Pan-Mass Challenge Update; 30-Miler, Fundraising & Telling Equipment Who’s Boss

As April rolls to a close, I am happy to say many of you have already helped me raise $1,790 for my Pan-Mass Challenge ride to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. That’s way ahead of last year’s pace, but at 42% (of the $4,200 minimum goal) we still have a way to go. Those of you who would like to help beat cancer by sponsoring at any amount, please go to http://bit.ly/PMC2010- and thank you!

Also, a big thank you coming for the Ban Asbestos Now folks. In exchange for helping raise awareness of their petition to ban cancer-causing asbestos, they will be making a donation to sponsor me as well.

Despite travel and the usual April weather, I actually got four outdoor rides done this month. For the most recent ride with my training group, we went our normal early short ride, only to get to the halfway point and say, “That felt short. Let’s keep going.” We did, adding a short leg to bring our ride to just under 30 miles, a significant (almost milestone) as we get ready to start doing rides of 40 miles and longer in May.

Also, I fought through a balky front derailleur, which had been sticking. My fix? I kicked it until it shifted properly. That’s going to lead to some very bad habits and come back to bite me later I’m sure, but it worked.\I also fought a dying camera battery (I think the rechargeable battery in my Flip camera is coming to a premature end) to capture a little flavor of our first (almost) 30-mile ride of the season. I also wouldn’t mind making some of my shots a little less shaky, but I’ll figure something out.

Pan-Mass Challenge: First 30-mile Training Ride, April 25, 2010 from Doug Haslam on Vimeo.

The PMC is a charity ride in which we raise money to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. 100% of the finds we raise passes through directly to the charity. Last year riders raised $30 million, and over 30 years that figure has totaled $270 million!

Please help me fight cancer by sponsoring my ride at : bit.ly/PMC2010, and help by spreading the word. April is almost done as I write this, and would love to go out on a high note.

Thank you!

New Comm Forum; Return of the Bad Kid’s Table

Last week, I attended the New Communications Forum in San Mateo, California; belatedly, it was my first time.

Over at the Voce Nation blog, I have delineated some of the learnings, thoughts, comments and questions that came up over the week. Please have a look and add your two cents if you like.

Beyond that, it was great to see some of my friends in the profession, some of whom are local to Boston and I see regularly, others whom I see too rarely, and many whom I met for the first time. It is important to make and sustain these connections, and to make new ones continually. Rather than try to list folks and leave people out (I already omitted enough in my session roundup), I will leave one last thought: the Bad Kids’ table lives on. The members change, and our behavior may not live up to its original outrageous billing, but the spirit of the Bad Kids from the December 2007 SNCR symposium was alive and well (sadly, the Seesmic videos from my original post are not):

NewCommForum 2010 007

Flickr Photo by Priya Ramesh

Pictured here along with me are original Bad Kid Chip Griffin, Bad Kid Emeritus Shel Israel (he did not sit with us at the 2007 symposium but gave us an ideal to strive for), and new recruit Priya Ramesh.

What is the Bad Kids’ table? Originally, it was a little overenthusiastic experimentation with social media during the SNCR symposium program. We were much less disruptive at New Comm Forum this year, but the spirit of playfulness, teasing and healthy snark was present- at least enough to amuse ourselves.

Social Media Top 5: Infuriate-Ning, Promoted Tweets, fun with Hitler and Flaming Lips

