Social Media Top 5: iPad, Bloggers Aren’t Writers (?!), Valuable Content, Experts & Droid

Apple’s iPad

It’s probably all been said about Apple’s iPad launch this past week, but I was particularly interested in the viewpoints of a few of my friends:

Steve Garfield concentrates on the limitations imposed on the device. He comes from the standpoint of a heavy video consumer who would like flash, as well as many other features that this 1st generation iPad lacks. Consider it a vote against Apple’s closed system and lack of features.

Christopher Penn finds one killer app and it’s…marketing. It’s a great presentation device, right? Only problem is I’m not at all convinced Apple had this in mind as the primary use for the new device.

Also, Scott Monty points out what the whole world is saying; the name is, well, perhaps not so well thought-out (no women on the marketing team?). I’ll let you click over to see the supporting photo and video. Valeria Maltoni weighs in with humor as well.

Say It Don't Spray It

Flickr Photo by fear_loathing13

No Money in Content? Uh-Oh!

Speaking of Valeria, a thought-provoking post from her. The post title is misleading. But when you read it, you see the great points she makes. It is true that content for content’s sake won’t do anything for you. Is there a strategy/audience/context- a plan- or are you spraying it instead of saying it?

Bloggers Aren’t Writers?

Rebecca Thorman sticks her fist into a wasp’s nest with that statement. I think the problem with the semantic back-and-forth is that the tool- blogs- doesn’t matter. A writer is a writer, and a hack is a hack. Some great writers blog, come “mainstream” publications have blogs staffed by professionals. Many professional writers are finding new careers in a shrinking print industry by blogging- for themselves or for corporations. Saying bloggers aren’t writers stirs discussion, which is great, but it does not make a great blanket to cover the issue of writers vs. amateurs.

The Real Definition of “Expert”

I have been a fan of Penelope Trunk for over a decade, and it was my pleasure to have her company, Brazen Careerist, as a client last year. Her post (a blog– by a writer! ;P) on “being an expert” struck a chord, as many of us in social media bristle at the “expert” term. But, we need to be experts to have credibility, don’t we? The message here that time, experience and a lot of work are more important than talent makes a lot of sense. I need to read her source material from The Harvard Business Review to make my thinking on the issue more than superficial.

Capsule Droid Review From User’s Perspective

Again with the gadgets. You can like or not like what you use, but I thought it might be useful to give my impressions of the Motorola Droid, from a not too-terribly techy user:

The virtual keyboard took no time to get used to. I don’t even use the  “real” one, which surprised me. It makes me think more strongly that virtual keyboards will become the norm as people get used to them (and we stop hearing new iPhone users crab about it), and the keyboards themselves get better.

The sound clarity is so great that I hate using my blue tooth and use speaker phone mode, even in the car. It’s that good.

Apps? I know the Android marketplace selection is much scanter than the iPhone store. However, as I am just getting started, most of th apps I thought to look for were there (Seesmic, Foursquare, Facebook, Qik, et al). I’m certain that by the time I become more app-savvy the store will be a lot better-stocked.

Battery? Could be better. I’m just being aware of having charging options available in multiple places (USB, car, outlet etc).

Veni, Vidi, Voce (I have Joined Voce Communications)

Today, I am very happy to announce that I have joined Voce Communications– specifically, I am with the Voce Connect business group, working on social media programs for a number of their big-ticket clients.

Friends who have followed my job search know that I was looking for something that more explicitly draws on the social media experience I have acquired over the last five years or so, and Voce provides me the opportunity to put that knowledge to use and help our clients do the same.

Also important to me is that I won’t feel like the smartest person in the room (i.e. I won’t be a sole “social media expert,” whatever that means). I already feel lucky to be joining some folks who are among those who have led me into the social media space: Mike Manuel, Josh Hallett, and Chris Thilk, and a larger team that I am eager to get to know.

Plus, I am not completely divorcing myself from “traditional” (again, whatever that is) public relations, the industry I have called home for a dozen years. While I am now full-time with social media, Voce has a thriving PR practice that frequently works in concert with the Connect team.

