Thursday, January 3

Taking Action: Bloggers Unite

If you ever wondered whether there is any truth to the idiom “actions speak louder than words,” you might find some proof perusing more than a thousand stories shared by bloggers on Dec. 17.

These bloggers, hundreds of them, performed various acts of kindness — small and large, simple and complex, personal and public — and then posted about it.

They didn’t do it to be pretentious as the “LoneRanger” from Voice of America suggested on a Digg comment, but rather to support each other in reponse to Tony Berkman and the BlogCatalog team.

The challenge? Perform an act of kindness and share it in a post, photo, or video on the same day. Many went above and beyond, sharing stories that will touch your heart, ranging from a daughter’s love for her mother and a group of fans saving a family pet to cleaning up a neighborhood (donating the proceeds to a non-profit organization) and thanking a reggae street performer in Rome.

Together, the results demonstrate how one blogger, joined by many bloggers, can make a tangible difference, online and off.

Three Highlighted Acts Of Kindness

First Place — Bojak, Listening..Learning..Living

Second Place — Iriegal, Mental Stimulation

Third Place — Blair Corbett, Keep It Simple Solutions

In addition to the prizes and recognition listed on the BlogCatalog mini-site, I’m honored to be profiling these three bloggers in the weeks ahead, along with three others from the Top 20 posts selected by six judges who took the time to read every post submitted (and then some).

Seventeen More Stories Of Compassion

Guiding Vision, JerichoMonster, Jessica In Rome, Katalusis, LifePrints, Live From Waterloo, Local Biz Bits, My Den, Original Me, Ruthie’s Reason, Sharani – Girl On A Road,
Sinigang for the Soul.
, Sushi for Lunch!, and Wahm Café.

Thank you all for taking the time to do something kind. And thank you all for sharing your stories. While some might say that good deeds are best kept secret, I personally think such acts of kindness need to be shared more often. You see, pebbles cast on still waters tends to make ripples.

Thank you all for inspiring others and the inspiration. All my best.

Digg!

Wednesday, January 2

Pocketing Portfolios: iPhone Possibilities

Last year, our portfolio measured 24 x 18 inches.

It is encased in aluminum, packed with a cross section of print and collateral. It grossly undersold our work in electronic media, but was effective in demonstrating our depth and diversity of experience nonetheless.

It was too bulky to take everywhere, except planned introductions and presentations. It was challenging to update, and eventually, even the best protected pieces became worn from handling (passing boards around the classroom didn’t help).

This year, our portfolio measures 4.5 x 2.4 inches.

It is encased in an iPhone, with a cross section of print, radio, and television. The latter is easily transported as a podcast from Revver into iTunes.

It works fine on an iPod too. And we’re slowly adding the links to various digital media platforms and social networks, allowing our prospective clients, colleagues, and associates to easily engage us any time.

I quickly put up two samples as a photo set on Flickr to provide the basic idea. New media is quietly changing communication in ways people never thought possible.

Naturally, the Flickr set will eventually mirror what is already on my iPhone. Even better, for companies bigger than ours, the possibilities are endless: imagine one quick podcast update or file download and every account executive in the company is suddenly on the same page. Clients too, for that matter.

Although many social media experts, and even colleagues of mine, are quick to tell companies that they must conform to the “rules” of social media, not all conversations have to take place in public or on a blog. New media is completely customizable and easily integrated with traditional media.

It’s one of the reasons that in addition to the iPhone presentations, we’ll be adding hardbound leave-behind pieces too. Printed on demand. Hmmm. Interesting things. These possibilities.

Digg!

Tuesday, January 1

Beginning 2008: The Year Of New Media

Happy New Year!

Last year, we rang in the New Year with a living communication crisis case study occurring at a Seattle company. While unfortunate, I am sure there will be many more crisis communication case studies this year.

Most of them will not be all that different — communication that spirals out of control and erodes consumer and employee confidence until someone is ousted, reprimanded, or worse.

I’ll likely be critical as they occur, offering solutions as they are often apparent, but not because I enjoy being a critic. On the contrary, I’d rather communication professionals learn the easy way through wisdom than the school of hard knocks. This blog is meant to be as educational as it is sometimes (I hope) entertaining.

In fact, many of the subjects I cover here are inspired by several classes I am teach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Right. Although some people miss the occasional mention, I also teach at UNLV.

This year, I’ll be infusing more emphasis on new media. I will be, not only because I believe it’s a viable communication tool that we’re deploying for several clients at Copywrite, Ink., because the changing communication landscape demands it.

Whether companies realize it or not, they are already engaged in social media, or new media, as some prefer to call it. There is not a single company on the planet that can truthfully claim none of its employees blog, micro-blog, participate in a social network, or are completely uninfluenced by some aspect of new media.

Even someone who never connected to the Internet is being touched by new media on daily basis. It’s on the news. It’s in the paper. It’s talked about by friends and colleagues. And almost always, there is at least one co-worker who has been influenced.

The way I see it, if there is one question to be asked in 2008, it isn’t when your company will enter social media, but when will your company recognize that it already is in social media. And, knowing this, when will it consider managing the new media message that already exists. Here are three ways to find the answer.

UNLV Class Schedule — Richard Becker

Writing For Public Relations — 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Jan. 17 – March 13

Writing For Public Relations is a skills development class that focuses on the application of strategic communication into public relations with an emphasis on practical writing skills. Students learn a variety of writing styles and how to best apply them to: news releases, fact sheets, biographical sketches, feature stories, media kits and social media/new media. (CEUs: 2.00)

Editing and Proofreading Your Work — 9 a.m. to noon, March 1

Editing And Proofreading Your Work is half-day day session that focuses on improving clarity, consistency, and correct usage in personal and business correspondence. It includes essentials such as language, mechanics of style, spelling, and punctuation.

Social Media For Communication Strategy — 9 a.m. to noon, May 2

Social Media for Communication Strategy focuses on increasing the use of online technologies to share content, opinion, insight, and experience. Collectively, these technologies shape more opinion than all other media combined and have changed the communication landscape. (CEUs: .3)

Of course, you can always read this blog from time to time. I cover slivers of class topics right here. My company also provides a custom new media analysis in our proposals upon request. And, we are well seasoned in providing words, concepts, and strategies in every industry.

Digg!

Monday, December 31

Ending 2007: Old Media Is Dead

If any year will ever stand out as the most dramatic change of direction for network television, it will likely be 2007. And if there is any credit is to be given, it doesn’t belong to a single network or broadcast executive, but rather the collective efforts of fans from several television shows, with Jericho Rangers leading the charge in the form of 20 tons of nuts and constant coverage from personal blogs to The Wall Street Journal.

Sure, while some networks and corporations like AT&T were quietly looking at broadcast-digital convergence long before Jericho was cast, Jericho fans helped set the agenda this year and hastened the pace. They did much more than save a television show by convincing CBS to offer up an olive branch in the form of a truncated second season premiering Feb. 12.

They demonstrated the power of organizing consumers via social media. They set a precedent of tracking signatures, e-mails, postcards, phone calls, and protest purchases. They pushed for sweeping reforms at Nielsen Media Research, enough so that Nielsen began to listen to them more than the networks it serves. They established alliances with other fan bases like Veronica Mars fans to expand their campaign five-fold. They made contact with writers, producers, cast members, and crew, giving everyone something to think about, including advertisers.

Passive viewers became active consumers

The writer’s strike is precisely what I’ve been writing about for almost two years: the transition between the era of old to the era of new media. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) even cited it as the primary explanation for the most recent stall in contract negotiations.

"The media conglomerates know that the core issue in these negotiations is new media. Their current proposals would cause writers even more economic harm in the future than they claim this strike has caused.” — Writers Guild of America

While the networks seem unwilling to make an agreement, the WGA and David Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company have reached a contract agreement that includes the proposal put forth by the WGA on Dec. 7.

In other words, production companies and writers are starting to make the deals that the networks are unwilling to make. And if that happens across the board, then network television will be reduced to a distribution channel at a time when content creation is the only tangible commodity. Distribution is easy.

Change happens in small, unseen ways

Cox Communications is one of a handful of multi-service broadband cable service providers that is beginning to offer OnDemand commercial programming, which would allow companies to produce and distribute their own television programs. This means that a company has the potential reach of 6 million residential and commercial consumers.

Once produced, segments of these shows could easily be repackaged for distribution across other platforms like YouTube, Revver, Apple iTunes, and countless others. The possibilities of programming are seemingly endless, well beyond OnDemand infomercials. It also opens the doors for enterprising producers to create their own programs, saving six to eight minutes per half hour for sponsors, much like local market home shows used to do.

The networks are hastening the need for change

As ratings continued to fall this last year, advertising rates continued to rise. The reason was that advertisers were less willing to experiment and attempted to simply purchase more spots to reach the same viewing audience that they once captured by buying fewer shows.

