Blindsided, Via Social Media

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In football, a left tackle protects a quarterback’s blindside. Sandra Bullock explained this in the opening of the movie Blindside, the story of Michael Oher, a young man who became a left tackle at Ole Miss and in the NFL.

Another Ole Miss left tackle, Laremy Tunsil, was himself blindsided last week. Just minutes before the NFL draft began, on his own Twitter account, a video was posted showing him smoking via a bong hooked up to a gas mask. The presumption is he was smoking weed.

Soon after, on his own Instagram account, screen shots were posted that purported to show text messages from Tunsil to an Ole Miss coach in which Tunsil asked for money.

Here’s How It (Might’ve) Happened

Who did it? As a projected high (no pun intended) draft pick, Tunsil had already hired and fired agents, lawyers and other advisors. It is now believed one of those dismissed (and disgruntled) individuals did the deed.

After these social posts, the Ravens, who drafted Oher in the first round in 2009, chose not to select Tunsil with the sixth overall pick. The Giants, picking tenth and needing offensive line help, also passed, due to the posts. The Dolphins nabbed Tunsil with the 13th overall pick.

Some Takeaways From The Incident

  1. Always know who has access to your social media account passwords. If someone other than you is posting on your behalf or that of your organization, pay attention to what they are posting.
  2. Change passwords frequently.
  3. If you leave your phone unattended, use a lockout code to prevent unauthorized access.
  4. Young people in college are likely to smoke weed and/or drink.
  5. People with extraordinary talent and/or extreme physical attributes can get away with certain misbehavior.
  6. Despite dropping down in the draft, Tunsil is still a first round pick who is likely to earn tens of millions during his NFL career.
  7. Of all the players taken in all the rounds, he is the one who has received the most attention, even more that the top pick. Yes, much of that attention was dubious (doobie-ous?), but it all adds up to name recognition.
  8. Don’t blame this episode on “social media,” like ESPN’s Jon Gruden who said, “This whole social media scene makes me sick!” Blame it on the human (or humans) who did it.

 

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Learn How Much You Don’t Know

Knowledge

In 2009, I participated in the St. Louis Public Relations Society chapter’s training program for PR certification. I attended sessions all over town and gathered knowledge and wisdom from a number of PR pros. I picked up and studied the suggested textbook. Yes, I learned a lot. I was unaware of the full scope of public relations. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew.

Last month I took a course in Web Analytics at University of Missouri/St. Louis (UMSL). As a result, I am now certified in Google Analytics. I learned how analytics can reveal a wealth of information about traffic to websites. In addition to exercises on the Google dashboard, I had the chance to use Adobe’s Omniture analytics setup.

I may not be ready to be a lead analyst, but I now know enough to be a contributing team member. After completing the course, though, I realize there is much more about web analytics that I still do not know.

Even More To Learn!

This month I took a Social Media Strategies course at UMSL. I am now a Hootsuite Certified Professional.

I’ve been a Facebook admin and have used Hootsuite Pro for several years. Although I knew a lot about social media going in, the course revealed many areas I had not ventured into. I learned new ways that Hootsuite can help me and my clients. I gained insight about best practices for Facebook and Instagram. Again, I learned how much I did not know and how much more there is to be learned.

It feels good when you receive significant enlightenment or have an “aha” moment. My younger kids, both digital natives, have given me useful computer tips, generally without condescension. But every time they share, I am also made aware of how much I don’t know. Always and forever, there is so much to learn.

 

 

 

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Keep It Simple

Simple

In our busy, complex personal and professional lives, filled with information coming from every imaginable source, simple things are appreciated. We all have a finite amount of time and attention to give each day.

