Social Media Top 5: I Am Smart and Handsome and My Cat is Adorable


  • Well, It’s official- Social Media is For Narcissists. That’s according to a study called The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement produced by San Diego State University and Youth Pulse. As far as I can tell, the study is some sort of knock on Genreation Y being self-centered. What about Generation X? I was so  self-centered as a youth that I wanted my own label: I was too cool for “X.” Then again, I thought Generation Y was too cool for social networking sites. Maybe that’s just in the UK, in which case I sense a new Mod revival in which virtual beach riots will supplant conventional social networks.
  • David Meerman Scott is more aligned with my way of thinking; people come to your blog (or Twitter or Facebook or, or, or…) to find out about YOU. Make sure your “about” page is loaded with good info. Yes, it’s about YOU. Even when it’s not. Hmm, I should probably check my about page.

Because, that’s not necessarily what we want. Mitch, I want to read about you because I want to learn from what you know.

The successful bloggers, influences, or, well, people, do provide value, and think of their readers/audience/friend. But the value they add is in writing about what they know best- themselves, or some part of themselves.

David Meerman Scott is an excellent self-promoter– in fact, that is quite often his topic, and he is among the first people I look to for such knowledge.

Mitch Joel is a brand in demand (and I don’t care if you hate the term “personal brand”). It’s his experience and his passing on that knowledge that makes him valuable.

Chris Penn dresses his extremely useful posts in the language of his life- and that includes comic books, World of Warcraft, and martial arts. He draws lessons from his own interests that we can all learn from.

Me? I can’t write about anything without my own viewpoint. Me, me, me! but that’s what i have to offer. Displaying a little ego (a little folks, it’s like Tabasco sauce you know) is necessary to share things you know. I don’t know a ton, but I want to start conversations, ask questions and share experiences. I can only do that from my own point of reference.

Please people, don’t stop writing about YOU. It’s what YOU know best. If you’re being obnoxious, we will avoid YOU. But I want to know what YOU know, and your blog (or what-have-you) does teach me. Keep it up, you narcissistic egomaniac pigs, you.

Owning Your Crap & Mob Rules


Seems that when the URL shortener went down briefly, coupled with guesses that Facebook might shut down the main FriendFeed site, all of a sudden people are worried that content they put on the web might disappear.

I have always been a pack rat. I like owning my stuff, and though I could be better at it, I keep physical backups around .

So now, people are flocking back to blogging. If it’s all about "owning your stuff," is that the best reason?

I thought about services I use, and whether owning content is relevant. Mostly, the answer is that the content is momentary. I won’t miss my Tweets if Twitter goes down, and some form of the network of people will exist somewhere else. It’s not like I can find old Tweets anyway.

The mad mob rush to blogs will likely yield some great content. But these "cloud" services- if we use them with impermanence in mind, there isn’t so much to worry about.

*I know I’m using Utterli to post this, but they do allow backups, thankfully.

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Social Media Top 5: PR on PR Crime, Pointless Babble, and Jets on Twitter

reply_allWhen Bad PR Happens to Good PR People…

…well, watch out below. It seems an email listserv goof-up prompted a comedy of Reply-Alls followed by a flurry of blog posts ranging from angry to thoughtful (or thoughtfully angry, or cynically tolerant, or….).  All the PR folks wanted to do was promote an e-book about social media (because we need one, right?) to a list of social media influencers (because they need one, right?). The angry recipients, a number of them PR/social media flacks like me, blogged about it. The guilty party was slow in responding and apologizing (or so it seemed). It would seem this is an all around Fail, but the reaction was varied:

Pointless Study: 40% of Twitter Messages are “Pointless Babble”

Lots of folks are pointing to a Pear Analytics study saying a lot of Twitter is noise. Is this supposed to prove that Twitter is useless? I would argue that 40% of the average workday is pointless babble (though at my office the number is significantly lower, natch). So, the study, ironically, created a lot of pointless babble. News flash: there is noise and distraction everywhere. If you can filter it out, you can be productive. It’s not that hard.

