Doug Haslam

Gischeleman: "To Create With the Mind"

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Are the candidates using MySpace and other social media well?

UPDATE: The article has appeared, and I was favored with a two-word direct quote, along with Scott Monty (zero words direct quote– ahem), and Steve Garfield, who actually said something worth quoting….

UPDATE II: See this exchange between C.C. Chapman and the Edwards campaign. a combination of social media outreach initiative and response to constructive criticism. This is why I think the Edwards campaign gets it.

Are the candidates using MySpace and other social media well?

That question was posed to me by a writer for the new BostonNOW newspaper this weekend, as mentioned in my previous post. I answered the best I could, but I will leave it up to her to decide whether or not my comments are worthy of appearing in her article.

I can be too freakin’ humble sometimes. OK, I’m an expert– as much of an expert on social media as someone who knows how to find my blog to read it.

I thought I would put some version of my thoughts on the subject, since I did try to do a little homework. Feel free to disagree with me in comments.

First: if the candidates are not using social media to interact directly with their constituents, and of course draw new ones, then they are not being social. That’s what strikes me about the MySpace pages. They don’t feel very interactive. Sure, you can join as a”friend” and leave comments, but looking at the sites, I don’t see any real invitations for interaction on the whole. Is that a problem with the candidates or MySpace? Both, probably.

The MySpace pages are a great way to get information, videos, and links to research candidates and see what their policies are, but that’s about it– their own Web sites are — or can be– much better looking than any MySpace template, and carry the same information– and also offer as much interaction as the candidate wants. I sent messages through MySpace to all of the candidates I could find to ask them what they expected from social media. I didn’t expect them to answer me on a holiday weekend, but I thought I would try. I don’t expect answers at all, to be honest.

So- candidates on MySpace? whatever. Yawn.

Some other media have shown promise. One is Twitter. John Edwards has been a fairly consistent Twitterer over the last few months, and any questions about his “tweets” have been answered– it is Edwards. I actually corresponded with the Senator directly over a blogging question, and that coupled with others’ anecdotes, leave no doubt that he is actually doing his own Twittering. I was impressed. Not so much Barack Obama, whose inaugural tweet, now deleted, about his excitement prior to the first debate, was so obviously not him it was painful and embarrassing. As I commented to someone online that evening, “Four exclamation points does not sound very presidential.” Perhaps his subsequent tweets are authentic, but for me the damage was done.

The biggest surprise? Hillary Clinton’s video contest, where she asked for people to submit entries for her campaign song. It is participatory and fun, even if the topic is less than substantial. The second video, in which she reviews some of the entries, is a scream.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LClOHUFUC5g]
This contest is great for lightening up her image and involving the younger generation of voters– generally an apathetic bunch last seen getting excited in the 1992 election over the boxers vs. briefs question (yes, Bill Clinton was involved).

In the end, it’s not the media but the messages that will sway voters– I hope. The candidates are going to the new media because they see new voters there. In the best cases, like Edwards on Twitter, they see a way to engage with their voters and respond to them. This is why I am interested to see if John McCain gets some traction in social media. He has a great reputation for being responsive to the smallest media requests. Will that translate to the new media? I have seen nothing yet, but I am hopeful.

By the way: on the local level, I am as ever a huge fan of the community blog TheGardenCity.net. One of the reasons is that a number of the city of Newton, Mass.’s aldermen and women participate by posting to the blog and participating in the debates with other citizens. Now this is real political communication using an online social medium.

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BostonNOW– New daily paper talks to little old me…

bostonnow_logo_blue.gifIf you are in the Boston metro area, you have probably heard of the launch in late April of BostonNOW, a free daily paper competing with the Boston Metro. The big difference is that the paper is taking contributions from citizen journalists. In fact, I know my friend and fellow blogorrhea sufferer C.C. Chapman has already had a blog post appear in at least one edition.

I am curious to see how this approach works for the paper, and of course I wish them the best of luck, especially since one of the original hardworking PodCamp volunteers, Sooz, has joined the staff.

Curiously– to me at least, though I have Sooz to thank for thinking of me– one of the staffers at the paper thought I would be a good person to talk to about the presidential candidates’ use of MySpace and other social media tools. I did have some thoughts on the subject, and I will defer to the reporters’ judgment as to whether they were worth including in the story. I will throw up some version of those thoughts in a separate blog post shortly.

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That summer camp you went to: what if they wrote a book about it?

