Strategy: Owned Media Before Earned & Paid #OwnedMediaRocks


Once again I sit through another meeting where a public relations professional’s performance is based on the number of print articles earned in the local newspaper. This has driven me to finally write this post.

Owned media can be a huge influencer for earned and paid. Let’s be honest, earned media is about relationships. Organizations can have the best stories, provide the best value for the community, and have the most topical items to influence media outlet’s bottom line…but without relationships this means nothing. ZILCH! That’s why you see organizations hire PR firms, mainly for their relationships leveraging their sphere of influence.

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My Message: “Dismiss the skeptics with the middle finger!”

Hilarious Middle Finger

Yes…I said it…give them the middle finger and prove them wrong!

What is your passion?
Many times, I am asked to speak to college students and they always want to know my path. They want to know what I do and how I was able to get where I am today. I always ask them, what is their dream job? I ask them to tell me, what would they do if money did not matter!

Many students struggle with that question, having a hard time to frame the wisdom of what tomorrow might hold, given the frankness and reality of their upcoming graduation. I ask them…what is you passion?

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So you want to be strategic…shift your mind not your job title.

bobbyblog-strategicI have had many people ask me, what does it mean to be strategic? I think it is an interesting question, one that emerges when those whom I mentor want more strategic positions.

I have spent my years serving in roles that were very tactical, executing very tactical concepts using technology where the job was dependent upon the precision of that technology. I have also learned how to shift that very tactical thinking into broader applications, preparing for long-term strategic opportunities.

During the time I was working on a large portion of my graduate research, I began to study the principles of techne and praxis.

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Having the strength and vision to pivot

A Little Coffee at Figs in Anderson, SC

I was sitting in Figs Coffee Shop downtown Anderson and met someone that knew my grandfather. Well…I guess many people in Anderson knew my grandfather. I knew him as Pop.

He was a real estate man and probably sold almost every house in this city. He spent majority of his life serving this town.

Our conversation this morning made me think about my Pop, especially when he pivoted his business. Some may ask…how do you pivot your business in residential real estate. Well…he did and I think it paid off.

In the 1980’s…there was a huge slump in real estate. Similar to what we have experienced these last few years. No one was buying and for businessmen like my Pop…you had to work *hard* for every dollar…harder and harder.

My Pop found himself in the corporate relocation business. He would help large companies like Michelin, Fugi, and other large companies buy and sell homes when they moved talent in and out of the Anderson area.

He had to innovate…he had to pivot…he had to find new ways to generate revenue while doing the thing he loved the most. He loved selling homes, but most of all…he loved helping people.

Pivoting is an interesting topic. One that I found myself teaching last year in the Clemson MBAe program. I was really teaching digital communications and marketing. But what I was really teaching…how to communicate your brand message.

Those MBAe students were creating their businesses and some where writing plans; many learning that the plans they were writing were not feasible business ideas. They had to pivot, alter their course but learn to stay true to their underlying goals and vision.

How do we pivot. Well…I do not think I have the best answer. But what I know…if you have a business that is successful yet beginning to realize the feasibility of the business model is altering…you have to be prepared to do a few things.

1) Either jump out like Seth Godin says in his book called The Dip. Execute the exit strategy.
2) Pivot – alter your course. But, you have to know your vision and be willing to alter the course in-order to stay true to your vision.

My Pop had to pivot. He did and it paid off.

I still think about him almost everyday. I would love to sit with him downtown Anderson and talk business. I would love to talk about his vision and where he sees business is growing here in Anderson, SC.

SCPRSA Awards – GHS Rocks The Show

SCPRSA Awards - GHS Rocks The Show

Congrats to Robin Stelling, Robyn Zimmerman, Sara Dereng, and Karen Potter for representing Greenville Health System during the 2013 SCPRSA Mercury Awards.

Here are the awards they won during Thursday night’s event at The Loft at Falls Park:

· Mercury Award of Merit: Greenville Health System (Greenville) for “Centennial Celebration”

· Silver Wing Award: Greenville Health System (Greenville) for “Report To The Community”

· Silver Wing Award of Merit: Greenville Health System (Greenville) for “Go. Hunt. Scan.”

Congrats friends! To see all the award winners, go to

#FireSessions – The 1% is in the Chocolate Chip Gooey Center

I am such a rookie…such a rookie. I had no idea what I was getting into when I accepted an invitation from Brains on Fire to attend their 6th Annual FireSessions. An what a treat…what a treat literally. All the way down to the chocolate chip cookies.

What did I walk away with, a new found passion for Little Monsters, Social Triggers, the 1%, 146‘s of the world, and my path to purchase another Mini Cooper. Ok…you might ask what this has to do with Brains on Fire. Well, truth be told…they are just the inspiration connectors…the Fire Starters.