In addition to my continued musings on social media on this blog, I will also contribute posts to Voce Nation, so please watch for me there. In the meantime; as I get settled, some (certain) sources of amusement that I shall surely document on this blog:

  • I have become a Mac: friends know I have been a PC user and occasionally like to tweak the Mac folks purely because the devotion to Apple products incites passion. We shall see if I turn into one of those passionistas as I join my colleagues and return to the Mac OS (I was a devoted Mac user in my radio days), or if I continue to resemble John Hodgman while my brain is being rewired.
  • I have set up a home office to be the base of much of my operations, as I re-establish Voce’s beachhead in Boston. Being married with a 12-year old son and a cat provides an endless source of material. I shall do my best to keep it original and entertaining.

Finally, thanks to all– and I do mean everybody– who helped me, in ways both small (not as small as you think) and huge as I worked toward this new phase in my career.

(By the way– Voce Nation’s official blog post is here)

(Not) Done with Dunbar’s Number


Flickr Photo by Charles Haynes

Yet again, Dunbar’s Number is popping up. Professor Robin Dunbar first stated in the 90s that the maximum number of relationships our tiny human brains can handle is 150.

A Sunday article in the Times of London has brought this up anew, thanks to the good Professor himself. The context, specifically, is social networks, and the articles popping up seem to warn us that having, say, 800 Facebook friends will melt your brain (yes, I exaggerate- maybe).

People who jump on this bandwagon, I say, are missing the point of how social networks work. Anyone who thinks I can talk to 1,000 people meaningfully all the time is insane (and certainly thinks I am). It’s the groups within groups- my “baby Dunbars”- that make scaling possible. Yes, that’s cheating, but I am getting around to further explanation soon.

You know what I can’t handle? The number of times Dunbar’s number keeps coming up in terms of social networks. That’s what makes my brain explode. I will be writing more on this.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Social Media Top 5: Creativity in Big Companies, Geo-Location Useful? and Learning Droid

B.L. Ochman on Big Companies and Creativity

B.L. Ochman creates some of the most useful lists in the social media space. Her latest concentrates on the problems of big companies and why they don’t swiftly embrace creative endeavors like social media. To oversimplify things: bigger entities move more slowly. If you can break them down into smaller parts, you can create pockets of innovation. I think that thought is in line with what B.L. writes (somehow I think she will let me know in comments if I am wrong).

Social Media Use Skyrockets

Least surprising tidbit in this Mashable article is that Twitter and Facebook are leading the pack. The question for me is, is the upswing in social media use helpful to companies that want to start their own branded communities and programs? I suspect yes.

Geo-Location to Get Useful?

I have been fooling around with Foursquare and observing similar folderol over Gowallah and other services. The question that comes up a lot among peers is– how are these services useful for businesses? The question is probably best answered at its essence- is what about location works for your goals? Len Kendall has a thoughtful post where he takes on these questions. I’m looking forward to a year of experimentation in this field– I hope to get a piece of that action.

Digital Marketing Outlook

Scott Monty pointed me toward an optimistic report on the state of digital marketing. Granted, the Society of Digital Agencies has a vested interest in proclaiming the rise of digital (and, correspondingly, social) marketing in 2010, but if I can say one thing in my current job search, it’s that digital and social is where a lot of the movement is. I have looked through, and will dive deeper into the report– let me know if you do as well.

Playing with My Droid


Flickr Photo by evilsciencechick

I have just joined the legions of smart phone users with my new Motorola Droid. I’m most interested in how the experience in using social networks on mobile is different with a more sophisticated phone. I’m also figuring out how to use the durn thing (all tips welcome), so if I butt-dial you in the coming week I apologize in advance.

Do Journalists Make Bad PR People?

Photo: RogueSun Media on Flickr

I read this short piece, “The Great Journalism Exodus,” by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. In it, he discusses the fact that many journalists are switching over to public relations jobs. That’s nothing new, but we’re definitely seeing more of it in this economy, and with the “traditional” media changing and shedding jobs in the process.

But Goldberg also wrote a couple of things that irked me. First, on whom PR flacks will pitch if the “media” are shrinking:

“…they’ll flack to underpaid, undertrained bloggers.”

Well, yes, in a sense there is some truth to that. But they’ll also flack to passionate people who happen to blog- those bloggers not only are closer to the audience than mainstream media– they are the audience, in a way traditional media tries not to be.  That’s just another short-sighted disdainful slap at those “amateur bloggers” from the ivory tower of print media.