WTC Book

*Edited to bump the Key Foundation URL to buy the book

Speaking of keeping up connections, and nurturing relationships:

Many of you have a summer camp or other institution you went to as a child, youth, or young adult; for me, it was Wah-Tut-Ca Scout Reservation in Northwood, New Hampshire.

I was fortunate that the group I grew up with at that camp has stuck together for the last 25-plus years. Through high schools, colleges, marriages, children, and even a loss of one of the gang on 9/11, we have remained a tight-night gang.

Now, think about someone writing a book about that summer camp and publishing it. That’s what our group did for Wah-Tut-Ca. The Key Foundation, a fundraising group we started 20 years ago, has just published “Wah-Tut-Ca Scout Reservation,” part of the Images of America series through Arcadia Press.

This book is written by some of our own, and preserves the memories of this great camp, back to its founding 70 years ago. Best of all, its sale is being used to raise funds for a new boathouse, which will be named after our departed brother, Andrew Curry Green, another kindred spirit who passed–on 9/11–way too soon.

We have high hopes for the project– and our looking forward to the book I haven’t even got my copy yet! If this sort of thing– the book, the cause, or both– intrigues you at all, you can buy from the Key Foundation Website, which nets more charity money than Amazon.

So– how have you nurtured your childhood relationships? There is a lot of value in keeping them going…

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Summer of Love, 40 years on: Will we do it again?

My thoughts on this are not completely formed, but I am throwing this out there to see what comments I get.

In today’s Sunday New York Times Arts section was a huge story on the Summer of Love– 1967 (login required). The article outlined how reenactments and celebrations will largely be of the top-down variety, in opposition to how we think of that summer.

Let’s forget for a second that the eclipsing event of 1967 was the release of the astonishing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,”a release by one of the most experimental pop bands of our time, The Beatles– but still, a pop band on a major label. I think of the Summer of Love not only as free-wheeling Hippie culture, but of underground art bubbling to the surface of mass popular culture. This perhaps is epitomized by the Monterey Pop festival of 1967, organized by a combinations of San Francisco artists, like the members of the Mamas and the Papas, and more established Los Angeles-based music industry veterans.

Getting away from the nostalgia and events that will undoubtedly be force-fed to us by major media interests, how can the spirit of 1967 be revived? The seeds of something can be seen in the social media movement. There are several factors that can make this a possibility:

  • Media produced by the people, akin to underground artists and culture-mongers, gaining enough juice to sway some attention
  • Independent musicians and other artists, championed by many social media content producers. Think podsafe music, officially labeled so or otherwise.
  • A touch of big-media organization, — think Podshow, maybe. Is there established-media integration that would play into a social media eruption.

Throw in the parallel of an unpopular war if you want. The above are some ingredients to make an Internet-age Summer of Love. It does not have to be all about Peace and Love. It doesn’t even have to be in the summer, or in 2007. These are really some scattered thoughts that came out of reading one article in an MSM newspaper. I would be curious what people think of the parallels.

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“Life, with Cancer” Columnist Lauren Terrazzano, 1968-2007

When someone you know dies, it is natural to make it about you–how well you know the person, what you talked about, what you did with them.

All I will do here is say I wish I had known Lauren Terrazzano better than I had. I certainly should have.

By the time we graduated, I realized that Lauren was one of the “smart” ones in my high school class, Tewksbury (Mass.) Memorial high, 1986. By that I mean she was hip enough to recognize that there was life beyond our boring– sorry, Tewksbury– suburb. And she proved me right too, by going on to the Columbia School of Journalism and landing a gig as a renowned columnist for Newsday in New York City.

Her last series of columns, “Life, With Cancer,” dealt frankly with the eponymous subject. Her last column in particular, “No Time for Last-Minute Commiserators,” takes point-blank aim at my first paragraph. Lauren aired her resentment at people who pop into her life after hearing she is dying, even though she had not heard from them for years. Some of these people said strangely inappropriate things– all with good intentions.

We all do this, when we do this, out of a strong brew of guilt and selfishness. Again, we relate the tragedy to ourselves, and the need to do that sometimes overcomes decorum. Lauren was not afraid to call out that uncomfortable truth.

Lauren wrote in that column: “My father always taught me that you honor people when they are alive and not wait until they’re dead or close to it.” Memorize those words.

It is my fault that I did not keep up with someone who had so much intellectual stimulation to offer. Selfishly, I am glad that I did not become one of the people she called out in her column, but wouldn’t I have rather ad some contact with her before hearing of her death?

I do know this: I have some phone calls and visits to make. Now is the time to nurture your friendships, not when it’s nearly too late.