It’s only a matter of time before the burden of building reach shifts away from advertisers and onto the networks again. After all, the concept of last minute scatter market buys will likely die this year as marketers begin to realize they spent 18 percent more for primetime "scatter" than they ever hoped to save.

Even the classic measure of cpm (cost to reach 1,000 viewers) is being questioned. It doesn’t seem to hold as much weight as a measure as it used to. A lower cpm, augmented by Internet presence, can have a greater impact and make more sense as fans are eager to spend an hour or two talking about their favorite show on the net rather than watching the programs that follow.

Old media will become an abandoned term this year

It’s not so much that old media is dead as much as it is that old media has been challenged to become indistinguishable and better than new media. It’s the kind of challenge that will lead to bright possibilities in journalism and broadcast. The new year will be the year to decide. Will a company adapt or die?

Reality programming is not the answer. With rare exceptions like Survivor and American Idol, the net has taken over the reality programming niche. Not only can we watch real-life realty clips on YouTube, but also entire lives put up for consumption with live streaming. The networks need better niche programs.

It’s the very reason networks have to end the writer’s strike soon. It’s only a matter of time before some people begin to realize that the networks are not the only way to reach an audience. Big names in every facet of the entertainment industry are learning that the old model of distribution is dead.

Don’t believe it? Heck, even this blog, which might be considered in the minor leagues compared to what we would like to do on our own or with partners, reached 100,000 people this year. Not bad for an experimental platform.

Thank you all again for making this year a success. We look forward to seeing you in 2008! Happy New Year. Please be safe.

Digg!

Friday, December 28

Making Messes: News Release Resolutions


With the fast approaching New Year, it’s no surprise that New Year's resolutions and predications are among the hottest topics across the wire.

Sure, some journalists scramble for such tidbits because their readers expect it, doubly so when the space between Christmas and New Year's seems painfully short. But that’s hardly a reason to force a media release into a prediction or faux resolution piece, hoping it might get picked up as mainstream filler.

Here are five of my favorites, but not because they are true.

• FabJob.com released that quitting your job might be a good resolution because 77 percent of its visitors are dissatisfied with their jobs and are planning to look for a new career opportunity.

You think? If they were satisfied with their jobs, they probably wouldn’t be on FabJob.com to begin with.

• Transitions Lenses released that keeping New Year's resolutions is a matter of perseverance. “To stay true to your resolutions, experts recommend choosing realistic goals, like visiting your eye doctor yearly,” they say.

Geesh. If you're going to lower your expectations that much, there isn't much point in making a resolution in the first place.

• The Texas Society of CPAs came up with a boatload of “helpful hints” for meeting financial goals, including “paying off debts” and to “start saving.”

Sure, it’s pat advice. So pat, I can tell you that without being a CPA.

• A Body Worlds 2 (an exhibit in the Bay area) release suggests: everyone “Get fit. Drink less alcohol. Quit smoking. Spend more time with friends and family. Visit cultural events. Seek out educational activities.”

While the exhibit looks pretty neat, these tend to be the six most common resolutions people make every year anyway. Yawn.

• Sixty-two percent of respondents to the Turnaround Management Association's annual Trend Watch Poll said that homebuilders will face the "greatest financial and/or operational difficulties" next year.

Hmmm. Maybe the housing market will continue to be in a slump as long as experts continue to tell us it’s in a slump. (Hat tip to Wells Fargo for releasing the slump will not be as bad as some fear.)

Well, if you can't beat them, join them. I have a resolution suggestion too. Public relations professionals might resolve to save their clients about $400 per wire submission in favor of releasing ... drum roll ... relevant news. Releases like these leave big messes in the morning.

Digg!

Thursday, December 27

Everything: The Great Big Blog Of

My son says he is too old to remember, but there is one gift he asked for, year after year, and never received. He wanted it so much, he even tried to make one a few times: the handy-dandy Great Big Book Of Everything.

Not the one inspired by the kid's television show, Stanley, but a real one with everything in it. Every year, I ask him if he still wants it.

"Do you remember?"

"Sure Dad, but I'm too old to watch Stanley anymore."

"Really?" When did that happen?

"It's okay Dad," he laughed. "Besides, I thought your blog was The Great Big Book Of Everything."

"Funny. I guess you are growing up."

"Yep, I'm pretty old," he smiled. "So, can we play Heroscape now?"

"You bet. Just give me a minute ... I want to see if you're right."

