Why I Volunteer for the Women In Leadership Development (WILD) Summit Every Year

Every year since 2013 over 500 incredible women in business, or students aspiring to become women in business, sell out the Women In Leadership Development (WILD) Summit that inspired me to expect more for and from myself.

wild6

I attended my first summit in 2014, my senior year of college, right as I was entering the professional workforce as a young woman.

Since then, I have supported and joined countless gender equality and #WomenInBiz (or #WomemInTech) organizations, sought out female mentors and even hired young women whose potential I previously would have been ignorant to – and that’s the whole point.

The mission of The WILD Summit is to provide a professional forum for women who want to learn and share; inspire and be inspired.
  • To increase the visibility and accessibility of successful WILD women in the community to students, and each other.
  • To offer a venue for the presentation and sharing of relevant and provocative topics that are engaging to WILD women across university majors, industries and functional roles.
  • To engage a broad audience of WILD women who fit in every place along the continuum of age & experience – bringing together those who are seeking knowledge and those with a desire to share and give back.

I didn’t just attend the WILD Summit that first year, I worked for it as an unpaid PR/Social Media intern. My very first week I was tasked with creating, managing and fostering the summit’s social media strategies and accounts. My boss at the time was on The Women’s Council that put on the summit and our agency offered a small amount of public relations services pro bono to the event.

Before taking on this role, I knew very little about using social media for businesses. My experience/education was based firmly on traditional journalism and public relations. My professors barked at me to get off Twitter, Facebook or Instagram in class so they could continue droning on about print media and other endangered traditional media outlets.

I had little skill and even less supervision.

The first year I created a twitter handle, FaceBook page and event hashtag less than two months before the date of the conference. I created the bland, promotional microcontent detailing ticket information and sponsor gratification that I knew was expected of me and learned how in vain attempts like that will always be on social. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to step on any toes or send out anything that other’s perceived as “off brand” or “low caliber.” Not to mention by the time of the conference, I had only gained 45 followers on Twitter and the FaceBook page was lacking engagement.

But alas, the event sold out. The pressure was off and I continued along as I had been until the day of the event: My first “live tweeting” experience. 

The summit is nine hours long and packed with incredible keynotes from all walks of life and business. @WILD_Summit tweeted less than 15 times during the whole event…

See my blog post, “HOW TO LIVE TWEET AT AN INDUSTRY CONFERENCE – FIVE KEY CONSIDERATIONS” to better understand how little that is – especially at an event where every spoken sentence oozes with inspirational goodness.

So, crazy awesome live tweeting skills and the resulting increased brand awareness created by captive audiences sharing your narrative(s) online can create did not happen in 2014. What did grow was my motivation to do more – for myself, for this incredible organization, other women, you name it – I wanted to be better at everything and I was given the confidence to try by the event that day.

Immediately after the conference, I took complete ownership of the messages the WILD Summit tweets, posts on Facebook or otherwise shares with its online networks. Having attended the event once, I better knew what the brand’s voice was and how to encapsulate it with posts that people would find value or inspiration in – The same sort of posts that I would find value or inspiration from.

At WILD III in 2015, #WILDsummit was seen online by over 10,000 social media users. (2016, 22K.)

WILD messages, lessons and stories shared that day reached more than 20x’s as many people who were actually in attendance. All of a sudden I had the attention and admiration of dozens of incredible female business owners that worked tirelessly to put the event on.

Between 2015 and 2016’s event I became the youngest committee chair member and was asked to put on several presentations on social media basics and live event considerations.

The potential impact of social media done right inspired these women to create their own accounts, better hone their skills and start really engaging on these platforms, both personally and for their businesses. Just as they had orchestrated the event that inspired me, I had orchestrated the social media strategy that inspired them and thousands of others to better spread the mission of the event.

I no longer work for the PR agency that introduced me to WILD, and they no longer do any Pro Bono work for the summit. Instead, I am a welcomed member of the committee with my own individual merit (with designated assistants and everything)! I continue to direct the social media as a volunteer, a much better way to do unpaid work than internships if you ask me, and I continue to be inspired to achieve greatness and help others achieve it too every year.

 

For more information on WILD, tickets and great content from past events, check out the event’s website, http://www.wildsummit.org

 

Use Twitter Lists! My Hidden Twitter Tip + 21 More in Inc. Magazine!

