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TechMama Talks: Work, Family, Education and Mobile Tech

TechMamas talkIt may have been a month since I last posted, but that gave me some time to think. During that time I decided to channel my dear Grandmother in my writing, who as she got older decided to share her authentic voice. Of course, that involved some embarrassing moments such as when she met a new boyfriend of mine for the first time and asked “I look forward to seeing you walk down the isle together”. I joked and said “you mean at the grocery store?”. But my Grandmother must of been reading our body language because we did end up walking down the isle and are a happily married couple running after our adorable but energetic three boys. I feel privileged to have met an amazing community of bloggers online and share my insights on technology. Now I want to go back to sharing my musings on life and important initiatives.

 

Parents and Work: I am excited to see women developing initiatives to empower and promote career advancement for women at work.  But from what I experienced as a parent, the job market is very tricky these days so finding work that offers a salary to cover the costs of childcare and extra incidental costs is a challenge. Many parents also need some sort of offer flexible work environments, which can add to the challenge. The job market has changed, there are new job skills required including technology and social media. In addition, while online networking has created multiple channels for career advancement, choosing the right channels to create real business opportunities is an important consideration.

 

The childcare challenge is not just a mom problem – it is a “parenting” challenge. I started a lively discussion on Facebook about this topic and I was thrilled to see responses of parents that are overcoming all types of challenges to work and also parents making the choice to stay home. I made a comment that we all value time with our children, that their happiness is the most important goal of whatever arrangements are made. I look forward to share stories on my blog of women that have found creative solutions to adapt to the modern workplace. Including women that have taken time off for kids then not only ramped back up to work years later – they BLASTED OFF!

 

Family Technology: We are at a time where you can stream, automate, use voice, consume content and entertainment in many ways and multiple devices. But families are struggling with helping their kids set screen time limits, stay safe online, learn social networking etiquette, decide what devices they really NEED and HOW TO use them. To make matters more complicated, kids now grow up surrounded with technology so it is second nature. For example, I have an Internet connected TV and my kids are the ones that signed up and are power users of Netflix compared to me. I feel so old school watching shows on TV networks. I know how to stream everything on my PC’s but at night I still like to turn on the TV and watch a show. My kids hardly watch traditional TV networks anymore.

 

Luckily because of my business, I also consume information and social network online which allows me to talk my kids’ language. At the same time I realize the online world is a dangerous place for kids that require a new type of education. I have been writing online for years about the concept I describe as “Internet safety is the new sex talk”. I remember years ago when I first said that at a social media conference in New York there was silence (shock) then lots of tweeting to share. Now that mostly all devices have a web browsers, it is hard to lock our kids away from the online world.

 

My perspective is that parents need to first educate themselves, then their kids, then create regular conversations and family rules about Internet Safety (and logical consequences if they are not followed). For example, sitting down with teens “together” to look at the privacy controls for all the platforms they are on and “discuss” which should be set to remain safe. But open conversations are key, and it should include cyber etiquette and consequences for inappropriate cyber etiquette (including going to jail!). In our family discussions, I also share age appropriate news stories as examples.  I want to spend more time covering all the online platforms kid spend time on. Of course, I find new platforms cropping up it seems like every day! Automated internet safety controls such as web filters, monitoring apps and privacy control settings are also an effective supplement, but they won’t keep kids safe everywhere they go because as I said web browsers are everywhere! So parents need to do the balancing act of setting “relevant” automated controls, communication and education. That balance is not easy!

 

No matter what strategy parents have, new challenges come up. Like how I tell a bunch of 10 year olds during baseball practice last year that they “HAVE NO REASON TO BE ON INSTAGRAM.. SERIOUSLY!”. Or how do I tell a lovely teen girl (family friend) that the number of LIKES she receives on her Facebook photo does NOT reflect her TRUE BEAUTY. Or how smartphones have become a tool that can get kids arrested if they take the wrong picture or participate in the wrong social media exchange. Or how dangerous the online world is, so much so that I need to have a SCARED STRAIGHT strategy constantly updating the teens I know of the mistakes I read about hoping that they can learn from them. At the same time, I am regularly amazed at some of the positive ways teens are creating support online. When our beloved hamster died recently my son said he received comfort from a Reddit Hamster sub directory (created to memorialize Hamsters that had passed away).  My son received sympathies from around the world when he posted a picture of our Hamster.

 

Education Tech: One of the challenges of our education system is that while more and more kids relate to visual, interactive and experiential learning, many curriculum’s are still based on inflexible models filled with worksheets. The shining stars are the Teachers and Schools trying to transition to experiential learning. Luckily, now there are so many ways to learn online that I could spend weeks covering all the websites and programs. After speaking at a few education tech events and meeting the edtech company founders, I decided that sharing the exciting opportunities that exist in digital learning is a passion of mine. I want to highlight the education tech innovators on my blog as a way to help support their important contributions they are making to the future of education.

 

Family Schedule Tech:  One of the main reasons I wrote the book “My Parent Plan” was to help families learn project planning skills. After years of professional project planning I know the concepts but at times still struggle with how to balance it all. With three boys now going THREE completely different directions, I decided to dive deeper into tech solutions to help me manage. Or at least keep my head above water..

