Elizabeth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

A Virtual Week at Summer Camp

camp ondessonk logoSo many of us benefitted from a camp in the summer—whether it was in the woods or in a science lab or in a gym, the events during those camps helped shape who we are today. One of my particular favorites is Camp Ondessonk, a rustic, outdoor Catholic youth camp in Southern Illinois.

So how could you possibly recreate such an experience in the “off season”, if you will, perhaps not exactly but as close as you can get using virtual tools? Camp Ondessonk and Elasticity are making it happen. I am currently participating in Ondessonk Online this week. While I think it is a brilliant idea, I certainly was skeptical of how to transform as much of the experience as possible into virtual activities.

From the Camper Guide we received:

This program takes place entirely within the normal activities of Facebook and Twitter. Campers will only need a basic knowledge of those two channels, as well as the basic ability to navigate the web, to participate.

So far, this has been absolutely true! I am particularly interested in how to effectively utilize social media to energize your passionate base, as well as pull a few folks into the brand experience who would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet and experience camp Ondessonk. More interesting though is how you can invoke visceral emotional reactions in the “guests” to this virtual event—so much so that they continue their engagement with Camp after virtual camp is over. Whether volunteering for work days, contributing money for campership and general operating funds, or helping recruit by talking about their great experiences, I truly hope this is one more way to keep our constituents engaged and attract more.

For now, you can watch the event unfold by following @OndessonkGA and the #ondessonk hashtag on Twitter, and the chatter on the Camp Facebook page, facebook.com/CampOndessonk. As with all things, the participants have to put effort forth in order to reap benefits after.  I’ll report back the success when the week is finished.

What other events or experiences are successfully conducted online and utilizing social media? What was effective? What wasn’t?

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February 9, 2012 Posted by | connecting, engaging, marketing, social media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Event Quality as a Reflection of Leadership

I recently participated in the a conference for commencement planning officers, the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO). A session that particularly stood out for me was “building an emotional connection: the influence of high touch event communication on donor support.”

At the beginning of the session, the discussion revolved around how a poorly run event can lead the donor to assume the institutional leadership is not strong. Wow! I am pretty sure that most leaders of an institution must either not understand this, or underestimate the amount of time and attention a high end event can require. Otherwise more time and resources would surely be put towards events! Research was displayed showing there is a direct correlation between the donors perceived quality of the event and the perceived quality of the institutional leadership. Powerful stuff! And a new way to think about events and the way I position them to the leadership of an organization.

We also discussed event branding, things like using the same typeface for ALL events and event pieces down to the name tags. Makes complete sense–we have such a challenge convincing folks why consistent font usage is important in general; I can’t wait to start rolling that out with all campus events!

And I know I had not yet thought to brand the dessert! It’s one of the last things consumed that evening/event, take advantage of the opportunity to reinforce the message!

Great stuff- I am so glad that I found a worthwhile session.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | communication, connecting, events, leadership, resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

LinkedIn Group Management and Membership

I am debating myself: to restrict membership or allow anyone to join; to require verification if a restriction is in place or just trust.

The context is primarily within LinkedIn groups. I can understand restricting group membership for associations who provide member-only access to content. And to become a member of the association, one must pay dues. The old adage “why buy the cow if the milk is free” certainly applies.

In the case of an institution of higher education, affiliation with the university can take shape many ways:

  • Current student
  • Alumnus
  • Parent
  • Current employees
  • Past employees
  • Took a few courses or continuing education courses
  • And more I’m sure

Do you allow anyone to join the group? Do you ask that they at least express their affiliation with the university on their LinkedIn profile? How do you verify accuracy? Do we even care about accuracy?

Accuracy would be important to the groups providing content as a membership benefit. An interesting side note—I recently requested to join the LinkedIn group for a membership-driven association. I just received a “no thank you” message indicating the group is restricted to association members only. Hmmmm… guess I’ll have to waste some time trying to demonstrate my membership IF I find the content valuable. I likely will waste that time, given my current debate!

Is accuracy really important if you are just trying to build a community and ultimately discussion around a common theme? Verification of the accuracy becomes not as important as asking the members to identify their affiliation to the group or how they fit in with the common theme. It is important to separate what qualifies you to join the group from what you are hoping to accomplish with the group (or hoping DOESN’T happen).

Ground rules (house rules, group expectations, etc.) will help keep the group focused on the common theme and not abuse the privilege of membership. Nearly all of us have experienced the abuse of the communication tools with the group members by that one or two people who spam the list selling their products or services. Reserving the right to delete content and restrict privileges is critical, and must be made clear to the members.

And to those who keep spamming the members with sales pitches—go read up on the importance of engagement and conversation in a community. And there are still only two letters difference between helping and selling.

