Friday, May 27, 2011

The High Cost of Blogging

While waiting for the next SEC Baseball Tournament game to start, a cautionary tale to those who like to express opinions, either on behalf of yourself or your employer. Just don't.

Alright, that's hardly useful advice from this space, but a series of recent events does call into question both the practical limits of your First Amendment rights and if being social is worth the potential cost.

You don't like a product or service and want to say something about it - be prepared that the age old tactic of the SLAPP suit has arrived in the blogosphere. Catching up on my On the Media podcasts brought this coverage of the tactic of filing a frivolous suit by those with means - particularly against individuals - simply to force them to shut up. Marc Randazza talks of the practice, but has advice: check your homeowners or renter's policy for the ability to add defamation coverage. I'll be checking into that when I get home from this road trip.

The other is the growing practice of political parties and advocates to use Freedom of Information Act requests to get at the emails of public employees. Hey, no big surprise here - fans of certain athletic teams have made this a staple of get the coach. But as the practice widens out, it is both chilling and shocking to many that work in the public sector. Here in Arkansas, we have our own version of it today between the state GOP and a Democratic leaning blogger. ADG coverage, but subscriber link.. I could link to the blogger, but he's done a takedown on himself. There is an opposition blog, The Tolbert Report, that has an overview.

Finally, also from OTM, the new practice of treating bloggers who pick up info for their usage on-line like they were stealing audio files. Some media companies have licensed their copyright content to a legal firm created essentially to threaten lawsuits and extract thousand dollar settlements. Fair use be damned here. This takes the previous moves of AP and others to charge by the quote to a new level. Read more from the OTM transcript about the activities of Righthaven.

My serious advice: get the legal coverage, do your diligence to keep personal and business email separated (and by that, doing public business on a GMail account isn't a way around that, it only opens up the private email to public inspection) and no matter how juicy the quote, take extreme care in what you use and how you cite.

Monday, May 23, 2011

When All Else Fails . . . Facebook?

First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers this morning are going out to those killed and injured last night in Joplin.

The line is familiar to every amateur radio operator - the tag line of ham radio emergency volunteers. But on this day, I'm reminded of the ability of Facebook to become that last line of communication for an agency. Reading the Joplin Globe this morning, the local school system posted the alert that all schools were closed after last night's devastating tornadoes, and that until further notice, all official communications would be posted on the school system's official Facebooks page.

Why? My guess is that since the technology center campus was one of the ones destroyed, the systems servers and in turn website probably went down in the storm. Not unlike university athletic department websites for schools like Lamar and Tulane during the 2006 hurricanes, it becomes the stand off back up information system.

I mentioned this earlier in the year regarding our own weather troubles at Arkansas - have you incorporated social media tools into your overall emergency communications plans?

And remember back from the Rogers schools Twitter spoof, this is one time where Facebook's limited duplication ability enhances the security and verifiable nature of your groups messaging in an emergency.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Couldn't Say It Better

A reason why Rosanne Fiske is CEO of PRSA. Speaking in response to commentaries about the Facebook incident:

Branding is not merely the communications of a company’s values and ethos, it is a strategic management function requiring skilled knowledge of how a company and its employees can best express what it is, what it stands for and what value others derive from its products and services.

And who in the athletic department is truly best equipped for that role? We've had that discussion already.

Read Fiske's whole response at Marketing Week.

Steer into the Skid: Zombie Apocalypse

Thanks to Don Faulkner for the regular link as I saw this first last night on my Facebook page from a friend. If you are the Centers for Disease Control, how can you find a new way to get people to pay attention to basic preparedness?

Issue a set of guidelines on the Zombie Apocalypse.

On a weekend we are told the end of the world is neigh, here's the U.S. Government's most serious disaster response group saying tongue in cheek that you should consider preparing.

Somewhere the ghost of Mad Men past emerge from the grave to scream "NOOOOOOOOO you can't do that; use your BRAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIINNNNS."

Take your shovel, grip it firmly and take that dead man walking from the public relations' past and remove the head from the shoulders. OK, that's just zombie 101 talking, not the CDC.

What CDC did was latch onto a meme of the day -- zombie literature -- and find a way to get us all A) talking about disaster preparation and B) make something deadly serious at least have some perspective.

Be honest -- you looked at the link. You might have read a little of the material. It was written in an engaging, This is Spinal Tap mockumentary way. I bet you read most of it.

