Monday, June 29, 2009

Yeah, The Boss Gets It

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long had some positive words about the impact of social media, Twitter in particular, in his most recent webside chat on our main website,

Here's a key quote:

[Fans] are looking for that direct connect between us -- between administrators, coaches, student athletes. They don't want it filtered through the media outlets -- some people.

If you don't think I saw it as important, this was the main quote pulled out by our local media.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

CQ CQ Field Day WC5AR

Field Day is about 2/3rds finished. The goal is to run 24 hours straight making contact with other amateur radio stations.

Why? Well, one never knows when there will be an ice storm. Or an earthquake. Or a hurricane. The event, which encourages folks to go operate "in the field" without regular antennas or power.

I stay personally involved with two Field Day events, the University of Arkansas. In the photo, I'm helping erect the club's 50 foot mast. The other is here at the Washington County, Ark., Emergency Operation Center.

Volunteering with the county EOC is one of those ways you can interact with emergency management to begin to exchange business cards before the event.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zombie Squirrels

Returning home from CoSIDA and reflecting on the social news attitude therein, I was reminded of this lovely photo I snapped about a year ago at Bass Pro Shop in Springfield.

I don't have time for another thing.

We'll be competition with our own media.

What will I do during the summer -- I'll just wait until fall.

Frozen, right there in their tracks -- like a bunch of zombie squirrels. Well, I remember the famous words of an ole Texan, John Connally. Fond of the folksy quote, only thing that happens when you stand in the middle of the road -- you get run over.

Keepin' my Texan, let me hep' you out there.

Find time -- the essence of the future of media relations is relations with many media, not just the one's you have in your Outlook directory.

How can you compete with your own media, when many for the most part stopped covering the majority of your department's sports months if not years ago.

There is no summer break -- athletes make national teams, regional tournaments, summer ball, summer training.

Could be worse, you could be in Division III where apparently the above illustration would be of administrators who somehow thought they could freeze communications with the rest of the world in the amber of the early 2000s. Can somebody explain why Twitter and Facebook are illegal for D.III athletics?

If the goal is to limit recruiting impact, fine, but two things will happen. A) the students will do it themselves, and what will the NCAA do then. B) the more likely scenario, you just gave this to parents, boosters and outsiders to do for those that have an interest in the school. Nice. Less control, more headaches. I understand the emphasis on the student ethos of Division III, and I applaud it. However, you've just made second class citizens of the varsity athletes. Those club and intramural teams -- Tweet and Facebook your good news to your heart's content. Did no one think about the inverse discrimination of this decision?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bad E-Mails: They're Not Just for Kids Anymore

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, well, what were you thinking? Public email account. Let's suppose for a minute that someone in your staff didn't rat you out by forwarding some emails to The State. Spend any time paying attention to sports? Emails? Public servers? FOIA?

On the flip side, The State pocket holds the emails since December, going all in and flippin' their cards on the table once the Gov admits. Part of me would like to think they did not drop those personal emails on him immediately not so much because they couldn't prove the validity, but maybe, just maybe, they were trying to be decent to a guy caught out.

Not that's no defense of ery -- it's more of a defense of giving those in public life some shred of privacy. Private attorney Mark Sanford's emails get out, well, becomes courthouse gossip during his divorce.

That's about the best way to look at it. Otherwise, we'd be inclined to think the journalistic integrity of The State was compromised -- either covering for the governor or unwilling to look into potential issues.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Go Exchange Business Cards Today

Following up from the presentation, let me repeat once again that the time to get to know your emergency services folks at the city or county level is when you get home from CoSIDA. As they say in the FEMA training, the time to exchange business cards isn't at the live incident.

Thanks again for Daucy Crizer and Charles Bloom joining the panel to give the SID perspective to Lou Marciani's comments. While we talked about hurricanes, tornadoes and bombs in backpacks, the ICS training applies to any large event. Our campus and city was devestated by an ice storm this winter that almost cancelled a game, closed the University for several days and had power out for almost a week.

This was a presentation for every division -- it doesn't matter if you were Division III or BCS -- these large scale, long duration crisis can happen anywhere, anytime.

Knowing the terminology before the event is the key to the training. Being conversant with the jargon -- PIO, ICS, JIC/JIS -- gives you an advantage.

Lou is working on a letter that will help serve as an invitation to make sure the sports information/publicity contacts are in the loop for the seminars his group is conducting across the country. For links to the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, also the direct link to the workshop schedule.

If you want the actual presentation as PDF, jump to my official bio at and go to the BOTTOM of the bio for the PDFs.

Notes from Today's Presentation

As promised, here are the course names from today's presentation slides:

Recommended for all adminstrators
National Incident Management System
National Response Framework
Introduction to the Incident Command System for Higher Education

Public Information Officer specific
National Incident Management System Public Information Systems
Effective Communications

Sponsored instruction
Basic Public Information Officer Course
State-based instruction
Advanced Public Information Officer Course
Emmittsburg, MD

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hey, This Twitter Thing, It Might Just Catch On

Day one from CoSIDA, and while I'm a little down that no one else seems to be hash tagging with either #cosida or #2009cosida, there was a heck of a crowd at the table topics for -- you guessed it -- Twitter and Facebook. Hard to tell from the photo, but CoSIDA vets know when you get a single row of folks standing around a full table topic, you've got an attention grabber. Look carefully at the heads in the foreground -- that's a double, and partially triple, deep crowd.

