RAQ: Would you do a video about why PR and marketing pros need an iPhone?

At the #mayoragan09 conference earlier this week I participated in a “30 ideas in 30 minutes” panel, which was intended to provide rapid-fire, practical applications and next steps to take for people interested in incorporating social media into their health care work.

My first tip (after the obligatory “Get a Flip”), was:

Get an iPhone.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been, but I was somewhat surprised at the murmur that comment created. And in the Q&A session, I got this request:

“Could you upload a Flip video about why I should get an iPhone, so I can use it to make the case with my boss?”

My other tips, two of which require some expenditure and others that are free:

  • Get a Flip video camera (or something similar.) Cost is $150-$230 MSRP, but you can get them cheaper.
  • Join Audible.com, which is an audio “book of the month” club. Listen to any books you can find from Clayton Christensen, Malcolm Gladwell, or Patrick Lencioni. And of course get Chris Anderson’s book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, for free. Cost is about $15/month.
  • Get the “Bump” application for iPhone, which lets you exchange contact info with other iPhone users with a fist bump. Free.
  • Create a blog as a “dark site” for crisis communications. Use wordpress.com to create a private blog, which you can make public should a crisis arise. That could save you 15 minutes or so in setting up a way to communicate broadly via the Web, which in a crisis could be precious time savings. Free on WordPress.com.

If you do anything at all in continuing education for your professional growth, you may spend $1,000 or more for conference registrations, plus travel expenses.

How sad would it be to pay for a conference registration to learn about social media tools, and then to not spend the relatively smaller amount it takes to get hands-on experience?

And of course, do take advantage of the free tools as well, including enrolling in SMUG (join the Facebook group, follow the Chancellor on Twitter, and subscribe to the RSS feed).

See Aaron Hughling’s take-aways from the conference, as well as Holly Potter’s.

I hope this helps you make the case for your smartphone, whether that’s with your employer, your spouse or to help you convince yourself.

Lee Odden Interview

I was honored last week to have a chance to be interviewed by Lee Odden, a fellow Minnesotan with a cool first name who also has one of the top PR, marketing and SEO blogs. Here is one of his 10 questions, along with my answer, published this morning in his post, “Social Media Interview: Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic”:

Do you test specific social media tactics or do you go full on with a social media strategy for each initiative? Knowing what you know now, what approach would you recommend that companies take when they’re starting out?

I recommend what I call the “MacGyver Mindset,” named after the TV character played by Minnesota native Richard Dean Anderson. Look at the tools and resources you have available and how you can adapt them to meet your communication and marketing goals, and empower staff to explore.

Focus first on the free platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, mainly because that’s where you will find communities already gathered. This also enables you to prove your concepts before deciding whether to launch a community of your own.

Strategic thinking can be an excuse for inaction, and just as it’s easier to alter the direction of a moving car than it is to get one started from a dead stop, I believe it’s best to build social media momentum through low-cost experimentation and iteration.

Read the full interview here on Lee’s TopRank blog.

MHSCN Accomplished

Yup…that’s how they say the acronym for the Minnesota Health Strategy & Communications Network. I’ve noted before that health care communications organizations seem to have the opposite problem of cardiology clinical trials: while the latter insert extra letters (or pull them from the middle of words in studies’ titles) to create acronyms like HOPE, LIPID, PICASSO and CABANA, Minnesota’s is only one of several health communications organizations that need to just buy a vowel! (Florida has FSHPRM, and Wisconsin has WHPRMS.)

Here’s the presentation I’m offering as a keynote this afternoon for the MHSCN 2009 Summer Conference (PDF):

Update: As I sometimes do, I mentioned my granddaughter Evelyn a few times in this presentation, and showed some video of her. I also mentioned how much we enjoy getting to see her across the miles via Facebook and Skype. So after my presentation, Deb McKinley of Stratis Health asked me to turn on the Flip so she could send a message back to Evelyn. Here it is:

Spreading the Word on Social Media

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ve got a full schedule of travel with conferences, panels, webinars, workshops and the like. I’ll be showing and telling about our work in social media at Mayo Clinic, and also implications and applications for others in health care and beyond. My schedule is below. Based on what I’ve seen from the registration (and speakers/panelists) at the events, I’m going to be highly stimulated by the experience. 

