BlueLine Marketing Update

BlueLinePeople are constantly asking me: What ever happened to everyone at BlueLine Marketing?  (and that is usually followed by “what happened TO BlueLine?” and “wow, you guys were WAY ahead of the curve“)

For those that don’t know: BlueLine Marketing was a word-of-mouth marketing company based in Boise, Idaho.  We were preaching, teaching & selling what is now Social Media to companies that “got it”…there were not many.  Things happened and doors closed in December 2007.

The Founders: (in alphabetical order)
Brian Critchfield: Director of Marketing at Boon, Inc.  LinkedIn:

Justin Foster
: Founder/Managing Partner at Tricycle Brand Development.  LinkedIn:

John Hardesty
: CEO & Co-Founder of Tricycle Brand Development. LinkedIn:

Brian Packer
: Director VP of Marketing at ZAGG Inc.  LinkedIn:

Soon thereafter: (in the order that I remember)
Erik Warila: Marketing & Communications at Micron. LinkedIn:

Tac Anderson
: Social Media Director at Waggener Edstrom.  LinkedIn:

Jen Harris
: My bio here. Looking to solve people’s social media woes, whether it be as an independent contractor or inside a really brilliant company that understands they need someone “on the inside” to move their social media needle.  LinkedIn:

Mike Boss:
At Mike’s request: “It would be great if you would leave out the stuff about my time in rehab, although my two years as a soldier of fortune is OK.” No worries Mike, your secret is safe with me my friend.
Mike lost his job back in November as MPC Computer’s PR Manager, is currently taking the inspiration and tools he gained from his BlueLine days and applying is BYOM (Be Your Own Media) model to the creation of a social media association for independently owned culinary businesses (  He remains determined that the business model for this endeavor should be as innovative as the tools and techniques that make it possible to begin with.  In the meantime, as a self-acknowledged unemployed bum, he believes you should feel free to buy him lunch whenever possible and at least feign interest in his goofy ideas.  His mother will bless you for those small acts of kindness.

Kristine Asin
: Marketing & Events Owner at StinaLu Studios.  LinkedIn:

Krissa Wrigley: VP Research & Evaluation for Idaho TechConnect

Rachel Wilson: Corporate Education Liaison at University of Phoenix. LinkedIn:

FlatPlanet People (web development company that was aquired by BL in 2006)
Sam Swenson: Founder of Socialplasam. LinkedIn:
Ben Whitaker:

So there you have it!
Did I miss anyone…is your job not accurate or detailed enough? (Mike is our writer, he is allowed).
I love everyone here, no matter what the past was. It was the experience of a lifetime that has allowed me to change the lives of others. xoxo, always.

The Stockdale’s, Omnipure and PR

Ryan Stockdale
Ryan Stockdale

I had lunch today with Travis Franklin from Hawley Troxell and we were talking about the public perception of Ryan Stockdale’s former company Omnipure Filter Company.

If you don’t know the Stockdale’s story with ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover, you can see it here.
If you don’t know the Ryan Stockdale’s  story with cluster headaches….here is the download from the perception of the public (me).

  • Ryan Stockdale became one of the worst cluster headache patients doctors have EVER seen
  • He lost his job at Omnipure…but still had insurance (not sure the details here-COBRA?)
  • There is a chance of recovery through the same type of brain surgery that they do on Parkinson’s patients…even though it is “experimental”, doctors (you know, the really smart ones) know this will help him live a NORMAL life.
  • Omnipure Insurance won’t cover the almost $100,000 surgery UNLESS the CEO says yes (again, this is public perception that was crafted…more on the aftermath of the PR response)
  • Omnipure CEO, Mr. Roger Reid, denied Ryan the coverage
  • The community of Boise stood up & raised the money in record time
  • Ryan & family are getting surgery.

Now, is this what REALLY happened or is this just public perception?  I heard about 22 seconds on channel 6 one night that the CEO did donate to the cause out of his own pocket.  Great…that wasn’t overshadowed AT ALL by the bigger story  that they failed to take care of their own.