First and foremost -- it's TwitterFeed, not TweetDeck -- that picks up your RSS and converts it into TinyURL for your feed. My apologies for mis-remembering.

Here's an interesting side note in from my own TweetDeck -- which is the excellent tool for doing content searches -- of a new website devoted to picking off and displaying the world's last hour's worth of images off the TwitPic/yfrog photos. Careful -- depending on what might have been posted in the last hour, that could be NSFW. That nugget from our local new media entity, Fayetteville Flyer.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Revolution Will Be Twittered

The old Nike ad that was a take-off on the revolution will not be televised seems a little trite today.

The Revolution will be covered by Twitter. And social media. The media restrictions -- throwing out the legacy media, arresting old-school journalists -- have squeezed on the people of Iran, and the leadership -- being legacy themselves of a revolution of another generation, a generation that manipulated the broadcast media in particular in it's revolution -- is watching the people become the media.

The question of the day: Is Neda the Crispus Attucks of the 21st century, that most visible colonial American among the five killed at the Boston Massacre?

There were only wood cuttings and drawings to represent the encounter between British soldiers and colonial protesters. Today, we have cell phone video; terrible, terrible graphic video as we watch this young woman bleed out in front of eyes.

Short of cutting the connection to the outside world -- like North Korea -- this is the way the future will play out for some time to come.

The journalists are struggling to verify. To be honest, some of the western protesters look a bit, well, opportunistic. Picking up a book today for a bit at Borders, All the News Unfit to Print by Eric Burns, I'm reminded of how journalists covered for Stalin during the 1930s and pimped for Nationalist China in the 1940s. Theodore White and Time magazine's Henry Luce might have created the whole image of Chiang Kai-shek -- one that skewed American foreign policy for decades.

But this is different. Absent the most elaborate special effects -- the kind of work that makes the paranoid fantasies of the moon landing fakers child's play -- we are truly witnesses to history. Journalism can't even really play a role as referee. They're on the sidelines with us.

In the middle of the flailing efforts of the cable news networks to fill time and be relavent in a 24/7 story they can't get on the ground to cover, one really interesting demographic note was given -- the largest demographic in Iran being under 30; frankly, I can't remember the exact number but something like more than half the county's population. They live in a different world, and in a country that 30 years ago saw its youth turnover the establishment, why wouldn't we expect the same today.

I'm going to return to a familiar previous theme -- we must begin to teach media as a skill to all. Just like CPR. You don't know when you will become the media, society's representative to the events of the day. Never before has the eyewitness account become more on the front edge.

The last time I sat back and watched like this, it was Tienanmen Square. When the troops came, the cameras went black. The information stopped. And to this day, no one really knows if it was 20 or 200 or 2000 that died on the cobble stones that last summer served as a backdrop for the Olympic marathon.

Twenty years later, it is impossible to keep the supression under wraps.

No one imagined Facebook being more than a hook-up for kids.

On Teamwork, Part 2

This picture is the payoff. I saw it in the Starbucks located on the deep south end of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This location is buried inside the facility, and I would assume only operates when there are big events like NAB rolling through.

Considering the long line I stood in for my miesto, this location has got to be a living hell to work. A never ending procession of out-of-towners that are grumbling, tired and cranky.

I had plenty of time to look at this poster-sized photo collection. The immediate thought was here's a manager that has taken the time to recognize the people that made him or her a Five-Star Starbucks location operator. Good on that person. It was lots of social photos -- Facebook-like in this wall of friends that work at the location.

It's not a very slick job. The headline "OUR FIVE STAR LEGENDARY TEAM" is hand printed. The layout is kind of haphazard. For all the kitschy-ness of the frame, the sentiment was clear. The manager was building a community from the team, and when that team performed, the manager made sure they knew it. For all the world to see.

When reading Patrick Lencioni's book, and seeing that pyramid, and what it takes to destroy or avoid building teamwork, it brought me back to my memory of this Starbuck moment.

Two halves of the same story -- one on a wall, one in a pyramid.

On Teamwork, Part 1

This double post has been three months in the making. No, it doesn't take that long for me to come up with a profound idea. It's two photos, taken three months apart, that provide the bookends of this story.

I recently have come across the Patrick Lencioni series of leadership fables, most notably The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It's based on a pyramid that builds through the five dysfunctions that destroy team work, and I could not be more in tune with the concept.

Get your own copy, but I gave you the quick shot from the book only to help illustrate the next entry of the blog. Looking at this picture in the book reminded me of something I saw months earlier in Las Vegas.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Gen News, Redeux

A gentle rejoinder to the generation who waits for the news to find you. There is probably a reason why that news is looking for you. It wants you to do something. Support something. Vote for something. Pay for something – directly through commerce or indirectly through politics. Do something.

These days, the important news – the really valuable stuff on issues that impact your life – is what you find.

Remember the good, late, Lord Northcliffe:

News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress.
All the rest is advertising.

In a world of info push, you’ve got to wonder, why do they want me to know that?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fun Signs from the Road

A little something for your readers while I pack for the flight to San Antonio and the CoSIDA Convention.

It's always important to make sure if the lights are out on part of the sign, that they are not out on an unfortunate part of the sign.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Start Planning for the End of the World

Look, you're all getting fair warning to be there Tuesday morning. This is not going to be a talk about Facebook, Twitter, podcasting, bloggers or anything starting with the letter "i".

