was tested a few months ago (see earlier blog post at  during similar storms in our community.  I’d like to point out that this idea came from an event at Emerge Memphis by Aaron Prather and Rachel Smith.  It was a grassroots effort to unite our community into one stream, one conversation.  All you have to do is look at Japan, Lybia, etc to see how hashtags can play a key role in creating a stream full of vital information–sometimes a matter of life and death. 

Aaron Prather (CEO of @stiQRd)  sent me this report:

“At the height of #memstorm on Tuesday night, impressions reached 1.4 million with over 200,000 twitter accounts being reached.  This resulted in 0.01% of all  tweets on twitter being tagged with #memstorm.  Of all the #memstorm tweets recorded since Monday (more than 2,000) 68% have been original posts, 25% were retweets and 7% were @ messages.” 

Wow, the true power of community involvment is electrifying.  For Aaron, #memstorm is now very much owned by the community which is what he hoped for when he launched the idea.  He has also proposed #memtraffic for traffic updates and thanks to Channel 3 and 5 who use this in the mornings.  I am hearing people now say they check that first thing in the morning to see where the wrecks are.  This is siginficant because it provides a single, real-time source for valuable information.  It also allows anyone to participate and have a voice.  Let’s face it, mobil to web is here and it’s not going away.  Anyone can report news.  The picture here tells the story.  As Aaron says, “this is not only citizen journalism, but community journalism.”  I love this!

Of the 500 tweets measured during the storm last night, here’s what the report showed as far as ranking of tweeters:

1. ericlipford3: 41

2. howellmarketing: 20 (yeah, I tweet alot)

3. memphisweather1: 20

4. canesdrew: 20

5. wregweather: 12

6. 3onyourside: 10

7. actionnews5: 9

8. kelltay: 9

9.stevegiglio: 8

10. alysdrake: 8

Kudos to Channel 3 and 5.  The numbers tell the story and this was just from 500 tweets.  It would be interesting to run the full report.  The key point here is that social media is trackable.  For brands, that means talking a lot online can really impact the bottom line.  In a crisis or community event, the power of using a hashtag is almost scary to me.  I tweet “the power of the hashtag” sometimes and it’s funny how often it gets a RT. The other point I’d like to politely make is this: the hashtag belongs to the “community”–not me, not Aaorn, not a PR firm, not any one media outlet.  It belongs to us all.  Further, the more we all engage in a single, united stream, the better chance we have to get important information fast.  In a crisis especially.  I know this has been a great example of how a community can use Twitter to tell a story.  Our #memstorm hashtag went around the world.  Think we can do more for Memphis with this concept? You bet we can.  Thanks for reading this and please feel free to share!

Mark Ragan: Content + NASDAQ = Good Google Juice

April 15th, 2011   •   no comments   

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. 

Thanks to #Twitter: Blessings, Business, Best Friends

April 1st, 2011   •   6 comments   


                                                    Photo borrowed from


OK, My good friend Mark Schaefer who wrote “The Tao Of Twitter”–on it’s way to being perhaps the best selling business book on Twitter EVER–will tell me my blog sucks because I don’t link too much and it’s boring to view.  Well, yes. He’s right but I don’t care.  My goal in life is not to be “the best blogger” or have “the best blog” or be on any big list.  Actually, I’m on some pretty great lists (boring blog and all–ha). I will surely add a picture to this blog post but right now..this minute. I’m in my loft office downtown and loving reflecting on what’s coming up.  We just finished a great client event and I find myself thinking how lucky I am.  Most of what comes next is that I have great relationships that help my clients THROUGH Twitter.  Amazing the power of Twitter.

Next week I get to travel to see my great friend @AnneDGallaher and @MarkRaganCEO to attend a NASDAQ meeting and ring the stock market closing bell (Mark gets to ring it but, hey, we’ll be there).  The following week I have the distinct pleasure of being on a PR panel at #SoSlam–one of Tennessee’s biggest and most successful social media for business meetings ever. It sold out at 400 tickets.  We could have sold 600. Thanks to @MarkWSchaefer (the brainwave behind it) and @JayBaer for keynoting.  Thanks also to @SMCKnox for all their hard work promoting it.  This has been an inspiration to me and is another great example of the very important people I am meeting through Twitter.

