Thursday, June 30, 2011

No More Athlete Arrest Secrets

In Sneakers (one of my favorite foreshadowing movies), Robert Redford's computer hacker character realizes the power of the special program and chip that he has discovered that the U.S. government wants to own. It can decrypt everything, thus the tagline of the movie:

No More Secrets

In a couple of weeks, dozens of local public safety agencies will begin to deploy custom iOS apps that will take their on-line intake arrest files and make them mobile.

So what, you may say. That stuff is already on-line, and fans, friends and news media can find out about an arrest anyway.

True, but they have to go check. They have to know the athlete's full names. And they have to monitor.

The next generation of these apps will allow users to put in lists of names they want monitored. And when those names show up in the arrest intake, a notification gets pushed to the mobile app.

Now you get it? With very little effort, the entire rosters of whole athletic departments -- student-athletes, coaches, staff, etc. -- can be monitored. So that third string offensive tackle? Busted. The walk-on swimmer? Busted. There will be no such thing as "flying under the radar" or "a sport no one cares about" when arrests happen -- two very common misconceptions I've heard over the years at many athletic departments.

This is a don't blame the messenger moment -- and I might add -- a teachable one too. Along with telling students (not just student-athletes) at your fall orientations about the dangers of their social media, if your county/city/municipality has publicly published arrest intake, hold up your iPhones and remind them that the media, the fans and their parents (yes, if little Johnny has gone away to college, don't think mom and dad won't use same to know if he gets DUI'd in that far away College Town) can know immediately and easily if they get arrested.

As Cosmo (played by Ben Kingsley) says to Marty Bishop (the Redford character) at the end --

There's a war out the my friend and it isn't about who has the most bullets, it's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think, it's all about the information.

And if you haven't seen Sneakers yet, shame on you. Netflix or iTunes rent it now.

A Pelican Flies Home

More tomorrow

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When Marketing Becomes Spam

A slight clarification for those listening to Monday's talk on strategic communication and Twitter. Certainly, it is OK to use Twitter (or other social media tools) to sell things to fans or followers.

The key is frequency.

Just like television has an ad block and newspapers had ads to content ratio, when feeds become nothing - or more importantly, PERCEIVED as - but one pitch to buy a tee-shirt, buy a ticket, renew a subscription, give to a seating plan, participate in a campaign that is when friends drop you.

No one wants to gather together and then be told hey, let me tell you about the wonders of a product.

THAT is what leads people to drop you like a rock and have a really bad taste.

Remember, the Internet has a very strong giving culture. One great line I heard today from the podium was you better provide a very high ratio of good to self promotion. And the mentioned 10:1 didn't sound bad. That means promote 10 other things before you promote yourself, or give 10 good pieces of information before asking for a buy.

The fact that those kind of "selling" pitches accounted for more percentage and reasons to depart than the one you hear far too often - you tweet too much - should be the takeaway.

If you are providing good, interesting, useful information, people are not likely to leave you due to frequency of messaging.

If you are not giving them value, they leave. Pretty simple.

Maybe The Revolution Isn't On Facebook

Dovetailing on We're History episode about the "revolutionary" impact of social technologies on political uprisings, Ed Schipul and Daniel Keeney peeled back the reputation of Twitter and Facebook on the Middle Eastern events of this spring.  In many cases, they reveal that in spite of Wael Ghonim of Google's claims, the numbers of users just didn't support the claim that Facebook was critical to the Egyptian uprising. The authors echo our historical perspective:

"Nobody puts his or her life on the line because he or shee was invited to a tweet-up. They are mobilized after concluding that the only way out of their despite is to rise up."

Schipul and Keeney broke down the impact of social tools and tend to agree with our point: every generation uses it's accepted means of communication to spread revolutionary word; this generations is just faster and able to have broader reach.

Along with some key points on how these things expand (link out), they talk about the "findability" of social tools, or as author said, the ability to defeat time and space by bringing together groups of similar interest. They point to Peter Morville's term "ambient findabilty" and couple that with the virtual community can scatter leadership, preventing the ability of the ruling authority to isolate and cripple an organization by removing it's head. They use Nelson Mandela's imprisonment as the retardation of a movement. I'll go with V for Vendetta - when everyone becomes V, there is no way to stop V.

