Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two Things That Always Follow You

Your reputation and your standards, and Mike Wise got a hard lesson in that this week. As speculation swirls about Pittsburgh Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger's suspension length, Wise sent out a Tweet saying he knew it was five weeks now, not the original six (interesting since the preseason game on Fox was reporting the possibility of it being cut to four). Washington Post ombudsman blog || Original note at National Sports Journalism Center.

Wise's message set off alarms across the league, and he came back to say that it was false -- made up of whole cloth -- and he was doing it just to prove a point about accountability in social media.

He's right. Amateurs aren't held to accountability standards, and they are often posting as PigBoy47.

Pros know better.

Lets keep the terms straight. When PigBoy47 does it, you could call it Tweeting.

When Mike Wise does it -- or anyone else who wishes to lay claim to a "journalist" label -- it is real-time reporting. No more, no less. Same rules of proof should apply there as in his home publication.

Whether Wise likes it or not, his paradigm doesn't shift with the account he's using to log into his readers.

One of two nut quotes:

Vita (the sports editor at the Post) sent a note to his staff reminding them of The Post’s rules on social media. They say that in anything transmitted via social media networks, like Twitter or Facebook, “we must protect our professional integrity.”

“We must be accurate in our reporting and transparent about our intentions,” the guidelines read.

The other one was written by the ombudsman, Andrew Alexander. It's your 140 takeaway:

But Wise wasn’t reporting. He was fabricating, which is the greatest sin in journalism.

What does that mean in this space? It goes double for the person formerly known as "the source." If an athletic administrator, a coach or an athlete sends out into they know is misleading, they get hit twice. First, you deceived. Second, you have no one to blame -- you did it to yourself.

In this, Wise gets the man-up credit for not blaming a source for bad information.

I've heard many a player (occasionally a coach) say it's not fair that they can't "joke around" with their Facebook or Twitter pages like other students or friends. I can have some empathy, but that was the trade off many of us faced when we signed on as public figures.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pythons Give the Best Advice

Ah, as we launch into the first week of football season, I am reminded of the ever so important advice of John Cleese:

Don't confuse serious with solemn

It's a game. Go have fun.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On National Anthems

(A double entry tonight -- both here and on my regular Bill's Blog for UA)

The worst national anthem I've ever witnessed happened just over 20 years ago. The opponent shall remain nameless to protect the innocent.

The arena was characteristically empty for this particular team at this point in its women's basketball history. No student section. No band. No fans - I counted about 50 people in the facility.

In walks the singer. She begins and quickly begins to sing her own song. Literally.

" . . . And the sun, over the mountains . . . "

Mountains? Did I hear that right?

She sang with such confidence, maybe I heard her wrong. I looked across the floor to the reporter from the NW Arkansas Times that had traveled with us. The grin on his face is growing.

"O're the land of the free, and the land, of the, free."

And she was gone. Our journalist friend had taped the last half, because it was too much to believe at the time. Lady'Backs went on to pound the other team, but for years what those of us that were there remembered was the anthem.

I recall that time to frame the events of this past week.

Here's the thing about singing the national anthem. It takes nerve. Incredible guts. You don't just walk out there and do it, and no one who hasn't walked out in front of an audience and been the soloist can really understand.

Back in my college days, one of my j-school teachers and one of the instructors of a coaching class said the exact same thing: don't criticize until you've tried it. In both cases, they were talking about officiating. That's what led me to officiating junior high basketball for a semester; and getting a real clear understanding.

So a young woman stepped to the floor at one of our events this past weekend. She confidently and clearly belted out the first couple of lines and then, it happened. She forgot where she was. She stopped. She turned to the sound op and made a brief icebreaker little joke that he'd jinxed her. And calmly, she restarted the anthem.

All was well, until she approached that same spot in the song. The fear came across her face. Like a marathoner at 22 miles, she hit the wall. She gasped.

What happened next is what this blog is about. Before she could think about her next move; before she could restart; before she could walk away.

The crowd, as if on cue, picked up as one the next word. And they sang together as one with a voice that reached out to lift her up. She joined back in over the PA system, and together, the singer and the crowd completed a stirring opening of the event.

As she proudly made her exit, she was patted on the back by many for her courage. No one was upset, in fact, the crowd seemed to understand. These things happen.

I would bet she has performed the anthem dozens of times; probably before much larger audiences. Certainly, she will remember that night, but I will too, just not for the same reason.

Having been that person who made a public error, I know she will only recall the humiliation. She won't imagine that I won't have the same opinion of her.

Far from the truth. She's not the one I'll think about.

