Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Social Media Vision of Jessica Northey

This is the latest post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking.

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

Life is not a destination, it is a non-stop journey. We see the peaks (the high-points we cherish) and the valleys (the low-points we often like to forget). Our lives are impacted by these extremes, and defined by how we deal with them. And the journey of Jessica Northey is a great example. Her story is fantastic by any standard: from her humble beginnings on a dirt racetrack in Tucson to being a major player at the highest levels of digital media.

Northey comes with more than fifteen years in both traditional and new media. As a daily columnist for AllAccess.com, the worlds largest Radio and Music Industry community, contributor to Radio Ink, a trade publication, and Digital Correspondent for a Nationally Syndicated Radio Show, her work often explores the integration of entertainment with social media, and how Country Music Artists like Cowboy Troy and CJaye LeRose or Actor Thomas Jane are using popular platforms to promote themselves as brands and create buzz for their projects. This has made her one of the most respected names in the blogosphere and one of the most powerful women on Twitter.

When you talk with Jessica Northey, it’s rarely about herself. She discusses influence, and believes it’s not just about acquiring more of it, but about also using it to make a positive, lasting impact. Supporting a charity. Creating awareness for an important issue. Or just simply exemplifying the very best of what humanity is all about. Indeed, as the saying goes, “a good example has twice the value of good advice.” Northey lives the example, and has never forgotten the value in the valley. This is why her social media peaks continue to impress.

How has social media in general informed your work?

Social media has provided tools that I can use to expand my network and multiply the numbers of “people reach” for my clients. My company provides strategy, marketing and promotion so social media has given me better outlets to build on the tenets of advertising - the right message, to the right people, the right number of times.

You provided great insight in the changes and challenges of music artists. How beneficial do you believe social media has been to the music industry?

It is changing the way we promote and deliver music in every aspect. In the past, artists had to go through Terrestrial radio to get discovered. Now they just need and audience with great numbers, and Social Media platforms allow for a broader, yet more intimate way to build a bigger fan base and to connect with existing supporters. Artists are able to connect directly with their fans. Previously, with traditional methods, they were much farther removed. An artist can, with social media, ‘talk’ directly to an individual fan, who then spreads that conversation throughout their community. This makes the artist more approachable and, ultimately, more human and genuine.

At Jeff Pulver’s 140 Conference back in June, you talked about media and the importance of establishing credible sources. That was a great topic.

In the panel REAL TIME NEWS IN CHANGING TIMES we discussed that as Journalists we need to take responsibility for delivering the news in a serious manner, and never at the cost of the truth. It is completely amazing how we are able to deliver and consume news as it is happening! In fact, Web 2.0 is probably the most exciting innovation to ever happen to journalism. However, the pressure for “Real-Time” delivery is no excuse for compromising the very principles that attracted us to covering the news in the first place. Usually, I am generating content from an opinion or entertaining point of view, in an after-it-happened perspective, not necessarily time sensitive material. But in many aspects, I am a “Real-Time” reporter for some, and as a former newswire writer this has taught me to always check my sources.

What’s next for you?

I am weighing my options. Offers for TV, Radio, web shows, books, speaking gigs, collaborative efforts and even a Reality TV Show have surfaced. It's crazy. I don’t live a very complicated life. I am a simpleton way more than any of you would ever guess (laughs). Except I really like the color pink and my dog Sissy, who has 7000 twitter followers. This always blows me away. What I share about her has cultivated an audience of dog lovers and people who want to be closer to our lives. I embrace that and NEVER take it for granted! At the end of the day, I am just a girl from Tucson, Arizona, who looks at the world with hope and big dreamy eyes.

How would you define yourself in a 140 characters?

"Tell the truth. Make it matter. Never be boring." I live my life on & offline by these principles and I listen to my heart for right answers. They are always there.

To find out more about Jessica Northey and her new projects, follow her on Twitter, add her on GooglePlus, and friend her on Facebook.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Google+

To paraphrase a famous line: there is a disturbance in the force. That sound you hear is likely the chatter about Google+, the newest addition to social media. I joined two weeks after the launch.

