Paula Berg Interview

Paula Berg of Linhart PR is going to take the stage at Social Fresh Tampa as the keynote speaker.  Her background at Southwest Airlines and now with Linhart is going to provide a great personal experience into the role of social media in the corporate world.

I caught up with Paula a few days ago and she was gracious enough to share the following interview with me.


Your Background

Paula Berg

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Digital Media Leader at Linhart PR.

Paula Berg: In the late 90’s, while living in Austin, TX, I was dating someone who lived in another state, and we were spending so much money on airline tickets that we used to joke that one of us needed to go work for an airline. So I did. The boyfriend only lasted another year or so, but I spent nearly 10 years with Southwest Airlines in a variety of communication roles.

Then, in 2006, the responsibility of Southwest Airlines‘ social media efforts fell into my lap. I knew nothing about social media at the time – I didn’t read blogs, Twitter didn’t even exist, and I playfully mocked that same ex-boyfriend who was then on MySpace. But, with my new assignment, I had no choice but to make it part of my life. So I did the only reasonable thing. I locked myself in my office every night with a bottle of wine and tried to figure it out, and I was immediately hooked. Everyday provided a new lesson and a new challenge. And, my experiences forced me to completely rethink everything I thought I knew about corporate communications. More than blogging, Tweeting, or Facebooking, my role, as I saw it, was to slash through red tape and revolutionize the business of communication; to tear down outdated infrastructure to meet the needs of the changing environment.

When I began, it was just me and my buddy Brian Lusk managing on a blog in addition to our full time jobs. Over the course of four years, we built a seven person emerging media team with a simply but lofty mission: Complete integration of social media into every internal and external communication effort in a way that made sense for our Company and met Customer expectations. Social media became an integral part of everything from customer relations and employee communication to crisis management and revenue generation.

Then, in 2010, I made the very difficult decision to leave my favorite airline to return to Colorado, the state that I always knew I wanted to call home. Today, I am the Digital Media Leader at Linhart PR, and national PR firm based in Denver, where I focus on social media strategy, infrastructure, integration and crisis management.

Breaking Away Social

Mark Regan: With a background in media relations how do you approach the social web differently than marketing or technology types?

Paula Berg: I think it was my time in the Southwest Airlines Customer Relations Department a decade ago that shaped my approach to social media. The experience armed me with the knowledge, language and tools to communicate directly with customers on a personal level and truly address their concerns. While our social media efforts at Southwest Airlines were grown out of the PR department, I think we did our best work once we were able to break out on our own and think about social media without the filter of traditional PR and Marketing. Of course, PR and Marketing were still essential components of our efforts, but our autonomy allowed us to get in the trenches with our Customers and focus on what they wanted; to operate on our own schedule; and to move with the speed and agility required for social media success.

Shiny Objects

Mark Regan: With the constant arrival of emerging techniques, products and companies, how do you decide which ones are worth testing out for your clients?

Paula Berg: It’s easy to feel pressured to keep up with every new tool and gizmo that becomes available, but with the emergence of a few dominant players, it seems a bit easier to focus these days. When new tools emerge, I play around with them myself, see how they are useful to me, how my friends and early adopters are using them, and what potential they might have for my clients.

Details

Mark Regan: I’m guessing you predominantly work with large clients, but what nuggets would you give to smaller businesses on their use of social media and how to apply their limited dollars to online marketing?

Paula Berg: I encourage people not to focus solely on the numbers. Collecting friends and followers is fine, but it’s important to understand the art and science of being found and realize that even small interactions can yield big results.

Location-Based

Mark Regan: What are your thoughts on location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places? How do you see them helping businesses?

Paula Berg: Um…I love them. As a single gal in a new town this past year, you have no idea how much they helped my social life – both the ability to find people and be found as well as learning about places that my friends and neighbors frequent. For businesses, the best thing to do is use the tools, see how customers are using them, and find creative ways to deliver mutual benefit.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Paula Berg: I’m enjoying my iPad, I’m still a big four-square user, and I love a good app. But my favorite thing about social media is still the ability to access information, connect with people, and discover new things.

Mark Regan: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Paula Berg: I don’t have much time. I’d love to have a few drinks with all of the Social Fresh peeps and maybe a nice meal if there’s time.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Paula! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

Paula Berg: Thanks so much, Mark. Folks can find me on Twitter at @paulaberg, Facebook, or via email at pberg at linhartpr dot com. And, I write about social media for the Linhart PR Blog as well as the Huffington Post.