The session on catastrophe is going to be real. Gritty. Old school.

And, it may save a life. At least, a job or two.

This is a panel I've been thinking about for better than two years. It's one that if you are serious about protecting your campus, your athletes and being a part of events that could change your world -- you need to attend.

Hype? You tell me at noon on Tuesday after you attend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And Now A Word About Twitter

One of our local media opined that the NCAA would be forced to rule Facebook and Twitter out of bounds in recruiting. Respectfully, that’s wrong on two fronts.

First, the opportunity to re-cork the social networking genie is long gone. Lapped the field. Twice.

The second and far more important is the changing nature of communication. It is collaborative. People of all ages that are social by nature want to connect. Notice, I did not say digital natives or rising generation. This is not a matter of age; it is a matter of mindset.

It is not enough to share something to start the conversation. Granted, that’s vital in moving from the speech into the conversation, but what makes it work is the willingness to engage. Listen and respond.

And the responses do not have to be sucky platitudes or corporate B.S. (and I don’t mean Bill Smith). Feisty complaints deserve fair and firm answers, not a kowtow. Some of the best on-line fan relationships we have started with a carping attack, mainly because the person doing the typing didn’t really consider a human was on the other end. Once I came back at them, things evened out, problems get solved and – shocking – a bond was formed.

It’s all about converting your brand into a bond. That takes conversation. That takes content. And yes, that takes composition – in print.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Face-to-Face with the iWorld

Today I come across this tit-for-tat, made for the media, Crossfire journalism moment between Ann Curry and Rick Sanchez over the value of Twitterverse coverage from Iran and the perception that the "mainstream" media is overlooking the event (or even suppressing it). There's a nice piece on the debate from the New York Observer that I got from another journalist's Twitter feed. (Really, you'd have been somehow disappointed if I just happened on the link.)

Money quote from Curry at the bottom, advising the Tweet generation on how to cover:
"I want you, whether you're in the Congo or Darfur or if you're in Iran or if you're in Tanzania, Kosovo, places we've gone to, you shoot that story like it's your mother, your brother, your sister, your father and your cousin and you tell that in that way because that's actually the road, I think, to not only clarity and truth and understanding. But I think it's also the road to really fully becoming global."

That's some really solid iMedia convergence advice for the strangers in a strange land. But what about us mere mortals who don't get the chance to walk the streets of Teharan?

Well, we're relying on each other. And basic faith that what we see, hear or view from citizens is not part of some massive disinformation campaign (always 1984 plausible, but Ocham's Razor not likely).

Like tonight. Sure, if I wasn't working on projects, I could have watched the Fayetteville Government Channel cablecast of the as anticipated contentious city council meeting. But it was a lot easier to read and contrast the official Tweets from the city @accessfay against the one media outlet that was providing flowing coverage @fvilleflyer.

I'm changing my terms, and encouraging others, to what I said in that account: flowing coverage. It wasn't streamed, like a statistical feed. It wasn't terribly reflective, like live blog postings. It was a play-by-play, called by the person there at the pace of the event. A flowing account, that when all the Tweets 140 character bursts are amassed give me a reasonable first write through of the event.

Isn't that the essence of journalism?

Sort of. What will separate that stream of consciousness from Facebook wall postings is a follow-up tomorrow morning by one of the Flyer's staff -- if that happens.

Tonight, I've got a pretty good feel for the main topic -- a rezoning near the Fayetteville National Cemetery -- and what will happen next -- a table hold on the first reading. Sure, I'll skim the regular media tomorrow, but the likelihood is the person who writes the after event coverage in the traditional media won't be the person who Tweeted it.

Here's the opening for the iMedia -- that disconnect between the Tweet and the journalist report -- can be united into a somewhat seamless progression of collection of information into a finished product.

Sports gets it. The more aggressive reporters covering the Razorbacks are taking our lead. We Tweet the event (well, as much as the NCAA's 2007 based blogging rules allow from a credential holder in the CWS) along with the streams. That allows the end user to decide if they have the ability to watch the event, or listen, or follow the stats. Or catch up only with the mobile updates. Then, those impressions, those notes, those play-by-play moments are stitched together into game stories, columns and features on the main website.

Raw coverage gets value added, and the end user interested in what you are covering will seek it out.

Additional strength comes from the Tweets. Reach back to your term paper days. What teacher believed your facts without footnotes? The real-time note taking of the event -- the Tweets -- are the transparency to your coverage. Oooh, the readers say, that's how he going to get back to the starting point in Iran and how CNN is getting reamed on-line.

CNN certainly got burned hard by it's citizen reporters in the past, and perhaps isn't seeing the ability to add that extra layer by gleaning not only from the native peoples on the ground -- whether that's Iran or a Razorback football fan -- but also by showing us what their reporters are thinking about what they are seeing.

Show us how the sausage is made. If the ingredients are quality, we will ask for seconds.

If you're putting crap into the casings, well, that's why the old cliche has merit.

Why Media Guides Remain Important, Pt. 3

Want to see the waste – it’s not at the printer, it’s at the copier.

The head-long rush to drop the printed media guide has the same amount of logic in it as the 60-page football game notes.

Rather than providing a clear vision of what the message of a team would be, many SIDs prove their worth through weight. It’s the easiest thing in the SID world, just add another page from StatCrew, revise every starting player and key substitutes’ bios each week, carry forward notes for each game played.