I’d love to see examples of “ground rules” in groups, and feedback on whether you require members to display their affiliation on their profile before accepting the request to join.

January 3, 2012 Posted by | connecting, engaging, social media | , , , | Leave a comment

Knowledge is Power

You might think this post title indicates prose on the importance of continually educating yourself on changing technology, your customer behavior and trends, and other marketing speak. On the contrary, this post is about the importance of institutional climate and culture, and specifically the importance of internal communication at an organization.

Have you ever been in a workplace where people flaunt the fact that they have knowledge about a topic, new process, upcoming change, etc? Rather than taking the opportunity to educate others, build consensus for the direction of the company, and overall support the mission, people tend to “collect” knowledge as people in medieval times collected property, slaves, etc to show their wealth, position and power. While my life experience is relatively average, I believe this is more rampant in higher education than in any other sector. I also believe that higher education places less emphasis on the importance of an internal communication strategy than other companies. Perhaps the decentralized nature of the typical higher education structure fosters this.

While I spent a good two days stewing over my recent specific experiences with this “knowledge is power” phenomenon, my take-away (or “aha” moment or life lesson or silver lining, blah blah blah) from this is that I need to circle my communication wagons and rejuvenate my push for a more robust, comprehensive internal communication strategy for the institution. I am going to stop wishing that people would just “get it” and stop collecting knowledge as power. Since I obviously have no control over that, I’ll focus on that which I can control (and happen to be good at)–communication.

Any suggestions for how other institutions help proportionately allocate/expend resources on internal communications?? Any help is welcome!!!

February 10, 2011 Posted by | communication, connecting, higher education | , , , | 2 Comments

Speaking of LinkedIn…

Since my last post was about LinkedIn, I thought I would share the groups to which I belong on LinkedIn. I have only included the marketing groups I find useful.

MarketingProfs– Group Profile: MarketingProfs is a community of marketers centered around smart, quick, and actionable know-how and discussion. More than 360,000 subscribers read our newsletters and blog, attend our events and seminars (both live and virtual), and participate in the MP discussion forum. (interesting note: their group profile page has a spelling error! A result of fast fingers on the keyboard I suspect. I did not repeat the mistake here.)

Inbound Marketers– Group Profile: Online group for marketing professionals. A community those looking to reach their best customers online through techniques like inbound marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media. I do feel that it tends to be an engine to drive traffic to their seminars, but you can often find interesting conversations and smart people to follow here.

Southern Illinois Marketing & Communications– Group Profile: When you leave the large market, marketing and communications professionals begin to wear more hats in their career. The group is dedicated to those marketing, PR and Communications professionals who are juggling all three expertises (if not more). Since I happen to be located in Southern IL, I like this group to connect with other folks located or doing business in the area. It’s nice to stay abreast of issues specifically occurring in your region.

Are we connected yet? My profile: linkedin.com/in/bethkeserauskis

Any other groups we should know about? What do you learn from them?

October 28, 2010 Posted by | connecting, relationships, reputation management | , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Hard to Find Great Training…But I DID!

Great training/trainers are HARD to find. We have all sat through useless boring training sessions that were great cures for insomnia. Since all can relate I’m sure, I have to share an experience that was fantastic.

Yesterday, we hosted blog development, content development and marketing strategy training for a few groups here on campus. We are working with them to create a strategic communications plan. I brought in social media and blogging expert, Marijean Jaggers, vice president at Standing Partnership.

All I can say is that she was fantastic. In addition to being extremely knowledgeable on the topics, she was able to balance technical detail with the content for the non-technical folks in the group. She is just plain likable and funny to boot!

She is worth following:

And Standing Partnership is one awesome strategic communications firm to work with too!

July 22, 2010 Posted by | connecting, marketing, social media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Behind the Curtain??

Have you ever gotten excited by a technological advance on a website where you are trying to do business, only to have your hopes dashed by the fact that it is fake?? You nearly had to peel me off the ceiling this morning when I was paying a credit card bill online. I was irritated by the fact that they were charging me a $10 fee to make a same day payment, whereas two days later it was free. I fully understand that the credit card companies need ways to monetize their products, but irritating nonetheless.

They almost redeemed themselves when they had a live chat window to confirm the amount of your same day payment–here was my chance to complain about the fees to a customer service rep! The minute I strayed from the “script” they expected from me,  I got the “please call this number and we will answer your questions.” Aaaah! There was NO real live person behind this chat! They even made up names, because I got a different name the second time I went through it! I would far rather they just don’t give the appearance of a live chat option than to bait and switch me! A lower tech site would have impressed me more, because they would not promise me anything they could not deliver.

So what does this mean for a business and marketing? A lot! Bottom line- don’t pretend you are something you are not, and don’t promise things that you cannot deliver!

