Coworking began as a framework for freelancers and startups to gain access to a productive work environment. Fast forward ten years…
Large firms look to embrace the coworking ethos in order to revitalize company culture and employee experience.
Introducing Enterprise Coworking – a framework for the ‘great transition.’
As a coworking workplace strategy firm, we at OpenWork Agency focus on helping organizations transition into the future of work. Moving from ‘old ways of working’ to ‘new ways of working’ is a journey, not a simple 1-2-3 process. Our transition services help firms assess the working styles of current employees, as well as the workspace options available to them- both on campus and off campus. With an eye to maximizing both workspace utilization as well as employee engagement and productivity, our transition program is comprehensive, creative, and data-driven. Our goal is to help client employees find the right workspaces for them and their teams, and to empower them to do their best work.
I. KICK-OFF WORKSHOP – Enterprise Coworking Strategy
This is a one day workshop that takes clients through industry data around coworking and the shared workspace industry, underscoring the high levels of employee engagement and productivity reported in these types of work environments. Situated in a coworking space near a client’s location, the goal of the workshop is to bring the right mix of people together to explore ‘new ways of working’ together. This includes personnel from facilities management, human resources management, a few senior leaders with budgetary authority, as well as a few young (Millennial) employees.
II. WORK STYLE NAVIGATOR – Employee Coworking
As a follow up to the workshop, we administer our proprietary WSN survey, which helps employees clarify which ‘type’ of worker they are and which types of spaces are most appropriate for their style of work. This data allows firms to sharpen their workplace strategy and begin the road to individualization of work styles.
III. STRATEGY ROADMAP – HR Strategy embraces Enterprise Coworking
Based on results from the WSN survey, as well as feedback from the workshop, we put together a strategy roadmap that outlines a few viable workplace strategy scenarios that get clients to ‘new ways of working.’ Each firm is different, and there are no off-the-shelf solutions. We provide unique and company-specific recommendations that take into account company culture, history, industry, and work styles.
IV. SPACES – Send Employees to Coworking Spaces or Build Coworking Space On Company Campus
For firms ready to make the jump, we assist in both the placement of employees into appropriate off-campus coworking spaces and in the development of on-campus coworking environments.
The OpenWork Agency is a boutique workplace strategy consultancy with roots in the coworking industry. We help companies create more flexible and social work environments so they can better attract and retain top talent and empower them to collaborate and innovate more effectively. We have over thirty-five years of combined coworking operating experience in our team, and have backgrounds in corporate real estate, enterprise hardware sales, corporate culture consulting, and marketing prior to our involvement in the coworking industry. Our experience ranges across the value chain of the industry, and we offer a suite of services that addresses key changes occurring both in the corporate real estate sector as well as inside organizations as they adapt to the changing world of work.
The trend is still emerging, yet innovative players in the industry are quickly experimenting with ‘activating their lobbies.’ Why has the coworking trend reached the hotel world?
Coworking can help create a fully integrated ecosystem within a building, whether it is a hotel, residence, or office building. It appeals to guests as well as the public at large.
Hotel Coworking Resources:
Smart business hotels where work meets play – CNNFeatured Hotel Coworking Brands: - Volkshotel, Amsterdam - Zoku, Amsterdam - Hotel Zetta, San Francisco - Ace Hotel London Shoreditch - Ovolo Southside, Aberdeen, Hong Kong - Yotel, New York City - The Epiphany, Palo Alto, California - Mama Shelter, Rio de Janeiro - M Beta, Charlotte, North Carolina - COQ, Paris
6 reasons coworking hotels are the future of hospitality – USA TODAY“In general, we have started to see a major shift in the traditional definition of a hotel. It’s no longer enough to be a rectangular building with a traditional brand name; instead hotels need to keep up with the ever-evolving lifestyle and tech needs. Many are already changing by incorporating larger social spaces — like lobby lounges and bars — and coworking spaces are the next logical step. If hotels aren’t considering demand for live-work spaces, they stand the risk of becoming one dimensional.” - John Hardy, CEO of The John Hardy Group and founder of Radical Innovation in Hospitality
Co-Working, but for Hotels. (Seriously) – Inc.“A layer of technology will also augment guests’ experience at Hotel Schani. One books a room online (obviously), but then also selects their desired floor and proximity to the elevator. Amenities, and even furnishing arrangement, may also be plucked from a menu in the future. The guest also checks in, and unlocks the door to their room, through an app.”
