Souvenirs from IPREX Sonoma Conference

A few souvenirs from the Sonoma experience:

Do Decant.

In the midst of a glorious early morning wine tasting at Hanzell Vineyards, the clouds began to part, the view from the hill was a majestic and piercing shade of lime, and all was good with life. Especially the wine.Bob Sessions, winemaker, impressed upon us the importance of decanting fine wine. As my colleagues and I mulled this over, we joked that we should decant more often. And in more than one way. Life is busy, online work is fast-paced, it’s hard to steal a moment for contemplative thought. And so we collectively joked, “Please don’t bother me, I’m decanting.” Taking the time to process, mull, reflect and taste is critical to good communications work. Being responsive is important, but only a substantive response has legs.

Heidi White and Mike Swenson of Barkley PR/Cause

Control Freaks Make Great Things.

Both in wine and in words, attention to detail is everything.  Good PR professionals have many things in common, and chief among them is a big dedication to the little things. Understanding social nuances, crossing your t’s and dotting your I’s, remembering personal details that make your correspondence meaningful and unique, getting your facts right. Embrace your inner control freak.

The Web is Like a Bad Tattoo.

Unlike a fine wine, bad buzz posted today will still look old and wrinkled years from now. As Reputation.comco-founder Owen Tripp, eloquently shared, social media and crisis are inextricably linked. Once you or your client make a mistake, or receive a nasty review online, there’s going to be some untangling to do. You are far better off avoiding the mistake and working to prevent negative experiences with your client or brand in the first place, then trying to unknot an ugly mess.

In the caves at historic Hanzell Vineyards

What Would Be on James Bond’s Facebook Page?

Some parts of our identities should remain sacred. The same goes for companies and brands. Manage your brand/client’s reputation online as you would a global security secret. With room for transparency and personality. At the same time, trust your audience and empower them. As Jay from Wikimedia Foundation shared, “Online communities possess extraordinary power. Earning the trust of your community is critical. If your community is not empowered- then you are robbing them of their power.”

Minimize Risk.

As more companies divide communications responsibilities across varying vendor partners (digital media/strategy, social media campaigns, advertising, corporate communications, etc.) the higher the risk is of having these varying groups stray from a unified strategy or message. The need for a single, compelling brand voice is clear now, more than ever. PR, in its ability to earn trust, build relationships, clarify the facts and influence the conversation and overall landscape, makes a compelling case as keeper of the brand voice and champion of the brand promise.

P.S. The Sonoma International Film Festival experience also brought forth gems:  1) Screening “Something Ventured,” a clever documentary that entertainingly profiled the rise of the venture capitalist amidst the 1960s South Bay tech industry explosion. 2) Bumping into Dame Shirley Bassey, renowned vocalist and the voice behind many James Bond film tracks, including Goldfinger in our hotel lobby. She was at the Festival accompanied by the crew behind “Sir Billi,” the first full length animated feature ever produced exclusively in Scotland. Sir Sean Connery is the film’s executive producer.


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