Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Two Ends of the Spectrum

I'm very supportive of our fans, and try to go out of the way to help them. However, when you get helpdesk emails like this:

Request Description:I am presently using Windows Vista
Business. When I try to acquire the audio feed, I keep having a problem
with my internet explorer crashing and closing. I am using 230kbps dial
up with my Alltel mobile phone. Could you please assist me with this
issue: I am presently missing the OU/AR game... !!!

Well, it's certainly ambitious to try to take any level of streaming content, even audio, by tethering to a cell phone. Not saying you can't do it -- I've tethered many a day to update the website or surf content. Let's just say 230K might be hitting the phone (maybe) at one point, but I'd highly doubt you're going to maintain that with the type of consistency needed.

I'll applaud the desire to stay connected.

Streaming media -- audio, video or data -- is the greatest challenge you will face. No matter how much tech support you line up behind the effort, it is always vulnerable to gremlins. This is the internet at its highest low. By that, I mean very few people go on-line when they are happy; once again my concept that commentary on-line for the vast majority is an essentially negative medium.

Want to check your self-esteem? Read the tickets for your schools' website for a week, or maybe just one day when you're having a streaming event.

I don't necessarily fault the passion (even the frustration and anger), but it has given me a different perspective when I get mad with some other provider. Next time you get torqued, remember, there is a human, not a computer, on the other side of the browser.

On the other side, there is the growing number of content providers that are enabled by our continuing lowering of the technology level. Dan Gilmoor spoke to this future in which all the fans have 3G connectivity with HD phone cams to not only blog or twitter, but to stream our events.

Last night's OU game had generated its share of iPhone picks of the facility, and several blog-like diaries. At least one had to get a pretty good platform into the stands, or one heck of a thumb set. This will be a growing trend, and if they are university students or staff, they'll have access to the facility wireless and the potential to send their blog work out in real time.

We need to begin to prepare more and more for these two extremes -- servicing our fan's digital consumption needs and managing our fan's digital creation desires.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Speak the Heresy

I learned long ago in graduate school, it's plagiarism to steal from one; it's research to steal from many. Another great bromide I've promoted here is to see the public relations future, watch the current political races.

Submitted for your approval for the umpteenth time this year -- the Obama internet machine glimpses the one-to-many future. The fund raising. The FRIEND raising. Here's another story about some of the inner works by Jose Antonio Vargas from the Washington Post. The payoff quote:

Now, because of technology in general and the Internet in particular, politics has become something tangible. Politics is right here. You touch it; it's in your laptop and on your cellphone. You control it, by forwarding an e-mail about a candidate, donating money or creating a group. Politics is personal. Politics is viral. Politics is individual.

Search and replace "politics" for "college athletics."

Here's the killer detail: More than 90 folks on the internet staff. That's 10 less than 100. That's about 90 times the number of dedicated internet personnel in most athletic departments. It's 45 times the number at Arkansas.

One more line from Vargas.

It also means using the Internet to invite people into the process, giving them something to work for, offering them a stake in victory or defeat.

Tell me friends, does he speak for politics or [Your Team Name Here]?

As you read the story, there is a very important detail about the Obama internet machine; it was organic to the organization, embedded in every operation from communications to fund raising. You cannot overlook this point.

The next wave of successful internet isn't outsourced. It isn't sold off to some conglomerate. It's managed and directed by people who know the landscape, who know the local players, who are integrated within the wider community of the institution. As sure as astro-turfing shows up, so will those who claim they can ride in and immediately begin to reap Obama-like rewards.

No, that starts with natives who know the countryside. People who understand the brand and live the culture. Hmm, now what office best embodies that . . . .