It also gets to another pet peeve, which is frankly perpetuated by many PR agencies and some of their clients: that PR is all about media (including blogger) relations. Of course, that would be a journalist or columnist’s view of the world, and I have certainly seen this point of view played out in a skewed manner too many times. PR is so much more than that- messaging and strategy, crisis counsel (wouldn’t a seasoned reporter be good at that?), and, becoming more important, content creation (I think journalists know a thing or two there as well) are equally important parts of the PR mix.

Goldberg also quotes Richard Mintz of the DC-based Barbour Group:

“Journalists by their nature don’t make great advocates or public relations people because they’re trained to be objective rather than to take sides,” he said. “They also tend to work alone, and they have no business experience.”

Journalists don’t make great advocates? Two things wrong with that: first, a balanced story, even if sponsored (and disclosed as such) by a client, is a better sell to media and the public. It’s more interesting, and gains trust with the media and the audience. Second, while journalism strives to be objective, every outlet, every reporter and editor, every story has a pint of view that affects the outcome, even if only in the slightest. I’ve been a journalist, and I never pretended otherwise. Furthermore, Goldberg’s example of hack-turned-flack is a reporter from the right-leaning (some friends will say I’m being kind)  Washington Times going to work for BGR Group, a PR firm founded by Republican lobbyist and now Governor Haley Barbour. Sounds like a natural fit to me. Taking sides? Believe me, that’s an easy transition, and it was easier for me than I thought it would be 12 years ago.

As for no business experience, point taken. I guess hacks turned flacks will have to compare their business experience to 22 year olds right out of university PR schools (no offense, best and brightest students!).

Most reporters who want to pursue PR jobs will be just fine, as long as there are the jobs for them. I have seen many make the adjustment just fine over the years.

Which side of The Atlantic are you on?

Dissecting the Personal Network

Pg 118 Blood VesselsI have blogged already of the importance of having a network in place even when you are not actively seeking work. Another thought that has crossed my mind frequently is the actual makeup of a network. Every person has his or her role, no matter how many people make up the network. I actually see them as part of a body, representing the different, um, bodily functions (feel free to wordsmith that in comments). Truly, you must represent these functions yourself at the same time your network also pulls through for you. Here are my impressions:

Head (Brains)

Your Network: The people you know are smart, otherwise why would you trust them? They have advice, know where to lead you, help you prepare for interviews and negotiations, and help you figure out what you really want. Brains are not only delicious (blame late-night blogging for random zombie reference), they are the starting point for your job network- and literally, the nerve center

You: Do your research, and be aware of your surroundings. Think before you act- or email, as everything you do or say can have an effect on your job search process.

Eyes and Ears

Your Network: Where do you get leads but from your contacts? Your networks sees and hears things you can’t and brings them to you.

You: Always be looking for info and opportunities. It should be part of your daily ritual to deal with these.


Your Network: Never underestimate the power of friends in your network to hold you up, evaporate your doubt, and be your cheerleaders. This puts the key word “support” in “support network.”

You: If you can’t hold yourself up, all the encouragement in the world from your peers won’t help.


Your Network: You have surrounded yourself with peers who share your ethical beliefs, have empathy, and are able to help you see the balance between happiness and success. Right?

You: This is where I choose to say: make sure you are giving back- always, even when you are in a time of need. There is always something to give.


Your Network: People will do things for you. They will write recommendations on LinkedIn and elsewhere, and serve as references. They will help you do and get the things you need.

You: Develop your routines and stick to them (not just in job search, but in any daily routine). Use your hands to make sure the work of your heart (servicing your network) gets done.

Gall Bladder

Your Network and You: A certain amount of bile is healthy, as is a good sense of humor. It helps you bounce back and keep the other parts in working order. Don’t let anyone tell you the gall bladder is a “non-vital” organ.

How about your network? Have I missed any parts?

*As ever, the phrase “you know who you are” applies to members of my network who fit these descriptions

Social Media Top 5: LaunchCamp & Other Events; Professional/Personal Split, Dangers of Press Releases

LaunchCamp in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 4 I’m proud to take part in the first LaunchCamp at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge (near MIT) on Feb. 4. There will be lots of resources and discussion on what entrepreneurs need to get their company off the ground, provided by a mix of entrepreneurs, VCs, media, marketers- and of course the attendees. One interesting aspect of the event is that it is actually a combination of three events: LaunchCamp itself, Social Media Breakfast Bootcamp, and the Boston chapter of the Social Media Club.