Because We All Want to Know What Speaker Pelosi Had for Lunch

It appears an unofficial Twitter account for the office of Nancy Pelosi has called it quits, asking the Speaker of the House to start her own, more personal Twitter account. That would be nice I suppose, but it would have to be something that would reach her constituents. Is that the most effective way? The larger question: do you need to be on Twitter? I would like to see Pelosi do it but it’s not high on my list, and probably not on hers either.

Press Releases of the Damned

Rather than harp on bad pitches and poorly-written press releases, this nice Technologizer article focuses on releases that were just spectacular wrong, and why. It’s a bit snarky, which is entertaining, but raises the question- -what will your news announcement look like in a year’s time?


The New York Jets have been encouraged to be on Twitter. On the one hand, I am waiting for some embarrassingly stupid Tweets to come for these football players. On the other, this is a great reminder that sports stars are entertainers, with a responsibility to their fans. What better way to fulfill that? And who knew the NFL- the No Fun League – would embrace social media as it has? Another thing I am waiting for: a player to get fined for having a non-uniform avatar on his Twitter profile.

What Good Are Social Media Books if You Know Social Media?

There seems to be a lot of social media-themed books out lately written by people I know- with more to come. The fact that I know many of these authors is a salient point- I buy the books to support my friends, but as a rule I don’t get much out of them.

Here’s the thing- I hang with these people, talk with them, and to an extent know what they know. These books are not written for me.

So why even buy them? Two reasons I can see:

1- Friends support each other. That should need no further explanation.
2- Give your copy to someone who will benefit from it (if it’s signed, lend it or buy a second ;)).

Ok, now that I’ve said that, I had better do it too, right?

By the way- a good example of the same kind of thinking is Christopher Penn’s review of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, both of whom he knows well. Have a look:

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Social Media Top 5: Madness! Ethical PR? How to Follow 10,000? PR in Charge of Social Media?

PR People “Surprisingly” Ethical
First of all, to whoever wrote that headline. I have a “headline writer” prize for you. I hid it in a dark alley downtown, you just need to go pick it up. Seriously, I agree with Jeremy Pepper;only the PR industry could take some good news about itself and take a match to it. however, the survey (also written up intelligently by critical PR industry watcher Tom Foremski) should be a source of cheer to people in the PR profession, and young pros considering a career therein. Let’s try not to screw up the next one, OK?

How Can Anyone Follow 10,000 or More?

twitter-followers-hahlo-31-jan-09Robert Scoble asked the question. The answer? You don’t. I don’t like to answer that question myself. “Follower” counts on social networks are not a guarantee of attention. Nor are they an endorsement (as Chris Brogan points out). for me, they are touchpoints, potential meeting points for ideas, quips, and people. The more touchpoints, the better. “Real” following? That’s more hand-to-hand. Scoble nuked his Twitter following but still built it back up to a few thousand.. That;’s much fewer than he had, but most sane people can;t closely follow that amount, or any more than a couple hundred (how about 300, a number that is partly based on experience and partly pulled out of my butt).

The Real ROI of the Press Release

I like this article by Drew Kerr, as it brings up questions about the purpose of the press release. Working for the agency that thought up the Social Media Press Release Template, I better have an opinion. Press releases are for SEO and for track record. They are not pitches., but yet their distribution should have some targeting, to create as many relevant touchpoints (see last paragraph) as possible, to supplement the hand-to-hand (again, see above for analogy) work of pitching the most sought-after media targets. That’s short, I’ll stop there.

PR Should Be in Charge of Social Media? Sounds Good to Me

Erik Schwartzman recently announced a report sponsored by his iPressRoom, Korn/Ferry, and the PRSA, part of which  saud:

“Public relations leads marketing in the management and oversight of all social media communications channels within organizations.”

That’s an answer to the frequently-batted-around question of “who owns social media?” I’ll buy that- 1st, because I’m a PR person so yay team, but also because I think of social media as communications channels. But of course I think that, I’m in PR. Marketing, sales, customer service and (shudder) advertising all have their say– it all depends on the goals of the company, right? but when in doubt, leave communications to the communications people. I’ll gladly leave lead-generation, customer service, and making creepy spots starring fast-food mascots to the appropriate experts.

