Seizing Opportunities

Seizing Opportunities

We’ve all heard about being in the right place and the right time, right? Well, that’s a start. If you don’t take action when the opportunity arises, then nothing will happen. This is true in your personal life (a blog for another time) as well as professionally. And one thing is for sure, one of my “communications superpowers,” if you will, is recognizing and seizing an opportunity when I see it. Admittedly, not all have turned out perfectly, but that’s what makes it all so interesting…its trial and error.

Oh, and another thing…opportunities often come at the most inopportune and unplanned moments…such as Christmas Eve. It’s just another way that differentiates those willing to seize the moment and those that say, “Ah, next time.”

While at work on Christmas Eve, I eagerly watched and participated in a Twitter giveaway hosted by Peter Shankman, public relations and marketing guru and founder of HARO, Help A Reporter Out. Peter gets a lot of swag through the year from companies in hopes that he’ll mention the promoter’s product or service. So on Christmas Eve he decided to give away the items he received to his Twitter followers with a little trivia. This intrigued me…an all social networking promotion? Huh. This should be fun. Yes, I participated and answered a couple of questions but wasn’t fast enough, didn’t win but had a great time. Toward the end of the giveaway, Peter indicated that he would do the same thing on Friday for those PR folks working the day after Christmas. What a great idea! I continued to watch the Tweets from Peter trickle in and saw that a few companies were offering up some products to give away. Ding, ding! The bell went off and I rapidly sent off a message to Peter saying that if he still had room and thought it might make a nice giveaway, we could provide him with a Reno-Tahoe ski trip for two with lodging, lift tickets and swag.

Within seconds he responded with a resounding, “YES!” I quickly drafted the prize letter and package details sponsored by the Reno-Tahoe Regional Marketing Committee and forwarded it on. Again, within seconds he responded and said it was INCREDIBLE, the best prize he’s received so far and that he’s making it the grand prize. The grand prize?! Simply by recognizing and seizing an opportunity?!  Hey, that’s pretty cool.  Well, I had no idea how incredibly great this would turn out to be.

You see Peter has quite the list of loyal followers, 18,000 plus, and it grew by 1,000s during the 12 hours that he ran the Twitter Trivia day. Prizes were being awarded every 10 – 15 minutes and the trivia questions were getting tougher. Throughout the day anticipation was building for the grand prize – the Reno-Tahoe ski trip as was evident by the Tweets coming in from all over. About three hours before the trivia was coming to a close, Peter’s friend Brian Shaler, who happened to be in New York, came over and hooked up a live feed. Then it really got interesting. I emailed a current snow update and they read it out loud within seconds talking about Reno-Tahoe and the grand prize. WOW!  Yes, I watched the live feed that had two guys on a couch, with computers, a cat and lots of cans on the table. At times I was wondering what I was doing, but I just couldn’t turn away.

As I watched this unfold I thought of two things. One, WOW! Reno-Tahoe received a lot of publicity value by just saying, “hey, we can help.” And two, the Reno-Tahoe ski package was promoted only using the power of social networking through Twitter and the trivia contest – maybe the first of its kind. The results have been numerous Tweets about the area, the answer to the grand prize question (Squaw Valley home of the 1960 Winter Olympics), trending at the top of the Twitter searches and blog after blog being written about the day’s events http://tinyurl.com/872c5u, http://tinyurl.com/8s4xuq, http://tinyurl.com/753hww). From a FlyRenoTahoe.com perspective, our web hits saw a spike and we were able to continue to promote the area as a top winter ski destination.

Yes, it’s great to be in the right place at the right time…it’s even better to act.

A BIG, HUGE thanks to Peter for all the effort that went into this. It was great to watch it unfold and to see the results first-hand. We feel honored to be among those that participated in this inaugural Twitter event.  And if you ever need a prize again, we’ll be there!

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