Friday, November 28, 2008

I said "YES"! Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Bert Schmidt

November 28, 2008

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.

Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.

Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

~ Apache Wedding Prayer Blessing

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My friend Patrick's Book Party

Join friends of Patrick Evans-Hylton at a book signing party for his newly released cookbook: Popcorn! Patrick’s book is being so well received, it is being featured (not just on the bookshelf) in the Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Target and the usual booksellers/online stores nationwide. It’s such a hit that Martha Stewart will be interviewing Patrick on her Sirius radio show in December!

But the ONLY place to get your personally signed version of Popcorn and tastes of some of the incredible popcorn recipes is at our by-reservation-only party on December 14th from 2:30 to 5:00 at Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. Get all of the details about Patrick and the book signing party in the fine print below.

To reserve your place please email this special reservations link,, with the names of the guests and the number of books you desire. If you have any questions, call 589-9446. Space is limited so please RSVP ASAP! Reservations must be made by midnight on December 3, 2008.

Fine Print:

* Valet parking will be available (fee) at Croc’s 19th Street Bistro and there is plenty of free parking nearby. A cash bar will be available at the event and friends of Patrick will provide a sampling of recipes from his new cookbook for you to taste.

* If you know Patrick than you know he has more “jobs” than anyone in Hampton Roads (columnist, author, blogger, TV personality, photographer, historian, publisher, executive editor, senior editor, instructor, food critic, chef and foodie-around-town)! Here’s his official biography:

Patrick Evans-Hylton is a Johnson & Wales trained chef and the region's leading food writer. His work appears as senior editor in Hampton Roads Magazine and as executive editor of Virginia Wine Lover magazine; he is frequently heard on “Food Fridays” with Cathy Lewis on Hampton Roads public radio. For more than two years, Evans-Hylton was the host of "Everyday Gourmet" which aired on WVEC TV-13 in Hampton Roads and at select ABC stations nationwide.

Much of Evans-Hylton's writings concern local and national food trends as well as food history. This includes essays, in addition to restaurant reviews, personality profiles and the development of recipes with Chef Patrick's unique signature touch. Chef Patrick is the leader of Slow Food Hampton Roads, a committee member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and instructor at Culinary Institute of Virginia. In 2007, he won the best feature writer of the year from the Virginia Press Association.

* This is a one-time book-signing opportunity. So, if you or (your surrogates) don’t pick up your signed book at this event, it will not be mailed, dropped off or otherwise made available to you. We’re so sorry, but there’s just no way to handle individual disbursement before or after the event.

* The books will be $15 each, a portion of which will be donated to the Culinary Institute of Virginia and C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program). Read good, eat good, feel good!

* We’ll have your book/s ready to be signed; you’ll have the cash, check or credit card and a whole lot of fun!

* Please feel free to include your friends in the invitation. Just be sure that you/they reserve a place and their books at the email address because if you’re not on the list you won’t be getting into the party (just like Hollywood)!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Increase Stakeholder Communication in a Downturn

I've been giving this a lot of thought since (1) taking my new job at the Hampton Roads Partnership and (2) since the economy is tanking. Read on...

Our stakeholders want to know we care. In a recession, stakeholders NEED to know we care. That means that now more than ever we need to reach out to our stakeholders often, to ask how they are doing and what we can do better to meet their wants and needs.

In a paper by Andrew Razeghi, Kellogg School of Management, he offers tips on how we can increase stakeholder experiences during economic downturns.

One of the tips is important to heed: Rather than reduce price (investment, sponsorships, member fees, etc.), offer more value to stakeholders.

Recessions aren't a time to cut our prices but instead to offer greater, more tangible value for the same price and a better guarantee. We should increase communications with:

  1. our current stakeholders
  2. stakeholders who have gone missing and
  3. potential stakeholders.
The rule of thumb is that if we don't communicate with those three groups, and at least quarterly, they will fade away and eventually drop their loyalty to us.

Case in point: in a study of 600 business-to-business companies, "McGraw-Hill Research found that businesses that maintained or increased their advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession, averaged higher sales growth during the recession and in the three years following."

