The instant you hit “publish,” a little piece of your inner being dies. Well, maybe it doesn’t die, but it escapes you and transfers to the URL you just created. Regardless of the intent of what you’ve published is, it needs to contain a little bit of your soul in order to be successful.

We all “blog with a purpose.” Our roles as story tellers necessitate this. But to tell a story with passion, to convey your soul through your words takes a lot of hard work.

What’s this have to do with public relations? Plenty. I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching. Deciding just what it is I do. Deciding how to be awesome and deciding what my path is going to be. And I’ve figured it out.

I want to leave a piece of me in every project I am involved with.

I will pour every ounce I have into making something awesome. Telling a better story. Getting the insider tip on what will make a publication pay attention. I will make damn sure the strategic guidance I provide is beyond anything else being done. I will leave my mark on every press release, blog post, RFP, tweet and mail. Even if that mark means not touching it.

Letting this industry (craft?) have a piece of my soul each day is the best I can do. What are you going to do to make your mark?

Online popularity contests are rarely valuable. People cast empty votes with the hopes of seeing a friend or cohort emerge with a faux victory. Contestants plead for votes like a candidate in Florida on election day. Nobody really wins, except the company collecting the registration information for its database. But this one’s different.

I’m not talking about the South by Southwest panel picker here. This time, I want you to help me be an Office Hottie. But in this contest, there could be a winner. Well, three actually.

Click here to vote for me!

So, why am I doing this? Well, at first it was a lark. A way to amuse myself by putting a ridiculous photo of myself in amongst the Affliction-clad, Axe-wearing bros and the spray-tanned, attention-needing girls.

But then I made it through to the third round, thanks wholly to friends and family on Twitter and Facebook. And I realized I could do some good here. So, here’s my pledge:

If I win, 100% of the prize will go the following charities:

  • Jolkona Foundation. This is a pro-bono account for the agency I work for, but it’s also a great organization doing very innovative work to enable a culture of giving.
  • Domestic Abuse Women’s Network. DAWN supports families that have been the victims of domestic abuse and is a local non-profit that I’ve supported in the past. It does good work here in my local community.
  • A charity that is important to YOU! See, you’ve all helped this happen, so I want to give everybody a voice on where the money goes. Post a comment with a non-profit and a short reason why the remaining funds should go to it.

Now, go help me be an Office Hottie!

Blogging, digital media, tweeting, videos, podcasting, live streaming, mobile.

We get it. We really do. As I reflect on attending BlogWorld & New Media Expo, I realize that we get it. As a communications professional, BlogWorld was great. Connecting with friends, old and new. Learning from the masters of our craft and the ability to spend five days in Las Vegas and only lose $30 gambling.

Don’t ask what’s next

I’ll start at the beginning. At 8:30 am, Scott Stratton (also known as Unmarketing) kicked us off by sharing some of what has made him successful. It wasn’t about metrics, analytics or “influencers.” It was simply giving a, ermm, rip. When you care and show that you care by being a passionate, engaged participant in the community you are trying to create, the market will listen.

And then he delivered what might be the greatest few sentences I have heard at any conference:

Don’t ask what’s next. We suck at now. Hell, we suck at last year. Let’s stop being so fancy pants and realize people spread awesome by talking.

I’m going to repeat this so it sinks in a bit: Don’t ask what’s next. We suck at now. That’s amazing for us as communications professionals. As we scurry like mice trying to craft the perfect twit pitch and witty URLs we can pretty easily forget the impact of picking up the phone, pressing 11 buttons and talking to somebody. Remember what’s now. And do it well.

Content is still king

Well, at least real-time, mobile-optimized, interactive, compelling, sharable content is king. Everything else is spam. The underlying theme behind every panel I sat in on was that creating content is the single most important aspect to telling your story.

We think of ourselves as integrated communicators and not just “public relations” professionals. The differences between the two are huge. I had an opportunity to sit in on a panel conducted by Jay Rosen, journalism professor at NYU, Evan Hansen, the editor in chief of and Gregory Ferenstein, a freelance writer who has been featured on Mashable, CNN and other top-tier sites.

Evan strongly advocated for the bloggers in the room to be seeking data that is not generally found by the public. He shared the story of how Wired broke the story of the arrest of the Army insider that had provided WikiLeaks with classified materials.

