Sunday, August 28, 2011

Perfect for Day Off

A little humor for everyone who has made post-game stqt books, especially in football. The trees will be visiting you soon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Couple of Days Off Here

A pause while I finish scripts for We're History and make a run back to Fayetteville. Promise more on the weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Want to Know Why College Sports are Important?

This weekend, two words: Celia Anderson.

She was profiled by Sean Cartell at the SEC office, their new digital content producer, and it is a perfect example of the type of stories that don't get headlines. (Click here to read it; it is long and detailed -- read it all the way through.)

Celia is one of those athletes who went professional in something other than sports. And it took her a while to find that voice, but now that she has it, you can tell two things.

First, she'll be successful. Second, it is because of basketball.

Oh, now some of us that were there might have had moments in which they would not have believed the mature, focused, career-oriented woman might not be in the college freshman or sophomore.

But you know, if you survive four years of college athletics, it is really hard to not be changed. More times than not, for the better.

Celia had that spark in college, she had ambitions and dreams. More to the point, she didn't let circumstances get in the way.

Let me add this -- if you have a tween daughter, I'd highly recommend her books. I read the first one out of curiosity and courtesy to Celia, but when I finished it, I handed it to my daughter, 11 at the time and becoming a voracious reader. She loved it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Ask

We've been through this before, but it never hurts to have another review of the obvious. Social media, is, well, social. Friends want to help friends. All the way back to the @ThanksArk and Ryan Mallett social campaigns, traffic and interaction grows when you ask folks to do something.

A great reminder of this key principal today with numbers to back it up on the crucial need to put an ask -- a call to action -- in your social.

So obvious, but so often overlooked: ask your fans to retweet you.

It goes right along with some of the basics -- increasing frequency of tweets or posts.

But, some folks refuse to see the social forest for the potential of "incremental revenue" trying to SELL, SELL, SELL through Facebook in particular. I'm sure I didn't disguise my disgust well when told that the Vote Mallett campaign was getting in the way of the all important tee-shirt sales for the on-line store.

Remember, the ask must have that oh-so-important 1:5 or 1:10 ratio of giving before requesting. Share five or 10 items of genuine info or insight before asking once for your followers to do something for you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New School Old School Thinking

As a child, the gold standard of promotion was making it to the Johnny Carson Show. I've written here before about the impact of Conan on the greater TV/New Media world, but here's a pretty solid endorsement of his power.

I simply do not listen to over-the-air music anymore. It's repetitive. It's boring. It's not where I live in the Web 3.0 world.

So where am I hearing new bands, new sounds? Conan.

This hit me as I made my eighth or ninth iTunes purchase after hearing an artist on Conan's show. (Vanessa Carlton and Trombone Short in just the last week)

Remember: CoCo is the future.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lists That Save Lives

Once upon a time, I was told by a colleague that there was no need for those stylebooks and lists that I worked hard to prepare for the Women's Communications Office back at Arkansas, and that going forward, there would not be any such "bibles." They were seen as restrictive. We should be more flexible. Standards were not vogue any more. Absolutes were bad.

Fast forward to today's Prof Hacker column by Natalie Houston entitled Why Lists Work. Ah, Natalie, you had me at the headline.

The essay is about surgeon Atul Gawande's new book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, and guess what? All those checklists and things that I compiled for the Lady'Back teams? If you're a surgeon, they save lives. Same if you're a pilot. Or any high risk, high stress environment worker -- oh, let's say, like a communications professional.

Houston writes in her blog:

Routine tasks that you perform every day can become blurred in your memory because they are so similar day to day. These mundane tasks can still benefit from a checklist, if the steps of the task are important enough that you want to make sure they won’t be omitted.

And this was what the good Dr. Gawande discovered in his own work and in talking to engineers at Boeing. He opens, however, with a pair of gut wrenching examples of near death by surgeons when one detail -- one thing that might have been captured in a checklist -- was missed.

Gawande talks a good bit about failure, somewhat refreshing from a profession that we see as God-complexed.

"The reason is increasingly evident: the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us."

I've read through the book now and he has one more side note -- a brutal one sentence gut shot:

"That's why the traditional solution in most professions has not been to punish failure but instead to encourage more experience and training."

Oh. What he said.

The only thing more focusing than a good checklist: responsibility.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Looks Like a New Player

In the world of IPTV, what Leo Laporte says, is gospel. And if Leo is leaving Skype for his feed usage to switch to VidyoCast -- well, I'm listening. Anyone else looking at this tool for encode and remote production? Looks more robust than previous video over Cat 5/IP solutions.

Great Business-Oriented Social Advice

Bloomberg Business presents a seven deadly sins list for social media, mostly related to the work place. Still, some really good thoughts for the college sports and university world in this, especially on the second page.

That said, I couldn't help but laugh at the final line of the piece -- a high-quality weasel word attempt at avoiding liability:

Note: This article should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to specific factual situations.

Oh no. Nothing written in THAT article could have possibly really happened. Um, then why did you write it? Fiction?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Every Once and a While, Just Stop

Bad days have a way of piling up on folks. Or, just neutral days. Was having one of those -- not bad at all, but there was sort of an eerie quiet. Like something was about to happen. And then, it did. Friends sometimes need our help, and pardon while I break away and remember what it means to lend a hand.

You never know when you might be that person in need.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There's No Statute of Limitations for Stupidity

In honor of the opening of college sports seasons -- and the annual ritual of media relations offices giving "the talk" to teams -- these are true stories, thankfully, from other SEC member schools. I don't know if I should read into the fact that they came from the same sport -- women's tennis. Nevertheless, they stand as stunning
examples of how not to express yourself with the media. The names and schools have been changed to protect the ignorant.

After a big win, one tennis player said to the campus newspaper:

"I can honestly say that our entire team -- freshmen and all -- opened up a large can of 'whup-ass' before the weekend started," said junior JANE DOE, who won all five of her matches this weekend.

Two things can be said here. Obviously, one should never express a desire to open up a can of whup-ass on any opponent. Second, and more subtle, is when athletes speak to their peers at the student newspaper they might use vernacular that they would never use with other media. And in quest of a hard-hitting, gritty story, that student reporter probably won't save the athlete from herself by not using or cleaning up the quote.

Our second stop on the stupidity tour. Commenting on the demise of an opponent in a tournament:

"I hate to say it, but I think we're all happy SCHOOL lost just because of the fact they don't get to the final again," said freshman JANE DOE, who is 3-0 in the tournament at No. 5 singles. "It would have been great to play them and beat them. But the fact they're gone . . . we like that, too."

This time, it was the major local paper. One wonders what other things this freshman might have added to her diatribe against the fallen opponent that didn't make the final edition.

Some will say these are two examples of great quote, of young women expressing themselves. I would submit that both were highly quotable. So much so they'll be on bulletin boards for years to come since there isn't a statute of limitations on stupid statements.

Seriously, this time of colorful commentary only serves to coarsen the image of elite athletes. They both look like spoiled brats, or at least poor sports.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Part Three of The Be

Finally, the last of The Be Attitudes -- a guide for the young (and young at heart) in sports media relations.

Now, at the other extreme, do not feel the need to overdesign. A simple ticket should be just that, an elegant, simple ticket. Resist the urge to triple click every font function (a reverse, drop-shadowed, bold italic headline) or to use every font. Your work shouldn’t look like a hostage note with 15 fonts and five effects cobbled together on a single page. If you’ve struck that balance between effective design and overkill, the reaction should be positive, but “they don’t really know why.” Subtle excellence that doesn’t beat people over the head carries the day.

This may sound contrary to the previous Be-Attitude, but it is important that you find a voice and style which suits your personality and talents. They become the signatures on your work.

Don’t worry, be happy. It will soon pass whatever it is. Keep a positive attitude. Remain realistic, but remember that sometimes it is your job to remain the last positive attitude at the Alamo. After all, it is only a game. I remind people who bemoan a big loss too much there are worse fates.

Anyone who’s been on NCAA probation knows this too shall pass. Until you find players murdered in campus dumpsters — true story — or team captains killed in car
wrecks, you haven’t seen how bad it can be.

Oh No You Didn't Say That

Working on a presentation tomorrow for faculty at Northwestern State University on a new set of guidelines for social media usage. One of the things I shared with me by current faculty is a problem with colleagues who have used Facebook to inappropriately interact with students. No, not in that way.

One that posted on a student's wall that they needed to turn in assignments; another why haven't you been to class.

The extreme case was of snippets of poor essays posted on a teacher's Facebook for friends to make snarky comments.

Into this space, enter the case of one Amanda Tatro. Granted, she was a student at University of Minnesota who was dismissed for having threatened general violence against people she was frustrated with on her Facebook page, along with some other less than savory comments about misuse of cadavers.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld Minnesota's decision, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's precedent that schools can limit or discipline student expression.

I'm more interested in the wider implications, driven home by It seems part of the technical finding was that Tatro had her privacy setting for "friends" and "friends of friends" to see her wall posts. Thus, exposing her to hundreds of people -- hardly private venting as her lawyer argued. By saying they comments were wide spread, the Minnesota court found she had chosen to broadcast her threats.

The internet is filled with examples of people facing discipline over ripping students, making threatening "satire" comments not unlike Tatro or simply being fired for ripping the company.

