the engeged group

949-754-4150

8001 Irvine Center Drive, 4th floor, Irvine, CA 92618
info@theengagedgroup.com

TEDxSJC: Never Stop Questioning

Posted By: Liana Miller
Posted On: November 03, 2013
Category: General

Albert Einstein said, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is to not stop questioning."

On Friday, November 1, I had the honor of attending TEDxSanJuanCapistrano.

Before the evening started, I was asked what I thought the most important takeaway should be for the community attending that evening.  I answered, "Never stop questioning." Yes, the answer may have been obvious given it was the theme for the evening.  But, for me, it held much more meaning as I felt that's exactly what Chris Anderson, the TED conference curator, would have wanted the audience to takeaway. 

I first met Chris Anderson in 1998.  Born in Pakistan to missionary parents, he graduated from Oxford University with a degree in philosophy.  He became a journalist and then a successful entrepreneur when he founded a publishing company rooted under the moniker "media with passion."  I quickly learned that Chris did everything with intellect and passion - and for me, it left an indelible mark on the core of my business self.  He never, ever settled for status quo. As an avid reader and a deep thinker, he questioned everything - even things that may have seemed obvious always provided fodder for conversation.

Chris has been quoted saying that TED's core values evolve around truth, curiosity and diversity.  TED is "just the pursuit of interest, wherever it lies."  It's also been said that when you leave a TED conference, your brain is "humming and you feel energized, alive and excited as the little bits have all been put together" in response to the speakers. 

For all of the success that TED and its many, many platforms have achieved, for me, its greatest achievement is the advent of the TEDx conference. The reason is really very simple:  when I think back to Chris Anderson's drive and quest for knowledge, TEDx embodies his own thirst for ideas and conversation. The brilliance of TEDx is that these ideas and conversations - and the passion that powers them - already exist everywhere and happen every single day. They just needed a forum to be heard and, as Chris himself says, a way for them to bubble up to the top.  And, that is what a TEDx conference is all about.

Friday's event inspired a dialog by simply asking, "why?" and "what if?" Attendees were energized by nine speakers who challenged us to think about things such as reigniting our imaginations, asking ourselves if we're capable of more and following nature's lead. 

So, why is asking "why" so important?  MusiShares Founder Bill Fitzpatrick - one of the evening's speakers - believes asking the tough "why" question brings more meaning to life. "By helping those around you ask the tough "why" questions - to go beyond waiting for the "right" answer from you - empowers us all. Supervisors and subordinates. Teachers and students. Parents and children. Friends. Family. Asking "why" gives us an idea, a task, a relationship and brings to our lives even more meaning."

In other words, never stop questioning.  Looking forward to November 1, 2014.


J-Schools Incubating New Media Businesses

Posted By: Liana Miller
Posted On: May 07, 2013
Category: PR

According to MediaShift, J-schools around the country are giving journalism and communications students a new environment to incubate their ideas, which is resulting in a new crop of new media businesses.  The fruits of their labor are beginning to show up in the marketplace -- some to great acclaim. The next generation of journalists are evolving the traditional media space in every way -- from immersive journalismn to mobile news app gathering.  

One of the most successful to debut is Narratively, a digital storytelling platform devoted to original, in-depth and untold stories about New York.  With a community of 350 writers, illustrators, photographers and filmmakers producing content for the site, Narratively "slows down the news cycle" and uses a distinct "human-first" reporting style that mainstream media just do not have the time, resources or liberty to pursue. The site was recently named to Time Magazine's "50 Best Websites of 2013."  

Another venture incubated in the classroom is nerv, a mobile app that pulls in Twitter posts about four different cities -- Austin, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Boston -- and three different topic areas -- news, culture and nightlife.  The app is designed to help consumers find the most credible, informative Twitter feeds by aggregating legitimate news sources into one place.  While there is a very appealing convenience factor to this app, it will be most interesting to see how it reports and feeds breaking news stories.  


