Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

What’s The Buzz – Tell Me What’s Happening

Friday, April 21st, 2017

whatsgoingonBill O’Reilly. The Facebook murderer. Media and society.  All were hot topics and the center of conversation last night on Fox-2′s “Let it Rip” with Huel Perkins.  As we helped weigh in as part of a distinguished panel something apparent became even more disturbingly clear: something is wrong in Denmark, on many fronts. And, tying in to the blog’s title (which comes from the 70s musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”) what is going on out there?

In the wake of Fox’s firing of Bill O’Reilly, one of the panelists, an attorney, suggested that the TV giant and his former boss may well have been targets because of their money and fame.  As I posited on-air, if I was being accused of something of this nature and I did not do it, I’d be fighting back tooth-and-nail rather than hiding behind millions of dollars in payouts and “hush money.”  I’d use that money instead to sue these women for defamation.  Instead, denials reign and questions remain as Fox tries to repair a corporate culture and image from the top down.

Of greater concern, of course, is Facebook and its “Live” video component that is growing in popularity and usage among the media giant’s 2 billion users. No other media allows anyone, at any time, to post whatever they want, whenever they want.  TV and radio employ time delays. Print media, of course, has editors.  Now, more than ever Mark Zuckerberg and his team must come up with a solution that more widely, comprehensively and effectively monitors and vets what is posted. Call it “Big Brother.” Call it censorship. I call it making sure the majority of our society is protected from those who are disturbed and looking for a forum to be heard.

And what of society in general? Have we become desensitized to brutal images of gang beat downs and bad behavior and their being posted and displayed on-air and online? Is the media to blame? Cue the sociologists but we all bear responsibility – from home and parents to churches and counselors to video game manufacturers and news outlets. Ultimately, it is about respect for humanity and human life and providing our young people with the mental and intellectual tools, support and guidance they so desperately need and is altogether lacking. Because when we fail our kids, we all suffer the consequences.

Social Silence Says It All

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 6.30.56 PMMannequins – growing up these were a staple of department stores, standing forever motionless while sporting the latest fashions. In 1987, Andrew McCarthy fell for mannequin-come-to-life Kim Cattrall in the movie, “Mannequin”. Years later, Will Smith would stave off emotional distress by talking to mannequins in the post apocalyptic film, “I Am Legend”.  Traditionally odd if not downright scary, mannequins, in recent days, have instread become all the rage on social media – at least humans posing as these plastic people wanna-bes.

Purportedly started by high schoolers from Colony High School in Ontario, CA, the craze has come to be known as the “Mannequin Challenge” with its own hashtag: #mannequinchallenge.  What is it, exactly? Put simply, groups of individuals filming themselves in a range of “frozen” poses who then post their mini-videos online. High schoolers, college students and, more and more, collegiate and professional sports teams have all been partaking in the fun. Not to be outdone, numerous sports announcers and sideline reporters have also been following suit. Even the crew of Fox’s “NFL Sunday” got into the act this morning complete with Terry Bradshaw in a faux-choke hold courtesy of a stationary Howie Long.

Unlike the “Ice Bucket Challenge” which raised awareness of and funds for ALS research, the mannequin movement at large has not (yet?) been affiliated with a  charity nor a particular cause. Rather, this latest activity appears to have more in common with the former fad of planking, albeit without the dangers settings and environments. So, what, then is the point?

The point here may be that there is no point. To date, in fact, it has all been nothing but good old fashioned fun. Stop the press - a social media endeavor without pressure or shaming or competition? Actions that promote cooperation, team-building, creativity and good old fashioned fun? The mannequin craze has resonated with millions because it is non-promotional, authentic, real. It works because it is genuine and the exact reason why marketers cannot merely create such an initiative on a drawing board and expect it to take flight.

They also say timing is everything. Leave it to our next generation to delivery to our society exactly what it could use right now: a sense of community and humor. And maybe even a message to stop for a moment and smell the roses. It all is very ironic, isn’t it? Promoting humanity by imitating display things who purportedly have none. Who are the real dummies here?

What To Ignore About, Learn From Presidential Campaign PR

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Trump__Clinton-2If you’re looking for media relations guidance this summer, whatever do you, don’t take your cues from the Presidential campaigns.

If you want news attention, don’t do what the campaigns are doing. Last weekend, Donald Trump announced Mike Pence as his running mate in a “news conference” that wasn’t a news conference in any way, shape or form. In fact, the campaign excluded certain journalists while reportedly letting in tourists off the street. Journalists who were allowed inside were not permitted to ask questions. Yet, in its reporting of the event, the New York Times referred to it as a “news conference.” That’s not going to happen if you pulled in the same stunt in the market where you do business.

The same goes for the Hillary Clinton campaign. According to The Washington Post, she has not answered questions in a press conference format since December 2015. There is no scenario that comes anywhere close to mind that would allow anyone in business to get away with any kind of equivalent.

