A Valentine’s Day Wish From Birdie & Me

You know how, when the holidays start to come around, you start to get completely stressed about getting your holiday cards out? Sometimes, so much so that they don’t go out at all?!

That happened to me several years ago. 

Happy New Year in 2014

But I really really wanted to send a greeting out, so we ended up sending out a New Year’s e-card.

It featured “Sonja” (a cartoon version of me), “Birdie” (that you see in the SBC branding) and imagery/language that captured my dominant theme for that year.

Which people LOVED, b/c they were so over the holidays (LOL!). So I started doing this every year.

This past year, what with a ton of work + personal stuff going on, not even the NY card got sent out.

But I really really wanted to send a greeting out… so this year, we decided to instead do a Valentine’s

Valentine's Day e-card from Shonali and the Birdie
Shonali Burke
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Inspiration Amid Holiday Insanity

If all has gone to plan, I am literally about 30K feet above you right now. Because today I’m flying home for the holidays.  And I’m looking forward to it despite the borderline insanity I’m likely to experience. I mean, there’s a reason holiday movies put “family drama” at the core of their plots… You see, it’s my high school’s 30th (gulp) reunion. Here’s a pic from the 25th (faces have been blurred to protect the innocent): inspiration Btw, if you’re past the 5-year reunion mark, have you noticed how the guys tend to generally be balding, paunchy and approaching decrepitude, while the women literally look the same, if not better, than when they were in high school? :p  The cool thing about reunions, though, is collectively celebrating what your classmates have done with their lives… so far.
Just in my graduating class alone, we have captains of industry,
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Thanksgiving Memories and Gratitude

thanksgivingWould you believe up until some years ago, I didn’t have any Thanksgiving memories? You see, I’d never celebrated Thanksgiving before I moved to the US.  After all, I didn’t grow up with it.  But since then, it’s become one of my favorite holidays, and I’ve celebrated it all sorts of ways. Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving memories: There was my first Thanksgiving ever (we were still in California), when my husband cooked the entire spread for his brother and family who were visiting, including a tofurkey for his vegan niece. There was the time we spent it in NYC and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in the freezing rain (brr!!). There was the time we decided, on the spur of the moment, to spend it in Jamaica, which was AWESOME. There was the time we spent it in India, with roast
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Permission to Be Human

humanWhich moments in time are forever etched in your mind?  Can you recall exactly where you were, what you were wearing, how you felt, how it changed your life in perhaps some infinitesimal but incredibly impactful way? Here are some of mine: 1. The day Princess Di died (she was buried two decades ago yesterday). I was at a play rehearsal, a pall of gloom over us all. How could such an incredible spirit that touched SO many people all over the world be gone?? I don’t know about you, but I was in love with Princess Di. Made a scrapbook of the Royal Wedding and all. An older, wiser Shonali knows she was not exactly Goldilocks, but look at the power of connection she had. It was almost magical. 2. 9/11. Watching the AM news before heading into work (SF), befuddled that a plane could accidentally crash into the
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Why I’m Grateful to My Grandma on Father’s Day

This is a pic of my dad & me when I was just a young ‘un, circa She’s Still Sucking Her Thumb: Shonali being held by dad as a baby
I’m the eldest in my family, born when my dad was just 23. That boggles my mind. Most people aren’t even “adulting” at 23, but my dad was … well, a dad!
Today isn’t just an opportunity to think about – and thank – my dad, though. Were my grandma (mom’s mom) still alive, it would also be her birthday.
And in a way, it’s thanks to my grandma that my dad became my dad. You see, back in the day, my mom and dad had a bit of a dramatic turn in their courtship. All was said and done w.r.t. their wedding … at least, so they thought. But while visiting with my mom’s parents to discuss the wedding arrangements, my paternal grandma suddenly announced
pic from Shonali's parents' wedding reception
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Why the future of corporate marketing may hang on the personal brand

Guest post by Mark W. Schaefer (@markwschaefer) I hate the term “personal branding.” And yet, personal branding may be the salvation of corporate marketing. Allow me to explain today why both statements are true! For the past few years I’ve been immersed in the world of personal branding as I wrote my new book KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age. I started the process by exploring what the experts thought it meant to build a brand — and what I found was pretty disappointing. I found a lot of hype like:
  • “If you can dream it, you can be it.”
  • “Find your passion, find your life.”
  • “Nothing is more important than hustle.”
In other words, there’s a lot of fluff out there, which is why I had always detested the word “personal branding.” It’s
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This Is What My “I F’d Up” Face Looks Like