Ty Downing Interview

Ty Downing is one guy who walks the walk when it comes to nearly every aspect of social media.  That’s because he runs a business that manages it all.  With that in his back pocket, his involvement in Social Fresh Tampa will be one of the highlights for me.


Your Background

Ty Dowing
Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as CEO of SayItSocial.

Ty Downing: Well, I have been involved with internet marketing, and digital advertising going on 8 years now. I cut my teeth on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) obsessing over Google’s algorithms by sitting at the feet of Matt Cutts, and Danny Sullivan (Creator of SMX), thus slowly developing my other company “Perspective Internet Marketing” into a full-service internet marketing agency focusing on SEO, PPC,
local search, analytics & measuring site behaviors.

You could say I was an early adopter of social media in a field that mostly despised, or didn’t believe in social media (SEO’s), but I forged ahead, and in 2009 I co-founded SayItSocial, a social media consulting firm focused on corporate social media education & training, Facebook applications, social media strategy, conversation monitoring, and reputation management.

Early Adopter

Mark Regan: Your time at events/conferences must expose you to ideas and trends long before they hit the mainstream. How have you taken advantage of that?

Ty Downing: I utilize what I gain at these events by implementing them with our clients.  The only way I can keep my clients as well as SayItSocial’s reputation as a leader, we must act fast with implementation. Our field and client needs change rapidly as well as, so we take full advantage of these events.

Additionally, our team are thought leaders in social media, so we also bring new ideas to these events, for example in advance of Social Fresh, we are unveiling version 1.2 of Epicenter, a Facebook marketing CMS designed to create engaging custom Facebook landing pages with contests, lead generation, viral marketing, and loyalty programs. It’s a complete Facebook application with cutting edge technology and simplicity. We want to totally get this into mainstream quickly, it’s such an awesome tool that can help business leverage social media so much better, and measure ROI much easier.

Mark Regan: What new topic has become more frequent over the past 2-3 months?

Ty Downing: Facebook custom applications and Facebook consulting.

Personal Brand

Mark Regan: How has your experience in the business world helped you master your own personal brand marketing?

Ty Downing: That’s a good question. I think for me it’s been opposite? I say this because social media has empowered personal brands exponentially. Because of being an early adopter in social media, I mean one of the first subscribers to Twitter even, I was extremely active in marketing my personal brand with social networks, and personal videos that enabled people to “see the CEO”.

When people think of “Ty Downing” they think of SayItSocial & SEO. Obviously this is my own opinion, but I do feel this has been my personal experience.

Break It Down

Mark Regan: How do respond to clients who are jazzed about setting up their social media presence, but haven’t done some of the basics in online marketing well or at all?

Ty Downing: It’s like a golf swing. I tell them we will be “re-training” their swing, but not let them worry, that’s why they came to us in the first place. I (we) teach them simple basics before a strategy and profile building. Which tools should I use? Do I have staff & resources to have an active social media presence? So basically I ask a lot of questions, and then listen a lot!

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Ty Downing: Epicenter custom Facebook applications tool!

Mark Regan: Bonus: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Ty Downing: Mark, please…please tell me the good places to eat? Any of your readers, please tell me what to see in Tampa!

UPDATE: OK Ty, here you go.

Don’t forget to invite me.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Ty! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more you and connect with you?

Ty Downing: You bet, lets connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

Nadia Aly Interview

One of the speakers I am most excited to hear from at Social Fresh Tampa is Nadia Aly.  This is someone who has so many personas online and just still manages to make them all work together without competing that I’m a bit envious.  She brings a strong social media presence to this year’s lineup!


Your Background

Nadia Aly

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Online Community Manager at Microsoft.

Nadia Aly: I started dabbling in social media in 2003 when I was attending University of Victoria. . It really took off for me when I started my Masters in Digital Media., and it became a clear focus as I progressed through my Masters. I started building niche communities and my passion just exploded from there.

Microsoft Tag

Mark Regan: Tell me a little bit more about Microsoft Tag and how you would love to see it adopted?

Nadia Aly: Microsoft Tag is a type of customizable 2D barcode that can be displayed anywhere and connects almost anything in the real world to information, entertainment, and interactive experiences on your mobile phone. They can be black and white or color, and customized with a logo, product image or other design. Tags are scanned using the free downloadable Microsoft Tag Reader on your smartphone, available at www.gettag.mobi.