It will be the crowd. A group of around a thousand people of all ages and backgrounds. Most of them didn't know the person sitting next to them.

However, for one moment, they came together as one to rescue a person that most of them did not know. They did what we do best in times of trouble, help one and other.

Five years ago this weekend, we were all called to help an entire city. For the most part, we did. I sit back and watch the news accounts and the remembrances of Katrina. I don't dwell on Brownie, or any of the other mistakes that were made. We've learned from them. What sticks with me are the volunteers who did what they had to do to help people when they needed it most.

When we came together, as one, to lift up the ones that needed our help.

The Byline According to Luke

Bylines on institutional websites remain contentious. Are you representing the whole or promoting yourself? Not that long ago, a colleague confronted me because I used my name on a departmental blog. I had never thought of it as the attempt to be self-promoting that I was being accused of. Here, yes; there, no -- transparent and accountable.

I've written in the past about the need for the byline to let the consumers know who is responsible for copy. Today's church service included Luke 14:1, 7-14. OK, none of you have known me to get into bible study here -- and that's not the point. The parable is about Jesus making a point that you shouldn't assume a place of honor for yourself, and it began to get me thinking about the byline: "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

A little pensive time, and I come to this conclusion. Putting out a byline is more about humbling than exalting. Huh? Follow me on this.

Earlier in the passage, Luke records how Jesus instructed that you should take your place at the banquet at the lowest spot, and wait to be invited by your host to sit in the place of honor. This also served to avoid the wrongful assumption you are THE distinguished guest. By having the staff that work the website place bylines and credit lines on work, they are indeed laying themselves out for potential humbling. And if the work meets with the pleasure of those who read or view the website, the people will let you know "friend, move up higher; then you will be honored."

At the start of the credits of every single media guide I served as the editor for over the previous 25 years of my media relations career, I began with this line: "Credit goes to many who are listed in this space; blame rests solely with your editor."

HTML and CoverItLive News

Many of you may already know this, but I'll toss it out to both our staff and many followers who are starting to use the CoverItLive engine. We are encouraging links to live stats and live streams, and if you use the News Alert box to place the links. Sure, you can just drop them in raw, and the system will make them live, but you'll get something nasty like:


A little tinkering, and you can put any standard HTML commands in the news alert space, which means you can get a nice representation like:

Live Stats || Live Video

by just adding in the "A HREF=" command plus a little formatting from a CENTER, FONT SIZE=3 and B at the opening of the info. Obviously, you need to add your "<" brackets around those commands. Except for closing the HREF's, I save the extra characters that closing the formatting would normally require. You have only 450 characters to use in the news alert space. If you view source this blog to see the code here, it does have the proper HTML syntax because Blogger won't allow the broken formatting.

Now, right up front with your scoreboard, you have the quick links to encourage fans to get more stats than what the text-oriented blog provides and a way to push them to the video or audio to enhance the on-line interaction.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Value and Worth

Why We Like What We Like from NPR Science Friday could not be more spot on.  The interview of Harvard's Paul Bloom confirmed something at I suspected based on personal experience.  They story opened by pointing out a first chair violin genius going down into the subway and making $32 the night after having led the same city's philharmonic to a tens of thousands of dollar performance.

What was different? One was perceived to have cost a lot of money to attend, and then in turn, must have been a better performer than the street violinist.

The book, How Pleasure Works, showed that we perceive pleasure and value when we think there was more effort or cost going into it.  I've lived this effect - guide covers or other layouts that were considered outstanding, but once the artist or price was revealed, some of the same people who loved it no longer thought it was quality work.

The takeaway quote from Bloom:
You think wine doesn't taste as good if you don't know it's expensive or special wine. A painting is going to look different to you, and you're going to value it differently, if you don't - depending on who you think created it.

I often see the same in the social media world, where the tools are often free or very low cost.  Certainly the skill to make a free tool sing is the difference between craftsman and a dilettante, but to the consumer or administrator, how can that free thing have the same impact as an expensive similar solution.

FourSquare is a perfect example.  It can provide the same marketing potential as an affinity card program, but for a fraction of the cost.  Still, FourSquare is perceived as a toy; the five-figure card program with readers, databases and sponsorships far more "impactful."

Bloom adds that meaning often points to essence.  How pleasing we think something is is often based upon who we think did the work and how much effort or cost it took to create it.

To listen to the story or read the transcript, jump here.

Marvel Method of Management

One of the great surprises of this year's NAB event was Stan Lee.  Like every dozens of fanboys in attendance, I came simply to kiss the ring of the creator of the Marvel universe.

Stan the Man proved to be something much, much more.

Along with the bombastic one-liners, Lee handed down some profound insight into how to succeed, particularly in fields like ours.

Paraphrasing Lee's management style that was vital to the "Marvel Method:"

The key is understanding when people have talent, recognize that and let them make the decisions.  Micromanaging leads to people not letting the people who know the problem and have the skills not make the decisions they are best at.

There's some truth that you can't find in a stack of top-down management style books.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

High Cost of Tweeting

Chad Ochocinco lost veinticinco grande for his in-game tweet, the NFL handing out the fine today. It prompted another Chad tweet to his followers. Here in our neighborhood, according to the radio station, tweets and other social media played a role in the Rene Gork events.

The bottom line: know the social media policies of the agencies you are working with. It can be costly.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More on Photoshop Express

Today's football fan day a perfect example of how this program can help you fix photos on the run.
Here's the original iPhone pick of Ryan Mallett signing for one of the first fans. OK, but not really usable. A quick crop, hard push on the exposure and now I've got something I can email into our website and Twitter feed.Believe me -- you need this app. And, I've mentioned this one but it does cost $9.95, if you're quarterback draws a serpentine line of hundreds, maybe over a thousand, than want his pre-Heisman run autograph, you need to get Pano also.
Not bad for a five image stitch.

Just Call Me Wikan

We've been doing some clean-up editing out on the internets the past few weeks, particularly fixing some small errors and adding some key people to Wikipedia. I'd highly recommend anyone in the business taking a moment to check their coaches and teams to make sure that A) they exist and B) they're accurately portrayed.

We made a very transparent login -- ArkRazorbacks, of course -- because we didn't want the Wikipedia folks confused at all. As I always recommend, post as who you are; they'll find out eventually anyway.

That didn't sit well as we got an email back saying, you appear to be an institution or organization, and we frown upon that. Excuse me? Who is going to be the most accurate source on the exact date Bobby Petrino arrived.

Now, I understand they don't want to have us in there making editorial changes to opinion -- and just like any message board or other public commentary space -- that's not our place.

The other thing Wikipedia asked was "are you sure these persons are noteworthy?"

What? Willy Robinson and Garrick McGee not noteworthy? Are these Wikans wearing Gator hats while they type that response? Do they understand what wrath that could invoke?

So, it made me think -- what other notable individuals are missing from the pages of the world's largest encyclopedia? And I found one -- Otus the Head Cat.

Before you laugh, if Opus the Penguin can have an entry, Michael Storey of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's weekly fiction and satire column nom de plume deserves one. So I made it.

Outing myself as the Wikian, Wikan, Wikipedist -- what is the correct form there -- might get the entry whacked, but let me point out -- it's been edited twice by other fans who cleaned up a couple of mistakes I made. After all, isn't that the point of the whole business?

I'll also confess this -- I've been a highly skeptical user of Wikipedia, what with having that PhD in history and all. But I am seeing less and less of what I would call partisan error or inexperienced mistakes. As a result, I use it more and more myself for a quick look-up. Yes, I would not let a student use it as a primary source on a report, but as a Cliff Notes guide, sure. Just make sure you verify facts with other sources. After all, that is the heart of good research.

If you haven't read Otus, you're really missing out on some really cleaver stuff. Some of it may be lost in the translation to my colleagues who are not of this region -- it is very Arkansas-based stuff -- it's still a really humorous weekly read. Here's this week's column (pay site warning) about the discovery of Otus' enshrinement into Wikipedia.

As a PS: This would be the 911 post of the blog. Once upon a time, that simply meant the automobile I most wanted to own -- a turbo Porsche 911 targa, preferably with the whale tail. These days, little more ominous.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mind your TweetDeck

Something ill happened with the latest iPad upgrade, and I now find my TweetDeck firing uncontrollably. Posts that I directed at one account (the Doctor_BS) appeared on another (ArkRazorbacks), and even when I tried to isolate to individual accounts for test, I still got duplicates to my primary business account.

Probably will uninstall and reinstall now that I'm back home, but all you folks out there using it -- take care.

Photoshop Express

If you are an iSpace user, I highly recommend grabbing the new Photoshop Express. A lot of the simple adjustments that can clean up a quick point-and-shoot photo that might have required opening on a laptop can now be done within the phone, and the application then used to upload to Facebook, TwitPic or an online Adobe photo storage account.

The price is right -- free -- even if it didn't do an outstanding job. Must ad for on-the-go media relations folks, right up there with Pano.