CoSIDA Presentations

Here are links to the unanimated version (coverted the views into individual slides) of the Monday talk about strategic communication and crisis management and Wednesday's tips and time saving tips.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday Presentation

For those who would like the slides, I have Monday's presentation as a PPTX on my Google Docs. That is an animated PPT, and I will make "flattened" version later this week.

Measuring and Monitoring Impact

Jay Krall's article in PRSA Tactics gives you three ways to look at on-line metrics: reach, engagement or authority. For example, retweets show both reach (quantifiable number of people who read and thought it was important enough to share) and engagement (the act of retweeting).  

He talks about the need to rethink page views and consider inbounds links from quality sources - the Google algorithm factor.  Facebook Likes? They are reach and engagement, but deceptive.

Writing on social media's impact on Middle Eastern revolutions, Ed Schipul and Daniel Keeney validate this point. Speaking of the expansion of social technologies, if one person has 500 Facebook friends and each of them have 500 friends, within two degrees of separation you have a potential of 250,000. Go one more degree: 125 million. As they aptly said:

"So is CNN still the "Worldwide Leader in News" that it claims to be?"

Not measuring and monitoring asks for any organization or person to become the next Hosni Mubarak, or Jim Tressel. Add the speed of stepping through those degrees of multiplication and it is easy to understand that organizations must be nimble and quick to react. By listening, you get the early warning.

They deliver a second big hitter:

"Too often, calls on communicators to deliver information are aimed at making our organizations look better, which has the effect of glossing over the problems: 'Don't look over there - look over here'."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thanks for Feedback

I appreciate everyone attending today's session at CoSIDA, and I hope you all enjoyed. The slides will be up soon. Can't thank Scott Striklin, athletic director from Miss State, and Ben Porritt of Outside Eyes, enough for participating.

Meanwhile, a few links to older blogs to answer a few of folks questions after the discussion.

The UA social media policies for download.

PRSA on social media policies.

The ANSE social media suggestions.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is Curator Just Journalist By Another Name

Catching up on my PRSA Tactics while airborne to CoSIDA, a great article by Ryan Zuk talks about how content curation is the future (although the headline makes one believe it may be a bad thing).

He picks up a great Pew Research Center stat that in 2011 the amount of time spent consuming on-line news exceeded time spent with newspapers. As an aside, I've questioned a little on the methodology on that report - was content created by newspapers (or other legacy media like broadcast/cable networks) segregated out of the time on on-line?  Is this more a reflection of how news is consumed rather than the source? I digress.

Zuk gives solid definitions for the uninitiated on what constitutes an information curator and curator editors.

"Information curators are trusted editors to those who follow them, and this results in communication potential for PR practitioners."

He continues with some ways to approach and what makes for better curation (mixing original content with linkage) and then, I stop dead in my tracks while reading this.

I jump immediately back to his 140 line: Information curators are trusted editors to those who follow them.

Um, once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, didn't we call those people . . . . journalists?

The bloggeratti scream: Blasphemer! Heretic!

At the least, aren't your being so quaintly 20th century.

Think about it. Another blind to the obvious underlying human communication going on here.

Classically defined, what does a journalist do? Go out and find out stuff for the public that the public doesn't have time to do itself.  Gather that information from multiple sources.  Present it to us - and if we are being honest, with the writer's own original thinking stitching that information from sources together, interpreting it.

So because you do it with a bunch of links to the sources (hey, let's hear it for hyperlinks so we can read and judge for ourselves) that somehow makes it "content curation?"

Don't get me wrong, I've advocated this to mixed results for some time.  It is a very important tool for athletic departments and organizations to message strategically.  Why?  Because of the very reason given in Zuk's article by Michelle Golden:

"You can't fake an interest. You must be authentic to win."

Be genuine. Be honest. The rest will take care of itself. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Social Starts Inside

In preparation for this year's two CoSIDA presentations, here is an article that is the heart of one of the key slides: Your external message begins with internal communication.

