Jeff Beatrice; Loss of Beloved Coach and Father Rallies Community to Help

Family Photo- from the Newton Tab

UPDATE: The event was a success, and while I don’t have an official total, we expect the Sports-a-Thon raised an amount in the “five figures.” Thanks to you blog readers for your part in the effort. I plan to post a separate update in the near future.

I am writing this post to ask my friends- any and all, no matter where you live- to contribute to a family in desperate need. A family that has lost their father, and may lose their home.

Last week, my community (Newton, MA) was shocked to hear of the death of Jeff Beatrice at the age of 49.  I had the pleasure of knowing Jeff as the coach for my son in Little League- twice. First, with the T-Ball Blue Jays, in which he encouraged and welcomed children the way only a father of 11 can, and later, this past spring, in the majors, where he guided the Yankees to the league championship, and my son to an early All-Star team berth.

Jeff left 11 children, some of whom I have had the great pleasure of knowing, and his wife, Elinor. The financial pressure on the family is more than most of us would like to imagine, and the community is coming out to help them. Read the Newton Tab for more on the story- or the Boston Globe.

One such effort takes place on Veteran’s Day, November 11. Good friends have developed the idea of having an all-day Sports-a-Thon to honor the man who coached so many of our kids. These kids will give back by forming teams and taking the holiday to play some of the games Jeff taught them to love; baseball, softball and (flag) football.

My son will be joining his friends in a game of baseball. These kids will play hard,, have fun and most important- raise money to help the Beatrice family get through an unimaginably tough time.

I only ask one thing: please consider helping. You may not live in Newton or know Jeff, but to help a family in need- even in the smallest way- is one of the kindest things we can do. We talk a lot about community on the social web; if you read this blog, you are part of that community. If you can help, please use the ChipIn widget below. Our team’s goal is $1,000 $5,000, but I bet we can crush that.

Thank you.

UPDATE: Through friends’ encouragement, I have upped the goal to $5,000. I think we can make this happen!

“7th Son” Trilogy– Social Media Launches Book, and It’s Still Going

I have been hearing about J.C. Hutchins’ “7th Son” thriller trilogy for a while, as the author has distributed his books, unconventionally, online via social media. Especially endearing to me, with my history in radio and audio drama productions, was that this was originally distributed as an audio book. I credit friends such as C.C. Chapman with keeping J.C. in view.

Now, the first  7th Son book, “Descent,” is on book shelves, in honest-to-God paper and print. (I know, how old school). Congratulations, J.C.!

Also, I was lucky enough to be asked to mark the release of “7th Son: Descent” by offering a 10-Chapter PDF special edition of the book right here form this blog. It’s my pleasure to pass this along, and Political conspiracy? Cloning? It’s all here. I hope any science fiction/thriller fans will have a look!

To get the special edition of “7th Son: Descent” just click the book cover below:


Disclosure Note: J.C.  & Co sent me an electronic copy of the full book. I have not read it (you will notice this post is not a review)- yet, but have been impressed independently by his promotion of the series over the past few years.

Social Media Top 5: Getting Metaphysical with FourSquare, Books, Drawing Disclosure

FourSquare- Mayor of Squatville

I have been using FourSquare, the service which lets you alert friends of your whereabouts,  a bit lately. I like the utility for nights out and especially for large events where people like to know where the party is. I used it quite a bit in Las Vegas during BlogWorld, for example, to figure out where some of my friends were and get a pulse of the evening events.

I don’t particularly care about the little “prizes” the site awards, such as making you “mayor” of a location you check in from often- but I suppose I’m not the target demographic.

I also have been experimenting with the metaphysical uses of Foursquare. Real possibilities there….

Books Update: Twitterville

I have blogged in the past on  my mixed feelings about social media books. I have also noted why I thoght Trust Agents worked for me despite my closeness to the subject.  I have been reminded of another attraction of social media- or any- book: readability. Shel Israel’s Twitterville goes down smooth, and it is refreshing to actually enjoy the read, enhanced by a seasoned writer and the apparent presence of a professional editor, regardless of business/career objectives. I’m not done with the book yet, but I’m never bored.

Live Tweeting Curmudgeon Converted

I have enjoyed following Steve Crescenzo’s battles with live blogging and live tweeting over the years. He has had legitimate gripes against the practices, despite the support of people like his friend, Shel Holtz (and me). The latest development: he finally has a good experience with a live Tweeter who manages to get things right add value, and not piss off the speaker.

Drawing Out Disclosure for Bloggers

Whitney Hoffman has been following the FTC guidelines for blogger disclosure closely. In a recent post, she attempts to draw out the disclosure decision process in a flow chart. What do you think?

