Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Somebody's Watching Me

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, famously said that "Only the Paranoid Survive". No better place to adopt that position than on social media.

Thanks to Chris Syme for the heads-up last week on the recent articles in this area, one in particular in The Sport Journal from U.S. Sports Academy written by Frank Butts of West Georgia. It's a nice lit review and primer of prior cases and situations, but in the realm of things like the growing trend against monitoring under the aegis of "First Amendment Rights" there is nothing new.

Let me give you one of my phrases now: It was a voluntary organization until you joined it.

The mounting jihad against monitoring, epicentered in Maryland, is, to use a cute new meme, bogative.

Anyone -- ANYONE -- who says university athletic departments are cramping the style or expression rights of students by watching for violations of the established team rules or other conduct codes that, by the way, the student-athletes signed off as terms of participation is doing a far greater disservice to these young people than not.

Why? Education is critical, and they need to understand the world into which they will move for jobs and job interviews.

Let me bring in today's note from the Wall Street Journal. The latest from corporate America's desire to fit the right worker for the right job -- scraping info off your Facebook posts to create a personality profile.

Northern Illinois, Evansville and Auburn combined to create the academic study that essentially provides proof of concept.

After spending roughly 10 minutes perusing each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the raters answered a series of personality-related questions, such as "Is this person dependable?" and "How emotionally stable is this person?"

And the conclusion? The assessment made was pretty accurate when matched against job performance reviews of the college-age workers surveilled.

The WSJ blog notes that the legality of such a move is "murky." Good luck getting private firms to admit to the practice.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What Do You Do WIth Drug Tests?

The ongoing saga at TCU presents a true PR crisis test: Do you violate FERPA to correct a dangerous rumor?

Lawyers say no. We say yes.

Let's put the film on the projector and break it down for the new or the public.

Two arrested players "brag" about how widespread the drug problem is within the TCU team. Why? To look cool to the undercover cop they are selling to and then to not look like the outsiders. One player's comment was 60 players were "screwed" on the surprise test; the other claimed "what can they do, 82 people failed it" implying the whole team.

So what to do? The public will think your football team sits around licking the mascot trying to get a hallucinogenic high.

But to release the tests falls right in the FERPA and HIPPA wheelhouse?

Not necessarily. No school wants to give up that type of info as if it were FOIA, and almost every university uses FERPA as broad cloak (see the Columbus Dispatch investigative series on this nationwide). Almost all get waiver from student-athletes that would legally cover them if they wanted to, but lawyers will caution against precedent.

TCU's chancellor, Victor Boschini, did what you expect: refused to release the drug test results, falls back on kids will be kids in his statement.

Enter the unnamed source.

Sure, the lawyers have their liability points, but this is the court of public opinion and you cannot let the brash statements of arrested drug users and dealers stand unchallenged.

From the Dallas Morning News, "But a source told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that only five players failed the test." Other "leaks" revealed another 11 had trace amounts within the margin of error.

Five fails on a cohort of 80-90 students at any university -- that's a whole lot different from 60 to 100 percent of the group as implied by the accused.

Who was the unnamed source? Whoever the athletic director and the university's crisis management team determined would tell the media on deep background the truth. Might have been the football SID. Could have been the university PR director. Maybe an athletic trainer. Don't be naive -- it was calculated.

The truth must out in circumstances like these. When it is held back, it only causes double the amount of trouble.

Yes, in this case, the truth benefited the institution. Keep in mind that TCU's administrators didn't know it would when this started -- when they brought in the Fort Worth PD, when Patterson made the team-wide drug test.

What they discovered was a difficult reality, but not the horror it could be turned into. They have students and student-athletes who need assistance in cleaning up, or discipline and removal from the institution that doesn't support their behavior.

To pick up on Boschini's statement:

"The is no doubt that students fall short form time to time, but we also know that they, as we, are committed to getting back up and moving forward."

The case is developing, but already it is not reaching the levels of even regional knowledge -- much less national. I'm surprised how many colleagues in my circles -- pretty close to Fort Worth in geography and interests -- even knew the event happened.

To control a fire, sometimes you have to set one -- a controlled burn for prevention or a backburn to take away a wild fire's fuel.

So far, TCU hasn't made the mistakes that turn bad news into national crisis.

Small Crack in the Facebook Code

At Northwestern State, we have encouraged a lot of sub pages for programs on Facebook. It also provides us with a small universe of areas to follow each other.

The changes for News Feed with the creation of Sidebar Ticker present a problem for brands -- how do we make sure we are in the "important" news as defined by the Facebook algorithm. I suspected sharing was part of the formula, the past few days have confirmed that along with video and photos.

I've noticed in my own feed that friends that post photos or video seemed to get some preference, but those that did it and then had that link "referred" -- linked/shared -- seemed to score better.

The illustration is from this morning, where my daily Good Morning message from campus was shunted to the side but my share from YouTube to the main NSU page and then a second share of the link from our Leesville campus who sponsored the event resulted in an immediate appearance in my top news.

TCU Facing the Music

In an academic year that saw one major university become synonymous with what not to do in crisis, TCU begins a journey that night lead them to become the model of what to do when your reputation is on the line.

Yesterday, news broke of 18 arrests related to drug dealing at the Fort Worth school, 14 of them students and four very famously part of the squeaky clean football team.

In a stark contrast to Penn State, TCU held press conferences in which they admitted to bringing in Fort Worth PD from the start and football coach Gary Patterson held a team-wide surprise drug test on National Signing Day.

The university and athletic department right now are getting praise in the same newspaper columns for their actions as they facts are rolled out. And that is a key difference between TCU so far and almost any other university. The Horned Frogs are taking their lumps right now, getting it over with, having the terrible facts lined up without additional snarky or cutting extra commentary that results from evasive maneuvers.

Obviously, it's just day two, but the comments of one of the busted football players reveal much. When he volunteered to the undercover cop he'd just made a deal with that Patterson had held the drug test, that it was bullshit and he knew he failed it, you get a sense of why this got so big. The worse part was his bragging that nothing was going to happen because to paraphrase, what are they going to do since the whole team failed it.

Son, go ask SMU what happens when it gets like that. They can take away your football career. And they could take away your team.

See, here is the really bright moment in darkness. TCU is acting like its reputation is on the line, because it is. In the media accounts, the campus police head admits the investigation began because of parent complaints at the start of the year. A source said Patterson ordered the drug test - at this stage somewhat independent of the police investigation - because the parent of a star recruit said they turned down the school because of the drug use on the team.

Time will reveal how much inside action there was on this, but in stark contrast to Penn State, a school who also rose in national attention thanks to its football team, the reaction time was much faster to legitimate complaints that proved to be genuine issues.

John Sloan of UAB put it best in the Dallas Morning News yesterday:

In decades past, there's a ton of evidence that institutions would deliberately cover up news like this.

If you want to follow the local coverage, Unfortunately, you'll be pay wall on a lot of their work.

Kevin Sherrington does not give out warm fuzzy praise, but the sports columnist makes it clear he's giving TCU credit for moving fast.

Sherrington gives Patterson's statement, which the columnist praised for "captured the mood." Note Sherrington's interjection:

"There are days people want to be a head football coach," he said in a statement that seemed less prepared than from the heart, "but today is not one of those days. As I heard the news this morning, I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad."

Sherrington's mid-column summation is one that should resonate across America. He writes about Patterson:

He didn't plead ignorance of the facts or hide behind TCU lawyers. He didn't call it an internal matter. No one's running stadium steps.

Sherrington later speaks to the institution as a whole, writing

But whatever the nature of the facts, TCU is sending a message, all right, and it reaches far beyond its locker rooms.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Check Your Mayan Calendars

Another sure sign of the apocalypse as Webster College steals a coach and transfers from Texas Tech this week.

That's right, the private school in St. Louis decided to buy themselves a Final Four caliber . . . . . chess team.

The Chronicle relays the word from The New York Times of this high-level coup.

Where to go with this one. Tech lost the Pirate, now the Queen. Tech gets Tuberville but can't afford to keep Polgar.

On a more serious note, this reflects a belief I have held about high-level anything. If a school chooses to put its assets disproportionately into any one area, who's business is it anyway? No one is going to "go after" Webster for this move, no NCAA of castling. If a college wants to pay ridiculously high scholarship amounts for the finest cellist, no one bats an eye.

If you want a 500-page media guide, oh no, heavens, end of the world, we must level the playing field, we must make things even.

Why that would let the Arkansas and Oklahomas of the world dominate. OK.

Harvard could care less.

If UConn wants to sink millions into catching Tennessee in women's basketball, that's their choice. If Arkansas spends more on track and field than whole smaller conferences, again, it is their desired specialty.

Who questions the amount of money Oklahoma spends on their weather programs at a time of an absolute glut of meteorology graduates (check it out, the top employer of them -- the National Weather Service -- is about to have a hiring freeze, cuts and eliminate internship programs).

For that matter, Texas Tech is huge in Vietnam history. Again, that is their choice to have that institute.

And if Webster wants to check and mate by checkbook, good luck.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

(Not So) Breaking News: Twitter Changes News Cycle

And by the way, there's gambling at Rick's.

Gigaom provides an excellent look at the drop from hours to minutes on breaking news. As you read about how fast Whitney Houston's death moved -- and the unique sourcing right next to the situation -- remember the catastrophe that was the Joe Paterno death watch.

As you fill out Chris Syme's survey on crisis communication for CoSIDA in particular, think about those two situations. What are you doing right now to keep an eye on potential disasters, how fast can you respond and is social already in our toolbox?

If any of those answers start with "no, but" -- you're in deeeeeeep trouble.

But I'm a One-Man Shop

The lament of more than one attendee of workshops and panels when they hear about the things we've done first at University of Arkansas and now for the entire university at Northwestern State.

Guess what? I'm a staff of one at NSU, with one GA for video to assist. (FYI at "big" UA I had two video guys and two GAs, but we also ran all the interactives, the website, the streaming and the video boards). The keys to video success in the social space is planning and repurposing.

The next few days on our Facebook page are a prime example. Northwestern State is proud to be the home of Louisiana' poet laureate, Dr. Julie Kane. She gave a public talk on poetry and a reading of some of her works. The Writer's Almanac fans may recognize her name as Garrison Keillor read one of her poems recently.

With a large on-line student base and several distant campus locations (from nursing in Shreveport to down south at Leesville at Fort Polk), capturing talks like this are important educational content. A little thought ahead and we get five days programming from this one afternoon.


I asked Dr. Kane three questions afterward about poetry and the event. That gets cut with one opening highlight into a standard "TV" package.

Three of her poetry readings are made into excerpts -- stand alones.

Finally, the whole talk is rendered for viewing. The four bits -- the package and the three poem readings -- all carry a tag line "To View Whole Talk" and our YouTube channel info.

One afternoon shooting, one afternoon of pretty simple edits -- five days of content.

My GA is working across the office on a similar event, a world premier of original string performance. Same drill, three pieces for next week.

In the fall, we made great use of the GoPro for quick render raw behind the scenes video. These were some of our most popular.

The Christmas Gala became a series of single acts (8 days of Gala leading up to Christmas -- here's one of the most popular, the Hallelujah Monks) and a grand master compilation. We also have rehearsal and behind the scenes video to use next fall as lead-up for the major event. And of course, we'll replay last year's pieces.

As we did on our campus pageant. The FTP package for the regional TV stations goes to our YouTube, along with highlights of each section. Later, we'll add the entire pageant to our stable of previous events.

Let me encourage you -- you can do this. But you have to commit to the process.

As Ernest Hemingway said:

The shortest answer is doing the thing.

I've said it much less elegantly -- we can stand around and you can tell me why it won't work, or we could just go do it; takes about the same amount of time once we decide to do it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Right to Stand in the Room

I have argued for years that in message boards and now more mainstream social media, institutions have a right to speak their mind. My point is we have an obliga to step into the arena, to stand in the room, and we must be willing to correct the record.

I will open by saying I know Ronnie Ramos and have presented with him both at CoSIDA and the NCAA convention.

Let us begin the discussion by reading The Chronicle's assessment of the current participatory media exchange between the New York Times and the NCAA.

I'll be back later in the week after you've all had a moment to digest.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who Needs 140 When 6 Will Do?

Ah yes, in my never ending crusade for brevity, I am presented this bon mot from Anne Fisher at Fortune via the PRSA daily email. Think my charge to be pithy in 120 words is tough, try distilling a piece of advice into only six.

That's right. Six words.

My favorite?

"Add value — otherwise you're a commodity." — Randall Lane

No truer words can be said for your media future on-line. Sorry, that was 11.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Counter View of Penn State

William Levinson writes in The American Thinker that Penn State flinched in the face of media pressure, soiling itself and its reputation. He presents some details not exactly front and center in most reports of the events (that the assistant coach's testimony doesn't exactly sync with the prosecutor's case; that the Penn State board more than once violated its own policies). If correct, Levinson casts Penn State as more Duke lacrosse than priest scandal. Without more time to peel back the details, I simply say this: take the dissertation of Levinson about whether PSU was right or wrong as you will, but read through and consider how he does make the compelling point that someone needed to think beyond the immediate panic.

Tell Your Coaches This Today

A gift from Ronnie Jones, former head of PIO of the Louisiana State Police. In his crisis communications presentation at LaCASE, he gave this nugget in the Q&A.

Ask the coach this: Would you put a kid into a game that hadn't practiced all week?

Why do you think you can get in front of a camera without practice?

That is pure gold.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Off For a Few

Barring Penn State level news, I'll be off line doing some packing and moving. Try to keep it clean out there kids. Back on Monday.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Megatrends for New Academia

Teeth grinding at the idea, but really no better way to express this than "new academia" (think: new media). The Chronicle's coverage of the New Media Consortium's 10 megatrends for technology and education yields three big points. Frankly, the NMC buried the lede with a ton of networking kumbaya in the first points of the list.

Point eight, in my opinion, should be much higher:

The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy. Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in which information is everywhere

It speaks to what makes the difference in regular media -- the value-added nature of news. To repeat a meme, if The Book of Knowledge makes everything searchable, the sage becomes the person or organization who can make the facts make sense.

Which leads to part nine:

Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and socially, but also in academia — and worldwide.

Our credentials are all we have -- because learning, not unlike music and eventually video-based media, is escaping the previous gated communities. I have to wonder if a millennium from now society will look back upon the way that the university held knowledge and teaching and compare it to the days in which the monks, scribes and priests held religion before Gutenberg broke open literacy.

So if you were building to a crescendo, point 10 should scare hell out of universities:

Business models across the education ecosystem are changing.

This point goes on to focus on the publishing aspect -- think libraries and university presses. They need to see a wider vista. There will always be a market for brick and mortar -- whether it is records or books or instruction. But we are on the cusp of a generational change in just how much traditional higher education is required.

Tower. Borders. Blockbuster.

Local newspapers. Local network affiliates.

Cassandra, maybe.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Self-Inflicted Crisis

This is a great breakdown of the Komen/Planned Parenthood fiasco from Ann Dwyer.

The 140 takeway:

Please, please, please always include your PR counsel in business decisions.

Ironic after listening to an excellent crisis presentation by former head for PIO with Louisiana State Police at the LaCASE event. Why?

One of Ronnie Jones' key points was in his list of "tactical errors"

Let the attorneys develop and manage the message

I know that Chris Syme is leading development of a crisis management session at CoSIDA and I'll be loaded for bear at the event as well.

ADDENDUM: Ann Dwyer was kind enough to reach out and remind me that it was a guest column in her blog space from Gini Dietrich, so, in that great tradition, we Regret the Error and offer the correction.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Careful What You Repost

Oh, this one is making the Facebook rounds, and a great example of making sure folks are proofing your stuff -- even on social media (maybe, ESPECIALLY on social media).

Louisiana representative John Flemming bit on a piece of satire from The Onion, and it burned him badly.

Monday, February 06, 2012

YouTube Lifts Southern

You never know where your YouTube videos lead. Just ask Southern University in Baton Rouge, whose dance team was noticed by Madonna and in turn, was selected to perform with her at the Super Bowl.

Keep posting.

The Lady Says it All

Been a looooong time since I've seen a pageant. All the way back to my youth seeing the Miss Louisiana events at the ole Monroe Civic Center (where it still is today, BTW). Saturday night I stepped up to get some HD footage of Northwestern State's annual event. We had promoted it with Facebook, hashtags and a memory lane run of older Lady of the Bracelet contests.

Along with several highlights, the kicker was the winner, Tori Thompson, in the evening wear/save the world question. They have two at LOB -- one about Children's Miracle Network and one random from the fish bowl.

Tori gets "what would you change about your university."

Her answer was not what you'd expect from the tiara crowd.

"If I could change one thing about Northwestern, I think I would promote women's sports more often. We get excited about football and things and I love you guys, love the team, you're great. But I'd like to see a lot more excitement about volleyball, women's basketball -- those are my girls. That's what I'd like to change about Northwestern."

Oh, this isn't just the veteran women's athletics guy getting excited. This is a bit of a landmark, something those who have promoted women's sports for decades have waited for -- women who want to see the women's game moved up.

Anyone around the sport knows you get families and niche crowds, but the general student body just isn't that into women's teams at most colleges. There remains a stereotype of gender bias or "lite" sport at the college level.

That doesn't exist as much at the junior high and high school level, where peers tend to have a little more respect for peers.

I will harken back to the 1980s, when high schools often had rules to prevent the captain of the basketball team from being the schools' "Miss High School". And it was a breakthru in the late 1990s when player resumes would list both varsity letters in cheerleading and volleyball. It was acceptable to be the best in beauty and in competition -- something that had always been there for the males.

What ultimately changes the climate for women's sports at the high levels for spectators is what happened Saturday night -- mainstream demands respect for the games. Please don't misread here. Just because the beauty queen said it doesn't make it special, or better, or some kind of back-handed insult against the stereotype of the grungy athlete.

What makes it significant is the cross of cultures. Dealing in the stereotypes, the last place one expected a pro-women's college sports statement was in the middle of the Miss Louisiana qualifier pageant. The same event where the female MC made jokes about wanting to meet Tom Brady. Do you see the on-par moment now?

When Lady of the Bracelet is calling for support for the Lady Demons (yes, they still are here) you have a watershed event. Here's to hoping it translates into the wider female population of the school.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Twitter Finds a Rooting Interest After All

Sunday is more about the commercials this year for me as both of my teams in the leagues found ways to not advance (let's not talk about the early replay non-fumble at SFO). Scanning USATODAY I noticed a sidebar on Super Bowl tweets, and the first one caught my eye:

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit - Aristotle" from Deion Branch of the Patriots.

Hey, that's a nice quote. Like that and I'll just pick that up. Let's see who else is in the mix. Ramses Barden riffs on politics, then:

"Boyz 2 Men pandora is jammin right now."

Well, that really fits. There's the comic relief. Who was that . . .

Oh snap -- it's @Ryan_Mallett_15.

One forgets the backup quarterback, especially to Tom Brady-class superbacks. The former Arkansas Razorback cascaded down the NFL draft into the hands of the Patriots thanks to digital media driven rumors about drug use. At the time, all of us around the QB who took Arkansas with a purloined tat of its first BCS win at the Sugar Bowl believed it was a blessing for the junior. A chance to get into a system that would fit his cannon of an arm AND the chance to not be eaten alive as a rookie high-draft pick QB.

Mallett got a handle on Twitter early (hmm, wonder why . . . ) and used it to his benefit as a player (low profile, no stupid jokes, no inappropriate habits/girlfriends/poor sportsmanship) in college and early in his pro time.

Now he's done the near impossible. Sure, telling us how much he likes some "classic rap" seems a little lightweight compared to Aristotle, but consider his role. He is the backup. He's not the leader (and in turn, not the inspirational quote machine). His is to stand in the background.

And he managed to get his name into USATODAY.

Touchdown Mallett.

Proud of you there. Hope you hold a hell of a clipboard Sunday.

At least I have someone to look for on the sidelines between commercials.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The News Finds You

Very interesting reading from Nieman regarding what can best be called a serendipity approach to news distribution.

What I find notable is how close this story about the way that news finds the reluctant information consumer and the impact how that incongruity of unexpected news in unusual places - like the middle of your Facebook stream -- has even more impact than if you had sent that news directly to the end user.

Research for years is pointing at the reverse distribution channel as key to getting out the news. We've talked here for some time that the greatest impact comes from when your circle of friends spread a news story. This Nieman piece tends to reinforce that idea.

Think it's new? Check out a golden oldie from 2007 on how news moves among friend networks.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Epic F'ing Fail!

Let's just allow the incredible mistake of the Suffolk Journal speak for itself.

As Bono might say, it is f'ing brilliant.

I will add my agreement with the comment on Jim Romenesko's blog. The secondary offense is excessive use of !

Once again, ! leads to no good.

Besides, I believe there is an alternate AP Stylebook entry that says that f***ers stands alone without !

On the Way to LaCASE

Off line for a bit again with travels, but hope to be back with some insights from the Louisiana CASE conference. The agenda is chocked full of social media topics . . . and one very interesting one from Delgado on Strategic Communication.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Curious About Collaborate or Perish

Heard William Bratton last week on Dennis Miller Show, and his eight points about how in a networked world it is vital to collaborate on projects were fascinating. Picking up the book soon and thinking this might be the next one after The Checklist Manifesto that I'll excerpt here and recommend. If anyone else has read already, curious what you think of Bratton.

Scandal, Sources and Speed

By now, the saga of John Chadima and his resignation at Wisconsin is old news. The events of Rose Bowl week are well over a month old and his departure was early last week. Having colleagues among the Badgers, I bring this up not to rehash, but to discuss two new media trends.

First, these are the type of events that move quickly, and these days virally. No be shock that Deadspin, SB Nation and the usual suspects will make hay with this.

But how it comes up in your search engine might surprise you. In the past, I've spent a lot of time talking about the brand strength of old line media versus the new. You will get news faster sometimes (albeit as at a risk), but you might not believe it until one of the old gray ladies "prints" it.

It was revealed that Google has been doing customization of your search -- even if you aren't logged in to one of their services -- for some time. They use local cached cookies of previous searches. Let that thought marinate for a minute, and you'll be clicking on that clear cache button pretty fast.

Here's my point and the question for my readers: google "John Chadima".

What are the top 10 news reports you get? I'm curious because of the potential that I'm seeing something very different from what you are. Are your sources:

Huffington Post
SB Nation
DeKenversWordPress (a blog)
Bleacher Report
Wisconsin State Journal

If not, then because I work more in the new media, maybe that's why I see such a high proportion of the born digital.

If you do, point number deux: look at how few legacy media are in this list and consider is it that time has passed (about a week) and hits have driven the new media outlets to the top of the search list? Thus you really do need to think long term about what they are saying about your situations. A lot of folks spend their reputation time with the print media "because it lasts".

Maybe not.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Twitter Still has Live Event Strength

While I remain loyal to the overall concept of CoverItLive for the highest possible interaction, that format works best when the promoter/protagonist/participant is involved.

What if it's just us commenting about something big, like say, the State of the Union address?

Twitter remains king in this space, and a great quick snapshot of the evening via an infographic reminds us that it remains huge in the commentary space.