Saturday, May 30, 2009

I've Been Everywhere, Man

Yard work and a little Johnny Cash; good times -- between battling the up-and-down Twitter feed and remote supporting our away teams for

Twenty years last month here at Arkansas; 24+ in the SID business. Worked five Final Fours for the good times; had to face NCAA probation cases and bury some student-athletes way before their time for the bad. In between, people knew where my schools or teams stood, and we had very solid media relationships.

It is easy to be the spokesperson when it's the national championship -- or your hosting the national championship. Different when the coach was fired, or the athlete arrested; or worse.

For all the technology and the "new" media, it comes down to relationships, and how you manage them. Getting the message through is the key.

20 years -- didn't seem like a long time until recently.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Converting Brand into Bond

Recently, I've been doing some work on how social media can be used to enhance the school's brand, and that pushed me to a new idea on the relationship between a brand and it's fans/consumers/supporters.

What makes a brand a Brand is the level of commitment, the level of buy-in, from the users of the product or service. It's all the small things that add up to the difference between an Apple devotee who will proudly put the little sticker that came with an iPhone on their car and a Dell user that perhaps wouldn't go to battle for his beloved computer.

How do we translate the brand into that kind of bond? This is the heart of foundation and booster group work for colleges and universities across the country. People want to be a part of the team, and social media is a perfect way to build and enhance that bond.

Along with interactive social media -- like Facebook, but especially Twitter -- showing, not just telling, the brand's story is vital.

Today's NYT provides a perfect enhancement to my theory. The story of the rise of Vice as a multimedia trendsetting publication juggernaut (hmm, could that be too many exciting modifiers? read the linked story and you tell me) includes this nugget from Vice co-founder (and no relation) Shane Smith, which is the Twitter-away line of the story:

"Mr. Smith said Virtue's approach is simple, 'All brands dhouls think of themselves as media companies.' "

Virtue is the companion advertising agency to Vice, and they are blurring all the lines between editorial and advertising; breaking the rules for using their own staff as the engine for concept and content rather than running back to the client. Mad Men? Hardly. The future? Oh yes.

Remember, you heard it here first -- as early as last year -- that there is a reason why all those media companies are eager to snatch up college and university rights for what seem to be large amounts of money.

It's because they have figured out they can make even more money with the content.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I was asked yesterday if I had the opportunity to travel abroad, and was that valuable for me personally. Absolutely.

Later I pondered my answer, and wished I had remembered my dad. He was an interesting individual, proud owner of an eighth grade education. Travel, he always said, was his greatest teacher. I know that he wanted for me to see America before seeing college, but his health and the course life takes didn't let that happen.

Understand, he was a natural businessman, and frankly minted money with his night clubs and discos. Even though his early career in mule trading -- I'm not making that up, literally, mule trading -- and his service in the Pacific gave him all the formal education he felt he needed. However, he never stopped reading -- books, newspapers, magazines -- and he constantly preached you need to take a year and see the world.

At one point, I had an offer in hand from ROTC that certainly would have allowed that, but he was violently opposed to my thoughts of a military career.

The English call it gap year. Smitty called it education.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy Belated Memorial Day; New Content Coming

A great weekend project produces more fodder for the blog, just not content I can get to today. So a shameless bump, and a promise of some new perspectives on brand translating to bond.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Be Still We're History Fans

Two new episodes taped last week, and they should be coming to air soon. Better yet -- Kyle Kellams and I are digging out all the old scripts to recreate the whole archive in the next few weeks (repairing a tragic hole in the universe caused by a hard disk failure).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Want My MTV

Yes, it was my generation that made that demand of the media; my music that said we should have money for nothing.

I'm not ashamed of it.

And now, I want my newspaper, my radio and my television where I want it, when I want it, on the platform I want it on.

Guess what -- I'm willing to pay for it, too.

So, here's the deal. Newspapers -- get with the iPhone apps to present your copy like the New York Times AND in simple PDFs for Kindle DX. Hey, password protect it to subscribers -- no problem for my local content.

Why? Because hello local/state/regional media -- I've spent more time reading a newspaper on my iPhone in the past month than I've probably spent reading it since I stopped spinning reels of microfilm in search of references to the arrest of British agents trying to recruit Americans into the RAF in the 1940s for my dissertation.

Let me be clear -- I am not a NYT reader. Never had been. Never planned to be. But because it is the best quality writing and story base available in a usable, easy to manage format (and it's free) I read it all the time.

Please, don't let the free part get in the way. I've said I'll pay for value added content. (Why pay for the basics when the Associated Press and Reuters are giving that away for free?).

Look, like whole lot of folks, I pay a substantial amount of premium fees to have TiVO on my satellite service. I watch what I want, when I want.

Guess what J-School kids? We'll do the same think when you figure that out.

Same for you, radio industry. Could you guys get together and realize that without RiVO, podcasting will be the end of your terrestrial business model (not unlike the soon to be end of the satellite business model)? Here's a clue, we don't need RiVO to get all the music we want for free. Those so incline get it, rip it and share it every day. By using RIAA to stand in the way of capture and store radio, you're just encouraging us to find other alternatives.

Finally, Madison Avenue -- pick up the ringing clue smartphone. Those on-line ads that you don't seem to "value" because you can't quite come up with a metric that's as solid as Nielson or Arbitron, well, you might rethink those values. You can have all the share in the world if no one is tuning in.

We -- the generation that got its MTV -- are waiting.

Not very patiently.

Good, Bad & Ugly in Twitterverse

You really can't say news across the transom any more . . . maybe these pixels just across the screen.