 

Health Tech: Feeding my family a healthy diet is one of the biggest challenges I have each week. While I like the concept of eating plant based foods I am also balancing understanding what is best for my family that has different nutritional needs. I will be covering some of online websites and apps that can help parents struggling with healthy eating solutions. I will also be covering my comic adventures trying to convince my sons why healthy eating is important. Including how my teen is “dreaming” of going to a local burger restaurant someday again as a reward. And how at times he sneaks out with his friends to get junk food for dinner after looking in the fridge filled with “green” foods.

 

So while I am far away from being a Grandmom myself, I honor her voice by speaking my own. Whats on your mind?

 

 

 

 

Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3): A Gift To Future Generations

 

(See Disclosures at bottom of post)

 

When it comes to managing family health, being proactive and aggressive goes a long way. I frequently point out to my boys and my husband the importance of exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep using real examples of friends and family who role model healthy habits.

 

We also discuss additional health risks that are genetic and unfortunately immune to lifestyle choices. Like many families, mine has experienced recent battles with cancer. Unfortunately, several women in family have the BRCA mutation, which is a genetic Breast (and Ovarian) Cancer risk factor.  My Aunt had the BRCA mutation and recently passed away after a brave fight with Ovarian Cancer.

 

Because of this family medical history, my mother and I were tested and found that we did not have the BRCA mutation. We also began investigating other cancer risk factors that can be changed. When I heard of the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), I decided to both participate and spread the word. I view my participation in the Cancer Prevention Study-3 as a gift to future generations.

 

Here is the information I received from the American Cancer Society on the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) :

  • Cancer Prevention Study (CP-3)  is a long-term study that seeks to better understand the factors (lifestyle, environmental, genetic) that cause or prevent cancer and ultimately help eliminate cancer as a major health concern for future generations.

 

  • Past long-term ACS studies have played a major role in cancer prevention, as well as in other national and international efforts. Past studies have demonstrated: 1) link between smoking and lung cancer; 2) significant impact of being overweight or obese on cancer risk; 3) impact of hormones, physical activity, diet on cancer risk; 4) link between aspirin use and reduced risk of colon cancer.

 

  • Involvement in CPS-3 includes: Reading and signing a consent form, completing a survey, providing some physical measurements, giving a small blood sample, and responding to follow up questionnaires by mail every two years following (for at least 20 years). Participants must be between the ages of 30 and 65 years & have no personal history of cancer to join CPS-3.

 

  • CPS-3 is one of the most important factors in ACS finishing the fight against cancer in that it identifies trends between lifestyle patterns and incidence of cancer – trends that can limit, and in most cases prevent, cancer altogether.

 

  • CPS-3 offers an historic opportunity — a once in a generation opportunity — to be personally involved in research that will advance ACS’ understanding of the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors that cause cancer.

 

  • The American Cancer Society has played a part in nearly every cancer research breakthrough in recent history and the next one could be found in this study.

 

  

  • Enrollment in the CPS-3 study is one of the most important and impactful things you can do to help finish the fight against cancer; you can change the course of cancer.  Here are the San Francisco Bay Area Recruitment Sites:
  1. Alameda (July 20-August 3)
  2. Marin County (July 24-August 7)
  3. San Francisco (July 17-August 10)
  4. San Mateo (July 24-August 10)
  5. Santa Clara (July 13-August 10)

 

Here is a link to the General CPS-3 landing page for participation across the US for those that want to find out details on recruitment sites in other cities. Join me for this historic opportunity  to be personally involved in research that will advance American Cancer Society’s understanding of the factors that cause cancer.

 

I was compensated for my participation in learning and sharing about CPS-3 through Women Online/The Mission List. All opinions stated here are my own.

 

 

 

Guest Post: Emotional Intelligence – The Difference That Makes the Difference

**I have doing research on educational environments for my own kids and found out about Six Seconds.org. Their about page explained “Through 15 years of global experience and extensive research, we’ve found that the scientifically-based skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) are essential for change.  These skills are learnable, and predict stronger effectiveness, influence, decision making, health, relationships, and quality of life.” Especially in the age of technology as a key form of communication, I believe that emotional intelligence is an important skill. Better yet, I would like to see that incorporated into more classroom environments. SixSeconds.org is  working for the “development of emotional intelligence, a powerful toolset to support people to create positive change — everywhere, all the time.” Joshua Freedman is part of their Global Office Team. I asked him to write a guest post about an exciting upcoming event this June: NexusEQ Conference.

 

 

Guest blog by Joshua Freedman

 

 

In June, change makers from 12 countries will meet on the campus of Harvard University for a remarkable conference about using emotional intelligence to spark positive change.  It’s the 7th NexusEQ Conference; “nexus” means intersection, and the program is about the intersection of science and practice – head, heart, and hands.

 

 

Conference participants are leaders, educators, consultants, coaches, and individuals who see that emotional intelligence is the “difference that makes the difference.” The program features 80 experts including top neuroscientists and emotions researchers, business leaders, education advocates, and authors all sharing success stories of emotional intelligence creating positive change.

 

 

 Why it Matters

 

 

Emotions are part of all our human interactions – think of the last team meeting that went awry… or a great plussing session where ideas were flying?  How about a recent “discussion” about you kid finishing homework before Minecraft?