I’ll close by saying that this time last year I also had many high notes–all due to Twitter:  I met and engaged @ChrisBrogan who came to Memphis for a presentation (and rocked the house); I forged a true partnership with @AnneDGallaher and @GlenGilmore (who I work with everyday); Through the generosity of Anne Gallaher, I was invited to Hershey, PA and met the CEO of Ford Motor Co. in real life and had my picture taken with him.  WOW factor.  All of these important relationships because of Twitter.  Can you dig it? I’m so amazed everyday by the power of Twitter and the quality people I am meeting daily. It’s not the content but the relationships that matter.  Who are your Twitter contacts? Can you share your stories?

How long will your digital “footprint” last?

March 21st, 2011   •   2 comments   



This last week, I couldn’t help but think…wow, I’m on a forced “Twitter break” due to lack of wi-fi and any cell service of merit on this remote peninsula called Ft. Morgan. Imagine me without a Twitter fix? So, I found myself totally void of any good cell service. I could tweet a few from a chair directly on the beach but that was certainly not ideal with sand, water, sunscreen and kids to juggle. Thank goodness I have capable staff who can help me in times of isolation. I could not function without them if I were out of service. That being said, we did have some big news break while I was out and managed to handle it just fine.  

Here’s what I learned about myself on my Twitter Break:

  • First and most important: My Twitter friends are REAL. When you are offline and off Twitter, you truly miss your friends (you know who you are)
  • Out of sight is sometimes out of mind: some missed me, some didn’t–true also in real life;
  • Slow down in tweets = slow down of followers….Tweeting daily leads to more activity;
  • Content continues and good tweets go by without you! Yes, Twitter can live without you! 
  • I’m not so hooked as I thought. It’s OK to not tweet for a few days or more. A break is good;
  • Others are there to take your place; Don’t drop out too long. I think the best twitter break duration is a week or so; 
  • it’s ok to “check-in” during a “break”. It helps you appreciate being off for a while;
  • You find out who really misses you:)  I had people saying “I miss Amy”–not a bad feeling;
  • Missing Twitter is like missing good, happy therapy! I am lifted daily by great friends and sweet thoughts (also good content of course) and I missed that. 
  • I believe Twitter makes you a happier, smarter, better person if you follow the best people and why would you ever wanna miss out on their tweets? Twitter is life-prolonging;
  • Tweeting for me nets great information. When I’m on a break, I miss that information;
  • My kids didn’t really say much about my break; I managed to spend lots of time with them but truly, they were off with friends so I had plenty of time–if I wanted–to tweet.  

When you’re gone from Twitter for long, you’re gone….I think Twitter is like “out of sight-out of mind” and that’s why it’s important to keep up–even if only to monitor.  I think our digital footprints are like footprints in the sand–the next big wave will wash them out.  It’s up to you to keep moving to create new paths in the sand and keep the gulf waves from washing you out! Stay fresh, stay fun and stay cool–even if the waves wash you away, create new impressions and stay the Twitter course! 

Thanks for reading this and I’d love to hear your stories about taking a Twitter break and what you learned! 

Best to you all, Amy!

Charlie Sheen’s Fall and Future Rise: Will He do it? Mennnn

March 8th, 2011   •   no comments   


OK, right. I know. NO way I would ever wish to be in the path to help him. But every good PR professional out there is talking about the very amazing story today of Charlie Sheen being fired from his $2 million per episode gig “Two and a Half Men.”  I have really never been a fan of that show because at it’s height, my kids were parallel with the half and, well, let’s just say, I’m a mom so I have never loved that show. What I can relate to is how Charlie handled himself after his wild ride of what we know has been over-reported.  And, yes, here I am writing about something I swore I didn’t care about. Until today. He got FIRED from one of the biggest networks, the most profitable show on TV. Wow. How fast you can fall. Like him or not, a significant event in today’s entertainment industry.

But wait–Charlie’s on Twitter…..AH ha! He’s there talking, gathering his “tribe” (which he should have done sooner).  And preparing his “next” gig.  Trust me, he will.  He will rally.  Why? Here is my take on how he failed and more importantly, why he’ll rise to be bigger and better:  (Disclaimer: I could be wrong. And although personally I don’t respect what he’s wasted, I admit he’s compelling–even in this state of denial, so I’m drawn to watching this. For PR, for human nature, as a Mom, wife, someone his age…–all that). 