It dovetails on my own point about having multiple voices speaking from the same playbook, or singing from the same hymnal.

What Tom Johnsmeyer's post makes so clear in the Social Times article is that people do not want to hear from institutions, they want to hear from other people. They will accept that the ticket manager, the facility director, the basketball coach, the media contact are all taking the "party line" -- but they want a face and a personality to relate to in accepting that official information.

Look, do you like form letters? Why would it be acceptable to have unlabeled, or "branded" messages? Is it less of a formula communication if it comes via text message?

The article gets to an inverted McLuhan moment: the message is more important than the medium. Just because it came on Facebook doesn't magically make it social. Plastic is plastic, and people want to relate with your genuine people and their expertise.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Difference Between Branding and Bonding

Walking out of the Broyles Center today, I see a classic Razorback scene. Red tee-shirts, father and son, in the opening of the northeast corner of the stadium. He's taking his kid's photo with the iconic "HOME OF THE RAZORBACKS" sign on the press box behind him.

"Excuse me," dad says, "is that building open?" He points to the Broyles Center. "I want to take him inside."

Yes, absolutely, the museum's open.

Here's the difference between branding and bonding; between public relations and social media.

I ask him, did you take a picture? I did of him, and I've been working on him to be a . . .

And it hits the dad, "Would you mind?"

Not at all. Let me see your iPhone. No move over a bit, let's get the Hog and the sign in the background. Let's take a couple more.

Dad -- who now makes sure I know his oldest is in orientation, he brought his son to the Alabama game, gosh wish we'd won that, and thank you, thank you, thank you for stopping to help us.

Not a problem, and Go Hogs.

Son -- lights up at that. The grown up who works here just told me Go Hogs.

The tee-shirts they wore weren't current vintage with the "right" logos. They could have just walked into the museum and walked around by themselves and been bombarded by all the correct symbols and messages.

But because someone stopped and took no more than 90 seconds out of his day, there's a bonding moment. Dad appreciates. With any luck and the right set of future circumstances, the youngster -- I'll guess he was 8 or 9 -- will pull up that picture he took with his dad that day and remember the kind Arkansas staffer.

For no other reason than that, he might put Arkansas on his ACT score recipient list. Or be more willing to listen to a call from a recruiter.

Sure, they might be life-long state residents, and locks to attend and support the school. If so, the affirmation of their feelings strengthened the connection. If not, maybe that made one.

I'll bet my next paycheck that picture ends up on Facebook. Where friends and family will see it. Some other parents will think, hey, next time I'm in Fayetteville, I want to go by there and get that same picture.

Call it Butterfly Effect. Pay it Forward. Chaos Theory.

I just call it good business.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Scott Davis Strikes again

Some days, you just got to love you some Dilbert.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sometimes The Old Ways Are Still Best

Broadcasting remains an important club in the communicator's golf bag. As surely as you don't use a 1 Wood on the green, this New York Times story reminds us that radio remains a perfect means of projecting unfiltered information.

Reminds me of the public safety question -- should the weather net just be a chat room? No, just like a fire battalion attacking a fire, everyone needs to HEAR everyone without any interface. Same for VOA in this situation.

If this didn't remain important, why would Cuba spend such great time jamming VOA in the past, and why would China be concerned about that "old" technology of shortwave?

By the way, thinking back to an early post, chew over this line from the Times:

Mr. Isaacson’s solution sounds like the blueprint for a state-owned CNN: create a state-of-the-art global newsroom that would gather all the programming generated by the five networks and send it out via television, the Web, social-media services, mobile phones — even shortwave, where it still makes sense.

Is it branded journalism or propaganda?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Distant Replay of Civil War

Years (OK, decades) ago, I wrote a column in the Ouachita Citizen I called "Distant Replay." Since we were a twice a week local newspaper, it was hard to be current with the news on high school football -- we came out on Wednesdays, a long time after everyone knew the scores from the local Gannett daily. So I decided as the sports editor that with the passion for the local teams -- and my own love of reaching microfilm and old papers -- I would do a weekly recap of one, five, 10 and 25 years ago this week. It was also a shameless attempt to get names of the past legends into the paper and get people to want to see themselves and old friends in print again -- selling subscriptions and single copies.

Today, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Pause while you let that whiplash catch up. In prepping remarks for the annual Arkansas teacher's seminar on the Civil War, I have discovered one of the most brilliant mash-ups of distant replay, history and contemporary digital media: the Washington Post's "coverage" of the war.

Through multiple Twitter feeds, the WaPo is creating a real-time stream of quotes, facts, information and "coverage" of the war. There are straight history facts, there is the Robert E. Lee feed giving thoughts and concerns of the war from the CSA's master strategist. The respective presidents weigh in daily as do correspondent feeds from each side (wpUnion and wpConfederacy).

The best single line of what WaPo is doing comes from the description line of several of the feeds:

The Post is tweeting the Civil War, in the words of the people who lived it.

There is a feed just for the media of the 1860s and one written by modern day media who look back on the "news" of each day (CivilWarWP) in a daily blog. Since it is a little in my historical area, was quite interested in the coverage of the Union decision to deploy an aeronautical corps of balloon observers to the battle front today.

You can follow individuals, or the composite list created by the Washington Post. I'm promoting this heavily next Thursday as both a resource for the teachers and an excellent example of what they can do to make the war come alive for their students -- or the history of their town, county, state, subject area.

Now if I can just find all those old Distant Replay research files and get them digitized . . .

They Smell Your Digital Fear

When things go bad, the initial 20th century PR reaction is to say nothing, or less. The Hill provides a masterful graphic of how 21st century meta data says more about you than you think -- is a drop in social media content, specifically Twitter, reflecting fear from the political class of their inner Weiner?

Frequency of posting is a very important skill within social media. What time of day, how many times to repeat a message and when -- but in crisis times, the lack of messages is as significant as the messages themselves. When it is hitting the fan, bunkering tells the masses you have something to hide. You may not, but that's what it looks like.

The story acknowledges that Memorial Day weekend could be a contributing factor. Still, people watch how much you message, and will attempt to read things into it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Local News Suffers? Non-Shocking

Our good friends at the PRSA daily newsletter provide this link to Poynter speaking of the FCC's findings that local news is declining.

Ranks right up there with the shocking news that there is gambling at Rick's.

Why is this the case? Because the news industry is chasing it's profit tail too hard, is forced by shareholder demands to keep profits up, and the result is things perceived in the short run to be high cost and low -- or no -- return get cut.

More Lindsey Lohan, less Jim Lindsey and what's happening in local real estate or construction markets.

Ask yourself, good readers, why is this the top link today with the Public Relations Society of America? Because in the absence of local journalism, someone will fill the gap. Increasingly, it is branded journalism (and another past link on that subject and one on Churnalism and sports). As longtime readers know, I don't see that as a bad thing as long as the rules of engagement are strictly followed.

The people formerly known as the audience want information. They will find it where ever they can. When the people formerly known as the local journalists become upset at the "conflict of interest" or the desire to "be our own media" because institutions are more and more willing to cover themselves, let me gently remind them that we didn't ask to be our own beat reporters -- we are filling the hole left by local journalism's departure.

Close reading of the FCC's suggestions, however, should creep out anyone concerned about -- to use the report's own phrase -- the independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned -- by one of the report's suggestions: directing more government advertising money toward local news outlets and changing the tax code to favor a "non-profit" model for news organizations.

Isn't the top reason given for fear of branded journalism that it is bought and paid for propaganda on behalf of the organization doing the funding?

If transparency is the coin of this new on-line realm in which we live, I know who is providing my paycheck -- and so does everyone who reads my stuff -- when I blog actively for the Razorback athletic department. Will we know the same under the suggestions given by this report? And if the State is helping fund the Fourth Estate, will we get the "journalism we need" to use another popular phrase?

Not to mention how directing more government advertising money to local over national outlets syncs with that stubborn old Constitutional amendment that says "Congress shall make no law . . . ".

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Twitter Rising

Facebook remains the 800 pound gorilla in the social media world, but ignore the stealthy ninja of Twitter at your peril (talking to you who have recently thought you
"don't need" presence in both). Two major recent events reinforce that the concept of the short news message direct to individuals -- especially mobile users -- is about to leap forward. The first was Twitter's purchase of its last major external gateway program worth a poop -- TweetDeck.

That means nothing without Apple's addition of Twitter to the new i0S universe. Want a message to go out? Just tweet straight from the device.

Might add, the story link provides an interesting monetary reason for the move.

Thanks to PRSA for this story -- if you want a current snapshot of the Twitter user base, this is a great graphic representation. A crucial takeaway? 71% of the messages produce no action -- thus a band MUST make sure that it is getting retweet through its internal feeds if nothing else to begin to generate relevance within the Twitter-sphere.

Warhol Moment in Real-Time Media

Cannot stress enough the drop everything and read this aspect of Matthew Ingram's assessment of what are the rules now that anyone can publish the news. Along with the Bin Laden real-time info and Weiner-gate, Ingram brings us a potential rape case.

Read through it all, then come back and consider these items for your own communications plans:

-- For emergency services, what if the public is giving the public incorrect or dangerous information.

-- For institutions, how will you manage a media that has no central control point, or any assets to risk.

-- For individuals, what will be the increased chance of SLAPP and other liabilities as the power to Tweet gets misused.

I think of the recent events where police rolled on a house based on the accusation of an individual that there were dead bodies, and in particular children, in a mass grave. What if that psychic didn't just call police, but instead used a real-time social media to send it out?

Pranksters and revenge artists can use the same tools with impunity. Ingram considers that, but again, have you reviewed your institution's communications plans -- particularly emergency communications -- to be ready for use of (and for the institution to make use of as well) social media?

Monday, June 06, 2011

10,000 Fans Can't Be Wrong

Real-time reporting from live events is nothing new. Whether telegraph or Internet, people want to know what is happening, and if possible, they want to know right now. Technology changes; human nature doesn't.

This is the core reason behind my early adaptation of Twitter and then CoverItLive to connect with athletic fans. Add the mobile aspect - no matter where they are, they can be with your team - and this is the ultimate bonding tool. (Remember, it's about building a brand into a bond; fans into friends.)

Need further proof of the theory? Record setting weekend at the NCAA Regionals for baseball, peaking with 1,079 current moment and total CiL participation of 10,992 for the final versus Arizona State. In the stands, there were around 2,000.

All weekend, Arkansas had more people on-line than were real head count in the stands - 756 moment/7,824 total for the Charlotte second game and about 350 in the stands Sunday afternoon as an example.

The four-game weekend netted 29,396. Certainly aided by a lack of any TV and streaming video only that was technically challenged on a couple of days, the blog exploded.

We have four dates left - NCAA Outdoor - but year-to-date, 216,391 participants and 83,910 more via replay in all sports at Arkansas. If it was a single sport attendance, it would rank third behind football and baseball. As a percentage of the overall, it is about 19%.

That is extending your range with the fan base, and a pretty consistent number if you commit to the concept - it takes a few weeks for fans to get use to it and come to depend on it. We made that time investment last year to build the core sports, and with a few sports we did not this year and they struggled.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Trolls Equal Bathroom Walls

Froma Harrop provides a new way of looking at unsigned comments online:

Like reading the bathroom wall

Kinda like it. Simple. Earthy. Accurate.

Now Harrop has her own agenda (BTW - try typing her first name with autocorrect on, good luck). She does columns and reviews, and in particular finds Yelp a disturbing mess.

Counter to my long standing believe in the people mantra, yes. Perhaps I should modify it to say I believe in the wisdom of the honest people, Harrop points out that more and more, anonymous posting is becoming a dishonest means of either marketing - pumping up your own product or service - or trashing - injuring others either for delibertate malicious intent or just, as they say here on line, for the LOLs.

Let's also be honest here, Harrop also harrumphs over the lack of more use of the professional reviewers. But the column is a somewhat evenhanded - if not somewhat personally motivated - look at anonymous reviewing.

Three Word Social Media Policy

More on the ANSE social media best practices for those still searching for their own - when you follow the link, you will find at the end an appendix of numerous media outlets. Ways to draft your own.

Still, from the ANSE short article, the best if all possible guidelines: Don't be stupid.

Another Set of Social Media Guidelines

The American Society of News Editors issued guidelines for social media. The top ten read like almost any corporate list which given the current state of traditional newspapering is missing the chance go leap forward.  At the top of the list of counter-intuitive: don't break news on Twitter, break it on the website.

Spoken like an organization who has classically forgotten it's past. Extra, extra, read all about it - newspaper folk deny the future.

So when I get a text message alerting me to Associated Press breaking news, or a tweet teasing me to same - what exactly is breaking news?

If anything, news that is happening in real-time is best conveyed via real-time methods. Is the ASNE saying breaking in on a broadcast with news of the Challenger disaster should wait until 6 o'clock? Or that a tornado is bearing down on a hospital is best on the website?

The point of news gathering and dissemination is to get information into the hands of the public as soon as possible, as accurately as possible and through whatever means reaches the public so that they may use that information to make decisions in the public good.

What platform you use should be meaningless to that primary task.

A couple of the others reveal equal corporatism: 

"Keep internal deliberations confidential" - Right, unless you are a government official or corporate news source, then please, let ASNE members know as much as possible about your organization's internal deliberations.

"Use social media to engage with readers, but professionally" - Does this mean one must wear a tie while posting on Facebook?

I scoff, but several other points are important if not simplistic (assume everything on line will become public - hmm, JournaList, anyone).

Daring to reach out into those Internets, a round table of interesting reactions.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Weiner-gate: Who You Follow Matters

Along with some important basics - either have a hard to guess password or be darn careful who you give your password too - Anthony Weiner learns another more vital Twitter lesson: who you follow matters. This thing isn't going away any time soon for the New York representative, and the latest is a look at the unusual choices of who he followed. For a quick recap of the whole business, Washington Post blog. Also, the good congressman lawyers up.

When I started the official Twitter feed for Arkansas' athletic department back in 2008, I followed all our local media and coaches. As more and more people got on the service, I began to realize that who the official feed follows is a tacit endorsement of those persons. At the time, I wasn't thinking about what are more pressing concerns these days - spammers, sexually explicit and other non-image friendly followers. If you followed one media person, but not another, it looked like we were favoring one over the others.

So I dropped following down to only the other official feeds from UA - even dropping other schools. I moved all that to my personal feed, because as an individual, I could make and maintain those choices as, well, personal.

By the way, why in the world is this "hacking" story continuing to have so much traction days later? Because I get the sense the media believes that this, as I've said, Watergate Bad.

Social Media Disconnect?

Not meant as a piling on, but just an observation of how there is a disconnect still with many about the public nature of social media. Ohio State current players made all the right moves with the local Columbus Dispatch. The initial reaction stories in the Dispatch observed that most players contacted said they had no comment. And, kudos for the transparent, they said they were instructed to not comment.

Again, no issue at all there. Unfortunately, more than a few of the players didn't think the "don't talk" instructions didn't apply to their Twitter feeds. Or, as the Dispatch wrote, "several" players Tweeted opinions, and then they added "a sampling" with three player's Tweets.

I'd be willing to bet they have been told posting on Facebook or Twitter is just like talking to the media, yet the players still did it.

New Twist on History

On my list of to read goes Steve F. Anderson's Technologies of History. To get a better sense, the April 22 Chronicle has a nice Books & Arts review (yes, I am that far behind with the combination of surgery and baseball season).

Of course, anything that invokes the venerable Mr. Peabody has my attention.

The crux of Anderson's work is that historians and academics are not fully considering the impact in shaping what is capital-H History for the society as a whole.  The credentialed book-bound and footnoted historian lacks the impact on today, and certainly the future, that the skilled multimedia presenter.

In other words, as ABC used Mr. Peabody to fulfill a federal requirement to educate in the middle of a cartoon series - we may laugh and not grasp that is is shaping historical perceptions.

Quoting Anderson from the piece:

"it is very likely not the book by the Harvard historian that 300 people in the world read that gives us a historical sensibility and becomes part of how we behave in the world. It's The X-Files."

Or more currently based on the film trailers, X-Men.