How Business Travel Can Benefit Your Company

As the economy begins to improve, companies still find themselves cutting costs by eliminating business trips. It makes sense—remove trips and you save money—yet is it smart? At March Communications, we frequently travel and believe that business trips are a core component of a successful company.

Face-to-face contact is an irreplaceable advantage of business travel. The value of videoconferencing, email, and Skype is not to be undermined, yet they do not replace meeting in person. Face-to-face meetings allow you to observe verbal and non-verbal behaviors not captured over the phone or through video. These gestures and exchanges connect you to the client and help develop trust.

Networking opportunities is another advantage of attending conferences and trade shows. Aarti, a  March employee told me a story about how she got the contact information of a valuable journalist while waiting in line for the bathroom at an event. This type of interaction is what makes business travel worth it.

Business travel also increases your revenue. A report by Oxford Economics says that for every dollar invested in business travel, companies realize $12.50 in incremental revenue and $3.80 in new profits. Therefore, by cutting business travel your company may be forfeiting profits.

To get the most out of your trip, I recommend following 5 business travel tips:

  1. Ask yourself if the face-to-face meeting is necessary. What can you get from this meeting that you can’t get from other means of communication?
  2. Make the trip hassle free. Boston’s Logan International Airport has tight security that can sometimes result in a long wait. Arriving early is essential to avoid a stressful last-minute dash to the plane.
  3. Have an agenda. An agenda ensures a productive meeting and lets participants know that there is a legitimate purpose for their attendance.
  4. Remember the trip is not a perk. Keep the trip focused on business and spend within company guidelines. No massage or beach day involved.
  5. Keep in touch with people you meet at conferences.

What other business tips would you suggest; do you have any advice for a successful meeting?

This post was first published by Rachel Leamon on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

public link has successfully launched its new blog „100% New“

The public link colleagues are blogging about new products and new services.

Our deep passion for new products finds perfect expression in our “100% new” blog. Whether actual innovation, a nice “me too” or just some quirky contrivance – as long it has “NEW” written on it we will see to it. Perhaps a red-hot campaign, the hundredth club to open in Berlin or the latest Lady Gaga video? We will add our two cents. The reheated, rediscovered and even the long forgotten will also find a place here. We hope you enjoy it; to read, comment, bookmark and share.

Please have a look at http://www.publiclink.de/blog/en/
You are all welcome to contribute to the blog – maybe you just found a hot or bizarre new product in your market?

Lina (l.klespe@publiclink.de) is our „Head of Blog“ and she is looking forward to receive ideas, links, comments.

Indra Musiol – public linc, GlobalCom partner Berlin

404: Page not found – Bummer!

Who doesn’t know the probably most (in)famous internet error message – “404: Page not found”. Reading this message usually causes annoyance and disappointment. But this might be a thing of the past now! According to an article on ChannelPartner, more and more webmasters use their creative abilities to design new and inventive error messages.

The creative designs can not solve the problem, but at least they can counter the disappointment by making us laugh.

IDG has compiled some of the funniest and most creative error messages and published them in a slide show. You can also find your own favourites by searching for “Error 404” online – from black holes and machine responses to Homer Simpson and other cartoons and caricatures (almost) every style is presented!

My favourite, however, is the “Houston we have a problem!” design with a space-shuttle picture – implying the user is “lost in space”. And that’s exactly how we sometimes feel like, isn’t it?

Sophie Schmid – GlobalCom Germany

The foursquare Phenomenon Explained

As a recent foursquare addict member, I’ve been questioned by several friends and colleagues each time I pull out my phone to “check-in” when we arrive at a new location. It would seem that, even though foursquare is adding close to 100,000 members each week with over 1.7 million users, many people still don’t know about it.

foursquare is simply a location-based social network used on your cell phone. Similar to competitors like Brightkite, Loopt, Gowalla, and Google Latitude, it lets you update your friends on your whereabouts in the hope that they’ll be in and around the same area and can meet up. And who doesn’t love meeting up with friends? You also earn points and unlock badges for discovering new places, doing new things and meeting new people. While the points and badges don’t seem to mean much, each check-in gets you closer to being the mayor of a particular venue – and having check-ins and mayor status is actually worthwhile.

You become mayor when you have the most check-ins at a specific location. For example, I’m mayor of March CommunicationsBeacon Hill Athletic Club, and this little pizza place in the North End (yum!).  While the title of mayor might not seem like a big deal, certain businesses offer big bonuses. For instance, in Boston, if you’re the mayor of Gypsy Bar or The Liquor Store, you get to skip the line and skip the cover charge. And if you’re the mayor of Ben & Jerry’s, you get an extra scoop of ice cream!

There are other great deals for checking-in on foursquare, even if you’re not the mayor. Aquitainein South Boston gives you a free glass of sparkling wine for every fourth check-in and Cheers gives you a half price appetizer whenever you check-in. For anyone who knows me – this pretty much explains why I do foursquare – I love finding great deals!