Companies and employees have both begun to hear the buzz around coworking…
And now there is a experimental methodology for companies interested in stepping into the coworking waters.
OpenWork Agency has recently published an article outlining a program that helps company employers incorporate the coworking model into their existing workplace strategy. Read it here: Coworking for company employees: What/Why/How. It explains the ‘Corporate Coworking’ program, an initiative that helps employees gain access to the network of coworking spaces in their area as well as provide options for employers to consider building their own coworking space inside the company building or across their corporate campus.
With employers beginning to embrace coworking, it will help them attract and retain young, Millennial talent as employees (and contract workers). Coworking is helpful at empowering the modern workforce to work according to their own natural rhythms.
“We want to be tour guides, and provide a roadmap for helping companies go from the past (industrial) model of work to the future (sharing economy) model of work,” explains Drew Jones, management professor, author, and former partner and co-owner at Conjunctured in Austin.
The OpenWork Agency has published a new coworking white paper entitled The Coworking Industry: Then, Now, and Tomorrow. (OpenWork was founded two years ago by two Conjunctured partners.) Here are some excerpts from each section of this 15 page report. If you want to read the whole thing in full, simply download the full Coworking Industry Report here.
Coworking Industry (Then):
In the early days of the coworking industry, between 2006 and 2009, coworking entrepreneurs and landlords weren’t the best of friends. When many of us presented our business plans to property owners and managers, they looked at us with a mixture of disbelief and amusement.
The whole notion of coworking, a membership based, community oriented sub-leasing model, was way too outside of the box for them. They couldn’t get past the month-to-month part, or the fact that there wasn’t a single-company tenant that would use the office space. It all seemed so different and uncertain that the whole industry almost didn’t happen.
By 2009-2010 it was clear to some that coworking wasn’t a passing trend or fad. More business-minded companies, such as NextSpace and Green Desk (which would become WeWork), entered the fray and started to commercialize the industry. Of course, WeWork has become the giant of the industry, taking its place alongside other sharing economy unicorns with a $15B valuation. This phase of the adoption cycle also demonstrated that coworking could be turned into a profitable business, even though many of those spaces that opened during this phase of the industry didn’t make the final cut. Cleverly, the ones who did make the cut and managed to scale their businesses did so by bottling up many of the ‘elements of cool’ that were manifest by coworking innovators, and packaging them for sale to a new round of customers.
Coworking Industry (Now):
As mentioned earlier, according to our research, we have now moved into the Early Majority phase of the coworking adoption life cycle. Due to the WeWork Effect, building owners and property managers around the world want to get involved in the industry. We receive inquiries every week from property owners and developers who now want ‘to do coworking.’ It is interesting to note how far we’ve come from those early days when realtors wanted to have nothing to do with coworking.
There are good reasons why many of these professionals have gravitated to coworking. Increasingly, the numbers are working out. Coworking chains such as WeWork and Industrious, with well-designed spaces and brand cache, fill up quickly and charge a premium for their office spaces. When you do the math you can see why they are accelerating and why others are investing in the industry.
Granted, not that many coworking operations can earn $200 psf, but the very possibility that these businesses can be profitable has convinced many in the corporate real estate (CRE) industry that it is no longer a gamble. Because of this, we are seeing a proliferation of new independent operators, the growth and expansion of existing multi-location players, and now a vast interest among traditional real estate companies. Again, as was the case with the Early Adopters, some incumbents will continue to thrive while some new entrants won’t. One aspect of this phase is clear. At this point in the process, brands do matter. Because it is relatively early days, there is still a significant amount of education that needs to take place before coworking is a fully mainstream phenomenon. Offerings such as WeWork will continue to have an advantage because they are frequently written about in the press and because they are…WeWork. Most interesting, though, is to ponder what comes next in the Late Majority phase of the cycle.
Coworking Industry (Tomorrow):
The Unbundling Corporation: Leases, Recurring Revenue, and (REIT) Dividends.
For several generations the basic mindset/model of the CRE industry has been to lock large organizations into long-term leases, which has made complete sense for quite some time. The default setting for leasing has been that each employee in a company is assigned to a fixed work station, so you can easily calculate a certain square foot footprint per employee and come up with the amount of space a company needs. When it enters into a lease, that recurring revenue becomes the basis on which REIT’s (because of their preferred tax status) can pay such healthy dividends. In this equation, each employee’s square foot footprint represents a small percentage of those dividends. Financing mechanisms for large office buildings require predictable revenues and cost structures, so the whole process becomes frozen in place. And thus, at this point in time, for the most part CRE sees coworking as coworking operators who are now capable of paying their rent. They still, for the most part, don’t see, or don’t want to see, the future.
What is missing from this perspective is that what we call coworking is no longer just about Millennials, freelancers, startups, and small teams. Large firms, themselves, are unbundling, and migrating to flex-work solutions, address-less offices, Activity Based Work, and other processes that are accomplishing three powerful things simultaneously:
Radical reduction of real estate footprints (and costs)
Radical improvement in the quality of workspaces for the spaces that remain
Dramatic increases in choice and flexibility for knowledge workers
The implications for CRE are profound.
Turnkey Coworking? When Coworking Becomes Work and Work Becomes Coworking
As we are seeing it, the next phase of the cycle looks like this. Slowly, floor by floor, building owners will, via new turnkey coworking solutions, convert their properties from being occupied by fixed, large tenants who need and want massive footprints (which they decreasingly do), to open, agnostic, membership-based, multi-company campuses that are used (and paid for) on a month to month basis. New, robust software platforms- building operating systems will manage all of this. As we have already seen in the case of WeWork, when a place is designed in a certain way, and also has a sufficient amount of social atmosphere, a thriving ‘coworking space’ can actually out earn the standard lease rate of many buildings. In presenting coworking directly to their corporate clients (effectively bypassing the middlemen), certain functions and costs arise. Buildings will need concierge and community management services, but this can be paid for out of the revenue that otherwise would go to a coworking operator. As it is anyway, property managers spend much of their time showing prospective tenants around buildings, much of which will be unnecessary activity in the future. These professionals can easily be (re)trained to run such enterprise-focused coworking spaces. Furthermore, and most importantly, not only can buildings earn more money by going direct to their customers, these are the very spaces that customers are increasingly demanding. Not only is this demand already being expressed, in a few short years Millennials will be the largest generation at work and they are clearly expressing a desire to work in a manner consistent with other aspects of the sharing economy.
Conjunctured was the first coworking space in Austin, Texas and is one of the oldest and most established coworking brands in the world. Today, there are 44 coworking spaces in Austin and over 10,000 spaces across the world. The partners of Conjunctured have been speakers at a number of global conferences related to innovation, coworking, and workplace strategy. In September 2014, after six years of coworking, the Conjunctured house closed its doors. Following its closure, in an effort to open the ‘coworking model’ into greater society, Conjunctured partners, Drew and David, launched a hybrid consultancy called The OpenWork Agency.
THE OPENWORK AGENCY
OpenWork Agency is a boutique coworking consultancy. All of the partners and consultants in the firm are either current or former coworking operators, and we have (combined) over thirty years of coworking operating experience in the team. We also have a Harvard educated architect, as well as the world’s leading community manager training expert. Recently, in Kisi’s list of the ’30 Most Influential People in Coworking,’ five members of OpenWork’s team made the list. We have expertise in all aspects of the industry, and regularly work across the entire value chain. We formed to help others- real estate investors/developers and companies- understand, strategize, and implement coworking solutions in their own buildings and companies. This includes educating clients in the specifics of the industry, and helping others develop their own brands as a white label service.
Conjunctured, Austin’s first coworking space and one of the original coworking spaces in the world, will be closing its doors at the end of August. Conjunctured first pioneered the coworking movement in Austin six years ago, when coworking was a brand new concept.
Over the years, Conjunctured has explored expansion several times. In 2010 the community banded together to remodel the little house next door that was previously occupied by a psychic. After a six month test lease, we cut our ties and focused on other avenues of growth. In 2011 we nearly signed a lease on a multi office space off South Lamar that would have housed the high demand for coworking in South Austin. In 2012, feeling a high after building partnerships with multiple investors, we nearly signed a least on a 10,000 sq ft warehouse space in downtown. And in 2013, we partnered up with a Conjunctured alumni whose office lease was soon to expire, to launch a special events meeting space, called the Conjunctured Annex, in a new development in East Austin. It was an experiment based on the increased meeting room interest we had been receiving. All the while, maintaining a thriving community at our home location on 1309 E 7th Street.
These days, the coworking industry is booming. There are 15 coworking spaces in Austin and over 4,000 throughout the world. Austin is one of the most coworking dense cities in the world in the company with San Francisco, NYC, Berlin, and Barcelona. At the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in Kansas City a few months ago, where coworking space owners and thought leaders gathered to discuss the industry, Emergent Research reported trends on the massive growth in coworking.
It was also there, that Conjunctured co-owner and author of the recently published, The Fifth Age of Work, Drew Jones, spoke on a panel called “The Future of Design and Work.” He spoke about how corporations are in need of innovation as they struggle to stay relevant as the workplace is evolving and how coworking can be used as a model for finding new talent, reimagining company culture, and inspiring innovation. An avid proponent of coworking since the beginning, Drew owned the first coworking space in Birmingham, Alabama, called Shift Workspace, co-authored the first book on coworking, I’m Outta Here: How Coworking is Making the Office Obsolete, and has been teaching as a business professor at Texas State University since moving to Austin in 2011. As one of the original members of Conjunctured during its first days, Drew maintained his interest in Conjunctured from a distance and when he moved back to Austin, he officially joined the team as co-owner.
Drew and Conjunctured co-founder, David Walker, have together been managing the coworking space since – recruiting new members to the community and keeping the energy (and coffee) flowing. Every day, new emails and phone calls arrive as the mobile workforce rapidly grows. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of the US workforce will be freelance by the year 2020. This, along with the need for independents to be in a productive and social work environment rather than their homes or coffee shops has been driving the demand for coworking spaces across the globe. Although membership at Conjunctured has decreased over the past two years, as other coworking spaces open and expand throughout Austin, it certainly hasn’t decreased enough to call it quits. In fact, the number of inquiries asking about office space, community events, gig hires, and the in’s and out’s of coworking is at an all time high.
So, why is Conjunctured closing its doors? Not the reason you may think.
Yes, the Conjunctured house (the first coworking house in the nation) was purchased last year by a new owner, and yes the proposed new rents for the next lease term were tripled, and yes there is more competition in coworking than ever before.
But ultimately, we elected not to renew the lease on East Seventh street and made the tough decision not to bring our current members and future members to a new larger space in East Austin—the toughest decision in the company’s history…in order to grow.
The future is bright for Conjunctured, even without signing a new commercial lease.
For those that follow the coworking industry, you’ve noticed new industries adopting elements of the coworking ethos to bring disruption (and innovation) to outdated models. The coworking infrastructure breathes new life into an old model by allowing static work environments to evolve into true hubs of dynamic, collaborative innovation. Libraries, universities, hotels, local governments, and corporations are following the lead of the thriving coworking movement. Conjunctured can grow by opening up new locations, or by helping to innovate within new sectors of the economy.
In fact we (David and Drew) are headed to Palo Alto, New York, Amsterdam, and Barcelona over the next six months to pioneer a new future for the global coworking movement. You see, Conjunctured may be closing the little coworking house in East Austin, but in doing so, we’re opening the coworking model to the rest of society. Recently announced as one of the winners of the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge M-PRIZE sponsored by SAP for our Nomatik Coworking entry, we’re going all-in on what could be an opportunity to bring the essence of coworking to a broader landscape, making a substantial impact as the Sharing Economy booms and the design of the workplace innovates to bring our society into the Fifth Age. We’re inviting coworking proponents (and coworking space owners) around the world to join us in this movement.