LaunchCamp is organized by my friends Chuck Tanowitz and Todd Van Hoosear of Fresh Ground Communications. Here is a blog post showing their anticipation of the events.

I will be leading a morning session, “The 3 Cs of Social, Part 3: Conversation.” Hope to see you there!

Speaking of the Microsoft NERD Center: Jeff Pulver’s 140 Conference Tweetup… …took place there this past week, and it had been a while since I had attended one of his events. A warmup to the 140 Conference in New York in April, Jeff and event co-organizer Ellen Rossano assembled a smart bunch of folks to address the 150+ attendees.

The two who got the most attention from me included Alicia Staley, three-time cancer survivor and head of the Staley Foundation, whom I had wanted to meet, and who also announced that it was her two-year cancer-free anniversary.

The other was Steve Garfield (of you know), who put on another demonstration of how simple it is for anyone to stream video over the Internet. He also signed copies of his new book, “Get Seen.”

Watch live streaming video from stevegarfield at

While I’m Talking About Events; Mass Innovation Nights

Also last week- a busy week- was Mass Innovation Night, an monthly event run by Bobbie Carlton. Held at the IBM Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass., Mass Innovation Nights are getting bigger, and the variety of entrepreneurship on display (from video production to unstructured data management to Twitter to… chocolate!) gives a well-rounded picture of what entrepreneurs can do- and are doing- in Massachusetts. Next one is February 10.

Does the mixing of personal and professional personae (or “brands”) have limits?

Only if you set them. Radian 6’s Amber Naslund is, like me, someone who links personal persona with professional one online, and has had to think , including in this post, about the boundaries to set. I don’t think it’s that hard to resist, say, answering a work question at 10pm just because you are online- but what expectations do you set with your employer and customers?

Popularity is Not Based on Merit (Press Release Category)

Rich Becker of Copywrite, Inc. followed the path of a dubious press release from distribution to dissemination to misappropriation (and lack of attribution). The verdict? It’s not that hard for misinformation to flow freely. Of course, anyone who (critically) watches cable news or reads political blogs know that- I hope. All the more reason to be a critical consumer.

Ten Steps to Building a Content Hub

Mike Troiano of Holland Mark outlines a common sense approach to building a content hub that encompasses the Internet and multiple media. Read it all here (but the secret sauce is a GMail account).

I’m Riding the Pan-Mass Challenge Again

This year, for the third year in a row, I’m riding the Pan-Mass Challenge. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, the PMC is a 2-day ride across Massachusetts that is the largest single fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston (if you would like to sponsor my ride, my fundraising page is: Riders raised $30 million last year alone, and $270 million since the event began in 1980. This video from the PMC organization features founder Billy Starr explaining the origin and mission:

Billy Starr – My Road to the PMC from David Hellman on Vimeo.

Last year, my second riding the PMC, was a remarkable one. Highlights? Rather than a duo, my group of friends became a sextet, training together and riding together. We called ourselves the “5:37 Club” for the time we would leave on weekend rides. It appears the group will stay intact this year, and perhaps gain another member or two:

PMC 2009 - Doug Haslam's Ride

Most of 2009's "5:37 Club"

Training was better last year, in no small part due to the group members pushing each other, along with a new bike, and I finished the ride stronger, faster and feeling better than the first year.

The ride was also marked by the many people I knew and recognized along the was- people I know through my professional and online social networks, such as Ted McEnroe and Gerry “Realtyman” Bourgeois, other Newton, Mass. neighbors, my old colleague Karen Given from NPR’s “Only a Game” and riders we encountered on some of our longer preparation rides, such as Tom the cancer survivor- and longtime PMC rider-  who entertained us with stories about his son’s cross-country cycling trek.

PMC 2009 - Doug Haslam's Ride

Gerry "Realtyman" Bourgeois (right) with me at the 2009 start.

Last but not least, were those of you who made the most difficult part of the PMC a success. Despite the recession, and the slightly lowered overall goal of the PMC fundraising effort, with your help fundraising increased 41% from 2008 to 2009, and the average donation was 22% higher. We also exceeded my goal by 18%, taking in nearly $5,000 together to fight cancer.

I was and remain grateful, and showed those of you who let me by profiling you in a series of 25 “PMC Heroes” posts (find them here: I’m consdiering ideas for another interesting series of posts to mark this year’s effort, so stay tuned.

Please help me and the PMC beat cancer again this year. My goal is $4,200 but I consider that a minimum, not an endpoint. I think we can exceed expectations again. To donate and sponsor my ride, please go to:

Thank you.

Careers and Inbound Marketing

Social Media Camp 2009- Social Media for the Job Search

Photo Credit: deanmeyersnet on Flickr

Inbound marketing? What the heck does that have to do with the job market?

Well, first a quick definition of inbound marketing from the Hubspot blog, in a post by Rick Burnes:

Inbound Marketers flip outbound marketing on its head.

Instead of interrupting people with television ads, they create videos that potential customers want to see. Instead of buying display ads in print publications, they create their own blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. Instead of cold calling, they create useful content and tools so that people call them looking for more information.

This definition concentrates on content creation, but the real meat is the phrase “people call them.”

Again, what does this have to do with careers? It’s this: when was the last time you had to splat your resume all over the place looking for a position? What did these people know about you? Did you have any presence in the market before making these “cold calls” (and how many times has the job interview process been referred to as “sales?” Yuck). Wouldn’t it be great if people called you?

This has been my experience so far. It’s not some sort of snooty “people know me, they call me” thing, but more that the hard work many people put into spraying their resumes, I put in over the last several years in building up a network, and a body of content that, somehow, has earned me some respect and goodwill- and resulted in people seeking me out. It’s not that I am not doing any “outbound” work as well, but I am confident that this “inbound marketing” version of the career process leaves me with, to put it in marketing terms, higher quality, pre-qualified leads.

All wheat, no chaff. It has certainly made things easier this time around. And if I have talked to you about a job and you’re reading this; yes, I’m talking about you.

Social Media Top 5: Is Seesmic the Machine That Goes “Ping?,” Plus Nozzl, Presslift & Suicide Machine

Seesmic Buys

I prefer Seesmic Desktop to Tweetdeck as a PC Twitter client, just because I like it. One feature I love is the ability to choose to direct a post to Twitter or Facebook, or both, or even to multiple accounts. It’s also something I like about Posterous, which lets me direct posts in any of several different directions.

I am very curious to see how the addition of Ping to Seesmic works- it seems it could become a switchboard for you social media posting.

With apologies to those who have heard me rant about ho I hate when people quote Monty Python at parties, I still feel compelled to bring you the sketch that brought us “the machine that goes ping.”

A New Nozzl For the News Firehose?

Thanks to Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb, I heard a bout a new service from Nozzl Media that automatically draws keyword-dependent news bits from all over the social web, including Twitter and blogs, to a widget a local news organization could place on their site. If you believe as I do the the “hyperlocal” trend will be fed by social media, tools like this may be valuable. They also may need tweaking to work correctly. I would love to see examples of Nozzl or a similar tool in action.

The New ROI is– You Want ROI? Pound Sand

We often hear of the trouble people have in creating an ROI case fr social media. David Meerman Scott turned that on its head in a recent podcast, re-posted here on his blog. Basically, he asks: “What is the ROI of those billboards you spend so much money on?” He even references asking what is the ROI of putting on your pants.

Aside: I recall a recent Social Media Breakfast in Boston n which someone asked what was the ROI of walking to your car. The answer turned out to be $25, the cost of a parking ticket in Cambridge MA of you waited too long to make that walk.

Is PressLift the Next Iteration of the Social Media Press Release?

To be fair, the new PressLift service from is presented more as an easy way to share multimedia from a press release than as a social tool. But multimedia, as a resource to reporters and other media, has always been a difficut and sometimes expensive proposition when it comes to sharing on a large scale. I’d love to hear more opinions, and see who takes to this.

Suicide by Facebook Cop

I can get the appeal of the Suicide Machine tool for people who want to quit a social media addiction cold turkey. I can also understand people thinking Facebook heavy-handed for banning the service. However, the issue of handing your login credentials to a third-party service is one worth thinking about- as is that of taking extreme measures to cut yourself off from a rather useful set of tools because you yourself have no control. This tool reeks not of suicide but of self-mutilation.