Pan-Mass Challenge Update- Back in the Saddle!

Spring has arrived in New England, and with it the promise of occasional days warm enough to venture out on a bicycle. For me, that means starting the outdoor training for the Pan-Mass Challenge (please sponsor me by clicking here), a two-day ride across Massachusetts that raises money for life-saving cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Those of you who have followed my posts know I have already been doing some indoor training, adopting spin classes as my bicycling substitute. I credit Liz Page in particular with offering me a place in her classes and whipping me into shape (and I should note that her husband, Jesse, has also offered a place in his classes. I hope this isn’t some kind of spousal challenge as to who can kill me first. If I make it to Jesse’s class- and especially if I make it back- I will report).

After a short test-ride, much of which was spent figuring out how to operate this new-fangled bike I got, I got out this past weekend with some friends who are also riding the PMC, and got our first “real” ride in- 25 miles, and all seemed to go well.

Here is my first training video to give you a quick (3 minutes) idea of how things go on the roads. I’m still working on securing my Flip camera better, and I’m not working at all on my editing technique, but please have a watch and tell me what you think.

Pan-Mass Challenge – First Training 2009 from Doug Haslam on Vimeo.

(Click here for the YouTube link in case you are on a device that can get YouTube but not Vimeo video).

Fundraising Update
Remarkably, I have been blessed by wonderful friends from all parts of my life who have already become sponsors (click here to become a sponsor yourself). With the rough economy and the fact that I have committed to raise $800 more than last year, I am very happy to say that my fundraising total is way ahead of last year’s pace.

So far, you have helped me raise $1,180 towards my $4,200 goal! For perspective, last year at this time we had raised $725 (and figured I would need $895 to keep that pace for 2009). Not only are we ahead of the pace I set for this year, we are already ahead of the pace for April as well.

That does not mean we are done, of course. There is still more than $3,000 (and many miles) to go, so we continue.

OK, enough with the numbers.

Please consider sponsoring me in the Pan-Mass Challenge to help fight cancer. Click on this link to go to my sponsor page:

If you have already given (thank you!) or cannot for any reason, please forward this post and the fundraising link to your friends.

As riders we all feel the effect of your support in the outpouring of thank you’s from cancer survivors, their family and friends all along the route. Those thank you’s are for you. I’m just some guy riding a bike and having a blast doing it.

However you choose to show your support– thank you!

Public Relations and the ‘Bad Pitch’ Rants


I get a kick out of everybody going bananas when some media person (we can’t really say journalist all the time can we?) goes off on how they hate to be pitched. The latest- and not the least- is Robert Scoble’s rant that included a gem along the lines of "all email sucks." For extended discussion see an of the March episodes of For Immediate Release ( (also see FIR host Shel Holtz’ blog post on the topic. So what do I make of these?

– I can guarantee you that anyone who says they’ll never take a pitch via email or whatever will take a pitch that way if it’s good.

-Good communications never changes, but the people will. there will always be new content creators in new media who think they are the first to get bad pitches.

– We’ll always have the bottom class of PR people sending bad pitches. I can only try to tidy up my little corner of the PR world.

– In an early PR job I used to pass these rants around until an exec told me to stop. Bad for morale? I liked our not being the bad ones. Plus I was amused

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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: Lots of Twitter, & Evolution of Journalism

Fair warning: I’m Twitter heavy (again)

The 14 Types of Twitter Personalities: Didn’t we have “9 Types of Twitterers” just a few months ago? (Yes)

I’m not even going to pay attention to these posts until we have delineated 71 types of Twitterers. Or at least 31, Baskin Robbins-style.

The Best Way to Build a Twitter Account? Step by Step: So says Dan Zarrella of Hubspot, and I agree– any social network, circle of friends (heck, maybe even a business) is not a “just add water” or “just add magic follower-adding script” proposition. Cultivate relationships, starting with people you know, and next thing you know it’s completely out of hand. As it should be.

