The Luminaria Media Blog

Observations on our work, our colleagues, and the media

My Week Was Made On Monday

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I love it when something good happens at the start of the week, and that was certainly the case yesterday. A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to have Girlstart come on board as a Luminaria client. I’ve worked with Girlstart on and off for more than a decade now, back when founder Rachel Muir launched the non-profit organization with $500, a credit card, a rented house in Austin’s West Campus neighborhood, and a dream to help girls embrace and embark on math and science careers.

Since then, lots has happened — math and science education awareness for girls has grown, it’s expanded into the STEM acronym (for science, technology, engineering, and math), what we can do with computers has gotten a lot more incredible, and Girlstart’s reached thousands of girls in Central Texas and beyond.

Now, under the guidance of ED Tamara Hudgins, Deputy Director Julie Shannan, Program Director Katelyn Wamsted, and a terrific staff, Girlstart’s had its first official visit from a Congressman — namely, Rep. Michael McCaul, whose wife is a marine biologist, and who has a key voice (thanks to his various committee memberships) in shaping the funding and education for STEM careers in the U.S.

Here’s the News 8 Austin coverage of Congressman McCaul’s visit yesterday. It was great to be able to help this amazing client get such a momentous occasion covered by Austin media.


Written by luminariamedia

July 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Posted in my awesome clients

Is There Anything the iPhone Can’t Do?

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I ask that question slightly tongue-in-cheek, of course, even after oohing and aahing over Gizmodo’s recent unveil of the fourth-generation iPhone. But I also ask it with some degree of amazement for the age we live in, not to mention the ingenuity of software engineers. Thanks to an app I downloaded while at my son’s soccer game, I’ve now got a WordPress application allowing me to blog from my phone.

How I work on my iPhone is a little different than how I work on my laptop. My laptop is my office, so oftentimes, I think about the totality of what I do in running a firm. There’s Word and Excel and Tweet Deck, but there’s also Quick Books and MyTime and iCal.

On my iPhone, I tend toward more economical e-mail responses and directed searches. I also think about tasks I can do while caught in three or five minute waits. Sometimes, that’s enough for one simple blog post that stays focused and lets your readers in on one direct piece of info.

I’m still holding out, by the way, for an app that will clean my house.

Written by luminariamedia

April 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Posted in digital strategies

Five Things I Learned at SXSW Interactive

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It’s been a terrific five days at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival — so much energy, so many things to learn, so much chaos to navigate. My friend Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, who served as a panelist this year as well as representing Digital Book World, summed it up nicely by calling it “chaotic mix of truly inspired presentations, thinly veiled sales pitches, over-the-top demagoguery and/or self-promotion, filtered through an incredibly diverse range of creative disciplines and strategic philosophies.”

Here are five of my initial takeaways from the conference:

1. Geolocation is the next frontier. Much of the talk during the week was around two geolocation smartphone applications, Foursquare and Gowalla, and which of the two might emerge last geolocation app standing (assuming there’s not room for both). At an excellent conference on mobile content and social media, I learned of another application, Hot Potato, which allows one to participate in a live feed at an event — essentially a contained Twitter-like feed in which people at the same sporting event or concert can communicate, where you could conceivably crowdsource questions like “How many fouls does he have?” or “What’s this song?”

2. The future of magazines is uncertain. At one panel I attended — called “Could the iPad Have Saved Gourmet?” — the panelists concluded that new technologies might not be enough on their own to save magazines. The key, according to the panelists, was to solve the problem of decreased ad revenue in a recession — yet they didn’t offer any helpful answers to how to do that. They did acknowledge the iPad may synch with magazines in their current form, plus their websites, into some sort of magical triangle of content — but again, no specifics on what possibilities might be in store. A presentation earlier in the week by Wired, however, showed some possibilities for the iPad ushering in a new era of magazine. This post gives you an indication of some of the oohs and aahs in store.

3. The future of books are also uncertain. Another intriguing panel, on the future of books and book publishing, suggested that the editors of today may shift into more of a producer role. The query/idea phase of a book likely will include not just what the book’s about, but what format it will be in, what medium or media it will be published in, and what all might be sold under the “brand” of the book — think how movies are now marketing themselves, with offshoots like movie-themed toys at fast food chains, and you’re in the general neighborhood. Also, if authors come to a publisher with their own “tribes” — such as social media gurus like Seth Godin — they’re better off in the new era.

4. 90 percent of our days are spent looking at glowing rectangles. I’m not sure that this “stat,” from the “Mobile Content is Social” panel, is entirely accurate or applicable to everyone. But it’s a fairly accurate assessment of how I live, and I can’t imagine I’m not the only one who lives like this. Be it a computer phone screen or a smart phone screen, we’re certainly finding them to be more and more indispensable — and a lot of the smart folks who gathered in Austin are making sure we stay that way.

5. Content is king. For all the new platforms and shiny things and SEO strategies out there, people won’t bring you to your site if you don’t have something to offer. One of my favorite moments of the week came in the panel on Viral Videos, in which OK Go’s Damian Kulash explained that the amazing “This Too Shall Pass” video — involving a team of engineers, quite literally (you can see them cheer at the end of the video) — was born of the impulse to make something seemingly impossible happen. While not every piece of content can be that, it’s positively delightful to create a Twitter link on an embedded video in Facebook that shouts to the world, “Hey, look at this!” Ultimately, that’s what we should hope for our content to be.