There are so many tips, tricks and secrets to twitters that it takes a collection of power users to even begin listing them all! Last week, John Brandon did just that for Inc. Magazine. He sent out a HARO request and myself and some other social media badasses answered…

Check out this list of “22 Hidden Features to Help You get the Most out of Twitter” suggested by top twitter pros – myself included

From following the 80/20 content rule, hashtag hacks and more the list provides some great twitter tips for new users and those working on their personal brand online. Most are not truly hidden but are all to often forgotten, including my favorite, no.15, “Include an image in every tweet. No excuses.” – Sarah Mitus, Digital Strategist, InkHouse Media + Marketing.” Short, sweet and accurate.

What was my tip?

Take advantage of Twitter lists

“Lists allow you to follow far more people in an organized way. Instead of having a ratatouille of various industry information, personal status updates and cat pictures, utilize categorized, curated news feeds created by yourself or others (Hint: You can subscribe to other Twitter users’ lists) to stay in the know on the specific topics and profiles you care about in the moment.”

I have currently 43 different lists saved and curated on my personal twitter account, 20+ for @CodeCraftSchool.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 7.10.39 PM

A few of my twitter lists. See them all: https://twitter.com/HalieNoble/lists/

Categories range widely. Those I follow for my job as Marketing Manager at a coding school include names like ‘Colorado Tech Influencers,’ ‘Startup & VC News,’ ‘Tech – Code Masters’ as well as a list of all past, present and upcoming CodeCraft students that are active on twitter.I follow just as many for the causes I am passionate about, namely women in leadership and diversity in tech news sources, influencers and affiliated organizations.

On top of that, I have my “Just for fun” lists which include comedians, authors my friends. The amount of “just for fun” accounts I follow is so grossly overshadowed by work and women accounts that if I ever wanted to use twitter for a laugh, I had to section out these accounts so I can easily enjoy. That reasoning is exactly why you create any list on twitter – minimize clutter when looking for specific conversations.

 

Writing a Blog is Hard… Not Writing is Harder

I am going to talk unabashedly about how this empty WordPress box makes me feel in this exact moment: Stressed.

Often, I’d rather just pet my cat and ignore the turmoil in my mind that persists until expressed. Much like my gym membership, this blog can be more a source of personal guilt than fulfillment.

My cat can't read, she prefers pets versus blog post from me.

My cat can’t read, she prefers pets versus blog posts from me.

It’s unfortunately easy for me to ignore this blog. The internal nag to become more selfaware through writing is something I’ve grown accustomed to pretending I can’t hear. I spend all day in the minds of my clients and their publics, articulating through text what they can’t effectively. Specifically avoiding my own voice and biases, I isolate myself from the process, making it much easier to churn out writing. I don’t get overwhelmed articulating the specifically requested ideas of others like I do when it’s just me, my mind and an insatiable need to write.

Currently sitting in this blog’s “drafts” folder, are at least five blog posts that I would consider about 50% complete. Each contains 500+ words of carefully considered semantics that have been derailed by unattainable standards. No matter how long I stare at any paragraph, on any post on this blog, I will always find words to change, ideas I’d like to expand on or tangents to remove.

– If you read my first blog post, you know that was never what I wanted for this blog.

Knowing I will never be completely satisfied with how I express myself is the largest source of backlog and inactivity on this site (unlike the closure I receive on work completed for work and by clients). Working myself up only makes it more difficult to articulate exactly what it is I am trying to say.

shade

Being concise and compelling requires digging into and slicing away at my mind. Tossing out what I later see as irrelevant begins to feels contrived. After 30 minutes on a headline and hours more on a blog post that doesn’t end up talking about that original idea anyway, I doubt why I started writing to begin with.

So, what am I gonna do about it? This. I am going to publish this post immediately after I finish it.

Already as I am writing this now, I am running through this post in my head, wondering if I have even said anything, questioning why I would ever think people would bother reading this. Have I just repeated myself incessantly? What will people think of me as a professional writer if I’m telling them I struggle sometimes? Why would any stranger on the internet care?

In order to bring myself to hit publish, I have to change the way I think about what it is I am doing:

I write because I have to. I’m compelled to do it from a source within myself. I must write what spills out of me, but people must not like it. That’s ok. If I cater too much to what I think people want to hear, versus what I want to say, this blog becomes another PR campaign and not the repository of reflections on working in social media, journalism and marketing that I intended – it becomes work. 

When I scrutinize myself with impossible expectations, the fear of my own criticism keeps me from success. If I were more relaxed with myself and the words that already come naturally, this blog would be much further along. However, like making it to the gym, with each post I do “complete” and surrender to the public, my motivation to do so grows.

There’s No Value in Disingenuous Social Media

When people talk about social media used for branding/PR/marketing, you always hear that it’s finally a chance for organizations to “have a voice, and open a dialog with their audiences.” Yet, as I scroll through my endless feeds on countless profiles, all I see are strategies that clearly view people as stats, never look beyond their own proliferation and entirely miss the unique value offered by social media.

Hamlet Quotes

So what’s the point?

If you’re trying to humanize your brand, what kind of person would your brand be based on the content you tweet and the practices you keep? We all have that friend (or those friends) that only talks about themself, is blatantly uninterested in what anyone else has to say, and worse, is always repeating the same, played-out stories.

Don’t be that person, but…do be a person. 

Automation and social technologies are key and necessary evils  lifeboats when managing large and/or multiple brands on social media. Social content’s shelf life is seconds-to-minutes max. In order to reach more of your audience, whenever they may choose to check their feeds, it’s necessary to schedule out evergreen content at a multitude and variety of times.

Big Data and analytics are a huge help when trying to optimize and guide your social strategy. When managing highly active social profiles that demand almost constant proliferation to meet business goals, tools that recommend and aggregate content can help drastically cut down the time. However, there should always be a human touch to your accounts.

I use countless tools for a variety of tasks: Content generation/aggregation, social listening, social media management and scheduling, analytics, competitor monitoring, influencer relations etc.

I’m not saying don’t follow back those who follow you. I’m saying follow back those you encounter who share things of value to you and your brand. Personally, I follow about 65% of those that follow me on Twitter. Once a person follows me, I check out what they’ve tweeted recently. If something catches my eye, I’ll follow.

Don’t follow blindly, your twitter feed should be a resource to you, an aggregation of thoughts/ideas/news that you have deemed relevant to the conversations you want to be a part of.

Also, don’t follow someone only in the hope that they will follow you back. I once had a client ask me, “is a week-long enough to wait before unfollowing those that didn’t follow us back?”

… … … no. Again, be genuine.

Follow those who share interests with your brand. If they don’t follow you back, that’s fine. All your “follows” need not be requited.

If you blindly follow back all those who follow you, or like pages and posts in an irreverent land grab of impressions, you lose sight of the new value social media offers. 

What’s 10,000 impressions on an audience that has no interest in you or what your brand has to say vs. 1,000 impressions that followed you organically and will actually digest, react and potentially “buy in” to what you’re saying?

Build more than an audience, but a community. Be a voice to your brand's customers, partners, fans  and employees and listen to what they have to say back. Don't worry about reaching those that add nothing to this dynamic.

Build more than an audience, but a community. Be a voice to your brand’s customers, partners, fans and employees and listen to what they have to say back. Don’t worry about reaching those that add nothing to this dynamic.

…It’s like a man drowning of thirst opting for an ocean of salt water vs. a small, fresh-water creek…

Sure you have all these followers and your impression number is up, but you’re hard-thought content is being ignored by those who see it and unseen by those would have found the most value in what you have to share.

If you do successfully develop a community of followers genuinely interested in what your brand has to share, don’t punish them with endless self-promotional content. Your following has already “liked” (“followed”/”1+’d”/”connected”/ etc.) your profile, reward them by having something of use or entertaining for them in return.

Before you post: “Will this content be appreciated by my targeted audience(s) and is it inline with the campaign’s overall objective(s)?”

Yes, each of your posts, on any given platform will should immediately increase your profile’s impression count, but if your audience feels spammed, you’ve made the wrong impression.

Large followings of randomly construed interest groups and scatter-shooting dull, lead-generation posts may give you the numbers you (your board/investors/bosses) want to see, but through content no one else wants to be shown. Personally, I am far more concerned with stats like “engagement rating” and clicks than I am impressions. Getting content in front of someone is easy, making them care is the challenge.

Look at the brands you follow. What compelled you to do so in the first place? If it wasn’t just an attempt to cajole the brand into following you, identify what type of content attracted you. In general, (consumer) audiences are likely to start following a brand’s social profile in order to be in the know of company updates, discounts and promotions, thought-leadership in your areas of expertise and/or my personal favorite strategy, because you “surprised them with delight.”

Give your brand a real personality. In the virtual world, just as in the physical world, no one likes a fake.

Give your brand a real personality. In the virtual world, just as in the physical world, no one likes a fake.

Chances are if you’re not having fun creating the content, no one’s having fun reading it.

If you know there’s no value in what you put out, your readership will too. If even you’re bored reposting the same, dull lead generation posts, your audience probably tuned you out a while ago. If you disingenuously follow(back) profiles with no intention of listening to what they have to say, you’ve become the egotistical, attempt.

Having digested my thoughts spelling them out here, it’s clear to me what the no.1 guiding commandment for using social media in brand PR/marketing is: The Golden Rule.

Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Optimize not only your following’s experience, but that of your brand’s by listening closely and engaging thoughtfully.

Want to work in PR? Prepare for Life as a Ghost.

When I inhale, I exhale my own used breath. When I trip and scrape my knee, it’s my blood that spills. When I articulate complex ideas for mass publication, it’s my brow gaining wrinkles but my hard-fought clout goes to someone else. But that’s ok. When I believe in someone or some brand, I enjoy furthering their goals and ideas through the skills I’m good at and paid for.

You must enjoy hunting a spotlight that you  never get to claim.

You must enjoy hunting a spotlight that you never get to claim.

Contrary to popular notion, few public relations (PR) professionals are ever basked in the spotlight they engineer. Being the on-camera face of a brand, the signature at the bottom of a company-wide memo, or the byline above a published article is not a PR  professionals role. In the exceptional instances where that is one’s job, it’s often during crisis and to protect the image of another reputation (brand/person/product) .

In public relations you pen many things that others will sign their name to.

In PR you pen many things that others will sign their name to.

We toil our days away, clamoring for attention that we can focus on those who pay us to do so. The term is called “ghostwriting,” but I don’t let it haunt me.

In the beginning of May this year, I drafted a lengthy blog post on a topic that I knew nothing of beforehand. It was in hope that the piece would be published on a specific, well-known blog that I won’t name.

The aim of this particular blog post was and is to promote the industry leading position of our client’s CEO. It’s written in the first person, voices personal opinions and makes experienced recommendations to other professionals in the industry.

Whether it was current industry trends, best/worst practices, or doomsday vs. utopia scenarios, readers need to be confident that not only does the author have zero doubts about the theories they are sharing, but that the listed insights are revolutionary and demand immediate action.

Tasks like these are “interesting” for a couple of reasons:
1) The first time I heard of the topic was the same day as my (at that point) assigned deadline.
2) I found I had no strong opinions on what I did research and by noon that day, still only a vague concept of what it all meant.
3) My client’s CEO had worked in the industry for over 35 years and that depth understanding of had to be reflected in the piece.
4) I had never even spoken with the man whose mouth I’d be putting words into.

Despite my efforts to produce and turn in something valuable in under 24 hours, I spent over a day researching the topic, at least three hours on a first draft,  and another 60 minutes on the revision. After a week of communicating via email with the blog’s editor, it had been accepted for publication.

Waiting for approval to post content under another persons name can be the longest portion of the PR publication process.

I was enchanted, something I wrote was about to be read by thousands! But, and this is the biggest but of all in PR,  the blog post’s “author” still needed to approve of the words he would be credited with. So, I sent it to Silicon Valley, crossed my fingers and awaited the green light.

Just this week, due to backlog on our client’s end and what was described to me as “more pressing items” More pressing than my beautiful prose? Inconceivable! – it went live on the “renowned” blog, more than three months after I originally wrote it.

It sits there now: 1,100+ words, carefully strewn together in a manner that shows no sign of the teeth pulling it took to place them there. What lies right below the oh-so-clever headline I crafted? A byline of course.

Does it read “Halie Noble”? Absolutely not. Instead, it credits the CEO of my employer’s client. His name is accompanied by a flattering headshot, so readers can put face to the genius they are about to read.

Before you rally in mass over my honor, we must remember a two things:
1) I was paid to write for my efforts.
2) I was never unclear on the objective of my work: Demonstrate the expertise over a complex subject held by the author.

If you want to excel in PR, desire making things happen. Understand that when it comes to promoting the values and ideas of others, accomplishments are accomplishments for your client- not yourself. You won’t exceed if you thrive on personal, public recognition versus that of your clients.

Be happy producing quality work and quietly watch (and analyze and report) the results.

4 Things To “Be” When Posting To Social Networks For A Client


I like to be spontaneous, interactive and a little “off-the-wall” when sharing on my own, personal, social media accounts. Often I’ll post my gut reaction to something happening live or retweet without much consideration, because ultimately I’m judge, jury, and executioner (…and victim and defendant) of any consequences due to bad personal brand management. However, if the posts are coming from anyone but me, I use the following four guidelines to ensure I am being what (or who) I should be:

Be Your Client

Your clients social media campaign is not the place for self-promotion. Try to keep yourself as distanced from the actual content you create as possible so avoid even being accused of abusing your position.

1) Be Your Client:
You’re not just out there tweeting what you had for lunch that day. You are doing a job; make sure everything you share is in line with that. Before clicking “submit” look back at the account you’re about to speak for, does whatever you plan to share advance the objective of your clients campaign?

Don’t share just for the sake of sharing. Make sure your content is high-quality and worthwhile otherwise you may clutter up your audience’s news feed and their reaction will be to no longer receive updates from your organization. Justify each post in light of the campaign’s specific goals.

Be A Tool

Go ahead, tell everyone what you really think… in a helpful manner.

2) Be A Tool:
Be the go-to-resource in your organization’s industry. If you want to corner the market on something, you have to not only be a part of the conversation, but control and direct it. Become the thought leader of everything [INSERT YOUR BRAND’S INDUSTRY] by being the first to share relevant news, tips, ideas, etc. even, especially if it did not come from your brand directly.

3) Be Human:
Social media is there to be… SOCIAL. Talk and engage with the people who are talking about your organization. Be involved in the discussions that include you, otherwise someone else may control the conversation. Remember to have fun.

I have to remind my clients to avoid coding jargon and to interact with the general public in a more personable level.

I have to remind my clients to avoid coding jargon and to interact with the general public in a more personable level.

I don’t follow brands or personas that lack the potential to make me laugh (or smirk to myself at least), charm, or surprise me. The fact that individuals are able to engage with otherwise inaccessible organizations (enterprise, startup, or nonprofit) is the #1 feature that makes social media so impactful for PR and valuable for marketing.

 

 

 

Huge walls of text are intimidating and will deter users from giving your content A second glance. Spice things up with photos/graphics/designs/etc.

Huge walls of text are intimidating and will deter users from giving your content A second glance. Spice things up with photos/graphics/designs/etBe Visual:

4)Be Visual:

This post is less than 500 words.  I represented all four of my main points visually. My audience does not want to read (and neither does yours), so I’ve made it optional.

 

What’s in a lead? A blog by any other intro would archive so quickly.

I could spend hours, days, even weeks trying to think of what I’m typing at this very moment; It would be agonizing and unnecessary.

-Ahhh there it’s done, the first sentence out of my way-

My work persona is a perfectionist; real me does not have to nitpick. At work when I write a news release, or even ghostwrite for a client’s blog, 100% of the time it is the first sentence that takes

This graphic was created in hopes of repurposing original, plain text into a visual item that's more stimulating.

This graphic was created in hopes of repurposing original, plain text into a visual item that’s more stimulating.

90% of my time. While I can be the heroine who catches the “pubic vs. public relations” typo, being positive there is error where there is not can be devastating to my productivity. What if what I say doesn’t capture the audience? What if I could do it better? How do I convey that what I’m saying is essential to my audience?

Chances are, no matter how spectacularly it reads, the client will want changes-

This is my personal blog. I’m doing it for fun – Not to raise a “klout score,” not to make money from advertisements, or receive free goods in exchange for endorsements. I work in the interesting crossroads of media communications and high-tech. These two industries directly affect one another. Like most bloggers, I have thoughts about the things I discover and trends I notice that I feel are worth sharing [to an empty WordPress].

-My expertise is in written communication, digital or otherwise, that is: 1) Engaging; 2) Concise and 3) Relevant-

That’s how I found myself in the tech world. Software developers can be fluent in multiple languages, all more complex than English (the single language I speak fluently) and yet they often have a difficult time conveying even their most basic principles to their customers and investors their those who can’t understand the code.

That’s where I come in. I act as a translator and articulate ideas that C-level audiences understand not only in a technical way, but that spotlights benefits particular to their business’ situations.
Let me tell you something about being do this while being neither software developer or C-Level: The words do not just flow, inspired from your fingertips. You have to work for it.

This is something I made for a social media campaign in the surprise/cheer category. The easiest content I encounter is for twitter because you can't get too deep  in 140 characters- which can also hurt you.

This is something I made for a social media campaign in the surprise/cheer category. Easy when compared to writing actual material over brand new concepts.

Topics like Continuous Delivery, Agile methodologies, DevOps, and the ever-mysterious “Cloud” can hurt my brain but, I’m unwilling to do half-assed work for clients. I will stay with a project for as long as necessary to assure it is above and beyond expectations.

So, when it comes to this blog, which I hope you find resourceful nonetheless, I’m just going to relax, write and enjoy myself. Sure, I’ll run spellcheck before posting and fact check my statements, but I will not spend weeks, days, even hours stuck writing any single sentence on this blog.