Speaker & media consultant | Evangelist for your social agenda
I’ve just found out I’ve been honored (with several of my favorite “peeps” who are talented and admirable characters) as a Black Journalism Pioneer and will receive a tribute Saturday June 22nd along with fellow honorees Valerie Coleman, Gerri Lange, Barbara Rodgers and Ray Taliaferro at Geoffrey’s in Oakland.
The honorary chairs of the event are the Honorable Willie Brown (former Chair of the State Assembly and Mayor of San Francisco), Honorable Elihu Harris (former Democratic Assemblyman and Mayor of Oakland), Fred Jordan, Alameda County Treasurer Donald White and boadcast legend Belva Davis.
“Peace is not a result of victory. The real peace comes when you lose all the battles, and fully surrender to what is. Then there is nothing more to win. Yet then there is no peace to lose…” Olga Kostrova
My wife’s insight opens me to why I think my executive coaching sessions serve clients so well.
I’ve won big and lost big during my lifetime. Life’s Wheel of Fortune eventually spins one out to the edge and anxiety, holding on for dear life; or the spinning pulls one into the center, where, like an axle, the ups and downs and twists and turns can be watched from a place of relative peace. I’ve won and lost enough during these 60 plus years to be reasonably detached from winning and losing. This creates space for the client, room to accept of whatever comes up for the client, a comfort that supports transformation through barriers previously too connected to old fears for the client to step through alone.
I’m surprised to often hear from people that I carry blessing energy and everyone, as a human need, wants to be blessed, seen. Men especially, regardless of their level of accomplishment, at their core appreciate being seen and blessed by an elder. It’s tribal, in our genes.
I’m no longer surprised when clients come to us (SocialAgenda Media) for business reasons – PR, marketing and business development, but soon realize there are internal blocks, old beliefs and protective habits involved in creating the business issues. In sports coaches use the term “take what the defense gives you” that implies there is always room to move forward because the offense controls the ball and gets to choose the play. In sports the cliché is used to keep players from becoming greedy or trying too hard to score and thus making mistakes.
Once clients have done this inner work, it’s easier for us to help them identify their real mission and vision that drive their business.
When we look inside the blocks, beliefs and habits make us greedy, need to prove something to ourselves or others and keep us from taking what the defense gives us. “Few of the very rich credit their success to being smart. They say the keys to success are being honest and disciplined, getting along with people, having a supportive spouse and working hard. They usually work hard, save diligently, and live far below their means. They knew what they wanted, modeled the successes of other successful people, made plans, took action, and stayed the course despite their fears and doubts.”
In other words they took what the defense gave them and depended on the easy to see, hard to believe (if I’m wounded and can’t imagine life is actually wanting me to succeed) basics available to us all.
I find ways to get my clients to see what Rob Brezny wrote about in his book Pronoia, “Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia. It’s the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It’s a mode of retraining your senses and intellect so you’re able to perceive that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.”
I call my work executive coaching but you needn’t have a title to contact me. I’ll make space for you…
Yours truly, Jan Hutchins
By Jan Hutchins, CEO SocialAgenda Media
I answered the phone feeling great. I was in Hawaii, after all, and the previous call had been to inform me I’d just won election to the Los Gatos, California town council and received the most votes among the candidates. “Jan Hutchins here!” I eagerly answered, “How can I help you?”
“I’m with the (San Jose) Mercury News and we’re following up on a story,” said the voice on the other end, “Someone’s accusing you of being unpatriotic and against the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Thus began a weeklong adventure and education inside a media shit storm. Constant calls for comment, TV reporters waiting outside my home, an appearance on Ronn Owens’ highly rated KGO radio talk show, and pro-con attitudes in my face everywhere I went.
The facts hardly mattered. I had given the pledge while speaking at a service club during the campaign and, when asked, said I substituted, ideals for flag in the opening phrase describing that I was “pledging my allegiance to the ideals (vs flag) of the United States of America”. It seemed like an obvious improvement to me since my allegiance is not to the piece of cloth but to the ideals it represents. Silly me.
Thank goodness for having enough wisdom not to try to change those who either didn’t understand symbolism or were “triggered” beyond reason. By basically saying only the phrase “I do pledge my allegiance to the ideals of the United States of America and am willing to stand by that statement.” The firestorm blew over in a week, the dispensers of drama had moved on.
The lessons I took from this that apply to crisis response are:
Say only what you want to have heard, written about the subject.
Don’t feel obliged to answer the questions asked. Reporters are after a story; they are not your friends. You only owe them respect.
Crisis can be a time to identify the ineffective habits learned in your past.
Use the opportunity to unlearn any reaction to act from anger, control others, and/or defensively react to feeling emotional pain.
Ask for the serenity to accept the things you cannot change; the courage to change the things you can; and wisdom to know the difference. (From The Serenity Prayer)
As hard as it might be to believe, have the compassion to recognize that people are usually doing the best they can. Judgmental pricks… (It’s the best I can do, really!)
It never hurts to say, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” See the suffering in the other that is motivating an attack on you and remember it’s hurt people who hurt people.
Resentment is literally heavy to carry; while forgiveness releases energy and frees you.
Recently a digital discussion of our business model at our company, SocialAgenda Media, offered an opportunity to practice these lessons. See my partner/wife’s blog about it here.
A reporter showed one of our letters, “I supply you with fully developed stories (completed articles) that you can publish under your byline, with or without editing, at no fee.” to an Internet blogger and some of the reactions and opinions about what we do were so harsh my wife shielded me from it. You can read her responses in the comment thread of the article. BTW, She’s got a great skirt for me to hide behind .
As so often happens the conversation came to be about symptoms, in this case, the not so slow death of newspaper journalism and who’s to blame for the ripples radiating out from the disaster, rather than the core failed business model problem that begs for an open-minded search for solutions, including new ways to fund accountability and investigative journalism in this era of the Internet and corporate media consolidation.
SocialAgenda Media is attempting to support the continued existence of quality journalism using a new business model that will be able to support the work of journalists and viability of newspapers and magazines in new ways as the old ways die.
The prohibition against even the appearance of money being exchanged for information in journalism rests on the concern it will give consumers a bad impression. The implication that association with money automatically makes the content unreliable taken to its conclusion, makes all content coming out of any enterprise suspect. Pew Research statistics show believability of newspapers and TV news and information down to around 50% and falling fast, hardly a recommendation for maintaining the status quo.
For the record, I seek ways to finance getting good ideas, people and products the exposure they deserve in the hope the information will make a positive difference in their and our worlds. It’s as simple, and apparently for some as complex, as that. For more on the topic of paying journalists
by Jan Hutchins, CEO of SocialAgenda Media.
Disaster always sets the stage for opportunity, fresh growth, new perspective. The demise of paper-based journalism threatens to put down our watchdog, weaken the forces that traditionally comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, eliminate the institutions in our society which enforce civic accountability through their ability to expose and hold other institutions accountable.
How can we create an economic model that supports investigative and accountability journalism? I say we start with beauty and work our way to truth.
I’m here to cut through the problem, disrupting the existing business model, to help media break even or even make money acquiring first rate content.
I’m here to help entrepreneurs rethink their publicity process to obtain guaranteed media coverage where traditional PR can’t. I do it bypassing press releases and media pitches – I investigate, come up with a story that is relevant for editorial and develop articles that media is interested to publish. Both win. Media get quality content – visionaries get their dreams told and gain an audience for their idea.
I help business leaders whose ideas I believe in, build their brand and deepen their relationship with their vision along the way. I enable cash-strapped publications facing increased competition to finance content research and production.
It takes time and resources to get an idea developed into a comprehensive story that actually has meaningful editorial value. That’s what I offer to my clients. I want to share with you this different way to obtain media coverage.
More than ever businesses need favorable publicity and quality content for social engagement, and they need both to cost less. Media outlets need quality content to retain existing and attract new audiences, and also need it to cost less.
Have you ever worked with a PR agency? And how was your experience? Business owners or marketing executives know that your retainer does not guarantee you coverage.
Print media now, and television in the coming years, face the possibility their business models no longer work. Even digital media struggles with low barriers to entry and increased competition. Everyone acknowledges content is King. Publications need to produce better content at lower cost, ideally for free, to hold on until they find a new model.
And we can offer them what want. We give them your story.
I’ll tell you more, but first let me share this… My passion for this was born in 1969 in New Haven, CT. I had just been tear-gassed.
I remember feeling disappointed. My eyes were burning, but nothing like I’d imagined they would after being so close to the “action”. We were gathered in the TV room in our dorm at Yale, still breathless from the dash back from the front lines.
We’d ventured out that day fortified (and pacified) by the brown rice and salad the Yale administrators were feeding to students and protestors. I wen to see the Yippees (Youth International Party) who had come to town to provoke police and put things into perspective with their genius form of street theater.
National guard troops lining the streets of New Haven had fired tear gas to disperse rock throwers there protesting Black Panther Party national chairman Bobby Seale being tried for murder conspiracy. The courthouse was just across a small city park from Yale. Our campus had become the latest stop on the rolling revolution that was the 60’s in America. Our front-row seats to the show were close enough we got a strong whiff of the tear gas.
Now, with the events of the day behind us, adrenaline subsiding, we were ready for reviews of the drama from none other than Walter Cronkite! Uncle Walter as we called him, was the icon of journalism for his generation. It seemed my whole life he’d reassured me each evening by ending his broadcasts with “And that’s the way it is.”
Amazingly our drama wasn’t the lead story. We had to wait until the third segment of the CBS Evening News to see “how it was”. As it turned out it wasn’t like it was. The report of the event we’d just been part of bore only a slight resemblance to my experience and when Uncle Walter confidently ended the broadcast with “And…That’s the way it is” my world had changed forever.
Neither the FBI nor the Black Panthers nor my relationship with journalism was ever the same again; all had lost credibility thanks to the confusion and illusion they were selling.
40 years later, 20 of them spent becoming increasingly disillusioned as a TV journalist, I’m still seeking a way to make Uncle Walter’s words “and that’s the way it is” ring true again. How can I do what I love, tell good stories about people and ideas and feel I’m contributing to the world, rather than reporting mind numbing crap to help sell commercials for some media conglomerate.
Journalism as I knew it is gone forever. It’s so bad the cruel and comedic suggest newspapers should title their obit section “Subscriber Countdown.”
There are wonderful insights to be consumed about why and where it all might be headed. Research Clay Shirky’s work!
He says, get ready to live in a world where media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you is not worth your time to consume.
I’ve watched the career challenges faced by my journalist and media management friends, and I’ve watched, and been, an entrepreneur struggling to get media coverage without spending a fortune on PR agencies that don’t always deliver results. So I’ve decided to use my passion for discovering and telling a good story to get editors meaningful content at the same time I help entrepreneurs get, at minimal cost, the notice they deserve.
I write with passion and my whole life I have been communicating about the human drama with its dreams, splendid successes and hard life lessons in ways that have produced PR, political and personal brand success. I choose to work with business owners who need someone to help them draw out the passion at the core of their business and get their story told in a way that it gets picked up by the media.
Here’s how I work:
I don’t produce press releases that struggle to be seen in the avalanche of competition. I don’t produce press releases at all, really. How many newsworthy events does your company really have? But… we can tell stories, approaching your distinction and value proposition from different angles.
I uncover the differentiating nuances, add memorable elements to the story about you, your business, industry, the needs you fill, or problems you solve. I write it as an objective but passionate journalism/literature piece, and place it in media relevant to your demographics, generating positive brand perception and public awareness. Often the coverage offers search engine advantages due to inbound links, and provokes relevant social media conversations.
I save businesses money and guarantee results and, at the same time, save publications money and write compelling stories relevant to their audience.
What you get for your money:
Basically, you pay $1,000. I research and produce a comprehensive, industry-relevant article about your business or product, and place it in a mass media outlet. If we don’t get it placed within a major publication within 2 weeks I pitch it to bloggers and get it placed in a blog with high page ranking, so you get coverage and an inbound link. In both cases the article then gets shared in various social media, reaching those relevant to your business tribes; my team doesn’t just push the content, we engage social audiences in the conversation about it that leads to positive awareness and SEO ranking (Google’s Penguin likes social indicators).
Moreover, if your first article doesn’t get published within selected, agreed-upon, authority publications, but gets only in 2nd tier blogs (scenario #2 above), you also get a second researched article to cover the half of the original payment intended for the placement. If that article is picked up by targeted publications you pay an additional $500. If it is not, you pay nothing and we again pitch it to bloggers, guaranteeing to you quality inbound links for your SEO as we share it widely in various social media, building tribes around your content.
Many say my approach to media relations is disruptive – forget press releases, forget pitches that fail, let’s get to the point – let’s build a complete story that people care to read, and get it placed. Let’s get it straight, Social Agenda Media is not another PR agency, we are gathering a group of highly skilled journalists with passion for our craft and understanding of the core needs of any business, any marketing department, and any media outlet. We have been on both sides of the fence.
So yes, we offer GUARANTEED PRESS COVERAGE, we uncover the jewel that others can’t and we share your vision, your passion, your dream with the world.
• Story development from multiple angles
• Pitching complete articles to major publications relevant to the client’s industry
• Placing content as guest posts for SEO (inbound link building from high rank blogs)
• Publishing content on the client’s blog
• Promoting content via social media, engaging tribes in the conversation
Video interviews, video case studies, corporate TV channel development.
Contact me, see if we share your vision and can work together to get you the audience you deserve.
Book Jan to speak at your event.
by Jan Hutchins, CEO of SocialAgenda Media.
One of effectiveness “guru” Steven Covey’s gems is his recommendation that communication works best if one seeks to clearly understand the “other” before seeking to communicate one’s ideas or information to the “other.” People like to feel heard and understood before being comfortable giving their full attention and trust to someone. It’s at the core of all marketing.
Since words have meaning, or at least are intended to, let’s consider what prospect engagement seems to mean today as opposed to what at least Covey and this threory say it really means.
When I goog-learn about the topic I get:
• Building engagement is really about improving the quality of the buying cycle
• It’s the delivery of consistently valuable marketing interactions across the buying cycle.
• Nothing builds relationship better than two-way communication.
• You must create a steady stream of useful, relevant information.
• Becoming the go-to resource for information and educational materials that keep your prospect at the top of his game
• Collaboration occurs in forums, discussion boards and group sites
• Create interesting, compelling content, people will likely come back for more.
• You must trust your audience as much as you’re asking them to trust you.
• Prospect Engagement Outline is a sales technique of the Value Forward Selling approach and enables you to be “professionally blunt.”
• Catch a prospect’s attention with compelling content
• Engage to convert a prospect into a customer
• Give them multiple reasons to grow their business with us
• Deliver outstanding value and foster customer loyalty
• Re-engage and reactivate high-potential former customers
• Rescue customer relationships on shaky ground?
Ask any marketer about whether it’s important to know the customer and the answer will be yes. Yet just as we know selling is about the pain/problem, we often find ourselves talking more about the wonderful solution we have and losing the sale. In the same accidental way, we too often find ourselves thinking about the customer like he, she, they are objects to be manipulated rather than people actually needing to be understood. Understandable considering the pressure to perform we’re all facing, yet still fundamentally wrong.
Looking back at the Goog-learn list above, only the one in bold seems to fully adhere to the Covey theory.
• When you look at your prospect engagement strategy are you REALLY seeking to understand, empathize and communicate with them about their problem before trying to get them to hear your wonderful solution?
• Do you REALLY know their buying process and where they are on the buying cycle so you know how to tailor your marketing to them appropriately, or are you losing sales by pushing too soon or not identifying early enough?
• Would drip marketing better nurture your sales cycle process?
• Are you trying out enough small tests to know when to take the big shot at your market?
• Are you doing the math so you REALLY know how many opportunities and how many leads it takes to generate a sale and building your plans accordingly?
The list above does acknowledge the importance of good content as the currency driving marketing today, but are your selections REALLY targeting the customer you’re seeking and leading to the brand you’re trying to build?
Forgive me for asking so many questions; I’m only seeking to better understand you so we can have a more effective conversation.
by Jan Hutchins, CEO of SocialAgenda Media.
I do have something important to say about new media, and, I’ll admit right up front I don’t claim to actually KNOW shit about social (or anti-social) media. All my insecurities about not being as smart as the next genius be damned, I’m not convinced anybody really does KNOW, regardless of the delightfully dense techno-dialect they speak to one another.
I’m not claiming to be a thought leader, expert or futurist. My wife, who is “all that” describes me as a cave man when it comes to technology. I’m reasonably fluent in the experience, I offensively smart phone everywhere but in the car (have you paid one of those f-ing texting-while-driving tickets?) and spend most of my waking hours each day on the computer.
I bow in respect to the pervasive influence the Internet has on nearly every aspect of my/our lives. But I’m an immigrant on this plane, brought here from the dim, dark past before bits and bytes and I’m not convinced that science in the form of this imperfection based, ever changing world of connectivity is superior to truth, love, and conviction. Not convinced that the spinning realities, the analytical overlays that keep us up at night and plugged in all day are superior to the original, unchanging, primordial, self-contained intelligence of what Hindus would call Brahman, the underlying cosmic consciousness.
The intelligence of science is by definition imperfect, always being improved and all. Constantly changing, it is the ultimate shiny object and though incredibly interesting to play with, still but a distraction by comparison.
So much influence mixed with so much money being made calls to mind the material wealth, greed and injustice ascribed in the Bible to Mammon and produces in me, and perhaps you, some powerful urge to not miss out, be part of, get my share. I’ve described social media marketing with its seduction scenarios, affiliate schemes and SEO sorcery as a present day gold rush. “Hurry, grab your sacred tablets and let’s go make a golden calf sized pile of money!”
And then something magical and a priori (from the earlier) happens, something like a sunrise or rain, something transcendental, intrinsic to being human, existing before even the awareness of experience, as Kant would describe it something based on the very form of all experience not on the content of the experience and I recall truth, love and conviction.
If I can, I turn to my love, touch the truth of her being, share the conviction that comes from feeling the truth of my love for her, turn off the tablet, pause the plasma 3-D, put Siri on stun and fall into something based on the very form of existence and beyond the content of the experience. I choose to use this part of myself in my social media strategies as well. How about you?
by Jan Hutchins, CEO of SocialAgenda Media.
My original urge was to title this blog New Media – Art or Science? I’m an artist at heart and have consistently felt an emotional reaction when directed to do SEO to decide the subject matter and flow of ideas for something I’m writing. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the utilitarian need but find myself chafing at having my creative impulse subjected to the search habits of the masses.
Forgive the comparison but would Shakespeare have checked Google Ad Words to decide the subject of his next play? Is there not something that is more about commerce than art in seeing what people are most likely to want before I create?
I didn’t need to spend much time researching data about my emotional experience before I reached the conclusion that it is not Art or Science? but rather Art & Science.
This quote attributed to the first black woman in space ended the debate for me…
‘Science or art? A ridiculous choice. The arts and sciences are connected. And our mission, says Dr. [Mae] Jemison, is to reconcile and reintegrate science and the arts. Both the arts and the sciences, says Dr. Jemison, are not merely connected but manifestations of the same thing — they are our attempt to build an understanding of the universe, and our attempt to influence things (things in the universe internal to ourselves and the universe external to ourselves). “The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity — [they] are our attempt as humans to build an understanding of the world around us….”‘]
My emotions regularly create trouble for me and once again they were guiding me away from the very balance and perspective I seek. Dr. Jemison was able to the face the unbelievable fear of being blasted into outer space because of the understanding expressed in that quote. I can face the fact that I want this to be read by as many people as possible and thus have a powerful positive impact on the universe external to myself.
And it’s not lost on me that I found her quote and lots of other interesting perspectives on the matter so easily because of the same search engine miracle that caused my emotional reactions to having to have my writing optimized.
by Jan Hutchins, CEO of SocialAgenda Media.
Because I used to be “somebody” people are always asking me what I think of the media. This is a blog about media, new and traditional, and I carry a bias against the way dependence on ratings affect the media today. The parallel debate in the new media industry is do we create content for the visitor or the search engines? My bias against creating solely for the search engines seems appropriate to explain as we start getting to know one another.
I was a media star zooming along on television in San Francisco when the FCC changed my life. In 1981, for radio, and 1984 for television, the Federal Communications Commission, as part of deregulation, ended the requirement stations conduct interviews with community leaders, solicit and maintain public files of comments about programming, and make the public aware of the station’s duty to address community issues. Stations had also been required to file Problems/Programs Lists with the FCC, outlining community problems and listing specific programs broadcast to address them.
There was debate over the effectiveness of ascertainment as it was called, but there was no question it was a threat to broadcasters that community groups might (and did) use the requirements to threaten the stations’ license renewal. Without that threat stations have had few challenges to their licenses to essentially print money using the public (our) airwaves.
In 1985, the Federal Communications Commission ended guidelines for minimal amounts of news and public affairs programming media outlets had to broadcast and how many ads per hour media outlets could broadcast.
Before deregulation getting good ratings for newscasts was a bonus but the emphasis was on quality of content, after, it all changed. The perhaps unintended consequence was to turn station’s attention from community service to profit making. News operations were forced to be just another profit center and ratings became KIng.
Staffing was reduced and the reporting of original news stories became nearly impossible. The understandable pressure on well-intentioned people caught in this new system created a dumbing-down of content and cynical manipulation of audiences to get ratings and save their jobs.
Terms like “rip and read” (just reading wire service copy and calling it reporting) describing the news format as “tits, tots and pets”, and “if it bleeds it leads” highlight the cynicism that ensued. Studies show watching local television news these days actually creates negative misperceptions about reality.
News companies can now choose to either serve the community’s right to be informed or let programming be determined by their profit margin. They regulate themselves based on their individual, journalistic ethical code.
Deregulation also led to the media conglomerate mergers that we have today. Ask the folks at KGO radio in SF or anywhere else in the business just how that’s working.
For me, deregulation was the beginning of the end of my media dream to be part of saving the world. (I know, so naïve!)
That was nearly 30 years ago. I got frustrated and left the business. Today I start this blog with renewed hope that science has made art and hopefully artistic journalism possible again. By the way, the title and keywords in this posting have not been Search Engine Optimized.
Book Jan to speak at your event.