The concept of a social media war room is simple: You get 10 to 20 of your friends, arm them with laptops, and have them blast your message to as many Internet and media influencers as possible: the twitterati, the blogerati and the linkerati.

Adam Tratt.

The Seattle startup Giant Thinkwell used social media war room tactics to promote their "Mix-and-Match" facebook game, featuring rap legend Sir Mix-A-Lot to great success. In fact, with just a day and some 20 people, they managed to get 9% of all twitter to receive at least one tweet or message about Sir Mix-A-Lot and his game. Not only that, but they managed to increase the number of likes on Mix-A-Lot's fan page from 1,200 likes to over 21,000 likes in one day.

Since eVenues provides a marketplace for event and meeting spaces, we're always looking for stories about new ways to conduct exceptional meetings, and Giant Thinkwell's war is a remarkable example. We sat down with CEO Adam Tratt to learn just what a exactly is a social media war room and got some pointers on how to organize a war room of your own.

Identify your media targets and prepare outreach materials in advance

The most important thing for Thinkwell was to identify their media targets. They segmented media into 5 categories: "local," "tech," "gamer," "music," and "business." They identified journalists and bloggers in those categories who they thought would be interested in the story based on other things they had written.

Says Tratt: "We were looking for scale and so it was journalists and bloggers who would give us that scale." Identifying those individuals, knowing how to find them, knowing where to find them and doing what they could to build a relationship with them in advance was of utmost importance.

Obviously, contacting just a few journalists wasn't enough. As far as media outreach is concerned, "It's more impactful if you're everywhere for one day, than if you're everywhere over the course of a month," says Tratt.

Being everywhere for one day, however, takes manpower. That's where the social media war room came in to. While it takes enough time to contact the top ten gamer blogs. In order to generate some serious buzz, they needed to contact the top 200. You need enough people to man the listening and communications posts. You need to provide them with the right type of ammunition--the right messaging.

"We prepared the materials," says Tratt, "so that if you walked in cold, just as a friend of the company and said, 'put me to work' we could say: 'Here's the release. Here's the messaging. Go tell the story.'"

Here's some sample messaging material (Used for Giant Thinkwell's "Baby Gaga" game launch):

Find Creative Ways to Reach Top Influencers

"If you're a journalist you get thousands of voicemails a day from people that want to pitch you a story, so you have to break through" says Tratt.

In order to cut through the noise and reach that top tier of media influencer they made customized video messages using Sir Mix-A-Lot. Here's an example of a video they used to reach out to Joel Johnson of Kotaku:

This creative shoutout got them a mention here:

"I know it helps when you've got a Grammy winning rap icon in your corner," says Tratt, "but there are lots of things we could have done without him that may have made a dent." It's all about being creative.

Prepare the War Room

Last but not least, a war room would be nothing without the proper space. Tratt admits that they had a bit of a meltdown in the first part of the day because the room they had chosen only had a single router. They eventually had to move up to a conference room which, although it did have enough bandwidth, was a bit cramped. If he were to do a war room all over again, Tratt says he'd have "a large, open space" with lots of bandwith and as many phone lines as possible. After all, 20 people on laptops streaming audio and video is going to take a little more oomph than a regular day at the office.


As a launch effort, the social media war room was a success. The facebook game featuring Sir-Mix-Lot wasn't. The lesson learned from this was that although the outreach effort was outstanding, people weren't interested in playing the game. This only underscores the fact that even having a brilliant campaign like the social media war room won't necessarily guarantee that people will use your product. If you don't have the buzz, however, you'll never know if your product failed because the product itself wasn't good enough, or not enough people heard about it.

As you can see social media and technology doesn't replace face-to-face meetings, but rather augments them. That's what we thought, however, until we talked to Adam Loving, a developer at BigDoor, the gamification company. Adam has developed a web tool that may replace the social media war room altogether. Stay tuned for the article next week where we talk with Loving about his web tool and see about ways in which his tool does and does not replicate the social media war room dynamics.

