9 Steps To A Same Day Passport

Every once in awhile I experience something that I feel compelled to share even if it strays from the subject matter of my blog.  Especially when the information doesn’t quite exist.  That’s what happened to me last week when I realized late in the game that I had misplaced my passport 2 days before my trip to SES Toronto.  Oops.

I immediately turned to the web to see what my options were.  I learned that the birth certificate & drivers license wouldn’t get it done so I either had to find a way to get a replacement passport or no trip for me.  Surprisingly, it is possible to get a passport on the same day, but it requires jumping through quite a few hoops.  So here is my step by step process that you can take to get yourself a same day passport.  It’s not a guarantee, but if you take these steps, you have a good shot.

  1. First step is to find a passport agency that you can get to.  Without one of these you’re out of luck.  Visit this page to see where the nearest agency you can get to is.
  2. Once you have your agency identified, call 1-877-487-2778 to schedule an appointment ASAP.  Take the earliest appointment you can get, because then it’s more likely they will be able to get your passport created before they close.  Obviously if you have more then one day to work with, you have some flexibility here.  However if you need it that same day, your only shot is most likely an early morning appointment.  Be sure to write down your confirmation #.  You’ll need this when you arrive.
  3. Okay, here’s where I messed up a bit.  Save yourself the time and waiting longer in line by having whatever forms you need filled out and printed prior to arriving.  Depending on your situation, you may need to fill out a few forms.  You can access them here.  You can fill out online and print, or print and fill out by hand.  Regardless of your situation, you’ll need to fill out the DS-11 Application for a Passport.  I had lost mine so I had to also fill out the DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport.  You can get these forms at the office and fill out there, but you’ll lose valuable time.
  4. In addition to the forms, you will need to bring your state issued birth certificate, not a copy and it has to be issued by the state you were born in.  You’ll also need your drivers license.
  5. You’ll need 2 passport photos in hand at the office.  Honestly, the easiest thing to do here is to just go to a Walgreens, or some local drug store that does these.  It’s quick and easy, and you’ll ensure the proper requirements are met.  If you are ambitious, you can do this yourself by following these directions.
  6. You’ll need a check, money order or credit card on hand.  For same day passports expect a fee of around $195 (that’s what I paid).  It is quite a bit more then a normal process, but when you’re desperate, it’s not too bad.  Especially considering their are quite a few websites that are actually charging 3x this much for similar services.  DO NOT use these services unless you do not have access to a passport agency.  You’ll be paying way more then necessary, and will actually not be able to get your passport as quickly as you could.
  7. You need to print out your travel itinerary showing that you are traveling out of country soon.  This is important as without this, they will not expedite your passport as quickly as you need it.
  8. Try to get to the agency 15 minutes before your appointment.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  Be nice!  It sounds silly but the reality is the people behind the counter are pretty much the ones who can and will dictate whether they will accommodate you.  Seems crazy but it’s true.  Be nice, conversational, and you’ll have a good shot of getting what you need as long as you bring everything required.
  9. If they are able to accommodate your same day request, expect to either stick around all day, or come back to pick your passport up.  I checked in at 9am, and my passport was ready for me at 3pm.  Most of these offices will not let you use your cell phone or laptop there, so be prepared if you plan on waiting.

That’s it.  I successfully was able to get my passport on the same day using these steps.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I will respond.  And if anyone else has experienced something similar or different, would love to have you share.  Good luck!

SES Toronto & WebNation TV Appearance

Mental note…don’t wait till the last minute to pull out our passport when you’re going out of the country.  I learned that the hard way this morning when I had to scramble to get a new passport in 1 day to make my Toronto trip this Sunday to SES Toronto.  Surprisingly you can actually get a passport in one day if you have all your documentation.  Very expensive however.

So I’m off to give another Social Media On A Budget presentation at SES Toronto.  The first one in NY did well, so I was invited back for another go around.  It’s always great to get another shot at presenting something so you can tweak and improve.