Now, Dan, who is obviously one of those right-handed people I don’t understand, feels the urge to spin his propellers and back this up with numbers. I can’t follow that at all, but knock yourself out. Here’s a sample:

Got it? Bonus: Dan promises more in an upcoming post.

casper-friendly-ghost-1A G-g-g-ghost! W-w-w-writing on T-t-t-twitter! Apparently,celebrities and politicians, such as 50 Cent, Britney Spears, and Barack Obama, have people “ghost-Tweeting” for them on Twitter. I was wondering how some of these folks got so clever all of a sudden. Next thing, someone will be telling me that politicians and executives don’t write their own speeches, and those little quotes in press releases weren’t actually uttered and thought up by the CEOs themselves. just destroy my whole rose-colored image of the world, will ya?

Seriously, the people we know are doing it are generally up front about it, and that’s fine by a lot of us (me included). ghost away! As for me, I’m thinking of hiring a poltergeist writer. That could be more fun.

How Exactly is Journalism Changing?
With troubles at the Houston Chronicle (see below) and other newspapers, to papers like The Christian Science Monitor (disclosure: a client) changing their print product to a weekly and concentrating breaking news online, a lot of people have been ruminating about what journalism- and journalists- will become. Mitch Joel writes about how journalists need to know SEO and be multimedia savvy (I completely agree, and it jibes with thoughts I am developing on where the journalism business could go eventually). David Meerman Scott blogs about the opportunities facing journalists outside of the traditional realms, as long as they think of themselves as “content producers” rather then strictly “news people.” Of course, journalists moving to the “dark side” of marketing and PR is nothing new, but it may become more common with the state of the industry. Last, I will link to the transcript of an “Editorchat” on Twitter (you didn’t think I would post a completely Twitter-free item this week, did you?), featuring BusinessWeek Editor-in-Chief John A. Byrne.

A sampling of the points he discussed:

“I think there are three absolutes in today’s media world. You can argue any of them but I maintain they’re pretty much true.”

  1. Print advertising will not come back. That means single-digit declines from here on in represent victory, with some exceptions.
  2. Online advertising cannot offset the print decline or save a print product. Too much online inventory from too many rivals.
  3. Subscribers will generally not pay for content unless it’s original, unique value-added.

Houston Chronicle Staffer Twitters Layoff Process: We have actually been through this before, with a Yahoo! employee Twittering his layoff last year, but this- “Vonwolffe” Tweeting during the runup to his own layoff from the Houston Chronicle (and after)- seemed like a timely reminder to expect that your news, sometimes, is your employees’ news too. Now certainly companies could make severance agreements contingent on not talking about certain aspects of the layoffs, but in this case, there wasn’t much bad being said (I think), and the employee was a contractor who had little incentive to hold back. We’ll be seeing more of these kinds of Tweets.

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 Night School


Many people who use Twitter and other social media tools professionally shut them off at night. That’s pretty healthy, I admit. However, you could be missing something in the off-hours.

For my own interests, public relations and media, there has been an ongoing Monday night discussion on Twitter called journchat (see and seek "journchat" at, in which PR people and journalists discuss their intertwined professions.

Last night, I stumbled on "editorchat" (find that also on Twitter search),with BusinessWeek editor John Byrne ( shared his thoughts on the state of his industry, sparking lots of side discussion and debate. I hope that is a series, I don’t know that much about it as of this writing.

That’s a small sample of what you might be missing. I am sure there are lots of other semi-organized discussions going on in the off-hours; or, you could start one.

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Your Social Networks Need $3 CDs


Last night I heaped some naive praise on the Twitter directory, based on my desire for a directory that would stay updated and be well-used, and the fact that it already seemed to be getting traffic. The truth is, I have no idea if wefollow will be useful or successful.

Another truth is my social networks are pretty healthy, and I no longer need to go find people to add. (though most everyone is welcome).

What I do want to find are what I call the "$3 CD." Contrary to the laws of supply and demand, the best product is not always the easiest to find- or the most expensive. I found Grant-Lee Phillips’ "Mobilize" at Newbury Comics in Boston for $3. I checked online and found it is one of his best-reviewed CDs. What a find (and I like the CD a lot).

How do we find $3 CDs for our social networks? Sophisticated directories may help but nothing beats manual research and personal recommendation.

I don’t need more people to network with but would love more $3 CDs. You?