Today, although I certainly don't prescribe to advertising as the best way to communicate with our stakeholders, the study still holds true --26 years later. Use the following tools to listen and to talk with stakeholder communities:
  • Monthly Newsletters or white papers that help stakeholders stay informed, achieve efficiencies and cost-savings, etc. while fulfilling our mission.
  • Blog posts in which the objectives are the same as the newsletters and white papers. These should be created three to four times a week.
  • “Thank you” notes sent once or twice a year to current and former stakeholders, showing how much you appreciate (in the case of “former”: appreciated) their participation.
  • Birthday, anniversary, holiday, congratulatory cards and letters.
These are just some of the ways we can stay in touch with our communities. Of course, we should also be talking either via face-to-face, email or on the phone with our stakeholders at least monthly, if not more often.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So what does it all mean?

I'm feeling overwhelmed with information, for one. Shift Happens 3.0 (*~*)

Here is my 2007 post of Shift Happens, the original, and Shift Happens 2.0: CLICK

Monday, November 10, 2008

ROME wasn't built in a day, Return on Marketing Effectiveness (ROME), that is

In the process of strategic planning? Be sure to include Return on Marketing Effectiveness (ROME). As we drill down in focus to goals, objectives and appropriate measures, you'll need help from all departments.

I've seen some great 1-page, at-a-glance dashboards for tracking MARKETING OBJECTIVES, especially those objectives with specific goals which are part of an organization's STRATEGIC PLAN. I'd like to find a template to use, i.e. I'm looking for FORMATS to represent the results of GOALS & OBJECTIVES already established.

Anyone have Sample Dashboards - as related to Marketing Effectiveness - they'd be willing to share? Thanks.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More on Bloggers' Block, 10 Ways To Create Content For Your Weblog

From Sheila Ann Manuel Coggins,

Top Ten Tips On Beating Bloggers' Block

You know that feeling... the awful sensation that you just can't possibly blog about anything. Nothing inspires you enough. Everything seems too mundane. And, the more you think about blogging, the less you are inclined to blog. Indeed, if writers can get writers' block, then bloggers can get bloggers' block.

What do you do in moments like these?

Here are some ideas on how you can create weblog content during 'dry times' when you feel as though anything under the sun isn't worth blogging about.

1) Check your Inbox. It's a great place to find fodder for blogging. Answer an email or two in your blog. React to a piece that you read from an email newsletter. Review a link or product that was recommended to you.

2) Start Blog Hopping. We all do it on a regular basis - reading blogs from our blogroll. However, this time, read your favorite blogs with the purpose of finding ideas to write about. Also, try to follow links to weblogs you don't usually visit. Start asking questions like: "What are my fellow bloggers interested in at the moment?" or "What is the most popular topic that people blog about? Do I want to write about it too? Or perhaps, I can blog about something that is not too popular." Doing these things may spark something in your 'blocked' blogging brain.

3) Comment in Your Own Blog. Yes, this idea is related to item #2. When you visit other weblogs, use your own blog when commenting on another blogger's entry that catches your attention. Or, if you post a short comment on someone else's blog, think of ways on how you can expand the idea. Oh, and don't forget to use trackback, if your blogging system allows you to do so. (Although many blog software and/or hosts do not automatically support trackbacks, offers a free tool.)

4) Read, Listen To, or Watch the News. Even if your weblog is not about news, politics or current events, you will still benefit from finding out what's going on in the world. To give you a refreshed view, why not check out news sources that you don't usually refer to? For example, if you're a CNN person, check out BBC this time around. You might even want to try watching news in a foreign language.

5) Give Memes or Collaborations a Go. Even if you're not too crazy about memes or collabs, you might still consider trying it out. Give it a different spin if you like. Say, instead of creating "100 Things About Me" - you can write "100 Things About My Neighbor's Cat."

6) Create Lists. This is an endless source of blogging ideas. Some possibilities: "Top 10" lists, "Favorites" lists, "Worst of the Bunch" lists, "Things To Do" lists, "Wish" lists, etc. These lists may be on any given topic such as movies, books, music, people, paintings, food, sports, and activities, among many other things. Ten Top 10s Creating lists is one good way to come up with blog entries, especially when you're feeling stuck. So, here are ten ideas that you can use for your Top 10 lists.

