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Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas Eve! I have to admit Christmas kind of sneaked up on me this year, and I can’t believe the celebration is about to begin.

The two things I look forward to the most during the holidays are spending time with family and holiday traditions. It’s always fun to ask people what their holiday traditions are. I didn’t realize so many people get a new set of pajamas!

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We do the bulk of our celebrations on Christmas Eve. My mom is from Poland where they serve seven courses of fish. This always meant my grandpa would bring home a live carp to swim around the bathtub for a few days before it ended up on the dinner table. We like to celebrate our Polish roots, but we’ve adjusted this tradition to fit our preferences and lack of desire to kill fish by hand.

Instead of the traditional fish courses, my mom cooks all of our favorite Polish food, including mushroom soup, pierogi, boiled potatoes with fresh dill and butter, Greek fish, golumpki (stuffed cabbage rolls), and kugel and makowiec (poppy seed cake) for dessert. Most of these foods are considered “peasant food,” so my mom would be so embarrassed to know that I broadcast that we eat these dishes for the holidays.

Following the Polish tradition, we also open all of our presents on Christmas Eve. After opening stockings on Christmas morning, we spend the day gorging ourselves on homemade cinnamon rolls and other sweets (very American of us) while watching some of the “classic” holiday movies, including A Christmas Story, Love Actually and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

~ Nicole

Friday, December 10, 2010

What to Consider When Your Company Is Ready for Social Media

So you’re thinking that it’s time to join the social networking scene, but you’re trying to wrap your mind around how updating a status on Facebook, re-tweeting a photo or joining LinkedIn can benefit your organization.

As with any communications, it is critical to understand the risks and benefits of this new technology. Regardless of which tool you use, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog, YouTube or any of the other vehicles ready and waiting for your “face time,” it’s important to understand that social communities require you to be transparent and fully engaged in two-way dialogues and respond quicker than you ever did before. Sharing your message in this environment carries far greater risks to your credibility, so it’s crucial to set guidelines within your organization. Social media is becoming an integral part of communications to both promote and protect your organization’s message or brand. It can be useful in developing a deeper relationship with influencers, allowing your audience to feel more connected to you.

So, what should you consider once you’ve decided social media should be integrated into communications plan?

1. Put your ears to the groundFind out what is being said about your organization: the good, the bad or worse. The worst would be finding that someone has already created a group or page under your name. You may be shocked at how simple it is to put together a page or create a group. After scoping out the social networking universe, test it out and engage in the conversations, but be careful to make sure you understand the context of the conversation. You want to contribute, not get caught up in unnecessary chatter.

2. Understand the cost
We often hear about the excitement of putting up a Facebook page or signing up for a Twitter account because, well, it’s free. But is it really? As an organization, it’s important that you control your message by proactively responding to and creating new content. This means someone will have to invest the time to create, manage and maintain your account. You’ll have to think of costs not in dollars but in staff time, which could add up to more than what you bargained for. So you must be prepared to invest time and money in the person who will be responsible for this work.

3. Get your hands dirty
Take the time to understand what you’re getting into and test drive your platform. There’s no better teacher than experience, so get to know the technology and the people using it to get a firm grasp on your overall communications strategy that is now expanding from the traditional media.