The photo here is a quick crop, lightening of exposure, touch of sharpening, then uploaded direct to Blogger for the posting. The color correction leaves something to be desired, but again, consider the original file below and that you're using pretty basic tools on a smart phone to achieve the edit.

Curious how much better this will work on iPad -- out to get a photo connection kit tomorrow, something I thought would be totally useless until this quick little app showed up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to Dismantle an F-Bomb

Oh, we can laugh about it today. When I had my telephone stolen back in November 2009 on the way to Dallas, and it was used to send out the following tweet over the athletic department feed:

"F*** you"

It took a rapid response and a pretty set series of actions to prevent first my unemployment and second to protect the reputation of the athletic department.

Golden hour response time is all the rage in PR these days, but it proved to be the difference maker. I was monitoring our feed through text alerts, and others monitor our feed as well. We never thought the monitoring would be used to attack a hacker.

The moment it happened, I knew that a rapid response was required. I called my two immediate supervisors and reminded them about the stolen phone. That part is crucial, because once the device went missing, I had reported it to supervisors, property control and the phone office.

I remembered that we had a press conference for men's basketball underway at the time, so I knew we had to respond quickly as the media certainly saw the tweet. What I didn't remember is that a football game management meeting was also underway. Imagine the internal audience surprise to that text.

Five minutes in, this was sheer reaction. An aggressively transparent series of tweets were sent. Acknowledging that an inappropriate message was sent, apologizing for the inappropriate message, reassuring that it was stolen and wouldn't happen again.

I was later asked if I thought a press release or other action was needed. No, I thought then and believe now that you respond in the medium -- in this case, Twitter. If it had been a message board, it would be there. This also was working within the social context of the error.

This was a crisis situation, at least of reputation, and you execute your crisis plan in such circumstances. Alert appropriate parties, take action to mediate the impact, survey the circumstances and then plan to prevent it from happening again.

Here we learned some important hard lessons about our technology. No matter how convenient, pairing mobile devices to any system is dangerous. The kids didn't get a bunch of passwords, they had just started sending the same seven-letter message to random numbers in the phone. And, they knew that if they sent a text to "40404", if the phone was paired with a Twitter account, it would automatically display the message.

Did you know that even if your phone is turned off, it may not be shut down for as much as four hours after the kill command is sent? So in this case, even though one of the critical technicians didn't answer their phone and the first alert of the event became a voice mail, it didn't matter.

Because I went aggressively into a plan that fulfilled those great four goals of ICS -- it became something we can study now. But what if it didn't, what if I lost my job over it?

Here's the difference between responsibility and fault. Having a teenager steal my phone and use it for a prank was not my fault. The phone, however, was my responsibility. It was issued to me. You can -- and must -- accept responsibility for events; you just don't have to be beaten down by fault.

Consider the unfortunate lives of Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short. They were the naval and military commanders of the Hawaiian Islands in 1941. Specifically, the island of O'ahu. Each executed the plan they were given. Kimmel lined the battleships up side-by-side to protect against submarine incursion into Pearl Harbor. Short moved all the aircraft and other key resources to the center of the airfields, wingtip to wingtip, to prevent saboteurs from breaching the fences.

Who would have expected the Imperial Naval Air Forces bombing Pearl? No one.

Yet they were relieved of duty, assumed to have been court-marshaled [corrected] and for decades public opinion for being at fault for our failure. Years later, we learn, they were indeed the responsible commanders, and fell on their swords, but they were not given all the info they needed and they were following orders. In 1999, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to exonerate them.

In the end, you prepare for these kind of days by a series of events -- deaths, probation, firing on the low side; Final Fours and national championships on the up side -- and you learn from it all how to react under these kind of events.

In the end, they don't pay you for the good days; they pay you for the bad days. You work the good ones for free, an old colleague once said.

Keep Calm Carry On is the famous meme born of a plan to settle the British masses in the event of Nazi invasion of the home islands. It's a pretty good motto for anyone in this business.

FourSquare next wave

It isn't an apocryphal story: I was a first hand witness to a major Division I BCS level football SID/head office manager say he would never have an email address because that was just a useless fad.

. . . And then the ones that said Twitter.

. . . And just this week, overheard having "no use at all for Facebook."

Add to the list FourSquare. We had a couple of bright young stars at CoSIDA Convention talking up the geolocation service. I'd been playing with it off and on most of the year, picking it over the rival service Gowalla, and noticed a story in The Chronicle regarding the way campus tours were getting unknown graffette. Campus visit prospects were leaving behind brutally honest comments about points on campus.

I've sensed that it will be a better way to do affinity or other checkin type rewards - why force students or others to carry a special card and invest in the scanning and recording infrastructure when FourSquare provides it.

