Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Interview With Julie Cottineau of BrandTwist (Part 1)

Julie Cottineau is the founder of BrandTwist. Before starting her own company, she was vice president of Brand Virgin USA, overseeing branding strategy for new Virgin companies in North America, as well as providing strategic brand support for the established Virgin businesses. She also lectures at Columbia University.

She’s also speaking at BizBash New York IdeaFest and I had the amazing opportunity to talk with her about entrepreneurship, branding, and how she’s learned to stand out from the crowd.

KiKi: Your talk at IdeaFest is, “Making the Brand Permeate the Event: Lessons from Great Brands” – Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Julie: Actually, it's going to be part talk and A LOT of interaction. I'm speaking at lunchtime and it's going to have an activity so everyone can get involved. I'm going to talk first about what really makes a great brand and to me part of what makes a great brand is a brand that tells a great story. And great brands, like when I used to work at Virgin, you see them telling their story at every single touchpoint. Not just with the advertising, but they tell it in the way the product is designed, the way the people that work there act, little touches - like all through the airplane, for example - little unexpected things. So I'm going to talk about those lessons and then ask the crowd to play along with me and innovate on their own brand and on their own events.

At this point in the interview I noticed that Julie's background, her wall color, matched with the color in her logo and tied in with her scarf. I mentioned this to Julie and she beamed. I'd stumbled on to her living her words...the color was part of her brand. Part of what makes her brand different from that of other consultants. Julie's personality matches this vivid color. Julie explained to me that "BrandTwist is all about passion."

KiKi: Events like IdeaFest can be amazing opportunities for networking and forging new strategic relationships. Are there any associations or online groups that have helped you or that you encourage entrepreneurs to join?

Julie: I find that a lot of the networking that I do is still pretty organic and person-to-person. I'm constantly meeting people, entrepreneurs, and saying, "Oh, I just talked to someone who had that exact same issue, maybe you should talk to them." That's great because it's a personal touch, but it can be really inefficient, especially when you're meeting hundreds of people. I'm actually right now launching something called BrandSchool and BrandSchool is an online course for entrepreneurs. It's an eight-week program that takes you through everything from who you should target, what you should promise, how you can use your personal brand like we just talked about, how you should support your professional brand, how you should use social media, and one of the things that I built into BrandSchool is a community page. When you sign up for the BrandSchool class, you'll learn from me, but I think more importantly you'll learn from other students in BrandSchool. You'll be able to talk with them, comment on each other's homework, talk about each other's brand ideas and my hope is that it will become a strong community.

Watch out for Part 2 of my interview with Julie Cottineau!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Social Media and Disaster: Hospitals On Facebook

It was the scariest day of my life. I was settled in on the couch with my husband and daughter enjoying our Sunday evening when my phone rang.

Giving it a quick look, I saw it was my cousin Sarah calling from Texas. I'd never in all my 30+ years received a call from her. Something must be wrong.


"Hi, KiKi? It's your cousin need to turn on the Weather Channel right now. Joplin's just been hit by a tornado and it was a big one."

Joplin, Missouri is where most of my family and friends still live. It is where I was born and while I went to high school in Carthage, Joplin is where I spent most of my time. I tried to call my mom and got through - she was fine. I tried to call my dad and it went straight to voicemail.

I left a message and tried again. This time the call didn't go through.

Immediately I jumped on to Facebook to see what I could find out from my friends in the area. They were reporting if they had made it through the storm and trying to locate others. They were reporting on damage and area landmarks that were gone. They were reporting that phone calls weren't getting through, but that they were still able to access social media using their phones. Facebook became a gathering place - a communication hub - a way to share important information with a large number of other people who had no other way to communicate with one another.

As a social media consultant, there was a lot I learned about social media during the days following the tornado in Joplin. I stationed myself behind my computer and worked remotely to try to help people find food, shelter, and places to join up with volunteers when things were changing by the minute.

I used apps like Emergency Radio on my iPhone to tune into Joplin area law enforcement to find out about areas of looting and where volunteers were being told to congregate. I listened non-stop to local station KZRG via the internet so I could update people via Facebook and Twitter about where supply drops were happening and where hot food was being delivered at different times during the day; which shelters were full and where people could go for medical supplies.

This was extremely important because St. John's Regional Medical Center had been destroyed by the tornado, leaving Freeman Health System as the one large remaining hospital in Joplin (many patients were taken to other areas for care).

Joplin's Freeman Health System is extremely active with their Facebook page, engaging with the community on a regular basis, providing not only information about clinics and health programs, but also updates on staff changes since the tornado. They used their Facebook page to communicate in the immediate aftermath of the tornado and their CEO even has a Twitter handle for outreach using that channel.

Many hospitals have figured out how to meet their task of engaging the community using tools like Facebook to hold a steady, reliable presence online.

Arkansas Heart Hospital is another one that has done a tremendous job with their Facebook page, connecting with the residents of their community and posting healthy tips and articles alongside community events to keep people informed.

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital was listed as one of the Top 50 hospitals for Facebook engagement via UbiCare's research of over 1,000 hospitals. From UbiCare's results, we learn hospitals with the best engagement provide the following:

  • They post at least 4 times per week, and up to as often as 3 times a day
  • They post videos and pictures of people for visual interest
  • They interact by using quizzes and contests

What does this mean for hospitals and the communities of people surrounding them? Just like I immediately turned to my online communities for information when the phone wouldn't connect, so many others looking for information and help in time of crisis can get up-to-the-minute information about where to take the sick and hurt if the hospital is full using Facebook.

People turn to the hospital's Facebook page to find out where, when, and how to help. The hospital can inform their staff on how to report in when phone lines are down.

My next post in this series will talk about how hospitals can start building their community engagement.

Do you have good example of hospitals using social media to share? Post in the comments here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Foot In Front of The Other

I've lost six pounds.

After allowing the excuses to pile up (stress, knee injury, time, motherhood, travel), I joined Weight Watchers with a good friend of mine and started following the plan. Happily, I can report I've lost six pounds over the last two weeks.

Just like blog posts or any other kind of work we do, following the plan and putting one foot in front of the other is what leads to success. Do I look at pictures of clothes I want to wear or things I want to do when I achieve my goal? Yes. But for me, concentrating on that huge goal can seem overwhelming. I've learned that focusing on just doing the right things right now are the tiny steps that will help me to attain greater success.

Breakfast: 2 eggs and heirloom tomatoes

The movies lie. In them, all the hard work is condensed into a montage with inspirational music and fast results. We don't live in the movies.

Today, think about what it is you want to achieve and put one foot in front of the other to get closer to your goal. If the word "discipline" is too scary, just focus on making the next decision the right one.

Have a great week!