Postcard from a “Hired Hand” at the Berkshire Hathaway Tweeting

May 6, 2009

A few days later, my head is still spinning from attending the 2009 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting last weekend.

As announced here last week, eight Business Wire staffers joined CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz in Omaha. Playing off the western theme, “Warren and Charlie’s Wild West Show” us “hired hands” sold playful collectable posters with Buffett on horseback, Munger slinging a lasso and Cathy riding the range with Buffett.  All proceeds benefit CASA of Douglas County, Neb., Court Appointed Special Advocates, a charitable organization that provides a voice for abused and neglected children within the court system, and were matched by Business Wire. CASA: your check is en route.

hiredhands2We were lucky to score front row seats at the Qwest Center for the Q & A and shareholders’ meeting.  I guess it pays to be a “hired hand.”  For an excellent recap of the  Q & A, check out the “play-by-play” by Omaha World-Herald reporter Joe Ruff.  Joe:  Well done. 

Meanwhile, we made our own headlines with Cathy, one of only four female Berkshire CEOs, being interviewed by Fox News as well as the BBC for a future documentary.  Cathy suggested in a CNBC segment that Buffett would “calm everybody down”–and that’s what happened.  Buffett and Charlie Munger were both optimisitic about the future.  All my bosses make me proud!

Live tweeting from the meeting and our “follow @businesswire” Twitter contest was a successful experiment, with hundreds of new, targeted followers joining our Twitter bandwagon over the few days it ran.  Leigh Fatzinger of Seattle won the poster set and provided us an interesting case study on Twitter, which we’ll share with you at a future webinar.  Leigh:  your posters are en route (after we find a tube to send them in).  Read more about Twitter lessons learned in a separate post.

For more on the Business Wire/Berkshire Hathaway Tweeting, take a look at our Twitpic feed. Please excuse any typos committed along the way.  That happens.  And thanks to our staff, shareholders and all of you for joining us.


Twitter Lessons Learned at the Berkshire Hathaway Meeting

May 6, 2009

Last weekend’s Berkshire Hathaway tweeting provided us a great communications laboratory with several lessons learned.  Talk about a case study in multiplatforms and social media.  Here’s what happened:

Last summer, Leigh Fatzinger of OMV in Seattle began following Business Wire on Twitter.  Like many companies, we jumped on  Twitter, but nobody really owned the feed and updates were few.  It’s different now, but then, no one actively tweeted, so Leigh “unfollowed” us.

OUCH. That’s like saying:  “Take me off your mailing list.”

Leigh Fatziner of Seattle

Leigh Fatzinger

But it’s OK.  On Thursday, April 30 at 9:16 AM Central Daylight Time, we posted our plans to tweet live from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting.   In that blog post, we invited people to follow us on Twitter. Those who did would be entered in a random drawing to win a set of  collectable Warren Buffett posters available only at the meeting.

On Friday, May 1, at 1:58 PM, Lauren Linscheid in Business Wire’s Seattle office touted the blog post, “How Tweet It is to Attend the Berkshire Hathaway meeting,” in an email blast.

Leigh saw the email.   “I thought that was a really good headline,” said Leigh, “so I clicked on it and read all the way through to the bottom and learned about the contest.”  At 2:49 PM, Leigh began “following” us again.

On May 5, we picked Leigh’s name randomly from the 243 new followers we harvested from the contest.  We searched him online and tried to call, but the phone number we retrieved was faulty. At 11:20 AM, we followed him on Twitter and sent him the following direct message:
“Leigh, Monika Maeckle from @businesswire here.  Trying to reach u re: Warren Buffett posters u won.  Please call @ 210.527.9100. Gracias.”
I was concerned about doing this via email or Twitter because I thought Leigh might think it was dumb “You have won!” spam.  But Leigh called me within 10 minutes, we had a great conversation, and we are sending him the posters as we speak.
This is a great example of how Twitter works as one cog in the marketing wheel–which in this case utilized a press release, several blog posts, multiple emails, Twitter posts, lots of hyperlinks all around–and the good ol’ fashioned telephone.  It also illustrate other lessons.
  1. The headline is really important.  Just like a press release, what you choose to put in the ‘tweet spot’ matters–even moreso when you only have 140 characters.
  2. It PAYS to experiment.   The drumbeat of social media is: you must participate to understand.  It’s true.  We had no idea how this would turn out.   In this case, it worked.
  3. There are no silver bullets.  All these  tools, tactics and platforms work together.  This has come up repeatedly in our webinars.  People want a single, one-size-fits-all answer.  Not gonna happen.

So…Leigh.  Congratulations to you!  And thanks for helping us learn a bit more about how to use Twitter.


How Tweet It Is to Attend the Berkshire Hathaway Meeting: Please Join us!

April 30, 2009

Warren Buffet and the Wired Wired WestI drew one of the lucky straws to help represent our fine company at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting this year.  A handful of Business Wire folks and I will accompany our CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz to Omaha this weekend, May 1 and 2.    

In preparation, I’ve waded through Snowball, the 900-page biography of Warren Buffett, the chairman of Business Wire’s parent company; boned up on Buffett trivia and quotes; and watched and read what to expect–like this profile of Buffett on Bloomberg.  Last week on vacation in West Texas, I even bought a couple of dipped cones at Dairy Queen  as a show of support for a sister Berkshire Hathaway company.

Wish you could be there?  We do, too.  That’s why Business Wire is “sharing the wealth” of our Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting experience in two ways.

First, I’ll be tweeting live from the meeting, starting on Friday, so feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/businesswire.  

I’ll start on the trade show floor helping set up our booth, and hopefully get my picture taken with Mr. Buffett (again!) when he does his walk-through.  I aim to provide updates on the annual meeting and all the hubbub associated with the bally-hooed “Woodstock for Capitalists” where more Monika Maeckle and Warren Buffettthan 35,000 folks are expected.

Second, those  who become followers of  Business Wire on Twitter in the next few days will have their name put into a random drawing for a chance to win one of the limited edition Wired Wired West posters Business Wire is selling for charity.   There’s only 500 of these  coveted collectables.  The set of three posters features Buffett “the Bullett” riding shotgun on a black stallion, Buffet and Baron-Tamraz riding the range, and Charlie Munger slinging a lasso for a good cause.  Check ‘em out.  

We’ll announce the winner next week right here and on Twitter.  Hope you join us.


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