Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Friend or Fan

Continuing some ideas for next week's presentation at CoSIDA - what would you rather to have for your athletic department, fans or friends?

An essential part of a good social strategy is not only encouraging the conversation and recognizing that your followers are in control of your brand and reputation, but working to turn your fans into friends.

Here is my example of how this can be achieved through being your own media. The CoverItLive real-time reporting tool was critical to this development during baseball season. Letting fans be somewhat robust in their comments brings them into the fold. Yes, within reason - nothing personal, nothing vulgar, nothing anonymous and not repeating - I allowed "negative" comments on the interactive blog.

Why? Arern't you validating negativity?

Let's be real - a whole lot worse was possibly being said elsewhere; be man enough to let those man enough to say it to your face.

Sometimes, the facts themselves are just negative. It does no good to ignore a series of bad fielding errors. It happened. Own up to it, and if there was an explanation, give it.

Concrete example: our baseball coach sat down two of our three top players for the SEC tournament. They were pretty significantly hurt. One was not able to play. One might have played, but risked turning a stress fracture into a serious break. One was nicked up and needed rest. If they were 100%, there's a shot at the title. At less than healthy, they would be no help - maybe even a hinderance - and certainly risked season ending injury.

When fans questioned our coach's decision, it gave me a chance to explain, to stand up for our point of view and to remind them that we had a higher goal. Now, it wasn't pretty in Hoover, but we ground out those blogs and proved our position.

The next week those players returned, we advance through the regional, push the top seed to the limit - a pair of 12-inning games. All because of the strategy of the coach.

Now that one of the teams our fans shelled us for losing two of three at the end of the year - South Carolina - is playing for the national championship, we can also remind our fans next time to trust and have patience. Perhaps, some of those critical fans by having the chance to express themselves and see how that opinion played out, may now become more of our friends.

But that's not the best part. More times than not, I was actually doing some fans a favor in NOT publishing their negative comments. However, at difficult moments, to uncap the pressure, I let one through.

And just stood back.

The friends of the program would pounce on their own. They were harder on each other than I would ever be.

When you think about it, most of these folks want to be in the stands, and act that way. They'll yell at the other team, at the umps, and yes, occasionally, at each other.

It's all part of building a community, something a little bit more than just being your own media.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gruen Sadness

It's time for a third season of The Gruen Transfer, but alas, it will not download into my iTunes. OK, let's see what's up over at Australian Broadcasting, and the down under ABC has the MP4s on the web. Fine, perhaps its a dust up with Apple. Regrettably, no, we're getting IP restricted here in the states -- even on the samples from Gruen's Facebook page.

Anyone out there with an Aussie IP want to help out?

Upside, I found a new source for some interesting British takes on social media at Brand Republic.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Copy Standards

You can have them at the start, or you can discover them at the end.

Tis the season for media guide proofreading. My experience is that while it may appear to be anal to set down style guidelines for what appear to be the most trivial details, it beats the heck out of reconciling the copy of three or four writers to avoid looking disjointed.

Sure, you can agree that AP is your standard, and even have an internal stylebook -- but here's a little example. When composing bios for athletes, how will that paragraph begin? Is that in your office's copy stylebooks or your website guidelines? Over time, I've used them all:

AT RIVER OAKS: or AT LA-MONROE: -- Breaking it down to reference each of an athlete's stops prior to your school.

IN HIGH SCHOOL: or HIGH SCHOOL: or HIGH SCHOOL CAREER: -- You don't notice that small difference until they all string together.

BEFORE ARKANSAS: or PRIOR TO ARKANSAS: -- Same issue, but really gets interesting when this mixes with high school, especially when you are also using this to refer to transfer students as a way to amalgamate a high school, a prep school and perhaps a JC or another four-year school.

And speaking of websites -- is that stinger before the paragraph starts in bold in the text version and do you plan on replicating that in on-line text? Hand coding that is tough, but can you access the CSS for your site to write a rule that makes copy that appears before a colon tag as bold?

Side hint -- to avoid that rule causing wide-spread random boldness, make it read for a return, followed by all caps, then a colon and immediately a return. That way, a colon in prose: won't auto bold (see, there's a space after it and likely not all-caps in front) and a time indication like 1:08.0 has no spaces, but is not going to immediately have a return after it.

