By Clio V. Rourke
Did #SOTU (State of the Union) make you want to hang out with President Barack Obama? Yes you can! On Monday, January 30, at 5:30 p.m. EST, the president “chat[ed] live with the public” by hosting a Google+ hangout on the White House's Google+ page. After the State of the Union address last week, the White House staff started taking questions for the president which, until Saturday, could be submitted through White House’s YouTube channel. President Obama answered the most popular questions, voted for also through the White House’s YouTube channel, via live stream, and the 10 contributors with the most popular questions were invited “to participate in the live conversation with him.” In addition to Google+, the hangout was streamed on the White House’s website and YouTube channel. Now, you can watch the full video here. Prior to the president, Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich also hosted hangouts.
But what if you have a question for the vice president? Vice President Joe Biden answered questions on Twitter last Thursday. By including the hashtags #SOTU and #WHchat, Twitter users could tweet their questions for “@VP.” But not to worry if you missed it, you can still read the Twitter interview – with questions and answers of 140 characters or less –here. Feeling closer yet?
By Deborah Spencer
My 18 year old son decided to reject his college acceptances and enter the workplace for a while. (I know, I know, I know!) I talked with him about the importance of a college education, the state of the economy, how tough it is for people with college degrees to get jobs nowadays—the list goes on. He politely listened to my concerns, but his mind was made up. (You just can’t put an old head on young shoulders, can you?)
Against the odds, my son scored interviews with two companies in Boston recently—not retail stores, not fast food chains, not manual labor—professional companies looking for a responsible, moldable, flexible, entry level employee. (I thought, even if he doesn’t get a job, the process itself will be a good life lesson for him.)
Company #1 asked for a phone interview to get the process going—yikes! (He’s a teenager and I’ve talked with him on the phone many times. Need I say more?) My son was nervous, but he held his own and was invited to their Boston headquarters for an in-person meeting the following week. The interview date and time was scheduled. (He was proving me wrong!)
My son meticulously plotted his course for the voyage into Boston. He traveled the commuter rail, decoded the subway maze and traversed the streets of downtown Boston to the high rise building of Company #1. He announced himself to the receptionist, shook hands (with the perfect amount of firmness, not-to-sweaty palms and eye contact, I’m hoping) and was interviewed by two people for more than an hour. They asked if he’d return the following week to meet with one more member of their team. (Beginner’s luck? The next Bill Gates, maybe?)
This was a really unique opportunity and my son was so excited (in his laid-back, composed, unaffected way, of course). He followed up with an email thanking Company #1 for the interview, re-expressing his interest in the job, addressing a specific issue he was questioned about and conveying how much he was looking forward to meeting “John Doe” the following week. No reply. (Hmmmmm?) I told him that it was probably the craze of the holidays and to wait a few more days.
Those few days passed with no reply. So, my son sent another very nice, respectful email to follow-up on the status of the “John Doe” meeting. No reply. He patiently waited another week or so and sent yet another email. Yup, you got it, no reply. At that point, I told him to stop following up—it was over!
Company #2’s opportunity came along about a month later. The interview was scheduled; he arrived on time (a pro at navigating Boston now) and was interviewed for one-half hour. At the conclusion of the interview, he was asked to provide a reference. Later that same day, he followed up with a thank you email and included his reference’s name and contact information. No reply. No reference checked. He plans to follow-up again this week. (I’ll keep you posted.)
I told my son that I was going to blog his story—protecting his identity, of course. He was really amused by how passionate I was about no reply. So, I asked him to take a risk and tell me how he really feels about it. He said that the worst part was not getting a straight answer—any answer. He assumed that Company #1’s no reply was their way of avoiding having to say they weren’t interested anymore. When it happened with Company #2, he concluded that no reply must be a customary, perfectly acceptable way to communicate “no” to someone. (OMG! Is this the good life lesson I’d hoped for?)
Don’t we all want—need—closure? It’s not always easy to hear “no” or “I’m not interested,” but nowadays you don’t even have to face the person to say it (that dying art is a topic for another day). Email is at our fingertips—literally. Company #1 and #2, feel free to cut and paste here: “Thank you for your interest, <insert first name>. We’ve decided to go in another direction at this point. We understand how valuable your time is and appreciate the effort you so obviously put forth during our process. We wish you all the best!”