Today, two more indicators that FourSquare as a concept is real.

As I check in at XNA, I get a special alert from one of my FourSquare friends about trying out the dyson hand driers. Huh? That was a comment left by him, and because we are FourSquare friends, it auto pops up. Imagine that social power - we believe our friends and value their opinions more than marketers. What if he left behind a recommendation on a restaurant or service? Suppose at the other end of my trip, he's been there also and said "XYZ bar-be-que rocks" - where do you think I'll think of going?

In this case, XNA might take a moment to assess some of the comments left by FourSquare folks about the airport's services. Those are semipermanent comments.

The second was sitting here and listening to the news that Facebook is getting ready to launch a geolocation check in for mobile. So stores can give you coupons. So friends can find where you are. So you can post your comments about where you are.

The mobile web is becoming more personal each and every day.

Have you claimed all your home sports venues on FourSquare? You better today.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Voice in My Head

While working on other projects, I came across this extremely clear explanation of why splash screens on website home pages are bad architecture, if not potential evil. OK, that might be a bit much.

Sink the Splash Pages incorporates some Nielson work along with a lot of internet common sense. You're putting a wall between your extremely expensive content and the world, and it's going to have unintended consequences.

Research from all levels, Nielson to local, show that splash screens increase the likelihood of a user not continuing to the website. You've got to get advertising, but doing it in this way -- or promoting things you as a department are selling like tickets -- becomes an annoyance and has a negative impact on the content. They violate that most basic of modern internet communication precepts: it’s not a speech anymore, it’s a conversation. The splash screen isn’t just an outbound lecture, it’s screaming at your consumers to pay attention to something.

Nielson said it best: The homepage's impact on a company's bottom line is far greater than simple measures of e-commerce revenues: the homepage is also your company's face to the world.

Andy King adds this pithy assessment: Splash pages can backfire with users. Rather than enticing them to explore further you repel them clicking and screaming.

Where do splash screens work? When the message they convey is something of great interest to the end users and complements the message of the website’s home page. Primary example, short-time frame celebrations – a splash page that lauds a national championship or other momentous achievement that the users will find more information about after the click through.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A More Effective Checklist

Third of a series on the ideas behind the new ArkansasRazorbacks.com layout.

By reducing the number of advertising positions, the value of those remaining increased, which is a bonus to the rights holders. By increasing the editorial content areas, the consumers feel they are getting a better product, and are more inclined to use the product. This in turn increases page views and unique users, which of course, increases the value of the reduced ads.

The marketing messages that were scattered all over the previous designs – we must have “X” on the front page at all times! – were not seen by the end user as athletic department promotion or the well-intended attempt to bring to fan’s attention specials and programs that benefited them. They were just another advertisement; just another piece of visual clutter.

Those messages are now carried by a pair of new vehicles. The primary way information about tickets and promotions are presented are through additional stories written by the marketing and ticketing areas of the athletic department to convey the info. The second is through features on the larger programs which can be displayed in a targeted manner – sport-by-sport on the features module rotator.

Breaking this down into the life cycle of an event, here are the parts that assemble into the whole experience for the fan.

Each editorial story is the nucleus around which the electrons of marketing information orbit.

PRE-EVENT STORY: Links to tickets for the event, promotion for the event, directions and fan guide information to the event, streaming data, streaming audio/video, live blog.

IN EVENT: Now the live blog becomes the placeholder for the same links – tickets, promotions, directions, streaming information.

POST EVENT STORY: A recap of the event along with links to text/HTML statistics, computer generated play-by-play or other stats, PDF reports of stats, game notes or quotes, post-game press conference video, replays of video/audio/interactive blogs.

In this way, fans can find the information they need, and by having it available in text forms that promote sharing, they can forward it to friends to invite them to join them at these events.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Whisper To A Scream

Part two of three on the ideas behind the new layout at ArkansasRazorbacks.com

Icicle Works is one of my fav one-hit-wonder 80's bands. Birds Fly is their Shatner-esque effort. Nobody remembers the title. Everyone remembers the refrain -- a whisper to a scream.

Check it out on iTunes. The melody builds slowly, then it explodes into a hard Taiko-drum roll. Just like your promotional ideas -- they should start as your whisper to your fans and their social graphs -- the reverse distribution group that will have the greatest lasting impact because it is the most trusted distribution network.

Want you subliminal message du jure? Tell me that in the middle of that song isn't the inadvertent explanation of the state of net marketing in the modern it's not longer a speech, it's a conversation world: "Finding our way around indecision; we are, we are rather helpless."