Shonali's F'd up faceThis is my “AARGH I F’D UP PLEASE FORGIVE ME” face. Which you would have seen on Facebook on Friday, if you’re a part of my “Social PR Posse” group. Because I’d inadvertently sent an email to some of my peeps that should have gone to some OTHER of my peeps, and I was totally TOTALLY freaking out. Because ZOMG HOW COULD I MAKE THIS MISTAKE???!!! As it turns out: quite easily. Because contrary to my greatest expectations, turns out I’m human. Fortunately for me, many of my peeps reminded me of this. I quote Shonna:
“You are clearly a strong bad-ass accomplished woman. So, you are human? Ok. You’ve made a well deserved name for yourself. Snafu totally accepted!”
(Shonna, I can’t TELL you how kind and awesome you are. xoxoxo) Three days later I’m STILL beating myself up over it, because that’s what I do. But I’m trying
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17 Lessons I’ve Learned in the 17 Years Since I Came to America

Shonali Burke circa 2000Swiping through Facebook this morning, I realized that today marked a unique anniversary for me: 17 years ago today, I landed in the United States for the very first time, knowing that I was stepping into a whole new life. (That’s me in 2000, with the Pacific Ocean – over which I’d flown – behind me.) I reflected on this a couple of years ago, sharing 15 things I’d learned in the (then) 15 years since arriving here. I’m re-sharing them, as they are as relevant today, adding two more as a nod to the two additional years since then. Straight off the boat … or ‘plane My husband likes to say I arrived in the U.S. with nothing more than the clothes on my back and a dream in my heart. There’s some good old “Burke embellishment” (as they say in his family) for you!
I had a little more than that:
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In 2017, Look to the Rainbow

“2016, did the door hit you on the way out?” A lot has been said, and written, and commented on, about what a crap year 2016 was, and how relieved people would be to say “buh-bye” to it (including me). About all that was lost, people who passed away, political events that may or may not have gone in our favor (depending on our point of view)… and so on and so forth. But let’s face it; every year has its share of ups and downs. And when we have some perspective, and are looking back at 2016 decades (or even mere years) from now, we may have a slightly less visceral reaction to it. I do think 2016 was a bit different in the frequency of unusual events we experienced, with outcomes many of us didn’t expect (even those who ended up being pleased with them). But ultimately, the only way we’ll progress is
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A Basset Kind of Holiday

Last week I talked to you about doing something a little more practical than simply coming up with your “three words” et al. Several of you wrote in, telling me what a chord it touched in you. Thank you so much for that. I truly appreciate the time you took to reply. I’m heading out for the holidays, but before I go, I have two gifts for you. The basset kind… Gift #1 If you’re into influencer marketing and want to brush up during the holidays, check out the Academy of Influencer Marketing I created for and with Traackr. The first, introductory course has always been free. Right now, you can ALSO take the second course, which is on the confluence of content + influencer marketing, completely free using the code WINTERSHONALI. So if it is an area of interest for you, I hope you will take this opportunity
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Wishing You Turkey, Treats and Togetherness

Cartoon Shonali and the Birdie send you Thanksgiving wishes of calm and peace We’re going to take a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I hope you will too. This year has gone by so fast, and so much has happened … we need a bit of down time, don’t you think? Thank you for being a part of my world. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, full of (tasty) turkey (or tofurkey), treats and, most of all, togetherness with those you love. Happy Thanksgiving!

Author information

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso™, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't
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Walking the Content Road Less Traveled

road less traveledHey, Content Strategist! Ready to make some magic by walking the content road less traveled? Yes, you. I’m talking to you. What if, instead of doing what every single content marketing guru told you to do (“Do more!” “Be everywhere!” “Jump on the bandwagon!”), you bucked the trend? What if, instead of being on the most appealing platform du jour (podcasts, anyone? Also, WHY?), you instead focused on a platform that let you express yourself the best way you knew how? Even if you hadn’t been super-active on it to date (or EVER) … and didn’t have the massive network you have elsewhere… and were pretty sure your initial posts might not engender a groundswell of reaction? But – and this is important – it gave you your voice in a way none of the other platforms did… and helped you show just a little bit more
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Shonali Burke
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When Content Gets Personal

Suzy Quinella Burke, 2001-2016. The reason my content is personal.What do you do when content gets personal, so personal, that you can’t see any other way forward? Our editorial theme this month is content (though we’ll also have posts on measurement, seeing as how that was last month’s theme, and last month was a wash). Normally I don’t have trouble coming up with content. But this week, I do, because none of the content I want to produce is particularly professional in nature. You see, Suzy Q. died on Monday. It wasn’t that we didn’t know the end was near; after having its butt kicked (by her) for two years, her cancer came back with a vengeance. The “two to three months” we were told we’d have with her collapsed under the weight of her mushrooming melanomas – all over her body, it felt like 4-5 new ones every day – into two weeks. So this Monday, we said “goodbye”
The Burkes with Suzy and Lola
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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Labor Day

bitmoji of Shonali saying namasteI know what you’re thinking. Labor Day was a month ago. So why am I bringing it up now, when Fall is well and truly Falling, and you can’t get to the pet section in Costco without tripping over the Thanksgiving stuff?