Friday, December 26, 2008

SID Simulator

OK, how much can you get out of Hell's Kitchen as a video game?
My wife hasn't put down the Wii remote (even bypassing her beloved Price is Right new Wii game -- which is also pretty cool). The tart nasty is right there from Gordon Ramsey's faint praise and snide commentary. But the adrenalin rush of balancing the front of house with back of house and the strangely tense feeling you get from the stock Ramsey cliches (COME ON, PLEASE; You DONKEY!).
Want to get a good feel of what its like in the SID office on a late October weekend with home soccer, road streaming volleyball, a football game and the start of basketball season -- jump in on the middle levels working five tops and the back kitchen with three pots and an oven.
I need you to really, seriously, up your game, says Gordon.

Yeah, And He Likes to Hear Himself Talk

Took time this morning to answer some survey questions for a student at Baldwin-Wallace on a senior thesis. A lot of the subjects covered here in the blog, most notably Fan First.
Couple of the questions got me thinking a little after the hour and a half (he seemed a bit surprised that I'd take that much time on Boxing Day -- well, there's no games today).
The first one -- did I feel it was necessary to see a story in the newspaper to have considered it successful? I think the yes answer wasn't the one anticipated, but it is that it remains important to have a story covered by the area's dominant news brand. That it appears in dead trees or on-line isn't the key; it is that the local legacy agenda-setter of news deemed it worth. That remains important.
The second -- what did I see different about the media today? As you might suspect, this is where things got long-winded but I think a generational mind-set shift is in play. Boomers and Gen-X'ers still cling to the Watergate-era impartial journalist model. Being a fan of the Ben Bradlee school takes you right there.
But if you were born in the 1990s, Bradlee and the Washington Post was something that was forced on you in a movie watching assignment in mass comm class. The way you grew up consuming news was from the Crossfire school -- two polarized commentators duking it out. Whole networks are programmed this way today. Doesn't matter whether you're a Fox, CNN or MSNBC follower -- the formula is the same from 7 eastern to 10 eastern, conflict journalism.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

All The President's Commentary

Saving my anniversary copy of All The President's Men for later, I sit up with the features and commentary disk. Throughout the pieces, the lions of the era -- Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Linda Ellerbe -- opine how today it could never happen.
They point out how much it takes in manpower and money to support investigative efforts. How if faced by the right-wing machine of talk radio and the Republican White Houses today how they doubted a media institution like the Washington Post could stand up against the corporate pressure.
I'm sitting here -- granted with a lot of cough syrup -- amazed at the lack of faith displayed.
Two key thoughts come to mind. First, a legacy media company does have assets that can be threatened. But they also have lawyers, reputation and numbers to resist. The New York Times certainly didn't back off when the Bush administration put the pressure on over the WMD stories.
Second, and more important, the blog and cloud have advantages that Woodward and Bernstein could not imagine. What exactly is a government or corporate entity going to do to a committed blogger? It's asymetrical warfare. The institution has the assets and reputation -- both is could lose. What's the blogger got? A computer? A rented apartment?
The cloud of bloggers can't be hit directly. It's like the Resistance Movement. Knock out one investigator, he's already shared his info with five others who can pick up the trail. Just ask Dan Rather, it grows like a virus.
Still, it was funny to watch the legends say it can't happen again. Tres pompous.

On the Holiday Reading List

Our good friend and citizen media savant Dan Gillmor brings to our attention a new report from the Berkman Center on the new media called Media Re:public.

There's is much to read and digest in this report, and that will wait for days off [HA!] during the holiday break. There is one highlight for now, and it is a new breakdown that the authors propose regarding the different flavors of media:

Legacy Media -- They began in the pre-Internet era, and while may be very active players, remain non-native. A great term rather than "traditional" or "main stream."

Web-Native Media -- Better than "new media" -- or as one colleague said, if you're in charge of new media, does that mean I'm in charge of the old media -- or "advanced media" -- another comment being, so if MLB had an advanced media division, does that mean the rest of public relations in backward -- and it speaks to the nature of the beast: these are media born on-line that exist for first distribution on-line. When the creators of and write books, they don't become legacy -- their content was created for original distribution on-line.

Participatory Media -- To me, this is the best term; better than my own catchy B&B (boards and blogs). These are, using the Jay Rosen phrase "people formerly known as the audience," the interactives, and an intersting point is made -- we had these before and we called them letters to the editor, CATV access and radio call-in shows.

