Are you tired of posting content to your social media news feed and having it fall flat in the insights?  Then you should think about adding some GIFs to your digital marketing. GIFs are probably the most under-utilized media that I’ve seen in the digital marketing space.

What’s a GIF?

Definition: GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is “a computer file format for the compression and storage of digital video images.”  Source:  Merriam Webster Dictionary

In general terms, GIFs are those fun little images or mini videos that play over and over.  They can easily be embedded into your digital marketing to add some movement to your content and bring a little flavor to your online branding.

The first thing you need to think about when it comes to GIFs, is if you want to find a GIF or create one of your own.

Finding a GIF

I use GIPHY.com as my source but you can also find them on TumblrTwitter or do a quick Google search.

Saving a GIF (that you found). 

Once you find a GIF, the next step is to save it to your system.  Believe it or not, you treat GIFs as images.  Simply right-click and select “Save Image As”.  Just make sure “GIF Image” is your “Save as type”.

Making a GIF

If you can’t find a GIF that drives the message home, you can make one of your own.  There are sites that let you do this such as  Giphy’s Make a GIF ToolMakeAGIF.com.  My personal tool of preference is the Ripl App(For iOS devices).

How to use GIFs in Social Media

You probably have figured out already that when it comes to social media marketing, images will always take preference over text, and videos will always receive more interaction than images.  However, sometimes we don’t have the time or interest to create a video for every post that we create.

Enter your new friend, the GIF

Find or create a GIF and voilà!  You’ve now made your social media marketing more interactive!  Rather than posting an image, you can make it dance across your news feed – and give your account some more attention and interaction online.

Here is an example of how I used a GIF in my social media.  It was Friday and I was personally feeling run down after a long week.  I thought my audience may feel the same.  So I sought out a fun GIF to lighten the mood – and groove into the weekend.

Looking at the reporting, this one post received a total of 33% of my entire reach for the week.  “Reach” in social media terms is defined by the amount of people that saw your post in their newsfeed.

GIFs Aren’t Limited to Your Social Media 

You can use them in your blog content, or add a little flavor to your email marketing.  This may depend on the email marketing program that you work with.  I use Constant Contact.  I have been able to use GIFs to spice up the material in a content heavy newsletter.

The best example I’ve seen of a GIF in an email marketing campaign is Olive Garden.  They were promoting their delivery service during a weekend that had both an awards show and football playoff game.  They used a creative subject line, “Cleats or Stilettos?” and when you opened the email, your eyes fell upon this gorgeous GIF.

As you can see, for 5 to 10 extra minutes of finding or creating a GIF, the payoff is worth it.  Go seek out a GIF or make your own – and watch as the content pops off the screen and your numbers skyrocket.


Jeannine O’Neil, (@Jeannine_Oneil) owner of JO Social Branding, is a digital media strategist who empowers and educates marketing professionals on how to make the best use of their social media and email marketing.  Through JO Social Branding, she has positioned herself as a thought leader in the digital marketing industry.  In addition to her work as a speaker and consultant, Jeannine has a weeklynewsletter and podcast titled, “Social Eyes”.

You already know that in corporate world, you only get one chance to make a first impression. But what you may not know, is that the “you” who is reading this may not in fact get that opportunity – your LinkedIn profile might beat you to it!

Indeed, more frequently than ever before, everyone from prospective clients and customers to potential business partners and associates are “checking you out” on LinkedIn, which is by far the world’s largest professional networking site with over 200 million members who visit more than 50 million times a week. What’s more, these people are forming opinions, making judgments, and coming to conclusions about you long before you have the chance (if ever!) to say hello over the phone or email, or go in for a hearty handshake or friendly fist pump in person.

Clearly, it’s in your best interest to have an outstanding LinkedIn profile — one that makes the fantastic first (and second…and tenth) impression that YOU want to convey. But how do you create this kind of elite profile? It’s simpler than you think – just focus on these 6 keys:

1. Create a Killer Headline

If your headline suffers from dreaded SOSO (“same old, same old”) syndrome, then to paraphrase Sun Tzu: you’ve lost the battle before it has even begun. Avoid this cruel fate by having a catchy, unique and bold headline that sets you apart, and positions you as someone that people want to connect with. It can also help to put your email address in your headline, so that you send the message that you’re accessible and responsive.

