Archive for the ‘Integrated Media Services’ Category
SXSW: We can’t move forward without knowing where we’ve been and how we got there.
Maria Rodriguez is the President of Vanguard, a company she co-founded 25 years ago. Learn more about Maria on her Leadership Page.
One word to describe:
South by Southwest: Edgy
Social change: Essential
Finish the sentence:
I knew my work made a difference when … others used the tools I gave them to create change in their communities.
To me, evaluation is … knowledge and knowledge is power.
My life’s work is … evolving always.
Spend one more minute getting to know Maria Rodriguez and then vote to bring Judgment Day: Can You Defend Your Life’s Work? to SXSW!
Have questions? Leave them in the comments or tweet us @VanComm.
Why the SOPA Blackout Worked
When we first posted about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) blackout protest scheduled for January 23, we had no idea that Wikipedia and Reddit (which had planned a January 18 blackout protest) would persuade other sites to join their effort yesterday. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 10,000 sites participated in the SOPA protest by either making their sites inaccessible, or “blacked out”, on Wednesday or posting messages to encourage visitors to contact Congress about SOPA.
It appears their bold effort worked.
By the end of Wednesday, at least three lawmakers withdrew their support for the legislation – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) withdrew as a co-sponsor of the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) withdrew from SOPA, which is the House version of the bill. A few more may be added to that list this morning.
Google reports that at least 4.5 million people signed their online anti-SOPA petition during the protest. Even the White House received nearly 104,000 signatures on a We the People petition calling for President Obama to block passage of bills like SOPA and PIPA.
It is still too early for SOPA protesters to get excited, as support remains for PIPA and SOPA in the Senate and House, respectively. However, the success of the SOPA blackout protest thus far demonstrates how understanding your audience and using what they value to make them take action can spur policy change.
Internet users are constituents, and removing their access to content or interrupting their Web routines with SOPA and PIPA protest notices compelled them to get involved in the protest in their own way. It just goes to show that reaching your audiences where they are is an effective way for communicators to raise awareness and encourage action on an issue. Plus, it doesn’t hurt your cause if you get support from an opinion leader like Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
While time will tell if signatures to online petitions and increased calls and emails to Capitol Hill on Wednesday changed the outcome of the January 24 vote in favor of SOPA and PIPA protesters, it is already evident that the reach and response to yesterday’s Internet blackout will definitely impact it.
InSites for the Future: 2012 Will Set A New Standard for Green/Sustainable Events
This weekend people around the world will gather to celebrate one of the biggest events of the year, New Year’s Eve. To wrap up our InSites for the Future series, Vanguard’s event manager Scott LaLonde looks at the future of event planning.
2012 Will Set A New Standard for Green/Sustainable Events
Associations, government organizations and nonprofits that pride themselves on hosting “green” events may have an eye-opening 2012. The event industry’s first-ever guidelines for environmentally sustainable events are in the final stages of creation and will be rolled out in the new year. The guidelines, created through a partnership of the Convention Industry Council, ASTM Standards (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials), Green Meeting Industry Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will set new standards and criteria measuring the environmental impact of event components, including venue, food and beverage, transportation, audio/visual production and accommodations. Given the potential for media and communicators to scrutinize the legitimacy of “green” events, those who want to promote sustainable events in 2012 and beyond will need to evaluate their plans using these new standards.
– By Scott LaLonde
Social Media, Free Speech and How Tattling Led to Governor Brownback’s Apology
Instead of writing an apology letter to Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas per the request of her high school principal, 18 year old Emma Sullivan was commentating on first amendment rights and social media to CNN.
Twitter, the social media platform, shed light on Sullivan’s comments regarding the governor last week when he spoke to Shawnee Mission East High School students. Sullivan tweeted “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot” to her 65 followers. Before the advent of such public facing social media, no one would have been privy to criticism shared between a high school student and her friends. But now, increased transparency reflects the diversity of all participants and a tweet like this can have the power to rise to the top of public discussion.