If you haven't joined yet, I urge you NOT to listen to the "Google+ will kill Facebook and Twitter" predictions because its way too early in the game for that. This reminds me of the predictions about how Twitter was supposed to kill blogs or the short-lived GoogleBuzz was supposed to eliminate email. Neither happened. But more on that in a minute.

Google+ should be evaluated for what it is: a brilliant creation that benefits from its email integration (genius!!) and nifty tool bar at the top of your page. This keeps you connected and engaged. I'm not quite sure what to make of their circles feature yet, though I believe its pretty cool, and has the potential to be even better.

My friend Mahei Foliaki, one of social media's classiest and smartest people, believes Google+ is going to be a great platform for the Android. I believe him. Google now has its own social media component to promote all of its products and coming attractions. Even with the missteps and mistakes around its previous launches, you can't completely count Google out. It is now a major player in the social media conversation.

So, should you join Google+? Yeah, why not? I believe there is value in the platform for everyone: artists, journalists, techies, travelers, etc. People can comment on your post and/or give it a +1 if they like it. You won't see the engagement that you get on Twitter, and, there is not the kind of "reciprocal following" required on Facebook. But its definitely worth trying out.

Now, about that "its going to kill Twitter and Facebook stuff", ah, no. Can't see it yet. The beauty of Twitter lies in its 140 character updates. Google+ allows you to go beyond that. That's not bad, but its a fundamental difference. This point was also echoed in a post by Techland's Chris Gayomali. And Facebook? Well, the Google+ stream resembles Facebook, so Mark Zuckerberg shouldn't be losing any sleep right now. But check out Ruhani Rabin's post and Rick Liebling's post because I believe they give great context to what Google may actually be up to.

So keep following on Twitter, friending on Facebook, and determine for yourself whether Google+ is worth a +1.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Using Smartphones for Background Checks? (VIDEO)

This is one of the most interesting tech stories I've seen this year. A company has developed mobile technology that allows law enforcement to do instant background checks. The owner of the company explained it this way: "We've combined the capabilities and strength of a smart phone device with three biometrics: finger-print, iris recognition and facial recognition."

Wow. I knew nothing about this technology before but apparently the U.S. military used it in Iraq and Afghanistan to identify potential terrorists. If you doubted it before, please understand: this is a brave new world. Seeing this report means only one thing though: there are going to be lawsuits. Many, many lawsuits.

A South Korean iPhone user took Apple to court over its location tracking...and won. And we know that Twitter and Facebook have seen their share of lawsuits over perceived privacy issues. It's likely that this smartphone background check is going to be challenged as well. The law hasn't completely caught up to technology, but its adapting everyday. I'd keep my eye on how this will all play out.

Guest Blogger: Erin Turtel

This is a guest post by Erin Turtel, a writer, active volunteer and art instructor. This is her beautiful, heartfelt post about making a difference. She graciously allowed me to share her great post with my readers. You can follow her on Twitter.

This was also cross-posted on the amazing SeeYourImpact blog.

"Save a life, Spread Hope, Make an Impact"

by Erin Turtel

Ahhh…Summertime, and the living is easy…The heat of July brings with it an impulsive rush to the beach , lovely lazy baseball games, delicious scent of freshly cut grass, joyous romps through backyard sprinklers, and of course, more chances for barbecue, burgers and beloved ice cream. Not to mention flip-flops. A welcome escape. As we enjoy the company of family and friends, the thought lingers in the back of many minds…will we be able to cover the mortgage this month? Should we really be going on vacation?

As I sit at my kitchen counter, scanning job sites on the internet, I wonder when this sluggish economy will break free – and give me a break. So many friends and neighbors getting laid off – hard workers, straight shooters, bright and interesting people…no real reason other than the bottom line. Money is tight, all around – from businesses to breakfast nooks.

Easy for anyone to fall into a bit of blue. Self-pity. And with good reason. So how do we refocus? How do we regain the energy necessary not only to move forward, but to succeed in the face of hardship? How do we begin anew? Give it away. Give the pity away. Give hope. I gave mine to SeeYourImpact.org.

Look around. If we break out of our shells, our cocoons, our safe harbors – what happens? Look around and see… feel… how fortunate we are. Truly. And then give it away. Even if you have “nothing” to give, give it away. Feels absolutely amazing.

Gratefulness, once embraced, changes our entire outlook. Oh my goodness, am I ever blessed. Or, lucky. Whatever you want to call it. No job, losing my house, even a trip to the food bank – where I once was the biggest and most frequent donor. Hard. Seriously hard. But Lucky.

What occurred to me as I drove away with literally a trunk full of staples was: how fortunate we are to have these resources, to have this support system. Friends have pitched in, too – with childcare, dinners, gift cards, treats and adventures. Times are hard for everyone, and yet we still have so much to give – all of us.

I not only found an enormous outpouring of support – but discovered first-hand the great importance of community infrastructure designed to bolster people in my situation. My community just knew. They were aware. They opened their eyes, and their hearts. And gave without strings. I was floored, stunned by the outpouring of love I’d received. But I didn’t know how to give back. Thank you notes, of course. Volunteering, absolutely. But how to provide this sense of security – this gift of hope – to someone else like me?

When freed from my self-pity, it finally dawned on me, that this amazing safety net doesn’t exist in many places across the globe.

Its not usually top of mind, but here in the U.S. we have a tremendous support system to fall back on in tough times. Most of us have trouble swallowing the idea of taking unemployment insurance, or going to a free medical clinic – or even accepting dinner made by a neighbor. But its there, all around us, ready. All the time.

Not so in Sierra Leone. Or Nepal. Or even Guatemala.

When I opened my eyes, the question of how to demonstrate my gratitude suddenly became obvious. Something new. Something that would spread the gift of hope I was so blessed to experience. Give it away. Though a part of me felt I shouldn’t continue donating in the face of so much hardship within my own household - ”God helps those who help themselves” came to mind – I realized that here in America even those of us scraping by can still share.

And in giving we can all thrive. A small gift – just a few dollars – can have a tremendous impact for a family in a developing nation. Though I’d been searching for quarters on the floor of my SUV to cover gas just a few weeks prior, my decision to give $10 to SeeYourImpact lifted the yoke from my back, opened my heart to happiness, and most importantly helped another human being facing hardships I knew I’d never encounter.

In being a support to someone else, you bolster your own strength and glean inspiration. But the best part – you make a real tangible difference. Be a pillar, even when you are worried about your own. Save a life, spread hope, make an impact.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sarah Evans on Trends and the Evolution of Media

This is the latest post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. It was co-written with Kristen Durkin, editor of the influential blog SheTakesOnTheWorld.

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

With Twitter recently exceeding 200 million tweets a day, you can understand why co-founder Noah Glass thought it could be something powerful, a revolutionary way of communicating. He was right. It is a platform upon which hundreds of millions of ideas are shared in real time on a world stage. Some of those ideas flow from the brilliant mind of media trailblazer Sarah Evans, creator of the first ever Twitter industry chat for journalism, public relations and bloggers.

Sarah's work ethic and attention to detail is legendary. She is always in search of fascinating people, but she need look no further than her own life for an extraordinary and empowering story: a media professional whose advice and observations inform newsrooms worldwide, a master networker respected in every corner of the public relations arena, and a digital trend-watcher known for her glamour, goodwill and generosity.

Even the most savvy has faced difficulty navigating the divide (and often tension) between traditional media and the multi-faceted emergence of new media. But Sarah does it with ease and confidence, refusing to buy into an either/or proposition. Our interview reveals a woman on the move, aware of the still unwritten chapters about the challenges and creativity in the world of media, and destined to remain one of its visionary contributors.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Evans.

How has Twitter helped and informed your work?

Twitter is like a blank Rolodex, waiting to be filled with new people you meet. It's given many public relations practitioners easier access to people they want to connect with like journalists and bloggers in 140 characters or less. For me, it has been this and more. I jokingly say I've been able to condense 15 years of networking in to three. Twitter has also offered me a platform, or a place to share my voice and thoughts. From sharing recent blog posts to creating the first live Twitter industry chat journchat. When I started journchat three years ago, my goal was to create a relatively neutral area for journalists, bloggers and PR pros to connect. I did then, and still do, want journchat to be THE place for media to go to discuss the changing media landscape and to learn from one another.

You have 60,000+ people following your advice and news on Twitter, who do you follow for advice or breaking news?

I regularly monitor trending hashtags dependent upon trending news. I also keep several accounts on mobile Twitter alerts, including: breakingnews, cnnbrk, mashable, techmeme and others. In addition to these resources I've developed Twitter lists of friends, journalists and bloggers who often tweet about breaking news and trends. For example, last year a minor earthquake hit Chicago around 4 a.m. Because I thought there might be a story, I verified and connected with others by publicly tweeting, direct messaging national news producers and posting my story at CNN iReport, resulting in New York Times and CNN coverage--all before 9 a.m. Within four hours, there were five new business inquires for Sevans Strategy. Twitter is an excellent resource for breaking news (or rumors) and developing corresponding story angles to get sourced.

What do you think the long-term outlook is for 'traditional media' (television and radio) now that social media is red hot?

The majority of news information shared via social networks is still from mainstream media outlets. To me that says people are still looking to trusted outlets as sources for credible, vetted information. I honestly don't know what the long-term outlook is, just that it will be different and needs to evolve. It might mean less print, more mobile and more hyper-targeted angles thriving on a 24/7/365 news cycle. That doesn't mean new ways of doing journalism aren't emerging. Citizen journalists, bloggers and others have a leveled playing field and can share news and information via the same platforms as the big media players.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Evans.

What are your thoughts on where social media will be, say, 10-15 years from now?

I'm not a futurist, but potentially within the next decade or so social media from a technology angle will mean more mobile, more integration and, likely, more regulation. Everything from our search habits to location-based data to social network posts may be used to create a super profile. Who knows!

In your bio, it describes you as a social media correspondent. I love that. Can you explain that a little more for the readers?

Isn't a fun term? I needed something that conveyed what I actually "do" with social media. First and foremost I'm a public relations professional and run a PR consultancy. However, as I mentioned earlier, I use social networks as a platform to talk about, what else, social media. For example, I recently worked with a mobile application where I attended high-profile events like the Mercedes-Benz Polo Tournament, NY Fashion Week and Perez Hilton's celebrity concert party. I interviewed celebrities like the Kardashian sisters, Ermine Dupree and other A-liters about their favorite mobile apps and reported from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. I didn't want to limit myself as to how I'll use the platforms in the future and it seemed like "correspondent" was neutral enough to evolve over time.

You are one of the busiest women we know. What new projects are you working on?

There's a lot in the works right now. And I am very thankful! I continue to travel North America speaking on all things social media, running Sevans Strategy, which is grows daily, and spending time with my extremely understanding husband. The newest project in the works right now? A baby boy due in August. If that's not exciting enough, I recently joined the advisory board for KnowEm, a cool social platform that helps brands and individuals secure their identities across the social web and register trademarks directly from the site. And, I remain on the advisory board for Pitchengine, my favorite platform for social media releases (and a must have resource for PR people). This has been a fun ride so far and I can't wait to see where else it all takes me.

How would you describe yourself in 140 characters?

PR. Social Correspondent. Owner SevansStrategy. Creator of Journchat. Engaging & employing emerging tech.

To learn more about Sarah Evans and her amazing presence in social media, follow her on her Twitter feed and friend her on Facebook page.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 18 of the series: Rise of the Female Geek.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

2011 Could be Tom Cruise's Year...

...you know, the year he breaks out and returns to his old form. I say this as a fan of his work dating back to Top Gun and Rain Man in the late 80's and Magnolia and Jerry McGuire in the 90s. I say it also as an observer of pop culture. I know people are still talking about him jumping on Oprah's couch. Enough already. Truthfully, I never had a problem with him doing that. He was in love. But that episode and a few others have overshadowed some of his work in recent years. And that's too bad.

But I believe he might have finally put that behind him. His upcoming movie, the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise, is just the heart-stopping action flick that could remind people of how much of an amazing daredevil he is. He pushes his limits. Remember his infamous jump off of a Hong Kong office building in Mission Impossible 3? This movie goes farther and takes the fun to a ridiculously tall Dubai skyscraper.

I know it comes out in December, but the movie trailer below is one of the best I've seen all year. I had to share. If the movie does live up to the trailer, then yes, Tom Cruise is back in Top Gun form.