Who walks into a full day session with the best in the brightest in the business and walk away wanting to download every Lady Gaga album and sign up for the elite fan club know as Little Monsters?

Who walks away looking at fitness in a new way, then thinking about going to an Anytime Fitness and check out how they are empower individuals to get excited about fitness?

Who walks away searching for the worst music video ever made by Rebecca Black and understand why it has close to 50 million views?

Then who walks away inspired to look in the mirror and wonder where I stand to advocate for change? Why, because one guy recognized a need for change and all it took was the gross injustice of a small girl. His passion was representative throughout the day as it hit it’s climax when he (Rob Morris) hit the stage. I know this much…I walked away with full armor, ready to tackle the world.

The day was filled with laughter, inspiration, tears, anxiety, smiles, angst, and most importantly…unified conversation of passion. Passion to ignite our own fires. And what is so smart…so smart…Brains on Fire continues to build their tribe.

I wondered, what am I doing in the room? Why was this self-employed storyteller and university lecturer doing in the room? What did I bring to the table for this all day session filled full of keynote speakers. I walked away more educated, more inspired, more rejuvenated than any 3 day, 4 day, or week conference I have attended. It was food for the soul.

I think back to Geno Church’s session as he opened up saying, “Building Community is like gooey chocolate chip cookies, you can shape them how you want.” And I connected this to what Jackie Huba said, “We must focus on the 1% like Lady Gaga and her Little Monsters.” You know why…because a really good chocolate chip cookie is one with the gooey little center. The gooey little center is like that 1%…the part that you can shape and mold…and is worth the wait.

This day…Brains on Fire made me feel like the 1% and the gooey little center tastes so good. Thanks for the inspiration.

Happy Holidays

Hello Friends,

It is that time of the year and I hope you are doing well. Just the other day, I had someone ask me if I was sending out another Christmas card with a picture of Rose. I even still see last year’s card still hanging in some of your offices. This thought just makes me thankful for so many things.

I normally write something individualized to each of you, but I felt each you should read the same little message.

I just finished my third year of business and it is because of you, your friendship, your kindness, and commitment to our relationship that I am still able to work side by side with you. I think about three years ago and the journey I embarked upon and here we are doing some fun projects and sharing some great times. Each year we have grown together as my business has grown.

Thank you so much for being you. Thank you for everything you have done to help me become successful. And finally, thank you for supporting this business, my family, and our friendship.

Merry Christmas!

PS…if you would like to see the holiday video many people still remember from 2010…here ya go!

Jump like Felix and take a Red Bull Stratos risk!

We must take a chance…we must try something new.

We must take that risk and create content that has the social share impact. What do I mean…find ways to create and share content that connects with people at their core.

We are so worried about creating messages based on branded research, focus groups, and a lot of high dollar initiatives…when sometime we should let our gut lead us.

Janean Chun of Huffington Post writes, “The Austria-based company, founded by Dietrich Mateschitz in 1984, sold more than 4.6 billion cans of Red Bull worldwide in 2011.”

So what makes a brand like Red Bull financially back an initiative that takes a man into space to jump?

“…power of this marketing event lies in the synergy between the extreme event and the company’s existing marketing message. The jump ‘hits the brand message spot on, which is that Red Bull gives you wings.'”

Catharine Smith of Huffington Post writes“YouTube’s live stream of the event racked up over 8 million viewers just before Baumgartner took his death-defying plunge.”

According to AllThingsD, “The previous record for a single Web video service: Around 500,000 concurrent streams, which Google served up during the Olympics this summer.”

According to ABC News, “Besides YouTube, the jump was shown by more than 40 TV stations and 130 digital outlets. Red Bull’s Facebook post-jump photo of Baumgartner gained almost 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and over 29,000 shares within 40 minutes, and half the worldwide trending topics on Twitter were related to Red Bull Stratos.”

I do know about you…but I shed tears when he jumped. Why? I was standing there with him…LIVE. I felt the same emotion I felt when I was watching the landing of Curiosity on Mars. Remember when the whole Mission Control Room cheered out-of-control when they learned Curiosity was safe on the red planet.

Not only could I watch live, but I could interact with my friends and this extreme sports fan base in real time via the #JumpLive hashtag.

It was actually funny…my laptop battery was running down close to the time of the jump, and I was trying to find another television in the house that I could stream YouTube. Rose (my little girl) was watching cartoons in the den where YouTube could stream via my AppleTV. Finally found my back-up laptop charger so I could watch the jump.

As I watched him fall, I wondered…is he alive? No matter if he broke the sound barrier (traveling at a peak of 833.9 mph), I was relieved when I he replyed to mission control while he was free falling.

And when he landed…WE ALL CHEERED WITH FELIX.

Yes, we all jumped up and cheered with Felix when he touched down raised his arms in excitement.

How can we create content, experiences, situations with our audiences that inspire such emotion…and break away from just marketing a message.