Here’s how you can help…

  1. Write shorter paragraphs, using shorter sentences.
  2. Edit your email signature and dump all that legalese at the bottom (which no one ever reads anyway).
  3. If you own a restaurant, eliminate half of your menu items. You’ll make life easier for your diners, your staff and yourself.
  4. Include just one sales message in your marketing emails. (You don’t have to tell me everything about your organization.)
  5. Make sure images in your emails and on your website are as recognizable on a tiny phone screen as they are on your big desktop screen.
  6. Facebook and Instagram allow for long posts. Don’t do it! Most of us will just scroll on past the long ones. (Thanks, Twitter, for maintaining a maximum post length.)
  7. Place a time limit on videos you share. How long? Determine what your audience is comfortable with. (Consider that some of us may hesitate to watch a 7-minute video but will gladly watch 7 one-minute videos.)
  8. Be merciless when editing content. Three good paragraphs beats twelve mediocre paragraphs every time.
  9. Unless it’s your doctoral dissertation, don’t be afraid to use sentence fragments, when appropriate.

For a perfect example of the beauty and effectiveness of a simple approach, compare the layouts of Google.com with Bing.com and Yahoo.com. (Google has a 67.68% market share for searches; Bing, 13.27%; Yahoo, 8.14%.)

An almost infinite number of choices in many aspects of our life is wonderful. Unless we want the regular version, in the standard size, and it’s not in stock. Have you ever gone grocery shopping and found a dozen or more variations on the product you want, but not the particular version you want?

The great singer/songwriter Merle Haggard who died last week was once quoted as saying, “The most important thing in a song is simplicity.” Keep it simple.

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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

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I ‘m looking forward to attending a couple of daylong conferences this spring.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend tons of conferences during my life, going back to the International Radio and Television Society gathering in New York City when I was a callow, wide-eyed sophomore at the University of Alabama. Several Country Radio Seminars in Nashville during my radio days provided good information and insights, along with many memorable musical performances.

More recently, I have attended numerous PR/marketing/digital/social media conferences in St. Louis arranged by a variety of organizations over the last eight years. At this point, let me offer thanks to all who worked to set up these events. And thanks to all who have presented. (This includes me. I presented at CSPRC’s Spectrum event in 2009 about media pitching and in 2013 about Facebook best practices.)

Here’s what I want from these events:

  1. Information and ideas I can use today in my career and my business.
  2. New ideas/concepts that should be on my radar for future consideration.
  3. Different, creative ways to approach issues I deal with on a frequent basis.
  4. Disruptive input, which may or may not be valid, but provides good fodder for discussion and consideration.
  5. Solid A/V work.
  6. Connectivity.
  7. Decent coffee.

Things I don’t want from these events:

  1. Presentations that are really just infomercials for an individual and his/her organization.
  2. Big picture concepts that are too vague. Give me precise details.
  3. Panels discussions dominated by one panelist, when all panelists have good input to share.
  4. Declarations I’ve heard at these events for years, such as: Mobile is big! Video keeps growing! LinkedIn is good! (Etc.) I know that!
  5. PowerPoints, Keynotes or Prezis with text and images so small the content on the screen can’t be discerned beyond the first row.
  6. Bad planning that puts a high-demand session in a smaller meeting room.
  7. Stick-on name tags that don’t adhere well to clothing.

If you see me at a conference this spring, say hello. Let’s hope we’re able to get several actionable takeaways when we attend these events!

(photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92987904@N00/4297743712, via http://photopin.com, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0)

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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Have you ever had a client praise you for your good works and outcomes and then, within weeks or months, decide to end your working agreement? Have you ever brought in positive measurable results in a job only to have, shortly thereafter, your employment terminated?

Circumstances change. Budgets get reassessed. Ownerships/partnerships are revised. Measurable results can go south. Clients/employers find candidates they think can do the job better. Or cheaper.

In 2016, more than at any point in my lifetime, it is a “what have you done for me lately?” world in business. A college basketball coach takes leads a team to two straight conference titles. He wins awards! Heaping accolades roll in! Then he has two losing seasons. Goodbye, coach!

I have lost jobs when I was performing at my best and delivering strong measurable results, but my superiors thought someone else could do the job better. (OR just as well, for much less money.)

It happens. Unless your parents own the company or you have an ownership stake, you can be bounced from any gig. Even if, just recently, you were golden. How should you deal with this uncertainty?