I like the way they related to the past -- another constant theme that there are indeed constant themes. Scale and speed are the real change factors, not the internet itself.

Dan also weighs in on the GateHouse v. NYT dispute on copyright.

Merry Christmas

Nothing like the gleeful squeal of children getting just what they wanted for Christmas. An iPhone for the oldest, a digital camera for the youngest.
So three old classic movies for me -- and a hellacious chest cold. Somewhat of a twisted family tradition; I can recall the Christmas' without either illness for family catastrophe on my two hands.
But I digress. I haven't seen one of my all-time favorite movies in years.
None of other than the greatest John Wayne documentary of all time.
Uh, that would be Hellfighters, thank you.
As a child, I was obsessed with the Red Adair legend, and rewatching the movie (unremastered on DVD and while wide screen, quite rastered) with an adult's eyes I can see why. No less than three holidays (a New Year's, a Christmas and a wedding) get trashed by the call out to put out a oil rig fire. Hmm, paging Dr. Freud.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not so Happy Holidays

Not to harsh your mellow for the holidays, but if you have missed Facebookgate while wrapping presents or getting ready for time off, the must-read quick synopsis of the event comes from The Chronicle.

The highlights: A company called College Prowler created dozens of Class of 2013 groups on official Facebook sites associated with universities. Potential members of the incoming freshman class joined up. That's where things get dark.

Did College Prowler create the fake groups, based on fake college students at the school for access, just to promote their new "free" service?

Unlikely. Remember, anything that is free on-line eventually has a cost. Like, oh let's say, your personal data?

That's one of the reasons now surfacing for the scam. College Prowler now has all sorts of great data.

The other is that College Prowler may have been a Trojan horse to get data and help launch a new Facebook competitor.

Either way, it serves as a reminder for our student-athletes -- give up your personal data to ANY website at your own risk.

Warm Thoughts on Web Feedback

Listening to Leo Laporte on his final TWIT of the 2008 year, the crew had several comments about the feedback they see and receive on "back channels" -- that is, chat rooms. They had several comments about the "yelping" of America.

When a little time presents itself, I'll share the following with Laporte.

Leo -- the reality of sports media is the essentially negative nature of the internet. Fans don't take the time to come to a chat room when they are happy. When they're happy, they celebrate among themselves. When they're upset, they are motivated to do some, to complain. Whether we like it or not, the internet is an essentially negative medium.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Where Does Publicity End and Copyright Begin?

Pondering after a story that was clearly a website-only "mechanical" was picked up by a local newspaper word-for-word as if we had sent that story out as a publicity release.

On the one hand, we want our media outlets to help promote events.

On the other, the reality is on some level, our web sites compete for the attention of consumers.

The issue is as fresh as the news. Just this week, two media groups -- New York Times and Huffington Post -- found themselves sued by bloggers for copyright infringement. (Click here for GateHouse against NYT; here for Huffington's troubles.)

I do not have the answer here -- and would be interested in some of the reader's feedback.

Certainly, when we write press releases that we send to our media outlets, we intend on them to be used verbatim. We don't ask for credit, but many outlets do that to differentiate between staff written and externally written copy.

This question relates to when we write something that is only for our site -- the term I use is a "mechanical." The only reason the short blurb existed was to create a vehicle to hang links to a game -- tickets, video, live stats, etc. It was a promo that only turned on within 24 hours of the event. My surprise when that appears in the paper.

This incident is truly insignificant, but it gets me wondering. As we begin to create more and more original content for our websites -- live blogs, in-house columns -- and some of that belongs to premium services -- not as much for us, but I know it is at other schools -- where is the line between publicity and copyright?

