Social media conferences

Going to New Orleans and eating burger is like …

New Orleans is a great place to indulge – the coffee, the beignets, the booze, the food – almost too many options but really something for every kind of taste.

Going to New Orleans and eating burger is like … well, it’s actually a really good idea if you head to a restaurant expecting to order seafood only to see the majority of Foursquare tips directing you to the best burger in New Orleans.

Oyster bar at Luke Restaurant New OrleansWalking into Luke, a chef John Besh restaurant in New Orleans, one of the first things you see is the Oyster Bar, full of fresh seafood and you begin to imagine the choices on the menu.

And you check in on Foursquare. Then suddenly, you have a craving for a burger.

From the menu description, the lüke burger is Allan Benton’s bacon, caramelized onions, tomatoes, Emmenthaler Swiss cheese with house-made fries.Luke burger New Orleans

The bun was an onion roll and in order to make room for the deliciousness, I took off half of the bun to make room for the main course. It did not disappoint. The bacon was smoky, the burger had a fantastic grilled flavor and even the fries were perfectly crispy. My companion, who I was at a conference with, had the pork chop, which was the nightly special, and said it was a crime that she couldn’t finish all of it.

We didn’t have room for dessert but all indications pointed to the bread pudding. The couple dining next to us shared one and cleaned the plate.

So when in New Orleans, it’s always a good idea to try the oysters, but at Luke, it’s OK to give the burger a go. You won’t regret it.

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My Mommy is a Blogger

I took my daughter to her first blogging conference last year. Well, she didn’t actually attend but she loved the kidcon during the Type A Parent Conference. In addition to the fun things that she was able to see and do, she loved a button that was in her goody bag, “My mom blogs about me.”

I didn’t actually blog then as much as I do now – I was more on the other side of the fence in public relations. However, now I have a different job and am more frequently writing here.

So at this year’s Type A Parent Conference, we received a copy of the book My Mommy is a Blogger. When I brought it home, my daughter’s eyes lit up. She immediately remembered the pin and asked if it was the same thing. Well yes, kind of.

My Mommy is a Blogger BookReading this book not only helped my daughter understand what I’m doing now, but it also helped her understand what I used to do in public relations. I was able to tell her why I traveled and why I was always bringing home fun stuff for her to discover in my suitcase.

If you’re a blogger, or in public relations, this is a must-have book. It will help you in telling others what you do and how you do it – all with a smile. The illustrations are cute and it’s very easy to read with your kids.

Disclosure: I received this book as part of my participation in the Type A Parent Conference. Review and opinion are my own.

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Social Media Day at Garden Fresh Gourmet

Last week, Garden Fresh Gourmet in Ferndale hosting its first Social Media Day.

Social Media Day at Garden Fresh Gourmet

Walking in, we were treated to chips, salsa and many new varieties of hummus (olive is my new favorite).

Garden Fresh salsa and chipsGarden Fresh Hummus

And, we had an introduction to all natural stuffed burgers. You see, Garden Fresh has a space age machine that allows fresh food to be preserved and sold without adding preservatives.

Garden Fresh stuffed burger

Jack and Annette Aronson, the founders, were gracious hosts to the crowded room. They also had a buffet of food out, including mac and choose from Union Woodship, Just Baked Cupcakes and wine from  B. Nektar Meadery.

Jack and Annette Aronson

The salsa is my favorite (Jack’s Favorite in mild), the hummus is delicious and I can’t wait until the stuffed burgers are on the market. Garden Fresh hits another home run!

Garden Fresh Gourmet headquarters

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Life’s Too Short to Not Give Kids a Shot

Some parents in the U.S. choose not to vaccinate their children, and that’s a choice they make in an environment that has little potential for massive outbreaks of preventable diseases. However, in countries where clean water and food are scarce, having vaccinations are the difference between life and death.

While at the Type A Parent Conference, we learned about Shot@Life, part of the United Nations Foundation that helps to vaccinate children who have no access to healthcare.

More than 19 million children under the age of 5 remain unimmunized around the world. With vaccinations, those children have a chance of seeing the age of 5, of learning their ABCs and reaching other milestones.