Apple’s Vaunted PR?

I have often struggled with the “appeal” of Apple public relations. The Big Fruit has been a “command and control” company in an age of increased conversation and interaction. Arrogance is successful as long as the products stay elegant, good, and popular- in the case of Apple, that goes a long way. But are they a Newton or two (along with the eventual departure of Steve Jobs) from wishing they had taken a more attractive communications strategy? This recent post by Peter Himler (“The Flack”) brings me back to these thoughts on the subject.

I Love Hub & Spoke/I Hate Hub & Spoke


The latest shiny object of communications I am hearing about is "hub and spoke," where spokes of communication are served by a central hub of content.

I like the concept, in that it tries to justify another shiny object I have a hard time caring about; "lifestreaming." If the spokes serve diversified audience niches thru customized content, then I get it. Awesome.

If the spokes are different communications tools- for example, Twitter and Facebook serving a blog as hub- then you can’t get me to care.

Also- if hub & spoke means what I hope it does, then it really represents nothing new. Can you dress common sense in new clothes and call it a trend?

I guess you can.

Mobile post sent by DougH using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Observations From BlogWorld Expo

Just back from BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, and I have a few observations:

  • A little history: three years ago, I attended the Podcast and New Media Expo in Ontario, California, which has since merged with BlogWorld. It took place right after the very first PodCamp in Boston, and it seemed that the social media world was growing at a crazy rate around me. Chris Brogan, for example, had just come off of co-leading that first PodCamp, and was already in his new job working for Jeff Pulver.  He was on his way on a trajectory that now sees his co-authored book, “Trust Agents,” doing very well and Chris is a much sought-after speaker.  It has only been three years.  It’s not just Chris, there are so many others I met then (CC Chapman comes tom mind) who have done incredible things in the last three years. The current BlogWorld seems a lot bigger than that Podcast Expo was, but the community feeling remains.
  • Back then, there was quite a bit of excitement about the possibilities of podcasting. Perhaps now podcasting as a medium has become all that it will be (which is not “dead” by the way), and the excitement is now moving towards newer shiny objects such as Twitter and Facebook (we weren’t on Twitter yet at the 2006 Podcast Expo, hard as it is to picture), or maybe even trying to figure out what the next big thing is. I didn’t get a sense of what that will be (lifestreaming? nah).
More Boston Posse @ Blogworld

With Ex-Bostonians Aaron strout, Scott Monty, and Bryan Person

  • I have written before about how meeting face-to-face is still the best way to cement relationships. After BlogWorld, I can clarify further; events like this are no time to spend a lot of in-depth time with people. I did spend a good deal of time with a few people, but the majority of the time was spent saying hello to people I hadn’t met yet or hadn’t seen in some time. Even a quick wave or hug in the hallway is enough to give the online continuation of those relationships a lot more relevance. It’s a connection we can fill out better over time and distance using the new tools of social media.
The room wasn't empty, I promise! Photo by Tac Anderson

The room wasn't empty, I promise! Photo by Tac Anderson

  • Did I say relationships? I led a short session on the last day of BlogWorld called “Digital Symbiosis: How Bloggers Can Benefit from PR and Vice-Versa.” I was happy that the audience, an even mix of PR and bloggers, was fully engaged and participating. I learned , as I had hoped, something valuable about what bloggers want in a relationship with PR, as one blogger in the audience led me away from talking about “relevant” pitches to talking more about how ongoing relationships provide value. Essentially, bloggers don’t care how much is on a PR person’s plate or how many different types of clients there are to pitch, and how many bloggers there are out there to try and find and know inside and out. A blogger only cares about their relationship with you, a thought that coincided nicely with something Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group said about business communications with customers via social media in a previous session.
  • It was nice to get back in a live podcasting environment, as I was an impromptu guest on Aaron Strout and Jennifer Leggio’s “Quick-n-Dirty” podcast. I really need to get back into regular podcasting, simply because I enjoy doing it.

In all, a whirlwind of a conference, and now I must get to work solidifying all those relationships, new and renewed, that were sparked at BlogWorld.

