Category Archives: Your Blog

We Were Going To Have A Social Media Day Event But We Had A Fire Instead.

When I heard about Mashable Social Media Day, a global event held locally, I got excited.

As an internet marketing professional that also has over 15 years of event planning experience I thought, “I’ve got this!  Fort Collins is gonna have a fabulous Social Media Day.”

Fort Collins is a wonderful community. You may have heard of us. Nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, annually we’re ranked by publications such as Money, Forbes and News Week for our quality of life, business, education and recreation. The Poudre Canyon is designated as a wild and scenic byway. We are very active in green technology and a mecca of microbreweries. Home to one of the top rated Veterinary schools in the country and Colorado State University, we’re also a key community in the technology sector and simply a wonderful place to live, work and play. I invite you to visit our beautiful community.

Social Media and digital communication are top of mind and agenda for most businesses and organizations in Fort Collins.  My goal for Social Media Day was to connect the community. That’s a big order but I envisioned government, education and non-profits gathered in a high visibility location, meeting and connecting with Fort Collins folk.  People could sign up for electronic utility billing, connect with their kid’s neighborhood school and volunteer with agencies serving the community. This had epic possibility.

I began with a Twitter profile, created an event on Facebook and populated the Mashable Social Media Day Meet Up page. I researched and connected with hundreds of local peeps on Twitter and began asking others to jump in on the event. This was going to take people power.

My next mission; Venue. Luck was with me. It seemed that, sandwiched between our epic Colorado Brewer’s Festival and Fourth of July, my date was an island of calm.  I began the process of securing the highest visibility location in my community.

On to the City for a proclamation declaring June 30, 2012 Social Media Day in Fort Collins and  getting on the community calendar.  Having a bit of experience in government in Fort Collins, I knew where to start.mashable social media day fort collins proclamation

Through connections made on Twitter, a committee was formed  to organize the event. With the support of local marketing professionals as well as The Coloradoan, our newspaper, things were rolling nicely.  Old Town Square was secured as our event venue and I began connecting with organizations and attending networking events.

June 9, 2012 is a day that will live long in the collective memory of my community. It was a beautiful late spring Saturday in Fort Collins; The Taste of Fort Collins weekend, a day that held festive promise. I was up early and at my desk. Having gotten fairly active with the local community on the Twitter, it wasn’t long before I was aware that crisis was building just west of us. The High Park Fire had begun.

The terrain is rugged in this beautiful mountainous plat.  A great deal of the area affected by the fire falls under the purview of rural volunteer fire protection districts. That means first responders are residents. The initial report came in about 6am and by 9am the first water drop was made. Every responder in northern Colorado was on scene, and the fire grew.

I began tweeting news and information about the fire. I established a Facebook page to post moral support and fundraising opportunities. High Park Fire was growing in epic magnitude, as was the online traffic. Hundreds were being evacuated along with pets and livestock. Homes were being threatened and burned. Our local firefighters and sheriff’s department were up to their eyeballs in emergency response. Before the end of the day Saturday, the Governor had declared the High Park Fire a Level One Emergency. Begun from a lightening strike, 20 acres the early morning of June 9 grew to over 20,000 acres in less than 24 hours and still the High Park Fire grew.

According to an article in the Denver Post; “The #highparkfire Twitter search (known as a “hashtag”) peaked on June 9 (the day it started) at more than 10,000 tweets, with several thousand daily tweets since, said Elaine Filadelfo of Twitter communications.”

photo credit Poudre Fire Authority

On Sunday, west of Fort Collins, clearly, disaster ensued. The weather amplified fire conditions. Severe drought coupled with thousands of beetle kill affected trees melded into the perfect storm. All points west from Horsetooth Reservoir to our beautiful Poudre Canyon, places I love and have played in for years were being reduced to ash with no containment in sight. This fire was out of control.

Over the course of the last three weeks I have been almost constantly online, tweeting and posting about the High Park Fire. I’ve seen this insidious beast burn over 87,000 acres, over 250 homes and impact thousands of residents and animals. Volunteer fire fighters protected others’ property while their own homes burned. A woman that loved those mountains was lost. The impact of this fire will be with us for years to some.

The Facebook page has become a feel good space. Residents and businesses all over town are displaying Thank You signs in support of the fire fighters and emergency responders. I’ve been posting the pictures of our collective gratitude, fundraising events and the pieces of this that make us feel good about all this tragedy.

firefighter thanks

photo credit North Forty NewsI'm using social channels to show our community support for the heroic firefighters and emergency responders too. The area is awash in Thank You Signs expressing appreciation. Many are posted on the Facebook page. I’ve shared dozens of tweets of encouragement to those risking their lives on our behalf.

