Saturday, July 31, 2010

Feeling Tessalone's Pain

TMZ.com is a newcomer to the sports world, and the TMZ loves itself a "juicy" controversy. Like Southern Cal reissuing it's media guide to adjust the number of Heisman winners on the cover. You can see TMZ's link to the two covers, and their jab at Tim Tessalone, USC's SID, for missing a removal of Reggie Bush from the count in the guide.

Look, absent the digital guide age, that would not be done until next year. Wanna have fun with revisions? Get a letter from the NCAA telling you to remove two national titles and any record references to one sprinter who's name has been made verboten in reference to an Arkansas career. Get the letter on Dec. 20. Your men's track guide is due at the printer on -- you guessed it -- Dec. 21.

Now THAT's some fun times. I feel Tim's pain.

Of Leaks and Quarterbacks

What might the Obama administration and Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt have in common? They represent two ends of the social media spectrum, and how the ease of access to world wide communication is changing the way we should think about our daily lives.

No, this isn't about those internets. But is is about how if you're not careful, the potential for single voices to rock your world. Close followers of this space and the Arkansas chapter of Nutt's life might make connections here that are untended. Today, Houston is not the one with the problem.

That is the President of the United States, courtesy of the latest invention of our digitally compressed world, WikiLeaks. A level of anonymity provided to those who are disgruntled or disturbed with the actions taken by their organization can now reach out to this world-wide website to become the whistle blowers that personal identification would not allow. Military members and others are putting tons of memos, videos and other data regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on WikiLeaks to reveal things aren't exactly as White House and other agency spokespersons portray.

I bring this political and human rights website to this audience's attention to say: how long until WikiLeaks or something like it begins to peel back the carefully constructed Potemkin villages of athletics. Better forewarned -- it's a heck of a lot easier to just operate knowing you're in a glass house than to get a rude awakening one day that your best kept inner workings are posted. To some extent, that exists with the unnamed source and the tabloid for pay news organizations. Still, you need to know someone and trust someone to use those tools. The WikiLink concept is DIY. Citizen Journalist, meet Citizen Muckracker; everyone an Upton Sinclair.

For now, only six records turn up the term "NCAA" at WikiLinks, and that's deceptive as two of the six are repeats. Only one document relates to the college sports world (the other three uniques are passing references to NCAA sports inside military documents). It is the full report of the Congressional Research Service into the whether or not due process existed within NCAA investigations. Not exactly top secret stuff, but even though publicly funded, the CRS doesn't publish reports publicly.

But you promised an Ole Miss connection. Yes, and the saga of future Rebel graduate student Jeremiah Masoli. Could care less about the events of Oregon and the right or wrong of being a one-year journeyman QB in the SEC (Tony Barnhardt said it best -- we can get all high and mighty, but at the end of the day, every SEC head football coach is judged by wins and losses; period).

What does catch my attention is the hard work by Masoli and his camp to prove that "his story" isn't getting out there. Call it spin if you like, but why not allow the student-athlete to create his own narrative. He's between programs to say that he must conform to their rules of personal media engagement. It is a little over the top to have hired your own PR agency to assist with your personal website and to sit for a Sports Illustrated profile. Masoli is presented by the networked media both the opportunity and the tools to create his own image.

Perhaps the most interesting of all the links on a cleanly laid out message website is the one for "Media Mistakes." Fourteen news stories countered by the Masoli team, with more than one for Bleacher Report (hey, that's not a "real" newspaper -- well, it is if you're a college sports fan).

If he has indeed learned from his past and seeks to reveal for others the struggles it took to get there, isn't that the personal growth we want from anyone? If he feels he has been wronged by a system that did not suitably honor his vision, can we really say he's being a self-centered [expletive]?

Not if at the same time we praise the "brave" soldiers and diplomats outing "wrong doing" through WikiLeaks.

This is the ultimate point. Transparency for the quarterback and the President; by its very nature, one is no longer given the luxury of saying it applies for one and not the other.

POSTSCRIPT
As I've said recently, even the most "savvy" can get scammed by the clever phishers on the internet. The Masoli story is a perfect example. Don't type his name with ".com" -- that is a fake site that's got just enough links and stock football images to give you the mistaken feel that you could click around and get his story. You'll probably get some really nasty international spyware instead. No, use the ".net" for the real former Oregon QB website. Crafty work on the .com, complete with links to Oregon tickets, NFL news, jerseys, DVDs, a Masoli show -- curiously also links to a bunch of trending top things like Suze Ormand and Mylee Cyrus. I wouldn't know if they were real links. I jetted off that faux site ASAP.

Something in the Fla. Water?

I must inquire with my colleagues at UCF and UF, but two really interesting, albeit south Florida journalism tiffs.

First, FIU's beat reporter leaves in more than a huff; he sets the Miami Herald on figurative fire with a scathing blog post that didn't last so on on the newspapers website. But of course, it got archived off here (don't panic, it really is a JPEG screen capture).

Second, over at Florida Atlantic, a former campus newspaperman provides a thought-provoking screed that college newspapers that are on-line lack punch because, well, the journalists involved get off on the banner head, not the splash page screen.

Faux Branding

Looking at the somewhat formula-driven efforts of colleges and universities to "create" or "redefine" brands, I've come to a new conclusion:

Brand is what you do when you don't know who you are.

Quick, duck. Incoming flak.

Marketers, messengers, countrymen -- count to 10 after that line and hear me out.

I submit for your approval, the considerable efforts of Mississippi State's new athletic director, Scott Stricklin. Raise your hands, SEC brethren, if you've ever heard an illegal noise maker at a Bulldog event. The league has a pretty clear rule against them; they are all over the place in Maroon and White events. What to do?