Rich's Great Big Blog Of Everything

365 Dias, AgencyNext, Amuseline, Anyone Loves TV, Arabelle's AlleyHannah Azar, Tala Azar, Back Lot Projects, Darren Barefoot, Andy Beard, Better Business Blogging, BizHack, BizSolutionsPlus, BlogCatalog Blog, Blogging For Business, Blog Campaigning, Blog Contests On The Net, Blog Herald, BlogTalk Radio, Blogversity, Blog Village, Blogs We Luv, Brand Storming, A Bunch Of Words, Business Growth Power Pack, Business Live News, The Buzz Bin, Cardiogirl, Catepol, CBS Jericho Fan Central, Chessnoid, Cincom, John Cook’s Venture Blog, Greg Cooper, CompBlog, Communication Overtones, Common Sense PR, Conversation Agent, Copyblogger, The Crones Daily Groan, Cultural Learnings, CypherJFs Development Depot, Dada Media, dcr Blogs, Da Eveman, Behind The Scenes At Jewelry Tales, Debo Hobo Dot Com, Digital 4Front, Duck Tape Marketing, Durbin Media, Electronic Recruiting News, Eliteqz, Entreneurs, Jay Epoch, Find The Boots, Finding The Sweet Spot, Fubar, Ghost In The Machine, Amitai Givertz, Good To Know, Golden Practices, The Green Scene, History Survey, Shel Holtz, Home Office Lawyer, I Do Things, Image Empowering, idUnited, Inner88, Jdonuts, Gylon Jackson, Jaffe Juice, Jason the Content Librarian, The Jericho Bulletin, Jericho Central, Jericho Junction, Jericho Monster, Jericho On CBS, Jericho Rally Point, JR4OT Blog, KD Paine’s PR Measurement Blog, Trish Kate’s TV Talk, Keep It Simple Solutions, Alex King, Language For You, Living In The Edge Of Madness, Leadership Turn, Magnosticism, Marcom Writer Blog, Marketing Headhunter Marketing Useable, Marketing Whore, Phil McDonnell, Jeff McNeill, MediaBlog, Media Orchard, The Media Slut, Media Snackers, Mesmereyed, Miscellany from Past and Present, Andrea Morris, Movies And Film Blog, MS Language Services, My Radical Blogs, MyBlogLog, The Myles Files, Naruto’s Arena, National Business Community Blog, The Net-Savvy Executive, NoisyRoom, Now Is Gone, Nutsonline, O My Word!, Occam’s Razr, Oldephartteintraining, One Bee, Paris Hilton, Passion, People and Principles, The Perfect Customer Experience, Pet Lvr (The Blog), A Piece of Piece, Pierce Mattie Public Relations, Politics After 50, Positioning Strategy, PR 2.0, Ramblings From The Mermaid Tavern, PR Squared, Publicity Hound, Radio Caffeine, Raven’s Roads, Recruiting.com, Recruiting Animal, RecruitingBlogs RecruitingBloggers, Reddiggulo.us, Remote Access, Road Less Traveled, Ronin Marketeer, Rugjeff’s Blog, Rushda, Sabrina’s Money Matters, Save The Black Donnellys, Save Jericho Now, Save Veronica Mars, Sava Sakar, Scary Sh*t, Scatterbox, Selling To Small Businesses, Situtational Marketing, SEO Pedia, Six Degrees From Dave, Snupher, The Social Media Marketing Blog, Social Media Explorer, Space 150, Spin Thicket, SQ Central, Squeak Of The Week, Starlight Review, Strumpette, Liz Strauss, Jim Stroud, Jeffery Taylor, Teaching PR, Television Rocker Report, Tetsujin’s Blog, That Bee Girl, The Thin Red Line, This Girl’s Blog, Tough Sledding, Transmission, The TV Guy, Veronica Mars Movie, Andrea Vascellari Weblog, Web Conoscenza, Web Ink Now, Brian Whaley’s Pixelated Views, Word Sell, Writer’s Advice, Your PR Guy, Zero Calvin and Hobbes, and the The Zohner Family Blog.

Whether we agreed or agreed to disagree, thank you all for making 2007 interesting. Likewise for everyone who read and commented.

Sure, there are a couple more posts to round out 2007. But mostly I'm looking forward to a rewarding 2008, wondering who might make next year's Great Big Blog Of Everything, and making sure the lethal Marro hive is stopped from making more venomous predators in some uncharted jungle!

You have to enjoy this stuff before you're "pretty old" for it.

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