Moving forward, Conjunctured has partnered up with fellow coworking pioneers, Cody Marx Bailey, co-founder of Creative Space, Texas’s first coworking space, and Tony Bacigalupo, co-founder of one of NYC’s first coworking space, New Work City, alongside international partners, Seats2Meet and the SerendipityMachine from the Netherlands, founded by European entrepreneur and trend watcher, Ronald van den Hoff. Seats2Meet facilitates a dynamic environment where guests work together, meet each other, and share knowledge. SerendipityMachine is a social tool that helps guests make unexpected connections with other guests and local coworkers. Ronald also wrote the book Society 3.0, and has started a movement in Europe that is quickly growing. Serendipitously, it was at the recent global coworking conference where Drew and Ronald first met. Conjunctured has also partnered with Maite Moreno Bosch and David Vilella Balleste of MondayHappyMonday and Neàpolis Cowork in Barcelona in an effort to connect thought leadership and coworking methodology to the business community in Spain. The first client is a winery in the Catalonia region that is implementing a Corporate Coworking initiative to revitalize its culture and innovate its bottom line.
As Conjunctured begins its transformation we have authored a collection of three pitch decks outlining a methodology for authentically exporting the coworking model:
Pop-Up Coworking – Learn how pop-up coworking can connect you with top talent in your city.
Hotel Coworking – Incorporate the energy and buzz of coworking into the hotel experience.
In addition, we offer an introductory workshop called, The Fifth Age Workshop, explaining what Activity Based Working is and how it can transform your company culture. We walk companies or licensees through the theory and methodology of ABW – qualifying and licensing participants to work with the Fifth Age tools. Like the Fifth Age Program, these are delivered either directly to the company or to third party groups interested in using them in their own practice.
Introducing Nomatik Coworking membership to the Conjunctured community & Pop-Up Coworking to Austin’s coolest workplaces for community “work-ups”:
So, where does this leave the members of Conjunctured? Conjunctured has always been community-first. As such, Conjunctured is going back to the roots of the original coworking essence, Jelly.
For those that study the coworking movement, you’ll know that before there were coworking spaces, there were Jelly meet ups. Jelly was started up in NYC and quickly spread throughout the world as people craved what would soon become the coworking movement. These were coworking meet ups at various places around town, usually once per week. Coffee shops, people’s apartments, libraries—anywhere there was wifi and plugs. There were no membership fees and it was very ad hoc. Before you went to a Jelly, you would check out the local Jelly wiki page and see who was going and what they were working on. Often people would share their twitter profiles and a little info about themselves so that folks had an idea of what to expect. Conjunctured was founded by four twenty-somethings that became united through Austin’s Jelly community, Dusty Reagan (founder of Austin Jelly, currently: owner/operator FriendOrFollow), John Erik Metcalf (currently: Director of Business Development at Radius Intelligence), Cesar Torres (currently: Lead Designer at Sidecar), and David Walker (currently: co-owner/operator at Conjunctured).
The above photo is a throwback from 2008. Jelly was amazing. You met new people all the time. It was social. It was fun. It was adventurous. It got you out into the city exploring new places. Many people experienced professional “community” for the first time in a Jelly environment. Once a week coffee shops were overrun with a flashmob of coworkers. It was surreal to experience first hand. As coworking spaces have opened up at a rapid speed, the Jelly movement has pretty much disappeared. Was Jelly simply a stepping stone towards coworking spaces? Why do you need Jelly when you have a coworking space to join? Jelly saved the isolated mobile worker. It helped the independent get out into the world—meet new people all the time and be exposed to an energy of innovation. It was a culture hack. And it was inspiring. A new place, a new experience that everyone looked forward to each week. The ironic thing about coworking spaces, as they became more prevalent, is that they have become just “the new office.” No longer a cultural hack, but becoming more and more a cultural norm. It has become part of the routine. The same people. The same experience. A consistent experience sprinkled with a little new-ness here and there while housed in a community environment with all the convenience of an office. Coworking space communities are notoriously silo’ed off from each other, creating a lack of collaboration and interaction between the very people that desire connectedness. What also got lost, was the excitement of breaking into new ground. Breaking a rule in society—doing something you weren’t supposed to do, but you knew was on the right side of history. It was the revolution of the nomadic worker realizing the power of connection and the innovation that comes with adventure.