Well, the new AD didn't try to "rebrand" MSU, or "educate" Bulldog fans to go against what is very clearly a long-standing tradition. Cowbells. Agriculturally-oriented majors (some very high level ones, might add), a proud rural setting for the school -- thus, phenomenal point of pride. One might say, it is what set apart these Maroon Bulldogs from Georgia 'Dogs (who would similarly say 'Dogs often rather than Bulldog) or from Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (who as women, are Lady Techsters, not Lady Bulldogs).

Stricklin worked to get some accommodations to allow his fan base to be who they are -- cowbell ringin' Bulldog backers -- but do it in a way that accommodates the no noisemaker ban that has been in effect for decades in the SEC.

See, those of us on the outside can make fun all day long about those damn stupid loud cowbells -- but we're not suppose to get it. We're not Miss State Bulldogs.

Kind of like that damn woo pig thing those Razorbacks do. Get it now?

Thus, the most successful "branding" is recognizing and emphasizing the things that set you apart; that are part of your core.

And when you don't know who you are or what you stand for, well, grab some glibness, add some slickness and wax on a thick coat of generic branding.

Far better to ring you inner bell.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Privacy Comes to Youth

What's the old cliche? A conservative is a liberal who's grown older? The Chronicle brings us a snippet from a study showing that young adults are beginning to worry about their privacy. Guess all those theories that the transparent world would lead to less concern about what future Senator candidate in 2030 did in 2010 in college because EVERYONE had the same problems might not be as sound as thought.

Two researchers conducted the study that showed 18 and 19 year olds were increasingly worried. They do admit it could be shaded by recent Facebook faux pas. I will interject that one of the duo is a Microsoft Research employee (hmm, fear the Google?).

Nevertheless: Chronicle here; abstract from UIC here; the journal article here.

Website 8.0

Today marks the ninth generation of website for my work with the University of Arkansas, and without a doubt, this is the best one. It is designed to act and feel more like my best hand creations of the late 1990s where you could custom build a special home page based on circumstances and had a more direct control of what went where.

Ah yes, he original full site back in 1996, coming off a sport only effort in 1995 after the Denver CoSIDA. Still keep that web design and HTML 2.0 guide book on my desk as a reminder of walking into the Cherry Park bookstore to buy at first manual. What a great ride starting with just one book and one idea.

Here's to seeing if there will eventually be a 9.0 someday.

This Bird is Bereft of Life

After a looooong morning of proof out on our latest design for ArkansasRazorbacks.com, I'm soaking in some early 1980s - a nice spin on my oh Lord now vintage Trek bicycle and an episode or two of Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days.

One of my childhood memories is of being dragged to the Travel Series at the local civic center where documentary film makers and slide show toting world travelers would delight the locals with tales from around the world. Ah for the days before NatGeo.

Palin's series came in his post Monty Python but pre Fish Named Wanda time. Two episodes stick out tonight, one where he's tuning his little shortwave radio to listen to the BBC World Service while sailing the Indian Ocean. Sublime days when you needed that little passport to world news.

The other was his walking through the bird market in Hong Kong, and stopping to talk to a parrot. I once did a sketch with you; my partner was beating you on the counter.

Great Moments in Media Guide Reading

I kid you not -- changes made to protect the innocent are the position and opponents; don't even ask me what school:

"He began the year as the starter at [POSITION] and made 10 starts throughout the season. He started every game, except games against [OPPONENT] and [OPPONENT], which were the only games in which he did not play."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Geary's Guide

I'm not sure if I've commented in the past about James Geary's pair of books on aphorisms, but they are simply must reads. His first book, The World in a Phrase, is a brief history of the writing form and his next was an encyclopedia of them, Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists. The guide talks more about the individuals who came up with such pithy phrases as:

"I prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom" -- Anatole France

I regularly and unabashedly steal from Geary's Guide for many of my picked up #WordsOfTwisdom entries on my feed.

And that only 454 people, as of today, follow @JamesGeary is somehow criminal.

Sorry to Have Been Away

Long story. Not to be written here for some time. Trust that it will all work out. Cryptic? Yes. But I felt a note for followers to explain gaps in past days and probably future days are unavoidable for now.

Enjoy the Gruen

Much sadness in this space to discover that one of the greatest television series in the world, The Gruen Transfer, was being geoblocked from Australia. If you have not had the opportunity to see the show, it is Mad Men meets Crossfire -- a somewhat no-holds bared look into advertising.

Produced by the Australian Broadcasting Company, Gruen enters its third season this "winter" -- summer here in the states. Fortunately for the rest of the world, ABC has relented in the copyright based restriction during the Aussie elections. And, the show gets recast as the Gruen Nation, focusing on the political race.

You can watch episodes here for the next four weeks. Along with the dissection of ads by the creative directors of some of Australia's top firms, there's a good deal of insight into the Australian election -- which some Stateside politicos are saying might be a foreshadowing of our own in 2012.

I made an effort to save off season two, which was on iTunes, but lost large chunks of season one. It is available for sale on DVD from ABC, but you can also find a lot of it on YouTube. The host is Wil Anderson, a stand-up comedian by trade prior to Gruen (think younger but as hip Dennis Miller).

Before you think oh, well it's Australia -- Todd Sampson is one of the ad man regulars, as in creator of Earth Hour, winner of Titanium at Cannes for that and a Yahoo Chair. The discussion is frankly world class, and anyone with any shred of interest in advertising, branding and messaging should be viewing/downloading/harvesting these shows.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Something to be Said for Quiet

I know that there are plenty of times to be accessible, and I'd be a huge hypocrite with the desire for being social and staying concerned for golden hour response, but there is something to be said for being able to turn off the email, the iPhone and have time to think and recharge.

To that end, I fear another great thing about travel - the ability to be inaccessible - takes another step backward with in flight wifi.  Being able to disconnect from the borg in transit looks like it will be the next great degradation of travel.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Careful With Those Lists

As we assemble for SEC Media Day in Hoover, Ala., I'm watching news on the treadmill about the JournoList scandal. I use the word "scandal" in air quotes. At the end of the day, a group of people that should have realized that if you put your inside jokes and crude humor out on the internet -- even if its a private list of your friends -- eventually it will get out.

The same folks who LOVE to ask for huge email dumps of FOI should know better.

Read more here from the Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal.

I bring this up to remind colleagues in the SID field two things. First, should you really be commenting on your Facebook pages about political points of view? No names here, but a recent thread about the point of view of a particular cable news network. Second, there are a couple of lists out there, and in the past I've seen my share of rants against coaches, administrators and policies. Don't assume those lists might not someday surface just like the Journolist.

Take the same care with your digital record that you advise your student-athletes. Digital assets are easily duplicated and last forever.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Help Me Out, I'm a Simple Man

Dear NCAA interpretations committee:

If an institution prints a media guide - an object by rule that is not to be provided to a prospect - anything that is provided to that prospect or posted on-line must conform to the standing 208 guidelines.

If an institution does not print a media guide, the restrictions do not apply.

Having a hard time seeing how this is not effectively forcing all schools to drop printed media guides. Let me see - black and white crippled presentation on-line versus full-color all-interactive on-line "media" guides.

If I'm missing the point, PLEASE correct me.

As I've asked of several, and now will make the open question here, what happens when success occurs for a team that we've decided to abandon print for. A very real prospect, just like our men's golf run in 2009 to the finals. I'd say there is a very real need for a printed media guide that weekend, and we had every intention of formatting for the web with color, but if the events required it, make a 20 to 35 short run digital guides to service the media.

But since we didn't predict that future, we have two choices. Tell the Golf Channel and GolfStat "go print it off the website," which is antithetical to the concept of providing strategic sports media communications by inconveniencing them or committing a institutional secondary violation.

No one is really asking for altered formats, really, we simply wish to conform to the medium. Last time I checked, the internets were in full color, and it takes nothing to "save as" into grayscale for what goes on the USB key or on print - to the media.

My sense is that the goal was a level playing field from interpretations. This one tips the balance against sports where a considerable media contingent remains.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sweat the Small Stuff

Students and colleagues occasionally get tired of my insistence on detail. What is the concern about that sport -- it's small; meaning not a lot of attendance or not a lot of moneyed backers. Relax, let that slide. What's the big deal about separating pages on a website? It's easier to hang it all on one page. Why are making that background the same, or using that font? It looks OK.

Ask any football coach -- what is the key to the game? Blocking and tackling. Where does it start? Up front on both lines. Basketball? Free throws. Fundamentals.

We accept that from our sports, but somehow I see and hear more and more from PR types that stats aren't a big part of the SID job any more. Not important. It's big picture, message, meaning. The view from 30,000 feet.

Really? Unless your Jackson Pollack, I'm pretty sure that every "big picture" started with a single brush stroke. And those that overlooked their color palate, didn't use a quality brush, neglected their technique -- well, they're paintings are available in the traveling road show at the local Holiday Inn this Friday and Saturday only.

No one starts out as the SID of a BCS football team. They begin with a "minor" sport, and I taught for two decades you must act as if your sport was the top grossing, most visible sport at your school. That is where you learn the basics, and yes, make your mistakes out of the harsh glare of the 24/7 limelight. One doesn't turn on the ability to grind and be serious -- it must be taught, and worked within a system.

Near the end of baseball season, we discovered an innocent mistake. I was mortified about it. One of our best hitters crushed the ball out of Baum Stadium, clearing our pretty substantial scoreboard as it exited. According to reports on Facebook, it just landed about an hour ago near West Fork.

I say we in a feeble attempt to say the media caught the error in our baseball guide. The height of the scoreboard in the book said 39 feet. The size of the batter's eye is 40x80. One quick glance at the reality of right center field at Baum revealed that one of the two numbers was wrong. The scoreboard is clearly taller -- maybe as much as 10 feet taller -- than the center field green monster.

Debate ensued. My guess is that years ago, when the scoreboard was installed, it was 39 feet tall. But in recent renovations, the board got another line of adverting. Then it got a new fascia with panels for Arkansas all-time accolades. Then a really cool brick-and-mortar finishing with stylish bats in a grill work for a new "George Cole Field at Baum Stadium."

If you look at the original video board within all that upgrade, it appears to be about a foot shorter than the eye -- the 39 feet and 40 feet. But now, it might be as much as 50 feet tall.

So am I calling out the current baseball SID? Absolutely not, he inherited that copy from a series of people whole had the slot for a year at a time. These mistakes happen, it's a small stat within a whole of 208 pages.

If anything, it is my fault as the overall publications coordinator -- even if the E is a shared one -- I'm the one that breezed over those pages cause "they don't change much each year." I'm embarrassed to say, they obviously did.

I partake in this self flagellation this morning as I seal up a bill; one for a company that I know has a peculiar way of putting the return address on the reverse. Put in the envelope wrong, and guess what -- you end up sending your check to yourself. And, I did.

That mistake cost me 43 cents as I have to tear open the envelope and get a new one. Plus the time to hand address the bill.

What in God's green acre does that have to do with public relations? Everything.

Details like using less PDFs on a website have a reason: because they make it hard for media to cut and paste from the individual pages with actual text, that they can't be read on the iPlatform and that those with disabilities can't have the image of a PDF turned into spoken word.

Every day, I make mistakes -- lots of them. Hard not to in the real-time world of on-line media. The bottom line on this one little oversight is this: the next time we hand a figure to that media person (or colleagues in his circle) will he accept the number as accurate, or will he think back to the height of the scoreboard?

This Was F-ing Brilliant

In a week that was very busy, missed the first go around of the FCC's indecency standard being struck down by the courts. The whole debate goes back to Bono's acceptance speech at the Grammys when he exuberantly declare it was "f-ing brilliant" to have won.

What the court ruled is Bono, Janet Jackson and other moments of "fleeting obscenity" are not actionable by the FCC (read: fines). Good news for all who deal with eight-second delay, other costs and the fear of live programing. You aren't quite as hostage to the good behavior of guests and the emotion of on-air talent.

Whether or not this is the end of civilization as we know it, I'll leave that to the battle between First Amendment absolutists and pro-family advocates.

Read more from the Washington Post.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Danger: Plaque Mine Ahead

NPR News -- No. Really. You didn't just say that Billy Nungesser, the president of the Plaquemines Parish board, was from "plack mine". Hey, I get that local names are often a surprise to national media -- and this isn't a southern thing either cause for God's sake, I still don't know how you get "woo-ster" out of that suburb of Boston.

And if Nungesser hadn't been a regular in the national news since he started calling out everyone that was screwing over his corner of the world, it might be forgiven.

It's three syllables -- pla-KUH-men -- folks; not two. Don't confuse with Calcasieu Parish where they have the sulphur mines. Perhaps they thought he was from some evil anti-Tooth Fairy place where little devil sprites place plaque mines in your mouth at night blow up into cavities for your molars.

On second thought, considering the hosing south Louisiana has been getting lately, perhaps the new pronunciation is correct after all.

Scary Stuff

As the media evolves, more and more of the locally or regionally based investigative reporting comes from born digital enterprises like YahooSports' national writers. Today we get another look into the seamy side of big money sports with the details of the Pump brothers' charity activities. Hard to explain in a short post, but I'd recommend all my college friends to check it out if for no other reason than being prepared in case you get a question about this:

This is also not the first time the Harold Pump Foundation has drawn scrutiny. Tie-ins between the foundation’s charity events and the Pumps’ annual coaching retreat – attended by athletic directors and many of the top college basketball coaches in the country – have brought criticism in the past.

The whole story is here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Even Brilliant People Screw Up

First, I'm just not having a great deal of the problems I'm reading about on iPhone 4. That said, Apple's response has been arrogant and ill-advised. One quote from the Daily Mail says it all:

Analysts say Apple has created a public relations headache for itself by appearing to dismiss or ignore the problem, allowing a minor issue to be turned into headline news.


Wall Street Journal chimes in with this priceless quote from Allen Anderson with Landor Associates:

If they bury their heads in the sand, and don't engage in conversation and act in an arrogant way they're going to erode a bit of their brand.

It rarely, rarely is the mistake; it is the cover-up that causes lasting trouble.

Welcome to the Video Village

This somewhat dated Nielsen article that was cited in the previously blogged Creating Results entry deserved special notice. It is all about how content is king, and there's plenty to read in the April 2010 column.

If you have nothing to say, say in a way that is not interesting or compelling (note: I didn't say branded), it isn't going to get traction and you're performing check list PR or journalism. Yep, did that. Can check it off the list. Shows I tried. Move on to the next check list item.

Buried down the column is some more validation for the CoverItLive experience, and a really cool description: the video village.

Telecommunities comprise people who simultaneously watch TV and chat real time online about the program. During the Oscar telecast, 11% of people who watched the Academy Awards were logged onto the Internet, which represents about four times more simultaneous usage than normal.

Does that 11% number look familiar? Remember our predictor of 12% of the in venue attendance participating in the CoverItLive? Want some more scary coincidence numbers?

Telecommunity members who connected via Facebook during the Oscars were online for 76 minutes and watched 50% more of the broadcast than the average Academy Award viewer.

Recall the 79% over one minute latency and the average 48 minutes of on-screen participation for our spring blogs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Debunking PR Myths

Big kudos to friend and colleague Doug Dull for finding this article from the Creating Results newsletter. The focus of this website is "mature" segment marketing and east-coast based; however, do not let any of that dissuade you.

The two serious winners in the four relate back to our convention presentation. I am especially fond of No. 1 "Nobody Reads the Newspaper Anymore" and No. 4 "Public Relations Won't Generate Sales." The common thread -- content.

What? Didn't you and your panelists say for many colleges and for whole niche sport segments of college athletics that the traditional media were dead? Not exactly, the brick-and-mortar media have abandoned segments they don't see as profitable, and that's where the media relations office steps into the vacuum. Please don't translate that into newspapers aren't relevant or you can replace newspapers.

What newspapers are not are the center of the influencing opinion universe, and this newsletter makes a great argument for how you need to maintain that media connection. I simply do not think it is mutually exclusive to not bring your own P.O.V. to the room where legacy and new born digital media wish to also cover teams.

The long-term winner is four. The nut graph:

PR was the most efficient marketing channel with a cost per acquisition of $15 (vs. $95 for advertising). And positive media coverage increased the success of other marketing. A relatively low amount spent on PR can not only deliver high ROI, it can lift the impact of all other marketing.

It has always been, and will remain, hard for administrators to put the content and PR ahead of the marketing.

Future of Journalism, Again

Colleague and former CoSIDA panelist Dan Gilmorr was on the front line what seems like a decade ago (even though it was just five years), and we've seen the aggregation-type micro-site come and go. In the American Journalism Review, it's ba-a-a-ack -- citizen journalism. The concepts here is a little more focused -- read no further than this phrase "one of 14 Gannett owned community newspapers". Gannett doesn't get into things to not make money, and it is an abject opposite of the top-down approaches similarly getting retreaded (let's create America's BBC).

What separates the volunteer-filled paper discussed in the AJR article from even the best Topix attempts in the past is just that -- lots of interested humans. Why will it get traction?

For the same reason I used in urging media relations offices to understand the need to go out and engage people and make friends -- the reporters are highly likely to be people you know, and then in turn, people you trust.

As Gannett races toward a highly centralized future via print (word now they are consolidating their layout for 81 papers into four regional offices), they are sticking a toe into the opposite end: born digital, staffed local.

Here's to hoping Gannett goes against corporate reputation and allows these 14 papers to bloom into whatever flowers they may become rather than seeking to force them into some "proven" formulas.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another in the Sign Collection


Outside the public gate area of Muir Woods, north of San Francisco. I guess these are more common today on federal property. Must say, I'm a little mixed on this. If it's public land, and if this land is my land, well, isn't all of it a First Amendment Zone?

How about his second take -- congress shall make now law . . . abridging the freedom of speech -- but the U.S. Park Service can tell you where to go to do it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sometimes It Is the Little Things

For how many years have those Biscoff cookies been on Delta flights. It remains one of the reasons those trips are just a little bit different. Oh sure, the captain's wings for kids and playing cards have gone by the wayside as we have made a commodity out of travel. With so many airlines dropping any free food of any kind, here's to hoping we can keep this last snack standing.

As an aside, has anyone else noticed the sudden proliferation of WiFi on any airline that coincides probably not so coincidentally with the addition of no cash transactions for food. They need some way to validate the credit card swipes, and I'd bet their selling off the excess bandwidth.

Tech from a Day Gone By

I couldn't resist a quick iPhone pic of this photo from the official U.S. Army Signal Corps' history. One of the many books I see at Dickson Street Bookstore, BTW, but while killing time there picked it up and thumbed through.

We forget that sometimes the most simple tasks are the most important in wartime. Somewhere in America, I'm sure there is a similar training facility teaching how to dismantle and reassemble Toughbook laptops in the field.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On 140 Characters

Call me pathetically prolific tonight, but I had this passing thought about the supposed limits of Twitter and 140 characters.

How many characters do cartoon often use -- editorial or daily strip? Let's consider the one I mentioned earlier today from Dilbert. I count 224 characters in the three panels. Scott Adams says a lot in that span, and this isn't a case where the three panel illustrations added "a thousand words."

Why is it that some PR professionals and journalist continue to scoff at real-time reporting work or social media -- what can you possibly say in 140 characters; who cares what you are doing right now -- but they would laud to the ends of the earth the profundity of an editorial cartoon or Dilbert?

I'd say @BPGlobalPR has been quite insightful at times.

The Promised Photo


Sorry for the delay -- life does get in the way at times. Here's that photo that goes with the explanation of what's in my digital PR backpack.

Social Media Errors Not Just For Kids

Some folks at one of our state TV stations decided to make a spoof video. Even though it was pulled from YouTube, didn't keep others from finding and archiving it (you'll see that if you play the videos that got harvested). Unfortunately for the staffers, looks like it cost them their jobs.

More here from Arkansas Business.

Post script: Jeff Jarvis also caught the story, and tweeted it out on his rather large feed when the four were fired.

Perhaps One of the Best Comment Policies

Stumbled onto this on the Lincoln, Neb., Journal-Star website.

I think the two nut quotes -- first:

Be nice. No racism, sexism or any other sort of -ism that degrades another person. PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK, and forgive people their spelling errors.

The second, just to show they have a sense of both reality and humor:

And remember - don't feed the trolls.

The whole comments policy can be found here off a story I was googling.

Fleischer Trumps Dilbert


Dilbert.com


Today's Dilbert reminds me of some great advice Ari Fleischer handed out at CoSIDA this week in San Francisco. First, the king of office politics.

Pointy Headed Boss was sending his team to public speaking class. His goal: "they will rid you of your nervous habits . . . and with any luck, your personalities, too. You will become indistinguishable from robots."

On the other hand, Fleischer stressed being yourself and working within the personalities of the people you are with. It makes no sense to homogenize, and it can undermine the credibility of the speaker when they are so obviously outside of themselves.

That's not to say that Ari or others aren't saying be focused, know your talking points and make a forceful case for your point of view.

He's just reminding us that the oh-so-safe corporate way of pounding every last ounce of personality out of the spokesperson is usually not very successful. Well, I guess if one never had any personality to start with, the method espoused by Pointy Headed Boss would be true to form.

What is in The Bag

Had couple of folks ask for some specific info about gear, so here's a look inside my backpack. I'm a big believer in "go kits" from training with FEMA and amateur radio work. I keep this packed for quick deployment for blogging/digital media. I keep another bag with gear for public information officer/sports info director work (pens, papers, office supplies, reporter gear) for the same reason, along with bags off radio equipment and a 72 hour kit. OK, enough nerd-ology.

Anyway, here's the breakdown:


GoPro Hero is a solid state point of view camera which can record HD quality (720p) video, but also take still photos, time lapse photos and burst (3-5 in a row) photos.  It records to an SD card, and it's native format is tricky.  I think the reality is the GoPro is a still camera that can pile up 30 to 60 frames per second, thus the MJPEG native format (motion JPEG).

The Canon Vixia HFS10 is the video camera of choice, a true HD video recorder that also captures 8 megapixel stills.  It trades no viewfinder for pretty decent glass for a prosumer camera.  It too records to SD card - sensing a trend? - but has USB 2.0, component and HDMI output as well.  It takes a 1/4 audio input, perfect for using a real mic or multbox.

This unit is no longer sold, it is now the S12 at the same price but slightly better specs.  The downside - it is fragile.  I had one slip from my hand, bounced down my leg and hit a marble floor and slide.  I was worried but figured it wasn't a straight drop and bounce.  Not so - shattered the CCD chip and the LCD screen.  Buy the warranty.

That said, it doubles as our production camera for replays at the net in volleyball and our talent camera for almost all productions (short lens).  So for the price, we get both an ENG unit and a small HD production camera.

The Dell laptop is a Inspiron 1440 that has a high-end dual core with 16x9 screen.  It was picked for light weight, speed to handle Adobe Production Suite and - you guessed it - a front side SD card slot for importing files.

In the padded near the GoPro is our Sprint Overdrive device, a 3G/4G portable WiFi spot that can handle up to five devices and pump data - based on cell network - as much as 10meg.  Perfect on the move or in data poor environments, like your hotel room where this device likely has better speed and does not cost $14.95 a day.

Among the key adapters, a short cable LogiTech USB mouse.  Why no Bluetooth? One less transmitter to drain the battery and with the short cord, just portable but less likely to "disappear." A real mouse is vital for speed on CoverItLive/Tweet Deck events, and for any photo/video editing.

Notice the 1/4 inch to BNC male cable - useful for both the pro hand microphone or plugging into a mult-box.  Speaking of mics, this one happens to be an EV D67, but there are lots of options available.  One must is your own mic flag - sport the brand.  We get ours from a company in New England, but there are plenty of options out there.  Spend some money here, you don't want to go with the cheaper ones - they will break and fade.

I got a publication credit out of QST Magazine (the ham radio journal for all you non-amateur radio types) for creating short jumpers out of left over computer AC cords; but today those have become common and more important cheap.  I like carrying this one because it will give you two heavy duty plug-ins.

One thing missing from the photo is my short tripod and my monopod.  Nothing enhances video like a nice steady hand, and none of us have those with small cameras.  I've found a nice travel monopod for under $70 with a detachable head plate, and got one for each of the four Flip cameras we deploy through the media relations office. 

Where is your Flip Cam? I don't carry one.  Why? Because I'm using the iPhone 4.  It gives me better quality video and a 5 megapixel camera, plus on-board editing with iMovie.

To borrow a line from Alton Brown, there are no unitaskers in my kitchen. The Flip is a good solution, but it does one thing.  Notice all cameras can perform in dual roles and share a common storage medium.  Why no Mac book? Last time I checked, almost all the web site video was still Flash and that means a PC with Adobe products.

BTW - there are lots of nice, low cost video solutions.  Pinnacle was mentioned, but I bet for not much more you can get Adobe Premier through your university's academic discounts.  For our Mac friends, Final Cut comes in a light academic edition for small projects.  I bought that for my son, who learned Final Cut in high school, for less than $100.  My new Adobe CS5 was $500, but cost that out against the CS Design Pro you will likely not be updating as much in the future.

Keep the power cords and mouse in one side pouch, the mic and audio cables in the other.  Nestle the cameras inside padded cases (remember the drop?) and put the laptop in the neoprene sleeve - off for another event coverage.

I'll post the photo later.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The ROI Slide

Some of this got trimmed for time consideration, so you may find this much more than what is on the slide or said on the podium:

Where is the ROI?
Sponsored opportunities for rights holders
Make sure you retain editorial and copyright
The Long Tail – Chris Johnson
Latent demands for niche material proves to be much stronger than the mainstream when you hit digital infinity

There is no such thing as a minor sport
The smaller the audience, the more dependent upon your coverage
Highest traffic item the past five years – anytime we host NCAA track championships

(And, if you wanted to see what this really means -- The Long Tail -- if you went to the Apple store from the convention across the street from the hotel, you had to walk past the empty shell of the now bankrupt Virgin Superstore chain. Brick and mortar destroyed by the all-digital vehicle that is iTunes Store. Video killed the radio star.)

What is your reputation worth?
Paul Vogelzang – the civil disobedience of the day

Key monitoring tools – read links on-line
Who do you want as the first source for news on your teams?
Golden Hour response
Mobile connectivity
Engaging the people who control your brand
Once the crisis starts, it’s too late
Mindgrub group's point
Building a reverse distribution network where your fans do the messaging

Slides 10 & 11

I don't think this syncs with the new non-animated version of the presentation, but these are the Go Inside and Go Mobile slides:

Go Inside -- Written Word Remains King

Real-time reporting systems: Essential to have realtime guidelines, blogging guidelines, confidential and proprietary

Interaction with communities through CoverItLive type events

Experience is the difference

What is inside may be boring to you but not for those burning to know anything

SLIDE 10
Go Mobile -- iHog

Third generation is mobile – this is how the news finds you

65 million social media users access through a mobile device

Third screen strategy
Sure, could make an RSS reader or an M.dot site
Repurposing our material to suit the method of reception
25,000 users in one year, almost 100,000 downloads through versions
Leading tool used for fans to follow CoverItLive baseball events
I’m at my kids FILL IN THE BLANK
Listening to the games via streaming audio

Why not video – I don’t have that full rights set, it is shrinking monthly. Technical issues – bandwidth and batteries -- are also in play, but the one thing you own is your radio network; guard it jealously

A follow up question I get a lot: When is the Blackberry, Droid, Pre version coming out? We may do an Android version, but with Flash support coming there, less need

Editorializing here: because 10s of thousands of influence makers are not lining up outside the Google store. Why is there such an uproar over Flash and iPad – because there will be 5 million units on the street by close of the year, and like it or not, if you are not in that space, you are not trend setting. (Read more on this with my Thanks Bonnie Caver post)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Next Slide, My Notes

The first difference is distribution

This is the only change from 1980 to 2010 – how many hands, what did you do all day in the office in the 80s, or 90s? Write stories to “pitch” to media, except we didn’t call it that because 80% of it was sent straight into the newspaper; make fact sheets for media coming by to cover events, create media guides to bring attention to the athletic department – and 80% of that to also help recruit students; prepare for the one or two televised events a year to accommodate production and prep talent.

What should you be doing today? All that, just repurposed.

Convergence isn’t just for the media

IP PR – Just like IP Television, because the means at hand, tools easier to use

Rights are the key – if you still have them, guard them; if you don’t finesse them

Welcome to Scam School

Reaching to this space's other theme, I'd like to think I'm a seasoned traveler. Last night, I got a lesson in you never, ever let your guard down.

I had some confusion on check in at the convention - travel card on reservation that we don't carry vs using my personal card - but there were no real worries, and the front desk was very helpful.

About 9:30 last night, get a phone call from a woman who identified herself as the night audit manager of the hotel, and wanted to sort out the two cards on my account. She knew details about my check in, details about the cards I was using (brand names), called me by name from the start of the call. She did a really good job in convincing me she was legit, and had me do something you should never, ever do - give out card numbers to confirm a problem by phone.

I got the feeling something was wrong during the call, but she used all the right lingo for a front desk person, was conversational, and of feed to take care of a wake up call, other things that gave you the impression it was OK. The person had some knowledge of the rooms at the hotel as she chatted about the way the cd player/alarm clock was awkward to set.I should have followed up on my instincts to call the front desk to verify last night.

When the 6 am wake up call didn't happen, my alarm bells in my head went off this morning. Sure enough, there is no Sharon working at the front desk, and someone now has my card numbers and I'm in a full froth panic.

Kudos to the real front desk. At about 5:30 this morning, a male voice had called wanting to speak to me, and they got suspicious when the person didn't know the room number when asking for a wake up call at 6 am for me. In retrospect now, it was an accomplice seeking to cover tracks for a few more hours.

The shift manager was extremely helpful, called over his security folks who took down the details for a police report if we need one so I could continue on to the airport this morning for my flight. Also, AMEX was very cool about putting a tracker on my card, letting me verify for them the known charges I would have leaving SFO and getting ready to shut down my card when I get back to Fayetteville.

Let me be very clear, the real Marriott people were great, and I don't blame them in any way for this scam. In fact, their quick thinking helped I hope thwart the folks that worked me for this.

It was stupid, but that's the essence of a good con - they get you to do things you know you shouldn't. Reminds me know of the fake bank commercial where they get folks to own up to things you never should. Mea culpa, and I hope by putting the details out for my friends and followers, you'll be as suspicious as I should have been in the future.

Being Media

You’d be disappointed if there wasn’t some history teacher here, especially after yesterday’s kind words from the podium at the 25 Year Awards. So I give you my favorite Harry Truman quote, There is nothing new in the world except the history you don’t know. The same applies with this panel topic: There is nothing new here – you’ve always been your own media.

Examples: Radio networks, coach’s TV shows, programs and other printed newsletters; the websites as the new vehicle for convergence

You always have been – and will continue to be – the largest generator of content on your team

One thing I want to say very clear here, and Joe and Ramon also said this, the goal isn’t to replace the media. It is to replace missing coverage as the traditional media retreats. Joe make this much clearer with the UCF situation, but even at a major state flagship school, we have seen tremendous loss of space in the media for even the leading sports.

Remember, nature abhors a vacuum – and if the SID office doesn’t use its strong ability to generate content, somebody will. And, you might not like the content – accuracy, point of view, etc – that fills that space.

If You Don't Understand the WC

ESPN is showing a special entitled, "I Scored a Goal" right now on ESPN2. I was hoping to see the Germany-Spain replay.

That said, anyone who does not get it. Why this is such a massive issue in the rest of the world, this show captured the full emotion. Talking to these legends about the single goals they may have scored to win it all.

I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Updates

After thinking about it, I rebuilt my presentation from today into a non-animated version, and replaced my actual presentation file used at the session. This way, it's easier to read for those who are looking for the slides; and it makes for a nicer PDF.

That said, what you're really looking for are my presenter notes, and those will be parsed out here over the next few days.

Some of them -- those associated with monitoring and your reputation -- have already run here in multiple posts.

Here's Looking at You



Literally -- the crowd from the GoPro still at CoSIDA today. Come on down front, no need to hang around the back walls.

For those who want the slides from today, they are hanging off my ArkansasRazorbacks.com bio page -- scroll to the bottom. I've also got the last three years if you want those too.

Hope to see folks tonight for a Tweet Up.

Thank You Bonnie

Bonnie Caver and I once shared the sidelines when she was the women's hoops contact for Ole Miss and I was still serving in that capacity for the then Lady'Backs.

Today, she's one of the sharp former SIDs in corporate and commercial PR; and provided a cracking good presentation about strategy and social media on Tuesday.

She also proved one of my key points about why it is crucial, no, critical, for your athletic department to claim the iSpace surrounding your school. A crippled RSS reader or re-skinned app will not do.

To quote Bonnie, when speaking of technology and how it can reflect positively or negatively on a college or university, "with your your Flash I can't view your websites."

She brandished her iPhone from her pocket as she literally shook her fist in the face of those who have not taken the time (or, let's be honest, spent the money) to get into the iSpace.

One woman. Why does it matter? Certainly, our time and money would be better spent elsewhere. There are only 2.5 to 3 million iPad owners; iPhone is important, but what about all the other platforms.

Yeah, well Bonnie Caver is the target market of your app. A V.I.P.: Very Influential Person. Note the word choice. Bonnie like many out there in the iSpace are trend setters, decision makers (check out how many university presidents carry the iPhone), media influencers (really, how many blackberry users among TV talent anymore).

In this very painful case for anyone not invested in the iSpace, here is Caver, speaking convincingly before the entire convention that many of us have not taken the time to pay attention to her needs. Don't think she's not got some clout there?

Recruits aren't sportin' Palm Pre. And hey, for the record, I really like some of the new Incredibles and other HTC products using Android. But guess what Android will have soon -- which will render the need for a dedicated app on that platform less necessary: Flash.

Oh, addendum NeuLion/CBS -- did you catch Ms. Caver there? Live stats do not need to exist in Flash-based proto animations any more. Please. Pretty please.

Nothing To See Here

The opening slide of tomorrow's presentation tells much to the tale about being your own media -- this is nothing new.

For decades, SIDs have created content and pitched it to distribution vehicles. In the 1980s, you'd have a student do hometown features and send them via USPS to local small dailies and weeklies. In 2010, the same feature finds a home on the institution website.

We have been our own media for years -- from game stories written on road trips to cover local media who don't travel to initiating radio play-by-play networks to creation of television coach's shows.

SIDs have always been, and shall always be, the number one generator of content about their campus.

The difference now is distribution. And it is here that we will pick up tomorrow.

Be there at 10 a.m. If you can't, yes, the slides will be here in note form and a link to the PPT by tomorrow afternoon.

BTW -- I want everyone who takes time to read this tonight or tomorrow AM to hold up your cell phones when I step up the the podium. Seriously. Be bold.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Time In iSpace

Does Time know something we don't? The magazine has gone virtual paywall, but not just any on-line pay to read -- you can't buy the subscription for on-line, you need to have an iPad and buy the magazine via the app store.

Daring. Will it succeed? Wait and see.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Last Social Monitoring Breakout

You'll hear me mention that I've put additional notes on line regarding monitoring of social media from the 2010 NAB convention. This is part three, keep scrolling backward for the other two -- all great notes from some very solid folks.

I hope you’re still with me on this long series of extended notes regarding social media monitoring picked up at NAB 2010, because this one has perhaps the most important bit of social media advice. Ron Harlan spoke about monitoring and the effective use of social media, but he led off with this quote. It is what he tells potential clients:

If your product sucks, social media won’t fix it.

If your customer service sucks, social media can help.

Harlan’s point is one lost on a lot of folks in business, and in particular, college athletics. If a team, player or coach is on the ropes, no amount of tweets, Facebook or blog messaging is going to change the fact that something bad has happened or is happening.

Harlan advocates a pretty simple three step strategy:

Rule 1 – listen
Rule 2 – engage
Rule 3 – measure

He provided some of the same links to monitoring that Alexandra had, but he is also a fan of the simple Google Alert.

Much of Harlan’s presentation was about how to create effective tweets. Here’s some of his top items:

Twitter is headlines, and it is all about writing inspiring headlines. “Look at this cool story” and a shortened URL does nothing toward getting retweet – which is the essential part of gaining followers and traffic.

Keep tweets down to 120 characters. If you thought writing in 140 was hard, lopping off 20 more characters sounds difficult but Harlan provides a very important reason – retweet. If you max out, there is no natural space for fans to redistribute your tweets.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Social Media Monitoring Notes, Pt Deux

Alexandra Gebhardt provided a list of important social media search sites, and focused her comments on how to reach the key influencers – those who have websites, blogs and are high traffic people. They are the VIPs to watch. Here are some of her social search sites:

Socialmention.com
Addictomatic.com
Whostalkin.com
Spy.appspot.com
Samepoint.com
Hootsuite.com
Topsy.com
Howsociable.com

One of her best notes was this wiki, which is a great starting point for learning about social media monitoring from kenburbary.com.

There are many paid services, but they are only as good as the people who are doing the rating, in particular those that provide trending or sentiment rankings. Expect to spend as much as $30-$50K per year for these type of monitoring tools.

Fun with iPhone 4


The video is as good as advertised and the camera is solid. Add the Pano app, and you get things like the photo above.
video

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Social Media Monitoring Notes

Greetings for those who are attending Wednesday's CoSIDA presentation. Here is the first of three breakdowns of the monitoring tools and philosophies.

For more depth on the question of monitoring, I had the benefit of some outstanding presentations at the 2010 NAB convention earlier this year. Paul Vogelzang, Alexandra Gebhardt and Ron Harlan were the key speakers. If you want more, I’d highly recommend your connecting with their blogs and twitter feeds.

All three agree – you no longer control your brand and you fail to monitor it at your own risk. I think this is a concept that we in collegiate sports understand on a message board level. Corporate America rarely has a the experience of standing message boards of fan that can turn in an instant on a coach or team. On the other side, college administrators often don’t look beyond the boards or Facebook to monitor or worry.

Much of Vogelzang’s presentation focused on the negative impact of viral video, citing key examples like those that hit Dominos, Comcast, Delta Air Lines, Kryptonite Locks and KFC. As he called it, “this is the form of civil disobedience of the day.”

(Quick aside: you should be really scared that most of these links are old -- the ZeFrank rant on Delta and the Comcast guy are from 2006, and it too very very simple Google searches like "pick Kryptonite lock" to find them on the first results page.)

Monitoring is important – “safeguarding and protecting your online reputation is as important as a credit score” – but it is too late to jump into the social media sphere when it has hit the fan. Part of the defense against these events is the creation of social media, blogs and feeds to build a core of followers so that you can have real friends help defend you.

He advocated company blogs, but steering the conversation not editing it. The customers are going to write about you and your company somewhere, at least when the conversation is in your space it can be dealt with quickly. If complaining is nagging or good-natured, let it happen. Participate in the conversation and try to add to it.

One of his best pieces of advice was this: if you see a problem, deal with it now. It’s one thing to monitor, but it does nothing if you lack the will to actually engage. Vogelzang was very clear: investigate the facts, research the conversation chain but most of all, be honest, open and transparent. Anything less looks like astro-turfing – fake grass roots efforts.