Two Can't-Miss Cambridge/Somerville Events!

Fresh Ground is sponsoring two events in the Somerville/Cambridge area over the next few days that we'd love to see you at!

I'm very proud to be a featured speaker (well, technically a "drill instructor") at this Thursday's New Economy Boot Camp. The event is designed to help business owners and managers find new ways to market smarter –- not just cheaper -- using a mix of traditional and social media marketing techniques. These Boot Camps will be held quarterly through out New England. And, you get to see me dressed up in cammies...

Survival Training
How to Execute & Evaluate a Successful Social Media Program
Todd Van Hoosear, Principal, Fresh Ground


I'm also proud to be an organizer (and the PR manager) for TEDxSomerville, taking place this Sunday, March 4th! Our own C. Todd Lombardo was featured on Greater Somerville talking about the event! The video is below, in which he explains the history and overview of TED, TEDx and TEDxSomerville.



Hyper-Everything Video

Last Wednesday, the Social Media Club Boston met out in Framingham for the latest in a series of programs we've run touching on the intersection of journalism and social media. My business partner Chuck Tanowitz has been very passionate about the subject, so it was only natural to invite him to moderate the program. Here is the video of the program:

Social Media Club Boston June 2011 Journalism Panel: "Hyper Everything"

From the front line to the local coffee shop to the courthouse, journalism faces pressure not only to remain profitable, but to remain relevant. This panel of journalists gives an in-depth discussion of the pressures and possibilities facing the journalism profession today.

Our panelists included:

* Ed Medina (@surfermedina), Director of Multimedia Development, Boston Globe and
* Kristin Burnham (@kmburnham), Staff Writer,
* Tom Langford (@tom_langford), Reporter, NECN
* Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman), New Media Contributor,

The event was sponsored by IDG and Business Wire. Thank you to both for their continued support of the Social Media Club Boston!

What did you think?

After the event, IDG's Colin Browning interviewed Chuck to dive a little deeper in a few areas. Here is a recording of that interview:



I'm happy to announce that our own Chuck Tanowitz will moderate next Wednesday's Social Media Club Boston event on "Hyper-Local, Hyper-Social, Hyper-Competitive: The New Journalism," hosted by IDG and Sponsored by IDG and BusinessWire. As a passionate, engaged and opinionated follower of the profession, not to mention a former journalist, Chuck was a perfect fit for this panel.

From the front line to the local coffee shop to the courthouse, journalism faces pressure not only to remain profitable, but to remain relevant. Join this panel of journalists for an in-depth discussion of the pressures and possibilities facing the journalism profession today.

His panelists will include:

  • Ed Medina (@surfermedina), Director of Multimedia Development, Boston Globe and
  • Kristin Burnham (@kmburnham), Staff Writer,
  • Tom Langford (@tom_langford), Reporter, NECN
  • Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman), New Media Contributor,

Hope to see you there!


Social Media Strategies Summit comes to Boston in September

The Social Media Strategies Summit 2011Fresh Ground is proud to be a media partner of this upcoming event, alongside the Social Media Club Boston!

Following their sold out event in San Francisco with speakers from Facebook, Zappos, Dunkin’ Donuts and much more, GSMI has decided to bring the 2011 Social Media Strategies Summit to the East Coast. They've gathered more of the best and brightest speakers in the social media marketing arena to present emerging strategies, tactics and case studies in the successful use of social media. This event reveals how leading brands use social media to consolidate and expand their market share, as well as, gain valuable market data.

Hope to see you there!


Launch Your Website in a Day

I have a few upcoming events I want to call your attention to. The first is a day-long program aimed at people who need to get their web presence in line.

"Create a Killer Web Strategy for Your Business & Launch Your Website in a Day" is taking place on Saturday, May 14, 2011 from 8:30am to 3:30pm, and I will be one of four speakers / workshop facilitators helping out. If you need to build a new site, or are not happy with the messaging, performance or traffic on your existing site, this is the program for you.

The full-day program will help you bring your business strategy to your website. We'll work with you to determine the most effective design, message, tools and channels to achieve your business goals online. I'm helping with the section on promoting your site and building your community. Hope to see you there!

In this very hands-on program, we'll translate your strategy into technical features, visual design, copy and audience acquisition channels–then start implementing. Mini-seminars alternate with open work sessions and one-on-one consulting to help you reach your goals.

What You Need: Bring your positioning statement and your laptop. Each registrant receives a hosted website that is set up and ready to be customized. If you have a website already running on a content management system (CMS), you can opt to pick up from where you are and improve its effectiveness.

What You Get: You leave with your business website online and with the practical skills needed for ongoing development. Registration includes lunch and two months of hosting and phone/email support.

Cost: $420 | members (10% discount) $378 | Students with valid ID (20% discount) $336

One Marina Park Drive (near S. Station and Courthouse T stops)
GPS: 55 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 02210



One Client, Two Big Walks

I promised a lot of updates in our last post, and I'd like to start with a couple events that are coming up quickly.

We've been working with HMEA for more than a year now. They have two very big walks coming up, and we hope you can help support either of both of them!

Community Walk for Autism Awareness
Over 2,000 people come together each year to support the Autism Resource Center of Central Massachusetts, because everyone understands how the Center can change lives. Their annual 5k walk is this weekend, and if you can't join them for the walk, could you chip in a few dollars to help get them a little closer to their goal? The Center supports families who are living with autism right now, by giving them support right in their own communities, and connecting them with others who share their experiences. Every penny raised stays in Central Massachusetts; they don't send donations to a larger organization, for research or to fund national programs!


The 10th Annual Independence 5K Walk, Run, Roll & Stroll in The Park
The second event we want to promote is the 10th Annual Independence 5K. Here's a recent press release that explains a bit more about the agency and this great event:

Gene Lavanchy, Fox 25 morning News anchor, and New England Patriot Steve Nelson will host the 10th Annual HMEA Independence 5K Walk Run Roll & Stroll on May 22 at EMC, 50 Constitution Blvd, in the Franklin Industrial Park.

The event also celebrates HMEA’s 50th anniversary as a human services agency providing support for 2,600 children and adults with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and intellectual and physical challenges. Coverage of this main event includes pre-, during and post-event publicity, including web presence, social media, live radio broadcast from WMRC Radio reaching more than 20 towns throughout central and southeastern Massachusetts, plus regional newspapers.

Specific sponsoring companies receive free tee shirts, plus name recognition on all banners and tee shirts and in all press releases distributed throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In addition, HMEA offers each major sponsor the opportunity to address the crowd on the winners' platform at the end of the race.

Will you help us support this event?



Please help support Gulf Coast families in need

6PM - 11PM

Citizen Effect’s CitizenGulf project will become a National Day of Action on August 25th, in alignment with the week of the fifth anniversary of Katrina. The benefit — to be promoted by Gulf Coast Benefit — seeks to help fishing families find a new, more sustainable future by providing education resources for their children.

The Boston Event

We'll be kicking things off at 6pm at the Precinct Bar in Union Square, Somerville with a reception. At 7pm, we'll enjoy presentations from one or two of our special guests, speaking about the situation and efforts in the Gulf. Raffle and LIVE music will follow -- stay tuned for more info on the band, guest speakers and raffle items. Sign up today at

Your $10 cover charge will get you in the door, a drink ticket for your favorite New Orleans - inspired cocktail, free food, and the opportunity to listen (to great bands), learn (from smart people) and win! Prizes will include a vacation package in Cape Cod, gift certificates and much, much more!

Go here for parking and directions:

Sign up now!

Become a Sponsor

Because all of the cover charge goes directly to the charity, we need your help to offset the costs of running the local event. If you would like to share a prize or otherwise help offset our costs, please drop Todd Van Hoosear an email at and consider signing up for one of the sponsorship options above.

CitizenGulf Education Program for Gulf Oil Spill Families

All ticket sales and donations from CitizenGulf Day of Action events will give families living in affected areas the extra support they need to get their children off to a great start this school year and to help ease stress on families with after school support services and activities.

The most vulnerable victims of the disaster are children. As part of our response to helping fishing families, Citizen Effect and Catholic Charities of New Orleans have created an education fund that will provide assistance to families in the form of school supplies and uniforms, as well as after school programming that includes tutoring and homework assistance, enrichment classes, recreational activities, and healthy snacks.

The Nationwide Effort

CitizenGulf is a collaborative initiative between Andy Sternberg, Citizen Effect,, Live Your Talk, Sloane Berrent, Social Media Club, Taylor Davidson and Zoetica.

Again, please sign up now at See you there!


Join me for "Social CRM Demystified" on Aug. 18th

I'm really excited to be able to share what I've learned so far about the growing space of Social CRM -- the intersection of social media and what some people are calling demand generation. Join me on Wednesday, August 18th at 2pm for "Social CRM Demystified: The Business & Customer Benefits."

Social technologies have become a new mainstay in the way we not only communicate and interact, but increasingly in how we work and form relationships with the people who matter most. With Social CRM, your business can transform and deepen the overall customer experience to improve your business performance—and more importantly, your customers’ overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Join social media pioneer Dan Bruns, Mzinga's Sr. Vice President of Advanced Technologies, and me as we explain how social CRM is changing the way companies engage and interact with their customers, prospects, fans, and even employees. We'll explore, among other things:

  • What is Social CRM, and why is it relevant to your business and your customers?
  • What are some of the common use cases and benefits?
  • How can you get started in turning Social CRM into a reality for your organization?



Does Google Discourage Diversity?

During the Mass TLC Social Media Summit 2010, David Weinberger pointed out how marketers love the "echo chamber" in which they get to hear lots of positive feedback from people who already love them. The problem with this, he says, is that the echo chamber may satisfy our bosses and clients, thereby making us look good, but it does little to help advance true thinking. He believes we should be encouraging more diverse thought.

David Weinberger as seen on Wikipedia

He's right, of course. Later in the morning Mike Troiano gave a shout-out to the concept of diversity of thought in his listening talk by noting that "listening is the means by which we corrupt our vision with the external reality." That is, we (entrepreneurs) may think we know everything, but when we start listening to the people around us, we realize that we know less and need to think more.