Judging from this week's national news, I don't think this is going away.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Fav MLS, and New Media

I'm intrigued with the Seattle Sounders, who will play 2009 season for MLS. I like the minority owner, Drew Carey (yeah, that guy), and the way he's bringing some of the interesting angles like the Barcelona FC tradition of fan stakes in the ownership. Liking the keeper, Kasey Keller. Liking the manager hire, picking off my man from the Crew. Liking the rumor of Theirry Henry as a potential designated player pick-up. I know they may have my son's allegiance thanks to the sponsor -- XBox 360. OK, that is a bit sexier than Gliddeon, who sponsors my Columbus Crew.

But here's an interesting angle that I picked up in surfing around to catch up on the Sounders -- the interactive of the team showing off the new stripe is a YouTube video. It's not from KING, or any of the other big name TV stations in Seattle. It's from the Seattle Times, closing with a credit for the video editor.

Video editor? At a newspaper? Yeah, welcome to the Brave New World that is the post-modern media.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chronicle article athletics adminstrators must read

Perfect follow-on to the last entry -- pointing out a great story that is the lead article on the Dec. 19 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Libby Sandler's last story in her series on athletic recruiting is a survey of 300 athletes about the recruiting process. This is a great starting point, and one that I have desperately wanted the NCAA, CoSIDA, NACDA, somebody of authority to authorize -- but in much greater detail.

We don't know spit about the recruiting process, particularly when it relates to publicity materials and their impact. It's because all we have are the anecdotal and self-reinforcing impressions of a few recruiting battles won or lost. (Hint to the academic world: this is one of those survey projects I want to undertake, but I doubt the NCAA would clear since i'd obviously benefit from the knowledge in fine-tuning our own recruiting approach).

Among the questions posed by Sandler that should open a lot of eyes: 97% of the respondents said that how the institution, athletic department and students showed interest in their sport swayed their decision. 50% said extremely; 47% said moderately important. Want to succeed in the "minor" sports? Have a department that gives a flip, and the better athletes will come.

Another one -- 42% said the reputation of the head coach was extremely important in their decision; 46% moderately. That one for all the folks concerned about coaching salaries, or thinking that great facilities sign athletes. People sign people, not buildings. (The counter point: you're not going to get a Nobel laureate without a first-class research facility; why would anyone expect a top-flight coach to work in a run-down stadium or arena?).

The survey results show a huge amount of work left to perform -- how accurate were those two 90-plus positive results?

There's one in the prose that should raise the eyebrows of everyone:

"The survey also showed that as recruiting spreads to ever-younger athletes, the recruits are making greater numbers of unofficial visits to campus before their senior year."

The implication -- all those restrictions on contact before the start of the junior year, and materials restrictions before the senior year -- are preventing institutions from being effective.

Nevertheless, our national organizations are obsessed with limits on printing, limits on content, limits on methods of communication. This study begs -- screams -- the question: has anyone asked the prospects how they are interacting with the schools, with the coaches, with each other.

Hey, I know that answer: No.

Anti-Intellectualism Toward Athletics

Read carefully the headline before proceeding. I find more and more an attitude toward collegiate athletics that reflects a pretty strong bias (thus the "toward" rather than "in"). Granted, my recent encounters are personal, but I was surprised at how open, how "honest" some academics have been.

I'm beginning to understand just how truly platypus it is to have a doctorate in a "hard" liberal arts field (in my case, history) and engage in a career in athletics. Certainly, there are plenty of academicians who have their PhDs, but live in the administrative world. They're deans, and technical specialists -- like registrars, student life, media relations -- that never touch a classroom, or teach the occasional single class.

But no one questions their credentials to their face.

When we bemoan the decline of the media as the centering point of society -- that we only seek the news that reinforces our own previously established opinions -- is that some new trend brought about by the physically fracturing, virtually uniting nature of the internet?

Perhaps it is more a reflection of ourselves than we want to admit. To that end, we expect "ah-thu-leah-tix" be a bunch of dumb jocks; the assumption is you can't be very bright. I mean, really; if you were, you'd be in [fill in the blank].

That may be in part because we in athletics don't take the time to cross over; to illustrate the intelligence side of the sport; to demand it from our athletes and ourselves.

