Uttercast: What Are You Afraid Of?


I’m fond of the "just do it" school of social media. A lot of these tools are both pre-mainstream and cheap/free, so experimentation is a low risk venture.
For that reason I try not to be too quick to criticize companies and people who don’t do it "correctly." Look at ABC News and their embrace of Twitter during President Obama’s first address to Congress. Was their correspondents’ use of Twitter sparing and tentative? I thought so. Did that detract from the broadcast? No. they weren’t "chicken" to do it. They also read Tweets from viewers; plus, we got to hear Sam Donaldson say "Tweet."

Another example: I heard that someone on Twitter may have been testing customer service response there, judging CSR from a small sample. If that’s true, it’s a foolish, useless exercise.

This is not limited to Twitter of course. Uses of any tool- Second Life for example- can’t be held up to real-world ROI yet.

Are you cutting slack in social media? Or does it have to perfect NOW?

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How I Use Twitter (this is probably part one)

I’m a big user of Twitter – as many of you know, since the main traffic driver for this blog is Twitter – but I have probably not blogged about it so much lately– I have mentioned it and surrounding issues a bit, sure, but not about why and how I use Twitter. I figured it was time to put down a few notes on my Twitter use, if only for reference.

Here’s a quick rundown of a few points, in no particular order. As more issues come to me, I’ll likely do other posts. Feel free to add your own perspectives in the comments:

– I don’t think Twitter is “mainstream” yet, but may get there. However, it is mainstream for many of my groups of people, particularly tech, marketing and public relations. It’s great for networking, finding answers, and getting information, whether it’s serendipitous or you find it.

– I follow almost everyone back. Why? I want to make as many possible touchpoints as I can. My “Friends” stream is huge now, but as Chris Brogan told me early on, you can’t read it all; you dip in, and dip out.

– I’m fiercely proud of getting into Twitter early (thanks again to Chris and others), and for becoming an active user prior to the 2007 SXSW Interactive conference in 2007, where it first broke out big. Call that vain and arrogant, but I like being an “early adopter” for once.

– I put my Twitter feed into Facebook. I considered it might confuse people (it occasionally does), and that the volume might be off-putting (no complaints yet). What I do find, is that the different crowd on Facebook actually responds regularly to these messages, giving another channel to conversations with a whole new group of people.

– Some people will argue, but I love live-tweeting of events and conferences. I write this as President Obama addresses congress for the first time, and watch thousands of Tweets go by (And ABC News, among others, relying heavily on Twitter feedback makes me wonder if Twitter is indeed tipping to mainstream). But even tech conferences and marketing conferences-more of a niche- are made all the richer for live-Tweeting, whether I am doing it or watching it from afar.

– Does Twitter work for clients? Early on, I threw Twitter up on the wall during a messaging session and relayed live responses to questions about my client and its competitors. I took to doing this regularly for new business presentations as well.

– Last point- the mixing of personal and professional brands. Some people worry about people Tweeting under their own name but Tweeting on behalf of their business is confusing. Some people think Tweets under a brand name is too impersonal. I think both can work, and do. I do the former (pretty well, I think), as do many others (including my boss, Todd Defren). Companies like Comcast (I know, a too-often used example but still the best) deftly place the personal within the corporate.

Image below is a neat Twitter Mosaic, of a number of people I follow. I believe they are chronological in order of who i followed, up to the first 400. thanks to C.C. Chapman for the link.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Uttercast: RSS; Who’ll tell us what to read?


After reading Ike Pigott’s article on Media Bullseye, "It’s Nothing Personal," (http://mediabullseye.com/…onal.html), in which he mock-apologized for not following the too-many blogs in his feed reader, I asked myself- will RSS fail as a consumer application? It may.

– RSS is too complicated to explain, even if it’s "really simple." Is it too much to ask most people to press that orange button and set up their own feeds in a reader? Yes. It is. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be struggling still to explain it.

– Are there too many feeds to possibly follow? Yes, no matter what topic you favor.

– Do people still need "sheriffs" to round up content and tell them what’s best to read? Yes. Twitter and Friendfeed do that for people Iike Ike and me. News aggregators have the opportunity to turn RSS into something the masses will actually use, by organizing the news and showing people the best stuff to read.

Sound almost like a job for journalists and editors. What do you think?

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UPDATE:- nice response from Ike, as linked in the comments:

Blog readers: I am riding the Pan-Mass Challenge this summer, a 2-day bicycle trek across Massachusetts to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in support of cancer research. Will you join the generous folks who have sponsored my ride? Click any part of this message to go to my fundraising page– and thank you!

Social Media Top Five: Journalist POV, Incivility, and PR Agencies Really Doing Social Media?

Press Releases From a Journalist’s POV
Daryl James, a former newspaper professional, lays out some very simple tips on what should go into a news release to get an editor’s or reporter’s attention. Some of them are beyond common sense, but always worth repeating. Setting aside the fact that the fixation on the news release itself is problematic, there are some great tips. I summarize below, with my own notes in parentheses:

  1. Just the facts. (Daryl brings up the idea of putting the important information in bullets rather than writing a narrative release; something I have been in favor of for a decade, and one of the important features of the Social Media Press Release template put together by my boss at SHIFT Communications, Todd Defren)
  2. It’s not about you. (In other words, don’t pitch the news, pitch the story that will actually get written.)
  3. Don’t make me work. (No attachments, hard-to-find resources, etc)
  4. Don’t lie. (You will be found out. Period.)
  5. Know your audience. (A basic for anyone involved in any form of communications)

Sick of incivility? TechCrunch, which has an obvious bias in this story, takes potshots at the DEMO conference and departing organizer Chris Shipley. TechCrunch, of course, organizes the fiercely competitive- and opposed- TechCrunch 50, which isn’t mentioned in the piece. Well, if you follow both you know what’s going on, and it has been clear for a long time that it pays to pay attention when it comes to TechCrunch, or it’s easy to get lost when trying to sort out the behind-the-scenes editorial process (and drama). Over at Media Bullseye (for which I write a monthly column), Chip Griffin opens fire on the whole “uncivil” war, which begs the question; should we just stop trying to expect old-fashioned journalistic standards from the more formidable “blogs” and just learn to expect yellow journalism, back-biting, and omissions of convenience? Chip won’t stand for it; I say, I think we’re already at where these publications are headed. Of course, I’m in the position of not needing to take a side here.

PR Rep for Octuplets’ Mother Get Death Threats Just as there is no boundary, apparently, for who should hire PR representation, there is no reason at all to take on a client that would get you death threats. Right? I suppose there are exceptions but this is far from one of them.

Talking About Yourself Egomaniacs have no problem talking about themselves. Others, though we know it’s often necessary, have a problem with doing it. Chris Brogan lays it out nicely; in taking about yourself, make it about others. It’s just a social media take on getting by giving, but after a couple of reads I got what he was saying.

PR Agencies and Social Media– Eating the Dogfood? First off, I read Jennifer Leggio’s long-awaited ZDNet report on survey results on public relations agencies and social media. Yes, I was gratified that my employer was mentioned positively as an agency that understands social media- after all, that’s a big reason I work at SHIFT. But also, there are some great takeaways- best of all, pooh-poohing the notion that social media is a “premium” service that needs to be separated from the rest of PR, and several reminders that “traditional” PR competency is still important.

Next, there was a blog post by Cece Salomon-Lee attempting to chart 100 independent PR agencies by how they use social media. It was a great idea, hamstrung by her insistence on corporate presences at the exclusion of individuals doing social media on behalf of their agencies (in part, like me and many others, or in whole). The mix of personal and professional brands is very important to me, and while we don;t necessarily advise clients to do things the same way, it’s something I feel strongly about. I wasn’t the only one to mention this, or the first, and Cece replied in a very open way– creating a wiki for agencies to contribute and speak for themselves. Very cool.

Blog readers: I am riding the Pan-Mass Challenge this summer, a 2-day bicycle trek across Massachusetts to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in support of cancer research. Will you join the generous folks who have sponsored my ride? Click any part of this message to go to my fundraising page– and thank you!

Uttercast: Boston Globe’s Ted Kennedy Series


I have been reading the Boston Globe’s series on Ted Kennedy and have a few thoughts:

– Flogging a book with a serial in the paper is old school. Still effective?
– Did this sell papers in the way, say, Obama inaugural special editions did? Will we see more if it does?
– The videos online were well done and very effective. Where are the embed codes so I can share them on my blog? I’m happy to drive a little traffic your way (my mom at least)
– This series is eliciting a yawn from long-time Bostonians. Not because it’s bad. It’s actually excellent. It’ because many of us are very familiar with thede stories and there’s nothing new to the people most attached to Ted Kennedy.

What do you think of this series, and how it ties into the way we enjoy newspapers today?

UPDATED: Dan Kennedy at Media nation has two nice posts in sync with my thinking:

The first one is about why he isn’t reading the series;

The second is on why he thinks the series is important to The Globe.

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Uttercast: On Media Hype and Responsibility


Taking part in Journchat Monday evening on Twitter (http://journchat.info/, http://twitter.com/journchat), one question came up that didn’t speak to PR people on the surface; did media hype make the economic situation worse? My answer is yes, "pack journalism" hypes any situation, including wars and perceptions of candidates, out of whack.

But it does mean something to PR. We take advantage of trends to get attention for clients. Are we doing this responsibly? If we think it through, yes. As with anything in PR, we probably do it right more than we get credit for, and wrong more than we should.

For those in PR; do you think of these things when you jump on news trends? For the rest of you; do you take hype into account when reading the news.

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Uttercast: Whither Print Newspapers?


The discussion about the future of newspapers isn’t inside baseball anymore; it’s kitchen table discussion. As we all wonder what will happen to the dailies, and talk about the Detroit Free Press going to three-day delivery only and the Christian Science Monitor (a client) funneling print to a weekly, I think about how my habits have changed.

– Daily news is now online, and from lots of sources (including Twitter)

– I still buy the Sunday papers. I firmly believe print will remain in some form, and people who say things like print will disappear completely in five years are BS artists in love with the sound of their own voices.

How have your news consumption habits changed, and how does that affect your thinking about the future of the news?

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Pan-Mass Challenge Update: Feb 15, 2009

The Pan-Mass Challenge is still more than five months away, but I have had an eventful couple of weeks in preparation.

Fundraising is Off to a Great Start: Thanks to some very generous folks (who are probably reading this), I am actually ahead of my fundraising pace of last year. I am not resting, though, as I have set a goal that is $800 higher than last year, and still have a long way to go.

Please click this link to join the great folks who have already sponsored me. Any amount is welcome. All money raised goes to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

I know it’s a tough economy and not everyone can give. Another way to help is if you can’t sponsor this year, pass on the link to a few friends; maybe someone else can. Plus, moral support is equally important.

The Frozen Pea Fund: Once again, Connie Reece and the Frozen Pea Fund has joined the ranks of sponsors with a generous gift. The Frozen Pea Fund was started in honor of an online friend, Susan Reynolds, whose sudden fight with breast cancer she shared on her blog, “Boobs on Ice.” The online community, of which I am proud to be a very small part, has rallied around Susan and the fund, which continues to raise money to support the fight against cancer, and encouraging others who are doing the same. Thanks Connie and Susan!

Training: More Online Friends Come to Help: At the behest of some of my friends who are also doing the PMC, I started to attend spinning classes. I spent last winter doing a lot of indoor biking to stay ready for the spring thaw and “real” biking, but spinning is another level altogether. The first class at my local YMCA was tough, but the person who really started to beat me into shape was Liz Page another local friend I know from the online world, and who also happens to be a certified spinning teacher (as is her husband Jesse). Liz kindly invited me to her class, and proceeded to kick my butt relentlessly for a solid hour. I’m ion much better shape for it though, and am hoping to recover in time to catch her next weekend class. By the way, if you are local to Boston and belong to any of the gyms listed in the link, go check out her schedule.


