1.25 tank of gas + 6 hours drive time + seeing ‘friends’ face-to-face for the first time or again = PRICELESS

Yesterday started at 3am with drive from Dallas to Austin. I am a morning person, but even this early drive was a bit much. Without a GPS (only female instinct) I arrived at the Dell HQ at 7am for SMC Austin seminar. A big Thank You to host, Dell!

With an energy drink I sat at the front of the room. I took prestigious notes with pen and paper and live blogged the day event. The first half of the seminar was a social media primer. A review for me, but much needed for those surrounding me.

Locked and loaded, the morning hot topic was Shel’s research on education and social media-a topic near and dear to my brain.

Chris Heuer is a great speaker. The man does not miss a beat; he can type, navigate through sites and keep the conversation going! It’s exciting to see others excited.

I met Geoff Livingston for the first time. As my Twitter feed indicates I was most excited about this introduction. I hope I did not blow it looking like a babbling idiot! This man has a dynamic personality and extremely down-to-earth. It was truly a pleasure. Eagerly anticipating his new book, Now Is Gone

Yes, Connie Reece really does have hot pink streaks in her hair and looks fabulous! Connie and the Austin SMC team did a great job organizing the event and fighting for wifi access in our conference room.

It has been way too long since I last saw Kami Huyse in person. What a treat! (Kami, I forgot to give you your baby shower present again!) She showed me the latest pics of her two gorgeous children. Kami was truly luminary yesterday! Of course I asked her for her secret…I think it is her passion radiating. Kami presented metrics after lunch. Her presentation was marvelous and packed with resources.

Live bloggers (Kami, Geoff, Connie and me) captured the key moments via Twitter. I encourage you to go into the archives and fill up your knowledge tank.

The trip home seemed much faster than the trip to Austin. Perhaps it was because I was on an emotional high, too psyched about future posts (all recorded on mp3 player during drive) and talking to Kami on the phone.

Make it a point to meet followers/friends face-to-face.

Feedback: Austin SMC was my first live twittering experience. How did I do? Too much; too little; too vague?

How to Write a Case Study II

One of my most popular posts is How to Write a Case Study. This message originated because I was crafting my portfolio and needed to archive my past successes (and not-so good campaigns with lessons learned). Resources were not abundant. Since this time, I have discovered a multitude of how-to and examples of case study writing geared to the public relations professional. A purpose-built page is capturing these links. I will continue to update! Of course, my favorite resource at the moment is the Now is Gone/Case Studies. Please share or add to any resources I miss.

Zany: Class is One Big Game!

Weekend courses are the hardest to teach. Eight hour days of lecture while sun and blue sky pass unnoticed is not fun. How can anyone learn? You will not hear me drone on in my weekend classes. You will most likely hear roaring laughter as students create and play their own Monopoly games.

Last semester, students (Marcom Colloquy) of my Principles course were instructed to create their own Monopoly game. The class was divided into two teams of four and each team given a create-your-own Monopoly game. The game required three elements from each chapter of their text be incorporated into play.

The first weekend was dedicated to establishing the game objective and layout. It was a rocky start for both teams. Silence permeated the first day. Three students had never played Monopoly before! Instead of forcing students to read and regurgitate outdated textbooks, the students must use the lessons in the correct context.

The second and final weekend was quite different than the first; the laughter was so loud, we could be heard throughout the building. Thank goodness it was a weekend class or we would have disturbed and angered several instructors. Teams were given one class period to play their own game and work the kinks out of instructions and game board. The second day, the teams switched games, played and graded their peers. The games were not similar. One team chose to upgrade their Monopoly game to the credit card version. One board was a specialty store and the other a big box retailer.

I was ecstatic with the enthusiasm of the class and quality of their work. The games are now on display in the student office and travel with student representatives at school expos.Pictures_07_023 Pictures_07_024 Pictures_07_018  Pictures_07_020

Snack Attack

The Media Snacker Respect meme started by Jerimiah Owyang is now at my blog doorstep courtesy, friend and mentor, Kami Huyse.

Communicators Anonymous caters to snackers by posting my feed in the left bar of blog. The feed does not clutter my posts and is updated real-time. Don’t have time to get to know me and the feel of the blog? Follow me via Twitter, also in the left bar. Notice I have few categories listed in CA blog. I want to make sure my APR experience and CA Twelve Steps are the core focus of blog.

As a teacher of evening college classes, I know my students are eager for information, but don’t have the leisure to peruse the Internet or the skills to wade through Social Media. Marcom Colloquy also displays my feed, but the path is to purpose-built pages like this one for an upcoming marketing sales management course.

And now I will carry on the meme by tagging fellow instructor Karen Russell and one of my favorite PR voices, Ike Pigott. Healthy snacking to all!

