Friday, November 25, 2011

What was the Point?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Experiential Brands

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

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

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

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

Re-read that passage.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hell Over #HailState?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All #HailState The King of Social

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well played, Scott Stricklin. Well played indeed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Truth Hurts, and Works Best

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

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

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

Say it ain't so, Chris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why You NEVER Link Facebook and Twitter

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

The Politics on Penn State

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

NCAA Wants Your Tweets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

History Crossover on Chicago Riots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 06, 2011

More Checklist Manifesto

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

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

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

Let that marinate for a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Are You a Ninja Librarian

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Nice Checklist for Digital Media Releases

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

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

The video point had an interesting unsourced factoid:

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

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

Read more on Falkow's website/blog: