Friday, December 30, 2011

If You Don't Beleive Me

This past week, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, set down this op-Ed series on What The Hell Happened to College Sports, and in particular, I point out for you In particular the essay of William C. Friday entitled Get Out of Show Business.

Sound familiar?

By the way, if the series title doesn't catch your attention, how about Oscar Robinson leading the list with Don't Treat Athletes Like Gladiators.

Don't start the new year without reading these.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I See A Screen Capture Cache Future

While well intended, betcha the employees of Atos in France make lots and lots of screen captures thanks to the new company policy banning inter-office email.

Oh no, they aren't the latest Luddites. The boss wants everyone to be social with a new Facebook-like system or IM.

That's CNTL-ALT-PrtScn to image the screen so you have that CYA "email" now where a coworker told you something.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Careful What You Tweet

Another episode in the Gallery of Horrors -- a PR firm in Arizona lost Special Olympics as a client in the region because a partner made a tongue in cheek comment that was taken as derogatory to those served by Special Olympics.

And in related, closer to home news, don't threaten cops over the internet. You're gonna lose and get fined. As in, three years probation for trying to say a New Orleans cop was abusive of a woman.

Hmmmmmmm . . . Two local Fox (excuse me, FOX) television stories. Both about internet threats. Coincidence . . .

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Here's the PR Advice of the Year

The best public relations executives are the ones who push back on bullies and counsel them on the importance of authenticity and transparency. Stand up to the boss. And, if the boss won't take your counsel, find another one. Life is too short to work in a culture of fear and retribution.

If you like that, read more from Steve Cody's piece off Inc.'s website, "Why Nobody is Talking About Your Company."

That pull quote is from his third point in which he is using Steve Jobs as the tent pole for restating the old cliche in a new way -- tell truth to power.

I highly recommend Cody's addendum above, which I'll aphorism into:

When power doesn't want truth, its time to go.

Words I lived up to.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What's New is Really Old

This just in -- Tom Brokaw says future news consumers can't be couch potatoes.

News flash: Dan Gillmor said that in 2009.

And in 2008.

And I said it in 2007.

Pew Speaks; You Should Listen

Just in time for your Christmas Eve and Day break -- sorry for all of you stuck at the holiday basketball tournaments and the smaller bowl games -- Pew issued another vital report on the role of the internet.

Shocking: It is central to our lives.

"These findings are one of our main signs about how deeply Internet use has woven itself into the rhythms of people's lives," report author and Pew Internet Lee Rainie said.

Here's the link: a Christmas present you can open today.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 10 Social Media News Moments

Everyone remembers where they were at big moments in life. Standing in front of a rear-projection big screen TV in the Scoggin Room in Malone Stadium as Ch blew up. Seeing everyone run out of TCU's basketball gym to watch the live feed from Gulf War I's start.

Now we just have more tools to share, and we can hold them in our hands. Still, Mashable provides an interesting look at a very presentist view of history. The top 10 historical moments impacted by social media.

It might be a little to precious. And really runs out of steam on No. 10.

Bringing it All Together

(Realizing my post was getting waaaaaay long, and as a gift in the holidays, here is part two of We Taught A Generation to Steal)

Right now, we're taking that approach with a purely entertainment product -- our Northwestern State Christmas Gala.

To project to our distant on-line students, I captured the Gala. We don't have the full rights to all the music for distribution beyond our theater, so we didn't stream it live.

In the ticketing this year, we created "advanced" tickets. The Gala is festival seating, but the last two nights tend to sell out. You can't advertise to come to an event 75 minutes away without a guarantee mechanism. To provide that convenience, we put tickets on line for the first time ever, but did so at a premium. No one who was local or didn't mind standing in line had to by the $15 advanced seat; they could still by the $10 one.

After the event, we have put up, one at a time and for free, the videos we could under the rights we own. So in some ways, you didn't have to come at all to see the Gala -- oh my, some were concerned this might cost us future Gala sales.

No. The videos serve as an advertisement for next year, and they are a service.

What if they get downloaded? Great. We hope so. Why? See previous.

Why are you working during the break to create an entertainment product? Because it is our role within our community. The Gala brings the arts to thousands of kids and Northwestern State's Creative and Performing Arts program (CAPA) is that link to culture for this region. CAPA is the symphony, the dinner theater, art gallery.

Just like the athletic department is the sports entertainment in the area.

It is a vital part of the mission of the American university. As created in the late 19th century and executed here in the 21st.

With that, I encourage you to check out our little video series. It's free, unlike the ones I've created in the past for athletic departments -- mostly because they didn't get that more free served both the mission and reached new fans, keeping them connected in ways that the other media could not or would not.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Enjoy the Christmas carols.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Modest Proposal, Pt. the Third

(Realizing my post was getting waaaaaay long, and as a gift in the holidays, here is part two of We Taught A Generation to Steal)

Learn from the entertainment world: No band makes money off records any more. Digital dimes, remember? They make money to support themselves and create a profit from touring. Performing. Selling merchandise. In the past, the world worked the other way around -- the merch was to promote the sale of the record. Now the record promotes the sale of other things.

In the education world, we "make" money from state appropriations and tuition. States want to cut appropriation and play accountability games with what you get. Tuition continues to rise, and students begin to ask, am I getting what I need for the money I'm spending.

In athletics, we are insulated at the top from the realities of economics by the socialistic practices of the conference rights packages. The 99% in non-BCS and below Division I is going broke trying to keep up.

So they propose things like limiting the number of staff that football can have. Sounds a lot like limiting the number of pages in press guides, then eliminating press guides.

Remember when those decisions were going to save us?

People -- money has to be spent and as long as it is coming in by the bushels from the networks, it will be consumed. We all managed to get by with just one or two video coordinators in the past, but because we can, we have three or five.

Once upon a time, we produced events for the people in the stands. Like the record business, they are not the auxiliary profit center to the main audience -- the one that is distant.

The result is we begin to creep up our own costs -- athletic or academic -- through ticket prices or tuition hikes. One day we discover, we have priced ourselves out of the markets we were originally designed to serve.

While free doesn't work, a $12 women's basketball ticket for a team that can't post a winning record in its league and in an entertainment market where far cheaper and better alternatives exist is no better.

We need to start thinking about the "dime point" in the middle. iTunes worked because it was 99-cents to start. Enough to cover the cost if the volume was there. Now it's up to $1.29 for new stuff. That's a dramatic jump -- almost a third of the original price. Over time, will the market bear it?

Sometimes The Obvious Isn't

My own love for CoverItLive aside, I remain somewhat amused by those who continue to try to make Twitter work for something that clearly works better as a live blog.

Oh, say, like any sporting contest.

If you don't believe me, how about the Poynter Institute?


Or, just read Matt Thompson's more civil, more detailed, more lengthy explanation of same.

Thompson hits every point spot on.

Did I mention you should put down the TweetDeck and open CiL?

Here's another reason: traffic.

Chris Syme posed the question to me the other day (yes, admittedly via Twitter) was there a way to get visitor info on a Twitter page. Not users or subscribers -- actual analytics numbers. Must admit, don't know the answer right now but plan to find out.

Meanwhile, what drove traffic through the room (as in about a 150% increase year-to-year) was using CiL on our native pages. Re-read please, especially my friends at NeuLion, et al. On. The. Native. Page.

Not on a "game central". Not letting CiL capture those numbers by linking to them. By putting the code on your server, thus generating that nice, juicy latency number ON YOUR WEBSITE.

I will fully admit to frustrated passion here.

If you haven't done it before, Thompson catches the vibe perfect in his story.

Get your account and get with it right now. This isn't just sports -- anything that you seek direct interaction works. Breaking news. Political events.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eight Words is All You Need

Take responsibility. Tell it all. Tell is fast.

Thanks much to Chris Syme for the notice on Jane Jordan-Meier's book, The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management.

Too bad far to many people at (fill in the blank with your college sports crisis of choice) won't follow those eight simple words from Jordan-Meier.

But, then again, none of us in the clucking class would have jobs (or at least passionate pastimes) without the dunder-headed 20th century spin doctor approach so many still attempt.

Jane's book will be my New Year's Nook addiction.

Quick Notes for Academic Tweets

Something found in The Chronicle, nice starter if you haven't been in the Twitter world.

Don't Know Whether to Laugh or Cry

Or, to just kill myself since my brain has been changed.

Please take a moment to read through this infographic produced by

By the time you get to the end of it you'll be ready to throw away your iPhone, rent your clothes and run screaming to your Kaczynski cabin in the woods.

Then again, you might re-read it and say to yourself, what cockamamie Luddite BS is this?

