Monthly Archives: October 2007

Are communicators behind the curve?

Shel Holtz had an interesting analysis on why professional communicators are lagging.

Communicators, as a profession, are woefully behind the curve when it comes to participatory communication, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is one overarching reason for this: Communicators don’t like or understand channels over which they cannot exercise complete control.

Holtz’ long post (about the role of professional associations) makes a solid point that too many folks wearing a ‘communicator’ hat “are woefully behind the curve” with regard to new media channels, a.k.a. participatory media, a.k.a. social media.

I have no problem with people being behind the curve –who isn’t, considering how fast the curve is rising? — but it gets scary when people seem disinterested in where the curve is taking us and our organizations. I often hear the “we’re getting there slowly” response. Which is code for “We aren’t really sure if this will be relevant.” Not the same as diving in, and taking baby steps, which I often advocate.

To put things in perspective, Commmunicators aren’t the only ones behind the curve.

The trick is to not be so deliriously happy staying in the laggard position, and do nothing about it.

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Posted by on October 31, 2007 in Social Media


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San Diego station leverages social media in crisis

Image from KPBS Flickr siteSan Diego broadcaster KPBS, an NPR affiliate and service of the San Diego State University covered the fires in a way that most local stations would –with updates, lists of evacuation sites, safety tips etc.

But it has also embraced social media in a big way. Its stories have links to Delicious and Digg, a Flickr account inviting residents to upload images, and has a Google map embedded with icons to tell residents the status of the fire, and where to locate an evacuation center or animal shelter. For those inclined, there’s also a Twitter feed providing regular updates.

If you’ve ever been temporarily displaced, you’ll know that a phone line becomes a lifeline. Hence the value of Twitter, proving to be an incredible on-demand, up to the minute channel for situations such as this. On Saturday for instance, at 10.01 am, a “tweet” went out to announce that:

The community of Deerhorn Valley has been reopened to residents only. Residents must enter from the west side of Hwy.”

The station also began using a free wiki from PBWiki that is a quick and easy way to assemble timely information, and allow the community to contribute or update. PBWiki responded by throwing in two free weeks of its Platinum service to KPBS.


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Using social media to market Scottsdale Visitors’ Bureau

Here’s one way to use a blog to support a marketing push. The Scottsdale Visitor’s Bureau is running a seasonal promo, inviting people write a post about a funny Christmas-related story/incident on its blog, and enter to win prizes.

The winning blogger gets three nights stay at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa plus round trip airfare. Also thrown in is a dinner, golfing, a local tour and car rental.

Check JingleBlogScottsdale!

SCVB has got into social media in more ways than one. It has podcasts, cell phone alerts and a travel blog.

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Posted by on October 29, 2007 in Marketing, Social Media


Quotes for the week 10/27/07

“Stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated.”

Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner, commenting on FEMA‘s fake News Conference on the California fires on Tuesday 23rd Oct, where federal agency employees played the role of reporters asking questions of their boss.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m a little burnt on just being a “PR guy.” There’s so much more to what we do, so why not work on the PR for the PR and actually improve things.”

Brian Solis on the “new rules” of PR and why Robert Scoble should be a PR guy.

10Questions is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to hasten the end of the age of soundbite TV politics and start the era of community conversation.”

From a post in OffTheBus, a crowdsourcing experiment in political campaign reporting by NewAssignment.Net and HuffPost.

“The connected consumer. There are four major driving forces: Digitization, Convergence, Media Snacking and Social Networking.”

Duncan Wardle, VP Global & WDW Public Relations, speaking at PRSA’s International conference on 22 October, 2007.

“My hope is that this tried and tested ‘disinfectant’ can help restore some of the luster to the reputation of the USA here at home and among our friends throughout the world.”

Visitor’s comment left at the State Department blog, Dipnote, that just started this week.

“Bring a technology solution to a technology-induced problem … Can you hear me now?”

Dan Wool, at ValleyPRBlog, suggesting that mobile phones come equipped with a ‘drive mode’ that sends callers and texters an automatic response to know that you are driving and cannot be distracted .


Posted by on October 27, 2007 in Quotes of the week


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Photo-journalism at its best

This has to be the most memorable image of the California fires.

Brian Williams reported on this last evening on NBC News. It’s an image captured by LA Times photographer, Karen Tapia-Anderson. The silvery images are fire-fighters who pulled out their cocoon-like “fire shelters” in an attempt to protect themselves. They were rescued.
Taken at Lake Forest, Orange County, California.

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Posted by on October 27, 2007 in Journalism


What’s your company’s public face?

I heard a comment by Sarah Wurrey at Custom Scoop (who btw writes a good blog) the other day that resonated with me because of a company I have been talking to.

“It’s easy to forget in the days when anyone can broadcast every moment of their life, that the official spokesperson is not the only public face of a company.”

Time was when the “public face” -at least the physical or tangible one– was the corporate tower, the web site, the PR department, the CEO. What companies need is more than a corporate facial, but an injection in reputation management basics.

Who manages your reputation from within? If the focus is on manages, then yes, it’s the internal folks usually assigned to the job, the PR department, and the marketing department. But it’s becoming painfully obvious that employees define/articulate the true reputation of the organization.

We’ve all worked at companies where the press release goes out and the employees literally laugh at the language that describes the product –or the CEO. What do you think they talk about when they go out to lunch or meet their neighbors over the weekend? Certainly not in the boilerplate language that hit PRNewswire.

As for the external brand and media handlers, I tend to be biased, and believe they can be a lot more realistic and objective. They don’t have to put on a happy face every time the boss walks by, so they can give him/her a better reading of the reputation out there.


State Department’s blog could be more bloggy

“This blog does not represent official U.S. Department of State communications.”

And yet, Dipnote is the voice of the State department, and the “official blog” which just started it’s blog last month. The disclaimer, notwithstanding, is just a way of saying it does not over-ride the content on the office site.

The blog has lofty goals: “to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community.”

A breath of fresh air? Definitely. Especially when public officials are allowed to speak (their minds?) on topics on anything from Darfur, the Afghanistan situation, the Dalai Lama’s visit, and even Blackwater.

The good thing is that they have posted not-so favorable comments, and commentary reflects an international audience. One post from Rafael Foley in Iraq had over 360 comments. What’s not very clear is how much of censoring and editing is done to comments (even it has a seven-point comment policy) since I notice a few instances of using ellipses.

If Dipnote aims at some degree of transparency, why not officially represent the department? Why not expand its offering so that people could leave questions for an official to respond? With RSS feeds it could then reach out to a wider audience. Interestingly, the main State Dept site allows you to ask a question from an official or ambassador. But the transcripts of responses somehow come across as canned policy statements. Dipnote could make these officials come across as being more human.


Posted by on October 25, 2007 in Best Practices, Social Media


Facebook bragging could get you … arrested

It won’t be long before lawyers pull up Facebook profiles before a judge to substantiate a point.

This story of students of Ball State University is an example for those who need to take FB 101: what not to post about or comment on. They attacked another student and bragged about the incident on each other’s FB pages.

So the cops arrive at a future scene, could storm the dorm room, gently snap on those cuff links and go, “You have a right to remain silent, a right to not post on my wall…”

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Posted by on October 23, 2007 in Social Media


Strumpette’s underbelly exposed. Now what?

Some in the PR industry have predicted that Amanda Chapel, who exited the scene recently as a blogger using the handle “Strumpette,” may indeed surface under a new guise.

Robert French’s expose of Chapel gave several others an opening to reveal the same ugly side of a PR blogger they experienced. One called her a front for a Libelous Troll Brigade. Another, an avatar. French simply calls Chapel “it.”

Indeed the approach it took – a blog that called itself “A Naked Journal of the PR Business” — drew many in, with vituperous attacks both online and off. The Washington Post had some theories too. I was one of its lesser targets, with comments to a post here, that went from mild insults to name calling. When I threw in question to see if its comments were really serious, the response was telling –dismissing Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory a bunch of hooey, etc.

To be sure, Strumpette was an half-brained experiment. Many others, just like last year’s Lonely Girl, have tried to massage the blogosphere and the social media eco-system to see what happens. Jeff Jarvis suggested it could have been a book proposal badly done, or someone slighted by a loss of clients.

Moving on. This brings to the surface once again an issue that’s uncomfortable for some: anonymous blogs and ghost blogging– a topic that’s been debated over and over again by PR folk for more than a year. Let’s see how this evolves.


Posted by on October 22, 2007 in Blog, Public Relations, Social Media


Taking notes on the run – It’s a Jott thing

I tend to use a flash drive less now that I have a wiki that serves as a data dump, and free online file space with sites such as XDrive and Dropboks.

Then came along a service called Jott, a way to leave those ‘notes to self’ without a voice recorder. It’s pretty simple. You register your cell phone with Jott, then add the Jott number to your phone’s speed dial and whenever you can’t find a pen and paper to scribble something down, you call that number and leave a voice note. The audio file then gets sent to your email, or for that matter anyone you want to share the idea with.

Now comes a sort of Jott campanion. It’s called Jjot. It allows you to take notes online, and access them later from any computer. And just like Jott, you could email that note to anyone, or yourself.

Which gives me an idea: What if Jjot would let me email files to my personal page? Then I could use Jott to make audio notes while driving, and archive both audio and text notes on Jjot!

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Posted by on October 22, 2007 in Social Media


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