Welcome UAA JPC Students. I’m looking forward to working with you all on the newsroom lab. Links to templates you will need for the lab are below:

RDR script
SOT script
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10 minute rundown template

In 2008, Kaladi Brothers Coffee began the journey of building an online community. Really, that journey began 25 years ago when the company began as an espresso cart on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage. At that time, the commitment was to serve customers in a fast, friendly and efficient way. After more than two decades, this commitment has not changed.

Kaladi Brothers Coffee embraced technology in an effort to bring the attitude of fast, friendly and efficient service online. I’ll be speaking more at the Alaska Chapter of PRSA luncheon about how the company built its online community and how Kaladi Brothers Coffee has integrated its online community into overall communications. Here is the PRSA Presentation if you are interested in printing the slides prior to the luncheon.

Have you noticed KTUU Channel 2 News Anchors using iPads instead of paper scripts? They’ve been using the iPads for about a week, according to Megan Baldino who is an anchor for the 5 O’Clock Report and The Late Edition.

So how does it all work? Channel 2 staff uses ENPS (Essential News Production System) software for the newsroom computer system. ENPS has an app which allows anchors to view scripts and newscast rundowns on their iPads. In essence, it works as a mini teleprompter.

As a former producer, I was curious about how anchors would handle updating scripts on the fly or dropping stories during the newscast. Baldino said they are still working out all of those details, but adds the transition is going well and anchors will be paperless on the set in a few months.

A quick search showed WFXL-TV in Albany, GA and WFSB in Hartford, CT made the switch from paper scripts to iPads, as well. The news organizations noted the change is cost-effective and more environmentally friendly.

Nutcracker tickets for $22, discounts on salon services and a dozen specialty cupcakes for $10. These are some of the deals featured for Anchorage buyers last week at www.groupon.com, a web-based service offering deep discounts. Groupon made its debut in Anchorage last Monday and by all accounts, appears to be a hit among local bargain shoppers. Excited deal seekers tweeted, updated Facebook and blogged about snatching up hot deals in Anchorage.

“I am soooo all over today’s Anchorage Groupon! Today we can get a $70 voucher to use at The Skin Bar for just $35!!!” said Nichole Smith in a post on www.gooddealdivas.com, which is a local website featuring deals in Alaska, Hawaii and the United States.

There is no doubt Groupon provides great deals to consumers, but where is the value for retailers and service providers? Groupon requires businesses to offer discounts of 50 to 90 percent. Additionally, their cut for the online sales is up to 50 percent. Some business owners aren’t willing to post a Groupon deal because it may not add up to many, if any, profits. But, for some, it’s not about profit. Opel Letendre, who is owner of The Skin Bar Hair Body & Boutique, offered $70 worth of services for $35. She went with the Groupon deal thinking it would get a few people in the door to try her newly expanded business.

“It was so much more than that,” she said. “313 have purchased Groupon; we set the record for Anchorage so far. That is potentially 313 new clients coming in the door even if we only keep half of them coming back. That is a huge asset to our newly expanded business.”

Profit was not a huge factor when the Anchorage Concert Association offered A-Tier seating tickets to Nutcracker for $22. Jason Grenn, who is marketing director, said the deal was not much of a money-maker, but it was creative and cutting edge. As leaders in the arts, Grenn said it’s important to stay in tune with the pulse of new and exciting things in Anchorage.

“We have our own iPhone app and we did a flash mob with Mamma Mia, so some of those things show we are leading the charge for arts organizations,” he said.

Grenn noted the Groupon deals work well with larger shows because they have the inventory to offer deep discounts on tickets. He said a Groupon deal for a smaller one-night show wouldn’t work to their advantage.

Though there was a positive response, some Anchorage users were not able to access deals last week. Julie Mossler, who is a spokeswoman for Groupon, describes it as a “freak occurrence.” A hot deal from Nordstrom Rack and a mention on Oprah’s Favorite Things 2010 spurred a higher than usual amount of traffic, causing delays with their website.

To those who had trouble, it may be worth giving Groupon another shot. Jason Grenn says the Anchorage Concert Association is considering another deal for an upcoming Broadway show.

Erin Kirkland created AK on the GO to assist traveling and active families in Alaska.

We’ve had amazing fall weather in Anchorage, Alaska. In fact, my family recently made a spot decision to go camping, which is pretty rare for us in September. As I was packing for the camping trip, I remembered a Facebook post about first aid kits. The post came from Erin Kirkland’s AK on the GO Facebook Page and it spurred me to take action.      

Erin is a freelance writer specializing in family travel. She has multiple blogs, writes for Coast Magazine and is co-host of the Alaska Travelgram Show on KUDO AM 1080 with Scott McMurren. In 2009, Kirkland launched AK on the GO to assist families with kid-friendly travel and activity options in Alaska. Erin does a good job building an online community among families. The AK on the GO Facebook Page is one of the more successful local pages I’ve observed. Below are reasons why.       

It Solves Problems
Erin’s online success is due in part to her ability to plan, research and practice thought leadership. Erin says AK on the GO was born from a desire to share the scope of activities and travel opportunities in Alaska in a way that would be interesting and informative. Erin researched several months before launching AK on the GO to determine if there was a niche market and more importantly, to ensure she had enough time to make the website successful.         

Erin put the same amount of thought and planning before creating the AK on the GO Facebook Page. She started out by posting links on her personal page to get a feel for Facebook and to fully understand the whole “Fan Page thing.”  After months of observation, Erin decided Facebook is a good tool to provide value to her online community.       

“Facebook, I have noticed, is a family-friendly forum. Parents, especially moms, love to post pictures, read other’s impressions, ask questions. AK on the GO was a natural fit,” she said.       

Erin posts information of value on a daily basis. She shares her weekly Fun Friday blog post about upcoming weekend activities and tips about family travel in Alaska. The page solves problems for a variety of families, ranging from local parents looking for weekend activities, to those who are planning a big trip to Alaska.       

Catalyst for Conversation
Conversation is often a catalyst for people to share, to exchange ideas and to learn. Erin has mastered the art of good conversation on her page. She often asks pointed questions and always follows up with those that leave comments. This post, where Erin asks people to upload photos, is a great example of authentic conversation in action. Take note of how the focus is on family and sharing a love for exploring Alaska, rather than on one-sided selling.       

Community of Voices
Parents, especially mothers, like to talk. It is through conversations with other parents that we find solutions, gain insights and learn. This is exactly what happened after I read these comments on this post asking about the “must haves” in a first aid travel kit. We certainly didn’t think of mini duct tape or large safety pins (and my husband is a Firefighter/EMT). Both items would come in handy during an emergency and I intend to add them to my first aid kit.         

Success of a good Facebook Page should not be based on the amount of followers or on the number of comments per post. Rather, a successful page should be judged on whether it provides information of value that solves problems and spurs people to share ideas through authentic conversation. The AK on the GO Facebook Page accomplishes all of these things and more. What are your thoughts on the elements of a successful Facebook Page?   

My brother Mike is a mechanic and his abilities are diverse. Mike has fixed boat engines for impatient commercial fisherman in Dutch Harbor, Alaska and has tuned motor homes for laid-back travelers in Austin, Texas. As you can imagine, Mike has many different types of tools to fix a variety of problems. A skilled mechanic is able to quickly identify a problem, pinpoint a solution, and select the best tools to accomplish the task. Though our career paths are different, my brother and I share common professional objectives.

I often visualize my brother’s toolbox when clients approach me with projects. Upon identifying goals, I select the best tools to accomplish specific objectives. Facebook Places is a new tool I’ve been observing with great interest. Places allows users to announce their location to their live stream, as well as tag friends who are at the location with them.

When Facebook Places debuted, writers in various online channels speculated how the Facebook upgrade would impact other location-based services such as foursquare. While this is a worthwhile discussion, those of us who help build online communities need to remain focused on whether Places can solve problems and provide value. I decided to interview people who use Facebook Places to gain more insight and to determine if it is indeed solving problems or providing value.

A few people I interviewed say they decided to check-in simply because they saw the new feature pop up while using Facebook on their mobile devices. One person told me she will not use Facebook Places because it “feels a little bit creepy.” I noticed a few people using Facebook Places for a very specific purpose to achieve desired outcomes.

Corinna Tuott is the focus of my first example. She is enrolled in at the Trend Setters School of Beauty in Anchorage, Alaska. Hands-on learning is a large part of the curriculum. In an effort to gain experience, Corinna was initially offering free haircuts to friends and family. She used Facebook to communicate the free cuts to her network. It was a smart move. Facebook is a great tool to help Corinna get the word out about discounted beauty services. The response is favorable because Corinna is solving problems and providing value to her online network. People spend less on waxing, color and cuts. Meanwhile, Corinna gets experience and builds relationships essential for her future success. In an effort to enhance customer service, Corinna started checking-in via Places at Trend Setters, offering yet another opportunity to interact.

Many expressed privacy concerns hours after Facebook Places debuted. There are users, however, who check-in hoping people will come to specific locations. Yvonne is one such person. She uses Facebook primarily to connect with other parents and to set up play groups with other children. Yvonne said she is not concerned about privacy because she is comfortable with her Facebook network and in fact, checks-in at certain locations hoping parents will meet her.

Corinna and Yvonne are two of many using Facebook Places to interact with their online communities. Some are using it for specific purposes, while others are simply trying it out for the first time. Experts in the industry are predicting Facebook’s new upgrade will educate tens of thousands of people who have never heard of or used location-based services.

My take is this. Facebook Places is yet another tool in a very large toolbox that can provide value and solve problems in specific situations to meet specific goals. However, it is important to note Places or other location-based services for that matter, are not for everyone. A skilled communicator with experience building successful online communities should have wisdom to know the difference.

I’ve been fairly silent this week amidst lots of online noise. It’s not typical for me to be quiet in online channels because my job is to tweet and post for clients. The talking-to-listening shift happened Tuesday, August 10, the day the story broke about the fatal plane crash near Dillingham, involving former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Five people died and four others were injured in the crash.

On Tuesday morning, the local Twitter community was focused on information involving questions of who, what, when and where. As I checked my timeline, I saw acts of leadership among local professionals who worked hard to responsibly answer those questions. I read tweets filled with frustration when facts and sources were called into question. There was confusion as information, some correct and some incorrect, buzzed across online channels. It was a lot to take in. I got quiet. I knew people in my online community were close friends, co-workers, and possibly family members of those who perished in the crash. I knew some were still devastated by the deadly C-17 crash on Elmendorf Air Force Base just weeks ago. Nothing seemed appropriate to say.

I shared a couple of news stories that had confirmed, factual information, posted condolences from my client, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, and have since been doing more listening than talking.

The focus is now on the how and why of the story. Details of the final moments before the plane crashed are likely to be revealed in the coming days. Survivors may share their stories and mourners will gather next week for a memorial. Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca once said, “It is a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence.” Out of respect, the coming days will mark my season of online silence.

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