Collectively, national news outlets are spending millions of dollars to cover these campaigns and will do so regardless of the level of access they are provided. That’s not going to work for whatever you do. If you ignore the media who may cover you (if there are even resources left over from a decade of consolidation and cuts to do it), then it would result, at best, in you being ignored by journalists and, at worst, negative coverage.

Over the years, we have heard would-be clients who try to compare their communications challenges to campaigns or even White House scenarios. The fact is that there’s more different than there is in common between whatever type of strategy you need and those that are employed in the national political arena.

But if you’re consuming election coverage at a high rate and want some sort of takeaway to chew on, go online and consider PR in the broadest sense. Even though every news organization is expending resources at covering the campaigns, and that is significant and contributes to the effort to reach audiences, they know that is only one way to communicate. They understand that social media should be more than just a checklist item, it can be a way to craft compelling, shareable messages to individuals. They understand that video can be a powerful, credible storytelling tool that can bring to life the stories that traditional media can’t or won’t do. Those are the lessons from the campaigns, among many other entities, that you should consider emulating, regardless of whether you embrace the messages.

Facebook Live: Don’t Get Too Annoyed, Or Attached

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

UnknownWhat did the self-proclaimed “social media guru” tell you last week, along with patting himself on the back for being a “thought leader?” Whatever it was, it could be outdated today.

Just yesterday, Facebook announced that you’ll be getting more in your news feed from your friends and family and less from “publishers,” such as traditional news organizations. That’s just what we all want in an election year, don’t we?

So before you fall completely in love with the results from Facebook Live, keep in mind that it’s going to change sooner or later. It’s tempting though. Facebook Live is creating some big audience results. While some are annoyed by the alerts, there’s no doubt it has created curiosity on the platform that some had viewed as stale.

Sometimes, it’s a neighbor bird watching on the deck. But other times, it has provided an opportunity to experience a live event or one-of-a-kind access. One TV journalist told me that a recent Facebook Live “broadcast” attracted more viewers than one of that station’s newscasts on TV that day. We have seen it too at Tanner Friedman, where our Facebook Live posts of press conferences have attracted views and shares like nothing else we have posted lately.

But remember not too long ago when “business” posts with photos were like that? Any post with a photo got seen more widely and seemingly instantly drew likes, shares and comments. Then what happened? Facebook started throttling that content and even some of your most fervent fans couldn’t see your posts unless you paid Facebook a few bucks to “boost” them. It’s safe to assume that’s going to happen with Facebook Live.

Right now, Facebook wants to get you hooked on Facebook Live. It’s only a matter of time before Facebook throttles Live content and hides it from major portions of your audience unless you pay otherwise. That’s no conspiracy theory. It’s just business.

So our advice on Facebook Live now is to sample with it. Get to know it. Give it a chance to see how you can use it to communicate. But don’t get hooked on it because, like everything else, it’s going to have to be a moneymaker for the global public corporation that owns the platform but can give you a false sense that it is yours.

Tales From The Secretary of State Branch: A License To Communicate Differently

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

IMG_2883Every eight years, drivers in Michigan get a “birthday card” from the Secretary of State’s office. While that name conjures thoughts of international diplomacy, it’s essentially our “DMV.” The chore of having to go into a government office, taking a number and sitting in a tiny folding chair until being called to have your picture taken and take an eye test is hardly a favorite to-do list item.

But yesterday, I planned ahead and arrived 45 minutes early to secure a spot as second in line. I figured with the office closest to home opening at 9, I’d be out the door and on the way to the office by 9:15. It didn’t work out that way.

When the line of 25 was brought into the office, we were told by a manager that the statewide computer system was “down” and it was a “major” outage. We could wait or leave. I decided to wait. Sitting there for 90 minutes, I watched employees try in vain to get information and restart their system. I heard angry citizens curse the situation as they stormed out in frustration. I also live tweeted the situation after noticing that the Secretary of State’s office was doing nothing to proactively communicate to citizens via its website, social media platforms or traditional media. I noticed others, around the state, were doing the same.

After running out of time, and not accomplishing what I had set to accomplish more than two hours earlier, I had to scramble get to my office and then to a lunch meeting. As coincidence would have it, that meeting included Michigan’s Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.

“We saw your tweets” was my greeting upon meeting the Secretary and seeing her two communications staff members. Exceptionally professional and apologetic, they explained what happened. It seems there was a problem with a server controlled by a different State department that affected everything they typically do in their 170 offices. It was out of their hands and was such a big problem that even the Governor was made aware. I sympathize but also offered some advice, as we have on this blog over the years, as recently as this post in 2012.