This week I’m going to Washington, DC on Wednesday and Thursday for the New Media Academic Summit at Georgetown University. It will be quite an experience for the Chancellor of a mythical university to interact with real-life Ph.D. professors. I’m on a Thursday afternoon panel.

Next week I’ll be in Phoenix on Monday and Tuesday at the Healthcare New Media Marketing Conference. On Wednesday afternoon I’m part of a panel sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the American Hospital Association. On Thursday I’m participating in this free “Meet the Experts” Webinar (with @EdBennett, @JennTex and @BrianCharlonis) and then presenting to the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations’ annual meeting in St. Louis. And on Friday in St. Louis I’m doing the keynote (and a workshop) for HESCA’s 50th International Conference on Health & Science Communications.

In my spare time I plan to meet with some TV and radio station news and program directors to talk about our Mayo Clinic Medical Edge syndicated programs and news resources.

This is the most intense travel schedule I’ve had, but it just seemed to work out that these events were in reasonable proximity. And clearly we’re in a time in which the interest in social media is high, particularly in health care.

Of course I’ll be tweeting along the way, so you can follow (and participate in) the conversations. If you’re in any of these communities (or will be at any of these events) and would like to meet, drop me a note (or a Tweet).

The Danger of “Core Competence”

Among the books I’ve been devouring recently is The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton Christensen. (I highly recommend it!) As I was listening to the unabridged audio version, the following statement — though read in the same measured tones as the rest of the tome — screamed its relevance:

Core competence, as it is used by many managers, is a dangerously inward-looking notion. Competitiveness is far more about doing what customers value than doing what you think you’re good at. And staying competitive as the basis of competition shifts necessarily requires a willingness and ability to learn new things rather than clinging hopefully to the sources of past glory.

The challenge for incumbent companies is to rebuild their ships while at sea, rather than dismantling themselves plank by plank while someone else builds a new, faster boat with what they cast overboard as detritus.

The context of the statement is a discussion of companies that outsource elements of their product or service that they perceive to be less important. For example, in developing its PC in the early 1980s, IBM outsourced both its microprocessor (to Intel) and its operating system (to Microsoft.) This enabled IBM to catch up with Apple, but in the process it handed over the two most significant revenue streams and sources of profit to others. Today Intel and Microsoft are still earning billions of dollars a year from the PC business, while IBM is no longer making PCs.

This is relevant not only for our organizations and employers as a whole but also for us as individuals, and now I’m speaking directly to those involved professionally in communications, public relations, marketing, advertising or related disciplines. 

I wish I had $82.43 for every time I’ve heard someone say, “All you need to do to use social media in your business is hire some young kids, just out of college. They really understand this stuff.” As the father of two relatively recent college graduates, I appreciate the job opportunities such a statement offers. But I offer a word of caution.

You need to understand social media yourself, and not dismiss them as being outside your “core competence.”

OK, that was 17 words. But the point is that as social media grow in importance over time, and as the audiences for mainstream media shrink, if you fail to adapt your “core competence” will become less relevant. That means less marketable.

By understanding social media, you will see how they can be applied to solve your business problems, or perhaps even as a whole new business model. Otherwise, as Christensen indicates, you will find yourself disrupted by low-end innovators.

To think more about the implications of disruptive innovation, get The Innovator’s Solution or anything else Christensen has written. I’m particularly looking forward to reading his books about health care and education.

To learn how to apply the sustaining (and in some cases disruptive) innovation of social media to your work, you’re at the right place already. Become a SMUGgle and we’ll learn and share applications together.