Thursday, October 9, 2008

SMTOI - Scribblar

I'm constantly evangelizing for the fun tools that I enjoy checking out, so I decided I'd throw one on the blog every so often. I'm calling it The Social Media Tool of Interest. SMTOI, you know - like "toy," but spelled "TOI." I'm trying to get into the act of goofy social media spelling. So, anyway, let me introduce Scribblar.

Scribblar is a free utility(also avail in a $99 Pro version) that allows you to manage multiple whiteboards in real time. You can use all the pictures, text, etc., that you want. You can chat off to the side, if needed. This is a nice tool for an impromptu explanation, or a quick presentation, a graphic edit among co-workers, etc. If you have a minute, take a look. It's fun stuff.

Above is my Superfantastic example of a few minutes play on Scribblar....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Six Challenges for Journalists

Let me preface this post by saying that I have 10 years in Public Relations, a degree in Journalism and some experience as a newspaper reporter. In other words, I've got the cred to have an opinion.
So, since I have devoted what will likely be a fourth of my work life to working with the media and I truly have a heart for the work journalists do every day, here we go. Read on...

Six Challenges for Journalists

1. Be Honest. You expect the truth from sources. Be upfront with what you know and where you get your information from(if possible). PR people have a bad rap for being dishonest and so do journalists. We both need to reflect on why the public feels this way and work to gain back their trust.

2. Be Professional. If you use foul language or are abusive to members of a source's staff, they do not have to accept this behavior. The media are the first to shine a light on any public figure behaving unprofessionally, but I have encountered much of the same behavior from reporters. It is just embarrassing for the profession. Those in charge should correct, and not encourage, this type of behavior. Please don't give people more ammo to justify the negative stereotype of reporters.

3. Be Respectful of the Other Person's Schedule. Many reporters have told me that any individual should drop whatever they are doing to talk to the media. To say this is to say that communicating via the media is everyone's most important duty. I do not want my local Fire Chief to have the media as his first priority. Sorry, I just don't. To be clear, I am not advocating dodging of media. This is bad practice, as well.

4. Admit You are Part of the Conversation. Television news viewership and newspaper readership is down and dropping. Consumers are rapidly turning to other sources for their information. The attitude that an organization needs to cater to the media is waning. The media simply does not hold all the cards anymore. The information environment is extremely diverse and complex. Figure out how you fit in and play that role.

5. Embrace Change. Meet Rick Sanchez, CNN anchor. He's fully embraced Twitter (@ricksanchezcnn). The remarkable thing about Rick's interaction is that he actively references user comments on his daily show and most recently from the beach during Hurricane Ike. Also, and I would say most importantly, he is not afraid to insert his personality into the news. This does not mean a surrender of impartiality, but it does mean to keep it interesting. Why do most regular people get their news from each other or entertainment-oriented sources like Limbaugh, Stewart or Letterman?

6. Add to the Conversation. Our country is currently bankrupt - economically sure, but also of ideas and inspiration. Journalists have a voice. Use that voice to be an agent for the common good. Exposing corruption is just part of your job as I see it, but is not the entire picture. What about adding fuel to fires that will benefit society as a whole?

Photo gracias: ShutterCat7.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SNL Greatness

I can't really explain why this makes me laugh so much, but it does. Enjoy.

Not enough green = Broccoli

I read this article from the New York Times this morning
(Thanks @thopeross).

The article explores the premise that bad economic times are actually good for an individual's health. Why? Well, tough economic times lead to less fatty restaurant meals, less nights out drinking with friends, and less consumption of entertainment where food plays an important supporting role(ballpark frank anyone?).

I recognize this trend in my own family. As times get leaner, gas prices remain high, etc., we have cooked more at home. We have gone out less. When we do go out, we often share an entree. We consider whether the kid's meal is really worth the extra few bucks. Is any of this reflection or focus negative? It's hard to argue that this type of reflection is bad.

How has the downturn positively affected your life? Comment below.

(Bonus: For any of you dieters/health nuts/gym rats out there who had to cancel a club membership to buy gas, check out the free Sure there's advertising, but you can ignore that if you want.)

Photo gracias: amayu.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why Old Star Wars is Better

Why do I prefer the older Star Wars movies?

I think it boils down to the Millennium Falcon.
It didn't work most of the time.
It sputtered.
It smoked.
Chewbacca was working on the ship about as much as he was kicking butt in the first three movies. (One of his action figures even came outfitted with tools and goggles.)
Much of the dramatic tension revolved around whether they could get it working in time to escape from whatever danger they were in at the time.

There's a business lesson in this. It was harder to root for the heroes of the newer, glossier Star Wars pics for me. New communication is as much about showing your scars, as much as it is about sharing your successes. After all, we can all see the smoke and hear the gears grinding, don't be afraid to talk about it.

Photo gracias: GABURU & spiritwalkersg.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Is Facebook Good for My Job?

I noticed an interesting phenomenon around my office. Several of our group participate in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media. There was no "type" represented in the way this group spread. They represented a real cross-section of early adopters/non-techie, male/female, all ages, different job functions. Often when I discuss social media, people are quick to say the tools are natural for a certain generation, those under 30, etc. It's easy to compartmentalize people and say that social media naturally exempts some individuals. The only group with a real exemption are those without regular access to a computer or mobile phone, which is a relatively small percentage in the professional/student areas.

The phenomenon I picked up on was that those who chose not to participate were missing out on quite a bit. Most people would not hesitate to point out the importance of attending office parties, talking to people casually in the break room, etc. These informal relationships are the same within online communities, although they run much deeper. I know a great deal more about most people I interface with via social media than I ever would from casual conversation.
On that same note, you are getting "face time" with a boss or supervisor every time they interact with you, view your profile, see your updates, etc., on Facebook or other services.

Too much emphasis has been placed on the negative aspects of social media. If you use these tools in a smart and social way, they can and will actually help you in your work life*.

*I realize also that many of your companies may block social media as a category(they are wrong to do this, btw), but don't let that be your personal excuse. Participate anyway. It only takes a few minutes a day to update a profile and see what your friends are up to. Most likely you will appreciate the extra layer this adds to your life.

Photo gracias: Hallie M.

Books I've Read & Recommended.

When I get together with friends, family, and business contacts, it seems we always end up swapping titles of books we are reading. I thought it would be fun (and also a good crib sheet for me) to keep a list of my favorite books. These are in the order that I read them. There's no links to buy them here because this is just about sharing. You know where to find them, if you're interested. I'll also do my best to link to blogs and other info related to the books. If someone interesting, say Tiger Woods or William Shatner, recommended the book - I'll let you know that too. That's all for now. Enjoy.

Made to Stick (2007: Non-fiction)
by Chip and Dan Heath

My thoughts: This was a great reminder of concepts that you think you know already. Basically, keep to the simple and memorable.

I read it in Summer 2008.

now is gone (2007: Non-fiction)
by Geoff Livington with Brian Solis

My thoughts: This was the launching point for me with social media, especially its relationship with PR. Geoff's blog and influence in the PR community are well-known for good reason.

I read it in Spring 2008.

Freakonomics (2005: Non-fiction)
by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

My thoughts: This is a fascinating look at the invisible lines that connect variables in life from the perspective of a "rogue economist." I am interested in economics, but not unusually so, and this made for a very interesting read.

I read it in Spring 2006.