2. Add Relevant Keywords

Be sure to use relevant keywords in your headlines, and throughout your profile (which we’ll get to in a moment). Keywords aren’t just SEO friendly, but they help you stand out in a search.  They also send the signal that you’re digitally savvy, which is certainly a characteristic that you want associated with your personal brand.

3. Write a Focused – and Fantastic – Profile

You know that blurb that might be on your resume – the one that describes your skills in pretty straightforward, ordinary terms? Keep it far, far away from your LinkedIn profile. Yes, people want to know what you’ve done and what you’re good at. But they aren’t leafing through resumes. They want to be impressed and engaged by something unique, authentic and written by a real person (a.k.a. YOU!). There’s so much possibility with LinkedIn to put personality in your profile. You can add photos, videos, special recognition, and so much more. And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, either. If you don’t believe in your abilities and strengths, how can anyone else?

4. Get a Professional Headshot

I can’t emphasize this enough: if your photo is from the year 2008, or depicts you on a picnic, on a cruise, at the beach, or anywhere else that doesn’t convey the words “professional, poised and confident” then it’s time for a new headshot. As you already know, a professional image counts! Invest in a headshot or professional picture that does your personal brand justice.  You’ll turn heads, and what’s more, people will come up to you at conferences and meetings and say with warmth and familiarity that “they recognize you from your LinkedIn photo!”

5. Ask Others for a Pat on the Back

One of the best features of a LinkedIn profile is the “Recommendations” section. Build credibility with endorsements by asking for recommendations from colleagues, clients and partners. Every positive comment helps build your brand. And of course, remember to recommend others, too – “paying it forward” it always a good policy. Plus, believe it or not, but some people will want to see how you recommend others – so keep that in mind!

6. Keep it Current 

Things move ultra-fast in the corporate world, and it’s easy to let your LinkedIn profile gather dust and grow out of date. It’s essential that you stay on top of this, and ensure that your profile is updated at least weekly. Plus, be sure to join groups, contribute, post and share information that members within and beyond your network will find interesting. As a bonus, the more value you add, the more you’ll show up on news feeds – which will increase your name recognition and exposure in the marketplace. Don’t be the best kept secret in your industry!

The Bottom Line 

A rockin’ LinkedIn profile is just one of the many ways to brand yourself as an expert in your field. Make sure your brand is consistent and noticed on all relevant social media and online platforms. You’ll attract more opportunities and increase your professional reputation by building communities who recognize you as a thought leader in your industry.  Use LinkedIn as part of your online strategy to stand out – and stay ahead!

Last week I was invited to the MIT Sloan Graduation. It was my first time attending and I looked forward to not only seeing our graduate walk, but hearing the guest speaker, Matt Damon.
The reason I’m writing about this is important.
Wherever you go and have an audience of at least one, you’ve got a PR opportunity. Matt Damon, a kid from the hood turned movie star crafted an engaging story and weaved humor, smarts, his experience and desire to make an impact on this world at MIT graduation.

The stage was his personal PR platform to deliver a message and call to action, as well as educate the audience about his own project, Water.org. Funny, engaging and not jokingly poking fun at the banking system, Matt was authentically Matt.  His take and mine: You don’t need to be a movie star to be who you are and make an impact.  

A few takeaways from Matt Damon’s commencement address at MIT:
  • “Go out and do really interesting things, real or imagined because this world has some problems and you need to drop everything and go solve them.
  • Turn toward the problems you see and don’t just turn toward them.  Engage with them.  Walk right up to them, then look yourself in the eye and decide what you’re going to do about them.
  • There’s a lot of trouble out there, but there’s a lot of beauty too. I hope you see both.
  • You’re going to fail sometimes and that’s a good thing. The world wants to hear your ideas, good and bad, but you need to keep listening.
  • And, there’s not always a high-tech solution (or an app) for everything.”
If you’d like to watch the commencement, click here.

Ready to take action? Use your platform wherever it may be to share your message. If it matters to you, chances are it matters to someone else.

One by one, we all can make a difference.

