The ten best ways to fail at PR 2.0

Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge have some great advice in PR 2.0: Putting the public back in public relations. I’ve taken it to heart by coming up with my top ten ways to utterly fail at public relations in today’s world of social media.

Read this list to find out how NOT to practice PR 2.0

Read this list to find out how NOT to practice PR 2.0

10. Invest your entire budget on the latest technology so you have nothing left for staff time or training to put the tools to strategic use.

9. Automate as much of your content as possible so you never have to worry about visiting all those different social sites (what was that called again? Tweeter?) this way, all your sales pitches can reach as many people as possible with the click of a button.

8. Never respond to criticism or negative comments (this only stirs up trouble–plus, it’s hard.)

Continue reading

Posted in Media Observations | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

What happens when everyone’s a social media “expert”

Thank you for participating. You are now an expert.

Thank you for participating. You are now an expert.

In the booming world of social media, words like “guru,” “expert,” and … ugh…”innovator” are handed out like participation trophies at a 3rd grade swim meet. But what–or who–determines the line of demarcation between average social media consumer and social media guru?

If you believe communications theorists’ definition of Diffusion Theory, Opinion Leaders (what you or I would call the gurus or experts) are defined by how many people fall in line behind them. So yes, folks: the number of Twitter followers you have does matter after all! Opinion Leaders also have to be well connected, good communicators and relatively innovative (that means that they are ahead of the masses following them, but not too far ahead).

Diffusion theory is all about how to measure social change: When it happens and how. And these opinion leaders are key in the formula.

So when diffusion theory is applied to our society’s massive movement to using digital media as a key communications tool, who are the Opinion Leaders?

Here’s my short list. Who am I missing?

Continue reading

Posted in Media Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social-ized Media: Why socialism is the wave of the Web

Socialist Web commerce...before there was the Web

Anderson makes a good case for how the explosion of online commerce equalizes opportunity and spreads the wealth

At least once a week I see protesters against universal health care holding huge posters warning of Obama’s socialist agenda (I work right by the White House). Conservative pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck insult Obama by calling him a socialist…and we’re supposed to cringe in terror.

With this in mind, I ask:

How do you think our fair and balanced friends at Fox News would react to Chris Anderson’s view of the socialist state of our collective online futures?

First, let’s be clear. Socialism does not mean fascism or Stalinism. I’m not talking about big-brother State murdering journalists and political dissidents. And while there are many different political systems that adopt their policies as “socialist,” what I mean here is the strict definition of the principle.Wikipedia says it well: “a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended.”

Continue reading

Posted in Media Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What the White House has to say about selling social media

President Obamas virtual town hall gave organizers, including office on new media director Macon Phillips, an ulcer because the highest-ranked question was on legalizing marijuana.

President Obama's virtual town hall gave organizers, including office on new media director Macon Phillips, "an ulcer" because the highest-ranked question was on legalizing marijuana.

This week I was fortunate enough to ask Macon Phillips, the director of the office of new media at the White House, how he is able to hurdle government bureaucracy and create some of the Web’s most innovative uses of social media for President Obama. We all know that the Obama campaign and now administration has set the standard for political engagement on social networks. I’m sure books will be written about just that.

Phillips talked unassumingly about how the White House is using new technology to reach larger audiences, get their feedback, and sort the feedback into manageable bites that then reach the ears of the most powerful man on earth. Phillips also talked about one of the toughest moments for his office, when President Obama responded to questions submitted and voted on by online communities for an Online Town Hall. The conference made headlines when the top-rated question had to do with legalization of marijuana. The President made light of the question asking what that said about online communities. Phillips said the experience gave him a very rough few days in the White House, not to mention an ulcer.

Continue reading

Posted in Observations on Creativity | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Here comes everybody, there go the pros: The collective wisdom of the Web.

This week I had the distinct honor to interview longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. His office was a love story to journalism of days past. It was filled with piles of boxes, papers, files, notebooks, awards, and books written by him. He even had an old typewriter on top of a filing cabinet. He takes all his notes by hand and only types on the computer when the story is final. No database of contacts, just scribbles on the backs of yellow legal pads.

Newspapers are closing. Does this mean an end to quality information? Not if you believe Clay Shirkys Here Comes Everybody

Newspapers are closing. Does this mean an end to quality information? Not if you believe Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody"

Unsurprisingly, he had a very negative view on the future of the profession to which he has dedicated more than 30 years.

But I’m not so sure I agree with Hersh’s pessimism.

I truly value quality journalism (and in the interest of full disclosure, I am paid to say that). But I’m not so sure that professional journalists are the only ones that can give us quality news. And with dropping circulationsshuttered newspapers, and a widely-held business model going up in flames, we may all be stuck relying on online collaboration to do journalists’ dirty work of keeping politicians honest, businessmen ethical, and communities connected.

Clay Shirky spends 344 pages illustrating what will happen when the masses organize without formal corporations in Here Comes Everybody. Shirky points out that social media is based on very different principles than large organizations.

For one, in social media, collaboration is king.

Continue reading

Posted in Community Observations, Media Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you know how to score collaboration?

Ted Wohlfarth does! Check out my interview with Ted about the organization he founded, EnTeam Organization. You can also find them online at
Posted in Observations on Creativity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mad Men in the Groundswell? I don't think so.

Perhaps one of the reasons I like social media so much is because it seems to go against the very foundation of traditional marketing practices. Reading Forrester Research’s “Groundswell” you almost feel like you’re reading a self-help book for how to be a good friend rather than a book on how to launch a successful social media strategy. Succeeding at social media is all about being authentic, patient, flexible, a good listener, humble, and collaborative (I’m not making this up–that list is lifted straight from the conclusion of the book).

My madman avatar making a presentation on how to adapt traditional marketing to social media.

An illustration of my Mad Men avatar making a presentation on how to adapt traditional marketing to social media.

Contrast this with AMC’s portrayal of traditional advertising through their hit series Mad Men and you’ll understand why social media has old-school marketers in a tizzy. Don Draper is the king of advertising at the New York marketing powerhouse at the “Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency.” He knows best and confidently convinces clients of the right strategy, dazzles execs with daring designs, and woos women with his debonaire style and poise.

Don Draper wouldn’t last a minute in today’s social media market. For one, his credibility would be shot as soon as a blogger revealed his dirty little secret that he is able to hide from his clients, colleagues, friends, and even his wife. In the world of social media, often your efforts to hide something make a story blow up as a bigger scandal than if you had let the information go public yourself. Take Digg Founder Kevin Rose’s decision to remove a link to a blog detailing the copyrighted processing key code to HD-DVDs. The community fought back. In a matter of days the code was posted on more than 3,000 sites. The fact that Kevin had removed the link became the news. Kevin gave up, and blogged about his decision. The next day, there were 605 news stories about the incident.

Continue reading

Posted in Observations on Creativity, Tech Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drowning in social media content? Lifestreaming might just float your boat

After all, life is more like a flowing stream than a series of blogs splashed in your face, right?

After all, life is more like a flowing stream than a series of blogs splashed in your face, right?

Ok, I’ll stop myself now before going crazy on the “stream” puns here. If you haven’t already heard, lifestreaming is the new blogging.

What is lifestreaming, you ask? It’s a way to pull all that content you’re posting in a million different places (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, oh my!) into one beautiful stream. See a great description from ReadWriteWeb the Wikipedia definition here, and its semi-official blog here.

Please note a special exception: Lifestreaming is NOT lifecasting (see video illustration)…those are two very different beasts. Lifecasting has largely gone out of mode, which I think we can all agree is a great development. People have realized that it is extremely difficult to maintain newsworthy activity every moment of your life.**

**Caveat: iJustine is an exception…people will watch her do just about ANYTHING!

Lifestreaming is about putting the conversation front and center–which after all, is the whole point of social media. Its advocates say it is the wave of the future (I lied, the puns just keep floating to the surface!). Compared to blogging (gulp, yes, I see the hypocrisy) it does feel more natural. You are already sharing links with friends via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other media, so why not congregate all that content in one happy place?

Continue reading

Posted in Media Observations, Tech Observations | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Confessions of a Print Journalism Major: I just canceled my daily Washington Post subscription

Well I didn’t cancel my subscription, I just downgraded it to Sunday-delivery only, but that’s not as exciting a headline. In journalism school, I learned the importance of a catchy headline.

Enjoying one final read of today's paper.

Enjoying one final read of today's paper.

I also learned the value of journalism. And the Washington Post definitely delivers quality journalism every day.

So why, you ask, did I cancel?

Was it because as a proud member of the under-thirty crowd (albeit for 10 more months), you get all your news online?

Not really – I read a lot of news on my iPhone, online and with my favorite RSS reader, but I still greatly enjoy sitting with a newspaper over breakfast and coffee perusing headlines, reading advice columns and the funnies — and have done so my whole life.

So then, was it because of all the cuts newspapers have made over the years, resulting in a thinner paper with more copy errors?

Nope, not that either. I don’t mind that the Post combined the business section with the front section of the paper – now I actually read some of those stories! And none of the sections of the paper that I read religiously have truly suffered – Dana Milbank’s hilarious Washington Sketch columns, Amy and Roxanne’s Reliable Sources and Carolyn Hax’s adictive advice column, plus most of the front section. There is still a strong selection of international news and hard-hitting investigations. True, I’ve noticed many more copy errors since all the buyouts, but it didn’t cause me to cancel. Try again.

As a print journalism major from a great DC school, don’t you feel guilty turning your back on one of the industry’s shining beacons?

I do indeed. But not guilty enough.

The real reason I canceled my subscription has nothing to do with the reasons everyone sites will be the ultimate downfall of the print news business. Our industry has spent years churning over dropping subscription numbers and negative profit margins for newspapers in the U.S. Most analysts conclude the problems we’re facing are because of: a dangerous mix of greed from media execs, a lack of insight and innovation from newspapers everywhere, and a wealth of creativity from non-news organizations replacing the void online.

Continue reading

Posted in Media Observations | 6 Comments

Gazette Communications is transforming out of necessity | BeatBlogging.Org

An interesting approach to journalism adaptation. I think it’s interesting that they are essentially outsourcing the editing process. When the Washington Post did their first major slash, I spoke with a senior copy editor whose job was being eliminated. He told me that their long-standing 3-step editing process was being changed to just a 2-step editing process. In my mind that means a third more typos, incorrect attributions, and just plain more mistakes.

I still don’t understand the approach that most newsrooms take to deal with budgetary difficulties: Ramp up their marketing and cut off the quality of the product.

Posted in Media Observations | Tagged | Leave a comment