We as business people know the facts of insurance and why he wasn’t going to be covered.  “Experimental” doesn’t bode well in any situation for a company.  As a CEO/HR Director you have to look at the health of the company and whether or not the company is going to be able to provide insurance to everyone after certain claims.  This is a double edged sword.

Back to public perception and that PERCEPTION IS REALITY.  Here is my take on what Omnipure should have done. (Let it be known that I am not a PR professional…but what I know are how to use web tools to reach MANY MANY MANY people and squash the perception of one story and enhance & educate the reality of the truth.)

  • Ryan Stockdale became one of the worst cluster headache patients doctors have EVER seen – Omnipure would have a great opportunity to explain this through their blog.
  • He lost his job at Omnipure…but still had insurance – this would be a great Omnipure blog explaining this.
  • Omnipure sets up a Facebook, Twitter, website, local bank and donation page for the Stockdales with the premise that the insurance company is going to deny the claim.  (saving the face of Omnipure not being the bad guy due to education of public through these pages). – educate through blogs!
  • Gathering’s take place on Omnipure stomping grounds – the hat is passed around to raise funds & awareness of what the REAL DETAILS are of the story…hmmm, think the PRESS would pick up on this?
  • There is a chance of recovery through the same type of brain surgery that they do on Parkinson’s patients…even though it is “experimental”…which we all know now is very rarely covered.
  • Omnipure’s insurance provided denies Ryan the coverage – another great blog post!
  • The community of Boise stood up & raised the money in record time along with the support of Omnipure – ooh, blog post!
  • Ryan & family are getting surgery. – blog post!

Omnipure has been made out to be the bad guy here…which they are not.  They are looking our for the entire company’s well being.

What kind of outcome would you envision if the PR agency took a proactive role in seeing the social media future of this situation?  It is going to happen again and again and again.  Proactive, not reactive will win the public perception game every time.

Why a Newspaper Should Hire “The Enemy”

Going back almost four years ago, I was considered one of the the anti-traditional media people here in Boise.  What ever happened to everyone at BlueLine Marketing anyway?  😉  (Tac, I think the post needs to be updated!)

We were shakin’ things up…granted, we burned bridges, ticked off a few traditionalists, but hopefully (hindsight is 20/20) we made people think.

**Hi, my name is Jen & I am here to tell you – I no longer carry matches.**

I have always thought that there is a way to integrate traditional media and social media to make things “work”.  “It” is more than the medium, “it” is the messaging, the voice, the integration, the culture & how IT can be sustainable through the lifespan of the company.  If your messaging says one thing & you deliver another…you will be found out & fail faster with social media than any other medium out there. (anyone can buy an ad that says “we have great customer service” but it is the public who will determine if that is true through the actions of the customer).

Newspapers are failing and losing money (notice, I didn’t say dying) and they need to figure out where their revenue is going to come from.

Are they going to be paid for their content? Sorry – a little late.  One domino fell prey to the “free newspaper online” gig & they all fell – not going to go back on that.

Are they going to keep raising ad rates and give them more “value” by also giving them ad space as a banner ad online?  Yes, this has been happening for 10+ years…but revenues are still down.

Are they going to hire the bridge burners Social Media people and build a value ad program that will teach local SMB’s how to use social media to work to their advantage while using traditional media as another (not ONLY) tool to market their business?  These can intertwine so easily!!!  My head is spinning with ideas…and I am not going to give you any of them.  🙂  If you are reading this and know of a newspaper/tv/radio station that is hiring and wants these ideas (oohhh, and wants to pay me)…you can get ahold of me in a plethora of ways.

In order to get to sleep tonight, I am going to go put these ideas on paper (to burn later if needed) so I can get them off my brain.

Local Bank Does Great Story Telling….until…

Even though I am a preacher of social media, I do believe that there can be integration into traditional media, if done right.  There is a local bank that does radio spots of over a minute and tells the story of their customer.  I actually listen!


If I was a business looking for a bank I would pick them based on their promotion of others (and of course I would ask around what bank my friends use and what their experince has been).  And then I would find out the real truth.

I was talking to a friend about this bank & how great it is that they promoted her business and it was such a great story.  Then she told me the truth…they are jerks and she was looking for a new bank – even after the “free” publicity and air time.

Wow. What Is the a negative cost per customer on that?  My friends “real story” will be the first thing I think of from now on when I hear people talking about business banking in general.

Lesson learned? You can talk a good game & try to cover up the facts with fancy talk, but when it comes right down to it, the truth will come out.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to treat your clients with respect rather than your marketing department trying to put rosy glasses on the general public?

Buzz Word of the week: Emerging Technologies

The Twitter Watercooler - perhaps?
The Twitter Watercooler - perhaps?

When I started this whole “thing” that I have imersed myself in almost four years ago, we called it “New Media” (vs. Traditional Media).  We also called it “marketing on the web, but not banner ads”.  (That was a tough sell).

Then it morphed into “Social Media” which has stuck for about two years now…until just recently.

We are now at the stage where corporations are jumping on this awesome band waggon and realizing that “whatever” Media is not a fad and it does not mean that they must have a bitchin’ MySpace site (unless the corporate CEO has a band & they still have pie-in-the-sky dreams of making it big…dude) but they must be involved.

So why the new name?
According to one definition from Webster Social means: involving allies or confederates. But my favorite one is: living and breeding in more or less organized communities. That’s right, we are living & breeding for a common goal.  It’s who you know, and the more you know & breed with (or give them an opportunity to breed for you) the more opportunities will come your way.  Replace “breed” with “market” and you will get my gist.

So what is “Emerging Technologies”?
Per the all knowing, Wikipedia:

Emerging technologies are those technical innovations which represent progressive developments within a field for competitive advantage;[2] converging technologies represent previously distinct fields which are in some way moving towards stronger inter-connection and similar goals.

I feel as though companies think of the word “social” as a time suck. A waste of time.  What you do at 5:05 after you punch out and head to your local watering hole.  Or the voice in my head of some old crumudgen bald guy spouting “Son, you don’t go to work to be social…you go to work to pay the bills.”

@HollyEgg says: maybe social means “we don’t want to be human” in some companies defense, they’re so blarking boring they should be faceless.

Blarking Boring is hillarious but I am ok with “Emerging Techologies”…just get on board already!

When was the last time you made a deal where the ENTIRE conversation was 100% work.  Yea, it didn’t happen.  Why? We are social beings. We want to share, we want to converse. We buy, deal with, refer and promote those that we…..*gasp*…..can be social with.  Conversation is key. The more keys you have, the more deals you will close.

Judging A Book By It’s Cover

Yes, I do judge a book by it’s cover…actually in my case: Your Twitter by your Tweets

I was stalking going through who follows @BoiseHawksOC (Onalee Carson) when I saw that another local flower shop is on Twitter. Yea! So I thought.  Until now, @SlingFlower is the lone tulip in the garden in Boise on Twitter (from what I know, please update me if I am wrong).

So I think “Welcome @KaBloomofEagleto the TwitterVerse”…until I saw what they were Tweeting.  *sigh*  All “ads” stating what their hours are, where they are at, that….(shocker!) they are on FaceBook & that we should join them!  Why? To get more ads lambasted at us?

Here is what I suggest (and can we beat this dead horse anymore?)  Of course, this should have been answered in your social media strategy plan that you mapped out…correct?  😉

1.  Reach out to people through conversation (aka: JOIN IN!-the water is nummy)
2.  Tell us about your customers, not you. (any local “celebrities” just walk in the door?)
3.  Share your knowledge in flower-ese (I would love to know is it ok to put sugar in a vace of flowers?)
4.  *On the biz side* Search for people’s wishes online & connect with them and solve their problem. Search is the least used MUST-HAVE Twitter tool that is just not used.  Too bad, someone is getting your biz.
5.  *On the biz side* Randomly send flowers to a Twitter (or FB) user & see what happens.
6.  *On the biz side* Blog about your passion of flowers/arranging/seeing glee on others faces. (this content lives FOREVER on the web – always searchable)

Ok, that is enough – I can only give so much away…you know, being w/o a job and all.  🙂

Good luck KaBloom of Eagle – I wish you all the luck in your social media ventures – just don’t sell me. How you interact with me & others will sell you.

