Did You Miss the Ides of March?

Are you being extra careful to peek around corners? Today in 44 B.C. Caesar was assassinated in Rome by conspirators. Shakespeare immortalized the moment in his play, Julius Caesar, when a clairvoyant warned the dictator to “beware the ides of March.” Fancying myself a bit of a clairvoyant, every year on March 15 I lightheartedly caution others to heed this warning. Turns out this year I was too late, says the International Business Times.

Apparently the Roman calendar measured months by the phases of the moon. During March, May, July and October, the full moon always fell on the fifteenth. When Caesar died on March 15, it really was the ides. But since our Gregorian calendar is based on earth’s orbit around the sun rather than the moon’s orbit around the earth, the ides can happen on any date. This year, it was on March 8. And there won’t be another full moon on March 15 until 2052.

Point is, it pays to do a little research before issuing warnings – or news. Prior to sending out a news release for our clients, we check out what else has been said or announced on the subject. Sometimes we find an angle that makes our client’s new product or service more interesting and newsworthy. Research also helps ensure the news is really “news” – not last week’s event, like the ides was this year. Fortunately, in 2013 the ides of March is on the 27th, giving us a dozen extra days to beware.

Health Care Services vs. e-Discovery

by SFL Data CEO Christian Lawrence

Have you ever been really sick? Or known someone really sick? It’s complicated and it doesn’t always end positively. There are ups and downs along the way – little victories, defeats, signs of both warning and hope. Typically it works better when patient, patient’s family, doctor, and hospital team work in partnership. Consulting each other regularly, setting plans and goals together, sharing information openly, and reacting to specific events quickly and decisively. Personally, I’ve seen wins and losses. My mother has survived colon cancer – I will be eternally grateful to her carers. Sadly, my father didn’t and passed away. Same hospital both times, same medical team tending to both. I don’t harbor a grudge. I didn’t freak out on the oncologist who presented the final “there is no hope” news. We were partners. They did an outstanding job; their team and research were best in class. This stuff is complicated. So is e-discovery. Only e-discovery hasn’t woken up yet to the need for partnership. Why not? Because of procurement teams inside corporations who don’t get it. Because of corporation’s litigation teams who lose their nerve when things don’t go perfectly and have to play the CYA game. Because litigation attorneys in law firms tend to be reactive rather than to understand and course-correct. Partnership in e-discovery will lead to great innovation, process building, learning, better solutions, and better outcomes. Corporations and law firms can be self-serving by pushing the partnership agenda, not combating it.

This post first appeared at http://www.sfldata.com/2012/02/healthcare-services-vs-e-discovery

Mind Game For Thinking Around Corners

In many parts of Europe and Japan, streets are narrow, curbs nonexistent and buildings butt right up to the road. Blind corners are everywhere. Sometimes there’s a mirror on the other side of the intersection to give you a different perspective that helps you see what’s around the bend.

This same concept can be applied to marketing challenges where we need to come up with a solution without being able to see all aspects of the problem. Looking at the situation from a different viewpoint helps us “think” around blind corners.

This high-powered technique was created by Tom O’Leary and described in his Pick the Brain blog. The underlying premise is that by imagining how others would solve a problem, you can better determine the most effective way to move forward.

It’s easy – you can do this in less than ten minutes. Think of three people who are as different from you as possible. They can be famous people, or people you know, or even 100% stereotypical, politically incorrect characters you make up. Create an index card for each one with a photo or caricature on one side and a list of their personality traits, mannerisms, habits, achievements, attitudes, etc. on the other.

When faced with a conundrum, pull out your index cards and ask each person, “What would you do?” Then write down the first three things that come to mind. When you finish, you’ll have nine possible solutions.

“Simply because you are attempting to answer the question on behalf of someone very different from you, you will come up with some remarkable solutions that would not naturally occur in your thoughts,” says O’Leary. “Then all you have to do is decide which of the suggestions make sense when applied to your real world problem, and put the solutions to work.”

Want to try it with me? Next month I’ll tell you about my three characters and if they helped me think around corners. I’d love to hear if this technique works for you.

Increasing Boardroom Gender Diversity in 2012

by ION President Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane

The energy of a new year often lingers through January, especially when we reflect on how far we’ve come and the opportunities that await us. ION’s eighth annual status report of women directors and executive officers of public companies in 14 U.S. regions, titled “Gender Imbalance in the Boardroom: Opportunities to Change Course,” summarizes this nicely. Published last month, the report recalls ION’s new organizational friendships, a fresh proxy toolkit and much more. You can download the full-color PDF or request printed copies to hand out at your organization’s next event.