  1. Perform at a high level always. Don’t coast.
  2. Make sure the person or persons you report to are aware of all the good outcomes you deliver. Don’t assume they know.
  3. Note that even if you do good work, consultants, corporate types and fellow managers can suggest to your boss/client that your talents may not be as valuable as earlier believed.
  4. Celebrate your wins as they occur. Next time the outcomes may not be so rosy.
  5. Always be thinking about your next work situation. When someone extends a feeler, don’t brush it off. Listen and ask questions. There may be something better out there for you now.
  6. Keep your resume, portfolio and LinkedIn profile updated. You may be, as Sinatra sings, “ridin’ high in April, shot down in May.”
  7. Negotiate employment contracts carefully. Many are one-sided, favoring the employer/client. Make sure there are protections for you in the deal, just in case.
  8. If you are an “HCE” (highly compensated employee), be aware that you may be particularly vulnerable when budgets are slashed.
  9. Don’t get overly attached emotionally to any job. Things change.
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Perception Is Reality

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It’s true. If a person perceives a brand, a product, a service, a retailer, a restaurant, etc. to possess certain qualities, it colors all of that person’s interactions with that entity. Even when hard evidence shows the perceived belief is not true.

Certain brands have buzz and are perceived by many to be cool, superior, innovative, etc. The list includes Starbucks, Apple, Uber, IKEA—I’m sure you can name a few more. Even when those cool brands fail or when they “borrow” ideas from others, they are often given a pass because of positive customer perceptions.

The current TV series The People Versus O.J. Simpson reveals incorrect appraisals of potential jurors by both prosecutor Marcia Clark and defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. Each perceived African-American female jurors to be sympathetic to the prosecution’s case. Both were wrong. The scene showing Marcia Clark behind the glass monitoring a focus group as they offer comments about her is powerful and enlightening.

During my radio career, I was reminded many times that perception is reality. If a listener perceives that station A plays more music than station B, it doesn’t matter which station actually plays more music. If a listener thinks a personality is snarky and insensitive, that personality can perform tons of good deeds and still be perceived to be a jerk. A listener’s perception is that listener’s reality.

Because perceptions matter—whether they are based on facts, gossip, online chatter, peer pressure or subtle factors—it is important to work to mold perceptions. Public relations, marketing and social media all play a vital role in creating and reinforcing positive consumer perceptions of a product, a service, a radio station, an idea or a presidential candidate.

It is dangerous to presume that we know how customers or prospects perceive the goods, services and messages we offer. How do we find out what they think? We observe how they act. We monitor their online comments. We ask them. What is their perception? It’s their reality.

 

 

 

 

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16 Things To Know For ’16

16

  1. It’s great to have lots of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn endorsers. But a good credit rating beats all three.
  2. Despite Southwest Airlines’ longtime claim that “your miles never expire,” mine expired last year.
  3. Never ever drive through (or even around) Atlanta if you can avoid it. Ever.
  4. Best media advice I’ve heard lately came from radio meetings in Nashville: “Infuse everything you do with FOMO.” (Fear Of Missing Out.)
  5. An organization that delivers hilariously entertaining TV spots may engage in sleazy business practices. (Sorry for being necessarily vague on this one.)
  6. My number one news source is Twitter.
  7. Using the term “startup” in reference to your business generally gets you attention, even if your business is selling life insurance.
  8. Some people think it’s okay to end a 7-year business relationship via text message.
  9. The adverb is not your friend. (Writing tip from Stephen King.)
  10. A Discover Card ad offering double rewards for new cardholders contained the line “no limits and no catches” but the tag at the end of the spot said, “limitations apply.” So… which is it?
  11. “Inspired by true events” does not make a movie better than one that’s total fiction.
  12. A St. Louis area business that advertised regularly in local print media for three decades ran NO print ads in 2015… and their revenues increased.
  13. A black and white photo often has stronger impact than a color pic.
  14. Whole Foods does not take checks.
  15. Sometimes I’d prefer to READ your story in an online article instead of watching a video about it.
  16. Your strict adherence to political correctness may cause you to shake your head at times, but it beats having to apologize for a communications boner. Um, mistake.

 

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