Getting back to Marketing 101- hopefully you have defined a brand promise and value proposition for your customers. But can you deliver on that promise? The fastest way to destroy your brand is to have your customers lose faith in you. Shall we talk about Toyota? BP?

Your brand platform/promise is not only driving your external marketing, but it also serves as an internal compass driving the operations of your organization. If your employees do not understand your brand promise, how can they possibly be delivering on your promise to your customers? Thoughts?

July 21, 2010 Posted by | connecting, engaging, marketing, relationships | , , , , | 1 Comment

Building Your Personal Brand

I saw a segment with Steadman Graham this morning on FOX 2 News, talking about how you have to know who you are before you can get out in the business world and trying to sell yourself as an employee to a company or as a resourcing company. It seems very appropriate to talk about how, as an individual, you need to also manage your reputation, in addition to your company or organization that you’re working for.

As I help someone near and dear to me work on her resume after 35 years at the same company, I’m reminding myself that we need to not only to fill the resume, we also need to discover what are her core strengths and how can we package that into a proposition for a company, a set of resources for a company that’s going to hire versus just an individual with a great resume. My challenge today is to think about how you can invent yourself as an individual with a value proposition–this is ironic because I spend so much time helping companies and figure out who they are and how to fill the need of their customers. My next challenge is going to be how to bring that down to the individual level, and help this person near and dear to my heart package and present themselves to companies as a valuable resource.

LinkedIn is a great tool I strongly advocate. I have several examples of success using LinkedIn as a networking tool, including as a way for companies to find candidates for their marketing positions. Now my challenge is going to become having a real example or case study of helping individuals create their strengths and package them as a resource for businesses in the area as they look to start phase two of their career.

May 28, 2010 Posted by | connecting, marketing, relationships, reputation management | , , , , | Leave a comment

Engaging Presentations

Last night I attended the Meet the Design Teams event for The City + The River + The Arch Competition at the Roberts Orpheum Theater in St. Louis. They have narrowed the field down to five design teams who are vying for the chance to design the landscape around the St. Louis Arch grounds on both sides of the Mississippi River and do a better job of incorporating this iconic piece of public sculpture into the city of St. Louis and it’s tourism industry.

I have to say it was very refreshing to watch Joe Buck as the emcee. He really injected some humor into it. He came right out of the gate saying that this was going to be a fun event rather than a formal event and almost took more of a approach of a traditional “roast” event rather than a formal presentation. So, immediately I was heartened to see that it wasn’t going to be a long boring night of presentations.

However, when the first design team got up to present their capabilities and their team members, I was a little disappointed the he was not as engaging a speaker as Joe Buck. I wasn’t expecting him to be a perfect speaker. However, I was asking for it to be a little bit more engaging and interesting and to capture my attention.

I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that the presentation set-up in the theater was poor. The image quality on the projection screen was dark and blurry at best. I don’t have the best eye sight but I don’t need glasses, and sitting in the back of the theater it was extremely difficult if not impossible to read any of the text on the slides and to make out the specific details and some of the images. And, his presentation was heavy on photography and imagery. So, I found that to be distracting and I lost interest very quickly in what he was saying because, I struggled to see what he was referring to on the presentation slides.

So, I guess my take away from this event was the importance of being an engaging and dynamic speaker. To capture the attention of an audience that can range anywhere from people who are specifically interested in architecture and design to just the general public interested in what’s happening in the community. You have to find that perfect balance between getting very technical to please the technical people but, also being very engaging and top of a strategy oriented to draw in the general public.

I also understood the importance of really understanding the venue in which you are presenting and the tools that are available for you, and tailoring your presentation to meet those challenges. I think that if any speaker would have paid close attention to the venue and the equipment available, they probably would have tailored their presentation a bit differently to meet those equipment challenges. And therefore, would have done a better job of engaging people.

Some of the best presentations I’ve seen interacted with the audience and really drew people with what interested them into the presentation. I know that it’s difficult to do with a large crowd but I think it’s possible.

So, my challenge to myself and to all of you is: What are you going to do to make each presentation different and unique and draw in that audience?

April 29, 2010 Posted by | connecting, engaging, public relations, reputation management | , , , | Leave a comment

Ed-Glen Chamber Presentation

Today I spoke with the members of the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce. They invited me to speak with them about incorporating social media tools in their marketing strategy. If you missed the event, or are just plain curious, you can download my slide deck on SlideShare, along with several recent presentations I have made on web user behavior (specifically millenials) and more (http://www.slideshare.net/bethkeserauskis).

April 27, 2010 Posted by | connecting, marketing, relationships, reputation management, social media | , , , , , | Leave a comment