A funny thing happened on the way to Labor Day

Well, the last time we published a post on WUL, Labor Day was around the corner. We were heading into AMEC Measurement Month (September), and I was ruminating on measuring what really matters. And then I told you we’d take a break for Labor Day, and to focus on what really matters, to be back the following week. Isn’t it funny how Life lets you know you’re not really in control… of ANYthing?! Just around that time, my mom’s health started failing. And by the time Labor Day came around, she’d been admitted to hospital, and was lying
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How Social PR Pros Can Measure What Really Matters

As AMEC kicks off Measurement Month (yesterday), and as we kick off the Labor Day weekend here in the U.S., I’ve been thinking about how much time and energy Social PR pros spend in trying to measure what really matters (or say we spend). But do we, really? 

Measuring what does (or may) not matter

My Social PR Posse and I had a good laugh the other day when Alex Brown poured his heart out to us. screen grab of Alex Brown typo update First, to clarify: we laughed WITH Alex, not AT him. Because we’re not horrible people. Second, we know all too well the terror of making a single typo in ONE email, let alone 10,000.
After all, the world of PR is filled with the Grammar Police, the Do’s and Don’ts Squad, the Oxford Comma Patrol … we love to tell people what to do! So, of course, when we make the
screen grab of Scott Kaminski PR mistake
screen grab of Emily Mukalazi PR mistake
screen grab of Heidi Cannella PR fear
screen grab of Michele Foerst email mistaked
screen grab of the PR fear of leaving L out of public
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Shonali Burke
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How Social PR Pros Can Measure What Really Matters

As AMEC kicks off Measurement Month (yesterday), and as we kick off the Labor Day weekend here in the U.S., I’ve been thinking about how much time and energy Social PR pros spend in trying to measure what really matters (or say we spend). But do we, really? 

Measuring what does (or may) not matter

My Social PR Posse and I had a good laugh the other day when Alex Brown poured his heart out to us. screen grab of Alex Brown typo update First, to clarify: we laughed WITH Alex, not AT him. Because we’re not horrible people. Second, we know all too well the terror of making a single typo in ONE email, let alone 10,000.
After all, the world of PR is filled with the Grammar Police, the Do’s and Don’ts Squad, the Oxford Comma Patrol … we love to tell people what to do! So, of course, when we make the
screen grab of Scott Kaminski PR mistake
screen grab of Emily Mukalazi PR mistake
screen grab of Heidi Cannella PR fear
screen grab of Michele Foerst email mistaked
screen grab of the PR fear of leaving L out of public
?
Shonali Burke
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Possibly the Most Important Metric of All: Your Gut

important metricReader alert: there is no sugar-coating in today’s post. It’s pretty raw, because that’s how I am right now. So if you read on – which I hope you do – please keep that in mind. Thank you.  You’re reading this post on the day Donald Trump announced his VP pick… on Twitter. Two days after Boris Johnson came back from Brexit purgatory as the UK’s new Foreign Minister. And after news ad nauseam about senseless deaths, and terrorist attacks, and violence, that I simply cannot fathom. This is not a political blog, so just FYI, if I see comments that cross the line (read the blog guidelines if you haven’t already), I will delete them. I am completely maddened by the world we’re currently living in. You couldn’t make this shit up… oh wait, someone already did. Ten years ago. So that’s on the macro level. On a
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50,000 Thoughts, and Blogging Ain’t One of ‘Em

graphic of 50,000 thoughts in the brainI’ve been traveling all week in Athens, Ohio. Dan Farkas set the wheels in motion for me to be a 2016 Sloan Speaker at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in this extremely beautiful college town… the first time I’ve done something like this. I’m almost at the end of my week-long “assignment, and my mind is racing. I’ve met some really incredible people this week; faculty, students, and just regular Athenians (I’m guessing that’s what you call ’em?). They’re hard-working, really friendly and hospitable. It’s been action-packed; I got here last Sunday and have taught a total of 13 classes (plus spoken at a PRSSA meeting) – so to say I’m tired is an understatement. As this hits your inbox (or reader), I will be catching up on work and then getting ready to head home via Columbus. I’m catching up with Kate Finley and
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#WonderWomen: Three Ways to Reclaim Ourselves

Reclaiming WomenIf you interact with me on social platforms – online or IRL – you probably know that I love traveling; both for pleasure, as well as for work. In fact, my long-term goal is to be able to teach and train all over the world; I’m one of those people with one foot in the U.S. and one everywhere else. That’s the reason I spent a month abroad last summer; I spent three weeks in India, doing speaking and training gigs, and then another week doing the same in the U.K. In fact, I’m really focusing on building up the educational and training side of my business. It’s what I love to do; it’s why I created and launched The Social PR Virtuoso™ (more cool stuff coming soon!); and it’s where my business is heading. So as 2016 has set in, I regularly work on setting
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