Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good Writers Pave the Way

The current media situation is baffling businesses, changing the scope of PR, stressing out PR clients, and transforming journalism. I think of everyone dealing with the influx of social media and the death of many forms of traditional media has been most challenging for journalists. As someone who has worked in public relations in Vermont for over ten years, I have made a great many friends with journalists, writers, and editors, and while I feel their pain, I am also amazed at the resilience many of them show in fighting back and foraging their own way. I feel in some regard, this has helped boost the respect levels between the two professions, especially for those of us who are entrepreneurs.

I have done some super cliche writing lately, but seriously, the only thing I can think of in regards to the economic situation and the evolving media landscape is something I have learned is true in every aspect of my life - if you want something done you have to do it yourself. And that is what several journalists I hold volumes of respect for are doing. I am going to be sharing their endeavors with you over the next few posts...

B.J. Roche, a talented writer whose work has included recent features in The Boston Globe and Yankee Magazine, also teaches journalism at UMass Amherst (my parent's and brother's alma mater) and provides a variety of career and entrepreneurial counseling for enterprising journalists. Most recently she launched the website FiftyShift.com - a deep yet humorous foray into the lives, livelihoods, areas of concern and interest to the modern midlife woman.

I think one of the most exceptional concepts of this website is since it is written by a career writer and teacher, it is so easy to follow and everything seems pertinent and relevant. The site is well organized, it is easy to navigate, has a great mixture of photos, links, and headlines, and subjects span everything from being a cougar to how to tackle Facebook; from how to talk about aging issues with parents to how to plan a midlife sabbatical. Of course there is the usual tax info, retirement info, travel info, and gardening and cooking tips, but it's very clear this website isn't managed by a company trying to sell some of these products/services - it's managed by a woman shifting into her fifties as well and who really knows what's up with this demographic - and how to deliver it.

Well done and for all my pals out there in this demographic - you have got to check it out - www.FiftyShift.com!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lessons from the Road

Wow, I have been a bad, bad blogger lately! I apologize. June has been an intense month of ups and downs. The elation of the music that has shaped my life returning coupled with judgments in the professional world which have been hurtful and downright wrong. I have built a professional persona that is true to my personal being. This was something that was fundamentally important to me in starting my own business. I have also found that being true to myself, being real, and being honest about who I am has had far more benefits than I could ever imagine. I have developed much stronger media relationships since managing my own Vermont public relations business solely based on the fact that I am not a "typical PR person." That results in press coverage for my clients and that is one of the things I love most about what I do.

Unfortunately I continue to learn that people have judgments, and while they are more often than not related to jealousy and their own insecurities, it doesn't stop the fact that they are painful and ugly.

Luckily while I learned some difficult lessons this month, I was also blessed with the culmination of my love affair with Phish and went to four shows in the beginning of June. It made me think a great deal about where I was when I first started listening to them, where I was when they broke up, and where I am now. Returning to Phish as an adult with a bunch of other adults has been inspirational and the lessons I learned then, most certainly do apply now. These lessons are an integral part of what I hold dear to my personal and professional lives - lives which have been intertwined with Rachel Carter PR and living a life that is honest and true in everything I do!

Life Lessons from Phish and the Road:

1.) DON'T JUDGE!!!! The crazy guy dancing next to you with the green wig and sparkle sunglasses is actually a high power, well respected DC lawyer.
2.) CHILL OUT! Sometimes you need to stop it all, completely engage in something else, let you mind not think, and release all that pent up energy.
3.) YOU DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE YOUR WAY! If someone's dancing too close next to you, don't fight back, move and create a new space.
4.) SMILE! Everyone is, don't worry about why, just smile back - it feels good.
5.) LISTEN FOR ONCE! Actually listening to the music - it does wonders.
6.) CONVERSE AWAY FROM THE MUNDANE! No one asks you what you do - that stuff just doesn't matter. Build friendships based on common interests and loves and you'll be connected for life.

I came back from Phish feeling more confident about who I am, more satisfied with my life, and more relaxed about the fact that I really do have to stop sweating the small stuff. Sometimes the small stuff is blogging, so I took a break. Good to be back and can't wait to go see Phish again in August - I mean, isn't this why I started a business in the first place?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

VT Business Expo Booths

Rachel Carter PR apprentice, Emily Bellmore, and myself headed off to the Vermont Business Expo a few weeks ago held at the Sheraton Burlington.

The Sheraton really does hold the prize (in my opinion) for the best conference space in Vermont. I have never attended an event there that wasn't polished and must give kudos to the Sheraton for another job well done. Of course, I would also have to give kudos to Delaney Meetings & Events, which I think most folks would agree, offer a second-to-none industry standard for event planning in Vermont. And a major hats off to Antonia Opitz of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce who is responsible for the entire overall event. Great work!

Emily and I planned for a full day at the Expo for two reasons: The first is I wanted to give Emily a good amount of time to meet friends and colleagues of mine and really actively engage in an apprenticeship. The other is I wanted to have the chance to see what other businesses are doing in Vermont! As a small business owner, I seldom get the opportunity to just check out other people's work and talk with them about what they are doing. It was refreshing and enjoyable. (Pictured here is Emily engaged in booth games)

Most fun was checking out the booths - let's see if my thoughts match up with any of the winners:

One fun stop was chatting with my friends at Shadow Productions. Not sure if they were trying for a booth award, but their friendliness and general way they do business is award worthy in itself!

Always good to chat with my friends at City Market and wherever they go, they present themselves right on target with their brand - good work!

When I played the Wheel-of-Fortune, I won a ham from McKenzie Country Classics. Unfortunately I did not actually redeem my prize because I had no place to keep it cold, but was most appreciative - perhaps they can partner with a local cooler provider?

Tilley's Cafe certainly rocked both the games and the costumes - they are so good at presenting themselves. Oh, and they have valet parking in downtown Burlington - talk about solving problems and having amazing customer service!

And then there was my personal favorite booth - Safeguard of Vermont (and New Hampshire). These folks had costumes! And not partial - full on! They even had a rocking horse to go along with their western theme. Oh, and what do they do? Promotional products! I think they have won my business for creating Vermont Vibes car decals!

Interested in knowing who actually won awards? Check out the VT Expo Best Booth Awards!!!