UPDATE: 7/21/09
Kuddos to @KaBloomOfBoise! She DM’d me (sent me a direct message through Twitter)  this afternoon and gave me permission to publish what she said.

KaBloomofEagleGood job paying attention to your Twitter stream & responding quickly!  Like anything it takes time to get started & “get it”…but once you do, your tweeps will support you!

Discovery Channel Missed a Social Opportunity

Monday night we watched 2 segments of a 3 part documentary series on the Discovery Channel highlighting the Pacific Ocean called Wild Pacific, voiced over by Mike Rowe. One segment struck me right where my heart lies, preserving (while harvesting) the mass amounts of food that is available in our oceans through sustainable means (vs. raping the ocean of young fish that have not yet reached sexual maturity, therefore eliminating the next generation)…and I am off my soapbox, for now.

The overfishing issue in our Pacific Ocean is huge, and I want to make sure that the fish I buy is sustainable and supports companies that don’t overfish (this would be the raping of the ocean that I spoke about earlier).

  • Where can I go on Discovery Channel’s site that will give me the name of the companies that were highlighted in their series?  And can I order from them?
  • Where can I go on Discovery Channel’s site that will allow my voice to be heard so these companies can start to be regulated?
  • Where can I go on Discovery Channel’s site that gives me more information on where to shop locally for sustainable Pacific Tuna?
  • Where is their community/forum where all this is possible?  They should start by talking to Lithium.

So despite my soapbox moment (thank you for reading this far w/o throwing a dead spotted owl at me that you just happen to hit in your pick-em-up truck with the gun rack on the back & the “get-er done” bumper sitcker) I would love to see the Discovery Channel take their voice up a notch.  Allow us to participate (not rant) and learn more.  My Dad use to call it “The Educational Channel”…I want to see that developed to where we have a place to go, learn, share and be educated to make the lives of my children better.

Oh and by the way…I am soooo available to head this up. *ahem*

I am Not a Social Media Expert

Actually, I really dislike the word “expert” when people describe me.  I love doing the behind the scenes work & making “stuff” happen.  A pat on the back (or a surprise cup of hot Chai Tea) usually is satisfaction enough for me.  (my husband would argue that being paid would be nice-that whole “time to pay the mortgage” thing pops up every month!)

Since I am (take your pick) 1.  trying to attract new clients for my life as Caffeinated Marketing or 2.  score a sweet gig inside a company where I can help be a change for better, I thought I would put my .02 in on the following article by Sara Evans & Peter Shankman: Is yous social media expert really an expert?  The top 25 ways to find out.
My answers are in orange.

Ways to tell your Social Media “Expert” Might Not Be An “Expert” After All

  1. They call themselves an evangelist, guru or expert, and no one else does.  I do not call myself any of these & I correct those that do.  I know stuff.  Stuff that comes along with doing this “stuff” for almost 4 years now.
  2. They use “expert” or “evangelist” or “guru” or our personal favorite, “influencer” as any of their user names. Nope. You snooze for 10 minutes, you loose.
  3. They “discovered” social media in the last six to 16 months, and there’s nothing online from them in the social media space prior to that. (Remember – Google is your friend.) Start date of discovery: November, 2005 – but always knew there was a better way of marketing: my professors always told me I was way off base for thinking “that way”.
  4. All of a firm or agency’s “social media strategists” come from traditional PR or Marketing agencies. Would love to work for an agency that sells it, yet doesn’t do it them self. hmmm
  5. Everything they learned about social media they learned by reading blog posts (i.e. no application). You can learn a ton about sex from reading Kinsey’s manuals, but I’d still rather be with someone who has some practical experience. I blog, have set up others blogs. Managed & tracked blogs for ROI.
  6. They haven’t done anything of significance using social media (i.e. demonstrating they know how to apply the tools). Again, see point on Kinsey. I am a do-er
  7. They keep shouting about “widgets.” (Or worse, they’re still talking about push marketing.) WHAT?
  8. Their resume doesn’t include anything that has to do with social media (i.e. no results using social media). And no, having a Twitter account doesn’t cut it. Set up Mike Boss’ rogue blog at MPC which had audio pumped into in for impromptu pod-casts via his Blackberry. Gained traction with industry publications that got us off the “black list”.
  9. Their sound bites eerily resemble what you just heard from Chris Brogan andBrian Solis. And quite frankly, following them and a few others (including Sarah) can usually answer 95% of your social media questions to begin with. Four years of voices mushed in my head-and some original thoughts of how to implement.
  10. Their firm has added social media as an additional service (as opposed to integrating it into a comprehensive PR approach). If they say “And we’ll do Facebook and Twitter!” beware. Argh, welcome to Boise.
  11. Any use of the term “MySpace” unless you’re only targeting 14-year-old males, or independent bands. If you are under 17 & an Indi band, you’re allowed to be on MySpace.
  12. Their networks don’t reflect that they are connected. (You should probably research them before hiring them. If their blog hasn’t been updated since 2004 yet they tweet every time they take a slurp of Yogurt, something’s up.) I love yogurt.
  13. When you Google them, it’s difficult to find them. If they don’t show up on the first page of Google, how are they going to get you up there? Yea, my name is kind of common – but “JenHarris09” rocks the Google.  But I am there & present in all forms.
  14. They never talk to you about free ways to monitor your online presence (likeGoogle alerts and Twitter search). Perhaps they’re afraid you can do it yourself?  Buy me a cup of coffee & I will spill my beans guts.  I think this is why the agencies don’t like me, I teach their clients how to be sustainaible!
  15. They don’t maintain an active blog (at least two posts every month).
  16. Any case studies they present only involve very big companies with very big budgets At the 6 week mark at TSheets, we saw the same number of hits to the site (this was our objective-increase site hits), but our conversion rate went up.  60% of the clients were tech, so I focused on Twitter – and saw results.
  17. Their lead social media strategist is “this kid we picked up after his internship ended.” jeepers, people – come on!
  18. When they talk strategy, there is no approach that encompasses a discussion about: communications, marketing, advertising, business development, internal communications and/or customer service. I also think it should flow over to HR as well.
  19. They see “Social Media” as a replacement for customer service, when in fact, only good customer service propels positive social media.  Enhance & work together & we will achieve SM Nirvana….ahhhhh
  20. They want to charge you to get you signed up on social media sites (yuck).  I work with them to get up and running (and then they get to pay me).
  21. There’s a pay structure that includes a pay-per-post model. Run very far away, very fast.  ARGH!!!
  22. The strategy they provide you primarily includes a Twitter profile and a Facebook fan page.  Ummm, goals? Objectives? Measurement?
  23. Measurement to them means building up lots of followers and fans. Quality over quantity.
  24. After you work with them you’re just as confused as when you started.  And that is when I start waiting tables…teaching to someone is different than teaching AT someone.
  25. They’ve never used Help a Reporter Out (added by Sarah, not Peter). To Sarah’s point, they’ve also not suggested any of the wonderful free services out there before they recommend paying.  I love HARO!  Use it every day!

Brand Awareness is sooo 5 Years Ago

Using Social Media and brand awareness in the same sentence is, in my humble opinion, a translation of “I don’t know how to use social media to connect with people, so I will just keep yelling at them with this new medium asking:


If your goal of any social media platform is to gain “brand awareness” and your strategy is to just put out updates on what the company is doing, you are making a huge mistake.  Who wants to listen to that? (my guess is you probably ignore that type of false engagement as well…why would your customers like it?)

Listen, listen and did I mention…listen?  Ask questions, embrace opinions, engage in dialog.  Be a HUMAN.

I understand having people know your brand, but wouldn’t it be better if those that really know your brand be the ones to sell it to their friends?  Brand awareness will happen through customer experience and those that will sell your brand are those with the best experience.  So, focus on their experience & the awareness will be authentic and real – not shoved down our throat.