Immediate mistakes Charlie Sheen Made:

1.  Being stupid. The best policy in viral media and social is simple: Don’t be so stupid. Surely Charlie could figure this out. He didn’t. The press ate his lunch. Did he have a PR person? I’m sure some of you have followed this closely but by today’s news, I’m not sure it mattered.

2. It’s not what happens to you as much as how you handle what happens to you. Everybody makes mistakes. Even big, public ones. How you handle them makes all the difference.  We see a pattern here..Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson..Hey guys with big egos: we know you will make a mistake. We love you most when you sincerely apologize and own up to it. That’s the beauty of social media. People really value authenticity and sincerity.  You can’t hide it if you are sincere.  If you make a mistake–even a huge one–owning up, manning up–is critical. Can you think of prominent people who have made big mistakes and owned up to them? Takes a strong person to do it. My Dad always said “Strong people often make big mistakes,” and that has really been true. I think about that all the time when I’m working in PR. 

3.  Worse and worse. I hope Charlie didn’t have a PR person.  If he did, I feel sorry for them as I’m sure they tried to give him advice.  Next time Charlie (and I think there will be), LISTEN with really BIG ears! And do what they tell you (or try to).

4. Don’t be so arrogant. If you are, the public won’t help you and that’s what I’m seeing now on the media outlets. I think it’s important to note that in today’s social media, internet, viral world–you can’t afford to be arrogant. Seems being “in touch” and “down to earth” earns more love. Just Sayin’

5. Twitter may help you but it won’t save you. You have to build your tribe “before” you need it. Charlie is late to the game. Experts say that you join Twitter before you need to use it. Sheen will find that while he has loyal fans who support and follow him, he might want to be careful for what he asks for. Twitter can be very powerful (either way). You can’t just broadcast. You must *engage*. Time will tell how this plays out on Twitter. Remember Charlie–you are what you Tweet (but you know that). 

6.  Charlie Sheen is going to have to decide what type of person he is. I’m the same age (exactly one year older). He needs to decide how he wants to spend the rest of his life. At this point in “our” lives, it’s more about the “time remaining” than our age.  GROW up Charlie. You ain’t 25 anymore!  If I were his PR person….


Why I think Charlie Sheen will make a comeback:

Let me clarify that I really don’t like him.  But, I only know him through his show and now his real life PR drama.  Can you really judge someone by what you hear in the media? on Twitter? on Facebook?  The cold, true fact about PR is that perceptions become reality and if you expect to thrive, you must survive.  In Hollywood AND in life, you must have a solid reputation to produce value and work.  Charlie? You up for the clean up act? If so, I believe you can make the best and biggest comeback ever. But here’s what you have to do.  If I were your PR agent, you would thrive if you embraced the following:

1.  Clean up the drugs.  They are illegal, distracting, unhealthy and demonstrate the absolute WORST role model you could be for your kids and kids everywhere.  Just do it for your kids. 

2. Do something for others. Nothing like helping other people to help find yourself. My deepest hours have been glorified because I found the ability to focus on helping other people. Once–at a low point (to me) a woman with no hair walked into my gym. Her cancer had returned. Suddenly, my problem (I thought I had) vanished. Makes really great sense and results in good stuff. 

3. You have real, raw, great talent. It’s your ego and this obsession that has you stumped.  Get back to coaches who can help bring out the “real” Charlie Sheen–it’s there. It’s great. And you have the resources to do it. Be grateful. Most people don’t.

4. Find yourself and create a better show. Create a show that helps foster the good and employs your great humor and skill. Why not put your genius to work for good. 

5. America loves the underdog as long as he/she says they’re sorry and uses that to start over. You–of all people–can do it.

That is all. Hope this gets to Sheen on #Twitter. I’m a sucker for the underdog. Are you? I want to hear your comments! Good, bad, ugly. Thanks for listening! 

HOW TO: Land an internship thru Twitter #PR #employment #PRSSA

February 28th, 2011   •   4 comments   


As a college student, it is sometimes hard for my peers and I to differentiate the uses and then ultimately decide how we want to use social media.  Sure, my generation has basically grown up with the social networking sites, but it is hard to grasp the capabilities and power of sites focused on engagement like Twitter, when so many of our friends are simply sharing random thoughts or chatting casually with one another about nothing in particular.   

 When I joined Twitter, I began to explore, followed a few of my friends and the usual celebrities, and eventually sent out my first tweet.  I soon got bored with the casual use approach and decided I would follow influential people from all over who related to my major, public relations.  Originally from the Memphis area, I had big dreams of landing an internship or job in the city I loved. I felt it would be a challenge being a Missouri State University student, 300 miles away in Springfield, MO.  Well, what better way to learn about the people and places I’d like to work with than to listen to what they really have to say?    