To some extent, this should be common sense. FERPA is pretty clear about what you should and should not reveal about students.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Be Attitudes, Part Deux

Continued from yesterday, and reprised from ye olde Women's Communications Office manual.

Don’t wait for things to happen. Make things happen. In other words, don’t be a noun. Don’t be a promotion; be a promoter. This relates to the most basic of differences between those who work in women’s sports (or, frankly, any sport derisively labeled as “non-revenue”) and men’s sports. Perhaps not a succinct as this Be-Attitude, but Donna Lopiano expressed this best. The type of people who work in men’s athletics are bankers; the type of people that are successful in women’s athletics are insurance salespersons. Just like businesses needing a banker, the media and audience come to the premier men’s sports of football and basketball. You have to go out and convince people why they can’t live without women’s athletics.

Just like a honey bee, cross pollinate yourself by discussing thoughts and ideas with your friends and colleagues. Don’t hold back from intellectual exchanges because the feedback of almost anyone is constructive. Your colleagues can help professionally. Your coaches will point out where an idea might not fit the sport. And if the casual observer doesn’t get it, maybe it’s too complex. Remember the words of Uncle Albert: “What a person thinks on his own without being stimulated
by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous.”

In guide preparation, there is a conscious choice that must be made — to theme, or not to theme. If there is a theme, don’t leave it on the cover. Make sure it can apply to the inside of the press guide in a way that reinforces the theme.

Your work habits must suit you. Work hard, play hard sometimes doesn’t fit everyone. Some folks need to maintain an even strain. The key is figuring out quickly whether you are a sprinter or a distance worker.

A good approach is to take something from both. Learn to appreciate the power of a looming deadline. Nothing motivates like ultimate fate. At the same time, no human can achieve some tasks without a methodical plan slowly executed over a long period. Again, look at your sports. Nobody gets into shape overnight; don’t expect your major projects or your skills to appear that way. No matter how great the talent, they still prepare. In fact, that’s probably how they achieved that great talent.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Be Attitudes

Ah, yes, it's the dog days of summer and the last chance for good, ripe punage before the fall semesters begin. Perhaps it is time to revisit one of my essays from the once-and-future Women's Communications Office handbook that went by the title, The Be Attitudes. Not so subliminally subtitled: how to act for GAs, students and interns.

Webster’s defines a beatitude as “a state of utmost bliss” or specifically “the declarations made in the Sermon on the Mount beginning with the statement ‘blessed are’.” Consider these as the ways to utmost perfection in sports information because certainly bless with jobs and accolades are those who follow these guidelines.

All it takes for rust to start on the finest metal is just a single scratch in the paint. From that opening, rust works to expand by pushing back the paint.
The media or fan base might look like real thick paint, but the persistent SID can and will find that opening. Once you get it, exploit it. Along these lines, rust doesn’t take over the car overnight. It takes a long time and sometimes you must remain focused on a long-term goal of improved coverage or attendance.

Sharks never sleep. They’re constantly on the hunt. And they are always ready to strike. Being the shark requires two skills. First is a constant vigilance and a recognition that you are on call at any hour. Sports information isn’t a job that ends at 5 p.m. Events happen during the evenings. Often the crisis occurs late at night.

This country need more lerts. Being a lert means planning ahead for both success and failure. You should have a written crisis plan established within your department for any multitude of events. Ranging from NCAA investigation to arrests to travel accidents to the death of a player or coach, the only way to maintain some semblance of control on any situation is to have an outline of who to call and what will be said.

At the same time, you should be ready to handle the onslaught of playoff events, all-America campaigns, televised events and championships. The time to plan for a homecoming celebration isn’t after the big game is won. It is weeks, if not months prior. Your team might not even have a winning record right now, but what if they become the Miracle Mets? Plan ahead with outlines of how to handle the added demands winning provides.

If you blew it, admit it. Learn from the mistake and avoid making it again. Learn more from the political masters -- Paul Begala and James Carville -- in Buck Up, Suck Up and Come Back when you Foul Up.

More tomorrow . . .

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thoughts on Thinkers

Just because you are doing sports doesn't mean you shouldn't be thinking about and perhaps adopting the advance layout techniques. By this, not just the second-hand folks who interpret theory -- the Layout for Dummies kind of books. Going to the source for the theory instead, and riff on it yourself.

Edward Tufte is the prime example. His stuff is pretty dense at times, but he has some clear visions about human communication. Paper is primary to Tufte, and his theories can lead you to some groundbreaking ways to transcend the two-dimensional world.

Marshal McLuhan might be dated, but his mid-to-late 20th century rantings are seeing some fruition in the internet. Go back and read his thoughts -- not what others said about his thoughts. The medium is the message -- that might be what he's best known for, but The answers are always inside the problem, not outside -- McLuhan or Mr. Miagi?