 

 

Neuroscience now shows that emotions are embedded in ALL our thinking – even something as “pure geek” as debugging code will be influenced by emotion:  “Are you in the mood?”

 

 

Research on emotional intelligence (see below for the “101” definition) shows that feeling smarts create a host of benefits, such as:

 

 

  • Greater profitability.  For example, an emotional intelligence project at a Sheraton increased market share by 24%.
  • Better people leaders.  In a recent study, 78% of the variation in employee engagement was predicted by the level of the manager’s EQ (a score of emotional intelligence).
  • More collaboration.  Numerous studies have shown that the leaders mood affects how team members work together.
  • Increased sales.  In one study, EQ-trained salespeople earned
  • Career success.  Several studies have shown that people with higher emotional intelligence are more promotable and reach higher positions.
  • Better grades, less drugs.  And for those of us with kids, dozens of studies show that these skills increase achievement AND wellbeing.

 

 

Emotional Intelligence 101

 

The first scientific definition of “emotional intelligence” was published by Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer in 1990, where they proposed a simple, surprising idea:  Instead of considering emotion as blocking clear thinking, is it possible that, when properly developed, emotions can actually assist thinking?

 

We’ve all experienced how emotion gets in the way, but what if that’s simply a lack of skill?  It turns out that emotions are data, and we can develop the intelligence to use that data effectively – or not.  Emotions are present in ALL of us, and they affect us even when we pretend otherwise.  So as leaders, teachers, parents, and people, rather than letting emotions “just happen,” it’s in our best interest to learn to use them in a way that’s smart.

 

 

Salovey, who is now the incoming President of Yale University, will provide the opening to the NexusEQ Conference where he’ll share the evolution of this science over the last two decades.

 

Time for Change

 

 

The theme of the conference, “Spark Positive Change,” refers to growing urgency to create change in many sectors of society.  It’s a sad paradox that the conference is in Boston after recent events there.  Around the world, we’re facing intractable challenges in society, between peoples – not to mention economic meltdowns and environmental disasters.  We must, absolutely must, get better at creating change.

 

 

The conference is organized by a not-for-profit called Six Seconds – which is a world-wide organization researching, advocating for, and teaching emotional intelligence.  The network is led by offices in 10 countries, and last year we supported 60,000 people to practice the skills of emotional intelligence.

 

 

Our experience and research with emotional intelligence over the last 15 years is that it’s the missing link.  We have tons of smart, skilled people in the world.  Change isn’t derailed due to a lack of technical knowledge.  The challenge is people.  Connecting.  Collaborating.  Getting on the same page.  And that’s all about emotion.

 

 

Conference Delegations are forming in 12 countries so far.  Following the conference, the delegations are charged with a small task:  Teach 10,000 people the key skills and concepts from this conference.  Put it into action.

 

 

Next year, in March 2014, we’ll hold our third virtual emotional intelligence conference, and we’ll get to see the successes from delegations around the world.  Then in June 2014, we’ll go to the next step with 1000 meetings around the globe to fuel this movement for emotional intelligence.

 

 

Our vision is that 1 billion people PRACTICE the skills of emotional intelligence.  Whether you join us at the Harvard Medical School Conference Center or in one of the virtual programs, we hope you’ll be part of it.

 

 

DISCOUNT:  Early registration is available through May 11.  Here is a link to the registration page: http://www.nexuseq.com/registration/.   Above the big green “Order Now” button, click “Enter Promotional Code” and type in: EQNEWS

 

 

About the Author

Joshua Freedman is a change leader teaching the skills of emotional intelligence around the globe.  He is the Chief Operating Officer of Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network, and the Chair of the NexusEQ Conference.  His books include INSIDE CHANGE and At the Heart of Leadership, and he is coauthor of seven validated psychometric assessments measuring team and organizational climate, leadership, and emotional intelligence.

 

 

 

Secret to Social Media Curation – Goodbye Google Reader!

Among my little secrets I share to those looking to get more involved with social media is: being a social media influencer does not only mean that you only share your thoughts – you need to also share other relevant posts, tweets and social media updates that reflect your niche (the social sharing piece).

 

But how?

 

What I did to set up my system of social media and family tech curation was to chose 1,000 of the most relevant family and technology blogs and then add them to Google Reader (years ago). The way Google Reader works is that it was a place to add the “RSS” or subscription feeds from the sites you want updates on – then you can see the feeds listed together in one place. I compared this to gathering a list of all of my favorite websites in one place – then being able to search all current articles and posts together by subject.  I then went into my Google Reader,  searched for terms that matched my niche (family tech) and found my favorite posts of the day. The next step for me would be to share those posts over my social media streams. So my social media streams (such as Twitter) became not only places that I shared my updates, but relevant updates from social media and family tech space.

 

But as happens in the social media world, it was recently announced that Google is closing down Google Reader this summer. I had mixed feelings – it was time for a change but that meant I needed to find my new way to store my blog subscription feeds. Now that I use Windows 8 apps and Office 365, I also get lots of social updates from Windows 8 apps. One great Windows 8 app is called Nextgen Reader App.

 

Mashable created posts with not only information on how to export your RSS feeds from Google Reader, but also Google Reader alternatives such as Feedly, Fever, NetVibes, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, Managing News and Twitter Lists.

 

Listed below are some other posts that talk about alternatives. Do you use an RSS Feed reader? If so – which one? If you used Google Reader what are you switching to?

 

CNET: Google Reader is dying, but we have five worthy alternatives

Popular Science: The Best RSS Readers To Use Now That Google Reader Is Dead

 

 

 

 

Giveaway: Pledge Not To Text And Drive. It Can Wait!

Distracted driving is a serious problem. In my last post about the topic I discussed the AT&T “It Can Wait” website that has important information for families. The AT&T It Can wait website shows “Texting and Driving Crash – It Can Wait” and other videos that anyone with a phone and a car should watch (parents and teens included!):

 

 

Join me and pledge to never text and drive.  The It Can Wait website has a section where you can share your pledge. Here is another It Can Wait pledge I just did on the website and tweeted:Those who send txt messages while drivng are 23x more likely to be in a crash. Pledge @ itcanwait.com. #ITCANWAIT “.

 

 

I was thrilled to see my pledge retweeted by others – so by making a pledge you can inspire others to make their pledge not to text while driving.

 

 

AT&T also has a DriveMode™ (Android  and BlackBerry) app that has auto on/off to help increase safety on the road.

The DriveMode app “curbs the urge to text and drive by allowing you to temporarily limit the features of your mobile device so you stay focused on the road. You can set-up auto-replies to texts, emails and wireless phone calls to let people know you’re on the road and will get back to them. AT&T DriveMode is free to AT&T customers.

 

UPDATE:  Jeannine S  is our Winner (and she has been contacted). Thanks to all that entered!!

To help move this important issue forward, I am excited to host a “It Can Wait” (ICW) giveaway where ONE winner will get the following prize (fulfilled by AT&T):
One Samsung Galaxy S III
One ICW t-shirt
One ICW branded phone case (to fit the GSIII)
Two ICW decals (for your car)
Two ICW thumbbands
How do you enter? It is 2 easy steps:
1. Fill out the Rafflecopter entry below
2. Take the pledge at ItCanWait.com and comment that you took it .
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Holiday Shopping Strategy: Black Friday, Cyber Monday – Take It Easy!

It is Thanksgiving day and while many are settling into a day of socializing and eating – there are also those that are preparing to shop for holiday deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

 

This time of the year I like to remind my readers that the holiday deals will be going on throughout the holiday season (and into New Years – where the deals are very good). Choose the holiday first, choose to socialize or just relax with family and friends. If you want to shop, realize that there are both deals at the stores and online. Here are TechMama’s Tips for shopping this holiday season:

 

Last year I tracked the pricing and realized that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not the only days to get deals – I found the best deals around New Years and beyond. For holiday gifts I wrote an “IOU” for a gaming entertainment center, which allowed me to wait until I found the right price without rushing to get it before the holiday.

 

  • FIRST FIGURE OUT WHAT TECH YOU NEED: In my book “My Parent Plan” I talk about using professional project planning techniques for making a plan for your family. One area I mention in this book is the process of defining your families needs. This is very important when it comes to technology shopping. So DON’T just buy the cheapest computer, TV, tablet or other tech devices – buy what you need and fits your workflow.  For example, If you are looking for a smartphone, don’t just buy one that all your friends have – buy one that has the features you need and that you find easy to use on the go. If you are buying a TV, realize that you will probably want to connect to the internet so consider getting a smart TV.  If you want to get your child a tablet and see one on sale – it is important to first decide what features you need in a tablet not only this year but moving forward. If they are young, then children’s tablets are a great fit for the parental controls and child friendly apps that are included. But my 9 year olds are beyond using a tablet as a toy, they need one that they can read eBooks, listen to audio books and do other things that standard tablets offer. If you see a computer on sale, check to make sure it has the features you not only need now – but one that you can use for a few years.  At the same time, don’t be enticed by what is the “coolest gadget” when really you just need a more functional device.

 

 

  • Inspire your kids to learn the meaning of giving by putting some of that holiday money into charities such as Red Cross. Or look towards the future and give the gift of investing in a college fund for your children (and tell family to do that as well). I found more ideas in a Mashable post about 12 Holiday Gifts that Give Back (such as Blanket America).

 

 

 

I will be posting with the same “holiday sale” image throughout the weekend (in tech shopping) with some of the press releases I received with holiday tech deals. So check back to this post for a summary after the weekend is over.

 

Are you Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping or socializing this Thanksgiving weekend?

 

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. It is just my personal advice to hopefully inspire people to choose a shopping strategy that allows them to enjoy the weekend as well!

 

 

 

Top Tips For KidTech App’s To Pitch Parent Bloggers

On Nov. 7,  I was thrilled to speak at a KidTech Meetup organized and moderated by Chandini Ammineni , Co-Founder of Activity Hero, to discuss how Kid Tech startups can get in front of their target audience. Speakers included @iRewardChart, @sareosenblatt, and @mike_greenfield at @500Startups in Mountain View. I gave the perspective as a family tech blogger, contributor to tech websites and social media entrepreneur on how KidTech websites/app companies should reach out to parent bloggers.  While I could discuss this subject for hours, the tips below relate directly to the panel discussion and questions I received after.

