Week 3: A Conversation with Guest Speakers Babette Pepaj and Dan Portnoy

Tamry L. McCauley

Tamry L. McCauley

By UCLA X425 Student Tamry L. McCauley

If you are a novice like me when it comes to social media, you should run (yes I said run) to sign up for Best Practice’s in Social Media for the Communication Professional with Erik Deutsch (@ErikDeutsch). This week’s guest speakers were Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) and Dan Portnoy (@DanPortnoy). It was a whirlwind of fantastic, freaking amazing and fun all rolled up in a three-hour class.

Babette Pepaj

Babette Pepaj

Ms. Pepaj, founder of BakeSpace.com (the food social network), CookbookCafe.com (the platform to publish & sell your own cookbook as an ebook & iPad App), the #TECHmunch food blogger conference and co-host of #kitchenparty G+ Hangouts, talked about her transition from working in reality TV to becoming founder and CEO of BakeSpace Inc. She discussed how she was able to create all her various social media platforms, starting with her award-winning online community, with little to no tech experience.

Her journey from TV to carving out a highly successful niche in social media required creativity and resiliency. In 2006, she created the first food social network and recipe swap, something that even Martha Stewart hadn’t tapped into.

Her KitchenParty web series, which airs every Thursday, entertains and challenges her audience to try new things. The need to challenge and provide your audience with something of value was a key message that I found informative and inspiring. She also pointed out that women in their 30s and 40s play a special role in making the world a better place.

Babette has been able to partner with companies like KitchenAid, ABC, Sara Lee, Kodak, McCormick and Universal. In the process she has introduced several innovations, including the first online mentor program for home chefs and the first-of-its-kind “Recipe Feed,” which keeps BakeSpace.com members up-to-speed on what their friends are preparing in the kitchen. These innovations provide a “new recipe” for social media marketing that enables brands to connect with consumers on a very deep level.

Her smile was infectious, and I really enjoyed her energy, and it showed how much she loved what she was doing. “The fantastic” of that three-hour class, was the sharing of her time. Her “gift” to our class, was her knowledge of Google +, branding, and being an entrepreneur.

In addition to discussing her BakeSpace.com site and the Cookbook Café publishing platform, Babette reviewed how she uses the Hangouts On-Air feature on Google+ to broadcast a weekly live show that reaches thousands of foodies. On a recent episode, she invited guests to share their culinary experiences at Coachella (who knew the importance of food at a music festival?). The information she shared showed me, the novice, that like her, I can build my “own” story and be a part of a something greater… a community that can change the world.

Can Portnoy

Can Portno

Dan Portnoy (@DanPortnoy) also known as “Head Honcho” at Portnoy Media Group Inc., was the “freaking amazing” of this week’s class. He opened by asking, “Can you write a story in six words?” While I, along with the rest of the class, sat and pondered the possibilities, watching him tell his story was an inspiring, magical, and funny experience… and yes, Dan was able to tell a story in six words or less.

If you haven’t seen the ‘Why Archlight is better than any other theater’ video, you should check out Behind the Curtain to see a sample of his work. As you watch you will see that this is an ‘experience’ — not just another YouTube video. There is a message here, and you get it right away. “You have to be able to see yourself to relate,” said Mr. Portnoy.

Dan is passionate about his work, so much so he has written a book titled, The Non-Profit Narrative-How Telling Stories Can Change the World. Helping tell such stories is something Mr. Portnoy has been doing for a long time. It was obvious that he loves helping people strive for the impossible. He is passionate, funny and truly connected to the “art” of his talent. His skill at preverbal story telling with a purpose is what makes him unique. He was able to bring the class into “his”story by sharing his own hopes and aspirations. He has found a way of getting people to think differently about the process of telling that story. “I’ve never walked into a non-profit organization that didn’t have multiple people with personal stories of how their lives were touched by the issue that the organization fights for or against. That story is important and making sure it’s personal gives a lift to the organization,” he said.

The “fun” is this class every week has been something new and exciting. This is only week 3 and the information that I have taken away is invaluable to me, my company and my industry partners. This class will help me get a leg up in the social media community. I am positive as we drill down into the lesson, let’s say week five and six, I will become more and more tech “savvy” with the inner working of social media and will be better able to position myself as a true professional.

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