Good friend at another institution -- Joe Friday rules here, the names of the innocent . . . -- alerts us of the latest in Twitter miscue.

Remember, folks, the NCAA rules follow you on-line. Lots of hot pixels a couple of weeks back as media and compliance folks alike tried to discern if Twitter was NCAA-compliant. Yes, but not when you do things that would get you into the same level of trouble with the traditional media.

Like a coach saying out loud for attribution that a verbal commitment has happened. Tennessee is turning itself in over a Tweet on Lane Kiffin's feed.

"It's a beautiful day in Knoxville, Tennessee today. I was so exited to hear that J.C. Copeland committed to play for the Vols today!"

Let me extend a piece of recycled advice -- just as we tell a student, when you start a Facebook/blog site/Twitter feed, you are no longer the subject of the interview, you are now the source, editor and publisher. There is no one to blame; there are no take backs.

According to ESPN's reports, it was not Kiffin who punched out the violating Tweet. It was an Kiffin's personal assistants who was tasked with keeping the feed moving. First day on the job, too. That's rough.

Here is the real problem with Twitter: You don't know who is behind the keyboard. Shaq has been very up front that it's him, and he won't accept substitutes. But for every Shaq, there are 10 celeb feeds that are "managed" by members of the PR team working for that person. All part of keeping up appearances.

On an audio podcast or a video package, you know who is doing the work. Even on the website, typically there are attribution lines. No such on Twitter -- you are presumed to be who you are Twittering as until proven otherwise.

Like @ChristopherWalken; sorry, not enough cowbell to be the real thing. Spoofing celebrities is a major part of the Twitterverse.

To repeat, that's why we claimed every one of our coaches' names that we could two months ago, and urged all our colleagues in the SID business to do the same. Not so those coaches could run out and start Tweeting, but to prevent ugly things like: @HoustonNuttOM.

I'm pretty confident the former Razorback head coach has nothing to do with this feed. A sample recent Tweet:

twitter reminds me of text messaging.....i like it!!!

Here is the problem. Look at the structure between the real Tennessee coach's feed @LaneKiffinUT and the faux feed of Ole Miss @HoustonNuttOM. Very similar. Person behind this has captured Coach Nutt's photo to add some realism. This is nothing less than media phishing -- how long until someone comes across this and tries to claim those are real quotes?

I Cannot Say This Better

Today's missive from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association reminds us that "word of mouth" isn't necessarily social media, but it is often confused as such. The full story by Molly Flatt is here on the WOMMA website.

Here's just one nugget:

WOM is our most ancient form of marketing (where on prehistoric earth did you get the recipe for that mammoth stew?), existing long before Mark Zuckerberg got his hands on a PC, but companies still seem to categorise [sic] it in the innovations, digital or experimental fields.

Flatt continues to explain the brand advocacy role for social media within word of mouth, but really, she says it best -- go read her column.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Old vs. New

The schools squared off in the Sunday ADG, former journalist now Hollywood show writer David Simon and in-state blog-fly (blogger gadfly) David Kinkade. I highly recommend both essays, and in the best moderate journalistic writing style, I can say that each side makes valid points and each side over-reaches. The truth, as always, lies in between.

Simon has presented the most cogent end-of-times argument for the impact the loss of traditional newspapers could have on the nation.

[The recent publication was of his testimony to the U.S. Senate (in HTML many places, here's one), but Simon has an additional essay from earlier in the year that's equally interesting in the Washington Post (obviously the notes for the later testimony).]

Due respects to Mr. Kinkade who expends a lot of energy countering this, but "high-end journalism" as Simon calls it is not replacable by the blogosphere. There is something to be said for the experience and knowledge that can only come from daily, close proximity coverage.

Primarily, it's the ability to filter what is truly significant from A) a blantant distraction attempt off a trail by a subject, or B) knowing when to press in on something that to the passer by looks inocuous, yet in reality is the tip of an iceburg.

Passion and numbers will help fill that void, according to Kinkade. I'm as open to concept of the citizenry becoming active in media -- let me inject, they need to first and foremost be more active consumers -- but there is a fine line between vibrant participatory groups and pitchforks and torches.

Kinkade hits the traditional media where it hurts when he points out the way newspapers use the boards and blogs as sources, quoting, "the relationship is not parasitic -- it's symbiotic." Or, as I've said many times, the declining newsroom employs the citizen media and the participatory media as a force multiplier. Think of it as replacing those expensive human assets in the field with satellites and technology. Cost effective and you get great snapshots of moments -- but then again, how's that working out for us down at Langley?

I worry less for the republic than Simon because I know there was a land before this time in which partisan media ruled, and we as a nation managed to survive a Civil War, abolish slavery and settle a continent with the pre-corporate mass media of the mid-to-late 20th century.

Let me say as a news consumer, I want both. I want my newspaper content and I want my on-line communities. I want my peanut butter. I want my chocolate. Why can't anyone give me the Reese's of journalism?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Don't Say It Can't Happen Here

After 174 years in print, the Ann Arbor News will cease on July 23. That would be the daily paper that has covered the comings and goings of the University of Michigan for all that time. A new on-line venture will replace the paper.

Once Caught, Don't Dig Deeper

In politics and public relations, often it is not about the crime, but the cover-up. Call it the Watergate Syndrome, but individuals who are reflexively unable to accept blame or admit guilt believe that if they can simply lean in to a story, steer into the skid, they can escape. They do so in part due to an escalating series of successes with this strategy in their past; often is will be the reason why they have risen to the place or maintained their position.

The current edition of the Watergate Syndrome is Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Please, this isn't political, this is public relations tactical. The Speaker's strategy vis-a-vis CIA briefings is starting to unravel under the continued pressure of questioning. (If you must, substitute the name George Bush and the topic Weapons of Mass Destruction if that helps you to continue reading).

Yesterday's press events are bringing this WS to its end game. The purpotrator is cornered, and faces that classic decision: mea culpa or evasive action. What is often forgotten was the original issue -- in this case, waterboarding as interogation techinique -- and what becomes the issue is the veracity of the target.

To put it in the classic words of the late Tennessee Senator Howard Baker: What did the [Speaker] know and when did [she] know it? To me, that quotation did more to bring Richard Nixon's presidency to a close than anything else. It spoke to the heart of the cover-up; the deception.

Americans love the tragic hero, love to forgive, love a comeback story -- but only to the extent they believe they have not been played. Nixon's cardinal sin was not admitting to the events of Watergate early on when it could have been more effectively poo-poo'ed away. By the second term of his Presidency, he had forgotten that he himself had escaped a controversy over campaign contributions as Dwight Eisenhower's vice presidential candidate. He laid himself before the American people with the Checkers Speech, and his wife Pat not receiving fur coats from fat cats but owning simply a "good Republican coat."

Who plays the role of Baker today? Leon Panetta's defense of the CIA is getting close. Why Panetta? Isn't it his job to back his people as an adminstrator? Certainly, but this overlooks the real value of Baker.

Who remembers what Baker's party was? That's right, he was the Republican senator from Tennessee, replaced by a young man named Al Gore when he later became Ronald Reagan's chief of staff. And the legend has it the person that came up the question was a young staffer, future Tennessee senator himself, Fred Thompson.

Those who play the Watergate Syndrome are rarely undone by their opponents; their failure most often comes at the hands of their own. So will the former California house member Panetta be Pelosi's Baker?

How Not to Avoid the Question

I kept a collection of these kind of clips for students to watch in my SID class. When you are the spokesperson, you must command the room, and occasionally it is your duty to not answer a question.

But when you get too flip, things like this happen:

Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary

Need to figure out how to capture this particular flash video for the teaching collection.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Turn the Ship

Good on you, Jodi Beznoska. There's a local tempest in a teapot going about some legacy media reports about part of Fayetteville, and the counter reaction by the net media. Our local theater venue, the Walton Arts Center, gets pulled into this debate about whether or not Dickson Street is "safe" and is WAC looking to move. Once WAC's plans start to become part of the thread, enter Jodi to stick up for the brand and redirect the debate. It is a textbook WOMMA move -- show presence, correct a misconception, let the debate continue.

Jodi from the WAC here. I just wanted to let you know that we listen in and really appreciate conversations like this, regardless of your opinion. It’s exciting that so many people care about our future.

One clarification:

From here, she points out what the established expansion plan for WAC includes, gives a website link to the WAC that gives the hard facts and signs off with her contact information. The only other touch on the thread was a quick PS thanking the Fayetteville PD for doing such a great job in patroling the area.

Result? A break in the debate for several kudos posts for the communications director of the WAC taking the time to drop by with info. Once the thread resumes, its all about what the media said and the usual partisan in-fighting among the group. Gone from the comments are any further involvement over WAC.

A classic effort by Ms. Beznoska. The news blog site's readers know she and WAC are paying attention (and watching for errors), that WAC wants to be a part of its fan's passionate community and set the record straight on a factual error.

Twitter is Just the Software

The continuing growth of the Twitter phenomenon into the mainstream of American media shows the validity of the combination of the conversation of Web 2.0 with the mobility of Web 3.0.

It's the connection that's important -- Twitter's just the software that makes that happen. The focus on Twitter as a company, as a system, overlooks the two vital components that make it work. Sure, good ole' Biz's site has nice functionality, but it is nowhere without the public's desire to participate in the conversation and become a part of something larger than themselves.

To activate that community requires the content from the subject, and the willingness to cede some of the brand control to the community one seeks to bring closer to the brand.

Part A without part B -- just another echo chamber message board; part B without part A -- whew, I've seen some ba-a-a-a-d MySpace band pages like that.

Got both? A branding machine.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You're Selling Truth

Knowing my colleague at Arizona State Dan Gillmor has expounded on this at length, there is a real need for the entrepreneurial aspect of journalism. I see it today locally with our recently laid off members of the media. What sparked the idea was a catch-up night of listening to Dennis Miller's podcast where he was interviewing Tucker Carlson. Late of the cable news channels, Carlson is on to a new blog-news site and mentioned he was getting ready to launch another on-line news project.

So there he was, selling the brand that was Tucker Carlson, promoting two business ventures and doing reviews and columns. Is he a journalist? In the old-school mentality of creating virtuous vessels for pursuit of the objective truth, no.

In the net media world, Carlson is the embodiment of punditry. Even in college sports coverage, who's the biggest name in the state of Alabama -- Finebaum. Multi-platform, multi-format presentation of reporting.

Is this a bad thing? No, and those who might cluck at the commerce aspect are painfully naive. The idealistic cub reporter was making coin for his publisher every day. Now, those roles can merge.

Is it dangerous? Think about it in these terms. When you go to the doctor, do you stop and think about the fact he is selling health? Really, when you get down to it, if the doc is any good, you pay for the service and for that practice to stay solvent, it better make money.

Members of the media sell truth. It is the primary commodity. Any person who moves from pundent to pedantic risks damaging the veracity of the main product.