 

1. IDENTIFY PARENT BLOGGERS: The first step is to identify the parent bloggers who cover your niche or whose audience is your target market. Read their blogs to make sure their writing style fits the type of coverage you desire with your target market. Understand that there are not only general parent bloggers covering parenting issues but also parent bloggers focusing on a niche such as travel, tech, fashion, education and many others. Sites such as CoolMomPicks and CoolMomTech.com have readers that come to the site specifically to shop. Some of the other sites I write for, such as Mashable Lifestyle and LaptopMag – also have an audience of parents that visits the site to get information to help make technology decisions (as well as sites such as CNET that will have reviews showcased at Target and many other tech review sites). There are a great group of tech moms that blog – which I will  cover in another post (and conferences such as the MamaBear and MommyTechCES).

 

Then there are also big parenting community websites such as BlogHerMoms (and BlogHer conference)  , Blogalicious (site and conference),  MomBlogMag, Blissfully Domestic (and conferences), Go MightyType A Parent (site and conference), Project You Mag, Mom it Forward (site and conference), 5 Minutes For Mom, 5 Minutes For Special Needs,   Mom 2.0 and even Dad 2.0!.  There are parenting sites that focus on niches such as Travelingmom for travel, ShutterSisters for photographers, MomPulse for Video,  Getting Gorgeous, Mom Trends and Working Closet for Fashion, MakerMom for STEM, Mamavation and Pure Natural Diva for healthy living, Mouthy Housewives for humor,  Blue Star Family for Military lifestyle, tons of food bloggers,  TeachMama that has an education focus and TheGoToMom for raising emotionally healthy kids.  There are also numerous other parenting sites such as Babble, BabyCenter, Circle of Moms , Cafe Mom and conferences.

 

I told the group that it is important to look not only look at the big sites, but also at the smaller parenting bloggers (such as Project Underblog)  with highly engaged and committed audiences. I will be creating a post by next week starting a list of local SF Bay Area bloggers (and other local bloggers). Audience engagement is a key attribute to consider when picking bloggers to pitch.

 

2. ANALYZE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS OF YOUR TARGET MARKET:  The next step is to decide on the social media platforms your target market uses and identify bloggers that have channels on those platforms. For example,  I explained to the panel audience that many early adopters and social media savvy parents I know are on Twitter, Google+ , Instagram, Pinterest and others. But many of my “in real life” school parents use Facebook, parenting community websites and email groups to get their information. All of the parents I know use search engines and blogs for information – sometimes as their first source when investigating a site or product. Parents also use category searches in the app stores and sites that offer app reviews. Videos are also a big source of information for many parents, especially because their kids use YouTube as their source of information. Lastly, niche sites such as Pinterest offer ways for parents to get a visual representation of information.

 

3. DECIDE ON IF IT IS A PRESS PITCH OR SERVICE PITCH:

I explained to the panel audience that a press pitch is one where you are providing information about your product to the parent blogger. While it is appropriate to ask them if they are interested in reviewing the app, product or website – there can be no request for what they will say or when they will post. A press pitch is simply providing your press release related information to the blogger – and if they feel it is relevant for their audience, they will cover it. You should never “pay” for press coverage, but in return there is no responsibility for the blogger to cover the product. But press coverage is very influential for parents when the blogger is giving their honest perspective on the product.

 

I created TechMamas.com and @TechMama on Twitter to have an authentic conversation about family technology apps, products and websites. When I post about a press release, it is because the topic is valuable to my readers. For a blog to be successful, above all else, they always need to consider what their readers want to see. At the same time, many parent bloggers are flooded with great information, so it is hard to share it all. Because of that, it is  important to refine your “pitch” before you send it (which I will discuss on point 4).

 

A service pitch is when you would like a service (that should be “paid”) such as having the blogger participate in a paid campaign, load ads on their website, host a Twitter party, giveaway, live event or early product test. For example, I am frequently hired to run Twitter Parties where we discuss a specific topic with other co-hosts “related” to the product (and use the product hashtag). Sponsoring a giveaway on a blog is also an effective outreach strategy.  Having a “list of top xyz bloggers” contest where you make people go out and get votes to be in the top list is not a good outreach strategy (and will not engage the influential bloggers). It is better to hire a blogger to help with the contest and develop “editors top picks”, then leave it open to also have people nominate other names to be added on the list. Overall, providing services is something that bloggers should be paid for. Bloggers need to disclose any “sponsored” relationships (and this disclosure per FTC should be part of any contractual agreements). I created a consulting “service” specifically to help companies beta test products in advance of general product availability because of my background reviewing  many products that launched with problems that could have been resolved in early beta testing.

 

Along with hiring bloggers for campaigns (or ads) on their websites, you can hire bloggers to create content (written, photo or video) on your website. It is valuable to hire a blogger to create content or assist with social media because they understand how to reach out to their audience and they already have an engaged community. There is nothing that brings life, social interaction and discussion to a company website like having a blog and social media channel “conversations”.  There are also agencies that have large networks of bloggers for social media campaigns (including BlogHer or Clever Girls Collective).  The key is that the paid blogger campaigns should not be just a “sales pitch” – no one wants to read a sales pitch. Blogger campaigns need to have “authentic” content including experiences that your target audience can relate to.

