Friday, September 28, 2012

The Best Politics is No Politics

Growing up in Louisiana, there were notable political legends, and epic reactions to same.  The way that Huey Long politicized the state's employees led to some fairly draconian restrictions on political activity by classified workers.  If you worked for the state or city, no yard signs.  No bumper stickers.  No political rallies.  In some ways, quite a limit on your freedom of speech.

Today, that still applies to classified workers -- unclassified are no held by that law.

Maybe they should.

Civil servants have to work with whoever gets elected.  On the sports side of college, Lou Holtz can tell you that handing out endorsements has a way of biting you.

The state of Louisiana issued its semi-annual list of thou shalt nots for classified employees during elections, and I was pleased to see the addition of the social media realm to the list.

Employees in the classified service are prohibited from engaging in political activity. Political
Activity means an effort to support or oppose the election of a candidate for political office or to
support or oppose a particular party in an election. Therefore, you cannot display political signs
in your yard, bumper stickers on your vehicle, or wear a button or pin that could be perceived as
supporting a person or party. Also, you cannot “like” a candidate or party on Facebook or follow
on Twitter or any other social media.

At the same time, I have to ask this question of the regulators.  Yes, "like" can equal endorsement, but what if a voter is simply trying to stay up with the news?  Is following both sides to make a decision?  What I believe they intended was to prevent partisan posting in the wall -- which is really your "endorsing" or "engaging" in political activity.

The regulation is intended to prevent political activity.  What this does not directly address within social media is just that.  By reading what was said, an employee can't "like" the party on Facebook, but they could share and post all the obnoxious campaign fodder they want.  Later in the circular, the commission says the very limited things a classified employee can do:

You may vote, you may be a commissioner or poll watcher, you make express your opinions
privately, and you may sign a recall petition.

Expressing opinion on Twitter much different from prohibiting someone from simply following and consuming the information.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Make It Viral Spiral

Walking away from a meeting at which the subject of the conversation was creating something for video that would "go viral" reminds me that the desire to be the flavor of the day is strong among this generation of marketers and communicators.

The smart money says you can't "make" anything viral -- the meme rolls or it doesn't.  What separates PSY from PS2?  Aside from good coding, one is catchy.  The other was the 1980s failed attempt to get everyone excited about an operating system that just didn't have it.

It is the magic.  It is doing something slightly out of the ordinary.  Doing it well.  And doing it over and over.

Thus the exact lessons proffered by Deborah Marquardt in a Q&A with Ad Age sent out last week via the PRSA feed.

Here we have another storyteller in Marquardt:

Story is already at the center of marketing, and we need to keep it central to the process when there are so many touchpoints for consumers and people aren't reading your story in a linear way.

 OK, you want the spark approach.  Sure, create a video INTENDED to inflame and you might get the job done.  Or, you might not.  There are literally hundreds, thousands, of pot-shots taken at Islam on-line.  What separated the recent from previous?  What made it viral?

It is the same in the political races.  The ginned up Romey killed by wife commercial isn't having the same viral impact of his own words (the 47%).  And all the Obamacare scares in the world didn't have the traction of the president's misstep (you didn't build that).

Some tips?

Genuine beats designed (again, look to politics)

Take the viewer where they can't go (our POV stuff with the 50-yard line is extremely popular -- both band or sports)

Best possible quality.

Relate it back to your story.

And stop trying so hard.  Make it good -- your people will appreciate and spread it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Al Qaeda Sleeper Cell Sex Video

See, so maybe the point of The Atlantic article that written media needs better headlines to draw attention is overstated.  Then again, you did click on it.

Boring Headlines by Conor Friedersdorf makes his point with good examples of how to do it wrong.

Let me suggest to you who is doing this right -- NPR News.

Without undercutting their credibility, NPR gives me the level of "attitude" that is appropriate.  In fact, I've wondered if they hired a former Onion editor to write for them.

Seriously -- that funny. 

The key, however, is they do these tease headlines for real news on social media -- links in Facebook and Twitter -- where that voice is appropriate.

Consider -- which of these are NPR and which are Onion:

Freedom Soda: New York's Ban on Big Sodas Hitting Us Where We are Human

Report: Majority of Americans Stopped Paying Attention Several Words Ago

Are Today's Millenials The "Screwed Generation"?

If you don't want to click, just like a sandwich, the NPR links are the bread around the Onion.

No snark from NPR on things like the killings in Libya or other "hard news", but what is wrong with standing out from the crowd?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Obama Campaign Not Reading This Blog


The case for putting more human in the loop for social was made by the President's campaign this week.  Did they really mean for the first thing from the official Twitter feed on Sept. 11 to be a shameless plug to volunteer for the campaign?

I doubt it.

Did someone think, hey, I can automate a tweet every Tuesday heading down the stretch.

To quote another politico, you betcha.

And, the campaign that was so in tune with the online world in 2008 looked tin ear in 2012.  The reaction was quick and visceral.  Defenders were quick to say the President followed later in the AM with his personal "-BO" tweet.

I'm not going to act like I have never used scheduled tweets.  In particular, on a football game day there are certain things (gates open 3 hours out, etc.), but I also carefully watched that A) the tweets actually went [no small issue] and B) things didn't change.  Nothing like a thunderstorm and lightning to change your pregame schedule, and you have to be ready to delete those messages.

To reference back, here's the previous tweet about People Matter.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shocking Social News: People Matter

Have I mentioned lately the best $300-ish you can spend is on PRSA membership?  If only for the daily brief, because you're going to get curated news gems like this one.

It's a Business Week story about the more we automate, the more the human element becomes crucial.

I could not agree more.  The more social tools are employed, the more significant it becomes to have trained people to handle them.  And by that, I don't mean a student worker ('cause you know, kids get these interwebs) or a minion.  Front line reputation management folks who know your operation front to back, and can stay disciplined in the storm to carry forward a message.

Or, I might opine, not run away if the heat turns up.  But I digress.  Here is your rock solid 140-like takeaway from Business Week:

The lesson here is simple: People matter more than ever. When things go wrong, as they inevitably will, you’ll be glad you made people a priority.

Winners know that.  Penny pinchers and the petty don't.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

CoSIDA Presentation

For those wanting the slides, I've turned it into a PDF that you can download.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Some Columns from the Weekend

Tim Dahlberg's summation of the events of Happy Valley are succinct and prescient -- the coverage of the Cult of Personality at PSU are far from over.

In my own head, I have had to reconcile Joe Paterno (and other college football coaches) with the Lance Armstrong case.  Finding myself somewhat conflicted -- is Lance no different than Joe -- I discovered this column from Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (pay link) which at least began to sort it out.  It will suggest it is worth the day access to read as Martin brings Barry Bonds, Armstrong and the opening question "What if there was a pill you could take to lose 50 pounds overnight?" together.


Catching Up Soon

Apologies for a few days break, but a spontaneous experiment to verify both the law of gravity and Newton's laws of motion delayed my writings about social and hurricanes.