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Ottoman Coffee House

An Ottoman Coffee House

Throughout history, coffee houses have served as meeting places for the world's politicians, poets, authors and intellectuals. The first recorded political gatherings at coffee houses occurred in Mecca. At the time, Muslim beliefs described coffee as a " /> Coffee shops have been grabbing our attention as of late. We always hear good things from our customers about the Kiln Room, a boardroom adjacent to the The Woods Coffee shop. The atmosphere is casual and inviting, the wifi bandwith plentiful and the coffee, of course, keeps flowing. It's only a theory, but we think that coffee shops like the Woods are successful so successful on our site is because, ever since the first coffee houses sprung up in the Middle East, coffee has always been associated not only with meetings, but the exchange and flowering of new ideas. We did a little research on the topic, and thought we'd share a bit of the coffeehouse's rich history with you.

Holy Drink/Devil's Drink

Since Islam expressly prohibits the consumption of alcohol, it only seemed natural that instead of taverns and wine-sinks coffeehouses became the gathering places of choice in the Middle East. Indeed, coffee became so beloved in the Islamic world that Sufis often praised its stimulating effects for keeping one alert during long prayer recitations. There's even a story from Persia (Not in the Koran) that says Muhammad was first served the drink--a potion as "black as the black stone in Mecca"--by the angel Gabriel when he was feeling ill.

Murad IV Murad IV. Better Stick to Decaf.

It was only when coffeehouses started to spring up that religious authorities began to regard it as a "sinful drink," a drink that loosened the tongue and made one prone to spouting lies and gossip. But the change in attitude toward the beverage probably had nothing to do with the beverage itself. It probably had a lot more to do with the caffeinated discussions about new and potentially subversive ideas that made political and religious leaders nervous. In the Ottoman Empire one sultan, Murad IV, even went so far as to make coffee consumption a capital offense. One of his hobbies was to dress up as a commoner, walk the streets with a giant broadsword and behead anyone he saw drinking it. By the 17th century, though, Persian coffee houses gained popularity as places to discuss politics without fear. While the effects of coffee stimulated vigorous discussions of governmental activities, its soothing warmth and aroma created a relaxed atmosphere to play games, tell stories and recite poetry. This blend of activities attracted a variety of patrons and transformed the coffee house into a meeting place.

European Coffee Houses

For centuries, water in Europe was often too unsanitary to drink, so a common alternative was alcohol--a lot of it. It was not uncommon for someone to have a few light beers in the morning, beer for lunch and perhaps mixing it up with some wine or gin in the evening. Essentially, all of Europe was in a drunken haze, morning to night. According to the historian Tom Standage, when the first coffeehouses started springing up in the late 1600's, there was at last an alternative to the perpetual drunken haze, people "who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved." In coffeehouses, the people met not to drink and sing, but to exchange ideas, to discuss poetry, philosophy, politics science. One could even argue that coffee was the drink that brought the Enlightenment to Europe. Just like their Middle Eastern counterparts, coffee houses encouraged open discussions about politics, art and intellectual subjects. Patronage of these establishments were discouraged by royalty and government officials, but to no avail. Coffee houses soon became the principal hubs where politicians, artists, writers, and thinkers gathered and exchanged ideas.

Notable Cafes

The Cafe de Flore in Paris became a popular meeting place for intellectuals, writers, painters, publishers and filmmakers. Apollinaire, Giacometti, Hemingway, Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir visited the cafe frequently. Cafe de Flore

Cafe de Flore

The oldest coffee house in Paris, Cafe Procope, was frequented by Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander von Humboldt and George Sand. Cafe Procope

Cafe Procope

In Rome, visitors to the Caffe Greco, near the Spanish Steps, included Goethe, Wagner, Mendelssohn, Stendhal, Liszt and Casanova. Cafe Greco

Cafe Greco

The creative spirit of Goethe was often inspired by the atmosphere of the coffee house. Writers and artists frequently enjoyed the artistic atmosphere of the Cafe Hawelka in Vienna. Patrons of the Hawelka coffee house included Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Ernst Fuchs, Helmut Qualtinger, Oskar Werner, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Georg Danzer and Andre Heller. Cafe Hawelka

