Last fall I attended the very fashionable and mildly geek-chic Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing event, now home to “Nadella-gate.”

There, I observed a sea of 8,000 women aged eighteen to eighty who were there for one express purpose: to understand the technology landscape and future of computing and how it may affect their respective lives–career and otherwise.

My thinking around gender inequality (in this particular case, with regard to the technology industry) tends to align with GoDaddy CTO Elissa Murphy’s thinking when we sat down at the conference to discuss gender gaps, among other things: “I never got the memo that I wasn’t supposed to go to the computer lab, or play baseball, or do any other thing I wanted to do. Being a girl never had anything to do with it.”

On the flip side, as Erica Lockheimer, Director of Engineering Growth at LinkedIn, pointed out: “When you talk to younger generations, the stereotypes about being a girl in computing still exist: we’re introverted geeks who lack social skills and just want to stare at a computer screen all day. It’s in everything from the things they watch on TV to what they see on the Internet.”

What is the truth about why more girls don’t pursue engineering careers? Is it because men are holding them back? Is it because “the system” (that beast! The thing we blame when we can’t identify a culprit) is sending the wrong messages?

If we put gender aside for a moment, and focus on the benefits of diversity within industries and organizations, the thinking ever so slightly shifts into a solutions-based paradigm. The by-product of this modification is a distinct emphasis on a person’s love for a particular subject matter, area of expertise, or knowledge base that allows them to thrive. Along with continued discourse and a general awareness of “unconscious bias,” I am almost certain that if we focused on the following things, we would see seismic shifts in terms of the number of people (who happen to be female) who pursue careers in engineering and other technical roles.

EDUCATION: Thinking about computing education as art, rather than just science

It’s very easy to get stuck in our thinking that pursuing a degree in computer science means one is only adept with numbers. But the truth is that “coding” is actually very similar to learning a language; a language that happens to be numbers based. When curricula systematically approach engineering from the standpoint of science or math, they fundamentally deny those with a propensity for learning languages or a passion for art the opportunity to pursue this path. We have done a disservice by talking about STEM in terms of left-brains, rather than a creative pursuit that requires a different set of skills, often soft skills, in order to master it.



Upgrade your PRWe’ve got a massive crush on everything PRTech, and why not? Nothing has changed our industry more than technological innovation. This evolution has ushered in an era where PR pros must commit to researching new platforms and learning new skills that allow us to communicate better and measure PR smarter.

It can be a bit daunting to know where to start, so we’re taking the guesswork out of the equation and distilling down the ecosystem to bring you 7 PRTech solutions guaranteed to make your life easier and your work better.

Each of these solutions maps to an important PR objective and implementing these solutions will move us all closer to a programmatic approach to PR.

Let’s get after it, shall we?

PR Objective: Increase Visual Storytelling

PRTech Solution: Canva

Canva does an incredible job empowering everyone to be creative. Touted as the world’s easiest design program, Canva democratizes one of the more elusive (and often expensive) aspects of PR.

How to gauge success: Everyone agrees that visual content is a major media trend that will continue to have prominence. Aim to tell compelling narratives through infographics, ensure visual branding is consistent across all marketing collateral, and integrate more imagery into everything you push out.



I get a lot of email. Like, A LOT. My team often teases me that my inbox and calendar look more like an anti-productivity war zone than the carefully color-coded, organized chaos it actually is. There is a method to my madness, people!

Back in January, I received an email that basically made my year, thus far.

“Would I be interested in chatting with Sir Mix-A-Lot ahead of SXSW 2015?” Uh, does a bear sh*t in the woods?

Mixalot02Did any of you know that the “Butt Guy” (as he lovingly refers to himself) is a self-proclaimed tech dork AND a huge proponent of the power of convergence? I mean, it’s like we nerd soul mates or something.

So after some careful orchestration among the very adept and very thoughtful PR folks from SXSW, I got to sit down for a solid chat with Mix. That’s what I call him now, cuz we’re cool like that.

I wasn’t EXACTLY sure what I was getting myself into, but then again – that’s the way I like it. Jumping head first into a potential pile of steaming cow dung, hoping my parachute will open up at some point before I hit the ground.

Needless to say, we had a blast and his publicist emailed me later saying he thought the interview was…and I quote caps and all: “F@CKING AWESOME.” Lucky for you, I did record the entire thing for your listening pleasure.

Editor’s note: There is some content that has been bleeped out, so be forewarned. And he says the F-word approximately 68 times, but it’s entirely contextual.

Here’s just a taste of what The Real Mix served up and some of the highlights of our candid conversation:

  • Baby Got Back’s roots actually lie in racial and social commentary, not sex (it was a serious song about women of color)
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 2 favorite 4-letter word expletives (because every one needs to expand their adult vocabulary)
  • His thoughts on the convergence of tech and music (hint: there’s a lot of opportunity and the consumer has never been more empowered)
  • Why Apple is just a giant record label (this guy is not afraid to call a spade a spade)
  • Why he views music as connected content and why a one-and-done mentality equates to irrelevancy (hmm…that sounds familiar)
  • 2 of his biggest failures during his career (pro tip: be wary of dried fruit)
  • Where real wealth resides (it’s not where you think)
  • His favorite tech buzzwords (do you sprechen sie geek?)
  • Who inspires him (besides Ice-T)
  • Why he’s pumped about his first visit to SXSW and what he’ll be focused on accomplishing in Austin

Have 45 minutes? Check it out the interview now (or download it for a hilarious listen on your next flight!) and make it a great day.

PS – Tweet to @AirPR and @TheRealMix and tell us what you thought!



A couple weeks ago I had the express pleasure of meeting up with Sally Falkow, founder of Meritus Media, at the PR News Google Conference in San Francisco.

Because I’m like, totally mature and non-competitive, and a rather supportive and cheerleader-y type of person in general…I decided not to be jealous or mad or irritated the she was speaking at the conference and I wasn’t. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that when I originally spoke to the organizer of the conference about ME speaking he informed me: “Sally Falkow is already covering that topic.”

Oh. Ok. Got it. Let me take a step back.

Sally’s what one might consider an “industry vet.” She was probably talking (in her very charming South African accent) about Digital and Social before it even existed. She’s new school but with old guard wisdom. Her accolades include things such as, oh say:

#1 – Top 50 Social Media Influencers on Twitter

#2 – 25 Women Who Rock Social Media

#3 – Top 10 PR Tech Pioneers

Because I am partially responsible for the crowning of her third title above, I take particular ownership and pride in the SOS (Success of Sally). When push comes to shove, she’s hands down one of my favorite people in the PR industry…so if it seems as though I gushing, I most definitely am.

The point of that intro? You need to know that when she gives you insights about something there is a 99.4% chance that she’s right. So listen up as she shares her take on “Creating Content Google Loves.” Then go kick some content ass and take some organic names.

Over to you Sally…

When we talk about creating content that Google loves, it might sound like putting the cart before the horse – as we’re constantly told we need to create content that our audience loves. As indeed we should. In this post I’m taking that as a given. But once you know what topics your audience is interested in and what they respond to, when you craft that content make sure that it is also content that Google loves.



One of the biggest challenges young companies face is scaling. More specifically, how to put together a team with the right people; then grow and cultivate that talent as the company expands. If you’re an entrepreneur currently seeking engineers, you know exactly what I’m talking about here!

We color ourselves grateful to have some talented domain experts assisting us in finding the hungriest, smartest problem solvers out there to join our burgeoning company. Specifically, we’re grateful for Elizabeth Patterson, Chief Talent Officer at our lead investment firm, Mohr Davidow Ventures.

With over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience in the Technology, Lifestyle, and Consumer sectors, Miss Elizabeth is a rare breed. Not only is her breadth of experience vast and wide ranging, her passion is infectious.

After bugging her only once, she graciously offered to share some of her insights and expertise on what it really takes to attract top talent in today’s competitive market; and why cultivating community should always be at the heart of everything you do.

Elizabeth PattersonRebekah Iliff: As the Chief Talent Officer at Mohr Davidow Ventures, can you tell us a little about the responsibilities of your role and how you approach your relationship with the various companies in MDV’s portfolio?

Elizabeth Patterson: I lead Mohr Davidow’s strategy for attracting and securing top talent for our portfolio companies. Part of my charter is to help high-performance entrepreneurs hone their leadership effectiveness. One of the programs I am most excited about is our community event series, #MohrDavidowMeets, which is designed to inspire our entrepreneurs and fast-track connections. I feel it is important to always approach these relationships with authenticity and empathy.

RI: Since you you play a critical role in aiding the firm’s portfolio companies in identifying and securing top talent, I’m sure you’ve seen it all. What are 2-3 key takeaways you can share from those companies who have had great success in attracting top talent?