Monday, September 29, 2008

The over/under on Steve Bartman references

I was in Las Vegas, talking to a potential client's board of directors. After my talk, I went to several sports books to lay down a $5 bet for my brother, Chris. The oddsmakers hadn't given the Cubs any odds because they didn't know who they would play this week in the division series. However, there was one oddsmaker who had a unique bet on how many times the broadcasters would mention Steve Bartman during each game. The over and under on this was five times. It was tempting, but I passed it for some more keno tickets.

Blogging and bidness -- does it work for my clients?

My wife, Jackie, has noted the major increase in blogging as I spend about 20 minutes every morning, updating it with observations and thoughts. Her comment: "Does it help your business?" I answered it yes, because I am hearing positive things from my clients and friends that they're reading it. Sure, it sometimes talks about some personal stuff such as a recent trip to Beaumont to get my son back to college, but there has also been some informative stuff such as how to use social media tools to publicize a speech. And, today, I found this pearl of wisdom from Chris Brogan. Thank to his post, I'll try to do a better job with my blog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Going back in the wayback machine to the summer of 1976

Reading the work of Carl Hulse, my college classmate at the Illinois State Vidette, and now the capitol correspondent for the New York Times, today made me think of that great slowpitch softball team for our paper. As the sports editor, it was my job to put together the team for the intramural league. Our prospects were rather slim, as it was only Hulse, myself and Jon Perkins, now a copy editor at the Washington Post. So, Hulse helped me recruit some of his roomates who played football for ISU, and we told the intramural department that they worked in circulation or advertising for the newspaper. We made it to the finals of the league championship, but lost it as several players couldn't find the field on time after attending a party the previous night.

Thanks to the ISU alumni magazine, I got in touch with Carl who told me about Perkins whereabouts, allowing me to visit with Jon, my friend and catcher. One thing about Perkins was that he never ever stopped talking when I pitched. There was one monster named "Hank," that Jon somehow got under his skin. Once Hank was on second base when one of his teammates hit a deep single and he came home to face Perkins with the ball. Our Vidette catcher tagged him out, and he would have won the fight that ensued if the umpire hadn't stepped in quickly.

It's funny that an article by Hulse would make me think of all that this morning. Truthfully, I am proud of the contributions to the new industry that both of them have made.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Speaking at an event... don't forget to use these connector tools

If you are speaking to thousands or the local Rotary club, there are now some excellent ways to publicize it. Bill Leake, the chief executive officer at Apogee Search, and the program chair for the upcoming Austin Innotech eMarketing Summit, suggested that all speakers consider these suggestions for creating "buzz" for their program.

So, here's the start of the Scherer Communication checklist for all speakers who want to maximize their publicity for their speech:

1) If you have a Twitter account, be sure to mention the speech about a week before the event. And, the day of the event, you should make sure to use this social marketing tool to publicize it. And, of course, after the end of the talk, a short comment about it would also help.

2) Don't forget the LinkedIn profile update option. If you have a blog or another online press release, you can link to this by saying: Matt Scherer is speaking to the St. Louis Cardinals fan club on why the Cubs will lose the World Series this year.

3) If you blog, make sure to add some background on the talk for your readers. Then, link that blog to your Twitter and LinkedIn account.

4) There are three online calendar programs. By using Zvent, Eventful and the Yahoo calendar, you can increase your visilibility.

And of course, there are traditional public relations programs such as sending a news release to your local business editor. Most have calendars that publish events, especially if the program has value and there is not an excessive cost to hear your speak.

Finally, if you are too busy to handle most of this, ask a trusted administrative assistant or your public relations/communications department to help with this. And, if they need help, they can always call me.

ClickZ editorial consultant to speak at Innotech

Rebecca Lieb, an editorial consultant to ClickZ and the former editor for seven years, is one of the headliners for the Austin Innotech eMarketing Summit Oct. 16 at the Austin Convention Center. I can't wait to meet her at the event's publicist, because I suspect she's in the same age demographic as I am. So, I think she understands the process from the good old days of fax machines and phone to these wonderful social media tools. Her latest blog on ClickZ shows to me why people will want to learn more about the evolution or is it revolution to social media processe? Tickets for the eMarketing are available here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The traveling Cub hat

Wearing a Cub hat is not something I like to do, but I had to do it to pay off a bet with my brother, Chris. Every time, the Cubs and Cardinals play each, we bet each other what I called a "pride" bet. When the Cardinals lose more than they win in a series, I have to wear a hat with a big red C on it.

So, I was paying off a bet to my brother by wearing it to the Austin Techcrunch event last night. For some reason, the Cub fans came out of the network and commented on the hat.

In all those great exchanges, I might have met a prospective client and impressed one that I was talking to about work for his company. Seems his favorite team resides on the northside of Chicago.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Palin or is it Tina Fey?

When Michael Hart queried PR types like me about Sarah Palin's impact on advertising via Help A Reporter Out, I had to send a quick retort about the similarity between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. I can only assume that there will be some reworking of Tina's character on 30 Rock.

Are people more important than our financial institutions?

Fighting two disasters -- one natural and one physical

My wife told me about a woman who came to her choir practice in tears because she didn't have $7.45 to pay for a hotel room for her family. Displaced by Hurricane Ike, she's waiting for FEMA to provide assistance or perhaps she missed the newspaper article or the news on TV about the federal program.

Tragedy like this makes me wonder. We're going to give the banking industry and Wall Street $700 billion for their mistakes,and we don't have the bandwidth to help hard working people rebuild their homes and find their jobs.

Our priority is to help the folks in Houston and Galveston rebuild. Yes, I know what would happen if our banking industry would allegedly falter, but we have to put all of this into perspective. One of the greatest commodity we have as Americans is the ability to rebound from tragedy and devastation. Right now, our first task is to nourish and help those hit by Hurricane Ike.

Three more days on my bet

My brother, Chris, is a misguided Cubs fan. How, he ended up this way is beyond me. And, then there's my best man, Rick, another Cubs fan. I like both of them, but when the Cubs play the Cardinals, we have a bet. When the Cubs are fortunate enough to win, they have to wear a Cardinals hat in public. For my friend, Rick, it was hard for him especially when he hosted his daughter Katie's graduation party. Sadly, it's been a rare site for the Cub fans in my life to have to wear the red cap. And, now there's the possibility that the Cubbies may win a World Series.

I know that if this happens that there will be no living with either. Oh well, even a blind hog can find an occaisonal acorn.

Planning on staying over in Houston? Hope you have a relative or a friend with an extra bed

I drove my son, Pete, back to college at Lamar after Hurricane Ike ripped through Houston. After a side trip for lunch with two clients, I got into Beaumont at 7:30 p.m. I thought that perhaps there was an extra hotel room somewhere in the facility. Everything from Beaumont (Exit 848) to Columbus (Exit 696) was booked. It was only after getting to Weimar (Exit 683) at 11 p.m. that I was able to stay at the Czech Inn, a modest but clean hotel. As Houston rebuilds, it's going to require either a long day on the road or holding off any trips until the repairs are completed.

And, I am not complaining about having to drive so far. There are 250,000 people without electricity and water. Thanks to some prayer and some Jimmy Buffet CDs, along with some baseball broadcasts on XM Radio kept me going.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wanted: a list of tech startups in San Antonio that need venture capital

Wanted: A list of promising technical startups based in San Antonio. A prominent tech leader, who wishes to remain under the radar, asked me for a list of companies based in San Antonio who could use a financial boost to move them forward. If you know of these firms, please respond with as much data as you can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Promoting the debut of Microsoft's Surface at Innotech Austin

Last night I began the process to start the publicity efforts for the Texas debut of Microsoft Surface at Innotech Austin Oct. 16 at the Austin Convention Center. As the Innotech publicst, my job is to get people excited about the show. From what I've read online, this new product is cutting edge and should be of interest to the folks in Austin. As I get more details, I'll be working with the local media to get them the opportunity to see and hopefully play with the software and hardware package.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is there a technical revolution brewing in San Antonio?

A technical revolution is taking place in San Antonio. Yes, my adopted home town is starting to see the embracement of technology such as the announcement that Microsoft's $550 million data center going live today. In the San Antonio Express News article written by L.A. Lorek, she noted that there are six other data centers under development. Add the well known reputation of Rackspace in this industry, and San Antonio is quietly becoming a hub for this industry.

To me, it's easy to see why San Antonio is attracting Microsoft. We have reliable energy, a neccessary commodity for data centers. We have a cost of living where you can live well within a $200,000 mortgage. And, our colleges, most notably my alma mater, the University of Texas at San Antonio are producing quality graduates that can work well within many technology sectors. Finally, there are a lot of military retirees with impressive resumes in technical fields that are already hard at work within tech firms.

Despite these advantages, San Antonio can't rest on its laurels. It has to grow and nurture them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Advice for a new public relations person

The other day, I was at the Sprint store, getting my phones switched so that my wife could use my older Blackberry as her phone. While talking to the technician, I found that he was a student at UTSA, my alma mater and majoring in public relations. In the next day or so, he and I will discuss the career so he can write a paper.

Here's my advice:
1) Learn how to write really well. Keep working on your grammar. Even today, I read several grammar tomes that are sitting in my executive reading room to re-enforce my knowledge.
2) Take as many business courses as you can, especially accounting and finance courses. Both of these subjects are the language of business. You have to understand them to succeed.
3) Listen more than you talk. With both clients and the media, you should try to reach a three to one ratio when communicating. At times, the only thing I ask are questions or to clarify a point. There's a reason that God gave you two ears and one mouth.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

When two share one published article, they both win

When you help two clients get publicity in one article such as the August issue of Security Dealer and Integrator, it helps them save some money while generating publicity. Unlike a lot of people in my industry, I charge only the hours spent in the phases of writing an article. My clients share their costs in my time to do the marketing of the article, the research needed, complete the interviews and then write the article. My recent "GPS, Cellular and Remote Technology" showcased the work of ABM Data Systems and HBMG Inc.

The timing of this article couldn't have been better for Scott Lawson, the chief executive officer of ABM. He was able to use the article as a third party endorsement at the ASIS trade show this week in Atlanta. I'm going to help him get a nice display of his article for the ISC East trade show in October in New York City.

Thank you Bill Zalud for a great introduction to my article

For the past three or four years, I have been working with Bill Zalud and the folks at Security Magazine as a contributing writer, helping my clients get publicity for their thoughts and processes in the security industry. I recently was published within the September issue with an article called "A Contributing Security Connection to Non-profit," a thought piece on how community organizations such as the chamber of commerce can help with educational security. You have to appreciate an opening comment from Bill introducing me with: "Matt Scherer has a long and deep involvement in the security industry. The president of Scherer Communications, he is a frequent contributor to Security Magazine. he also has a long-term interest in educational partnerships that strengthen and secure the nation's schools."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Six months later, Campus Safety article gets published

To paraphrase the great blogger and PR professional, Alan Weinkrantz, "public relations is a long process." Like Alan, I know that it takes time to generate a story and get it finished. Such was the case with my article in the September of Campus Safety Magazine for PERSONA, a subsidiary of ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. I met Robin Hattersly Gray, the editor at the ISC West trade show, and we discussed an article on campus security. It took a couple of months to work with the client and their customers, but in the end, it will help PERSONA be perceived as a leader in this area.

Generating positive publicity in Atlanta......

I am in Atlanta for the ASIS security trade show helping my clients, ASSA ABLOY and ABM Data Systems generate media coverage for the months ahead. It's a three to six month process to work with publications such as Security along with Security Dealer and Integrator as well as others in the industry.

As I was making my morning rounds, I found four publications with an article that I had written or arranged an interview for a client. This effort took a lot of time, and it helped that the articles came out in time for this trade show.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The use of the worldwide web in emergency communications

My son, Peter, a sophomore at Lamar University, was evacuated from Beaumont following Hurricane Ike. Last night, I got a call from him that they would be coming home.

As a father, I went to the Lamar University web site to get an update on where and when my wife could get him. Instead, I noted a short commmunique telling me that the school is assessing the damage.

While I understand that the goal of the university is to focus on rebuilding, I find it disconcerting that the university is overlooking the use of a web site to communicate with the 400 parents of the students who were transported to Nachogdoches, Texas to wait out Ike.

This is the second time that Pete has had to evacuate his home for hurricanes this year. The information given for the first storm was limited.

With the social media and Internet communication options available today, it's time for the folks at Lamar and other universities to review their parent communication plan for evacuation. The use of Twitter, a blog and the Internet are all excellent tools for colleges to communicate to parents.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why my local TV station is better than CNN and the Weather Channel in Hurricane Ike coverage

With a son evacuated from Hurricane Ike, not to mention friends, family and clients who live in Houston, I have been watching the news coverage of the storm. So far, my local TV outlet, KENS-TV has done what I call "public affairs" reporting instead of the sensational "I am sitting in the middle of the storm in Galveston" that the Weather Channel and CNN is pushing out.
Maybe, it's because KENS either understands the need to report information and respect the value of their TV coverage.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Want to list your event on the world wide web? Here are three locations

Thanks to my growing connection of LinkedIn friends, I learned about three great event listing sites: Eventful, Zvents and Yahoo. Of the three, the Yahoo site was the easiest to list an event for the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Tech Council lunch. Zvents was the second most user friendly site and Eventful was difficult, and the most obvious with the sales pitch. If I wanted to list my event with them with premium service, I can do that for $99 a week. I think I'll pass for now.

Brilliant marketing in the wake of Hurricane Ike

While watching WOAI-TV to get the latest updates on Hurricane Ike, I was most impressed with the fact that Santikos Theaters is offering free films before 5 p.m. to evacuees at their theater. With families have to dip into savings and their credit card to pay for gas and hotels, this is the ultimate good will gesture.

Door64: the ulimate calendar

While I was in Austin yesterday for the Austin Innotech planning sessions, I also used Door64 as a blogging tool and as a way to find the directions to the Austin Happy Hour. My friend and client, Matt Genovese, has an excellent calendar that allows people to post events online. So, I could find the location of their event.

While the Austin High Tech Happy Hour is a great event, Matt's event is better because it has food.

Feeling the buzz from my Austin business trip

I had one of those 16-hour roadies to Austin yesterday. I got up at 5 a.m. in San Antonio, walked the dog and headed north for an Austin Innotech advisory meeting at 8 a.m. For the first time in my life, I actually got through the Austin Exit 228 crawl and managed to get to the meeting off Mo-Pac 30 minutes ahead of time.

As the publicist for Austin Innotech meeting, I have to develop the media outreach for this event. With a cast of great technology leaders and having Sean Lowery the "brains" behind this event, it won't be difficult to engage the regular and social media folks on this event.

In the course of three meetings, I saw a couple of potential clients and made some great contacts as well. Austin technology folks love to talk and promote their vision. So, I was so pumped up that I got up early this morning to catch up on all the business cards and connections I made yesterday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Apple I-phone open source expert to speak at Innotech

As I am waiting to take part in the Innotech Austin vendor luncheon, I learned that Raven Zachary, one of the Apple I-phone leading open source developers, is slated to speak at this event, Oct. 16. Knowing how much Austinites love their Apple based phones, I know that this will be one of the biggest draws for this show.

Google cloud computing to speak at Innotech

I am sitting this morning in the abvisors meetings for Austin Innotech, Oct. 16, Austin Convention Center. One of the major announcements is the folks from Google speaking on cloud computing. It will be the only chance to in central and South Texas to hear about this topic.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Linkedin groups a good way to colloborate

I had lunch with a fellowing marketing professional where we discussed the introduction of groups within LinkedIn. My friend works for a major computer reseller, and she is growing two groups for Microsoft certified partners and CISCO partners.

