Monday, April 29, 2013

Words Do Matter

Another entry in the careful what you say and when you say it as UCF puts an instructor on leave for what he characterized as a joke in class.  It follows other similar events as we become quite sensitive to what are seen as inappropriate comments, especially as it relates to violence.  More than a few of these have been in social media during the past year.  The end of the day takeaway:  these folks are losing jobs and if they get the position back, their reputations have been tarnished and the costs (often literal in legal fees) are high.

New Heights in Being Your Own Media

For the White House Correspondent's Dinner, the President joined in with the fun in a spoof video with Steven Spielberg.  It's cute, but consider the broader implications.

In the past, this might have come from PBS, or another traditional media source.  Now, it's squarely on the White House YouTube page, and a production of the White House.

Obama as ultimate brand and own media.

As of this morning, 1.8 million views can't be wrong.  And in those 3,800 total videos by the White House channel, not all of them are the dry briefings and weekly speeches of the President.

The tools are there.  The distribution network is there.  We have preached for years about being your own media and branded journalism.

The question: do you have a message to send?  Can you make it compelling?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Human Cost of Social Media

Do we know if the false accusation by the social media hive led to the death of Sunil Tripathi?  No.

We do know the rush to Twitter Justice led to great harassment of the family.

Unfortunately, it's the dark side of social, and it reminds us of the responsibility everyone has to know a little something about what you are liking or retweeting before you click.

Remember how the Texas Rangers' game couple was demonized?  The video of the kid crying was way out of context, but it didn't keep the Yankees broadcast team from making them public enemy number one for a few weeks last season.

Or when celebrities decide to rain down thunderbolts from Olympus on the unsuspecting?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Crisis Twitter for Dummies

Jeremy Stahl provides an excellent recap of the lowlights of raw reportage via social media in Slate.

The sports world lived (and lives) this up close during every major coaching change and when the fault line of high-stakes football entertainment that runs through Division I athletics slips.

Who remembers OrangeBlood's blow-by-blow of Texas leaving the Big 12?

We can clearly see the impact of social in real-time -- in fact, we can now put a price on it: $200 billion after the stock market dives with the Associated Press hack. There's also the malicious tweet -- Arkansas taking a threat seriously or even here at NSU where someone fails to spread a rumor on Boston bomb day about an "inactive" device found here.

Stahl focuses on Boston, but his advice and those he cites are great advice for source and reporter.

Having worked public safety crisis, public event warning and emergencies for public agencies, he repeats some keys.

Ari Fleischer gives a nice five point -- in two Tweets -- primer for the source, closing with:

For spokesppl, don't rule 2 much in/out. Wait till you know.

A different version of the FEMA/PIO training line: Trust in God; verify everyone else.

Here is where I differ with Ari.  When the maelstrom begins, sources need to speak.  If they say nothing else than to announce "Here I am. I am the official source.  I will get back to you when I know something."  In the extreme, being silent until sure leads to BPGlobal.  Remember these Four Rules.

Often, you do have basic information.  I think back to the LSU bomb scare and the silence from the institution which fed the confusion in the Golden Hour.  Nature abhors a vacuum and so do people. There are more of them than you.

In our bomb scare, we got active quickly and monitored to respond.  I still had citizens who were handing out rumor as information, and I had to correct it as soon as I could find it.  It happened during a 20 minute period I got off the keyboard to do some verification.  It reminded me of something I already knew -- you never leave a net uncontrolled.  That dates to storm spotter and radio operator days, but it is true in the social realm.  This is real time, and you step away from the crowd at your own peril.

It seems obvious, but many are oblivious -- don't let autotweet continue when the crisis is national.  Like having your flags at full staff the next day, bad form to be caught doing regular business.  That said, absent a national event like 9/11, life goes on.  During the Friday manhunt, we need to let people know that events are happening here on campus.  Frankly, for some, they want to get away from the wall-to-wall news.  Just be sensitive to the local impact of a major crisis.

Toward the end, Stahl points out some inside baseball, snide and snarky plays well on Twitter but sounds callow days later.  This is mostly advice for the journalist, but there is one part where sources can play a major role: shaming the inaccurate.

Stahl is advising his fellow journalists to NOT do this, pointing out in that "first draft of history" way that journalism works that he has been guilty of passing on unconfirmed information.  Pot, meet kettle, being Stahl's point.  And "shaming" -- Stahl's word choice -- is not the best way to approach this.  In real-time, getting accurate information out is critical.  Correcting errors, therefore, can be life-saving.  For example, if the bomb threat is for a building, don't send people in the wrong direction off campus.

Basically, that's the tack taken by Auburn yesterday over a long-developing series of accusations made by digital media.  We also have the responsibility for correcting the record, for making sure that first draft of history includes all the information.

Photo About Face on Facebook

Am I the only one noticing this? Since the launch of Facebook Home, the views and traffic of posts on the pages I administer reversed.

Where Facebook Five style posts -- image included -- did twice the traffic of regular text only, in the past two weeks text only alerts have the 2:1 advantage.  Even some links are doing as well.

Please comment if you have or have not seen this.  I have some fellow admins who see it, some have no change.

Doesn't make sense, unless . . . .

I haven't checked if Instagram images posted over to Facebook are scoring lower than photos placed directly.  Maybe Facebook is trying to game the system to favor it's property.

Is it an attempt to speed Facebook Home on mobile by going text only -- a la Twitter?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fighting Back at Auburn

No surprise to this space the concept of being the one to tell your bad news first, but Auburn -- obviously after careful investigation -- launches out to counter bad news with some aggressive messaging.  Doesn't go any higher than a letter from the AD, Jay Jacobs, that goes point-by-point in refuting charges by a digital media outlet.

Traditionalists will say that if it was, the Birmingham News' online venture, perhaps the fight wouldn't be taken back to them, and who are these newcomer, low-asset outlets.

What I find more compelling is the realization that a born-digital outlet is driving the story and the best way when you believe you have the facts on your side is to take that set of facts to the marketplace.

Let's be honest -- this is pretty easy when you think you're right.  Tough call is when you have the world and the facts against you.

Auburn has a track record of stepping out front when it needed to in the past.  Interesting read if you've not been following the events.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Pause from Athletics Oops

Far too often, student athletes are singled out for more attention than the student body, particularly high profile ones.  Just to show diversity, here's something from Peter Shankman's feed -- a note from Gawker that proves once again, once it's posted online (or emailed) it's easy to copy and spread.

Delta Gamma made some national online news with this note regarding Greek Week activities at University of Maryland.  Got to think traditional media is right behind.

Friday, April 12, 2013

They Say You Can't Fight the Future

Andrew Branch writes of his experience with a early January basketball game, and not getting to bring his homework into the PNC Arena.  The heart of the matter was the arena's ban on any tablets, and Branch writes a column detailing the folly of same for the Raleigh News and Observer.

I enjoy this story on many levels.

Zoe Barnes Rule No. 1.  Andrew Branch proved it again -- you talk to me, you're talking to 1,000 people.  More accurately, you piss me off, you risk being the subject of derision of my 1,000 friends.  If you get some bounce, you'll be in a clipping service.  And forwards, which is how I saw it -- a forward to me from the CFAA's Elite Clips.  Then in traditional media.  And so it rolls.  Did you catch the timeline here?  It happened Jan. 12.  He carried that burr under his saddle until posting the story April 12.  It will not make the rounds probably into May.  Andrew is a very Zoe character.  A senior at NC State, you can read on his Twitter feed how he's excited about the regular paper exposure.  Again, here is the intern who has access to a platform to shine a light on a problem.

Gillmor strikes again.  Back in 2008 at CoSIDA, I hosted Dan Gillmor on a panel about dealing with the "new media." In that Olympic year, Dan predicted that as the technology for a HD camera in everyone's hand was on the horizon it would become impossible for the type of embargoes and bans the IOC and others attempted to enforce.  Why bring that up?  To point out that this is not some new issue -- how many famous bands from the 60s have "bootleg" recordings of concerts -- and it isn't going away.

Rules are made to be enforced.  PNC Arena sure stuck by that mantra, to the point of understanding the absurdity.  Reminds me of the institutional ban on umbrellas at University of Arkansas.  Every venue.  Including Bud Walton Arena and Barnhill Arena.  In the winter.  When it rains.  So ushers would force patrons to pile up their umbrellas at the door.  Clearly, an outdoor venue rule that makes sense -- you don't want all those open umbrella obstructing views and dangerous eye-poking.

A little discretion goes a long way.  This story never happens if the security guard checks the tablet, sees its a non-video, non-backlight device and looks the other way.  See rule one.  Security guard obviously more concerned about the potential reprimand from superiors if the kid gets caught later.

The world is social; deal with it.  Yankee Stadium to Barclays Center -- they don't want the tablets to interfere.  Movie theaters threaten patrons with expulsion for checking phones or texting, much less recording.  What in the world are you all going to do when Google succeeds with Glass?  Or Samsung.  I notice in the story the student was quick to point out the mixed signal -- take photos during the game, interact with the video board, use your phone as a second screen in venue.

It comes into a package for the general publicity person in this way.  Today, I shot our cello ensemble for a lunchtime concert.  Two students stood with iPhones making their own recordings.  They are my competition.  Do I stop them and say, HEY this is our venue?  They'll likely get their video up to the internet first -- and first wins in SEO . . . . for a while.  When I post mine later today, and more next week, I have to count on quality to carry me eventually past them.

Content.  Context.  Competition.  Try those three Cs to push your messaging along. Spend less time worrying about what student is bringing what into the venue.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

There's Resigning Then There's Resigning

In an echo of it depends on what the word is, is, the lawyer who apparently provided advice in the Rutgers basketball fiasco resigned today.

Not last week, when everyone understood that he had resigned.  According to The Chronicle and the New Jersey Star-Ledger, John Wolf had resigned from his interim vice president position to be retained as a university lawyer at the same salary.

Today, he's resigned completely from Rutgers.

Add in your own punch lines.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Tis But A Flesh Wound

It was Edward Tufte who coined the phrase "death by PowerPoint" -- and he meant it as one of the investigator of the Columbia tragedy.  Tufte found buried in a PPT deck the key indicator that O-rings were not cold tolerant, but within that dense info stack no one noticed.

Fast-forward to New Jersey.  Another day, another set of blows for Rutgers President Dr. Robert L. Barchi.  After word that an independent investigation of why the now departed Scarlet Knights AD didn't think he could fire Mike Rice prior to the revelation of the video, Barchi is trying to conduct regular business.  From The Chronicle:

At a town-hall meeting on the university's Newark campus on Monday, Dr. Barchi was repeatedly cut off by faculty members who told him to stop lecturing from PowerPoint slides and start answering their questions.

Um. Yeah. When you're finished with that PPT, could you get your TPS reports in. Yeah. On the new form.  OK?

How long until we see Barchi as the Black Knight.  It might only be a scratch.

Mike Wolverton continues in a separate Chronicle article today about the twisted path of who had authority, that regrettably reads like a more classic comic routine.  Who was on first?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Objects Are Larger Than They Appear

In the rear view mirror, events at Rutgers and Penn State seem obvious.  Kinda like that car you just changed lanes on top of.  Chris Syme brings back up a crisis PR classic -- blind spots -- as she dissects a pair of athletic department failures.  What separates Rutgers and Penn State from Arkansas and TCU?  Read more on her blog.

Do You Remember Media Relations?

Poynter brings forth some interesting numbers as we all consider how to get the word out on our respective programs.  At least in the area of that ever-so-important male sports demo, the local newspaper is retaining its grip as a primary source.

That seems obvious in an aging demo, but the truly informative numbers in this survey are related to online.  That same newspaper's digital version is the top go-to for the sports fans.

Maybe all that time spent courting the nationals -- while very important for recruiting and reputation -- isn't as great an investment.  I've heard the negative feedback on cultivating local contacts.  Oh, they have to cover us.  They'll always be there.

Hmm.  That's kind of the point, and this survey bears it out.  If you have strong local relationships, you'll have a strong coverage base to leverage toward those national moments.

And when ESPN leaves town, who are you left with?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Sad Turn in History

Indulge me, my social media and college sports readers.  I bring out a pair of sad history points.  The first is the watering down of standards back in Arkansas.  The legislature -- amidst Lord knows what other "high" priorities -- takes the time to pass changes to the state training requirements for teaching Arkansas history.  Really?  Isn't there an economic or health care crisis to vote on instead?  Listen more on this point at We're History.

The other was the halting of one of the great thought exercises of American history -- a course on hoaxes at George Mason.  The gist was the students had to carefully craft a whole-cloth fable and sell it to the internet world as truth.  Oh, you know, that NEVER happens.

When Parson Weems did it, it was folklore.  When T. Mills Kelly reveals that our WikiWorld can oh-to-easily be filled with fakery, well that's just beyond the pale.  Read more at The Chronicle.

Friday, April 05, 2013

The Heat Shield Burns

"Reluctantly" Rutgers' athletic director resigns this evening in the wake of the growing blowback over men's basketball.

Curious at this point is one statement from The Chronicle story:

". . . . following the review of an independent report, “the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal.” "

So who advised that course?  Baker Rule still in play.

We'll see what Monday brings for the president of Rutgers, who earlier said:

"Tim kept me fully apprised, and I supported his actions," Dr. Barchi said.

Does he support today?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Howard Baker School of Administration

"What did the president know and when did he know it?"

Senator Howard Baker's question of Richard Nixon during the Senate Watergate Hearings rings across the decades, and echoes today in Piscataway, N.J.

Timeline and how Dr. Robert Barachi manages his explanations of that series of events define his presidential future.

The good and bad news of the Rutgers men's basketball situation is the buck stops at the university leadership.  Mike Rice Jr. adds his name to a list of high-profile coaches that may end an administration.

According to The Chronicle, it appears the Baker Rule is in play.  The vice chair of the Rutgers Board of Trustees was vocal today about the statements thus far from Barachi:

"Every single person who has read that memo is wondering what the hell he is really saying. It was clearly written by lawyers."

And, that may not be fair to the president as one gets the feeling the lawyering up is on for protection on all sides.  Big 10 bound Rutgers does not want to have anything that might appear to be Paterno-esque on the record.

The suits are just about to roll.  Former director of player development Eric Murdock broke the code, first by showing the video to the athletic director Tim Pernetti.  Apparently fired for speaking out internally, Murdock gave the videos to ESPN.  He is suing Rutgers for wrongful termination.  As NBC points out, he's likely done in college coaching for going against the system.  In Sicily, they call it omerta.  Those that cover coaching sometimes call it honor among thieves.

Murdock is no wannabe.  NBA veteran, New Jersey native and first round draft pick of the Utah Jazz. More than a few are rallying to his side in the debate within athletics.

Want to read something chilling?  How about this excerpt from Rob Dauster's NBC web column.  After explaining that the media covering Rutgers knew about the tapes and placing blame on the reason for the firing now at the feet of the general public's reaction to the tape, Dauster concludes:

But the root cause for the firing?

Allowing Murdock to walk away angry.

Because if Murdock leaves the Rutgers happy, or if he is still employed by the university, Rice is still firing basketballs at his players.

Thus the questions about who, what and when.  The new president may not have known in real-time about the internal athletic department moves.  He says he changed his mind once he saw the tapes.  It will lead to the Baker Question about viewing them now.  CBS has made their own timeline thus far.

Clearly the video is from the team's analysis system, which today are 100% digital.

People -- rule number one -- digital assets are easily copied (FYI -- that's a 2006 blog link) and once posted always available.  There were no tapes to take or dubs to make.  One quick drag and drop and you've got the files.

Coaches and administrators who believed for years they could say things in private groups learned hard lessons about digital recorders on cell phones.  Now coaches who believe practice is closed to all need to rethink what they are doing in supposed privacy.  On this count, Dauster's story has the situation nailed down.  He also recounts the history of other coaches with anger issues -- guess what a common denominator in many departures?  Visual evidence shown to the public.

Just to reiterate from the other end of the spectrum, let's not forget the role of digital video in the events at Syracuse where an athletics department staff member admitted to secretly taping male athletes in locker rooms.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Be Right, Be Wrong, Bielema

Current Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema is the social media polar opposite of the man he replaced, Bobby Petrino.  We created and held Petrino's Twitter feed to protect his name from spoofs, and without saying a word it reached about 5,000 followers.  This is not to say Petrino was ignorant of social media - in fact there were concerted monitoring and use of social and participatory media that emanated from the Broyles Center Second Floor.  More accurate, he was indifferent to how it would help his recruiting.

Not so for Bielema.  From back-and-forth with his former Wisconsin fans to stirring up Alabama fans, you have someone who is "gets it".  No real surprise as he cut his social media teeth with one of the better social media teams in Division I.

However, April 1 was, to use another former Razorback head coach's favorite word, special.  This year is the first anniversary of the Great Motorcycle Wreck.  Recall, Petrino's spill happened on April 1, which led many to see it as a very sick joke when word first leaked out.

The Razorback fan base went into gleeful overdrive at the post from the Bret Bielema Facebook page on April 1, 2013:

"Don't worry.  No motorcycles today."

I joined in along with literally thousands of Arkansas followers with shares and reposts of that simple line.  Funny.  Edgy.  Tongue in cheek.

As you are about to guess, it wasn't Coach Bielema.

The Facebook page is clear that it is an "unofficial fan page," but judging from the almost 6,000 likes (on a page with 23K followers) Hog fans sure wish he did.  In fact, a scan of the 1,500 comments finds the positive reaction something in the 15:1 to 20:1 range.

However, on his Twitter feed, Bielema did almost the same message.  Responding to the dust-up with Bama fans, Bielema gave an homage to his doppleganger:

"Things to chill out about today:
1 - I'm only driving my car today
2 - Alabama quotes were a joke to a question from a fan at a pep rally #wow"

Conclusion?  Both Brets seem to be on the same page. They have the same sense of humor.

And both seem to subscribe to the P.T. Barnum School of PR: "I don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right."