Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Social Networking thru E-Media

Everyone's talking about it, or twittering about it, or texting about it. If you're not, then you are clearly outside the demographic. What is this demographic? From what I can see, it's anyone over the age of 5 and under the age of 85.

It began, not that long ago, with teens and their texting (or text messaging as some of you older folks might recognize the term). Once teens fully embraced their birth-given right to own their "own" cellphones, they quickly found a way to make them their own, not just something that mom or dad handed down to them. That was the birth of text-messaging. It occurred about the same time the Blackberry was creating Black/crackheads amongst their parents.

I've spent the past few weeks experimenting with e-media. I've fb-ed, twittered, blogged, texted - you name it, I think I've done it. Haven't quite figured out the big deal about Twitter, but I'll keep an eye on it. My biggest problem is keeping my message to 150 characters or less. (Good thing an editor reviews my printed comments.) Somehow with Twitter, I've already picked up 18 followers, most of whom I don't know.

Facebook is very interesting to me. It began as a way for high school and college students to communicate effectively and easily, and to include photos - something that was missing in MySpace. I read something the other day that said the 40-somethings (my age group) was the biggest group of people on it now, and that people in their 60's and 70's are really starting to drive the average age of the user up. My 77 year old mother has a fb account and uses it to keep up with photos of her kids and grandkids. But, she uses it much differently than her kids and grandkids do. And that's an important point to consider if you are thinking of using fb for viral marketing.

I've created a facebook account for both my magazines, TechShop and Tomorrow's Technician. And I've seen plenty of companies create their own facebook pages as well. There are companies like Sharpie, Crayola Crayons, Peeps, Chicago Pneumatic, Timken, CarMix; and all kinds of schools with pages. I suppose it's a progression from the corporate website. It provides a link to a younger crowd, but it takes a different management style than a traditional website.

I'm still trying to figure out how to use facebook well, in a corporate setting, and I have to admit - don't have any answers yet. But if you have a facebook account, please check out Tomorrow's Technician (both the "person" and the group, and the TechShop group.) Let me know what you think!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Feel Good about Our Industry

Here's something we can feel good about - one tool company is making an effort to help young people enter our industry. A year ago, Chicago Pneumatic approached us through our magazine, Tomorrow's Technician, to help them develop a way to reach the automotive student. They had identified this part of the market as a critical portion of their business for current and future growth. They knew they were out there, but didn't have an effective way to reach them. They wanted to try something different, in addition to a traditional print ad campaign. Together we developed the idea of a "school of the year" program, one which would take applications and recognize the best automotive schools across the country. In addition to advertising their brand to almost 50,000 students all year long, CP committed to give away $10,000 worth of tools to the top 4 schools. The top school last year was Waubonsee Community College and they were extremely appreciative of the tools they received from Chicago Pneumatic, and the national recognition they received from Tomorrow's Technician.

This year, Chicago Pneumatic really stepped up their commitment to the future of our industry. They bumped the value of the total prize package up to $25,000. At times like this, when most people are finding ways to squeeze their pennies, Chicago Pneumatic is investing in their future, by reaching out to young professionals.

We recently chose the four regional finalists. Selected from more than 170 applications nominating more than 80 schools, the four finalists are Ohio Technical College, Cleveland; Piedmont Technical College, Greenwood, S.C.; Shoreline Community College, Seattle; and Smoky Hill High School, Aurora, Colo.

“We’re looking forward to announcing our winner next month, and we want to thank all of the schools that took the time to submit their nominations for School of the Year,” said Jay Lewis, business line and general manager for Chicago Pneumatic, North America. “The quality of the applications from high schools, colleges and career centers teaching automotive instruction were excellent, making it difficult to determine this year’s four finalists.”
Applications from instructors, principals, department chairs, and students touted a variety of specialized training programs and even a green initiative that was unique among entries. These distinctive programs and specialized training opportunities provide students with defining skills as they enter the workforce following graduation.
“It’s exciting that a company like Chicago Pneumatic has partnered with us to recognize these top automotive schools,” said Beth Skove, associate publisher of Tomorrow’s Technician. “Many of these schools incorporate innovative training programs to prepare their students to be the future leaders of the industry; these young men and women will be influencers in the shop and will help take the automotive aftermarket to the next level.”

The 2009 School of the Year will be chosen from the four finalists and will be featured in the May issue of Tomorrow’s Technician. The four finalists will receive a share of a total prize package of Chicago Pneumatic tools worth $25,000. The winning school will receive $10,000 worth of Chicago Pneumatic tools and a special award presentation event at their school, including an appearance by Rich Evans of Huntington Beach Bodyworks. The three other finalists will each receive $5,000 worth of Chicago Pneumatic tools.
If you are interested in learning how you can be a part of this exciting program, give me a call at 330-670-1234 or email me at bskove@babcox.com.