Talk about learning the power of Twitter! I have connected broadly with locals, news organizations and a whole group of “crisis tweeters”. These people are worldwide; Organizations like Humanity Road whose volunteer members help disseminate information when disaster strikes. I am in awe of their efforts.

Many of the very organizations and entities I had planned on being a part of Social Media Day have been working literally 24/7 supporting evacuees and fire fighting teams. Given that, Social Media Day FoCo just seems unimportant when compared to the many needs of my community.

Rather than holding our event, I have asked sponsors to donate to High Park Fire relief and attendees to volunteer on Saturday at the Help Colorado Now center at Foothills Mall.

Help Colorado Now is the conduit of all charitable resources deployed for the High Park Fire and all Colorado fire relief. I had the pleasure of meeting them this week. Actually an organization of the Adventists, they are volunteers responding to disaster where it strikes; Individuals from across the country that have come here simply to support. I am humbled by their heartfelt work.

Help Colorado Now is currently accepting cash and in-kind donations. They are also a distribution center serving the many needs of those affected by the fire. If you have need, please, see them at Foothills Mall. They will help. It will do my heart good to work with them on Saturday.

photo credit The Coloradoan

Having lived here for over 30 years, I know very well what a great place Fort Collins is. Good has come out of this horrific disaster. The love, respect and spirit of support within my community has grown even deeper. When the going gets tough, we hang together. Proud to live in FoCo.

Stay Tuned! Follow and connect with Social Media Day Fort Collins; Tomorrow I’m launching a Crowdrise fundraiser. My goal is $5,000. Please join me in support.

Twitter  Facebook  Google+

Payment Solution for Small Business

PayPal Here: A Global Mobile Payment Solution for Small Business

Social media consultants have a reason to be excited. PayPal is making it easier for casual sellers, service providers and small businesses to receive payments on their Android smart phone or iPhone with its mobile payment solution, PayPal Here.

Small Business Solutions

PayPal Here is the first in the world to allow merchants to receive almost all forms of payments like checks, credit and debit cards, and of course, PayPal. Plus, it makes sending invoices and setting payment terms a breeze especially for social media consultants who are always on the go.

How Does PayPal Here Work?

Although there are other services that provide mobile payments solutions on the market these days, what makes PayPal Here standout from them is how your clients can choose to pay you, which equates to more sales.

Merchants with PayPal Here get a free app as well as a thumb-sized, fully encrypted card reader. This makes it simple for small businesses and service providers to swipe cards using the card reader, scan checks and cards using the phone’s camera, or enter your customer’s card information manually into the app transforming your regular smart phone into a mobile payment solution.

How Much Does It Cost?

PayPal Here has the a very similar fee structure as other mobile payments solutions including Intuit’s GoPayment, North American Bancard’s Pay Anywhere and Twitter’s Square. There are no set-up fees or monthly account; Merchants pay 2.7% flat rate for swiped payments and 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction for keyed in payments.

Unlike GoPayment, it is not clear how PayPal Here applies processing limits and reserves on swiped transactions. On the other hand, it is similar to Square where funds in excess of $1000 for keyed in payments within any seven day period will be held in a 30-day reserve prior to being released or withdrawn.

What Sets It Apart?

 Perhaps one of the best features of PayPal Here that any social media consultant will appreciate is its integration with their regular PayPal accounts. This alone gives them a wide range of great features that other competitors simply can’t provide.

You can choose to transfer your money to an attached bank account or use “PayPal Business Debit Card” to withdraw from ATM’s or to make purchases. If you choose to do the latter and use the debit card on eligible purchases, you will receive 1% cash back which results in an effective reduction of your processing fee to 1.7%.

Other features that are unique to PayPal Here are:

  • Acceptance of e-check payments
  • Scanning and processing of checks (U.S. only)
  • Creating and sending of digital invoices
  • Tracking cash payments
  • Top notch fraud management
  • Online and live phone customer support (Hot!)

According to PayPal “The key differentiator in our product is that it comes from PayPal, a trusted brand in the online payments industry with more than 100 million customers around the globe and years of proven payment innovation, driving growth for millions of businesses globally. PayPal Here comes with our world-class fraud management capabilities, and our 24×7 live customer support.” I think we would all agree that PayPal is indeed a proven payment and funds transfer instrument.

