Jan 03

Real estate Website design features IDX integration

Real estate WebsiteWe recently finished a real estate Website for Baker City Realty. We used a WordPress theme called SmoothPro, designed for Realtors, and did fair amount of tweaking of CSS and PHP to get it to work correctly. But we’ve developed many Websites with WordPress themes before. What made this job different was integrating IDX, or Internet Data Exchange, into the real estate Website design. IDX is a real estate property search service which allows visitors to conduct searches of approved Multiple Listing Service properties in a certain area. IDX is not terribly difficult to work with and we embedded the code in pages, using a typical hidden implementation. Adjustments to the code were fairly straightforward, as the rotating gallery displays and search box are framed as widgets. The spatial mapping function was actually one of the easier customizations to make. It’s crucial for Web developers to be constantly updating their skills and at Alexander and Associates, we’re constantly trying new things for our clients.


Oct 29

Giving Thumbtack a try

Alexander and Associates Public Relations and Web Development is giving Thumbtack a try. Let’s see if it brings in any business! They do provide a nice-looking custom badge.

Alexander and Associates Public Relations and Web Development

Alexander and Associates Public Relations and Web Development

Traditional public relations, social media consulting and Websites for local businesses. In business since 1997 – local, responsive, affordable.

Contact Now

Brought to you by thumbtack.com


Aug 03

Templete sites are quick, easy and effective with good content


Logo created for All Weather Solutions of Boise

While we do many WordPress sites, sometimes, a small business just needs a fast and inexpensive template site. Google’s Get Your Business Online with Intuit effort is a good example of how small businesses can set up a Website quickly and with little expense. Google knows many businesses don’t need shopping carts, elaborate coding or databases to have a basic Web presence. They just need the online equivalent of a brochure.

However, many of these sites don’t even function well as brochures. The problem? People just don’t have the time, effort or content skills to explain what their business is all about. That’s where we can help. Our decades of experience in journalism and public relations allow us to clearly explain what your business is about and what makes it relevant.

We often find ourselves taking photo and video for peoples’ sites as well and it’s part of the job. One recent example is All Weather Solutions. This is a small Boise business that installs and upgrades energy-efficient doors and windows and does custom work as well. While they had some photos of their work, they didn’t know the slightest thing about Websites and didn’t have the time to set up even a modest template site.

We were able to All Weather Solutions with a single-page template site, a logo, content and some search engine assistance. This business now has the added legitimacy of a Website and they’re able to refer people to it, sometimes walking them through examples on the site over the phone.


Jul 03

Alexander and Associates forms alliance with Just 1 for Web development

Alexander and Associates and Just1 to collaborate on Web development and software design

Just1 brings decades of software and technical expertise, combined A&A’s 16 years of award-winning experience in marketing, public relations, Website design and social media campaigns


For more information  Martin Johncox 888-587-8146 x65

Alexander and Associates, a Boise-based public relations/social media firm and Web developer, is forming a partnership with Just1 of Nampa, which has expertise in engineering, Web development and computer systems integration.

The collaboration means companies in Idaho aJust1 web and mobile app developmentnd beyond can receive complete Web development and specialized software services, such as basic and complex commercial Web sites, responsive sites, custom mobile apps, analytics and database work, and integrate these with their social media and other promotional assets.

Boise website and mobile app development“This collaboration between A&A and Just1 brings together the best in social media and Web content with high-level software engineering and computer skills,” said Martin Johncox, an owner of A&A.

George O’Connor, president of Just1, said he is looking forward to the collaboration. His firm assists companies domestically and internationally with Google Analytics, software development, e-security, web-development and deployment, order processing, eCommerce integration, OpenSource installations, Drupal, server installation and management.

“Just1’s technical depth and expertise will complement A&A’s engagement abilities in social media, Website design and general public relations,” O’Connor said. “Few firms can offer such a range of services.”

O’Connor has 40 years of experience in computer technology and was a Hewlett-Packard software engineer before starting Just1. He designed the driver and spooler for HP’s first network Laser Printer and the software used on all subsequent printers. He has expertise in many software platforms, including CSS3, HTML5, Linux, PHP,  SQL, Perl, XHTML, XML and Zend. He is fluent in networking protocols, database design, object-oriented programming, Agile Programming and system modeling.

A&A’s work for clients such as Metro Express Car Wash and Clothesline Cleaners has won national industry-specific awards for innovation in customer engagement. A&A, which has been developing Web-sites since 2004, integrates social media, blogs, SEO, online advertising and other assets into business communications.