Microsoft Tag technology is far superior to many other solutions out there, especially for those in the marketing and advertising world. Tag offers robust analytics, heat maps and many other features that help marketers execute and adjust campaigns. We’re seeing great adoption across a variety of industries including magazine publishing, retail, advertising and entertainment and expect to see the technology really take off as brands continue to experiment.

New Ideas

Mark Regan: You’ve seen a lot of your ideas see the light of day and be implemented. I’m sure there are more in various stages of creation in your head. How do you decide which ones to pursue?

Nadia Aly: Usually when I come up with ideas, I circulate them to selected friends and colleagues. I am very open minded , and getting a sense of what they think and getting their feedback helps me shape my thoughts. The process is the same for both personal and work campaigns. Making sure that I see value in any campaign that we move forward with.

Visuals

Mark Regan: Personally, you incorporate visuals (images, photos, videos) quite a bit into your online brand. Do you also take that same approach towards your business initiatives?

Nadia Aly: Definitely! Media is a great way to engage people online. That not new news! The more visual assets you can showcase for a business or product the more attention you will get. That’s why these days you will see many companies/brands with a Flickr and YouTube as part of their circle of social networks.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Nadia Aly: To this day I still stand by Tweet Adder. Some see this a spammy tool – but it really is a great way to find targeted Twitter users online. Even if only for the search functions it provides. You are able to search profile data, location, followers of a user, users followed by a user and much more. For example I am able to find people who have the word Microsoft in their profile bio who live in Redmond. I don’t know many other tools that can do that. On top of that you are able to automate many different things. I tend to stay away from those tools. To each their own!

Mark Regan: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Nadia Aly: Yes! I run ScubaDiverLife.com – and one of the things I have been dying to do is Scuba Dive at Epcot! Also get some dives done in or around Tampa.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Nadia! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

Nadia Aly: People are able to connect with me on Twitter: @DigitalkVan or Facebook : facebook.com/NadiaAly or good old fashion email : nadia@digitalklabs.com

SchneiderMike Interview

SchneiderMike is one smart guy.  I researched his work before I asked him to be a part of my Social Fresh Tampa interview series and I was impressed.  He is a guy who gets it and shares what he knows.  Can’t wait to hear him speak in a few weeks.


Your Background

SchneidermikeMark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Director Digital Incubator at allen & gerritsen.

SchneiderMike: I started as an application developer. I built giant operational, CRM and analytics database applications for big companies in the pharmaceuticals, shopping, healthcare technology, retail and consumer packaged goods spaces. During that time I got pretty intimate with Oracle, Cognos, Business Objects and also open source technologies. Somehow

I ended up building analytics and web technology groups for a big Boston ad shop. I stayed there for four years and then left to help build the digital group for allen & gerritsen .

Stakeholders

Mark Regan: With a focus being put on location-based and local marketing recently, how do you think a stakeholder should choose where to focus?

SchneiderMike: They should consider their goals and resources first and foremost. Are they looking to acquire new customers or reward loyal customers? Are they looking for more engagement? Do they want to perform spectacle? Its hard to accomplish all three in one tactic. Focus on creatively engaging customers and then choose a platform that fits.

Location-Based

Mark Regan: Your recent blog post about Foursquare’s need for a hierarchy was dead on. How have you been able to manage multi-location businesses with such tools?

SchneiderMike: We don’t let a lack of tools stop us. We know the space is evolving and we are vocal about where we’d like to see it go. In other words, we use people hours now. The people at foursquare have made it easy for us by investing time on their end while tools are evolving.

Mark Regan: How do you think small businesses should take advantage of location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places? How can they gain a competitive edge with them?

SchneiderMike: First they should pay attention to all of the things that are happening to them on these networks. Becoming familiar with the content will give them an opportunity to learn who likes and does not like their product. First and foremost, listen to these people on foursquare, Yelp, Google and Facebook who are talking to them about their products and services.

Next, they should be going big with Groupon-like deals of 50% off or more to attract the attention of a very vocal early adopter set who will pass on the information. They can be creative about how many checkins it takes to unlock the deal and they can cut it off when they want to quit. That’s a good start.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

SchneiderMike: I really want a Go Pro Camera. Video is the thing I want to do most but seem to make the least time for lately. I’m also into using the iPad as an instrument.