We need to make sure we're teaching the rising generation that hard fact, as they may spend more of their working years operating closer to the 1920s hometown publisher/station owner model than the existing corporate media world

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our Attention Spans Are Still Long

While we push more and more for the 140 character Twitter nation, an equal amount of research is telling us consumers -- regardless of age group -- are seeing long-form content. Both Hulu and iTunes are doing brisk business in the unedited hour and half-hour traditional episode content.

It makes sense. YouTube is fun for about 30 seconds of cute kitty cat stuff, but what we really want to sit down with is traditional fare.

There is more on this from the NAB's super session on generational viewing habits, but the take-away is dedicated users -- read, your college fans -- like the full coach's show more than the cut-ups. Recruits, maybe different, but for now, consider looking into that traditional time frame of 30 minutes for your on-line productions -- even though you don't have the lock-in of broadcast TV's 28:30.

Part of the key is mobile TV. HDTV and digital might of killed off every old Sony Watchman and portable camping b&w 4x3 unit, but that didn't stop us from wanting to have over-the-air in our hands. It comes through the smart phone -- as one presenter, Ed Moran, noted in the pre-event press in NAB Daily:

"The other day waiting for some friends at a resturant, I pulled out my iPhone and watched the first 10 minutes of an old Star Trek episode."

Or, as my director of new media did, walk around the building keeping up with the Masters.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Twitter Destroys the Mystery

Thinking about the obsession we have these days with "breaking news" -- from being the first to post it on a participatory media website or sending out a Tweet -- J.J. Abrams talks about why he's so obsessed with security on his projects:

"I completely understand the desire to find out behind-the-scenes details in a nanosecond. . . . the real damage isn't so much that the secret gets out. It's that the experience is destroyed. The illusion is diminished. Which may not matter to some. But then what's the point of actually seeing that movie or episode? . . . It's telling that the very term itself - spoiler - has become synonymous with "cool info you can her before the other guy". What no one remembers is that it literally means "to damage irreparably; to ruin".

Telling stuff -- particularly the experience part. If everyone is on the inside, where's the wonder of the new?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On Learning

Here’s a double thought on teaching. One of the presenters posited a Matix-like world in which we really could download expertise by simply asking the cloud through our mobile device. The mobile device could take images of the problem – his example, my car won’t start – and bring back step by step instructions. His point being here is a chance to escape the old 19th century rote memorization paradigm. Fair enough, but how can you ask for info and solutions when you lack context. For that matter, who become the subject experts in a world of experience learners?

Cut now to J.J. Abrams’ essay in this month’s Wired
"True understanding (of skill or effort) has become bothersome - an unnecessary headache that impedes our ability to get on with our lives (and most likely skip to something else). Earning the endgame seems so yesterday, especially when we can know whatever we need to know whenever we know it."

Question to the Masses

I've noticed that a higher percentage of female followers @ArkRazorbacks than the subscription base of or RazorVision. Once the media and other schools are removed from our roughly 800 followers, my estimate is about 60-40 male-female in what appears to be a pretty heavily college student age generation.

Are others who have Twitter feeds, particularly sports info offices, finding the same demographics? Have we stumbled upon a better way of involving our female fan base? I'd be interested in responses.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pot, Meet Kettle

Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute on a recent NPR technology podcast spoke about the impact that "social media" was having on the public at large. Here, we've used the terms B&B or participatory journalism for what Tompkins was giving the long look down the nose. Can you trust social media was the set-up:

"Just because a person says it and says it on-line in a Twitter page does not make it true. Not even close."

Pause for a moment. How long ago did we hear same said of newspapers by news makers? How many have had a personal experience with that?

Tompkins continued, noting "the enemy of truth is speed."

Hmm. Perhaps the enemy of accuracy can be speed, but time and time again the first version of a story proves to be the most true. What became of the old first write through of history? Apparently, doesn't count unless its a journalist.

I can think of a lot of enemies of truth -- self-interest, lack of open [fill in the blank with your choice of meetings, records, accounting], editorial filtering, etc.

One item Tompkins offered in support of speed killing truth was spot on. He bemoaned the desire of bloggers to throw up a story quickly, then verify it later. The need for speed and being first overriding good reporting practice of getting double sourced verification, as one example.

Problem is a lot of those bloggers is they aren't a bunch of Cheetos-fingered zealots; they are journalists doing that work for the legacy media's website. It is as if the newsroom is crowdsourced to the extreme -- throw it up on-line and see if it sticks.

Remember Travel?

With lots of theory lately, I forget the other reason for this blog is the Road half of the title.

I know Las Vegas is high on lots of people's lists of places to go, and it had been some time since I'd visited. I missed the whole "family Vegas" phase, and make no mistake, the emphasis is back on sin city.

Above all, the big highlight: Starbucks per capita. Just when you think you've seen the ultimate concentration in Seattle, where one can occasionally literally see the next one from the one you're at, I don't think I've ever been anywhere with as many locations.

And, 24 hour Starbucks locations. Yes! More than once in Seattle's downtown core, I've had to go brewless after 7 p.m., but no such worries in Vegas.

Hmm, unholy alliance -- gaming and unlimited caffine.

Sex sells again in Vegas, but not the grimy prostitution stripper sex of old Vegas. It's more of an oddball Ozzie and Harriott get their freak on sort of sizzle. It's everywhere, call it the Pussycat Doll-ification of the town. The bride jumping the groom cake toppers at Paris to the star-powered Peep Show (true name, and all pun apparently intended) like Mel B and Kelly Monoco; from the Pleasure Pit - bustiers and blackjack at Planet Hollywood to free pole dancing lessons offered daily to the bored touristas.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Net Control = Twitter Feed

Here's a piece of cross over skill. Those that follow know I volunteer a lot of spare time with the local weather spotters and the county's emergency services amateur radio operators. Most of my work is as a net control operator. The person that sits in the middle of the information flow, takes reports, moves along the net with other information from internet and public service sources, vets the reports from the field and decides what needs to move forward to the served agency.