Facebook Buys FriendFeed, Buys the Dirt Farm- Wait, I’ll Tie These Two Together

After all, this is not the “Social Media Top 6.” Take the point from Dan Frommer’s take on the shutdown; if you’re not hosting the great service, have a backup plan- don’t stake your business on uptime you can’t control. Friendfeed? I can’t imagine Facebook will keep the standalone site running, but even if I’m wrong, what’s your backup if you rely on FriendFeed for your social network? This is a real lesson for heavy Twitter users (looks in mirror).

Update: I guess came back from the dead, at least for now.

Blog with Integrity Not a Shot at PR (in case you wondered) When marketing blogger and fellow social media Bostonian Susan Getgood alerted me to “blog With Integrity,” (, I was intrigued, for a few reasons;

  • There has been a lot of talk among bloggers (especially but not limited to  “Mommy Bloggers”), about attempts by the government to regulate sponsored blog posts. an “Integrity” badge nominally serves to signify some sort of ethics compliance.
  • The proposed “PR Blackout” is supposed to take place this week (Susan told me about Blog with Integrity a week ago).
  • I inherently trust Susan- and by extension her three BwI co-founders- because of our friendship and the professional trust she has earned over the years. I ‘m happy to sniff out agendas in these types of efforts, and see none here.

As a PR person, I otherwise had reason to be concerned about the PR Blackout and Blog with Integrity. Is this an attack on the PR profession? A rejection of our outreach methods? As it turns out, no.

I listened to a podcast interview that Susan and BwI co-founder Liz Gumbinner did with For Immediate Release’s Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz (Liz blogs at Mom-101, by the way). I recommend listening to the podcast, it’s illuminating. What did I think about after listening, as a PR person?

  • The PR Blackout idea, whether or not you think  it’s a good idea, is more an attempt at a cleansing exercise than a flip-off of PR.
  • I often say that blogger relations is not a lot different from mainstream media relations. We need to “relate” and deal with writers/editors/bloggers as individual. Where that breaks down, however, is that most bloggers do not have training as journalists. That does not mean they aren’t ethical, but it does mean they may be naive in how to deal with PR promotions, and when they should disclose relationships with companies. You can say it’s common sense, but if you have spent two decades in journalism in PR, it’s hard to remember the days before you knew how to sort out the flacks from the genuine rep’s.
  • (ADDED 8/13); I was reminded via a question from Eden Spodek- Susan made a great point in the podcast: the badge is not so much a signifier to PR people that the blogger is ethical, but a reminder for the bloggers about their own values. We don;t need badges, unless we do.

We in PR are defensive, used to getting attacked because of bad practices and the unethical few (this didn’t start with bloggers, by the way). It’s nice to think that a move to  “ethical” blogging, and even a break from PR, is not an attack no our industry, but a way to educate bloggers and rally the community behind ethics and common sense.

By the way, I signed the petition, and sport the “Blog with Integrity” badge. Not that I get pitched often (don’t get any ideas).

PodCamp Boston 4; Aging Gracefully

UDATE: Kara Brickman has a great summary of linkjs to PodCamp Boston 4 blog posts, photos and sessions,at

Podcamp Boston 4 - Day 2

Photo by CC Chapman

As one of many folks who have attended all four Boston PodCamps going back to 2006, it has been interesting to see this event grow- maybe mature is a better word.* From the excitement of a new group of people forming around new media and ideas, to the explosion of Year 2, to a more focused production in Year 3, to a recession-dodging (and yes, more mature) Year 4, I have not grown tired of the event, the concepts or the people. Surely that’s a danger in any long-time involvement, isn’t it?