They are all fine, and matters of style as to what you prefer as a writer/SID; just know that as an editor, you'll be really happy if you've set down details like that that fall between the cracks of AP and office stylebooks.

Monday, June 21, 2010

iBooks Adds PDF

The new iOS 4.0 upgrade includes a very important change for the SID biz: a special tab for your PDFs.

You thought you weren't going to make "traditional" media guides any more with printing layout programs like Adobe InDesign? Think again as these books will now fit very nicely on your iBook shelf.

Not to mention, the Flash interactions of the web editions won't work.

And, last thought, absent a printer's cost holding things back, there is no reason to not have 208 pages for all sports.

Yeah, no printing = cost cutting. Maybe. No printed guides does not equal time savings.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Cold War Begins

History is filled with the great clashes of civilizations, superpowers as defined by their politics and technology. Sometimes the wars are hot; sometimes the wars are cold. When the two sides have the potential of mutually assured destruction, they become proxy battles, waged by surrogates.

Soviets vs. NATO? Capitalist America and communist Russia?

Why no. Fox vs. ABC, with just touch of CBS-Turner.

Think about the Big 12 Crisis, now suddenly passed. Perhaps the lines are being drawn between Fox Sports properties and ESPN properties, and the two will not engage in a public battle, but one waged in the board rooms and in the background. Covering turf while trying to expose weakness.

This time, it's not countries, but universities that are being played like gigantic game of athletic Risk.

Us vs Them

Often the measure of sports commentary is whether or not the announcers - the talent - are using neutral terminology. There is an assumption at the best work is done with it is team agnostic - never saying the first person possessives for the home side.

For the national broadcasters, I would concur. However, there is a certain stylistic choice to be made as well. If you want the viewer or listener to identify with your side, there is a certain amount of personalization that comes in.

Thus the enjoyment of listening to the announcers on this year's World Cup. Perhaps when you neutralize the sport a bit - watching an event you may not know all the intricate ins-and-outs - these things become more obvious. You start to listen to the words a little closer.

The Italians? No love lost for their style of play by the many Brit announcers. Speaking of the ability to fall at the hint of contact, one analyst was blunt during the half time report: "in England, that's called cheating."

Later during the New Zealand-Italy match, another light contact results in an Azzurri Academy Award performance:

Ally McCoist - "Dear me . . . it's getting a little bit embarrassing."

Ian Darke - "And deeply pathetic I'd have to say, too."

Coincidence the director fonted up the announcer's names right after that exchange?

As they might say on SKY Sports - Brilliant.

(BTW - A little googling reveals McCoist as former player and current Rangers assistant manager in the Scottish Premier League; Darke one of SKY's top presenters.)

Feel Like You're Talking to the Wrong Media?

More than likely, it's because you are.

Quick trivia question: who was the most read "journalist" over the last two weeks during the Big 12 Crisis?

Give you a hint: he was also one of the most quoted sources.

If you were among the cognoscenti, you answered Chip Brown from Orangebloods.com.

Brown recants for us his last week of reporting in a breathless, self-centered style that would make Dan Brown blush. That link is required reading, folks, on several levels.

I want to be clear, I pulled out my air quotes for journalist for the benefit of the old school. At a lot of institutions, Chip Brown would never get a credential -- he's one of them internets people. And he has every right to dislocate his shoulder patting himself on the back.

That is, as long as we understand my two-part hint. I can't speak to whether or not Brown sensed himself as a participant within the drama, but in the course of his reporting from sources within the Texas athletic department in particular, he became a de facto spokesperson for the Longhorns, steering (yeah, I said it) the story for the legacy media who were retweeting him and using him as a source.

How many newspaper stories or columns did you read last week that contained the phrase "according to Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com"? Here's an Orlando Sentinel example, and Waco Herald-Tribune. The Dallas Morning News got its hands on an email being circulated among the Baylor faithful to get politicians involved -- guess who was at the heart of the examples quoted? (Side note: the DMN article is a good read and a great example of if you're going to email out the talking points, make sure they are ones you want to see published verbatim along with your email address in the legacy media.)

Brown's duality as source and reporter is what makes this instructive and futuristic. Well, maybe not so modern -- for years on end, sports teams and athletic departments had their "homers"; from the birth of this nation, politicians have had their own media.

What seems different here is the individuality of Brown. The citizen journalist rises -- he may have an affiliation with a national network of participatory media websites, but he's a soloist. No traditional sports editor, no brick-and-mortar infrastructure, no legal team, no ombudsman.