I shared with how I created two very effective groups -- the DINFOS Trained Killers and the North San Antonio Chamber Technology Council. Right now, the DTKs as I call them are now up to 240 members with public affairs people from all over the world as members. The chamber group has just started, but it's up to over 25 members in three weeks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Heading to Atlanta for ASIS trade show

I am heading to Atlanta Sunday morning for the ASIS trade show. I'll be there on behalf of three clients, ASSA ABLOY, ABM Business Monitoring Systems and MiCorp. I have interviews lined up for all three clients with most of the major security trade publications. As well, I am looking forward to seeing the 2000-word article I wrote this summer on behalf of ASSA ABLOY and PERSONA. Angela Faenza, the PERSONA general manager, has done some excellent work in bringing disparate aspects of a typical college and university in defining a cohesive security plan.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Why most people don't get LinkedIn

A lot of people get LinkedIn accounts because all that is required is access to the world wide web. Yet, their profile is clearly lacking. All that a lot of my friends and clients have is their current company and the years that they have been employed there.

By not taking the time to update their profile, they're missing out on opportunities. I use my LinkedIn profile as an alternative to a web site (mine is still under construction), and it works to help clients and friends understand what I do.

So, here are a couple of tips to make your LinkedIn profile better:

1) Write everything in the first person. Use "I" or "my company."
2) Think of the specialties as search engine terms. According to several LinkedIn development experts, this is what the spiders are looking for when they search for terms such as "crisis communications" or "video production," two of my terms in my profile.
3) Update the "What are you doing" section of your profile. If you are traveling to Atlanta or completing a blog, use this section.

I am currently updating a couple of my client's LinkedIn profiles as it will help them get found on the world wide web.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Do surveillance cameras belong in schools?

It's been a busy day for me as I just had a second blog article published in Global Scholar on the use of security cameras in public school classrooms.

Two clients appear in this week's San Antonio Business Journal

Two of my clients, MiCorp and the Lone Star Brewery had great coverage in today's San Antonio Business Journal.

Leading the discussion on

Visit Online Safety Community

Just finished my first post for the safety and surveillance group for It's my hope that this online site can help safety managers understand how to use their corporate surveillance tools to help more effectively manage their programs.

Finishing up an article on Matt Genovese for Austin Business District

I have just wrapped up a 1750 word article about Matt Genovese and for the November issue of the Austin Business District. It's amazing to see how door64 has grown from a handful of tech advocates to one that embraces so many people with a calendar, a list serve and the mixers.

I wish there was a way that a similar program could work in San Antonio, and there are some people working on that angle. I'm hopeful that he could expand the operation into San Antonio.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cub fans talk a great game, Cardinal fans get results

It's September, and the Chicago Cubs are in first place. My brother, the Cub fan, is calling me with updates, and my friend, Rick, the best man at my wedding, is riding high. And, suddenly the Cubbies have lost five games in a row. Now, there are reports that starter Carlos Zambrano and Rich Hardin may miss the rest of the year.

So, if both of these starters will miss the rest of the season, it's obvious that the Cubs' prospects aren't that good. I am thinking that this could be another classic year for the Cubs like 1969.

And, here's what I love about Cub fan. When it comes to enthusiasm, there is nobody that brings more of it. But, in business, it's also about delivering the goods. When you consider that my team, the St. Louis Cardinals have won 10 World Series since 1908, the last year the Cubbies won it, you can see why the smart business executive is pulling for Albert Pujols' team.

Checking those numbers

Nobody likes mistakes, especially in the public relations field. When I heard about the error made by the University of Central Florida sports information department where they got their call in phone number wrong, I know I have made a similar error. So when the media is blasting away at the SID for the error, I know that they have all made similar mistakes. As Jesus once noted when people wanted to stone the woman for adultry: "Let he who is perfect cast the first stone."

Here's hoping that the media such as Mike and Mike of ESPN fame can find other things to address besides the honest error that someone made. Nobody is perfect. Move on to some legitimate issue such as why the Yankees are not making the playoffs.

Why teachers fear a security camera in their classroom

I am finishing up my first blog for about the use of security cameras in the classroom and the fear by educators that administrators will abuse them. My wife, Jackie, is a 29-year school veteran who believes that some administrators will abuse the use of the cameras to monitor teaching performance. And, she's right. Some principals could use a simple security camera's video to discipline a teacher for a myriad of reasons.

However, school discipline today has eroded considerably that a security camera is needed. It can easily document a bully pushing the 98-pound weakling in class when the teacher is looking at another part of the class. When Bubba bloodys another child's nose, the principal can show the video clip to his parents as his reason for detention or other forms of school discipline.

I believe that school district superintendents and their school boards must craft a policy that authorizes the use of security cameras only for enforcing student discipline. The local school boards must also mandate that principals and other school administrators can't use these cameras to monitor a teacher's performance. Instead, their school administraff staff have to use a little shoe leather to truly evaluate how their teachers are performing in the classroom.

As one of my clients, MiCorp, is helping school districts in Texas upgrade their technology with the E-Rate funding program, school districts will want to add security cameras into the classroom. By helping educate administrators and school boards on the legitimate fear by teachers of the security camera in the classroom, I hope that districts will take the time to put together an effective policy on their use.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Want to know what's happening in New Orleans? Read Roy Bragg's blogs

With a son who goes to Lamar University in Beaumont, and my grandmother's relatives who live in New Orleans, I have found that the national media coverage for Gustav has been self-serving. As I was listening to the XM-radio feed of Fox News, one announcer asked folks to send their best photos and video of people waiting to get supplies at the local Wal-Mart. CNN was a little better but was the typical reporter with the windbreaker and complaining about the rain drops. However, the best coverage of the storm came from Roy Braggs and his blog. Instead of seeing a CNN reporter lose his hat to the winds of the hurricane, Roy provided us with an insight into those impacted by the storm. Here's hoping that when it comes to selecting people for awards for media coverage in a crisis that the folks at the Express-News nominate Roy for his work on Gustav.

Missing in action -- two great products from my local HEB

Since moving to San Antonio nearly 14 years ago, I have become a big HEB Grocery fan. The employees have a positive attitude, and they do everything they can to help you find something.

My local store -- the one on 1604 and Blanco has a very responsive staff who does their best to help keep favorite items in stock.

Now, I know that I am 53 years of age, but I am a big Kellogg's Pop Tart fan. When the Battle Creek, Michigan, company recently introduced a strawberry milkshake version that for me was in the words of Tony The Tiger as "GREATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!"

So, when shopping today, I tried to find another box, only to learn that the flavor in the words of my HEB merchandising manager was a "limited addition."

Now, having worked in public relations and marketing for 30 years, I have seen an effective use of limited addition for cars or clothing. However, the food business marketing folks shouldn't use this term.

If a food item works, the company should continue to stock it. And, I would understand if sales of the product weren't that good forcing them to pull it from the shelf. Yet, from talking to my HEB manager, it sold very well.

However, if you are going to introduce a product and it sells, it should have a good distribution and sales plan so that customers can become a lifetime customer, instead of getting upset that they can't find it.

I am hoping that the folks at Kellogg's will re-evaluate their thoughts about this product. I hope that they'll look at the sales in the north part of San Antonio as a trend that would encourage further production.

I am hoping that the folks at Kellogg's aren't like the local Coca Cola bottlers. They introduced a two-liter version of Coke Zero with Vanilla. And, then they pulled it from the shelves because it wasn't selling. Even after asking my HEB store manager, the Coke vendor only sells this in the 12-ounce can. Despite repeated requests to get it, the Coke merchandising manager is not going to restock it.

A smile for everyone

The San Antonio Express News ran an interesting article on Labor Day that got me thinking about how some people forget to give people a smile to the check out clerk at the grocery store, the waitress at the local restaurant and others in the service industry.

Having spent some time in those industries, I have never forgotten how people with a simple smile and than you made me want to do more for them. And, there are a lot of folks who have written positive things about the impact of sharing a smile.

I learned a long time ago from my father the impact of a positive smile when asking for help or assistance. And, even when I don't need something, a positive grin sure goes a long way.