Gov. Brownback’s staff, who monitor tweets referencing their boss, identified this tweet as problematic. Instead of engaging with Sullivan — or ignoring her tweet completely — they went to the school principal. Sullivan was then instructed that she needed to write a letter of apology to the governor for her comments.
This begs the question, since when should someone apologize for expressing an opinion about a politician? Isn’t that what social media is all about? Engaging with new audiences of ALL opinions and persuasions is now standard for organizations, corporations and social movements. As encouraging individuals to share own thoughts, ideas and opinions is a keystone of democracy, political uses of social media have been common place for years. And it doesn’t mean that all of the participants are going to agree with you or like you.
Monday, Sullivan tweeted “I’ve decided not to write the letter but I hope this opens the door for average citizens to voice their opinion & to be heard! #goingstrong” to nearly 15,000 followers. Meanwhile, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback apologized for his staff’s “overreaction” to the tweet in a statement made at the State Capitol, as well as on his Facebook page, noting “My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.”
Thoughtful and deliberate policies and procedures for social media communication are needed across the board. This means the strategists monitoring and curating social media content should have clear internal guidelines about how to handle feedback — the good, the bad and the quirky — for the organizations and entities they are representing. This also means that online participants should have access to an established set of public guidelines, which can be placed on the “Contact Us” or “About Us” sections of websites. Ragan.com has more great tips about how to handle social media interaction.
If engagement and two-way communication is what democracy needs, then transparency, honest interaction and difference of opinions should not only be respected, but upheld.
Does Twitter Make the AP Nervous?
Earlier this month Andrew Overton, one of our bloggers, discussed whether the AP understands Twitter after updating its social media guidelines, stating that retweets with no comment can be seen as expressing an opinion and that must be avoided. Now an internal memo from the AP reprimanding staffers for tweeting about Occupy Wall Street (OWS) arrests before the news was published on the wire has been published in the online version of New York Magazine:
A high importance email went out to Associated Press employees early Wednesday morning to remind them of Twitter rules in the wake of staff arrests at yesterday’s local protests. “In relation to AP staff being taken into custody at the Occupy Wall Street story, we’ve had a breakdown in staff sticking to policies around social media and everyone needs to get with their folks now to tell them to knock it off,” went one version of the e-mail sent from on high, as obtained by Daily Intel. “We have had staff tweet – BEFORE THE MATERIAL WAS ON THE WIRE – that staff were arrested.”
While the AP’s social media guidelines do state that staffers should not break news that has not been published on the wire yet, this internal memo shows that AP is fighting a losing battle against the changing world of online journalism.
Media outlets are recognizing and using Twitter as a go-to-resource to get breaking news information in real time. If wire services like AP don’t get on board with social media tools like Twitter being used as a social news service, it seems that they are missing a lot of opportunities to provide their loyal followers with real time information about important breaking news.
Reuters reporter Robert MacMillan made effectively the same point on Twitter, saying a news service that waits and tries to “save” the news for later is really just asking to be beaten by another service that decides not to wait.
The idea of “saving” the news doesn’t help reporters, outlets or professional communicators. As Twitter and other social media platforms have grown, professional communicators have learned to monitor Twitter for breaking news relevant to the industry and their clients. I would think that the AP and other news sources would want to take advantage of that by breaking news on Twitter.
It is apparent from AP’s recent memo and social media guidelines that the changing world of online journalism makes them nervous. The AP and others that are uneasy about the rise of social media tools in the world of journalism should try to figure out how they can use new tools, like Twitter, to their advantage and not fight against them.
If the AP starts embracing Twitter and other social media tools, professional communicators need to be prepared to compose their social media messages with the thought that the AP just may pick up the story. Communicators and news sources need to start thinking as breaking news sources and jump on opportunities to break news and weigh in on a relevant story while it’s still hot.
