Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gruen Returns

Our lucky fans in Australia get the fourth season of The Gruen Transfer starting Wednesday. It is without question the most hip, intelligent show about the advertising industry in the world.

Once upon a time, it was available via iTunes -- and I cherish the episodes I've saved before I discovered how to disable the auto delete.

Now, however, copyright from ABC down under is blocking me seeing the show, and it's no longer available for US viewers via iTunes.

To my geek brethren, can somebody hook me up with a proxy to Oz?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Politics of Friending

Reviewing through the recent comments about Associated Press' continuing battle over how to manage social media with its staff, the hidden nugget that catches my eye is this one:

AP managers "should not issue friend requests to subordinates."

In speaking with a new colleague here at Northwestern State, he brings up a similar point in regard to teachers and students. I was advocating the free and widespread use of Facebook to help recruit high school students to the school, and to then give them a point of contact once at NSU. No argument there, but my friend brings up a point quite similar to that raised by AP.

He tells me the story of students that had come to him uneasy about a friend request from a tenured professor. The student was in a quandary by the request. If felt compelled to accept. To not accept the friending may or may not be reflected in future grading. Personally, I think that's a bit of a stretch -- there may be plenty of other points of discrimination more tangible than to think ignoring a friend request.

But it did make me think about the inequitous relationship between teacher and student. Other examples of the students the teacher perceives as the best in the class, or worse, friend requests to only the attractive students (call that the Anthony Wiener syndrome).

AP's throw away reflects a similar problem. What happens when the boss wants to be your friend? Is it to be collegial? Is it to monitor the staff?

We agreed that for teachers it may be best to recommend that if one friends students, one should friend the entire class or group -- no exceptions -- and then simply accept that some may not be willing to participate. It did seem better to have the relationship flow in the other direction -- students initiating the friending.

It reminded me of my long-standing point regarding official Twitter feeds (again, Wiener time) that who an institution follows creates an unofficial endorsement.

Meanwhile, I have to say that it's a little amusing that the focus of the discussion is that it's OK to have opinions on sports and work for the AP, but God forbid having political opinions. I must say, I'd favor the initial version of the policy that said no opinion at all. Harry King, the long time AP sports editor for Arkansas, comes to mind. Harry played it right down the middle as the head guy for AP, and not until he departed the service and became a columnist did his opinions surface. That's not to say there was anything particularly shocking there, but why does AP think it's OK to opine only in certain areas? If the goal is to be as neutral as possible, who is to say that a news side reporter won't find himself in the middle of a serious news story about the very sports teams he or she has rooted for or against?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Be Real

I resist the urge to say grow up to those who are saying that Google is doing the wrong thing in forcing real names in the new Google+. Yes, there are some dissident types who risk harm in their postings and relationships. For 95% of all users, simply toning down the disassociation factor in anonymous or handle-hiding trollism makes it well worth it. CNET provides a balanced look at the questions.

For the 5% of Arab spring protestors and other whistle blowers, I have really, really bad news.

They know who you are already.

Sure, you can Tor and proxy around to make it harder, but if you really are a threat, there is the very high likelihood you're already tagged.

So Google, please, for our sanity, stick to your guns and keep real name transparency in the system.

It's Audio First for Mobile

Following up one of my core beliefs about your mobile apps -- particularly those pitched at the smart phone -- it is all about streaming audio into that market. More research to back that up from none other than Akamai.

Here's the key takeaway bullet:

On tablets & smartphones, online audio, e-mail, software downloads, and social networking traffic are big consumers of 3G data traffic

What was first on that list? "Online audio"

What is the copyright you are most likely to hang onto (or at least your conference or other major television rights holder won't take)? Audio

Interesting within this for the app area: Akamai reporting one of the real growth segments is streaming video into the mobile 3G environment. I find that particularly vindicating after listening to the sales rep of a major provider for college websites proclaim with too much false confidence that "no one will ever watch more than five minutes" of video on a portable device at a time.

Oh, BTW, who is Akamai? They are the heavy lifting back end delivery company for almost all of your streamed video. Think of them as the AT&T of streaming -- long distance, industrial through put. In other words, they by God know what is and what's coming, because they are the company that the college website companies hire to do their streaming.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gauging Born Digital Journalism

PR News brings us a link to Gary Lee's column regarding the need to understand the true impact of on-line postings.

Lee makes great points, the gist of them reinforcing what many already knew: it remains a somewhat art form not a science to gauge how much impact a blogger or digital only poster has.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shameless Plea and Self-Promotion

Know anyone who wants a job in athletic marketing? Northwestern State has an opening. Contact me direct for more details.

New Tools for Mobile Emergency Comms

Elert is getting a lot of traffic on the #SMEM hashtag and among the emergency communications community. Sounds a bit like bringing CERT to the smart phone crowd. My only hesitation here is be careful of the data you generate (and receive). While Fast Company gives it a nice positive spin of:

Elerts is reminiscent of the old Civil Defense system, the plane-spotters of World War II that gave way to the fallout shelters and duck-and-cover drills of the Cold War.

Remember that the same kind of untrained citizen reports often lead to over-reporting of severe weather, or worse, flat out hoaxes.

As a side note, the Washington County Sheriff's office iOS app that I mentioned earlier is now active in the iTunes stores. More counties are set to be on-line with it soon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rules of Engagement

A happy weekend to all as I travel back and forth from FYV to NSU.

This flow chart has been around the internet and back again -- recently saw it attributed to a university for its adaptation. But count on CyberCommand to have put together the rules of engagement in such an officious, military manner.

The U.S. Air Force put out this response flow chart in 2008. It was picked up and adapted by Pfizer Canada later.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do Not Confuse Serious with Solemn

John Cleese said it, and made a post-Python side career of corporate training talks and videos to emphasize that just because you have a sense of humor does not mean you are flip or flighty.

In fact, well placed humor is vital to making "boring" key competencies interesting. The New York song factory and Motown share this in common with good messaging -- find a catch hook, and the public will remember your tune.

Thus FEMA strikes with the creative headline and tweet:

What do Waffle Houses Have to Do with Risk Management?

Well, you have to click on that link. Kind of like CDC's guidelines for the Zombie Apocalypse.

This stuff is brilliant. Yet far too many in athletics in particular, and often universities in general, are too damn scared of looking silly to inject some fun into their daily lives. They are, for the most part, confusing dress, attire and attitude with some "brand" they seek to achieve or a level of omnipotent respect they are wanting to accrue.

If bankers are now dropping coats -- and sometimes ties -- to relate to customers, why do I look down on fields of play from minor league baseball, to professional soccer to BCS athletics and see a bunch of interns forced to run around in skirts or shirts and ties to project a "brand look." No one in the stands is wearing those clothes. Who looks out of place more -- a crisp Oxford and fashion tie on a sideline or a team-issued polo and khakis? Which one will the fans know they should listen to in a crisis?

Conversely, if the university is hosting the opening of a play, and the attire of the audience is mostly formal, that's not the night to bust out the Birkenstocks.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hey Blogger, What Tha' Hell?

Um, is anyone else getting just a liiiiitle bit peeved by these random insertions of:

Each time I put in a link or image, I have to go back and edit out that random drop in.

Anyone smarter than me on Blogger know what that gif drop is there for?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Branding? No. Strategy? Yes.

This is a late add to the blog stream, but a wonderful column from last year on his blog by David Rosen that is of great use for people in my old world and my new one. It dove-tails right along with my core philosophy regarding "branding" -- it's what you do when you don't know who you are -- and that it is more important to build reputation and bonding with core groups than pure technique.

Rosen's money quote:

Organizations that establish their communications priorities and programs from a marketing rather than public relations perspective (which I fear is becoming the norm), run the risk of ignoring or alienating important constituencies and substituting short-term gain for long-term development.

How many groups do we know that take that approach, trying to make "sales" rather than long-term friends?

And for those of us in higher ed -- either athletics or university wide -- here's the closer:

Consumers choose a college to attend or a charity to support based on its reputation. While having a good reputation is desirable in the corporate world, it is essential for colleges, universities and nonprofit institutions, which are held to higher standards.

The bold is my emphasis. Discuss among yourselves.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Double Posting is Double Trouble

Friends, netizens, countrymen -- in your quest to save time, do not skimp on making sure your messages fit the format of the end target. As surely as you would not put audio only files on your YouTube channel, please do not "retweet" your Facebook posts.

First and foremost, it sends a message of "I'm too lazy" to post this info twice. It's cut and paste. If your info isn't important enough for you to get it to me from a Twitter-oriented product, you are showing that is really isn't important enough for me to pay attention to in the news stream.

FYI -- You're dead giveaway is all those "" shortenings.

That's how we know you're doing it, when you don't make the more cardinal sin -- it's 450 characters and conversational on Facebook. It's 140 characters and headline writing (and we all know by now it's really 120 characters) on Twitter.

Otherwise, you get to send out really interesti...

Nothing says I don't care about my audience more than the dreaded "..." that stops a thought, or sometimes a word.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Joys of Moving

Once again, apologies for sporadic posting, but the internet is in the apartment at Natchitoches now and the posting can resume in earnest.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Purple Priday

Or Maroon Friday. Fill in the blank, but these "casual Friday" calls to your fans is a great way to create easy interactive.

Here at Northwestern State, the senior women's administrator -- a former athlete for the Lady Demons -- fostered the idea of getting campus folks to wear purple on Fridays.

At Miss State, athletic director Scott Stricklin made an art form out of #MaroonFriday, encouraging fans to then send in their workday photos sporting the school colors.

It's that easy, and a great way to capitalize on interest. Sticklin's Twitter feed has photos from down the road in rural Mississippi to MSU students abroad in Italy.

Starting soon, the email blast will get the social support off campus as we begin promoting #PurplePriday through Facebook and Twitter, and asking for those returns.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Track What Works

Following up yesterday's post about effective institutional video, don't be so involved in your art that you are not listening to the customers.

At the baseball regional in Tempe, Arkansas produced 17 packages of video over a 5 day period. Most of it was direct to digital captures - raw press conferences or post games - but several were cut highlight packages or traditional full voice over packages.

In promoting the videos, we used links so we could get an idea of what got traction.

The playing field was pretty level - only one of our local stations attended and the was no live television (only streaming). Point being, if you wanted to see highlights, you pretty much had to go to

Intuitively, you would think those post game highlights would be the highest traffic. In fact, they were about even to the uncut press conferences. For other reasons, you would not abandon the highlight reels, but that was an interesting stat.

So 16 of the 17 videos averaged 25-50 click through (gasp hard on that - but remember, that was only the people who got the promoted links via Twitter; not the total click through of the RazorVision back end).

Want to know the top video? No. 17 was a simple 360 pan of the view of Packard Stadium from the pitcher's mound. The best click through on any package was. 65. That one-off, straight to render raw shot had 207. That's three times the activity (measurement time was one month out from the regional).

Why do I think it got that click through? It was unique content. It was "insider" content. It was something the average fan doesn't get a chance to experience.

More point-of-view is the future. More go inside the experience. More transport you there to the event - defeating space and time - is the key.

Yo-Yo Tweeting

Pot calls kettle black today as I've been busy and not paying the best of attention to my social media feeds.

Nevertheless, second only to lying, nothing frustrat a follower base more than inconsistent frequency. Today, eight Tweets. Tomorrow none. Next day, one. Then seven in a day.

One might say is reveals something about the personalities involved as well. Those who keep a solid stream are taking the medium and the exchange seriously.

The others -- well, a little manic, yes?

ADD ON: Here's a recent story on this from The Chronicle about a new scheduling tool to help you avoid the yo-yo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Link to the Call Notes

Thanks to everyone who participated in the CoSIDA call regarding athletic department mobile apps. CoSIDA has created a page with links to transcripts and other resources -- p a recording of the call.

Monday, July 11, 2011

App Call Tomorrow

Not much this morning as prep work continues for tomorrow's CoSIDA learning conference call on apps for athletics. Be sure to phone in, and also jump on the CoverItLive for questions. More pre-call notes and links later tonight.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tips for Effective Institutional Video

Want something to go viral? Take your fans/followers "inside". Show them emotion of the event or institution. Get it up there fast.

There is no accounting for taste, and this certainly applies to on-line video. Yes, consumers want to see episodes of traditional broadcast television -- extremely high production value and cost work -- but they also glom onto the simple.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed takes a look at what got the most traffic on YouTube EDU. The winner: a video of a disabled student graduating at Cal. The video had all three parts.

It took fans inside the Cal graduation.

It gave them an inspirational visual and story.

It got up on line quickly.

My own example from back at Arkansas was the fall band spectacular. We knew about it in advance -- hey, there's a radical concept on internal communication - but that didn't help us when it came to getting out the door. Proud parent in the stands with iPhone 4 captured it from 25 rows up and put it on YouTube.

Within 12 hours, it had 5,000-plus views - and emails streaming in from the chancellor, the AD and others alerting us to this really cool video and maybe we should promote it. All great ideas, except that we were finishing a fully produced version from the floor, with two cameras, interviews and supers.

By the time we put our version out, and promoted it extensively with emails back to those folks plus the band, official Twitter and Facebook pages, we were down that 5K and it took 6 1/2 months for the HD, high quality version to finally catch and pass the number of views -- both over 25,000 noes.

The point being, quick and dirty sometimes wins the race. The lesson learned is that we'd raw capture anything like that and push it as fast as possible, then return with packages.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


While reading over a semi-rant about what "branding" means for journalists by Matthew Ingram at gigaom, a pure nugget of the obvious:

In other words, what you say and how you behave in these networks determines what your personal brand is. As marketing types like to say, your brand isn’t what you think it is, it’s what others say about you. (The bold emphasis is mine)

Followers here know my feeling: Branding is what you do when you don't know who you are.

The line by Matthew Ingram is another expression of that -- you don't control your brand, but the way you act, the way you seek to be an expert in the areas of your ability -- that is what creates a "brand."

Friday, July 08, 2011

Random Thought on Feed Names

If the goal is to be transparent and genuine, why do we use names that are clearly handles to represent our "brands" rather than our own names? If we know the disassociation principle is the key to bad, dark behavior on line, why do we encourage it by utilizing labels?

The thought hits me when looking back at the names of some of the more recent followers of my feed. OK, there were some thousand Bill Smiths -- but I'd argue that picked something pretty close to who I am as well as memorable.

When we hire a coach at a school or a dean is named for a college, they don't become DemonCoach or FulbrightDean -- they are still the people who got hired. Seems like we spend a little too much time on the institutions when what people want is to deal with people. Part of this thinking related to questions at convention about what to do when you have invested time in building up a following for a coach or a player, and then they leave. Yes, they will take part of that with them.

Be yourself. In the long run, it's better than being SchoolBB_SID -- especially when you are no longer with that school.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Discovery: Not Rocket Science

PR News provides this quick hit on how Discovery approaches social media for the network. Shocking, the five tips are pretty basic.

Personal favorite? While No. 1 is great, I'll take No. 3: Think long term.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Olympics Understand Twitter?

I'm not sure how to read it, but the IOC may have caught the clue that it doesn't make a lot of sense to tell athletes competing in the Olympic Games they cannot comment about their own performances. The London games look like they will have more voices, at least if the "leak" via the Australian Olympic Committee of the guidelines.

Reuters has the story here.

The key: not for commercial gain. Who will determine that? Hmm . . . IOC?

Remains quite an improvement over Beijing and other recent games where the IOC firmly fought the social media tide. Now they apparently believe like most that more discussion is, well, more.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Twitter for Media Toolset

Quick note: If you missed it, Twitter is working hard to position itself with the producers formerly known as journalists. There are tips and ideas for the branded journalists out there as well in the Twitter for Newsrooms(#TfN) website.

Additionally, you'll find some interesting Twitter strategies pitched directly at TV on the main Twitter Media page.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Famous Fourths

In service to the "road" part of the blog, great Fourth of July events of the past. CoSIDA took me on the road the past 26 years to a lot of major American cities, and here's how I'd rate the big fireworks.

1) Boston. On sheer fireworks, nothing compared. Massive low altitude plus high altitude, and the coordination with the local television coverage makes it rival the National Mall.

2) Washington DC. Only the firepower I saw in Boston tips the balance - we're taking the pyro shows - can begin to tip the scale away from the gold standard classic. That said, nothing like watching the PBS national broadcast from the Mall. The atmosphere in DC is without comparison - you can walk the memorials then settle in for the national birthday.

3) Seattle. Who can argue with a humidity free, 70 degree celebration? Plus when we were there, you had two fireworks displays to enjoy.

4) Philadephia. Now on sheer party atmosphere, celebrating Philadephia Freedom with Sir Elton and about 250,000 of your closest friends is fairly epic. But the all day wait and the human car wash of the crowd - and sultry temps - rather opt for something a little cooler.

5) San Diego. You can't go wrong in a military town on the Fourth, and navy dominated SD certainly qualifies.

Steve Martin Twitterist, Historian

Steve Martin proves the point that you can reinvent yourself as long as you have talent and are willing to put in the work. Thus, his new career as a blue grass banjo player, writer of American history songs (check out a review on the single and iTunes for Me and Paul Revere) and most of all for this space, Twitter maven.

That a stand-up comedian would build a 1.3 million follower list is not a surprise, nor that his 140 characters are funnier than yours. (BTW - the link takes you to @SteveMartinToGo)

What I see as refreshing - and the soul of the artist coming out - was his comments about Twitter in USA TODAY on June 30:

"it's funny to be walking down the hallway and have a tweet appear in your mind . . . and not really knowing where it comes from. That unpredictability to myself might mean it's unpredictable to the audience in the same way."

Digital Marketing Checklist

Once again, our friends at PRSA strike with a quality link from the Friday email -- that I'm holding over for your Fourth of July. These 12 problems with digital marketing are great, but one in particular stands out after last week's CoSIDA Convention.

Listening to the feedback from those who asked questions both in person and on-line, I get the clear sense that point #4 in Robin Neifield's article is the most important for the college world:

In talking about avoiding looking at digital media through, as she says, old media goggles,

One way to encourage that understanding is to get comfortable in the social channels on a personal level first and study successful company efforts before putting your brand's reputation on the line.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

iPad For Speeches

I had to give a straight speech on Tuesday at the convention in acceptance of the Bob Kenworthy Award. Usually, I've memorized most of my main points and my PowerPoint is the outline that keeps me on track.

So I write out my script, traditional all caps, double space, large text for reading at the podium. Head down to the business center of the hotel and . . .

Sir, we only have one computer that can print out material. And I just put someone on it.

It's 20 minutes to the start of the luncheon.

Putting aside that a massive resort-scale complex's business office has exactly one computer to print stuff off a USB key from guests, I wheel around and head for the room to now hand write out my notes.

As I walk in, I see my iPad and think, well, I could email it to myself.

Why this has not come to me before, I don't know. The geek-factor of walking to the podium with iPad in hand aside, I've never given a speech easier. The two pages of wide double space now became a continues scroll that I could brush along like my own personal teleprompter. Obviously, I've seen these lash-up prompter rigs that used a laptop, or a tablet, or even an iPad, with the usual reflecting screens.

I highly recommend the next time you have a formal speech that requires a written script -- use the iPad and recommend that your executives that you write for do the same. Obviously, need to practice. And, have the back up paper copy (which I didn't) in case of battery or other failures (thankfully, didn't happen).

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The News Cycle

Ben Porritt made a great point that politics first created the 24x7 news cycle, then destroyed it -- his point there is no news cycle.

Firm believer in what Ben says, but as strategic communicators, we now need to discover the best way to put our message out so it is noticed in that formless void that is the N.O.D. world -- News On Demand, just like V.O.D. for Video On Demand.

With consumers taking advantage of the TiVo life and time shifting their entertainment, they will do the same on news. That becomes the role of the more static tools -- websites and Facebook pages.

To get attention of the fan base in real time, we need serious consideration of strategy and employment of tactics to get the Twitter/MMS/Text alert world working for colleges and universities.

First step, creative repetition. Get the message out more than once in a day cycle -- especially if it is breaking, unique content or high priority message. But to avoid annoyance of the end user (and to get through Twitter's rudimentary spam filter), vary the phrasing and language. Use multiple voices also to get the repetition. Remember, east coast drive time, west coast drive time, east coast lunch time, west coast lunch time.

Second step, reverse distribution network. Have your social media team include outsiders who will be a part of spreading your words via retweet and direct tweet.

New Contact Info Soon

As soon as I have the new address and email at Northwestern set, I'll put it here and send along to those who need it.

In the meantime, if you need to ask a question or reach out for help, use my gmail which would be bismith75.

Friday, July 01, 2011

End of An Era

End of an era

The definition of a generation in social sciences is 20 years. So I can honestly say, I lasted a little more than a generation at the University of Arkansas.  Literally as some of the children of athletes who were there or recently departed when I arrived in 1989 are now beginning to attend here in 2010-11.

In this life, everything comes to an end. DeGaulle said it: The cemeteries of the world are fill of indispensable men. Our jobs are public trusts, and when people begin to think of themselves as the job - not just the current occupant - well, that's when you can get a big dose of hubris. The sports page transactions are filled with coaches and administrators who made that mistake.

At my going away, I told the group - mostly newcomers but a lot that had been around, some I helped hire to UA - that what 22 years teaches you is that it really is about people.  The people you work with.  The people you work for. And that is who you miss; not an institution or a title.

The people I've worked with have been some of the best in the business - and recently I include in that the thousands of fans we began to more directly interact with in the last few years through social media and participatory media (read: message boards).  I make that point because you learn a lot when you listen to the customers.

The people you work for really hasn't changed: it ultimately was always those fans and the people of the state of Arkansas. So I go back home to Louisiana and do the same thing, but this time for the whole university at Northwestern State.  I'm very excited to cross over.

And most important, I'm not going away. I might not be @ArkRazorbacks or the main blogger voice for the Hogs, but I'll be around. This space continues as strong as ever - maybe even more so.