After the latest Raleigh New Media Leaders networking event at the Hive, we recently held the door-prize lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh. Three lucky winners got to spend 90 minutes with three smart C-level marketing leaders — Gregory Ng, Heather Hesketh, and Jim Tobin.
Wondering what we discussed over crispy tater tots — or how to snag your own seat at the table next time? Read on!
Who Was There?
The all-volunteer organizing committee created “Lunch with the Leaders” as a unique door prize for the first Media Leaders event in January 2010. After all, what’s more valuable than getting 90 minutes of one-on-one time with busy marketing execs like Greg, Heather, and Jim?
Past leaders for Media Leaders events in Raleigh have included Brooks Bell, Karen Albritton, Michael Hubbard, and Patty Brigulio, among others.
Featured Media Leaders for January 2012:
- Gregory Ng (Chief Experience Officer, Brooks Bell)
- Heather Hesketh (CEO, hesketh.com)
- Jim Tobin (President, Ignite Social Media)
Prize-Winners at “Lunch with the Leaders” for January 2012:
- Antoinette Russell (PR Director, Wrightway International)
- Mark Fulton (Founder & Editor, DotSauce Magazine)
- Regina Twine (Former Director of Customer Engagement & Social Media, Live Work Play)
And Rachel Healy and I were there from the organizing committee to document everything.
Three Key Themes from “Lunch with the Leaders” at the Busy Bee
We started talking about marketing conferences — Heather is a member of the South by Southwest (SxSW) advisory board, and Regina shared her experiences attending SxSW last year.
1) How to Get the Most Out of Conferences
What can you do to get the most of conferences? Remember this:
- Everyone agreed: Never turn down an invitation — be open! You never know what’ll come out of a meeting or new connection.
- Greg noted that his connections at things like SxSW Interactive were non-traditional in ROI, but always valuable nonetheless.
- Heather: Any knowledge you gain is not from the conference — it’s in the bar. It’s about those informal connections.
- Regina: It’s about going and being open, not about having an agenda.
- Greg: If you’re looking for a data-specific conference, go to eMetrics in New York and San Francisco.
Greg recently tested a new type of QR code, to see what encouraged people to download his Freezer Burns app (among his 200,000 subscribers). People didn’t want bonus footage — but they definitely wanted free giveaways.
2) Five Years from Now — Predictions for 2017
I asked what people saw happening in the industry five years from now. A big theme was the tension between working virtually and the continuing need for valuable face-to-face time:
- Heather: Mobile workforce. You can work anywhere.
- Jim: Look at the new Microsoft Office 365 as a preview of how we’ll work in the future. Seamless, incredible. Built-in conversation, right there in the program, and it just works.
- San Jose has co-working space for people in San Francisco — 100 people in the same space, but working for different companies.
- Regina: Co-working will grow, because management will be less about keeping tabs and more about outcomes.
- Greg shared that Brooks Bell has a policy — see coworkers face-to-face every 48 hours.
- Heather: To test integrating a remote employee, we tried having a computer with video, live-streaming to a desk in the office (and occasionally tempted the remote employee with donuts in the office). The goal was to eliminate that hurdle, where people don’t want to disturb an employee working remotely. But remember, they’re at work — of course you can “disturb” them.
- As an employee at hesketh.com, I mentioned that holding daily huddles (about 15 minutes long) helps keep people moving in the same direction on the same team.
- Greg shared a theme from TIMA‘s recent futurist event: Privacy will be very different in five years. Big Brother won’t feel so scary any more — in part, because advertisers will be providing relevant messaging.
- Jim: There’s already this idea of “frictionless sharing.” Bad wording, but a good idea.
- Mark: We’ll see growth in domains. New extensions, and people investing in new extensions.
- At least one lunch attendee has pre-emptively bought domain names in their kids’ (or future kids’) names.
It seems clear that we still need to find a solution for still needing face-to-face interaction in an increasingly virtual work world.
To illustrate a potential solution, Greg shared a challenge common to the homeschooling movement — kids learn quickly, but they don’t develop the same social connections as in high school, and they struggle their first year in college. One solution includes forming learning co-ops, where homeschooled kids meet up to go on field trips, play sports, and otherwise spend “IRL” time face-to-face with other students.
3) Content Marketing: Ups and Downs
As we talked about privacy, the conversation took a turn toward content marketing — the good, the bad, and the ugly:
- Jim: Ignite Social Media’s growth has been through blogging, not advertising. For instance, they’ll release a video on their social media strategy — they’re producing them to appeal to the ideal “I’ve got money; I need some help” crowd, not the “I want to do it myself” category. Ignite also created valuable free social media tools, which led to perhaps 7.5 million of their 8.0 million inbound links.
- Heather: Content farms and bad SEO are “ruining my internet”; it’s like people are “peeing in the pool.” The focus on Optimization over Quality isn’t good.
- Greg: Brooks Bell will publish super-technical articles. They pre-qualify people, since the articles won’t appeal to less-technical people who aren’t BBI’s target market.
How To Get a Seat at the Next “Lunch with the Leaders”
Thanks again to Greg, Heather, and Jim for donating their time! And thanks to the Raleigh New Media Leaders organizing committee — Brian McDonald, Meg Crawford, Karl Sakas, Phil Buckley, and Rachel Healy — for making the latest events possible.
Want your own chance to win “Lunch with the Leaders”? You’ll need to come to the next Raleigh New Media Leaders networking event — keep an eye on our New Media Leaders website for dates and times.
What’s been your favorite networking connection or lesson-learned from New Media Leaders in Raleigh?