How to make friends, build connections in Philadelphia (or any city)

Young people who move to Philadelphia sometimes ask me how to get better connected in Philadelphia. And the figures suggest there is a growing number of them.

I’ve found myself offering up the same handful of suggestions more than a few times.

  1. Attend Young Involved Philadelphia events — The group is a great hub of smart, hungry, young Philadelphians. Your city probably has one like it.
  2. Join the Philadelphia Sports Network or another recreational sports league — These groups are great at bringing people together around sports, and most cities have something like them.
  3. Join your neighborhood civic or block group — Most neighborhoods that are attracting new Philadelphians have active community groups that improving the city and connecting the civic minded. If your neighborhood doesn’t have one, then start one.
  4. Find an online community that fits your interest — Whether it be sports or technology or drinking or your part of the city, someone is probably writing and hosting events that will attract people like you. If not, start one.
    They’ll find you.
  5. Rock social media — There are probably smart people on Twitter in your city. Find them. Engage with them. Ask them to grab coffee. And, hey, don’t ignore online dating if you’re looking for that.
  6. Embrace an institution — Maybe your university has an alumni group in your new city. If not, find a museum, advocacy group or another institution that has a young friends group or something else.
  7. Volunteer — Find a nonprofit, political group or mission group that has value to you. Volunteer and find people like you.

Online News Association national conference should come to Philadelphia: here are 10 reasons why

I have been blessed to attend the last two national Online News Association conferences, one in D.C. and last year’s in Boston.

This year, the celebrated, 13-year-old organization will host its annual event of more than 5,000 members in San Franciso to offer some geographical balance to the affair. There is some call for a Midwest event in 2013, which might make sense, but whether it’s next year or in 2014, the conference, expo and meeting of the minds of news innovation should happen in Philadelphia.

Updated: Apparently Philadelphia is booked for 2014. So, uh, 2015?

I’m part of a small group in Philadelphia lobbying for the effort, which includes a formal application process, and that application is being submitted. Still, I felt it worth sharing what appears to me to be the clear reasons why this would be an easy decision.

Here are 10 reasons:

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Philadelphia Evening Bulletin history: ‘Nearly Everybody Read It,’ a 1998 book from Peter Binzen

The importance, sway and influence of one of the world’s most dominant 20th century newspapers was the focus of the 1998 collection of essays about the once powerful Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, edited by its former education reporter Peter Binzen, who also wrote Whitetown USA.

Dubbed ‘Nearly Everybody Read It,’ a riff off the paper’s legendary slogan, the 163-page book has nearly 20 essays from former Bulletin reporters and editors, including its first female and black correspondents. For 135 years, the family owned paper was a powerhouse among a rich daily newspaper tradition in Philadelphia.

A central story line of the book was the Bulletin’s battle with the Inquirer, its chief rival, and how, in the end, the Inquirer, considered by many to be the chain response to the family-owned operation, won. Through all the bluster, I thought there were four primary reasons that rang most true to me:

  1. The Bulletin fundamentally failed to innovate, remaining an afternoon daily as circulation fell with growing TV news audiences, increasing transportation costs due to traffic and changing news cycles.
  2. The Bulletin failed to develop the revenue to stay competitive, including a premature sale of its nascent TV station, denying alcohol advertising and other funding methods that kept it lagging behind the Knight-Ridder funded Inquirer.
  3. The Bulletin resisted aggressive editorial reconfiguration, following the investigative spirit of the 1970s that soared the reputation of the Inquirer behind editor Gene Roberts, and pushed out its own innovative editor George Packard.
  4. The Bulletin came up short in following the suburban trend, having its 1947 purchase of the Camden Courier Post denied by the U.S. Department of Justice for anti-monopoly concerns was a large blow.

As I often do when reading something relevant to the news and innovation conversations I so adore, I wanted to share some choice thoughts from the book.

Continue reading Philadelphia Evening Bulletin history: ‘Nearly Everybody Read It,’ a 1998 book from Peter Binzen

A Brief Timeline of the History of Daily Newspapers in Philadelphia

This Philadelphia daily newspaper family tree is framed in the Inquirer editorial board room at 400 N. Broad Street. Photo by Russell Cooke. Click to enlarge.

There were a dozen or more daily newspapers in Philadelphia at one time, I hear. Trouble is, I couldn’t seem to find anyone who could name what all of those papers were.

So I went and did some good old fashioned research — with some great direction from representatives of the following institutions.

Below, find a historical timeline of daily newspapers in Philadelphia, or at least what I could decode using four sources: primarily the Pennsylvania State Library newspaper collection [call number: Philadelphia] and the archives of the University of Virginia, with some help from a 1997 collection of essays called ‘Nearly Everybody Read It,’ edited by Peter Binzen (whose other book I recently read) and an essay from Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia member Gerry Wilkinson. (I compiled some other notes on the Inquirer here.)

Check it out below and offer any criticism or comment — I’m certainly expecting that this is incomplete, so any other leads are appreciated!

Continue reading A Brief Timeline of the History of Daily Newspapers in Philadelphia

My 10 best trafficked posts of 2011 (and some others that I think are pretty good)

As I’ve done in passed years, as this year comes to a close, I like to dive a bit into the work I’ve done here in the last 12 months to gauge what was popular and what I was most proud of.