Next time you hear that song on the golden oldies station, you'll remember this column.

And that, kids, is a successful meme.

Today’s successful advertisement is a meme, a brilliantly clear message set adrift into the internet; a mental virus to be calculating about it that will multiply and spread among those interested in receiving it. Marketers who spend time figuring out how “to go viral” are laboring to get that perfect meme.

The steps are simple. Almost too simple to be believed.

First, have a quality product. Ron Harlan said it, if the product sucks, social media won’t fix it. In turn, no amount of advertising or promotion can repair it. It is shocking how many people believe they can succeed in the marketplace without this basic fact.

The rest of the steps are easy.

Bring the key information together with clear language written in active voice.

Verify the accuracy of all facts, figures and action points like phone numbers, emails, addresses both physical and virtual.

Keep the details up to date and attached to as many carrier stories as possible.

Deploy easy to use tools for your consumers to spread the information to friends.

That’s it.

No elaborate splash screens. No flash videos.

This was the heart of the most recent design at ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Less ads, more editorial, clear marketing messages, everybody wins.

Next: A checklist of integrating marketing into editorial.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Notes

I freely admit to getting ideas while sitting in church, and other inspirations. Tell me, can anyone not read the 64th psalm and not think that was written for anyone under message board or other assault?

Nevertheless, I've moved up to making the occasional note on my iPhone. It's too easy not to, but I do admit to being a little sheepish of whipping out a cell phone in church for notes. Am I the only person who does that?

Of course, I could claim I was just texting prayers.

Robocalls Come to Athletics

One of the viral marketing tools making its way around college athletics are the simulated personal pitch for tickets. You fill out a form, get to see your number on a jersey than receive a robocall from the coach telling you how much you are needed.

Every athletic administrator who sees this done by another school races to get it for his school because it’s so cool.

Yep, feeds right into that desire for acceptance from good old Coach. Preys upon the insecurity of being needed by the group.

The question is: do they work?

Here’s my point. These marketing tools are directed at consumers of a particular product or team. Would those individuals have made the same purchase without the elaborate appeal – and the related financial cost? Could a more direct, simple and social network driven alternative have resulted in the same level or response? Was the increased response from the email and robocall eaten up by the overhead cost of the campaign?

Consider it the modern day equivalent of the splash screen with an opt-in feature.

Integrated Marketing

First in a series of three posts about the theory behind the new layout of ArkansasRazorbacks.com

With declining impact of traditional display advertising and low click-through rate for on-screen image advertising, editorial-based information presents at least the equal impact of these older formats, and research shows some direct and many anecdotal impacts of increased probability of messages resulting in positive action.

The goal of integrating marketing is to infuse the editorial content which fans value with the necessary information to inspire them to be aware of promotions and other awareness on behalf of advertisers, but to do so in ways that can be easily shared within the social graph and understood by the consumer.

In other words, write out the details in a clear story.

Traditional marketing consumes inordinate amounts of time, money and verbiage to get across a simple point: tickets are on sale for $10 at the gate; tonight is cap night; there is a $5 off coupon for a family of four at the game.

Those details, written as a story or as bullet points attached to editorial content achieve their goal. They can then be shared by among friends, either via social network sites like Facebook or over direct message systems like Twitter, SMS text or traditional email.

Time saved on the creation and delivery of elaborate display advertising is spent on targeting the message to people likely to act upon it: again, the readers of editorial content about the teams and athletes in question.

This does not mean turning old-school newspaper ads into an email and blasting it out across every possible address an institution owns. No matter how noble one believes the cause, that is pure and simple spam.

Next, the steps to turn meme to action.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Celebrating 900

Another milestone for the blog here; earlier today a 1,000th tweet on that side of things.

There have been some very significant changes in the past month for The Road Scholar. I'm guessing those aren't quite done, either.

Fox Soccer in HD

Opening weekend of the Premiership and my matches are now in HD; add that to an opening win at home for the Wolves, 2-1, over Stoke -- that's all-and-all not a bad way to open. Plus a nice Arsenal-Liverpool match for Sunday.

New Content Ideas

Blogs and live content separate the average from the destination website. To that end, each of the sport contacts at Arkansas is opening up a minimum of a weekly notes column.

Why? Because we want to replace our local media? No, because our local media -- by no fault of their own thanks to the overall collapse of the existing advertising models -- isn't providing the vehicle for that coverage. Only the most cynical and manipulative within the sports PR community would prefer that.

This is a simple reality. The person who once did a weekly notes column in our statewide paper was among the cutbacks two years ago. And the space that person would have used has now gone away as well.