My New Ride: Last year, I rode the Pan-Mass Challenge on a 17-year-old steel frame bike. The old bike has served me well, but I decided an upgrade was long overdue. Enter (again) Twitter, and a fellow PR professional named Mike Hollywood, who connected me with Landry’s Cycles, and manager Mark Vatour. Mark was a huge help (and didn’t even laugh when I took my first fall wearing cleats- that’s right, I went without cleats last year too), and I’m looking forward to hitting the roads soon.


Thanks again for indulging me. And thanks again to all my sponsors!

Social Media Top 5: How to Look Like an Ass on Twitter, and Baby Dunbars

twitter-npMarketer Sounds off About a Reporter’s Rudeness, Acts Surprised When Said Reporter Unleashes a Barrage of Verbal Abuse A few lessons from the very public nasty words between marketer (“Don’t call me a PR person”) April Dunford and National Post reporter David George-Cosh:

  • – I agree with Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet (linked above), that neither party was covered in glory here.
  • – I don’t ever want to be “that person” that has a little letting off of steam turn into a donnybrook. I am very active on Twitter, so I imagine I am vulnerable to it, but still…
  • – There are many messages in any given day that I don’t send. I don’t care if the message is anonymous, I don’t care if the missive is deserved, it’s just not smart.
  • – No one, of course, will defend the reporter’s actions. Wowee wow wow. Best, though, to leave it alone. Apparently he regretted it later. Or something.

Beating Dunbar’s Number
Chris Brogan wrote a post last week that is close to my heart: Dunbar’s Number, which sets a cap of meaningful relationships at 150. How do those of us with more in our online social networks cope with that? Chris makes a great point: “Be part of their 150.” I’ll take it a little further; those people of whom you are one of 150, they are part of a bunch of others’ 150s. That’s a lot of 150s. So how do I handle several thousand on Twitter and several hundred on Facebook or LinkedIn? Here’s my secret: I’m not talking to 9,000 people, I’m talking with a much, much smaller number at any given time. Not 150 either, but a few or a couple dozen. Our lives, online or otherwise, are filled with lots and lots of “Baby Dunbars,” not a single Dunbar that is our hard limit. That’s why I expand my networks as much as possible, to create as many possible touchpoints that could spark new Baby Dunbars.

Jason Falls on Why Social Media Will not Get You a Job in a Recession
The headline is, as Jason will say, “incite-ful.” I am an advocate of social media as a tool to help your traditional networking. It’s always good and always necessary to be reminded that over-reliance on online networking at the expense of offline.

Mack Collier’s “Biggest Social Media Mistakes” First, I like that Mack shares lessons learned; I should do a post like this, as soon as I make some actual mistakes (right, see above). Best one? Number 5, that he delayed blogging because he thought he had nothing to say. I always say that’s BS, your readers will tell you if you’re saying nothing. Blog away! Thanks, Mack.

Nice to be Reminded Why Jeff Pulver was Cool Long Before he was “Social Media” Cool
This week marked the Fifth anniversary of the FCC’s “Pulver Order,” which kept Internet voice classified as data rather than telecom. This was truly a part of a revolution, that any IT or telecom folk can tell you. Yes; very cool.

Blog readers: I am riding the Pan-Mass Challenge this summer, a 2-day bicycle trek across Massachusetts to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in support of cancer research. Will you join the generous folks who have sponsored my ride? Click any part of this message to go to my fundraising page– and thank you!

Uttercast: Maybe It’s Not a Blog


Quick thought from listening to the great "Marketing Over Coffee" podcast (http://marketingovercoffee.com)/. Christopher Penn told of an older woman who said she doesn’t read blogs on her Kindle, but reads the Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com).

Wait, isn’t that a blog? Apparently not. Same goes for podcasts, e-newsletters and more. Not only is format not the first thing to think of, what you call that format is even less important.

That’s why, after Shel Holtz’s recent post at http://blog.holtz.com/ that every company must have a blog, I said "No!" Every company must be ready to communicate, and there are any number of formats to do it.

And noone cares what you call it.

(Picture: Carl Yastzremski’s autograph. Does it matter that he signed a glove, or a ball, or a program?)

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