A recent client asked for a promotional strategy to promote her event and though it varies by industry, target audience and personal preference, I found certain similarities and tasks that needed to be completed.  I thought I would share some of them with you as an overview of what you’ll want to think about. Keep in mind that this is a sampling for a local event, not an entire plan of social media, onsite event strategy and presentation preparation.

Sample PR Checklist for Your Upcoming Event  

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Now, the bigger the event the more promotion you’ll need to fill the room. There’ll be website promotion, Twitter mention and strategy as well as being part of a social media support group who will co-promote on your behalf.  There are also Facebook posting opportunities on your personal and business page and the possibility to boost content where it counts the most.

LinkedIn promotion may also be considered if appropriate on your own page as well as in groups you belong to. You can also ask for plugs from clients and event organizers, and distribute flyers at networking groups and speaking gigs.  Heck, even friends of friends in your inner circle will say a good word if you ask them to help out.

No matter what promotional tactics you use, never underestimate the power of picking up the phone. Many would rather die than call. I’d rather call than die.  Make 50 calls a day and you can get used to anything.

I’ve got 10 pages of ideas that I could share with you, but it would get too detailed and I want you to feel inspired, not bogged down with a giant PR and marketing plan and to-do list. There’s a wheel house of strategies that can be used over and over again. Some will work, others will fail miserably. But, you have to try.

Holding an event is an investment in showcasing your expertise and building your business. Be sure you have enough help to promote your event online and offline, before the event, during the event and post event. And even though the event ends, you’ll still be promoting the content in one way or another, your next workshop, upcoming speaking gig, new products and services – and the list goes on.

Be it free or paid, creating and hosting an event takes courage and promoting it to the right audience, who likes, knows and trusts you – as well as finds value in what you teach, makes all the difference in the world.

The first step in planning an event is making the decision to have an event. The step isn’t really a step though. It’s a quantum leap in promoting who you are and the courage to speak your truth.

Teach to reach!

My tagline is “Don’t Be the Best Secret in Town” and it’s no secret that I love to teach small business owners, experts, authors and professionals how to promote your business and brand. Why? I’ve studied and practiced PR and promotion for over two decades and it comes naturally to me.  I also love to see people succeed and share their gifts so they can sell more products and services.

Even though there are hundreds of ways to promote yourself, there are a few timeless principles that I’d like to share.

1)  Go outside your comfort range and step into the brand you want to be. If that means faking it until you make it, go for it. The feeling is what you’re going for, hand in hand with inspired action. Determine your core values and make every decision from there. You won’t go wrong.
2)  Keep moving forward. We all get discouraged and may want to hide in bed, but that’s precisely when you have to jump back up and restart the engines. There isn’t one flower that I know of that blooms 365 days a year.
3)  Make a dedicated effort to learn. There are countless videos, programs, articles, webinars, classes, and experts in your subject field that know more than you. That’s a good thing. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I’d rather grow today, thank you.
4)  Acknowledge that you’re an expert in training. We can all learn from one another and even the smallest piece of advice that you take, digest or tweak can move your business in the right direction. Sometimes these experts are disguised and are at networking meetings at 7am. Set your alarm clock for 5:30.
5) Hang with, hire or be a part of a group that’s smarter, richer and more successful than you. You’ll get to where you want to go quicker when you listen to the voice of experience. It’s worth the time, effort and money to hear how others have accomplished goals.
I would add that you want to be accountable to yourself, a group you’ve put together or a Mastermind. But, don’t underestimate the power of a mentor or coach who you trust. Find the right one and they can transform your life and business. You still have to do the work though!
Oh, and write down your goals. When you follow these timeless principles and put pen to paper, or pen to pictures, you’ll become a manifesting machine.

LinkedIn has so many opportunities to showcase your skills, expertise and talent. And, one of the most underutilized PR and marketing opportunities is publishing on LinkedIn Pulse. It’s a platform to write about your expert topic, repurpose your blogs and presentations and engage an eager audience who want to learn more. Posting on LinkedIn Pulse increases your credibility, reputation and ability for others to like, know and trust you, as well as share and comment on your work.

Publishing Articles on LinkedIn is Easy – Here’s How You Do It

  1. First, you need to have a LinkedIn account which can be as simple or complex as you want, but please make it key word rich and complete in all categories – highlighting your experience. Thumbs up to everyone who takes more than 30 minutes to create a compelling profile and posts a professional headshot. (A high resolution photo is always preferred for when you’re picked up by the media.)
  2. There are two ways to publish on LinkedIn Pulse, but the easiest is to post an article from your home page where you see “Publish A Post”. You’ll have an opportunity to write about your signature topic in depth, create a catchy headline, upload a recent image (or create your own graphic on Canva) and then post your The format is user-friendly and whether you know anything about WordPress or not, it should be a breeze. (this is the end)
  3. Consider writing at least two times a month, but weekly is even better. A longer article with about 500 – 750 words is preferred to provide valuable information and insight on your expert topic, and aim to pen at least five paragraphs. Remember, this isn’t a sales pitch. Publishing on LinkedIn is all about showcasing your knowledge.
  4. If you’re short on time, it’s possible to repurpose older blogs and change up the titles, intros and outros, but only if they’re not already posted on Pulse. You probably have a wealth of digital assets and information in your head, so plan to get it all on paper/online and create an editorial calendar to stay on target and for tracking success. Be sure to vary up the times and platforms posting your articles so there’s consistency but not duplication.
  5. Need Inspiration? Even the best writers get stuck for ideas. Feel free to check out topics that are trending on LinkedIn and Twitter, research BuzzSumo, refer to questions clients and prospects are asking, dive into Quora to see what others are inquiring about – and always be listening to what’s going on in your industry and what your target audience should know to stay ahead of the game.

One of my clients is having great success with LinkedIn Pulse. She blogs regularly and writes a weekly article about her expert topic. I love how she’s built her credibility and reputation from writing and engaging with her readers, as well as networking to the max. She’s taken what’s in her head, put it on paper and tweaked it multiple ways to reach a wide and growing target audience.  Always improving her analytics to match leads and sales, she pays attention to the various groups she’s a part of, listening then writing.

Now, if you’re wondering what days are best to post, recent research has shown that it’s typically Thursday and Sunday, but you should check with your own industry trends. Again, don’t send your blog and post your article the same day.  Mix it up to get the max.

Be strategic in your thinking, writing, and sharing.

You’ve worked hard to write outstanding content. Now promote it via LinkedIn Pulse and other social media platforms to reach your target audience, and turn prospects and customers into raving fans.

And the good thing is, it’s all free!

I’m a big believer in using events to grow your business. Events provide a forum for you to showcase your expertise, grow your database, make new contacts and attract new clients.  And, if you’re in the front of the room as the expert and love engaging with the audience, it’s also fun!

In this article  5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Events by Eventgenioso, you’ll find events other than tradeshows to increase your ROI. Some examples? Experiential events for brand activation or product launches which pique the media’s attention. Training or seminars with high profile speakers in your industry, that even the fussiest client can’t refuse. And, incentive travel for new prospects and to jazz up your sales team. Fuel prices are low, everyone loves to travel and you can mix and match programs to target your goals. Have the courage to make it a mystery trip? 

As an INBOUND Guest Blogger (blogging is a great way to get media mention BTW), Joel Comm talks about using live events to drive business. In his post Live Events: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Business, he discusses the importance of meeting new people and building rapport with your audience. First, there’s getting to the like, know and trust stage. Then comes the opportunity to do business. Yes, live events can be fun and should be – but don’t forget the value of finding out what’s new (and trending) from vendors and starting conversations with strangers, who may one day be your client! 

Lastly, Constant Contact’s UK blog lists 7 Events to Grow Your Business with content definitely worth mentioning. You may be thinking networking or throwing a party right off the bat, but what about an Open House? I’ve suggested this to hospitals to Meet the Doc. There are also events to Get a Taste of “your subject”, expert/customer panels where advice and testimonials can be shared openly (great PR) and of course, Breakfast n’ Learn, to start the day off right. Make your own waffles, anyone?

Events work to build business, expert status, reputation and credibility.

PASSION 

Passion ignites the fire of your brand. Without it, you’re just like everyone else. The press wants to highlight intriguing and passionate people, products and services that their readers will be interested in.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s your passion and why?
  • Do you include your passion in your “story” so others can get to know you, your products and services, and what you stand for?
  • Are you willing to be transparent and let the world know who you really are?