Look, I find myself reflexively doing that as well, particularly for the TV games. There is some purpose to the full-blown package for broadcast, but that does not mean I need to update notes for all 30 regular season games in that fashion, and even for the live event games just run enough for the broadcasters. The bulk notes are in the shorter condensed format.

Moving to on-demand fact sheets would add up to more trees saved than on-demand press guides; likely a greater overall reduction in clutter and cost for the athletic department as a whole. How do I come to this conclusion? A year of watching football and men’s basketball games hit a crescendo at the NCAA Outdoor championships.

Let’s break down who was in the press box last week. Of the more than 120 seats, there were 17 traditional visiting working media and another 14 “.com” media – that’s 31 seats. The rest of the visitors? Some 51 seats taken by SIDs representing schools. Take a look at these two pictures. That’s the library of press notes on Saturday morning. Few schools were down by half in the number they brought. Many had not had their notes touched at all. Yes, there are media guides in those stacks, but getting rid of the guides will only lead to an explosion in notes.

By the way, that reinforces another key change – that we are the media for the vast majority of our teams. As a side note, how many of those SIDs were Twittering to bring real-time news back to their home markets? Hard to tell, but I only noticed Tweets for about a dozen that were specific from the event.

Learn from the Weatherman

James Spann's day job is the chief meteorologist at the ABC/Fox station in Birmingham, Ala. He's also one of the best forward thinkers on network media. Huh?

He's been running WeatherBrains, a podcast on weather and the business behind it, for years, and a statewide weather blog. Spann also has a standing presentation he's been giving at Mississippi State's annual storm conference entitled, Surviving as a Broadcast Meteorologist in a Post-Broadcast World. The gist of it: the single-tasking anchor, the teeth and hair TV days are done. He's dropped that presentation for a new one, and he went over the highlights on Episode 169. I'd highly recommend it. Search and replace the word "weather" for "sports information."

Spann's pretty blunt: “If you can’t see it now, you’re blind as a bat and you’ve got no business being in this business.”

The new talk is focused on the “exciting new beginning” in broadcast media. His analogy is the people in the horse and buggy business were huge around the turn of the century. They’re gone. Their business was destroyed by technology. The people that were in the transportation business thrived. One hundred years later, you can’t be in the automobile business. Their companies are dying.

This quote was near and dear to my heart: “Broadcasting can no longer be one way; it is now a conversation.”

On Twitter: “I know more about what’s happens in this town on breaking news than my news department because of Twitter.”

He adds compelling points on the need for targeted advertising, but that finding a new advertising vehicle won't save the industry because supply and demand no longer functions. Hadn't thought about it like that, but the 6 O'Clock news 30 second spot had value when there was a finite number on the top Arbitron book station. Now, there are an infinite number of ads available. "Advertisers are not looking for quantity, but quality and engagement."

Spann continues that local organizations will need to merge into single new media entities for efficiency. He predicts 30-35 percent of the current players gone through consideration. Local TV will need to abandon network and channel. First the numbers don’t mean anything with cable and digital broadcast. Soon, the networks and the studios are about to stream straight to the set-top box. The affiliation model is going away, and network news operations are soon dead. Local stations need to define a local brand sooner than later.

He closed the business part with an interesting prediction:
Once we get the really high speed bandwidth into everyone’s house, and they have the set top box and watch it on their big television and it’s just a click away, that’s when it gets really interesting. That’s about five years away.

I'm going to gently disagree. Moore's Law comes to bandwidth -- my prediction is two years, and if you are not ready in one, you will be behind.

A bonus quote, only because I can see myself saying something very similar to the students in my public relations for college athletics class last spring. This is James, but on this one we're in complete sync:
I got up in their faces. Very few of you will be able to handle the demands of keeping the old model alive for a while, which we have to do, and building the new model. Are you willing to go without sleep? Not make a lot of money? Have some pretty harsh working conditions? At the same time, you’re going to invent a model that will be the ride of your life.

As we head to CoSIDA for convention in San Antonio -- Words to live by.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Media Guides Remain Important, Pt. 2

The great rush to convert media guides into on-line documents overlooks many technical factors. What does one do at cross country? The e-guide breaks down quickly at outdoor venue events like softball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball and others where the press box infrastructure is limited, or non-existent. Good luck firing up the laptop in the rain, or whipping out the Kindle DX with the red-dirt blowing across the infield.

Durability is another. How many copies of the on-line guide, on common 20-pound xerographic paper will media consume during a basketball season?

These are the issues many who seek to defend the printed guide are employing. They’re valid, but they are not compelling – they are tactical at best.

The strategic reason why the transfer of the traditional media guide to the web site is doomed to failure is a complete disconnect on the purpose of the internet.

Print is less valuable because it is passive communication. A one-to-many delivery system that hopes to engage its target.

The networked media is the rising start because it is active communication. The essence of internet done right is engagement.

What I see out there is the functional equivalent of newspapers on-line, and the most horrible mismatch of theory to medium: page after page of static repurposing of copy and concept originally designed for flatland.

As surely as Edward Tufte encourages escaping the Flatland of two-dimensional printing with creative ways of expressing data, we cannot bring the two-format message – pictures and words – into the five-mode format – image, sound, motion, text and interface – of the current multimedia.