Re-Align-Ning: Is “Free” Eroding? This past week, a memo leaked that showed social network provider Ning will be eliminating free accounts, going to a paid-only model, as well as laying off about 40% of its staff. It seems that Ning needed to realign its resources to survive, but the way it was communicated (or not) got a lot of communications pros, and Ning customers, up in arms. A few intersting points and posts. Shel Holtz, and other Sprout customers, went through a similar thing when the free version of that widget service was pulled, leaving the For Immediate Release podcast widgets inoperable, without much warning. Shel, of course, weighed in, pretty hot about the breach of customer trust he feels Ning committed. John Cass take a measured look at the “fumbled” communications strategy, and invites a lot of comments (including mine); also worth a read. One major complaint was that there was no official communication from Ning’s new management; as I commented on John’s post, a company needs to be prepared for news to get out before they want it to, and to react quickly. On April 16, there finally was a blog post from the new CEO. Enough? It was short and scant on details, but promised more, including  ways for free members to port their accounts. Speaking of moving the free accounts, I asked in my comment on John Cass’ post if there was an opportunity for another provider to take on these stranded customers. Then, I found this thread in which a community was helping each other make suggestions; and another one in which a person made a WordPress plugin to move Ning communities. Promoted Tweets There seem to be two extremes in the reaction to Twitter’s new (gasp!) revenue play, Promoted Tweets, which seems slightly like Google Ads in that they want to be relevant,and in the stream of Tweets and clearly marked. One extreme is that ads will pollute our Twitter experience. I say they will be welcome relief from spam and snake oil- well, not a relief since that crap will still be fouling my screen, but whatever. The other extreme is that this is the savior of Twitter- yay revenue! I have yet to see what they expect to earn from this, but suspect it is just one brick in a  bigger wall of this slowly-building business. Time will tell. Hitler and iPhone Apps Just when we thought the Hitler “Downfall” meme was played out, comes this take on the Apple war with Adobe over app-building for the iPhone, with developers caught in the crossfire. Leave it to tech wags to make Hitler look sympathetic next to Steve Jobs. Coolest Song Ever of the Week Madonna’s Borderline performed by the Flaming Lips and Stardeath & White Dwarf. This has been out over a year, but I finally stumbled across it. I actually heard Stardeath perform it themselves opening for the ‘Lips. Borderline The Flaming Lips | MySpace Music Videos That’s it. Four. I’m on a mini-vacation. Sue me.

Social Media Top 5: Whining Dad Bloggers, Schools Blocking Facebook & the Birthplace of Social Media

World's Best Dad Coaster

Flickr Photo by acemanonline

Just four this week, but they’re all good…

Dad Bloggers Deserve Respect?

I’m assuming this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Do “Daddy” bloggers really not get respect? Does it offend you that there are a lot of “mommy blogging” groups? Are you calling for gender-neutral terms like “parent bloggers?” Do we need a “BlogHim” coference?

Bah.

What about us bloggers who are dads who don’t necessarily blog about being dads? Don’t we have rights too? Represent!

High School May Block Facebook. Should They?

This story about Newton North High School opening the question of blocking Facebook intrigued me on a few levels:

  • Newton North is my local high school, the one my son is on schedule to attend in two and a half years
  • My friend and industry colleague Shel Holtz took up the issue on his Stop Blocking site, usually dedicated to stopping workplaces from blocking social networks
  • I fear that cyberbullying incidents have created a misplaced fear of sites like Facebook, blaming them for behavior that would take place regardless of the tool used to carry it out. Should we ban playgrounds too?
  • A poll on the Newton North library site runs 81% in favor of access to Facebook. Granted, the poll respondents could be mostly students, but if students are there, shouldn’t there be an educational imperative to teach kids to use these responsibly and productively, and for the schools and communities to be actively involved there as well?
  • No one us advocating letting kids play Farmville in class. This is about recognizing a social phenomenon, and harnessing it for the benefit f the educational community.

NewComm Forum http://www.pr-squared.com/index.php/2010/04/you-should-go-to-newcomm-forum

Facebook measured by fan numbers (or likers)?

A new study from CoreMetrics shows that the largest response to the question “What is your most important metric for Facebook?” was total number of fans. Articles like this one in MediaBistro make a big deal of this result- but in reality the number is a mere 32%. To me, it just doesn’t seem alarming- I bet this number would have been higher six months ago. Does CoreMetrics have those number for comparison? There’s no story here without that answer.

Tewksbury. Massachusetts- the True Home of Social Media

See the sign? It’s got to be true. My hometown of Tewksbury, MA has produced not only the Queen of MarketingProfs, Ann Handley, but also social media raconteur Ron Ploof– author of the excellent new book Read This First.