PayPal Here is available in the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia to select merchants. Very soon however, it will be made available to everyone. If you are outside the initial launch countries, don’t worry; PayPal will be making it available to other countries soon as well. Social Media Consultants and small businesses of all kinds will find the ease of use of PayPal Here to be a boon to business.

Like this article? Sign up for my newsletter.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Lewis Howes and Amy Porterfield offer FB Influence

I encourage you to sign up for a special Facebook marketing webinar.

Sign up Here:

http://webright10.fbinfl.hop.clickbank.net

Here’s what our guest speaker and Facebook Marketing
thought leader Amy Porterfield, will cover:

• Super Fans: What They Are and Why You Need Them

• Essentials of a Facebook Marketing Foundation

• Smart Strategies to Grow a Lucrative Fan Base

• Quick Tips to Get Your Fans Talking and Engaged

• How to Move Your Fans Up the Ranks to Super Fan Status

Register Here:

http://webright10.fbinfl.hop.clickbank.net

I know you are already spending some of your time on Facebook
chatting with friends, uploading pictures, and staying in touch…

…but it’s time you leverage Facebook the Right Way so you can
reap the benefits of it from a business point of view as well.

Amy is one of the top Facebook Marketing experts in the world
and she has some brand new information she wants to share with you.

Make sure to register for this weeks webinar as you won’t want to miss out!

Register Here:

http://webright10.fbinfl.hop.clickbank.net

Press Release Strategies

Press Release Strategies

Get Your Press Release Noticed

Benefit from empathy and timeliness

Rags to Riches/Small Town Local Makes Good – The media loves these stories because their audience loves these stories. Tell your own tale about how you started with next to nothing and have risen to make a name for yourself. An example of this type of headline might read… “Local Mechanic Steps On The Gas”.  Just tell the story of your meager beginnings and the struggle of building a thriving local business. Local or nation noteworthiness is equally as interesting. The media – and readers will eat it up.

Current Events – Any time you can write a story that coincides with a recent news event the chance of getting your story run increases dramatically. Right now, a “Down Economy” story also plays well every day of the week. I have also employed this method as a response to a competitor’s new product or service and have sometimes even gotten more press than the competitor. If you have superior service or products, this story plays well. Your story should not be negative. Rather, simply state that your company has been providing a similar product or service for some time, or that your product or service offers a feature the competitor’s does not. This type of press release can be very time sensitive in respect to breaking news. This is called piggybacking. It is effective with news stories both local and worldwide and is equally as useful against any level of competitor. In fact, when you can go up against the big guy, it is a David and Goliath theme that people simply adore.

Make 'Um Cry Or Get 'Um Excited

Charitable Activities – I often recommend charitable activities as a marketing technique to my clients. It is a WIN-WIN for everyone concerned. The media wants to do their part to support charitable giving and press is often how they do it. They also admire small businesses that are making a difference in their communities. If you are donating a percentage of your revenues to a charity, THAT is newsworthy. If you are supporting a particular charitable event or making an in-kind contribution, the same goes. Your headline might read something like… “Local Eatery Forks It Over To Feed the Needy” with your story of contributing a percentage of sales to the Food Bank. Or “Accountant’s Donation Figures Into Student Success” with the story about your donation of back to school supplies. Another approach is to act as a collection point for an in-kind charitable campaign. For example…”Local Auto Repair Hosts Women’s Center Holiday Giving Tree”. The Giving Tree is a holiday tradition in my family and there have been years I have had to make calls to find one. Make it easy for people to be generous and get some press too. It’s a great way do good, and bring new folks to your business location. This idea is effective to meet any particular need such as food and supplies for your local animal shelter or personal supplies for a women’s shelter. The press and community love to support charitable events and fundraising. The Organization and your business both benefit. Oh and did I mention there may be tax benefits?

Now what? You have an approach but you are unsure what/how to actually write your press release. Remember to speak from the heart. It’s a story. Tell it with the emotion you actually feel. No one can tell this story as well as you can because you have lived it. Empathy is a strong motivator. If a media outlet can “feel” what you have said, you are likely getting press. Still stuck? If you just can’t write it yourself, seek the help of a professional. Sites like oDesk, eLance and Guru offer a wealth of knowledge and talent at a reasonable price. Certainly there are many local resources in your community as well-possibly even the local college or university. Doubtless there are marketing and advertising firms in your community interested in your business, and they know the local market. Good Luck! We at Write Web would be glad to help as well. Email us. We are press release experts.