January 19, 2019

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Jeff Pulver “Breakfasts Across America”

Jeff Pulver “Breakfasts Across America”

Jeff Pulver hits the road early when he’s having breakfast with his social media friends up and down the east coast. In February, Jeff launched a series of breakfasts with a kickoff in Philadelphia that drew more than 50 social networking participants. Pulver arrived in Philadelphia from his Long Island home with regular sidekicks Sam and Geo, and promptly set about equipping attendees with “real-time social media tagging tools,” such as stickers, Post-It Notes, labels and markers to use for what Pulver calls real-time social tagging.
Participants write tags or keywords and paste them on each other, as if they were adding bookmarks and keywords in an online environment. By the end of the meal, everyone is adorned with multiple tags and labels, and some even have larger labels or “walls,” where people have written messages, like they do on Facebook or MySpace.com.
Pulver conceived of the real-time tagging event after going to networking events where participants didn’t really connect with each other.
“I thought, why not do a mashup of social media and networking,” Pulver said. In Tel Aviv last summer, he ran a cocktail party where he encouraged participants to write a social media tagline on their name badges. Later, he expanded the concept to add the labels, notes, and walls.
Pulver asked his followers on Twitter if there was interest in local breakfasts. Within a matter of minutes, Pulver heard expressions interest from Philadelphia, Princeton, Providence, New York, Washington, Miami, Chicago, Toronto, Nashua, NH, London, Montreal, Denver, Raleigh-Durham, and Atlanta, among others. In early March, he leaves for the first of several trips to Israel to scout out new early stage high-tech companies, and will hold a breakfast in Tel Aviv.
The breakfasts often revolve around participants photographing and interviewing each other for respective blogs and podcasts. Pulver wanders the room with a digital video camera that’s often connected to Qik.com, and broadcasting live video to the ‘Net.
Paul RJ Muller, a technology specialist at Temple University who produces the Caffination podcast, who attended the Philadelphia breakfast, noted that Temple is participating in iTunes University with Apple, making professors’ lectures available in a custom version of iTunes accessible to Temple students. Muller is trying to introduce Twitter and podcasting in classes at Temple. “We are doing video introductions to buildings, and sound-scene tours of campus,” he said. Whitney Hoffman, producer and host of the LD Podcast for parents of children with learning disabilities, thinks online communications is just a supplement to what she calls “protein” interactions of face-to-face communications.
“I think it’s very easy when you’re a podcaster to sit in your little box and talk into your microphone and not realize how much of the social stuff is important,” said Hoffman, who led the organizing committee for PodCamp Philly last year. “It’s a nice way to keep in contact with people when you don’t see them that often.”
Pulver travels to Israel several times a year, meeting with startup companies and offering early stage investments to promising entrepreneurs. Pulver runs what he calls a “dream fund,” a small investment fund to make early stage investments in Israeli high-tech firms.
“Typically it’s below the radar of any professional venture capitalist or angel investors,” he said. “I meet with people who are just absolutely brilliant, they have to have an idea that I can connect with, and I’m investing in helping them build their idea.”
In 2005, Pulver organized his first high-tech mission to Israel that culminated with recognition ceremonies in Jerusalem for 23 Israelis responsible for making voice technology commercially viable.
During 2008, Pulver said he’s raising money for a microfund of $3-5 million for investment in Israeli technology companies.
Most of the small firms in which Pulver has invested are still in “stealth” mode, not yet ready to discuss their technologies. “I’m hopeful that a bunch of the companies that we’re nurturing will be able to grow,” Pulver said. “What I really enjoy is seeing the seed of the idea, even helping to incubate it myself.”
*Steve Lubetkin is a podcaster and new media journalist in Cherry Hill, NJ. He is a Senior Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research, and his technology column, “CompuSchmooze,” appears monthly in the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey.*

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