For the first time, the release of ION’s report coincided with Catalyst’s release of their annual census on the number of women on Fortune 500 boards. This helped us get national attention in publications such as Forbes. Look for ION to form more mutually beneficial relationships in 2012 with like-minded organizations.

With a reach that exceeds more than 10,000 women nationwide, ION is prepared to raise the bar when it comes to advocating for gender diversity in the boardroom and executive suites. Can we count on your support? The ION website’s Events page is an excellent place to start. Check out “Unlocking a Source of Growth: Women in the Boardroom” at the end of January in Sacramento, Calif. and “Executive Presence: Being Perceived as a Leader” in Atlanta in February. In April, there’s “Roadmap to the Boardroom” in Baltimore and The Conference Board’s “2012 Women’s Leadership Conference” in New York. Most of these events are open to both ION members and non-members alike interested in learning more about what gender diversity means for their industry, organization and career.

As we continue to strive for a balance of patience and fervor for our cause, I’ll leave you with this question: What will you do to increase gender diversity in the boardroom in 2012?

This post first appeared at http://www.ionwomen.org/increasing-boardroom-gender-diversity-2012/

2012 International CES: Health Monitoring, MEMS and More

by AppliedSensor, Inc. CEO Tom Aiken

The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada was a record breaker for attendance with more than 3,000 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees. Among the crowds, I noticed several exhibits dedicated to home health monitoring – with an exceptionally strong presence for blood pressure, glucose level and cardiac condition devices. Such is the digital age of wireless communication.

Most of these manufacturers view air quality as a major factor in overall health. In fact, monitoring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is currently under consideration by many. If VOCs trigger breathing difficulties in your home, or even in your car, we have a series of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) sensors to track levels of these potentially harmful compounds.

Another hot topic at CES was micro-electronic mechanical systems, or MEMS. An event hosted by the MEMS Industry Group delved into the capabilities of MEMS in mobility, user interface control and multiband mobile phone design. “Connecting the Real World with the Digital World: Harnessing the Power of MEMS” featured a panel of both large and small MEMS manufacturers. The panelists noted that cost, size and power consumption have hindered the broad integration of sensors in consumer products. While the capabilities of sensors to meet practical needs has been proven in automotive applications, it was the advent of smart phones that brought high-volume implementation of MEMS devices to new levels and negated the prior barriers to use.

Speaking of smart phones, there are currently an estimated 9,000 iPhone apps dedicated just to health. One panelist said, “Healthcare is huge. Navigation, interconnectivity for automotive and home automation are big. Connectivity is nothing without information.” As a MEMS manufacturer, AppliedSensor is responding to the demands of mobility in consumer product sensor development with micro-machined MOS sensors that operate on very low power, are miniaturized to less than 2 mm x 2 mm and are made in the very high volumes required for adaption into consumer products.

Did you attend CES? What were the highlights of your experience?

This post first appeared at http://www.appliedsensor.com/blog/?p=212

Three Easy Things You Can Do To Prosper in 2012

Tip #1. Take care of your body.
It’s difficult to be a good leader when you don’t feel good physically. Start your day with exercise and a healthy breakfast and you’ll be better equipped to make tough decisions and deal with stress. (Easy to say, hard to do. If you have advice on how you make this work, I’m all ears.) Keep a large container of water within reach to stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s good for your body and your mind. (Fortunately, this is doable.)

Tip #2 Take care of your mind.

Forget multitasking – it actually makes you less efficient. Instead, focus on each task at hand and master the art of deep breathing. Filling your lungs with oxygen helps your brain function more efficiently. (I put a BREATHE! Post-it® on my monitor.) To keep your mind sharp, read things totally unrelated to your industry. (Articles in the Scientific American e-newsletter have inspired marketing ideas.) Step out of your comfort zone to do things you’ve never done before. (So many choices, so little time.)

Tip #3 Take care of your marketing.
Or let us do it for you. But please don’t ignore it, because right now your competition could be courting your customers. It’s easier to make marketing a priority when you see metrics of what could be and how we can make it happen. If marketing isn’t your priority, or you simply can’t find the time to get it done, then “concentrate on what you do best and outsource the rest” to c3PR. The most productive marketers are those who are passionate about their work, and as Yoda would say, “Passionate, we are!” Here’s to a prosperous 2012.

SFL Data’s Growing Fast!

by SFL Data CEO Christian Lawrence

Did you hear the news? SFL Data was recently selected as one of the “Top 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies” in the San Francisco Bay Area for 2011 by the San Francisco Business Times.We had a blast at the gala awards ceremony, where we were honored for demonstrating a 71.3% increase in revenue growth from 2008 to 2010, ranking 61st out of 100 Bay Area companies. Publisher Mary Huss said, “What a credit to these outstanding companies that they have shown such noteworthy growth in the years from 2008 to 2010 – years that many companies were thrilled to stay flat.”