Sometimes we just have to jump and take a risk…Felix and Red Bull did.

***Images from

Passbook & NFC: Social Commerce in small town South Carolina

So Wednesday morning, I received my new iPhone 5 in the mail. I am a gadget freak and yes I upgraded from the iPhone 4s. One of the new features released with the new iPhone (iOS6) is the the Passbook application. This allows you to find businesses that offer incentives to use your iPhone as your wallet.

So I downloaded the Starbucks application and immediately created an account and loaded $25.00, sort of like buying a pre-paid credit card, except using your iPhone. Off I went to carry out my morning errands, and as I passed Starbucks in Anderson…I thought I might have to give this little application a try.

So I walked in and ordered me a Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whipped cream, hmm! It feels like fall outside. When it was time to pay, I asked the cashier, “How do I use the Starbucks application on my iPhone to pay?” She told me to open the application, push the button to pay, and a barcode appeared on the screen. She then used her scanner next to the cash register to scan the barcode on my screen, and POOF…transaction complete.

It deducted the $4.91 from my phone and off I was on my merry way with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was so excited, I opened Facebook and checked into Starbucks by writing this status update:

I immediately called my wife to share my experience. After she listened to my gadget success story for the morning, she scolded me and said…”You need to buy local. Stop going to Starbucks and walk across the street from your office downtown and go to Figs. Figs is the new coffee, ice-cream, soda shop downtown Anderson owned locally.

The Digital Divide
Hmm…I wonder, do they have a little application for the phone so I can pay? Do they have a check-in option on Facebook so I can share my love for their store? Hmm…let me go see. So off I went to Figs, and noticed a few things. Great food, great shop, nice ownership…limited social interaction. Well, they are new…but this leads me to my though process. Buying local in socially connected community has a HUGE barrier to cross when competing against big box groups. You are probably thinking…well, tell me something you do not already know.

Ok, back-up…notice what happened Starbucks. They have an app that allows me to use technology to not only purchase with my phone, but they made it easy to take part in the social share. The check-in location rapidly appeared in Facebook allowing me to share my little success with technology.

The digital wallet leading to the social share…big business leads the way in social commerce. So how do the little guys compete? What is going remind me about Figs over Starbucks for coffee (other than my wife screaming buy local)? Figs is kind-of a outlier, they have only been in business for a few months. They are still trying to establish their digital footprint.

So, I took a walk through downtown Anderson and spent some time using my Facebook and Foursquare apps to see if retailers had check-in points established. Most were established including having those check-in points connected to a social outlet like a Facebook page.

But the part that is missing for most of these small retailers is the digital tool for commerce.

Passbook and NFC
Passbook on the iPhone is a brand new concept and Starbucks was one of the first to take part in this concept. Passbook was Apple’s alternative to NFC (near-field communication). states, “NFC chips in smartphones let you pay by waving your device over a scanner at the store. The chip is tied to an app that is tied to your bank account and credit card. Volià, no more cash, no more wallet.”

“Passbook lets you keep in your iPhone virtual versions of some items you might normally carry in your analog wallet or bag: boarding passes, movie and sports tickets, coupons, and gift cards. Passbook stores these items as barcodes, but some wondered if Apple would tie NFC to Passbook to make direct payments possible.”

Matt on the Nerd Wallet blog shares his thoughts:

“While loyalty programs are popular amongst customers and merchants alike – the number of loyalty memberships in the U.S. exceeds 2.1 billion – it’s not clear how effective these programs are. According to a white paper published by COLLOQUY, 17% of U.S. consumers felt that loyalty programs were a “very influential” factor in their purchasing decisions and an even smaller 12% said they “strongly agree” when asked whether it pays to be loyal to a favorite brand.”

So is NFC and Passbook just another coupon”ing” option or loyalty program? Or is the combination of NFC/Passbook concept on your smart phone as a one-stop shop for your to purchase and share with your friends. Connivence makes us happy and we love to share within our social outlets when something makes us happy.

Social Commerce & Economic Development
So how does a small coffee shop in little ole Anderson, SC compete with a Starbucks and their Passbook app? Well…first of all, building these applications are expensive and you have to find a a company that has the experience to build these types of mobile commerce tools. I am not sure if Figs would have the budget to have one of these applications built, and it probably makes no sense for them to do so…especially given small town word-of-mouth always prevails.

BUT…from a digital concept, local business should team up and build one mobile application for those local retailers that can add to the pot. Imagine an initiative in Anderson, SC where a group of local retailers teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce and local Economic Development groups like Innovate Anderson or Upstate SC Alliance to find the funding to build a one-size fits all.

Yes…this would be an economic development tool for small town Anderson, SC. Access to digital tools that not only power commerce but power the idea of the social share, building online reputation for a town trying to attract more growing businesses.

For those who want to read more about developing apps for Apple’s Passbook –> CLICK HERE

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