Telling the Olympic Story – One Experience at a Time

I’ve never been what you’d call athletic. I couldn’t play sports myself because I couldn’t see enough.  So over the years, I’ve channeled my passion for sports into being the best and most enthusiastic fan I could be.

From the time I could remember, the Olympic Games have given me the ultimate sports high.  Winter or summer, I’ve been in a state of perpetual bliss, parking myself in front of every imaginable TV screen, from the teeny black and white of my childhood to our 20 year old color set. (This year, for the first time, it’ll be an awesome HD flat screen we’ve just bought. I’m pumped.)

And what a rollercoaster of emotions – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed, yelled, screamed and bawled my eyes out over the years.  My heart has alternately ached and swelled with pride for our Canadian athletes.  I’ve been captivated by the Red Ensign and the dear Maple Leaf hoisted above the medal platform.

I’m ready to do the whole thing again in less than two weeks.  But this time it’s going to be different. I’ll be living the Olympic experience in my new home in Vancouver, the host city.  I’ll be taking in two curling matches at a beautiful new facility just a mile or so from my home, where I can assure you I’ll be beside myself.

And  I’m part of an Olympic team as well.  No, we’re not athletes, but we’re bringing our own brand of dedication and passion to the Games.  The Metro Blenz News Squad will be telling the Olympic story through a variety of social media – the blogs we write, the photos we shoot, our Twitter and Facebook activity, and the visitors and locals we meet.

Why have I decided to get involved?  I have a few reasons.

I want to try to help people feel as comfortable and happy to be here as I have been made to feel.  I’m still new to Vancouver, still discovering, and I’m hoping to bring my unique ‘local visitor’ perspective to the table.

I also don’t think I’m the only excited, proud and rabid fan out there, and I want to help convey this unique experience over the next six weeks or so.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not, if you’ll pardon the pun, wearing blinders. No situation is perfect. There are many challenges. Not everyone is happy. Having grown up in Montreal, I know it’s fact of life in an Olympic town. It may be part of what I get to hear.  And I’ll write it down, along with everything else.

Log on to www.metroblenznewssquad.com and follow along. And if there’s something you think I should write about, leave me a comment.

Let the Games begin!

How I Spent My Twitter Vacation

When Twitter went down with no warning on Thursday morning, my first reaction was annoyance.  I was in the middle of my morning ritual of checking overnight posts, replying and RTing where it made sense, and generally getting up to speed – and this unexpected downtime interrupted my schedule. Drat.  Oh well, I’ll grab a coffee and it’ll be back up.

But of course, it wasn’t.

So I went over to Facebook, which for me isn’t my preferred vehicle of conversation.  Commiserated with a few fellow Tweeters who, like me, were starting to get twitchy. One dear old friend suggested to me that perhaps I needed a 12-Step Program…

I knew he was joking (really, he was!), but it did prompt me to realize that I was spending too much time staring at the screen, simply waiting for the bluebird to rise again.

So I walked away from the computer. I actually sat and read the paper. I called my mother. I curled up with my frail little 16 year old cat and told her how much I loved her.  And it felt good.

When Twitter came back up, I was relieved and happy – but I also reminded myself to approach this platform I love with a little more objectivity, a different perspective.  As much and as often as I am on Twitter, and as much as I value who I know and what I’ve learned there – there a lot more to savor.

So, no 12-Step.  But certainly one important one for me.

Getting Over the Hump…

Just a bit of personal reflection on a Sunday morning…

It’s now August.  And for me, it’s a pivotal time.  I’ve got to use this month to get our Ottawa house up for sale, de-clutter and streamline what possessions we want to hold onto and prepare to move my husband Dave and me to Vancouver and the West Coast I’ve come to love.

It’s not an easy decision.  All of my family is here – mom, sisters, nieces, nephews – and our little great-niece Kyra Alicia, born just this week.  I have a few very good and supportive friends here.   But it’s time to make a move.

The winters are hard.  A large house is too difficult for us to maintain.  Now that Dave is at retirement age, it’s a good time for a change of scene.  And at 55, I need to go where I think I have the best shot at working in the PR and social media professions I’m so passionate about.  I figure I have another 15-20 years in me:-)

So, wish me luck.  It’s definitely a ‘hump’ month.  I may not have time to post that much.  When I do, I may be bitchy.  Bear with me.  I’m relying on that light at the end of the tunnel.