 

4. REFINE YOUR PITCH BEFORE YOU SEND AN EMAIL:

 

Parent bloggers receive many emails each day and are time constrained. Before you send an email, refine your pitch. Give the same consideration to emails sent to parent bloggers that you give to the elevator pitch used to raise investor funding. Start with an authentic greeting, don’t say “I have been reading your blog and love it” unless your really mean it. Also, it is important to use the name of the blogger on any correspondence instead of “Dear blogger”. I even received a pitch once that had just “Dear ” with no name!

 

After the greeting, you have the first paragraph to make the sale for why they should read on. Include the app, site or product name, URL (including links to apps stores if relevant) and a very concise statement of what it does. Then explain the key features, the value proposition and what is so compelling about your product/app/website that the blogger’s audience will be interested to read about it. After that – It is always nice to give some of the story behind the product, app or site – especially if you are a fellow parent that found inspiration for the product from your life as a parent. Include images they can use for posting and your contact information if they have  questions. Make sure to use a subject title in the email that will grab their attention.

 

Here is an example of a recent pitch email I received about a new website geared towards parents. This is not the only format to use (there are many). But what I liked about it is that it was short, to the point, had a clear explanation of what the site does, included their contact info, press release and high resolution image to use. Best of all – they created a blog post on their site with more information (and included the URL).

 

Great “press” pitch example:

Hi Beth,
(asked how I was doing, said they like how my blog is family +tech and then said that they appreciate that I stay up to date with the trends etc).  I thought you may be interested in our new site called (website name). (Then they includedexplanation of what the site doesand what makes it special etch). I’ve included some more info below, and there’s also a blog post here about the launch (link to post URL). (then they said they would love to share more information about it – and gave their contact info).

Next – they listed the press release and included high resolution images I could use to post.

 

 **No need to mention that they liked my blog, but the way they did it was authentic so it worked for me.

 

Bad Pitch Example -  At the same time, I got this pitch:

Dear fabulous blogger,
We know PR people sometimes drive you nut (they went on to ask me to take a survey etc for the “chance” of winning a gift basket)..

 

 

All I can say – is yes, sometimes PR people drives us nuts. But in the end, bloggers want to build real relationships with brands/businesses. So we appreciate the “good pitches”.

 

4. PITCHING TO BIG WEBSITES:
While I have a personal blog, TechMamas.com, where I share my “personal” perspective, I also have contributed to several sites, including CoolMomTech, Mashable and LaptopMag.  It is important to understand that the editors of the bigger websites decide what their contributors will  cover. It is important to go through the proper channels to pitch to the editor (or “info” email if relevant).  Posts on the big sites also go through an editing process which means that not everything the contributor puts into the post makes it to the final post. Like everyone else, the editors also need to cultivate material relevant to their readers. And for contributors to stay valuable to a website, they also need to put their “readers” first at all time and create content they want to read.

 

Do you have any tips or experiences to share about pitching to parent bloggers? If so, please comment below!

 

 

TechMamas.com is a website that curates the best of family technology and social media. Beth Blecherman’s new book “My Parent Plan” is up on Amazon with the ebook version out in mid November. Beth consults with start-ups and businesses to assist with beta testing family tech products, websites and apps.

 

 

 

Katie Couric, BlogHer, Sheryl Sandberg: Women Social Media Leaders That Rock

The recent episode of the “Katie Show” helped Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her company celebrate a major milestone, 1 Billion global users. Many of those users are my family members. As Mark Zuckerberg expressed in a blog post this month, We believe that the need to open up and connect is what makes us human. It’s what brings us together. It’s what brings meaning to our lives“.  Facebook has offered me exactly that, a place where my family and friends connect. All online social networks face privacy issues (I will be talking about that more in another post). With Facebook, I am happy there is a place where all of my family and friends have profiles and I can keep up with their latest antics no matter how busy their or my life may become.

 

In addition to Facebook enabling me to stay connected to family and friends, I also enjoy seeing COO Sheryl Sandberg showcased as a great role model for younger women pursuing tech careers. On the “Katie Show”, Cheryl was a clear symbol of female success in the high technology industry.

 

Here is my summary of some my favorite highlights from the “Katie Show” with Sheryl Sandberg:

  • Katie Couric asked if Facebook was worried about not being the “new thing”? Cheryl Sanderg said the initial fear was that Facebook started with only college students. Would they stay active users when mothers, grandmothers, and teachers joined? Everyone stayed because Facebook made it easy for them all to connect.
  • Katie asked how people use Facebook to discuss political campaigns? Cheryl  explained how conversations that used to happen around the “watercooler” now happen on Facebook (and the “watercooler”). There are 170 million Facebook users in the US which is greater than the number of people who will vote. Eighty percent of Facebook users are outside the U.S. and Canada, and people around the world use  Facebook in some common ways.
  • Katie then asked about the dark side of being connected, including spam and scams: do those things keep you up at night? Sandberg explained that every technology ever invented has positive and negative uses. The more powerful the technology, the more powerful the use.
  • Katie discussed an inspirational story about a daughter who posted a Facebook update sharing that her mother needed a new kidney.  A friend of a friend of the daughters saw this, knew she was right blood type and contacted the daughter to donate her kidney. The whole story was heartwarming, the mother got a new kidney and the daughter feels like she has a new “sister”, the generous women who donated her kidney. The full story is discussed in a post on the Katie Show site “A reason to connect and donate“.
  • Facebook business success stories were discussed with one women in the audience (Mandie from Got What it Cakes) sharing that after she joined Facebook and her friends started sharing, her business doubled and doubled again. Mandie explained that she is a proud mom conducting business in her kitchen and her Got What It Cakes Facebook page has 6200 fans (now over 7,000).

