You too, Little Fish, can be in a Belmont el stop ad, & other stuff learned at Media Day

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending The Chicago Innovations Awards’ Media Day, which was a wonderful experience even though I almost killed myself multiple times and sadly couldn’t ride my Dutch bike home.

The Chicago Innovations Awards [CIAs] shines a bright light on the creative spirit of Chicago. We focus attention on the most significant new products and services, regardless of sector or industry, introduced in the region.  A bunch of local folk doing awesome things are nominated, i.e. the CTA bus tracker and Groupon, and a group of judges selects ten winners.

Media Day resulted from the CIA asking last year’s nominees “What are your three biggest challenges today?”  They expected the answer to be money; it was awareness.

Not only did the CIAs listen to their constituents but they offered up a solution that was:

a) free of charge (and thus accessible to all; as a little fish with not a lot of cash to spend, I really appreciated this!)

b) well-organized (welcome table, name tags, printed program, breakfast/snacks/lunch, appropriate AV accoutrements/set-ups, signs, schedule that was adhered to)

c) fun (held at the not-yet-opened Museum of Broadcast Communications, a very cool space!  And they were very open to folk poking about.  I rode down in the elevator with the President, who gave me his card and seemed very interested in engaging with the community.)

d) informative

e) diverse both in formats and in speakers

Media Day was billed as a way to educate Chicago ’s top innovators about how to gain visibility in the marketplace, and will feature panel discussions, talks, and interactive seminars with media experts who represent a cross-section of today’s ever-changing media landscape.

And it did just that.

Here are some of my take-aways –



Dan Miller, Co-Founder, Chicago Innovation Awards, former Business Editor, Chicago Sun-Times

  • nothing is more annoying than getting a story pitch that’s not appropriate for your medium/outfit
  • nothing is going to happen if you keep your ideas in your computer/in your desk drawer >> make the ask!!!
  • marketing/advertising can be affordable


Editorial Panel

Michael Arndt, Managing Editor, Crain’s Chicago Business

  • prefers email for initial communication
  • subject line should says entrepreneur/something new
  • tell your personal story
  • don’t just say that you’re celebrating two years; have it be human interest, overcoming obstacles, something that’s different/unique
  • writing from aol or hotmail, it’ll likely end up in junk/spam’; get gmail
  • insists that its content be first; if Trib/another media outfit runs it first, Crains won’t run it
  • Trib and SunTimes aimed at business consumers, Crain’s aimed at businesses
  • better to go to Crain’s if want VCs, investors, etc.
  • exploit us; it’s a two-way exploitation.  Media want your stories, you want their reach.
  • startups don’t have a home in Crains print, as it usually focuses on bigger companies; startups should pitch to Ann Dwyer who focuses on entrepreneurs

Eric Benderoff, Tech PR Firm, used to be Chicago Tribune Technology Reporter

  • you are your own media company and that’s never been around in history
  • it’s your ability to be creative that’ll get you noticed
  • be consistent with social media message and with what’s going on in your industry
  • if you’re starting a company, you need to start a blog
      • hire someone to write you blog (at least $400-$600 a post, or negotiate a monthly/yearly fee since writers like to budget/know what they’ll be making)
      • do at least 1 blog post a week, 3 is ideal
  • must have Facebook/Twitter presence
  • email headline/subject: be direct, to the point, keyword rich
  • PR Newswire is good to post on if you want to be high in GoogleSearch

Sandra Guy, Business Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times

  • paint a picture, tell a human story; “just show me the human face” (Dan Hewitt)
  • tell story as someone no one knows about and as someone who is local/part of community
  • wants to talk to my customers to find out what do I do for my clients; line up a few of them
  • helps if you agree to have photo/video taken, as an image is a reader-hook
  • professional associations are great to hook up with because you can network while you’re learning, i.e. Association for Women Journalists
  • what catches her eye on a website is creativity and level of expertise
  • traditional media picked up by so many aggregators so still worth it to get in a paper though some say it’s dying
  • play up in a press release/email: that you’re local, your expertise, your creativity
  • have your friends tell your story


Marketing and Advertising Panel

Cher Ames, Director of Marketing/Promotions, WBBM 780

  • radio is always effective as it always has been
  • have to be consistent, takes time to build a brand
  • radio is intimate/engaging
  • chances are when you’re listening to radio, that’s all you’re doing
  • demographics of listeners: males 35-55
  • they can do all the production in-house

Greg Green, Director of Agency Strategy, Google

  • 97% of people research online before they buy something
  • search ads should be complementary to other mediums
  • just focusing on demographics (age, gender, etc.) isn’t enough, it’s interests and timing too

Joe White, Chicago Sales Manager, Titan

  • handles advertising on CTA
      • digital screens at CTA allows for immediate messages
      •  a couple of hundred dollars a month can get you an ad at the Belmont Station


Social Media Strategies

David Armano, Executive VP of Global Innovation & Integration, Edelman

  • 2006 started blogging and in a year and a half, was in Business Week as best of 2007
      • immersed himself in the space and participated
  • rule for presentations > always insert a slide last minute to keep presentation relevant
  • Dell is doing some of most advanced things in social media, has a social business intelligence plan in place
  • in a connected world, participation trumps broadcasting
  • “For brands today in this fragmented world, getting us, as multifaceted people, to take action and engage is one of the biggest challenges marketers face” Christina Smedley, Edelman Global Chair Consumer Marketing
  • Best Buy does a great job with their Twelp Force (twelp as in help on Twitter)
  • for the first time, this year’s trust barometer shows trust and transparency are as important to corporate reputation as the quality of products and services (2010 Edelman Trust Barometer)
  • community management = the act of engaging members of a specific group in a participatory fashion
      • “Community is at the core of social media. It’s about sharing ideas, connecting people and creating together.” Suzanne Marlatt, Community Manager for
      •  the five c’s of community:
        1. Content – can’t start a community without bringing something valuable to the table
        2. Context – way you talk to members, being knowledgeable about how they want to engage with you
        3. Connectivity – matchmaking folk who can help each other
        4. Continuity – have to grow/sustain it, keep them vibrant and healthy, seed it – feed it – weed it
        5. Collaboration – great indicator if a community is doing well; are they working together to benefit each other and you?
      • businesses that have lean budgets often use community managers
      • community manager traits: most are already working in those roles,  represent an organizaiton but have own personality, understand how to produce content
  • social media challenges
      • unclear objectives
      • measurement and ROI
      • underperforming social initiatives
      • misaligned skills and competencies
      • lack of coordination and integration
      • closed business culture (example of Apple embracing people making their own apps for iphone instead of fighting it)
  • if you comment on a business page, company will take notice
  • social media empowers the individual
  • customers make your company better
      • example: Starbucks green stick in coffee cup lid that makes it spill proof for when you drive/walk; that was a customer suggestion that got tons of support
  • Stages of Social Business

1. Crawl: monitor, listen, establish infrastructure

2. Walk: leverage platforms, produce contests, participate

3. Run: Engage, respond, leverage employees

4. Fly: Scale, systemizing and integrating into all biz functions

  • twitter and blogs make up 65% of all conversations; majority are positive or neutral in tone, with only 11% negative
  • what to measure: attention, engagement, authority, influence, sentiment


Crafting a Message

Tom Thomson, Content Specialist, Disney Institute

I wasn’t able to stay for this session, but stemming from the energy pouring out from the Disney employees setting up what looked to be a hands-on, group activity, it looked to be an engaging experience.

I also missed the tour of the museum, which looks like it’ll be an amazing space upon completion.  They rent out the raw space for events, in case you have something that’d fit with the cement-ducts-wires-unfinished scenario.

A big thanks to all the speakers, sponsors, and coordinators.  In a culture where little is free or without hidden agenda, it was refreshing to attend a well-put on event whose participants simply seemed to want to be of service and share their knowledge.  That’s nice.