I bring up Tufte to counter with his oft stated position that there is no substitute for the high resolution efficiency of paper for delivery of information. He’s right, and more on that later.

Where everyone misses the boat is we are not simply delivering information through the internet. We are conveying a message, a brand; and we are building a connection. The internet is like some psycho-tropic substance that crosses the blood-brain barrier. It’s changed us, altered our perceptions, refired and rewired the consciousness.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Like this iMedia

Western Kentucky is working on an interesting concept, a convergence certification for graduates they're calling iMedia. The basic idea is to make sure that the journalists leaving the Potter School have the multiple platform balance required to function in the networked media.

It's a work in progress, but if it gains ground it could be a new framework that might allow j-school to avoid becoming another anachronism from the 20th Century like evening newspapers, network telecast news and college lecture courses. (Couple of track backs: creative destruction in j-school & thoughts on j-school.)

I've said it several times before, but it bears repeating: j-school has to find a way to convince the rising generation it has something to offer. I was asked what tools did I think were important for the future journalist. The honest answer is I don't know -- because anyone who thinks they know what the key hardware, software or paradigm will be that far out is kidding themselves. Think back five years ago. Had anyone even thought of the concept of social networking having an impact on media? Political commentary on-line was some kind of circus act that wouldn't replace the serious work done by real magazine journalists.

Here's what I do know:

The generation that has lived with the answers at it's fingertips needs the grounding that comes from a liberal arts education. Less specialization and more Renaissance. This touch-all-formats approach WKU suggests will do that within the J-school.

Even if they aren't journalists, a program like iMedia has a chance to create the kind of media awareness course that should be replacing, or at least retooling, the Comm 101 classes all across America. The media is DIY -- and we need to give lay people the tools to know what's good and what's BS.

I'm stealing from myself, but I firmly belief this: What separates the articulate programmer and the clever bystander from the journalist – j-school.

Why Media Guides Remain Important, Pt. 1

Media guides aren’t useless or anachronistic because they are paper. In fact, far from it.

What's gone into the past is the concept of the bound publication living at the center of the media relations person’s universe.

There is always a need for paper documents. It is a format that stands the test of time, and should be used for the historic record. It is portable and green – created from recyclable, renewable resources and does not require power from the grid to sustain.

Cutting media guide printing is a bit of a publicity stunt. Harsh, but read on before reacting.

We need to recognize that the dysfunction in the modern college sports media guide isn’t the pulp; it’s the fiction. They are not media guides. They haven’t been since the late 1990s when coaches began to flex into the public relations domain, turning the media reference document into a Chamber of Commerce spread on the program, the school, the city and most important, the coaching staff.

The best thing the NCAA could do is not to ban printed guides – a gross over-reach of power to the autonomy of the member institutions – but to return to a once workable rule of the past: the recruiting brochure.

When the rules changed to allow either a recruiting brochure or a media guide as a permissible item to give recruits, we took away a valuable and reasonable tool from coaches and created the hybrid that metastasized into the 540-page monster of the early 21st century. (The second best option is just take all guides – media, recruiting or otherwise – out of the recruiting process.)

Speaking of the NCAA – if all of us, including the conference offices – can’t produce a printed brochure that is longer than 208 pages, why is the College World Series record book over 280 pages long? Perhaps it wasn't a NCAA publication, but it is being distributed at the event.

Oh, recruiting guides are sooooo 1980s. We’re so far beyond the printed word in recruiting. Really? What’s the most frustrating thing in computing today? The PDF user manual and other on-line documentation. Want to know what will keep brick and mortar book stores in business? The row after row of third-party computer manuals that explain how to use the programs with those ever-so green digital documents.

There’s a reason why automobile and heavy machinery manufactures still produce sales brochures. Those are major, five- and six-figure purchases. People want to see the vehicle in its best light and to have those key specs down on paper to compare.

No university or non-profit organization worth its endowment would dare recruit donors – excuse me, cultivate friends – without a slick presentation (dare I say it again recruiting) brochure. Every Fortune 500 company and every one that wants to be produces an annual report.

Hmm. What’s a life-changing event that represents a high five-to-six figure investment? Oh, that’s right – a college education.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Next Gen News

Taking in a little vintage TWIT, and the comment of a rising generation member:

"I like to triangulate my news"

The next generation of students, along with having all the answers at their fingertips courtesy of Wikipedia and Google, has not necessarily learned how to learn -- ah, there's some educantese. Instead, they've become a generation of sponges, eager to soak up whatever information exists.

This is the "True Enough" generation, hard-coded to accept the plug-ins of information, particularly information that validates their world views.

Quoting generationally, if the News is so important, it will find me. It will be on Facebook, or on Twitter, or on a RSS feed; that will prompt the interested user to move forward to a newspaper.

Problem. What if the "newspaper," the fixed truth based media, has been replaced through economics by agenda driven media, sponsored media or branded media? Let's be clear, this is not an indictment toward network, or new, media; nor of bloggers and citizen media in general.

Let's define these new fields. Agenda driven media comes in many forms from political to special interests. It's also not new -- back in the 1800s the newspapers all came in local flavors sponsored by and suited to the respective political parties. The commentary that was carried as news was vicious and personal. Everything old is new again.

The sponsored media is different. Consider the magazines and websites that find their funding from George Soros or Heritage Foundation. They harken back to the midevil patrons of the arts.