To reinvigorate some of the adventure, Conjunctured is launching pop-up coworking as the next evolution of the Jelly movement. We’re partnering up with a handful of Austin’s coolest workplaces that have historically only been open to its employees. (If your workplace is interested in being a venue, sign up at Nomatik. And Independent coworkers can sign up too.) We’re giving our members the opportunity to experience that excitement of the Jelly movement in environments that would not be possible without the mainstream adoption of the coworking ethos. And companies get a chance to get access to some of the most talented independents around to hire for contract gigs. See, companies get it more today, than they did six years ago. It’s no longer a battle of the freelancers versus the full-timer’s. In fact, many companies pay the coworking membership for their employee because they know its a better environment than they could provide. We’re creating a Nomatik Coworking calendar so that members who have the Nomatik Coworking membership can opt-in to work from the inside of companies that never before knew how to open their doors to an outside community. And now, thanks to the adoption of the coworking model, it’s possible. It’s also reimagining how companies hire talent. Why go through an outdated interview process when you can just work side by side with potential collaborators for a week?
It’s a new way for companies to hire independents for projects. It’s a new way for companies to share their mission. It’s a new way for the citizens of a city to step into a new environment in a trailblazing fashion and share their energy with organizations they are fans of, but have yet to have the opportunity to collaborate with, in a meaningful way. It’s a way for talented freelancers who have opted out of corporate America to opt-in to gigs with high paying clients. It’s a way to solve what they’re calling “the Talent Gap.” Also, it’s a way for employees of companies to feel the intangible of being a part of coworking experience.
And it’s an experiment for companies to see what it would be like to have a coworking space inside their corporate campus. If they want a permanent installation, we can do that for them with our Fifth Age Program. To be one of the innovative organizations to opt in to pop-up coworking, let us know nomatik.com/#contact.
Update the Source Code of the Workplace
Between Corporate Coworking, Hotel Coworking, Pop-Up Coworking, among a slew of community initiatives – Conjunctured has its hands quite full. Coworking, like any movement, grows and evolves. Times, they are a’chang’n, as they say. If you would like to participate in Coworking 3.0 – let us know. We’re looking for partners, allies, and a community who gets it. We look at all this as a sort of Open Source Coworking.
All this being said, the little house where Conjunctured started is open for coworking throughout the month of August, with the lease being officially over August 31. If you’re one of the hundreds of community members who still have a key to the house, you’re especially invited to come by. There will be a closing party, details to be announced soon. Stop by and say farewell to the USA’s first coworking house and Texas’ longest running coworking space.
If you would like to show your support in a financial way, please consider sending a few bucks to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up as a Philanthropist member on Nomatik.com. This will help us close out some final Conjunctured expenses, and will allow us to start fresh into our next evolution. We’re also considering selling the Conjunctured brand to the right individual, especially if we can find some strategic way to grow together: Nomatik + Conjunctured. Contact email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.
Please consider sharing this news to friends and colleagues who are passionate about the coworking movement and the mission to Build a Movement to Create a Better World of Work - Press info here. Drew and David are available for interviews. Also, if you’re a coworking space owner and you’d like to introduce the Coworking Model to large organizations in your city, let’s partner together on the Fifth Age Program.
About Conjunctured & Nomatik Coworking:
Conjunctured is one of the most established coworking spaces in the world. Based in Austin, Texas, we grew out of the epicenter of the innovation economy. Our Nomatik Coworking brand is our way of bringing the community experience and talent of coworking to organizations in the US and throughout the world. Nomatik serves as a “disruptive bypass” (1) that brings together the interests and needs of the growing population of independent professionals with companies prepared to embrace open structures and open innovation.
If for some reason you decide you want to irritate me by email, there’s a very easy way. OK, the easiest is telling me I’ve won the UK lottery or that you’re a Nigerian prince in a tough spot (unless there’s a funny typo in there — I’m a sucker for a good typo). But the second-best way? Send me a press release. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a topic I write about or one I’ve never heard of — I hate press releases with a burning passion.
Journalists are supposed to be impartial and unbiased, so when someone approaches me who’s being paid to promote a specific product or service, I’m instantly wary. The moment I see a press release, I give it a scoff of irritation and and quickly hit delete.
I admit: Sometimes press releases work well. Newsworthy topics can get a positive response, and online journalists use press releases frequently. But if you’re pouring money into press releases that aren’t getting you any publicity, maybe it’s time to re-examine your strategy.
Now for the good news.
There are other ways to get your name and your company’s name in front of potential customers — and they’re free. Journalists spend a lot of time looking for sources to interview. If you’re qualified to provide insight, you may well get better exposure than any ol’ press release could provide. Think about all the expertise you’ve gained in X during your X number of years in the X business. Surely these topics are in the news from time to time.
Maybe you’re an underwater photographer, and could comment on the decline of a particular type of fish. Or perhaps you’re a teacher who runs a pet-sitting business on the side, and could comment on how hard it is to make a living wage as a teacher these days. Giving the media insight into any of these topics can help provide valuable exposure for your business.
I’m not suggesting you pretend to be an expert when you’re not. I’m suggesting you think about the ways in which you genuinely are an expert in something, then find the journalists who are writing about these topics.
So how do you find the right journalists? You may already know some of them. Think about the blogs, newspapers, TV programs and magazines you already pay attention to that cover your field. Consider sending the journalists an introduction email, perhaps commenting on a recent article or report they’ve done. (We love knowing that people are paying attention to our work!)
Here are some other ways to up your odds of getting quoted:
Make sure journalists and editors you meet know what you do. If I’m looking for a bakery owner to interview about the rising cost of flour, and I remember someone I met a few months ago, I’d rather go to him or her than spend time searching for someone else. Likewise, sometimes a magazine editor will provide the name of someone I should interview, so even if an editor you know doesn’t do any actual writing, he or she may be a useful contact.
Use social media. If you know me, you may know that while I’m liberal with the F word, I don’t take the T word lightly. So believe me when I say that in this case, both Facebook and Twitter are your friends. Find journalists who specialize in your field. Follow them. When they tweet about needing to interview someone who fits your description, let them know. (Bonus points: If you know someone else who fits the description, make the introduction. We will love you and be 10 times more likely to use your expertise in the future).
Sign up for Help a Reporter Out, Reporter Connection and News Basis. Here’s how it works: Journalists post a description of whom they’re looking to interview, and potential sources can email them with why they’d be perfect. Just make sure you really do fit the bill before responding to a query.
Lastly, follow up. If you initially get a positive response from a journalist but then don’t hear back for a couple of weeks, write to him or her again with a polite reminder. Be persistent but not annoying, and you may strike gold.
Despite the geographic distance between coworking spaces worldwide, coworking space owners and community managers have done remarkably well at maintaining and building an online community of support to help one another grow the coworking movement. It’s not every day that you get to take a thriving online community and see it happen first hand in the real world. The Coworking Unconference and the Coworking Happy Hour brought together the coworking community like never before.
To coincide with SXSW, the very first U.S. Coworking Unconference was organized and brought to fruition by the fine folks over at LooseCubes. LooseCubes helps people nationwide find a “friendly place to work.” Attracting space owners, coworkers, and community managers from all over the country (and a few global folks too), the Unconference was a rousing success! The event ran smoothly all day, filled with breakout sessions run in a casual, lets-have-some-real-conversations approach. In addition to the breakout session there was also a keynote led by Tony Bacigalupo, founder of NYC’s New Work City and a moderated panel to close out the day. Here’s a clip of the panel moderated by Alex Hillman, founder of (Indy Hall), where he interviews a panel of other coworking space owners from across the country, “Who coworks now and in the future?”:
With the flood of coworking enthusiasts already in town, we figured there was no better time than SXSWi to invite all attendees from the unconference as well as others passionate about the coworking movement over to our coworking home, Conjunctured, for a party. (Here’s the attendee list) So we partnered with local coworking spaces (Link Coworking & Creative Space) and a variety of we-love-coworking company sponsors to host a happy hour, 4-7pm on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Texas sun.