Neil Postman wrote in the late 1980s and 1990s about the changes in the way we understand and learn, focusing on how television was destroying the written word. In many ways, he was correct, but if one re-reads his work, most notably Amusing Ourselves to Death, and substitute "internet" for "television" and Postman is dead-on.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It is all-America, not All-American

This remains a personal issue to me, and far too many institutions continue to misread and misapply the AP stylebook. You'll understand more about why I'm convinced shortly. In the generic, it is all-American. In fact, if you own an online stylebook subscription and do the search, you'll find the answer within the "Ask the Editor" segment.

Still, the stubborn resist, and for the good of the order, here's my essay to Associated Press pressing them for an official revision in the stylebook. What you hear is the sound of crickets as AP never responded.

From my personal past, I once served as a UPI correspondent in the early 1980s and was well acquainted later with Associated Press offices through my work in sports information. The unofficial explanation of “All-American” for the AP Stylebook was the designation that the only team recognized by the AP was its own team, and only in football and men’s basketball. In copy, any other honor squad was not to be referenced. The reasoning was to prevent the introduction of UPI All-Americans, which in men’s basketball had become somewhat of a competitor. The existing text in the Stylebook is a legacy from the early 1980s when this became somewhat contentious. Quoting from the 1980 edition:

The Associated Press recognizes only one All-America football team. This is Walter Camp’s selection through 1924, and AP selections after that. Do no call anyone an All-America player unless he is listed on either the Camp or AP roster.

Similarly do not call anyone an All-America basketball player unless an AP selection. The first All-America basketball team was chosen in 1948.

An individual team member may be called an All-American, but use All-America in all other uses: He is an All-American. He is an All-America player.

The same rules apply to the Little All-America teams in both football and basketball.

By 1984, again, referencing personal knowledge, there had been some contention regarding who should be all-America in basketball, and this is where we see the change in text to reflect.

We know AP has a strong commitment toward making sure we have proper first reference and avoidance of trademark in favor of appropriate generic. It seems that All-America was intended to mean AP All-America, referencing what essentially is a proper name or trademark. As surely as the entry for Kleenex and Xerox make clear they are trademark names for facial tissue and photocopier, it seems the AP went against its own guidelines.

The exception of “All-America” goes against the usage of other “all-“ words immediately before the entry, most notably, all-star. Here is where the capitalization begins to quickly break down.

When we write of somebody having an all-America personality or all-America characteristics, none of the standard dictionaries would support converting that into All-American. What of a person who embodies the spirit of what it is to be Canadian – there is no entry for All-Canada. Should we additionally have All-Asia, All-Commonwealth and All-England?

The all-star entry is the key to a better solution. When speaking of a particular team, it is understood that official title would be capitalized: Associated Press All-American, State Farm All-American, etc. However, speaking generically, it would be more consistent to say:

She was selected all-American
She was selected all-conference
She was an all-state nominee
She was selected all-district
She was all-city

What the All-America rule in the Stylebook has led to is a series of interesting misinterpretations based on the idea that “All-“ should be capitalized. Or, does it follow that any proper noun brings on the capital “A”

She was All-American
She was named all-conference (but All-Southeastern Conference)
She was named all-state (but All-Arkansas)
She was nominated for all-city (but All-Dallas)

If “all” is merely a prefix, one would believe it would be implemented consistently. Unfortunately, as the Stylebook is silent beyond it’s own reference to All-America, others are inferring the “All-“ designation to any sports-oriented honorary team should be across the board.

This does not seem consistent with other usages for similar generic to proper name implantation. For example, just a page away from “All-America” is the reference for airline: “Capitalize airlines, air lines or airways when used as a part of a proper airline name.” Similarly, within airport there is the clear distinction between official name and generic. “There is no Boston Airport, for example. The Boston airport (lowercase airport) would be acceptable if for some reason the proper name, Logan International Airport, were not used.”

If so, then it would seem to follow that the Stylebook is not applied consistently. If we consider that we are to lowercase and spell out titles not use with an individual’s name, it would seem the constructions would be:

He’s an all-city, all-state and all-America selection.

Instead, citing the Stylebook, that sentence is often rendered as either:
He’s an all-city, all-state and All-America selection
He’s an All-City, All-State and All-America selection

We don’t see support for the capital “A”, and within the prefix entry, the notation that the prefix rules “yield some exceptions to the first-listed spellings in Webster’s New World Dictionary.”

The two entries could not be clearer: all-America and all-American. In fact, the ninth edition includes a secondary noun entry that specifically denotes that “one (as an athlete) that is voted all-American honor.”

The revered position of the AP Stylebook is of bringing consistency to journalistic prose. In this one area, however, the Stylebook lacks the clarity we so often look upon it to provide. Should the editors not wish to revise the All-America entry to include the generic form of all-America, then I would ask that at least carry the entry out to its logical conclusion with guidelines to the next levels down.

More on the CS 5.5 ePub

Never let it be said I didn't tell you so. And while I catch up on watching my Adobe Creative Suite podcasts to catch the hints, here are the ones that should open your eyes to how you can do ePubs with the media guides (and save lots of money for more expensive things like more higher-level video).


Friday, August 12, 2011

Had to Grab the Key to Reality

From the previously mentioned Colorado study on the Virginia Tech incident, the academic nut graph:

The future of emergency management institutions will be operating in a world where activity by members of the public generates information on a far more expanded, rapid scale, with information production activity happening at even greater magnitudes than such (Palen et al. / Crisis in a Networked World 11) disruptive events already trigger. The reorganization of formal institutions is then inevitable, because they are based on ideas of centralized, command-and-control information distribution (Palen & Liu, 2007). One basis for that change must come from a fundamental shift in perspective—that large scale emergency response can (and will) take the shape of a distributed network of vast information sources and skills, including those collective skills and products generated by the public.

In more tweetable terms (apologies to Morgan Freeman:
Get busy livin social, or get busy dyin as the info flies past you

The Fantasy of Control

Sad news for a great person as it looks like Knile Davis' season is over before it starts with a serious injury. According to Arkansas, he already had surgery to deal with the practice injury yesterday.

The word about Davis' situation and condition flew across the internet via social and participatory media, racing ahead of the efforts to not comment by the school.

Davis himself had backed out of social media before the start of practice, reflective of the mood there. His injury, however, reminds us how little we control even privileged information like medical conditions.

The first word came right from practice, a pair of media genesis Tweets:

@cbahn RB Knile Davis injured on run in scrimmage. Left field in cart. Putting no pressure on left leg. Will update.

No official comment from Ark: re Knile Davis injury. It's left leg and he could put no pressure on it. Ankle-foot-knee hard to tell

That would be because even if Knile isn't Tweeting, his concerned friends and teammates are, leading to this morning's info from the lead writer of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

Still nothing official from Ark. on Knile Davis, but based on tweets from teammates, friends it's a bad one. Likely out a long while

Former teammates like D.J. Williams (Prayers for Knile Davis. Arkansas running back. Out for the season. Ankle. Great person!! He will bounce back !) and current ones like Ronnie Wingo Jr. (It's hard losing a brother on the field three years in a row but we gone be alright ..... We got u #7) were among the Tweeters. By late evening, the regular media had what they thought was the story:

@5NewsSports Sources tell 5News Sports that Arkansas RB Knile Davis broke his ankle:

Kate Starbird gave a great talk at NCS4 regarding this growing phenomenon. The research she presented was a little dated -- it was based on the Virginia Tech shooting and how the "I'm OK-VT" Facebook pages and groups became a de facto clearing house/release of information about who was killed. Before VT dared release the names of the victims, the crowd had shared info among itself, verified and self-corrected to the point that the entire list of 32 was out without a mistake.

(BTW -- Starbird was excerpting some of the research done by the EPIC team at Colorado where she is doing her Ph.D. If you want to read more jump to the published review -- and fast-forward to page 7)

So in crisis moments, it is extremely important to understand that whether you want to or not, your critical information will get out. How far it spreads and how quickly it happens are the only mitigating factors.

If there is a exterior group that cares, they will rally. Knile was the experienced face of a powerful offense for Arkansas, a school that has a very involved fan base and now has a national footprint after last year's BCS appearance against Ohio State. Thus by midnight after the late afternoon injury, we all knew what happened, how serious it was and that his season was over.

National contenders get national attention, so what is the shock that Erin Andrews and ESPN columnists like Pat Forde are talking about his injury -- BTW, not what it was or season ending, simply opining that it would impact the team. That's actually GOOD news -- you matter nationally. Second side note, in the 15 minutes of editing here around the 10 p.m. Central news hour, the Twitter search of "Knile Davis" blew up with 50 messages in that window. Yep, you belong to America now, Knile.

Contrast with a domestic violence incident among teammates on less visible teams, and the immediate reaction to also try and lock down the information. It took three days before the media brought it up, but it was on the message boards and social media within 24.

The truth will out.

Better to just get it out and get it over with.

As a side note, Arkansas media reported that the team is off limits following tonight's practice. One has to wonder if that is an attempt to prevent future leaks or comments about Knile or other injuries.

Petrino breaks pattern, talks to media tonight instead of Willy Rob - says Knile Davis has already had surgery - and players off limits

In that post-practice event, Petrino expresses his frustration with open practice resulting in "people in the stadium" sending messages about the injury out. He specifically add "people in this room" meaning the media. Jump to about 1:45 in this clip from KNWA of the press conference.

He is right, it's bad that an athletes family may see or hear of an injury from a casual observer today before they get it from the school. Or that message boards had the injury information before others. Or that it was from ESPN that your mother learned about your injury.

But news today travels at the speed of light.

Including that Davis had surgery last night. And the teammates were aware his year was over last night. And the school didn't officially comment to anyone until mid morning the next day.

Petrino hinted he may close practice to prevent this in the future. If that is a concern, then he should. What isn't fair is to ask media to not report a major injury from practice when casual fans or others in the stadium are not going to be held to that standard because there is no press pass, no access to players, no ability to get interviews that can be withheld against fans. Well, I guess you could take tickets or move seat priorities, but their livelihood isn't at stake.

The previous head coach at Arkansas set himself up for big problems by closing practice, but then fans or friends were inside practice and sending out updates to participatory media.

It is a tough fishbowl college coaches and players exist in. And it is there at every level -- not just the Arkansas.

At the end of the day, we really don't control what our brands are, our fans do. We can only try our best to be transparent, be genuine and when frustrated by them, do what we can to make them understand.

Seems Obvious, Yet Offensive

PRSA didn't exactly react well to this Poynter story that journalists make the best PR professionals.

And, no, I wouldn't agree with the counter arguments that former journalists lack the skills to do "strategic communication" as one commenter said below the blog post.

Our good friend Keith Trivitt chimes in with PRSA's reaction below the main post.

What they may lack is understanding of the ins-and-outs of technical aspects of campaigns, but given time on the job, that will come.

Both sides of the question are very testy right now. Journalists are losing jobs, and finding refuge in PR. PR folks are always defensive that "anyone" can do their job.

In many ways, this is a how many angels can dance on the head of a pin argument. But I will suggest that some of the most successful folk in college sports information tend to come out of a journalism background -- not those that are grown straight up through the pure SID ranks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Couple More Old Presentations

These really didn't fit with the CoSIDA ones, they were given at the SEC Sports Information Director's meetings at the league's annual spring meetings. The 2006 one mirrored what eventually became the CoSIDA 2007 package, but looking back over them, I felt like it would be helpful to know where we came from on the one I did for 2007 in Destin.

That was the Citizen Journalism white paper for the group. Read through it and tell me that we didn't have down what Poynter "discovered" a couple of months ago regarding North Carolina -- that sports fans could become investigative arms, essentially the force multiplying crowd sourcing hands and feet of resource strapped sports departments.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Golden Oldies from CoSIDA

Was asked the other day about older presentations at the CoSIDA Convention. Here are links to the last few years. They are PDFs and lack animation. Email if you are interested in the actual PPTs or if you're interested in having presentations made to your group on these or other subjects.

Yes, I'm available for hire now -- social media training for athletes and staff, media training for athletes and staff and crisis management.

2010 CoSIDA: Being Your Own Media

2009 CoSIDA: Public Information Officer

2008 CoSIDA: Dealing with the New Media

2007 CoSIDA: What Facebook Means to Athletes

2006 CoSIDA: When the Clocks Strike Thirteen: Social Media Websites

Gee, that 2006 one seems so quaint. It even talks about MySpace like it was relevant. Ah, yes, the good old days.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Fun With (Internet) Numbers

Cleaning out some old files, I came across this traffic report for I post it here as a reference for those who still might think that it really isn't about content when you are the primary source, or when you are adopting (or forced by lack of quality media coverage) to become your own media.

The two men's and women's sites merged in July 2008, and that marked my takeover of the entire new property. Compare month to month in each year.

The big changes were increased content frequency for all sports in 2008-09, then in 2009-10 the start of more blogging and interactives.

Somewhere, I have the end of the story -- the 2010-11 numbers were another jump through the roof.

At the close of my run, we had an unbroken string of month-to-month comparison increases (you really can't compare say a CWS run June with a no sports operating July, but compare June 2009 to June 2010). That's 35 straight months.

Not bad.

Any more questions about whether or not it's the content?

Oh, and for those that want to carp "that was at Arkansas" and "you had a big staff/budget," anyone want to take a bet from me that the same thing can happen here at Northwestern State on the main university website home page and news bureau home page with increased content?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Ya'll keep thinking it's the marketing and the advertising.

We'll keep focused on what really brings people to the page.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Could Be A Big Week in College Sports

Since my president, Dr. Randall Webb, is one of the 50 headed to Indy for Mark Emmert's summit, I've been reading a lot of the coverage about it.

To my SID brethren, I highly recommend you take a moment to read:

Farrey: Big Changes Coming to NCAA

Sobering stuff, and a lot of it is spot on.

Take a moment to watch the video at the top about Ohio State. The very last line of the video is the real kicker -- and the thing that every school must guard against.

LAPD Learn Sharing Key to Social

Watching Fox News this afternoon, a package on how the Los Angeles Police used social media to spread the word about the shut down of the 405.

Ever wonder where the phrase "carmageddon" came from?

Not the media. It did come from Tom Hanks and several other celebrities who co-tweeted info to help LAPD spread the word about the coming shutdown, and to encourage people to stay in their local neighborhoods for the weekend.

One of the PIO's for LAPD was on Fox explaining that well, if they can get information directly to people, they will do it through Facebook and Twitter. It works even better when they get others to spread the word also. Here's a solid breakdown of the whole campaign via Crasstalk.

Can you say . . . reverse distribution network?

Look, have fun with this. Organize your friends into that system that can spread your word. We are doing that right now with the info about the upcoming bus trip to LSU for Northwestern State's football team. I'm making sure that it isn't just locked into an athletic department twitter feed, but spread around our campus' new social media team -- a committee of everyone who manages official social media feeds on behalf of the campus.

Perfect example, Ashton Kutcher: "LAPD askd me 2tweet: 405fwy btwn 10 & 101 will b closed July16-17. In xchange I would like a free pass on that stoplight tickt IT WAS YELLOW."

Can you imagine the 1990s PR horror at that? But the word got out. And the story was a happy ending with less than expected disruptions and a earlier than anticipated reopening.

This is a reminder to all those who listened to the NCS4 talk and to my friends in both college sports and university media relations -- use your social networks to enhance, to reinforce, to drive your traditional media releases. Just remember the golden rule -- it's not 140 characters, its 120 or less and don't be lazy and double-post the same thing.

People, it works.

Resistance is futile.

Against the Grain

Arkansas' top running back and leading "all-star" candidate Knile Davis was elected team captain and promptly shut down his social media feeds - Facebook and Twitter - saying that he wanted to avoid any distractions during preseason camp.

Somewhat admirable, but also a lost opportunity for the country to get to know one of the great individual associated with the team.

Considering the growing social media phobic landscape of college football, it really isn't a surprise to see Davis' (or those around him suggesting he) shutdown.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

I've Read the Future of Media Guides

And it works. Oh does it work.

Anyone out there subscribing to WIRED magazine via iPad?

I heard talk of the "new publishing techniques" that were a part of Adobe's rush to get out Creative Suite 5.5. In all the transitions this summer, I haven't had a chance to play with them from the "creative" end. (Someday, I might actually get that installed, but that's another story for another day.)

I have seen it from the consumer end. Taking advantage of the $19 bucks a year drop on WIRED's subscription and lacking a big Barnes & Noble or Hastings to just walk into and grab a copy, I ponied up for the in-app payment.

Even if you don't want to go the full $19, download their app and get the recent issue -- the 19.06 one with Extreme Science for the cover story. Scroll in several pages a you will begin to get a feel for what REAL interactive media guides will bring.

Ads that include video inserts and games. Layouts that slide left and right as well as up and down (look for the sly visual cues that your article goes down, not just to the left).

Then, get to the article PROCESS: How Con Ed averts blackouts. Scroll down and see how a chart that would be laid out across several columns in print becomes an elegant interactive. Look right below that for the killer payoff: How pigs grunt in foreign languages.

Oh sure, you get those little throw away factoids at the bottom of every WIRED page. The one right before it was about the FDA's acceptable amount of insect parts per gram of foods.

So here's this line of phonetics of how 11 different countries express "Oink Oink".

Except you can "Touch each button to hear the grunt."

No $h!t -- "Eff Eff" says the Danish pig. "Boo Boo" says the Nipponese.

Looks like they left out the 12th one -- how long until you can push that button in a Razorback press guide and hear "Woo Pig Sooie"? (Actually, I'd have a guess on that, but that's ANOTHER story for another day).

In all seriousness, this is the evolution of the print presentation into a multimedia, multileveled whole. It can include the numbers, but discretely hide them in the lower slides and below a level in links. It can raise the content for recruiting up front with video and tours.

And, it's all portable within the app space, and I'm betting, publishable out of CS 5.5.

To heck with all that custom flash -- here is the way back, SID folks.

Another Stop Everything and Read Link

A bonus story from PRSA by Curtis Olsen (I'm guessing, no relation to Jimmy) on Friday brings home the changing nature of public relations in a digital age.

Two big takeaway quotes:

Understand that you’ve already lost control — You cannot control the Internet, but you can manage it. Social media wisdom begins with the recognition that any one of your employees (or your clients’ employees) might expose you to risk.

That one meets with a TON of internal resistance regardless of organization. No, simply spin it, tell our story, build (or rebuild) our brand, say only what we have to say, say nothing about what really happened. Well, good luck with that when you move on to part B of the two big notes.

Convince your management that they’re exposed — If your CEO or client leadership fails to understand this new reality, your leaders will eventually end up in a damaging post or headline. You need to know the intimate business details of a CEO’s career and private life if you expect to protect them. You must strive to become the ultimate insider for your company or client so that you can effectively defend their reputation.

The second one is always the hardest to achieve. I know that one from personal experience, both on how when you are on the inside you can help direct a crisis into a better outcome and watching in sheer horror from the sidelines as principals refuse to address situations or let others in to help, and it devolves into a fiesta of recriminations.

The Real Hook is What's Coming

I saw this Wall Street Journal story while in New Orleans at the NCS4 Conference. Yep, if Blackberry has a killer app that has kept it alive, it is the private messenger function and the ability to make your own special groups.

Amateur radio types will get the reference: you can have your own text nets.

But WSJ details how GroupMe is providing that today for Android. What isn't really clear from the Journal -- and is on GroupMe's website -- is they have an iOS app today. Still, the doomsday line in the story is this: iMessage is due via Apple as a part of the operating system in the fall.

If Steve Jobs can make his peace with Adobe over Flash -- or the rest of the world hurries up and gets HTML5 and true H.264 across the board -- there will be little need for any other space than iOS for a while.

The SEO Periodic Table

Call this the channeling of my inner child science geek (once upon a time, as a 12-year-old, I liked to get college prep books like Chemistry Made Easy for fun), but if you are just getting started into the black magic that is Search Engine Optimization, I highly recommend the SEO Periodic Table from

Sure, this is a pretty old internet meme now -- but hey, it just might be new to you too.

The table is a perfect Edward Tufte-esque expression of broad concepts into super solid infographics.

Read more at The Search Engine Table's explanation page.

American Red Cross on Social Media

Not to be partisan, but Wendy Harman's presentation as a part of the panel at NCS4 had some eye-popping individual slides. Since it's her show (and NCS4) I will defer the posting of the actuals, but American Red Cross has new studies revealing that not the 25-30 percent I've seen in older (year plus) Nielson and other media tracking surveys, but a whopping 2/3rds of public EXPECT brands/governments/entities to listen to them in social media.

Let me repeat, that is a very clear majority of those you serve think you are listening.

Whether you are or not.

Let me repeat a key point of my own presentation: Get out your emergency comm plans right now. Dust them off. Check to see if social media is a part. Put it in there.

Oh, and her explanation of how ARC steered into the skid of #gettngslizzerd was priceless. Classic social media strategy. Don't think so? The ARC employee who accidentally did it -- check out her Twitter home page and short description.

Friday, August 05, 2011

You're THE Kate Starbird?

So all the past few weeks, I've been corresponding with fellow panelist for NCS4 conference Catherine Starbird. Seen the photo. She's a PhD student at Colorado. Toward the end, there's a passing reference in an email, you can call me Kate. Gee, that name sounds familiar, but I'm busy listening to the work this young researcher is putting out.

Dim wit. Don't put one plus one into a bonus set of free throws until the meet up at the pre-presentation meeting. Gosh, you're awfully tall.

Um. Undergraduate from Stanford. About the right time period. Certainly the right height.

Sheepishly I ask later, I'm sorry, but are you the Kate Starbird . . .

Equally humble, yes, I played for Stanford.

I remembered seeing you play when I was doing sports info for Arkansas.

It's a funny world sometimes.

So aside from my own borderline fan excitement, I was thoroughly impressed with yet another NCAA athlete success story. Sure, Starbird did get to go pro in women's basketball, both in the U.S. and in Spain.

But listening to her brief description of social media was employed in Spain by anti-government protesters during the aftermath of the 2004 Madrid train station bombings was fascinating. Oh, not because she just happened to be playing pro ball in Spain at the time. Because she was watching it with the eye of a researcher.

The things she presented at the conference were extremely useful.

Want to know more about the accuracy of the "wisdom of crowds"? Check out the E.P.I.C. work she has contributed to at Colorado.

And you want to know how a career in college sports leads to a high-profile career? Check out where Kate Starbird has gone.

Project EPIC on Twitter || Kate Starbird on Twitter || Project EPIC

New Orleans Slide Deck

Here are my slide from Wednesday's event for NCS4 as PDFs. Obviously, not the entirety of the presentation, but just so those who couldn't write as fast as the slides were flying to write down my outline.

Social Media Awareness for Event EOC Operations