Mark Regan: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

SchneiderMike: I’ll probably have a couple of beers with Manny and Johnny. Seriously though, I am planning to have dinner and drinks with the attendees of Social Fresh and get a sense for the Tampa social media scene. I’m open to ideas. I do really want to try some famous Cigar City beers.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks SchneiderMike! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa.  How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

SchneiderMike: The best way for people to reach me is to tweet me on twitter @schneidermike or send an email to schneidermike at a dash g dot com.

If you want to learn more about what I am thinking about, you can read my blog, Digital Before Digital at schneidermike.com although I’ve slowed down a bit on blogging while I’m writing Location-based Marketing For Dummies with Aaron Strout.

Thanks for reaching out to me Mark, I’m excited to come to Tampa.

Zena Weist Interview

Zena’s joining a full line-up of speakers in this month’s Social Fresh Tampa conference.  In my interview with her, she stresses the 1-to-1 relationship of social media and a little more “doing” and less “trying” by the brand owners.


Your Background

JohnWeist, ZenaWeist & ZachCobb

JohnWeist, ZenaWeist & ZachCobbphoto credit: westsidestudiokc.com

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as H&R Block’s Social Media Director.

Zena Weist: Direct marketing has been something I’ve been drawn to since college. I enjoyed advertising, which was my emphasis, but I craved that back and forth brand discussion with customers. When I was working on my MBA in direct marketing, I was taking a Henry Bloch entrepreneurial course where I met with a digital start-up CEO. His company was selling bulk computer components on discussion boards (this was before the web and mass use of email). Yes, I’m old.

When I saw the back and forth dialogue via the internet, I was hooked. The digital start-up hired me. My first online marketing role had me dive into newsgroups and forums back in 1994. We rolled out a web site in late fall of 1994. I knew the web was my professional home. I thrive on the 1:1 interaction.

My first exposure to a velvet-roped online community was with Hallmark in 2004. Blogger outreach started in 2006 for me. I began developing the first social media roadmap for my company, Embarq, a spin-off of Sprint, in 2007. I was hired by H&R Block in January, 2010. The Social Media Director role was newly created by the CMO.

Agency – Client

Mark Regan: You’ve been on both the agency and client side of online marketing, how would you compare the two relative to social media adoption/implementation?

Zena Weist: In general, on the adoption/implementation front I think agencies and clients are both in the early growth stage of social media. Before you say, “but Zena get your head out of the Tampa sand,” please give me a paragraph or two to explain.

There are brand and agency social media examples we hold up as best in class. They just aren’t the norm, they are the exception. So now how can we all help each other power forward through to shift social media methods from “sitting at the kids table to moving up to the adult table.”

For me, the agency should already be integrating social media into any marketing or communications project from the onset. I’d like to see all agencies move away from bolting on social media tactics after the pitch is fully baked. What I am seeing that is working really well is when the agency plays that much needed third-party-social-media- strategy-advocate role. They help their clients build their social media roadmap for incorporating social media tools into all customer touchpoints. A majority of what I’m seeing from agencies is integrating social media into marketing communication plans. To me this is still fairly project specific and I’m looking forward to the industry maturing with more and more strategic consulting and long-term planning.
From my experience, client side social media has to be more holistic to succeed. The brand needs to weave social media methods into business processes, not bolt-on social media in a “toe-dipping, let’s try this out” approach. Given consumers’ expectations, for brands there is no try in social, there’s only do. Let’s help each other do social business well together. Let’s lift each other up. (And yes, I’m a huge Yoda fan.)

Stakeholders

Mark Regan: How have you approached the ROI-focused stakeholders who discount social media as not worth the investment?

Zena Weist: In order to get my peers’ and my executives’ attention, I have to speak their ROI language and use their metrics or I won’t be taken seriously. My team has acquisition, share of voice, brand awareness and impression goals just like our traditional marketing and corporate communication teams do.

Competition

Mark Regan: I imagine that H&R Block’s main competitors are local, private tax professionals more than other multi-location businesses. Does size give you an advantage on the social web or is it a liability?

Zena Weist: In this case, I think size doesn’t really matter. What matters is if you are meeting customer expectations online. Are you listening, responding and sharing WHERE your customers/prospects are online? If you aren’t, you aren’t meeting customer expectation and they will be vocal about their disappointment and seek out your competition.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: Bonus: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Zena Weist: Ok, my favorite public community right now is Quora. I’m addicted to it. I’m more of a lurker than anything right now. I’m trying to move into more of a contributor-role but I catch myself spending hours (at night) reading up on social trends, tech news and my personal interests.