 

Talking about role models… Katie Couric has been my media role model for years. She not only wrote a New York Times best-selling book titled, “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives“, but also is a dedicated cancer advocate. And she is one of the most successful anchors along with being a fellow working mom.  Her bio listed:


In September 2006, Katie Couric became the first female solo anchor of an evening news broadcast. Couric served as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric until May 2011… On May 31, 2006, Couric completed a 15-year run as co-anchor of NBC News’ TODAY show. In October 2011, the Wall Street Journal called Couric of the “most successful anchors ever” at the TODAY show. Couric joined the Disney/ABC Television Group in Summer 2011 and serves as special correspondent for ABC News….. Beginning in September 2012, she will host a new syndicated daytime talk show, Katie.”

 

 

What some may not know is that Katie Couric was one of the early news anchors to understand the value of social media and parent bloggers.  Around the time of BlogHer Business 2008, I was contacted by Katie Couric’s production team at “The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric”. It was part of their social media outreach to promote the show. I was already such a big fan, not only because of  Katie’s trailblazing career in news, but also due to Katie’s intelligent, engaging, professional and inspirational presence on any show where she appeared. I had started a list titled, “TV women to learn from”, because I had a goal to film television Tech Segments. Later that year, as I started making TV appearances, I could not help but wonder how much of my own personal style in front of camera was developed by watching Katie.

 

The most exciting thing about the initial social media outreach from the Katie Couric team was that it led to a studio tour offered to me and a selection of mom bloggers in New York City for the BlogHer Business conference (2008). The BlogHer community, founded by inspiring female leaders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins in 2005, is another social media powerhouse that has the largest community of women who blog.

 

 

I have to admit… part of why I chose Katie Couric as my role model back then was also due to her great fashion choices (including fantastic shoes!). To prepare for the studio tour, I got myself a  Katie Couric haircut (forget the Jennifer Aniston!) and a matching jacket.  Needless to say, when I finally met Katie Couric together with my mom blogger colleagues, she was as engaging in person as she was on television.  She was also very savvy about social media, asking insightful questions and sharing her perspective. And I just may need to submit that picture as a Katie Clone!

 

In August 2012, Katie Couric was the lunchtime Keynote at BlogHer12 in New York City and it was so great to see her on stage again (I was in the audience cheering her on)! Bringing the story full circle, a highlight of my 2012 BlogHer Conference was a brief meet and greet with Katie before she gave her Keynote lunch.  Although I did not qualify as a Katie clone this time, I did have a chance to tell her I was looking forward to watching her show when it debuted the following month.

 

I am happy that there are multiple other social media platforms I can use to interact with the Katie Show (back from my home in San Francisco area) including Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. There are great behind the scenes videos on YouTube and Google+.  During shows they have bloggers participating in many ways. Fellow tech mom Heidi Leder was not only in the audience for the Facebook show (which I was following via the #Katie Twitter Hashtag), but she also wrote a feature post on the website about how Facebook Keeps Her connected. I also feel lucky to have so many women social media leaders that have blazed the trails to offer ways for us all to connect offline and online.

 

What are your favorite ways to connect online?

 

 

 

Tribute to Steve Jobs – and Mothers of NextGen Out of The Box Thinkers!

Today many in the tech world are remembering Steve Jobs, who passed away one year ago. GigaOM wrote a post with reasons to remember Steve Jobs while Mashable covered that “Remembering Steve Jobs’ Death Ignites Twitter Philanthropy”.

 

Today I remember Steve Jobs not because of the reasons the tech sites do, not because I am an Apple Fan girl (I am tech agnostic – I love all technology!), but because Steve Jobs gave me a gift that keeps on giving. Here is my tribute to Steve Jobs:

 

Tribute to Steve Jobs-

 

I remember primary school was a challenging experience for me (because I wanted to just start working), but I kept moving forward and gained important skills.  Now as a mother I see a different side of the way people learn and realize that not everyone can go on the same path when it comes to formal learning. I have a child who is very bright but an out of the box thinker. I spent many years frustrated on how such a bright kid could resist formal learning. Until I read about Steve Job’s background in Wikipedia:

 

Excerpt below is from Wikipedia:

Jobs’s youth was riddled with frustrations over formal schooling. At Monta Loma Elementary school in Mountain View, he was a prankster whose fourth-grade teacher needed to bribe him to study.

 

…Jobs then attended Cupertino Junior High and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California.At Homestead, Jobs became friends with Bill Fernandez, a neighbor who shared the same interests in electronics. Fernandez introduced Jobs to another, older computer whiz kid, Steve Wozniak (also known as “Woz”). In 1969 Woz started building a little computer board with Fernandez that they named “The Cream Soda Computer”, which they showed to Jobs; he seemed really interested.