When we can use a Twitter app on our smart phones for the latest breaking news, do we want to get our news from a source that’s reluctant to adapt? And, does it really matter if we see the news from AP on Twitter before the news is on the wire?
Does the AP Get It? New Twitter Rules Are Too Limiting
When the Associated Press updated its social media guidelines yesterday, it became very apparent to me and many other Twitter users that the AP fails to fully comprehend this important communications platform. Let’s take a look at the new Twitter guidelines for AP staffers:
Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day. A retweet with no comment of your own can easily be seen as a sign of approval of what you’re relaying. For instance:
RT @jonescampaign smith’s policies would destroy our schools
RT @dailyeuropean at last, a euro plan that works bit.ly/xxxxx.
These kinds of unadorned retweets must be avoided.
However, we can judiciously retweet opinionated material if we make clear we’re simply reporting it, much as we would quote it in a story. Colons and quotation marks help make the distinction:
RT Jones campaign now denouncing smith on education: @jonescampaign smith’s policies would destroy our schools
RT big European paper praises euro plan: @dailyeuropean “at last, a euro plan that works” bit.ly/xxxxx.
These cautions apply even if you say on your Twitter profile that retweets do not constitute endorsements.
Spend a few hours on Twitter and you’ll notice a phrase that appears on nearly every journalist’s Twitter bio: “RTs do not = endorsements.” Translation: “Hey! I only have 140 characters to work with here, so just because I share someone else’s thoughts doesn’t mean I agree with them.”
Still, AP writers are now required to insert a headline before each retweet. That’s not merely hard, it’s simply impossible for tweets more than 100 characters. Twitter users know the limitations inherent in the platform and are familiar with the “retweet rule.” So why does the AP need to make it explicit? It’s certainly not clear to me.
Sharing and resharing content is what drives all social media, and retweets are one of the main conversation-drivers on Twitter. Without a doubt journalists should be judicious in what they are sharing (see Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber rumors), but the AP is severely handicapping its writers. Changing the way we use Twitter is a losing battle. Don’t waste your time, AP.
Today is World Photography Day
|Today is World Photography Day, an annual event celebrating photography through the simple act of sharing photos with other people around the world. This year, Vanguard staff chose to participate by submitting photos they have taken which are not only visually interesting, but also illustrate a lesson in effective communications. Enjoy!|
Crystal Borde – As a new photographer with a digital camera, I took photos of everything. I didn’t spend time composing my photographs. It took a while at the U.S. Air Force Memorial near the Pentagon to take this photo. From this experience, I learned that beautiful photographs take preparation and time. Photography and graphic design are very similar in that regard. Like great photographs, well-designed products require strategic thinking, time and lots of patience to be great. For creative, effective materials, communicators must “aim high” like the U.S. Air Force motto, and as the U.S. Coast Guard say, we must be “always prepared.”