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Social Media Top 5: SXSW Fail Whale, Ultimate Insults, & Real Influence

AT&T Leases the Fail Whale for SXSW: It seems that Twitter didn’t make the same leap at South by Southwest Interactive that it did in 2007 and 2008. Part of the reason may be saturation; everyone there is already using Twitter and it’s already old news. Another reason is that AT&T, home network to the iPhones carried by 123% of SXSW attendees, was also saturated. “More bars in more places” did apply in Austin, but not for phone users. Oh well, looks like people talked to the people they were with (maybe time for an update of that old Stephen Stills song for Twitter). Also, it seems the AT&T fail cloud may have drifted north. The connection is not confirmed.

“I’ll Tweet That” is The Ultimate Insult?
I understand what Mitch Joel is talking about: someone quickly forwarding a link rather than engaging and discussing your blog post seems somehow a lesser endorsement. However, I never feel insulted if someone throws a link out there. If a busy, but influential, person, does me the favor of throwing a link, I’ll take it. Creating the chance of other connections being made, other people getting engaged, is still quite valuable– and it does take some effort to forward a link. The ultimate insult? That would be a complete brushoff.

Reports of Twitter’s Death are Immature:
I take some pleasure in forwarding this link to my friend (and former Topaz Partners colleague) Tim Allik’s post taking blogger Steve Rubel’s latest “proclamation” to task. So Twitter is “peaking” because, what, celebrities are on it? Twitter is not mainstream yet, and my previous attempts at fearing Twitter’s stall and demise have consistently been turned aside by a tool that is too simple to die- it;s the cockroach of the Internet. Note Tim’s funny line about “reincarnation.” Now let’s all take a deep breath and remember none of us is smart enough to really know what’s going to happen. Punch me if I ever take myself so seriously that I think people will listen to what I predict about the unknowable.

Eric Pratum: You Hold Your Own Definition of Influence: Eric is right– there are a lot of measures we try to take of our social media activity. Not that some of them aren’t valuable, but in the end we take away what is valuable to us- and the “influential” people may not show up on any list. Who said something smart that made you think, or gave you some information that helped you solve a problem- or helped you get a job interview or a new client? Now that’s influence- to you.

Twitter Idiocy, Animated:
Yes, everyone has linked to this video by now, but it’s too funny for me not to have in my own little archive. Yes, the video treats Twitter like the repository of inane statements the uninitiated thinks it is. But funny is funny, and the people of Current TV understand Twitter, so I give them a pass. Have a laugh, if you haven’t already seen this 1,200 times. (HT: Everybody on the Internet)

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!

The New Problem Solving


Riding my new bike this weekend, I started with a problem. My last bicycle was 20 years old, with the gear shift down on the frame. The new one has modern shifting right in the handlebars. I felt like Rumplestilstkin getting on this bike and dealing with 20 years’ advanced technology.

My problem? I could shift one way, but not the other, though I had successfully done this a month back while trying bikes out at Landry’s Cycles in Boston.

Could I ask a passing cyclist for help? There weren’t many on this March day. Instead, I consulted Google on my phone. After rephrasing my query I found a question similar to mine ("How do I shift with a Shimano 150?") and the answer.

What I did was unusal five years ago and unthinkable a decade ago. Still, most of us are not "wired" to think of using these tools this way.

I’m reading Don Tapscott’s "Grown Up Digital," which states the younger "Net Generation" is wired this way. As a Gen-xer, I’m fascinated how we are adapting to this new world.

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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: The Message Control Myth


During the "Journchat" Twitter conversation last night, the concept of PR as "perception management" – or not – led me to think about a slightly different topic: the notion of "no message control" in social media.

– The "no control" meme, on the surface, says to companies "no message necessary. The masses will define you."

– Yes, the masses will define you if you don’t define yourself first- or if your messaging is untruthful or ineffective.

– The notion of messaging as something evil- as companies trying to manipulate the way we think- is wrong-headed and silly. Not that some companies don’t do it, but it’s far from status quo in public relations.

– So, can we kill the notion of "no message control," and restore the never-rescinded right of companies to defend- heck, even "manage"- their perception or reputation?

(photo- "Some Hole"- fun-loving golf course or inappropriate?)