Pan-Mass Challenge: First 2010 Training Ride

After a winter of spin classes and other workouts, my training group got together on Saturday, April 3 for an honest-to-goodness outdoor ride- our first of the year- in preparation for the Pan-Mass Challenge August 7-8.

We went a short but good 24 miles, starting out slow but increasing our average speed to 15 mile per hour before tackling a huge hill at the end– for good luck, or something. At the midpoint, we reached Dover Falls at the Dover/Needham (Massachusetts) line, and saw some of the effects of flooding by the Charles River from the recent 15 inches of rain we had.

The rides will get longer and faster very quickly, as the Pan-Mass challenge dates of August 7-8 loom closer every week. So does our fund-raising deadline. We are 40% of the way to our goal of $4,200. Several generous people have helped so far (including the Ban Asbestos Now folks, who are still conducting a drive for petition signatures, each of which means $1 to sponsor my ride).

To sponsor my PMC ride directly, please go to http://bit.ly/PMC2010 to donate. Any amount is welcome, and I appreciate the generosity of my friends, old and new, that keep us all pedaling closer to a cure for cancer

Pan-Mass Challenge 2010- 1st Training Ride of the Season from Doug Haslam on Vimeo.

Social Media Top 5: Doing Better than Facebook “Likes” & Worst iPad Joke Ever

Facebook Changes Brand “Fans” to Brand “Likes”

I get the idea that asking people to “like” a brand is likely to get more people than asking them to be “fans.” I also understand that that lower barrier, equaling more fans likers, also equals more potential ad revenue for Facebook. Well played.

Like is so well-used for posts in Facebook, I was wondering if there are some other terms that Facebook could use to replace fans on corporate Facebook pages. Here are my suggestions:

  • Non-Aggressors
  • Sympathizers
  • Fellow Travelers
  • Comrades in Arms
  • BCFs (Best Customers Forever)

Any faves? No? Can you do better?

Conversations with Community Managers: Back into Podcasting

This past week, my new employer, Voce Communications, launched a podcast in partnership with The Community Roundtable. “Conversations With Community Managers” kicks off with an interview of Blue Sky Factory‘s DJ Waldow. Mosey over to this post to get the podcast.

Also, subscribe to it here:

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Photo by Jim Storer

I hav been having a blast producing the podcast with The CR’s Jim Storer. I love podcasting, as it gets me back to my radio/audio production roots. And I am working with great equipment this time around, which I hope is reflected in the finished product.

Podcast equipment for www.vocenation.com

My Favorite Pun of the Week (iPad Edition)

I couldn’t help recounting this Twitter exchange with my Voce colleague Chris Thilk. I’m so proud of myself (warning- flammable mixture of tech geekery and comic-book nerdism):

*rimshot*

Will iPad mean the death of Flash?

I Give Up: “Douche, Douche, Douche”

Not long ago, I called for people to stop using the term “douchebag” so readily in social media circles. When I noticed even female friends of mine using the term over and over, I knew I would lose. Now, I officially give up; PostRank is getting attention for its influencer ranking service by introducing- wait for it- “DoucheRank.”

*sigh*

When “Douche” becomes part of corporate branding (outside of the hygiene products industry), then the term has been fully embraced.

I guess that’s better than (redacted).

Death of the “Interactive Agency of Record?”

I hate predicting the death of anything, so I won’t jump on board this totally, but… according to this post by Andy Beal in Marketing Pilgrim, Forrester Research is predicting the death of the interactive agency– well, eventually.

I hate being ahead of the curve, espousing things that just aren’t ready yet, but in retrospect that’s exactly what I was doing when I clung to the idea of the intermingled “traditional AND social (or interactive, digital, whatever) agency. There is still a need to have separate buckets for traditional and social PR and marketing, so long as social media are new and agencies, let alone their clients, are still figuring out what it all means. My recent job search underscored the trend that agencies are still seeing the need, and when resources dictate, keeping people and divisions that are digital/social/whatever “specialists.” Those were the roles I was looking at, and that was the role I landed with the Voce Connect group within Voce Communications.

