Doug Haslam

Gischeleman: "To Create With the Mind"


Calling All Comics: Unfunny Social Media Marketers Need Your Help


Every day, it seems, we see an example of a company, or an individual social media marketer, doing something dumb on the Internet.The cycle goes something like:

  • Brand or person says something dumb or offensive
  • Other social media addicts/professionals see it, point it out, act offended
  • Mainstream media picks it up
  • Social media professionals write “lessons learned” posts because, you know, they all know better than you and they miraculously had a break from all that billable work they do so they could write such an ingenious post telling the rest of us how it is and how it should be – oh, and because “Oreo
  • Someone gets fired, and brand or person either digs a deeper hole or disappears
  • True context of original offending remark is revealed and everyone takes a breath and backs off (HA! Had you there, didn’t I?)

I’m not going to write some sort of navel-gazing or preachy post dissecting the latest “offensive Tweet” scandal (the Justine Sacco Africa/AIDS thing), and what “social media marketing lessons” we can learn from it. That’s tired- and if it’s not tired, someone will do it better than I can before I hit “publish.”

So let’s step back a little and look at one of the main problems driving a lot of these contretemps, particularly this latest episode:

The problem is not that people are bad at marketing; they are bad at comedy. 

It’s a popular sport to try to be clever to get attention (I am certainly guilty of that), but the ability to sense what is funny, clever, and most importantly, strikes the right tone, is frequently absent. Was Justine Sacco missing the mark with her “I’m going to Africa/Hope I don’t get AIDS/Haha I’m white” tweet? Most likely (notice I didn’t definitively say “no), and certainly it reflected poorly on her employer, even on a personal account (another topic for another post). Did GoGo, the in-flight wireless company, strike out by trying to joke about her inability to manage her disintegrating online reputation while in flight? Perhaps.

How can people and companies make these decisions? We’re marketers, PR pros, social media ninjagururockstars and companies, not performers!

Oops- we are performers. What a big stage we have. We should realize that. So who can help us with tone, timing, and just being good at banter and cleverness?

Professional comics.

Who gets away with saying outrageous things and still getting a laugh? Comics.

Who can put a punchline against a serious topic and still make the point? Comics.

Marketers should study comedy. Companies, agencies and trade shows should hire comics to teach workshops on being funny without killing your message and you brand.

Not everyone is naturally funny, but anyone should at least be able where they can draw the line of what not to say and when not to say it- and of after that, what they can actually get away with and be applauded for it.

So- be funny! But know how to do it first.

Isn’t breaking down the art of comedy into hundreds of words of prose entertaining? Let me know in comments.

Photo credits:

“I’m With Stupid” by delete08 on Flickr

“This is not funny” by zhouxuan12345678 on Flickr


LinkedIn and the Context of Social Media Etiquette

When people kvetch about getting “Generic” connection requests on LinkedIn, I tend to roll my eyes -and not just because I roll my eyes a lot.


The “generic” appearance of these invitations doesn’t bother me. The context of the invite is enough. If that context is lacking (I don’t know the person) or is inappropriate (I have reasons not to want to connect), then I ignore. If it’s a person I already know and want to connect with – the very basis for accepting such a connection – then I don’t care what the invitation says. It could say “Teddy bear Romulus keezer basketball spy” – or some other random nonsense – it really doesn’t matter.


Perhaps LinkedIn will change the way we connect; I suggest removing the default “greeting” altogether, while keeping the option for a customized one. LinkedIn telling me “Bob” wants to connect is enough for me. If the request is warranted, I probably know why anyway.

Stop kvetching. There’s plenty to complain about out there (right?); I don’t think this is one of them.


This is Why People Hate “Social Media Authors”

Ok, first of all, the hyperbole of the post title is designed for attention. Perhaps my next post will be “This is Why People Hate Bloggers Who Write Hyperbolic Post Titles.” Moving on…

I will try to sidestep the – undoubtedly – hundreds of bloggers and other writers jumping on Randi Zuckerberg for using Veteran’s Day to hawk her book, with no clear connection to veterans in the book whatsoever. PR people and marketers like myself talk ourselves blue in the face about “newsjacking” gone wrong on a weekly basis.

I could also just jump in and attack “social media book authors,” when, in fact, I am impressed – indeed, at time envious – of those who can commit to getting something produced, even if it sits unread on their friends’ dusty bookshelves (I read every book I get, eventually….probably).

I will simply settle in on the sin of “overreach;” people assume that everyone is so excited about what they are doing, that they blast through the boundaries of appropriateness and logic to apply their own pride, their baby, their precious words – to something that makes no sense.

If people understand that what they are doing isn’t always the most important thing in the universe, they will make ore friends- even, to swipe a phrase, influence people.

So, no “PR Lessons from Randi Zuckerberg’s Horrifying Veteran’s Day Hijack:” no “Stop Signing Copies of Your Book in Random Bookstores as if it’s a Golden Ticket:” not even a “Stop Jumping on Everything People do Wrong in Social Media as if You are The Smartest Person on the Twitter.”

Just, think. Think about who actually cares and focus on those people. And move on.

Photo credit: “Horrified” by mirsasha, on Flickr


Red Sox. World Series. #winning (Game 1)

Took a few photos from my seats and thought I would have fun with Google Plus’ automatic GIF maker


A Few Thoughts on Live Blogging

Waiting for Blogwell to start (I was early)

Waiting for Blogwell to start (I was early)

In the near-decade since “live blogging” events has been a thing, there has been debate about its utility – those arguments tend to extend to attendees live-tweeting, leading to an audience with noses buried in phones. I have tended to agree it’s generally not a bad thing, depending on the context of the event (see my post about how TedX Cambridge created an “atmosphere of attention”).

Another side to this is those running the event recruiting (or hiring) people to blog  their events live, regardless of whether they encourage the audience to do so or not. At base, live blogging is simple: dispatches from the front, updated live, akin to the old teletype and telegraph updates from bygone media days.

I was asked to blog a few sessions at Blogwell in Boston today (Oct 22, 2013 – in fact, I am writing this as I wait for the event to begin). The setup is simple: just text updates on a standard blog post. In the face of more complex curation tools out there (like Storify), this is pretty bare-bones, but if I do a good job, the ideas I capture from listening (rather than trying to get photos and gather other observations) will make the posts focused, useful and accurate.

For myself, I am interested to see how this goes. I have done live social media for clients before, but somehow this feels a little bit more like a “reporter’s adventure.” We shall see..



I Almost Caused a Riot at Dollar Tree (Google+/Facebook Embed Experiment)

I recounted this tale of horror on Google+ and Facebook recently. I wondered if I should put it on the blog- a few weeks later, the new “embed” functions on both platforms is as good an excuse as any. The Google+ embed is below, followed by the Facebook version.    

In each, the “see more/read more” function opens the text within the widget. This is also true for the comment left on my G+ post.

For G+, the comment shows up in the widget, while for Facebook they do not; when you click on the Facebook comments link, you are taken to The same is true for +1 vs “like,” and commenting on either widget. Go ahead, click around on each widget and see what you find.

(ETA: Rachel Levy points out that on the mobile version of this WP site, the G+ post does not show up; even when using Google’s own Chrome browser (which probably does not make a difference.)

(ETA II: The issue was cause by the mobile press plugin – ht Danny Brown. I suspected WP was the issue, but found it strange it did not affect the Facebook widget. Never a fan of mobile sites for the sake of mobile sites, and noting changes in design and device capabilities in the last few years, I am more than happy to get rid of it.)

All that is good to know if you are concerned about keeping people on site. Google+ wins overall in keeping functions within the widget, at least as of this writing. Facebook, of course, may still be your main content wellspring, so there is no clear winner if you factor that in.

In all, an interesting way to share your content on your owned platform, with the usual caveat- the content is still hosted elsewhere, and if you lose that account- or the entire platform, you must back up or forget about it.



Ghosts of Social Media Past: Jaiku’s Constant Reminder

With every celebration of the popular social network, the faint Cassandran winds howl “What will you do when it’s gone?”

I say faint, because nobody seems to see an imminent demise for Facebook or Twitter, and conventional wisdom tilts to Google Plus getting bigger rather than failing to gain traction. We shouldn’t have to worry, right?

Yeah, we should:

I was reminded of Jaiku recently when someone brought it up in conversation. Remember where we went as a backup in the early, outage-spotted days of Twitter? It was our rallying point, much like for a grade-school fire drill. RIP, Jaiku;

Every once in a while, we must remind ourselves to watch how attached we get to our social platforms


Or perhaps you chose unwisely in the “Great Location-based Services War”;

Here's another one

I have already talked about Utterz here. I had the foresight to back up all of my photos to Flickr (which in turn are backed up on hard drive), but all the audio I once posted is gone. Forever

Yet  anutter(z)

I’m not saying Facebook is going away. But in each of these cases, what was your backup plan? You can argue that this be great isn’t truly an “owned platform,” but I back this up also.