Things like this happen. All of us who use technology (in other words, all of us) understand. So be proactive. Someone knew early in the morning this server issue was going on. If I had heard about the issue on WWJ or WJR radio on the way, or seen it on social media while in line, I would have had the early option to not waste time and come back another day. It could have prevented the surprise that led to the cursing and visible disdain.

Instead, they followed the traditional edict “Don’t communicate bad news.” That’s not necessarily in the best interest of the people they are charged to serve and not necessarily in this age of communication. Tell your audiences what’s going on, clearly, instead of leaving it to employees on site who were hung out to dry. Manage expectations and empower your audiences to decide how to handle it in their own ways. The worst thing you can do in this situation is nothing. Then customers control the narrative and it’s always tinged with frustration.

To her credit, Secretary Johnson was open to this conversation.She also let me know I should have been given a pass, on the spot, to get me to the front of the line whenever I chose to return. That would have made a big difference but it didn’t happen.

Late in the day, I visited a second Secretary of State office, close to an afternoon meeting, and was in and out in 12 minutes. Today, I think differently about that State department. Maybe this will lead others to think differently about communications?

UAW Forced to Face Fiat and Facebook

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

detroit-social-media-uawAs UAW talks with Fiat Chrysler continue one thing is evident: While negotiations between the union and automakers are traditionally fraught with tension, social media can make them even more contentious and complicated.  Detroit News reporter Michael Martinez examined this very dynamic in his piece, “Social Media Tool for UAW Members to Vent Anger,” published today.

Whether negotiating contracts or trying to keep any type of news or information under wraps until it is ready to be communicated to a larger population, today’s world of instant communications and social media make confidentiality incredibly complicated. Leaks, rumors, innuendo – all can be put forth by virtually anyone at any time and shared with the masses.  To that end, it has never been more difficult for any organization to control and disseminate information that is accurate, on message and well timed.

Martinez called me for perspectives for his article, asking a couple of key questions: In the wake of scores of negative posts and tweets on social media regarding the proposed contract, how should the UAW respond?  And, could they have done anything differently?

As I said in the paper, the very nature of social media can quickly spawn an electronic mob mentality, leading to pseudo e-protests and rallies, especially when volatile issues are involved.  What the UAW should be doing now and moving forward is focusing on communicating accurate information and their rationale to their constituents early and often. That includes not only social media but all communications avenues.  The UAW can’t necessarily manage the masses but they can manage the message.  And while it does not represent another person at the bargaining table Facebook, Twitter and the rest do represent for the union a challenge that is formidable.


Assisted Living Industry: Meet Social Media

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 6.49.04 PMEarlier today, I was honored to speak at the invitation of the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM) and the Michigan Center for Assisted Living.  Their multi-day, annual state conference is being held this week at the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit – part of continuing education and important discourse regarding the industry, attended by assisted living owners, administrators, healthcare practitioners and marketers.  The topic: Social media.

It is a medium still not widely adopted in the field but one that is growing in importance.  Just consider current industry dynamics: With an aging population, both greater competition and opportunity are emerging. And while those making up the senior community (which makes up roughly 50% of the decision makers in assisted living), are not typically social media consumers, the other half (comprised of the children of those elderly potential residents) are.

To be sure, at a time of constricting traditional media sources, for owners and administrators of senior living communities, social media can be an ideal platform for telling their own stories – making sure their news and information is pushed out to a targeted ‘opt-in’ audience of followers.  That could (and should) include blogs demonstrating forward-thinking vision and YouTube, the ideal repository for video content that can be produced affordably and posted for incredible searchability. Hey, it’s one more tool in the marketing toolbox.

Adapt, evolve or die.  Words to live by for any industry including this one. Kudos to HCAM/MCAL for shining a spotlight for its members on the importance of addressing and considering a medium to help its members remain viable in the short- and long-term.  As I said to the group today early and often: don’t utilize social media personally or professionally? Remember it’s not about you but whom you want to reach and motivate to action.

Trump Campaign: Leading By (Bad) Example?

Monday, August 31st, 2015

5739225015_56614ec63e_mLove him or loathe him, Barack Obama is widely considered by many to be the first presidential candidate in history to truly and strategically utilize social media to his political advantage. And he did it with aplomb – putting forth carefully crafted messaging targeted to key constituents, designed to motivate and build voter base.  Enter: Donald Trump, who is turning the “politically correct” communications approach on its ear.

Again, a disclaimer: I am not endorsing nor slapping – just opining.  But when is the last time you can recall a presidential wannabe appear to not give a “rat’s ass” what he says or who he offends? To be sure, as reporter Matt Taibbi reports in the latest issue of Rolling Stone: “Donald Trumps’ antics have forced the other candidates to get crazy or go home.” That’s right.  In order to keep up with “The Donald” many of the candidates appear in a desperate race to also give sometimes outright outrageous soundbites they know will be tweeted, retweeted and debated on Twitter and other social media. Staying relevant? How about staying out of Trump’s shadow?

It’s a bit akin to the old PR myth: “Any PR is good PR.” In this case, however, several candidates seem to be subscribing to a revised version: “Any PR is better than no PR (good or bad).  As such, as Trump vows to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants, Mike Huckabee, reports Taibbi, says he will invoke the 14th and 15th amendments to end abortion (the 14th amendment, by the way, was originally written to protect the right of ex-slaves).  South Carolina Lindsay Graham, meanwhile, creates a video evoking a combination of SNL’s classic Samurai and “Bass-o-Matic” sketches, complete with a cell-phone being ginzu-knifed before blended – crazy-perfect for YouTube.

Trump’s “devil may care” approach may well wear thin as the campaign proceeds yet for now the polls clearly show him out in front. Perhaps his words resonate with an audience tired of the political status quo; a perceived man of action in a partisan world of inaction.  A candidate not beholden to special interest groups nor donors. To be sure, his politically-uncorrectness is, for some refreshing while, for others, downright offensive and scary.  After all, brash can work in business but on the world stage, one also needs to be able to exhibit diplomacy and finesse.  Only time will tell how far Trump’s unorthodox campaign will take him and how many will ultimately follow.



Daily Politics Outrage Doesn’t Translate To Business

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

imagesAnother day, another set of outrage in the 2016 Presidential Election that somehow still has 15 months to go. Whether it’s Donald Trump’s callous comments about John McCain or Trump’s attorney’s insensitive, at best, comments about rape or Mike Huckabee’s Holocaust allusion or Jeb Bush’s comments about Americans needing to work more (or something like that), there has been something to be outraged about virtually every day recently.

First, the outrage starts with social media reaction to campaign trail reporting. Then, as a cheap and easy news, traditional media takes the baton and runs with it. Then, it’s a story until the next controversial comment comes along. Or maybe a big story will temporarily break the cycle, like a new poll or something really big, like an East Coast heat wave.

Sarcasm aside, it’s remarkable how much things have changed since Michigan Governor George Romney sunk his would-be Presidential campaign in August of 1967. In an interview on local Detroit TV, Romney said he was part of a “brainwashing” by military generals before forming his own opinion on Vietnam. Here it is, in context. Apparently, nearly 50 years ago, there was no margin for error, in contrast today, where is seems that “error” is expected and even celebrated by ideologues.

It’s important to remember that the rules of political PR don’t apply to business, and vice versa. When a CEO of a public company makes a comment to cause outrage, the apology had better be perfect or a golden parachute will be put in use very soon. Even if a lowly customer service representative is recorded saying anything offensive, any business will act quickly toward termination. But in the strange world of politics, there is a much different standard. Outrage sells. It drives clicks, ratings and, perhaps, in 2016, votes.

We Are All DeAndre Jordan

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

deandre-jordan-dunk-faceThere’s plenty of outrage this weekend after the communication choices of NBA player DeAndre Jordan, who backed out of a verbal agreement to sign a contract with the Dallas Mavericks and re-signed instead with the Los Angeles Clippers. The controversy centers somewhat around Jordan’s decision to “change his mind” but, more recently, mostly around the fact that he didn’t tell the Mavericks’ celebrity owner Mark Cuban personally about his decision.

Jordan took to Twitter to offer his apology, rather than calling Cuban or otherwise contacting him directly. The jilted Cuban then went online to publicly say that he doesn’t accept the apology. Jordan is taking most of the heat publicly and, on the surface, the criticism makes sense. Etiquette and integrity standards dictate that Jordan should have let Cuban know one-to-one that he was backing out on his verbal agreement. But, reality proves that we are all part of a culture of DeAndre Jordans.

It’s easy to place the blame on the Millenial generation and social media, but the avoidance of difficult conversations is ingrained in our culture of business and personal relationships. Long before the advent of the Internet, we would send a letter rather than deal with an issue face-to-face. If you’re of a certain age, you’re kidding yourself if you won’t admit to calling someone before or after hours to leave an answering machine or voice mail message, rather than having to get them on the phone for two-way dialogue. Email has now been around about 20 years and has been used throughout to avoid tough talk to deliver one-way messages like “we decided to go in another direction.”

The phenomenon of “ghosting” has been written about in media in recent weeks, which is a step beyond breaking up via text or social media – an avoidance of a breakup at all. But, in business, that’s nothing new. We have all had prospects who just decide not to return calls or answer emails rather than say “We decided not to hire you because…” For many years, we have heard about job candidates who literally never hear back from a prospective employer, left to presume that someone else got the job.

There is no defending DeAndre Jordan’s behavior. He absolutely should have handled it differently, under the category of “the right thing to do.” But before you criticize him, take a look in the mirror. You too, like all of us, one one time or another, in your professional or personal life, have been guilty of the same charge.