Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories” Reminds Us that Inside Every ‘Impossible’ is ‘I’m Possible’

IMG_1246IMG_1225IMG_1229                   This month, Chicago Ideas hosted their fifth annual Chicago Ideas Week. From flying lessons to a behind-the-scenes look at Chipotle , the event pulled out all the stops to cultivate innovation in the Windy City. Our Chicago team attended “Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories,” which featured conversations with some of the most successful women in the country.First up was designer Cynthia Rowley who, like a true Chicago-native, arrived on stage in a custom Cubs jersey. Rowley is a great storyteller who, frankly, doesn’t give a crap about what other people think. For example, when someone told her she couldn’t design wetsuits, Rowley immediately decided she “was definitely gonna do it.” Rowley embodies her message for budding entrepreneurs: fearless optimism.To foster that sense of fearless optimism in her company, Rowley started an internal incubator fund for employees to start their own ventures. Rowley is so dedicated to entrepreneurship that she’s willing to risk her own talented workers to nurture innovation in the fashion world.

Next up was Martine Rothblatt, the creator of Sirius XM Radio and the founder and CEO of United Therapeutics. She is also transgender and the highest-paid female executive in the United States. She lives by four commandments: be curious, question authority, act lovingly and practice practicality. It was these commandments that guided Rothblatt when her daughter Jenesis was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at only seven years old. Rothblatt dived into the life science sector with no prior experience, founded a biotech firm, United Therapeutics, and discovered a cure that saved her daughter and countless others. Martine Rothblatt is the type of person who makes impossible things seem possible (she emphasized that the word ‘impossible’ includes the phrase ‘I’m Possible’). Currently, Rothblatt has her sights set on manufactured organs and uploading human minds to computers. If anyone can pull that off, it’s going to be Martine Rothblatt.

Last but not least was domestic goddess Martha Stewart. Before Stewart flew to Chicago to speak at Chicago Ideas Week, she picked fresh apples out of her garden and made the “most lovely” pink applesauce (naturally). The epitome of practice what you preach, Stewart became her own most loyal customer in her quest to make beautiful things accessible to everyone. By learning and teaching each day, Stewart built a domestic empire and an extremely successful career.Though Stewart’s brand is based on the simple things in life, she’s embracing technology in work and life. Obsessed with Twitter, Stewart joked that her number of followers could “rival that of Jesus.”

The key takeaways from “Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories” are quite simple: be fearlessly optimistic, act lovingly and make the world more beautiful. These principles may seem elementary, but living by them led the above visionaries to huge success. The future entrepreneurs in the audience, our Chicago team members included, couldn’t help but be inspired.When it comes to producing startups, Chicago is somewhat of an underdog. Events like Chicago Ideas Week bring together the city’s brightest and most ambitious young people to work towards a common goal: enrich the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.Don’t forget to connect with us on social @HighwirePR and catch up with @chicagoideas speakers @Cynthia_Rowley, @KayKoplovitz, @marthastewart, @LBDesmond, @shr4dha and @bradkeywell for even more inspiration.


Written by Brenna Hogan, an intern in Highwire PR’s Chicago office.

How to Set Yourself Up for Success and Rock Your Reddit AMA

Reddit is a great tool for engaging with a community. With over 195 million users, Reddit provides a platform for users to engage and interact with their community in real time. My favorite Reddit feature? The AMA (subreddit r/IAmA)—especially as part of a PR campaign.

Highwire client OWASP recently hosted an AMA to answer questions about application security and to raise awareness for their conference AppSec USA.

Reddit AMAs can position your company as a passionate industry leader and provide an honest, valuable connection with an engaged audience—whether you are gearing up for a product or company launch, or even an industry event. And you don’t have to be President Obama or Amy Poehler for it to be successful. Redditors host a variety of AMAs ranging from competitive Pokemon players to Six Flags ride operators.

So, how do you determine if a Reddit AMA is a worthy component for your next PR campaign? Here are some things to consider:

Think before you act. Why do you want to host an AMA? This channel isn’t about raising awarCKYlZqYUsAAPo-deness of a brand or product, and redditors don’t care about the new features to your CRM platform. But if you want to elevate a company’s thought leadership and executive voice—and your executive is willing to share his or her thoughts on a hot topic or industry trend without bringing up their brand—your head is in the right place. Research is an important part of this step as well, so you’ll also want to familiarize yourself with Reddit as a platform. Spend time looking at past AMAs to learn what items typically get more “upvotes” than others, or where Redditors tend to lose interest or resort to the site’s characteristic snarkiness. It’s important to understand the language your audience uses and what topics they care most about.

Develop a plan.  Planning for an AMA takes longer than you might think. When developing the plan, outline each step on a detailed timeline that the spokesperson can follow, as there are several things they need to do that you can’t. Your plan should include:

  • – Detailed instructions on how to submit to Reddit’s AMA Calendar (submissions must come directly from spokesperson’s Reddit handle)
  • – How to submit spokesperson proof—proof is a way to verify that your spokesperson is actually who they say they are. An easy way to do this is to have your spokesperson take a picture of themselves holding a piece of paper with their Reddit username, then have them post it to Twitter. See Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston’s proof here.
  • – Promotion timeline with pre-drafted content for social channels
  • – Detailed instructions on how to submit and begin the live AMA

Promote it. Tweet your heart out. Start Twitter promotion and engagement a month in advance wCKYbqykUAAAxqICith a unique hashtag that you know will map back to only your own content (#owaspAMA is what we used for our OWASP AMA). Once the AMA post is live, start driving attention by sharing the direct link to the AMA on social channels. Another way to interact with an even larger audience is to live tweet the top questions and engage with those mentioning your AMA with the hashtag. You can also send “Save the Date” email invitations to encourage attendance. Including an “Add to my calendar” button/link in the email can be helpful to drive attendance.

Extend its life. You hosted an AMA —now what? Depending on its content, you could consider turning the information that was uncovered through the signature Q&A format into a bylined article. However, it can be hard to place repurposed content that’s already been published to social channels, so a better option would be a LinkedIn Pulse post authored by your spokesperson highlighting the top questions and providing more in-depth answers. Recognize the overarching problems Reddit users asked questions about and tie them to larger industry trends. Focus on what items your respected industry colleagues should pay attention to, and what’s troubling users—again without mentioning your brand or product. Use this as an opportunity to provide deeper perspective on trending issues, and keep the AMA alive!

Prepared now? Ready. Set. Reddit!