In addition to the conference I was honored to be asked to be on a local television program called WebNation hosted by Amber Mac.  I’ll be discussing a handful of little known and useful social media tools and strategies in a segment that will be aired locally, as well as published online.  My first TV appearance, and I’m looking forward to the experience.

For anyone that is attending, be sure to let me know as I’m always looking to connect.  I’ll be live tweeting from the event, and sharing experiences here as always.

Is YouTube Part Of Your Social Media Strategy?

YouTube just turned 6 today and they released some staggering statisticsyoutube_tv by norcalblogs (source link):

  • -3 billion views per day (up 50% in the past 12 months)
  • -48 hours of video are uploaded every single minute (100% increase year over year)
  • -142.7 million unique viewers per month

So the question you have to ask yourself is, are you using YouTube as part of your overall marketing or blogging strategy?  Surprisingly most are not, present company included.

Don’t get me wrong, I think about it all the time.  For me, it’s a time thing.  I just don’t have enough time to create compelling video regularly.  At least not yet.  And I’m missing out on a HUGE opportunity by not doing so, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

The fact is, in addition to those staggering numbers, YouTube is also the 2nd largest search engine in the world. 

So if I had more time to work with what would I do?

  1. Post 1 video blog post bi-weekly instead of a traditional post.  In an ideal world, I’d be posting 2-3 times per week, and posting at least 1 video post every other week or so.  This would help populate my YouTube channel, and provide some variety to my blog content.
  2. Use YouTube as a community more.  I would take these great tips to heart and actually connect with other users more within YouTube to help build my blog audience and YouTube channel viewership.
  3. Utilize these fantastic tips on ensuring your YouTube videos are maximizing their reach.  It’s a decent amount of work to video blog so make sure you’re taking the time to ensure they are found easily.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had some “mild” YouTube success.  Such as the winning entry in the 2007 Microsoft Company Meeting Lip Sync Contest.

Click here for my other foolish videos on my YouTube Channel.

Using Social Media To Avoid The Fires

One of the biggest challenges in my new role at Strategies 360 is going fromfire_meaney2-150x150 developing social media strategies for B2B & B2C to less product/service focused clients.  Most of our clients fall under non-profit, education, energy, & cause based organizations.  Most of these firms are not selling a product or service, they are selling an idea or wanting to build awareness and support for their directives or initiatives.  Challenging, yet definitely fun.

Today I spoke with a client that had a fire alarm.  A very bad review surfaced on a major review site about one particular individual that is no longer with them.  The negativity around this situation had much more to do with the individual then the organization, however now on the front page of Google, this review appears when searching for this firm.

Obviously we are working with them to change this and it shouldn’t take much, but it goes to the heart of what I am pitching to our existing and future clients around the importance of implementing and executing on a social media strategy regardless of whether you actually sell a product or service…controlling your brand identity.

While this client has currently worked with us on a few standard social media practices they did not go with our full recommendation that involved creating a blog and an editorial calender/strategy to populate the web with their story.  If they had, they would have had months of great content about their organization that would dominate the search results for their brand, and this negative review would most likely not have cracked the top page of results.  Now we are forced to quickly push out more favorable content in hopes of making the negative review less prominent then it currently is.

Every company or organization needs to understand that a strong social media and communications strategy is not just about the short term benefits of building reach and influence.  It’s also about owning your brand/identity and avoiding the fires before they happen.  By telling your story and engaging with your audience, you will have that to fall back on when a crisis hits. 

One or a few bad reviews should never cripple a company or organization that traditionally does great work, but if you don’t tell the world that you do, then that is exactly what can happen.

Buy Some Social Media Today!

About a year ago, I remember reaching a crossroads for myself around whatsocialmediadouchebag career path I wanted to align myself with.  I had built up close to 12+ years of experience around digital marketing, but was really gravitating towards social media marketing.  I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time at Microsoft Advertising on the community team.  MA has established themselves as a leader in brands using social, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that team in the early stages as social media tools like Facebook and Twitter began to take off.