|Andrew Overton – I took this photo at a Bon Iver concert at the 9:30 Club on Aug. 1. Simply using the Instagram and Twitter apps on my iPhone, I was able to edit the photo and share with my Twitter followers in seconds. It’s incredible to see how mobile technology and social networks have created living, breathing documentation of history—whether they’re small, intimate concerts like this or ground-breaking events like the Egyptian revolution and the London riots.|
|Brenda Foster – I’ve found that photography is about more than just being in the right place at the right time. It’s really about anticipating what the right place is going to be. During a beach vacation, I saw this Great Blue Heron stalking a fisherman, so I began stalking the bird. The heron was very bold, and in no time he had walked right up beside the fisherman hoping to steal the catch from his line. An odd couple was born.|
|Kathy Keller – Yes, dogs need good PR too! I volunteer with a local dog rescue, and so I know that the key to finding a home for them is to get great shots to post on their adoption profile pages—shots taken at their most relaxed moments. And everyone knows splashes of color are great at getting attention, so we have our dogs wear colored bandanas at our adoption events—and the photos of them are attention grabbers!|
|Rhea Jones – This photo ties into persuasive storytelling – it’s of my Aunt Laurel and her dog Brutus. The colors, background elements and expressions all play a part in telling the story. The picture makes the viewer feel like they’re experiencing the event firsthand.|
|LeAnne DeFrancesco – You’ve really never had a corn dog?! I didn’t think it was possible that people my own age in America could have missed out on this state fair and carnival delight. Like in social marketing campaigns, this revelation demonstrates that you should never assume you know everything about your audience … Focus group testing almost always reveals some surprises! This photo was taken just before my colleagues tasted their first corn dogs at Farm Aid 2011 in Kansas City.|
|Cameron Lane – I took this photo with a common point-and-shoot digital camera. It took nearly 30 minutes of scrolling through the camera menu, playing with the settings, and waiting for the right light to get this shot to come out the way I wanted it to look. This was certainly a case of making the best of the tools at hand to create something that perfectly communicates a moment.|
How to Bet Op Ed Success
In Sunday’s New York Times, the third richest person in the world penned an op ed asking President Obama and Congress to raise his taxes. Since then, Warren Buffett’s op ed is appearing everywhere. Political commentators are discussing the viability of his recommendation to tax the wealthiest in the U.S., media outlets are writing stories examining his perspective and, arguably most important, everyday people are using social media to share Buffett’s recommendation that the nation “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.” Links to Buffett’s op ed are appearing over and over again in my Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn news streams.
What makes this op ed so special? It offers the elusive op ed trifecta: timeliness, an element of surprise and byline credibility.
- Buffett’s topic is timely and relevant. Many valid opinions exist about how best to address society’s ills, but only the most timely can make it into the news cycle. Buffett’s op ed comes on the heels of the debt ceiling debate and the tensions between balancing the budget and raising taxes.
- Buffett’s position is surprising and intriguing. What really catches readers’ attention, though, is his unlikely opinion about taxes. Buffett expresses an eager willingness to pay higher taxes to generate more government revenue, which is likely not an opinion shared by many of his fellow billionaires. Buffett, whose individual wealth could cover a significant portion of the United States’ debt, gives permission to U.S. policymakers in his op ed to tax wealthy Americans like himself at the same rate as the working public.
- Buffett is perceived as a credible expert. Attaching Warren Buffett’s byline to this op ed makes people want to read it and later discuss his surprising opinion with others. People know Buffett understands economics and the current financial crisis better than many, so when he goes on the record with recommendations about what the government should do to generate revenue, people will listen.
Sharing op eds and news articles now is so easy with social media, offering new opportunities to get a position out to a larger audience, as Mr. Buffett discovered. I suppose the rest of us taxpayers are so pleased by his willingness to share the tax burden, we’re sending his message to our friends and followers on social media. Buffett’s message spread via social media because his ideas validated what some Americans think about increasing taxes on the rich. Whether his plan is a good idea or not, Buffett’s op ed struck a common nerve; when your op ed is able to articulate a sentiment shared by many, you expand the number of people reading and recommending your op ed to their family, friends and colleagues with the click of a button. While people tend to also share op eds or articles they disagree with on their social media profiles, favorable positions tend to put an organization in the best light and generate positive responses from the social media community.
The increased integration of social media is raising the stakes for op ed success: Whereas the op ed trifecta used to be necessary for just getting your op ed placed, it is now essential for ensuring sharing via social media.
Will Journalism Survive – No, Maybe, Yes??
After watching The Killing Fields, a film highlighting aspects of New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg’s coverage of the war in Cambodia, I longed to be an international correspondent. The power and importance of the truth compelled me to the nomadic and sometimes dangerous lifestyle that usually leaves many single and comforted by cheap cigarettes and whiskey. If it weren’t for reporters like Schanberg, who knows if we would have found out about the Nixon Administration’s involvement in bombing parts of Cambodia.
Getting a chance to watch Page One: Inside the New Times, a documentary by Andrew Rossi, with my public relations colleagues this past week reignited my passion for journalism. Rossi and his camera crew gained unprecedented access to The New York Times newsroom and the inner workings of the media desk. The documentary chronicles the transformation of the media industry and highlights the New York Times’ own struggles to stay current and afloat, while their reporters and editors stayed true to their critical civic role of providing the public with informative and accurate news.
I will admit it was quite emotional for me to watch, as the movie touched on issues that drove me away from the industry before I even started my professional career, but it also focused on the fundamental reasons why I was drawn to journalism in the first place. I thought I was one of the luckier kids growing up because I knew since high school that I wanted to be a journalist. Instead of watching music videos and TV sitcoms, I would watch the nightly news. I was enticed by news. There was something erotic to me about uncovering truth and bringing it to light for members of the public to form their own judgment and opinion. Furthermore, journalism seemed gratifying because it would allow me to provide public service, interact with the public on the community level and sit down in front of my computer only when I was ready to write my story.
However, my dream slowly began to shatter as the recession hit and the newspaper industry began to go through a metamorphosis while I was still in college. After interning at a few newspapers, including The Wilmington News Journal and Daily Collegian, my college paper, and talking to many seasoned journalists, I quickly took a detour in career paths. Massive newsroom layoffs, predictions that printed newspapers may die because of lack of print advertisements revenue and assumptions that printed newspapers will soon be replaced by digital delivery methods made me question if journalism was a good fit for me. I was scared out of my mind. But as I watched the film, I was grateful to see reporters like David Carr vouch that the New York Times will continue to thrive despite the changing landscape. News is inevitable and civic journalism is imperative for any democracy to function.
The film made me realized that yes, we have not found a Holy Grail or silver bullet that can finance newspapers transformation, but just as journalists learned to adapt to the onset of the printing press, radio, and television, they will also learn to survive the onset of digital platforms. The concept of a “newspaper” will change overtime, but the desire, want and need from the public to receive credible information will continue to be timely. The film made me appreciate the freedom that we have to speak out against injustice and wrongdoings even if it’s about our own government. As for my dream of becoming an international correspondent, it will continue to be a dream for now. But no one really knows where life might take them. Maybe one day, you might read a blog post from me reporting from the outskirts of Somalia.
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News is Dead! Long Live News!
If you ever get into an accident, you’d better hope that the emergency room has a great triage system so they can prioritize your wounds and treat the most serious, not just the first one that catches their eye.
I thought of that after watching a fabulous documentary, Page One: Inside The New York Times, where some argue passionately that traditional journalism has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Why wade through process, they argue, when Twitter will inform you more quickly. And, if citizens are functioning as de facto reporters, why pay for journalists? We all want information quicker. So when newspaper after newspaper tumbles, it’s just evolution, right?
That was when I thought of the emergency room. Because I don’t just want to be treated quickly, I want to be treated efficiently. And I don’t want all of my information quick, I want some of it weighed and prioritized.
I love Twitter, and Facebook is one of my favorite ways to keep up with old friends. But it made me steam a bit when some in the documentary seemed to cheer at toppling the venerable New York Times and all other “gray ladies” of the newspaper industry, and I don’t think it’s just because I started my career as a reporter.
The “out with the old” crowd proponents say that the news should be a free market, with the crowd determining what gets top billing, and what gets covered as news. That sounds like a fabulous argument, except many in the crowd would rather watch Casey Anthony get tried for murder or Justin Timberlake bring his sexy back than focus on things that will affect their daily life, like taxes, the environment or health care. And, speaking of health care, if we crowd-sourced that, we would focus on the quick fix of a pill or a shot to patch up symptoms because that is what people want when they go to their doctor, not the hard truth that what they need to do is make preventive lifestyle changes.
In health care the prevailing wisdom is becoming to focus on prevention to inoculate society against expensive health costs later on; I wish there was some way to offer a vaccine to prevent short-sightedness on important matters like current events. If so all the “gray ladies” could flourish.
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