Could I get some help out there? I am trying to teach my son, a member of the workforce’s next generation (the ones we say are so entitled), the importance of good communication, being courteous, respectful—responsive. I’ve always believed (and still do) that effective relationships and communications are a two-way street—no matter what the vehicle. More and more often, it feels like a one-way, dead end.
For my son, I guess he’ll just bang a U-e and head down another road. He’s still young. A bit more cynical, maybe—or is that me?
By Stacy Wilbur
Twitter has changed our level of engagement with celebrities. No longer do we need to read gossip columns or magazines to find out where they like to eat, drink, or mingle; what artists they are listening to; or designers they are wearing. Not only are their followers learning about them, they want to learn about their followers. Celebrities that are using Twitter are also engaging their followers - asking what their favorite shows are on television, what team they want to win this weekend, or what restaurant they should go to!
Most recently, Twitter user Victor Gonzalez tweeted New England Patriots player/Twitter king Chad Ochocinco that he had been tweeting him for a couple of years, and never received a response. Ochocinco responded, “Damn 2 years? My bad. Want to come to the game Saturday?” Gonzalez’s persistence finally paid off, and he was rewarded with a trip to Boston, tickets to the game, and time with the player. Ten years ago, Gonzalez never would have had that opportunity.
Social media has leveled the playing field and lets everyone connect across our culture. Lesson here - don’t give up, keep tweeting, and hopefully you will hear from your favorite celebrity, too!
By Clio V. Rourke
Happy 21st Century Statecraft month! Social media are ubiquitous and transcending all kinds of borders; and for this very reason, they are an ideal tool for the U.S. State Department to communicate with people in foreign countries (and in the U.S.), a fact that’s being recognized this month. In the pursuit of U.S. foreign policy goals, “Twenty-first Century Statecraft complements traditional foreign policy by harnessing and adapting the digital networks and technologies of today’s interconnected world.” In honor of 21st Century Statecraft, U.S. officials worldwide are hosting events on social media platforms “to directly connect with the public on foreign policy issues that matter to them.” On January 11, for instance, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince held a Twitter Q&A regarding the relationship of the U.S. and Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake two years ago. On this month’s Fridays, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland is answering questions submitted to the Department’s 10 official Twitter feeds – Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu – using the hashtag #AskState. Examples of how the State Department uses social media for policy goals include helping “connect women entrepreneurs in West Africa and respond[ing] to the devastating earthquake that struck Japan.”
By Andrea Teixeira
The sheer variety of incentive travel possibilities to Mexico might seem overwhelming at first. A ski and golf trip to Mexico’s Monterreal? Swimming with dolphins in the aqua waters of the Riviera Maya? Experiencing the power of the ancient ruins at Tulum? From the plush comfort of an all-inclusive hotel, or the elegant style of a boutique hotel,Mexico offers unforgettable experience to suit every taste.
Luxury Spas - According to a June 2011, Conde Nast Traveler poll, Mexico has 19 of the top 250 spas, globally.
Mexico has continually been acknowledged by leading travel companies and magazines for its world-class destination resorts:
Mexico has world-class destinations that offer safe and highly authentic, interesting and high-value travel. Beyond that,Mexico can offer your organization the high quality meeting experience your organization requires, in terms of venue size and quality, incentives, air connectivity and diversity of activities and experiences.
By Sandy Lish
We’re being bombarded with items about the Republican candidates and how and where they are stumping across various states. They’re in diners, places of worship, schools, outdoor venues – you name it: anywhere they can reach their audiences. Many of their campaign war chests are well stocked, yet they are not relying solely on technology to reach people. And neither should we.
January is a busy networking month for me – but I approach these events strategically. Yesterday, I attended an intimate, 30-person WBZ Radio luncheon at Morton’s, hosted by Comcast, which featured Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Guzzi, UMass Dartmouth Public Policy expert Michael Goodman and THINK strategies Managing Director Jeff Kaplan. In this small setting, I was able to have meaningful conversations with media contacts and business partners, gain intelligence that helps us better serve our clients, and come up with new ideas for client opportunities. Next week –the Super Bowl of networking days for me—I will attend the Chamber’s Pinnacle Award (this year, as a proud past honoree!) during the afternoon and the Boston Business Journal CEO Reception and Book of Lists event in the evening. Massive, massive networking. In a couple of weeks, I’m attending an invitation-only reception at CBS Scene, designed solely for networking, and strategically put together by some very smart businesspeople who understand how to work a room, and who should be in that room.
Savvy professionals know that these events provide unmatched opportunities to make new contacts, reconnect with lapsed contacts, and spend quality time with existing contacts. These are events I would not miss—as they allow me to represent all my clients face to face, build Castle’s visibility and actually have some fun at the same time. What events are not-to-be-missed for you? We’d love to hear…and you’d better get them on your calendar!
By Elaina Robinson
It’s all anyone can talk about this week: the Wikipedia black out. The largely famous internet encyclopedia turned out the lights in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), two bills designed to fight online piracy of copyrighted material. Wikipedia, which features more than 20 million articles, is just one of many sites choosing to go ‘lights out’ for 24 hours.
Both bills are backed by the film and music industry, but have drawn considerable criticism for the burden they place on search engines. U.S.advertising networks could also be required to stop online advertising. Co-Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales says the bills threaten the future of the Internet.
Walesjoked in one tweet, “Student warning! Do your homework early.” As public relations intern, I can’t help but think that many students aren’t going to laugh this tweet off. In my generation students have coined Wikipedia as their safe-haven; a reliance that gets them through their most dreaded research papers.
It makes you wonder about the value of encyclopedias today, the ones that you go to the library for and manually flip through the pages. Does anyone know what that’s like? To answer that question, some college professors and even departments have banned the use of Wikipedia in their classrooms, forcing students to seek refuge in traditional encyclopedias and other long-established sources. Yes, that may mean trudging to the library in the dead of winter or taking a bit more time in an online search. But practice makes perfect because you never know; the lights may be out longer next time.
The riskier the road, the greater the profit; that’s the Four Seasons’ prerogative.
Product of a more than $15 million overhaul, the Four Seasons luxury chain recently unveiled a revamped website featuring a new Tumblr-esque design, new functions and new content, appealing to the tech savvy customer.
Betting big on their guests’ opinions, this new content comes from voices on social media sites beyond the Four Seasons' control. The new design allows you to connect with each of the chain’s 86 hotels and see what people are saying—both positive and negative—on Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor. The "Reviews at a Glance" box leads directly to TripAdvisor's site for a particular hotel, as well as the hotel's Twitter and Facebook pages.
Too risky? Not really; the Four Seasons did their homework.
Over the past year, on-site staff have been individually trained to monitor and follow-up with all reviews, digging deeper into customer issues. In addition, extensive research was conducted around the digital consumption of luxury consumers for the development of the new website. Four Seasons held focus groups to gain a better understanding of guest and travel partner needs. These results formed the content of the premiere issue of the 2012 Four Seasons Luxury Trend Report.
By Wendy Spivak
It seems almost inconceivable that with all of the technology available, our corporate phone system could have a service issue that shut down our phones for two days. And although we all have our smart phones, laptops and tablets, IT STILL MATTERED.
I won't dwell too much on the sheer aggravation of dealing with a service provider that could not identify--or fix--the issue in a timely manner. We've all been there in some way, shape or form, and know what it's like to wait on hold, be escalated, await return phone calls and expect a solution--all out of your control. Not to mention managing the perception of the outside world, and the myriad of steps that had to be taken to let people know that you are still there and how to reach you.
What is most interesting is that even though we all are so accustomed to using technology to communicate, the land-line phone is still important to our daily business.
Don't get me wrong--I love my smart phone and my iPad. But conducting a team-client call on speaker phone, conducting a media interview, connecting with an overseas contact and many of our other daily activities are best done with a land line.
From a cultural standpoint, it was just plain weird not to have phones ringing. Email is a silent activity, and our environment thrives on sound, motion, kinetic energy. Silence in this case, was not golden.