Below, find my 10 best read posts of the year and a few others I thought were worth reading.

Continue reading My 10 best trafficked posts of 2011 (and some others that I think are pretty good)

Boardwalk Empire: five lessons to learn from season one of the hit HBO drama

The celebrated HBO historical drama Boardwalk Empire, set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, is making its way through its second season, and I’m catching up, having recently finished watching the first season.

The well-funded period piece, with backing from Scorsese, Wahlberg and others, tracks the life and times of a character based on a real political boss of the time. It’s a compelling story, tinged with real happenings, heavily researched authenticity and complex characters. In short, it’s a great watch.

Having finished the first season, there are a few takeaways I found myself internalizing:

Continue reading Boardwalk Empire: five lessons to learn from season one of the hit HBO drama

Philly Daily News List of ‘Rising Power Players’ under 40; I’m on it

The Philadelphia Daily News today ran a cover story celebrating 10 of the city’s ‘rising power players,’ in celebrating the close of this year’s State of Young Philly, and I am proud to say I’ve been included.

Find the story online here, and my section here. Go buy a copy.

I was included for being one of three co-founders of local technology news site Technically Philly and being involved in the development of the city’s startup and hacker communities. I was perhaps most pleased that I have so far survived the Philly.com comments, mostly because I have helped build a small for-profit with three full-time employees.

The automatically-generated plaque that a company offered me by email after this news story ran. Though the $169 price tag was a little more than I thought worth it, I was interested in the process and how the newspaper itself didn't offer this.

While I am certainly proud to be included, I am humbled knowing that there are so many other young Philadelphians making great change. There is no way this list of 10 could do that justice. It’s just a highlight of some of us, and I’m proud to be part of it, but I am more than aware of how many others could have been on this list.

For the record, though, I am only 25, not 27. I should also say that I am certainly nervous about being included because of my relatively small contribution at such a young age. I look forward to being involved in much more in the future.

A PDF of the cover here and the article here.

I should also add that my colleague Sean Blanda was also recently included in a young up-incomers list.

Success in service industry: Retainers, recommendations and referrals

Knee deep in a service industry business, I’ve found a real, consistent rhythm of where financial success comes to these types of companies.

The act of selling products, of course, is like finding your Atman of the service industry, so, acknowledging that that is at the top of the pyramid and any kind of client work is the foundation, let’s look at what helps these service businesses thrive enough financially to ever endeavor to trial a product or two: the three “R’s.”

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Glengarry Glen Ross: 10 sales lessons from the 1992 cult classic movie

Sales tactics to lead and those to avoid are seemingly peppered throughout the classic, star-studded, independent black comedy Glengarry Glen Ross from 1992 that I finally got to watch — after quoting clips for years.

“We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired,” says the character Blake, setting the mood early on.

As you might expect, there are some takeaways to be had.

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Ten Twitter basics you should steal from my social media strategy work

I’ve managed more than a few Twitter strategies, for nonprofits, groups, organizations and news sites, and have picked up a few basics that you should be sure to steal.

  1. Signing off initials — If you have multiple people using your organization’s account, sign off with initials for transparency, personal connection and ease.
  2. Do create regular content — Part of my schtick is having a lunchtime regular feature, like Noontime Number for Technically Philly and Running News at Noon for Back on My Feet. It’s something followers come to expect and helps you be sure to fill content.
  3. Do take the RSS feed from your blog and then do a second (or third) tweet later for ifferent audience — It helps feed the beast, but also means your next tweet will hit for a new audience. Note, though, that some feel Twitter should be all engagement, so sending an RSS feed is somewhat looked down on. Still, I think as long as an RSS feed doesn’t dominate your Twitter conversation, it’s an added value.
  4. Do tweet your content more than once — Yes, as a follow up to the item above, keep in mind that Twitter users tend to focus in at different times, from the morning to lunch to the evening or something like it, so by tweeting a story a few times (without getting spammy), you have a better chance of hitting an interested party.
  5. Do use CoTweet to manage multiple accounts with multiple user — the former central Pennsylvania startup has a lot of good features for archiving messages, assigning followup and forward posting tweets.
  6. Instead of just responding, RT a meaningful message — When you reply to someone, RT her message and add your own when space allows. This gets other people into the conversation. If no one is interested, then take it to DM or email.
  7. Do more often have a call to action — (usually a link) but don’t be afraid to offer meaning in words. It’s a push media, so what are you pushing? Don’t take that to mean you should always be pushing your stuff, but conversation, engagement, sharing, linking, etc. are all good calls to action.
  8. Do be able to share a specific point in those 140 characters — So, ‘Man speaks at classroom’ is a whole lot less effective than ‘this is how we can make homework suck less, man says,’ which can inspire conversation or thought or response or, even better, a click.
  9. Tweet strong quotes or (even better) hard numbers — I’ve always found pushing clear information and statistics travels better than something less actionable or more vague.
  10. Break quick news on Twitter — When you’re reporting on something, feed good, interesting, independent content on Twitter. When possible, sure, having a link of yours can help you capture the clicks, but ultimately, you’re trying to create an audience and you do that with content, so Twitter needs its own material.