So what does our fast growth mean for you? It proves that more and more Fortune 500 companies and AmLaw 250 firms are recognizing the advantages of using fixed-price e-discovery managed service to get defensible results, reduced costs and greater control without having to build the function internally.

To learn more about the “Top 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies” in the San Francisco Bay Area for 2011 go to: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/fastest-growing-private-companies-2011.html.

This post first appeared at http://www.sfldata.com/2011/11/sfl-datas-growing-fast

For Social Media Success, Measure Quality, Not Quantity

As with any PR program, measuring the results of your social media efforts is the key to success. However, the metrics have changed. In a recent “Measuring What Matters”  webinar, PR Industry Veteran Katie Paine explained that while we used to measure social media efforts by the number of followers, friends or likes, eyeballs don’t mean much if they don’t land on your content and do something about it. And forget about hits. Katie referred to this old-school metric as “How Idiots Track Success.” Ouch

To measure the success of your social media program, it’s important to use qualitative measurement to complement the quantitative. That’s because social media is about more than sales. It’s about conversation, engagement, influence, relationships and sentiment. But that doesn’t mean that social media won’t improve the bottom line. Over time, your company’s ability to listen for need and respond will inevitably contribute to growth.

Considering that the ratio of online to print media is now the exact opposite of what it was five years ago, it’s more important than ever to include social media in your marketing efforts. And like PR, social media is a process. It takes time to build a successful program. Seek relationships rather than followers and good results are sure to follow.  

For real-word  examples of how other companies are using seven indicators to measure social media success, read my full-length article: Beyond Hits: Seven New Social Media Measurement Metrics.

M’m! M’m! Good! Taglines

What’s one of the most difficult branding tasks? Coming up with a good tagline or slogan. I was reminded of that when I saw Virgin America’s new “A Breath of Fresh Airline.” When we were struggling to find just the right tagline for c3PR, I spent hours on the Tagline Guru website. It’s packed with tons of tagline trivia and games to test your knowledge of classic taglines and the products or companies they advertise.

Tagline Guru Eric Swartz surveyed one hundred leading advertising, marketing, and branding professionals to come up with a list of the 100 most influential taglines introduced since the advent of broadcast television in 1948. Got Milk? ranked #1 out of more than 300 submitted nominations.

 “If a slogan is repeated, imitated, or parodied often enough, it eventually becomes part of our collective consciousness and takes on a life of its own,” Swartz said. “Slogans that achieve this level of notoriety typically have broken new ground, whether it’s in their use of grammar (Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee), rhythm (The quicker picker-upper), rhyme (Don’t get mad, get GLAD), inflection (They’re gr-r-r-eat!), metaphor (This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?), attitude (The few, the proud, the Marines), ulterior meaning (Nothing comes between me and my Calvins), or positioning (The uncola).”

Since the survey was confined to slogans created after 1948, classics such as The breakfast of champions (Wheaties), The pause that refreshes (Coca-Cola) and Good to the last drop (Maxwell House) were not eligible. I was amazed that one of my favorites, Campbell’s Soup’s “M’m! M’m! Good!” is over 80 years old. I wonder if c3PR’s tagline, “get noticed. get results.” will still be around in 2090. If it is, we have our Webmaster, Kelley Rao, to thank for coming up with such a good one.

Monday Washday and GTD

Having trouble getting things done? My grandmother, a farmer’s wife and mother of seven, had a system she taught to me in the form of a skip-rope song: “Monday washday. Tuesday sew. Wednesday garden and to market we go. Thursday bake bread. Friday strip beds. Saturday wash heads. Sunday rest.” She did those same chores on the same day every week. She didn’t make to-do lists or think about what needed to be done. She just DID.

Apparently Grandma was ahead of her time. Recent studies found a neurological connection between order and workplace productivity. Jonathan Fields, author of the new book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance says, “Without organizational systems, your brain has to work harder to hold virtual organizational structures in its circuitry, relying on greater levels of working memory. This taxes a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. When the PFC fatigues, you’re far more likely to both give in to impulse, distraction and resistance and pull away from the work needed to create great art, experiences, ideas and businesses.”

The trend toward using ultra-organization to increase productivity took off about a decade ago with the bestseller Getting Things Done. According to Author David Allen, knowing exactly what you need to do next allows you to focus on the work itself instead of trying to remember when the work is due. Personally, Allen’s complex GTD system of files and action lists increased my not-GTD stress. If you’ve got a system as efficient as my Grandma’s, I’d love to hear about it.