Mark Regan: Bonus: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Zena Weist: I ❤ Tampa and I’m not just saying that because Social Fresh is in Tampa. I try to get there at least every other year. The vibe is relaxed and fun. My family loves the friendly folks, warm weather and beaches. This quick trip, I’m hoping to get a chance to go to the ocean for a bit and enjoy the warm weather as I’m landlocked and freezing in Kansas City.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Zena! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more about you and connect with you?

Zena Weist: Zena (@ZenaWeist) is an iWorkingmom who’s passionate about her four fun-loving kids, one adorable husband, customer advocacy, autism awareness, craft beers, red wine and all things chocolate; therefore she’s into running as well :-). Zena blogs a bit about all this at Nothing but socNET and she is a founding member of the Kansas City Chapter of the Social Media Club.

Corey Creed Interview

Corey’s going to be laying it all out in a few weeks at Social Fresh Tampa talking about Facebook, social media and tons more. I had a chance to talk to him about his background and the work-life balance of the social web.


Your Background

Corey Creed
Mark Regan: Tell me a little about yourself and your background.

Corey Creed: For most my life, I’ve done public speaking and training. I’ve also done a lot of project management and instructional design. But more recently, I’ve been using those skills with Internet marketing and social media. Here’s how it all came about…

I grew up outside of Boston and then moved to New York for ten years. In 2002, I moved back to Massachusetts for one year. I had a hard time finding work, so ended up helping a friend with his e-commerce business. In three months, we tripled his sales. But it was way too cold in Massachusetts, especially for my wife who is originally from Daytona, FL!

So in 2003, my wife and I moved to North Carolina and started HIPPO which has two parts to it. HIPPO Inc sells products via e-commerce to the hospitality industry. Hippo Internet Marketing did SEO, AdWords, and more for clients. In 2007, we stopped taking clients and started teaching Internet marketing seminars. In 2010, we stopped teaching seminars and started moving our content online instead.

In 2011, I also started working with Social Fresh as the Training Director.

Time Management

Mark Regan: You seem to have your time spread out a lot from clients, training, speaking and your own personal brand.  How do you manage the sometimes competing obligations?

Corey Creed: I’m all about time management.  Over the years, I’ve fired almost all of my clients.  The few remaining are the best ones.  I enjoy working with them and we each respect each other’s time.  I regularly prioritize and keep my inbox down to zero several times per week.  I move things to my to do list and work on one thing at a time in priority order.

Oh, and I have three monitors.  That helps.  I only work 40 hours per week or less.  I spend time with my wife and on other non-profit activities outside of work.

Fads

Mark Regan: What social media tactic do you see people jumping into too quickly?  and what should they do more of in advance?

Corey Creed: I see people jumping into the “shiny new things” way too quick.  We all need to get better at Facebook.  It’s good to stay somewhat informed of new things and to know what’s out there.  But we’ve got to get better at what we have now.  Focus on the opportunities that exist today and do them better.

Content is King

Mark Regan: Regarding social media, if you could make a business owner/stakeholder do one thing that they always don’t want to do, what would it be?

Corey Creed: They almost always need to become better writers.  Content is king, but that’s just the beginning.  The better we get at writing in all its various forms, the more success we’ll have.  Good writing is not easy, but all marketers and business owners should work at it and stop trying to outsource it.  It’s that important.

LBSNs

Mark Regan: How should small businesses take advantage of location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places? How can they gain a competitive edge with them?

Corey Creed: This one is tricky.  The adoption rate of these services is not that impressive yet.  Small businesses have a lot to do.  It may not be worth their time to put a lot of effort into this.  At the same time, being an early adopter can get you extra business.  Give it a shot and see what happens.  But don’t waste too much time on it.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Corey Creed: For seeing what others do when they visit my site, my favorite cool new tool is Mouseflow.  My every day tools are Microsoft Outlook, Google Chrome, BlogJet, Digsby & Hootsuite.

Mark Regan: Bonus: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Corey Creed: Not really, Jason Keath has me working the entire first day of Facebook training.  Also, I’ve got to keep up on my own business at the same time.  But I do hope it’s warm that week.  I hate the cold!  🙂

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Corey!  I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa.  How can people find out more about Hippo Internet Marketing and connect with you?

Corey Creed: You can find most everything I do at www.CoreyCreed.com and www.HippoIMT.com.

Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed.  It’s nice meeting you and I’m really excited to meet the various social media and Internet marketing people in sunny Tampa!  See you at Social Fresh!

Chris Penn Interview

Social Fresh Tampa Interview Series Kickoff

Who better to kickoff my Social Fresh Tampa interview series than Chris Penn. You may know him better as Christopher S Penn from reading Chris Brogan’s work. Chris Penn co-founded PodCamp and also made a name for himself as the Chief Technology Officer of the Student Loan Network. He’s now over at Blue Sky Factory doing great work. He’ll be joining many other great speakers on February 22, 2011 at Social Fresh Tampa.


Your Background


Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as VP of Strategy and Innovation at Blue Sky Factory (BSF).

Chris Penn: It’s a rather funny short story. Fundamentally, there’s a concept that my friend Chris Brogan hammers on constantly: be there before the sale. Provide value, build your network and your platform, be helpful, and establish your foundation, your base. When it comes time for you to draw on that network, people tend to pay you back if you’ve done a good enough job giving first. I managed to be unemployed for exactly 37 minutes because the moment I was out of a job, I asked my network, and Greg Cangialosi, our founder and CEO, grabbed me as quickly as he could.

Marketing and Technology

Mark Regan: You’ve said you live in that uncomfortable world between marketing and IT/technology (a space I personally love!).  How do you exploit your ability to bridge that gap?

Chris Penn: I’m a marketing technologist, a word coined by Scott Brinker and subsequently promoted by Mitch Joel. It’s a highly unusual practice because it requires you to be competent in two different worlds that typically require very different mindsets in order to be successful. I wouldn’t characterize it as uncomfortable as much as I would call it rare. What makes it possible to bridge that gap between worlds is an understanding I get from the martial arts about finding similarities.  A  market segmentation can be expressed as a SQL query, and a sorting algorithm can be turned into a marketing funnel. You have to be able to port concepts back and forth into the language that the world you’re working in speaks.

Personal and Professional Brands

Mark Regan: How do you balance the goals of your personal brand with the goals of your professional personas (VP, professor, host)?  Are they ever in competition?

Chris Penn: There is always strong potential for personal and professional brands to be in conflict. What it takes to make that not happen is to work for a company and a team that recognizes the synergy between personal and professional brand on the corporate front, and the maturity and responsibility of the person to align their brand with the company goals. Blue Sky Factory’s stated mission and goal in the world is to help you become a better marketer, and thus being a professor of Internet marketing and a marketing podcast co-host is perfectly aligned with that. Work I do in one area benefits work in other areas.  Lessons I learn in one area get ported to other areas and all benefit.

For example, I write and send out a monthly personal newsletter. As part of that, I get to use the BSF product, Publicaster, as an end user. I know what its like to be a customer, to have the customer experience on a regular basis, and I can give feedback to the team about what works and what doesn’t. Another example – I blog a lot personally. My personal web site uses the same platform and theme as the BSF one. I test out things on my blog and break it all the time, and the stuff that works well in the end gets pushed to the BSF web site. Some of the stuff I try would be deeply irresponsible to do on the corporate web site, so my personal space benefits the company.

Consistency

Mark Regan: On the social web, you appear in so many places.  How do you manage to maintain a consistent engagement everywhere?

Chris Penn: I’m not everywhere, not by a long shot. I pick very carefully where I can bet use my time, and each place has a defined role. Linked in is all about groups for me. Twitter is about finding new people and staying in touch. Facebook on my fan page is all about tools and ideas I have that I share. I don’t have to be everywhere, and I set expectations carefully about what each place means to me.

Email and Social Media

Mark Regan: Pundits love to say email is dead.  But I continue to see it being better integrated as a marketing tool.  Do you expect the same to happen with social media and its various tools?

Chris Penn: For those that survive, yes. That said, one of the largest flaws in thinking in social media is the assumption that social media tools are public utilities. They are not. Email is, because no one organization
controls email, by design. Facebook? Twitter? Linked in? Quora? These are not public utilities and thus they have the potential to go away overnight.

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Chris Penn: Toy of the day? My iPad, unquestionably. Greatest productivity tool I have besides the laptop itself.

Mark Regan: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Chris Penn: Nope. I am surprisingly unfun in person because I’m such a nerd.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Chris!  I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa.  How can people find out more about Blue Sky Factory and connect with you?

Chris Penn: You can find out more about Blue Sky Factory and grab our newest eBook here.

You can find out more about me at: http://www.christopherspenn.com