Cafe Hawelka

The Cafe Central in Vienna was a popular meeting place for the intellectual elite. Chess players, such as Russian revolutionary Leon Trotzky, often engaged in matches and the cafe became known as the "chess school." Cafe Central in Vienna

Cafe Central

A "Patriotic Drink"

The political and artistic atmosphere of European coffee houses was infused into early American coffee houses as well. The Green Dragon in Boston hosted the greatest thinkers of the 18th century. In 1765, a group of men burned an effigy of Andrew Oliver due to his support of King George III. The next day, the group gathered at the Green Dragon to discuss the burning and other political topics. The group became the Sons of Liberty and the Green Dragon was host to their meetings. Later, as a result of the British taxation of tea, coffee became known as the drink of patriots. The Boston Tea Party was more than a declaration of independence from tea; it was a symbol of the colonists' patriotic support of coffee. The newly formed Continental Congress met at America's most famous coffee house, the Merchant's Coffee House in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public. Green Dragon Tavern

A Place For Meetings and New Ideas

Throughout history, coffee houses have symbolized freedom without fear and have provided inspiration for artistic expression. In the beginning, coffee houses were perceived as meeting places for unscrupulous gossip and forbidden discussions. Over the past millennium, the coffee house has become a regular meeting place for people to find common grounds by engaging in delightful, often energetic, conversations. ----------------- Shameless Plug: Need a coffee house or someplace else to meet out on the West Coast? Use our advanced meeting place search engine. Do you have a coffee place to rent out for meetings? You can list your coffee shop for free here. Photo Credits: Cafe de Flore by Ayustety  Cafe Procope by Serge Melki  Cafe Greco by Andy G  Cafe Hawelka by Yusuke Kawasaki  Cafe Central by Jason Wu

Five At eVenues we like to stay on top of the best blogs about events, technology, and of course, event technology. There are a lot of posts out there and it can often be overwhelming. We dig through all of it and find those select few we believe deserve special mention. This month those posts are:

31 Social Media Marketing Posts Written With Event Pros in Mind

If you want to know about social media and how it applies to planning an event, you really have to look no further than this one incredible post. Did I mention they're all from the same blog? Thanks to Jenise Fryatt for creating such an incredible resource!

How to Get Press for Your Event Planning Business: A Conversation With 3 Editors

If you're serious about promoting your event planning business and you've only have time to read one blog post this month, make it this one. In it, Lara McCulloch picks the brains of editors from BizBash, Special Events Magazine, and Event Solutions magazine. There you are, everything event magazine editors want in one convenient blog post. Ignore at your own peril!

3 Wonderful Lists from PlannerWire

While it's not a rule set in stone, we usually like to keep our five picks to one post per blog per month. We noticed, however, that Keith Johnston put out not just one, but 3 lists of great tools for event planners this month. It seemed silly for us to list just one and ignore the other too. Please be sure to check out Keith's list of  WordPress Plugins, Email Marketing Tools, and Accounting Tools. Of course, these tools are often used by folks other than event planners, but Keith does provide advice as to how an event planner should use each tool.

10 Brain Based Learning Laws That Trump Traditional Education

Midcourse Corrections has always been an invaluable resource not just for meeting planners, but also for people interested in cutting edge ideas in education. After all, one of the main reasons why people meet is to learn. This month Jeff Hurt doesn't disappoint by providing some fascinating "brain laws" which should help you get people more engaged at your event.

The Problem with Pecha Kucha

Liz King of Liz King Events has really stepped up blog up this year with a new panel of guest writers, all of whom are experts in event planning and related industries. While so many of the posts here are worth singling out, Kristy Casey Sanders has provided a fascinating look at a presentation style from Tokyo called Pecha Kucha. Essentially Pecha Kucha limits presenters to 20 seconds each for 20 slides. Is it here to stay, or is it a fad? Read on and see where you stand. New here? You might want to check out some of our popular posts: Photo by: Stew Dean