The Golden Ticket

I was very lucky to have Samra (Sam) Jones Bufkins as a member of my Readiness Review panel. Sam was greatly encouraging and candid about areas I needed to improve. This year, she has lit the way for those contemplating an APR. In response to last week’s Dallas PRSA Communications Summit, Sam sent this email to perspective APR candidates. Sam has consented to post her message on this blog. Thank you!

Hi, y’all–it was great to see so many of you at Friday’s Communicators Summit. For those of you who couldn’t make it, attached are the handouts from the APR session.

Based on feedback from the group, the major theme I hear from APR prospects is "When will I have the time to do this?" So, in the spirit of blogging here are my thoughts.

If we are committed to something, we MAKE the time, whether it’s getting a master’s degree, redecorating the house, training for a triathlon, or getting our APR. I look at the things I want to do, and realize that the time spent procrastinating, avoiding, and making excuses for why I can’t do them would probably be enough time to lay out a plan and START doing them.

(How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!) When we have multiple commitments at work, we prioritize–isn’t that usually a box checked off in the performance appraisal? And Oprah and Dr. Phil and others tell us we should do it in our personal life, too–prioritize. Sometimes prioritizing means putting something on the back burner for the time being. So, I’ll ask you all to take a realistic look at your personal and professional life and see where getting your APR really does fit into your priorities. That should be the first step in your plan.

Plan–yes, we’re communicators, and we all work within the framework of plans every day. Set out a plan for your APR study. Try this–go to

, click on "Become an APR" and download the Readiness Review Questionnaire. Schedule some time alone to complete that questionnaire as if you were doing it for real. You might also download the KSAs/Competencies tested as a guide while completing the questionnaire. You can’t do this in an hour–block out some time each day for as many days as it can take to complete it. Set a deadline, and reward yourself, if necessary. When you’re done with the questionnaire, let it rest for at least 24 hours, then revisit it with the KSAs and possibly the Readiness Review Score Sheet at hand. Give yourself a really honest critique. Then give it (and the KSAs,

etc.) to a trusted APR to review and comment on. I don’t know anybody with their APR who isn’t willing to help–you can pick one you know, pick one at random from the membership directory, or let me know and I’ll find you a mentor. So many of you ask if this experience "counts" or worry that your past experience is appropriate. Worrying won’t change anything, so channel that worry into positive energy and self-assessment–completing the questionnaire will clear up a lot of your concerns, help you identify areas you need to work on, and guide you in your plan to become an APR.

After you’ve done this initial, personal assessment of your readiness, lay out your plan for the next steps.

That could be to pull together a portfolio that illustrates the questionnaire, send in your application fee to the Universal Accreditation Board, and schedule a readiness review with the chapter APR chair. You may also decide that you need more experience in a particular area and ask for more responsibility at work, or volunteer for a non-profit organization that needs your help. You could also sign up for the online course and take that to brush up on terminology and skills–some people do that before the readiness review, others find it more valuable after. Find a study buddy (I can help you there, too) and start an informal study group with one or more of the recommended texts. There are a lot of options at that point, but the advantage of doing this exercise NOW is that you’ll get past the first hurdle without eating into the one year time frame that starts with your application to the UAB. You’ll feel more confident in your readiness, and more focused on what you need to do next.

Reace said it best in her talk about recently taking the APR exam–it’s a big elephant, so pick a bite and go for it.

I’m here for you, so don’t hesitate to yell any time you have questions or concerns. I really, really want to see each of you an APR, hopefully by this time next year. I truly believe that is possible, too.


Book Review: Fire Them Up!

Fire Them Up! by Carmine Gallo

Fire_up_book Many motivation books say the exact same thing over and over again. What was that penguin book? I am always reading something. Fiction or not, the book must inspire me to keep flipping the page. Monday, 8 October, I could not put down Fire Them Up! by Carmine Gallo. To put it simply, I was fired up!

For me, Monday was a government holiday and an extra day to mentally prepare myself for a busy week. This year has been full of ups and downs and anything but simple. In 212 pages, seven simple secrets to inspire colleagues, customers and clients; sell yourself, your vision, and your values; and communicate with charisma is revealed.

"Few of us will live at a confluence of history where we can unleash previously untapped powers to change the world, but we are all catalysts of change for the people around us."

Passion is not a dirty word. Dreams are not silly. In one book, Gallo lights the way to a better future with stories and lessons learned from past and present leaders. The book is an easy read, full of lists and real life examples to become a better storyteller.

The holiday season is often a spark plug for stress and distress. I recommend you self-medicate and rejuvenate your spirit with this book.

Disclaimer: Carmine Gallo did provide me a complimentary copy of this book for review.