Effective PR in a Social World; from Integrated Marketing Summit

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Integrated Marketing Summit in Kansas City. First of all, thank you to Shawn Elledge and the crew for putting on a great event and being such gracious hosts.
One thing that was refreshing about this event is that I was among a lot of new people. As vibrant, exciting and knowledgeable as the Boston social media crowd is, it was really great to see people who weren’t drinking from the same water fountain (or bubbler, as we call it here in Boston) all the time.
I had the honor of presenting a session, “Effective PR in a Social World.” I took a broad approach, looking at PR as I have known it for the last 11 years, how social media is changing it- and what it doesn’t change. I also make the case for not “ghetto-izing” social media but integrating with the traditional ways of doing PR (or marketing, sales, internal communications, etc.).
I managed to record the session with a line-in to my Zoom H2 recorder, and synced it to the slides (which are thankfully few and wordless). If you feel the urge, give it a listen and tell me what you think of the topic below.
I tightened up the Q&A section since you can;t hear the questions anyway– in most cases there is enough context to follow along.
View more presentations from DougH.
One note: near the end, in a discussion of proper grammar and usage, I quipped “Twitter is kinda like the ‘rough draft’ of the universe.” That wasn’t part of the planned part of the talk, but it’s interesting that it’s the bit that stuck in my mind. What I meant by that was that the community corrects errors and bad behavior- but we have to live with seeing that rough draft and read critically.

Google Sidewiki: Brandjacking? or the Future? (w/ Bonus Content)

This post was originally published on Todd Defren’s blog, PR-Squared Todd is Principal at SHIFT Communications, my employer

One of the latest shiny objects, Google’s Sidewiki, intrigues me as a communications professional. Sidewiki, as Google says, lets you “contribute helpful information to any Web page.” Here’s a 1-minute video that describes the concept:

One thing about Sidewiki you must know right away: you can only see the messages posted if you have Sidewiki installed on your browser. That’s an obstacle, but given that it will become part of the ubiquitous Google Toolbar, we can assume Google will eventually create a worthwhile user base. Otherwise, it’s a ghost world that exists on another plane…

What I saw as I explored this Sidewicki universe? Some great comments — some on pages that don’t allow them. It’s an “overlay” of comments: perhaps you would like to say something about McDonald’s or Nike, right on their site? Now you can do it.

As I write this, a cursory look at the sites for some major brands reveals no commentary — yet. There will have to be that critical mass of users before Sidewiki has any real impact.

Then there is the opposite effect: sites that already have their own communities and conversations (blogs and the like). Jeff Jarvis pointed out the problem as he sees it: Google is trying to co-opt the conversation that he feels he should own. As far as blog owners and community folks go, I agree. It’s hard enough to follow commentary about your content on places such as Facebook and Twitter, without a goliath like Google actively creating an “alternate universe” for you to keep tabs on.

Furthermore, as Bryan Person acknowledges, this presents a conversation appearing alongside a brand’s own sites that they have no editorial control over. I doubt Google is being malicious — this is not, as I see it, a case of “brand-jacking” — but, they will have to address the people calling for a “Sidewiki blocker” for sites that do not want this alternate conversation woven into a parallel network.

As for companies that already do a good job of monitoring brand chatter — they are accustomed to keeping an eye on numerous other channels. They have likely built up a base of goodwill among users that could ensure that only “good things” come from Sidewicki. While Google’s new toy offers unique issues for some, for these others it’s simply another in an endless stream of places they have to watch — and engage.


BONUS CONTENT- In my original draft of this post, I likened my anticipation of seeing the heretofore invisible Sidewiki conversations to the revelation awaiting Rowdy Roddy Piper as he prepared to don the mysterious sunglasses in the 1988 science fiction film “They Live.” Todd may have edited this out to avoid the impression I was saying Google was allied with aliens trying to take over the world, but I suspect it had more to do with his obsessive hatred of Piper (I guess he’s a Superfly Snuka fan).

Whatever the reason, the segment is restored here:

Social Media Top 5: Pay for Twitter, Stupid Transparency Tricks, and WaPo Social Media Guidelines

Pay for Twitter?

Dan Ziman says yes, and lays out his case. A couple of years ago I said I would pay for Twitter (and Dan’s $30/year is in my budget), but I haven’t gotten any feeling that paid personal accounts are part of Twitter’s model. It brings us back to the idea of “free” (yes, I read Chris Anderson’s book), and what is the friction point after which you lose all your customers? As Dan acknowledges, Twitter is in danger of losing to a free competitor if they start charging, so it seems that this idea remains a loser- not that it answers the “How will Twitter make money” question.

Beth Harte’s Monstrous Transparency Experiment

OK, I kid with the “monstrous.” But during this week’s “PR2.0 chat” on Twitter, Beth had someone “ghost-Tweet” for her during the proceedings– without telling anyone until after. she did so to raise the topic of transparency and honest in online communications. This is something that we in PR tackle every day, and constantly have to reinforce the line. “Ghost-blogging,” by the way, is not a black-and-white no-no in my book, but neither is it something I do readily. If you are in PR and marketing, have you been asked by clients or bosses to do something that crosses an ethical line, or falls into the gray area nearby? I bet you have.