Here's just one: Social causes you to forget things. That factoid is about a 1/3 of the way down. You know what? I can't remember 1/10th of the phone numbers I once kept in my head. I did that because it was a pain in the ass to pull out the paper list I kept in my wallet or Franklin DayPlanner of media outlets.

You know why I don't know them now? Not because social media rewired my brain. Because the cell phone stores more numbers for me and I just have to punch them up without needing to them.

Jezz -- I don't remember how to churn milk into butter and I can't do that today. Oh my God (certainly not OMG -- that would be another ill effect of social media) how will I function?

I'll go to the grocery store and buy butter. Cause it's more efficient. And cheaper. And . . . gasp . . . MODERN.

Sadly, I'm sure more than a few people will believe this stuff.

BTW, if your attention span was really down to five seconds, you would have never made it down to this point to actually get the link to the story.

Wonder if these same folks are still worried about The Red Menace. Maybe that is behind this eeeeeevil plot.

Hey, Gran Torino, get off my internet.

A Modest Proposal, Pt. Deux

(Realizing my post was getting waaaaaay long, and as a gift in the holidays, here is the next part of We Taught A Generation to Steal)

Stop using distance as a limiter: Too often we confuse the chance for exclusivity with the opportunity to price gouge. Enter here the newspaper group who thinks subscription should be the same whether you get dead trees or pixels. Really? That just pisses us off. Download should be cheaper because we know your costs are that much lower.

I've written for years about how we don't help ourselves with confiscatory price structures and locking up games and content inside pay walls. Oh, but we must pay for the service -- and you just said that yourself, says the reader.

Indeed. Want to know what bulk internet streaming really costs? How much it takes to run a back-end server system? The requirements to create your own network? Digital dimes at work again -- compared to the analog TV truck and OTA network days. But getting the $150K together to do it right is daunting. Much easier to just sign away those rights to the guys who figured out those costs, and are making rather tidy profits off your fans.

You don't think you can do it? Um, Texas isn't stupid. Brigham Young understands. And why in the heck do you think ESPN and Fox lawyers wanted all those digital rights anyway? They didn't get those suits by not knowing what they were buying.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Modest Proposal, Pt. 1

(Realizing my post was getting waaaaaay long, and as a gift in the holidays, here is the next part of We Taught A Generation to Steal)

Back in what now seem the dark ages of Web 2.0, the concept of The Long Tail began. It explained how brick and mortar was doomed and digital was the business future.

The downside was the reality that digital dimes do not equal Madison Avenue dollars. In an entertainment economy built upon Don Draper economics, we are beset by tectonic shifts if not wholesale Armageddon.

Look, I think I've made convincing arguments regarding the fact we are in the entertainment business. And, by the way, that includes both halves of the body-brain barrier.

As you and yours head into the new year, consider these ideas:

Admission cost for all:
Nothing tells consumers what your product is worth like free admission. A $3 ticket isn't why fans are not attending your volleyball/women's basketball/swim meet. They aren't coming because the product isn't worth it, they don't know it is happening or there is no market for the product in your area.

For over a decade, volleyball could not draw flies at University of Arkansas. Let's be honest. And that was painful, because under Chris Poole the team won more SEC Western Division titles than any other school (and for the longest, more than the rest of the league combined had won). NCAA appearances. All-Americans. The first team to beat Florida for the league tournament title. Uber successful.

Nobody cared.

Why? Because when Arkansas started volleyball, none of the local high schools played the sport. It was not big across the state either.

Meanwhile, soccer had a steady attendance, even when they posted losing seasons. When they were winning, they out-drew volleyball.

Why? Because the largest youth soccer program in Arkansas was in Fayetteville during the formative years of that college team. The high schools weren't just good, they were dominant (and still are the power base) in the state, both boys and girls teams.

There was a local passion for the game, and the Lady Razorback team became the local soccer communities connection to live presentation of it's favorite product.

Aha! The role of the university in the community.

A constant drumbeat among administrators and coaches is to stop charging admission, that's what will bring in the fans.

If so, why did attendance patterns by students not change before and after free tickets began at Arkansas in 2008-09? Prior to the current regime, students paid some nominal fee to attend games because UA did not have a student activity fee. Academic politics.

Guess what sport they students willingly and overwhelmingly paid their hard-earned Starbucks money to attend? Gymnastics.

What sport did they have no interest, no matter how hard we tried, to attend? Women's basketball.

What in the hell does this have with internet rights and new media?

The amount we are charging for fans to attend our events should reflect the costs involved, and it should not be free for that reason.

Football is a very expensive sport. It also happens to be popular. It makes sense the tickets should be higher. The problem becomes when it reaches three digits -- is that to support the sport (or even the greater athletic department) or to simply gouge the public.

This is the truth that old-school journalism has learned the hard way. Unfortunately, in putting up pay walls they are trying to recoup the entire printing press. When the cost is too high, only a handful will pay.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Little Bit of History

(Realizing my post was getting waaaaaay long, and as a gift in the holidays, here is part three of We Taught A Generation to Steal)

The American University holds a special place in our cultural history. We began with a European model, but after the Civil War, the role of the American University changed from font of learning to source of culture.

The Morrill Act (1862) and the Hatch Act (1887) are the backbone of our "land-grant universities." The creation of public, state-run institutions of higher learning was a conscious decision of the late 19th century politicians. These colleges were given out as political patronage, local chamber of commerce boosterism or in pursuit of Progressive-style reform.

Why are the state colleges where they are? Because our forefathers wanted to bring culture to the hinterlands, or conversely, to take our youth away from the eeeeeeeevils of the big city into the bucolic purity of the countryside for their protection and education.

Stay with me as we come on around the bend . . . how many times have you watched the Oxford University soccer (excuse me, futbol) team take on Cambridge? That would be, never. Because sporting clubs existed outside of university. University was just that -- studies. And by the same token, symphony societies, theater groups and art galleries -- none in large part inside the educational institution.

Look around your campuses. How many of you have a marching band. A theater group. A cable access channel. And, of course, an athletic department.

How important to your community are those things? Would you have them without the university? In most cases, no.

At the turn of the 20th century when college sports became external and organized -- be it AAU backing Dr. Naismith's new American game or the NCAA following Theodore Roosevelt's lead to preserve football -- it was done so quite deliberately to bring something to each little corner of America that a college or university.

I am amused at the whole idea of "town versus gown". Whenever that flares up, you can bet one side of the equation has forgotten how vital to its survival the other is.

What does it all mean?

Alton Brown's Brush Back

Last week, I was both thrilled and horrified by Alton Brown's Twitter outburst, seemingly against his own appearance on Next Iron Chef. And, it turned out he was only miffed with the result -- not that some delicious train wreck happened in the show or with his own performance (see references to throwing up in his feed).

This week, a decidedly quiet chatter about the show from @AltonBrown.

Actually, my legal team just called. I won't actually be able to talk openly about #nextironchef.

And I got in a bit of trouble last week when I told everyone not to watch #nextironchef, so this week...mouth shut.

Conspiracy theorists can say it was all part of the plan -- fake hype followed by a scripted punishment. Sure, but Ockham's Razor here: Brown really thought he could just talk out loud to his fans.

Kinda what the Honey Badger thought about relationships and one very famous college coach's son thought about Mexican-Americans. On Twitter, you lack even the wafer-thin security of friends or circles provided by Facebook or Google+.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Problem is Greed

(Realizing my post was getting waaaaaay long, and as a gift in the holidays, here is part two of We Taught A Generation to Steal)

The problem is the greed.

That is what the NCAA tried -- kinda pitifully in a combination of class warfare and the uber-fail past regulatory practice (can you say . . . restricted earnings coach lawsuit loss?) -- the past couple of months in the name of [trumpet fanfare!!] COST CONTROLS. It was really trying to legislate equality and restrict greed.

Let's call names. Texas can establish the Longhorn Network because it has a national following thanks to its extremely large enrollment and alumni base. Texas is rich, both in supporters and assets (remember, the Lone Star State for decades was our own American OPEC -- along with Louisiana). The rest of the region can look upon that as exactly what it was -- a weapon of sports hegemony.

Don't think so? If a kid grows up playing high profile prep games on the Longhorn Network, you don't think that's a recruiting advantage? If ESPN ever decided to field it's own team, even I could coach that squad to a national title with the talent that would line up to be a part of that. (Hmmmm . . . Maybe that William Harrison dystopian future should reboot with different corporations as the global nexus . . . not The Energy Corporation, but NIKE, et al).

Why is Texas doing that? Because Notre Dame did it before them in 1991. And because the SEC exists today. Oh, let's see . . . that was 1991-92. (Another aside -- if you want to laugh and cry about the current state of leagues, Frank Deford's In with the South, Out with the East is must listening. If I'm the president of Greece, I'd want in the SEC also.)

Come to grips with this: We are in the Entertainment business. Capital E. Business. As in making money.

It takes money to support sports departments. It takes money to promote universities. It takes money to fund scholarships -- academic and athletic. It takes money to pay instructors. It takes money to enrich our local communities with pride and common sense of purpose.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Deford on Greeks and SEC

I mentioned Frank Deford's In with the South, Out with the East is must listening.

There is great irony, however, in Deford's mention of the Big East as some kind of warm and fuzzy, good ole fashioned college days.

I remember a different Big East.

The predator that consumed NCAA men's basketball in the 1980s, built for the sole reason of creating a hegemony over the sport that had escaped the power centers (especially the power media centers) of the upper east coast.

Specifically targeted at the former center of the men's basketball universe -- the ACC.

Deford kind of gets it right. The Big East lost its way when it became involved in trying to be a football league. Trying to capture for itself the SEC's position as Lord Dominator of All Things Pigskin.

But it is only because men's basketball -- which again, Deford nailed -- stop being the driving economic force in college sports.

We still love March Madness, but now, it is more reality show. It's no longer about who among the anointed stars get to take the center stage in the sitcom. Which quirky character actor will take over and run the island, or board room, or win the rose. No longer about Georgetown; who is the next Butler or George Mason.

Football has returned to its place at the top of the food chain.

Do wonder if Greece joined, would that allow Missouri to shift into the SEC West.

We Taught a Generation to Steal

Listening to another great episode of TWiT (This Week in Tech), the point was made regarding the new "anti-piracy" bills in the U.S. Congress that they are just moves by the industries to grab rights and try to reassert control.

Information wants to be free, and fans of your institutions want to participate. I spent a lot of time defending and trying to close down leaks in our streaming rights through As a content creator, I do believe it's in my rights to ask for compensation -- especially since making and distributing content is FAR from free.

That's not to say I didn't sympathize with fans.

We have taught a generation to steal? Not sure. We taught them you can steal remotely. The same tools that allow The Man to propagate content gives The People the power to be there.

It is no different than when parents would call and ask us to lay down the phone next to the radio so they could hear their kids games back in the 1970s. It's just that today with SlingBox or UStream, fans can "repurpose" the game on TV and get it out to distant friends.

The fight is over the cost, and that was where the TWiT crowd was going -- because we overprice content, we drive the true fan to great lengths to save a money. Thus, are we better off making lots of dimes off easy to use and distribute methods (think iTunes) or holding out for the potential of bushels of dollars by restricting content into proprietary distribution tools (think your cable company).

This contest between revenue and fan is as old as outfield fences and hedgerows around playing fields. You want to watch? Buy a ticket.

I'm not being cold about that. It is reality. Electricity costs money. Insurance costs money. Facility upkeep costs money.

Does anyone really think you can see the BCS for free? That it's a right as a fan?

The good news is the internet shreds the barrier of distance and digital recording destroys the concept of time.

More to come tomorrow

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This is My New Favorite Phrase

It may not displace the Adam Savage School of Public Relations ("I reject your reality, and substitute my own"), but it certainly gives a level of scientific panache to the same mindset.

Overheard on TWiT, I am certain this is not a new concept, but one I'd not heard expressed in this way: Reality Distortion Field.

As in, Steve Jobs often believed if he simply said it, it would simply be so. For example, I want a stainless steel band around the iPhone 4 and the physics of that being the devices antenna be damned.

Think: Yule Brenner Ten Commandment's performance -- So Let it Be Written, So Let it Be Done.

The Reality Distortion Field's power in direct relationship to the amount of real political or economic power of the individual or institution. Thus, if the government tries really hard to say black is white, many might be taken in to agree. If I say black is white, I would simply be scoffed at.

As you can suspect, it is the narcissist's dream, and real potential problem for leaders and institutions. Because, once invoked, the RDF has a serious negative impact that you begin to believe in your own BS.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Educators Running Away from Facebook

An interesting story on NPR last week regarding the growing number of teacher firings in the non-higher ed community based on inappropriate Facebook comments.

As we work to move toward the social media playing field for increased interaction that would enhance recruiting and relationships -- thus hoping to aid retention of students -- the New Jersey public teacher's union is advising the exact opposite.

Run like the wind away from your students on-line.

Steve Wollmer, a spokesperson for the union, in the NPR story:

"Don't ever friend or follow your students on Facebook or Twitter, never post during work hours or using work materials such as a school computer, and certainly never post anything about your job online, especially about students."

OK, one should NEVER violate FERPA by using Facebook for assignments. We encourage that faculty understand the power dynamic created by friending students, and they should have a stated policy in their syllabus. As for posting during work hours, when we are encouraging social, we can't call out its usage unless it is excessive or not for the institution (ie, if you are a manager of a page for Northwestern State).

The social media tips provided by the union aren't very helpful except to the most novice users, and themselves have a CYA tone. See, we have this list of do's and don'ts, so don't get mad at us if you violate them.

There was one line at the end that I found extremely illuminating:

As educators, we are held to higher standards than the rest of the working world. . . . never post anything you wouldn’t want read out loud at a school board meeting.

Welcome to the team, teachers. Those of us with sports backgrounds have lived with that for decades.

As a side note, I noticed with the NPR story was a back-track to a story I missed as Missouri repeals the law that banned contact with students via social media.

Branding is the Devil?

At least that's what Geoffrey James dared say in Inc a couple of weeks ago.

Be still my heart. The 140 takeaway line in James' short screed:

Bottomline: Your brand is the emotion that a customer feels when thinking about your product.

And James went from there, roundly thumping the concept of "branding" versus brand.

Highly recommend.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Train Wreck or Brilliance? You Decide

Alton Brown may be late arriving and sometime conscientious objector to Twitter, but tonight he is either a genius or on the edge of breakdown/firing.

Earlier tonight, a series of tweets began in which he told his followers to NOT watch tonight's episode of Iron Chef America. Then proceeded to give hints as to why -- his own horrible performance, ending apparently with his throwing up.

Result: @altonbrown hashtag is on fire. The search is averaging two to three comments or retweets a second.

One of the messages from Alton:

No, I'm serious DO NOT WATCH #nextironchef tonight. Things are going to happen...awful things. @foodnetwork.

So, of course, myself and thousands who would not have thought about it are heading to the train wreck. Alton's live blogging (at one point needing another bourbon to continue to relive this) added even more fuel to the fire.

And here's the worse part: next week is worse #nextironchef @foodnetwork

Genius or next Food Network personality dismissed?

Who Watches the Watchmen

For the security conscious, two important bits of news. The most recent involved Twitter, and an attempt to prove that direct messages held the same level of privacy as mail or phone calls. The courts found that by joining, members agreed to reveal their IP addresses, thus their privacy, to Twitter, with no expectation of privacy. They key -- the reveal to a third party. In this case, how long until messaging via Facebook ruled the same.

The other important bit regards Facebook, and that it has submitted to 20 years of monitoring of its privacy policies by the FTC. This on the heels last year of Google forced to do same.

This case involved proving what I saw as self-evident: Facebook was selling personal profile information to marketers. By giving in to FTC, Facebook proves my point that it is in reality the greatest data harvesting and consumer marketing tool in the history of mankind.

And remember, just like Twitter, you volunteered for it when you clicked YES on the EULA.

But why the Alan Moore reference to open?

Think it through. Facebook and Google for years collected bits and pieces of your personal information. Now, the U.S. Government will oversee that, and make sure those two private firms comply.

So then, who watches the FTC?

As an aside, take care with your DM's. There appear to be some more leaky APIs associated with third party apps that might put your DM's out into your main stream.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bleeping Fights

Everyone saw the Xavier-Cincinnati fight. What I found interesting - ESPN's pixelating of the Cincinnati coach and one of Xavier's players so we couldn't clearly lip-read them.

Reaction to CBS' treatment of Bobby Petrino in the LSU game?

Probably not, but still a real contrast. Usually, the "E" of ESPN would drive the clear view of the F-bombs, and the Tiffany network's status as a broadcast entity and fear of the FCC would have led to bleeping.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Social Works

It's been some busy days here working on projects related to the Northwestern State Christmas Gala -- more on the story-telling aspect of our strategy later in the month. Sorry for less posts, but one tonight to remind you that social works.

Yaser Elqutub was named the Allstate Good Works team captain tonight. He won because the Northwestern State fan base organized, stayed motivated and drove this deserving young man across the finish line.

Not many non-BCS players on the Allstate team. Northwestern State isn't a large institution. It is an intensely social one; however, and one that will rally around its own. For decades, this is a school that takes pride in its family.

Ready made to take on the "big schools" in a social media throwdown. Our Facebook following is a modest 7,500, but Yaser's classmates got behind the push. His teachers and administrators joined in. And his win was built the old fashioned way.

Friends asking friends to help for a good cause.

It worked for us at Arkansas, taking Ryan Mallett from 15th to runner-up in the Davey O'Brien on-line in 2009. I contend he would have won if the campaign hadn't been internally slowed for a day and a half -- with the closing speed we made on the supposedly insurmountable winner, I don't have a doubt.

Here, the dedication of a handful of administrators, teachers and friends of Yaser took that same formula and never slowed down.

Slow and steady wins the social race. Yaser got national facetime for our FCS team tonight as a result.

The lesson: whether you are the flagship institution with all the advantages or the regional university with a determination to succeed, social works, but only if you plan your work and work your plan.

Congrats to the NSU Social Media Committee who took lead and assisted the Louisiana Scholars' College folks to bring the honor home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What was the Point?

Certainly the display of sportsmanship might be lacking both ways - depending on who you were rooting for - but why did CBS feel compelled to show Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino apparently saying things you aren't suppose to have on the air of broadcast networks during the early evening time slot.

It's kinda clear what he said. The video was slowed down a bit to make it easier.

Let's quickly get away from the person who said it or if in his mind it was justified based on the outcome of the game and jump straight to the FCC angle.

How does CBS get away with doing that? On purpose. Not is a passing shot. Not a background shot. A replay.

Pretty sure George Carlin got rung up for those words. Bono said it too, and didn't that go to the Supreme Court on appeal of FCC fines for a live performance event.

SEC football is not for the faint of heart or ear. It's tough stuff, people, and that kind of exchange is a lot more common than you think.

The question remains - who in the truck thought it needed to be aired? I've been on the receiving end of that stream of words FROM producers in the truck, both as SID and as stat person. We are not talking about folks who aren't conversant with volatile language. Let me be clear, the guys that work at the highest level like CBS are the least trouble. You don't get to the top by being what we in the business call "screamers" - directors who think they get more out of talent by yelling, particularly profanity, at them,

This make the whole thing very, very odd. This is inside football at the highest level, and we will never likely get the whole story.

Which will lead to the next action, probably underway as I type, as someone in Birmingham is making a call to New York City for an explanation. You don't hang your broadcast partners out like that without some really good reasons. Or some really deep wounds.

The Experiential Brands

Regulars of the blog know of my affinity for the Australian Broadcasting Company series, Gruen Planet (nee Transfer prior to this season).

The second to last episode of this year focused on the strikes and grounding of planes by Quantas.

Gruen regular Todd Sampson said this about how the national airline of Australia solves its trouble:

Airlines are experiential brands. They are heavily dependent on staff. Staff motivation. Staff satisfaction. The focus needs to be go internal. The way for this to rebuild is for the experience to be great again.

Re-read that passage.

Tell me he has not captured the essence of higher education and college sports. We are all experiential brands. We are only worth what our customers thing of what they gained - either learning from the university or enjoyment at our events.

Having brand or reputation problems? Let me repeat Todd: "they are heavily dependent on staff.

Once again, I highly recommend you find an Australian friend (or proxy) to catch up on the series. Same episode gave some outstanding outsider perspective on the Occupy movement and branding,

The host, Wil Anderson, quips about the knock on the protestors having iPhones, etc.: "They are protestors, not Amish."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hell Over #HailState?

My social media correspondents in the heart of the SEC country tell me Scott Stricklin and Miss State are "catching hell" as the fans on talk radio are "in a near riot" over the AD's decision to put a hash tag in the endzone for tonight's Egg Bowl with Ole Miss.

One of them points out to me that "football is a product" and shouldn't be messed with. A gentle rejoiner here: in the SEC football is entertainment, valued at a level in the TV and media business only exceeded by the NFL. Last time I checked, if you have a product, you want to sell it. And if it's entertainment, sell it online.

If this reasoning follows, You shouldn't be messing with traditions. Oh say like a red-white-and-blue Razorback on helmets and on the field of War Memorial for 9/11? Or golden helmets for LSU on national TV? Or "throwback" uniforms at Florida or Georgia?

Hey kids, anybody wanna install the wishbone for this weekend? It is Thanksgiving. Let's be traditional.

If it is true that significant numbers of fans are upset at Stricklin, I bet he'll listen. Those fans, however, need to consider that bringing State to a higher national profile is the goal. This is the same guy that saved the cowbell from extinction at the hands of the SEC, arguing it was a tradition that must be respected. (Maybe he should put a hash tag ON cowbells . . . )

From a PR stand point, I go back to yesterday's blog. This is a stroke of genius, and not just for the "hip" factor of the hash tag.

You want some old school traditional thinking? How about the great PR standby - any publicity is good publicity. Didn't former LSU legend Dale Brown once utter a line something like "just spell my name right" in connection to that?

Tonight's game is less than meaningful. The Ole Miss coach is already fired. State's fate was cast by some earlier close losses. What gets the country thinking about this game?

A well-planned publicity move. The Hail State endzone was already in the works. Adding the "#" to it just made it a national, and slightly international, story,

Bottom line: just like all those crazy new jersey looks and NIKE Pro Combat helmets that other schools have tried, this will be one of the greatest things ever at MSU if the Bulldogs come out tonight and beat the crap out of the Rebels. if they lose, it will be the worst idea ever, hated and reviled. Hey Razorback fans, remember those Apex uniforms with the giant Hogs from the mid-90s? Loser team, people HATED the jerseys. Bobby Petrino could come out tomorrow in all black, and if UA beats LSU, they will want to change the school colors.

So in the words of the late Al Davis - #JustWinBaby.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All #HailState The King of Social

If you had any doubt after CoSIDA if Scott Stricklin was THE best athletic director when it comes to digital and social media, check out the Egg Bowl tomorrow. Miss State makes history with the first ever end zone hashtag.

I am not kidding you - #HAILSTATE across one end zone.

This is game changing. Here is a contest that is the Thanksgiving turkey, hapless Ole Miss against a less than lucky MSU on the evening of turkey comas.

Mashable has picked it up, and every online or social oriented publication. This breaks Miss State out of all kinds of stereotypes and puts them In a ton of new markets. If you haven't seen it this year, the institutional TV ad by MSU is one of the best, and it puts a high emphasis on innovation and breaking the old State image.

Can't call them "cow college" with this new outlook.

Stricklin is the AD with the best vision of what this all means. All the others in the SEC that think they know how to tweet are just attention whores. There is a plan, s deep thinking strategy and he has assembled a team of guys who want to and know how to exploit social. Like his marketing director Chad Thomas.

From the Mashable story, the genesis of a genius move:

The hashtagging-the-endzone plan was hatched during a weekly marketing meeting, according to Mississippi State’s athletic director, Scott Stricklin.The original plan was to simply paint “Hail State” in the endzone. But when someone suggested hashtagging the slogan, Stricklin said, “there was this moment in the room, like, ‘Ohhh, that’d be different, no one’s done that before.’”

Miss State got Mark Cuban's attention. Reckon who might be up for an investment in some tech or scholarships now? I chuckle at this because of a crazy long shot attempt I heard of how Ariansas could play an angle toward that several years ago. Betcha Cuban would take Stricklin's call next week. Won't even bet that Cuban tweets about the hash tag bring State a new group of social media oriented followers that never would have thought about Starkville, Miss.

Friends and colleagues in the SEC understand this; those of you across the fruited plain may need to substitute the most yokel college or town in your league or area. Then imagine overnight they are the hipster. Strickliln continue to strike gold at State. For the Bullogs, good thing he is a graduate having gone home - that will even the odds when the Parker Executive search firms of the world come calling trying to lure him away.

One more hit as to why this is demonstrably awesome. How did I pick up on the story? From my vast network of Internet sources? No, it was sitting atop my Facebook news feed today - a link from Mashable, a link from Miss State but most important, the trigger was a like from my friend and former student worker Tyler Vaught. An Arkansas grad and Oregon master's, he is a former lead PR worker for EA Sports in Canada, now living in San Francisco and working still in the video game industry. He is nowhere near someone that I would have thought cared or noticed anything from the Bulldogs.

Scott Stricklin got Tyler's attention last night. On the West Coast. In the heart of online world.

Scott is changing what people think of Stark-Vegas. Not with a huge budget. Not with tens of consultants. With his simple commitment to being social, and by well thought out moves.

Well played, Scott Stricklin. Well played indeed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Truth Hurts, and Works Best

Mark Ballard in the Baton Rouge Advocate used the occasion of a Chris Moore speech on the way advertisers should operate to launch into a diatribe against re-elected Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Moore was taking the governor to task for some questions about budget, but that is not what caught my eye.

It's the all-purpose crowbar into anything anyone in the public light does that Moore's comment provided. According to Ballard's set-up, Moore said of ethics and advertising that reputable brands "almost never lie.". Ballard quotes a transcript of a speech at the Advertising Educational Foundation website that includes:

"So we tell the truth - but not always the Whole Truth."

Say it ain't so, Chris.

It harkens back to a piece of advice given by former University of Arkansas chancellor John White, caught on video tape for all of posterity, in which he gave out the typical politician's advice. To paraphrase, don't answer the question they asked, answer the question you wanted them to ask.

Let's not be naive - both Moore and White spoke a truth. And as a result, both will be tagged with those quotes forever.

Maybe it's not exactly magician's code, but it does resemble giving away the "trick" when it gets said.

Let's not overlook the use of a good meme by a journalist either. When you read the whole speech, you can see the presentation is a lot more nuanced than portrayed. Moore gives us some great examples of how there is truth and there is Whole Truth. He gives great detail of a famous Volvo commercial, in which to recreate what really happened at a monster truck competition required quite a bit of "faking".

Or, to use another quality cliche, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Thus, not all PR professionals are flacks. Not all politicos liars. And, to get myself into the quote mill, not all truth is created equal.

I spend some time with students at the beginning of each semester when I teach American history going over what is history. It comes in three slices - little h history, capital H History and what happened. Unless you were there, you don't know what happened, and even if you were, chances are the event was so large you cannot have a full scale understanding of the entirety of it. Quickly, the small h is what got recorded in documents and big H is what we as historians do with both what happened and the small h.

Moore become caution and lesson. Be careful what you say, it can and will be used against you in a court of public opinion. And, for the consumer side, stay skeptical and frosty out there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why You NEVER Link Facebook and Twitter

Pretty sure this tweet today by a Division I university's main institutional feed says it all. The names are blocked to protect the innocent.

The Politics on Penn State

Only a matter of time until Penn State began to lap over into politics, and Wes Pruden lobs in an effective salvo, questioning the role of big time college sports. It is worth your read, something I came across while looking at the Washington area coverage of Maryland's announcement of dropping sports - a drastic cut from 27 to 19.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NCAA Wants Your Tweets

A note from a colleague, somewhat in shock, that the NCAA was actively pinging members to give up lists of their student-athlete Twitter accounts. The concern was that wasn't the NCAA's business.

I concur, but not for the reasons my SID friend had.

It's not the NCAA's business because, not unlike the Olympics in Beijing, you don't own the point of view of individual student-athletes and you shouldn't be promoting them and trying to augment your own traffic with them.

I shudder at the next step by the NCAA, which in the past has been extraordinarily restrictive and protective of their "events". By the way, the only folks more restrictive is the BCS, but that's another story for another day.

Now, knowing some of the thought leadership in the NCAA's digital media wing, I doubt they would head down that road. That's not to say others might not, however in the name of "rights holding", it is possible (anyone price an internet [and back in the day phone] connection from the men's basketball tournament regional or Final Four).

Let's circle back to the original point. Anyone who doesn't already actively monitor and know who is a "real" Twitter feed among an institution's athlete base is courting disaster. I know many still don't, or they continue to turn their heads away. The NCAA request should get right in your face and remind you, whether you think so or not, people are watching and your student-athletes are creating your branding.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

History Crossover on Chicago Riots

Granted, I'm reading the Sunday Chicago Tribune for more details about the events and Penn State and the cover-up by administration (let pause and remind you all - in all circumstances, the crime is bad; the cover-up is much worse - and this one is, well, hard to even consider).

Big full page story on the start of the commentary section: 10 things you might no know about Chicago protests.

Oh, a history piece on the long and significant history of Chicago in labor and social unrest.

Um, no, a snarky and shallow look at the minor upsets in the city from the mid to late 20th century.

In other words, Haymarket Square is not mentioned. Not once. Even though it figures TWICE in the history of protest in Chicago.

Somewhat akin to saying, let's review the great Super Bowls, and leaving out III - I don't know, because it's OLD or a long time ago.

I just re-read the piece to make sure the authors, Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer, didn't slip it in and I missed it. Nope. In their lead:

"Occupy Chicago protesters are writing another chapter in a long history of dissent in this city. Here are 10 demonstrated facts:"

Briefly, Haymarket is the original anarchist event in U.S. history, a seminal moment in the labor movement and known world-wide. Why guess what, there is even a Haymarket statue and a monument to the police killed at the late 19th century labor protest turned bombing.

But we did learn about protest #4 on their list - a person who wore a tuxedo to the Mercantile Exchange to protest new dress rules. And a protest against a mini mart in the suburbs.

Oh, yes, the 1968 Democratic Convention managed to make the list. And Martin Luther King's ill-fated march.

But the original - nope. The Days of Rage? Nah-ah. The attack of the Haymarket statute? Not quite top 10.

However, a 1958 high school banning the wearing of dog tags with Elvis' birthdate and name by girls? That's number 10.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

More Checklist Manifesto

Had to put the book down with work and other duties, but reading along tonight, I came across two more reasons why this book is a must for every sports information director/digital media director/social media director out there. For reference, it is surgeon Atul Gawande's book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.

While I really appreciated the explanation of the difference between a DO-CONFIRM and a READ-DO, this is the 140-takeaway of the whole book:

"Just ticking boxes is not the ultimate goal here. Embracing a culture of teamwork and discipline is. And if we recognize the opportunity, the . . . checklist is just a start."

Let that marinate for a minute.

Pardon me while I rant, but this is the heart of every checklist, guideline, policy or procedure I have ever authored or worked out among a group. When they succeed, it is because they have lead to teamwork -- first in the making of the guideline to implementing it. Where they fail, they have done so because A) the authority above "didn't think it was important" or B) the authority above (or the people below) wanted a solution imposed.

If you get the book and dive into that DO-CONFIRM/READ-DO philosophical difference, you'll understand that nothing important, nothing lasting will succeed without quality checklists. Call them guidelines or whatever, it's all the same concept.

Patience is being willing to wait for those unable to see to have their vision to clear.

Here's to having it. Patience. And good checklists.

Read more on Gawande's book from my earlier post.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Are You a Ninja Librarian

Admit it, it is a fun headline to type. In some seriousness the story today about the CIA's social media data farm reminds us of the need to be vigilant with our own brands and information. Yes, someone is watching, and while the CIA charter restricts the gathering of domestic information, don't kid yourself. And worry less about the government and more about the marketers.

Aren't you a marketer? Yes.
But I'm not gleaning facts about your preferences and meshing that against your spending habits, and worse, against your credit scores.

The story also has a couple of deep facts to pull out from the middle and end. Notice how much the CIA is using real-time (Twitter, in particular) to gain sentiment analysis.

As I tell students, ignore the monitoring aspect at your peril. You won't know why you didn't get that second call back, that final job offer, that person's cell number (or have that person call you back after you gave them yours). High likelihood they read or saw something they didn't like in your social profile and statements.

Here's the other marketeers: if you can work "ninja" into your story line and give it a sexy pitch (according to the AP's quote of the director of this "secret" group, they are looking for Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo type people) you will get your story out.

Google it. You will find it in over 450 papers today. That is serious reach for a Saturday feature.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Nice Checklist for Digital Media Releases

From the PR News, a quick rundown of things you should consider adding to your existing media releases that are posting to your websites from Sally Falkow.

Falkow's top 15 (how fun, everything includes that SEO-driven number list) is a mix of the traditional (write a 5W lead, have a punchy headline that can be a tweet) with the networked digital (be sure to include video, PPT decks or PDFs of support materials).

The video point had an interesting unsourced factoid:

85% of all media Web sites now use video and many of them are looking for completed videos from an outside source.

My own caution here -- provide some broad options, maybe two links: a H.264 and a Flash.

Read more on Falkow's website/blog:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Truth Really Is Stranger Than Fiction

A blog on the foibles of not paying attention to the digital media at one's own risk changed into an epic tale of classic deny the truth spin straight out of the West Wing 90s.

At the start of the day, I had one view of the latest adventure in social and participatory media as members of Michelle Bachmann's New Hampshire staff announced they were resigning en mass.

Apparently, the memo didn't reach national, who were pants by the traditional political media this morning.  Why no, nothing is wrong in New Hamphsire.

What about this statement?

We'll get back to you.

So AP ran the details today, but by tonight, the once employees became at best volunteers.  Funny thing about these kind of deals - they were voluntary organizations until you joined them.  Or, until you try to embarrass them.

This evening, Bachmann's national team now claimed the statement by the state level staff was an "unauthorized news release" from a person who "doesn't even work for the campaign and has never had authority to speak on behalf of the campaign."

That could be parcing one hell of a Catch-22: if you quit the campaign, OF COURSE you no longer speak for the campaign.

That may be a little hard to prove.  What is "work for the campaign" when the majority of staffers in the New Hampshire offices of any candidate are volunteers? You don't work for the campaign when the campaign want to disavow you.

The kicker really is the second half of the statement. The reality of networked communications is that EVERYONE speaks for the campaign.

"We are hiring new staff in New Hampshire," Bachmann said on Hannity. The host went back on her again, with the same answer followed by another political talking point.

"Quite honestly, nobody asked me about the staffing and what's going on," she said. "What they are asking me about is my real jobs right now plan."

Um. Congresswoman, didn't Sean just ask you about it.

And, if the AP is to be believed, she was asked about it on Friday.  In a broadcast radio interview.

Forget the extreme Adam Savage school of public relations approach ("I reject your reality, and substitute my own" of MythBusters fame), this is just flat out denial.  Not of what happened, but of reality.

No matter how many times, or with how much conviction it is is said, it is still a lie.  Pure and simple.  With the ease of Internet search, how do public figures reach this level without recognizing that it takes little effort to verify past statements.

Or is it that they just don't think we will care?

Usually, you have to get into a BCS football coach's post game press conference to get this level of chutzpah.

"No, I think out guys gave a real, real good effort out there, and I think they are improving every down," he'll say after a 50-point beat down.  The quarterback who threw four pics is always "a very, very special guy."

I once had a supervisor look me straight in the eye, and with a dead serious look say, "you know, your problem is you see things as black and white; right and wrong.". What he wanted me to do was look the other way when others broke protocol or violated rules.

Guess I just continue to have trouble with fiction.

So Let It Be Done

It was written here months ago -- if iOS integrates Twitter, watch it make another leap. The 2009-10 move in follower and usage numbers begat the "fill in the blank" Springs of social activism.

Nothing moves the needle like Apple, and just like the second stage booster, the new iOS 5.0's complete integration of Twitter will do just that.

Puts the timing of Facebook's new ADD inspired layout with it's Twitter-like sidebar into a new light: get people to real-time in Facebook before the trend of real-time inside your phone to Twitter takes over.

Monday, October 24, 2011

So Far The Best Guess is Working

When the new Facebook timeline came out, my guess to our people was that the key to being up the feed was interaction -- likes and comments. That was based on trying to figure out what Facebook would value -- they are social, so a bunch of posts or a bunch of a kind of content shouldn't matter (that sounds Twitter or YouTube-ish).

So my instructions to those who follow was make sure you are doing the asks in posts, getting your friend circles to like, share and comment.

PRNews today chimes in with a link to this quick Q&A with Priya Ramesh. Guess what she says her key to being high up in the feed?

It’s engagement that Facebook’s algorithm calculates.

Read more on PRNews.

Newspaper Fade Might Be More Than You Thought

Sitting in a meeting of university professors and administrators, I asked the question: how many of you take the local newspaper? The answer was shocking.

Let me set the scene.  One of the initiatives I've set up at Northwestern State to promote sharing of information and getting more people involved in the content creation process is a group I called "Campus Communicators." Hardly an original idea - many colleges and universities, large and small, use similar boards to get story ideas or more hands to help write stories.

Natchitoches is a smaller town, still with its own local paper.  Due to the location - almost equal distance down I-49 from Shreveport and Alexandria - there isn't a local television news outlet. While there are two local radio stations, there isn't a lot of locally generated news available.

At this second organizational meeting of the Campus Communicators this week, the question was posed to me: how do you intend to get more news out about the school. My answer was we need to use more of our own resources - website and social media - to get the news out, mostly because of shrinking news hole and media staff.

What comes next is the surprise.

Keep in mind the demographics of the room.  The youngest person was, by my guess, early 30s for the new faculty.  The median age was probably around my own 48.

Out of curiosity I ask, how many take the local newspaper.

Sheepishly, two people half raise their hands.

Really?  Not to beat a dead horse, but the image of the room would be of a bunch of newspaper readers.

OK, I think, I missed the target. How many take the Shreveport Times, one of the two larger daily papers that would be regional.  Surely that was the case.

Same answer: two.  Two different people, mind you.

Out of the room of 17 university administrators or professors, four still take a daily newspaper.

So where do you get your news?

Facebook.  Websites.  On-line.

Granted, I didn't follow up with "what are your on-line sources" which usually are newspapers, but the clear indication was none of the people really follow the local newspaper media.

Yes, it is anecdotal.  Yes, it is unscientific.

But it was eye opening that increasingly groups that we have ignored in the past as targets for social and digital media are leaving the traditional media, especially print, faster than we might believe.

Once again, resistance is futile.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Need to Digest, But Important Legal Case

While I'm away talking social media with the SAAC of the Great American Conference, this update from WOMMA about a New York state legal ruling against a company that sought to discipline staff in accordance to its social media policy. I will admit, haven't had time to read all the way through to soak in the implications.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How Do You Score on This Top 10

From Social Times, the 10 qualities needed for success as a social media manager. I feel like a 10 (but I'm kinda bad on 6). Read more here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

News As Real-Time

This from Poynter, in particular the Jeff Jarvis point about the "news story" getting into the way of the news stream. This is one of those seems like old times moments as I think back to APSE seminars from the late 1990s about how the game story was dead because it was dated by live stats.

Maybe they are right, but I look back at something else Jarvis said, but on Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech. There Jarvis and John Dvorak made the argument, along with Leo, that the analysis, the educated opinion, the background and insight of the writer was the key. As Dvorak put it, the "book of knowledge" (half seriously meaning Wikipedia and other real-time sources) has the facts, what we need is interpretation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Facebook Snapshot of Big 10

A quick note about this story sent out on the CFAA Elite Clips today for those that might not get it. The story is from the Medill School at Northwestern (no, the other Northwestern) and gives a snapshot of the Big 10 school's participation and highlights some of the top schools -- like LSU -- that engage with social media.

Sounds like a bad Next Gen line but folks -- resistance is futile.

Resistence is Futile

Today's note was a forward from one of our Northwestern State Social Media Team members to the group, and it speaks very clearly to the "science being settled" on the question of social media.

That's not to say there won't be deniers, but it's a little harder for them to question the resources -- when properly planned and worked into overall public relations strategy -- that you may commit to social.

Brian Solis is well known as an advocate for social, and he provides the story from Fast Company that interprets the latest Nielsen report into a State of Social Media 2011.

Along with the provocative , Solis breaks down seven quick points (oh so SEO-ish), but one in particular for those attempting to reach the rising college student crowd:

60 percent of people who use three or more digital means of research for product purchases learned about a specific brand or retailer from a social networking site. And, 48% of these consumers responded to a retailer's offer posted on Facebook or Twitter.

Who, I might add, is the "college student crowd"? Keep in mind, not only is the 17-year-old involved, but also the parents. With more and more people engaging with smart phones and tablet devices, you achieve that "three or more digital means" in a greater sized audience than the stereotype "young people" or "early adopters".

Also, the college student is changing. Many are returning students and "non-traditional" older students.

Down in Solis' story, you get the reason why he was so bold earlier: the demographics are booming in all directions. Succinctly put, this isn't your kid's Facebook anymore. Solis calls out recent media coverage on the Pew study that shows a 100% increase in the 65 and older. Gee, if grandpa Boomer is getting on, that's right, everyone is getting on.

All trends that bear watching.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Southern Miss Approach to Social

Courtesy of one of my Northwestern State colleagues, here's a link to local coverage of Southern Miss' roll out of a campus-wide social media policy. Interesting additional angles of putting emphasis on "civility".

One of the take-aways in the story from the policy:

Reminding employees and students that there are no longer any geographical boundaries, therefore how an employee or student presents himself/herself in social media can have a positive or negative impact on his/her reputation

Aaaaaaannnnnnddd . . . . a positive or negative impact on the institution.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Facebook Numbers Say FB 1st

An amalgam of the anecdotal:

Aside from agreeing with me that the new Facebook GUI is terrible, youngsters 14-17 spend 90 minutes a day on the service. That's just a throwaway factoid in's entry on how teens dislike the new front end.

Go back and chew on that. One and a half hours, on average, on Facebook.

You're spending time making new website pages why? If you are like me -- marketing a university and trying to recruit new students (don't kid yourselves: regardless to which side of that blood-brain barrier you are on campus, be ye athlete or academic THAT is your business) -- that tells you all you need to know about any and all efforts in the social media realm.

Good luck, however, convincing the older generation of that fact.

OK, how about this one. Leo Leporte notes the total population of on-line users roughly eight years ago was 850 million. Today, Facebook claims membership of 800 million.

You are not wasting your time in the social realm.

Maybe, you are wasting it elsewhere on-line.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Facebook Scam

I came close to clicking on the button. After all, might be nice to learn a little more about Facebook ads, and it would be even more fun to share the title "marketing expert" with a colleague.

But, I did what I teach: think twice and check at least once before hitting the button.

Turns out, it is a very elaborate, well built phish. Dave Taylor provides the details.

Nasty little virus injector.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clear Message

If you haven't seen it, watch for the latest Vegas TV ad.

"There are consequences for breaking the code"

"Report friends and learn more"

Tweet out the party? Send pics you shouldn't have? See what happens.

Brilliant and accurate.

Read a little about the news associated with the ad, and the "truth" behind it. Local station Channel 8 has a nice package that include the video.

If you want to check out VisitLasVegas' website, you'll see it looks like they hired the folks who did John Hodgmann's web.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Shocking Social Media News

Not since Captain Renault turned to Rick and proclaimed he was shocked, shocked to learn there was gambling in Casablanca's top night spot has there been a more over-blown (and thus, more misunderstood) notion that companies are spying on each other through social media.

Reeeeeeeally? Why the same people who are going to vet your job candidacy by trolling through your Facebook posts, assess your Tweets and judge you by the parties you attend on Flickr . . . they'd never.

Douglas MacMillan writing for Bloomberg News last month gave a great snapshot into the brave new world of corporate espionage.

If you had any doubt, couple of weeks ago AP had a nice tech angle story on how companies are using social to learn what's up with both clients and opponents.

"Social media is a new data-abundant source that is here to stay," says one consultant.

"Twitter can give you a play-by-play about a person's activities," said another. "A log of those posts are time and date stamped."

The article goes into the usual flubs on letting go the occasional secret -- that's obvious -- but it gives away something else. Something you need to consider in your own social media strategy:

"You can actually feel yourself inside that company -- what's happening, what's the morale of the employees, how the business is doing, where top management go on vacation, did the CEO have a fight with somebody. It's a glass house."

So, things getting difficult at Enormous State University for Coach Jim Bob -- not the time for him to crawl back inside his shell OR to start oversharing to seem more personable.

C-level suite holders think they can hold in bad news or negative trends? Just watch the rank-and-file -- are they suddenly happy or sad across the board.

Back in the Cold War, they called it signals intelligence. Listening to everything the Ruskies did, and gleaning tone, direction and mood. Before the networking of the world, you needed lots of big satellite dishes, some mirror front mysterious office buildings, a few ominous three- and four-letter names and toss in a couple of orbiting eyes.

Today, a 4-figure a month subscription to a service and a handful of interns with tuned up dashboards and Tweet Decks, you're in the spy business. is just one of many -- frankly, by being public may just reveal themselves as the least effective. Worry more about the nameless agencies who specialize in "data mining."

In politics, it's opposition research. In college sports, it's getting recruiting advantage. In strategic communications, it's assessing the market.

And, I might add, anyone out there who tells you they don't have a dirt-bag file on rival schools filled with such items, that hasn't made lots of screen captures of unfortunate moments that may or may not have since been deleted, well, they are naive or lying.

Take a moment or two to consider how your social media profile may telegraph your next move. Not in the obvious way like Scott McClellan, the subject of MacMillan's story did. What did it say when at two critical peak points of the 2010 football season that the usually busy Twitter feeds of two notable SEC schools got very, very quiet. They weren't just hunting for wabbits -- they were scared to talk. In it's own way, doesn't that tell the world what they want to know -- or at least you are giving the impression that whatever worst thought the world may have of your organization.

Whistle through the graveyard. Hide in plain sight. Act as if.

Choose the cute little cliche of your liking -- and live it.

Those who are watching, reading and listening, are going to infer. Give them one less thing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Once Again, Stunning News on News

Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project discovered that when it comes to local news, people used people as their No. 2 source, reinforcing previous points about who people tend to trust for information.

On The Media gives us another outstanding coverage of a vital media story with one of the co-directors. I commend it to you to listen.

What does it mean, again? Well, shocking, Pew found that newspaper staffs were the backbone of most information in local markets -- TV, radio and internet feed off it. But in areas lacking newspaper, or understaffed newspapers, direct to the public is the way.

Lee Rainie, the co-director, provides the nut quote:

Seventy-four percent said on a weekly basis, they used local TV to get some local news. Fifty-five percent, the second-highest ranking went to word of mouth. And that's when people said, “I rely on my friends. I go to my neighbors. I go to trusted colleagues.”

Maybe It's Because It's OK to be Mean

MTV teams up with the Associated Press to issue another study about the impact of the networked world on the age-old problem of bullying (I am loath to give into the pseudo-hip "cyber-bullying").

MTV does have a very serious phrase for this: "youth digital abuse". It goes with their A Thin Line program to address same.

Let me pause a moment to consider, the network that probably exploits more personal situations for it's own reality programing is worried about the impact of insults hurled around the internet. I'm not quite sure whether to call that self-aware or self-deluded.

The findings are "shocking": "It's worse online because everybody sees it," one 24-year-old said. "And once anything gets online, you can't get rid of it."

Sound familiar?

Perhaps I'm being a bit cynical, but isn't the entire point of this media generation the self-exploitation of personal trauma? From "real world" series to psychological interventions ranging from drugs to food to hording, we spend so much time watching reality TV that hardly anyone has time to experience reality. Or more to the point, reality isn't quite as exciting as the heightened reality of network shows.

What's at the heart of a lot of that? Hurting people. Oh, the Bachelor/Bachelorette didn't mean to break their hearts. The color analyst didn't mean to insult the college athlete by calling out a failure. The debate moderator didn't intend to hurt a candidate by asking about their personal lives.

If we are honest with each other, a lot of what goes for entertainment is Greek tragedy, and the person that dies in the end might lot lose their life, but the likely lost their dignity.

Here's the catch -- social media tools not only give us the power to self publish and be a part of the thought leadership formerly known as the media, they also give us the ability to be as nasty, catty, insulting as the meanest of mean girls.

With the added bonus of a screen name behind which to hide, or at least the distance of a computer screen. A lot of the discourse pointed out by the survey got a punch in the nose or a slap across the face; a good drink thrown at the least.

To quote the AP story on the report:

Plus, 75 percent of young people think people do or say things online that they wouldn't do or say face to face.


I can be a simple man at times, and occasionally the most complex problems really have easy solutions.

Do onto others online as you would have others do onto you.

Please, don't get me wrong. This is serious. I've had family members attacked on-line. I've been the subject of some light-weight bashing myself.

But maybe, just maybe, the media outlet famous for The Real Life could take a moment to consider what their role is in fostering a climate in which it's OK to trash acquaintances in public.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Privacy Becomes Premium

Over and over the point made here is you are never, ever in a private place on the internet. No more so than you would be in the uber-watched England of the 21st century, where you are almost always on a security camera, once one joins the internet and begins to post -- you are traced, tracked, recorded and analyzed.

Thus with some interest I read the technology piece a few weeks ago in The Chronicle about the move of many on campus to begin to build an alternate internet. Fears that the United States government would invoke "the kill switch" if a true Arab Spring began to grow here (Occupy Wall Street? Please, America was more violent and effective in the 60s with the SDS or the Hoovervilles of the 1930s).

A long but informative read, particularly referencing the efforts to make self-cloud internets and local mesh networks. Reminds me a bit of the old tinkering that once was the proud domain of amateur radio operators.

The story talks about Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia, and what motivated him: William Cronon. The Wisconsin professor had his email FOI'd by political opponents, looking for violations of the Wisconsin state law that prohibited use of state university accounts for political speech. I find that a fascinating law -- and reinforcing to one of my great cautions.

Moglen is a key face for the Freedom Box, a project to make plug servers to scramble and anonymize simple and appliance-like for the public.

Don't do anything on a state computer -- or a state network -- that you don't want to see public or dragged into court.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

They Were Their Own Genius

Rough week for the Bay Area as two legends passed. First being Steve Jobs and today Al Davis. (Remember Al's career through the WashPo's lengthy story/obit)

Um. Al Davis and Steve Jobs in the same reference?

Yes, if anyone embodied the "think different" mantra of Jobs in the world of professional sports, it was Davis. One could argue as to whether his radical moves were the best for everyone at times -- the Oakland to Los Angeles to Oakland Raiders -- and the way the franchise went into a bit of decline in his dotage.

Don't forget, present-focused people, Al Davis was the commissioner of the AFL before the merger. Davis forced many of the advances in the league with his rebel attitude. And before Jobs thumbed his nose at corporate attire, it was Al in the turtleneck (no mock turtles in the 1960s).

Just Win Baby was his motto, the precursor to another business icon's way (hello, Phil Knight).

Davis hired the first black, the first Latino, the first female CEO in the NFL. His franchise was the anti-NFL at times, but they were the few and the proud -- and like the Marines, you were a Raider for life. Darren McFadden, native Arkansan, is the face of that franchise now at tailback and with his 501 tats loyal to his home town yet full of 'tude, perhaps the past and future of the Raiders in one package.

Maybe, just maybe, what the world need now is a little less together and a little more Al.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Release Now Or Pay Later

Another West Coast hoop legend, Bill Russell, joins Ed O'Bannon in suing the NCAA over the unauthorized use of likeness. This puts old school with new school and just reinforces that if your school is not getting blanket model's release on it's athletes - well, you deserve the judgment you are going to have made against you. Especially if you once did the releases, then stopped them.

Frankly, my friends with Iron Pixel who did shooting recently here for our Campus Tours project said the new trend was whole school's getting that release from incoming freshmen.

I'll be advising our school to do that starting next year, we'll see how far that gets,

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Matters of Style are Just That

Just because Associated Press stylebook says so, doesn't make it right for all instances. Thus the need for institutional style guides.

For example, I know in my heart all-American is the correct generic usage. I've maintained it for years. And if you pay attention, so does AP.

That doesn't keep hundreds of universities from making that mistake.

An area that AP has been woefully behind -- digital media. From citations of sources to Web site, AP doesn't work well.

Case in point: expressing a brand's email address. I am a firm believer that:

A) http:// went out with Napster.

B) www has gone the way of MySpace.

The need to add the "hypertext terminal protocol" faded when the alternative means of calling data from servers (file transfer protocol, or FTP for example) lost favor. No one has to type that into a browser anymore, nor do most people need to see those extra seven characters to understand we're talking about a website.

Even AP can get on board with that.

The vast majority of web addresses no longer need the second piece of anarchistic addressing -- the www. It was a two step process -- hey computer at IP address, look in the folder labeled "WWW" and send me the files in there via the hypertext terminal protocol.

I take it as a key indicator of web savvy, dare I say maturity, when brands know they can just say:,

Why, oh why, do so many academics fight and insist on

We have changed here to simply Many other schools have as well, and a cursory look at a recent edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed the majority of display ads -- most placed by universities and colleges -- did the same. There's a montage of them in the image.

Along with the savvy angle, there is a practical advertising one: can be typeset a heck of a lot bigger than In our case, we've more than cut in half the length of the address (count 'em, 11 characters before the key information, 10 characters after).

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Facing the Comment Section

Saturday Night Light hits the dissociation effect square in the eyes with the Internet Comments Talk Show.

"There's no consequences because you'll never meet these people," says the host.

I highly recommend.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Typewritter SIDs Spin in Graves

Like the West Coast Offense, the Pac-12 brings us another innovation: sport dedicated social media staff. I'm sure that Cal isn't the only school to do this, but the passing ad reference reminds us of a few factors.

First, social media isn't "free." Someone at Cal calculated it costs at least $1,400 a month -- the salary of this part time position.

Second, social media is media. Check out the details of the position. Disseminate and gather information on the football team among the tasks.

Third, sports information's future is social. Don't think so? Hey old time thinkers, black out social media in the job description. Re-read it. Tell me that's not a classic ad for an SID intern.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who is Sarah Marshall . . . ?

. . . And why should I care. Courtesy of our new thought-leaders at Facebook, I have the additional suggestion that I should subscribe to one Sarah Marshall. I'm now trying to parse why this comes to be.

She is supposedly a teacher at University of Melbourne (but also a student, class of 2014). So is the angle because I have the two connective points of working in American education and being a fan of one of Australian Broadcasting's top shows, The Gruen Transfer?

Is it a coincidence this person also claimed to study at Melbourne, is from Melbourne and just happens to have the same name as the lead character in a recent movie (Forgetting Sarah Marshall | And Wikipedia on same)?

There is a Sarah Marshall on Linkdin that has a more demure photo in the profile (but this one is in Perth) than the extremely provocative wall photos on Facebook. Did I mention the Sarah Marshall that Facebook thinks I should friend is also a strong advocate of topless being a constitutional right for women in Australia?

Where I'm heading with this -- is the Sarah Marshall "friending" suggestion a function of new Facebook formula or is it a paid promotional by a "performance artist" seeking more followers to her 19K-plus, highly male, extremely extrovert (I'd rank the Adam & Eve Club of Houston in that category).

Let me add in the WTF Facebook category, I also had a note to check an update. It was from Iris Harper, who is the local tourism director, and it was Facebook asking if I was OK that Iris had listed me as a someone who lives in Natchitoches. Sure, why not. Next thing I see is that Facebook has "updated" me to the world as living in Natchitoches. OK, I thought I had already done that -- what other surprises await?

We're From Facebook and We Are Here to Help You

One of the most chilling introductions you can hear is "Hi, my name is (fill-in-the-blank) and I'm from the government. We are here to help you."

So when I read this morning that not only has Facebook substantially changed the way we consume information from their service, you get this explanation of what a "top story" will be for your new combined news-most recent feed:

We determine whether something is a top story based on lots of factors, including your relationship to the person who posted the story, how many comments and likes it got, what type of story it is, etc.

I'm calling myself -- BS, that is -- on that. ANYTIME a single authority decides for you, well, you know, that's not exactly the egalitarian social media, we the people way.

Call me over-reacting if you like, but in 15 minutes, the social media group here at Northwestern is going to begin earnest efforts to figure out how we can insure that our information remains "top story."

That I promise is pro-active, not reactive. Remember, whole companies are devoted to "SEO" -- search engine optimization -- the euphemistic scientific term for "gaming the Google".

Maybe the Facebook change could be cast as the "social media expert full employment act."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In Honor of Daniel Meyer

So I'm taking in the Saturday morning road ritual - read the papers, have a Starbucks, wait for the bookstore across the street to open - and I come across the latest Medal of Honor recipient ceremony.

The President is placing that blue ribbon around the neck of a Marine - one of the few ever to earn the nation's highest military honor and live.

The cynical part of me, the trained historian, the PR flak, wants to pick at this story like the not so healed wound that obviously lives on this young man's soul. Yeah, the phone call part seems too staged. His selection somewhat defies the Corps' strictness for following orders.

But you know what?

As I sit here reading these stories, I don't care.

I don't care if he is some sort of central casting. And the more I look, the more I get the feeling he is not.

I want to believe in Dakota Meyer precisely for the reason he doesn't want me to. Because he is America. The one that works, and worries that taking a phone call might the boss on his ass.  The one that mourns for his brothers.  The one that might be a little Hollywood in "earning this" but still just goes out, punches the clock, moves the ball down the field.

The one that just can't see what all the fuss is about. That holds his pride and fears stoically inside. That just wants to do his job, sir.

And most of all, that knows sometimes you have to disobey orders. If you are right, you are rewarded. That believes in the right thing.

This above all is the part of Dakota Meyer's story that gives me the most hope.

He was not crushed by the system for disobeying, doing what had to be done and succeeding. Oh yes, he could easily be dead - read the news accounts - or could have caused that collateral damage his commanders correctly feared.

But he didn't.

That is also America.

It takes risks.  It is messy.  It fails sometimes.

More times than not, it rewards. Risk taking and reward seeking is America. Death or defeat is just around the corner, and it is crushing, devastating.

Fortune favors the bold is as old as Western civilization, and perhaps not coincidence that it is the motto of the 3rd Marine Division. That is Meyer's previous employer.

According the story coming from the White House, he was worried about his current one when this all started:

Obama said Meyer had initially refused to take his call about the award because he was working, saying, "If I don't work, I don't get paid."

Again, I don't care if that's stagecraft. It sounds like a serious young man who does not want the notoriety, that wants to just forget the worst day of his life, that, well, as he said:

I'd rather have all my guys here now than receive the medal," Meyer, now a construction worker back home in Kentucky, told CNN.

I was about to write, "I am unashamed to say that Dakota Meyer is my hero".  I got halfway through the sentence and realized that was wrong to say. I am guessing that is exactly what he doesn't want, in fact, does not deserve. 

He has given his pound of flesh to his country in the one physical wound he suffered in the fire-fight and the continuing one that I am betting rests in his heart and soul - for his lost brothers. He doesn't need the additional burden of being some kind of national talisman, or living up to some image we project upon him.

So instead, let me say I honor Dakota Meyer's service by two things. First, remembering him in my prayers and repeating his story so that maybe some of you that follow here can take some inspiration from him.

The second is more important - and for Dakota Meyer.

I'm going to work today. And I'm going to do the best possible job. And, thinking of the college football career he originally wanted instead of the Marines, I'm going to leave it all on the field.

Because Dakota Meyer, that horrible day, was a man, a Marine and an American.

Fortes fortuna juvate