Guess what -- perfect training for running an effective Twitter feed.

Each day, there may be two or three events running live. I can either monitor by live stat or SMS text with our SIDs on location. Often I'm on site at one, taking feeds in from others. Boiling it all down to quick 140-character updates, and mixing in the automated parts with TinyURL from the regular website stories. When I can't be the "net control" of the feed, I've got to arrange with a couple of our alternates to keep the feed running.

That's how you can effectively get to well over 800 updates for the fans in less than a month and a half. This keeps them plugged in to live events as well as promoting our key stories.

Early Polling is In; Results are Bad

I posed the question to the body of women's basketball contacts -- has the media crisis effected your sport's coverage. The answer, so far, is the one you anticipate -- yes -- but it is also worse.

More when I get a wider sample in, but judging from about 60 emails within 24 hours (do the math, D I has what, about 335 now) I wasn't the only one thinking there is real trouble on the horizon for women's basketball.

Why? Best case, the person who comes out and covers some of the home women's games is worn ragged as the second person on football and the baseball person.

Look, when the Vopels and Greenbergs are gone or limited to on-line -- it bodes poorly for the state of women's hoops media.

Informal comments include a significant drop in traditional media members at the Women's Final Four. This is a decline in real terms, not looking at the participant's media or the increase in television network needs. If more than half of the nation's top 15 metro markets have no reporter there -- relying on AP -- that's a bad sign.

Let me be the first to break the news to my brothers and sisters -- you are the beat reporters now. More so than you ever were before.

I make the point with the sport I've worked for a quarter of a century, but it applies to every women's team, every Olympic sport. Last month at NCAA women's gymnastics, the numbers were down. A real bellweather is coming up in one month when Arkansas hosts the 2009 NCAA Outdoors. We built the press box to service over 100 writers. Anyone want to give me a guess how many seats we'll fill?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Brands at Battle

There was a lot of talk about now net media is increasingly more important to brand, and in turn, a greater risk to the brand. These notes are a combo of some on-line listening (notably TWIT) but also some examples given at NAB.

Domino’s Pizza was faced with a fierce challenge to its brand after two dufus employees put their gross hijinks on YouTube. Response – CEO of Domino’s cuts his own YouTube video and meets the challenge on the same playing field.

It wasn’t that different from the KFC employee video, but the bump for Dominos vs. KFC was the rapid response. Of course, Domino’s had the advantage of looking at the slower effort by KFC and two other notable SNW brand events.

The Motrin Mommy-Gate results from a poorly researched attempt at hip internet humor with an advertisement pitched to mothers with infants. It backfired, and the first attempt by the company was to ignore, then later to offer a tepid apology. Here's a little background.

SeaWorld found itself facing a David Letterman gag that took off on YouTube over a weekend. Rather than calling for the take down, SeaWorld launched its own offensive to pump its positive message into the search engine world to counter.

What’s the bottom line through all – be prepared to meet the challenge in the format presented, and be aware of now Net Influencers impact the brand. These are consumers of the brand who actively share and forward info.

As one producer for a major on-line webcast pointed out, as brand managers “we are our own networks.”

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mighty Tablet Arrives

Just about the time the post was finished, we get the result. Jeff Bezos shows off the worst kept secret in recent tech (perhaps only outdone by a maybe tablet from Apple) today with the Kindle DX. At 9.7 inch display is considerably larger than the standard 6-inch, but so is the price at $487 dollars.

It's pitched for newspapers and text books -- but CoSIDA members, pay attention. The DX comes with native PDF support.

Let me repeat -- PDF in the unit for those soon-to-be digital media guides.

Of course, the hope is it becomes the delivery mechanism for legacy print media outlets like the New York Times, Boston Globe or Washington Post -- no small coincidence each is on board.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Company, said that the Times and the Globe will first be available on the Kindle DX in markets where home delivery is not available.

So that's good for those of us in middle America, but once again, the legacy media misses a point. In the high-concentration upper east coast media markets, think about the printing press savings if you distribute via Kindle DX. Not to mention the smaller carbon footprint. My money is on DX breaking the back of these newspapers if it achieves the kind of market penetration seen so far for regular Kindle 2.0 in books or iPod/iPhone in music.

Why? Because the most desirable consumers for advertisers are opt-in consumers with disposable income in copious amounts -- the kind of folks who could pick up a DX or two.

The current target of existing newsprint/magazine advertising? Boomer age segments, but guess who is the largest growing percentage of Kindle purchasers? That's right -- that 45+ age crowd that conventional wisdom thinks never goes tech. HA! These are prodigious readers, newspaper subscribers AND they're into their bifocal years.

Huh? They huge appeal for the AARP generation is that scaleable type. No need to squint or embarass oneself by purchasing the large print edition.

More CNET analysis on the use of the Kindle DX for newspapers and for textbooks.

Fun With Numbers from NAB

Here’s a scattering of data presented in various forums, all of which impact the college athletics world.

While youth is half the audience for on-line video (and youth defined as under 35), the largest growing segment is 55+. I can confirm that stat from my own anecdotal evidence of assisting with our tech support for streaming. More and more Boomer retirees want to keep up with their alma mater from distance, and they are rapidly becoming more enamored with the streaming and IPTV world.

Only 24% of all the on-line users have a social profile. That was a surprising number; one that I doubt would be valid in our core demos.

For those who download podcasts, the ages 18-24 are twice as likely to download an audio object (podcast or music); but the ages 25-34 are twice as like to download video versus audio (again, podcast or television shows).

Don’t overlook the CFO of the family. Several presenters went to numbers that ranged as high as 80% of the purchasing decisions of the average family being made by the mom. Especially true for entertainment purchases, and they have a very high skepticism meter.

I found this one very interesting – Google Trends reveals on almost any term search a distinct drop in internet activity around Christmas; almost 30% drop each year before picking back up in January. So much for needing a ton of holiday content, because no one is watching. That seems a little counter intuitive, however, what about all the folks getting new computers, iPhones or other devices?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mighty Tablet is On the Way?

Technology news has stories today about a new uber-Kindle in the works from a consortium of legacy media outlets, perhaps including the New York Times group (odd, since it was their story that only rumored themselves). Conde Naste group turned up its nose -- no color.

The hope is by using this new larger "magazine" like reader, the old Gray Lady and her colleagues can keep the advertising business together as they know it. I get the sense it is too late.

A lot will be decided this summer with the new devices, but I fear the shock of loss is necessary for the general public to understand what is really happening.

These past couple of weeks, I've seen several colleagues in the media let go. Good journalists, every one. One of our coaches commented that so-and-so, he's really good. Someone will pick him up. No, I countered, you don't understand. The job is gone; not the people. There's no where to go.

This is a selfish post on my part -- three of them were directly involved in covering women's basketball. One was the area's voter on the AP poll. Those positions don't look like they are coming back.

I wonder how many more members of the AP women's basketball poll are gone by next fall's preseason poll. And when the papers that try to hang on to those prestigious voting positions give them to their double and triple dutied staff . . . well, somewhere in America, Mel Greenberg shudders.

It's just the first wave here. Word on the street is more changes to come in our media market, which was blessed to be one of the few competitive ones -- two major dailies, all four networks with full news staffs -- left in college sports.

Gonna take more than a new tablet, or reader, or computer app. The internet remains free -- and as much as pundits want to blame decisions years ago to put content on-line at no cost, regretably they'd be done in by the free alternatives. It's not a piece of tech that solves the problem, it's solving how to return balance to the advertising dollars.

Frankly, I never read any stories about those break throughs. Only killer app tablets, which are useless without content, content that costs money to produce -- and so the spiral continues.

More Reasons to Believe in iPhone

A collection of iPhone stats and notes gleaned from several NAB presentations:

Of iPhone owners, 80% use their device to watch videos.

iPhone owners consume four times as much video as owners of any other device.

Apple has become the second largest cell phone company in the world (well, more accurately, Apple’s handset – but I quote the presenter).

Why do advertisers suddenly pour money into sponsorship of podcasts? They can quickly prove their work through trackable advertising items like end of podcast coupons to be scanned at local stores. However, the big item for the advertisers is the content is actively sought out by the end user.

Nothing is better for message retention than an opt-in audience. Research supports the best way to get content across to end users – listened with headphones. Combine the two – “walk away” brand extention.

Random Quotes from NAB

This wasn’t a stat – but it’s a hell of a statement – speaking of streaming video and IPTV:
“The technology as caught up, but the decision makers remember it when it was not.”

No greater words for a college athletic department than those said about MommyCast:
“We are our own networks”

Monday, May 04, 2009

NASCAR Notable Quotables

Scott Reinhardt, Director of Internal Operations at NASCAR, had a talk on Saving your Assets, Preserving Sports History. It was a lot more than just racing, or even video archiving (which it’s pretty obvious NASCAR is on the cutting edge). As a side note, start with the highest possible quality for ingest of video, says Scott.

This is going into the operations manual:
“If you’re asked to do it, it’s important.”

There’s a follow on, referring to how some folks discount small details or only think the important things are the big TV events on HD by some network:
“Whatever the production, quality counts.”

On the importance of starting your conversion to a stable video archive:
“Forget making money. There’s no ROI. But, it’s your life, and it’s irreplaceable”

Buyers Beware

A quick post to let those who follow that are Razorback fans that the athletic department has not placed any official apps on the iTunes store (we are working on some options) and that ANYTHING you see there now is unofficial. Several of them don't even work, much less being nothing more than a pirate attempt at harvesting our website info and using the trademark without permission.

For my colleagues in the industry, you need to get to searching the App Store ASAP to find the ones that are doing the same to you.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

More NYT Bad News

More gloom in newspaper world as the New York Times lost $74.5 million in the first quarter. Second year in a row for a 1st quarter loss, but last year NYT dropped only $335K.

Print advertising for the Old Grey Lady was off 28.4%.
The loss numbers don’t add up. Did the story mean that the $74.5 loss was after some big infusions of cash?

Imagine how bad it could have been had Times Corp not raised $225 million on selling it’s Manhattan building and leasing back the space plus a $250 million loan from Carlos Slim of Mexico.

Real shame -- I'm really enjoying the news app on my iPhone. Perfect example of if you get it in the right format, people will use it.

Rich Context Advertising

Another article -- this from the NAB Daily -- continues to push the idea that quantity is not the future, it's quality of advertising experience.

From the NAB Daily, Zahava Stroud, president of the iHollywood Forum, says major brands are looking for ways to build mobile and online communities with broadcast content.

Lot of talk about Gatorade's Mission G, and one session that gives us a new buzz phrases -- "hiearchy of engagements" and "portable multiplatform experience" -- that nugget from none other than ABC Television. Another session was entitled "Brands as Content Creators."

Takeaway quote, this from Brett Wilson of Tubemogul:

"The smart advertisers have decided to stop interrupting other people's content and instead create their own content."

A big part of that call to action can be found in the IBM's Beyond Advertising strategic paper. Sure, they want you to use IBM servers to do this, but its really clear that effecting consumer-centric marketing is where we are headed.

Guess who is a major Brand that has always been a Content Creator -- that's your campus.

Does Dvorak Speak the Truth?

Catching up on my podcasts, and TWIT got off in a rat hole about the value of J-School. John C. Dvorak adds this quip:

"I don't know what the value of it would be to a blogger, that you couldn't get elsewhere. . . . There's nothing like on the job training, and taking a bunch of graduate courses in journalism is different than getting a job at a newspaper or someplace where a bunch of people are yelling at you."

Something to be said for that. Hard to simulate that pressure; frankly, I found a of students aren't interested in being pushed in a classroom setting. That is, until they come back later and tell you that the best thing that happened was the chance to make a mistake under pressure when it didn't count for their jobs.

The reason Leo and company got off on this was a rise in J-School enrollment nationwide. Dvorak continued:

"The problem is in the United States that most of the people want to think of journalism as a profession where in the rest of the world, in England in particular, it is a trade. . . . It's not rocket science."

One of the guests made an interesting point -- the upturn is because more people are blogging and getting a taste of what journalism can be; that the net media is making things "a bit sexier than it use to be."

Um, hotter than taking down POTUS? Please, nothing approaches the Woodward and Bernstein years of being the next great crusader. Wil Harris chimed in:

"Taking a postgrad journalism course at this point is mental. Just take a job and getting any kind of freelance . . . is far more valuable than getting a grad course."

Dvorak closes with an interesting theory that J-School started back in the day to create "cogs for the wheel -- a neutral writing style with no voice" that allows people to fit into any paper, any where. Training like a lawyer to do a job anywhere, Dvorak continues, "and this is the controversial part . . . the fact is very few of them can do anything more than report. . . . Generally speaking, they write in a voiceless style . . . and it doesn't apply anymore."

As if that wasn't enough, then it gets really interesting -- Dvorak:

"Partisan writing is probably going to return to the fore where it was in the 1800s. . . . Papers would be on a side of an issue."

That sounds familiar.

Neha Tiwari comes to the conclusion she had a near miss, and was lucky to not get into graduate J-School. (Never would be able to pay off the $36K per year of student debt with a $40K a year job). Leo Laporte helps close off the discussion:

"You can get your chops in the actual environment . . . Isn't that how journalists use to learn."

This is where J-School needs to find new ways to be relevant.

Happy 500th

Shameless congratulations to the blog.

Geek Note: Phone Charging

Now that I've added a personal iPhone to my arsenal, I wondered if the little wall adapter could charge my old HTC Tilt. The Tilt's wall unit was "borrowed" by some teenagers about three months ago, and it's made charging it -- a drop in unit in the office or off a USB cable on my home desk top -- a pain.

Guess what? Drop a standard USB six (wide) to USB four (small) cord -- same one that would plug the HTC into my computer -- into the USB slot of the iPhone charger and bingo. Now I can carry one charger with the two cables for sync or charge and be good to go.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Deep Breath: Web 3.0

After that long post, here's one more digestible. Another of the big buzz phrases out of NAB was Web 3.0.

What, did I miss a generation, one colleague of mine quipped when I mentioned it.

Maybe -- let's review. The original web with HTML and static pages, maybe a little video and audio and live stats is what the programmers look at in a retro-term sense as 1.0.

Our current social networking driven, conversation rather than a speech, two-way internet is what the marketers coined as Web 2.0 (which of course, you had to back create the 1.0 for).

The 3.0 is derived from the new wave of mobile. Again, more later, but to set the palate for another long post, think in terms of taking all your digital assets and presenting them to the end user on personal devices -- mostly smartphones (think iPhone, but be more platform agnostic to recognize that sooner or later, Google Android system, the Palm Pre devices and whatever they are really cooking up in Redmond, Wash., when Microsoft says the future is mobile, will catch up to Apple).

At the same time, Web 3.0 is the intelligent web. Not only searchable for Long Tail content, it is automatically personalized and delivered to you based on your past preferences. That meta data on you also includes parameters of biofeedback and location. (One presenter at NAB joked that he doubted that SkyNet was about to become self-aware . . . )

Example of this -- your smartphone communicates with a smart panel in the mall. When I walk by, based on past activity and preference, it may show a computer or book store advertisement. When my wife walks by, it may be for a clothing store or boutique. When my son walks by, it could be the gaming store, etc.

What it means in college sports information later.

Twitter as News Conversation

Another catch-up posting. Last week, various news organizations were speculating about the fate of Arkansas' men's basketball team with the NCAA's APR. The news groups deduced that no members of an Arkansas class had graduated -- transfers, pro ball, etc. -- which brought forth the response of one of the members of that group, Steven Hill.

Hill posted on his Twitter feed that he was just one class away from getting his degree completion, and once that on-line class was done, at least one member of that group would be done.

This Twitter event brings to light lots of points to consider:

Right off the top, had Steven not made his post, everyone on our end of the equation would be gagged by FERPA to not say anything. He has joined into the debate himself, and that's the starting point for going forward.

One reason the NCAA is very vague and does its level best to limit data sets is to prevent the inadvertent singling out of individuals. In small count sports -- like a basketball -- sometimes it is pretty easy to figure out who did or did not graduate. Here's a hypothetical. If a recruiting class is four people, everyone knows one transferred from a news report. One went pro as a sophomore and the class has a zero completion toward APR guess what -- you just called out the other two guys.

Is it fair that only athletes get this treatment? At most institutions, the athletes are still ahead of the general student population for graduation rate. Within each group, there are always high and low exceptions. For every school where a sport might be singled out for lack of graduation performance, I'd be willing to bet their is a voluntary campus organization -- from performance to social to professional groups -- that has a similar poor track record.

Let's face a hard fact: college is an experience, and not everyone is suppose to graduate. While bachelor's programs across the country rapidly become more high school in expectation -- if you start, you should receive a degree -- not everyone stays. Nor should they. For every athlete who comes out early for a professional career, there is often a professional who decides that the business opportunity is better than staying in school.

I'll use two examples: Tim McGraw attended the University Formerly Known as Northeast, just about the time I was there. He was on a baseball scholarship and didn't finish. You know, he's done pretty good for himself. Shepard Smith went to Ole Miss and left before completion with his first TV contract in hand.

There are adjustments for APR to take pro deals into account, but the point of putting some scarlet letter on every person who does not get a degree is not fair. That said, the goal for every student we have in our care -- athlete or not -- should be to move that person toward their degree completion.

Meanwhile, back at Twitter, we have in this business a spread of the news sourcing. Traditional media make their news, but in this case, a subject of the news, gets the chance to respond in kind.

We all need to recognize that the more we become involved in social news gathering -- not just social networking -- that everyone will have a voice, and many points of view will be expressed.

The dark side is the speed of access to the world at large. We've had plenty of examples of hit keyboard first, engage brain second (Mark Cuban dropped $25K for his Tweets).

Consider the earlier post here regarding a student journalist that was going to harvest from Facebook. Or watching severe weather updates from untrained citizens? How about double, and triple, counting of flu victims? The troubles in Mubai on Twitter giving up too much information in real time. How soon before the race to be first results in some real injury -- either to reputation or bodily harm?

Maybe It's Sports Information After All

I have been a big proponent over the years that the SID business is missing the boat by not attempting to be more involved in the public relations part of the athletic department. Follow CASE rather than NACDA as a model.

I remain committed to the concept that in an era of Brand Management, the best equipped office within the athletic department for that task is the SID office. In that space resides the expert on media relations, the person with the background of the history of the department and the creative staff to project the message. At too many schools, that lead role is taken by marketing, which respectfully, has the job to sell the message; not craft it.

After NAB, let me re-introduce CoSIDA to its old roots -- sports information. Session after session spoke of the ability to create meta data, based on statistics and other predetermined parameters, to enable the search of video, photo and other collateral material.

Guess who has that information? Oh, yeah, those people down the hall with their dirty little pencil pushing stat takers.

I've argued with limited success nationally that every school has three -- not two -- sets of distinct rights which they should protect, license and monetize. Everyone recognizes audio and video; radio and television. The networks know that the third one is important -- data -- because they routinely "borrow" it to fuel their own internet presences. Some schools and conference have just given that away, bundled it up in other new media gifts. Those that resisted had their data scraped.

True story -- told by tech support for a major national sports web presence that yes, they were just watching the TV and updating their live stats. Too bad the telecast was by a rival, and theoretically it could be argued, they were violating the copyright of the live performance by taking score, play and time from the broadcast.

Right now, third party programers lifting our RSS feeds from the official website -- and worse using on-line assests like FeedBurner to make RSS where it doesn't exist -- to serve as the engine of their iPhone apps. Some of them are charging fans $1.99 to get the info.

This becomes another arrow in the SID office's quiver -- the data management of the athletic department. That will bring a shudder down the spine of every PR type; we just got rid of the idea that we were the geeks of the department, the pencil pushers that don't need a seat at the table.

Here's the rub: if you lack good data going forward, you will lack rich content and the ability to monetize all those pretty picture assets. By data, I mean the old game files that can be easily converted to XML for search, dropped into pre-set columns within a meta data array.

As an organization, we're likely to not regain ground loss to the money creators. However, we must position ourselves as the office that protects and enhances the value of those money creators. You can't sell a bad brand for top dollar; you can't create Long Tails for old archives of video on demand without search data.

Let me be clear -- this isn't a call for a return to the hand written box and the mimeograph (mmm -- smell the fresh "ink"). Media relations needs to get a grasp on the modern data basing software, understand XML and its value, be conversant with the best ways to index within an array.

One of the best presentations to this was by the head of NASCAR's archive division. Every race is now indexed by an array of 256 variables; and with in those are a layer of sub variables related to race position.

Bring it into college sports, lets use football as the example. It's more than the data fields of date, site, home, visitor, score -- these are visual assets. Helment color, uniform color (and at many schools jersey and pants), player numbers, weather condition, time of day, network producing, record of teams, etc.; then all the data points within the game.

Why? So a producer can say I want all the footage of Casey Dick as a junior playing in Fayetteville in the red/white uniform that includes third down conversion passes to players X, Y and Z that were completed -- and be able to get that result in minutes.

Just like the Brand Management, Data Management best lives within the SID office that is aware of the value. Key phrase: aware. Harvesting that data will migrate to athletic IT or coaches' offices for the SIDs that don't get it. Who can give context to the numbers, depth to the decision of what data fields over the long term are significant? Only the people who live the brand and the historic information.

There's only one office that has command of both brand and information: good old Sports Information. These are distinct, but critically related, functions. The most efficient managers of message, brand and data are the people who understand and create those.

Maybe being CoSIDA -- with the correct rebranding -- is the right name after all.