I had reservations around focusing my career primarily on social early on for the fear of the fad wearing off eventually.  But I eventually came to terms with the fact that I had fortune of being in the right place at the right time for a variety of experiences that allowed me to be looked at as a thought leader when it came to developing and executing social media strategies for businesses.  I never really considered myself to be that, but I felt fortunate that my career path said otherwise.

Today I feel great about the choices I have made, and it has become clear that social media as a business strategy isn’t going away anytime soon.  The combination of a growing connected world and tools to enable society to interact effortlessly has businesses clamoring to figure out how to properly integrate a social media strategy into their existing marketing plans.

Of course with all the tremendous opportunity also comes an army of self proclaimed social media “experts”, “gurus”, “ninjas”, “warlords” or whatever silly name you can think of.  And if you’re not…well, hell…just down a couple of these babies and you will be!

It’s an interesting dynamic, because you have platforms that are so incredibly enabling.  Anyone with an internet connection can easily build sizeable networks, launch a blog or make a video.  And they have.  Thousands of people are jumping on the social bandwagon and touting themselves as experts in the field. Don’t believe me?  Do a search on the term “social media douchebags”.  It’s become its own epidemic.

Let’s be honest.  Nobody is a social media expert, present company included.  There are plenty of extremely talented individuals out there that can lay down a solid social media strategy that delivers real business results, but I guarantee you those folks are not the ones referring to themselves as experts.

So how do you sift through the pretenders when trying to find a consultant?  I would start with these tips:

  1. Avoid The Car Salesman – If it feels too salesy, look the other way.  The best social media strategists and marketers don’t have to toot their own horn.  They’ve established themselves through well written blogs with sizeable followings, or strong portfolios demonstrating case studies of real business results.
  2. Find Real Experience – One great way to ensure you’re getting the real deal is to find those that have or had social media experience at well known brands or companies.  It’s not a guarantee, but it’s much more likely these folks will have had access to better tools and resources, and can point to specific wins around their social media efforts.
  3. Measurable Results – The biggest gap between the real deals and the pretenders can be found in the numbers.  Those that can really deliver on the social front are those that know how to measure the right results for any particular client, and what tools/resources to use to get the job done.  It’s not just about how many likes or followers you have.
  4. Broader Experience – Here’s a great measuring stick, do they have a broader scope of experience beyond social?  Most of the pretenders just jumped on the social media bandwagon and got their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts going early on.  See through it by understanding if they have a deeper knowledge that spans across multiple channels and expertise.
  5. Go With Your Gut – In all honesty, after doing your due diligence, just ask yourself if it feels right.  Take the time to consider a few different options, and research them.  The right and qualified person will become clear.

What has your experience been?  Leave me a comment as I’d love to hear.

Triberr: How I Increased My Reach To Over 300,000 (And Growing)

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a very interesting tool called Triberr.  Simply
put, Triberr is a way for you to retweet other bloggers posts that you know and trust, and have them potentially do the same for you as well.  You join and/or create “tribes” of those in your network that you feel comfortable associating with, and through those established connections, build a network of individuals that mutually share each other’s content.

At first it may come off as spammy, and that was my first reaction.  But after digging in a bit, I realized that what founders Dan Cristo and Dino Dogan have created is actually a very interesting and useful tool to increase your reach authentically.  While I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with having some of my tweets automated at first, it was quickly negated by the fact that you can dictate who you associate yourself with.  They’ve also added tools that allow you to monitor what is queued to publish giving you the option of deleting it before it hits your stream.

I’m always looking for great content to share on Twitter, so this tool is a win win for me as it supplements my manual content strategy, and also increases exposure to the content I create on my blog in a relevant way.  Triberr is by invite only, but once you can get your hands on one, you have full access to the system.  Initially you are placed in your invited tribe, and then get 3 of your own to manage yourself and each tribe can have up to 7 members in them.  For a full breakdown of how things work, check out a great video they have posted here, and their full FAQ.

If after checking out Triberr you’re interested in an invite, let me know as I have plenty to boot with some strong tribes already in play.  Just send a tweet or email my way and I will send you an invite code.