So, death of interactive agency? Maybe someday- and to be fair, the Forrester report does not say this is imminent, but more of an eventual trend.

BanAsbestosNow.com Supports My Pan-Mass Challenge Ride for National Asbestos Awareness Week

It is amazing how people come out to help each other for good causes.

First of all, thanks to all of you who have helped sponsor my Pan-Mass Challenge ride (you can still sponsor here: http://pmc,org/DH0159). We are just under 40% of the total goal of $4,200, and at $1,640 raised so far we have blown away the target I set for the end of March. Remember, 100% of the money wer raise goes to cancer research and treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, one of the premier facilities in the world for cancer treatment.

Another friend has come forward as well. Jonathan Moreland, a former colleague who now does social media work for the Boston-based Sokolove Law office, asked me to help raise awareness of their Ban Asbestos Now campaign.

Why? Well, I am pretty well aware of asbestos’ link to cancer, and anyone’s attempt to raise awareness is alright by me. I was provided information on asbestos and lung cancer, which is copied below.

So, to coincide with National Asbestos Awareness Week (the first week in April), for every signed letter on http://www.banasbestosnow.com received between 4/1 – 4/7, B.A.N. will donate $1 to my Pan-Mass Challenge ride (up to $1,000).

If you are so inclined, please give the site a visit and look over the petition. And thanks to Jonathan and his colleagues for their generosity. It is the least I can do to give their effort a little plug in return for their donations.

P.S. Spring is here– as soon as the Boston-area flood waters recede, it’s time to hit the road for some real training!

Information about asbestos and lung cancer, courtesy of Sokolove and Ban Asbestos Now:

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the name for a naturally occurring group of fiber-like minerals.  It is an extremely poor conductor of heat and electricity, so since the 1800’s it has been mined and used in various insulation and building products such as roofing, flooring and fire-proofing materials.

Why is asbestos so hazardous?

Asbestos fibers tend to break easily and form dust. These airborne fibers are easily inhaled and swallowed, which can result in a number of serious diseases, including asbestosis, malignant lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer directly associated with asbestos exposure.  The chances of developing asbestos-induced cancers increase in relation to how much asbestos a person is exposed to and how long the exposure lasts. However, researchers have found asbestos-related diseases in individuals with only brief exposures.  Additionally, asbestos fibers can stick to clothing, increasing the risks of second-hand exposure and putting others at risk.  Many victims are exposed through their occupations, with construction, mining, manufacturing and shipbuilding traditionally being high-risk.

Other factors in the asbestos problem:

  • Asbestos is a known human carcinogen
  • More than 50 countries have banned asbestos, including the European Union.  Canada and the United States are the only two developed countries not to have banned the material
  • Asbestos remains a consumer threat today, still present in various building materials, tiles, textiles, insulation, piping, automotive parts and adhesives
  • While some asbestos-containing products have been banned in the U.S., many products that still contain asbestos must only be “labeled as such.”  Additionally, people oftentimes are exposed when asbestos in existing products is disturbed, such as aging equipment or during demolition/renovation projects
  • The asbestos problem was fueled for decades by corporations knowingly hiding the hazards of the products from employees and customers alike.  As a result, the material was still mined, manufactured and used on a national, industrial scale as recently as 2002, when the last major asbestos mine in the U.S. shut down.  Despite these controversies, lawsuits and proven health hazards, asbestos is still legal to use in certain products
  • As much as advocating for the altogether ban of asbestos in the U.S., there is an urgent need for increased awareness of the asbestos problem, as well as education on how to properly handle the material

About mesothelioma

  • Mesothelioma’s latency period runs 10-40 years, making it difficult to diagnose and identify
  • To date, there is no known cure for mesothelioma
  • There are approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma in the U.S. every year.  However, this number continues to rise, as does the number of mesothelioma cases worldwide
  • In all, more than 10,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases