Leah’s Weekly Round-Up // December 27, 2012

Happy Holidays! I hope you enjoyed a lovely time with family, friends and loved ones.

Get your bookmark tab ready for the following links, they’re good ones.


One of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Von Bargen from yesandyes.org has a business blog, and her link round up is stellar. The next link comes from her most recent post.

Social media marketing explained in 61 words. David Meerman Scott is one of my favorite business people. His website is a gold mine of information for marketers.

Want to know what your first tweet was? Now you can download all of your tweets. If you’re one of the chosen few, you can get started. I will surely be downloading all of my (almost 50,000) tweets.

Ready to make the next big career move, but need to quit your current job? Here is a good guide on how to do that.

4 Steps to Effective Leadership – Would you believe that being a good delegator is on this list? It is, and rightfully so! Delegating tasks to is most definitely a sign of an effective leader.

Interesting opinions on Twitter works and how Amber Naslund is using it. I do believe in using lists on Twitter, but I don’t agree with her point about the only reason you should follow someone is to give them access to private message you. Thoughts?

Any professional should know these – 25 things young professionals must know before 25.

There you have it! Our second edition of the Weekly Round-Up! Anything I should be keeping my eyes open for to share? 

Introducing: Leah’s Weekly Round-Up

I read a lot of blogs and find a lot of interesting things on the internet. Starting today, I will dedicate a post each week to the interesting and helpful things I find.

The theme will be similar to that of my blog: marketing, communications, PR and social media. I’ll also include links to job boards, if you are on the hunt for your next great move.


Arik Hanson shares 13 REAL Chrome extensions community managers will find useful. I file this under “save for future reference”. Very interesting and great information, especially to those managing a brand’s social identities.

MIMA is hosting an event on January 16, 2013 called “Iteractive innovation in highly regulated industries”. I’ll be attending this, and it will definitely be an opportunity to network and learn.

Lisa Grimm‘s blog is one of the first I followed, and this post hit home. Last Friday, after the horrible scenes in Newtown, CT, the first thing I hated seeing was brands posting about their sales and products. Lisa says it perfectly in her post, How Brands Should Behave on Social Media During a Tragedy. 

From Yahoo! Finance – The 10 Skills That Will Get You Hired In 2013. With the importance of networking, I was surprised not to see that topic covered.

AdFed’s job board is always a great place to look for jobs and internships in the marketing/advertising/creative field.

There you have it! The first edition of Leah’s Weekly Round-Up. Are they any great marketing/PR/social media blogs you love and find useful that I should know about? Share in the comments! 

Communications and Law Enforcement

I’ve been meaning to write a post for a long time about my experiences as an intern with a local law enforcement agency. I could write about how I obtained this internship, how I am the first intern in the public information office at this agency, and what I’ve learned in my six weeks there so far. But the most important part in all of it is how my views have been shaped, and how the passion in me has been ignited.

I wrote a blog post in 2011 about my dream job.  The thing about me is that I am pretty indecisive, especially when it comes to a career and what I want to do for the rest of my life. But for some reason, all of the stars are aligning and I found a passion. I want to share some observations about communications and law enforcement.

Please keep in mind that these are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the law enforcement agency I am interning for. 

Here’s the thing about law enforcement and communications: in general, agencies are behind the times.

Think about it.

Our general society spends how much of their time with their smart phone or on the internet? How do most Americans get their news? If you watch the news on TV, what are the most typical stories about?

The short answer is this: our society has become increasingly dependent on instant gratification and consistent updates about what is going on in the world.

But what if the law enforcement agency becomes their own source of information?

In today’s world, I can find out about a critical incident that has occurred through Facebook, because someone that listens to the police scanner is sharing what they’re hearing. From a marketing standpoint, this is how a police department is a brand. You have an image, and how your image is portrayed, well, that’s your brand.

As part of my internship, I did a ride along with an officer last week. It was an epiphany for me, mostly because it reminded me that it isn’t always butterflies and unicorns but rather police officers deal with things on a daily basis that most of us cannot fathom. My ride along was what the officer called “pretty intense”. Long story short, it involved a chase searching for the suspect. By the time I got home at 10pm from my ride along, I already had someone ask me if I heard about the incident. Sure enough, I open Facebook to see this:

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In a matter of 15 minutes, these people listening to the scanner are relaying the information they’re hearing. Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with this. What I am saying is, what if the police department owns this information? What if the police department had a way to officially share the information?

Seattle Police Department is doing just that. They recently instituted something called Tweets by Beat.

They are setting the precedence for law enforcement agencies across the country. How?

By sharing information. By being transparent with their community. By connecting with their community.

Connecting with your community

Police departments, in general, are moving towards community policing. This means they are one with the community. They support partnerships with community members and business owners. Instead of being looked at like the “bad guys”, they are there to help you. They are walking the streets of your community, building relationships and in turn, working to reduce crime. They’re being proactive, instead of reactive.

Something as simple as publishing a weekly police blotter, that provides a review of police calls that were responded to, if a citizen chooses sign up for it. Providing a real-time map of crimes in your neighborhood. Encouraging citizens to utilize an anonymous service to share concerns about things you see happening in your neighborhood. Creating an app that allows citizens to share information with you, so you can better serve them.

The bottom line is this: communication is important.

And on top of that, it is a two-way street. If you want the community to communicate with you, you need to communicate with them. As a law enforcement agency, your duty is to protect and serve.

As I complete my internship with this well-respected law enforcement agency and move towards focusing on a career in law enforcement communications, I realize how important it is for agencies to own their message and be authentic.

I have found a passion in observing, studying and talking about this small, but very important, piece of this field. As I continue on my career path, I hope to turn this passion into something that can help law enforcement agencies understand how important it is to communicate.

The beauty of the city


I pride myself on being a St. Paul girl, but sometimes I do find myself on the other side of the river in Minneapolis.

Last night I went for a lovely and long walk in Minneapolis. We went from the Stone Arch Bridge, along the river, over the Hennepin Avenue bridge before stopping in Northeast Minneapolis for a late dinner. It was a beautiful evening and I know I had to cancel my plans of laundry to enjoy it, and I’m so glad I did.

Social Media Crisis Simulation

Another reason I love the Twin Cities, besides their general beauty, is the plethora of professional associations we have. I’m a member and quite active with Ad Fed MN, but tomorrow I’m attending my first MIMA (Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association) event. It is called, “Secrets Revealed: Simulating a Social Media Crisis”. The FireBell Team from Weber Shandwick Minneapolis will be sharing their award-winning social media crisis simulation platform. Wait, social media crisis simulation platform?!?!  I am a self-proclaimed social media addict, and being able to use it in a professional capacity is my ultimate dream job. So it makes total sense that learning how to use it in a CRISIS situation will be beneficial. I’m looking forward to attending the event and learning. Look forward to a post on that shortly!

Crush It

I’m almost halfway through the book “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk. So far, I’m loving the book. After I picked up the book I came across this TED Talk from Gary and immediately dove into the book. I’ve been inspired a few times and am ready to hit the ground running to CRUSH IT, the Leah Zins way.


I’ve taken on a leadership role in my Toastmasters club, Securian Toastmasters #560! I’m very excited to be the VP of Membership and Public Relations. The two roles go hand-in-hand so when there wasn’t any interest from other club members I jumped at the chance to combine the roles. A couple of the things I’ll be doing:

  • Putting together the quarterly newsletter
  • Promoting the club within the organization I work for
  • Meeting with interested people and sharing the benefits of the club
  • Setting new members up with mentors

I’ve experienced a ton of personal and professional growth since joining Toastmasters in July 2011, and the opportunity to share that with potential members will be so much fun!

Whether it happens in St. Paul or Minneapolis, I’m grateful to live in a metro area with so many different clubs and organizations that thrive on their members involvement and provide so many opportunities to learn and grow.

Twitter Tip Tuesday: Using Twitter for Events

Today’s Twitter Tip is about using Twitter for events.

Twitter can be a very useful social media tool when promoting and executing events. It is also beneficial post-event.

1.  Dedicate a blog post to the event:  Just do a short write up! Make sure your audience knows what to expect and look forward to at your event. This is also a place to link to the event listing with specific information such as date, time and directions to the venue.

Ad Fed does a great job of having a blog post to create some buzz about their events.

2. Use an event-specific hashtag: Example: #CheesecakeSampling is the official hashtag for the Muddy Paws Cheesecake Sampling Party! We’ll use this hashtag to have a live tweet wall showing what others are saying. People that aren’t attending can follow along. Post-event, you can put together a recap of all the hashtags in a document. You can make this available to your attendees and others that may be interested.

3. Engage and interact with your audience: Be available to answer questions. If you can’t do this, delegate to someone you trust with the image of your event to do this. Make sure this person knows what they’re doing.

These are simple steps that will lead to quality execution of your next event!

Do you have any tips or hints to add about using Twitter for events?

End of Term Thoughts

As I close the semester and finish up my Promotional Communications class, I can reflect on what I’ve learned over the past term. I am no longer required to write a blog post about things going on anymore! I have Thursday nights back to myself and can now catch up on the whole season thus far of Grey’s Anatomy! Score one for Leah’s free time. But, I digress.

Anyway, one of the main take aways from the class is that if you can create a wave in the social media world, you can do anything. You can use social media for creating awareness for a cause, marketing your business and many other things. Online publications and media branding is a key essential to a successful business or brand.

Last night was the award ceremony for the Twin Cities Top Ten Titans In Social Media 2010. From this blog post, you can see why someone would be nominated.

“The people who make the list will have made an impact on society through using social media in the past year. People on the list may be independent, work for large companies, work in media, public relations, politics, the arts, or some other type of work. One thing that that will determine the winners is that they will be people who are finding new ways to use social media and pushing the limits of the platforms they are using.” Continue reading

What happens when things on the web go viral?

In my promotion communications class we’ve discussed when “things go viral” – meaning, take the internet and media by storm.

A few examples of things/people/posts that have taken off in the past couple of years:

1. Justin Bieber: He started off as a Canadian kid whose mother posted his videos on YouTube for out of town family members to see. Somehow he was discovered by Usher and is now the tween heart-throb for this generation.

This video is my personal favorite pre-famous Biebs.

As of today this video has 23 million hits. He also has over 6 million followers on Twitter.

2. In July of 2009, Jill & Kevin got married in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The entire wedding party danced down the aisle to Chris Brown’s “Forever”. The video took off and they were featured nationally. Here is their video:

While researching this post, I discovered that Jill & Kevin turned their viral wedding dance video into a way to raise money for a good cause, The Sheila Wellstone Institute. In 2009 Chris Brown (the artist of the song they’re dancing to) physically abused his girlfriend at the time, R&B Pop star Rihanna. As of 9/29/10, Jill & Kevin’s viral video has raised $34,900 in donations for the Sheila Wellstone Institute. Way to go, Jill & Kevin!

3. On November 2, 2010 Nerdy Apple Bottom wrote a post on her blog titled “My Son Is Gay”. Her 5-year-old son, “Boo”, wanted to dress up like Daphne, a popular female character from Scooby Doo. Other mothers at Boo’s school were clearly offended and stated that the mother never should have “allowed” her son to dress up as a female character.  The bottom line is bullying. It seems that lately teen and child suicide has been on the rise, specifically in regards to bullying. So this mom took to her blog to defend her son. She says in her post:  

“Just as it was heartbreaking to those parents that have lost their children recently due to bullying. IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’  Those women were trying to bully me. And my son. MY son.” {found here}

I tweeted Nerdy Apple Bottom this afternoon and she responded that as of today she’s had 3,086,673 views. That post has over 45,000 comments. It’s been just over a month since it’s been posted. From a basic Google search I can see that she was featured many places, including: a Forbes.com blog as an example of a “bad mommy blogger”; Good Morning America; In the U.K. on Mail Online;  The Today Show; The View and many others, including tons of other blogs. BlogHer author Melissa Ford interviewed her regarding how her post went viral and her reactions {here}. She states she had about a dozen readers, put the post together in 10 minutes and published.

I came across the post early in the morning on November 4th. I remember because we were coincidentally talking about viral media/marketing in class that night and I brought this post up. I saw it on WordPress’ main page that morning then it was tweeted and re-tweeted by many people I follow!

4. This video “I Hope This Gets To You” was created by Walter May to create something different to express his feelings for his girlfriend that had just moved away for graduate school. This was posted on 11/28/10 and has had 534,160 hits as of this moment.  Walter says:

“I secretly created a song and video with my friends the Daylights in hopes that it would be passed around and get to her organically. WITH YOUR HELP, we can meet this goal and it can stand as a symbol of what we can do as a digital social community.”

Check it out… (it is cute)

I saw this because of retweets on Twitter with the title “This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen”. Naturally, I was intrigued. This guy knows what he’s doing – using the digital social media community to create a viral video.

So the question remains: how does something go viral?

In my opinion, based on what we’ve discussed in class, what I’ve learned in other classes and what I see in my own life, I think there are a few things that contribute to something “going viral”.

A basic Google search {I already explained that Google is my daily go-to for searches!} of “How does something go viral” brings up TONS of blogs and articles. Someone could spend a lot of time researching this topic. Our book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott, is just one example of more research that has been in regards to social media and interactive marketing and PR.

I think that there are a few components to something going viral. I think it either needs have a platform or a controversy behind it. I doubt that my blog about Coke Zero & Diet Coke will go viral. But, based on the above examples I can conclude the following:

  • Justin Bieber went viral and is now the tween IT man because he fit the marketing niche. At the time, there really wasn’t a teeny bopper boy. Someone came across him and thought he’d fit the mold  – he’ll bring in the money. And I’m sure he has. There’s going to be a 3D Justin Bieber MOVIE coming out…
  • Jill & Kevin’s wedding entrance dance. Jill & Kevin posted it on their YouTube page and from there, well, we see where it went. I think it went viral because it is great! It is funny, creative and not something you see every day. It today’s world of bad news, it’s nice to see something funny and happy. I am happy that they’re from St. Paul. They have been parodied, too! You know you’ve made it big when someone is making fun of you.
  • Nerdy Apple Bottom’s post created some controversy, especially in the mommy blog world. Although, she does say 98% of the comments were positive, there were still people who criticized her for “putting her son out there”. She took a risk and she stood strong her beliefs. She’s a great parent and her children and family are lucky! She gave the interwebs something to talk about.
  • Walter’s video that he created for his girlfriend: I will be curious to see if he has created enough hype for it to get to her. And if so, I will be curious to see how she felt. I would be flatter and probably cry, but then again I’m kind of a sap for things like that. I’ll definitely be following him on Twitter for an update and will update this post when I find out. I think it will go viral, and it will get to her because, in less than a week it’s got half a million hits. It’s the law of the six degrees of seperation. Someone has to know her and email it to her or post it on her Facebook or Twitter.

In today’s world of instant news, constant updates and interconnected lives there are so many things that are posted on the internet that can become a hit – good or bad. The one thing I can conclude is that, with the exception of Walter’s video, the others did not INTEND for their posts to go viral. They simply were venting on a blog, posting music for out of town family or just being goofy.

What does this mean for the marketing world? Does this mean that if you want to spread the news about your product that you need to create something to cause a stir? Or do you do your normal thing and hope it takes the world by storm? Interesting questions that I will definitely keep pondering.