Branded media is not terribly different, but are funded by and represent a specific organization. The NFL Network, for example. To be honest, There's also items like MommyCast, podcasts brought to market by single sponsors.

The funding does not cast automatic aspersion on the reporters -- for heaven's sake, many can argue for the undo influence of Chamber of Commerce advertising in legacy media -- but it can raise questions.

Back to the original point -- once alerted to the need to delve into the news by a social trigger, what if the "news" amplifies a particular angle. How far from the federalist horror of the masses becoming self-aware? Forget SkyNet, this is a path thru humans from mass media to the Spanish Inquisition and Maoist purges. Remember, the herd was in agreement that the minority was the problem.

Essense of New Media

Great quote from TWIT: You can't connect to people unless you reveal something of yourself.

An essential reason why blogs that lack personality tend to fail.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mo' Mobility

Recovering Journalist starts a series on mobility. The entire post is a solid read, but if you had any doubt about the coming Web 3.0 (the mobile web), here's a couple of stats:

54 million Americans now access the Web on their smartphones

about 40 percent of those regularly check their phones for news

And that news is intensely local.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maybe It Is The End of The World

Recovering Journalist roots out this gem from Jeff Jarvis about the potentially permanent disconnect between advertising and media:

So here's the real punchline: Advertising ends up having nothing to do with media. They become decoupled. Audience no longer yields advertising. Hell, advertising isn’t advertising. It’s relationships. Media only get in the way. There’s the corner we’re painted into, the chaos scenario, perhaps the doomsday scenario for media.

Sound familiar? Need a network? Need the media? Maybe, if you are your own network, no. Then add your own funding -- advertising yourself to those customers/audience/fan base.

For My Collegues on the Conference Call

Some reference points I highly encourage before getting on the big CoSIDA "death to press guides" conference call on Thursday afternoon.

A) Contrary to popular belief, print is not dead

B) The future is data

C) As you head down this road, better get staffed up

Personally, remove the media guide from the list of permissible mailed items. This allows institutions to make the decisions in their media operations they feel important. It should be an institutional decision. Certainly helped on posters back in the day, and we print posters for the sports that need them promotionally.

By the way, don't let the facts get in the way of a decision. Dumping printed guides does nothing to relieve the work-load of the SID office (you'll still need to do all that work, just not have it in a handy format). It will not reduce the overall costs (has anyone really priced those on-line alternatives, and how many copies you end up printing locally for use). At no time in the history of the NCAA's long battle against media guide costs has any change resulted in a net savings to institutions (no color inside in the 1980s, make 'um the size of phone books for the same money; 208 page limit, run them all out to 208 pages and give them lenticular, 3-D, foiled, hard-back, embossed covers printed on 110-pound cover stock for the pages).

At the heart of the decisions should be what is best for each institution -- or groups of institutions -- not the one-size-fits-all. Some schools will want to print them for booster benefits. Some will get rid of them all together.

If anyone wants to go with the lame "green" theory of reducing paper use, tell me again how much electricity is used by the in-department studios, video production suites, encouragement of hundreds (if not thousands) of fans and media to use their computers and other devices to download the electronic files, videos, etc., for playback and viewing. Can you say, carbon footprint?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Journalist as Brand?

Of all people, the Associated Press today speaks of a future in which the individual journalist becomes their own brand. This is a good read, especially for those late to the conversation. It talks about "entrepreneurial journalists" -- somewhere in America, Dan Gillmor flinches at his concept being lifted.

In earlier posts (You're Selling Truth and Sourcing vs. Brand), I spoke at length about the coming of the individual source, the one-man media. In sports, we see plenty of successful examples -- Paul Finebaum -- but far more failures.

The AP story looks at True/Slant as one of the new aggregators. Anyone remember what United Artists was? Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith joined with a lawyer to create a collective that would give the actors more say in production. Mixed results, at best.

From the AP story, one very salient quote from Lewis Dvorkin, founder of True/Slant:

"From my 35 years in this business, from traditional to online, it is very clear that audiences are moving online and moving toward individual voices. They want to hear a voice they respect and that can cut through the noise of the Internet."

Journalism meets Long Tail search? The iTunes of information? Maybe. My money remains on one of the great name brands figuring it out and doing what Dvorkin suggests, because the value is in the name, as much as the brand. Don't know if I'd put my faith in a group that acknowledges the flexibility of truth on-line rather than an established news name (Look to the bottom of Sourcing vs. Brand for more specifics.)

Remember, United Artists didn't make significant money until it was taken over in the 1950s by industry pros. Then it became a powerhouse. Personally, I'm not seeing the battle ground for journalism in that way (refer back to last month's comments on brands becoming their own media).

Hey, didn't the Associated Press get started as a collaborative effort . . .

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Remember Them Today

This is the 65th anniversary of D-Day. We're losing that generation of young men that hit the shores at Normandy at a rate of 1000 a day.

If you want to get some shred of understanding of what they did, take a moment to watch Saving Private Ryan.

Why that movie? Veterans after watching the opening scenes commented that Spielburg had it all down -- the chaos, the noise, the shock and awe (take note of how Tom Hanks' character goes deaf after an explosion) -- except for one important detail.

The smell.

They went through hell for us. Remember that.

Careful With Twitter

We learned something the hard way during yesterday's baseball marathon -- Twitter has a floating target of maximum posts.