Remember: A passion for your work + life enhance your
brand and celebrate your uniqueness.

POSITIONING 

Positioning is a mindset for success. Combine it with a road map for where you want to go, be seen and heard. Determine where you want to go not just in your imagination, but on paper and as part of a PR/promotions plan.

Ask yourself:

  • What does your road map look like for media and audience attention?
  • Are you following the same highway as others in your industry, or are you willing to be bolder and combine traditional with non-traditional tactics?
  • Who will set the course for the journey, and who’ll read the map?

Remember: Welcome those who fortify, strengthen and evolve your positioning, and be willing to help others do the same.

PREPARATION 

Be prepared for success and consider yourself an expert, even if you don’t think you are. The road will come to meet you if you’re doing the work and course correction is part of the journey. You’ll find it easier to leverage publicity with every new press mention.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your competition advertising or promoting on and off line?
  • How is your competition utilizing PR in the media and in what formats? (e.g. feature stories, articles, interviews, quotes, podcasts, book jacket reviews, etc).
  • Who will support you to ensure success?

Remember: You can create a PR swipe file of what you like, resonate with,
and aspire to. Imagine yourself in the story, on TV, as a featured panelist. What makes you different? 

PERSONALITY 

Make yourself unique interesting to the press. Start with a BIO that’s full of personality and passion, and ensure that it tells your story in a way that holds the reader’s attention and makes a positive and memorable impression.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have both a long and a short version of your BIO for different purposes? (e.g. media interviews, teleseminars, articles, email signatures, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, etc.)
  • Are you reviewing your BIO 3 months to keep up with your professional growth?
  • Is your BIO transparent and human, yet highlights your credentials and expert status?

Remember: Include at least 5 things others don’t know about you. They can be accomplishments, hobbies or interests that others may find fascinating. 

PRESENTATION

A professional presentation, photos and website get you past the gatekeeper for a longer look. Ensure that all of your on line and off line branding, photos, collateral and correspondence have a professional look and feel, and that you represent yourself as an expert – with all the bells and whistles expected of someone of your caliber. Look like a million dollar brand.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you maintaining a congruent look and presentation design with your website, newsletters, blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • Are you investing in professional headshots and lifestyle photos that portray you and your brand in your best light?
  • Are your promotional materials well written in a style and tone suitable for your industry?

Remember: Presentation is equally important for in-person meetings and media interactions. You are your brand wherever you go so dress the part at events, interviews, conferences, speaking engagements – even community gatherings. Be stylish and honor your brand!

PITCHABILITY 

Pitching an idea to the media takes some practice and perfecting, but once you understand how each media works, and how to get pitch ideas, the easier it becomes. Start by reading a reporter’s writing for insight on “how to pitch” them.

Plus, check out their Twitter, Facebook and website pages for insights on their writing style and preferences. You can also use pitch query services like HARO to reach reporters looking for your expertise, and check editorial calendars of magazines in which you’d like to be featured.

Ask yourself:

  • What story can I tell that highlights a new way of doing something, a product that will make life easier, an opinion that’s contrary to popular thinking, or a tie in to a movie or celebrity event?
  • What are some major trends right now, and what are the best ways to tie your pitch to them?
  • What are some national events that can be localized?

Remember: Don’t pitch stories already covered.
You can also try turning your pitch into a “top 10 tips” list. 

Take these 6 P’s and apply them to your business today!

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 15 minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
– Warren Buffet

I just taught a PR class on Digital Marketing at Salem State University, so I wanted to share the lesson. It’s about How to Prepare for a PR Crisis – not if it happens, but when it happens. Most of us sail through life and business, but at some point you’ll be caught off guard and it’s not always your fault. Here’s my version of a crisis management plan. Put it in place now to protect what you’ve worked so hard for. Protect your ‘ass-ets’!