Beth played a mean trick on a group of people she knew could take it, and I hope these discussions continue. We don’t have to agree, but silence on the issue would be troubling.

WebEx Blogger Doesn’t Disclose (Enough)?

After all this transparency talk comes this case, via John Cass, of a blogger, David Chao,  who happened to be employed by WebEx posting a bad review of a competitor, DimDim (whose Marketing lead, Steve Chazin, is a former client and all-around good guy, by the way). The blogger did not mention in the post that he is a Cisco/WebEx employee, but a quick click to his “About” page revealed the fact.  Was that enough? Chao may have honestly thought so– but next, a DimDim employee apparently left a comment that was never approved and published. That’s a lot harder to defend. John supposed this is a “slight oversight,” but I’m not sure either way.

Now, there are Cisco disclosures all over the site, and in the post itself, along with an update with corrections from Steve Chazin. End result? Better. Too long a road to get there? Probably? Lessons leaned? I guess so.

Sports Figures Continue To State the Obvious

Truly scrumptious. “Texas Tech Football Coach Calls Twitter Users Narcissists.” Of course, there is a point in that too many examples exist of athletes Tweeting before they think (as mentioned in the linked Mashable article) clash with if-you-fear-it-ban-it team officials. The irresistible farce meets the immovable dips**t, I guess.

Hey, I’m just taking things one Tweet at a time, giving it 140%.

Washington Post Social Media Guidelines: What’s the Big Deal?

There has been some handwringing over the recently leaked social media guidelines from the Washington Post. Steven Baker of BusinessWeek, for one, seemed troubled by the seeming restrictions on social media use. The following paragraph is probably one of the troublesome ones:

Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything—including photographs or video—that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility. This same caution should be used when joining, following or friending any person or organization online.  Post journalists should not be involved in any social networks related to advocacy or a special interest regarding topics they cover, unless specifically permitted by a supervising editor for reporting and so long as other standards of transparency are maintained while doing any such reporting.

I understand that a tight enforcement would be a drag, and that personal is personal, but what I see int he guidelines as a whole is a lot of common sense in how to conduct the irretrievable commingling of personal and corporate brand. I would certainly think twice before aligning myself with something that would directly contradict the values of my employer- but then, I’m not as worried about political ties and potential bias perception– AS worried. Is it necessary to spell out personal usage rules in such detail in a corporate policy? Maybe not- but for some reason, I’m not quite so offended by them

On the Road: October & November

All of a sudden,  I’m hitting the conference circuit this autumn. Here is a summary of the upcoming events I will be at (and, I am flattered to say, speaking). While I don’t particularly care to toot my own, horn, this is the best place to keep all this information straight– and hopefully some of you are attending these shows- or are in these cities– and we can say hello in person!

Integrated Marketing Summit, Kansas City, October 8: I am looking forward to seeing good friends Zena Weist of Embarq and Bryan Person of Liveworld (and also the founder of the Social Media Breakfast).  I will be leading a talk (I say “leading” rather than “giving,” as I hope for and expect lively audience participation) called New World Buzz: Where PR Meets Social Media” (2:30 p.m.), which will cover the integrations of “traditional” PR and social media.

I have never visited Kansas City before, and in particular, I am fascinated to be staying at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency, as I am old enough to remember the 1980 walkway collapse, one of the deadliest structural disasters in recent memory. I know that sounds morbid, but it is a big, memorable event in our recent history.

(Second side note: being there means I will miss the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston. I have a feeling people will get the two confused on Twitter– and I’m not sure, in terms of subject matter, it will make a ton of difference).

bugBlogWorld Expo, Las Vegas, Oct 16-17: It has been way too long since I have been– actually I have never been to BlogWorld, but did attend the Podcast & New Media Expo in 2006, which is now part of BlogWorld.  There, I am pinch-hitting for SHIFT Communication’s Principal, Todd Defren, to talk about “How Bloggers Can Benefit From PR and Vice-Versa” (Saturday, October 17, 12:45) That’s a hot topic, at least from where I sit- and should be fun.

At the Podcast Expo in 2006, I made a lot of friends and contacts (both business and personal) that I still keep today, so I am excited about seeing old friends and expanding that circle.

SIPA Mid-Year Marketing Conference, Miami, November 11-13: This is produced in conjunction with MarketingSherpa, a company and publication I have long respected, so i am definitely honored to be on board for this. There, I will be talking about the Social Media Press Release (PDF agenda here), something that is a big topic here at SHIFT; yes, I will be talking about Todd Defren’s Social Media Press Release template– but that’s just one part.