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Archive for January, 2010

A miracle blog

January 30, 2010 7 comments

Tami Boehmer: Blogging to help others, and herself

In September 2009, my wife Tami launched a blog called Miracle Survivors: Information and Inspiration for Cancer Thrivers.

Tami wanted to build a platform for a book she’s writing called From Incurable to Incredible. The book, scheduled for publication this spring, will feature 25 cancer survivors who were given a terminal diagnosis and shocked everyone by thriving years beyond their prognoses.

Tami shares parts of their stories on her blog, as well as snippets from her own cancer journey. She’s been battling a breast cancer recurrence for almost two years. She’s got Stage IV metastatic cancer, with tumors in three areas, including her liver.

Thankfully, a new treatment she started in late November has the tumors shrinking or stable. She’s also doing a lot with nutrition, excercise, spirituality… to support the medical stuff.She attended an alternative/integrative treatment conference in Florida several weeks ago.  She’s headed to another next month. (She gives updates on the blog.)

Back to the blog…

The blog (created by Jason Bayer or JManStudios, using WordPress)  is a social media success story, in my humble opinion. Our Google Analytics report shows that it has been visited by 2,602 people from 53 countries and 48 states. (Must not have Internet access in Wyoming or North Dakota!)

People in Canada, the United Kingdom, Romania, India, Australia, Belgium, Mexico, Malaysia and many other countries have read the blog. Most visits come from Ohio, Kentucky, California, Texas, New York and Louisiana.

On Dec. 22, the blog got 133 visits — mainly because one of the people featured in the book shared a link with family and friends. It probably gets about 25-50 visits a day.

Most visitors come directly to the blog, although a number arrive via Facebook, Google, our family blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, the Cincinnati Women Bloggers blog and the Nickles-N-Dimes blog. Some various nice folks associated with groups such as Cincinnati Women Bloggers and New Media Cincinnati have done a great job telling those affected by cancer about the blog.

Tami (and I) have made countless connections with people who have inspired us and lifted our spirits during the ups and downs of her cancer journey. Hopefully, we have returned the favor.

Everyone is looking forward to the book, which we plan to self-publish thanks to a financial contribution from a close friend of Tami’s. The cover is being designed, and a book editor is going through the copy. Tami is wrapping up the final six or seven stories.

Meanwhile, she’ll continue to blog away — inspiring and informing others walking the same path — the trek toward Miracle Survivorship.

Live chats: Helping those in need

January 23, 2010 5 comments

With the economic situation driving record numbers of people through the doors (and to the phone lines) of the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, we have experimented with innovative ways to help people in need.

In mid-2008, we started offering live online chats — with a goal of helping people better understand our programs and services. We have conducted more than 40 as of this writing.

The chats mostly take place 10-11 a.m. on a Wednesday. An expert in an area such as employment services, child support, Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized child care or cash assistance sits next to me at my PC… and we give prompt answers to questions.

We answer some inquiries privately, especially if they involve confidential case information.

Mostly, we share publicly, so everyone can learn from the running Q/A.

We use a software tool called Bold Chat, which costs about $39 a month, for the chatting. And I cut and paste questions and responses into an HTML page on www.hcjfs.org for the running chat transcript viewable by the public.

People access Bold Chat and the HTML page (the running transcript of the chat, later an archived Q/A) through a link on the Web site’s home page.

We average about 10 participants, 15 questions and 80 views (which grows to 300 or more over time). Some chats draw 30 participants; others, none. If a chat is slow, I interview the expert — and we still get people viewing the running transcript.

In the second half of 2009, participation dropped a but, so we backed off on frequency.

But the first two chats of this year — about Child Care and Employment Services — were very busy. So we’re planning to schedule chats at least every other week in 2010.

Bold Chat has other uses, too. In March 2009, we began offering private chats with Child Support customers about their cases. Technicians field questions 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday-Friday, on the Child Support page under Services on www.hcjfs.org. An invitation to chat pops up after somebody is on the page for a minute. Customers love the quick response–the fact that they don’t have to sit on hold on a phone for a long time.

We’re considering offering chats with clients from other program areas such as Medicaid and food stamps.

All of these practices will help us help those in need of assistance — many of whom haven’t accessed our services before, and don’t understand the system or its complexities.

Hope you find this interesting. I’m planning to continuing sharing my experiences in these public relaitons practices with you as the year unfolds.

Eating up that social networking thing

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Imagine eating a salad, chicken breast with roasted potatoes and steamed veggies, and cookie with coffee — while tweeting away with a laptop balanced on one leg. (White cloth napkin on the other.)

I got that experience this week at the Cincinnati PRSA monthly luncheon! I tweeted highlights from PRSA national president Gary McCormick’s talk on the @CincinnatiPRSA account. It was part of the chapter’s efforts to take full advantage of its social media tools.