(* How about this? After I drafted this, Amanda MacArthur came up with an excellent post with the same type of theme: “Social Media Grows Up”)

This year, I decided not to present. Perhaps in retrospect I could have grabbed a session or started an impromptu session as several others did. In the middle, I wondered if I was slipping myself in between the two groups who were clearly getting the most out of PodCamp: the new attendees who were soaking up everything (those people will always be there- every year- and are the heartbeat of PodCamp), and the fellow “old-timers” with more draw than I have, who were leading focused, passionate and entertaining sessions. Perhaps I suffered from the “what will I talk about/what will I learn” dilemma that I had overcome in the past.

Another factor this year was my interrupted Saturday. I was committed to taking my son to Fenway for the “Futures” minor league games, though that did turn into a miniature “PodCamp Boston West” with friends and social media fixtures Adam Cohen and fellow PodCamper Jeff Cutler also in attendance (plus, it was a blast).

Futures at Fenway Game 2009

Site of Impromptu PodCamp Session on Twitter and Professional Sporting Events

So what did I see and notice this year? As it turns out, several things:

  • A torch has passed; Michelle Wolverton (see her PodCamp blog post here) took over from PodCamp co-founder Christopher Penn (who had a great post-PodCamp article, “Arguing Against Your Limitations“) as lead organizer and did a fantastic job, from running a smooth-as-can-be event to a planning phase that never took on an air of “will we get it done? panic (despite at least one “organizer” – me- not pulling his weight in this pre-event phase).

    PodCamp Boston 4

    Chel Pixie Gettin' it Done

  • As mentioned above, there was great new blood and still a lot of out-of-towners. Helping out at the registration desk, I was sure to meet many of the attendees at least once.  I finally got to meet fellow Tewksbury native Ron Ploof, and Montreal’s own Adele McAlear, and longtime (but never met) friend Lynette Young, while getting to see more of folks like Chris Abraham and Kathryn Jones. That’s only a few of the many new people who made impressions on me, and no doubt will continue to, not to mention a number of old favorites, who don’t need to be told here how much I think of them (or at least will forgive me, eventually, for saving the space).
  • One of my true regrets is not being around for the impromptu session on gender, and the excitement it seemed to create, as i took place while I was at the ballpark. See Rakiesha Chase’s blog post on the topic for a flavor  of what went down there.
  • I did have an irrational fear that sessions would seem repetitive to me after four years. For one thing, that’s not a bad thing, as some concepts never die and need to be re-visited as more people become interested and these new people bring fresh perspectives. For another, fresh concepts never cease- I saw a lot of interest in measurement, a topic that will not get tired for a long time. I also finally stopped constantly using the “law of two feet” and actually sat still for  Renee Hopkins’ great session on social media in the B2B world, which really made me think about how we can continue to get some great innovators to embrace new communication tools further.
PodCamp Boston 4

Renee, Speechin' & Preachin'

So, congratulations to Michelle and the rest of the organizers for another well-run event. There are a ton of PodCamps coming up shortly– perhaps there is one in your area?

*Gosh, I almost forgot– I was determined to get the high score at the pre-PodCamp bowling event, and after getting soundly thrashed for two games by Skip Bensley, I managed to do it with a personal best 219.
Bowling- high score!

Social Media Top 5: Twankruptcy, Twitter DDoS, Paid Tweetups (You Bet!)

Scoble Declares Twankruptcy

Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that some words shouldn’t be “Twitterized with a “tw” in front; by “twankruptcy” I am talking to something akin to “RSS bankruptcy” or “inbox bankruptcy” where people xapp all their unread items because there are simply too many. Well, Robert Scoble did that to this 100,000-plus followers on Twitter this week.

Why? reading the stream became unworkable. too much spam, too much “who cares?” My numbers are nowhere near Scoble’s, but I can sympathize. I’m just not sure i want to drop the people I actually I care to follow and rebuild from scratch. It’s a choice- I didn’t see too much of an uproar, probably because Twitter went down the day he announced it.

twitter-deadThat’s Right, Twitter Went down So Fast That the Fail Whale Slept Through It
Apparently, the denial-of-serivce of attack that brought down Twitter and affected Facebook, LiveJournal and other sites was politically motivated (no, I don’t understand it and won’t try). what was interesting to me was that frequent Twitter outages seemed to be a thing of the past- the last time I really had a problem I think I went to Jaiku or Pownce for my conversations. This time, people piled onto Facebook, and some to Friendfeed. Others enjoyed human company and fresh air.

If Stanley Bing knew what “PWNed” meant he could say he did it to Jeff Jarvis
In short, he took apart Jarvis’ argument that the “press release is dead” and that no journalists use them. Not so. And PR people, perhaps to Bing’s expected horror, are thanking him for coming to their defense.

Who Owns the Word Tweet-Up?
Seems some people were cheesed off that the Phoenix PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) chapter held a meeting for members that charged admission and called it a “Tweetup.” What? Outrage! Or, so what? “Tweetup” only signifies Twitter. People applying rules to things that have no rules need to step back a a bit. If there is a real problem here, maybe it’s some PRSA chapters could have more free events. But this made-up flapdoodle reeks of the old “it’s not a blog/yes it is” battles. Whatever.

The Wall Street Journal Has Changed Its Embargo Policy

According to, “it will not accept embargoes for stories, but will take exclusives if handed to them.” I’m not sure that’s much different than the way intelligent PR people handled handled the Journal anyway, is it? Jeremy Pepper had (I think) a similar reaction. Hey, at least overreaction to non-news gives me material.

Pan-Mass Challenge 2009: A Rider’s Eye View

Well, I did it. We did it.

The Pan-Mass Challenge is over, and this, my second time riding in the event, was a fantastic time.

First of all, a huge thank you to all of you who supported me- not just the financial sponsors, though that is the big part without which we cannot fight cancer (by the way, fundraising remains open until October 1- go to to sponsor). I also thank those who supported me with words of encouragement, with invitations to spin classes, with your blog comments, Facebook posts, and Twitter greetings. Not to mention, the 5:37 club (Mitch, Eddie, Steve, Keith and Kent), who made training a lot more fun this year. Every little bit helped me go a little further and a little faster.

PMC 2009 - Doug Haslam's Ride

The 5:37 Club, Ready to Roll in Wellesley

On to the ride: the weather was fantastic. Day One was sunny, and even got a little hot, but my group rode swiftly (though there was a small mishap with one of my crew) and we got in to Bourne feeling great. Here is some video I took with the Flip Camera mounted on my handlebars:

That evening in Bourne, I ran into several people I knew, which made the day a lot more lively- and familiar- than last year. Among them was Tom, the cancer survivor (“Living Proof”) who rode a few miles with our training club. He makes a cameo in the Day Two video, riding in front of me for a few seconds with his funky helmet (designed by his wife) in view.

Day Two was an even faster ride- a pleasant surprise for me, as last year I really hit a wall and thought I might not make it. The skies were overcast, which made for very nice, cooler weather, though there was enough of a sunrise by the Cape Cod Canal to note (this also appears for a little in the Day Two video).

Arriving in Provincetown was a triumph. While the trip is only ten miles longer than the Wellesley return I did last year, it means a lot to go to the traditional finish (I actually went to the Family Finish rather than the Provincetown Inn, something I may change in the future. Anyway, here’s a “Rider’s Eye” view of Day Two:

I did not take as many photos this year, but here is the set from what I did take. Again, thank you to everyone- and while I still hope to collect more donations for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute before October 1, I am already thinking about next year!

Your Domain Your Rules?


I was intrigued by Mitch Joel’s wondering aloud whether he should stop allowing comments on his blog ( Ironically, several of the comments in that post led him to rethink his "grumpiness" (as characterized by my boss, Todd Defren). Subtext to marketing folks is the blog of Seth Godin, who doesn’t allow comments because, well, he doesn’t need to.

If you don’t allow comments, are you missing out on interaction and feedback? Sure- but it’s up to you whether you need- or want- that.

What amuses me most is that these debates, as they crop up, can take on the bile usually reserved for community debates about off-leash dog parks.

Your domain, your rules. Right? No?

More in the audio. Feel free to comment.

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