Friday, June 19, 2009

One Person Can Make a Big Difference

I love reading Alan Baker's Web World columns in the Crain's Detroit daily e-newsletter because he provides a good mix of interesting insight and humor. I want to share Alan's recent column about a local man who went out of his way to do something good. It's very touching, and it's one of those stories that tends to get overlooked all too often. 

Alan had previously wrote about a monument that sits on a hill next to the Crain Communications building. A plaque on the side of the monument was totally covered in graffiti. He more recently wrote that he could no longer see the graffiti because the overgrown grass was hiding it, and he called out MDOT for lack of care. Some wise person at MDOT did a good job of listening to the convos going on about their company on the Web, and MDOT took care of the grass the same day Alan filed the story. However, the crew left a tree-like weed behind the monument. 

Alan planned to write a column acknowledging the mowing (but still calling out the weed that remained) the next day, but somebody had removed the graffiti and weed. Alan had received an e-mail from Chris Peraino, property manager for Hospice of Michigan, saying the situation had been taken care of. Chris read Alan's column and decided to take it upon himself to remove what the MDOT crew had left behind. This is a man with some serious motivation and love for Detroit! How many people do you know who would do something like that? 

Check out Alan's entire column here. It's not every day that we read about people in our community as gracious as Chris, so he deserves major credit. We should all follow suit and take it upon ourselves to make a difference, rather than sitting back and waiting for someone else to.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Collaborate with Metro Detroit's Creatives at Tweetea

Sometimes I wonder if people buy it that I truly believe Michigan is brimming with creative talent. I'm constantly saying people in Michigan have so much to offer and are doing amazing things, but the many dark clouds hanging above us (i.e., all the bad things happening in our state) frequently overshadow all the positive news.

If anyone living here, specifically in metro Detroit, doubts that we're a talented bunch, then I challenge to them to come to the next Tweetea event. They undoubtedly will be proven wrong.

My previous American Idol blogging gig for The Detroit News prevented me from attending these weekly Tuesday night events, but I finally made it to my first one this week. The Tweetea attendees traditionally meet at Goldfish Tea in Royal Oak. Whether or not you're a tea aficionado, the uber-cool, Chinese-inspired decor and friendly staff are reason enough to check out Goldfish Tea.

Hubert Sawyers (@HubertGAM) is the brains behind Tweetea. He organized the first meeting last winter and envisioned it as a way to simply meet people. Hubert is a big stickler on health and wellness and has a passion for tea, so hosting the Tweeteas at Goldfish Tea made perfect sense. He started pushing the word out about these events by creating the #tweetea hashtag on Twitter (you can also follow @Tweetroit on Twitter for the latest Tweetea updates). To his surprise, 15 people showed up to the first Tweetea, and the weekly attendee numbers have been steadily increasing ever since.

Hubert makes this very clear: Tweetea is more than a business networking event. The point is to take something away from the event that you can then share with others. Something educational - not just a stack of business cards that will potentially collect dust on your desk or in your Rolodex. The intention is to meet people and build friendships. Then in time, those friendships may develop into a business relationship. And if that doesn't happen, who cares? You've gained a few good friends in the process.

The Tweetea attendees aim to pick a different discussion topic each week. Hubert credits this idea largely to Dave Murr (@DaveMurr). It's gone over well so far. We initially planned to talk about video blogging (or vlogging for you more techie people) at the Tweetea this week because Hubert's in the market for a new camera, but the discussion topics ended up focusing more on how the fall of the Big 3 is affecting our region and the role social media plays in our world today. Here's a breakdown of some of our discussions:
  • Social media is not a natural extension of PR.
  • Many companies are jumping on the social media bandwagon without first creating a strategy, which is threatening to ruin social media's credibility for the rest of us that are using it wisely.
  • Facebook cause pages are effective in raising money if used correctly.
  • The nonprofit industry will benefit most from social media in the future because it's all about advocating, not advertising.
  • Corporations would do a lot more in sales if they kept their employees happy.
  • We need to find the next generation of corporations/brands that are using social media in the right way for new case studies. 
  • Detroit gets so much negative press, but only people who live here truly understand that we have an active core of advocates in southeast MI.
The knowledge I gained in the few short hours at Tweetea is invaluable. It's also incredible how much you can learn about someone during one conversation. Who would have thought that Adrian Pittman (@adrianittman) has a devious plan to overthrow Detroit City Council? ;) All humor aside, Tweetea gave me the opportunity to get inside the heads of some of metro Detroit's most talented residents. Here's a complete list of everyone who attended this week:

Have I said enough to convince you to attend Tweetea? If you decide to come, what topics would you be most interested in discussing with the group?