In Brown's account of the Big Crisis, we get a first draft of this history, albeit without knowing who the players are that Brown is sourcing. Nevertheless, someone is putting out the flower pot for Brown, and he was definitely following the money. And finding some for himself. The turnaround passage from Monday tells the tale:

I cobbled a story together about how Texas had gone from nearly being signed, sealed, delivered to the West Coast to racing back to the Big 12 dinner table to see if there was any food. . . . I popped my story on Orangebloods.com at 8:36 a.m. and began Twittering furiously to draw attention to it.

He runs into the juggernaut -- ESPN writers call Brown out, and he is concerned. As he correctly surmises, they would have direct access to the Beebe bailout in Bristol. He sticks to his story.

I Twittered to my now 12,000 followers, "I'm not backing off my story."

Kind of Hunter S. Thompson for the perspiring arts.

With this crisis past, we begin an uneasy period. Is it really over? Did Baylor's social media Hail Mary work, or did it backfire by driving Colorado to accelerate? We've still got some summer weeks left to fill with gossip.

Winding this post up back at the original question, as media directors consider the landscape, they must put more and more stock in the digital media and social media. Brown spread to his 12K Twitter following because people believed him, and I'll bet they saw him more as a friend -- which Nielsen this week reminds us is still the No. 1 source for info -- and thus put lots of stock in his messages.

I'll bet Brown already had a seat in the Texas football media area on game day. If he didn't, I'll double-down that he should have one now.

Happy Father's Day

Nuff said?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Free The Screens

For years, I've railed against the short-minded mentality of locking out other distribution paths to "protect" broadcasts. If it's on-line, it will take away from the audience. NBC's Olympic work from Beijing proved the point, but some folks need repetition to get the message.

ESPN provides it again this week, via the Sports Journalism blog at Indiana. The takeaway quote:

Mobile devices and home computers are creating a bigger audience for ESPN’s sports content rather than cannibalizing its television programing

BTW -- that's from ESPN's president.

Nuff said.

The Times They Are a Changin'

A pair of interesting engagements with technology and those damn kids catch venerable journalist Helen Thomas and House of Representatives member Bob Etheridge off guard. If you've been oblivious, both were caught off guard with simple video recorders by college students -- with totally negative results as they emerged first on YouTube, then the networked media and finally transitioned into legacy media.

Will Levith at MediaFreak brings up the key point when musing about the Thomas fallout and her retirement:

More often than not these days, though, I wonder if this would've gone down differently in the pre-YouTube and -Twitter world. Sure, the comments were offensive, but would they have been hyperanalyzed on the same level?

Will, need your answer? Compare Arkansas' departure to the SEC with Nebraska's to the Big 10. The Razorbacks held all the info back until a giant reveal press event. The Cornhuskers discovered that the revolution would be Tweeted.

Friday, June 18, 2010

PIO Training Pays Off Again

Nothing like a solid emergency exercise to refresh the skills and remind the brain. Thursday I had the chance to volunteer with our county department of emergency management, and it brought back some of the lessons learned from public information officer schools both at the state and national level. Many of you following remember last year’s CoSIDA presentation on the importance of being familiar with the incident command system.

Once the functional exercise was underway and the radio calls went out over the air, I knew it was a matter of time before the media arrived at the front door. At the time, I was working in what’s called a COML role (communications leader, as in radio operations, not public relations), but flagged that possibility for the lead persons. Like clockwork, one of the local TV crews rolls up and it was time to hand off to my other COML and jump into PIO.

They heard the traffic, understood that it was a drill but were having to make sure it was. It proved a fantastic opportunity to fulfill two of the core tenants drilled in at PIO courses: Don’t wait until the emergency to start swapping business cards and educate the media about what your agency does.

The crew was very cooperative, and even took a moment to play along in the scenario. It forced some of the participants to realize they needed their own PIO folks along when they had to step out and take questions for a mock press conference.

Once that was done, I escorted the crew to get B-roll of the event, access they would never have in a real emergency but a perfect opportunity for one of the three stations in our area to understand what the process was in the background.

Later in the day, I overheard a stray comment about “you’d never let the media roam around your facility.”

That concerned me. As public agencies, there is a level of right to know. Certainly you would not allow that in a real event, but what better time to explain what happens, show the mechanism tax payers are providing and most of all – gain buy-in for the process in the event of the real emergency.

The media is a vital public safety partner. If the scenario of this drill were real, there would have been a huge message component – telling the public how to stay safe, what to do if they were impacted and the keep general order. By showing the local media how the system works during a drill, it will pay future dividends when they have to trust the local agencies, and be a partner with those agencies to get the information out.

I’m going to call that a double win yesterday.

For my college colleagues, a reminder that you can pick up a lot of the information that will enable you to be a contributing participant if you should have a major incident on your campus through the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA on-line courses. You can volunteer with your local agencies for the chance to give yourself that “swap business cards” time with your own public safety groups. And, be sure to ask if you are the SID to participate if your school sends a contingent for training with NCS4 – the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security. Thanks to outreach from CoSIDA to NCS4, the SIDs are now a part of the leadership group.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Reject Your Reality

. . . and substitute my own - a famous tag line of Adam Savage from the Discovery TV series, Mythbusters.

That is somewhat how Arkansas feels at the close of today's business. The athletic director has said repeatedly for weeks, no months, on his on-line video show that the Razorbacks aren't leaving the SEC. Yesterday, he repeated that. And so did the chancellor.

In fact, even I got a call from a media member who shall remain nameless. Come on, can't I have an unnamed questioner if so many get to have unnamed sources?

We. Are. Not. Leaving. Period.

I will not pretend or be hypocritical enough to say that I haven't been reading with considerable interest the real-time reporting of the many digital media types who have done some interesting and admirable work on the past 10 days. This is not to call anyone out, but consider that the sources of a lot of today's stories were not in Fayetteville. They were reported to be "executive" types in either the Big 12 office or institutions.

Again, the executives at Arkansas have been really clear. And ahead of the curve - Long tweeted out a link to his statement on the main website yesterday afternoon.

After today's Texas based new rumors, he retweeted his own message. Not exactly SAYING IN IN ALL CAPS, but if you can't take the hint the first time . . . .

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not Exactly a Crisis Policy

Even the big boys fail when it comes to crisis plans and public relations. First rule of public information officer -- tell the truth, particularly where life-safety is involved.

CNN brings us a look into the public relations work by British Petroleum from the Texas refinery blast back in 2005. It does not paint a pretty picture for the company or the profession.

A lot of the info provided is adversarial -- it comes from one of the key lawyers that battled BP for damages and gained access through court filings to internal documents and emails.

Lessons for colleges here: They will remember your past events, and dredge them up. They will compare your past performance to your present actions. And, the truth will out.

Oh, who is the they? Back in 2005, pretty much the traditional media. Today, with the fragmentation of brand control and the rise of new paths of dissemination of information -- they is everyone.

For More Than Recruiting

It is hard to believe it has been a year since the Iranian Revolution, from those days that social media became something much more than a way to keep up with the intentions of athletic, talented 17-year-olds.

Certainly the events of the past seven days should have reminded us of the power of social media - once again, Twitter and participatory media become the force multiplier of the traditional media over the conference realignment saga.

HBO Films provides us a touching, gut wrenching story behind the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, voiced by Shohreh Aghdashloo, the Academy Award nominated actress you might better recognize as the terrorist family wife from 24 or currently a mysterious intelligence operative in FlashForward. As she speaks the opening lines of the documentary,

"Every conflict of the last 70 years has it's own defining image . . ."

I highly recommend taking a moment to watch, and remember.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This Changes Everything

And no, I don't mean the Big X-II.

It is the big X-Box.

ESPN3 comes to the Microsoft XBox platform, which means if you have XBox Gold accounts - like my wife and my son - you don't need to worry about logging on to the computer, rigging it to your big screen or pre-checking if you have ESPN3 available from you Internet server.

Why do I mention my wife and son? There's a pair of demos that you don't associate with ESPN3. Maybe you get the wife part, but my son, who is very interested sports fan and strong gamer, isn't a big play video on his laptop guy.

It is now as easy to use 3 as it is to use NetFlix - another service on the XBox they both LOVE.

How long until the iSpace?

Monday, June 14, 2010

" . . . Congress Shall Make No Law . . . "

The start of Federal Trade Commission hearings into ways the federal government might rescue journalism strike me as the start of something, well, evil this way comes. Ideas like taxes on internet-based devices -- an "iPad tax" -- to forced fees on aggregators -- the "Drudge tax" -- are the sane edge of the proposals. Federal funding for journalism students, tax breaks for "non-profit" journalism, money for AmeriCorps-like programs to support writers.

Can we hit the pause button, please?

Are we to infer that this really is the Great Depression II, and we need some WPA programs to support journalists? If the government pays or subsidizes the media, are we honestly to believe they will not try to influence it? Taxes on "free" news on the internet -- didn't we have a throw down with England over a little bill called the Stamp Act?

Not all coming before the FTC agree government is the solution. Jeff Jarvis gives an opinion piece on what not to do to save journalism.

Or are we simply going to hit the panic button? Jarvis:

Most dangerous of all, the FTC considers a doctrine of "proprietary facts," as if anyone should gain the right to restrict the flow of information just as the information is opening it up. Copyright law protects the presentation of news but no one owns facts -- and if anyone did, you could be forbidden from sharing them. How does that serve free speech?

I know this ranges off from our usual sporting angles, but all of you who doubt me as a spokesperson, bought and paid for by the athletic department, you're going to be comfy with a government agency deciding who owns facts?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How Futbol Should Be Called

Thank you ESPN. Genine, sincere thanks for NOT using the same chatty Kathy style of commentary on the World Cup men's games. An abject difference from the Women's World Cup or the 2006 men. No more fill every second blather that broke down into telling me what I could obviously see or tell lengthy human interest stories that got in the way of the contest. No joke, I recall hearing the same "her hometown is nearby" five times in one half during one of the women's qualifying matches.

No NBC Olympic soap opera personal stories. Just sport.

Martin Tyler yesterday for USA-England was pitch perfect. Tyler, a Keith Jackson of dry wit, on Clint Dempsey's goal "a hit and hope shot" but "if you buy a ticket, sometimes, you win a raffle."

Now there was a momentary Americanism today when the replays of the clips led to more than a few Bill Buckner references - you know, ca use us dumb Yanks couldn't appreciate Tyler's line: "it's a howler."

Not hearing the story of Dempsey's late sister during the game made me appreciate his obvious heavenly gesture after the goal. I saw the human interest angle in the pre game, where it should be.

Today, another excellent match call for Germany and Australia. Yes, the beautiful game, beautifully announced.

Soccer Haters

Each World Cup cycle there seems to be less and less pure soccer animosity among American sports media. In many ways, I've stopped worrying a lot about them. The usual "there's not enough scoring" comments.

That said, I'm watching our baseball team on TV, along with break ins about how a double no-hitter was just broken up between Cubs and White Sox. And there has only been two runs and two hits in half the baseball game. That's exciting?

Or watching horses run in circles.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Bold Fresh Continues

Earlier, I mentioned how Baylor went all-in over the weekend with its social media to attempt and keep itself attached to the Texas 4 of the Big 12.

Ken Starr ups the ante today with another message to the Bear faithful, posted this time on the athletic department website.

Let's put the irony of a purported conservative jurist in Baylor's new president invoking the need for government hearing and intervention into what essentially is private corporate matters, the bold and direct call for fans to get involved with the politics here is the interesting point.

In the past, one might see a university president issue a letter to the editor of the local or statewide paper to get a point across. Today, they simply have to have the willingness -- dare I say the guts -- to put themselves out there on a world wide stage.

And Starr isn't alone. Famous graduate of another team in the midst of the Big 12 crucible, Missouri, has Tweeted his support for the leadership of his alma mater. Chase Daniel opined: Everybody relax...Missouri WILL land in a BCS conference...have faith in the leaders of our great University and State!

If You Spend No Other Money on Magazines This Summer

You -- yes you college sports communicator; you -- networked media person; you -- college administrator (yes, I know you lurk here); MUST run, not walk, to the newsstand.

Remember, where once upon a Kindle you bought magazines and newspapers?

Cuteness aside, James Poniewozik's in-print column for the June 14 Time Magazine is a tour de force on the digital force of nature known as Twitter.

The Soul of Twit covers the @BPGlobalPR feed -- a little dated with the previous post's news about the even better move by BP itself -- but in a classic piece of why magazine can remain relevant in a real-time media age, Poniewozik dissects the reasons behind the growing impact of 140 characters. One of two quotes:

As Twitter became popular, some writers pooh-poohed it: What could you say that's worthwhile in 140 characters or less? As it turns out, an awful lot.

For the record, that was 150.

Poniewozik goes well beyond the manner in which a form can reflect its literary age. Here's the second lift -- the one that should get real PR folks attention:

Because Twitter lit is immediate and telegraphic, it's suited to social commentary. Because it's first person, it's a natural for parody; fittingly for a service named for a bird noise. Twitter attracts mimics and mockingbirds.

Locally, we've seen a little of this (the fake Houston Nutt account comes to mind). Forget taking the time to create the www.fire[YourCoach'sNameHere}.com. Tweet them up.

I am reminded of two observations. The first is personal. I learned the economy of character and word working for about 20 years as a writer for Street & Smith's Magazine. At the outset, when typewriters and dinosaurs still roamed the earth, we were provided lined paper with a fixed width to compose. A top team in the league would only be allowed 20 lines, a certain number of characters. You learned quickly how to shorten, how to hone, how to edit. I find myself grateful for those verb selection skills every time I Tweet.

The second is a riff from Poniewozik. He recalls the shaping of printing and the pamphleteers -- some beautiful analogies that I again encourage you to go buy -- but he seems to run right past the social lit engine that best fits Twitter: the Japanese fascination with haiku. God bless Wikipedia, the 17 moras limiting the length of the composition, forcing the squeezing of an essence into what appears to be an inflexible form.

And when employed by a deft wordsmith, the 140 word riposte assemble into another grand Oriental cliche -- death by a thousand cuts.

By the Time This Gets Real, It's Too Late

We take this moment to break away from Conference Armageddon to relay this breaking news story.

FLASH -- @BPGlobalPR is not, we repeat not, an official spokesperson of BP.

Umm. Crickets chirp. Paper rattles down a dusty street. Feet shift back and forth.

Really? Gosh, thank you BP and Twitter for clearing that up. After allowing the one-man satirical band, Leroy Stick, to get traction among the hipsters, then a six-figure following on-line, and finally showing up in columns in the New York Times and most recently Time Magazine, BP made the bold move of formally requesting of @BPGlobalPR to be policed by the Twitter parody page policy.

One is left to consider that BP corporate had to wait until @BPGlobalPR made the traditional media before they invoked one of the most basic social media maneuvers.

By the time Time noticed, it was too late. I highly recommend picking up this week's dead tree edition as James Poniewozik discusses the matter (more in upcoming blog.) By the time the social media engine is getting "real" media, well, dare I say another blowout preventer has failed, and judging from Leroy's reaction, this Top Kill will be equally effective.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Time to Get It Past?

First day at the College Sports Video Summit, there were three presentations groups. All three brought up the same idea: sports information needs to change or it will be left behind.

Some were more blunt than others - "or be kept behind" being the mild version.

Communications offices as content creators, video creators, bloggers, recruiting presentation pieces, Tweeters - but no longer just PR guys relating with media.

Traditionalists will complain that I'm dredging up harsh past points written here. No, just repeating the podium.

That really wasn't the harsh point - one presenter implied it was too late, that it has already passed by SIDs to marketing, promotions and video offices.

I hope not, but another presenter urged these video and marketing directors to go back and encourage their SIDs to attend next year. Then, he asked, how many SIDs are here. Four hands in a room of about 200. He turned to the podium, and asked one of his co-presenters, "aren't you an SID?" As if he'd forgotten that it was part of his job, he made the count five.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Even More Remarkable to be in the Running

Fairfield wins the Sony Award, and their production was outstanding.  What I'm pretty sure the folks didn't know here is what was behind our two entries.

Congrats to Fairfield, but as their producer indicated in his acceptance, he had a donated production truck and a staff of 25 people to create their event.

Arkansas' gymnastics game - one full-timer in Blair Cartwright, who did all the preproduction video and switched the event.  Two camera operators and two unmanned cameras.  A volunteer stat person, who was also the play by play announcer.  A student athlete volunteer. A network computer assistant.

Repurposed cameras, a TriCaster - that's all video.  The graphics? PowerPoint.

One guy, three contract people, two volunteers vs the entire TV truck.

I'm really proud of the guerrilla production crew - who managed to place two of the five finalists.