Fans and nature abhor a vacuum. These columns seek to fill it.

With the start of football season, my weekly pre-game columns are back, but this academic year will continue all year long on various subjects.

Tonight kicks off the first of many -- what will likely be well over 100 -- real-time event blogs using the CoverItLive tool. All home events that have the capacity and the need will get interactive blogs this year, and we are dramatically increasing the number from road events this year as well.

We're also bringing in curation columns for football and men's basketball, and working those elements into the weekly notes columns of each sport.

Wait a minute -- you are actively drawing attention to your "competitors" and linking off to their stories?

The days of being the sole destination are gone, and we all benefit from a rich mix of coverage from all sources. Why not? We have written stories for some time about national or regional media that cover our teams. Fans are interested in what other say about us, and since the media for decades have taken our stories to populate their pages and websites, the least we can do is share back by bringing some attention to their work that is of interest to our fans.

We've also taken the time to start Digg-ing our major stories to put them out there for fans that use the new 4.0 version of that service to find information. In the next weeks, we'll be taking more time to push out lite versions of video pieces through YouTube for the same reason.

Finally, we are starting a Spanish language blog that will be a curation of the main ArkansasRazorbacks.com website, translating the weekly highlights into Spanish and also providing news to that community about athletes and teams in which they have a special interest.

Whut, Whut, Car-din-als!

Two things from the state of Arkansas captured my attention as a journalism student back at the University Formerly Known as Northeast. The first was John Robert Starr, clinching a K-Bar knife in his teeth squatting atop a turned over Gazette paper rack. The second, only slightly more sane, was Otus the Head Cat.

As the person to whom folks who don't read ALL the way to the end may be calling (at least for the next few weeks), no, we're not changing the Hog Call to the Cardinal Tweet and you can't find that "Brand New Look" link on ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Although, the one angle Otus forgot was Bobby Petrino's former mascot was . . . . but I digress.

Dead or alive, Otus is one of those great weekend guilty past times of leisurely newspaper reading. It is wholly a pleasure to soak in the Kalakan wisdom; although, I am somewhat distressed at the lack of reliable humidity pod forecasting this year.

Classic Gathering; Modern Tool

Don't overlook the ability for real-time reporting tools and short form messaging to serve as that media force multiplier. There might not be a whole fleet of supporting staff surrounding an aircraft carrier of a reporter like John Brummett, but he's got his organization's Twitter feed.

Did you qualify for a lottery scholarship but not receive one? The Arkansas News Bureau wants to talk to you. Call John at 501-370-8316.

The new in-state controversy is the perception of mishandled applications for the new state lottery funded college scholarships. I'll be willing to bet the Brummett finds three or four stories of woe that he'd have never found thanks to that tweet.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Check Out the Guest Appearance

Chris Syme at Montana State is one of those folks in CoSIDA that I take a moment to soak up whatever presentation she'd make. She's the person who brought the crisis PR concept of aggressive disclosure into one of the messiest college sports scandals in years up. It cleaned up the reputation of the Bobcats, and it took guts.

She asked me to pen some notes on the pitfalls of doing your own iPhone app. They ran today on her blog, and was picked up by CoSIDA for the national Twitter feed as well. Thanks for the promo, Chris. Good luck up in the Big Sky country.

Gallop Confidence Drop

In several presentations to CoSIDA, I've referenced a growing gap between trust in social graph - your physical friends and virtual ones through Facebook, etc. - and the media at large. Today's news from the Gallop Poll only adds to that as traditional newspapers and television news hit historic lows.

The numbers are bad for one of our cornerstone institutions of American life. You can read the entire package here.

Newspapers get a 25%, TV news a 21%. The good news? This was a confidence in institutions survey, and the media was right there with most of America's big segments: banks, health care, government - no one did well. It may indicate an overall dissatisfied public, rather than a particular animus toward the media.

Monday, August 09, 2010

What A Difference in Brits

After soaking in the old Michael Palin travel series, sitting down to modern BBC personality is pretty jarring. You can't get much farther away from the laid back Python alum than Gordon Ramsey. As he'd say, bloody hell. Did he really just say "dog's bollocks"? He's about to get a dose of his own medicine at the hand of a master chef.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Had The Answer All Along

Amazing what you'll forget if you didn't keep records, and then what you'll lose when you misfile them. Case in point. When Walter Cronkite passed away, I posted the image of and quick story of the photo that's been hanging on my home office wall for almost as long as I've been in the business of either reporting or working with reporters.