Be even more honest with yourself -- if this was about disaster tips for avoiding the great Mississippi River flood of 2011, would you have cared? We just had a major disaster drill in the state of Arkansas focused on the high likelihood of a New Madrid fault earthquake. Would the exact same general catastrophe guidelines get half the attention in the social media world if it was pitched based on that?

Think about things you want from your fans. This past year, I saw one of the best efforts on the tired old sportsmanship pregame video. Miss State took the script and set to movie clips and other against type visuals. It was odd, and it was compelling. You couldn't look away because you weren't really sure what was going to happen next. Southwest Airlines' take on the dull and boring preflight briefing video is another example.

If the goal is to get the information consumed, never overlook the opportunity to take advantage of quality satire or solid pun.

In the words of John Cleese, don't confuse solemn with serious. Trust him, he's a Python.

Essense of Branding

More for the less-is-more school of whatever "branding" really means from Mark Ritson and Marketing Week of the UK. His argument: extreme brevity drives clarity. He's focusing on the work done by Robert Polet, late of Gucci, and how Polet hammered home three word branding. The full read explains, but here are the takeaways:

The secret of every great brand I have ever worked for is that it can define its brand in up to four words. And the problem with every weak brand I have ever worked for is a brand manager with a diagram that looks like Leonardo Da Vinci conjured it up on acid.

And the even more direct:

Any moron can come up with 20 words to capture the essence of their brand. Only the good ones like Polet are smart enough to whittle it down to three.

Tight is right. Long is wrong.

It falls into one my my key tenants where message intersects with mission: Brand is what you do when you don't know who you are.

To that end, Ritson:

Every month I sit through a presentation from a marketing team who need 10 minutes and their overhead slides to explain their brand essence. Switch off the projector and ask them to continue unaided and your actions are met with blind panic.

Branding is just a set of tools for tactics. The soul of an organization lies elsewhere, and when you can find that, refine that and express it succinctly, now you have strategic thinking (and communication) that many confuse with "branding." Good brands, true to their nature brands, don't need that PowerPoint Ritson speaks of and instead just need three little words.

Hmm. Like the title of this post day, no?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

That Was Watergate Bad

Good friend was in a graduate level journalism readings class in college. One week, the weakest presentations to the group provided the most profound single line of the year. The scholarship was shoddy and the writing, well, painful, but the conclusion of the report about some mistakes made by the media lives on.

"It was bad. Watergate bad."

Thus in our circle, when something was really ridiculous -- like the report and the soon to be departed graduate student who made it -- and simultaneous terrible -- like her subject matter -- became known as "Watergate Bad." This isn't the first time I've told this story, but it certainly bears repeating today.

Long intro to say Facebook and one of the nation's top PR agencies now finds itself in Watergate Bad trouble over a campaign to smear Google. In the political world, opps research is coin of the realm. Considering Mark Penn as the head of the agency, this is another day at the office.

The media, however, isn't finding it routine. Why we even have the reference:

" . . . seemingly worthy of a Nixon reelection campaign . . . "

Oooh. That is not only a cringe-worthy line in the Newsweek Daily Beast coverage of the start of the controversy, if you are actually invoking Nixonian references, you are, yes indeed, Watergate Bad.

The industry isn't really happy here, as an on-line post from PRSA clearly reveals.

What I find most interesting is that no one seems as creeped out about the play -- pitching borderline inaccurate or certainly overhyping a potential problem -- and focused on the lack of disclosure by the ad agency when caught.

Then again, wasn't that the heart of Watergate? As I preach, it's not about the crime, it's about the cover-up.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Five Scattershots While Waiting

Render, render, render said the video -- here's a handful of links and quick thoughts on passing recent news.

More on Microsoft and why buy Skype from CNN. I find No. 1 and No. 4 the most interesting and potentially game changing. The phone improvement seemed to obvious from the outset.

Another note on the Skype sale via the PRSA emails and Fast Company. Good info, but I like it if for no other reason than the image. Won't spoil it for you -- must see for the old school among us.

Want to know what Facebook thinks you should be doing? Here's their own guide to Social Media practices.

I had a conversation with Scott Bourne at NAB about this problem with blogs, and count me with the Atlantic among those mourning the decline of wit in favor of the science of SEO.

Last of all, I'm still stunned about the events last week at Ohio State. If you're in the SID business and didn't see this, time to catch up.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What Works for Web Content

Part two on Josh Keller's story in The Chronicle about colleges rehabing their home pages. I actually found the last parts of the story more significant that the opening 2/3rds, and wondered if two stories got mashed up into one longer feature.

Keller talks at length about James Madison University's use of "shareability index" to prove to the internal stakeholders what works in a university press release. Andrew Perrine has some pretty blunt things to say about what gets media and more important audience attention.

Colleges naturally like to promote news of their successes: a high ranking for a chemistry program, or a program that helps high-school students. But those stories tend to get little attention. "It's always about: The world is beautiful and it's because of us, and there's no reason to read that," he says.

And Perrine gets a lot more to the point: if you keep writing drivel that was designed to make someone (and usually, high emphasis on the "one" in someone) happy, it is both a waste of time and blocking the chance to get real attention for the school. Again, from the story:

For instance, a writer re­cently turned in a story about nursing students doing community service in rural areas. "I was bored within the first paragraph," Mr. Perrine says. But he edited the piece to highlight a buried fact that roughly half of the homeless people in the surrounding county were children. "Bingo, there's your lead," he says. "And then our nurses are the ones trying to solve the issue."

Oh my, taking a news approach to press releases. Creating good storytelling. Using drama and human interest -- why we wrung that out of most you during college and certainly shortly there after with a good dose of corporate-ism.

So Perrine uses Vocus to help track how the more dramatic -- his word -- stories can have four to five times more likes, forwards, reach. That is critical, especially when Perrine opts to not do some piece of "here's my great research" PR blandness.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thinking ROI on Websites

A great technology story from the April 22 Chronicle of Higher Ed by Josh Keller talks about three university's approaches to rebuilding their websites. I used a lot of similar thinking in the last go around on last fall, but what is now making its way to the institutional front page is a step further.

If you think athletics faces content problems, consider the main institution. A great pull quote from John Drevs, the manager of web services at Loyola, speaks to the problem of the "five-headed monster" of the primary audiences: students, prospective students, faculty, staff and alumni. Drevs admits:

"Right now, our home page is a shotgun approach"

Athletics solved part of that problem with coach's recruiting sites -- but those quickly become fan driven competitions as well -- and foundation websites for donors and alums. What you haven't seen a lot of in athletics is Drevs' approach for Loyola -- an internal website that is served up to computers that are within the Loyola domains.

The article also talks a lot about the use of analytics -- an overall must read.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Athlete Facebook Troubles in High School

I'm a little surprised that this hasn't happened already -- a Boston suburban high school has suspended 11 athletes for Facebook faux pas. Considering you add illegality to the possession of tobacco (18, sometimes 21) to alcohol issues that sometimes catch college freshmen or sophomores not 21 yet, it becomes wicked simple to do what some "concerned parent" did. Screen capture all the naughtiness you see on like and Church Lady it right over to the school administration on a USB key.

Presented with the evidence, what is a school to do? In the case of Melrose High, enforce things.

How does it come to pass? One clue might be in the coverage when apparently MHS athletes had photos portraying marijuana use, and nothing was done because the photos could not be determined as recent. Lack of action perhaps prompts the citizen's arrest like effort, and this time, based on athletic gear issued, it could be determined the approximate date of the activity.

Yahoo! Sports brought the story to a wider audience in the past day with it's overview coverage by Cameron Smith. Smith writes ominously in his conclusion:

The concern for other athletes across the country will come when and if other administrations begin to monitor social media with the vigor with which Melrose officials have.

Ask yourself the same question. Smith means it for high schools, but it applies to all.

Couple of quotes from the superintendent involved, Joseph Casey.

"We're serious when we say that being an athlete is a privilege, not a right."

"We are not trying to interfere with what happens outside of schools, [but] if you're going to represent the school we expect you to uphold that image 24/7."

The impact of this event in Massachusetts should be to get everyone to revisit policies -- if you have them -- and discuss openly and honestly what will happen not if, but when, someone walks into your department with that USB key. Motivations will range from simply seeking justice to the more Machiavellian of removing rivals for playing time -- both within the team and by opponents.

This shouldn't be seen as just an athletic issue, either. The town of Melrose has the additional hook of a local ordinance that is on the books to go after parents who either provide or condone alcohol or other illegal for teens consumption on their property. The local PD is looking into charges.

The whole world really is watching.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Email Tips from The Chron

Rob Jenkins writes one of the best single columns about email etiquette in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. I highly recommend you taking the time to read it, and perhaps share it with your staffs.

It is filled with great practical tips.

One of the great takeaways in his column was this:

A few months ago, while in the process of refinancing my home, I received an e-mail from a bank official that contained emoticons and text-messaging abbreviations, including (I kid you not) "LOL." My thought at the time was, "Why did I get a 14-year-old loan officer? May I please have one of the 40-year-olds?"

I laughed out loud at this part. I've seen his recenly from similar places, and had the exact reaction.

The Social Media Policies

Here links to the University of Arkansas' policies that I wrote back in the summer of 2009. The student policy is based on the previous Women's Athletics Department policy written in 2007. Feel free to use as you see fit.

Student-Athlete Social Media Policy

Staff Social Media Guidelines

Confidential and Proprietary Information Policy

It's a three-part process, and a lot of the social media guidelines are predicated on the CPI policy. Don't overlook that in your own guidelines.

Where did I get my info? In part, existing university or state of Arkansas guidelines on proprietary policy and Duke University's proprietary info policy for its institution.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Skype Sale Means Game is Afoot

Microsoft put itself back in the telecom future using the oldest trick in the Bill Gates playbook: buy somebody doing it right. In offering up over eight billion for Skype, Microsoft shows that the path to end users is mobile. How did I reach that conclusion? The Legions of the Blue Screen of Death only go after outside tech companies in areas they think are crucial to their survival. There is great media coverage on this at SF Gate.

When Microsoft began to pursue a more aggressive cloud strategy, it also started more aggressive promotion of it's mobile telephone operating system.

This reminds me of the last days of Window Media Encoder. WME was a standard for audio and video we all used, but Flash was starting to take over the Internet. MIcrosoft countered with Silverlight and used the Beijing Olympics and NBC as the launch point. But the tech failed when it went to MLB, and since Silverlight has gone through significant changes and lost considerable market share.

It appears this time through, Microsoft decided to get a gold standard instead of trying to create one, avoiding the Silverlight debacle.

Here's another angle that comes to mind. So here is MIcrosoft wanting to counter Apple and Google in the growing mobile market. The iOS FaceTime is a little clunky and not great, but it is typical Apple - easy to use and good enough for the average user. Android is open to Skype, the clear leader in this area. Apple wised up and let the Skype app onto the iOS.

Now Redmond owns it. Is it about to be a redeux of the Jobs thinks Flash is a security problem and Skype disappears from iPhones?

What's the takeaway for my college media relations colleagues in all my geekness today? Remember how I've been preaching getting your apps and focusing on social media messaging to the Web 3.0 mobile world?

Microsoft just laid down an $8 billion bet that I'm right. Steve Balmer does not like to be wrong.

Monday, May 09, 2011

11 Better Must Have Apps for PR Pros

Usually, I'm a big fan of the links that come out via PRSA's daily newsletter, but today's link to PRNewser's Top "Must Have" Apps for Mobile PR was weak.

And in the spirit of building a better world, let me light a candle rather than cursing the darkness. And yes, there is a Zippo app for that too.

Some of the apps listed in the story are on my fave list (Instapaper, Recorder, Evernote and Dropbox), I can't really say unless I'm setting up meetings in NYC or LA that Open Table is anywhere close to the ones listed below, and frankly, most of us in the college side aren't managing travel to need Tripit.

We do need the ability to do work fast, and with some degree of panache. To that end, you're going to see more than one photo program here, and some other publishing tools besides WordPress.

HootSuite -- Until they fix the epic fail nature of crashing TweetDeck**, this is your iPhone Twitter reader of choice. Sending, you're OK with Twitter's dedicated app, and in fact, it can save you if you are doing corporate work to mono-task that account with Twitter, do your personal stuff and monitoring of lists via HootSuite.

PressReader -- This is the killer app for iPad and elsewhere to read 1900 worldwide newspapers. Period. Nothing comes close. Spend the money, get the $30 unlimited subscription. So your local paper isn't on the list? USA TODAY and most of the major dailies are, and there is a high probability that your opponent schools and other schools of interest papers are. (Um, you're going to tell me with a straight face you don't OppResearch teams in trouble?)

PhotoShop Express -- The free photo editing software from Adobe allows you to make average iPhone photos into great web pictures with quick crops, exposure and color changes. Quick. Simple. Free.

Camera+ -- Don't confuse with Camera Plus. This turns your iPhone camera into a much more flexible shooter, better zoom control, timers, exposure and focus control. It will also edit photos, but I find it clunkier and slower than the PS Express. Well worth the $1.98 you'll pay.

Pano -- Need a 360 shot? An ultra wide angle? Pano will automatically stitch your images together. Results look better than dedicated desktop programs at 10-times the price.

RadarScope/PinPoint Lightning -- Forget travel tracking, you need to know if your events are going to happen or if your flight is delayed. RadarScope is a bit pricey, but you will not find better radar data on iOS anywhere. Period. Take this advice from a semi-pro who is trained on radar interpretation. This is the real deal. Same for PinPoint Lightning. Yearly license because -- dirty little secret -- the nation's lightning detection system is a private enterprise (unlike the NWS radar systems). For the price, again, you can't beat the accuracy.

Skype -- Yes, FaceTime is nice. Skype is the bomb.

Instapaper -- I repeat from the top 10 list because this is one of the best apps for saving things to read later from websites.

iMovie -- Quick and dirty edits and titles of iOS video.

CoverItLive -- If your school does these, you must have the app. Walk around your venues and keep your blogs going, put remote team reporters in dugouts or other places.

** -- The hot rumor is Twitter will soon by TweetDeck, and that either means we lose the awesome desktop ability to see multiple streams/searches at once, or Twitter's app will suck into its GUI this must-have ability.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Relationships and Recruiting

Buzz word central these days include branding, relationship marketing and of course social media. Is there an intersection here that can be of use? I'll argue yes, especially when it comes to recruiting. And, this is bad news for the NCAA.

Bold stuff, yes?

What has me thinking about this is the relationship part. At the end of the day, success on the internet revolves around friendship. The persons we are close to, we accept a lot of input from and we are not concerned about the over-sharing. But why?

I'm going to posit that it is because we know each other. Yes, that's a totally objective, undefinable proof. Just cause it is simple to the point of cliche doesn't mean it isn't true. We care about people we know. The only way to get to know someone is to open up and be willing to share things about yourself. See the relationship part?

So for a coach to make the connection these days with a prospective student-athlete - or let's broaden that, a university to reach any prospective student - they better be ready to engage with those people on a personal basis.

A one-to-one basis. Ah, here's the NCAA rub. Social media can be used to recruit, but once it is personalized, that becomes not permissible. However, generic, one-to-many messaging can often look staged, or worse self-absorbed. That's injurious to the person (or school) trying to make a relationship work.

Big talk - where is the proof. Don't have it. At least, not right now. What I have is a year and a half of working with the interactive blogs I started at the University of Arkansas. Sharing becomes caring, caring becomes friendship.

When we started, just me and a handful of fans that I would answer almost any question for and in turn, they began to trust and become untreated - not just in the games, but in the little community of friends that was building.

Building to the point of over 2,000 cumulative per game this spring in baseball, peaking past 3,600 for a high mark.  That's a better average attendance than many Division I baseball teams get in the actual ballpark.

Sure, when you're team can put 9K plus in the house on a regular basis, easier to get those numbers. But why don't that many come for football, which averages over 60k a game but was doing great (in comparison to other SEC schools who shared their numbers) at 1,500 a game?

Because in baseball I have time to talk with the fans more, get them interested in me and take interest in them. I fully recognize how conceited that statement was - but it is a fact. I've built a following, of sorts, just like a good play-by-play announcer does with the fans. The best radio voices know, you respect your fans, they will respect and adore you.

What in the hell does this have to do with recruiting? The essential element is personal relationship. If I was being bland and branded, fans would come for the facts, and that's it. The potential for loyalty and taking a fan to friend (and if you keep it up from friend to donor) is in the personal touch.

That's what the NCAA is not allowing - and in 2005 social media logic, makes sense. Today we are in a world in which the regular student really does believe they should have a personal relationship with teachers, with administrators, with admissions officers. The more successful ones in those areas understand that. For them, it's not a burden to interact with students. It is a privilege.

If Bobby Jo Williams is the starting point guard of a local team with a 25 ppt average, good ole Coach Smith can't post on his wall or message him directly without potential repercussions. But if Bobby Jo is a 35 ACT and interested in biomed, darn sure the honors college admissions director and dean are going to be all over him.

We want our student-athletes mainstreamed. In this one way, why can't we treat all the potential students of a school the same.

Friday, May 06, 2011

"Fact Pattern" the Spin of '10s?

Did someone in the White House Communication Office really say that they were backing off of speaking about the raid until they got their fact pattern right? Apparently in the frustration of straightening out the timeline of events, the new press spokesperson dropped the term. It is a legal one, referring to evidence trails in cases. Still, as the UK's Telegraph and good old says, it now joins kinetic action in the newspeak jargon of politics.

Obviously, it is hard to get things together when you have a large organization. But word choice means something, and when you use legalese in places that seem to call for plain language, it does not help the situation.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

But The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

Gil Scott-Heron might have said the revolution will not be televised, but nobody said the military raids would not be Tweeted. A cautionary tale for all my colleagues who believe you can control media access anytime, anywhere -- if the United States Navy SEALs can get their cover busted by citizens, anyone can.

If you missed it in the Osama coverage, two local residents of the neighborhood where the compound was located were inadvertent chroniclers of history.

Sohaib Athar was the more famous of the two, issuing his "helicopters over head" tweet in real time. The Los Angeles Times along with Reuters provide a short blow-by-blow. It's amusing in the sense that he's not knowing what is going on - he just wants them to go away so he can go back to sleep. Later he realizes what he was the witness of, and becomes Warhol-ed for the 21st century: he may not have 15 minutes of fame, but he sure picked up more than 15,000 followers in the next 24 hours.

Actually, Athar's feed is up to almost 100K followers.

So what does it really mean for us in college sports? Do you really think that when your coaches are out at events now everything they say isn't fair game? That when athletes are in public and major things happen, they will not be approached by not just media, but casual fans who will post things they say and do?

Once again, the best strategy is to embrace the glass house you live in. Train your people to accept it.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Seeing With Your Ears

Douglas Spotted Eagle spoke about settings and compressions for streaming video at NAB 2011, and he jumped in quickly with the concept that audio is more important than the video. At first, I'm thinking that's just a throwaway line to catch the audience's attention. From my notes, here's roughly what Spotted Eagle said:

Audio is more important than video; if we see crappy video with good sound, we see good video; if we see good video with crappy sound that "looks" look bad video - we see with our ears

As he continued, I let that marinate. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Oh my God, this is why some people think RazorVision's baseball is bad.

Let me explain. For years, we have had the luxury of four-camera traditionally switched live streaming of Razorback baseball. And we've been pretty proud of that because other schools since say 2008 either didn't have any streamed baseball, or had one or just two cameras, no centerfield camera, no replay, etc.

Many folks loved it, but we'd occasionally have someone point out that the audio wasn't that great. Initially, we used nat sound and PA, we were focused on the picture quality. After a couple of seasons, we picked up the audio from the radio broadcast, but we could not get a direct connection to the board - a long story here for another day - and so it came off the air, first from an AM local station, then when the network upgraded to FM.

So we had the call of our excellent play-by-play guy, Chuck Barrett, who frankly is one of the best baseball voices I've heard - at any level. But fans still had issues. There was first the AM crackle, and even with FM, the slight delay of the signal going around the world before it came back to the video.

This year, we added a digital link back to the network to improve audio quality and the stability of the feed; but we were more focused on the video again - putting in a 3-play for more replay, TriCaster 850 for better graphics, adding a score bug, pumping up the resolution (although unable to do HD just yet at baseball).

No one, however, complains about our gymnastics or basketball like they do baseball. And at all three sports, same cameras, same people, but one big difference - direct connected and sometimes dedicated audio for the video.

If my own example isn't enough, think about this - how many times have you seen a network game where that satellite audio gets lost momentarily and they switch the the analog back-up. The picture doesn't change, but it becomes hard to watch because it's hard to listen to. And how relieved you are as a viewer when the regular audio comes back.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Doubting Thomas

I really enjoy my church, and no, this isn't some mission column. I like it because we have a set of priests who give really intellectually stimulating sermons - today being a perfect example. The week after Easter, it's time in the Episcopal church for a Doubting Thomas passage.

All those negative connotations. He was less faithful. He required proof. He was somehow a bad apostle.

Not so, countered my priest today - to quote - doubt is not the opposite of faith; indifference is. He went on to point out that without doubt, we are nothing but asleep going through life or simply ignorant. Remember, he urged, the other 11 disciples had had the chance to see and believe earlier.

So it is in college athletics, and especially during times of crisis. Far too often, the media relations or other staff member - sometimes it may be compliance or student life - that raises a question is cast as the Doubting Thomas. They lack faith, or perhaps aren't true believers. It does not serve the institution to have persons raising questions publicly, but it does strengthen the institution to do so in the proper venue. In preparation for the hard press conference. To vet key facts in taking points. To insure the proper tone in a press release.

So just like the teach at the Advanced Public Information Officer course for Homeland Security at the National Fire Academy:

Trust in God; verify everybody else.

Here endeth the epistle.