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Today, HMATime is pleased to welcome client and friend Andrea Meyer to our blog. Last week, she attended the UnGeeked Elite Conference in Milwaukee and has been good enough to volunteer as a guest blogger to share her insight.

Take it away, Andrea!

First, I should set the stage: The UnGeeked Elite conference in Milwaukee was three days in a room with more than 100 people, mostly from Milwaukee but a few outsiders like me attended, too. The days were filled with back-to-back sessions that spanned from agency folks to consultants with technologies and marketing services and keynote presentations by nationally-recognized names in social media. It began with Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer fame discussing social media policies. You gotta love a guy who takes on such an unsexy topic to kick off a new event. I’ve followed him for a while on Twitter, and he did not disappoint. He even provided his presentation for us on his website so we did not need to take notes. That being said, I did take some notes. Primarily, he emphasized being clear and establishing an expectation—both with employees and with visitors to your facebook page or website. He has had experience in dealing with lawyers and executives who he described as “curmudgeons” and offered ways to bridge the gap between them and the PR or marketing staff that wants to embrace social media. He shared some common sense advice and it boiled down to very basic principles such as: “If you have to ask, don’t do it.” (if you are unsure about a post/comment) and “Don’t be that guy.”

Jamey Shiels, the director of social media and digital communication for Aurora Health Care was another gem. He shared how his team had developed its strategies and tactics. The organization employs 29,000 people, including 3,000 physicians. Imagine trying to keep track of all those participants in social networks?? Interestingly, Falls had made reference to this company because it opened access to the web last year to all its employees and when the management checked web traffic, Facebook was not even in the top-ten sites visited. Shiels talked about seeking opportunities where consumer needs align with brand wants as part of how he develops the strategy for their outreach. They blog, do web video casts, social networking and they use Twitter. The team was allowed a year to do a “live beta experimentation” and then rolled out a more formal process. Great person to meet!

Joe Sorge, owner of the AJ Bombers Restaurant was a dynamic, passionate man who tells great stories. He told of a grill that broke down for lunch and how he handled it. His explained his use of Foursquare and how he created a badge (it involved a boat) that generated terrific traffic. He is open to trying out various types of social media to see what works best for his customers and he’s having a good time doing it. Read more about him in the Wall Street Journal here.

Scott Stratten stayed true to his recent post and did not bore us with Powerpoint. A few, fun phrases from his presentation: we connect on silly things; social media isn’t a new way to push crap; and your job isn’t to be the Jackass Whisperer. I enjoyed sitting in with 19 other attendees for a more personal discussion with Scott. I could only pick one keynote and I’m glad I chose him because it allowed us to hear more about his experiences.

Chris Brogan swears like a sailor. How’s that for an insight? I enjoyed his candor. A few key points: think like a media company, build your network and remember it is a human business. He suggests breaking out time spent in social media as: 30% listening, 60% connecting and 30% publishing. I liked his comment: “Listening is the secret driver of serendipity.”

We got to hear from journalists too! Both TV and print reporters sat on a panel to share how social media impacts their jobs. Sara Santiago was another new person to me who has tremendous energy and shared some great insights into mobile marketing. Dan Schawbel talked about building your personal brand and an interesting point people were getting stuck on: the difference between full disclosure and authenticity. We each need to decide for ourselves how much we put out there.

Another lesson I learned was to keep blogs brief and this post is going long. I’ve read other comments about the same event and it is interesting to see how different speakers or topics resonated for us but we all came away energized. There are more UnGeeked Elite retreats planned for 2011 so you may be able to attend one close to you.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. Sara says:

    Great post! It was so great share ideas with this group! Wasn’t like an awesome summer camp that you just want to go back… 🙂 Cheers!

  2. Joe Sorge says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your UnGeeked experience here, what a great 3 days it was. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be included in your recap, so glad that you enjoyed our stories about how social media has built our businesses. Jason, Jamey, Scott, Chris and Dan are truly some of the greatest thought leaders of the SM world and it was great to get to know them in person. UnGeeked 2011 promises much more of the same, great job CD Vann.

    Hope to share a Barrie Burger @AJBombers with you sometime.

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