Social Media: How Do You Use It?

I am a big fan of social media. I get my news from a post that is under 140 characters. Obviously, I see a story I’m interested in, click the link and am brought to the news website.

I use Twitter, in fact I have two Twitter accounts – one for my personal life and one for my professional life. I don’t want the two to be connected because what I tweet about in my personal life (cute guys on the bus, bad dates, plans with friends) and my professional life (new ideas for marketing, new ad campaigns) are two separate things.

I find out about many things via social media, not only the news. I keep up to date with what my friends and colleagues think is beneficial for me to know.

One of my favorite Twitter components is HootSuite. HootSuite is a social media dashboard and you can add many different social networks, keep track of them, schedule tweets and blog posts, among many other things.

I have LinkedIn for my professional networking efforts.

I also use Facebook and Foursquare for my personal life.

I think social media is great and will only continue to become more prevalent in our lives.

ROI of Business-to-Business Social Media

The past couple of weeks in class we’ve talked about social media and the question has actually been asked, what is the return on social media marketing initiatives? Since social media is a more recent  revelation it could be difficult to measure the success or failure of its efforts.  Our class discussions have focused on business-to-consumer social media efforts but I thought the business-to-business social media aspect is interesting.

I came across this article regarding this exact topic and thought I would share it:


Coke Zero and Diet Coke

We have spent some time in class discussing Coke Zero and how the product is essentially the same thing as Diet Coke – zero calorie cola. The difference is the marketing plan (and the sweetener that is used). Do they taste different? To be honest, I have never had Coke Zero. I’m a Diet Coke girl and if Coke Zero tastes just like regular Coke count me out because I don’t really like regular Coke.

One of my co-workers is an avid Coke Zero drinker. When I decided I would write about Coke Zero’s marketing versus Diet Coke’s marketing, I asked her out of purely out of curiousity why she doesn’t drink Diet Coke. She said that she doesn’t like the taste. She loves regular Coke but doesn’t want the calories. When Coke Zero was created 5 years ago she started drinking that. I then informed her about the differences between the two and how their marketing differs. She said she had never even thought of that or paid attention to the ads for Coke Zero. She said after thinking about it, it does make sense. But for her she makes her decisions strictly on taste, not on calories or advertising.

Let’s take a look at a 2010 Coke Zero ad:

And now a Diet Coke ad from 2009:

While researching ads for this blog post I came across www.dietcoke.com and Diet Coke’s YouTube Channel. On there I found this ad, apparently it’s a new ad for 2010….

The difference between their 2009 ad and 2010 ad is apparent: they’re trying to shy away from Diet Coke being just a “woman’s” drink and incorporate gender equality into their campaign. I actually really like the last ad. I think it does present Diet Coke as a drink that is “OK” for anyone to drink. But at the end of the day, if you like Diet Coke you should drink it because you like it, not because it is tagged as a woman’s drink because it has “diet” in the name.

I came across this article from Antony Young and AdAge. The article compares, contrasts and rates Coke Zero and Pepsi Max’s media strageties. This plays in with what have been talking about in class and for our IMC plans for our brand or company. [FYI: Pepsi Max is their zero calorie verison of Pepsi]

In the case of Coke Zero and Pepsi Max, these beverage giants are chasing a burgeoning market of men who apparently aren’t man enough to own up to drinking a soda marked “diet.” -Antony Young

According to the article, Coke Zero adapted a brand media strategy based on four key pillars: sports, social media, schools and Spanish language. They do a lot of advertising in college basketball, football and Nascar. Coke in general has an entire online social media principles on their website available for anyone to see.

The bottom line is the Coke Zero and Diet Coke are two products that are quite similar but marketed to different markets. Coca-Cola uses different marketing strategies for each brand. Although it’s a new brand, Coke Zero has proven to be successful. According to their website it was one of their most successful product launches in their history. On the other hand, Diet Coke is the number 3 soft drink in the world.