To give kids a shot at life, remember the ABCs:

  • A stands for Authority. You have the authority, the power, to make a real difference.
  • B stands for Be aware. Be aware of the changes that you can make to save lives.
  • C stands for Caring for Children. These children have very little resources, so with a little care, you can change their lives forever.

Shot At LifeVaccines make life possible. Without them, children are vulnerable to deadly and disabling diseases like measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio.

Unfortunately, around the world, one in five children still lack access to the life-saving immunizations that help keep children in the U.S. healthy. In fact, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine. By expanding access to vaccines, we can prevent 1.5 million child deaths each year.

This little tyke from Honduras, along with countless others, is counting on you.

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Cars, comics and caring in Charlotte

My first trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, was for the Type A Parent Conference. Previously held in Asheville, this year’s conference was at the Hilton City Center. The hotel had a unique design, partially on a hill where you could walk in on the second floor on one side and on the first floor on another. The building was attached to the Wells Fargo Center, where guests can use the YMCA for exercise and swimming.

Heroes Convention CharlotteNearby, the convention center was host to the Heroes Convention, so I saw super heroes and not-so-super heroes around every corner.  A couple of blocks away, look out for the checkered crosswalk, a sure sign that you are close to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR Hall of FameAlas, I didn’t have time to visit on this trip. However, I did have time to eat at some great places:

Carolina Ale House: Lots of great local and craft brews. The fish tacos were excellent and the fries were just right.

Kings Kitchen fried chickenKings Kitchen Now this place has a real story behind it. From the website:

We’re a not for profit restaurant serving up southern cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients from right here in our community. And the proceeds go back to the community, helping to feed those in need. So, come on in. Because when you dine, the whole community thrives.

I had to go native and try the fried chicken platter. Down home cooking and for a great cause, the food was plentiful and full of flavor.

Mez When you have something called “Illegal bread” on the menu, of course you have to try it. And it did not disappoint. So good that it should be illegal. I also had the margarita flat bread, which the ripe tomatoes topped off the full taste. The flat bread is so large that you could definitely share with more than one person.Charlotte Mez flatbread

The only thing I noticed that was lacking from the uptown Charlotte area was a lack of retail – no interesting little shops to duck in and check out. However, the restaurants were plentiful and if I came back with my kids, we’d check out the museums that were nearby.

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Connect, Learn and Laugh at Type A Parent Conference

Has it really been more than a year since the last Type A Conference? Because it seems like just yesterday that I was meeting and talking to these wonderful bloggers.

This year, I had no kids or husband in tow so I was able to spend more time getting to know people. It really was a different experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to have both perspectives.

Disney party at Type A ConferenceThe venue changed this year – from the Asheville, N.C. to the Hilton City Center in Charlotte, so the vibe of the conference was a bit different, as well. There were no cool little stores to explore during down time, and we had the “Heroes Convention” next door instead of finding a drum circle.

Yet, no matter where you put these ladies – and a few men – we connect, we laugh, we learn and we grow. We attend sessions and hands-on workshops, sneak off to our hotel room to write, update code or make fixes based on other tips and tricks learned throughout the day.

At the end of the day, we relax and unwind with a good meal, maybe a walk and definitely a party where we can socialize and of course connect again.

I come home with a bag full of business cards, a lot of new Twitter connections and a little schwag. Just the right balance to make the Type A Conference another happy memory.

And in no particular order:

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How Many Type A’s Does it Take to Prepare for the Type A Conference?

Answer: All of them. Since when does a Type A sit back and let someone else do all of the research and planning?

My favorite blog conference of the year is rapidly approaching: Type A Parent, this year in Charlotte, N.C. Some conferences are larger, some are smaller but with the right combination of people, location and content, Type A speaks to me every year.

type-a parent conferenceThis year, my third as an attendee and second as a speaker, will be different in a few ways. My first outside of a PR agency and just as a blogger. The first time the conference is in Charlotte (although I love Asheville, I’m also excited to explore a new city. The first where I can focus more on me without focusing on clients and my job.

