Nancy Welch’s “Bend in the Road”

Sometimes…you never know when you will find that bend in the road. Life always throws us curve balls, but it is up to us to find ways to work through the struggles. Nancy Welch was that person for me that taught me that we don’t always have to look at something as traumatic as cancer as the final destination.

I normally do not talk about religious issues on this blog, but today I think it is most appropriate. Johnny McKinney of Boulevard Baptist spoke about that final destination and asked, “What would we do if we knew our final day on this earth. Would it change our outlook on life, our priorities, and even our daily routines?”

Nancy Welch did not look at the “Big C” (as she called it) as the final stop on this journey in life. She just looked at it as a bend in the road. She took full advantage of this opportunity to engage her friends and family during this journey.

The story above is more than Nancy’s story about fighting colorectal cancer, it is a story of community. I know the video is long, 9 minutes long…but it was the only way I knew how to share this story. A of a strong community around her that decided to pitch in and help her along the way. Sometimes it takes a group of people to help us through the tough times. Sometimes we need to feel that sense of community to make it through that bend in the road.

We all know Nancy and her impact on the Upstate of South Carolina. From hosting a show on WSPA-TV7, to serving on numerous boards, and along with donating her time to the causes that she believed were important…her impact was felt. I was fortunate to know her son. We both went to Clemson together. I worked for Clemson Football while he kicked his way into stardom including that monumental kick at Virginia.

Nancy’s story is one that I am glad I had a chance to tell. She taught me more than you know!

To read my blog post on Greenville Hospital System’s Blog –> CLICK HERE
To see all the other Greenville Hospital Centennial Stories –> CLICK HERE

Blogging, Storytelling…Finding Your Voice For Digital Equity

I always love coming away from teaching with something that helps me contextuallize a process. I began working with my MBA Students on blogging…and ultimately building/finding your voice.

Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship Program is a one year intensive program helping shape twenty-two students’ business plans into a reality. As a part of this program, I working with them all semester to build a digital communication strategy.

Every class from finance to sales, they are constantly having to pitch. They are pitching their business ideas and I get to take it from a communications point of view. How do you take that elevator pitch and turn into a marketable piece of communication for numerous target audiences. One way is to get them writing and sharing…and we are doing this through the blogging process.

As I was working through today’s session, we were not focusing on platforms…but the message. What is the mission behind the blog? Who is the audience? What are you going to write about on a consistent basis that meets your goals. Most importantly, how does that effect their digital equity?

I thought this diagram above made sense as I was walking through a messaging process. As they begin the writing process, they are searching for their voice. We know those keywords that will attract the search engines and the audiences, but the more they write…the more they refine their message and their voice.

We have to understand that blogging is a foreign many of these students. As they find their voice, they begin writing for their audiences. The more they share, the more chances they have to build a community around their idea(s). As the community grows, they begin moving from writing specifically for the audience to writing with the audience as community effort.

This workflow helps refine and grow their digital equity and thus their blog’s search engine optimization. They continue to think through their keyword strategy and continue connecting with more and more individuals that share their common ideas. This is just fun!

Now…this is my perspective and one small part of an overall blogging strategy. But, this just made sense during our discussion this morning. I love helping people work through the thought process surrounding audience and purpose…ultimately finding their voice.

Let the Map’s Battle Begin! Google vs. Apple!

So I am getting ready to make a broad prediction and generalization. As a communicator in the digital/social space, I am surrounded by people predicting that mobile is the future…especially in the social space.

I think that MAPS on a mobile platform is going to be a large part of that conversation. Specifically MAP applications on our iPhones, Droids, etc. MAPS is a game that many tech groups (Apple, Google, Bing, etc.) are investing millions/billions of dollars.

With the release of iOS6 today for the iPhone and iPad, Apple just launched itself into the MAP Game competing with Google. They want to find better ways to connect consumers to local “brands” as a part of their search revenue stream.

I love this article by Entrepreneur.com talking about the competition between Google and Apple when it comes to the MAPs game.