No one seems to know the real answer. Some documentation says 40 in an hour. Some says 100 in an hour. Some 1000 in a day.

What I think it becomes is the obscure reference to "accesses on the Twitter servers."

We have one staffer on the ground in Tallahassee, and we've made the decision to keep him to a Tweet each half inning to keep the NCAA happy (no, no one has said anything to us, we're anticipating that). In between, I would weave in other sports and announcements to keep our end users -- who seem to like a lot of detail -- happy.

At the same time, thanks to some promos and website changes (we added a very prominent Twitter button to go with the rolling ad for the feed and some drop-down menu spots) we started snowballing from 1000 followers on Monday to where we are today at just under 1600.

One of the things I try to do is recognize the hundredth followers (congrats to Jane Doe, our 11ooth follower). To do that, I needed to keep hitting refresh to see the change in numbers, then access the follower list to identify. Here's where I think the limit was probably 100 server accesses to Twitter -- because between myself and Blair Cartwright we didn't write 40 or 100 Tweets in an hour. Combined with my checks on the member list, we may have hit the server more than 100 times.

When that happens, you are dead. Twitter shuts you off for an hour. That's bad news in the middle of a baseball game. Good news, however, if that game has almost six hours of rain delays and you're in the middle of the longest one.

Learn the lesson from us -- during the event, keep the actions with Twitter to the tweets -- hold off any other actions until afterwards.

Now That I Have Your Attention

If in the last entry I made it clear the future for SIDs looks grim, let me follow with the bright land of opportunity that is before college sports media relations personnel.

Let's take the number of seven SIDs on a large university staff. Give that school 20 sports. Remember, in the past, they all basically did the same thing -- which made them interchangeable and had the benefit of scaling up and down when some huge occurrence happened (a national championship run or national event host).

One of them might be a little better with Photoshop. One might be a little stronger with InDesign. One could have an artistic eye. One probably understands HTML and web structure better. For the large part, however, they operated independently of each other, replicating the same tasks and perhaps leaning on the one person with knowledge to help out.

The Networked Media today requires a different set of advanced skills -- audio and video editing, multi-platform writing skill, ability to mesh multimedia into a coherent message.

Who on that SID staff had those abilities?

One of my famous lines (infamous if you were on the other end) from the SEC Spring Meetings back in the mid-1990s was the 14 people sitting around that table were the last of the analog SIDs and the future was digital. One person really got offended at that comment. He's no longer at that school, and not sure if he's still in the business.

And the future is now.

The new path is specialization within the media relations office. There remains a place for the traditional SID, but it is more PR based. Content generation becomes more important, and that's where the specialty comes in.

This is good and bad news. Sport-based specialty would lead to seasonal work. You had "off-season" between sports, or the summer. Just like coaches know at the high level, we've turned everything into 365.

Going back to those seven staffers, let's say three remain in the SID mode. They would work everything at home that required media interaction. They would set any media area -- from football to lacrosse. If external media are in attendance, they are there. This becomes more of the external spokesperson in PR.

A publications and graphic specialist would handle the printing (don't kid yourself, paper isn't going away). A video editor manages the packages for TV to internet. A still image specialist takes care of the photos and Photoshop. An on-line manager creates and manages internet spaces.

Well, there's your seven staff people. In a hurry, you're out of hands. Who is covering those 20 teams?

There are two answers: the same seven people with the sports divided up as beats, rather than the traditional SID roles. This is what I predict the majority of schools will do. It's simple and easy.

The savvy will find/create/hire another group to create content. Let's add three more staff people -- all of them "preditors" to cover the teams. These producer-editors can capture video, write stories and features and allow those specialists to do what you are paying them to do -- manage, amplify and maximize content.

It won't do any good for an institution to have a publications coordinator that is so swamped by the full load of the 20 sports AND covering two or three of the "minor" teams in the SID role. Two outcomes are possible: they will do middling work because they lack the time to give any one project more than the cursory attention or they will burn out and leave.

The preditors can be those student workers, eager to learn and enthusiastic about the sports. In this case, you probably need an eighth person -- a director/instructor to teach this pack of students. It requires the will to allow young people to make mistakes and learn from them.

In the end, this really should not be that surprising or shocking. No university or college PR office staffs up with nothing but PR spokespersons. No academic department is filled with only generalists, or with all the same specialty. There is only one U.S. diplomatic historian in the department; one Asian studies professor.

Guess Who is Next?

The layoffs within the sports media have not reached the publicists. Yet. The forward-thinking organizations are taking a hard look at staffing, but I'm not sure they are seeing the whole picture.

The days of a five, six, seven person staff of SIDs is drawing to a close. Not because BCS sized institutions don't need that many people. Far from it. The hard reality is that they need more staff.

What they don't need, are more SIDs.

That's a hard sentence to write, but it is true. Traditionally, specialty among SIDs was related to sport knowledge. High profile sports needed people with deep skill and knowledge base within the sport. And staffs were built around the football SID, the basketball SID, the primary Olympic sport SID, the multi-sport SID and the rest of the staff that worked sports as a training ground for moving up the ladder.

Some will argue you cannot compare the football SID to the softball SID, but until two or three years ago, tell me how they were different? Those out there who are pros -- seriously -- what is different in these job tasks:

Create a media guide, set up the press area, write press notes, do stats, write a game story, keep the records and host the media at home and road events.