The Journalist's Tool Chest | Mobile News Gathering

Posted By: Liana Miller
Posted On: May 06, 2013
Category: The Journalist's Tool Chest

Journalist's ToolchestRay Meese, Ventura County Star’s Visuals Editor first caught my attention earlier this year when I read about how he was using his iPhone to capture news. Since then, Meese and the reporting team at the Ventura County Star have taken mobile news gathering to new heights resulting in innovative breaking news coverage. For Meese, the iPhone is but one storytelling tool (it’s not replacing digital SLRs and video cameras); but, it’s given the Star’s newsroom the ability to cover breaking news more quickly. What you need to know:

1) With smartphones, such as the iPhone, reporters now have the ability to transmit information almost instantaneously and remotely. This greatly enhances their ability to not only cover breaking news, but stories they might not otherwise have covered from hyper local locations.

2) With slight modification and adaptation, a single reporter can create their own mobile newsroom with available technologies – any where and at any time. Meese, for example, has outfitted the Ventura County Star’s newsroom with a cadre of modified iPhones just for this purpose, creating probably the largest mobile newsroom in a local daily newspaper. Better microphones result in more opportunity for “voices” – not just visuals – in the story. Special tripods add stabilization. Editing can be done in the field. And, images / footage can be transmitted from anywhere there is connectivity.

3) The implication is that a news outlet can get a breaking news story up on a website as quickly as it gets into the newsroom. Stories can be reported iteratively and updated on the fly. Most importantly, for the news outlet, readers and viewers begin to trust and know that they will get the latest update from a trusted source.


The Boss of Engagement

Posted By: Liana Miller
Posted On: April 21, 2013
Category: Engagement

Bruce SpringsteenI was on my way to Cleveland. It was more of a personal pilgrimage to visit the hallowed Rock Hall (specifically the Bruce Springsteen exhibit). While The Boss might be best known as a rock legend, there are some interesting pearls of engagement to cull from him. Springsteen has recently opened up about his songwriting, recording, but for me, most interestingly, about performing. Whether you are a Springsteen fan or not, his career was made on his live performances. Some of his albums, with otherwise sluggish sales, saw sales skyrocket after a tour. His insights into the live performance add an important chapter to the playbook of engagement.

1) Extreme Presence
Springsteen is probably the singularly most present man I know when it comes to his music. It’s no surprise to hear that while playing before tens of thousands, he strives for moments of extreme presence during a concert. It culminates with the audience feeling (and undoubtedly the band too) that there is no other concert or audience more important than the one happening that night.
Imagine if businesses strived for moments of extreme presence with their consumers. What might we hear? What might we gain? Today’s tools and technologies allow us to connect with our consumers in a variety of channels and at virtually any time. For me, this speaks to the humanizing of business and is a fundamental tenant of engagement.

2) The Mental Lean In
Springsteen has described “the mental lean in” he seeks to create with the audience. Note that this works hand-in-hand with the aforementioned extreme presence. It’s about the art of action and reaction, surprise, the unexpected and creating the rebirth of moments that might not have occurred the night before.
Engagement marketing is also about the mental lean in. To some degree, it’s the very same action / reaction. It’s about creating value to the point that your audience leans in and engages.

3) Relevance
A fundamental challenge in playing the same music night after night after night is staying relevant – to the audience, as well as to the music being played. How do you keep it fresh and not stale? How do you appeal to the many different members of your audience? For Springsteen, his gift as a songwriter makes the music relevant. But, it doesn’t stop there — he’s in tune with his audience today. Thus, He plays it with the emotion of today — not yesterday. For brands, isn’t it the same? If you’re true to your product / service and you’re true to your consumer, then you are relevant.

4) Sustaining
Springsteen has said that the challenge is not only creating the “moments,” but also sustaining them. His own secret sauce for sustaining the moment is creating the feeling among the band and the audience that you really are not sure what is going to come next. It’s the unexpected — but in a controlled, extremely present, relevant sort of way. This is a highly-nuanced skill: marketers tend to use big sticks, same tricks and loud megaphones. Sustained engagement is about knowing your audience, shared trust and real-time presence — and your own secret sauce.

5) The Ultimate: In Concert
Bruce describes the ultimate concert as the moment when he, the band and the audience literally move in on themselves – the literal “in concert” moment. It’s the epitome of the lean in, the extreme presence, the relevance sustained – the moment. The ultimate engagement is moving in concert with our consumers.