Imagine what they can do with more assets.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Different D-Day

64 years ago, Dwight Eisenhower committed the Allies to a bold move to turn the tide against the Nazis. The anniversary of Operation Overlord and the invasion landings at Normandy are celebrated today.

In the college world today, Baylor University has let loose its social media wing to launch a campaign to insure the Bears are included in any potential realignment of the college athletics landscape.

Maybe more Six Days in June than The Longest Day, but Baylor University has posted on one of the Waco, Texas, institution's official web presences marching orders for its supporters.

Entitled "Sic'em, Baylor Nation: BU and the Big 12," this effort bears (sorry, unintended pun warning) careful watching by all of sports -- PR, media, administrators. It lays out the argument for why Baylor should be included in the Pac-16 in the event of any future dismemberment of the league formed from the leftovers of the old Southwest Conference absorbed into the Big 8.

Why significant? Baylor has broken the seventh seal by taking its campaign viral. Public. Social. Tweeted to followers of it's special rah-rah feed Baylor Proud:

#Baylor & the @Big12Conference: What you need to know, & how you can help. Sic 'em, Baylor nation! http://bit.ly/aJ5DC0 (Please RT!)

By all media accounts, the Bears were on the outside looking in until the last 24 hours. The direction for Baylor fans from the website is crystal clear:

If you’re as proud of Baylor as I am, there may be something you can do to help. Tell your friends about Baylor’s successes and its importance in the Big 12; share your green and gold pride whenever you have the opportunity. The Texas legislature may have some say in what happens; think about letting your elected officials know how important it is to keep the Big 12 together and the Texas schools of the Big 12 a cohesive unit — not only for Baylor, but for fans across Texas.

The bold is mine within the clip from Baylor, but it speaks clearly to the message. We'd like the Big 12 to stay around, but we're not sitting around and waiting. This website push comes a little more than a day after BU's new president, Ken Starr, issued his own letter.

Whether this proves true or false, it will be the template for the bold in the future.

When Screen Names Were Still Pen

The claims of the unprecedented times in which we live are always a favorite target. Today, it is the terror of anonymous posting on blogs and websites. This overlooks the long history of political speech authored under pseudonyms to protect the authors.

Ranging from Publius in the Federalist Papers to X and the Long Telegram during the 1950s, many of the famous opposition positions to current lines of American political thought have been opposed by cloaked authors.

One thing you can count on -- whether the 1790s or 2010s -- the author's privacy will be revealed.

This is not to say that all great unnamed authors were working serious political issues. We're reminded today by tweet from Mental Floss that the past is just as snarky as the present.

Seems the Illinois state auditor was under attack in the newspapers by a person who signed letters simply as "Rebecca." A little work by the auditor revealed the author, and he proceeded to call him out in the papers: Abraham Lincoln. Seems the savior of the union was a sharp elbowed local pol early in his career, and the event resulted in an unusual dual -- broadswords on a plank over a large pit. Read more at Mental Floss on those details.

Yep, anonymous postings -- another piece of presentism.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Even Old Pros Make New Media Mistakes

A flip comment by Helen Thomas is now haunting the longest seated member of the White House press corps. Judging from the look of the video, Thomas likely didn't take the casual taping seriously. Regardless, she put her foot well into her mouth over foreign policy with Isreal. Could care less about the politics here, more interested in the point that even the most experienced of media members make errors of judgment. Should refocus your efforts to take care both with your own work, and impressing the increasing need for student-athletes to take both their privacy and their public statements seriously.

Friday, June 04, 2010

BP, Meet the Leroy Stick

The man behind the satirically biting @BPGlobalPR Twitter spoof "revealed" himself as Leroy Stick, a pseudonym, for a very upset Gulf region local. In his manifesto, he says to BP -- and every corporation (dare I say, Division I athletic program) -- that:

So what is the point of all this? The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND. You don’t own it because it is literally nothing. You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?

Mr. Stick explains the meaning of his "name" also, along with some funny asides to the issues involved. In the middle of his rant, Stick gives us what I'd say should be his closer:

You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand? Have a respectable brand.


For all my fellow SIDs, Stick's "press release" should be required reading. Might print a copy off for the boss, too.

For New Media Haters

More bad news: consumers want to know what they want to know, not what an editor decides is news. So writes Gina Chin on the Niemann Foundation blog. This is a nice quick overview of the Pew Center's latest survey on the impact of new media. (Please, when can we start just saying media again, or at least, digital media).