While this all sounds great, there have been some concerns raised about the privacy of foursquare. Whenever you check-in, you have the option to send it to Twitter and Facebook, which will look something like this. I suppose this presents the perfect opportunity for stalkers to track you down, especially if you’re religious about updating your whereabouts. There are some simple fixes to this though and general practices, which I abide by:

  1. Only friend people on foursquare who are actually your friends
    What’s the point of knowing where a stranger from Albuquerque is checking-in anyway? Isn’t the point to meet up with your friends in the same area as you? I suppose if you travel to Albuquerque often and are looking to make new friends, this might be acceptable…
  2. Don’t update Twitter or Facebook with your location, just send your update to the foursquare app for your foursquare friends
    By sending your update to Twitter, everyone can see where you are. So, before checking-in, just uncheck the little box that says “Send to Twitter” and “Send to Facebook,” but leave the box checked that says “Tell my friends.” This will keep your update just on the foursquare app.
  3. Check-in to venues as you are leaving
    This lets you still earn the points, badges, etc, while updating your friends on where you are, but keeps it safer for unwelcome trackers who may be hunting you down. Yikes! It might seem scary, but, let’s face it, we all have those scary ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, or crazy aunts we don’t want to run into!
  4. Still wary? Don’t use it.
    There are many issues being raised with location-based social networks, so, if it still creeps you out and the other three steps aren’t enough, just don’t use foursquare. Do things the old fashioned way and pick up the phone and call your friends to see where they are to meet up. Who knows, maybe you’ll bring phone calls back in style.

For those who still don’t see the point, I’ll admit, it took me a while to jump on the bandwagon, but, I’ve already found foursquare to be extremely useful in and around Boston. For example, when I was watching the tragic Celtics (yay) versus Lakers (boo) game 7 of the NBA Championships, I was at The Greatest Bar. But, when the bar stopped letting people in because they were already over capacity three hours before tip-off, I was able to check foursquare and see that some of my friends who didn’t make it had ventured to The Harp, where I was able to then meet up with them and watch the game. Voila, foursquare to the rescue!

So, if you’re a friend of mine, feel free to friend me on foursquare and maybe we can randomly meet up in the city next time you check-in!

This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

iWish: apps that don’t exist but should

Creative ideas in regards to Apple seem to be nearly inexhaustible. While my favourite is still the photoshop competition on Worth1000.com where creative members designed Apple’s next  products – such as the iPotty, the iRon or the iGuit – I found another hub of ideas on Pogue’s Posts in the New York Times on Friday.

David Pogue challenged his Twitter followers to invent iPhone or Android apps that don’t exist but should. Despite 225,000 apps on the iPhone store and 60,000 on Google’s Android store he received plenty of creative suggestions such as:

  • a To Do-list program that, thanks to the phone’s GPS, would remind you of things to do when you’re in the right place to do them — to “pick up a saw when you’re near the hardware store”
  • “a money program, à la Quicken, with an app that lets me take a photo of a receipt and have it entered into my account.”
  • an app to tell you “where the nearest and cleanest public bathroom is.”
  • “An grocery-store app that tells you the aisle of the item you’re looking for… ”

or even more advanced

  • “an app that maps out my grocery list in the supermarket to give me an optimized shopping path.”

The topic fitness was also represented:

  • An app that “syncs two or more iPods/iPhones, so you can run or work out with someone and everyone’s music stays in sync”“a background app that monitors my physical
  • activity for the day (via the accelerometer) & tells me if I need to hit the gym at night.”

A very nice suggestion for nerds:

  • An app that “adds background noise (airport, party…) during my calls, so people don’t think I’m a nerd sitting at my computer all day.”

Most likely to stay unfulfilled dreams are apps such as:

  • “an app that gives my wife the ‘right answer'“
  • “an app that teleports me to a spot with a good cell signal.”

For more ideas visit Pogue’s Posts

Wibke Sonderkamp – GlobalCom Germany

5 Social Media Trends to Keep an Eye On

I recently came across an interesting article by Barb Dybwad, which looks at 5 social media trends that companies should watch right now. She says that while some may not be immediately relevant to your company or industry, it’s important to be aware of these trends to keep your business ahead of the curve. Here are the 5 social media trends hat may help to increase your organization’s growth:

  • Location — Sites such as Twitter now allow you to attach location information to let your followers know where you are tweeting from. You can also use FourSquare to “check in” to various locations (see Meredith’s post for more on how to use FourSquare). Google Latitude will also update your location automatically if you’re comfortable with sharing that information. I personally have not tested out any of these services yet, but I can see how they would benefit small businesses by increasing their exposure.
  • Group Buying — Sites like GroupOn and LivingSocial offer users daily deals in their city. Pay $20 for $50 worth of food at a quality restaurant? Count me in! For businesses, this can serve as an opportunity to both reward loyal customers and attract new clientele who may discover you through a daily deal.
  • Mobile Ads — Google has acquired AdMob, a mobile ad platform while Apple’s new iAd platform seeks to improve the mobile ad experience to the end user by avoiding making them leave whatever app experience they are currently in. Being able to reach a customer on the go can be very beneficial for a brand.
  • Mobile Payments — These days, who doesn’t love to make a payment online? Now, users can make payments directly from their phones. A startup called Square, attaches to the iPhone’s headphone jack and allows credit card transactions to be processed right there.
  • Having a Social Media Policy — With all of these emerging technologies, companies will need to provide employees with social media guidelines so they know what is acceptable, especially when representing the company on social networking sites.

I agree with Barb and feel that all of these social media trends will be worth watching — have you or your company started to use any of these services yet?

This post was first published by Danielle Sherman on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

Up with the Digital Down Time

Over the last few days I have noticed a trend.  It’s not anti-technology and it’s not anti-business but it feels as if people are slowly turning onto the fact that our obsessive pursuit of connectivity and technology devices may have a down side.

Yesterday, at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, for which we did the event PR (see this great piece), a great variety of solutions were on show that allow organizations to tap into and take advantage of the wealth of information and expertise that exists online, while liberating them from legacy communication and productivity tools like email.  They promise huge competitive advantages in the form of increased innovation, productivity and agility and it’s a fascinating area for sure.

However, the first session I joined was called ‘The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0′, and was hosted by Alcaltel-Lucent’s Greg Lowe and Kathleen Culver. The presentation talked about the downsides of our always-on, always-connected lifestyles and how we should consider the negative potential this has for general happiness and well-being, but also for creativity, productivity, efficiency, sense of involvement, etc.  Many of the things, ironically, that social media set out to for improve!

Then last night, I get home and turn the TV on to watch some DVR’d World Cup games (the only possible way to watch TV these days is to DVR out the 20 minutes of ads per hour….obviously), and there is a report on digital addiction.  Scientists are recommending that people use the off buttons on their many devices to get some downtime, some lone time, some respite from the relentless pressure to be always contactable and responsive.

Psychiatrist Dr. Ned Hallowell is quoted, saying “Turn off the device, log off from your computer, set aside time to think, set aside time to talk with people you love. It’s a matter of taking back control that we’ve inadvertently taken away.”

And this morning , a colleague forwards me ‘Why I returned my iPad’ by Peter Bregman, which talks about how the iPad was so usable and delicious that he sent it back to Apple because it brought digital intrusion too far into his life!

In our household we have now started to be more mindful of this ‘digital intrusion.’

We noticed our kids complaining that we weren’t listening to them, weren’t giving them our undivided attention.  And we weren’t… because it’s usually fully divided – between them, the blackberry and the laptop!  So now we try to put computers and mobile devices away when we are home with the kids and be less divided.  It’s not that easy to do because everyone still expects you to answer your phone straight away or respond to that IM, Tweet or Text in milliseconds…but hopefully they’ll get used to it.

Meanwhile at work, we need to find ways to filter out all the crap that comes flying at us through email and other social technologies so that we  are able to focus long enough to be intelligent and productive.  Quick fixes might be to shut down email, IM and Tweetdecks for parts of the day so that one can think, imagine, be creative and concentrate.  Getting people to get up and walk across the room to actually speak to someone, rather than send an email, is another.  Have meetings away from the computer so that email isn’t catching your eye – in the Summer go and brainstorm in the park!

Basically it’s time to go back to basics a bit when communicating and interacting with people and dig out some of those interpersonal skills that have been gathering dust!

This post was first published by Martin Jones on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

Behind the Retweet: What Makes a Blog Post Popular

Think about the type of blog post that interests you. Why does it catch your attention? Is it informative, funny, or short and sweet?

After seeing people retweet my previous blog post about why PR pros should embrace Twitter, I wondered why this post was popular. The topic obviously interested me, but it wasn’t a groundbreaking idea. Other posts that I wrote involved statistics, quoted articles, and took time to create—but they weren’t popular.

I looked at the content of posts with hundreds of views and retweets. I studied the social media pro Chris Brogan’s blog. I thought about what I like to read. Eventually, I came up with a list to answer the burning question: what makes a blog post popular?

1.) Bullet points

Reading a blog should be quick and easy. Bullet points instantly make text easier to read. Bold words help, too.

2.) Questions

Don’t you think they’re a great way to catch readers’ attention?

3.) Tips & Tricks

Everyone likes advice. Especially advice that is put into a neat list.

4.) Short Sentences

Keep posts interesting. Make reading easy and quick.

5.) Pictures

Web browsing can leave you with a 9-second attention span— the same as a goldfish. Pictures can attract those wondering minds and keep readers focused on the article.

To all the readers and bloggers–what else makes a blog post popular?

This post was first published by Rachel Leamon on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.