Johncox holds a B.A. in Rhetoric from the University of California and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oregon and was an Idaho Statesman reporter before joining A&A in 2001.

O’Connor holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Valparaiso University and has completed graduate course work at Stanford University, the University of Idaho and Chico State University. He also holds a Google Analytics Individual Qualification and Google Adwords Certification.

For more information on these companies, visit Just1.com and alexanderandassociates.com.


Jan 23

Client news: Trek Epic

boise public relations client news releaseTrekEpic revives tradition of youth self-discovery through adventure, made affordable through foundation support

Educational Consultant Andrew Bryan integrates countryside treks with educational counseling, core gift process to guide young adults

For more information:
Martin Johncox, Alexander and Associates Public Relations Agency, 208-658-9100
Andrew Bryan, 208-484-5835 www.AndrewBryan.com www.trekEpic.org www.EmergingYoungAdults.com

Believe it or not, the ancient practice of young people going on an adventure to “find themselves” is alive and well. It’s just been updated as part of life coaching for young adults.

TrekEpic, which currently provides walking tours in England, Scotland and Wales, is the latest project of educational consultant and social entrepreneur Andrew Bryan.

“Everybody goes through a process several times in their life, where they have to find deep inner strength to get through a challenge – you hear about midlife crisis and it’s a similar transition from teenager to young adult,” said Kim Mlinarik, a therapist and international guide who has led several TrekEpic outings. “When they come out the other side of that challenge, they discover clarity and conviction they can use in their lives. We use the treks as that process.”

TrekEpic, which provided three, ten-day walking tours of England and Wales to fourteen young people in 2012, is the culmination of 24 years of Bryan’s work helping young adults navigate difficult pasts, learning challenges and behavioral issues to become productive adults. Bryan made his name in the young adult transitions world by establishing the Emerge College Success Program and is well-known as an educational consultant; he also has previously completed a three-year term as a national board member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

“Going on an adventure into the unknown was a rite of passage for young people throughout time, teaching them independence, team work, problem solving, discipline and initiative,” said Bryan, TrekEpic co-founder. “When a trek is coupled with competent guidance and the core gift discovery process, we can lead young people to find a direction in life and the initiative to follow it.”

Treks are part of larger whole
Bryan has been involved in youth coaching and teaching since 1989, starting in Seattle at college prep middle/high school for students with learning disabilities, then the Crossroads Learning Center and the Wholistic Health Options for Learning Effectiveness Program, as well as numerous other endeavors. Typical reasons for using Bryan’s services include Asperger’s, ADD/ADHD, family conflicts, lack of self esteem, depression, anxiety, drug/alcohol use, lack of motivation, immaturity or having a style of learning that doesn’t “fit the mold.” Bryan has been a Member of the Independent Education Consultants Association since 1998 and maintains numerous other professional memberships.

Since 1994, Bryan has been an educational consultant and planner, advising young people who need help with college selection, learning disabilities, therapeutic special needs school and program placement and the transition to independent adulthood. To fully implement his vision of educational consulting, he founded the Emerge College Success Program in 2005. Emerge is geared toward people just out of high school who want to go to college, but might need some additional oversight, tutoring and counseling to stay the course or older students restarting their college careers. Typically, Emerge students live in Boise, Idaho and enroll Boise State University, the College of Western Idaho or other school. Emerge life coaching includes visits, ongoing sessions, communication with parents, internships, volunteer and work opportunities.

“I see Emerge as a young adult transition process, not a program,” said Louise Slater, a South Carolina educational consultant who has referred clients to Bryan. “This process is highly individualized yet gives these young people enough structure to be successful, but without feeling they are in a ‘program’ “

Bryan co-founded TrekEpic in 2011 with Leslie Johnson and established it as a nonprofit, Epic Transitions.

“TrekEpic can work with Emerge so that we can provide a fully integrated set of services for young adults who need it,” said Bryan, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in University Studies and General Honors from the University of New Mexico. “Students in Emerge may benefit from trekking or vice-versa.   The treks, however, are not just for Emerge students.  There have been a number of students who have participated in other support programs or who just need a seminal experience to help get their lives moving forward.

Bryan has become somewhat of a go-to person in the media for young adult issues. Bryan has been interviewed and quoted nationally on education related topics in The Seattle Times, The Lawlor Review, Post-Secondary LD Report, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The New York Times, CBS Marketplace, CBS Network Radio News, SmartMoney Magazine, KUOW’s Weekday, College Bound Teen and, most recently, LATalkRadio with Dore Frances. He also serves on the Baker 5J School District Board in Baker, Oregon, and has served on many volunteer, local government or nonprofit boards.

Leslie Johnson, a former special education teacher who co-founded Trek Epic, said trekking serves a vital function. Johnson’s son used Bryan’s educational consulting services but she sensed there was something more a program could offer.

“There are a lot of really amazing parents out there whose children struggle or lose their sense of direction and parents often need to seek guidance in helping their children move forward,” Johnson said. “Studies show that there is an increase in the number of young adults in the 18-24 age range who are unemployed and not going to school, who seem to lack direction.”

Johnson, Bryan and others began discussing what kind of transitional program might work well and the idea of a trek emerged. Johnson’s son participated in the first trek in Wales, in March, 2011 which didn’t have the Core Gift process and was more of a guided and contemplative tour. Nevertheless, Johnson said the experience transformed her son and was worth refining.

“It gave him time to reflect on where he had been and where he’s going and increased his empowerment and motivation,” Johnson said. “This was a great experience for us and I wanted to give back somehow, to help other parents in this position.”

Johnson approached her family’s foundation, the Hurlbut-Johnson Charitable Trust. The trust, administered by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, makes grants to cover initial development costs  (such as legal and insurance) and to pay staff and organizers. Fourteen trekkers participated in 2012, most of without having to pay program fees, although they still had to pay for their transportation and walking-around money.

TrekEpic has gone completely over to a grant model, so that none of the participants have to pay for program costs.  Johnson said helping a teen with counseling, treatment, tutoring and other services can be financially draining on families and granting the program costs makes the program more accessible. Second, the participants must apply for the trek and go through an approval process.

“It’s empowering that they can apply and get a grant apart from their parents and that makes them more vested in the process – it really is something each participant does for themself,” Johnson said.

TrekEpic makes a difference
While Bryan has been able to improve the lives of hundreds of young adults in his career, he knew there was a missing component for some clients – something that could lead them to a sudden, life-changing discoveries to move them forward – and hit upon walking treks as a catalyst.

In 2009 and 2010, Bryan worked on an economic development project with Dr. Donald Chance, a former Virginia Tech professor, in Eastern Oregon to create a British-inspired walking trail as a tourist attraction. While that project hasn’t come to fruition, the idea stuck with Bryan. He conferred with Leslie Johnson and Dr. Chance and they saw a niche for a non-profit that offered something experiential and international. Eventually, they settled on the idea of walking treks. Bryan isn’t the first to offer treks in this manner; retired educational consultant David Denman used to take teens to walk on Mt. Blanc in Switzerland and several other businesses are offering treks. TrekEpic, however, is different because of its use of the Core Gift process, pioneered by organizational coach Bruce Anderson, to lead young people to a path toward full adulthood.

“What’s unique about their treks is that they have incorporated the idea of finding and understanding each trekkers’ core gifts as part of their time together,” Anderson said.

The Core Gift method’s premise is that every person has the ability and desire to make contributions to the world around them, in the form of skills or gifts. There are gifts of wisdom, talent and passage and going through a difficult life experience develops a “core gift” that each person specializes in. During the treks, counselors lead participants through an interview process to discover their Core Gift. The participants are expected to work with each other on the discovery and development of the gift, whether they’re walking, having a meal or sitting around a campfire.

Hugh Camp, 21, went on an English trek in August 2012. He was studying at the University of Virginia and withdrew because he wasn’t able to focus. An educational consultant referred him to Bryan, who enrolled Camp in Emerge and later recommended Camp for TrekEpic. Camp is now studying at Boise State University to become a mechanical engineer.

“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you see a mountain range off on the horizon and at the end of the day you’re at the bottom of the mountains,” Camp said. “Everyone is looking for some kind of self improvement at some level. A trek is a difficult accomplishment but it’s attainable at the same time.”

According to Camp, a typical Core Gift exercise involved everyone going through a list of questions, such as naming influential people and their values, honesty and strong points. Participants then wrote down the answers and sorted those into different piles and look for themes.

“You see things you maybe knew about yourself but weren’t able to articulate. It really helped in identifying things you were good at and could be proud of – your gift,” Camp said. “Mine was about spreading positive attitudes and thoughtful conversation. The gift process allows you to condense that in a few sentences and when you know something like that, just being conscious of it helps you act on it more.”

Typically, participants walk from town to town, sleeping in bunkhouses, hostels or bed and breakfasts and occasionally exploring the country towns during the day, putting in up to 12 miles a day in walking.

“The trek opened my eyes and made me feel a lot more excited for my future and what I can do,” said Ryan Hickey, 21, who went on a 100-mile walk in Wales in 2012. “The trek helped me see the world has so much to offer and I got a glimpse of it. It jump-started my life.”


Hickey is currently enrolled in a culinary arts program at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon to become a chef. But he wasn’t consciously thinking about that career before the trek.


“During the trek, we would all talk about our lives and what we’d like to do. Everyone encouraged everyone else to find something that mattered to them,” Hickey said. “We talked about me cooking and developed that more and found my goal is to help people enjoy food they haven’t tried before.”

Hickey said his life had no direction and social anxiety made it difficult for him to move forward.


“Before the trek, I wasn’t doing anything with my life – I didn’t have a job and I wasn’t going to school,” Hickey said. “I really wanted to get out in the world and experience some of it. I don’t know if I’ve ever been that exhausted, but when you cover that much distance you feel like you’ve accomplished something.”

Camp agreed, saying that being in such a different place, coupled with the exertion of the trek, definitely made an impression.

“It felt good to get out there and do something that was challenging and that I could manage,” Camp said. “All the walking puts you in a mental state where you’re teetering between exhaustion and euphoria and it contributes to group communication.”

That feeling is crucial to the success of the program, said Kim Mlinarik, whom Bryan hired to lead three TrekEpic walks. Mlinarik said they could hold treks in the United States, but the experience depends on removing participants from what is familiar to them; unfamiliarity forces participants to step into an unknown phase of life and hiking is a good metaphor for that transition. Mlinarik is developing her own international treks and she and Bryan regularly refer clients back and forth.

“Any time you are faced with the unknown, it brings up anxiety and fear and your belief system gets stirred up,” Mlinarik said. “It allows the shift in perceptions to happen on the external cultural level to break down the barriers internally. In doing this, they discover strength maybe they didn’t know they had.”

One of her main goals during a trek is to help participants discover their passions and think about careers that would allow them to pursue those passions. But first, their barriers to self-discovery must be broken down. This process is useful for addressing a common issue known as “failure to launch,” where people cannot take the next step to create their future.

“They get stuck and paralyzed and stagnant,” Mlinarik said. “The treks lead people to open up emotionally and to reevaluate some of the other choices they make in life.”

Other times, young adults have been so busy following their parents’ blueprint, or rebelling against it, that they neglected to discover their own passions. Or they may have limiting beliefs.

“They might think, ‘I’m not going to be successful or I’m not going to be capable’ and we help them find the clarity within themselves to overcome limiting beliefs that hold them back,” Mlinarik said. “The physical challenge of hiking so much stirs up emotional issues, so putting one foot in front of the other is the same as going to college or starting a job in that you have to persist.”

At the end of the trek, students must consider how they will apply and develop their gift. Since the students don’t have to pay program costs, they are asked to do 20 hours of volunteer service in an area that will put their gift to use in some way.

As a fellow education educational consultant, Slater has used Bryan’s companies for a variety of purposes. Slater’s own son Luke went on a TrekEpic trip in 2012.

“Luke said the best part about TrekEpic was the time he spent with adults while literally walking side-by-side,” Slater said. “The trek helped him to slow down and take the time to make some decisions about what he needed to do to put his life in a more positive direction.”

Slater has also referred one client to TrekEpic, who then enrolled in the Emerge program. While in Emerge, the student has gotten a job, is re-taking and passing college classes he had previously failed and even tutoring a high school student. Slater said the trek was the catalyst for the student to put his life back on track.

“This particular student struggled with social anxiety, so it was not easy to get him to make the decision to go on the Trek,” Slater said. “Once he did, he called his mother and told her how great the trip was and how much he was enjoying the people on the trek. The trek became a launching point for him to consider using Emerge.”

What’s next

Currently, Epic Transitions is able to fund about 30 participants a year, but could expand to provide more treks if demand increases and if additional donors come forward, Johnson said.  The organization is now working on expanding its fundraising and donor efforts to help sustain the organization and expand the trekking opportunities for young adults. Treks are planned for March, May, July and August of 2013.

Mlinarik is so convinced of the ability of Bryan’s methods that she is now starting her own trekking company with plans to lead walks in Scotland, Italy, Thailand, Costa Rica, Spain and England. Instead of viewing Mlinarik as a competitor, Bryan has been helping her get established.

“That’s the magic of Andrew Bryan,” Mlinarik said. “There’s a small group of us in the industry that’s doing this cultural immersion and Andrew is very much a collaborative force. He’s been above and beyond in being helpful.”



Jul 18

Idaho Statesman Business Insider

Thanks to the Idaho Statesman Business insider for carrying this Social Media Yak column about LinkedIn. It’s based on a recent interview with Sonja Beekley, a local expert and instructor on LinkedIn who came on the show.

The column may not be fully accessible online so I have included it here. Beekley gives some great advice about LinkedIn, which many people find hard to figure out, so it’s definitely worth a read.

LinkedIn knowledge an essential part of business strategy

Have you ever wondered how to reach that key person in a company to pitch a proposal – or maybe consider hiring you? Emails and voice mails go unanswered and you know there’s got to be a better way.

I was looking for some guidance myself, so I interviewed a LinkedIn expert on the Social Media Yak radio show. Sonja Beekley, a fellow social media consultant, has educated thousands on in her workshops on how to use LinkedIn. LinkedIn users typically have a job and are looking for a better one, or they have no job and are looking to get employed, or they are conducting business and making relevant contacts.

LinkedIn is the fourth-biggest social medium, behind Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It’s a few years older than Facebook and its stock is worth about twice as much. Yet, many find LinkedIn to be as hard-to-figure out as Twitter and plink around on it before giving up. LinkedIn can do quite a bit for a person’s professional branding efforts so it’s worth some attention.

Beekley shared these tips to a successful LinkedIn strategy:

  • Fill out your resume and update it regularly. Your resume is the heart of your LinkedIn presence. You can go into a fair amount of detail; the better resumes encapsulate experience, then go into more detail farther down.
  • Build up your contact list. Upload your email address book to LinkedIn and invite those people to become contacts (analogous to Facebook friends). First-level contacts are those who have accepted your invitation; second-level contacts are friends of these contacts, and so on. Although you can invite most LinkedIn users to become contacts, LinkedIn will make you state how you know them. You can get mutual first-level contacts to introduce you to a second-level contact – such as that key business manager you’ve been trying to reach. Search LinkedIn for relevant names and comb the contact lists of your contacts for more leads. Find dots and connect them.
  • Get and give recommendations. Find people you used to work with or did business with, or even acquaintances from college or a seminar. When you give a recommendation, ask for one, and collect as many positive recommendations as you can. Observe who that important business contact recommends and get to know them.
  • Join relevant groups and contribute. There are thousands of industry groups on LinkedIn, where members talk shop, grouse, celebrate and connect. Some groups have tens of thousands of members, others just few. Join groups whose members include influencers in your industry, as well as that important contact you’re trying to reach. Listen to what people are saying in these groups and make positive contributions when ready. With any luck, that important contact will appreciate you insights and may even engage you. You can invite people to become your contact if you belong to the same group.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn users have a “wall.” Update your wall regularly with relevant links and comments and write on others’ walls and comments. Congratulate colleagues on their successes and promotions, announce your own news and judiciously name-drop.

Some etiquette tips: Don’t hit up people you don’t know, unless you can explain why, and don’t make direct pitches right off the bat. LinkedIn is like a business meeting – from the water cooler to the board room – so your value is measured in how you can help others.

Martin Johncox is a public relations and social media consultant and producer of the Social Media Yak radio show, broadcast on 580 KIDO AM. For more information, visit alexanderandassociates.com.



Jul 13

No excuse now to go without a business Web site

Google made the rounds in Idaho today with its Get Your Business Online tour, held at the Linen Building. I showed up for networking opportunities mainly, thinking that as a Boise public relations professional and occasional Web site designer with WordPress and FrontPage, I already knew enough. The setting was well-prepared with dozens of laptops ready for work and Google’s meticulousness came through in the color-coded jelly beans, traffic cones and coffee cups.

That jaded outlook went out the door, though, when I started building a business Web site through their GYBO platform, which uses Intuit and is extremely affordable. The presenters were great at hand-holding attendees through the process and more assistants moved through the audience, answering questions and offering help.

No need to worry

The processes that freak out a typical small business owner simply were not there: selecting a hosting package, using FTP to upload files, designing pages, installing the root folder, uploading WordPress, using plugins and more was gone. Within a couple of hours, likely 50 small businesses walked out the framework of a Web site, including a domain name, and enough knowledge to finish the work and create a basic Internet presence. Granted, the sites are fairly simple templates, but that’s all many businesses really need.

Given that 58 percent of Idaho businesses still don’t have a Web site, GYBO is probably one of the greatest public services I have seen to businesses – any chamber of commerce or networking group could only hope to make such a significant difference in so many businesses in a few hours. In fact, the Idaho Small Business Development Center helped out and GYBO regularly partners with chambers of commerce. Check out this blog on Blumenthals.com for more detail on GYBO.

Of course, people were introduced to Google’s products and services, but not as much as you might expect. Google tools are crucial to small businesses anyway so learning about them should be part of the package at some point. The focus today, though, really was on getting straggler small businesses – nearly 20 years after the opening of the Internet – to finally get online.


Mar 07

Social Media Yak mentioned in Idaho Statesman

Thanks to the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider for a great story on Social Media Yak today! Reporter Lisa Huynh Eller really captured the essence of this show in a fairly brief story. It was on Page 3 of the Insider, their “BIZ BUZZ” feature, which briefly highlights a local startup. The text is below.

New local radio show offers advice on using social media in business

Social Media and morning radio seemed like the perfect pair, and no-brainer business adventure for public relations consultant Martin Johncox. Last month he launched Social Media Yak. Designed for a broad audience, the half-hour show looks at personal and professional aspects of social media. It features expert guests and examines topics like Facebook for small business, personal branding and legal issues.

“I like to say that Facebook is the backyard barbecue of social media, LinkedIn is the business meeting, Twitter is the cocktail party and MySpace is the smokers in the alley,” said Johncox, co-owner of Alexander and Associates Public Relations and Marketing and a former Idaho Statesman editorial writer and reporter. “The goal of (the) Social Media Yak show is to stay on top of – and ahead of – what’s changing, and which medium is best for what part of your life.”

Through Peak Broadcasting, Johncox gets a certain number of 30-second radio spots at discounted rates. He sells these at a markup to cover costs and earn a small profit. He says this allows him to offer radio ads to small businesses at a lower cost with less commitment than traditional radio ad plans. His sponsors include some of his PR clients, such as Clothesline Cleaners, YMC Inc. and PATH Idaho.

“Social media experts are off in their podcast silos, thinking traditional media are irrelevant, even though traditional media still command enormous audiences,” he said.

Johncox produces the show with advice from his wife, Barbara Miller Johncox, co-owner of Alexander and Associates. He hopes to syndicate the podcasts and partner with other businesses to offer social media training.

Social Media Yak airs at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings on KIDO 580 AM. For more information, go to facebook.com/socialmediayak or alexanderandassociates.com.

Published story about Social Media Yak radio show in Idaho Statesman Business Insider

Click for image of published story


Jan 31

SMY debuts Feb. 18, 2012

Social Media Yak brings ideas, tips and advice to Treasure Valley radio market beginning Saturday, Feb. 18
Idaho public relations company teams with Peak Broadcasting for Saturday morning talk radio show dedicated to social media

For more information:
Martin Johncox, Alexander and Associates, 208-658-9100

Jan. 31, 2012

Listeners can find radio talk shows about politics, relationships, finance, cars, health, gadgets, dogs, firearms and cigars. Starting Saturday, February 18, they’ll have a radio show dedicated to social media.

“About half the population of the U.S. uses Facebook and millions more use Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others, so the time is right for a radio talk show about social media,” said Martin Johncox, host of Social Media Yak, which will run from 7 to 7:30 a.m. on KIDO 580 AM, covering Idaho’s Treasure Valley.  “Social media are fundamentally changing the way people relate to each other and there’s a huge desire to learn more about it.”

The show will cover the best practices for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, GetGlue, MySpace, Yelp!, Foursquare and others, with an emphasis on how-to tips. Topics will include personal branding, bullying, privacy, security, business pages, social activism, apps, new research and more. Guests will include experts in various aspects of social media, as well as local businesses and individuals who successfully use it. The show will be geared toward individuals as well as businesses. Social Media Yak features will include the “Facebook Agitation Report,” a regular update on the ever-changing format and privacy settings of the most popular social media site.

