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Lessons learned livestreaming video from adoption ceremony

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

 One week ago today, I was sitting in front of our home PC with this laptop — livestreaming video of myself from laptop to PC screen on www.ustream.tv.

I had spent three hours on a Saturday morning reacquainting myself with Ustream. I felt a great sense of accomplishment at having figured out how to stream, and a bit of amusement at what a computer nerd I’d become.

That afternoon, I quizzed several friends at New Media Cincinnati about their use of Ustream.

I did all of this in preparation of livestreaming the annual “mass adoption day” from Hamilton County Probate Court. The day is held each year during National Adoption Month to build awareness about the need for adoptive parents. This year, three families adopted a total of seven kids.

I’m happy to report that the livestream went well. You can take a look here. Start at the 28-minute mark, unless  you want to watch us setting up and local TV crews getting ready to record the event.

Here are some lessons learned in this livestream adventure:

* Test, test, test. Jim Prues, a videographer under contract with Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, and I did three test broadcasts to work out technical issues and get comfortable with the technology.

* Use the location’s Internet connection, if possible, and not the wifi. Probate Court graciously allowed us to plug into its Internet port. This ensures a more robust broadcast and helps avoid fluctuating connection of wifi. But it also leads to…

* Enlist the help of the location’s Information Systems experts to help you set up your laptop so you aren’t blocked by a firewall. That was major headache — getting the laptop configured so we could connect to the Internet.

* Guide people to your Ustream account’s show page. You can e-mail a link to the show page, tell people to go to Ustream and search for the title of your show page, or embed code on a HTML page on your website. I did all three, just to be sure.

* Have a team of three to do the broadcast — the videographer, the laptop/Ustream person, and an on-camera announcer to introduce the livestream.

* Treat your livestream more like CSPAN than CNN. We started streaming 15 minutes before the event just to make sure everything worked. Last year, we made the mistake of treating it like a TV news update — and turned off the stream when nothing was happening. This gave viewers a blank screen.

* Use a professional-quality camera if possible. Jim was able to zoom in on some great moments, thanks to his expertise and a good camera.

* Promote the stream using traditional and new methods. We did a press release and e-mailed info to our newsletter subscriber list. I did updates on Facebook and Twitter. It was really cool to see more viewers join the stream when people retweeted the tweets sent from my Droid.

* Have fun. Look at this as an adventure, not something to stress about. As we like to say in our house, “it’s not cancer.”

Have you had any experience with Ustream or other livestreaming tools. I’d love to hear them in the comments section.

Lessons from an Indianapolis book promo stop

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Cathy Wolfe (left), one of 27 cancer survivors in From Incurable to Incredible, and author Tami Boehmer

My wife, author/blogger Tami Boehmer, just returned from her first out-of-town book blitz — in Indianapolis. She did three book events, spoke to a gathering of businesswomen at breakfast, appeared on a noon TV news broadcast, and enjoyed networking with some amazing cancer survivors. The local newspaper did an excellent preview article that drew people to one of the events.

The blitz represents one strategy in our plan to get From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds in the hands of more readers — marketing the book in cities where the 27 survivors profiled in the book reside.

 Our overall goal is to bring hope to those who are facing serious illnesses and life’s other challenges.

Here are some lessons learned from this first step out of Cincinnati, other than interviews/reviews on blogs and Internet radio programs in places such as Houston and Seattle:

Work closely with your supporters. Cathy Wolfe, who shares her amazing ovarian cancer survival story in the book, created lots of word-of-mouth and did media interviews along with Tami. Here are two of the media reports on FOX59 WXIN and in the Indianapolis Star.

Support appearances with traditional media relations. Tami did a fantastic job pitching Cathy’s story to the newspaper and TV station. It was extremely helpful to have a local angle to the story.

Use every opportunity to talk up your product. Tami’s talk to Linking Indy Women came as the result of a connection I made at the Digital Non-Conference in Cincinnati in September. I handed Sarah Lacey, the group’s leader, Tami’s business card after we had chatted about our jobs, families and other topics at the conference. It was almost an afterthought for me, but Sarah picked up on the lead immediately. Tami said the talk was a highlight of the two-day stop.

Network, network, network. Tami really enjoyed visiting with two Indianpolis-based movers-and-shakers in the breast cancer movement — Pink Power Mom finalist Cindi Hart and Krysti Hughett of the Young Survival Coalition. These women are saints who have helped many, many people.

Don’t expect large crowds at book tables. Unless you are a famous author, you’re not going to have people lining up at your table at a Borders or cancer center gift shop. In fact, you have lots of time to yourself! However, you do get an excellent opportunity to foster relationships with the few people who stop by and really care about your cause. Tami did meet several top breast cancer research experts.

Keep your supporters updated with social media. I put regular updates on Twitter and Facebook to keep the book’s backers in the loop. I did a post on our family and friends blog. Everyone seemed to appreciate going on a virtual book tour with Tami.

Hope you found this helpful. I plan to continue sharing first-hand experiences with social media marketing and public relations on this blog. Meantime, we’re getting more and more comments from people saying the book gave them hope at a time when they really needed it — people dealing with cancer and life’s other challenges.

Powerful cause marketing

November 2, 2010 Leave a comment

My wife and I feel fortunate to have experienced effective cause marketing firsthand during a fun, rewarding, enriching weekend in Atlanta in late October.

Tami was honored as one of eight Pink Power Moms selected by Kids II, the manufacturer of Bright Starts products. Each year since 2006,  Kids II has honored and connected movers-and-shakers in the grassroots breast cancer movement as part of its Pink Power Mom effort.

This year, they flew eight “power moms” selected by a committee of Kids II employees to Atlanta. A “super power mom” — Tracie Metzger of Cincinnati-based Pink Ribbon Girls — chosen from the previous year’s winners played a leading role. Each power mom brought their significant others. (I got to meet several husbands, moms and close friends.)

We received royal treatment — deluxe travel, a modern suite hotel room, two-hour in-room massage, two evening events, a private box at an NFL game, meals… I can’t even list all that they did. It was that elaborate and extensive.

Each winner was awarded $5,000 for the charity of her choice. The super power mom received another $20,000 and got to appear in advertisements.

We had lots of opportunities to interact with the other power moms and Kids II staff. Powerful bonds were cemented in the long weekend. We plan to stay connected to the power families long after this weekend. We came away with new ideas and thoughts of how to support each others’ efforts.

Most of the power moms have started their own organizations. Tami has used technology to help many through her blog and book. She also volunteers at a number of organizations and is a great mom to our daughter.

Kids II is committed to this cause — beyond the pink ribbon marketing of so many other organizations. They have fostered connections and contributed to the grassroots movers-and-shakers, the moms who have survived breast cancer and want to help others do the same. Powerful, for sure!