Why You Should Skip the Selfie During Your Next Museum Trip

Image source: Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The Color Factory, 29Rooms, Museum of Ice Cream. What do all three of these places have in common? Millennials love them. Pop-up museums are the newest Instagram-worthy trend targeting selfie-loving millennials. Who wouldn’t want to take a picture in a giant yellow ball pit or try sweet treats from famous ice cream shops around the U.S.?

These multi-sensory exhibits showcase a different side of art: accessibility. No longer do you have to take an Instagram photo from behind a velvet rope without the flash on. These pop-up museums actually encourage you to physically interact with exhibits and take photos. Drawing on walls with giant markers, playing in rooms with snow-like confetti sprinkling from the ceiling, and diving into a giant pool of sprinkles allows people to experience art in unique ways.

But if you’re hiding behind a small screen and taking photos or boomerangs, are you enjoying the full experience? Or a better question, will you remember the details of the delicious taste of the ice cream or the the colors of the flowers dangling from above? Unfortunately, probably not. Research shows that if you’re taking a picture, you’re focused on the act of taking a picture, not the action happening around it.

This “photo-taking impairment effect” was studied at an art museum. Students were broken into separate groups, one group taking photos of objects and the others just observing. Back in the lab, very few students who took photos could remember important details about the objects, compared to those who simply observed.

Why is this? The researcher believed that the students who used cameras were impaired, because they subconsciously counted on the camera to remember the nitty gritty details. The researcher also cautioned against thinking of photos as memories. Although the photo will remain the same, your will memories change over time. Thanks, brain!

Does this mean you should stop taking photos? Of course not. Just remember that it’s about more than getting the perfect photo for social. Maybe try putting down your phone or limiting yourself to a few photos per visit.

Minimizing Your Public Speaking Anxiety: 4 Top Tips I’ve Learned from Toastmasters


In the world of PR, public speaking is critical for success. You must be able to speak eloquently and professionally with your coworkers, clients, journalists and other professionals in the industry. But the reality for most of us is that public speaking is terrifying. In fact, the fear of public speaking (glossophobia) is the No. 1 ranked phobia above fear of death (necrophobia) and fear of spiders (arachnophobia). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, glossophobia affects nearly 75 percent of individuals. However, overcoming this fear and minimizing the anxiety of public speaking is achievable, no matter your age or what stage you are in your career. 

Earlier this year I had the privilege of joining a Bay Area Toastmasters group, and it has been a beyond-amazing experience. Toastmasters is a group of local professionals who get together on a weekly basis to practice and build their public speaking skills. Through a sense of camaraderie, practice and feedback, we are on a mission to feel confident and comfortable when faced with the challenge – or really, opportunity – to speak in front of an audience.

Initially, joining the Toastmasters group was a bit intimidating. But after a few meetings, I realized this was a great selection of undeniably supportive individuals that were going to help me succeed. I’ve been going to Toastmasters for almost six months now, and looking back I’ve realized that the experience has taught me more than this post can fit. But in an effort to share some of the best takeaways, here are a few of my top tips:

Start with a structured storyline: Whether you’re writing a pitch, press release or even just an email to a client, everything should have a structured storyline: intro – body – conclusion. Being able to speak or write with a framework in mind will keep your audience engaged and allow them to effectively follow your key messages

Keep it short and sweet and you’ll succeed: If you know anything about PR, you know it’s a fast-paced industry. Your time is precious and so is everybody else’s!  So stay organized and concise. In Toastmasters, the longest speech is a maximum of 8-10 minutes, with most between 5-6 minutes. When speaking with somebody on the phone or in-person—whether it’s a client call, pitching a journalist or talking to a coworker—be mindful of their time and get to your key points quickly. They will appreciate your consideration and you’ll free up time to get back to what’s at hand.

Like, minimize your.. um.. filler words: Let’s face it, we all use the common “like” or “um” on occasion, but try to minimize the frequency of them as much as possible. At every Toastmasters meeting, we have an assigned grammarian, whose role is to monitor and count each person’s use of filler words (e.g. like, um, but, so, etc.) And trust me, the people you’re talking to will notice them much more than you notice yourself. The next time you’re talking to a friend or coworker, pay extra attention to your use of “likes” or “ums.” By cutting these filler words out of your speech, you’ll appear much more professional in any setting.  

Own your mistakes – you’re only human: Our Toastmasters group is made up of everyday business professionals. Nobody is an award-winning public speaker or is there to criticize your every word. This made me realize that everybody makes mistakes, in Toastmasters and in life in general. Everybody stutters, pauses and says the wrong word on occasion, whether it’s you, your boss, a journalist or your client. So don’t get hung up on your mistakes, because your audience has most likely made them too. Just own them and move on.

All in all, I’m incredibly happy with my decision to join Toastmasters. Not only does it help you improve your skills and confidence in public speaking, but it also offers some great key takeaways that can be applied to any personal or professional situation—especially PR. Ready to take your public speaking to the next level? Use the “Find a Club” feature on the Toastmaster’s website to find a club near you.

Written by Celina Poonamallee, an Account Executive in San Francisco.


Inside the Hogwarts Incubator

Here at Highwire we spend a lot of time talking about entrepreneurship and chasing the hype on the tech industry’s latest hot startups. Our clients expect fresh ideas from us and we spend a lot of time brainstorming on both a planned and ad-hoc basis.Hogwarts-castle-harry-potter-166431

A successful brainstorm requires focus, but sometimes the best ideas come from letting your brain off-leash for a while (hey, reporters on Twitter talk about their clever Slack chats with colleagues…why can’t we?).

Stemming from a conversation about startups’ propensity for picking the most vowel-deficient names possible, we thought: What if Hogwarts Academy was actually a startup incubator—a Hog Combinator of sorts? What kinds of companies could we expect to see?

Look no further. We give you the Hogwarts Incubator! (Note: best read while listening to this.)

Weez.ly: A smart app for asthmatics. Ten percent of each app purchase goes to an organization that advocates for air pollution control.

Siri-US: A next-generation digital black box for use in transportation systems. Pitch: “Every time a transportation disaster happens, rescue teams spend weeks digging for the black box. Our next-generation private cloud ‘black box’ allows officials to begin conducting an investigation immediately so they can get to the root of the problem faster.” Our logo is just a black box.

black-box-you-quantifiableMugg.ly: The first-ever canine facial recognition software. Foolishly backed by Carmelo Anthony’s VC firm.

Lum.os: An operating system for smart lighting technology with built in biometric detection systems.

VoldemoRT: A bot platform that automatically RT’s haters of your brand, enabling you to embrace irony and attract savvy hipster millennial customers.

Hufflepuffs: A venture-backed gourmet cream puff chain. Guy Fieri sits on the Board.

Patron.us: A reverse CRM play that lets customers get big data about the businesses they frequent. Run up by CEO Edward Snowden.

Storage Hat: A sorting hat for storage. NEXT.

HaGRID: A “smart grid” solution for homes that exist entirely off the grid. Sensors monitor the amount of solar/wind energy which has been generated, battery back-up systems, water levels in your cisterns, even pH levels in your compost pile.

Mal-foyl: A next-generation proprietary “malware foiling” technology

Expecto-Patronum: An on-demand Tequila delivery service that partners with Pitbull for one-off marketing promotions. No wand required.


9 ¾: A platform that leverages disused freight rail cars and rents space in them to modern mobile-enabled persons of nomadic disposure. Essentially, it’s Uber for rail-riding techie hobos.

QuidDITCH: A personal finance/automated savings app based out of the UK, in London’s trendy Shoreditch neighborhood.

Snaype: A critically misunderstood consumer social app that somehow raises over 5 billion dollars in funding, forcing tech journalists to think “What comes after ‘decacorn’?”  Despite global popularity that turns “snip” into a verb, CEO Dick Costolo gets massive heat from investors along the ride, but saves the company from peril at the 23rd hour, finally bringing him Silicon Valley vindication. Also, Dick Costolo starts wearing all black.

Written by Pete Johnson, Margaret Farrell and Bill Bode, account directors/managers in San Francisco, who all know way too much about Harry Potter