Chief Media Maven
Define your business role:
As a new media author, digital strategist, and communication expert, I use my background in both journalism (TV, print, radio and online) and help businesses and individuals harness the power of communication. I help clients get their point across in a way that their customers understand and would welcome it.
What do you see as your responsibilities to your clients?
I have a number of them:
- To help them connect to their customer using authentic communication not marketing speak.
- To help them realize it’s not just what they say but how they act and what they do to follow up on their promise that matters.
- And to help them realize that what they want to say isn’t always what their customer wants or needs to hear.
Clients hire me when what they’ve been doing isn’t working or if they want a fresh approach. It’s my responsibility to be honest in a constructive way.
I've known you for years and you've done it all! What pray-tell are you doing right now?
I’m taking my journalism prowess and my digital media savvy and using it for good not evil. I’m launching a new media distribution company for one of the fastest growing areas in journalism: weekly community newspapers. It’s called Lifestyle & Entertainment Newswire. Look for exciting things to come soon!
So many people talk about getting work. Talk to me about what to look for in a client.
As a business owner, you have to realize it’s not about chasing clients. There are tons of clients out there but not every one of them will work for you. You have to have synergy. They have to get you and your unique take on what you do. And you have to be able to execute what they need.
For me, creatively it’s important for me to be on the same page and my client and I have to share the same vision. Most of all, clients need to be open. A client who initially says yes and then is passive resistant is draining you from what you could be doing for someone else with a better fit.
I also enjoy it when my clients pay on time. I’ve been burned enough. I now have a late fee clause. If they balk I know at the onset there may be issues and I reconsider their prospects.
What makes you different from the 100k SME's claiming that they "know" the social spectrum?
Quite frankly no one is really an expert because the medium keeps changing every single minute. I feel it’s even more important to understand the what and why’s of communication than the how. As humans, we started out using a tablet. Now we use Twitter. The difference is the medium but as humans we need to communicate and connect.
What makes me different? Great question…. I’m stalling…. OK…this is tough because one doesn’t normally think of themselves in a “Bob Dole likes this!” sort of way.
I am a passionate communicator. I want to know the unknowable like what’s someone really thinking. The only way we have to do that is language. It’s imperfect but it’s all we’ve got! When you know what someone is thinking or how they came to that conclusion, you can begin a dialogue.
Good business isn’t about cramming a product down someone’s throat. It’s about meeting a real need or desire and fulfilling it. Good communication starts that process.
I feel like we're at the beginning of the social arena. What's in store for us in the next five years?
Truly, this is the best time to be alive! We have all the modern conveniences imaginable.
We’re on the leading edge of this social arena. The addition and accessibility of more hand held devices is making updating and connecting around the globe possible. BTW, when are we getting the Dick Tracey wrist phones so we don’t even have to push a button?
I think the next five years will see complete integration of our work, personal, school and family and friends to a greater degree. I love sites like Meetup.com that uses technology to facilitate real life face-to-face connections. I think we’ll see more of that.
Sadly, the net will get even more monetized with pay walls going up on all my favorite free content spaces like the NYTimes.com.
But the real dark side is that older people, who haven’t been included in the digital wave and people who don’t have access, will sadly be left behind. It’s already happening. My parents are in their 70s and are skittish to get online yet all their daily life needs are coordinated remotely (by me of course!) I don’t know how they’ll live when I move to another planet.
You do coaching. Tell me about that.
Coaching is really interesting because unlike consulting where you diagnose the problem and fix it, here you are teaching your client how to fish rather than fishing for them. The goal of coaching is to have me be obsolete at the end of the process. It empowers clients with the knowledge of how to approach their business challenges for the mid and long term. I find it very fulfilling because I celebrate independence not co-dependency, which a lot of consulting relationships can sadly fall into.
Talk to me about what you're seeing people 'thinking what they need' vs. 'their actual needs' for success.
Almost every client I see thinks they need to be on Twitter and Facebook but when you ask them about the basics like let’s look at your website or what type of e-mail communication do you have with your audience, they give you the deer in the headlights look.
There’s also a big disconnect about the need to continually be involved in social media. They think it’s something they can outsource or do once and be done.
Very sad. :(
What advice would you be willing to grant me for the Neo-Entrepreneur?
As brilliant Jerry Seinfeld told Oprah about life, “It’s yours to design.”
If you’ve got the moxie to be an entrepreneur, first of all congratulate yourself for being bold. Entrepreneurship is about responsibility, risk and reward.
You’re taking on the responsibility to put yourself out there to do good work. Make sure you choose work you LOVE not just like or tolerate because that what gets you through those 12-hour days.
Assess your risk. Can you do this part-time before you give up your day job? What do you really have to lose? You can always get another job. If you have passion, a plan and can get paid for it, do it!
Let yourself enjoy the rewards. They will come. Don’t be the person who slaves away as the company’s BEST employee. You deserve the luscious rewards of ownership.
Other thoughts: pick a target audience. Make sure you niche yourself. Do generous, good things for other businesses – refer people and it all comes back to you ultimately; charge fairly and have fun! Make sure your days are filled with joyous people! Don’t work with sourpusses…that means clients too!
Who's doing social right? Who's doing it wrong?
In my hometown of NYC, I love how the food cart revolution has found a phenomenal use of Twitter. When I hear my BlackBerry ring I know it could my favorite Wafels & Dingels place telling me they’re right around the corner. It makes sense. People get hungry. And it feels like a new media version of the ice cream song that used to play at my childhood park in Sheepshead Bay.
The people doing it wrong are anyone who sends me a link to try out a product when I become their Twitter follower or Facebook friend. No way Jose. Don’t sell me. Let me come to love you! Then I may check out what you have to offer.
Talk to me about 'brand protection' in the social landscape. Pitfalls and protection?
American Airlines is my favorite example of this. They have a fairly decent product and a strong brand traditionally. But if you check out what anyone has to say about them on Twitter or Facebook at any random time you’re bound to find a slew of complaints.
AA started their own Twitter channel and posted three tweets in 14 months. Not good! They’re not engaging anyone!
They need to be there online dialoguing with their customers, fixing what they can. If you read the tweets it’s like they have zero customer service awareness. And I’ve been a loyal customer and know that in “real” life, that’s not true.
The preponderance of bad things on the web about them can only erode their brand in the long-term. I’m sad for them. And my miles…need to cash those puppies in soon before it happens.
To the 'displaced professional' (or as I say "executing a transitional phase") what advice can you give?
You have to have a good grip on what social media tools are used in your industry to promote business, not just your own personal stuff, because if the job choice is between you and some other person who is social media savvy, it’s a no brainer who that job is going to. (Ahem, the other person.)
Even if you have to build a fan page of Snapple or some product you adore, just the fact that you’ve grown a FB fan page, engaged people online, know what works and what doesn’t work, you are a huge step ahead.
Now you may think…I’m an accountant, why do I need to do this? Many companies are asking staff from a number of departments to blog, tweet, etc. If you can add your spin and say what accounting could say that would be intriguing to customers, you’ve made yourself a utility player! And that’s crucial in this marketplace where competition for jobs is high.
Lastly, make sure your own personal social media platforms are devoid of non-professional photos and updates. Either delete them or put them behind privacy guards because it’s highly likely your potential employer will be checking you out online. What are you most proud of in your career?
I like how I’ve been able to go from 18-year-old college graduate with a finance degree to working as a manager for an international airline to advocate for kids with disabilities to journalist in TV, print, and radio to start a newspaper to writing a book and now I have evolved into a coach and a speaker.
I think I’m a product of my times –both economic and technological. I’m most proud of my ability to challenge myself, take my skill set into the next appropriate industry and keep innovating.
If you weren’t here, you'd be doing what?
The only other jobs I would love to tackle in another lifetime: Broadway singer, dancer and actor. I’m intrigued by the notion of stepping into another persona other than yourself, doing it in front of a live audience and finding something new in the same role night after night.
Create a new superpower for yourself.
My favorite superhero is AquaMan who can talk to animals with his supersonic thought waves. I’d like to have the same power for humans. LOL!
Bio and Social Media Links you wish people to connect to at:
Your personal Website/Blog Addresses:
woo [at] alisonwoo.com
Additional comments, mentions, shout-outs or prognostications?
I’d like to thank Justice for allowing me to share some thoughts in his most excellent space. I met Justice when I was a senior marketing VP at a startup in Celebration, FL some moons ago and this proves that technology can never supplant real life friendship.
Fabulous questions! Very insightful!
You're so sweet, and our friendship and your professional guidance will ALWAYS be held in the highest regard. Thank you again for taking the time with me.