The coworking movement is huge
It’s crazy to think about how much coworking has grown in the last years. There were people visiting from all over the world, and we soon found out people are coworking all over – some as far as Berlin and Stockholm. And, the coworking movement has become so huge, spaces are popping up all over. Below is a map that shows everywhere our happy hour attendees have coworked. (We sketched a basic map on the dry erase board and attendees started filling it in!)
We met owners and community managers from all over the country – some with big, open spaces that can fit 80 people; others with smaller spaces that are better for just a few freelancers.
Coworking unifies people
One of the biggest things that was evident was how much coworking unifies people. Regardless of where the space is located, its general vibe or personality, coworking brings together people who may not have otherwise worked together. It gives them a reason to go into “the office” and get work done because that’s what everyone else is doing – and they know there’s a supportive community waiting.
Coworking is going to keep growing
Here’s a video of Liz Elam, owner of Link Coworking, here in Austin talking about the likely continued explosion of coworking spaces:
We’d love for all our parties to be as great as this one, but can’t do it without generous sponsors. Please let our food and drink sponsors know you appreciated their goodness by interacting with them on Twitter & Facebook:
There was a team of artists set up in the back doing randomly inspired pieces of artwork. Each were improvisational, and some even were based on a MadLibs-esque suggestion system. Special thanks to Zach Taylor for organizing the artists and helping to create some unique visuals
We turned our back parking lot into extra space for the party. Some christmas lights go a long way! This was the first time we’ve opened up the back for a party, and it turned out great! We had the music from inside piped to the back too.
Chatting it up in the front
A number of us were hanging out on the picnic tables or on the front porch enjoying the nice cool breeze.
On our 2 year anniversary party RSVP Eventbrite invitation we asked generous party attendees to contribute money to East Austin Schools. We are thrilled to have raised $85 via this casual request for donations. To top it off some, Conjunctured is going to pitch in an additional $25 to the cause. What is the cause exactly?
Mr. K.’s mathematics class at “Austin Can! Academy” a school for at-risk students, located 5 minutes away from Conjunctured, needs color and black ink cartridges for their classroom printouts. We’ve donated the $110 in donations we raised from the party and want you to take this project on home.
If you have not already donated or would like to donate more, please go to Donors Choose right now and donate a small amount of money to this cause. If money is tight, please use their social media links on the page to promote the cause.
Thanks again to everyone who came out to celebrate our 2 year anniversary and very special thanks to everyone who donated!
I started painting “live” in coffee houses in Austin in the spring of 2008. I had thought about doing it for years, and had always drawn people with my mind’s eye in public.
After almost a year of terrible stagnation in the studio, I began formulating my first attempts at “live” painting. I chose the coffee houses because I knew that the bohemian “anything goes” attitude would afford me the comfort and cover that I required. (I had worked at the legendary, original coffeehouse, Les Amis, profiled in the movie, “Slacker”).
The first day, I set out for Epoch Coffee, the 24-hour hipster hang-out closest to my house, and painted until time to pick up my daughter from school. I went back that evening. I was hooked. The first day, I did 9 paintings. I was in my element.
By August, I ran into another former Les Amis waitress at the Spider House. She got a kick out of what I was doing, and told me to start a blog. I didn’t know the difference between a blog and a website, and didn’t have a clue how to begin. While researching places to practice my “guerrilla painting” (a moniker given to me by local graffiti artists that thought I was their age), I found out about Cafe Caffeine, and the “jelly”, originally started by the Conjunctured boys. Well, I went there, hoping that they could hep me start a blog. From there, I followed the trail over to their new location on East 7th.
David Walker helped me set up my blog “I Stare At People” on WordPress, . Since that time, the blog has grown “organically” to a Page 4 ranking – pretty shocking for just a local art blog.
I’m still doing it – painting live. I keep a record of everything that I paint. At first, by journal entries pasted on the backs of the paintings, and now, my blog serves this purpose. I even record my color palette for every painting.
The paintings are all live, with no touch-up or re-dos in the studio.
I would really like to branch out of the coffee house to do “guerrilla painting” anywhere.
In the past, I have refused to sell them, or give them away. I’m rethinking that.
If you’d like to come view Lavanna’s artwork at Conjunctured, swing on by 1309 E. 7th Street M-F 9a-6pm.