On the surface, Weinberger is right. Diversity of thought and ideas leads often leads to stronger discussions. That is, when it doesn't end with a bunch of guys yelling "You suck!" "No, YOU suck!" Or worse, with one US Senator beating another with a cane.

Generally speaking, informed discourse is the way to go, it's why we have Freedom of the Press. If we had state-run news agencies that providing everything we needed to know, we wouldn't be able to check on our government. Worse, the government would be getting and relaying information only from those with the money to lobby, and no one would be there to shout "this isn't right!" (I'm looking at you BP who told the government experts that cutting the big oil pipe would result in a 20 percent increase in oil, something that the media parroted. Only, today NPR reported that it could, in fact, be much worse.)

In any case, when it comes to diverse thought we have a small problem. Well, a big problem, actually. It's called Google.

Marketers bow before Google as the god of online marketing. Putting out a press release? Run it through a few SEO tools to make sure your keywords line up just right. Reporter writing stories find themselves rewarded based on the number of views their stories achieve, something that plays directly into Google's hands. But rising in the Google rankings means playing to the echo chamber.

Here's how it works. Let's assume that a bunch of people linked to Dave Weinberger's site calling him the smartest guy on the Internet. Eventually you'll be able to search Google for the "smartest guy on the Internet" and find Dave. Pretty cool. But if there is diversity, some may call him the smartest guy, but others may say he's the biggest moron they know. Now Google is a bit confused. Maybe both searches get to him, but more likely another guy becomes the smartest guy on the Internet and Dave loses out.

So if marketers need to get Google to look their way they need the echo chamber. They need those links that portray their company (or their client's company) in a positive light, containing the right links, etc.

Granted, this is a bit of a simplification, but you get the point.

Which raises a pretty important question. While Google opens us up to a wealth of information that has never been available, does it also push us to be less diverse in our thought?


What I Learned From the Marines

I had the great pleasure last week of being invited, along with some other local media and social media mavens, to get a ride in an MV-22 Osprey, the Marine Corps' VTOL transport aircraft. The reason? Marine Week Boston 2010.

What I expected was a highly choreographed, "by the book" process with very little flexibility (but plenty of "hurry up and wait"). Marines have a reputation for taking orders and taking them well, after all. What I got, however, was in many ways very different.

It was far from the top-down, command-and-control exercise I was expecting. What we got instead was a case study in (extremely successful) organization chaos. This was, after all, only the second Marine Week ever held, and the first one in Boston, and trying to account for every last variable when planning an event is next to impossible, especially when you're trying to keep a bunch of social media mavens happy and out of trouble (read, "herd cats"), move multi-million dollar equipment around and showcase what is probably the most misunderstood branch of the military.

Marine Week Boston 2010 was successful not only due to the amazing planning of the organizing team; it was successful because the Marines have built a culture that survives -- and indeed thrives -- in the most difficult of environments and circumstances. From the ground up, the Marine culture (surprisingly only to those who don't hang around Marines much) encourages discourse, independent thought and initiative; while still respecting authority and the dignity of everyone (you will never meet a more polite, respectful American than a Marine).

So how can we, as communicators, learn from this event, and from the Marine Corps in general? Here are a few takeaway lessons for all communicators, whether you're planning a big event or not:

  1. Prepare yourself for change. Marine aren't born, they're reborn. They are pulled from the undisciplined herd and introduced, through a rigorous process, to the Marine culture. They learn not only to shoot and swim like a Marine, but most importantly to think like a Marine. Just like every single graduate of MCRD Parris Island or MCRD San Diego, we as business leaders and communicators must relearn everything we know about business communications before we can continue to succeed.
  2. Sweat the small stuff. Marine Week Boston wasn't successful because of the masterful planning of the organizers (though they did a great job), it was successful because the Marines involved were detail oriented. From they day a recruit trainee has to break down and rebuild his or her M16, Marines learn that big tasks can be accomplished in small steps.
  3. Command-and-control doesn't scale. Marine culture can surprise many people. Far from being unthinking killing machines, Marines are taught to think independently -- to follow orders but not be afraid to question them if they go against Marine Corps values or their code of conduct. The Marine Corps functions in chaos because every Marine is trained and empowered to be able to step up to the plate and assume the mantle of leadership. Similarly, we as communicators and business leaders must make sure everyone in our organization is ready to do the same. Which brings me to #4:
  4. Trust me. Just like a Marine must be able to trust every other Marine in his or her platoon, you must learn to trust that not only the members of your marketing, communications and PR teams, but every employee, and ultimately, every customer understands and is empowered to be able to spread the word about your organization. Sure, the recruiters are the bread and butter when it comes to getting the word out about the Marine Corps, but Marines are learning to trust all of their Marines with communicating to the public, going so far as to recently lift the ban on social media.

Thank you to everyone involved for giving me the flight of a lifetime (500 feet over Boston with the back door open!) and reminding me of some important life and business lessons.

Oh, here's the best video of the trip, recorded and edited by Eric Schwartzman:

And my longer video:

See other writeups from our adventure below:

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