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Social Media Top Five: SXSW Edition (or Not), and Happy Birthday Internet!

sxsw2009It’s South by Southwest Interactive this weekend, since everybody’s attention span is shortened by imbibing in too much, um, Internet knowledge, I will keep things short this week.

First, a SXSW Twitter Break (all Twitter breaks are actual Tweets), to give you a taste of the great thoughts being flung across the Internet from the SXSW crowd in Austin, Texas:

“Overheard at #sxsw Emo’s event: Q – “are you into social media?” A – “oh no, we’re here for the Lone Star””

The Web is 20 years old?
All that means to me is it still needs a fake ID, but at least it’s old enough to vote. Maybe the Internet did elect Obama after all.

*SXSW Twitter Break*
“At the Pasties and Pastries Party (that’s cupcakes and burlesque) at Emo’s. #sxsw”

For Social Web, is it “Federate” or “Aggregate?” While Om Malik has the details down, I see the choice between federation (essentially, having portable social media ideas) and aggregation (pulling your social media content into one place– or maybe it’s pushing it out from one place- I forget) thus; geeks will love Federation because it’s a Star Trek word; slackers will love aggregation because it’s less work. I bet a bag of Doritos that aggregation wins.

*SXSW Twitter Break*
“I once beat six ninjas for a hot Asian women in beer pong #SXSW”

Is Twitter’s “Suggesting” Celebrities for New Users to Follow Alienating Long-Time Users?
Dave Winer thinks so. Me? It took Winer’s article for me to notice Twitter was even doing that. So, new users get recommended certain “celebrities” to follow. That’s a standard pre-package feature. They could charge for it, as Jason Calacanis suggests. It has nothing to do with conversations and relationship building, so I will go back to not noticing.

*SXSW Twitter Break*
“Ted just gave a nickel to a black man wearing a confederate flag. I guess this Texas #sxsw”

fanpageGeoff Livingston’s “Anti-Fan” Movement, or “I Won’t Not Join a Club That Would Not Have Me as an Anti-Member”: Aside from my tortured misquote of Groucho Marx, this has grown out of frustration with the charlatans, idiots, and “gurus” (please kill that word and embarrass anyone who uses it– thanks) who either game social media systems to amass large “follower” numbers quickly or simply pay too much attention to numbers of followers over quality of network and/or conversation.

Great idea, but as of this writing the Facebook Group only has 81 fans. Kinda lame. Let me know when you have 1,000, Geoff, then I’ll pay attention.

*SXSW Twitter Break*
“#sxsw Tomorrow I have to choose between BJ Novak and Lawrence Lessig. DAMN YOU, SXSW!!!”

Social Networks Now More Popular than Email
Oh, you mean in numbers, traffic. Effectiveness of marketing newsletters aside, Email’s popularity has been pretty low with me for about five or six years- at least. I’d love email to die and say it would be gone in five years, but you know how ridiculous those kinds of predictions sound.

While I’m riffing, here’s my prediction; in five years, all blogs will be consumed in pill form. Or maybe it’s all bloggers will be real pills. Whatever sounds better to you.

Thank you, I’m here all week. Wherever here is, perhaps you think I’m in Austin?

*Final SXSW Twitter Break*
“Homeless guy with no pants on is A-OK in my book. #sxsw”

Uttercast: The Distributed Conversations Dilemma


Among my latest reading is Brian Solis’ Mashable article on the loss of "Blog Authority" to the "Statusphere." (…tatusphere)

Authority refers specifically to Technorati, the blog search engine, but more generally to the primacy of the blog as the hub for a conversation. Statusphere describes the myriad social networks and microblogging sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Really, this is nothing new. Distributed conversations and "network weaving" are as old as conversation itself.

The first problem is those of us who want to track conversations about brands or blog posts are presented with an unholy mess. The second is the people having these conversations don’t care if we find them.

The solution lies in a more advanced search for links (or links that arent’t there)- a "trackback 2.0?" Brian points to solutions in his post- Backtype notable among them. But I think we have a ways to go before wrangling distributed conversations is easy.

(Do you think Brian will find this comment since I linked to the Mashable piece rather than his version?)

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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!