 

…Following high school graduation in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Reed was an expensive college which Paul and Clara could ill afford. They were spending much of their life savings on their son’s higher education. Jobs dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months dropping in on creative classes, including a course on calligraphy.  He continued auditing classes at Reed while sleeping on the floor in friends’ dorm rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple. Jobs later said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts”

My tribute to Steve Jobs is to highlight him as a great example to show other parents that out of the box thinkers may not follow traditional educational paths, but they can still reach success in their own way.  Parents can support the exceptional talent of their little out of the box thinkers by helping them find their educational path. And while that path may be very challenging for all involved – it is worth the journey.

 

This is also to explain why I (and my dear husband) have been very busy lately. We are helping one of our children through their journey. Even though there are some days where the obstacles seem too big to overcome, I always think back to Steve Jobs. Which makes me smile and know we have our own little game changer in the works.

 

This is also a warning for the bullies that make fun of quirky smart kids. I want to tell them to get a life and fair warning: Hey bully – that quirky smart kid you are making fun of may be the next Steve Jobs, inventing devices or businesses that you will be standing in line for.. OVERNIGHT.. Ha…

 

Photo and lots of credit to Wikipedia for supplying the info.

Relevant post: Shout out to Mom 101 for her post on bullying: “Is shaming, bullying? And does it even freaking matter?”

 

 

Technology and Innovation in Education Update: Dell, MIT and MSNBC

One of the daily struggles I have with my kids is also something that has brought so much amazing information into our lives: technology. On the plus side our family computer offers endless educational information online including homework and class photo websites. This includes software to help with school assignments such as creating essays using Microsoft Word, math and organizational lists on Excel and  presentations using videos and Powerpoint presentations. It also includes news updates, how-to videos on everything (including videos that helped my kids learn skateboarding techniques) and endless humor that makes us laugh. The challenge is teaching kids to unleash the power of technology by using it to learn and create, but also mind screen time limits and social networking etiquette. I look at technology training as “the new talk” that all parents should discuss with their kids. I also think it is important to set up a proper homework workspace (that includes space for technology) to help kids get access to what they need to do homework.

 

Learning about technology at home also helps my kids with a background to use technology at school. My elementary school twin boys have a technology lab at school where they learn how to type, do learning games such as math facts, research for projects and create photo art. Their teachers have Smartboards that allow them to bring up electronic images or online sites as examples of the subjects covered in classroom learning. The bottom line is that I believe digital literacy is not only one of the important skills my kids need when they enter the workforce but also offers unlimited ways for them to express their creativity.

 

I am participating in a Dell program that is called #Dell Dozen (see disclosures at bottom of this post). Part of that program gives me access to information about technology and education. Just a few days ago they shared information about the day of innovation Dell hosted at MIT. While I could not be there, I found information that filled me in on the discussions – including a livestream from the Dell Innovation In Education Think Tank @ MIT  and video segments from the NBC + Dell “Technology in the Classroom: What’s Next?” Town Hall @ MIT . One of the videos asked the important question: “Will Technology Transform Learning“: “Moderators Alex Witt and Chelsea Clinton sit down at the MIT Media Lab with 3rd Grade Teacher Susie Brooks, New Classrooms Co-founder Joel Rose, and MIT Professor Mitch Resnick, and an audience of K-12 educators to talk about how technology will transform learning and classrooms.”

 

Chelsea Clinton brought up the challenge that technology in the classroom should not be considered for just for math and science—but also for English, civics, languages, and history.  The panelists also brought up many good points related to technology and education. I summarized  some of their points bellow:

 

  • Nothing more important then to learn to think creatively for all jobs. Not just information delivery but to think creatively to finish a project.
  • It is important not to just drop ship computers at schools- it should be a higher delivery model to offer instruction for different kids.
  • Technology is important for digital literacy and collaborative learning.
  • Benefits are that technology breaks boundaries, goes across ages and disciplines. But it is scary for teachers to implement the new tech devices into the classroom.
  • Technology helps with individualized learning so kids are not stuck in a curriculum by age and can tailor to their interests. For example, a kid who is bored by standard math at school can be fascinated by attaching sensors to roller blades to find out how fast they are going.
  • Important to keep close eye on use of technology so as not isolate, make sure to balance with real life social interaction.
  • Teachers should be the models of good learners, so Teachers need to adapt to new situations.

 

Dell also shared an info-graphic they developed on Innovation in Education.  Some of the data included 85% of teachers said that technology allowed them to provide a more learning experience in class while 63% of students say the benefits of technology in classrooms outweighs the distractions. 71% of students say they have access to more advanced technology at home then the classroom.

 

 

 

My personal experience has been that I am thrilled that my kids can view interactive information on a Smartboard at their schools (which they find engaging) and my son with a writing disorder can use a laptop to type essays at class. But one of the big barriers is that not every school can get access to the technology and to give training they need (and deserve). Dell also announced their Education Challenge (that started September 13) that offers prizes and awards to help students put their ideas into action. DellChallenge.org is an educational innovation community “where university students, academia, primary/K12 educators, mentors, judges and fellow students from around the globe can network, share best practices and inspire each other to create educational change“.

 

What do you feel about the importance of digital literacy skills for your kids? Do you feel like technology in education creates innovation or distraction (or both)? Please share your thoughts.

 

Disclosure: This is not a paid post. I am a member of the Dell Dozen program that gives me access to Dell products. Part of the suggested activities of the program is sharing information about their initiates but my choices about what to post and my words are my own.