As Evan said, “so much of what passes for news is press releases and marketing that’s packaged as news. The other layer of reporting defines what journalists are about. Find the non-public information and get it out there.” As communications pros, we can help this process. When we think about our digital content, let’s approach it as a journalist. Think of the questions the readers want answered and approach a press release, blog post or video from that perspective.

We have the ability to create media that can help shift perceptions much faster than a blogger can. Jay Rosen called this networked journalism. By being able to create a network of consumers that are as obsessive about your topic as possible, you quickly become the authority in that space.

For us to do this, Rosen says we need to start by becoming a “kick-ass aggregator” of “information that would be of interested to the obsessed that you are targeting as your audience.” This is an important strategy to consider for our clients. Whether is CRM products, mobile devices or Internet security, we are the experts in those verticals.

We create content daily that aggregates what other influentials are sharing and we create content that helps to tell our clients’ stories. Why shouldn’t that be pushed to the audience we want to create?

The future is in the palm of your hand

OK, maybe the future is in your pocket. Or, more likely, charging next to you. Of course I’m talking about your mobile phone.

On the final day of the conference, I was joined on stage by two of my newest friends, Dave Fleet from Edelman Toronto and Kenny Hyder from to discuss how to optimize your content strategy for the mobile web. We talked about how vital mobile is to telling your story.

I’ve embedded our presentation, which gives some really amazing statistics about mobile usage in the US and the rest of the world for you to enjoy. One of the things I want to take a moment to talk about here is the impact including mobile into your communications plan can have. Creating an experience optimized for your mobile users can be as simple as using different CSS settings to detect a user’s browser. But by giving those users the ability to experience your content in a setting that is comfortable to them makes them more likely to appreciate that experience.

We had a lively Q&A after we each said our piece and had some great interaction about why a mobile strategy is so important. We even had some folks tweeting at us from the event:

“SMS: Simple Messaging Solutions at #blogworld in Shell Seekers A/B – Was awesome! Thx @geekgiant @davefleet @kennyhyder #bwe10” ~@tweetfind

“Very nice Mobile presentation with @geekgiant @kennyhyder & @davefleet – people missed out on this one. #bwe10” ~@mikemcdowell

“Good info on mobile content and optimization from @geekgiant @kennyhyder @davefleet #bwe10” ~@marina81

“Great Mobile Web presentation from @geekgiant @kennyhyder @davefleet #bwe10” ~@Joe_Ellipse

I really enjoyed getting to work with two brilliantly smart people like Dave and Kenny as well. The picture above is from Ken Yeung, one of the best event photogs out there. Check out his work here.

Other shenanigans

Note: This is also known as the name drop section.

Now, it wouldn’t be a conference in Vegas without a party or two, right? Well, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…

OK, actually there were a few experiences that stood out to me. As is wont to happen while in Vegas, you end up in a ridiculously large limo with a ridiculously fun group of people. This happened to me when I was invited to a party that social media influence measurement tool Klout threw at the Palms. I got to meet folks like @pugofwar, reconnect with @darinrmcclure and take photos of @missdestructo.

I also got invited to a suite at the Luxor. There I connected with the team behind @LuxorLV, discussed citizen journalism with @delwilliams and chatted microformats with @t. My advice for a conference is always the same. Find a small group to hang out with. Make it a different group each evening though.

BlogWorld is on my must-attend list. I hope they’ll have me back next year and I’d love for some of you to join me.

Please note: This is a personal blog post and not terribly related to public relations. If that’s cool, read on. If not, here’s a bunny with a pancake on its head.

I’m fat. Not in the “self deprecating, say I need to lose 10 lbs even though I really don’t” kind of way. But in the “buy clothes from special stores and websites” kind of way. I have moments where I am suddenly and harshly reminded of my size, like the time I broke a chair in front of some of the world’s most influential consumer taste makers. Or when I couldn’t sit on the chaise lounge at the pool next to my wife.

But while flying back from Las Vegas and BlogWorld 2010, I was reminded of my size in a way I knew would eventually happen, but wasn’t really prepared for. As the plane was still at the gate due to a weather delay, the gate agent appeared next to me. She initiated our interaction by thrusting a pamphlet in my hand.

“Here, I first have to give you this.”

I look down and it is a pamphlet explaining how to buy two seats. The gate agent then says that one of the flight attendants has felt I am too large for the standard coach seat (which I totally am, but that’s not the point of this) and am in violation of the airline’s fat person policy. I ask what the standard is for this determination. “Well, the seats are 17 inches in coach and 22 inches in first class,” she tells me.

That wasn’t my question. What standard was used to determine that I was too big? Simple answer: There isn’t one. Alaska Airlines’ policy is subjective and selectively enforced. Two factors that render any policy completely useless and unfair in my opinion. In order for a policy to be useful, it needs to be objective, measurable and standardized.

The subjective interpretation of comfort is based on an anonymous flight attendant’s theory. And that’s just wrong.

I’m not debating whether or not I am fat. But I am upset by the selective enforcement of this “policy.” I made it clear that there were several other people on the flight that clearly didn’t fit into the 17 luxurious inches coach offers. There was even somebody who clearly didn’t fit in the 22 amazing inches first class offers.

The gate agent then says I can “offer cash to one of the people in first class” in order to switch seats. No. That’s not fair to either of us. How does this conversation go? “Hi, I’m Eric, I’m too fat to fly coach, can I give you $20 to sit in the back with the rest of the unwashed masses?” Nope.

Now, my wife was on the flight as well, along with our infant daughter in first class. I could have simply asked her to switch me and taken care of Kylah myself. But she needed to eat and breast feeding isn’t really conducive to coach. Neither is a diaper change, so I opted to not make her part of this.

Of course I protest. I was pissed about being singled out. I was pissed about the lack of tact displayed by the flight attendants who resorted to anonymously tattling on my fat ass. I am pissed about the lack of class Alaska Airlines shows with its policy. I ask if the person next to me has been consulted in the matter. Of course she hadn’t.

And I had no problem asking her. In fact, my standard airplane boarding practice goes like this: awkward looks from people as I pass their rows. Apologies to whomever is in front of me as they can’t put their seat back, apologies to the person unfortunate enough to be seated next to me and then I humbly ask the nearest attendant for a seat belt extender.

So, my options were now: Pay somebody in first class to switch, get kicked off the plane or force my wife and infant daughter back into coach. Which would you choose? On my way up to discuss the situation with my wife, I pointed out several other people who should also have been forced to buy an additional seat. I was assured that they would be spoken to and presented the same information. Of course this didn’t happen.

After some discussions, the gate agent finally asked my neighbor if she had any problem with her next to me. Luckily she didn’t care and I was free to take my seat and wait out the weather delay. Of course I was embarrassed, agitated and missing my wife who was 27 rows in front of me.

Again, I’m not trying to deny my size. I get it. I don’t fit normal places. Try going to dinner with me and watch me apologize for my knees bumping the table. But what I do have a problem with is the unfair enforcement of an arbitrary rule. If standards exist or something can be uniformly enforced, then I agree with it. Have everyone pass through a 17-inch-wide opening before they get on the plane for all I care. Just be consistent.

So, Alaska Airlines, what do you say? I don’t want you to fix it for me. I want you to fix it for everyone.

I’ve been thinking a bit about my career, what I want to accomplish and what sort of trajectory I have launched myself on. A few things, we’ll call them goals, keep bubbling in my head of what I want. What I hope to accomplish. Set long-term public relations goals.

I’ve already accomplished a lot. Placements in major tech blogs, video interviews with major outlets, numerous speaking placements and other opportunities. But in my head, I know there’s more. More opportunities to grow my skills and to benefit whichever client I am working with.

We talk a lot in PR about goals, metrics and other tangible benefits. But these are usually immediate or short term at best. How many hits will this pitch get? How many people will click this link? How many new followers did we get? I think it’s equally important to consider long-term personal and professional goals.

So, I thought I’d put some of mine out there. The only order they’re in is top of mind:

  • Cover story on: Newsweek, New York Times, Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Time and Wired
  • Asked to contribute to a book on digital media.
  • Running an account team and guiding it to helping the client realize a bump in revenue and exceeding all other metrics
  • Similar to above, lead a campaign that doubles the metrics set in the plan’s goal
  • Keynote a conference
  • Master the art of metrics
  • Lead a new business pitch for a global 100 account
  • Win a peer-nominated and peer-voted award

Some of those might be a bit of a stretch, others are pretty achievable. I’d love to hear more about your goals. Do you differentiate between short and long-term goals?