  1. Top 10 Favorites. You know this kind of list. Your favorite lists can be just about anything - books, movies, videos, music, actors/actresses, artists, writers, hobbies... You get the picture.

  2. Top 10 Dislikes / Peeves. Same thing as the 'favorites' list. Only on the nastier side.

  3. Top 10 Destinations. Or Top 10 Places To Avoid. These destinations/places can be anywhere in the world - even in your own neighborhood. Even if you're not writing a travel blog, these lists are always interesting reads.

  4. Top 10 Things About.... You, your pet, your crush, your interests... Whatever the topic, you can write Top 10 facts that you may wish to share with your readers.

  5. Top 10 Tips. Whether you're an 'expert' on knitting, surfing, or chess, you're bound to have some words of wisdom to share with your readers about your field/s of expertise/interest.

  6. Top 10 Ideas. This is another catch-all Top 10 idea with a twist. You can list anything here, but they should be categorized as "ideas." For example, you want to give ideas on how people can combat global warming. So, you can come up with Top 10 Ideas on How To Fix The Problem with Global Warming. Or, something to that effect anyway.

  7. Top 10 Things That Excite / Sadden / Delight... You. Change the feelings, if you must. Other ideas that you may consider are: things that freighten you, things that anger you, things that make you fall in love, etc.

  8. Top 10 Things To Do. Or even Top 10 Things That You're Avoiding to Do.

  9. Top 10 Memories. Whether you're writing about the top 10 memories you have of your wedding day or that job interview you just had, listing things that you remember will help you preserve these moments.

  10. Top 10 Random Things. So, you're not in to organizing ideas and themes in a neat little package? Why not list random things that you just happen to think about? Just go for it!

7) Play Games, Answer Surveys, or Take Quizzes. If you're not the sort of person who likes posting quiz or survey results as weblog entries, remember that you're not limited to the "usual route" of blog quiz-taking (i.e., find a quiz, respond to questions, and post the results as a blog entry). For example, if you take the quiz: What's Your Blogging Personality?, you can write about particular items asked in the quiz. Or, you can write about other ideas you may have for a game, survey, or quiz for bloggers.

8) Blog at Random. There are different ways you can blog at random. One way to do this is to pick up a dictionary or encyclopedia, open to a random page, and then write about a word, phrase or sentence that you find on that particular page. Another way is to flip through one of your photo albums (or boxes, if they're not in albums yet), and pick a random photo to write about - be it a memory, a fictional idea, or a non-fiction piece. You can also turn on the TV or the radio, then write about the first thing you watch or hear about. Another thing you might like to try is to find a journal writing software and/or book with creative writing prompts and pick a topic at random to write about.

9) Be a Sleuth! Are there things that you've always wondered about but never found the opportunity to get the facts? You might have asked yourself one or more of the following questions at one time or another: "How do you build an igloo?" "What are the different species of spiders?" or "Who is the richest woman in the world?" Well, now might be a good time to get your detective or research skills in to action. Check search engines, almanacs, and other sources of information. Then, start blogging your findings!

10) Do Something New. If not something new, any activity other than blogging or computer-related stuff will do. Sometimes, all you need is a little break. Go to the mall, watch a movie, go for a walk, visit the beach, or call a friend. Just get out there and live your life.

There are other ways to come up with blogging content other than the ones mentioned here. Go ahead and experiment! Just remember that living a full life is a surefire way to kick bloggers' block out of the picture.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Writing the Perfect Press Release

Had a friend send me this article:

"The fact that you’ve just started a new business is probably desperately interesting to you. If you’re like most new business owners, you’ll be thinking about your business 24/7..."

For the rest of the story, click HERE.

Has some great advice and even better points to follow.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Well, does this make you feel a little better?

Heard of the economic woes in Zimbabwe from BBC Radio: 80% unemployment rate and an inflation in the millions.

Not having enough digits in the National Debt Clock doesn't sound so bad, does it?

I don't know about you, but I'm still sick over this.

Read more from Scott Reynolds Nelson, professor of history at the College of William and Mary, on the our current economic crisis in relationship to the economic history of the nation.