I'd always wondered who was the crew, what was the mission, the details of the posed image. It's a confident flight crew looking in one direction, a little bit nervous Walter looking toward the camera man who has snapped the photo I have with Cronkite's autograph.

Cleaning through old files, I came across a 1990 letter from Cronkite's executive assistant, Allysa Adams, which revealed the names. I had completely forgotten about having it. The sad part of this -- folks have been looking for that cutline for years.

Fast forward to today, and a little googling to find more info at The Writing 69th's website.

Memory Lane

Doing some housecleaning today I came across some old resume files. Remember the mid-90s, ah yes, the wild west days of those interwebs. The 2.0 version of the old Lady'Back site was quite the rage in 1996. In fact, Arkansas, Stanford and Tennessee tied in a national survey of the most complete women's basketball websites in those pioneer days.

Once upon a time, I had an older colleague that said you need to keep a folder of the good things you've done. It will help you to remember things for resumes and such, but more important he said, it will be there for you when things aren't as rosy to remind you of the good times.

Twenty years later when I went to advanced public information officer training at the National Fire Academy/FEMA, I remember one of the PIOs that had gone through some rough times say the exact same thing. She kept a three-ring binder of the letters of accommodation she received. Some of us thought that was a bit ego-centric, but she continued to say that on those days something really bad happened -- not necessarily to her, because the PIO business can be life and death for served agencies and the public -- she could pull that out and spend a little time recharging and remembering happier days.

These digital days, a little harder to have a folder. Maybe get yourself a thumb drive.

Some advice remains timeless.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

RadarScope Update Rocks

The last detail is now in - the trapezoid warnings for tornado and severe thunderstorm are added. What was already the best weather radar program at $9.95 now becomes an absolutely no brainer.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Scare Tactics Formula

Greetings from the political race down under (and our good friends at Gruen), here's the Aussie formula for how to make a scary, threatening political ad.

It's funny. It's also sort of scary accurate.

GEEK POST SCRIPT: When you pick up that embed text from YouTube, it defaults to 640 pixels wide. Initially, that was cutting off about 1/3 of the image here in Blogger. So, a little adjusting to the embed text and the size fits nicely. If you want to know, I changed to 400x225 (a division of 16x9 for widescreen), and you need to make that width/height change both at the start of the embed text you get [the object tag] and at the end [right before the close embed tag].

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Another Reason to Love FYV

So breaking out the old TREK to get some knee and ankle relief has gotten me out into the Fayetteville trail system. Walking from the house in the past had put Raven and parts of Mud Creek on my map, and the longer walks began to put some of the really nature trail like parts of trails into reach. Driving by for years, gee, that just looks like it runs through a bunch of mess.

For my local followers, if you haven't taken advantage, you are really missing out. For example, our trail system has tunnels. Who knew? The monstrously long one that runs under the Fulbright Expressway Is a little scary, and I see how folks may want to use the land bypass. Scull Creek runs along the edge of the UA AgriPark Cross County Course. And once they rebuild the connector through the Dickson Street area, it will get easy to reach some of the very forest like parts of Frisco.

Now I made the run again today, and survived much better. Hey, guess what - even if you grew up riding in high humidity north Louisiana - you're a old fat guy trying to get back in cycling shape during a heat advisory. And good Samaritan at UBC who stopped to see if the guy lying under the tree was OK, truth be told, if you showed up five minutes earlier, I might have admitted to being in some heat prostration trouble.

Funny how years in the toe clips built up a ton of muscle memory, and efficient cycling learned with the old LAW techniques come back quickly.

When we moved to Fayetteville, I gave up riding because the roads were narrow and the drivers, well, they flat out didn't respect cyclists. The trails system go a long way toward providing me the opportunity to recapture what was a great physical activity. And 22 years will change attitudes. Add in the wider bike friendly street work that's happened in recent years.

Here's to getting back to that easy 25 every weekend morning.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Boomer Brain

No, not a backhanded Oklahoma joke. From Nielsen Wire, a review of The Buying Brain, that includes some very interesting conclusions about how Baby Boomer brains work in the marketing and messaging world. The research is based on how certain parts of the brain age, and after 50, there is a tendency for a part of the brain that processes negative thoughts and feedback (sort of fight or flight & reproductive aggression also) tends to fade.

The Boomer Brain, therefore, sees a positive, or overlooks a negative.

Takeaway 140 characters:
when presented with a negative message, older brains can “delete” the NOT and remember it as a DO over time

I find this a bit interesting when reading participatory media -- could this be what in a small part drives younger posters to trollish behavior and leads older fans to not even read or pay attention to the messages because of the somewhat negatively biased format? Not sure, but read more here.