Chin's takeaway quote:
But the important point is that the loyalty isn’t to the platform, the application, the delivery system, or the brand. The loyalty is to the need for the information.

What they find is that certain platforms tend to have certain information. I'm a little befuddled by this point, that Twitter is the home for "tech" news. Have these people kept up with regular news lately? Twitter is pretty much the email distribution list of almost every college or pro sports team, and almost all the traditional media.

In reading over the Pew study's overview, I'd say that indeed, they didn't read sports. Perhaps this will take the Indiana school of journalism's sports media program to look into, but Pew gets a truly skewed concept of Twitter by ignoring sports. One of the points was that Twitter moves on from a story within a week, and there's a lack of continuing coverage.

Regardless, both scholarly sources point to the increasing importance of operating in the social media medium. You know, this Twitter thing might catch on.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Twitter = Morse Code?

My students this semester had been asking if I had been following the History Channel's new series, America: The Story of Us (clever little pun, no?). I had not, what with the excitement of the basketball and baseball seasons. Nevertheless, I'm catching up now, and quite pleased for the most part. Was taken with a couple of early, foreshadowing insights. Perhaps a little too presentism to say how the Committees of Correspondance and the U.S. Post Office was a prehistoric Internet. I will agree with one of the comments that every advancement in America was fueled by a technological change (I won't go as far as to make a direct link from the card-punch looms of Lowell, Mass., to Silicon Valley - yes, literally).

In e Civil War episode, I had to reach for my iPad when they narrator described Morse Code and it's impact on the war with the phrase "ideal for brief messages, like Twitter today, it needs just seconds to send them and transcribe them."

Timeout. Did you really just:

A) Date this series with a tech reference that will sound worse than all those 1950s "Land of Tommorow" cartoons.

B) Seriously compare the first true, time compressing technology to a 140 character chat box toy of the Internet age.

Well, yes. And, yes.

As a history prof, good luck using that episode in classrooms without snickering in a few years. (As the Friendster of its day . . . ).

But the more I think about the telegraph reference, the more I found it apt. In it's best real-time reporting ability, the Western Union was the means of news transmission, filling the time between military information in this era and railroad traffic as we move forward into the great transcontinental roads. Could you imagine the Iran crisis without it; the Haitian earthquake?

The one big difference - by the skilled nature of the telegraph operator (and as a ham operator who struggled to surpass his own Morse code test) made it an essentially elite communications tool. Twitter, and other packet oriented simple text communication tools, once installed, are incredibly democratic and open as to who can use them.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Live Blog Dilemma

The NCAA comes to town this week with it's "improved" live blogging policy. As many know, I have been an outspoken critic of the policies as unworkable. I do respect the data rights when it comes to the live stat stream - it is an act of performance to call the game as surely as it is to do so on the radio or TV.

The improvement here is removing the time to post (two posts per quarter in football, as an example; one per inning) into the extraordinarily vague no descriptions of game play.

To quote from the policy:
"the blog may not produce in any form a “real-time” description of the event. Real-time is defined by the NCAA as a continuous play-by-play account or live, extended live/real-time statistics, or detailed description of an event."

Hmm. So if I were to record my observations of every play and load them an inning at a time - which media had figured out to comply with the old time/post rules, I'm in violation.

If we are to keep our website's credentials, we won't be able to do our interactive blog that has become so popular with our fans. We can't provide any real-time reporting, no descriptions of the game that will conflict with the streaming stats - rights held by CBS.

The dilemma - and where the NCAA is not recognizing reality - is that if I walked out into the stands, using my iPhone, I could run the exact same interactive blog. Just as the Olympic officials have discovered, technology is running over their ability to "control" the coverage.

Thus, do we serve our fans, or do we serve our masters? Again, if I didn't see official and unofficial interactive blogs for almost every major pro sports event (even concerts), I'd probably not think twice about this.

I'm pretty confident that absent our interactive, a thousand or so fans will have to go find somewhere to keep up - and it will not be the live stats. Pick up the clue phone, NCAA and CBS - GameTracker is a Flash based product; no iSpace coverage for you. Oh, and that streaming video that will be provided free, per NCAA? Yep, Flash based. Unless the NCAA sends a blogger, this will send the fans to the message boards, or some bright fan will run the interactive in the stands and off the grid.

What would you do?