Written by luminariamedia

March 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

Doing It IRL: See You At SXSW Interactive

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Back from another blogging hiatus — I’ve been maintaining client blogs and handling a number of projects lately, including my second year of PR for First Night Austin. It was a challenging year for the organization, but seeing Austin artists engaging with Austin audiences to close out one year and welcome in the next makes it worthwhile. I was fortunate to be part of a hard-working team, and became even more of a fan of Austin Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez for stepping up as the event’s Honorary Chair. And this year, we got to work with the Long Center on a First Night-style New Year’s party, which was a great addition and a fun opportunity to stretch some event planning muscles.

Just a heads up to those who know me strictly on their computers — I’m grabbing a badge and joining the fray at SXSW Interactive this year. In a time of tight budgets and recession-related concerns, SXSW still remains a great place to learn and engage in the sort of IRL networking needed to keep ideas coming and energy high. So, for those of you making the trek to Austin, whether you’re across town or across the country, let me know you’re coming. I know where the best cup of coffee in town can be found, and I can hook you up with a fantastic breakfast taco no matter where in Austin you’re staying.

Written by luminariamedia

January 16, 2010 at 9:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

I Love It When a Grammar Debate Breaks Out!

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My Facebook account is a sort of merge of my personal and professional worlds — I share some friends on Facebook who I primarily engage with on Twitter, but I also have friends from my “secret life” (note: it’s not so secret, really) as a poetry slam organizer, and IRL friends and even people I went to high school with. (Who I never would have reconnected with if not for Facebook.)

But occasionally, Facebook’s a very fun place for me to be, and today is one of those days. Two conversations same up simultaneously — from different FB friends, different worlds — asking about the correct possessive form to use for the singular s — s’ vs. s’s. In cases like this, in the media world, I defer to AP Style. But I also, in the debates I plunged myself into, queried myself on the first example that came to mind — Lou Reed singing, “And I feel just like Jesus’ son.” So, I joined Team S’, even though I know I’ve used s’s, perhaps in leaning toward my grad school days when MLA with *the* style I defaulted to in everything. (Except in my anthropology classes, when I had to shift over to APA.)

But it tickles me that possessives are the topic of the day, and I’m thrilled that Facebook’s a spot where a bunch of us can have that conversation, be it poets, fellow publicists, or even my wife, on her iPhone from the San Antonio Zoo with the kids.

Written by luminariamedia

August 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Posted in social media

Back from Blogging Hiatus, and the Blog Going Forward

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Hello, everyone. It’s been a crazy couple of months around here. Those of you following me on Twitter and Facebook know that I’ve been keeping relatively active in Social Media land, but clearly not here on the blog.

Part of it has to do a whole lot of busy, which is what I like to be. Some great new clients have boarded — including the National Trauma Institute, dedicated to the funding and development of research addressing trauma injury in the United States, and Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop, the best dessert bakeshop in Austin, largely responsible for the completely awesome Cupcake Renaissance we’re experiencing in Austin. Also, my longtime client, the National Hispanic Institute, celebrates 30 years of developing Latino leadership this year with a full slate of summer programs.

Part of it also has to do with deciding what to do with the blog’s direction. Blogs are especially fascinating to me when you’re able to witness them evolving. Initially, I’d intended for this blog to be observations about PR and the media as a PR practitioner. I still think that’s valuable — but I want to make sure it’s rooted more in my day-to-day and week-to-week than the esoteric. Plenty of PR blogs address questions like “Is the press release still valuable?” (A: Yes, as a backgrounder to support the direct contact you’re making with a media person), but not enough answer tougher, of-the-moment questions like “What do I do about that client who owes me $2,000?”

So my intention is this — soon, every Friday (and whenever else the mood strikes me), once I’m through what is turning out to be a very busy summer, you’ll see insights about what I learned or what was reinforced for me during the week.

This week, it was about working beyond the 9-to-5 work day window. I’ll do that for my clients. There’s a point at which I want to unplug from the work day, of course, but sometimes, 9-to-5 isn’t enough to contain everything that’s happening.

This week, I had an author through on a leg of his book tour, and one bookstore called after his reading Tuesday night with questions about whether he’d left behind too many books. It was worth it to hear the event coordinator declare her and her co-workers “groupies” (their choice of words!) based on the reading. This morning, I met that client outside my office before 8 a.m. with promo materials for a future date before he drove nine hours to another tour stop. President Obama gave a speech in Cairo of great import to another client, and did so at 5 in the morning our time. Last night, I interviewed several members of an organization I work for to prep for an article I’m writing for the group’s publication — and the only time we could all get together was 7 at night. It’s part of doing PR in 2009, and I’m fine with that, though I suspect that I owe my kids a trip to the zoo to make up for it.

Written by luminariamedia

June 5, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Posted in digital strategies

If You’re Wondering More About Twitter …

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Occasionally, I’ll run across something too funny to not post. The video below is a very funny look at Twitter from the folks at SuperNews. A good reminder that — as useful as it is for connecting people, and as powerful as it is to keep us informed — some of us can sometimes take it a little too far.


Written by luminariamedia

March 19, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Posted in social media