9 Steps to a PR Crisis Plan

  1. Put together a crisis management team before a crisis. You may not think you’ll ever have a PR crisis, but if you’re in business it’s not only possible, it’s probable. Include your CEO, legal, marketing, HR and yes – your PR person to be part of this influential life/business saving circle.
  2. We all know you’re busy, but you have to listen. What are your employees, community, customers, enemies and advocates saying? Pick up chatter early enough and you might save yourself time, upset and a major PR crisis. Oh, did I mention lots of money?
  3. As in any relationship, it’s wise to preview expectations. What works for your personal relationships can work in business too. If you say you’re going to call back a customer in 48 hours, do that. If your policy is to call them within 24 hours and don’t follow through, you’ve lost their trust. Here’s an easy rule. Under promise and over deliver.
  4. Being transparent isn’t a bad thing. If you’re a CEO you might see this as a sign of weakness, but being transparent shows that you bleed like everyone else and you’re human. People like, know and trust humans as well as brands. If you’re the leader of the pack and you’ve messed up, admit it and don’t fudge the details. Position them accordingly.
  5. Everyone has made mistakes so how will you respond? My suggestion is to be mindful and thoughtful in your responses to all who have been affected. Someone or a group has been offended or worse, and often there’s more than a BAND-AID® needed. To fix relationships, TLC is needed to build trust again.
  6. You might be angry but for heaven’s sake keep calm. It’s hard to keep your cool when you’ve been attacked and it takes some coaching to stay even keeled. It’s also difficult to not take everything personally. You’ll never be everyone’s best friend.  If you want a best friend, adopt a dog.
  7. Who has ‘keys’ to your social media accounts? A really frazzled fired employee who has your passwords to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn might post something negative about you, your staff or business practices. Put a system in place and know who has the passwords to your social media accounts and online voice to the world. Hint: This is critical.
  8. Create social media guidelines that are simple to understand. Sure you can’t control what your employees post on their own social media accounts, but you can ask them to adhere to certain guidelines about your company without infringing on their freedom. Every employee, vendor or volunteer is a brand ambassador for your company. Make sure they share a voice that aligns with your brand, not one that fights it.
  9. Your mom gave you good advice. You’ll never be perfect or please everybody. As a leader every day you step up to the plate and take risks. Some work out and some don’t. My ask is that you think ahead to what might be problematic and plan for it, without being paranoid. Fear puts you in a paralysis state often enough – and you’ve got things to do, places to go and a brand to build.

Create a community and brand advocates that love you and will go to bat on your behalf when times are tough. Don’t hide from bad news. Take a deep breath and suck it up. It not only builds character, but it also builds a stronger brand.

When I was a Girl Scout, this was our motto – and I think it still is.

I’ve been promoting for most of my life. Ideas, interesting concepts, friends, schools, my kids, favorite consignment stores. You name it, I’ve always found a way to accentuate the positive. I learned it from my Dad, the ultimate promoter and influencer.

“When there’s a will there’s a way,” he would tell me.  By learning marketing, PR strategies and how to maximize ROI, he beckoned us to take advantage of every opportunity, live life – and live it up!

In How to Get Great Free Publicity from WikiHow.com, we get more than a few ideas to grab attention and get through to the media without spending a fortune.

  • I love the tip if a journalist “blows you off” tell them you’re new at this and ask for help.
  • Or, how about getting the right phone number for a journalist by researching Hoovers.com

 Click here to find other Free PR strategies.  

Lisa Furgison, from VerticalResponse.com shares 7 Tools to Get Free Publicity for Your Business for small business owners.  I’ve been a fan of  free online directories  for quite some time, but Lisa sweetens the pot adding these tips: 

  • Use a shortened version of your bio to create a resource box at the end of articles or guest blogs. Make every word count and include a call to action; Grab Your Free Report. Download this Checklist. Contribute to my trip to Bora Bora. (Why not?)
  • Sign up for a 7-day free trial to Contact A Celebrity and see for yourself how your brand or cause aligns with a potential 60,000 celebrities. See if they participate in a “gift program” where they’ll review your product. No guarantees of course, but why not try?  

 Find other Publicity Tips here that won’t cost you a dime.

I’ll add my name to the hat with a free report I’ve created called the ABC’s of Free Publicity. Discover how you can mix and match PR strategies with an alphabet of tips and tricks to choose from to maximize your visibility, credibility and expert status. Download the Report Now and Promote Your Business or Brand – Even Without a PR Budget.

Take advantage of all of these Free Publicity strategies and learn to market your business or brand on a dime.  Why not, Bora Bora might beckon you too!