To that end, I'd urge any professor to ask to see the playbook for their college or university football team; the scouting report for their basketball team's next opponent. We ask those young people to memorize and internalize those mounds of information. The difference between the winners and losers is often as much the mental acumen as it is the physicality. (Of course, this would beg the counter point of -- they can master cover-two, why not hikous?)

One of my students at the area junior college where I teach history as an adjunct came up to me about halfway through the course. He wanted to let me know how much he enjoyed the course, how much he now understood the parts of history we had covered and that he was curious what other courses I taught so he could sign up.

"You know, I was afraid you wouldn't be very good when you said you worked in athletics."

I smiled and admitted, yes, when you've come from a high school where good old Coach was sent down the hall to teach American history as his academic assignment, that can be the case. And I thanked him for his compliments.

That reaction is one I've become accustomed to -- I have to prove to the students, be it the history ones at the community college or the journalism ones here at UA, that I really can teach, really do know the subject and really aren't in this room trying to make a little extra money on the side.

Little more disappointing when your peers have the same approach.

So, as we head into the holidays, my New Year's wish is that perhaps both sides of the equation will do a little more to tamp down the anti-intellectualism toward sports. In return for a little more respect from the academic side, we need to demand and promote more the "student" in student-athlete.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Shoe Throwing

Couple of random thoughts while hoping the stat computer will reboot . . .

Iraqi journalist throws shoes at President of United States. Segments of world see it as apropos protest move. President says no big deal, and it's the price of democracy.

Consider these angles:

First, the shoes were also thrown toward an Iraqi leader. What happens if that leader was Saddam Hussein? Pretty sure it never happens out of fear of the repercussions, and if it does, said journalist gets more than broken ribs in the hustling out of the building. Pretty sure he gets . Maybe some of his family, too.

Second, is it a sign of growing Iraqi freedom that a dissident could throw shoes, or just a growing lack of respect for those in power. See, the flip side of saying that the action is part of a free country is the understanding that someone thinks you're "weak" enough that they won't die for throwing the shoe.

Last, what in the world does it have to do with college athletics? How often do your fans throw things at players, officials, etc.? Usually happens when they are really, really mad.

I digress with a true story. Fan at an NCAA tournament game throws shoe onto the court. Event security heads up into the section where the shoe came from. This should be a pretty easy collar -- look for the kid with one shoe. Crafty, these students. The whole group had discarded one shoe. Game management can't easily find the offender, but smiles on the inside. He'll wait them out. Why? 'Cause it was snowing outside, and there was no way the whole group would go outside in the cold with just one shoe.

Back to the subject at hand. Today, the fan base is more than willing to throw shoes. And at least three of the seven words George Carlin said you couldn't use on television. In the past three days, I've answered extremely scatological screeds over streaming video. I'm not doubting the end users were having problems, but more times than not, they are not on the provider side.

Perhaps I'm early in this academic year to make this prediction, but I might have the logic winner of the complaint email. We and our video stream "suck" (his word, not mine) because we can't get the Windows Media files to play on his high-end Mac (clue one -- you need Flip-for-Mac to watch WMF on any Mac). Here was the payoff pitch -- ESPN can figure this out, why can't you?

Lemme parse that for a moment. ESPN spends millions of dollars -- I mean tens of millions -- on backbone, infrastructure and technology. They reap millions of dollars -- the same tens, thereof -- from advertising. This in turn allows them to have a very, very nice free product -- free to the end user, I might add. AT&T and Verison are paying a pretty penny to "give" you ESPN 360. NBC sunk a similar chunk into Silverlight for the Beijing Olympics. And it was beautiful; hugely successful.

Folks -- It's $9.95 a month. We've got two people on the stream itself. We've got a pretty robust distribution system. And, routinely around 250-300 viewers each men's basketball game; about 450-500 on PPV football. Next month, we'll do 100-200 on gymnastics. Out of that, we get about five percent with trouble. We can help some. Our service provider helps others.

This is not an exact science, and while we're pumping out a lot of content, we're not a network operation. A lot of that content, I might add, that wasn't available before.

It's not perfect. It's getting better as the technology spreads out to more people. It will be the future. Reminds me of hooking together manual phone couplers in the late 1980s to create a radio "network" from a bank of phones in our offices. Today, it works a lot smoother with ISDN and satellites -- but you know what, it can still break and go out.

I know -- fans are passionate. And they're prone to throw shoes when they're upset. We'll just keep ducking.

Monday, December 15, 2008

E-Mail Primer

A great story in this week's Chron -- E-Mails Are Forever.

The money quote is this tip:

Compose every e-mail message as if the entire world will read it. While you may well be engaging in a "private" exchange with a colleague or supervisor, e-mail is by definition a public forum. Be cautious and thoughtful about what you commit to writing and how you phrase your messages. If an issue is especially delicate or controversial, pick up the phone.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Memo to the Old School

Just a follow-up message for those still believing we still control the fate of our brands during times of crisis, and for those who may still hold on to the belief that Arkansas fans, in particular, are hopped up on Cheetos dust nut cases for the events of 2007 and 2008.

Submitted for your approval: one robtigeralum and his brand new channel on YouTube.

Yes, I watched it. Yes, it had all the appearances of a one-off set-up. Yes, there's exactly one "disgruntled" fan greeting the Auburn athletic director at the airport.

But also, yes, as of 4:21 CST today, there have been 38,443 views of this video.

In 20 hours.

May we parse this a bit further, referencing in particular the recent unpleasantness here. To achieve this video required: A) tracking of the movements of the Auburn university plane [haven't checked yet, but wonder if they've taken it "private" to prevent similar events in the future], B) one man with a heck of an agenda is using YouTube video to go after athletic officials, C) there's considerable heat on the Auburn B&B over the whole process.

All three were noted as evidence of how over-the-top the Arkansas fan base was. Hmm. How about, ahead of the curve, instead.

To my friends and colleagues, we fight the future at our own peril. More to the point, to quote Rockhound (the Steve Buscemi character) from that seminal work, Armageddon:

It's time to embrace the horror.

There are two choices here. Wait for the meteor to hit your world or go out and meet it as soon as its detected.

Do I have the answers? No. Absolutely no. And just to be clear, NO.

This is not to point fingers at Auburn, where I have several close friends. This is a fill-in-the-blank with the name of the day situation. I am highly confident that a search would turn up similar videos/manifestos/flash animations for every one of the major Division I jobs, and for several that aren't open but some part of the fan base has decided it should be open.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Boyer Lectures

As previously mentioned, the Australian Broadcast Company sponsors an annual lecture series with a prominent Australian. This year, Rupert Murdoch was the speaker. There is much more in the actual lectures than the previous news reports highlighted. You can get the entire series either from the ABC's website, or from iTunes.

A drive for car service gave me time to take in all six -- I highly recommend them, but in particular, the second and third lectures.

Murdoch has a couple of particular insights I haven't seen covered. First, he points to the value of Matt Drudge's news judgment as the key to his website. Drudge serves as a city editor might have in the past, and his ability to glean from other sources and post his results is his particular genius. The way Murdoch explains it, then plays it against the dying age of the old-school editor "who determined what was and was not news".

The second is an expansion of this first -- that news organizations must evolve into "news brands." The reputation of the NYT is in its, well, reputation. If the Times backs a story, puts the stamp of its brand upon it, it adds a certain level of value over the same story from a one-man blog-shop.

Once again, it's value-added content people -- it's content that shall be the coin of the realm. As Murdoch titled his fourth lecture -- Fortune Favours the Smart.

Murdoch's other lectures get into very interesting details about the value of human capital, the need for education and the competitive impact of the rising world-wide middle class.

He also has some suggestions for the future of journalism education that should be taken straight to heart.

As a side note, we hear plenty about the BBC, but let me take a moment in praise of ABC. This is also the home of Gruen Transfer, which was a 10-episode show about the advertising industry that was part Meet the Press, part Daily Show.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creative Destruction

A good conversation today with a group of journalism professors got me thinking about the future of the business and this catch phrase going around in the business world: "creative destruction."

Sometimes, it just doesn't make sense to keep printing newspapers. Or magazines.

That doesn't mean the need for well-formed, cogent messages is gone. It just takes on a new form or uses a new transmission method.

Cross pollinating that thought with last week's TWIT podcast, some of the great innovations happen in times of troubled economic times. Sure, the crazy financing or venture capital dries up, but creative people will continue to be creative. And the tools to publish are cheaper than ever.

The Tribune company might be bankrupt, and the NYT is taking out a second on its building. It does not mean the end of journalism. It means a new beginning is here.

In their time, Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post were dominant. Once upon a time, CBS mattered. All they did was replace a penny press who came before them; and a pamphleteer before that.

Today, a journalist must be a writer, an editor and a publisher; a scribe, a recorder and a shooter. One person can repurpose the entire event: video tape and post the sound blast in its entirity, condense it to sound bites for a podcast and write commentary that refers back to the primary source -- the tape itself.

Hmm -- sounds a little like judge, jury and executioner. Well, that's where the journalism school comes in, now doesn't it, to provide the grounding as well as the advanced techniques.

More later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Calling a Time Out

Two days off for myself during the University's final exam break. A chance to catch up on home projects -- the first real days off since the transition started in earnest back in April. Use them or loose them, in University system.

Out of town part of this time -- but before heading out the door -- a passing nod to the stupidity of the governor of Illinois.

Let's put aside the fact you've been under investigation. How about the thought that as a public official, everything you say (or your wife says) may be recorded -- or at least copies requested when it is email.

Or, as a public official, did you think by avoiding email and using the phone you'd be OK/

Saturday, December 06, 2008


What to do when you have made a mistake with on-line content? The reaction of far too many is to scrub it -- delete the story, delete the link, etc. -- rather than post an update or an correction. Exposing these, of course, is the stock in trade of Regret the Error.

I highly recommend this post at Craig Silverman's website to illustrate the need for updating rather than scrubbing.

The gist -- in a highly linked, increasingly transparent world, an organization does itself no good by attempting to hide mistakes. Or, as Silverman says:

This is an example of why scrubbing is such an unethical and fundamentally unprofessional practice. On the web, you can’t just pretend that a mistake never happened. It’s already been cached, blogged, linked… Wales Online and especially the Press Association have to make an effort to spread the correct information. That’s journalism.

Please taken in the whole thread, including an update no less.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Facebook Faux Pas for Adults

If you are the prime speech writer for a presidential candidate, it's not a good idea to fondle a cardboard cutout of the opponent. Even worse to post those party pics anywhere on-line. Such is the dilemma of Barack Obama's chief wunderkind, Jon Favreau. The 27-year-old made the mistake, and it's been found by the mainstream media.

Al Kamen of the Washington Post has a very good column about the whole event, and points out something more significant than just the run of the mill photo gone bad. Kamen points out the two questions on the Obama team vetting form that relate, notably question 41:

"Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)"

Read more here

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Many A Truth Told in Jest

Chris Wyrick, one of our senior associates, is fond of that line as one of his touchstones.

The new episode of Mayne Street -- Hotel -- is the epitome of the saying. In one comedy bit, you get the full impact of the digital world, how it effects celebrity.

"This is a sad commentary on your generation," Mayne deadpans.

I'd make this required viewing in the next go-round of media training and social networking awareness.

I've noted how Mayne Street shows the Long Tail way to content -- and the detail work within this episode is magic. Stop frame on the faux websites that have dug up the past of Kenny's make believe producer and ESPN executive.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Every once in a while someone will inquire about a presentation or handout I've created. Email in and I'll share.

That said, starting Dec. 1, I'm formalizing a consultancy for new media, brand assessment and media training.

If you want your message to get through, call Rowan.

Web presence to follow on Jan. 1.