By Clio V. Rourke
For the launch of its new fragrance line “Anarchy,” Axe is employing a “graphic” Facebook campaign. Anarchy: The Graphic Novel went live on Axe’s Facebook page yesterday, January 10, and users who “like” Axe can co-write the comic that’s being created in real-time, influence the “casting” and even make an appearance in the story. Since Anarchy, the fragrance, introduces an Axe fragrance for women (in addition to Anarchy for men), Anarchy, the comic stars “Anarchy Girls,” women fueled by a fragrance “designed to unlock attraction between guys and girls [that] worked far too well,” a concept based on Axe’s previous campaigns. Their mission is to live up to their name. Participating Facebook fans are therefore invited by Axe to “unleash the chaos!” Fans can join the Anarchy conversation via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (
#AXEAnarchy). The novel is being put together by Aspen Comics. A major Anarchy co-writer is Scott Lobdell, author of the ‘90s X-Men stories. As of now, Axe’s Facebook page has 2,334,149 fans, with 46,698 talking about it. It will be interesting to track these numbers as the campaign progresses.
By Jessica Ciccone
It’s a unique phenomenon. Every four years, the national media converges on the usually quiet state of New Hampshire. Having had the pleasure working in the New Hampshire media during the 2004 Democratic primary, I know first hand how crazy it can get. Suddenly seeing George Stephanopoulos at the Radisson Hotel bar is not an odd occurrence. But this year is different. Yes, Diane Sawyer and friends will still be attendance, but they will not be the only ones reporting on the winner of the “First in the Nation” primary.
In another step to world domination, it could be Twitter, rather than the polls, that give us the greatest indicator as to who will win the Republican nomination. A new tool launched by the Washington Post tracks the volume of mentions for each candidate. As candidates and their supporters take to Twitter, this could be a good indicator of who is in the lead today. After all, we have already seen the Iowa caucus predicted by Twitter, and who could have seen that coming? Can’t wait to see what today brings. Of course you could always go old school and wait for the results from Dixville Notch.
By Kate McCaw
In the past several years all-inclusive properties have grown tremendously in variety and scope. They are fast becoming a serious choice among meeting planners. The reasons are numerous, but the ones that make them an obvious alternative for planners are:
Working with smaller budgets and shorter lead times makes the process far easier to manage. In other words, more value for your dollars and no surprises at the end of a meeting or incentive trip.
Getting a flat rate that includes food, beverage, meeting space, entertainment, gratuities and taxes. In other words peace of mind.
Meeting attendees appreciate the relaxation that comes with this concept. There are numerous complimentary activity options. From non-motorized water sports activities to evening entertainment to complimentary 24-hour room service and stocked complimentary mini-bars. What you may not know is that major chains such as Marriott, Starwood and Westin are beginning to add all-inclusive plans to their portfolio of properties. The reason? They are losing business to the plethora of exclusive all-inclusive resorts popping up at an incredibly rapid rate.
Numerous dining outlets are a big plus. Many resorts offer upwards of 8-10 different restaurants, allowing the planner to create a dine-around program without the incurred costs of leaving the property. Choices vary from French to Italian, Japanese and Seafood. There is also usually a country based option as well, such as Mexican in Mexico.
Mexico is widely accepted as the all-inclusive capitol of the world. Literally every major resort destination offers Four-Star and Five-Diamond options. Other destinations are primarily off-shore including, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Aruba, Antigua and Jamaica, to name a few.
So the next time you’re planning a meeting or incentive, don’t overlook the wonderful world of all-inclusive properties. Or, ask if your EP hotel can offer you an all-inclusive rate. You just might be pleasantly surprised!
By Clio Rourke
Social media may or may not be able to predict a presidential candidate’s success, but have become essential for political campaigns. Keeping that in mind, it is only natural that this Sunday’s GOP debate will be streaming live on Facebook (as well as on MSNBC.com), where, since July 2011, users can submit questions for the presidential candidates, post comments and discuss issues and candidates via the widget GOP Debate 2012.
During Sunday’s debate, widget users “will be able to submit questions directly to candidates [and] will also be able to interact with one another in real-time as part of a comprehensive ‘second screen’ experience.” The widget is available through both Facebook’s U.S. Politics on Facebook page and the Facebook page of Meet the Press. Meet the Press host David Gregory is moderating the debate.
While submitting questions via social media is not a new phenomenon – see this past post – the complexity of the GOP Debate 2012 widget is impressive. According to Mashable, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Communications, Marketing and Public Policy Elliot Schrage stated that Facebook is hoping to engage voters by connecting its users with the presidential candidates. Mashable reports that so far, the widget displays ca. 2,000 comments.