This year, I’ll fly down on my own dime for the first time, share a room with an awesome blogger, all star videographer and softball coach extraordinaire, and I plan to deepen friendships, meet new people and learn from some of the smartest women (and men) on the planet.

I’ve started several blogs over the years, but my career as a social media specialist in public relations generally left little room for my own writing. After writing on behalf of others all day, the last thing I wanted to do was open the computer screen again once I had the kids in bed.

Now, I’ve decided and am keeping it going for the longest stretch, to write, to blog for me. Not for any perks, not for anyone saying “you have to have a blog” and not on behalf of any executive or company. Just me, and I’m beginning to create that journey.

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Twitter class with the #backchannel: how journalism and social media evolve

In 2010, I began teaching the first class at Eastern Michigan University that revolves around social media. Housed in the journalism department, the class draws aspiring journalists and PR pros.

This semester, after we had a full class of Twitter immersion, I introduced a new concept. First, we watched a video from Stephen Clark on how he developed the #backchannel for WXYZ-TV in Detroit. Then, each student opened up their Twitter client and created a search column for the #backchannel. I sent out a warning tweet to the #backchannel that the class would be joining.

When the newscast started at 7 p.m., we had the live video from the website streaming on the screen. A few students starting picking up on the interaction and began tweeting. Others were watching their Twitter client and trying to figure out the rhythm of communication.

Then, it started to happen. People on the #backchannel began to respond to the students. Now, the students were talking to people outside of the classroom. Then, Stephen Clark tweeted and welcomed us. The class became excited and the noise level grew.

During a particular segment, Clark mentioned “crazy kids” on the air. Immediately after, he tweeted that the reference was for the class. Now they really dove in and began tweeting. Others in the Channel 7 newsroom were having conversations with different students and the backchannel was in full motion. Students were tweeting about news segments and talking to other viewers at the same time.

Near the end of the newscast, Stephen Clark said something to the effect of “I want to thank some students from Eastern Michigan University for joining us on the backchannel tonight.” I’m not exactly sure what he said because the room erupted into cheers and amazement.

Following the newscast, Channel 7 staff tweeted to the students and asked if they had any questions. Q&A went back and forth for awhile and the students learned about the origins of the backchannel and how the rest of the staff uses it.

Now, I could’ve showed the video about the backchannel, showed some slides of recent tweets and explained the process. But the effect and experience would not be anywhere near as memorable or educational than experiencing this new form of journalism.

Of course, my students now want to watch the evening news every Thursday during class. But they also know how to use Twitter better than the majority of the population and they know that it can be extremely effective for journalists.

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Mom bloggers, lobbyists and corn

At the Type A Mom Conference, we received a refillable water bottle with “High Fructose Corn Sugar” on it, showing the renaming of HFCS from syrup to sugar.

Now, bloggers in a blogging network went on a tour and some were offered gift cards for posts about HFCS.

This war of words has only just begun and it is a case study in process for public relations and public affairs.

Stay tuned.

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Bloggers and Companies: How to Work Together for Everyone’s Benefit

Saturday’s Type A Mom session about bloggers and companies drew a large crowd. Everyone was curious to see, from a PR perspective, what agencies and brands look for when selecting bloggers for programs.

Much of the discussion, moderated by Amy Lupold Bair, centered around numbers. David Griner told bloggers to make sure they’re familiar with how they are viewed on measurement sites such as Compete.com – and importantly, to let PR and marketers know when their own numbers from metrics tools like Google Analytics are vastly different.

It’s also a relatively new concept to PR people that bloggers want to know “What’s in it for me?” PR people continue to send press releases to bloggers without realizing they are not media outlets in the traditional sense. They only want to write about something if they’ve had a personal experience with it and can feel confident about providing an opinion; it’s not a platform to tell people that latest news from Brand X.

Although PR agencies do look at blog traffic, Heidi Bobier said she’s also looking at interaction by seeing how many comments blog posts have and what sort of reception previous reviews and giveaways have received.

Another point for bloggers to remember is context. If you write about coupons and I work with a retailer or discount provider, I know we have the same target audience. If you’re edgy, you may be a better fit for another client. It’s up to the PR person to make the best possible matches – and for the bloggers to contact them when they know they have a good match, too.

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