And, oh yes – I’m available for work, either on the West Coast, or virtually.  Spread the word.

Thank everyone.  Good vibes, words of encouragement and a swift kick if I need it are all appreciated.

And if you’re also facing challenges this month, let me know.  We’ll help each other.

Happy Hump Month.

Blogathon Vancouver – 24 Hours, Many Heroes

Yesterday, at the ungodly hour of 6am, several of my Vancouver friends plunged into 24 straight hours of blogging for charity.  Blogathon Vancouver has helped support the efforts of some 20 local charities – from the BC Cancer Foundation and the BC Children’s Hospital to the Vancouver Food Bank and the Federation of BC Writers.  And it’s also introduced the world to some of the most talented and caring people I know.

I was fortunate to guest-blog during the event.

Check out my post for @hummingbird604 on Making the Most of  Twitter in Real Life here.

And I took a slightly lighthearted look at how social media, especially Twitter, can level the playing field for disabled people. Take a look on @ganga_narayanan’s blog here.

For more comprehensive info on Blogathon, visit both @hummingbird604’s and @Miss604’s blogs for starters.  You’ll see references to the many people who participated and the charities they helped.

Next year, I hope to be part of this marvellous group in person.  Great job, everyone!

You are heroes.

On Twitter? You’d Better Be Real.

A few days ago, my friend and social media maven Irene Koehler wrote a fantastic blog post entitled “11 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Me to Unfollow You on Twitter”.  After I laughed myself silly over #1 (you’ll see why), and smiled and nodded at all the others, my eyes lit again on #11.  Here’s what it says:

“You don’t get that authenticity is a key component of social media success. You have the default Twitter avatar or are using a photo of your dog. You haven’t completed your Twitter bio – come on, it is really, really easy to do. I don’t know your name and can’t find your blog, your LinkedIn profile or any other online presence…”

I couldn’t agree more.

I love Twitter.  I take it very seriously, whether I’m debating, offering advice,  or joking with friends.  Always, in the back of my mind, is one constant reminder to myself  –

Be real.

And I am, all the time.  My commitment to authenticity started with the page many people ignore, or scurry through, with no thought to content or context.

The Settings page.  Where you start to build your personal brand on Twitter.  Really.

I can almost hear the sound of heads snapping to attention.  It’s just a silly image and a tiny, insignificant bio, right?

Wrong.

If you are on Twitter to inform, engage, discuss, grow your business, join a community or support a cause, then give your brand the attention it deserves.

Think about how you want to look to the world.

I’m a strong advocate of an attractive photo or avatar that conveys something about you.  I’m not a huge fan of logos, unless you are writing exclusively for a company or product and not as yourself.  Otherwise, it’s hard to warm up to a logo in conversation.

Bios are short, but they pack a punch. And don’t forget – they are searchable, so choose your words carefully. Ask yourself a few key questions:

What do I want the world to know about me?

What is important to me right now?

What sort of people do I want to find and follow me?

Depending on how you answer, your bio may focus on your business, or the fact that you are looking for job opportunities.  Or it may be all about your hobbies, passions and talents.  Or your cats:-)

And it’s all good, because you’ve taken the time to understand what interactions you want out of Twitter.  And feel free to change the bio.  It keeps things fresh as your priorities change.

And yes, by all means add the links to your blog, Facebook or LinkedIn profiles  if they’re complementary to the brand you’re building on Twitter.

And ask for help if you need it.  Irene’s offered. So am I.  There are tons of smart, helpful people out there who would gladly offer their assistance in the name of authenticity and engagement.

We’ve had enough of names that are nothing but jibberish,  silly or offensive avatars, and NO story.  And we aren’t impressed if all you tweet about is yet another site that got you hundreds of new followers or another quick and easy way to make lots of money.

We want to talk to, learn from, share life’s moments with, and  help real people who are just as eager to do the same.

So if you are one of those people, I’d love you to follow me @CathyBrowne so I can follow you back.  For the rest of you, I have only one thing to say.

Please get real.