 When searching for influential Memphians, it was not long at all before I began following @HowellMarketing (Amy Howell) and her wonderful team @alysdrake ( (Alys Drake) and @LaceyWash (Lacey Washburn).  Their tweets instantly stood out to me and no one I had found thus far was doing Twitter like they were.  They were reaching out, sharing news, and having friendly, relevant conversations I was interested in with people across the world.  I knew I had to find out more, so I hopped on the Howell Marketing website and soon began scouring for internship opportunities. Nothing—I was deflated.  Then it hit me.  These women talk to practically thousands of people on Twitter every day, why not me?  That was it and I had made up my mind, I was going to send a tweet to Amy Howell.  I had already begun to take pages from the books of the tweeters I admired, sharing my own PR news and engaging with my PR peers.  One of my big influencers was the Howell team, so needless to say I was nervous. 

I tweeted: “ @HowellMarketing, your website doesn’t mention a search for summer interns, are you accepting any applications? I would love to apply!” 

Much to my surprise, a short time later I got a reply: “Sure! We do have summer interns ~ send resume to @LaceyWash  @KABagley 

WOW!  I was ecstatic; I got in touch with Lacey via Twitter, she sent me her email address, then I sent my resume and cover letter onto her with high hopes and a few prayers. 

The morning Amy returned from her Christmas break, I got a phone call.  We set up a time to meet and that afternoon I was having coffee with Amy and Alys.  Now, I am proud to share that I will be interning and learning from the Howell team this summer and I could not be more eager!  This dream of an opportunity came about from simply reaching out and taking a chance on Twitter.  If you get to know the people you’re interested in and those with whom you share common interests, you are likely to not only gain new friends but so much more.


Guest Post by Kiersten Bagley

Summer 2011 Intern at Howell Marketing Strategies

Follow me on Twitter at @KABagley

#Memstorm Ignites Twitter taking Memphis by storm: Power of Twitter to Communicate in a Crisis

February 25th, 2011   •   7 comments   

 All the essentials  by @BrennanSomers


Fortunately the storm that brought The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore ( @jimcantore on twitter) to Memphis blew through with mainly straight line winds and thankfully no tornadoes.  Bad weather can strike in Memphis–sometimes without warning–and it’s always good to have a plan according to one of our favorite weather sources, Erik Proseus (aka @memphisweather1 on Twitter) who posts at and tweets his blog.  An important part of having a plan is communication and how information is shared.  Twitter is a great way to engage and share “real time” information.  Yesterday, approximately 7 hours before the storm was to hit, I received a “tweet” from a few Memphis folks on Twitter that they’d like to promote the hashtag (#) on Twitter for the storm as #memstorm.  What a great idea and something I have been talking to clients about in PR strategies and crisis communications–the importance of using hashtags to search specific information and promote a certain issue or event–like last night’s storm.   


Rachel Smith and Aaron Prather ( @rachgsmith @amprather on Twitter)–two Memphis Tweeters who I want to meet soon–suggested using this hashtag at an “Ignite Memphis II” presentation at Launch Memphis a few nights ago.  Here’s what they had to say: “The great thing about Twitter is that it gives you a platform for the exchange of ideas and information.  However, it can also be very noisy which makes it hard when you are looking for specific data–like going into a bookstore and seeing a bunch of books but not in any grouping.  For Twitter, hashtags allow these groupings to happen so we can cut through the noise and get the specific data we want and can add to it,” says Aaron.  “What made #memstorm so powerful was that you could find the data and also add to the conversation making it even richer,” he said.


This is the power of Twitter in a crisis.  If the community will accept 1 single hashtag to use, Twitter will automatically put all tweets using that exact tag into one stream.  Last night #memstorm literally took the Memphis community by storm.  With over 681 tweets last night, the statistics are there to prove this is a powerful way to communicate.  Thanks to the news media and to @MLGW who also joined using the tag which was important as getting immediate, reliable news from all sources is very important in a crisis where safety (not credit) is first.  Some tweets read: “the information in this stream is better than some of the news sites.”  As a PR person, I can tell you this is powerful stuff!  Even Jim Cantore himself didn’t have this kind of Twitter power!  But I guess he has real star power so he doesn’t need it.  Imagine if he had joined #memstorm (that would have been cool and smart of him by the way). 


Rachel Smith ( @rachgsmith on Twitter) has this observation: “The essential purpose of the hashtag is one most neglected to realize: to create one source of information for all aspects of a story or event.  Without this unity, there is no value.”  She said that at the Ignite Memphis II meeting, Aaron suggested Memphis use these tags for future events and I agree! #memtraffic (all traffic alerts) and #memstorm (for all weather alerts). 


Aaron and Rachel sent me a sampling of the stats from #memstorm on Twitter.  Using only 50 of the 675 tweets, 31,614 people were reached with 205,410 impressions.  WOW!  Powerful numbers and important information.


Rachel and Aaron believe that getting the community (government, media, civic, etc) behind this idea would help expand information shared during important events.  Without a unified single stream, these tweets just look like a bookstore without any categories or organization.


Another value to a single stream is that people were reporting in real time what was happening in their area and neighborhoods.  Weather watchers were spotting tornadoes and tweeting where they were sometimes before the news could report it.  People were tweeting when the sirens stopped faster than the news reported it. I am sure the news channels will be reviewing how to integrate and use Twitter and a hashtags during the next storm event which could be as soon as Sunday night.  My advice to them would be to embrace this idea and to watch the tweets live to verify and compare information.  We’ll be using #memstorm again of course.  This is a good way for any community to become educated and understand the power or Twitter in a real crisis.  If all power goes out, Twitter works when your TV doesn’t and we need to be ready to use it. (Make sure your phones and iPads are charged)


Thanks to everyone who got involved as I often say more heads and tweets are better than one!  When Aaron and Rachel tweeted to me that #memstorm would be used, I sent a media alert to our weather media and they joined the conversation.  For more information on how it went, go to Twitter and type #memstorm in the search bar and you can see the tweets from last night and today (they are still coming in). 


** #memstorm photo courtesy of @BrennanSomers (we love this picture!)

PR Re-Invented: SocialSlam 2011 is COMING to Tennessee #SoSlam

February 1st, 2011   •   4 comments   


I am looking forward to attending and participating in Knoxville’s #SoSlam (Social Slam) event April 13th, 2011 and meeting Jay Baer ( @JayBaer ) and Bryan Winter ( @BrianWinter ).  I am fortunate to say that I know Christina “CK” Kerley ( @CKsays ) and Trey Pennington ( @treypennington ) in real life as many of these folks came to Memphis last May for @ChrisBrogan ‘s event.  This April event, organized by my good friend and master blogger @MarkWSchaefer–is shaping up to be one of the best yet.  Along with sponsor Pyxl and Knoxville’s Social Media Club, there will be additional sponsors as we get closer to the date! 

 It will be great seeing my good friend and collegue @AnneDGallaher–one of the sharpest PR minds out there and @GlenGilmore–my go to for everything social for some of my client projects.  I’m pleased that my client @Epperson_E will be joining us on a panel to discuss the need to embrace social media for business.  In addition to Mark, these are 3 people that I know well, work with regularly, and admire tremendously.  All of these people I have met and come to know because of Twitter and social media in general.  I continue to be amazed by the power of Twitter as a business network tool and this year’s Social Slam demonstrates that.

What I love about this “crew” is they are all entrepreneurs or business owners with tangible business experience.  Their backgrounds are deep and they are successful because while they “grew up” in the traditional marketing space, they have been able to embrace the new technology and tools to further enhance their client work.  With the exception of a few–I’m not sure about everyone’s ages–the ones I know here are at least 40 and maybe a bit over 40.  Like me, these speakers were working in the trenches before we had the internet and I was working in corporate marketing before the FAX machine!

So here’s what you get to learn if you regisiter for social slam 2011.  You can register online by going to this link: PRICE is $49 and includes a free copy of The Now Revolution AND a free copy of Mark Schaefer’s new book, The Tao of Twitter (both hot off the press!)

Keynote Speakers:

  • @JayBaer: Global Top 50 marketing blogger and author of The Now Revolution
  • @CKsays: Christina is America’s foremost authority on mobile marketing
  • @TreyPennington: author, professor and one of the best personalities on the social web
  • @BrianWinter: Former VP Sun Microsystems and CMO Carpathia Inc.