Recently, the Treasure Valley ranked in the top 20 most socially networked cities and Johncox said it is likely Idahoans in general rely on social media – and radio – more than most Americans due to the state’s dispersed population.

Social Media Yak will be nested inside the show of Kevin Miller, a popular Treasure Valley radio show host. Johncox will appear as a guest on Miller’s show at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, to introduce Social Media Yak.

Dave Tester, KIDO sales manager, said encouraging development of promising new shows is one of the duties of local broadcasters.

“We are pleased to have someone with Martin’s experience and enthusiasm,” Tester said. “Social media is obviously an area of high public interest and we are proud to be among the first stations to provide listeners with advice and discussion about it.”

The show has several sponsors lined up. The show is somewhat selective, because sponsors must be using social media to effectively promote their business and must refer to at least their Facebook page in the ads. Johncox said sponsors should want to reach listeners who value businesses that use social media.

Listeners will be invited to call in with questions. Parallel discussions will take place at www.facebook.com/category/social-media-yak and on Twitter @socialmediayak. The current Web page for the show is at www.alexanderandassociates.com/category/social-media-yak.

A recurring topic will be the best use for each social medium.

“I like to say that Facebook is the backyard barbecue of social media, LinkedIn is the business meeting, Twitter is the cocktail party and MySpace is the smokers in the alley,” Johncox said. “The goal of Social Media Yak show is to stay on top of – and ahead of – what’s changing, and which medium is best for what part of your life.”

Johncox is a former Idaho newspaper journalist and holds a B.A. in Rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oregon. Since 2001, he has been public relations director for Alexander and Associates Inc. in Boise. His social media work has won industry awards and he regularly makes presentations to chambers of commerce and business groups on getting started and moving forward with social media. Since 2009, Johncox has voiced sponsor spots for Boise State Public Radio.


Dec 12

Some PR can’t be automated

There’s a lot of emphasis on automating the public relations process and there’s almost daily a new program platform, trick or app with a funny name that guarantees more followers or better notoriety for clients. But there are some time-honored principles for cultivating your brand, whether your use hieroglyphics or Twitter to communicate: Do good deeds, find allies, use what you have an discreetly toot your horn. Because there’s no way to automate relevance.

We have a track record of delivering news media coverage for our clients and it’s worthwhile to examine how it happens with a good case study.

KTRV and KTVB interview a Boise Rescue Mission resident about the clothing drive with Clothesline Cleaners

There are no secrets to getting news media coverage and several good principles include: Make yourself relevant, do something good for the community, make it easy for journalists to do their job and stand back and let them work.

In September, we hooked up Clothesline with Dress For Success Treasure Valley, which collects professional clothing for disadvantaged women and was holding a clothing drive in conjunction with Office Team. In addition to collecting many women’s suits, several people donated men’s suits and Clothesline Owner Gary McCracken wanted to give them to a worthy cause.

A and A looked for another charity and found Boise Rescue Mission Ministries, which has a program to help homeless and other disadvantaged men enter the workforce, and this program often needs good quality professional clothing. After some work with the Mission’s media staff, we arranged to have clothesline collect men’s clothing for the month of November and we drafted news releases to publicize it. With the cooperation of the Mission, we got some coverage in the Idaho Statesman and KTRV 12 at the kick off and during the clothing drive. We set up an event for Dec. 1 to hand the clothing over to the Mission and requested Mission representatives and a Mission resident attend to answer media questions (so often, news conferences and events have officials and leaders, but no one from the group that’s actually the recipient of the assistance).

With some judicious and persistent follow-up, we were able to persuade KTRV and KTVB – Idaho’s largest news source – to attend the handover, with KTVB devoting more than two and a half minutes to its broadcast. We finally collected about 750 items of clothing, providing a great backdrop at Clothesline’s Boise shop.

We started a parallel social media campaign in November, while Clothesline used its emailing list of several thousand customers to help get the word out. Clothesline also brought in Steve Reeder of the local Tom James haberdashery to publicize the drive to his clients. The Mission distributed to the release and assisted with getting publicity. Each party had some kind of publicity assets and put them to work.

We took our own video and will put that up on Clothesline’s YouTube page. Between the last few days of November and December, our weekly Facebook page visits increased by 10 percent and wall comments increased by one-third, and we believe it is attributable to the social media and news media push.

McCracken reported that about a dozen customers that hadn’t used his services in a while called his store on Dec. 2, saying they saw TV news program that morning, or the night before, and that reminded them they needed to get some stuff cleaned.


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