I’d rather keep my social networks portable than rely on a platform being there forever. It’s like the idea of a church; the people are the church, not the building.


Attention, Twitter and TED

I attended TEDx Cambridge this month. While I might be tempted to recap the sessions and the ideas presented, I won’t. What was more unique to me was the experience.

Instagram Photo

Over the last several years, I was surrounded by live-tweeting at conferences, being always connected, and generally being a social media you-know-what. That will always have its value, but I long ago learned its limits; a little goes a long way.

TEDx Cambridge was a little different; while there was no prohibition on connected devices or Tweeting, and I certainly had my tablet open to use Evernote, the organizers created an atmosphere of attention.

The resulting experience was different; the short, ten – minute presentations, helped by speaker coaching, created their own bubble of concentration, but there was a feeling, I felt, among the crowd that most people didn’t want to be “that person” who was buried in their device rather than the speakers.

Will I share my notes? Nah. The talks are ten minutes, and can easily be digested (though here is a Tweet summary from those who managed to multitask as I did not). Likely, some of them will spur action – whether or not that is reflected in a blog post – but that is for another time.

As for attention: does this mean we should put away our tips at events? Absolutely not. But it does reinforce the notion of balance: balance among listening, notes, and sharing. Everything in its best proportion. Always use your judgment.

photo credit: Sheen Benavente on Instagram


Pan-Mass Challenge 2013 in Review

With Nomo of @smacancer at #PMC2013 lunch stop, Dighton doughaslam

With Nomo, the Cancer-Fighting Sock Monkey

The Pan-Mass Challenge – my sixth – has come and gone, and this year may have been the best yet, in my unscientific opinion. The weather was beautiful, even with a little Day 1 rain, and I felt as though I was in my best riding shape.

This year I got to ride with a special guest – Nomo, the cancer-fighting sock monkey, courtesy of my friend Jennifer Stauss Windrum and her SMAC! Cancer campaign. Nomo took being tied to my handlebars for 170 miles like a champ.
I would like to thank all that have donated to support my ride against cancer and blew away my $7,500 goal – by several hundred dollars! If you would like to join in, the PMC take donations until October 1, and you can do so at:

As I do every year, I took some video from my bike as I made my way from Wellesley, MA to the very tip of Cape Cod. I got some great views, and as usual I had fun pulling out some footage to assemble this short video.

Again, thanks to all!

The sunrise this year over the Bourne Bridge and along the Cape Cod Canal was extra breathtaking. While I included it in the video above, there is a little more footage in this excerpt.


“How to be Me” – The Universal Un-truthiness of Thought Leadership

Love Yourself

Flickr photo credit: alachia

Frequently, we see influential people we look up to – in business, art, et al – write about their success. They write about how they achieved it; they write about the steps they took; they write, often, about what you can do to emulate this success.

It’s all crap.

Well, it’s not all crap. But the part about how it applies to you? That you must consider carefully.

All any thought leader can do is talk or write from their point of view. They do not share your experiences, your situations, your worries, your challenges. To the extent they do intersect, their advice is sound. Beyond that, it’s a good story that may have some value, but ultimately is the influencer telling you “How to be me because my life is the best-ever/awesomest and here’s how I did it” than it is about you improving your life.

My favorite example is from five years ago, when entrepreneur Jason Calacanis wrote a thoughtful screed on how entrepreneurs should do their own marketing and publicity, which I dubbed “How to be Jason Calacanis.” The points about being careful what you spend for outside counsel are helpful; but overall, the advice about, essentially, doing it all yourself was only truly helpful to entrepreneurs who had the stomach and personality to be entrepreneur, money man and spokesperson all in one. Most entrepreneurs, frankly could use some sort of outside help.

Zombie Finds Self-Help

Flickr photo credit: e_monk

There are plenty of other examples out there, including recent ones of successful women trying to make their road to the top, and how they stay there, relatable (think Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” among other examples). There is no way I am going to insert myself into those debates, where I have no place – but it appears they do not necessarily resonate with everyone.

Extrapolate this to any book, lecture, or blog post that veers into the “self-help” category. The sharing is wonderful; there is always something to take away from anyone’s story. But these aren’t instruction manuals, and I would be wary against treating them that way.