As for Lauren, I am grateful to have the memories I have of her, for they were good ones, even those that were second-hand through mutual friends. I am also grateful that on the Internet, many things live forever; we do have Lauren’s columns, and her voice on an NPR tribute.

One last note; I picked up my class of ’86 yearbook after receiving the email about Lauren this evening and, like me, she was not in it much, save for her activity at the school paper. I do want to know about the “Favorite Memory” in her yearbook entry. What is the story behind the Wang truck?

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New Podcast Up: PRobecast 16: Apple/Engadget, Diversity, Preakness pick

Just posted episode 16 of PRobecast, Topaz Partners’ weekly PR-related podcast
[splashcast VBMB8367UC]

This week, Adam Zand and I discuss:

  1. Engadget runs with a bad tip that affects Apple‘s stock price. Are we ready to hold new media to old media standards?
  2. Adam attended the Advertising, Marketing & PR Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference in Boston and spoke with Steve Etzler of the Business Development Institute.
  3. Do blogs need edcals? Will they provide edcals? Doug explains why he doesn’t expect to see it happen.
  4. I give a recap of the PRSA Yankee Chapter social media workshop he conducted with Chip Griffin of CustomScoop, and we both recount the Social Media Club Boston “Getting a Second Life” event.
  5. The media are for telling stories: Adam discusses a recent radio story on the family of a slain American soldier serving in the Iraq war.
  6. Bright Side of the week goes to “Kid Nation,” the new CBS reality show featuring kids. We can’t wait for Fox to rip this off.
  7. What to do this weekend: celebrating the Red Sox as their lead over the Yankees approaches 10 games: Adam picks the Preakness– “Street Sense,” if you must know.

Raise your glass of crab cake cocktail and toast the completion of another PRobecast episode!

Text: comment below or email bmoc@topazpartners.com
Audio: Leave a comment at +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam

Listen by clicking the player in the sidebar, or:

You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
or iTunes.

Or simply use the RSS link here: View RSS XML
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Tube your Mom for Mother’s Day

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyRKTpIfcfo]

Work projects should always be this much fun. This video is part of a project to promote the Tubes file sharing software as a last-minute Mother’s Day gift. I think the Mom is letting the son off easy; she had plenty of room to lay on a big fat guilt trip before enjoying the photos sent through Tubes.
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New Podcast: PRobecast #14: Splashcast, PC World, Umbria, Digg and more

This week’s episode 14 of the podcast I help produce, PRobecast from Topaz Partners is up.

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This week’s panel, Tim Allik, Doug Haslam and Rob Capra, discuss:

  1. PR Newswire and Umbria team up to bring blog tracking to wire service customers
  2. PC World‘s editor in chief resigns. Is advertiser influence on editorial to blame?
  3. The Digg community gives Digg a particular PR problem, as they won’t let Digg comply with a cease & desist order regarding the posting of an HD-DVD encryption code.
  4. We discuss a conversation I had with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Splashcast about their blogger and podcaster relations campaign to deal with concerns arising from their new MyPodcastNetwork service
  5. Bright Side: goes to all the companies at an Arab tourist conference in Egypt that did not showcase mandatory fingerprinting programs
  6. Best wishes to the publishers on the launch of Blogger and Podcaster Magazine
  7. We get Adam Zand’s Kentucky Derby pick in under the wire

Special thanks to Russell Holliman of Podcast Ready and Chip Griffin
of Custom Scoop for topic suggestions this week.
We want your comments!

Text: comment below or email bmoc@topazpartners.com
Audio: Leave a comment at +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam

You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
or iTunes.

Or simply use the RSS link here: View RSS XML

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Zombie Attack; a new way to tell a story online

ZombieOne of the joys of following Twitter has been following the Zombie Attack storyline. Twitter has actually spawned a new form of storytelling. Well, maybe it’s not completely new- I have no idea– but it’s an ingenious use of the new medium to keep our attention and actually be eager to see what the next message will be.

Zombie Attack follows Matt and Greg, two brothers who one day discover that their world has changed– it has been overtaken by zombies, and the story follows them as they try to make their way to the city and, hopefully, safety.

The creators, Matt McInerny and Greg Spessot, blog here.

In order to spread the word, it appears the two writers just got busy, sending friend requests across the “Twittersphere,” until they accumulated 585 regular followers.

There have been a few other fictional or satirical Twitter posters, some of them brilliantly funny; the best of these is probably Darth Vader.

But none that I have seen is building up a storyline in quite the same way as Zombie attack. Kudos, guys!

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