4 Amazing Panel discussions:

In addtion to learning and networking a lot, Mark assures me there’s a few parties that will take place around this event! And if Mark keeps telling people on Twitter to “catch a ride with Amy Howell” I will have to rent a bus to pick everyone up as I drive across the State.  I’ll be bringing @AlysDrake with me who handles a lot of our client social media work.  We can’t wait to see everyone! Thanks Mark for organizing such a power group and including me!

Are you attending?

Raising Children While you Work: Balance & Benefits

January 30th, 2011   •   10 comments   

I’m thankful that my children do not read my blog or log onto my website.  At this teen and pre-teen stage of their lives, they have zero interest in what I do professionally.  They do however think I have a “cool job” and they have mentioned on occasion that they appreciate my earning some extra bucks to fund the things they like to do. (Like keep the heat on and put food on the table, I often reply). I was looking through my photos on my laptop and discovered these here obviously taken while they were clowning around with my computer.  I could never take any pics that would better reflect their true personality as these do and I’m so pleased to have discovered them.  Priceless!

I have been thinking about some of the facebook posts I’ve seen lately from some of the working moms I know.  They have posted things like this:  “I wish I could stay home and do crafts or bake cookies with the little one today”…”It would be a great day to take my kids to the zoo but I’m working today,”  Trust me when I say: I GET IT!  It is very hard to strike the work/mom/home balance.  I’m all for equal rights and I know dads feel this way too some but I believe in maternal instincts and most of them are in the mom (I’m not going to argue they don’t exist in men and I’m not saying here that I’m right about it all but I’m writing this from my perspective). There have been many days–especially when mine were really little–that I wondered if working was a luxury, a necessity, or selfish on my part.  Probably a bit of each.  Looking back, I’m thankful I continued working full-time including launching and growing my own business.  Having children has actually helped advance my career.  It is easy? Heck no. There were–and still are–days when I thought I’d never get one minute of time for myself.  It does get easier in some ways as they get older and the guilt of not being there vanishes when you realize they get to the age when they’d rather NOT have you around all the time.  

Here’s a list of how I think having & raising children has directly impacted my career and PR:

  • Children teach you that you don’t know everything (even when you think you do)
  • Children act like children and sometimes so do co-workers & clients–great training!
  • Children have fresh eyes and the ability to think out of the box which helps me think that way
  • Children teach you not to take things so seriously and to laugh at your mistakes
  • Children teach you time management–gone are the days of doing what you want whenever you want
  • One of the best lessons from children: patience 
  • Children can view an issue from many perspectives giving us diverse thinking
  • Children can lobby for what they want even before they speak 
  • Children are creative; I sometimes get mine to help me brainstorm on creative ideas/campaigns
  • Children are tech savvy and they’ll teach me what I need to learn
  • Teenagers can find anything on You-Tube; My son is like a walking encyclopedia
  • Children teach humility and gratitude which I believe are keys to success in business
  • Children are resilient, forgiving and tolerant: qualities needed in business

I’d love to hear some of your own experiences. I think this list could go on indefinitely!  In closing, my hat is off to all you working moms (and dads) out there and especially to the single parents! Has raising children while you work had any impact on you?

Fun Feeding South Main Police Gumbo! Good Neighbors

January 27th, 2011   •   no comments   
Recently we had the rare and great opportunity to feed the South Main Police in our office last Friday.  We just thought it would be fun to get to know our neighborhood police and feed them steaming hot seafood gumbo on a cold winter day! We had lots of garlic bread and cheese to go along and we had a great time. Thanks to Automatic Slims for providing the most delicious seafoood gumbo!  We loved meeting our downtown police and we are glad to say, they all rock!   Here’s what I learned: 
  • Being a police officer is probably one of the most important jobs we have
  • Our City police are awesome.  In the midst of all they have to do, they are cool people. 
  • They run marathons; they use apps to calculate calories; they are family people;
  • The safest place in Memphis is downtown (they say so)
  • Our police work hard to keep our streets safe and they work together
  • The police know day-to-day where our problems are–TALK TO THEM!
  • They are smart people.  One officer in particular, has a PhD in Urban Planning. He moved from California (where he was a City Planner) to Memphis to chase bad guys.
  • They love my spaghetti, gumbo and cookies:))
  • We need more Memphians to “LOVE OUR PO PO”
  • The way to the PO PO heart? IS through the stomach
  • WE LOVE our S. Main Police–You are welcome in our office 24~7
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