“Expect new ways to market using your location. 
Apple is already planning a Quick Route function as part of its local search function that can lead customers to stores. Not to be outdone, Google is offering packages for automated business listings, and promotional services as part of its Places for Business product as well as turn-by-turn navigation for bicycle commuters.

And where Google and Apple go, so goes Microsoft. The company announced its most aggressive upgrade to its map imagery in July. This will be offered as part of its MapPoint 2013 software product that ties in not only geographic data to maps, but population information and research content aimed at showing businesses location-based opportunities and marketing trends.”

AND THIS…

“Maps need to become part of your search strategy.
Smart businesses will be proactive on how mobile users find and interact with them on maps. Among the new features that businesses can expect to exploit are the expanded role for social content and the ability to offer location-based deals.

Apple’s Maps application is stressing local reviews and search content from Yelp, which announced in June that it will be directly built into Apple maps. Google recently upgraded its Google+ integration for maps with Google Map Maker, which builds local content added by users into its maps. And earlier this summer, Microsoft announced new integrations with Nokia as part of its interactive features on Windows phones.”

And from BBC.com:
“As the internet goes mobile, there’s a huge amount at stake for both companies, and maps are a key weapon in the battle to be top dog. The nascent mobile advertising industry is heavily focussed on location based services, so owning the dominant mapping system could prove very lucrative.”

The communicators that will prevail in this social/digital space will be the ones that recognize the power of MAPS, research the impact on their organization’s revenue opportunities, integrate into the communication plan, and be open to innovative third party applications.

So think…how can we as communicators for large, medium, and small organizations think in terms of MAPS to connect with the consumer. How can we leverage these technologies that individuals are using everyday to connect with find and connect with our brand?

Let the wars begin!

***Image from Entrepreneur.com <– THANK YOU 

Telling the un-expected story – SC Mission 2012

Are we open to tell the stories that un-expectantly emerge? So many times we have a pre-conceived notion of a storyline, especially at the beginning of a project. We picture it in our head. We imagine how it will come together. We plan each shot, each interview, the music, the graphics…we have all the answers before the camera is pulled out.

It happens to all of us…we want to control and shape the message from the very beginning. But we better be careful, you never know what might be lurking around the corner and we might just miss it.

This happened to me  last month in Columbia at SC Mission 2012. (Video Above)

“The SC Mission 2012 clinic was held at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds where volunteers provided free medical, dental and vision services. SC Mission 2012’s goal was to provide services and match patients to a medical home where they can continue to receive the care they need. More than 2000 patients were seen and a total of 2100 volunteers including physicians, nurses, dentists, optometrists, pharmacy, nursing and medical students and lay persons helped make the clinic possible. More than 2000 patients were seen in all three services areas during the two-day event.”

I go into these productions always wanting to advocate for the patient. I want to find the patient story that inspires us to challenge and reform the way we deliver care. I wanted to shape the final piece around the patient’s faces, voices, and experiences.

The patient story was only a small portion of this year’s message and I almost dismissed the obvious…the stories of the volunteers. These individuals that gave their time, energy, and compassion during this two day event. These are the people that move South Carolina forward.

I spent the whole time during the shoot trying to find that un-believable patient story. I was struggling to find that one interview that moved the needle forward. Yes…there were a lot of great interviews, but I was comparing this event to the patient stories we found in 2010. CLICK HERE to watch SC Mission 2010’s video.

But after spending a whole day with Shalama Jackson (SCHA.org) capturing patient stories, volunteer stories, and the sights and sounds of the day…I went back to review. Patti Smoake (of SCHA.org) and I found something even more special, I had captured some tremendous interviews from the volunteers. I did not realize it at the time, but the volunteers shared something special, their passion. It was Patti that helped me look through a different lens as we crafted this piece together.

We always advocate for the patient and YES, we wanted that one patient story that would move the audience. But it was the volunteer’s voice in this story, the voice that not only advocated for the patient but the movement to provide better access to care.