Last Thursday, Sharam and I had the pleasure of participating in Dell’s Social Business Think Tank, a roundtable discussion that looked at the challenges and opportunities of social media’s evolution within enterprise organizations.

#DellVenue Social Business Think TankCharlene Li, Altimeter Group’s CEO, moderated the panel, which included insightful contributions from a stellar panel of business leaders. A comprehensive list of participants can be found below and a full recording of the conversation can be found here (for those of you with 2 hours to kill).

In case you’ve got other things to do, allow me to synthesize.The discussion centered on the maturation of social business and how brands and businesses need to think about the evolving social landscape.

Social media is extending deeper into organizations and as strategies mature, there are molds to break and mindsets to shift. Social is revealing entirely new ways of doing business and that means shaking up the status quo.

Are you ready to embrace all that it means to be truly social?

Below are 3 challenges to think about and 3 (golden) opportunities to capitalize on as social business continues to blossom:

#SocBiz Challenge 1: The Buyer Rules

How, when, and why people buy has shifted dramatically. Consumers today are armed with more information than ever before. From search tools and reviews, to comparison pricing, buyers are in control of nearly the entire purchasing process leaving sales with very few tried a true tactics left in their arsenal.



Part of the beauty of being an entrepreneur is the uncanny ability to roll with the punches, adapt to change, and ultimately solve problems in a creative way. But whether you’re a first-time founder or a seasoned innovator one truth holds constant: markets do not giving a flying you know what about your product roadmap, company valuation, or engineering pedigrees.

Nope. In fact, the irony of a free market is just how little any of this seems to matter in terms of the ultimate success of a company. Dare I bring up examples of over-hyped companies whose IPOs flopped, over-funded companies who (after years and years) still don’t have an actual profit-making enterprise, or behemoth brands with billions of dollars in the bank who can’t seem to innovate their way out of an open box.

The point? As much as we try, it’s often hard to predict which entrepreneurial pursuits will wind up being lucrative, and which ones will take their rightful place in the graveyard of good ideas (or terrible ones) that suffered from bad timing, ill-equipped people, or poor product execution. Between all the plans and strategies and intentions of a business lie the actual and tactical components of what often end up leading to a big win; or on the other side of the coin, an ultimate failure.

Office space trendsLately, as our company prepares for rapid growth, I’ve been thinking about things differently, which basically means more tactically. From hiring to building a culture, what are factors that we need to consider as we prepare for the next phase?

Last week, I met with two gentlemen from CBRE, a global real estate and investment firm, to talk about office space. You know, to manifest our future digs, which will (obviously) include a yoga studio, a full kitchen, vaulted ceilings, and a spiral staircase. Uh-huh, right. What I learned, however, beyond that fact that the aforementioned criteria would likely send us into early bankruptcy, is just how insightful the statistics and data around office space trends are to understanding the current environment for aspiring businesses.

You ready?

From CBRE’s “U.S. Tech-Twenty: Measuring Market Impact” report, here are a few things you may want to noodle on as you build out your empire – which will require plenty of office space:



DISCLAIMER: We going to get a bit geeky this week, so prepare to mull. 

Establishing value-driven measurement is an integral step in cementing PR’s seat at the table. But what about other catalysts (beyond metrics) that can used in rational, strategic decision making?

Below is a write up done by our stellar summer intern, Harry Rackmil. Harry brought a numerous insightful contributions to AirPR, one of which was his application of Game Theory to PR.

Besides being a fascinating read, Harry also cooked up some nifty visuals to illustrate the model’s important conclusions. Your head might spin a little during your first read, but that’s just your brain thanking you for seeking yet another angle that proves the value of PR. Enjoy!

Public Relations and Game Theory seem to have little in common, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pair nicely.

Game theory, to paraphrase Wikipedia, is the study of strategic decision making by rational, intelligent agents. It’s easy to see how this could apply to Public Relations – every decision in a PR campaign, from which messages to pitch to which journalists to target, is a carefully considered choice, influenced in part by the strategic choices of the competition’s rational.

But then again, “strategic decision making by rational, intelligent agents” is vague enough to cover just about everything. This is intentional – it means practically any strategic decision can be tweaked into a game modelled by a mathematical game theoretical framework with a few well-placed assumptions. But it also means some important details will have to be glossed over – John Nash never incorporated the influence of the blogosphere into his equilibrium calculations.

With a few simplifying assumptions we can apply game theory to a common situation in PR and explain why increasing PR investment might not increase sales, but not investing in PR at all will cause even more damage.

How PR relates to “competitive advantage.”

Let’s look at a very specific case when two competitors are vying for the same fixed pool of customers. This is certainly not the only PR hypothetical – it is often employed to bring in new customers, coax current customers into spending more, or simply prevent unforeseeable press disasters.

Think of a presidential election – television ads are airing constantly so almost everyone knows the candidates’ names (high brand awareness), but these ads weren’t convincing enough and a number of swing voters still haven’t decided. If nothing further is done, approximately half should vote for each candidate just by random chance. But if one candidate’s PR team gets an article published making a convincing appeal to these voters and the other candidate is silent, the first candidate could get all of their votes.

Now if the second candidate’s PR team gets a second, equally effective article published favoring their candidate, the decision isn’t so straightforward and the split is back to 50/50. So both candidates have spent a lot of money on PR and they’re no better off than if they’d never hired PR pros in the first place.

So if this is the outcome, why invest in PR at all?



We live and we learn. Our early careers all about trial and error, but now many of us are working to refine, polish, and fill our tool belts with the best set of wrenches available. Given the onset of PRTech, there’s no better time to do take the initiative and invest in yourself. Let’s all step on the gas a bit to truly accelerate the pace at which we’re evolving in our respective PR roles.

From employing empowering body language tricks before your next thought leadership lecture to being bold enough to reframe your organization’s origin story, here’s how to turn it up.

What do we want?

To become more valuable than ever!

How do we do it?

Through data, measurement, and compelling content!

Great. Let’s get started.

Invest in Authorship

The first rule of PR club is that you don’t talk about PR club. Wrong! Talk up a storm. Start establishing yourself as an expert through compelling writing today so you can lead the way in future (and present) content marketing. Being influential in a niched area will give you credibility as both an individual and brand representative. Start with a sprint session: Jot down the first five blog post topics that come to mind, choose the strongest one, then force yourself to write for 20 minutes uninterrupted. Here’s a stopwatch for you. Think niched expertise, owned media, authorship, and comprehensive distribution plans.



I’m not sure I need a mental health professional to validate my feelings about technology’s evil downside, but it’s good to know that most of us are on the same page about one thing: overuse (or call it “abuse”) of anything—be it drugs, alcohol, food, or your credit card—can lead to undesirable outcomes.

Over the past few years, the explosion of smartphones and social networks has made us accessible anytime, anywhere, to anyone. While this may be positive in many ways, the downside is very real.

While the study cited is anecdotal at best, Time released this article a few months ago about a correlation between excessive Twitter use and high levels of infidelity or divorce. Not surprisingly, the behavior that fuels one to openly and constantly share (or overshare!) information generally reserved for a trusted partner or friend is the same behavior that would likely lead someone to search for validation elsewhere.

Smartphones and social media allow these latent behaviors to come barreling to the forefront much faster.

So, where do you fall on the spectrum? Are you the jerk pulling out your phone during a date with an intelligent woman because you lack attention span? Or perhaps you’re the gal who takes selfies 15 times a day—especially when you’re feeling down—then constantly checks Instagram to see how many “hearts” you’ve gotten.

If you’re looking to “slow your roll” and get your life somewhat back to normal, here are seven tips for curbing your smartphone addiction. I’ll bet if you take these to heart, society at large will benefit. And your friends and family will be grateful, too.

1. When waiting at a crosswalk or crossing the street, keep your hands in your pockets. If you don’t have pockets, clasp your hands behind your back, like you’re wearing invisible handcuffs.