Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Report Card for Learning New Technology

I’ve been in a reflection mood lately. Perhaps because it’s the end of the year when we review the past year and plan for the next. Or perhaps it’s merely because I was in a car for 12 hours over the holiday. But one thing I’m amazed at is how much I’ve learned about using technology. It was kind-of a goal I set for myself, and I had no idea where it would take me. Here’s a summary and a key lesson in each area.

New web site
After four years of work and evolution of ideas and with the help of a technology genious, my organization launched a new web site this summer. I was in charge of the content, the structure and the process in general. The site uses a cascading style sheet and is database-driven. As a result, it is much more optimized. It has at least 950 pages and 11,000 links.

Lesson so far: A new web site may seem “so last century,” but even now-a-days it is critical to our work.

Goal for 2007: Train employees to use the CMS so they can create content.

Social Networking
I’ve taken a look at sites like My Space and Linked In, and, to help me in my work, I have referred to wiki sites developed by others. More deeply, I have dabbled with using Delicious for specific purposes.

Lessons so far: It doesn’t take a big investment of time to learn about social networking online, but there is a lot more for me to learn. The best way to learn this stuff is through hands-on experience.

Goals for 2007: Set up Delicious and wiki sites for work-related purposes. Train employees to use Delicious in their work.

I didn’t start out the year planning to learn much about blogs. I had some pre-conceived notions that turned out to only partially be true. I’ve been monitoring conversations about my organization. But the biggest change occurred when Kami set up this group blog and I joined the group.

Lessons so far: Not many bloggers are talking about my organization. Blogging is addictive. PR bloggers are really supportive of each other.

Goals for 2007: Write more and less – more often, less words. Leave more comments on others’ blogs.

Media Relations via Social Media
First, when we set up our new web site, I revamped the press room section. We’ve also added a feature for reporters to receive news via RSS. And second, of course, I have been blogging recently about my foray into using the new social media release. I don’t do enough media relations to get much practice. But I’ll keep working at it.

Lesson so far: There are a ton of details to learn to use the social media release. But it’ll be different, way into the future – meaning in the next week or so.

Goals for 2007: Improve my use of the social media release. Use other social media to be a better resource to reporters.

This is my best success. When the year started, I had never listened to a podcast. But I got an iPod and subscribed to the main PR-related ones. Then I participated in a webinar by Shel Holtz on the subject. I put together a plan and launched a podcast series at work, with the excellent assistance of a consultant, Bryan Person of the New Comm Road podcast. We already have our first three episodes online.

Lessons so far: “Low barrier to entry” is relative. You still either have to know how or find someone who does. And you still have to plan for your audience and your organization goals.

Goal: Continue to improve and promote our podcast series.
Stretch goal: Start a local PR-related podcast. Hmmm

When I look at this whole list, part of me thinks: no wonder I’m tired! But really, this has been fun. It has helped me do my job better. And it hasn’t really been so time consuming that other things suffered. (I also built a house with my husband, moved my kids into new schools, took care of my geriatric puppy, planned birthday parties, volunteered with church, PRSA and the March of Dimes, read bedtime stories, balanced the checkbook, and did the laundry.)

If you’re wondering where to start, my suggestion is to pick one thing and focus on that for a while. At least that’s what I did. I explored certain technologies but focused on podcasting because that was the most appropriate for my situation.

And naturally, the more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.


Kami Huyse, APR said...

This is great stuff Christie, and I vow to try and post more often to this site :-)

Bryan Person, New Comm Road Podcast said...


Here's a real practical way to get yourself using a wiki. Organize a small event in which the participants must register through a wiki. Maybe it's something as simple as a meetup of San Antonio PR pros to discuss how you can use social media in your profession.

Another option -- and one that I've just introduced to my co-workers in my day job at -- is to collaborate on a document using Google Docs. Editing it is similar to using Microsoft Word and very intuitive.

It's been a pleasure working with you on IDRA Classnotes, Christie. Happy holidays!