Same job, the only real differences were scale and risk. Obviously, an inexperienced young media relations person cannot survive as the football contact for a bowl-bound team. That's the risk part.

That staffing system worked in the past because there was a matching component of media. College newspapers, stringers and low man on the roster covered those Olympic sports.

The tree has fallen in the woods. No one is there to hear it; or in the case of virtually every college or university "minor" sport, no one has a job anymore to cover it. At some universities, there isn't anyone to cover the "major" sports.

As athletic directors rush mindlessly toward cutting media guides and media outlets slash beat reporters, go back to that list of things the SID did in the past.

Kind of grim, isn't it?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Internet: It's Not Just for Coaches Anymore

We have seen more than our share of Coach getting up in front of the ole booster club and saying something he shouldn't have. Lo and behold, it's out there on the internets.

Meet Catherine E. Watt. Ms. Watt presented a paper at an academic conference, and made some interesting observations about techniques being used by Clemson to improve its standing in the US News and World Report annual college review.

All the gory details on the educantese battle over what she accused Clemson of doing is at The Chronicle and other on-line media. What catches my attention is another great example of no matter where you speak, you are on the record. From The Chronicle:

She acknowledged that she might have chosen her words "more carefully” if she had known beforehand that reporters would attend the session, which took place at the annual conference of the Association for Institutional Research. “Someone gave me the comment that I was pulling the covers off this issue," she said. "I think I was just discussing publicly what we all say privately.”

You reckon? Hey, Christine, your colleagues were in the audience. Did you not think they would blog about your ideas? Not Twitter a few key notes? Text a friend or two that "OMG! CU is fxn data"?

Please always remember, and never forget: When more than two people know something, it's no longer a secret -- or you really can't discuss things publicly you want to be private.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

This just in -- Harvard researcher says Twitter users are more self-obsessed than users of other blogging formats.

He reported his findings, among other ways, by Twitter.

More at The Chronicle.

Got to Stop Giving It Away for Free

Not to say I had anything to do with this, but I can at least say it's part of the scheme I laid out two months ago for local media survival. KARK in Little Rock announces a hybrid lineup of high school live games, partnering with one of the larger net media enterprises in the state.

Think about it -- if the networks and the studios decide to take their content direct to the consumer, this will be the only way for the stations formerly known as affiliates to survive.

Difference for them and what's happening to GM and Chrysler dealerships? At least when the franchise model collapses on the TV stations, they have something they can create -- if they are forward thinking.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

LaRussa Case Bears Watching

Tony LaRussa may set major on-line precedent with his lawsuit against Twitter to stop a parody using his name and likeness. The newspaper account and the more detailed legal paperwork reveal that LaRussa's move is to use trademark against the faux account.

Typically, Twitter has allowed parodies to stay if they were clearly marked, which this one is, but if LaRussa is successful, this could open the door for ICANN-like actions against those who may be cybersquatting on labels.

Many have believed that since Twitter was a closed system, one could not approach to have a non-approved person from a brand or trademark. The same applies at Facebook and YouTube. A loss for Twitter could open the door for many groups -- the Arkansas Razorbacks included -- to regain trademark names grabbed either for profit or fun by non-approved individuals.

LaRussa's lawyers had trouble reaching Twitter (surprise -- try to contact a human at any of these services) and filed the suit. Shortly before the case was put to docket, Twitter pulled the parody but the suit remains. It will be interesting to see if the case will be carried through for the legal precedent, or will Twitter simply become more open to DMCA-type actions.

Manjoo's Simply Not the First

Another "True Enough" precursor; a little more of our time than the previous:

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed . . . This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. After all, the chances are that those lies, or at any rate similar lies, will pass into history.”

George Orwell, on the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s

How It Is Done

Good friend and colleague with Wal-Mart, Kevin Thornton (K5KVN -- see, even more reason to be a ham), is providing a Twitter feed of the Wal-Mart Shareholders meeting. @Walmartmeeting.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Where is the Line?

Deadspin gives us an interesting note today from the sports journalism world. A Tampa Bay beat reporter tweeted some potential news on a player that turned out to be rumor. In the meantime, of course, the Tampa Bay world was all atwitter (sorry, bad pun) over the prospect.

The writer, Rick Stroud, has since said well, you know, it's not real until I put it on Thanks for clearing that up.

Good to know media members are equally confused about what is news, or a public statement. I'm sure Lane Kiffin and Tennessee would like to have that defense available from the unfortunate Twitter incident over a commitment. If Stroud's logic follows, Kiffin's personal assistant gets a mulligan since that wasn't a "real" website; just Twitter.

Please, everyone -- the public square has expanded to all forms of communication. If you post it in public, guess what, it's a public statement that you may be asked to stand behind. I'm not going to bogart all of Deadspin's take -- which is spot on -- but you cannot have it both ways. It is either news, or made up buzz.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On-Line Gender Equity

Now that I have your attention -- a post NOT about Title IX.

The trend I noticed a few weeks ago continues -- Twitter followers seem to be 50-50 male-female, a remarkable thing. In a male-oriented on-line world, perhaps these Twitter feeds are a way for us to reach our female fans.

Curious to hear from others if they see the same kind of balance of numbers after the initial start. A high percentage of our first 100-200 followers were male, but in these last couple of hundred, females tend to lead. For example, our 1000th follower (and a gift certificate prize winner) was female.