In between bites and tweets, I snapped photos on my BlackBerry and shared them on Twitter and Facebook using Twitpic and my @MikeBoehmer57 account.

Others in the audience retweeted my posts, and tweeted updates of their own. We connected our efforts using the #CincyPRSA hashtag. It was neat to see people who couldn’t attend in person following from their PC’s, laptops and smartphones.

This is just the beginning. Members of the first Cincinnati PRSA Social Media committee — Lauren Doyle, Elliot Campbell and Jeremy Fischer — had a lot of great ideas in our first planning meeting the day before McCormick’s talk. I’ll share some with you as time goes along. We have developed a plan to give PRSA members more value for their membership dollars by beefing up the chapter’s LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter offerings. Hopefully, you can learn from our experiments.

Before McCormick’s excellent talk, I got the opportunity to join a handful of Cincinnati PRSA Leadership Team members for an informal hour with the national leader. He shared a lot of interesting stories about the power of networking with people in your profession. He spoke often about building equity — helping people by giving them job leads or media contacts, serving on committees with them… and then having them return the favor years down the road. He talked about having mentors and mentoring people. He explained how he strategized to get his job at HGTV and win election as PRSA president. (He had a written plan with lists of people he needed to “touch.”)

It reminded me that social media is just a tool (method, tactic), something that enables us to build and nurture relationships cemented by in-person contact. It’s about more than munching on food and pecking away at a keyboard. Those talks I had with the PR pros at my table beforehand were vital, too. 🙂

Categories: PRSA, Social media, Twitter Tags:

One of the top social media communities around

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Are you a public relations professional? Do you live in Greater Cincinnati? (Note: Even if you aren’t or don’t, this post will direct you to some great resources.)

You can join one of the most valuable PR social media communities in the country!

And, here’s the important part….

  • Share links to PR news items — and comment on those posted by others.
  • Start discussions about PR-related topics — and comment on those offered by others.
  • Tweet tidbits of useful information from talks given by PR experts.

Together, we’ll create a social media community that will allow us to connect at a deeper level.

Just think. When you see  someone at a luncheon or happy hour event, you’ll already know more about them from their LinkedIn profile. Perhaps, you’ll have discussed a PR topic. Maybe, you’ll have shared a link to a blog post or news article of value to them — or vice versa….

You’ll just know each other better. It could help break the ice, and perhaps help you overcome some shyness and give you something to talk about with someone you just met or don’t know very well.

Maybe you’ll learn something that can really help a lot back on the job — or you’ll share something that really helped someone else. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even end up working together down the road. Or you’ll refer business, or get a referral, as time transpires.

After all, you’ll be a part of one of the best PR social media communities in the country!

What are you waiting for? Get involved.

Categories: Uncategorized

How can I use social media to…?

January 1, 2010 4 comments

It’s a conversation I’m having more and more lately: Someone says, “Sell me on this social media thing…prove to me why I should embrace it. I don’t really understand it, but tell me how my organization could use it.”

I love to talk about social media as much as Reds baseball, Grateful Dead music or Rice Lake fishing. Social media has helped me connect with dozens of great people in areas such as public relations and cancer research. It has allowed my employer to better assist hundreds of good folks struggling in a sluggish economy. It has enabled my church to strengthen ties and generate awareness.

But it’s not for everyone. It’s not the be-all and end-all.

It’s simply a tool — albeit a powerful one — that can help individuals and organizations achieve strategic goals.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions:

(1) Complete your profile on LinkedIn — and aggressively connect with as many of your professional contacts as possible. Use the Groups search tool and join groups related to your goal.

(2) Set up Twitter accounts for yourself and your organizations. Follow people in your industry or area(s) of strategic interest.

(3) Consider starting a WordPress blog. Post 1-5 times per week.

(4) Invest in a BlackBerry or iPhone. Get a laptop with a wireless connection.

(5) Subscribe to RSS feeds on five to 10 blogs that you find of value.

(6) Reprioritize, so you can incorporate social media maintenance into your daily routine.

(7) Comment on blog posts. Share links from RSS feeds on Twitter (using bit.ly). Comment on Facebook status updates.

(8) Complete your Facebook profile, adding info you’ve shared on LinkedIn. Connect with personal and professional friends/associates. Set up groups and use privacy settings to control who sees what on your profile. Set up a Page for your organization and start inviting friends/associates.

(9) Get out there and connect. Attend meeting of groups such as (in our city) Cincinnati Social Media, New Media Cincinnati, New Media Cincinnati, Cincinnati PRSA, Cincinnati AMA…

Then, we’ll probably be out of time. And I’ll suggest that you follow this blog — and share your experiences in the comments section! 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized