Friday, May 31, 2013

Social Media Vs Freedom of Speech

You don't have to be a Washington, DC, leaker to have your ability to express yourself limited.  Let us consider the very different cases of Gordon Gee and Eric Reveno.

The men's hoops coach at the University of Portland and The President of The Ohio State might have more in common than you think today.  Both have said things they may soon (or currently) regret.  (LINK ADDITION:  Thanks to Patrick Netherton for the tip to the uncut Gee -- worth the read/listen)

Gee is almost old news now, but Reveno "broke" some news with his opinion of the NCAA's state of rules with the hashtag, "#stopinsanity".  We know how much the NCAA likes hashtags these days, and we have to wonder if Reveno won't be in for some extra scrutiny for calling out what he found to be a pair of very picayune violations.

His tweet says:

Just heard about two NCAA violations in WCC. 1) athlete using Univ. water to wash car, 2) coach text recruit 'who is this?

Both were self-reports by members of his conference and they were discussed at the West Coast Conference meetings.  I'm sure they were examples of how small secondaries are better to turn in than to ignore.

The paying for water is the one that gets the attention for high silly quotient, but the one that concerns me more is the second.  Prime example of not understanding technology.  Do we really believe a coach would get some kind of "recruiting advantage" for asking what phone number had just texted him?  Are we to infer it is better to be rude and ignore anyone who blind texts a coach?

The coach had to account for the number, because I'm betting the institution in question uses one of the nifty new spy programs -- um, excuse me, accountability tracking software -- to pour over coach's cell phone records.  And in explaining why he texted the number that someone else had identified as being a recruitable athlete -- bingo, violation.

Why the Gee comparison?  The President of The Ohio State is now out on his make-good tour of apologies.  Wonder if Reveno for expressing his on social media will be next.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

They are all-Americans, just ask AP

For years -- no, decades -- I've worked to great frustration to remind people that in the Associated Press Stylebook, the "All-America" entry refers ONLY to the AP All-America teams.

In doing some other searching in the digital AP Stylebook, I find the definitive answer:

In AP stories, AP limits the All-America (capitalized) designation to the Walter Camp and AP selections. Depending on the context, AP might report that an individual was all-American (first "a" lowercase) on another roster. Other news organizations are of course free to follow their own guidelines.

The bold and underline, obviously, are my emphasis.  That is a 2007 interpretation.  A more recent 2011 reinforces:

Webster's includes a hypothetical football team as one definition of all-American. Evidently it is not referring specifically to AP's All-America football and basketball selections, which cap both A's in this formal name.

While the editor is being a little cheeky (see the "evidently it is not referring specifically to AP's All-America" and thus insinuating that Webster's would OBVIOUSLY use "All-American" only if it was the AP team), it provides us another reinforcement.  When it is a trademark name, cap the A in all.  Just like CoSIDA's Academic All-America team -- because "Academic All-America" is a trademark of CoSIDA.  An interesting fact overlooked in an AP Stylebook entry that said you do cap all three "A"s.

If you want to read my lengthy treatise on why all-American is the right way to speak in the generic versus All-American, jump here.

Or, you can just take my word (and AP's) for it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Once Again, There Are No Secrets

Apologies for a busy month, but in the great battle of message discipline (or, flat out persecution of leakers) it would be of interest to many to keep in mind the scandal breaking at Harvard as much or more than any Department of Justice runs at journalists.

Face it -- none of this was pointed at journalists.

It is all designed to intimidate sources.

While those in private business endure the monitoring of central IT, at most public universities this is frowned upon as beyond the pale.  Unfortunately, it goes on under various guises and covers.

So just like you can't say certain terms that might reveal you're giving away proprietary secrets at a Fortune 500, be careful -- very careful -- what you put in emails on any non-anonymous system.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

More On NCAA #HashHaters

I have nothing but kudos for my colleagues at Louisiana Tech as I show this photo from the Monroe News-Star.  This is how brand promotion is done in the 21st century.

The NCAA knows that because they do it themselves.  Every scoreboard carried their hash tags, social groups and websites promoting March Madness in the venues.

They need to tell their rules committees -- starting with football -- to concentrate on the games, and not whether or not an institution is promoting its social media feeds.

Or who, or to what level, they choose to make themselves corporate shills through sponsorship agreements.

I'm beating this issue in the ground because the past indicator is the NCAA is about to go careening through other sports and creating new regulations to enforce.  They are self-fulfilling prophecies.  They are a solution -- NCAA enforcement -- in search of a problem.  If an institution seeks to promote through signage, what is the root problem?  This seems like #HashHate from the NCAA.

Think this through.  We want more engagement with fans and potential students.  We need to meet the prospective student where they live -- and every single study I've seen lately says it is mobile and social.  Can a billion user accounts be wrong?

If this shenanigans with the football rules committee is allowed to spread, sports that need outreach -- like, oh, softball -- get cut off from the fan base.  And if they are allowed to stay in football, but not all other 87 sports, then we have another example of the national organization performing the unholy act of creating the third gender.  Was it Donna Lopiano's famous line regarding Title IX enforcement?  We can't have men's sports, women's sports and football.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Plans, Planning and Working the Plan

Another local crisis event brings back to mind the basics -- it really is about the plan, not the technology.  Chris Syme brings that home today in a succinct series of six tips for crisis in the social media area.

Let me pause for a moment and ask the question:  is there such a thing anymore as a "social media crisis" plan.  It is beginning to sound a lot like we have a "broadcast media crisis" plan to go along with how we will deal with the newspapers.

I digress.

Chris' first three points are the ones that still get overlooked.  Are all modes of communication included in your crisis plan -- social being one of them?  I especially point out the third one:  with the rapid nature of social, being plugged into the top is crucial.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Some Sunday Morning Reading

Two articles I found interesting off one of this week's PRSA newsletters.  The first is from Nieman, and it discusses how public opinion polls can mislead.

The other is about who is happy at work from Time.  As a true believer in the Andy Grove mantra, this was a refreshing read.  A little revealing too -- particularly about "low achievers."

Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

You Are News

A very satisfying look at the work of the Boston PD during the manhunt last week, breaking down keys that are important for both the university/athletic spokesman and the traditional PIO.  The Bloomberg story deserves a full read, but I have to tag out the last line.  One of the officers said:

“We don’t break news. We are the news.”

And there it is.  Traditional media chafe at the thought of the people formerly known as The Source deciding to speak directly to The People Formerly Known as The Audience.

Sometimes, however, until the source has the information, all the rest is speculation.  Is the player hurt?  What is the next season football schedule?  Has the bomb threat been lifted?

In the case of Boston, it was revealing key information during the search and apprehension of the suspects.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Institutional Control

From the late 1970s forward, the NCAA has attempted to regulate publicity that no self-respecting university would tolerate from any other academic regulating body or into the realm of state laws.  In what we must see as the opening salvo against diversity in field markings, the NCAA football rules committee attacked both marketing and social media with its new guidelines.

Can we get a ruling on the color of field turf next?  The number of uniforms?  Designs of football helmets?

Is basketball not far behind?

Someone is going to have to explain to me how the purity of the game was impacted by using hash tags and institutional URLs where fans can see them on television.

What I'd like to hear from the football rules committee -- was this driven by pressure from networks to "clean up" the visual space?

Missed on the first pass through was a ban on all cameras in the team area.  Really?  The SEC tried that in several sports. Will all cameras include the live network cameras?  Betcha it won't.  Or they will shoot in from the edges.  That's just another blatant shot at one of the last areas the campus had for it's own programing -- "insider footage" from the official team camera.

And what of those lucrative conference packages that require what are essentially commercial logos -- the conference networks -- to appear on goal posts, on goal nets and sideline spaces?

Just when we cleaned up the minutia of what goes in a media guide . . .